Christy’s Birthday 2017

When my birthday rolled around this year, we didn’t really have a plan to celebrate. Or rather, I didn’t have a plan but apparently the rest of the family did. The boys sent Bruce and me out on a dinner date, and while we were gone they got everything set up for a birthday cake celebration. So sweet!

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(It totally looks like I’m about to sneeze right on that cake, doesn’t it? I didn’t.)

We took some silly pictures after dessert.

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It was perfect.

Leaves in the Trampoline

November was truly the Fall season in our neighborhood — we had so many leaves! Ezra immediately saw an opportunity for fun and started collecting them one day to put in our trampoline. Here’s the first day’s work.

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But he didn’t stop there. He enlisted Finn’s help and pretty soon the street was clean and there was a huge mound in the trampoline.

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They had a super fun time jumping in the leaves, and it was perfect for a slo-mo video.

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Thanksgiving in Belize

Way back in August, before all hell broke loose in September, we decided to jump on some reasonably-priced tickets to Belize for Thanksgiving week after initially nixing the idea because the fares were through the roof. Needless to say, after September’s drama, we didn’t really think we’d make it to Belize, but we decided to play it by ear. Lo and behold, Bruce was feeling pretty good, and whether it was wise or not, we decided to go. It was a beautiful, relaxing week and we are so glad we decided to do it.

I took a lot of pictures, which you can see here, but I’ll post some highlights.

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We tried to keep the days low-key but usually had some kind of outing. One favorite was the “secret beach” where the boys paddle-boarded and we all swam and had snacks. It’s hard to see, but that’s Bruce way out there on the paddle-board.

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The water was shallow and warm so we all took a dip. We’d come with the idea of having lunch but in true Belizean fashion, the restaurant had run out of gas so they couldn’t cook anything. Chips and salsa came to the rescue. And Orange Fanta, of course.

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The next day we drove Jamma’s golf cart up to X’Tan Ha resort for lunch and swimming/snorkeling off their dock.

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In the afternoon we relaxed on our dock …

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… and had a visit from a ray.

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In the evening we went to Rojo for a great dinner, a game of pool (for the boys), and a snuggle with the local cat.

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We had a fabulous, unconventional Thanksgiving day which included a snorkeling trip, a stop for lunch on Caye Caulker, and a delicious dinner at Elvi’s Kitchen. First, the snorkeling trip. The time we spent around the reef was just okay, unfortunately. We have experienced a visible change and degradation in the reef since our first trip in 2010. There were such stunning, vibrant colors then, and now everything just looks brown and gray. Luckily, we had a couple of other stops which really perked up the trip. First was a chance to see a manatee. We’d heard they’d been hanging out in certain spots and we were able to see one at the second place we looked. It was amazing! No photos, of course, but it made quite an impact on all of us.

We also stopped at Shark Ray Alley where Bruce and Ezra swam with the nurse sharks and rays.

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On Caye Caulker, we had lunch and then walked a bit of the island to meet up with our boat. The boys played a little horseshoes while we waited.

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Then, back on the boat and headed home.

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After a nice rest back at the house, we got “dressed up” for dinner.

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Dinner was really good — food, wine, and atmosphere. It was also surprisingly pleasant to not be the ones cooking!

The next day, we flew over to the mainland to spend our last night in Belize at the Zoo Lodge. We’ve been to the zoo lots of times, but we’d not stayed overnight. We booked an adorable little cabin perched above the pond.

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The room was comfortable and we had a visitor.

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Can you see him?

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In the evening we had dinner at the lodge and then went to the zoo for a night tour. First, the boys held the snake at the visitor center.

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I don’t have good pictures from the tour, unfortunately, but we saw big cats and small cats, owls, a tapir, and more. The tapir got really excited and peed … on Finn! Luckily, Finn wasn’t bothered by it because it was right at the start of our tour.

The next morning after breakfast Bruce and I took a little hike around the grounds. It was really beautiful and quiet — a perfect end to our trip.

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We had a long travel day awaiting us, and a very late arrival back home, but as always, it was worth it.

Finn’s Outdoor Science School

This year Fairmeadow changed its traditional fifth grade trip from the one-night Age of Sail trip that Ezra did to a three-night Outdoor Science School in Santa Cruz. Finn was mostly excited but had some nerves the morning they were set to leave. It’s hard to tell from the photos though.

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The parents in Finn’s class didn’t hear anything from the teacher for the whole trip, which was pretty nerve-wracking especially considering other teachers were posting photos and updates. But we did finally get access to all the photos so we got a glimpse of what the camp was all about. There are a lot of photos in that album but here are the ones I could find of Finn.

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He was tired and a little overwhelmed when he got back, but after a few minutes to regain his footing he was full of stories and excitement. He and I had a nice lunch just the two of us.

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We were all happy to have him back home — the house is too quiet without him!

Finn Gets His Cast Off

Finn got to get out of the cast a little early because he was headed to Outdoor Science School and we were going to Belize for Thanksgiving — both places not very conducive to keeping a cast dry. The doc said the cast could come off and be replaced with a hard brace for the last few weeks. Here are pictures of the cast right before it came off.

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The arm looked weird to me — swollen and curvy — but the doc assured us that the break was healing properly.

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And here’s the new brace.

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Ezra’s Tooth Extraction

After the joy of Halloween candy, Ezra had to pay the piper and get his errant tooth extracted. It was a doozy that required oral surgery but he came through it like a champ. He looked a little worse for wear that first day …

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Good thing we have comfort kitties.

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That is a big tooth.

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I was worried about his recovery having had a tooth extracted myself and it was the worst, but he did just fine. He was allowed unlimited screen time, and between that and a few Advils, we barely heard a peep out of him.

Halloween 2017

The pumpkin masters were at it again this year. Well, three of us are pretty much the grunt workers and one of us does the fine details. Thanks to Bruce, pumpkin carver extraordinaire, we always have excellent decorative gourds.

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The boys wore their costumes to school on Halloween. Here’s a picture I got in the parking lot before they took off.

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Finn had done his fork in conjunction with his friend Satvik’s knife:

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They were a big hit in their last Fairmeadow Halloween Parade.

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Later everyone met here and went out for trick or treating. Here are Ezra and Henry.

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And Finn, Satvik and Kyuhyun.

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The big kids went on their own, but I did get a few pictures of the fifth graders trick or treating.

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Massive amounts of sugar were collected, traded, and consumed.

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And the cats were a little confused.

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Another great Halloween in the books!

Halloween Costumes 2017

Halloween is bigger than Christmas for the project-loving Moision boys, and this year was no exception. Well, except that Bruce had the hospital detour and some restrictions on his activity level this year so we had to pare down a bit. Ezra in particular had some very elaborate ideas that just weren’t possible this year, but he took it in stride and ended up with a great costume. Here are some photos of the process for both Ezra’s goat and Finn’s fork.

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Finn’s fork went through a couple of iterations — first cardboard which didn’t quite work out and then chicken wire covered with Papier-mâché.

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Bruce’s Account of His Hospitalization

On September 9th, a Saturday, I headed out for a mid-day jog. A little four-mile loop. An old habit. A mile or so in I started to feel light-headed. I’d been feeling this way on runs for several months–years, actually, although it would go away for long periods. This year it had become more frequent and severe. I slowed to a walk to wait for it to lift, which it usually did.

The next thing I recall a police officer was accosting me: “Hey! I need you to sit down!” I remember thinking “what’s your problem?” and “fine, fine, … ” as I sat on a curb. “What’s your name?” he asked, and I thought “That’s weird, I don’t know my name.” He kept asking questions and things started to come back. An ambulance came and took me to the ER.

It turns out I had had a small heart-attack–a ventricular fibrillation, they think–passed out, fell and hit my head. A passer-by had waved down the officer who was politely but forcibly getting my attention. I’ve had an undiagnosed heart condition for twenty years. It’s resulted in several heart attacks, but I’d never lost consciousness.

The next part is a bit of a jumble. I don’t remember when I noticed my tongue hurting, but I had bit it badly. In the ER they decided to stitch it closed. They debated how many stitches to put in. Four. That hurt. Then a hematoma formed and my tongue swelled up like a balloon. They decided to intubate me before my tongue shut off my breathing. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate the significance of the intubation at the time.

Being intubated and partially sedated was awful. I would wake and it felt like I was suffocating. Christy and the nurse kept assuring me I was safe. They’d tell me they could read my blood oxygen level and it was fine. But it felt like I couldn’t breathe, which was frightening. I’d eventually talk myself into being ok, but I’d come in and out of consciousness and every time I rewoke I’d go through it again. I really, really, wanted to get out. Throughout this time I communicated by writing on a clipboard. I’d write, to Christy, “How much longer?” and “How many more hours?” I don’t remember how she answered but she knew it was days. At some point they tied my hands down so I wouldn’t tear out the tubes but I don’t remember it.

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I’ve since read that intubation can be a terrifying experience for some people. Months after I was released I had a bad sore throat and congestion, and I kept waking dreaming I was suffocating. I knew, rationally, that I could breathe, but my constricted throat brought back memories from the hospital. I had to fight panicking. Until now, I hadn’t really understood people who choose not to recall bad experiences. I’d like this memory to fade.

I slowly started to recover. A few days later they decided to extubate me. Extubation was 30 seconds of awful. They had stitched the tube to my nose to keep it from falling out and in one sequence of motions they cut those stitches and pulled the tube out. Starting to breathe again felt like choking. But progress felt great. I’d have been glad to go through much more than that. Taking the feeding tube out was easy. The urinary catheter less so. Anything in the name of progress.

I moved from the cardiac ICU to the cardiac CU, which is adjacent to the ICU. I started to walk slowly around the unit. On every loop we’d pass my cardiac ICU room. It was brightly lit, but my memory of it was as a darkened room. I even asked Christy if it was always so bright. “Yes, always.”

Christy was with me pretty much the entire time, which was unquantifiably comforting. I had a few other visitors as well, but Christy’s presence takes no effort on my part. I declined requests for most visits. I was feeling pretty dejected and not up for the pressure to be positive.

The attending cardiologist recommended a pacemaker. Actually, although I’d call it a pacemaker, it’s an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD. It does more than just re-pace you: it’s a little defibrillator with leads dangling into the chambers of your heart, watching and waiting to shock you. My regular cardiologist had brought up this possibility a few years back and at the time it was startling. I didn’t imagine I’d ever be as ill as someone who needed a pacemaker. Now they were pretty matter of fact about it. You need one. You can’t pass out. It’s dangerous. (I know I keep imagining that the worst part was passing out, and not having a heart attack, but I’m indulging some level of denial.)

I got in the queue for an ICD (I’d still yet to leave the hospital). I had to wait a few days. My roommate, a big, boisterous, overweight guy in his 60s went in ahead of me. He had traveled some way to have the procedure here, which seemed a good sign. “No big deal!” he proclaimed. I finally rolled in to have mine installed. “Hey! Welcome back!” said the nurse. I’d been there a few days earlier for a cardiac catheterization, but didn’t remember any of it. They told me I’d been funny, which I was glad to hear. It was like hearing your stand-in had represented you well.

A day or so later I finally left the hospital. Twelve days. It seemed longer. I’m still adjusting to both the severity of the event and what, if any, changes I need to make going forward. A week after being released I had an appointment with my cardiologist. They were tweaking my medication. “What about drinking alcohol? Is that ok?” I asked. “Oh, I think you could use a drink.” I’ve taken his advice.

 

Finn’s Broken Arm

On October 24th the boys left for school on their bikes just like every other morning. However, about ten minutes later my phone rang with a call from a Palo Alto number I didn’t recognize. Luckily, I always answer unknown local numbers because it was Finn who was distraught, having fallen off his bike. I jumped in the car to go get him and had a bad feeling immediately from the way he was holding his arm. I took him home briefly to have Bruce take a look and drop off his bike, and then we went directly to urgent care. He was pretty miserable, but some bonus screen time seemed to help.

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The x-rays came back as we’d expected — it was broken. Or “transverse fracture of the distal radial metadiaphysis” to be exact.

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He was much more comfortable once they stabilized it in a brace and sling.

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Two days later we went back and got the cast.

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Having a cast on is a pain, but he did enjoy the minor celebrity status it provided.

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Ezra’s Cell-a-bration

Ezra has really been enjoying science class this year, and in October they put their knowledge of cells into action by building models. All of the models were assembled in the cafeteria and families got to come and take a look. I didn’t take many pictures but here are a couple. As usual, Ezra enjoyed explaining the part he made — the vacuole.

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And here’s a longer shot of more of the cell.

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Belated Birthday

We finally got the chance to have a proper birthday celebration for Bruce on October 6th. Even though it was last minute and low key, it was meaningful given where we were on his actual birthday. And the cake was delicious.

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The Rest of September

There were a few normal moments in September, mostly involving cats. Here’s Sophie up on her perch above the kitchen.

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And here’s Emmy being her snuggly self.

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I had the grand honor of sitting on the famous Physics Show bed of nails one Saturday morning when I met one of the Foothill College teachers who puts on the show. It was super fun and the boys were thrilled to see the photo.

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Bruce’s Hospitalization

The blog has been stuck at this spot for a while, and the title of this post might be a clue as to why it’s January and I’m finally writing about a September event. It’s hard to write about the bad days. But, here goes.

On September 9th, Bruce went out for a jog about at around 3:00 pm. That was not unusual, but the call I received from the Palo Alto Police officer around 4:00 was. (It had been determined that he had lost consciousness and fallen, biting his tongue in the process. We later learned that someone had seen him stumbling around and flagged down a police officer who was driving by.) The officer said he’d found him injured and was sending him to the hospital by ambulance. My first thought was, “He’s going to be so mad. He hates going to the hospital!” Figuring this was going to be his “usual” two-day hospital stay, I grabbed some supplies for him (a book, a phone charger, and some clothes) and headed to the ER. He was a little banged up and dirty from his fall, but he didn’t look too bad. Except for his tongue which was completely mangled and very painful.

We waited for hours as they took his medical history, did tests to make sure the incident was caused by his heart and not something else, and stitched up his tongue (not something they usually do but the cut was so bad they decided to). Once he was settled into a regular room on the cardiac ward upstairs, I went home to be with the boys.

The next day I went back to the hospital in the mid-morning and he was still in a lot of pain and his tongue was very swollen. We still had no indication of what was to come when I left after a few hour visit. Some time around 5:00 I got a text from him that his tongue had continued to increase in size and they were worried it was going to block his airway, so they were going to intubate him. I was shocked and terrified. When I got to the hospital Sunday evening, they had just finished the procedure and transferred him to the cardiac ICU (the CCU). He was sedated and hooked up to what seemed like a million tubes and his hands were in restraints so that he wouldn’t pull out the intubation tube. He would occasionally wake up and be scared because he felt like he couldn’t breathe. His nurse kept reassuring him that the machine was breathing for him and all of his numbers looked good, but it was of little comfort.

Over the next several days, he was on heavy painkillers and partially sedated. Thanks to four very helpful visitors (Cari, Laura & Eric, and Janice) I was able to be at the hospital every day for long hours. Bruce had two day-nurses over the five days he was in the CCU, and they were incredibly talented and watchful. Bruce often seemed lucid and would write down questions or try to have a conversation by way of pen and paper, always making jokes. He had the nurses and doctors laughing on more than one occasion. When one group noticed from the whiteboard that it had been his birthday, he wrote down “This is my mid-life crisis” on his piece of paper and laughter erupted.

I took a picture of his whiteboard on Monday because what most occurred to me when I saw it that morning was “worst birthday ever.”

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On Tuesday, when I was about to crack from the stress of seeing the strongest person I know in such a state, his nurse, Jake, asked if he wanted to sit up in bed and dangle his feet over the edge. Of course, Bruce never says no to a challenge, so he did that and then they decided he could also try standing up. Accompanied by “Eye of the Tiger” he stood up, leaned on the walker, and bobbed his head to the beat a little bit. It was a much-needed bit of levity and a sign that he was going to be OK.

The week is now a blur of IVs, medical personnel, and procedures. Here’s his IV pole which gives you an idea of the chaos.

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Here he is after they extubated him on Thursday. He still had the feeding tube in, much to his annoyance.

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And by Friday he was looking pretty good!

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They finally kicked him out of the CCU and transferred him over to the regular cardiac ward to await his ICD. Unfortunately, there were some scheduling delays but he finally got his device and was released the following Wednesday, September 20th. He has made great progress since then, adjusting to the new normal and getting back to all of his regular activities.

I am so grateful for the out-of-town angels who swooped in to take care of my boys and keep some semblance of normalcy during the long hospital stay. I also had help from several local mom friends, and Bruce’s friends at work brought bags and bags of groceries, and even a little piñata for his birthday.

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School Photos 2017

I finally got around to scanning this year’s school photos. As usual, they are not the best representation but good for posterity. Nothing fits my children better than a forced smile in front of a bland background. At least they switched companies for Finn’s school this year and they took them outside.

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I always like the class photos better and this year is no exception.

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And here’s Ezra’s, which was taken before school even started. He’s still working out how to manage avoiding the fake smile the photographer is inevitably asking for.

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If you want to see all of their years of school photos (in all their glory), click here.