Well, our last 72 hours have been interesting. How about yours?

We begin today's episode on Thursday evening as Kates and I were preparing for her parents' arrival. Kates noticed a bump on the left side of Phoebe's jaw. It almost felt like a marble embedded under her skin, and she squirmed and cried every time we tried to touch it.

On Friday, Kates took her to see a doctor, who sided with our theories that Phoebe had a swollen gland, which likely was a byproduct of her double ear infection a week earlier. The doctor prescribed some medicine, and I made the run on Friday night to pick it up.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about Phoebe's behavior. She was slightly more fussy and whiny than usual - and she woke up screaming around 11:30 Saturday night - but for the most part she was her usual, happy, playful self.

On Monday, Kates returned Phoebe to the doctor for a followup. Seeing no improvement, the doctor referred us to an ENT specialist in nearby St. Joseph and warned then that Phoebe might be admitted to the hospital.

So Tuesday afternoon, the three of us made the 45-minute trek to St. Joe and met the specialist. Things started happening fast from there, but none of it was completely unexpected. By 5 o'clock we were being checked into the hospital's pediatrics unit with surgery likely in the morning.

Phoebe's utter adorableness, by the way, was fetching her stickers at every turn. ... Seriously. The girl has been racking them up. Thomas the Train. Scooby Doo. Tinker Bell. And the whole gang from the Hundred Acre Wood. We've got a stack about an inch high sitting on the ledge.

That said, we couldn't be more pleased with the nurses and our doctor. Kates' initial impressions of the doctors Phoebe saw weren't great, and we were missing the staff we'd grown used to seeing in K-Town.  The staff in St. Joe immediately took to Phoebe; they have been so gentle and caring and wonderful with her. Our main nurse reminds me a lot of dearly-departed "Grey's Anatomy" doc, Reed Adamson.
Once we were settled on Tuesday night, Phoebe delighted in walking around the floor and seeing "the big doggie" -- a tabletop in the exam room that rests on a large Scooby Doo-looking dog. It didn't take long for Pheebs to find the toy room either ... The favorite she brought back to our room is a motorized baby Mickey Mouse that crawls and plays a lullaby when you touch him.

But that was about as happy as things got for awhile ... No matter how gentle the nurses could be, the imminent poking and prodding were torture. Phoebe screamed at the feeling of the blood pressure monitor squeezing her arm. She really screamed when the nurses had to set up an IV for her antibiotics. And going through the CT scan and having x-rays done late Tuesday night was pure terror for her. Kates and I were by her side the entire time, but I'd never wish those screams on any parent.

After the scans, I drove back to The 'Ville to retrieve overnight bags. By the time I returned about two hours later, Kates and Phoebe were fast asleep. Kates claimed the foldout chair, but the cot we requested for me wasn't available. So I rolled out my sleeping bag on the floor at the foot of Phoebe's bed.

* * *

Shortly before 8 on Wednesday morning, the doctor arrived and prepped Phoebe for her surgery. The scans revealed an abscess on Phoebe's jaw line. The doctor wanted to make a small incision on her neck and drain it. Phoebe would be given anesthesia. Short, minor procedure, they told us.

I carried Phoebe down to the operating area and we were taken to a private waiting room, where more nurses and doctors breezed in and out to introduce themselves and explain their roles in the whole shebang ... By 8:30 it was go-time. Nurses wheeled Phoebe away in a bed -- with her precious yellow blanket and baby in tow. Phoebe let out a little cry for Mommy, but we knew we could do nothing but trust Phoebe was in good hands.

In the waiting area, we were handed a pager and a card that had Phoebe's patient number and information. Monitors were set on the wall like an airport terminal, and they allowed us to follow Phoebe's progression from the operating room to the recovery area.

Shortly after 9, a nurse arrived to tell us that the doctor was almost finished, and a few minutes later the doctor pulled us into a room for some explanation. During surgery, he found two abscesses along Phoebe's jaw and drained both of them. But the findings had him thinking now that Phoebe acquired a staph infection, and it could have happened any number of ways, he said.

Eventually, a nurse called Kates to the recovery room to be with Phoebe when she woke up. Then I got the word that I could go back to our room on the peds floor to meet them. They were coming off the elevator just as I was stepping onto the floor, and Phoebe had a big white bandage around her neck that looked as though she was wearing a neck brace. As uncomfortable as it looked for her, she seemed perfectly content in Kates' arms, for the time-being.

* * *

Next phase: recovery.

The remainder of Wednesday morning wasn't easy. Phoebe was extremely fussy and clearly uncomfortable.

As if lying in a hospital bed and stuck to an IV wasn't hard enough, the IV was bandaged to her right arm (she's right-handed) and we've been in a constant struggle with her to keep the arm straight so the line isn't agitated. Whenever she moved the arm too much, tones started going off and Kates or I were reaching for our call button so a nurse could reset it. At the worst, the nurses have had to take off the bandaging and completely refit the line, which leads to more terrorized screaming.

The doctor has her on two antibiotics -- all I know is they both end with "iacin." The nurses have been drawing blood and running all sorts of tests to make sure the surgery was successful, in addition to trying to confirm that it was indeed a staph infection ...

Meanwhile, our best hope for keeping Phoebe distracted, somewhat happy and comfortable has been the endless supply of movies from the peds collection. We've been watching the same Barney videos over and over and over and over -- along with a few showings of "Pete's Dragon" mixed in. (If I'd seen it as a child, I don't remember it ... For good reason. What a cheesy, dumb movie.)

We got Phoebe to sleep a little bit in the afternoon ... Dinner was grilled cheese and sloppy joes, but Phoebe had no interest in drinking anything but milk. By about 8 last night, she'd drunk about five or six cartons since her surgery -- so much it caused her to throw up ... There was more poking -- and terrorized screaming -- last night when the nurses moved her IV to her left arm ... I made what's becoming my nightly trek back and forth on ol' Highway 71 to retrieve things for the next day, and I spent Wednesday night, thankfully, sleeping on a cot.

* * *

Today's story is more of the same.

Although, there have been spurts of Phoebe acting like the little girl we're used to. She's been smiling a little more, talking a little more and eating a little more. During lunch, she ate a small bowl of pears and nibbled on some pizza before devouring a bag of chips and a chocolate chip cookie. During supper, she devoured another bag of chips and gleefully downed a small bowl of ice cream -- while watching another round of "Pete's Dragon."

Best part of the day: Watching her sleep, cuddled up with Kates this morning. Phoebe was out for three hours straight and nothing any nurse did could wake her up.

Now it's time for me to get some sleep. On my cot. I'll be dreaming of going home tomorrow. I hope.

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