Monday, August 28, 2017

Two Hospitals and a Hurricane

You guys, we have SO much to cover. I'm overwhelmed just thinking about it, but if I don't write now I feel like I'm just asking to have something else huge to write about tomorrow.

First up and chronologically last-up, Houston- my home town, and current home to my parents, brother, and two sets of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and all my childhood memories has been hit by a hurricane and catastrophic flooding event. A thousand year flood. In the words of my actuary-trained brother, "my tables didn't even have a percentage for that." It is devastating. People are dying because they are trapped in the attics they escaped to as the waters rose. Having lived through several major floods, including one that found us paddling down Kingwood Drive, over stop signs and alongside traffic lights, in my dad's old canoe, this exceeds them all. Entire highways are underwater, airports are shut down, the water already exceeds 20 feet in some areas and the heavy pouring rain is expected to continue through Thursday.

My parent's new home is fairly high up, but it's on a lake and that lake is slowly crawling towards their back door. This is the last picture they sent; it's already up over all the steps we take down to the lake from their pool area. It's up another foot since then. They will be fine- the boat and boathouse will likely be gone, and there will be a lot of property damage and a lot of cleanup, but physically they should be safe. There are people who have already lost that assurance and it breaks my heart. Water is so damaging. Please keep Houston and its surrounding areas in your thoughts, and if you want to help, here is an excellent list of places to do so. (I'd also add the Texas Diaper Bank to that list; an excellent charity at all times, they are particularly needed here as relief organizations typically do not stock diapers and they are expensive and so necessary.) (My brother went to a friend's house last night across town and got trapped there, so thoughts for his safe return to my parent's house are also appreciated because while he TOTALLY shouldn't have traveled last night (sorry bro), I also know it's killing him to not be able to help my parents right now, just like it's killing my sister and I to not have him there making them prepare for things instead of "just keeping an eye on the situation" zomg.)

Second up, and chronologically first, I flew to Minneapolis on Tuesday to see my grandpa in the hospital. It was a perfect window for me. School had started, James's swim school was closed for the week, and all my other aunts and uncles who had flown up on Friday when the heart attack happened needed to go home before their next scheduled trip up. My mom could have handled it alone, but I didn't want to her to have to, and I just wanted to touch my grandpa and hug my grandma.

So I did.

He's at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, which if you must be in an cardiac ICU far from home, is an excellent place to be. The care is incredible and you can walk between the hotel, hospital, and lots of restaurants. And it's Minneapolis, so even though it's August, you can actually walk around outside without melting.

Seeing my grandpa heavily sedated in the ICU was both significantly harder and also more reassuring than I anticipated. His nurse was very encouraging. This is a long path and there's nothing stopping him from taking each slow step of it. His brain function remained amazingly good and his heart was healing. There's just a lot of improvements and adjustments and body systems that need to come back online along the way to recovery. And we knew they still considered him on a likely path to recovery. But still. It's hard to see him going on 6 days without being responsive.

holding hands; the 62-year-long wedding ring groove tugged my heart

And even harder, seeing my grandma soldier on in this bewildering new world without her mate as an active participant beside her. She was so strong in the room. So cheerful and strong and steady. We walked in that Wednesday morning and she took his hand and told him, among other things, "You're doing such a good job and making such great progress. You're such a strong man and I love you." She'd tell him about her day and who was visiting and checking in on him by phone. Every time we made her leave the room for a walk or food she'd tell the nurse to "take good care of my boyfriend," and when she left at night, she sang him "You Are My Sunshine." It was brutal and beautiful to witness. But out of the room you could see the strain and the worry and the overwhelming nature of it all. It was hard not to just keep hugging her.

Interestingly for me was also the realization that I was there for my mom in addition to just being there for myself. That I wasn't just her daughter and my grandpa's granddaughter, there to be reassured and hugged and made to feel better. I was also a 34-year-old adult who could see the fear in my mom's eyes every time she turned away from my grandmother to check my grandpa's labs or talk to his doctor, an adult who could also give- companionship, an ear, a latte, something.

I didn't do much- I wasn't there long and others came earlier and stayed longer, but I'm so glad I was there at all. It was also great to see my younger cousin who lives there now and see her cheerfully driving us around, chatting with my grandpa like he was seconds away from responding, and kindly answering my grandma's questions for the dozenth time. Family. Sometimes the reason for seeing then isn't good, but it's always good to see them anyway.

The kids continued to settle in to school and seem to love their teachers. On Wednesday night James sent me a text that read, "white bread with dinner and cookies for dessert- things are getting crazy!" As always, he makes things so easy for me- he handles the kids on his own far better than I would if he ever actually left me overnight with them.

I flew home Thursday morning, in time to do some work and then start my new job teaching barre for TCU. It was a good class- a little chaotic as I didn't know where all the equipment was or that my class was only 50 minutes instead of 60 so I rolled into the yoga teacher's class after mine (oops!), but fun and sweaty and exciting to be in a new place.

My mom flew home that night to a hurricane watch and has been in the house ever since. My grandpa wasn't conscious while we were there, but joyfully and SO THANKFULLY, he started coming out of the sedation Friday and they were able to pull the breathing tube last night! It's hard- he doesn't know what happened and he's in pain from the broken ribs, the tube, the actual heart attack, a random broken finger they didn't realize he had until he could tell them... but it's such a big step forward and SUCH a relief for my grandma who has sat by him every day for 10 days now.

In other adventures, Claire had her first soccer game on Saturday. She's on a new team and she loves it and we're almost excited to lose our Saturdays to a new round of soccer games. The Bear really likes aggressive team sports.

Landon, who cheerfully will tell you he does not, spent the entire hour entertaining our toddler contingent. He's like a tween toddler wrangler and he loves it.

Cora also spent some time making sure her daddy was focused on her.

We had a PTA party last night where we brought the house down by playing the paper bag game and a new giant pig version of Pass the Pigs! I told our babysitter 8:30 and it turned into 10 because we're CRAZY. Then, just to keep the crazy going, and because we felt left out of all the hospital and hurricane drama, Cora took a header off her scooter at top speed this morning, straight into a curb.

She was wearing her helmet (ALWAYS) but still got a slice taken out of her eyebrow, so after we wiped away the chainsaw massacre amount of blood, I whisked her off to the Children's Hospital Emergency Room, both of us singing Moana songs all the way.

She was adorable and charming and chatty in triage... she then strangely but adorably refused to sit in the bed in the hospital room (a portend of TERRIBLE THINGS TO COME), but otherwise handled the experience with her usual confidence and aplomb.

Until it was time to lie down in the bed. She had no idea stitches were coming. She had no idea what stitches even were. She just needed to lie down in the damn bed so a doctor could "clean her boo boo" and "look at it." Except FUCK. NO. said Cora Linnae who promptly proceeded to lose her mind.

The screaming went on for days. She clocked a nurse in the face. A straight jacket blanket and TWO additional medical personnel were called in (one, and then another after she got loose and had more flailing, now with a fishhook stuck in her eyebrow). It was insane. She screamed until she dry heaved and then she screamed more. The pediatric plastic surgery trained wound tech said he wanted to do 5 stitches but could only safely do 3 due to her "objections." Objections that continued for THIRTY MORE MINUTES after they were done. I have never, ever in all my 10 years of parenting seen a fit like that. She kicked over chairs, threw my purse across the room, and crouched into a corner hissing and spitting. I talked to her as you would a feral animal and eventually, twenty interminable minutes later, got her to sit in my lap, then change, and then leave the room.

As we walked past the nurses, all wide-eyed at their station, Cora turned and matter-of-factly said, "I just did not want to lie down."

She was fully recovered over a bowl of mac and cheese at her favorite restaurant.

I was fully recovered after ordering something "large and with alcohol in it."

Holy hell you guys. She still doesn't even know she got stitches.

We ended the day with GOT, wine, and a snoring Winston we had to put out of the room so we could properly cheer on and be grossed out by the incest afoot. Winston sits on his throne and judges you for watching.

So my grandpa continues to slowly improve. We're not out of the woods and he'll be in the ICU at least a week longer, but I got to talk to him- TALK TO HIM!- today on the phone when he asked my uncle to call me because he was worried about Cora. He's tired and scratchy and couldn't talk for long, but it was so good to hear his voice! Almost totally worth the stitches screaming banshee situation. But please do continue to keep him and my family in your thoughts. A family that is now in danger of flooding and is also going to have a harder time getting up to MSP to be with him and my grandma.

(And it's now midnight and brother found out he's under a mandatory evacuation order at his friend's house, so he's supposed to be ready for the National Guard to come by at 8 a.m. to ferry him to another location that is still not his house or my parent's house. This is such a mess. Oh Houston. I need to stop checking twitter updates and go to bed so I can keep pointlessly checking tomorrow.)

I hope all my Houston and gulf shore readers are safe tonight! This is such a scary and awful situation; the Lag Liv family hearts are with you.

(Monday morning 6 a.m. update: my brother remains under mandatory evacuation order without a way to actually evacuate. The Brazos river, already up 20 feet and expecting to rise another 30 (!) is next to his friend's house, and the situation is dangerous. My mom texted this morning that the water rose up to their pool last night, swallowing it, and continuing towards their house. They're sealing doors and windows and moving thing upstairs. It is still just pouring rain and all of Houston is drowning in it.)


  1. Seeing those photos of your grandfather was such a shock-- and so hard to see. I was almost crying when you said he woke up and even called you. And I don't even know your family. And as someone who has never been to Texas, and doesn't actually know anyone there, your updates are really sobering. Will be following your Houston updates closely and sending wishes of dry land to your parents and brother.

  2. You're a trooper. Still keeping you and your famiy in my thoughts.

  3. I am sure it meant the world for your family to have you there. I hope your grandfather keeps recovering - and that Houston is soon safe.

  4. I'm a long time reader and I've been thinking about your family all weekend. I'm glad to hear that your parents are ok and that your grandpa is improving. It always seems like these difficult things hit at once. You guys are in my thoughts and prayers

  5. Thanks for the suggestions on how to help Houston. It's really hard to know what to do besides wringing hands and watching TV feeling sorry for everyone. I have some family and friends there, too, all safe, but it's going to be a long cleanup and recovery. I hope your family continues to be okay. And of course your Grandpa. Much love to all of you.

  6. So glad your grandfather is doing better! Scary news from Houston for many! I am so glad your brother had the sense to at least stay put at the friend's house once he got there.

    And that story about Cora at the emergency room was INSANE. Margarita well-deserved.

  7. I was worried about you and your family this weekend! Glad your grandfather is doing better! I hope your parents and brother stay safe. Donated to the Texas Diaper Bank. And HOLY COW about Cora and the ER! A much needed margarita.

  8. I'm keeping your family (the ones in the south and north) in my thoughts. We just had a family vacation in Houston with my uncle who lives in Woodlands and they're fine but the roads are impassable. The lake house on Conroe (where we vacationed) has water up past the boat dock, and creeping steadily towards the house (like your parents' place). The situation is totally messed up. I read on twitter that the National Weather Service has no predictions about impact because they've never seen anything like this before. I'm horrified- this is going to be like Katrina all over again. I'm sorry. I am epic-ly sorry.

  9. just HOLY SHIT. My thoughts are with your family. I honestly feel like news depictions of the devastation in Houston are not doing it justice. I am going to donate now. I am also glad Cora is okay and well -- at least her feistiness is going to serve her well in many other realms!!

  10. geez, too much to handle for you all.... so sorry and please know we are all thinking and praying for your family. so glad gramps is doing better!

  11. Yeah for your grandfather! Boo on the rain/flooding! My son had the eyebrow stitch thing, but not at Children's, because we're in the country. He had 3 and it healed fine. He has a little scar, but it gives him character. His epic tantrum was at O'Hare after he and I got through security and he had to take his shoes off at the time. Literally, thousands of people witnessed it it was horrible and awful and I learned a lot about myself from it. What a stressful week you've had. I am so sorry. This week will be tough too. Good luck-you got This! Liz

  12. I'm adding another comment. I assume you may have heard about this via your law connections: a new state law is going into effect on 9/1, which will change how and what insurance companies pay for natural disasters. If someone has a claim due to Harvey, they should make it and have proof of that claim being made by 8/31. I think there have been posts on the local (whatever the new name is) PSN FB groups. Again, good luck! Liz

  13. Good luck with your family!

    I really appreciate your story about Cora because my three-year old is usually happy just like Cora. But sometimes she will lose her mind over something and become completely irrational. On Saturday it was because I had to buy her ballet shoes. She screamed and cried and I had to force her to try on shoes because it was the only time I could buy them before her lessons start next week.

    After her fit she said, "I was really mad!" It's nice to know that this is just how toddlers are sometimes.

  14. Long time reader, first time commenter. I wanted to pass along my continued prayers for your grandad, and thank you for the excellent suggestions on how to help Houston. I've just made my donation to the Texas Diaper Bank. :)

  15. Many, many prayers to your parents, brother, and grandfather! The situation in Houston is terrifying. Coming from FL (and now I live in dry, dry desert Utah), it's always so crazy to think that the big damage can come from water, not wind, in a hurricane. I hope everyone is safe and sound and DRY.

    Glad Cora is ok!

  16. Such great photos as usual.

    Why oh why could the staff not come up with a compromise that would be both safe and less objectionable to Cora, I don't know.

    Seems to me anyone who can pick out an outfit like that should have some say especially if she understood it could hurt a bit and she agreed to hold still.

    Anyway you got 'er done and that's what counts!

    Best wishes to all in Houston and continued progress with your Grandpa. Definitely sounds like he's turning some corners if he's calling about Cora! ��

  17. Sending good thoughts to all your family right now.

    Once upon a time, I was skating with my three year old, and he fell and split his chin in the place that most kids do. He fell asleep while we waited in the ER, and woke up as the doctor was deciding to do stitches. He ROARED his displeasure. It took four medical people to hold him down while the doctor worked, and he screamed and cried. I am a very practical, calm person, and I was sobbing in the corner by the time it was done. Your picture of you with the margarita is a perfect depiction of how I felt after. :) My son is 24 now, still has a little scar there, and it's a great story to bring out when I want to embarrass him.

  18. Cried for you/your mom/grandma/grandpa, cried laughing with the Cora story (sorry!), and then donated to the Texas Diaper Bank. I know life is going to be crazy (!!) and super busy, but please keep us posted on your family in Houston. All of us total strangers are so worried! Ha!

  19. What an awful lot to handle all at once. Glad your grandpa is on the mend and hope your family stays safe and as dry as possible.

  20. Wow, that's a lot on your plate. I'm glad you were able to be with your grandparents for a bit. I'm in a similar boat (pun unintentional) myself. My grandpa went to the er for a stomach bug and found out he has a very aggressive form of leukemia. It's been a whirlwind few weeks.

    Prayers to your Houston family. I hope your parents are able to stay dry and your brother gets to safety.

  21. Oh lord, in thinking about Texas, I thought "Lagliv is in Fort Worth, that's good," of course forgetting that the rest of your family is in Houston. Thinking of you all and hoping your relatives are all okay. I am so glad that at least you have some good news out of the Cities.

  22. What a horrible and precious and too many emotions last few days for you!

    I have family in League City, Friendswood (still there) and Galveston (evacuated). They have been shuttling the little kids out in kayaks and just went back to collect wedding photos in LC. That's when I cried. My other cousin with four kids under six, is cut off because of the flooding and had to shelter with her neighbor who had a two story house, because they don't. It is CRAZY. I live in WA state and just felt helpless watching it all unfold. My mom's folks lost everything twice in hurricanes in Galveston and her family is saying this is by far the worst flooding they have ever seen. My Uncle's law offices had five feet of water in 2008 and now they aren't sure what to expect. I have thought of you and your family as well. I'm so, so sorry.

    My Dad has been going through something similar to your grandfather so I have prayed for you and him -- it's too much. Too much heartache for y'all. Your grandmother's face broke my heart. What a gift of a granddaughter you are. I am hoping for safety and health and rest and relief for all y'all.

    Big (gentle) hugs and lots of love.

    1. And PS - Cora for President. Just saying...

  23. My brother lives in Houston, all the other family (me included) lives overseas. He barely made it back home when flying back on Friday and we thought the worse is over, and were sort of content with the local news coverage of the events as well as his reassurances... I have to say , your family story got me anxious and texting him on the hour making sure they're indeed "on high ground" and the water is no way near...

    Wishing the best to your family in Houston and Refuah Shlema (full recovery) to your Grandpa