summer

Murder Veins 2: Revenge of the Great Saphenous

Charlie’s on day 2 of summer camp (woooooooo! Best $150 I’ve ever spent!) Yesterday he went swimming, which I didn’t know was going to happen or I would have properly fretted in advance of the trip to the pool. The day school didn’t pull one over on me: I signed a theoretical release form saying it was okay to take him on whatever field trips may happen this summer, up to and including a pool visit. I packed him some swim trunks and sunblock on the off chance they might come in handy this week.

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Me with correctly timed Valium and the dope shades they give you before they turn on the lasers. Procedure #4 of 10.

I’ve been going through a bunch of vein surgeries. I’m halfway through a set of 10(!) of them, and I’m in an insurance-mandated, three-week rest period between the “Cut & Thread & Zap” and the “Just Cutting or Whatever Because I’m Not Going to Google What a Phlebectomy Is Before I Get One Because That Sounds Gross.” There are five of each genre. There should have only been four of the Cut & Thread & Zap.

It was advertised as an easy procedure.The room wasn’t big enough to accommodate me, three health-care practitioners, that big blue sheet (like from when I had a C-section), the zapping machine, and a husband to hold my hand. So the husband fell off the guest list. Hell, there wasn’t room for my purse. I put it, along with my shoes, on the medical scale wedged behind the operating table.

Maybe 45 minutes into it: “Katherine, we are going to stop. We will try again in a couple of days. I will write you a prescription for Valium, and your husband can come in here with you.” I’m super-tough in a lot of circumstances, both physically and emotionally, and I’m often surprised by what things hurt so much that I break down. Getting a catheter woven into the vein that runs from my knee to my groin, even with a few shots of novocain, broke me down in all the ways. Apparently my veins are thicker than most (though the assistant with the thick European accent said they were “very sick,” and it took some back-and-forth for me to understand what was going on). “You mean it didn’t work?” I asked.

I was nervous, and that made the vein seize and stutter (and another word I can’t come up with right now but means both of those things at once). Crying didn’t help the matter, and I fucking cried. Those factors, in conjunction with a general Bad Case of the Leg Veins, meant they only got the catheter about halfway in, all told. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. I said it over and over, until it made sense that none of what I had just gone through will make me any better.

Two days later, we tried again, with a husband and some Valium. I took the medication too early, I think, because I was stone-cold sober and anxious as fuck by the time we started. But I had Andy holding my hand. We got through it, and the doctor noted what a remarkable husband I have, because “none of the other husbands do that. Well, okay, one other one did.”

By the fifth surgery, we had it dialed in. It hurt, but whatever. I took my Valium at the right time, so I found the affair stressful and painful, but there was nothing akin to freaking out. To keep my mind off the leg stuff, Andy had his phone and was searching Zillow for houses in L.A., where we’re moving this September. Occasionally he’d say, “This one has a pool. That would be nice.” Whenever he said “pool,” I saw an image of Charlie’s little blond mop, his shoes and clothes still as on he floats face-down in the water. “I don’t think I want a pool.”

Andy dropped off and picked Charlie up from summer camp yesterday. All at once, I got the report that it was Pool Day, and that Charlie had literally jumped right in. He had a great time and talked about it all day and as he was falling asleep last night. Got a little sunburned on his lower back. Big success.

How did he know to jump right in? How did he know how not to drown? How do pre-school teachers not feel terror with the notion of just taking a big group of two-to-five-year-olds to the pool for a little swim? How was he not scared?

Maybe he takes after his dad.

When I picked him up today, Miss Ann let me know that when it was time to pick up toys, and they turned the lights off and sang the clean-up song, he got very upset and started hitting himself. His teacher said she walked him over to the toys and helped him pick them up, but she seemed concerned about the hitting. I said that over the last month or so, when he’s been very upset and seems like he wants to hit or bite me, he instead bites himself… kind of hard. He’s doing a good job of being gentle with everyone else, but he seems like he’s turning his frustration inward. Miss Ann said I should talk to his pediatrician.

Maybe he takes after his mom.

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