The Parent Trap: revelations on a “Lost Weekend”

We started calling it our “Lost Weekend.” But in reality, we found out more than we had bargained for about ourselves and our children. But mostly, we discovered that a bad foot can often be a good break.

The foot began to hurt the week before, and she didn’t know why.

It started out with a sore foot, and ended up as a “Lost Weekend” of revelations about luck, love and a new found trust for my children. My wife is a diabetic, and so any problem with her feet must be taken seriously. She is dedicated to her treatments, rarely missing a pill or injection. Her fingers are sometimes sore from constantly sticking herself in order to draw a drop of blood. But the foot was something new.

I confess that I was starting to get worried and annoyed, so I decided to shuttle her off to the hospital. At worst, it would be a break and she’d be in a cast, but we would be home soon, I told our kids. We needed to let the kids know that this trip would be brief – except for stretches of a couple of hours, we learned that the natural friction that occurs between a 16-year old brother and a 13-year old sister just seems to increase when left alone for extended periods of time.

We pulled into Frankford Hospital’s Torresdale campus and were put through the system quickly. But after taking an obligatory blood test, the previously scarce ER doctor came into our cubicle with an odd expression. Turns out that, while they still hadn’t figured out what was wrong with my wife’s foot, the blood test revealed that she had anemia. And not just a mild case of anemia – she had to stay overnight and receive what turned out to be four units of “packed” blood cells.

“My case has suddenly become more interesting, huh?” my wife said to the doctor, who could only agree, sheepishly.

Going on our third hour in the hospital and simultaneously worrying about the woman I love and two teenagers stewing at home, I turned to my sister to check up on them. With three kids of her own, she understands the tension that can occur with siblings.

But she called me up and told me, “They’re just sitting around quietly. One is actually reading a book. The television isn’t even turned on.” I immediately asked her if she went to the correct house. But during the ordeal of the Lost Weekend, as my wife was checked by every specialist and given every test under the sun (hospitals just love it when you are a member of a health care plan), the kids and their behavior through the whole thing continued to amaze me. It just goes to show you that sometimes you can underestimate your children and get a pleasant surprise.

Three days later, the blood levels were fixed and her foot was finally diagnosed. We entered the Frankford-Torresdale campus on Saturday while it was under one name, and left on Monday as the signs were being changed to Aria. What a difference a weekend can make.

For now, things have gone back to normal – or as normal as they get in my house. Turns out that part of the attraction for siblings arguing is having their parents as an audience. But, as I told them many times, we are not entertained.

The Parent Trap is a weekly column by Patrick P. McNally that will appear on every Tuesday. See others here. Read other NEast Philly columns here.

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