By now it goes without saying that life in the NICU was a grind. When we finally busted out we thought that was the end of all that hospital stuff. Turned out that wasn’t the case at all. Apparently one pound babies require follow-up appointments, a sh**-load of them. So the grind continues. However, unlike the NICU, visits to doctor offices all over Knoxville comes with a perk in the form of unintentional comedy. In the NICU we were isolated. We saw the same doctors, nurses, staff, and families pretty much every day for four months. It was safe, it actually became a little comfortable after a while – a clear indication we had been there too long. But running the follow-up appointment circuit put us among the masses of Knox-vegas. And it is, in a word, awesome.
Take, for example, our visit to the eye surgeon. AM got a visit every Tuesday in the NICU from an eye surgeon due to a common eye issue in premies. The issue did not correct itself so we had to do follow-up visits after we busted out. The first visit was uneventful. The second was pretty funny.
Due to her immune issues I had to keep her separated from the group in the waiting room. A room that looked like the day room of an old age home. I was waiting for a crazy game of bingo to break out. So I waited by the receptionist desk. This was a big joint. There were five receptionist for the several docs that worked out of this complex. They all wanted to marry me. I have slimed down a bit but it was most likely the good looking five month old I was holding. She was pouring on the charm too. Smiling and chucking out a text book goo goo every once in a while just to keep the staff interested.
Now most of the old folk just meandered on by to take their place in the waiting area, or as I call it Old People Assembly Area #3. They would smile, see the wires coming out from under AM’s onesie and just keep moving. But one lady decided she would just plop right down next to me, even though what she was sitting on was not a chair. She then started the 5th degree about AM. She kept trying to get closer to get a good look, a move which really started to creep me out a bit. I would have been afraid of a grab and dash but for the fact I could have given this lady a 10 minute head start and still caught her by the front door of the joint.
She then decided it was time to tell me that salad gives her the worst gas. Just like that. “Oh really” I say, “did you just have some?” Cause yeah she stunk on ice. Swing and a miss though, salad lady was not connecting on all synapses that day and my little barb sailed on by. “All those damn onions” she continues, “and that dressing, oh my lord what is that dressing they put on?” I have absolutely no response for any of this. I am literally just looking at her, trying to see any tell tale signs of psycho trauma. I quick glance at the gals behind the desk and most of them are stifling laughs, then one angel of mercy saves me and calls me over in an official type manner. It was for show but it saved me from the attack of the killer roughage story.
The best so far has been Wednesday’s trip to the pulmonologist. This is the follow up with the heart monitor folks. They download AM’s monitor to see what events she may have had over the past month. Two of the greatest kids were in the waiting room when we got there. And by greatest, I mean the best unintentional comedians in Knoxville.
First up was this chunky blond headed kid. Had to be 6 or 7. He either thought he was Howard Cosell or he was actually Howard Cosell reincarnated. Picture of the late, great below.
The kid was narrating everything that happened in the room, at the top of his lungs. A nurse would come out to get a patient and Cosell goes “not my doctor. I know my doc and that’s not my doctor.” The best part was when a large lad came through the door. Ole Howard shouts, “The fat kids is here.” As if he’d been waiting on the kids arrival and now the party could start.
Then in walks monkey boy. So named because he was wearing a monkey backpack where the tail served double duty as a leash for the mother. A fact not lost on Cosell. This could be epic. “Hey that kids on a monkey leash!” Houston we have epic, we have epic. Unreal. Even funnier, I was the only one in the room who even came close to a reaction; which of course was gut busting laughter. Well monkey boy was not concerned. He was too busy whipping every other kid with his monkey tail. He looked up at me sitting next to AM’s stroller, took one step and decided I was a bridge too far. Then monkey boy started to rearrange the magazines. Cosell was all over that. “Hey he’s moving all the books. Look he dropped some.” “Hey you dropped some!”
Monkey boy was not there for heart monitoring, he was there for what I could only imagine was a severe case of whooping cough. He felt the need to make us all aware of it too. Moving from kid to kid he would cough in their general direction. He took four steps toward me this time. I looked up and shook my head in the negative, firmly and sternly. He paused, then moved away without coughing. Monkey boy was nothing if not perceptive, He’s going places, I can tell. Cosell would not relent. “Hey he’s not coughing on that guy.”
Not sure why but I had the strangest urge to call my friend Andy. As a fellow north-easterner and New Yorker I know he would have made the Cosell connection if I held the phone up.
In case any of you are wondering, no, neither mother did anything to curtail, quiet down, or other wise stop Cosell or monkey boy from their morning activities.
I ran into Cosell in the lobby. He must have finished up early. He was outside with his mom, saw me pushing the stroller toward the door and ran to hit the button so the door opened on it’s own. The real Howard Cosell would have done the same.
I miss that dude.