Columbo

In the 80’s detective show Columbo, the quirky lead character, played memorably by Peter Falk, would always approach the (eventually-confirmed) killer and at the denouement of the conversation ask, “Just one more thing…” In those scenes it was always the lead-in to a question exposing the criminal’s error, a subtle way to stress him and let him know he was unmasked. But in our life today, the outcome of nearly every medical interaction concludes with a similar statement,”Just one thing.” While it doesn’t have the sinister underpinning, it does create a different type of stress. And lead to an unbelievably exhaustive list of just-one-things. For example, below are the just-one-things needed to prepare for bed. Yes, just bedtime.

  • Give seizure medication
  • Brush teeth
  • Suction
  • 20 minutes after meds, give enima. Yep, pretty gross. Brings new meaning to “do anything for your children.”
  • Suction
  • Feed via G-tube, flush with Miralax water
  • After 20 minutes, do cough assist machine
  • Suction
  • Do Biotine in mouth
  • Turn on vaporizer
  • Put in bed
  • Arrange rice bags for positioning
  • Put leg braces on
  • Put eye moistening ointment on
  • Put pulse ox on
  • Put chap stick on
  • Suction
  • Check oxygen
  • Check camera
  • Hugs and kisses

This is effectively a nurse’s checklist that we have integrated into our daily life. So when a doctor now says, “You should do just this one thing before bed” our initial thought is, “really?”

This expanse of parental obligation drives how our household operates. While not explicitly intentional, we have developed defined roles and assigned each task to one of us. It’s like we just read an economic theory book on how the specialization of labor drives efficiency and leads to increased gains. You never knew Adam Smith would dictate special needs care. And this separation of duties saves our lives. Jackson’s care is simply too much for one person to burden alone. Not only is it physically demanding and a time suck, it has an emotional toll. It is difficult to have to wake up eight times each night to care for a child, but even more so when that child needs help because they are essentially drowning in their own secretions. In fact, right now I am beside Jackson’s post-surgery hospital bed while Santina gets some much needed and deserved sleep at home. And this is not to seek pity; it is to inform and, hopefully, inspire. Our family may be tired and busy, but we can overcome monumental obstacles and maybe even set an example for others to do the same.

And just one more thing…

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One response to “Columbo

  1. Josh and Santina, George and I admire you so much for the kind of parents you are. Neither of your boys lack for anything you can possibly give them. THey surely get lots of LOVE. We pray that Jackson’s surgery went well. Keep looking up. Love you Aunt Jane

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