Chille gets ready to ride the rails...
At Times Square, we have a couple of options to get up to 168th street in Manhattan, the neighborhood known as Washington Heights.
Although the Express A train will get you there in about 20 minutes, we choose the local 1/9 line, which takes close to 45 minutes, because it goes from an underground subway up to an elevated train when we go through Harlem. For a subway enthusiast, there is nothing better!
After a few brief stops, the train heads back underground.
The 1/9 line at 168th street lets you off down in the "bowels of NYC". One of the worst subway stations in NYC, you walk over the trains on a very shakey platform that has been around for close to 100 years. Chille would live there if I let him. I always feel like I need a bath when we leave...
There is no way out but for an elevator that has seen so much crime, it has a 24 hour MTA attendant. Nothing makes you feel safe like a shiney orange vest!
There are lots of street vendors peddling gifts for people recuperating in the hospital.
Chille spots an adult male fan in matching duds... The highest form of flattery, Chille knows his urban stylings are sought after by the best of 'em...;)
Live from da Hood, Chille's NYC adventures take us to Morgan Stanley Childrens Hospital.
If you don't want to venture down in the bowels of NYC, I recommend the safe and clean alternative of the A express train to 168th. For those who may be driving, the hospital has valet parking, which I also recommend, because finding a spot around the Columbia Medical Center is close to impossible and the hospital does NOT offer a discounted rate. So you might as well treat yourself with Valet, a very rare occurrence in the city.
Chille and I have lived in childrens hospitals all over the world, and we have never encountered a better, cooler, more awesome experience than the new Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital in NYC.
There is a beautiful gift shop right at the entrance, where I once spotted Oprah's Dr. Oz.
At the Maurice Sendak Security Desk, you must show your i.d. to get a hospital pass. If you are a frequent guest, ask the guard for a permanent i.d. badge that they give out yearly for parents of children with "extra" needs.
We have a rule when we are in the hospital: "You can't get into trouble here", meaning that anything goes. This makes the experience much more fun and Chille usually races into the hospital instead of being dragged in kicking and screaming. I recommend adopting this policy if your child spends a lot of time here.
Live from da Hood Maestro Chille takes a moment to conduct the animal orchestra. BRAVO!!
The art is top notch, and even if you are walking down a long corridor, you can follow a story as you go!
This story titled 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day' by Judith Viorst is about a boy who has such a bad day, he wants to move to Australia. Not a bad idea! Oh, wait a minute... We've actually done that!
When we go to the hospital, we always bring a special bike or scooter that Chille only gets to ride indoors here. It makes the transitions from labs to offices to X-ray a lot more fun and I often say "Show the nurse how fast you can go!" to get him there.
Chille shows off his shirt. Nurses find irony entertaining....
Just a little farther....
SO much closer now!!
WOW! Another elevator...
There is not an inch that isn't decorated... This is the ceiling!
Are we there yet? Good directions are key...
Lo and behold, we've MADE it!!
After that journey, Mama's heart is racing!
Chille and friend take a much deserved break while Mama checks in with Gloria.
Soon we are called back for the 1st phase of the visit, an EKG.
Chille laughs as the tech explains to him that she is going to "charge him up" so that Chille can "go even faster". OMG. No. Please. ANYTHING but THAT!!
Chille helps by counting them as she goes...
All ready to begin!
She sings Yo Gabba Gabba's 'Hold STILLLLLLLLLLL' song and gets Chille to cooperate perfectly. Well done!
While we take a break before phase two, Chille celebrates a victory! The hospital gown he is wearing was custom made by his loving Grandma. Frustrated with the usual gowns, which are difficult and require a nurse to assist and unplug IVs and the like, I created and designed a gown that can be worn and put on without any assistance or need to unplug anything. If you would like to order some gowns for your child, email me and let me know what type of material you'd like. Chille usually wears Thomas and Cars and all things boy, but Grandma can do ANYTHING!
Chille is called back to begin the next phase and stops for a quick height and weight check.
The doors to the suites are made like farm barn doors.
Each room has a different theme and a television with all the latest kids cable channels.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. You can see how the heart is functioning and how the blood moves through each valve and chamber.
An Echo can take as long as the tech can make it. Some have been 10 minutes, others can go for 3 hours or more.
I usually schedule it around his nap time and following a lot of excercise so that he is good and tired. Go ahead and bring a bottle full of milk and let them veg out to the tv or DVD.
Chille is engrossed in an episode of Garfield. I think it is the one where the cat gets in trouble for eating all of Jon Arbuckle's pan of lasagne...;)
After the echo, Chille passes the time with a lollipop.
Hmmmm.... they've thought of everything. When I stand next to the kids toilet, I feel like Alice in Wonderland. Chille makes it look to scale.
At Phase three, Chille meets with the cardiac nurse for a blood pressure reading.
The cuff on the left is a normal adult size. The green one is child sized and the orange cuff is for an infant.
Chille has a Medtronic Dual-Chamber Pacemaker implanted in his tiny abdomen. He holds the part that connects the pacemaker to the laptop. (That photograph on his pillow is of Chille when he was a baby. I bring it to remind the staff how far he has come!)
From here, we can see how his pacemaker is doing and tweak its settings...
Chille flirts with the nurse and tries to get her digits...
It's all good on this front!
FINALLY! The main event.... Live from da Hood Chille's NYC adventures take us to his Cardiologist, Dr. Leonardo Liberman. With all the technology Chille's been exposed to today, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned listen with a stethoscope by an expert who has heard it all...
....just when we thought we were done....
Dr. Liberman orders a 24 hour EKG that Chille will wear home as he goes about his life called a Holter Heart Monitor. It will record every heart beat from 5 different points over the next night and day. I'd hate to be the one who has to read all that!
Ah, nurses. I told you they like to be entertained! Where would we be without them? WE LOVE NURSES!!
With heart monitor carefully secured, we are all ready to head home...
As we exit the hospital, we pass by an original Picasso. The irony that this is now how Mama feels after spending the entire day at the Heart Center does NOT escape me.
As we wait for the A train home, Chille consults the subway map which he lovingly refers to as "The Island of Sodor".
Just another ordinary day in an extraordinary city...