Monday, October 26, 2009

Zero to Sixty...

We just had a weekend, right?

I missed that somehow.

Have you ever felt like you were so busy there just wasn't time to do anything.... but then something happens, like someone flicking a switch, and you realize you had no clue was busy even was??

That's how I feel right now.

Hockey season has come. My husband is coaching one son's team and I am managing another.

I haven't found my bed on the near side of midnight in over a week (not that I was particularly great at finding it before that... but before I was "wasting" time, not "spending" it)

I'm hanging tight to the knowledge that this frantic time at the start of the season... when teams are forming and everything has to be done right now, will only last for a brief time.

Pretty soon we'll be into our standard winter routine and I won't feel so pressed... I just hope we reach that point while I still have hair... or at least some left that's not grey yet.

Word to my husband: I will help you with whatever you need for your team, but if you think hockey is an excuse to abandon our son's partially finished bedroom, you're mistaken! (you don't need sleep buck up!) Sincerely, your loving, but tired wife.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Filling Thier Needs

My oldest son has the most awesome teacher this year. It's the first time he's been taught by a male teacher and I was looking forward to a firmer hand in taming my oldest's ... ummm... energy, shall we say.

And as the year progresses I couldn't be happier... this teacher, Mr. N. has succeeded in gaining the kids respect and maintaining order - mostly through his creative and innovative discipline style. At the beginning of the year, Mr. N. gave parents notice that he would regularly hold kids back for 15 minutes at the end of the day if there were any difficulties during class time that needed extra attention... and asked us if we preferred to be contacted by phone or email if our child would be staying on any particular day.

When he does keep them, those 15 minutes are put to good use. The imaginative punishments doled out during his detention periods have us parents laughing almost every day.

My son's best friend NR was getting in the habit of being really slow getting his morning routine accomplished and getting to his desk during the allotted time in the mornings... yesterday was particularly bad - so he earned an extra 15 minutes at the end of his day.

15 minutes to practice his morning routine.

When his Mom got there to pick him up she got to watch him: He put his coat on, walked to the door... then turned, proceeded back to his hook, hung up his jacket, changed his shoes, sat down at his desk, turned and said "Good morning Mr. N.!". To which Mr. N. replied "Good morning NR!".

Then he did it again. He got in several rounds during the 15 minutes... and by the third "Good morning Mr. N!" it was pretty hard to keep a straight face....

Today was my son's turn.

I guess he was disrupting class with air guitar renditions.... so when I got to the school to pick him up I was informed that he was still in Mr. N's room: Doing "air guitar".

Huh?? I had no idea what they were talking about so I wandered over to his classroom and sure enough, he was standing in there doing a mad air guitar - complete with sound effects... providing background entertainment to all the parents and kids as they were leaving. And any time he quieted or slowed down, Mr. N. would encourage him to pick up the volume or pace.

He told me that my son obviously had a need to play air guitar and he's all about filling the kids' needs. I couldn't help laughing - what a perfectly appropriate punishment!

The guitar was sounding a little tired by the end of 15 minutes.... I don't suppose it's as much fun when you have to do it ;)

I love this teacher.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

We made it One Whole Week.

One week to the day of NOT having to visit Children's hospital!

Only this time I got to see areas of the new Children's Emergency that I've never visited before.

After all the trips I made last week to take my youngest son in for his IV antibiotic treatments, several of the staff were familiar - and a couple recognized me... even though I was there with his older brother this time.

First time in ten years that I've ever taken a child in for a suspected fracture. We've gone for cuts (how proud am I? Every one of my three kids has a scar already!) and illnesses... and most recently major infections... But never for a broken bone.

My boy was playing "Manhunt" with his buddies after school today ( it's some version of tag they're mad about right now). He was racing around the new play structure in his schoolyard... darting to avoid a tag, when he lost his footing in the wood chips and skidded, shin-first, into one of the large, metal support columns.

I thought it was just a bad bump... you know how much really whacking your shin hurts! But a few hours later, the swelling and bruising were impressive enough to warrant a drive for pictures.

So this was the first time I've ever been sent to X-ray with my child. And I have to say, the X-ray department waiting room is so cool - the ceiling tiles are painted dark blue like a night sky and have dozens and dozens of mini-lights embedded... in the shape of the constellations even! It seems like no matter where you go in this new facility, the decorating and playful decor just make being in a hospital as fun as possible. It's awesome.

But even better is having my son's X-rays showing that there is no hairline or compression fractures hiding under the bruise. He may be limping for a day or two... and he'll be watching his first team practice from the sidelines tomorrow, but at least he won't be missing the first half of hockey season or anything.

Here's looking forward to more than a week before my next visit to the hospital!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our Cabin in the Woods!

Picture proof of how far we've gotten!

Two weeks ago (or was it three?)... before our boy got sick, my children stayed a day with their aunt and cousins so that we could spend one last fall day working on the cottage before we closed it down for the winter. I've been meaning to post some pictures ever since but have never made the time to do it... between the start of hockey, construction on our son's soon-to-be new bedroom in the basement... and spending the majority of the past week either in, or driving to and from Children's hospital, it hit the back burner. But better late than never!

After two seasons of solid work (along with plenty of non-work time enjoying the place as we progressed!), our cottage is *almost* done! There's plenty of finishing left to do inside, and a deck to add to the front next summer, but we finished the siding on the shed... and my Mom & I even made the time to cut a cute little moon in the outhouse door! (painting still to come).

I've talked before about how much my family has fallen in love with the cottage community that we've built in. The kids love the time we spend up here... as do we, and I look forward to years of time spent at the cottage, building summer memories. We have power now, but just like my years growing up at our "old" family cottage, I don't intend for TV or electronic entertainment to invade our "getting away from it all" time. Right now our time is filled with the outdoors... swimming, boating, walking, bike riding and playing in the woods. In the evenings, or on rainy days, family board games, puzzles, cards and coloring fill our time. We all have so much fun together - and no one ever has the time to be board or miss what we left behind in the city.

It's perfect. And we built it all... it's an amazing sense of accomplishment: from the weekends spent clearing brush, to the early days of the building... all the way to where we are today - I have pictures of it all... including the fun we had... and everyone who worked so hard - or helped along the way: My Dad and husband, my Mom & me... my uncle and aunt and brothers - even the kids! When we're finally all-the-way finished, I plan to document it all in a scrapbook that will have a place somewhere up there... so that my children, future nieces and nephews... and their children, will be able to look back at the roots of this family cottage.

Our own little cabin in the woods.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wishful Thinking!

(He actually asked if he could ride to his friend's house!)

Home Free!

Well we're finally home - to stay I hope! My boy received his 7th round of IV antibiotics Friday night and Doctors finally decided that we've seen enough improvement to switch to oral antibiotics instead! So they pulled his line and let us go... I'm so glad it's over.

He was so excited to have the use of both hands again... on the way home I over-heard him play-acting a conversation between the two:

"Partner! I'm so glad to see you! (picture the two hands "talking" to each other) Oh partner I've missed you so much... I never want to be away from you again. When we get home we can play with our toys and even the PS2"

Funny little man. But I get his relief at finally being set free... it must've been such a frustrating week for him trying to do everything single handed. And I'm thrilled that we didn't have to head out for the hospital for the first morning in 4 days. Thank God.

Now it's just a regular 10 day prescription of antibiotics and we should be able to put this whole thing behind us. He'll probably have a scar on the back of his leg where the infection broke through, but other than that, he'll be none the worse for wear.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

4 days, $51 and a tank of gas...

So we're into day four of our twice daily trips to Children's hospital ER for IV antibiotic treatments. And my boy's been such a trooper.

I suppose it helps that the nurses and doctors there are so wonderful... after 8 shifts, there's usually a few that recognize him when we come in - and he's charmed them all just like he does everyone who spends more than 5 minutes talking to him. I don't know what it is about him that makes everyone around him just want to take care of him... but they're all so sweet and gentle with everything they do, they've made this entire week as easy as it could be.

He's comfortable. He actually likes the ER... he plays for a few minutes each time we come in... gets mesmerized by whichever movie they have playing on the big flat screen - it's such an amazing hospital. Our city is so privileged to have a facility like this here. Every part of it is designed to make being sick easier on kids (and parents). The only thing we're missing is some free parking!

But this is getting old. He cried tonight for the first time during his treatment... he was saying that it hurt and was hot - like burning as it was going in. They stopped it for a minute to give him a break, flushed his IV with some saline and then turned it back on slower... which he still didn't like, but at least tolerated better. Nothing was different tonight than any of his previous treatments... all they could figure was that because he's had the IV in for so long now, his poor little vein is probably just getting tender and irritated.

And he's so over having his hand bound. He was frustrated today at having to do everything one handed... and not being able to play with his toys, or his video games... the poor kid can't even pull up his own pants when he needs to use the washroom. He's eight and he needs someone to zip his jacket and buckle his seat belt. I'd be frustrated too. I'm surprised he went two full days before complaining about it.

I wish it could be done with. I really thought he'd only need one or two treatments before we could switch to oral... maybe three at the most.

Tonight was #5... and tomorrow morning will be his 6th. Because yeah, we've been condemned to another day...

I was disappointed to see no change when we went in this morning... but tonight? When they took off the bandage I was thrilled - excited! The redness had finally receded and was smaller than the last borders drawn... the color was down, there was less heat and the wounds looked like they were finally drying. It's a long way from healed, but the tide has turned I think!

I was totally expecting the Dr to come in and say it was time to pull the line and let him go to oral meds instead. But I respect his prudence in the decision to continue the course another day in light of this first sign of improvement first.

I'm just not looking forward to tomorrow morning's treatment after how much trouble he had with tonight's. I'll just cross my fingers that it improves as much overnight as it did over today so the Dr will decide to cut us loose after the morning dose....

At least I can sleep better tonight now that I can SEE my boy getting better. It's been a rough week...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not so squeaky wheels

I have two kids who will scream blue murder about the tiniest little thing... aches, pains, upset tummies... you name it, it's worth getting some attention over. And then there's my youngest boy. He rarely complains. And if he does cry, you KNOW he's hurt bad.

He's the tough one I guess. I guarantee he has a higher pain threshold than I do...

Only sometimes that old saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease is all too true... and being tough isn't a good thing.

I have one very sick little boy on my hands.

And I feel terrible because it took me so long to even realize it. I know that if it were either of my other two, I would have known and taken them in at least 24 hours sooner....

Guilt sucks. Parental guilt sucks even worse.

When I picked him up from school on Monday, he was complaining about an itchy leg... "an itchy wet leg". The "wet" thing made me stop right there and pull up his shorts leg to look... and what I saw was a small wound (like a scab that had been scratched off, or maybe a bug bite?) that had obviously been scratched at for a while. He'd made it bleed. It was gross but I'd seen much worse... no biggie.

So when we got home I took a minute to clean it up with disinfectant, put some polysporin on it and cover it with a bandaid. I even rubbed some after-bite on the area around the bandaid to calm down the itching so he wouldn't get after it any more. Then we moved on to the chaos of our evening and I never gave it another thought.

That evening, at hockey, he told his Dad that his leg was hurting. I only got this message yesterday when we were putting it all together....

Then the next morning (Tuesday, yesterday) he told me he wasn't feeling good - his stomach hurt. He seemed fine otherwise: no fever, good appetite, no other complaints... and normally I wouldn't instantly keep a kid home just because of some indefinable "sore tummy" on a school day (you know, one of those), but this is my boy who NEVER complains about anything. So I took him at his word and kept him home.

He laid on the couch watching movies, seemingly perfectly fine (no more complaints) for the rest of the morning. I decided, since he didn't really seem sick at all, I wouldn't waste the day and he could tag along with me while I ran some errands. But when he got up to get his shoes and jacket, he was limping. I asked him why and he said "I don't know, my leg is funny".

That didn't make much sense - but I just thought maybe it had fallen asleep or something from laying around for a few hours or whatever... and off we went.

I really should know better. This is my boy on the autism spectrum... he says the most bizarre things sometimes and his descriptive word choices can be totally off the wall. Like saying he has a "nervous throat" to describe that tightening you get when you're upset, etc.

I should have looked at "funny".

Instead, I drug this poor child along with me while I traipsed through the mall stopping at three stores I needed to hit... limping the whole time. But not complaining! He was just thrilled when we stopped for a few minutes at the pet store to check out the animals... and the popcorn I bought him from Kernals more than made up for the boredom of his having to wait while I shopped a bit.

It wasn't until we were back home, at 3:00 in the afternoon, that I noticed how gingerly he was sliding out of the van. It was a full 24 hours since his "itching" complaint before I asked him how bad his leg hurt and even thought to take a look at it again.

I didn't even connect the two issues: small scratched open scab + sore leg... until I looked at the red, swollen, baseball-sized area around my bandaid patch job. We left for Children's right then.

And when we got there it was relatively quiet... I told them I thought some kind of allergic reaction or infection was spreading on my son's leg. They took a look and got us into a room about 20 minutes later. And when the nurse removed my bandaid to reveal not one small wound, but a now large HOLE and a second opening both oozing puss, I think we effectively settled on infection pretty quick.

They took a sample to culture and decided, based on the extent and it's quick progression, to start him on IV antibiotics. Even though we don't really know which bacteria is involved, they've started him on something to kill both strep & staph (the most likely culprits). He has a pill he needs to take a 1/2 hour before the course of antibiotics (supposed to boost their effectiveness?)... so he got that then we had to wait. Then the actual IV takes half an hour. Then the flushing of the IV & wrapping....

They drew a line around the large red area surrounding the wounds with a pen. I remember my mother (or maybe my grandmother?) telling me never to write on myself within ink when I was a kid (after I colored myself some pall-point tattoos?) because I could get blood poisoning or something... I'm not quite sure - I just know that I've always thought it was a really bad thing to do. However, I'm going to assume that it was just another one of those old wives tales because really, these are medical doctors - so I'm not going to question them on their choice in instruments when coloring on my child. They should know, right?

The line was to mark the area so that we could see, at the time of his next IV course, how the borders of the infection area had changed. Then they dressed the wound, disconnected and carefully wrapped the IV port on his hand, and sent us on our way. We were there for about 4 hours, all told.

2-3 years ago, they started doing IV antibiotics on an out-patient basis in the ERs. I think it's a great idea. I mean, what's the point in corralling an otherwise-well child in a hospital room for days just because they need a half hour of medical care every 12 hours? My boy would have been completely stir crazy (like every other kid out there, I'm sure) within hours. But this way, he could be in the comfort of his own home until it was time to come back for another course of the IV antibiotics. And they told me that when they could see that it was working (ie: the affected area was getting smaller) they would switch him to oral antibiotics instead.

I'm still waiting for that.

My boy was so sick on the way home from the hospital after that first treatment last night. We live 20 minutes from Children's hospital - and I had to stop 3 times because he was going to be sick. He didn't actually puke until we made it to our own front yard... but it was awful seeing him feeling so bad. At our second stop he walked out from the van onto the grass area I'd stopped beside and just fell to his hands and knees.... then he put his forehead on the ground, and then lay right down on the cold damp grass. My poor baby. I picked him up and helped him back to the vehicle - I just wanted to get him home! I was so worried. I've never seen him this sick. He looked like the walking wounded... what with the limp and the hunch and now the pale "I'm-going-to-heave-any-second" look on his face.

He slept good though. And this morning when I woke him bright and early to go get dose #2, he was walking better. We had to leave at 6:30 to get there ahead of our 7:00 designated time. Every 12 hours... I guess I should just be thankful right now that he didn't get his first course at 3 in the afternoon or something awful like that! Can you imagine?? 7:00 (am/pm) I can do....

This morning we were in and out in a hour. There wasn't a single person in the waiting room (first time I've ever seen that!). It was too soon for any results from his culture... and I was sad to see that the area hadn't shrunk at all - in fact it was spread a tiny bit past the ball point border from the night before. But we were really early in the course of treatment and he was feeling so much better that everything seemed really positive. He's walking better and says it doesn't hurt much anymore... and he's his usual happy self...

We spent a pretty quiet day at home. He didn't get sick after the second treatment (thank GOD)... but he was a little more tired than usual. To be expected I guess.

We were back there tonight for course #3. And we walked in to a line-up... and a very busy waiting room. I was prepared to wait. They'd warned me that they would try to get us in as soon as possible... but emergencies, understandably, have to come first... and if there just aren't any treatment rooms open... well, you might wait. Evenings are always their busiest times... and It's OK... my kid isn't suffering (now) and I would rather see a baby in respiratory distress or a toddler bleeding profusely from a head wound go first (I've been THAT Mom before too!). But there must not have been any real emergencies... because we were in and out in about an hour & 20 minutes this time. With a Popsicle to boot.

Only tonight, when they removed the wrapping, the angry red borders of the wound have almost doubled in size. Again. In 24 hours, again. And I'm thinking they should already be shrinking if the antibiotics are working? I really thought that tonight would be our last trip... that he would be switching to oral meds because he's feeling better and everything's looking good. But that's not what's happening. I'm trying not to panic as news stories of flesh eating disease flash through my head... and I'm trying to believe the Dr's reassurances that it's expected that it will "spread a little". But double in size?? Really?

So I'm clinging to the fact that my boy tells me he's feeling better... and it's obvious that the pain is down. Neither of those would be happening if something wasn't working, right?

So tomorrow morning, bright and early once again, I will take my son to Children's for course #4 of these antibiotics. And there's a hope that the culture might be showing something... and I'm just praying that the infection is finally getting smaller. They drew a new border tonight... it takes up the entire inside and some of the back of his thigh now...

I'm ready for this to be over already. It's so ugly and awful... I took a picture of it yesterday to show my husband - and made the mistake of letting my son see what the abscesses on his leg looked like. He freaked (my bad)... and I'm thinking it's a really good thing it's in a place that he really can't see well himself... if yesterday upset him, the way it looks today would really send him over the edge.

My poor child. What a lesson this is. I have to watch, and really pay attention, to this little man so much more than his "squeaky-wheel" siblings. I have no doubts that I'll always know when something's bothering them before it's too late... but this one? This is an awful way to learn the lesson of how something so small, when overlooked for just a short time, can so quickly blow up.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Such a girl...

My daughter, at 3, has more interest in her clothes than both of my boys put together. She has the need to try on several outfits in a day... which is frustrating from a laundry point of view.

I hate the laundry that I HAVE to do... I despise additional laundry accumulating for "fun".

But apparently I just didn't understand this little mini-me of mine....

Yesterday, when I tried to tell her she didn't NEED new clothes after daycare every day, she got really upset... it took me a few minutes to understand why...

All this time I thought it was just her being "such a girl" and wanting new outfits (dress-up is already a favorite pastime).

But it's actually her wanting to be just like me: Every day when I come home I change out of my "working clothes" and into my "playing clothes". And she notices what I'm wearing (which I doubt my boys do even now at ages 8 & 10!).... on days when I don't change right away I'm invariably faced with the question "Mommy, why you still have working clothes?"

So she's picked up my habit: Every day when we come home now, she wants to change out of her "daycare clothes" into her "playing clothes".

It's a ritual... and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

She's so darn cute, I've decided the laundry is worth it ;)