Friday, November 18, 2011

I eat breakfast 3 yards from 4,000 worries that are trying to kill me

That which does not kill you is only a prelude to that which is far more likely to kill you.


That is the sum of the parenting medical knowledge I've accumulated in the last two weeks. We thought that Jewel's almost broken, or maybe dislocated, or maybe just twisted and she can walk it off leg would worry us to death. We studied her limp. We learned that a gallop is just a run with a wicked limp. We developed scoliosis from suddenly carrying her so much.

Then 3B got pneumonia.

It started as sniffles on Veterans Day, and neither that nor Giddyup Hotspurs' gallop stopped us from taking the kids to the playground by the nature park. 3B and I had an adventure in the great and  mysterious woods while Mama took Jewel to the playground to mostly swing. 3B and I spent the better part of an hour being Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Darth Vader and sundry other characters before it was time to head home as the sun set.

I'm quite sure that while the time outside was good for all of us, it was great for 3B's pneumonia.

Our bedroom door swung open at 3something a.m. on Saturday and he announced, "My tummy doesn't feel good." I jumped out of bed and he and I hustled into the bathroom. Not much came up that time or the next time he puked, but it still took a lot out of him.

Although those two bouts of nausea Saturday morning were his only two, his fever started to climb and plateaued at 103.5 through the weekend, so we put him on ibuprofen, which brought it down to a much more reasonable...er...101. But it made all the difference. He went from sweaty rag doll who could only stay awake 2-3 hours at a time to regular little boy.

Regular little boy who wouldn't eat, that is...but at least he wasn't puking, either.

He was however, starting to develop what seemed like unusual breathing during his naps: shallow and rapid. I checked with the only doctor who still makes house calls--the interwebz--and it seemed that his breathing rate was normal for his age and size, but still, it looked funny to me. Not that I spend a lot of time watching 3B breathe while he sleeps, but enough that I knew this wasn't normal. Knowing by Sunday that he was bound for the doctor on Monday there was really nothing to do about that except, you know, get up every two hours in the night, sick with worry, and go in to check on him.

By Monday, with his fever stubbornly steady despite a weekend of nothing but rest, fluids and purell, we took him to the doctor, who diagnosed pneumonia and sent us home with a nebulizer, a prescription for an antibiotic and a whole new level of worry.

I had already scheduled to be off on Monday to see the dentist and get my annual physical, which is really on a more Olympic-style biannual schedule than truly annual, but nobody calls it an Olympic physical. Especially not when it comes to me. In fact, my doctor, in addition to the usual indignities, shaved patches of my chest and hooked me up to an EKG, which showed a minor heart murmur. So then I was sent down the hall to have my chest slimed so they could ultrasound my heart.

The good news is that my heart looks to be working fine. The bad news is that they're concerned enough that I'm going in for a stress test on Monday.

And did I mention the between-the-teeth filling that my dentist put in just before that? She's got an amazingly soft touch, does great work and is patient with me and my apparent inability to floss, but I can still feel the effects four days later of having my jaw seemingly pierced with a novocain needle and my teeth separated and drilled through. So, on Monday morning, lying on my side, shirt off, chest slimed up, feeling the ultrasound wand bouncing off my chest as my numb face drooled onto the paper sheet, I had only one thought:

How's 3B?

OK, two: Is Jewel destined to gallop in circles for the rest of her life?

The good news from all those trips to medical professionals--followed up on Wednesday with return trips to the pediatrician and orthopedist...I'm telling you, our car is now a clinic shuttle bus--is that the antibiotics took effect almost immediately and wiped out 3B's fever. Although his cough is also mostly gone and his appetite is back, his pneumonia is still with us, according to the guy with the stethoscope, so our worries have eased.

Except that the same guy with the stethoscope said that Jewel likely has 3B's pneumonia and so to bring her in as soon as she starts wheezing, which appears to have been last night in the bath. You know, after she horked in her crib at 3 a.m. yesterday morning.

Third verse, same as the first, little bit louder, little bit worse.

As I said to begin, the worry that doesn't kill us is only a prelude.


Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Easier: a relative term that doesn't apply to my relatives

Living with a toddler is like living with mountain weather--if you don't like it, wait five minutes and it will be completely different.


Yesterday, Jewel got good news: her foot, heel, shin, whatever isn't broken. Apparently. And there's no soft tissue injury. Apparently. And her leg is now healed. Apparently.

The qualifiers are because two-year-olds are like dead men: they tell no tales. OK, OK, OK, Jewel does actually talk up a storm telling tales and giving orders to match the best pirate captains of yore, but good luck getting a direct answer to a question such as, Where does it hurt? Or, Does it still hurt anywhere? Or, shall we reef the topsail, then, cap'n?

But at least she doesn't limp anymore, which she took full advantage of yesterday evening, once again running the length of the living room to dive head first onto the couch in an attempt to flip upside down. Glad she's back to...er...normal.

And if you like that news, wait five minutes for the news of her other doctor visit. See, technically, it wasn't an appointment for her, it was a follow up for her brother for his pneumonia.

Mama had the doctor listen to Jewel's lungs anyway, however, since she's been developing quite the wet cough over the last few days and had developed a low-grade fever yesterday. The doc said that she's not got pneumonia yet, but that if she starts wheezing, it'll be time to bring her in to confirm what we'll already know by then.

To help us out, Jewel made the diagnosis easier by throwing up in her crib at 3.30 this morning. Yeah, "easier" is a relative term. Then again, if she is laid out by pneumonia like her brother was, maybe she won't be twisting her ankle, breaking her shin, or whatever it was she did while dancing.

Some consolation prize, right? Like leaving Wheel of Fortune with nothing more than a box of Rice-a-Roni and a set of Lee press-on nails. But when the weather changes as often as it does around here, the best we can do sometimes is set up barrels and hope to catch some of the silver lining as it falls from the clouds.



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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The shuttle to the doctor's office leaves from our house every hour on the hour

Shattered dreams. A twisted leg and a limping dancer. Pneumonia.


No, this isn't a Dancing with the Stars recap, this is the last week in the Bradstein Household.

It started last week when Jewel and 3B were dancing to Just Dance 3 as I was headed home from work. By the time I got home, she'd managed to fall with her foot trapped between the leg of a chair and the leg of a table, apparently twisting them, although we'll never know.

Mama and 3B were standing right there and saw her fall, but couldn't tell what happened that hurt her. What they could tell immediately was that she was in great pain. Mama said that Jewel's face turned bright red immediately and she started screaming and crying louder than Mama had ever heard. By the time I got home, they'd been rocking in the glider for 20 minutes and Jewel had settled down, but she was limping around the house like a peg-legged pirate.

Sort of cute, but a little sad and very worrying.

It didn't seem to bother her anymore, but her brother was sitting up and moving around the day after his abdominal surgery with only Tylenol to dull the pain, so we know that kids' perception of pain is a bit different than adults'. And the limping meant that even if she wasn't registering or attending to it, Jewel was feeling it at some level.

As the orthopedist said when we took her to see him a few days later--the delay was because our first visit was to her pediatrician--you can't train them to limp...as if we'd want to...although, wait a minute, it is sort of cute, now that you mention it.

No, seriously, he said the same thing we knew: she was minimizing time standing on that leg by limping, which means that it hurts. But, two sets of x-rays later, he couldn't tell why.

Based on Jewel's own reports, we first x-rayed her foot, ankle and partway up her shin. The radiologist reported a possible concern in her heel, although not a fracture. But maybe. But maybe not. The orthopedist, looking at the x-ray and the radiologist report, which listed a suspected dislocation of her heel, said that he'd lost all respect for that radiologist because in toddlers, there's supposed to be a lot of seemingly empty space in the heel--it's cartilage that forms into bone as they get older.

So, he ordered an x-ray of her leg up to and past the knee because he said the most common injury for kids her age falling like that was a spiral fracture of their tibia or fibula, which would truly make Jewel Mom's granddaughter, since that's the fracture Mom got skiiing back in the day before quick release bindings. However, they must not be that closely related, because he found no fracture.

But she was still limping.

He told us to wait a week, and if she was still limping to bring her back in. The next steps would be an MRI or other soft tissue scan, but that would require knocking her out, since she has to lie still for so long for those.

It's now been 10 days, and she's got an appointment today to go back in--the soonest we could get back in, and we booked it just in case we needed it. It's hard to tell if she's still limping. If she is, it's slight, but we'll probably take her back in just to be sure. She does seem to be running normally again--she had developed quite the gallop, which led me to calling her Giddyup Hotspurs, which was my uncle's nickname for Hopalong Cassidy, which apparently his brother was a big fan of.

Fortunately, she's too young to know that.

Good thing I never wrote it down anywhere.

As for the shattered dreams and the pneumonia...those will have to wait for another post.



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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Shopping cart surfing

Yesterday, the unthinkable happened when Mama left the children's care in my hands for the day. She hasn't lost her mind, though, just her health, and even that was a momentary lapse of the season.


Everyone seems to have survived, even Mama, who I put to bed last night with a bit of a hot toddy. It would have been a real hot toddy if I didn't live in a state that believes there's no need to update laws written on parchment with quills dipped in inkwells. Otherwise, why wouldn't they sell liquor at grocery stores? Or on Sundays?

Fortunately, we have enough of an emergency booze stash--strictly for medicinal purposes, I assure you--that I was able to pull something together. Imagine my relief.

The day started off slowly, since everyone was still tired from the candy orgy the night before. I let 3B sleep in until the last possible moment, so as soon as he got up, he was on the run to school. Jewel slept an hour or more past her usual waking hour, though she still woke up singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep," as she does every morning.

By then, 3B was off to school. He's found his groove and really gotten into it. He knows to eat enough breakfast so he won't get tired at school, to get ready quickly in hopes of watching some TV before he leaves, and we had a good time reading his homework book one more time in the lobby and chatting with neighbors before he marched up onto the bus. He was so busy greeting his friends, he didn't even wave goodbye. Perfect.

Jewel had found her groove the night before, trick or treating, but hadn't figured out that she could eat her loot as she got it, so she woke up ravenous, although that's not an entirely novel event for our little pumpkin. She ate three bowls of Cheerios, helped me get her dressed and then we headed out while Mama slept on through her cold.

After trying to determine which playground Jewel wanted to go to, which isn't as easy as it sounds, given her coded, cryptic descriptions, lack of hard R's, and the fat pacifier that's always in her mouth, I did what I do best: the same thing we always do. The regular playground turned out to be just fine, if a bit nippy early in the morning. She spent most of our hour there in one swing or another, which was easy, since for most of the time we were there, nobody else was.

We left there and headed to the grocery store, where we loaded up on milk, cookies and other staples, which sounds easy, but you weren't wrestling a headstrong two-year-old who would rather stand up in the shopping cart seat and call out "Stokaboka!" than stay seated. (Thanks for that, you-know-who-you-are.) But seriously, she's a great shopping companion, who always has something to say, helps look for things and is amusing.

After that, we headed home for lunch and a nap--the former for both of us, the latter just for Jewel. Mama woke up when I put Jewel down, and appeared to be doing somewhat better. At least she was ambulatory. The rest of the day was pretty mellow, since 3B came home exhausted from school and still recovering from Halloween.

Today we appear to be back to what passes for normal around here, although we're entering my season of crazy swing shifts, so we'll see how long normal lasts.


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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween is Independence Day, and our girl must make her way on Independence Day

Last night was, of course, Halloween. It was a night when, in Mama's words, Jewel "really came into her own."


Except, of course, she's been into her own for some time now. Who made our kids so independent and strong-willed anyway?

Oh.

3B had a blast, as always, with one of his best friends from preschool, who he's known since birth. 3B calls his friend's mom Auntie and his friend calls Mama the same. Mama and I had a blast, as always, with 3B's friend's parents, even though our conversations were constantly cut off and unfinished as we tried to keep our herd of cats together.

3B's friend has a younger brother, but he's older than Jewel, so she was really on her own, but that didn't bother her a whit. It was as if she'd been rehearsing what we told her about Halloween for weeks when she marched up to the first house--through the animated graveyard, under the swinging ghost--held out her plastic pumpkin and said, "Trick or treat!"

And at every house along the way after that.

She was such a pro that by the time we were leaving, her pumpkin was heavier than 3B's--although that was due, in part, to the fact that Jewel wasn't making a withdrawal for every deposit, as her brother was. It was so heavy that it threatened to capsize her as she walked up driveways and steps to front doors, and I kept asking if I could carry it for her.

"No. I got it."

Of course you do, sweetie.


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