On Wednesday, June 18, 2014, the Life in Our Lane finally returned to normal. Allow me to fill you in.
Two weeks ago–Thursday to be exact–Bubba came home from school and told me his tummy hurt. He’d spent the afternoon playing outside, running races, and having fun at field day. I suspected that he was just over-tired and way too hot–Big State has some pretty intense heat around this time of year. When it was time to eat, he told me, “I want to eat my dinner, but my stomach hurts.” He sat at the table, picked at his food, and finally asked to be excused to the shower. Unusual, but not unheard of.
After the shower, he went to bed. From bed, he began yelling, “OW, OW, OW!!!” I really need to make an aside comment here. The OWs sounded, well, super-fake. He wasn’t crying. He wasn’t any particularly weird shade. He was just yelling. Because of our history of lying about illnesses in the past, both Daddyman and I figured he was probably faking again. But it continued, off and on, for over an hour. When I finally went up to bed, I asked him if he wanted to sleep with me. His answer was a tiny yes. Very unusual.
Bubba lay in bed with me, occasionally yelling ow but mostly staying still. This lasted until 10:00 or so when he vomited for the first time. Then he threw up several more times. Every time was more violent than the last. After the third time, I suggested the hospital. No go. Bubba was NOT going to the hospital. Until he’d thrown up about 8 times with no relief in sight. Then he changed his mind. Around 12:45 I told him to get his shoes, we were going. His response? “Yes. That would be good, I think.”
We rolled into the local ER just before 1:00. They started an IV and decided to do a contrast study. He downed about 1/2 of the contrast solution before he puked it back up. In the meantime, he received phenergan for nausea and demerol for pain. Neither one worked. His CT scan suggested that my poor little boy had an obstructed bowel. A surgeon was contacted–Dr. Cool–who wanted a NG tube passed. Ever helped with one of those? Me neither until that very time. Let me just say that the actual process is not that difficult. It’s the panic factor of the 10-year-old receiving the tube that makes it so difficult. Bubba felt like he couldn’t breathe. This made him panic. The panic made it difficult to breathe. That increased the panic. Nothing like trying to convince a kid in pain that yes, he can breathe while they’re sliding a tube down his throat.
It was now 4:00. A.M. I had been awake for almost 24 hours. Also, trigger guilt because, hey, I could have/should have taken him to the hospital hours and hours ago.
At 8:00 Dr. Cool was supposed to be in. She didn’t arrive until nearly 9:00. By then, Bubba was doing much better. Dr. Cool explained that the problem they suspected was a closed loop bowel obstruction. Basically, there was what looked like two pinched off areas in the bowel. Because Bubba couldn’t get anything past that spot, the bile and such was backing up into the stomach and the stomach had to rid itself, hence the vomiting. That made sense. Apparently there are a few types of obstructed bowels. One is more common in kids. Sometimes the bowel sort of slips into itself, creating a sleeve effect. The sleeve stops normal bowel function. These types resolve with–Ta-Da!–NG tubes and the dreaded enema. The other type is where something causes the bowel to pinch off and close. The pinched places can be simple or multiple (like Bubba’s). There is risk of a rupture. The part after of between the pinches can become necrotic. Neither one of those options was good. I’m now looking at the possibility that my son could die.
Weighed against death, nothing seems that important. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
Dr. Cool wanted to do exploratory surgery. Now normally, I’d be all, “What are the alternatives here?” But I wasn’t. I was more, “Yes. Yes. That is EXACTLY what I want!” as if I actually knew anything at all. What I did know was this–Dr. Cool is an excellent surgeon. She did Princess’ emergency surgery two years ago and took very good care of her. Dr. Cool is wonderful with her patients and death on nurses who don’t do what she wants them to do. I trust her judgement. What sealed it was when she looked at me and said, “If this were my baby, I’d be in there trying to correct it.” Yep. Mom to mom gets me. And she was right.
Surgery was delayed until just after 12:00. Why? Small Town Hospital didn’t have a scrub nurse on the schedule. Seriously? Yes. After talk of transferring my poor boy to Big City Children’s, delay after delay, and beginning the necessary paperwork, not one but two wonderful nurses from a town 36 miles away agreed to come in to scrub for the surgery. Because there were two of them, another person in need was able to have her surgery that day as well. God was looking out for us all.
Dr. Cool told us that the surgery would take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending upon what she found. Bubba’s only question? Would his belly button be broken? Dr. Cool drew him a picture of her incision. It looped out around the belly button. He gave her the thumbs up and off they went. We went to the waiting room. Our pastor came to sit with us.
Around 1:30, Dr. Cool came to the waiting room. In addition to her scrubs and cap, she was wearing a big smile. Bubba’s appendix, although “pristine.” was now no longer attached to him as a precautionary step. His bowel obstruction was due to a “extra-long, floppy colon.” Apparently it had escaped the membrane that anchors it in place, did a little dance, and flipped over on itself, effectively pinching off all bowel function. Dr. Cool told me that when she readjusted it, it had a big, dark red spot on the underside at just about the point where the suspected obstruction was visualized on the CT scan. He was out of the recovery room and on to the ward by 5:00.
At this point things are a little fuzzy for me. I’d been up for 24 stress-filled hours. There was a brief but heated conversation about who was going to Jay’s graduation. Oh, did I forget to tell you that it was the last day of school and Jay was graduating? It was. He was. He did. I went. I don’t know if I won or lost the heated discussion. Our oldest daughter drove because I was now a hazard on the highway. I did, however, get to spend time with all three of my girls and–Bonus!–my granddaughter, Kadabbie, the Sweetest of Peas. We had graduation dinner at a fast food place at 11:00 p.m. because there wasn’t anywhere else to go! I made it to bed just before 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.
I cannot remember the last time I was awake for 42 hours straight. I do not recommend it.
Bubba spent the next 5 days in the hospital. Highlights of those days include multiple discussions about:
1.Whether or not he had passed gas. Answer: Yes, almost 24 hours after the surgery. Then it was a competition between the males of the family as to how much gas could one hospital room hold. Answer to that: a whole lot.
2. How much did he pee? Answer: No one could tell without a measuring device. And because the boy was hooked up to multiple tubes, they brought us a urinal which proved to be a total pain. Apparently Bubba has progressed to the point of health where he finds peeing on or in things other than the toilet to be distasteful. Woo-hoo! Except now he needed to and it was hard. He couldn’t pee while sitting in the bed. He couldn’t pee if anyone was anywhere around. We all had to exit the room or pile into the bathroom. Let me just say that there is great potential for comedy when 6 people go into a bathroom together.
3. When could he eat and what could he eat? Answer: Nothing at first. We had to wait for the NG tube to come out and his bowels to start functioning. They kind of coincided. The first popsicle after surgery had to be suctioned right back out. But, when he was able to tolerate clear liquids, it progressed pretty quickly.
4. How many times a day he needed to be up and walking? Answer: The magic number was 3. The first time he looked like an 90-year-old man making his way down the hall. By the third day post-op, he was more aware of his soreness, but he was also nearly pain-killer free and moving more.
5. When will the tubes come out? Answer: Catheter-next day. NG tube–3 days. IV–not until we were discharged.
6. Will he ever poop again? Answer: That took some time. And it was necessary before Bubba could come home. We had roughly 800 pep talks. It got to the point where we were considering squeezing him to help! I got a text from Daddyman on Wednesday, 5 full days after surgery, that said, “We have success!” I actually cheered.
Yesterday, because I am teaching summer school and Daddyman is not, he took Bubba to see Dr. Cool. Bubba is now released to do most normal summer things like swim and run and play. He’s still not supposed to lift heavy things or do sit ups, and even though he detests both of those activities, he really, really wants to do them because, hey, RAD. But he’s well. And he doesn’t hurt. And that makes this mama very, very happy.
Life continues without Guy and Yum. While it’s actually none of my legal business, the powers that be are keeping me updated. Their parents are sweet, sweet people who lack the understanding that kids require lots of consistent care. They aren’t being hurt. They are being fed. No one expects them to keep them. I may be the only person believing they can–if they really want to keep them.
Summer begins here in Small Town in 9 school days. Summer vacation is a great thing, unless you’re a RAD kid who doesn’t like change. We’re revisiting Pee-ville. At least it’s been contained to the bathroom. Wall. On Saturday someBubba was given a bucket of hot water with Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil Soap and a rag along with instructions on how, where, and what to scrub. Left to his own devices, he scrubbed the floor and completely missed the wall and the toilet. A bit of redirection later and he was on target…..until he grew bored with the whole job. With crossed arms and tears, he told me he wasn’t going to do it and I couldn’t make him.
That’s not exactly true–I could make him. But I didn’t. I just told him that he would have a choice. His choice consisted of how long to stay in the bathroom sans toys, TV, conversation or meals. His re-entry into our world would be dependent upon the walls and potty being pee-free. Bubba was adamant that he was NEVER going to do it. I was okay with that choice. Never is approximately 12 minutes long. The walls and porcelain are clean and fresh.
It’s hard being 10.
Not blogging has become my life. I don’t even know why. It’s not like I’m allergic to it. I just…..procrastinate. Or think it’s unimportant. Or forget. Or don’t have time.
Now I have time.
Shortest version of my life in the last I-don’t-know-how-many-months: Guy came back with Yum this time. They stayed for 7 1/2 months. Then they went home last week. We were asked 3 times by the CASA and once by one of the social workers to please consider adopting them WHEN they come back next time. No one believes that the basic situation has changed enough to allow them to stay home safely. But they went home anyway.
Guy is adapting–he knows Mommy and Daddy. Yum? For over half of his life, we were mama and daddy. Now he has a new set of parents. I’m sick with worry and grief over this. I’m sick with worry and grief over Guy’s leaving–I know what brought him back into care last spring, just 12 days after the last case was closed. I know that God was definitely there that day because Guy wasn’t hurt in a most dangerous situation. I know He’s there now, but I’d still like to tell Him what to do!
What I am doing is praying that my boys will be safe and loved. And safe. That’s their biggest issue. Mommy and Daddy do love them–it’s the other thing that’s the problem.
So there y’are. We’re alive. We’re sad. We’re hopeful. And we’re waiting.
That sums up my missing days. The truth is that I blog when I need to process, not because I think I really have anything worthwhile to say. But we’ve been through some changes around here that bear updating, so here we are.
The suckitude of my last post has been dealt with in a positive way. Again with the health issues! I am now the proud owner of some unnamed auto-immune illness that causes all of the wonderful things auto-immune illnesses can, but it is totally livable, treatable, and my life will go on pretty much as it has, minus the pain. Yay for Mobic and Lexapro! Seems that both are important for balancing the pain and the serotonin issues. I’ll take it!
Daddyman is sick. Sicker than I’ve ever seen him in all of our 30-some years together. It sounds like pertussis, but it isn’t. For the past month he’s coughed, hacked, coughed, moped, coughed, and ruptured a blood vessel in his eye. Then he coughed some more. He’s had 3 rounds of high-powered anti-biotics, but so far there’s been little change. He sounds better since his last doctor visit–a shot of steroids will do that for you–so we’re hopeful it will end soon.
Bubba and Flowergirl are in therapeutic riding. He’s there to work on his need for control and his sudden rage. She’s there to work on her core strength and finding her voice to let people hear her. Both kids are doing well. They love the horses. They love the therapist. They love the helpers. The only thing they don’t love is that I am not independently wealthy and can only afford 1 lesson a week for each of them.
Jay is currently yanking my chain about playing football. He’ll be a senior when school starts. He told me he was considering not playing next year. When asked why, he told me, “Because it hurts.” Later, he came up with a story about this being his senior year and he needs to work on his grades and football takes up so much time. This from the 98% average kid! I think he just worries about disappointing people. Also, his favorite coach moved on at the end of the school year and he’s not really sure about the new one. What I wonder is how such an exceptional kid–excellent student, funny, smart, kind, athletic–can feel so insecure about so much with no good reason? We keep reassuring him, but it’s like he’s got this giant hole in his self-vision.
Guy has returned. This time, he brought baby Yum with him. This is both sad and happy news. His time with his family didn’t last very long before it came undone. The boys had been placed with another family for the last 2 months. Guy’s needs–medically and emotionally–were a little high for them. A couple of weeks ago the boys came to us as a respite placement that morphed into as permanent as it can be while CPS is involved. There is still chest PT and breathing treatments and tantrums and trips to Big City for medical care (where we’ve been twice this past week) with the added bonus of a beautiful baby who does not yet crawl or sit up but does sleep through the night, so there’s that. I knew this would be the case. I knew I’d be remarkably tired. And I am. I also knew immediately that this was the right–and only–choice, accepting this placement with all of its conditions. That was confirmed for me the morning Guy and Yum arrived.
I was waiting for them on my front porch. The car pulled into the drive and the other mom hopped out, waved at me, and opened the back door to let Guy out. He jumped down and came around the front of the car. His balance is incredible–he saw me and began to run. I bent down. “I’m home, I’m home!” he kept calling, a huge smile on his gorgeous face. He ran straight into my arms, hugging and hugging and laughing. Then, “I MISS you!” Me too, little boy. Me too.
I get angry. I allow things to show on my face and in my actions. I yell. Sometimes too much. And I always feel bad about it.
I suspect I am not the only one.
I make mistakes. I back up and say sorry. I try again. I still don’t get it right. But I try.
Sometimes the outbursts change things for the better. Sometimes not so much. The last one, just 2 days ago, seems to have done wonders for someBubba’s attitude. The thing is that I never know which time is going to be useful, which damaging. And I feel like poop on a shoe every time it happens. That triggers big feelings for me.
Sonny was always different. He was conceived through 3 forms of birth control, a meant-to-be-here kid if ever I saw one. He was ADHD from the womb, bipolar by the time he was 8. It was very much no fun. I spent the majority of the time from 8-15 just trying to protect the other kids from his anger. I sucked, by the way. What I didn’t know then is how completely his amygdala hijacked his brain. I wish that I had known. I’d have changed so much.
Today I realized that Jay is a little over a year from leaving home, striking out on a college career. Jay is the one I protected so feverishly. He’s a great kid–athletic, handsome, funny, and so, so smart. His most recent grade report showed his lowest grade to be a 96. God dropped him into my life at a time when I did not believe that little boys were ever easy. Yet he was and remains. He is a joy.
When my girls graduated, I was overcome with ambivalence. I didn’t cry. I still had others at home to nurture and raise. Sonny’s graduation brought me to near tears. He accomplished far more than we thought he would, and he did it in 4 years. It also meant that freedom from the vigilance against bipolar in our home was close to finished. But Jay? I would have him stay forever. I find myself weepy at the thought of his graduation which is still one year and two months away. Where did that time go? I blinked and it was gone. I need to cry now and get it over with so he’s not embarrassed at graduation.
Having Bubba and Flowergirl is comfort, but not the same. I love my children–every one of them. But each has a unique feel to them. My suspicion is that Bubba’s graduation will be a cause for celebration, much like his oldest brother’s. He is often prickly, reminding me of my failings in the parenting department, but I love him. He is also incredibly smart. If we can continue to work through the emotional issues, finding a place of health and healing, Bubba will be fine. Flowergirl will be like Sonny as well. Her little brain struggles to find a place to latch onto in the world of math and reading, but her spirit is a wonder of light and love. She may have to live at home longer than the others, but she will find her success–as will Jay. It’s just different with him.
I’m dealing with some issues that are difficult to wrap my head around. I suspect they are playing a part in my current feelings of suckitude. Waiting to find out the ramifications is not conducive to warm fuzzies. Whatever the outcome, I know that God is still God, that I will continue to plod on, and that I love my kids. And most of the time they love me. All of the time Daddyman loves me–ridiculously so. That helps tremendously.
Maybe I’ll share when I have answers. After I have time to process. Until then, I know I’m not really alone. I think most moms–especially special needs moms–live in this realm. Right now, the shoe isn’t fitting.
Today is laundry day. Usually that’s Daddyman’s job, but he’s out of town and unless we have a group vote to do the naked thing, clothes must be washed. Trust me–no one wants to actually see the naked thing. Plus I would be too cold and that would make things very interesting. Just not for me.
Something about the laundry makes me think about the past. Is it the multiple items left behind by kids who have moved on? Could be. Or maybe it’s just that I have time now to think. And I did think. I thought about a time last summer that I don’t believe I ever talked about.
I like to cook. I am not creative, but I do a good job of roasting, basting, sautéing and frying. It tastes good, my kids like it, and Daddyman has gained a commemorative pound for each of the 3o years of our marriage, although I win the weight gain contest. I’ve grown 3 kids, have a nearly grown young man, and no one has ever starved here. I like to try new things. I am an adventurous eater–I try just about anything set before me, including rattlesnake (tastes like muddy water). In the kitchen I am at home. Food snobbery has no place here. Just tell me what you want and I’ll cook it. I may not like it, but I will try it.
Flashback to last summer, Sissy, sitting on the stool by our kitchen peninsula.
“You know what my favorite food is?”
“No,” I say, stirring something or other. “What?”
“Chili,” is the wistful response.
Being the kid-pleaser that I am, the very next night, with complete disregard to the one-hundred and hell degrees outside, I bring a beautiful chili to the table, filled with tomatoes, onions and peppers from our own garden. A confused stare looks back at me as Sissy asks, “Where are the weenies?”
Yes. Of course. I suck. Again.
A few nights later, Sissy was once again on her usual perch. This is, in fact, the preferred perch of every single foster kid I ever had. The bar stools overlook the stove where I work my culinary magic. Food is powerful, the making of food a sacred act. This is often the only time in the day that I receive any respect from the children in my care. This is a holy time of day, rich with possibilities.
Sissy is watching me chop chicken. I am making this. The kitchen smells wonderful. Sissy is breathing in deeply through her nose.
“I wish I could cook like this,” she whispers.
“You can. It’s easy–just follow the recipe. You can do it.”
“My mom doesn’t cook like this.”
“She cooks though, you told me she did. Tell me, what does she make?”
Shaking her head and smiling, “She makes chili with a can opener. Also ravioli. And ramen. She doesn’t cook hard stuff like you.”
I am filled with sudden understanding and a desire to lessen myself in Sissy’s eyes. “Before you leave, I will teach you to make this. Or whatever you want. Then you can have it whenever you like.” Her smile tells me that I have succeeded.
Except that I never taught her to cook anything. This kitchen time was only an oasis of calm in the fire storm of their placement. She left a couple of weeks later.
News comes to me that Sister and Sissy will not be going home ever again. Their case is going to termination of parental rights. A friend of mine who knows our entire situation asked me if I wanted them back. Oh, absolutely not! They are so wounded and so unsafe for my kids. Never in a million. But my wish is always that moms and dads get it together and get their kids back.
I also really wish I’d had time to teach her to cook.
Believe it or not, this is the picture we had of Flowergirl’s debut a the Christmas play at our church. She’s up there behind the pulpit. Yes, she’s standing on the box they put there for the kids. No, it didn’t make any difference at all.
So after feeling like sobbing every time I thought about my baby girl, her “new” info, and her old troubles at school, I made my way to her campus to talk with her school counselor. I really didn’t expect the reception I got–warm, friendly, and optimistic. All good, right? Not so much. The counselor wanted watch her to see if her new meds have any effect. The wisdom was to continue status quo until the committee met on Flowergirl’s non-progress 2 more times. They meet once every 6 weeks or so.
Here’s the thing–there has been no progress. This is not new. We struggled through kindergarten with grasping letter/sound correspondence and reading our little books. We hired the lovely Miss Honey to help Flowergirl make it out of first grade alive. Her epic battles with learnin’ have continued unabated since the first day of school this year. And I would bet dollars to Krispy Kremes that the Committee of Might has met at least once since January, but that’s the only meeting they have on record for Flowergirl.
She continues to struggle–almost there, but never quite able to catch up and pass. I was too emotional to get angry just then. It took a night. And part of a day. And then I went to see a friend who is the Special Ed Coordinator for our district who gave me some very valid, useful, buck-up advice. Which I took. Then I wrote an email to the counselor saying that I wanted to bypass the committee and get straight to the testing. And she informed me that she’d have to check with the diagnostician (another church friend of mine) to see if it would be okay.
What most of us don’t know until we know it is that when you ask for testing, they now have to provide it. Even in my Master’s work we were told that the district had 30 days to decide on whether or not to test. Apparently, rules have changed.
Color me totally non-surprised that a couple of hours later, I received an email that actually said, “Good news! The diagnostician says we can skip the next 2 committee meetings!” Ya think? The paperwork came home the next afternoon. It went back to school on Thursday. Now we get to wait for them to pull my precious baby out and see what’s what. And according to my Coordinator friend, if Flowergirl fails to qualify, we can lay on the pressure to have her identified as Other Health Impaired (OHI) to get her services.
Peoples, we are on our way.
I am neither proud nor happy. I am just grateful for the help of friends in high places. While we wait, I am trying to help my sweet tiny girl manage her nerves that are taking their toll on her tummy. The Focalyn kills her appetite and gives her tummy aches. The fine bones of her face are a little more visible. She hates getting up in the morning. I’m beginning to believe she wields her declarations of love for me like a magic talisman against the evil fortress of school. I watch as my darling learns to hate what she once loved.
The wind chime sounds you hear are the broken pieces of my heart colliding in this crazy breeze.
Bring on the testing. Soon. Please.