Friday, August 28, 2009

Trust Me: The Light is Not Taunting You

It was a beautiful morning.

The birds were chirping.

The flowers were blooming.

The typical August heat and humidity were missing and the air was pleasantly breathable.

The sun was shining through the windows.

Radiance was reflecting off of every surface.

And my nut-job of a dog decided to try to eat the light out of the wall.

I rue the day we bought that laser toy. We created a light-obsessed monster.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prayers Answered

Since Jack's confusing, unexpected and scary diagnosis, we've been talking quite a bit about prayers. Jack was surprised to hear that I pray every night. He was even more surprised to hear that I pray for him and Luke every night. I don't know why this would come as a shock to him. I guess we don't talk about it much. We talk about his prayers but not about mine. So I told him a little about it. I told him that I pray for him always, and not just when he is sick. I also told him that I am not just asking God to keep him safe or make him well, but that I am always thanking God for the gifts of Jack and Luke.

We had the appointment with the Pediatric Neurosurgeon on Saturday at 8:00 am. That is waaaayyyy too early in the morning to have to think about spinal cord surgery. We were the only family in the office so got an abundance of attention. First, a PA came in and asked Jack several questions and put him through a battery of strength and motor skills tests while the neurosurgeon reviewed his MRI. Then, the neurosurgeon and another doctor came into the room and called John and me into another room to discuss the films. I was hoping we would pass by a toilet on the way so I could puke.

What he told us was that this:

was likely something that Jack was born with, is not all that uncommon, and would likely close itself up as Jack grew. He said he saw nothing obvious that would be the cause of it, no blockage of spinal cord fluid flow, and would recommend another MRI in one year to confirm his diagnosis. Basically, what we had was wonderful news and answered prayers.

As we left the doctor's office and explained to Jack what the doctor said, Jack said, "I knew I would be fine because I have been praying. Will you come to my next MRI, Mom, and rub my feet when they get tingly like you did last time?" So now I need to make an appointment with a cardiologist to repair my melted heart.

But, I do have to say that what really scares me is this:

I wonder if we could turn this image into Jack's next Halloween costume.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our New Old Life

Our new life has started. It is eerily similar to our old life. Our old life before John started his own business. Our old life before he was home all the time. Our old life before we lived on one income.

So our choice was for John to go back to work or to give up our house. We decided to keep our house. I'm wondering if we made the right decision.

This week has been a might bit stressful. Not that the last year and a half wasn't stressful with John trying to get his business off the ground and watching our savings dwindle from a nest egg to Oh My Gosh We Have No Money. But we're back to our old ways with John going to work every morning, now even before the kids wake up, and me running the school routines while working my 40. Not that we won't make it work. It will just take awhile to get used to again. And maybe we'll decide it's not worth it. Maybe we'll give up our house after all. Or maybe we'll win PowerBall.

I do enjoy driving the boys to school again. They are very talkative and hilarious in the mornings. We spend the drive jamming out to Spongebob's greatest hits. It is oddly exhilarating. And the boys are adjusting to the new schedule too. They miss their time with their daddy, and even notice on most days that they haven't seen him in the morning. They want to stay up late with him into the night talking. That means I have to nag them from their beds in the morning, but I have figured out that waking them up at 7:15 am to allow for 15 minutes of Wii is the difference between them jumping out of bed and me dragging them out of bed.

They graciously let me walk them to their rooms on the first day of school. I needed that. I did not get a kiss from Luke, though, and he informed me, "This will NOT be happening when I go into second grade next year."

We'll see about that.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What Does Love Weigh?

With school not beginning until Tuesday and my husband traveling for a new job, last week stood to be a stressful one. I was attempting to take over 100 pages of notes from a recent project and mold them into a functional and understandable product for my client. I had been attempting this for several days and time had run out.

Luckily my sister came to the rescue and, instead of me juggling the boys on one hand and typing with the other, she entertained them in that special way only aunts can do. Thanks, Nanny (which is her nickname, not her job description).

I had to share something she sent to me in the mail. She does this often. I'll open the mailbox and out of the blue there will be a thought or a sentiment from her just because. This one in a little red envelope nearly escaped my attention because it's the size of a gift card.

It reads, "Thank you for sharing life with me. I love you, Shannon."

Luckily, it was attached to this:

This envelope is from the Postal Service and requires $0.22 postage due on my sister's little envelope. That is such my sister's luck. She would have been devastated to know that her note arrived attached to a bill. Just thinking about the expression on her face when I would tell her had me cracking up. So I didn't tell her. But I posted it here so she could read about it and be surprised, knowing that the note brought me love and laughter all in one.

I don't know why it came with a postage due envelope, because the envelope had a $0.42 stamp attached and it was a teeny, tiny envelope. Maybe it was overweight because of all the love stuffed inside.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Pain of the Dentist

The nervous energy that accompanies a trip to the dentist manifests itself in my boys the way most things do - they wrestle.

And I think our dentist and all the people that work there know this. They seem to be finely attuned to the moods of children. And they have decked their office, lobby and tooth torture areas out with myriad ways to distract the kids from the impending chair treatment.

Just check out the pictures on their website and you'll see what I mean.

There is a large fish tank with colorful fish aka Finding Nemo. There is a bird aviary. There is a play room with things to climb on, things to stack, things to read, and a computer loaded with games. There are televisions playing kid-friendly programming. The furniture is soft and oddly shaped and fun to crawl on. The walls are painted with murals of big fish and sharks and octopi. The hygienists and office workers wear St. Louis Cardinal shirts.

With all of this stuff, you think my kids would be entertained for the fifteen minutes that they wait for their names to be called. But they've seen it all before - every 6 months to be exact. So they resorted to the one activity that never grows boring and that activity is driving their mother insane.

I managed to distract them a bit by letting them take pictures of the fish tank with my phone. But then they started fighting over who took more pictures and I had to take the phone away and they started wrestling again.

The (imagined?) looks of disapproval from the other parents with perfect children began when I couldn't control my boys, so I did what any mom on the fifth day of a low-grade fever with snot dripping and her nose skin peeling from incessant wiping whose husband was on the second day of a four day business trip would do. I bribed them with new Nintendo DS games.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Calming Activity

We've come down with a nasty little summer bug at our house. First Luke, then Jack, then John, then me.

We were all lazing about the house with me on the couch and Jack deciding to entertain himself right before bedtime with a non-energetic activity. He thought he would build a fort because, "building a fort is a calm activity and mom likes calm." Although the sentiment touched me and made me chuckle, most ideas that my boys come up with either begin or end on the other end of the spectrum from calm.

Here is the fort he built:

From the top of the stairs

And from the bottom.

The strategically placed tube gave the boys a great slide to climb up or down, to hide from Indy while he tried to eat their toes, or to try to teach Indy how to climb. It also gave them the perfect avenue to crack their heads on the concrete and brick wall.

The fort itself became a study of our household members' flexibility, as it had to be traversed to make it up the steps to the bedrooms. A stall tactic by the boys perhaps to avoid going to bed? I was tempted to march them through the back door and up the driveway, but I was too tired. So I climbed the menagerie of blankets, pillows, cushions, foot rests, and death traps.

For sick boys, the energy bubbled over. The fort soon became an undersea ghost world where Indy was a ghost shark trying to eat them. We warned them time and again to settle down or someone was going to get hurt. Luke said, "I'll get hurt," with the excitement of a child volunteering to go to the carnival. "I'll hit my head right on that thing." To an outsider, this statement from Luke may be perceived as sarcasm or sass. But Luke is always the one to get hurt and he was simply stating a known fact. He didn't want to stop playing over something that was inevitable.

Before too long, I was pulled from the couch by a crying Luke. Jack had gotten too rough, had not thought things through, and had hit Luke in the eye with a piece of flying fort. Game over. Time for bed. "But I'm sick and too tired to go upstairs," proclaimed Jack. It's easy to pull the sick card at the end of the day when there is no chance of missing anything fun.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When A Bump Is, But Isn't, Just A Bump

I was pushing Jack on the swing. He asked me to push him on his butt because his back was hurting. I didn't pay much attention.

Later we noticed a bump there. We took him to have it looked at. The doctor scheduled an MRI.

I got to be in the room with him. It was an open-sided MRI machine. It looked like a giant UFO. We talked about being an astronaut and pretending to be a Pokemon.

I reminded him he had to be very still. I remembered my own MRI and how I was enclosed and cried through the whole thing. I would tell him that story when he was finished with his own. He laughed. He was braver than I was. I told him I was claustrophobic. He told everyone I had a disease.

The technician taped a vitamin to his back so the radiologist would be able to focus on the spot we were concerned with when reading the films. I couldn't stop thinking of the story of the Princess and the Pea, worrying that he wouldn't be comfortable laying on that vitamin.

After 35 minutes, they conveyored Jack out and we waitied for the doctor to read the films to see if he needed the contrast injection. It took 20 minutes for that decision, with Jack still strapped down and me rubbing and rotating his legs, which had begun to go numb and tingly. The doctor was consulting with a patient with sad news after a mammogram. I wondered if that would be us soon.

Jack needed the contrast. His eyes got big, he started breathing heavy, but was fine after he heard everything that was going to happen and she showed him all of her tools. Jack has to have an explanation and see all the implements before moving forward. His doctors and dentists know this about him. Seven more minutes and he was done.

We couldn't wait for our results. We had to go pick up Luke. We would have to distract ourselves for 48 hours and try not to think the worst. The radiologist called 15 minutes later with a preliminary report. I ran home and jumped on the Internet. Probably a mistake given the oodles of information with no specific explanation behind it.

We kept the weekend full. We went to see Harry Potter. Jack and John went to a Cardinal game. Jack played in his All-Star game. Jack and Luke had a sleepover at meemaw's. John and I went to a Cardinal game. I tried to ignore Jack's unopened box of school supplies on the dining room table. I can be too grim.

The doctor called. Syringohydromyelia. A rare disorder. Jack has always been unique and continues to be so, even in illness. Jack hasn't been experiencing symptoms from the disorder so may just need monitoring and not surgery. We have an appointment with a pediatric neurosurgeon to figure out our next steps.

The bump the vitamin was taped to? Didn't even show on the MRI. Without the bump, we wouldn't have discovered the syrinx in his spinal cord. And maybe we didn't need to. Maybe Jack would have gone his whole life never experiencing symptoms. Or maybe not. I have to think that bump showed up for a reason.