The boy with two mothers

Evelyn has always been the “mothering kind” so the story I’m about to tell you should surprise exactly no one.

Yesterday evening, Ollie was complaining about his ear hurting, which wasn’t a huge surprise since they’ve both been sick and Evelyn is just getting over an ear infection. Ollie is not a big complainer, so we’ve learned to listen to him when he says something is wrong (because he won’t mention it unless it’s really, really wrong!) So we gave him some ibuprofen, lots of love and kisses, and tucked him into bed.

This morning Evelyn came skipping upstairs. “Boy I’m tired,” she said. “Ollie kept waking up crying all night long and I had to go in and check on him.”

“What do you mean? Why didn’t you come and get us?” I said.

“Oh, it was okay,” said our little ENT. “He had an ear infection, so I looked in his ear, and then we made a plan: I gave him his dinosaur and told him every time his ear hurt he should hug his dinosaur. Then I gave him a kiss and tucked him back into bed.”

Sure enough, when I went downstairs to wake him up I found him clinging to his dinosaur.

We tried to impress upon them that they really should get a grownup in situations like this (who, at the very least, could administer medicine)(NO CHILDREN ADMINISTERING MEDICINE), but…he was happy, she was happy…what are you gonna do, you know?

These kids, I tell you what.

(I especially like that she looked in his ear. How would she even know what to look for?)


GI virus: the gift that keeps on giving

Oh, this poor boy, Ollie. What a week he had last week. He had some kind of GI virus from hell that just went on, and on, and on.

This is the virus that never ends! It just goes on and on my friends!

He first started feeling sick Monday afternoon, but we didn’t think too much of it. However, Sara and I had just fallen asleep Monday night when we were awakened to blood-curdling screams. I mean, absolutely terrifying, up-and-out-of-bed-and-into-the-hall-before-I’m-awake-oh-my-god-my-kid’s-dying kind of screaming. My first thought was just that he was having a bad dream, but Sara said later she thought maybe he had fallen out of bed with his leg caught in the side and broken it. It was that kind of screaming.

It turns out, it wasn’t either of those things; it was just his reaction to waking up covered in vomit. I couldn’t blame him. “I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I’d do in that situation,” I confessed to Sara later.

It was a rough, rough night. Aside from one 3 hour stretch, he was up about once every 45 minutes. Considering we had to strip the bed and clean him up most of those times, we’d usually just be falling back asleep when he’d need us again. Despite the fact that we managed to come up with 4 mattress pads, we ended up starting laundry at about 2 a.m., when we realized we weren’t going to make it through the night.

Tuesday he was sick all day, not even able to keep water down. A sip of tea only lasted about 90 seconds in there before being violently rejected. Needless to say, Tuesday night didn’t go well either. Wednesday he felt sick, but he slept soundly through the night, which was much appreciated by everybody. By Thursday he was eating some regular food and we thought we were finally out of the woods, until we hit nighttime. Another really bad night, with multiple bed changes.

Friday was okay again, and Friday night was fine, so once again we thought we were through the woods. Maybe Thursday night was just a little hiccup? Nope, here comes Saturday night, and he was back to his old tricks again. By that point, he was nearing in on a full week of being violently ill.

We have done a *lot* of laundry in the past week.

The good news is, nobody else caught it, which seems like a minor miracle. I’m a little confused why it seemed to come and go, only showing up every other night. The thing is, it’s so hard to know what’s going on with him. It’s that old, easy-going attitude again. He never tells you when he feels sick, and he generally maintains his good mood. So it’s entirely possible he felt absolutely awful the whole time, but just didn’t show it. That would be very much like him.

I don’t think he even really understood what was going on. He would feel sick to his stomach and then one second after it passed it was like he thought it was over for good, and he’d never feel like that again. Rinse and repeat, every 30 seconds or so.

This was particularly true when it came to eating. I think he might have recovered faster if he could have just gone easy on his stomach, but he wouldn’t. He just couldn’t help himself. As the week wore on he got hungrier and hungrier, and he didn’t appreciate us preventing him from eating whatever he wanted. He would get physically violent at the mere suggestion that he take it easy and sip some water, or restrict himself to only 3 pancakes. Even while he was gagging when someone even talked about food, he had to list all the things he was demanding we give him to eat.

By Sunday he hardly had the energy to stand, and would just sort of lay on the floor in various rooms. I felt pretty bad for the poor boy. I can only imagine how being that sick for that long would affect me, and I’m an adult who can understand what’s going on.

A week is a long time to be sick. I’m so glad he’s finally feeling better and we can get back to a more normal routine (and sleep schedule!)

I must have accidentally angered the forest gods

We have just not been able to make it up to The Haven this year. We knew there weren’t a lot of opportunities to go, but it seems like every time we have a chance, something just seems to come up. And of course, the one time we did make it up was an unmitigated disaster. I’m starting to suspect supernatural influence.

We were all set to go up and meet my sister on Saturday morning. Giant pile of camping gear in the living room, house cleaned, kids excited, the whole nine. Sara and I had stayed up late getting everything ready, so we had only just fallen asleep when suddenly the bedroom door banged open.

There stood one very panicked 5 year old, clutching her throat, unable to breath.

As with any emergency in the middle of the night, my body was operating well ahead of my brain. Right away I knew what was the matter, but for some reason I just could not communicate this to Sara. My sister had terrible asthma as a kid, and waking up in the night unable to breath was, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence for her. This just snapped me back there right away. So finally Sara was able to piece together my incoherent panic-babbling (something about shouting “Rachael!” and forcing Evie to lock eyes with me and slow her breathing), and grab Evie’s inhaler.

Poor Evie was a wreck, coughing and crying, which was only making it worse. Luckily for us, our daughter is so amazingly mature for her age, and she managed to understand what I was saying to her, think through the situation, and calm down enough to get it a little under control. We got a couple of breathing treatments in her, and though her breathing still sounded like a freight train, she was so exhausted that she wanted to go back to sleep.

We put her in bed with Sara, but I was too agitated to go back to sleep. It really pains me to think that I cursed my daughter with asthma. So I was alternately pacing around in the hallway, listening to her wheeze through the closed bedroom door, and looking up “What to do when asthma attacks!” websites, when I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went back into the bedroom.

“Do you think she’s okay? Is there something else we should be doing?”
“I don’t know, should we give her another dose of the inhaler?”

Even with the extra dosage from the inhaler she just didn’t seem to be getting any better, but she didn’t seem to be getting any worse either, so I went out again. I think that was about the time that she threw up all over herself. This poor girl, she was really trying to hold it together, and we were trying to help her hold it together, because we knew if she didn’t stay calm it could get bad again really quick.

Ultimately, we opted to take her to the emergency room. Sara took her and I stayed home with Ollie. “Start kicking the seat if you can’t breath,” she told Evie. You never really know if you’re doing the right thing, going to the emergency room. Am I overreacting? Well, apparently not, based on the alarm generated by Evie’s entrance and speed at which they got to work on her. So I guess we did the right thing after all.

It turns out that Evie had croup, so it wasn’t even asthma related (which explains why the inhaler wasn’t helping). However, that croup is no joke, and it can be fatal. It was pretty scary for us, so I can only imagine how scary it was for Evie; waking up and being unable to breath, having no idea what is going on or how to stop it. And then, despite all of that, to have the wherewithal (as a 5 year old!) to be able to calm down and work through it.

Anyway, this is just a long way to say we didn’t exactly make it up to go camping the next morning. Sara and Evie were at the ER until about 4:30 in the morning, and we certainly didn’t want to risk a recurrence when we were out in the woods somewhere.

Evie was pretty much okay, other than she didn’t really want to go to sleep Saturday night in case it happened again (and who could blame her on that score?). Her other big concern was that she completely lost her voice in all of this, and of course she had an audition for a part in The Little Mermaid yesterday. Fortunately, her voice was more or less back, and she performed her audition piece successfully.

I’m sure they get their share of precocious little girls, but man-oh-man would I have loved to see their faces when Evie performed. I admit to being a little biased, but I think she might have blown a couple of people’s hair back when she really opened up. Anyway, as should be no surprise if you’ve watched that video, she will be playing the role of Ursula, the Sea Witch.

Maybe she can use her Sea Witch powers to commune with the Haven spirits and figure out what I did to offend them so badly that they’ll stop at nothing to keep us away…

Surgery Successful

Evie is now the proud recipient of two brand new ear tubes, at the expense of her adenoids.

Originally, the surgery was scheduled for 2:00. So the plan was for her to go to school in the morning, and for me to arrive at the hospital at about 2:30 or so before she woke up. However, on the morning of the surgery, they called and insisted we move the surgery up to 9:30 a.m.

So I missed the entire thing, but from what Sara said, I’m glad I wasn’t there. Evie woke up in a bad mood. This was expected, but quite a bit different than her reaction the last time. She was so angry with Sara, that she was actually damaging her already sore throat with her screaming. She was mouthy, and surly, and the only thing keeping her from swearing was that she didn’t know any swear words. She was also coughing like a chain smoker, further irritating her throat, and eventually needed a breathing treatment.

Ollie was such a good little brother, sitting quietly with her surgery doll in his lap and waiting patiently. He was also very concerned about the baby that came into recovery while they were there, wanting to check and be sure he was alright every few minutes. He was at the very height of 2 1/2 year old behavior, and impressed the nurses. For his efforts, he was rewarded with apple juice, a popsicle and 8 cookies. The funny thing was, several people asked if he and Evie were twins (I’m guessing probably based more on his size than his proper behavior).

By the time I saw her, she was pretty much back to normal. Her voice was a little scratchy, but that was about it. We snuggled under a blanket on the couch and read Christmas books until my voice was the one that was in danger. She was eating like normal, acting like normal, and didn’t complain one iota about pain.

Most importantly, her hearing was already *significantly* improved. I made sure to keep my voice pitched well below what she could hear only yesterday, and she had no problem hearing me. We even tried some whispering. She isn’t back to 100%, but it is night and day better. This is such a huge relief, you have no idea. Unfortunately, it means I’m going to have to get used to little pitchers having big ears again.

Certainly, seeing her hearing so much better with practically no recovery time really makes me feel like this was the right decision. Now we just wait and see if this helps her stay healthy.

The Breathing Treatment

The hits just keep on coming for poor Evie.

We were taking Oliver for a follow up appointment for his ear infection, but you would have sworn the appointment was for Evie. She was hacking and coughing every few seconds the entire time we were there, while Oliver joked and played around. “Do you mind if I look at her?” asked the doctor. “No, no, she’s fine, just a cold,” we said. After a few minutes, the doctor asked again. “Well, it’s probably not necessary,” we responded. More uncontrollable hacking and coughing from Evie. Finally, the doctor just plain insisted.

She had Evie checked in and did an exam. After listening to her lungs, she decided she wanted to get Evie a nebulizer.

I’m not going to lie, this freaked me out. Growing up, my sister had pretty severe asthma, and she still deals with it to this day. I have strong memories of seeing her in the hospital, looking so small and pale, resting in an oxygen tent, unable to get enough air into her lungs. She was practically connected to her nebulizer, doing a breathing treatment several times a day, every day.

Asthma, allergies, and eczema are all related, and they’re all in my family in spades. There isn’t a one of us that doesn’t have one or more of these afflictions. Obviously I gifted my son with the eczema gene, so in my mind it seemed entirely likely that I gifted my daughter with asthma.

I remember my sister once did a school science fair project on asthma. In order to show what it felt like to have an asthma attack, you were supposed to breath through one of those little coffee-stirring straws for 30 seconds. This is something that has really suck with me for my entire life. 30 seconds is such a short amount of time, and yet the feeling of suffocation was absolutely terrifying. Ten seconds in and I felt like clawing at my throat. I imagined how many times my sister must have felt that desperate panic, and how she couldn’t just remove the straw and draw in a breath when she couldn’t take it anymore.

Not something I wished for my daughter.

Evie was a little worried about the breathing treatment, but that was partially our fault. I was caught up in my own thing, so it never occurred to me to actually explain what was going on until Evie, almost in tears, leaned over and asked in a small, quiet voice, “Is that going to turn my lungs black?” She thought we were making her smoke!

The doctor doesn’t think she has asthma, but she couldn’t rule it out either. However, her theory was that Evie’s airways were reacting to the fact that she has had 6 colds in 12 weeks, and her lungs just haven’t had time to recover in between. Certainly something was going on, because within 30 seconds of doing the nebulizer, Evie’s cough magically disappeared. They gave us an inhaler to take home, and we’ve used it pretty regularly. Again, this brought a lot of flash-backs to my sister, and in fact, Rachael used her inhaler in front of Evie to inspire her.

It seems like Evie’s lungs have now recovered, and she’s gone 30 seconds in between colds, which is a record for her. Hopefully this was a transitory thing, and not something she’ll have to deal with her entire life.

That poor girl just can’t catch a break!

Huh? What?

Unfortunately, my daughter’s hearing is deteriorating rapidly.

If you’ve spoken to her in the last two weeks, you’ve probably noticed this. It would be really, really hard not to notice. If you are talking to her at a normal tone of voice, she usually can’t hear you well enough to even know you are speaking to her, much less does she actually understand what you are saying. This is absolutely not her fault, but it is very hard not to get frustrated with her. Then something happens to remind you that she is the victim in all of this, like when you say, “Evie! I told you three times to pick this up!” and she says, “Huh?” in such a way that you realize that she never heard you the three times you told her, and then you just feel bad all over again.

It’s not all bad, though, it has led to some funny misunderstandings.

Kid: “I went to a birthday party, and we jumped into a pit of foam.”
Evie, horrified: “A pit of bones??”

I got so used to speaking loudly around her, that I find myself talking loudly to everybody. Several times I found myself shouting to Sara when it was just the two of us alone in the kitchen.

I never really realized how isolating it is to not be able to hear, and how much you miss out on. Oftentimes when she doesn’t hear something, she just lets it go. I don’t know if it’s being a kid, being embarrassed about not hearing, something about her personality, or just the fact that you get tired of asking everybody to repeat everything all the time. I’m very thankful that she’s only in preschool, and thus is not really having instruction per say at school. I can clearly see how quickly one would fall behind academically.

Anyway, we could clearly see that she was experiencing some hearing loss, but we had her tested anyway. Her hearing showed normal to mild loss in one year, and mild to moderate loss in the other. It seems to have gotten a lot worse since then.

The doctors believe that it is temporary, and due to a large build up of fluid in her ears that doesn’t seem to drain, so they’ve recommended a third round of ear tubes (you can read about round 1 and round 2). The idea is that the fluid would be able to drain through the tubes, and her hearing would go back to normal. Long term, the hope is always that she will grow enough that her ears will begin to drain normally on their own, without requiring help. It hasn’t worked so far, but then again, third time was a charm with me and ear tubes when I was little.

So hopefully everything goes well and she will be able to re-join the conversation (side note, not being able to hear apparently doesn’t impede your ability to talk).

At least Ollie’s ears are okay, right? Wrong.

We always assumed that Ollie had no problems with his ears, because he had never had any ear infections. However, you only know your child has ear infections if he says he has ear infections, and if he happens to have the pain tolerance of a UFC fighter on PCP, then he probably just doesn’t mention it. Imagine our surprise, then, when he did finally complain about an ear ache, and the doctor found evidence of “chronic ear infections”.

Perhaps he inherited daddy’s ears after all, but just forgot to mention it.

The Neti Pot

I have very small sinuses. Because of this, any cold or illness always, always, always ends up being a sinus issue. Combined with my terrible allergies, I probably spend 25% of my life with some combination of a sinus headache, a stuffed nose, and irritated, watery eyes.

“You should get a neti pot!”, said everybody everywhere all the time. “It’s great! When your sinuses feel bad, you just shoot boiling hot salt water directly into your brain cavity, and then you’ll feel better, because when you’re done you’ll be thinking ‘I might have a sinus headache, but at least I don’t have boiling hot salt water in my brain cavity anymore!'”

Everybody swears by these things, and they sound like a classic case of the cure is worse than the disease to me. Sara has been trying to get me to do this since forever, in fact, just this weekend I had multiple people urging me to try it out next time my allergies were acting up. Just the thought of warm water wooshing around my sinuses makes me want to kill myself. “I would rather die then try a neti pot,” I swore.

The next day I bought a neti pot.

It was only about $12, so Sara talked me into it. IF I was ever going to try one of these torture devices (and that’s a big IF), it would only happen if I happened to have one on hand at the exact minute that I needed it. Otherwise, my sinus-induced moment of weakness would pass, and there’d be no second chance. It turns out, that sinus-induced moment of weakness came sooner than I expected.

The VERY NEXT DAY I came down with some sort of sinus-superflu that got worse and worse throughout the day until I couldn’t take it anymore. I was actually looking forward to using the neti pot when I got home. (that’s how bad it was!)

In short, in the span of two days I went from, “I’d rather die than use a neti pot!” to “lets put a picture of me using the neti pot on the Internet!”

Me: “I can’t believe I’m putting this picture on the Internet.”
Sara: “I know, look at how little hair you have.”

Okay, so the neti pot wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. It certainly cleaned out a ton of gunk from up there (something you really should be prepared for, like with a kleenex or something, the way I wasn’t). However, it was very salty, went in my mouth and down my shirt, and only lasted for about 5 minutes before my sinuses filled back up again. Was it worth it? I really don’t know. I guess some days I go the entire day without my sinuses clearing a single time, so I guess having them clear for 5 minutes would be a plus. On the other hand, it seemed like a lot of effort and general unpleasantness for only 5 minutes in the clear.

So it might be worth it, however, I’m not sure it would be worth it just to clear out the allergens if my sinuses weren’t completely blocked. I guess it was okay enough that I’ll give it another shot if the situation called for it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my sinuses are about to explode.