Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Branch vs. Eyeball? The branch won.

So, things got a little crazy this Sunday. I know what you're thinking, if you've visited my blog before...You're thinking, "Isn't life ALWAYS crazy in that household?" You have a point. However, this was even crazier than usual...There I was, working alongside hubby, adding extra boards to the fence between our yard and the yard of our insane neighbor with the horrible, aggressive dogs, in order to block any spaces that those horrible, aggressive dogs can see through. As I was working, I kept feeling these waves of vertigo and dizziness. But, since I was bending down to pound in nails and pick up boards and all that, I thought it was most likely just dizziness from standing up too fast. So, being me, I just kept right on working... Until, I got hit by a wave of dizziness so strong, that I staggered against the fence and took a tree branch to the eye. My neighbor's tree, by the way. Think I could sue??? Anyway -- Blinding pain!!! But, did I go inside to see what damage had been done? Of course not. That's what sane people do. Nope, I sat down on the steps until it didn't hurt quite so badly, then I went back to work on the fence...(Yes, the words "dumb ass" come to mind.) Anyway, the vertigo got worse, so I finally just lay down on the deck. Hubby suggested I go lie down in a bed, instead, so I headed that way. On the way, I took a look at my eye. Blood red, with a big, visible wound right next to the lens of my eye. Not pretty, plus, I was still feeling really dizzy. So, I decided it might be time to hit the walk-in clinic. The boys, who were all excited, because we had told them we'd go swimming, were NOT pleased to be visiting the clinic, instead. Although, my scary red eye freaked them out a bit, so they got the whole concept of Mommy needing to go see a doctor. AND, we promised them elevator rides, which, for my boys, are one of the best things ever.

We arrived at the clinic, and hubby took the boys for their elevator rides, while I got checked out. Doctor took a look at my eye with an extremely bright, intense-pain-inducing light, and told me I had a "Significant scratch and contusion to the cornea of my eye, which could likely result in infection and possible loss of vision." Lovely. Antibiotic eye drops every 4 hours for the next week... Now, here's where things get a little more interesting... This requires a brief look back in time to 2001. In 2001, shortly after getting married, I had a stroke. Just a little one, but terrifying, all the same. My only risk factor was being on birth control pills. Needless to say, I quit them, immediately, and haven't taken them since. I have no lingering effects, but I did talk in a mish-mash of words for a while ("word salad", they call it), which was pretty weird. Anyway, back to the present. The clinic doc. looked long and hard into my ear canals, then did some balance and brain stem tests with me, and declared that I needed to go to the E.R., immediately, because I might be having another stroke. Great!

Here's the silver lining: When a doctor calls ahead to the E.R., and tells them that you are coming in and may be having a stroke, there's no waiting. They had me back in a room so fast, I only had a chance to holler, "John, take the kids home and feed them. I'll call you, when we know more!", as they were rushing me through the doors. One I.V., three blood sticks, and an M.R.I., later... I was pronounced stroke-free. But, this was after 4 hours of lying alone in a room, scared and cold and frankly, freaking out, while the large redneck family on the other side of the curtain cussed and laughed and talked on their cell phones at top volume. Also, the nurses gave me a massive dose of Benadryl in my I.V., and it immediately made me start to slur my words. Since my stroke in 2001 also made me slur my words and spit out sentences that made sense in my brain, but came out of my mouth as gobbledy-gook, this little side effect was terrifying. I kept telling myself it was just the Benadryl, but I couldn't help thinking I was having stroke #2, and I hadn't even had a chance to hug and kiss my family...Not my greatest moments, let me tell ya. But, as it all turns out, I have an inner ear virus, which results in dizziness and vertigo, lasting up to a week. But, it will resolve itself without any treatment at all. So, 5 hours after heading to the walk-in clinic, I was home, dosed up with anti-dizziness medicine and nursing my scary red eye...

I know. I told you it was crazy.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crazy bus stop Mom, please get your act together!

Every morning, Monday through Friday, I have to get myself ready for work, one little boy ready for preschool, and one ready for kindergarten. (I somehow manage to do this every day, with surprisingly few meltdowns, actually. But, it's a hassle. No doubt about it.) I have to get everyone fed, dressed, packed for school, out the door, into the car, and then it's a mad dash to the bus stop. As soon as Spencer's kindergarten bus arrives, he hops on, and his little brother and I wave like crazy and blow kisses and make the "I love you" sign until the bus drives away. Then, it's another mad dash to the car to race all the way across town, so I can drop Foster off at  preschool. This is followed by a final mad dash all the way to the other end of town, which inevitably includes a breathless run up the stairs, into my office, just in time to start work. (Or, a few minutes late, depending on traffic.) By the way, this entire routine is then done in reverse just a few hours later. Sigh.

Anyway, you can see that this makes for a pretty tight schedule. Every minute counts. Every. Single. One. So, enter into the picture "Crazy Bus Stop Mom." Why do I call her this? Because, when the rest of the moms in the neighborhood are getting their kids ready and making sure that they're at the bus stop on time, I'm pretty sure this lady is either still sleeping or watching early morning T.V. or checking her Facebook page or something...In fact, I'm positive. She and her daughter are not actually at the bus stop regularly (thank goodness!). But, every two or three mornings, as the last kid is stepping onto the bus, or just after the doors have closed, here comes Crazy Mom, racing for the bus, waving her arms, yelling, "Wait, wait. I'm sorry. WAIT!" Sometimes, she's racing down the hill (in her pajamas), crazy hair flying, dragging her daughter behind her...Sometimes, she's careening up in her car (also in pajamas), whipping over to the curb and basically pushing her daughter out the door towards the bus. Poor kid. Once in a while, she comes sauntering down the hill with a cup of coffee in her hand (wearing sweatpants over her pajamas) and manages to arrive just as the bus is pulling in. On the few occasions we've talked, she actually seems like a really nice person. She's personable, she talks about being a stay-at-home-mom, she jokes about how she's always late. Her daughter seems to be well-adjusted and very sweet. But, please, lady, please! For the love of mothers everywhere -- Come on time or don't come at all!!! The rest of us have lives and schedules and places to be. We don't have the three extra minutes it takes for the bus driver to open the door, again, and wait for your daughter to run over to the bus, climb in, and find a seat, before the bus can resume the journey to school. Three extra minutes is a luxury we just don't have! on time.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I don't think anything has ever made me feel less competent than trying to get my son to eat and drink over the last week. His doctor said, "The most important thing for you to do is to make sure he stays hydrated and is getting food and liquid into his system after his surgery. If you don't, he will have to come back in to the hospital for I.V. fluids." OK, doc. No pressure there. None at all. So, prior to Foster's adenoidectomy/tonsilectomy, I stocked the house with 3 different flavors of ice cream, pudding, yogurt, cottage cheese, applesauce, juice, and boxes of macaroni and cheese. I mean, I was really ready. I didn't care if he ate nothing but milkshakes. There was no friggin' way MY kid was going to end up back in the hospital. Not my son!

But, here's the thing....A kid in pain doesn't want to eat or drink anything. Not chocolate milkshakes. Not strawberry milkshakes. Not banana smoothies. Not his favorite flavor of pudding in the entire world. Yogurt? Nope. Applesauce? Uh-uh. I did everything but stand on my head to get this kid to eat and drink. And, to give myself credit, he did not have to go back to the hospital. My Herculean efforts paid off, and I managed to get just enough into his little body to avoid that particular trip. But, he lost 5 pounds, and he was only 40 pounds to begin with. And, I'm pretty sure I aged at least 5 years over the last 7 days. Yup. There are definitely some new stress lines. For sure.

Then, today, I went back to work. Ahhhhhh, my work. The one place where I feel like I know what the hell I'm doing. I love my kids. I adore my kids. I love being a Mommy more than anything. But, my work reminds me that I'm actually a capable, competent, trained professional, instead of someone just careening through life at a breakneck pace, crossing my fingers, and winging it from day-to-day... My first student today? CPS case. No problem. I knew exactly what to do to support her. Then, I spent 4 periods talking with 8th graders about sex and sexual harassment. No worries. I can field any crazy question an 8th grader throws my way. Nothing phases me. I've got it covered. Helping to plan a somewhat last-minute parent night with my boss? Done!

So, I will fall into bed tonite, completely exhausted, but feeling satisfied. Knowing I was able to start and finish things today. Feeling capable. Feeling competent. Feeling strong.

Until Foster wakes up crying in the middle of the night, and I just start winging it again. Sigh.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Whose voice is that?

We are now 6 days post-adenoidectomy/tonsilectomy. It's been a week of total hell! And, after being trapped in the house with a thoroughly miserable 4-year old and his frustrated 5-year old brother for the past 6 days, without one full night's sleep, I am so fuzzy-brained and starved for adult companionship and intelligent conversation, that I think my head is literally in danger of sponteneously combusting. Seriously. Watch for it on the news...

But, why this title? Well, his whole life, Foster has been stuffed up. He was basically born with giant adenoids, so he's always been a loud, snarkly mouth breather. (That's the term hubby and I gave to his breathing when we brought him home from the hospital  -- "snarkly" just sums it up perfectly.) And, ever since he started babbling away as a toddler, he's had this really cute, nasal little voice. But, over the last two days, the swelling from his surgery has gone down, and, without those enormous adenoids blocking his nasal passages, he now has a completely different voice. I'm not joking. Completely. Different. He sounds nothing like he used to. I would literally not recognize my own child's voice in a crowd of kids right now. It's disconcerting. I look at the little face I love so much and know so well, then he opens up his mouth and some strange little kid's voice comes out.

Who knew?

Parenthood is so weird...


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nothing cuts through a Benadryl haze like the cry of a child in pain...

How do I know this? Because, two days ago, my baby, my sweet little 4-year old boy, had a tonsilectomy and adenoidectomy, which is commonly known as a "T & A" for short. (I'm not kidding. The nurse told me that's what they call it.) Anyway, last night, after being awake for most of the last 48 hours, I took a Benadryl with my usual nightly glass of cabernet. (An occasional sleep aid, recommended to me by a nurse friend of mine.) I figured, now that we knew Fos was doing OK, I could relax a little bit and try to get some rest, so I could try to approach something close to my normal level of functioning. Worked like a charm! I was completely knocked out by 9:00pm...until just after midnight, that is, when Foster's cry of pain cut straight through the Benadryl haze, and I flew from my bed to my little guy's side, adrenalin pumping through my body. The best alarm clock in the world couldn't have woken me up faster or more thoroughly than that cry...And, the accompanying adrenalin kept me awake the rest of the night. So, back to square one with the whole sleep issue.

As for the surgery...I remember getting my tonsils out as a kid, but it's just a blur of jello and ice cream to me. I don't actually remember the pain.  As it turns out, there's a whole lot of it. When they told us that Fos would have to have his adenoids and tonsils out, I just didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal. I mean, I was terrified of my little guy going under anesthesia, and I didn't want him experiencing any level of pain, but I just didn't realize what a long and truly painful ordeal this is. Our ear-nose-throat doctor was great, and he explained it very thoroughly for us. When they cut out adenoids and tonsils, they have to leave the wound open. They can't suture it up, because the area moves around too much and won't hold stitches. So, there's just an exposed wound with raw nerves back there, until it closes up by itself about 6 days after surgery. That's why the pain is so bad, and why it doesn't go away until the wound is completely closed. My poor, poor little guy...

Surgery day:

1) No sleep the night before. Not Foster. Me. I snuggled into bed with him that night, and he said, "Mommy. When Dr. Knops tells me to open my mouth tomorrow, I'm gonna kick him in the head." Then he went off to sleep. I was up most of the night. Tossing, turning, imagining worst-case scenarios...Listening to my husband blissfully snoring. How do men do that?!!

2) When Fos did wake up, at his usual 6:00am, he wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything. We had to entertain him as best as we could until we left for the hospital at 7:30. He actually did a pretty good job, but he kept looking up with pitiful eyes and saying, "I'm thirsty, Mommy. I'm hungry, Mommy. Pleeeeease can I have something?" Gulp.

3) About 15 minutes after we arrived, they took us into a special little waiting area. It was a cheerily painted little cubicle with stories, games, and a little red wagon parked in the corner. Fos was doing great. He mentioned kicking Dr. Knops again, this time "in the butt", but he was generally pretty cheerful. He liked changing into his little hospital gown with tigers all over it and the cozy little hospital socks. He thought it was hilarious to have his naked butt cheeks poking out the back, so he did a little dance around the room to show them off. Hubby and I studiously avoided looking into each other's eyes, since we knew that would be a recipe for one, or both, of us to start crying, thinking about the surgery to come...

4) Then came "sleepy juice." That's what they call it. What is it? It's a yummy little sedative that makes kids relaxed and kind've loopy, so they aren't anxious when they go into surgery and aren't even really aware of what's happening. I immediately asked for my own dose, but they turned me down. Foster insisted that the juice wasn't going to make him sleepy, because "I'm never tired!"And, it did take a while. He was sitting on my lap, all wrapped up in a warm blanket, while John read us both a story. Then he started to get heavier and heavier. All of a sudden, one of his arms kind've floated up into the air, and his hand started making slow, grasping movements. We asked him what he was doing, and he said, "Plant. Plant." I realized that he was looking at the seaweed painted onto the wall across the little room, and he was trying to grab it in his drug-induced haze. It was pretty funny. Like something out of a movie about the drug-crazed 1960's or something...

5) The departure. Even writing this, two and a half days later, I'm getting teary eyed thinking about it. The nurse came in to get us. She had me put Foster into the little red wagon, tuck the little stuffed dog Grandma had sent him next to him, and we were allowed to walk with him down the hall a little ways, "just to the red line." We kissed him and said we'd see him soon, then they wheeled him away. We started walking back to the waiting room, and I told myself not to look back, but I couldn't help it. That was probably the worst part. I could see the nurse's back, as she wheeled my baby away in his his little red wagon, and it took everything I had to keep walking toward the waiting room. What I wanted to do was scream, "Don't cut my baby!" and grab him and run...Luckily, John was holding my hand, firmly, in his own. That kept me strong.

6) The wait. John ran across the street to get us some coffee. I forced myself to sit still and try to read an old Reader's Digest magazine until he got back. Then, we just held hands and drank our lattes and waited. And waited. And waited. After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually only about an hour, the surgeon came out to get us. He took us into a separate area and told us the surgery had gone really well. He told us how to avoid dehydration, to watch for hemoraghing, and all the after-care information. And, he educated us about all the things that would worry us, if we didn't know they were perfectly normal. Like what? Well, a full week of high fevers, nausea and vomiting, and extremely bad breath -- a result of the dying tissue. (He wasn't kidding about the breath, either. I snuggle my little guy, and his breath is so bad, it actually makes my eyes water. I think I'd prefer to have my ancient old dog, Cosmo, breathing his toxic breath in my face, than Foster breathing his dragon breath all over me. It's really bad. Like he has road kill in his mouth.)

7) The second wait. Once they told us Fos was out of surgery, we had to wait until he came out of the anesthesia before we could see him. There was a special area for this, and the doctor had told us it would only be about 10 minutes. Not too bad. We were close to the swinging doors that led to the surgery area, so we looked up eagerly every time a nurse came through, hoping she was coming for us. Nope. Over and over and over again, nurses came and went, each one glancing at our pleading puppy eyes before going on their merry way. Finally, after about 40 minutes, when I was about to climb the walls, and John was rubbing my shoulders and telling me to relax, a nurse came back and told us that Foster was sleeping peacefully but it was taking him a while to wake up. She said she couldn't stand to see us looking up anxiously every time she came through the doors, so she'd let us come back and wait with him while he slept.

8) The reunion. Finally, there he was. Sleeping with his butt poking up in the air, hooked up to monitors, with his own nurse keeping an eagle eye on his vital signs. He smelled like blood, and there was blood all over the sheet underneath him. A bit of a shocking sight for us, but he looked really peaceful as well. I was so happy just to be next to him. And, when he finally woke up and saw was one of the most glorious moments of my life. Those big, blue eyes opening up and looking right into mine. It was almost like meeting him for the very first time...

So, now we do what we have to do to survive this week. When the pain medicine kicks in, he's almost normal. Pale and a little weak, with huge, dark circles under eyes, but also his usual goofy personality. Then, the medicine starts to wear off, and there's about an hour or so of agonized crying and shaking and clinging, while we try to ease his pain with popsicles and ice water until we can give him his next dose and wait for it to take effect. It's a roller coaster, that's for sure.

But, in the end, when the swelling goes down, my little guy will be able to really breathe through his nose for the very first time in his life. He'll be able to sleep through the night without his own snoring waking him up. He'll have more energy. He'll be a happier, healthier little guy. All the stress will be worth it.

And, his breath will improve. I can hardly wait for that part!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What do you do when your neighbor's a psycho?

My heart is still totally pounding from what just happened... So, I went out into our big, fenced back yard with my little guys, got them started playing on the swingset and digging in the dirt, etc. Then, I went inside to, you know, take care of business. A few minutes later, I hear the doorbell ringing. So, I do the super-fast wipe & flush that we moms get really, really good at doing, from the moment our kids reach the crawling stage, and I run to the front door. There stands my next door neighbor, with whom we share a fence. His face is red. He's breathing hard. He looks as if his head is going to explode. I say, "Hi Ray, what's wrong?" He yells, "YOUR GODDAMN KIDS WERE THROWING ROCKS OVER THE FENCE AND TEASING MY DOGS! I'M NOT GONNA TAKE THAT!!!" (Now, my boys' behavior was not OK at all, but I just want to point out that these are the very same dogs that have bitten two children in our neighborhood -- one of them being my 5 year old -- and, every time we're out in our backyard, they charge the fence, growling, barking, snarling, and basically making us all miserable. They've got my poor dogs tied into knots, because I won't let my dogs be loud and obnoxious, while their dogs are allowed to just go nuts.These are also the very same dogs that Ray and his wife like to let outside at 6am every morning, and then just allow them to bark nonstop, waking up the entire neighborhood.)

With that said, I really am a very consistent disciplinarian, and I want my kids to be well-behaved, polite little guys. In fact, last weekend, Spencer was practicing hitting balls, and he accidentally hit one over their fence. I made him write an apology note, saying he was sorry he'd hit the ball over the fence, and asking if they would they be willing to toss it back over, if they got the chance. (I've never seen that ball again, by the way.) Anyway, I say to Ray, "I'm very sorry about this. Please come out to the yard with me, and let's talk to the kids. I want them to see how serious you are and have them apologize directly to you, in person." So, he comes out to the yard with me, I call the boys over, and he starts to YELL at them. "WHAT WERE YOU DOING???" Spencer, of course, being completely freaked out by this red-faced, screaming man (and, hello, only 5 years old), says, "Nothing. We didn't do anything!" Ray then yells, "I SAW you! So, now you're a liar. Is that what you are? A little LIAR?" At this point, I step in and ask the boys to apologize for what they did, and to tell Ray that they won't do that anymore. Here's where things get psycho-scary. My boys mumble, "Sorry. We won't do it again." Then, Ray grabs the side of his belt and shouts, "I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR FOLKS THINK. IF YOU EVER DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT AGAIN, I'M COMING STRAIGHT THROUGH YOUR BACK GATE, AND I'M GOING TO BEAT YOU WITH THIS BELT!" That was enough for me, so I told him that, if he came into our back yard, my husband and I would be calling the police. "GO RIGHT AHEAD!" he yells.

Scary. Seriously. This guy is a bit nuts. I mean, it's not like these are teenagers, who know better and who are deliberately causing chaos and mayhem. They're only 4 and 5, just little boys, learning the ropes. And, this guy has grown sons. Does he not remember how little boys can be? He freaked me out.

Now, I'm waiting anxiously for hubby to get off work. I'm going to ask him to go over and have a "Man-to-Man" with our neighbor. Or, maybe we'll just hide inside our house gripping a baseball bat...

Anybody else ever had anything like this happen?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ya gotta love teenagers!

Today's back-handed compliment, delivered by one of my 7th grade students:

"Hey, Mrs.B! You have really cool blue eyes. Except for all the red veins."

Thanks, kid. Thanks a lot.


Monday, February 1, 2010

All right, dirt. I admit defeat.

I give up. The white bathroom rugs and towels hubby and I bought when we first moved into our little house are gone. I finally faced the fact that, while they looked absolutely lovely in our bathroom, and fit into some sort of fantasy I've always had about having thick, white towels like they have at the spa, they simply could not stand up to the copious quantities of dirt dragged in by two filthy little boys and one husband who somehow manages to step OVER our door mat without wiping the mud off his feet. Every time. Seriously. Every time. And it says, right there on the mat in big, black letters, "Wipe Your Paws".

How many times can you wash and bleach white towels and rugs? 897 times! And, no matter how many times you wash them, the minute you hang them back up in the bathroom, sparkling clean, one of your little guys will run in, wash his hands (supposedly), and then dry off on the towel, leaving streaks of dirt from the fingers he missed in the washing process. Sigh.

So, I've decided that white towels and white bathroom rugs are for those times in our lives before we have children and after the children have moved out on their own.

Now, we have nice, thick, dark blue towels and rugs.

Which, I will still have to wash way more often than I'd like. But, at least it won't be quite so obvious when I haven't had a chance to get to it yet.