When I Grow Up

I find myself approaching a crossroads this summer.  I keep seeing glimpses of it as we go over the hills of life.  I see it in the distance.  My kids are getting older, more independent and JK, my youngest, is going to start preschool in the fall.  She is a little young, but with her speech delay the social interaction and the exposure to other adults will help her.  Its also been a long time since I worked outside the home.  Over 7 years actually.  Soon it will be time to figure out what my next step is, what path will I take?  For the kids its easy, they are off to school.  But for me the question becomes again “what will I be when I grow up?”  In some ways I feel I never did answer that the first time around.  I studied child development at the University of Delaware.  After finishing that degree and realizing that classroom teaching was not my first love I decided I needed a slight change in career paths.  I was short a few classes (ok a whole lot) to apply to the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at U of Maryland.  I decided to take classes at UMBC.  I learned a lot of things while I was there.  A few of them are 1) I was not cut out to be in a sorority 2) I am no good at chemistry and 3) I like to hide behind a keyboard.  I think I knew that last one going into UMBC.  But after realizing that I was not going to make it though the required chemistry classes to get me into genetic counseling I decided I could hide behind a keyboard for a career.  Eventually I met my husband and we got married.  I left UMBC with some classes under my belt but no further degree beyond that MRS degree he likes to say I earned.  (haha isn’t he funny?)

I went on from UMBC to work for a sorority sister of mine.  She was running a daycare center at the time.  This center was located with in a drug and alcohol rehab program for women.  It’s an amazing program that is a year-long and lets women bring a child with them.  We took care of those children during the day while the women worked on their recovery.  It was a good time in my life, but when we decided to buy a home the commute became too long for the money I was making.  I also hoped to get back into the computer field.  No such luck.  The economy started to tank during this time and the job market was getting tricky.  So we decided it was a good time to start a family.  I was out of work anyway, I thought I could do the stay at home mom thing (good thing too when you look at all the hijinks the kids have put me though!) and so we went for it.  Here we are all these years later with3 kids and me still wondering what to do with my life.  So much has changed, and yet so little.

There was a graduation speech in the news recently.  You Are Not Special.  In the speech he talks about going on to do something you love.  It has really been gnawing at me.  I see the point of his speech as a parent.  But it also speaks to me as someone who is poised at the beginning of something.  I have spent time thinking about what I wanted to to with my life when I was younger, what I would like to do now.  I have thought about what ideas excite and interest me and I have thought about what paths are within reason for me, both because of time and because of where my talents lay.  I haven’t really formed any answers yet and I find it a little distressing to yet again be visiting this topic in my mid 30’s when many people have their whole life path mapped out by their mid 20’s.   But at the same time I have a lot of options.  If I wanted or needed to I have the time to go back to school now.  Or I could just go back into child care.  I could also spend more time thinking about this and just spend a year volunteering at TD’s school and getting myself together.

I remember my mom telling me once that when she was in her mid 30’s she got tired of waiting to be a grown up and realized she already was one and it was time to start acting like it.  I think about that often, and try to make sure I remember that I am a grown up.  Though some days its harder to remember than others.

I hope we never go back . . .

To cardiology! JK’s heart checked out just fine.  She had and EKG and an Echocardiogram.  Both checked out just fine.  I am relived but also wonder what is or was going on with her.  I guess we will see if any symptoms continue, and what the pediatrician wants us to do.  I am thankful the daily vomiting has stopped.  But she still occasionally looks a little blue around the corners of her mouth.  I am alternately concerned and feeling like this is just a JK quirk.  If one thing is for sure it’s that medically all three of my kids are kind of quirky!  We like to keep those doctors guessing.

After JK’s big cardiology adventure this morning she had her little buddy S over for lunch.  They had a great time playing and I had to giggle because JK was wearing one of BK’s old dresses and S was in one of TD’s old rompers.  JK is about 3 months older than S and S has 2 older brothers.  It’s always fun to get the kids together to play.  But even better is the mommy time!  It was good to have someone to talk things over with today and sort of put all the medical drama behind us.  S and his brothers have food allergies so S’s mommy has a little taste of what sorts of drama goes on around here.  She is always a good listener and makes me feel a little more sane about things.

This evening is the big art show at the elementary school.  I look forward to seeing what TD has done this year in art.  Up till this year doing anything art or coloring related was never on his “to do” list.  He seems to have enjoyed art at school this year though so I am excited to see what he has done! Not to mention the ice cream treat after the show.  I think he is more excited for the ice cream than the art show.

Countdown till summer!

The count down has begun, the school year is almost over.  I think we will survive TD’s first year of elementary school!   We got the news yesterday that homework is done for the Kindergarten classes for the rest of the year.  Whew!  In a lot of ways that is almost as good as the break starting early!  Homework has been a huge adjustment for us this year.  Its not that I didn’t know about homework or don’t remember it from my own school years, its more that I didn’t factor in what homework would be like with a helpful 4 year old and a hungry, whiny toddler running around.   Not to mention the “I want to go out and play” factor.

I am amazed how fast this year has flown by.  I honestly can’t believe how much TD has grown up this year.  So many changes.  He is no longer my little baby in so very many ways.  I had anxiety attacks about putting him on the bus at the beginning of the school year.  I dreaded it.  But its been a nice experience for him.  He has gotten to know some of the kids in our neighborhood and has gained a real feeling of independence.  I have even recently started waiting across the street from where the bus stops so TD can cross himself over like most of the other kids.  He comes running and jumping across the street most days yelling “Green Day Mommy!”  and no he is not talking about the band!  His school has a “stop light” system for behavior, a green day is a good day, a star day is an excellent day.  If your on yellow or red then you were in trouble at some point during the day.  TD had a lot of yellow days in the middle of the year, but he has really made a lot of changes.  When he started taking a non stimulant medication for ADHD I was really nervous.  Now I am so glad we did it.  Not only is he no longer getting in trouble at school each day, but he is managing to feel more confident about himself as a student.  Its such a joy to see!

The girls have also had big changes this year.  BK is not one to really admit it but she has gained a lot of self help skills.  But due to her not wanting to give up any adults attention she often pretends she can’t do things.  Last summer she went off her controller meds for seizures.  Its been about a year since we started weaning her down.  The one major shock we have had is that she shot up height wise.  She looks so tall to us now!  Even the pediatrician commented that she did take a small jump in her growth curve.  So its possible the medication may have been interfering with her growth some.  JK has just done all the normal toddler things, grow a ton, learn to walk, learn to run, learn to climb, learn to give mommy daily heart attacks.

Its been quite a school year here.  I am kind of sad to see it drawing to a close.  My mom told me time would really start to fly once they got into school, and it does.  I feel like it was just yesterday I was putting him on the bus and then going inside to worry all day!

Well we have never been to Cardiology . . .

In all the talk about seizures and BK I have left out a big chunk of whats going on at home right now.  JK has embarked to keep us all on our toes in her own special way.  She recently started having daily vomiting episodes.  As an infant she had “reflux” and was treated with an acid blocker.  She had what appeared to be reactions to foods several times and all reactions were vomiting.  She also had random vomiting episodes on and off during her first year.  Once she started solids I noticed several times over breakfast her lips would turn blue.  I let the pediatrician know and she kind of brushed it off that these things happen and she would out grow it.  With the recent vomiting she had another blue episode eating breakfast one morning.  She kept eating during it, and the blue lips passed, but during a doctors visit today just to check on why she might be vomiting daily the doc decided the best course of action was to send us to cardiology.  I am beyond nervous for this appointment.  This is a totally new specialist for me.  I don’t really know what to research, I have done a lot of reading today, but JK’s symptoms are so vague that I don’t really know what they are looking for.  I guess I will have to wait and see what they say next Tuesday.   Though JK was happy, she is back on real food now and no longer on the toast, dry cereal and apple sauce diet.  Since they don’t think it is related to her belly, but to possibly her heart we were able to resume normal food.

Not much of an update from me, but I am still processing how I feel.  Mostly I just wanted to put it out there so anyone who wanted to send prayer could do so.  A favorite quote of mine has made me smile today.  I don’t know who it’s from, but it is another good one to describe how I feel about my life some days.  “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain!”  Today, JK and I danced in the rain and tried not to think about what we might be facing next.  I guess the rainy day suited my mood perfectly today.

Is it or isn’t it?

Do you wonder what a seizure looks like?  The fast and simple answer is: it’s different for every one.  Yea that’s not much help right?  Well the first think I can tell you is that in all the Tonic Clonic seizures BK has had none of them have looked like TV.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is it’s TV and they over-exaggerate the seizure.  The second is our little super star has passed her 2 years seizure free mark so all of her seizures happened at age two or younger.  The smaller someone is the smaller and weaker their muscles are.  So even though they classify BK’s seizures as convulsive, there is not much convulsing to be seen!  What you do see is her eyes are usually rolled to one side.  They are fixed.  Her head is usually drooped forward and in her case she draws her arms in as the seizure onsets, it’s just what i have seen over and over again, when her arm is braced for the IV to be in at the hospital that arm that no longer bends usually goes straight above her head.   If you touch BK during a seizure?  you would have no doubt, zero.  You can feel all her muscle fibers firing off at once but in no particular sequence.  This is what causes the “convulsions”  In larger people whose muscles are more developed or in people with specific types of seizures it can cause the TV version of repetitive jerking movements of the limbs.  But in BK’s case they said her body was just so small that there were not enough fibers all on the same rhythm to cause the jerking movements.

I have heard accounts from other moms that their child drools, that their child arches their back (BK has done this, but not always), some children have the jerking movement in the neck area so it looks like they are repeatedly shaking the head in one direction.  It all looks different.  The clues are going to be in the eyes, in the fact that they are unresponsive to you (yes even if you yell) and as I said, try touching them, what do you feel in those muscles?   Now I have no experience with febrile seizures, but in most cases that I have heard about they talk about the glazed look in the eyes, they will be fixed and often off to the side, like I described BK’s.  These kids also have a high fever usually over 102.  Febrile seizures tend to be short, but are very scary.  In some children they can be abnormally long, or they can be more complex.  Those are the ones you might have to worry about.  If it was your child’s first febrile seizure, I suggest calling 911 just like I talked about in my previous post.  But what you will find is that for a lot of kids they are told “its something kids out grow, no danger, just give a fever reducer any time the child’s temprature goes over 101”  and that is usually the end of it.  In rare cases rescue medications are prescribed and the parents keep them on hand at home just in case.  But what you will find talking to a large majority of parents who have children that have experienced febrile seizures this is not the case.

If you decide to call 911 what happens next?  In most cases by the time the paramedics arrive you child will have stopped seizing.  It’s up to you if you have them transported to the hospital, if you bothered to call though and you want them seen by a doc?  Let the professionals handle it.  That way should the child seize again they can provide appropriate supports en route, like oxygen.   Once you get there they will ask if the child has been sick?  Did they have a fever at home?  How high and go over medical history (long-term and that pertinent to the current illness).  Usually if your child has not seized again and the initial seizure was under 3 to 5 minutes most docs will set you free and send you home.   Should your child have a second seizure that’s when things get more serious.  It depends on the medical history and the particular doctor but CT scans, MRI’s, EEG’s and Lumbar Puncture are some of thing things that are often used in diagnosis.  EEG is short for electroencephalogram (you can see why people call it EEG!). It looks at brain waves and they are looking for specific brain wave changes that are indicative of seizure activity.  The MRI and CT scan are ways to look at the brain itself.  MRI is magnetic resonance imaging and can give some impressive details of the brain.  This is a good way to look for abnormalities called lesions.  BK has none, so I have not done much research on this area.  In fact the lesions they were looking for on her brain would have been indicative of  cerebral palsy.  If you read any of my earlier entry’s or you know BK, you know she developed her motor skills late.  So when at 7 months old she had her first seizure and could not even roll over unassisted, it was an obvious thing to look for.  Fortunately for BK, it’s not CP.   CT scan gives a more general look at the brain, they are usually looking for swelling or any indication of head trauma with this.   The lumbar puncture is looking for infection in the cerebral spinal fluid.  In BK’s case there was a Doctor who suspected Meningitis.   Her blood cultures and the fluid from the Lumbar Puncture did not show any evidence of bacterial or viral causes for her seizures.  So again, I didn’t look into it much.  I try not to scare myself  TOO much.

I hope that this general information is helpful to someone.  The point is there are so many variables in what a seizure will look like, how a doctor will proceed with treatment and even in the cause.  But very few parents ever have to be witness to a scary event like this.  For that I am thankful.  I would not wish it on anyone.  Maybe now that you know a little bit more you will be able to stay calm if you are ever faced with a person having a seizure in your future.  And I pray to anyone who read this blog and has children that you find the strength needed to advocate for your child for any medical problems they face.  You know your child best and you are their best advocate.  Educate yourself, learn to speak the language of the medical professionals, it will serve you well.  I am frequently asked if I am a nurse or if I work in a medical field.  The answer is no, I just have had to learn a lot in 6 short years to be the best advocate I can to 3 little people who I love, even with the medical drama they bring.

Pretending you drive an ambulance is not the way to go

I read a blog post today that I don’t even want to bother linking to.  Why?  Because while the point to the blog was to educate about febrile seizure, the actions of the mother are ones I find appalling.  I have a child with a seizure disorder.  BK had her first known seizure sitting right in front of me in my kitchen.  I snatched her up out of her high chair and confirmed what I thought I was seeing and the very next action was to CALL 911.  Unless otherwise directed by your doctor to stay in place and treat a seizure another way, calling 911 is the best thing to do when anyone, child or adult has a seizure.  Some people with a seizure disorder have “rescue” medication that can be given via nose or rectally, and obviously if you know about those medications they should be administered.  But even in the case of those medications, unless you know otherwise the safest thing to do is call 911.   So why should you call 911 and not put your child in the car (or keep them in if you are in the car at the time) and just zoom off to the hospital at top speed, with your flashers going and your horn honking?  You are putting you, your child, any passengers in your car and any drivers on the road in danger.  You child is more at risk without someone monitoring their condition.  And lastly chances are an ambulance can arrive faster than you can get to the hospital.  Once they do arrive they can assist your child by providing oxygen and monitoring her vital signs while they are en route to a hospital that is equipped to care for a child.  In our case when BK had her first seizure the hospital 3 minutes from my front door did not treat young children, they had to take us over 20 minutes to another town that had a larger hospital.  There she was stabilized and transported to a major city that had a hospital with pediatric Neurologists and a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

I am very glad that the little girl from the other blog was safe and got appropriate medical attention.  But urge anyone who encounters a seizure to call 911, do not self transport!  If the child has a fever use cool (not cold!) cloths or a tepid bath to cool them while you wait for paramedics.  Request transport even if your child is awake when they arrive, it is your right.  Some times people who have seizures go in to what is called a postictal state following the seizure, they can be very sleepy and disoriented, this is normal, but is important to know about.

And here is a list of seizure first aid procedures for Tonic Clonic seizures.  These are the type you see on TV, with full body involvement and jerking movements.

When providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic-clonic seizures, these are the key things to remember:

  • Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
  • Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
  • Time the seizure with your watch.
  • Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
  • Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
  • Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
  • Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear. Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. It is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can cause injury.
  • Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.
  • Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.
  • Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.

The above list is from Epilepsyfoundation.org

My own addition to this is that if you don’t know this person and they do not have a medic alert jewelry indicating they have epilepsy, calling 911 is always a good idea.  If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes I would also call. Especially for a child.

I am not condemning the woman whose blog I read today.  I know that in the heat of the moment some times your head is not on straight.  But I want to make it very clear that while getting prompt medical attention may have saved her daughters life, getting her to the hospital safely is important and next time she may not be so lucky.  The safest thing to do in any emergency that you don’t feel you can remain calm is to call 911 and if time is not on your side 911 is even more important.  The wonderful first responders who will come to  your aid are trained to drive in stressful situations, they have a vehicle that others know to move aside for and equipment to help you or your loved one arrive safely for further medical attention.

Soaking in the Green

I feel like the air at this time of year takes on a green tinge at twilight.  I love the way it looks.  My family room is situated with a beautiful view of my back yard and of a county owned property with an expansive lawn.  There is a lot of green back there.  But there is just something about late spring and early summer, the air often looks green in the evening.  Maybe the humidity plays in to it, or maybe its just that everything is SO green after the long winter.  I love this time of year.   I was just sitting watching the breeze flutter through the leaves on the trees out back.  The subtle movements are beautiful, almost musical.

We are currently dog sitting.  Foxy is my mom’s 7 year old Carin Terrier.  She is a very sweet dog and has been a welcome addition here.  While I don’t love getting up and having to take her out every morning, this morning I had a real treat.  As I sat in a law chair and watched her do her thing out in the back yard I noticed a small baby rabbit in the tree line.  It was really beautiful, and so tiny.  It had a great sense of when it could move and not draw Foxy’s attention.  The dog never even realized the rabbit was there in the 20 minutes we were outside.  It made me think I really need to go out there and soak up the quiet more often!