Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It seems kind of a stupid idea, honestly. I mean, I live in the Pacific Northwest, for God's sake. The gardeners here spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year keeping moss off the lawn, roofs, sidewalks, and if they sit still for more than five minutes, cars and/or children, and here I am bringing it indoors and making a centerpiece out of it.
On the other hand, it's free. Also it's green, and I've gotten to the point where I'm so desperate for something green in the house that I actually found myself perusing the fake plant aisle at Michael's the other day. I know there are beautiful silk plants out there now, but I was raised in a family of serious gardeners and therefore look putting at fake plants in my home the way that gourmet chefs probably would look at serving discount store brand frozen pizza in their restaurants. If I'm considering buying those, I'm at the end of my rope. I want Connor to realize that plants grow leaves, and if they fall off you can't just snap them back on. Not that moss is really going to do that, but it's a start anyway. Plus, when it's raining outside for eight months out of the year and getting dark at 3:30 in the afternoon during the winter, you tend to spend a lot of time indoors, which is why I go a little crazy, I think, if I don't see some sort of growing thing inside my house other than the mildew that constantly tries to take over my kitchen and bathroom.
I might add that I'm also really cheap, and the thought of buying a more expensive substitute when I can grow the real thing for pennies really bothers me. Also those silk plants look real enough now that Loki would probably shred them anyway, just on principal.
So after Connor's therapy session yesterday, I ran by one of my favorite thrift stores and picked up a couple of neat containers. I went out into my lawn, dug up an appropriate patch of moss, plunked it in the jar, threw in a couple of rocks for good measure, and voila! Terrariums.
Loki immediately had to explore these strange things. That's my hand in the corner of the picture-- I was totally convinced he was going to take one look at them, think-- "Aha! Plants!" and swipe the glass containers off the counter. Instead he gave me a look of disgust and stalked off. I mean, how dare I think he's that stupid!
As if he's going to destroy them while I'm around. Of course he knows better. He'll wait until it's two a.m. on a night I've stayed up too late watching a horror movie and am lying awake in bed, convinced there's someone sneaking into my house wearing a ski mask and carrying a machete.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I know all we're doing is going over paperwork and saying that our son needs an IEP. I know this meeting is not very important.
Doesn't matter. I'm terrified anyway.
I'll let you all know how it goes.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
He and I both had a rough day today. We had to sell our little car, as the clutch is broken (to the tune of 1300 dollars or so) and to fix it would be almost more than the car is worth. Since Jer will be deploying at some point in the relatively near future, there's not really any point in buying a new car only to have it sit for a year. So we sold the Hyundai to a very nice man who was looking for a safer car to drive his eight month old daughter around in, and just happened to be an Hyundai auto tech, so he could fix it up for much less.
At any rate, Connor and I went by this gentleman's place of work to sign over the title. I had Connor's wheelchair with me as I wasn't sure how long we would be there and it's very difficult to hold and sign paperwork when you have a 20 something pound wiggly kid in one arm. There was no wheelchair ramp to get to the service station-- my choices were between walking all the way down the parking lot to the outside of the center and going around through the car entrance, or to try and take the wheelchair up a really short flight of stairs with a couple of steps, a big landing, and then a couple more steps. I've taken Connor up steps like these in his stroller probably 8,000 times, so I didn't think the wheelchair would be any different.
A very nice man at the dealership had seen me assembling Connor's wheelchair out the window and offered to lend me a hand, which I accepted. He lifted the chair up on to the wheelchair base for me. Unfortunately while I heard the click of it snapping into place, and jiggled it to make sure it had caught, I failed to look up under the wheelchair to assure that the front hooks were fully engaged. You can probably see where this is going.
I took Connor up the first two stairs with no problem, stopped on the landing for a moment, tilted the front wheels up to go up the next stairs, and then watched in horrified disbelief as the entire chair lifted off the base in what seemed like slow motion, pivoted up, and landed face-down on the concrete stairway.
I frantically turned the chair over and inspected a very, very scared and very, very sad Connor. I grabbed my phone out of my back pocket as I turned the chair over, expecting to have to call 911, especially since Connor is only secured to the chair by a lap belt and so should have hit the concrete head first. I was absolutely amazed to discover that though he was scared, he wasn't bleeding at all. Apparently the chair had fallen so that Connor's head was in between steps instead of on them, and the frame of the chair had protected the rest of his body. We sat down on the steps and I cautiously inspected him from head to toe. Miraculously, not only were there no broken bones or head injuries, there wasn't a scratch on the kid. He calmed down pretty quickly, and signed back to my questions that he was scared but he didn't hurt anywhere.
I think Connor's guardian angel deserves a serious pay raise.
So after we finished up with selling the car, we drove home, Connor went down for a nap, and I had a short shower and a fit of hysterics. I learned two basic lessons about Connor's wheelchair from this experience. I will never, ever ever ever attempt to take Connor up any stairs in his wheelchair ever, ever ever again. I will always, always always physically check under the chair to make sure that all of the hooks are engaged that should be, even if I've heard the click of them engaging and checked the chair by feel.
Connor also learned a lesson about his wheelchair. Connor learned that wheelchairs are scary, evil demons that make you fly up into the air and fall down with no warning. Connor is now (and rightfully so) absolutely terrified of his wheelchair and doesn't want to have anything to do with it.
Thank God he's okay.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
So I have a new blog layout, probably because Jer has the car today and I don't feel like cleaning. And believe me, the house definitely needs cleaning. Jer's getting ready to leave for training so every article of army gear he owns is in the middle of entryway, I just finished cleaning out Connor's closets and have yet to make it over to the recycling center or the thrift store, so there's a big pile of the stuff to take there in the middle of the living room floor, and I'm doing a bunch of laundry. I don't even have Connor to use as an excuse because he's not making any of the mess since he's not mobile. Lord only knows what the house would look like if he was. As it stands, his room is about the only clean one in the house.
We had a guy from the FBI stop by today. NOT FOR ME-- he was doing a background check on someone to give them higher security clearance. I haven't been up to any illegal shenanigans, I swear. Anyway, he took a look around my living room and asked us to what state we were moving. Ouch. Guess he thought we were packing and that's why the house was so messy.
Guess I'd better go do something about it now.
But here we are less then three months away, and suddenly whether I want to or not I have to start getting him ready. It's IEP time.
For those of you who aren't teachers or parents of special needs children, an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, is a contract with a school that outlines the educational goals of the student, any aid, programs, or supports to be provided by the school, and any other accommodations needed. Every special education student is required by law to have one.
Now in Connor's case, we feel that we should do a little something extra for his teacher or teachers. After all, if I was a teacher and received an IEP for a child that included the kind of medical report and evaluation Connor's folder will likely have, I would be very intimidated and a bit at a loss about what to do with the child. I want to let Connor's teachers know what his strengths are and the most effective teaching methods for him without making them defensive or having them feel like I'm overbearing or interfering. I think a friendly, not antagonistic relationship would be the best for all parties involved.
So here's what I'm thinking. I'd like to make a notebook for Connor's teacher. It would be a three ring binder (easily updated) divided it into three main sections: About Connor, Communication, and Medical. Here's what would go in each section:
Areas of Interests and Favorite Games
Likes And Dislikes
Strengths and Areas of Difficulty
Vocalizations and Their Causes
Other Methods of Communication (eye-pointing, picture communication, etc)
This section would also include a DVD of as many of Connors signs as we can capture on tape, and me or one of Connor's therapists signing the rest. We'd also try and film some of Connor's games and common behaviors as a resource for the teachers.
A brief explanation of Connor's medical issues in layman's terms
How these issues will affect Connor in the classroom
Medications Connor is taking
Special Dietary Issues and Allergies
Emergency Contact Guide
Emergency procedures in the event Connor has his g-tube pulled out, has a seizure, goes into heart failure, etc.
Instructions for all of Connor's equipment-- hearing aids, FM system, wheelchair, g-tube, oxygen, etc.
So I'm kind of wondering whether or not this is really a good idea or would be useful to a teacher, or if it would be totally overbearing. Some of this info will probably be in the IEP-- I figured it might be a little easier to wade through if it was organized like this, though. What do you all think? Am I being silly?
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The little guy didn't sleep very well last night and was feeling kind of punky this morning, so we skipped our therapy session. He perked up in the afternoon and now I'm pretty sure he's not getting sick-- just feeling under the weather from lack of sleep.
I attempted to make all kinds of appointments today, with very little luck. I want to get all of his 3 year appointments out of the way before he actually turns three so I don't have to keep pulling him out of school. Unfortunately everyone seems to have decided to get sick at the same time I am making these appointments, so everything seems to be full. I'll just call at seven in the morning every morning for the next couple of weeks until I'm able to make all five of the important ones (Ophthalmology, Developmental, Primary Care, Cardiology, and his dentist). The others can wait. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow.
On a completely different topic: I'm wearing my new blue sweater today that I bought over the Christmas holidays. I love this sweater-- it's a gorgeous color and it's very soft and warm. The problem with it is twofold: it has a tendency to pill and Connor also loves it. Specifically, he loves to rub his face and hands all over it while I'm carrying him. The result looks sort of like if they made an episode of Sesame Street entitled Grover Discovers Nair. Connor is covered with patches of very short, very blue fuzz in unexpected places all over his face, hair and hands. Oh well.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Anyway, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen today, which brings me to my topic for the evening-- using your spice rack as a therapy tool.
As you all know, Connor has Sensory Processing Disorder. His mostly manifests in a reluctance to touch new objects and in an extreme sensitivity to texture, but all of the senses are connected. What we've discovered is that if we work on one sense-- sound, or smell for example-- after a while he's able to tolerate more stimulation of his other senses as well. So about once a week or so, I choose some selections from my spice rack, bath products box, and tea collection, and we spend about twenty minutes experiencing different smells.
It's very funny to watch which smells Connor enjoys and which he can't stand. He really likes smells that I use often in my cooking-- he particularly enjoys cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano and rosemary. He hates almost all floral scents. My lavender tea makes him act like I've shoved offal under his nose. He doesn't care for citrus. He also hates spicy scents, even though he loves spicy food.
Surprisingly enough, despite his hatred of all things floral, his favorite scent is jasmine. He LOVES the smell of my jasmine tea. Who wouldn't? That stuff is amazing. He will attempt to shove his entire nose into the jar to get closer to the smell. I have to save it for last, because he will sometimes refuse to smell anything else after it, but will just sit there whining and pouting until I let him smell it again.
During the spring and summer we venture out into the garden, and while I'm working I crush herbs and stick them under his nose. I'll rub them on his hands as well, and he spends a lot of time holding them to his nose, taking them away and looking at them, and then holding them to his nose again.
I've never been a big believer in aromatherapy, but in recent months I've changed my tune. I've found that if I have Connor smell some of his favorite scents before we go to a noisy, crowded place, he's less likely to have difficulties while we are out. I'm seriously considering getting some essential oils of his favorite scents and carrying them in my diaper bag to have on hand if he gets worked up about something. In the meantime we'll just keep making due with my less portable (but free!) garden herbs and spices.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
My cats are on strike.
They are citing unreasonable working conditions as their reason for wreacking havoc on my household. Specifically, their food bowl is empty.
They have been out of food for a grand total of six hours. Therefore they are on starvation corner and Something Must Be Done.
I have tried telling them that Jeremy is dropping by the store on his way home and that there will be food this evening. I have tried pointing out that since it has only been six hours and they ate an entire bowl of food this morning, there is no possible way that they could be starving. The cats see right through all of my flimsy excuses.
Here's what this looks like:
Cricket: Uh oh. We're out of food.
Loki: Something Must Be Done!
Cricket: Maybe our servant doesn't realize the appalling condition of the food bowl. Let's stand right by it and meow really, really loud.
Loki: Good idea
cue 10 minutes of yowling
Me: I have no food for you. Sorry.
Loki: This doesn't seem to be working.
Cricket: It is so difficult to get good staff these days. Maybe she's just gotten lost on her way to the kitchen again. I'll go remind her of where the food bowl is.
Cricket begins to twine around my legs, meowing. Runs three feet towards the kitchen and stops. Runs back and meows again. Repeat 22 times.
Cricket: Heeeeeeeere peonpeonpeonpeon. Heeeeeeere peonpeonpeon. Who's a good little peon? The kitchen is THIS way. There you go. Very good! Now, get the cat food. Good, good, good...no that's the teapot. CAT FOOD. You want CAT FOOD over-- wait! Come back! Dang it.
Loki: I say we fire her.
Cricket: And hire who, the little noisy one?
Loki: Well, let's dock her pay, anyway.
Cricket: I quite agree. Would you prefer shredding toilet paper or breaking crockery?
Loki: Toilet paper.
Cricket: All right. I'll take the couch pillows.
Loki: Vengeance will be ours.
Thus my house has been torn apart today by two small whirling dervishes of death and destruction. Jeremy will be home in about an hour, so Connor and I have barricaded the door of the office in a desperate attempt to keep the cats from eating us before he returns.
Luckily my cats are active enough to keep themselves relatively in shape, because the day I attempt to put them on a diet will be the day that my cats decide maybe shredding the toilet paper isn't effective enough and more drastic measures must be taken. I imagine they'd leave my twitching corpse near the foodbowl as a warning for the next owners to keep it topped off.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I could tell you all about our travels, Christmas holidays, (which were great, by the way) etc but I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to talk to you about poop.
That's right. Poop. If you are at all squeamish, this post is not for you.
We had an appointment with the GI doc today to finally, finally figure out what surgeries Connor is going to need. After reviewing the approximately 8,000 tests (maybe a slight exaggeration) the little guy has had to this date, the doc came in and gave us the good news and the bad news.
The good news was, well, good. Fantastic, actually. The doc told us that not only will Connor need to just have the g-tube and not the other two surgeries, but that also in his opinion we'll be able to start working Connor down off the reflux meds once the g-tube is in place, as he probably doesn't need them anymore. This is awesome news. This means that more than likely they will be able to do the surgery endoscopically or laparoscopically, which in practical terms amounts to a much, much shorter hospital stay and risk of infection. This was exactly what we had hoped to hear.
The bad news was that Connor did have some issues with food staying in his stomach too long. The reason, however, was probably not because Connor has too small of a pyloric valve. The problem is that he is constipated.
See, Connor currently subsists on a diet that is composed chiefly of whole milk, carnation instant breakfast, and cooking oil. This apparently is not so good for keeping the plumbing moving if you know what I mean. To be frank, it produces poop like small boulders. Action must be taken. Which leads me to the topic of the day...
Enemas. Yep. Fleet Pediatric Enemas, to be exact. Two of them-- one today, and one tomorrow. In addition to that, we will be feeding our son a teaspoon and a half of MiraLax (their slogan: Restore Your Body's Natural Rhythm!) for the next year, and then we'll go from there.
So when we left the hospital, I went straight across the street and shuffled-- head down and with sunglasses on-- into Safeway. If I'd had a trench coat and fedora, I'd have been wearing them. I have to admit, as laid back as I usually am about these things, these are not products I was comfortable buying.
I was really hoping they sold MiraLax in a container that said PEDIATRIC-- WHICH MEANS NOT FOR ADULTS-- THIS LADY IS NOT BUYING A HUGE JAR OF LAXATIVES FOR HERSELF in three inch high letters, but unfortunately they didn't think to put that on the label, so I had to buy two or three things and hope to kind of slip the Miralax in and pretend it's I don't know, vitamins or something. I sidled up to the counter, praying from the bottom of my heart that I wouldn't get a chatty clerk, while desperately trying not to blurt out those five little words that doom you to shopper's hell: "those are not for me." Cashiers automatically don't believe you when you say those words. Those are the words that the shifty looking guy with the red eyes uses when he buys that big bottle of vodka every week "for his cousin." If they weren't paying attention to what you had in your cart before, they sure as heck are now, and you can bet it will be discussed in the break room and, depending on the contents of said shopping cart, possibly posted on the Internet at a later date.
Luckily, I got a clerk who was obviously towards the end of his shift and was therefore in the "zone"-- you know, the kind with slightly glazed eyes who asks you how you are and then says "Fine, thanks!" when you ask them for today's date. Good fortune was with me only so far, however, because they did not carry pediatric enemas at Safeway, so I had yet another embarrassing shopping trip to look forward to later in the evening.
After my sign class, I ventured out yet again to scour the stores. The first place I tried was sold out-- who knew there was such a demand for enemas--but I was able to grab the last two off the shelf at the local Walgreens.
This time I was not quite so lucky in my choice of cashiers. I got the super optimistic bored teenage guy-- you know-- the one who really, really wants to know how your day was. Really. Our conversation went something like this:
Him: Hi! How are you?
Me: smiling nervously Fine.
Him: How was your day today?
Me: Um. Interesting.
Him: He has his hand on the first package of enemas but has yet to ring anything up. Interesting good or interesting bad?
Me: thinks: Oh God. I'm Doomed. Um. Just interesting.
Him: So what happened? Looks at package, sees the word enema, turns bright red, suddenly becomes extremely interested in the buttons on the cash register.
Me: Those are not for me.
Him: Okaywellnicetoseeyouhaveagooddaybye. Shoves package and receipt at me, has a whole lot of urgent things to do on the other side of the store.
So anyway, I did finally get home around 8:30 at night, and Connor was still awake. We decided that now was as good a time as any.
If you are at all squeamish, this is the part where you stop reading my blog and go look at pictures of kittens or something. You've been warned.
First things first. We read the directions, which involve placing your child in one of two positions, both butt up, and, well, we won't get more specific on the rest of the directions but we decided based on one key phrase that it was going to be best to start out in the bathtub. I quote: "keep child in position until urge to evacuate is strong (usually one to five minutes.)" So what we essentially had here, folks, was a game of poop explosion hot potato.
Naturally, since I had been to the doctor's office and heard the instructions so this whole thing was apparently my idea, it was somehow decided that I would get to be in the line of fire, holding the boy in position while Jer did the honors.
We were prepared for Extreme Sadness, but Connor took the whole thing surprisingly well. I waited about 30 seconds after Jer pushed the plunger, so to speak, and then got out of the bathtub (which, given the events to follow, is something that I am still extremely, extremely thankful for), leaving Connor on his side on a towel. Here's a loose reconstruction of my conversation with Jer in the moments that followed:
Jer: Wow. He's not upset at all.
Me: Yeah. Crazy. I guess those years of rectal thermometer use have kind of jaded him to this sort of thing.
Jer: Yeah. Guess so. How long has it been now?
Me: About a minute. How are we supposed to know when it's time to move him to the toilet?
Jer: I don't know. Maybe we should go ahead and HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT? HOW MANY FEET DO YOU THINK THAT WAS, ANYWAY?
Me: Oh. My. God.
Ever seen a kid erupt like a geyser? Well, if you never, ever want to see it (and believe me, you don't) please don't show up at my house tomorrow around seven in the evening, when we will be staging a repeat performance. Joy of joys.
And that was my day today. How was yours?