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Recovery

10 Feb

Life has been rough lately.  I’ve been sick for the last 7 weeks.  Yes.  SEVEN weeks.  Bronchitis, sinusitis, pleurisy, costochondritis.  We’ve truly been in survival mode.  Alex has watched way too much TV, and I can’t even feel guilty about that because at least he had something to do while Mommy was laid up on the couch, trying not to cry from all the pain.  Alex came down with croup the same week that I ended up at the ER because I thought I’d fractured a rib.  (That was when I was diagnosed with costochondritis, 2 days after being diagnosed with pleurisy.)  And Steven was laid up in bed the entire weekend (of that same week!) with a high fever and just generally feeling awful.

Yep, no guilt that the entire family can pretty much quote all of the movie Cars now.  TV has been my best friend and babysitter through much of this.  Forts help, too.

While all this was going on, we were also having issues with our new kitten, Theo.  While he figured out the litter box in a single night, he wasn’t consistent with it.  He was already treated once for a bladder infection, so the vet thought it was now behavioral.  I wasn’t convinced.  We were cleaning messes off the floor daily, but he was containing them to the same spots, and they weren’t vindictive in nature.  When he peed on the bare tile, that was my opportunity to suck it up in a syringe and take it to the vet’s office for testing.  I was right; it’s medical.  Theo has crystals in his urine, so he and Ninja are now on a prescription diet to take care of the problem.  So far, so good.  Theo is now consistently using his box.   So glad because when you’re already feeling awful, having to clean up feces and urine every day is just lousy.

This week I finally started to feel better.  I’m cooking again, after weeks of takeout and eating from the freezer.  Good thing because all the meals I’d stocked are now gone.  My singing voice still isn’t right, but at least I no longer sound like a 13-year-old boy whose voice is changing when I sing Alex’s night-night song to him every evening.  And while I can’t go outside most days of our unusually-cold winter, we did have one day last week that the temps were high enough not to set off a massive bout of coughing.  Alex was thrilled to get to play in the snow.

Please ignore the complete lack of makeup.  I do not look like a proper Dallas girl.  My excuse: I was sick.

Please ignore the complete lack of makeup. I do not look like a proper Dallas girl. My excuse: I was sick.

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And when the weekend rolled around, he got to go back out with his daddy.  They threw snow at each other.  Super fun.

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My autoimmune issues are causing this to be an extra-long ordeal, and I feel as if I’ll never be well again.  But I seem to be past the worst.  I can hold my child again without gasping in pain.  The coughing has subsided greatly.  I haven’t had to bust out the heavy-duty narcotics for over a week.  And I can now run errands again without having Steven along to carry Alex and lift him into a shopping cart.  Struggling to lift my 34-lb. toddler has been the hardest part of this.  Sick and in pain or not, I had to care for my child.  Thankfully, Alex has really been quite good while we’ve been mostly housebound for the past 2 months.  He’s had his moments of practically tearing the house apart from cabin fever, but in general, he’s been wonderfully well behaved and happily entertained by his toys and movies.  Housekeeping fell by the wayside, which made me crazy, but I knew to let some of that go.  When I cleaned the entire house this past week, it felt like victory.

There’s a light at the end of the (ridiculously long) tunnel.

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Saying Good-bye

5 Nov

It all happened so fast.

Doogie, our sweet little 14-year-old cat, spent the weekend vomiting profusely.  He was obviously weakening.  The weather had grown colder, and his arthritis made him limp in pain.  I had to wait until Monday to take him to the vet, as there is no emergency vet here.  The news was bad.  His kidney levels had dropped significantly, and he had become anemic.

The vet asked, “You do know what’s coming, right?”  Tears sprang to my eyes.  Yes, I knew.  I wasn’t ready, but I knew.  (Is anyone ever ready?)

Doogie was sent home, having had a shot to quell his nausea.  He had a fresh bottle of Azodyl, his medication for his kidneys.  We were all set to get him feeling better.  But it wasn’t meant to be.

Once we returned home, Doogie went into hiding.  This isn’t unusual for a cat who isn’t feeling well, and I figured his excessive sleeping was just a side effect of the shot he’d received.  But he also stopped eating and drinking.

Then today, he wet his bed and messed himself in the process.  This is the cat who once did the Potty Dance in front of the litter box while Steven cleaned it.  Ninja was new in our household, and he had an undiagnosed infection in his digestive tract.  He was making the litter box really disgusting, and Doogie held his bladder until nearly bursting all night until Steven woke up and cleaned the box.  This is a cat who would never go outside his box.  So this was the final signal that it was time.

Doogie needed his dignity.  We chose to give him that.

I spent the afternoon second guessing the decision.  But I had to drag Doogie out from under the bed just to hold him for a while.  Sweet baby sat in my lap and purred and let me pet him, but after a while, he jumped down.  He really just wanted to be left alone, and it was obvious that he was in pain.  I knew we were doing the right thing.

My neighbor was kind enough to watch Alex for me.  I didn’t want to wrangle a toddler while saying good-bye to the cat, and frankly, as Doogie never liked Alex, it was best for him.

We held Doogie, petted him, kissed him, and told him how special and wonderful he was.  Sweet kitten purred until the very end.

And my heart broke into a thousand tiny pieces.

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Summer Recap

30 Aug

While it hasn’t been a terribly busy summer, it has been eventful.

We took an awesome family trip to Vail, CO.
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Alex received a craft table and chairs from his grandparents.  Coloring is now Alex’s favorite activity.  I’ve loved it, too, once we worked past his desire to color all the furniture, the windows, and the TV.  (Thank God for washable crayons!)

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Alex has been having a blast with his little pool in the backyard.

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Alex met his cousins for the first time.

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I set Alex up in the bathtub with shaving cream mixed with food coloring and let him go at it.

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My long-suffering cats have been hugged and pretend fed by Alex.  Doogie usually runs away, but he got hugged by Alex a couple of weeks ago when he was frozen in place, puking.  Insult to injury.  Alex saw an opening to hug a cat, and he took it.  Poor Doogie.  That’s okay.  He’s enjoyed playing Lord of the Dogs with the new craft table.

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And finally, we’ve survived a bout with scarlet fever, regular strep, a stomach bug (me), and a very nasty mystery illness that resulted in high fever followed by a blistered, oozing rash.  That last one took down both Alex and my husband.  It’s been a not-fun couple of weeks around here.  Hoping for better health come fall.

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Sickness and Guilt

24 Jul

Alex woke up Monday morning covered in strep rash.  I’ve become very familiar with this rash, so I immediately phoned the doctor and made him an appointment.  I’d rather look like a crazy mommy and find that there’s nothing wrong with him, than not have it checked out and have it develop into a high fever and misery for us all.

It’s strep.  Again.  This makes the fifth time this year.

The doctor suggested that someone is a carrier and repeatedly reinfecting him.  Since Steven hadn’t been tested at all, she wanted him to go to after-hours care that evening for a test.  Just to be safe, we both got tested.  (I was tested back in January or February, which means I’m not the carrier, but I got checked out again just in case I’d picked it up since then.)  We both tested negative.  Next up: the grandparents.  I realized that Alex’s bouts with strep tended to follow visits to or from my parents.  So they were both kind enough to get tested.  They’re negative, too.  We’re back to square one.

I mentioned this on Facebook.  I kind of wish I hadn’t.  I think people are trying to be helpful, but when I’m being grilled about whether or not I’ve disinfected my entire house and all the toys or being reminded that they make shopping-cart covers for infants, I feel like I’m being accused of not properly protecting my boy.  I carry enough mama guilt as it is; I don’t need any more heaped on top of me.  I confess: I forgot to change his toothbrush after the last bout.  I changed it every other time, but this time, I forgot.  Guilt guilt guilt.  

We went to the health food store, as we’re out of baby probiotics.  Alex tends to get a yeast infection whenever he’s on antibiotics.  The lady at the store was super sweet and just wanted to be helpful, so I didn’t get mad at her.  But when she gasped that I need to get him off of antibiotics because they’ll just mess him up, I felt another little piece of guilt being placed on my head.  (For the record, I’m a big believer in antibiotics for bacterial infections like strep.  I do not believe in trusting “natural,” unscientifically-proven, non-FDA-approved supplements to get rid of an infection that can cause kidney or heart damage or even death.  I’m okay with crunchy; I’m not okay with foolish.)  But it felt like another person suggesting that I’m not doing the right thing for my child.

I’m almost 40.  In general, becoming a mom so much later in life has been awesome when it comes to parenting decisions.  For the most part, I’m confident.  I have zero interest in the so-called Mommy Wars.  You raise your kid your way, and I’ll raise my kid mine. I don’t care what you do.  And I genuinely don’t care if you don’t like the way I do things.  I do what’s best for me and my family.

But when my child is sick so frequently, all the doubt I don’t usually wrestle with comes creeping in.  I know that he eats a healthy, well-balanced diet.  He sleeps regularly and well.  We have a schedule and a routine that makes our days run smoothly.  He’s an easy, generally-well-behaved baby who is growing and learning.  But knowing that still can’t erase the worry I feel that I’m doing something wrong because he’s sick so much.  This undefined feeling of guilt piles on and threatens to smother me with its ugly accusations.

Still, there are bright moments in the midst of the trial.  For the most part, Alex feels fine.  Because we caught it early this time, he’s only had a low-grade fever and a little crankiness.  I laughed when his doctor told him to feel better.  He was rolling on the floor, tickling me through the slats of the bench in the exam room, laughing hysterically because I laughed each time he did it.  He felt just fine.

Doogie lost a whisker in the living room.  Alex and I found it.  I tickled him with it, and he fell over with laughter.  He took the whisker from me and tried to tickle back.  He ran to his daddy and “tickled” him with the whisker, which in reality was more like punching him in the shoulder while holding the whisker.  But Steven, who isn’t even remotely ticklish, laughed for Alex, who was delighted with this new activity.   He might be sick, but he’s full of joy and life.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, gets him down.

I guess I’m doing something right, after all.

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Treasure

11 Jul

A week from today will mark 15 years of marriage for Steven and me.  It’s been an amazing journey with an incredible man.  And the thing that never ceases to astound me is that it just gets better.  Even when I think it can’t possibly, it does.

This week has been a challenge for me.  I started feeling poorly on Saturday night, but thought it was just from spending the day outside at a state park.  My autoimmune issues often mean that a morning spent like that (you know, having fun and being active) results in a day or two of being knocked on my rear in need of rest.  But fever set in Sunday night, so this was an actual illness.

When we woke up on Monday morning, Steven asked me if he needed to stay home.  I hate to ask him to miss work because I’m sick, and my fever was only 100.2, so I told him to go ahead and go in.  By 11am, I’d asked him to come home.  The fever had risen, and some, um, stomach stuff had started.  Steven came home at lunch and took care of Alex while I crawled into bed and slept.

My fever got up over 103 that night.  I didn’t even have to ask Steven to stay home the next day.  He just did.  And I didn’t have to do a thing.  He took care of Alex, managed to put meals together, did the dishes, and anything else I typically handle.

Steven had to go back to work on Wednesday, but my fever had broken during the night, so things were better.  But as soon as he got home from work, he was right back to taking everything over for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for this husband of mine.

This is what marriage is.  This is how a man loves his wife as Christ loves the church.

This is true treasure.

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Scarlet Fever and Other Summer Activities

28 Jun

Guess who has strep yet again?  That’s right–my kid!  This time, it’s so bad that the diagnosis was upgraded to Scarlet Fever.  Sounds ominous, but it’s really just strep with a rash and high fever.  Alex was up around 105 degrees on Tuesday morning, which scared me horribly.  He really felt dreadful.  Three days later, he feels better, but he’s still running a low-grade fever, and his rash has spread to his entire body.  He could play an alien on Star Trek without needing make-up.  Spots are running all around his face and wrapping around his neck. (And behind his ears, and all over his chest and back, and in the diaper area, and down his legs…)

We’ve been stuck inside all week.  To make things worse, I signed up to work VBS at church this week, and that takes place in the evenings.  I don’t really know what I was thinking, seeing as I don’t particularly like little kids.  I’m with 4th and 5th graders, and my group is all boys.  They’re making me fear the future when my son is older.  Boys that age are… interesting.  Loud, obnoxious, full of themselves, somewhat incapable of following instructions.  So, sort of like my toddler in much larger form.  Except my kid isn’t obnoxious.  Yet.

All this means that I’m with a cranky toddler who doesn’t feel well all day, then I go and hang out with a bunch of wild kids in the evenings.  Running errands?  I fit that in whenever possible.  As Steven was leaving for work the other day, he told me that the cat litter situation was getting dire.  I gave him a blank look and said (with some admitted snark), “What do you think I can do about it?”  I had an insanely sick and contagious toddler on my hands.  It’s not like I could pack him up and run to the store with him.  Instead, Steven came home for lunch, and I raced out the door to buy litter before he had to go back to work.  That’s pretty much been my week.  Alex is almost out of almond milk?  Run to the store at 9:30 pm.

Yesterday, I took a nap.  My Danged Tile did not get cleaned as per the Thursday schedule.  I didn’t regret that decision yesterday, but I kind of do today, as it still needs to be done.   That extra sleep was so needed, though.  Alex has been crying out in his fevered sleep a lot, which means I wake up every time he does.  I’m tired.

Because I wanted PBS turned off this morning for a while (I’ve been a lax parent this week and have let Alex watch WAY too much TV while sick), I decided to try making homemade play-doh.  It was amazingly simple to make, and I’d bought some food coloring a while back just for this purpose.  Alex was perplexed by it at first, but then he got the hang of it.  More or less.  He was into taking it away from me, smashing it with a rolling pin, and organizing it in containers.  This kid loves to organize.  Boy after my own heart!

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I’m kind of looking forward to the weekend when I’ll have some help.  That means I can escape… to the grocery store.

Answered Prayer

10 Mar

Tuesday evening, I started noticing that our wild Ninja Cat was acting… mellow.  Too mellow.  Doogie was yelling for attention as soon as we put the baby down for the night, as is his nightly habit.  Usually both cats pile on either me or Steven the moment we sit down.  But Tuesday night, only Doogie wanted attention from his people.  I watched as Ninja, who’d been sleeping all afternoon, just burrowed under a quilt and curled into a ball.

The next day, things were worse.  He didn’t eat all of his “treat food,” which is what we call the Wellness wet food he gets to have each morning.  He lives for his treat food, so this was worrisome.  He slept all day.  I was trying to figure out if he was just cold and tired, or if he really needed to see the vet.  Then he got up.  He was limping.  Something was very wrong.  I made a vet appointment for him for the next afternoon and prayed for him.

Things were no different on Thursday.  His 4pm vet appointment couldn’t come soon enough.  The vet couldn’t feel any abscesses that would cause a limp, nor did Ninja cry out on examination of his leg, which would indicate an injury.  He had a fever and slight anemia, but nothing really jumped out to give a definitive diagnosis.  The vet even went so far as to ask where I got him, and when I gave the name of the rescue in Texas, he asked if they’d tested him for Feline Leukemia.  *gulp*  I started to panic, thinking he was saying my cat had that.  He was quick to reassure me that he hadn’t tested for it; he just needed to rule that out.  Because I didn’t know for sure without Ninja’s adoption paperwork in front of me, he went ahead and tested for it.  Negative!  Whew!

He decided to treat Ninja for a bacterial infection.   Goodness knows, this cat has had his share of them in his almost 3 years of life.  He gave sweet Ninja a shot and sent him home with another set of antibiotics.

The next day, I saw no improvement.  I was starting to freak out, thinking my cat had cancer or some other awful thing.  I cried over Ninja and pleaded with God to heal him.  He’s young.  He’s supposed to grow up with Alex.  He’s the only cat who tolerates Alex and willingly hangs out with him!  I need this cat.

But then, Friday evening, he perked up.  Woke up from his sleep.  Ate some cat food.  And stretched up to Steven and meowed during dinner, asking for food (which we never share, but he always hopes).  This was normal.  As we settled in for a movie that evening, Ninja sat with us.  Still resting, but wanting to be with his people.

Saturday morning, I woke up to a cat pouncing on me.  Over and over.  It was Ninja.  He screamed and ran for his treat food, which is his normal morning routine.  (Because if he doesn’t yell, repeatedly, we might forget to feed him, you know.)  And from that point on, he was better.  The limp is nearly gone.  He can run again.  He hangs out with the family, baby included.  He still can’t jump the baby gates and now has to meow to be let into the kitchen for his food, but he’s a billion times better than he was before.  Thank you, Lord, the Great Physician, the God of the universe, who cares even for a little Texan cat living in Oklahoma.

Our church here has a time where you can light a candle to put at the front to represent answered prayer.  We lit a candle for our beautiful Ninja this morning.

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