New Year

Jan. 3rd, 2013 12:35 am
juthwara: (Chu)
I had an upbeat post planned yesterday, about my plans for the new year and the things I thought we could pretty realistically get accomplished. And instead, my mother is in the ER tonight with a bowel obstruction (her oh-so-useful doctor this morning phoned in a medication for gas. When I have more time, I have a doozy of a rant about the various stories of my mother's medical care make me suspect that people see an elderly woman in a wheelchair and don't try as hard as they might otherwise). Her aide is with her; I am not because I am James's main food source, and a baby in the ER is not a good idea. If it had been something that could have been resolved in an evening, I wouldn't have been needed. Since she's being admitted, we will go over tomorrow morning once she's in a hospital room, away from the ER germs. This all makes perfect sense and does absolutely nothing to assuage my crippling guilt, but the fact remains, a baby in the ER is a bad idea, so here I am.

So now I'm looking at two different years: the one where my mother remains relatively stable and I keep on with my plans, and the other one, where she isn't and I need to figure out how to manage our family while possibly having to be in Michigan often. I'm rapidly starting to think that planning for crisis management is going to have to be the way to go, although I will do my best to not live as if we're in crisis mode when we're at home in Philadelphia. Non-crisis mode involves things like more exercise ([livejournal.com profile] longstrider recently got a hefty raise that we're deeply unhappy about (that's another doozy of a post all on its own), which mean we should be able to afford joining the Y), keeping up with our improved cooking habits, continuing to be more involved at church and keeping a better school schedule. Crisis mode preparations, on the other hand, involve making sure bills can get paid and the house kept together if I'm not there, coming up with child care plans, and quite probably looking for a school for Katherine. We haven't been accomplishing more than the minimum since James was born, and the "She's in first grade, it doesn't matter so much if we don't get a lot done this year" starts to wear thin as it stretches throughout second grade as well. I had plans for getting lot more done starting next week. But now I'm not sure if we're getting home next week. I think she needs a teacher less distracted and stressed than I am, and we need to be able to continue her education throughout any upheaval. I was commenting last month that we need some sort of groovy experimental school that gives her a lot of autonomy and fun projects, but is still academically rigorous. We'll see if that's possible.
juthwara: (Chu)
Last week was...quite a week, all right. I got a sinus infection (with bonus exciting lump that confused the doctor, who threw antibiotics at it!), Mr. Blinky the laptop with the exciting fainting screen finally turned up its toes and died, and then I got the call that my mother was in the hospital, had probably had a mild heart attack recently and (best of all!), probably hasn't been getting enough oxygen for a while. So when I finally saw the news on Friday, I was just done. I had no more grace for dealing with any more crap life might care to throw my way.

Now of course, life's crap isn't so bad considering that I can still hug all of my still-breathing children, but knowing that doesn't reduce the stress much. But this week has been a bit better. My sinuses are feeling better (although the lump hasn't entirely gone away, so I suppose I should trundle myself back to the doctor at some point). Although I'm pretty sure Mr. Blinky's graphics card is kaput given that we can't even get it to display to an external monitor, I was able to restore the achingly slow older laptop to a new speedy glory with a squeaky clean hard drive.

My mother is home from the hospital, but on oxygen. She was treated for several days for congestive heart failure, getting a bunch of fluid taken off of her heart. She's okay, for the moment.

I was never that worried, this time around. My stress was more that this is the third hospitalization in 8 months, and while congestive heart failure is something one can live with for a long time, hers is clearly not under control. It's about what this means for the future, and how much more future there might be, and what sort of decisions we might have to make. When I was talking to Lisa, her main aide, she said that she thought my mother has been slipping mentally, which is something I had been noticing as well. It will be worth seeing how much she improves now that she's getting enough oxygen, but it still presents a new set of issues to worry about. Somehow I hadn't worried about her not being able to handle her own affairs, since both of her parents were sharp as a tack until the end. What do I do if that's not the case anymore? I can't fly out to Michigan frequently enough to handle things. Moving her out here is something I only want to do as an absolute last resort, since the loss of her entire social life and everything familiar, not to mention Lisa, is something that would drastically reduce her quality of life.

To make everything more difficult, she's lost her voice, so it's very hard to talk to her over the phone. And since she has a hard time typing, she normally uses voice-controlled software, which means we can't really e-mail or chat online either.

Sigh. Things are okay again for the moment. We'll focus on that, and on the fact that we'll be there in a little over a week.

Sad panda

Nov. 6th, 2012 12:49 am
juthwara: (Chu)
Poor Alec was quite a sad panda today. He's been snotty and coughing for a couple days, but seemed perfectly chipper until this morning, when he actually asked me to put him down for a nap. He was clearly exhausted but having trouble staying asleep, so I finally bribed him to stay in bed with the Nook, on which he can watch Netflix and will sometimes get him to lie still long enough for sleep to catch up with him when he's fighting a nap particularly hard.

But then he came downstairs crying that his face hurt. I looked at him and saw how his eyes were red-rimmed and had dark shadows under them and took him to the doctor. And it was a darn good thing we managed to get that last-minute late afternoon appointment, because the doctor took one look in his ears and said it was no wonder he was miserable, since they're both infected. Poor little guy.

I'm trying to decide if three doses of antibiotic is enough for him to be able to go to preschool tomorrow. He perked up quite a bit with some ibuprofen, but was still clearly under the weather this evening. I guess we'll see how he is in the morning. I don't want to send him to school sick, but it's going to be a pain and a half to have to take him when I vote tomorrow.
juthwara: (Chu)
Well! That was certainly a week and a half. No really, it's been an eventful week and a half. Although properly, it started two and a half weeks ago when I got a call from my mother on Thursday telling me she had been in the hospital since Monday.

!!!

I was in the middle of the grocery store, and while I called her back later, her phone kept cutting out, so I wasn't able to gather much more than that she had gone in for heart tests and they had decided to keep her for several days. She got out of the hospital the next day though, and seemed healthy enough to drive out to see us a week later for James's baptism.

So last weekend, my mother, her intrepid aide and my brother drove out to visit us and my aunt and uncle drove down from Connecticut as well. We don't get to see my aunt and uncle nearly enough given that we only live three hours away (thank you, weekend jobs), so we passed a lovely weekend catching up with everyone.

James was baptized on Sunday, wearing the traditional familial christening dress, now 106 years old. He was an absolute doll, allowing the minister to walk him through the congregation, smiling beatifically the entire time. He really is such a lovely, happy baby. If you're going to have a surprise third baby, I highly recommend having one like him.

My mother and brother stayed until Wednesday, so we got more of a chance to visit. And Doug and I went out to dinner alone with my mother so we could discuss various things about her health. On the whole, given that it was a conversation that largely revolved around what you could call end-of-life housekeeping, it was pretty good all things considered. It was established that yes indeed, we DID want to be called when she was in the hospital, preferably before she had been there three days. And my mother was even the one who brought it up, although my brother and I had gone in planning to talk to her about it. My mother had significant issues with her parents telling her about health crises - she learned about her mother's first heart attack through a letter written two weeks after the fact - so she's always felt pretty strongly about this sort of thing. Which is why it's been so surprising to me that this is the second time this year I haven't learned she was in the hospital until she had been there several days. We discussed making sure Doug and I both have all of the power of attorney we need (I have financial, but I'm not sure if I have health) and discussed other such cheerful topics as whether the insurance company would want any of her medical equipment back or if we needed to dispose of it. Not cheerful conversation, but necessary and good to have.

As it turns out, she was in the hospital because she's had a heart murmur her entire life, and they were doing a heart catheterization to establish what kind it is, but couldn't because there was too much pressure in her heart from fluid in her heart and lungs. So they admitted her for a few days to get rid of it and established that the heart murmur isn't a bit deal, so we only need to worry about that pesky congestive heart failure. She's not sure what her prognosis is, but as she said, it's never enjoyable to receive a diagnosis with the word "failure" in it.

Sigh. I don't feel ready for this yet. It feels like when you're dealing with a person in their late 80s or 90s who have a significant health crisis that really knocks them down and then have a series of little things for the next few years until the final big thing hits. So far this year, Mom has been in the hospital twice for her heart, once for a UTI that got out of hand and then got C. diff. Only she's only 74. It's too early for end-of-life conversations and accelerating loss of health.

So: family - good! Congestive heart failure - bad! Baptized child - cute! It was a long week but I guess that pretty much sums it up.
juthwara: (Default)
I've been mentally composing blog posts for the past two weeks, but never quite getting to it because of the many things in my life conspiring to prevent me from typing. In no particular order:

* Alec has been out of preschool for the past two weeks. We had known about last week, because his preschool year ended a week before his summer program starts. However, he wasn't able to go to his last week of preschool, for absolutely infuriating reasons. For the past couple months, he's had molluscum, an utterly harmless virus that causes painless bumps on your skin. There's no real treatment for it, except for unpleasant sounding things like freezing or scraping the spots, or medications that may or may not work after a few weeks. So unless there's a problem, you just wait it out. It's really common, and as I said, he's had it for a couple months. Unfortunately for us, it's on his face, and the preschool called us concerned about a couple of the spots the next-to-last week of preschool. We humored them and took him to the doctor (K had it in preschool as well, so we recognized it right away), who wrote us a note saying that it was harmless and there was no reason he couldn't attend school. But the preschool director saw that it was contagious and refused to let him attend, even after talking to our doctor on the phone. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that he almost certainly caught the virus at preschool, but as far as I know, there was no effort made to inspect any of his classmates to see if they needed to be sent home because they had this terrible virus. Just Alec, because he was unlucky enough to get the spots someplace visible.

So we need to find a new preschool for next fall, because aside from being nail-spitting mad, molluscum can last for months and it's entirely possible he'll still have it in September. I'm hoping that the drive to his summer program won't be too bad and we'll be able to send him there in the fall. It would have the advantage of removing the time pressure of getting him potty trained before the fall.

Meanwhile, he's been home for two weeks, and he's developing an advanced case of Three, mostly in the form of finding it funny to defy us. Summer camp starts next week and it can't come soon enough.

* I'm still working on the stupid homeschooling portfolio. It's turned out to be more complicated than I expected, because I stupidly didn't read the stupid guidelines closely enough and discovered that while I had been keeping a stupid book log, it was supposed to be a dated stupid book log. I feel dumb now. And I've been a bit busy fudging reconstructing the stupid book log.

We're meeting with the evaluator on Monday, so I have to have it done by then. I should, in fact, be working on it now.

* I'm beginning to suspect that James has reflux. It took a while, because he hasn't been doing the classic arch away during eating, although he's starting to get fussier during feeds. Instead, he's falling in a pattern of eat for half an hour, fall asleep and sleep for 10 minutes, wake up when the acid makes it too painful and want to eat again to soothe the pain. Repeat on endless loop throughout the day. I can usually get one longer nap in the middle of the day where he can be put down, and he's getting pretty consistent with an 8 hour stretch at night, which is saving my sanity. But other than that, it's me pinned to the couch all day long, feeding him endlessly and I find it difficult to type around him. I know he's getting plenty of milk, because he does an excellent Vesuvius impression (in addition to the copious emissions from the other end). Meanwhile, I'm going slowly crazy sitting trapped in one place while my two older children engage in spirited attempts to kill each other. He's getting fussy enough that I feel justified in calling the doctor on Monday instead of waiting until his next appointment, nearly two weeks away. I might develop bedsores if we wait that long.

* This isn't actually preventing me from typing, but it's weighing on my mind: shortly after getting home from the hospital, I got a call from my mother's main health aide saying she was in the hospital after a period of atrial fibrillation. As it turned out, one of the smaller arteries going to her heart was 80 percent blocked, and she was placed on medication to break it up. But she's been very low energy ever since, and when I discussed it with her aide when they were visiting that one doctor at the hospital said she was showing signs of the early stages of congestive heart failure.

So yeah, that's super fun. I've known for a long time that people in wheelchairs often live shorter lives. If nothing else, Mom has a perpetual UTI because she has a catheter. It's sent her to the emergency room a couple times, and I'm sure at some point she'll get sick with something else and it will rear up while she's weakened and make everything far more complicated. But being prepared for the possibility of my mother starting to develop life-threatening problems doesn't make it suck any less when it happens.

* Oh yes, did I mention I have a cold? That's super convenient right now.

So to sum up: I'm busy and stressed. But I'll try to find more time to type after the stupid portfolio is in.

Sick day

Nov. 30th, 2011 11:26 pm
juthwara: (Default)
Today, I was getting a cold, Alec was wandering around coughing and hacking like he had a 40 year, 3 pack a day smoking habit, and it's become painfully obvious that K is incubating another UTI. She hasn't gotten to the point that she will admit to pain and hasn't developed a fever, but she has the Smell, and has in general been a colossal pill. She has also spent the past two evenings lying down under a blanket, which confirmed for me this evening that my choice not to attempt schoolwork was the right decision. Poor bunny.

She has an appointment with her new doctor tomorrow, so hopefully we'll get a better antibiotic and a referral to a new urologist who willingly makes eye contact.

In other stellar parenting news, when K and I were doing reading yesterday, something about the way she was looking at the words made me ask her if she was having trouble seeing them clearly. No, she just has trouble reading words when she's bored, was the response. Uh huh. Probably more like she stops trying to see things clearly when she's bored. Sigh. We've been meaning to get everyone including K eye exams for the past nine months, but somehow it keeps falling to the bottom of the list, largely because we didn't like the last person we went to, so we need to find a new optometrist. And it occurred to me last night, if we want K to have an accurate exam, we need to find one who's excellent with children.

K is the same age I was when I got my first glasses. As I thought about it last night, I have to wonder if her absolute refusal to try to read the eye chart at her physical last summer was because she was having trouble seeing it and didn't want to get anything wrong. So I totally feel like Responsible Parent of the Year for letting this slide now.

Sick day

Nov. 2nd, 2011 11:33 pm
juthwara: (Default)
Well, on the plus side, it turns out K isn't sick with anything contagious. The drawback is that it's in fact another UTI. Drat. She's been on a daily dose of antibiotic (Bactrim) since early August, and other than a trip to the urologist a month later that revealed an infection so mild we hadn't noticed symptoms yet, we've been infection-free. Only apparently what it's been doing is mostly suppressing infection while letting some other bugs simmer along until she breaks out in the heavy-duty symptoms. Dammit.

I have been repeating until I'm blue in the face that Bactrim doesn't work on her infections. Or rather, it suppresses them for the time that she's on it, and then they come galloping back the second she's off. One memorable time, we missed a single dose six days into the course of medication and within twelve hours, she had a high fever and was screaming at the pain of peeing. And yet, I just keep getting these blank looks from medical professionals every time I say this as they point to lab reports that say the bacteria should respond to Bactrim. Well, usually they do, partially. But clearly there are some other bugs in there that don't, and we keep making them stronger every time we give her this freaking useless medicine.

Ahem. Not that I'm annoyed or anything.

Clearly we need a new daily antibiotic. But we were hoping to get a referral for a new urologist, one with a competent office staff and who actually makes eye contact. And we were also planning to switch the kids from their pediatrician to the family practitioner [livejournal.com profile] longstrider and I have been seeing (the waits in her office are like, five minutes, whereas I have never waited less than 45 minutes at the pediatrician, even when the waiting room is practically empty). So I'm sure what to do. I really don't want to go back the urologist, but do we ask the current pediatrician for a new referral? Get off our asses and do the paperwork for the switch quickly so the new doctor can give us a referrall, hoping that we can do it before the antibiotic for the infection runs out? Argh. Someone needs to tell K that being in the middle of a doctor switch is a very bad time to develop acute medical needs. Very inconsiderate of her. I don't suppose I could convince the bacteria to just put a pin in it and chill out for about a month until all of the paperwork is properly transferred, can I?
juthwara: (Default)
Verdict of the doctor: no signs of any bacterial infections in the various orifices, probably a virus. Come back if the fever isn't gone by Friday. She took a urine sample, but K isn't having any of her normal symptoms, so I would be surprised if it were the primary cause of all this (it wouldn't shock me if there were another infection brewing, since when hasn't there been one brewing in the past nine months?).

This evening, K napped on the couch next to me and I could feel the heat radiating off of her without even touching her. The immortal UTI aside, we've been extremely lucky with our childrens' health. Neither of them has had a virus last for more than a couple days or an infection that hasn't cleared up promptly with antibiotics. A case of bronchitis as a baby has given Alec reactive airway disease, which means he gets a couple weeks of wheezing every time he gets a cold but nothing that a few nebulizer treatments won't help.

This is the longest either of them has been this sick in such a worrying way. I know it's probably a virus that she'll finally kick in the next couple days, or we'll get a call saying she does have another infection, but it's hard not to let my mind go in worrying directions the longer this goes on with no change.
juthwara: (Default)
1. K and I got up too early last Wednesday morning and went to the children's hospital for another attempt at a vcug. They gave her versed this time, which makes children very sleepy and mellow, and thank goodness, because K was freaking out again. I was impressed with the nurse who gave her the medication, who was the right combination of kind and tough, and managed to get K to willingly take the medicine when she was more interested in curling up in a little ball and hiding her face. The doctor had warned me that she was on the older end of children that Versed works well for, and it just doesn't work at all for some children. I held her in a rocking chair for a while, talking about her grandmother's trip to Alaska and other distracting things, until the nurse came back in and I looked down and realized her eyes were closed. Clearly working for her, thank goodness. It was all pretty easy after that, since while she wasn't really asleep, she was pretty happily zoned out. Thankfully the test went very quickly (and everything is fine, or at least, what they were testing for isn't the cause of the UTIs). K was quite amusingly goofy and wobbly for quite a while.

We couldn't get an appointment with the urologist to actually go discuss this test until August. To say I am ... unhappy with this doctor's office is putting it mildly.

2. The last day of school was last Friday, and we celebrated by getting up waaay too early to go to Hershey Park for an end-of-year celebration with our cyber school. I have to say, if you're the amusement park type, Hershey Park is a pretty good one. Lots of rides, including water rides for hot days, clean as a whistle and the extra bonus of chocolate.

The end of the school year deserves its own post for purposes of reflection on successes, failures, plans for next year and general navel-gazing. We are planning on homeschooling again next year. But meanwhile, we're enjoying the general slothfulness of the first week of summer break.

3. Both of the children were out of sorts on Friday - Alec had woken up obscenely early on Friday (a general trand last week - what the hell child?), fell asleep on the way to daycare and when I carried him in and set him down on the couch, he opened his eyes just long enough to wiggle into a more comfortable position and went back out. He was asleep again when I picked him up, and he stayed asleep when I carried him out to the car, during the twenty minutes we waited for [livejournal.com profile] longstrider to get out of work and for another hour after we got home.

K, meanwhile, had had a rather fragile day and was cuddled up with the sitter when I picked her up and inclined to be tearful for no reason any of us could see. I was utterly perplexed, since she loves the sitter, until we got home and she cuddled up to me on the couch and I suddenly realized she was burning up. We took her temperature : 103. Then we stuck the thermometer under Alec's arm and got the same result.

Oh. Well, that would explain it. They were both inclined to lie around a lot yesterday, although they would both perk up with application of ibuprofen. Alec was pretty much better last night. K, poor bunny, still had a fever tonight, and will probably go into the doctor tomorrow if she's not any better tomorrow. I keep quizzing her about any possible symptom of another UTI, but so far she seems clear. It's almost certainly a virus, given her brother was sick too and her father and I aren't feeling too chipper either, but it's hard not to be paranoid when you're constantly dealing with a chronic illness.
juthwara: (Default)
I took K to the urologist last week, to see if we could find an answer to why she gets a new UTI every time she turns around. We got a maybe answer (this is the part where I hedge because I'm starting to feel like K's getting to the age where she deserves some privacy on these issues. So rather than get into the whole saga, Google "dysfunctional elimination" if you want to), and get to go back in a couple weeks for a delightful test called a VCUG, which involves a urinary catheter. I anticipate great fun getting K to sit still for that. Sigh. It will be at a children's hospital, so they should be used to dealing with uncooperative children.

Mostly, I'm hoping the office staff will be a little more on the ball this time around. We had a 9:45 appointment and didn't get home until 1:30, due to little things like the fact that it took over an HOUR just to check us in. Then we saw the actual doctor for about 30 seconds and a highly distracted nurse practitioner the rest of the time, if by "see" you mean "Spent five minutes someplace else for every two minutes she spent with us." And part of that approximately ten fragmented minutes was spent informing K that she needed to give up what the NP saw as a bad habit (completely unrelated to K's urinary tract) and outlined the behavior reward system we were apparently going to implement. All without every even directly speaking to me, the parent sitting right there in the room, let alone thinking that maybe things like this should be up to me, K'S MOTHER. Plus we already use a good bahavior chart, so her stupid star chart would be kind of redundant.

So now I have another reason to want the UTIs to end, so I don't have to keep finding myself wasting my quickly waning youth in a waiting room while waiting to get passive aggressive unwanted parenting advice.

Ouch

Dec. 1st, 2010 12:05 am
juthwara: (tired)
I took a trip down the basement stairs Saturday night. My feet flew right out from under me and I went sliding down on my butt. K was walking down in front of me, and my legs rather neatly slid under her and she travelled down on top of me until she landed safely at the bottom. She thought it was a lot of fun, but the big bruise on my ass would beg to differ.

****

Alec's new habit of expressing his frustrations by banging his head on things has ramped up. I will grant that it certainly makes it hard to ignore a tantrum (not that ignoring it was ever our approach to tantrums), given that if we wait too long, he winds up with carpet-patterned bruises on his forehead. Our poor little soccer hooligan. I have sympathy for the fact that he's feeling things that are far too big for his undeveloped brain to handle yet. I had less sympathy when he bent my glasses last week. And it wasn't so much that he tried to headbutt me in the face last week that gave me pause so much as the fact that he put his hands on either side of my face to aim better.

****

[livejournal.com profile] longstrider came home sick today, complaining of general malaise and achiness. I thought I was fine until I went to pick up the kids from school and daycare, and by the time I got home, it was quite clear that I was sick too.

I'm always torn as to whether it's worse to have to take care of sick kids when you're sick, or kids that are disgustingly healthy when you're sick. On the one hand, sick kids don't move as much, but they often demand more attention. On the other, healthy kids can often play on their own, but they have lots of energy to get into trouble and still need to have attention paid to them. Either way, parenting while sick sucks golf balls through garden hoses. We didn't actually resort to sowing the carpet with cereal for them to eat for dinner, but it was under serious consideration.
juthwara: (Default)
I passed the test for a new online job this week. It's doing the same thing as I did last year - evaluating search engine results - but for a different company. It doesn't pay quite as well as the last job and the company is definitely less personal - the last job involved a week of training over the phone and lots of personal communication, where with this job I was sent a training manual to study and all of the e-mails I've gotten have been form letters - but on the positive side, there will be a lot more flexibility on how many hours I work and when. Really, the main sticking point of the last job and the reason I didn't go back is have to work 20 hours every week, four hours every day, was just not compatible with my other job. Either I would go to work at the library on Friday and then come home to work another four hours, making for 12 hour work days, or I would work at home all week and work at the library all weekend, giving me no days off. If I could just have worked only four days, it would have been fine. But those Fridays were killing me.

More money will make life easier in general, but my big hope for this job is that it will make it possible to afford daycare again. I know the big advantage of working at home is theoretically being able to take care of children, but I've learned through painful experience that while I can be more or less happy taking care of children full-time, and I can be happy working while my children are cared for by someone else, trying to work without the benefit of daycare makes me a dull girl, and it's only a matter of time before the ghostly bartender appears in our kitchen. Right now, our current schedule of only having one day off together every two weeks is slowly killing me. For a brief, shining moment in January, I thought I had our Gordian knot of scheduling issues surrounding daycare unraveled, only to look at our budget and realize that daycare would take everything I make and as it turns out, we really need that money for frivolous things like electricity and water. Sigh. I love my job, but it mostly pays me in satisfaction and as a filler for the gigantic black hole that would otherwise be on my resume. I could make more money with a paper route.

*****

K crawled into my lap this afternoon, and I instantly felt the toastiness of a feverish child. Before I had children, I always used to wonder how you could ever feel a fever since children feel like little furnaces all the time. But now it's just obvious, like porn - I know it when I feel it. Poor little bunny. She had another bladder infection two weeks ago and we hadn't even managed to get her back to the doctor to get a urine sample checked to make sure the infection was gone, and clearly it isn't. She spent the evening feverish and in pain, although not so sick that she couldn't roughhouse with her brother.

Of all of the things I could have passed down to her, a tendency towards bladder infections is one I wouldn't have chosen, right up there with eczema and social anxiety. It's never comfortable to see your more difficult traits appear in your children, whether physical or personality. I can empathize when she's shutting down in reaction to an uncertain situation or the godawful annoyance of your skin freaking out for no good reason, which no doubt makes me one of the best people to help her. But I'd rather spare her the difficulty entirely.
juthwara: (Default)
You would think that the amount of free time I had during our snow week would have resulted in more writing, but I got distracted.

Wednesday, I was tired for reasons I couldn't quite explain, especially since I had gotten to sleep in.

Thursday, my sinuses and throat hurt, and the glands under one side of my jaw were swelling. So apparently I was tired Wednesday because I was getting sick. I assumed I was in for a bad cold, since that's usually what it means when my glands swell.

Friday, the glands under my jaw were insanely swollen, but my nose was only mildly sniffly, making me wonder what was up. My research turned up the panicking possibility of a tooth abscess, but I dismissed it because of the many parts of my head that hurt at that point, my teeth were not among them.

Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] longstrider went to work because I thought I was okay. Then I made the mistake of attempting to chew my breakfast, sending pain through my entire head and realized that there was swelling under my tongue, which made me start to think this was bacterial, not viral. So I called him home so I could seek out medical help. My doctor recommended a Minute Clinic, so off we went (capsule review of the Minute Clinic: pretty good. Quick service for a reasonable price, and while I wouldn't go for a complex medical problem, if you have a weekend bladder infection or suchlike I would definitely recommend them). My sinuses hurt, but not when the nurse pressed on them, so a sinus infection was ruled out. The rapid strep test was negative as well, so while she took another swab to send to the lab, she said it was probably a virus, sending me away with the usual useless advice for salt water gargling and ibuprofen or Tylenol. Meanwhile, I spent the evening researching how much ibuprofen was considered an overdose and finally took some of the leftover painkiller from my c-section so I could get some sleep.

Sunday, things finally came to a head quite literally when a boil suddenly swelled up on my gum and then popped, draining quite a bit of nasty stuff and giving me almost instant relief. Aha! Not a tooth abscess but a gum abscess, where a pocket of infection decides to take up residence in your gums. I suppose I should have realized that sooner, because the inside of my mouth and my jaw did hurt, but everything hurt at that point. It was hard to distinguish what might be caused by an infection in my mouth versus what pain was coming from the sheer bulk of swollen, painful glands under my jaw putting pressure on everything else. And of course, there was the sore throat, which didn't seem to jibe with anything else.

So Monday, I went to the dentist and the gum abscess was confirmed, which was a relief because the best-case scenario treatment for a tooth abscess is a root canal, but for a gum abscess that was draining on its own, I got antibiotics. And on Tuesday, I got a call from the Minute Clinic telling me my strep test was positive, slotting the other piece of the puzzle in place. That would explain the sore throat and the fact that gum abscesses often come along with gum disease, which I don't have. I guess the bacteria from my throat travelled into an opportune place in my gum and decided to party.

So almost a week later, I'm mostly better. It's really astonishing how much misery one small spot of infection can cause, but there's nothing like an infection to let you know just how connected all of the nerves in your face are. I've lost nearly ten pounds because of how much moving my jaw has hurt.* Right now, I'm down to ibuprofen every eight hours, a bit of a sore throat and one last swollen sore spot under my jaw. And thankfully, I can mostly eat things that require at least some chewing, instead of my previous staple diet of soup and pudding. However, I only have one day of antibiotics left, which makes me worry that it's all going to come galloping back as soon as they're done, so I'm calling the doctor on Monday.

So that's my sick note for the week. I had been planning to try and write every day as an exercise for Lent and I will try to actually start that tomorrow, but the first few days of Lent were hopeless, since I was fasting instead.

*It's not like this is really a surprise to me, but it's such a sad sign of how screwed up our society is about weight that I should get so much admiration for losing weight by being too sick to eat for a week, even when people know how I lost the weight. Yeesh, people. But thinner is healthier, right? Because starvation is so very healthy.
juthwara: (Default)
When I thought about our Thanksgiving weekend this year, I realized with a bit of distress that the only day [livejournal.com profile] longstrider and I would have off together was Thanksgiving itself. I couldn't see a way around it though, unless I wanted to beg the other librarian to take Sunday for me.

However, apparently in the category of "Careful what you wish for," there was another way. I woke up last night about 4 am, feeling sick. I wasn't sure I was going to throw up until I got up to go to the bathroom and smelled the chicken carcass in the crockpot converting into stock. That did it. And once morning arrived, I called in sick to work. On Saturdays and Sundays, it's just the museum worker and the librarian, and for safety reasons we can't open without two workers, making it difficult to call in sick. But Fridays, thank goodness, our manager is working as well, so while I could have dragged myself in to shed viruses all over our visitors, I stayed home instead and made up for some of the sleep I missed last night.

Not my first choice of ways to get a day off, but at least it was a relaxing one.
juthwara: (Default)
A double ear infection!

Wait, huh? I asked her about her ears and got a firm negative. But according to the doctor, sometimes ear infections manifest as referred pain in the stomach instead. Bizarre.

The jury is still out on the urinary tract. She refused to pee at the doctor's office, so we didn't get an immediate dip and their lab takes several days for results. In any case, she's on antibiotics now.

She was pretty chipper this afternoon, which is impressive given that her fever never went below 100. I really hope it finally goes away tomorrow. She's staying home no matter what because school won't let her back until she's gone 24 hours without a fever. I understand their reasoning, but it can be a bit infuriating when you know what your kid has isn't contagious. Fingers crossed that the antibiotics kick in so she can go back Thursday.
juthwara: (Default)
K woke up this morning hot to the touch and complaining that her stomach hurt. As I heard that, I got a sinking feeling in my own stomach at the realization that the flu had caught up to us. I had been recently cursing the Philadelphia schools for sending home permission slips to give the H1N1 vaccine and then deciding that they weren't giving it to the preschoolers (yes! We shall give the vaccine to all students except the ones most vulnerable to complications from the flu! This makes perfect sense!), and my curses doubled up. Anyway, we gave her ibuprofen and settled in to wait for more symptoms to show up.

Meanwhile, we got a call from our pediatrician's office asking if we could reschedule Alec's well baby appointment today because the office was filled with sick kids. Gosh, do I want to take my currently healthy four-month-old into the cesspool of disease and pestilence masquerading as your waiting room? Why yes! Or not. We rescheduled the appointment. Although I suppose it doesn't matter if we try to avoid disease by staying home if K is going to bring it home to us from the plague grounds of preschool, Seventh Seal style ("The salmon mousse!").

At noon her fever was down to 100 and she was more chipper, but not showing any other symptoms. She slept most of the afternoon. In the late afternoon, I tried asking her if anything hurt, trying to find out what symptoms she might be developing (at this point I had pretty much decided she must just have one of those anonymous viruses small children like to pick up), and she said again her stomach hurt, but nothing else. Did it hurt when she pees? Yes. Was it her lower stomach that hurt? Yes.

Drat. Another UTI. On the plus side, not the flu and not contagious! On the negative, it was 4:30, half an hour before the doctor's office closed and an hour after the appointment we had given up for Alec and decided not to take K to instead because what could the doctor do for a virus? Sigh.

We have an appointment for her tomorrow morning (a mere hour before the dentist appointment that I've been making and breaking for the past year and a half, but that's another story), and hopefully getting antibiotics will get her well enough to ship her back to school on Wednesday, poor bunny. And I will continue to be grateful that we're continuing to dodge the flu bullet. As hard as it is to watch the numbers climb on the thermometer as your toasty warm preschooler lies limp and flushed, the terror of a young infant with the flu is one I would just as soon avoid.

Near miss

Aug. 17th, 2009 10:58 pm
juthwara: (Default)
I spent most of Saturday feeling really tired, the sort that leaves you utterly unmotivated to move, let alone leave the house or fulfill your parental responsibilities. You would expect any parent of a seven week old to feel this way, even one so lucky as to have a spouse who let them go back to bed and sleep until noon that day. My right breast was hurting as well, but I didn't think much about that since I've been fighting thrush, which can cause shooting pains. Despite that, I hauled us to the park and back, and once we were home, took Alec into the bedroom with me to share a nap. When I woke up, I felt even more tired and I realized I was shivering, despite being under the covers and having a small heat extruder on top of me. So I took my temperature - 102. And then I looked at the breast that had been hurting and discovered it had a large red and blotchy spot. This was starting to look an awful lot like mastitis.

Argh. I debated calling the doctor, given the high likelihood that it would result in having to spend Saturday evening cooling my heels on the Group W bench in an inner-city ER. With that in mind, I decided that waiting 12 hours for antibiotics wouldn't kill me, and spent the rest of the evening alternating warm compresses and pumping. I'm just as glad I did, because while I still felt lousy when I woke up the next day, my fever was gone and the red spot was much smaller. I spent the day pumping frequently again, and today the redness is pretty much gone.

So apparently it was a mild infection that my body fought off on its own. Whew. But now there's the issue of what brought it on. The most likely cause is that I'm not pumping enough, which I'm not sure what to do about. I'm pumping just about as much as I can during the day. Occasionally I'll go too long when I probably could have fit a session in, but mostly I'm doing the best I can carving out pumping time while caring for a baby that won't be put down and a preschooler. The only real time to add a session is in the middle of the night, which everything I read on exclusive pumping says I should be doing but I haven't on account of it would kill me dead.

I'm not a good sleeper. It takes me a long time to go sleep and I wake up easily, but it takes me a long time to really be awake. And once I've been woken up and had to move around and be functional for too long, it takes me a long time to go back to sleep. It wasn't much of a problem when K was a baby because she nursed at night, so I just pulled her into bed and while I couldn't sleep through it, at least I was able to lie down and not be too awake. With Alec, I've mostly been able to give him a bottle lying down in bed, and while I occasionally lose my grip, it usually works fine and we're both back asleep within 45 minutes. If I have to get up and pump, the odds that I'm going to really wake up and have trouble going back to sleep are going to go way up. But if I don't do it and getting mastitis turns into a persistent problem, it's either going to be that or giving up pumping.

For the moment, I'm going to try to militant about not letting too much time go by during the day and making sure that I get up promptly in the early morning - I think part of a factor in the infection was that I was lazy and stayed in bed a lot longer than I should have both Friday and Saturday. Hopefully that will do.

What's clear is that bottlefeeding is definitely the right choice for now. When I switched Alec to a faster flow nipple, he went from drinking 20 ounces a day to 35. He's backed down to 30 now, since apparently he had some catching up to do for a while. But in three weeks he's gone from skinny little arms and legs to chubby, meaty limbs with deep creases at his wrists and a pleasing double chin. Instead of going and off the bottle and taking two hours of fussing and dozing to get a feeding down, he dispatches them in 20 minutes. Clearly he wasn't getting enough, and if he couldn't get enough food from a slow-flow nipple, he certainly wasn't going to do it through exclusive breastfeeding. I'd still like to try and get him breastfeeding part-time, but I've been reluctant to try when I'm trying to get rid of thrush. If that means our opportunity to get him back on the breast has passed, that makes me a bit sad but we'll survive. I'd rather have a chubby, happy little boy.
juthwara: (Alec)
I went to the doctor Friday to have my incision inspected and everything is looking good. The bacteria causing the infection turns out to be MRSA, which would explain why it didn't respond to the first antibiotic, as that it was one that MRSA is resistant to. It makes me really glad that we decided not to circumcise Alec, because the last thing a baby with a MRSA-infected mother needs is an open wound on a sensitive place just waiting to get colonized.

Life is starting to settle into a new normal. Alec is developing not so much a schedule as a pattern. He likes to spend 2-4 hours cluster feeding, interspersed with cat-napping and alert periods, then sleeps for six hours. It's a bizarre schedule for a newborn, but he seems to be eating well, producing as many dirty diapers as he should and is gaining weight, so we're just going with it. Such long sleep periods do make me have hope that he'll sleep through the night early, or at least earlier than K did at 22 months.

It's been 2 1/2 weeks, and he's already changing:
- He's having more alert periods and spent a good ten minutes in the bouncy seat last evening, admiring the dangling toys.
- Diaper changes are improving, in that the mere act of having his clothes or diaper taken off is no longer cause for him to demand intervention from Amnesty International. He would still like having a cold wet cloth applied to his genitals be declared a violation of human rights however. I can't say I blame him, but we have to get the poo off somehow.
- In slightly less positive changes, the infant acne has arrived. Our poor little pizza face. Time will tell if he also gets the cradle cap his sister had. I love my children, but I have to admit this is not necessarily the phase of infancy where they are at their most attractive.
juthwara: (Gigi)
So! I'm back in the hospital. What looked like irritated skin around my incision earlier this week turned into a spreading redness that kept going even after my doctor put me on antibiotics. So I earned myself a stay in the hospital for iv antibiotics.

I feel fine physically. The infection isn't in the incision, it's just the skin above the incision. I'm receiving an iv bag of antibiotics every 12 hours, which makes this feel like the biggest waste of money in the world for me to lie around in a hospital bed just to receive medication twice a day. Fortunately, it's working pretty rapidly, so it's hopeful that I'll be able to go home tomorrow.

Children aren't allowed in the building I'm in because of the swine flu, so you can imagine how I'm doing emotionally. It's bad enough leaving K again after being gone last week, but there's a special sort of hell involved in being forced to be away from your ten-day-old baby when you're filled to the brim with hormones telling you you need to be taking care of him. Intellectually, I know that he's fine and well-taken care of, that my health is more important than what havoc this might wreak with the breastfeeding that was just starting to go well and given that he's been sleeping 20 hours a day, he probably barely knows I'm gone. But my body doesn't care.

On the plus side, being on the "Women's Health Pavilion" floor instead of the maternity unit has resulted in much better accommodations that most significantly don't include a roommate who leaves the tv on all night (not that there's any good time for this, but waking up at 6am is way too damn early to be confonted with Married...with Children). And although we were told last week that the hospital doesn't have wi-fi, when [livejournal.com profile] longstrider brought my laptop in so I could watch dvds, I discovered that in fact they are "happy to provide our patients and guests with free wireless internet access."

Thank goodness [livejournal.com profile] longstrider's parents are still here. And while I feel like a terrible hostess for having to go to the hospital the day my mother arrived for a visit, it was nice to have her here to keep me company most of the afternoon.

But I just want to go home, dammit.
juthwara: (Default)
We're all going along with life at the moment, in the general round of work/school/come home/go to sleep/get up and do it all again. I felt a little badly this morning when K was so surprised that neither [livejournal.com profile] longstrider nor I was going to work today. It will be nice this summer to have both of us home all weekend to provide a little more continuity and relaxation in our schedule([livejournal.com profile] longstrider's library doesn't have Saturday hours in the summer and I'll be on maternity leave), although I suspect the tiny detail of having a newborn will cramp our style more than weekend work hours ever could.

We had a pleasant day today. [livejournal.com profile] longstrider's uncle is in town for a conference, so he came to spend the afternoon with us today. We all went to a local park and fed bread to the geese and their adorable goslings, then watched K happily run around in the sunshine. Then we came home and I set K up with warm water and lots of bubbles in the sink so she could wash her rubber duckies (mind you, the reason the duckies were being washed was that they had mold in them after spending a winter in the garage with the insufficiently washed-out wading pool, and when I told her she couldn't play with them yet because they needed to be washed, I meant with bleach. Ah well, as long as she wasn't sucking water out of them, they weren't that hazardous). I left K happily quacking at her flock of biohazard ducks while I had a nice long conversation with my mother. Quiet and pleasant all around.

We are all healthy for the moment, although I am studiously ignoring a suspiciously sore throat and drippy nose in the hopes that the Christian Scientist approach of keeping my thoughts on higher plains will do more for preventing disease than anything else we've tried (mostly cursing and complaining a lot, which I guess is the approach of keeping our thoughts on lower planes).

I am still thoroughly bitten by a swarm of sewing bugs. Hopefully this week I can get some pictures up to show the mildly insane scope of it all.

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