Mar 12, 2017: Too Many Doctors!

Really, the title of this blog should be Too Many Doctors, Dentists, and Therapists, because that’s what this week turned into! So here’s my attempt to turn a week of medical crap into an at least vaguely interesting blog post…. I promise, I’ll end on something fun!

Monday was the Day of Appointments. Chris and I had a therapy appointment on Monday morning. (No trouble in paradise, people. Mostly just a tune-up for a couple who is closing in on TEN YEARS (!!!) of marriage and have been talking All Things Parenting with a lovely therapist for a while. We actually look forward to our Monday morning therapy dates, as silly as that sounds. It’s nice to go talk to an objective third party about how to handle issues that arise!)

Theo had another day off school Monday (because apparently they just never go to school on Mondays now—that’s three out of the last four Mondays!), so he went to daycare while we went to therapy. And then stayed there while I had the long-awaited dental appointment to fix my tooth. Remember that? The one that back in December, the dentist said, “You need to get this fixed as soon as possible, or it may require a root canal! I can’t believe you’re not in pain. Are you sure this doesn’t hurt??” Well here we are, three months later, and I finally got it fixed. He seems to think I should be in pain, but I’m feeling fine. He also seems to think it may still require a root canal. Let’s hope not.

Then Chris picked up Sam and Theo and took them both to Danville for Sam’s Monday afternoon class while I worked.

Tuesday was group acupuncture—another trip to the doctor! But a welcome one. I love acupuncture.

Wednesday it was the dog’s turn for a teeth cleaning. For the first time in many years, we got a tax refund! Whoop, whoop!!! We always have to pay (usually at least a few thousand dollars), so getting a refund was awesome! And so, we did what any super fun couple would do and said, “Hey, we’ve been putting off getting the dog’s teeth cleaned because it’s too expensive. We should do that.” And thus the dog got her teeth cleaned—and nine teeth pulled, because apparently we put it off too long. Sigh…

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After dropping the dog off for her dental appointment and working for a couple of hours, I picked Theo up and took him to meet the director of the camp he’ll be attending in the summer. (The director is a psychologist, so that counts as another doctor. Because clearly we needed another doctor appointment this week.) That was actually a rather amusing meeting. Theo asked me, “How long is the interrogation going to last, Mom?” before we went in, which the director got a laugh out of. Turns out it’s more of a goal-setting meeting. The director told Theo all about the camp, which got Theo so excited he literally jumped off the couch at one point. (The director mentioned that one of the activities during free choice time at the camp is robotics. Theo loves robotics, so that got him very excited!) Theo was super jazzed about the camp, which is really just like a lot of other summer day camps except for two things: (1) There seems to be a fair amount of geek-focused activities—and I say that in a good way! Things like robotics, making music videos, learning about animation, doing science activities like building a solar oven to make s’mores, and so on. There are also some other pursuits like art (I can pretty much guarantee Theo won’t choose that one), journalism (he might dig that), and sports (he’ll probably like that). (2) The other thing that’s different is that the campers earn points for working toward the goals that they have set, and at the end of the week they can use points in the camp store (or bank them until the next week if they want to save up for a bigger item–Theo has already announced that he wants to bank his points and save up for a big Lego set, but we’ll see whether he manages to have the self-discipline to do so!).

Theo said he wants to work on learning not to get frustrated so easily, which I think is a very good goal for him. He also said he wants to work on making friends, which I also think is good because I think he’ll pass that one with flying colors, which will give him some confidence. 🙂 Making friends has never been an issue for him! We worked on a couple of other goals together, too, and came up with four that he will work toward.

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes. Theo is super excited about the camp, and I have heard all good things about it—but I do have slight reservations about a “therapy” camp just because I’m not always a fan of some of the autism/ADHD therapies. This camp doesn’t seem to use the methods that I’m not a fan of (I’m fine with reward systems), but time will tell. I like that we (and by “we,” I also mean Theo!) got to set the goals, so we were able to focus on things that are important to our family. I’m not a fan of therapies that work on behaviors that I don’t see as problematic–the sort of “one size fits all” approach that attempts to eradicate all autisticky features and behaviors. So I do like that this camp allows campers and their parents to determine the goals, and then works toward those goals.

And hey, if we end up not being thrilled, he certainly doesn’t have to attend all summer. At this point, though, we’re planning to do it for six weeks and do Cub Scout camp for one week. (Cub Scout camp is only one week per summer. We’ve never been able to do it before, but Chris is going to arrange his work schedule so that Theo can try it this summer.)

Part of what made us decide to try this camp, by the way (aside from having heard rave reviews from some other parents of kids on the spectrum we know), is the fact that we love how Sam gets exposure to both typical kids (he’s the only child with a disability in his preschool class) and kids with Down syndrome (in his Monday afternoon class and his summer program). We really want Sam to grow up with friends with and without disabilities—it seems like the best of both worlds. So with Theo, we got to thinking that he’s always around neurotypical kids now, and he does great—but would it be good for him to also get to be around kids who have some challenges similar to his? Would he feel a kinship that he might not always get being constantly surrounded by mainstream peers? We shall see…

I think the camp director was amused, though, that the meeting did turn into an interrogation—Theo interrogated him about every little detail about the camp, down to precisely what snacks (and in what sizes) the camp serves and whether there are porta-potties or standard toilets. Welcome to my world, Dr. Bob… 🙂

After the camp meeting, we headed back home to pick up Sam from school and take him for his dreaded eye appointment. I think Sam might need glasses (which wouldn’t be at all unusual for a child with Down syndrome), but I’ve been putting off the appointment because I knew it would be a nightmare.

Um, it was. For some reason, they booked us in with an adult optometrist. She had no idea how to handle a kid who was resistant to the appointment—and Sam was very resistant. He really hates doctors, hates being poked and prodded. He was having none of it! And so, we ended up standing in the waiting room with Sam screaming bloody murder while the stressed-out optometrist talked to her supervisor to see what the next step is. Apparently they should’ve sent me to the pediatric ophthalmologist in Antioch. Which is fine, but I wish they would’ve just done that in the first place, rather than me having to traumatize Sam by taking him to an appointment that freaked him out. Sigh…

Then it was time to pick up the dog! Only she wasn’t ready yet. So I went back at 6:30, after a quick trip to the gym…but she still wasn’t ready. And Chris had a 7pm meeting, so I had to get home to watch the boys. He ended up having to go back out at 8:30pm to pick up the poor, stoned pug. Long day…

Little did I know, Thursday would be even longer! It started out fine—boys to school, me working, picking Sam up at 2:30 to take him to OT. It was all good.

And then…midnight…and puke. Puke, puke, puke. Apparently Sam caught the stomach virus, which has been going around and which is particularly nasty right now, according to people in our community.

I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. Last year’s bout with Sam was horrible and resulted in a scary hospital stay. Not to mention, every time one of us gets the stomach bug, all of us get the stomach bug. And like any sane person, I hate the stomach bug! And last but very much not least, my friend Lisa was flying in the next day and staying with us Friday night, so we could meet up with our other friend Jeanette for a girls’ weekend in San Francisco that we’d been planning for the better part of six months!

As Sam puked a second time, I watched my fun weekend slipping out of my fingers. With the third round plus diarrhea, I knew it was all over. This couldn’t be just food poisoning—there was too much going on. And the stomach virus is going around, so…

I emailed my friends and said I couldn’t go. I couldn’t be sure the rest of us would get this crud, but if we did, and I exposed Lisa and Jeanette to it, I’d feel horribly guilty! Because you don’t want to give your worst enemy the stomach virus, and you certainly don’t want to give it to your best friends!!

And I sat for two hours, holding Sam every time he puked (and getting puke on me), while Chris ran loads of laundry and wiped down the puked-on crib with Lysol.

When the puking showed no signs of slowing in two hours, I called the advice nurse and explained my concern—that last year when this happened, Sam ended up in a really bad situation. She looked over his records, saw that last year he’d ended up with dehydration and metabolic acidosis, and told me to just head into the ER. “Better safe than sorry,” she said.

As much as going to the ER was not on my agenda at 2:30am, I was relieved. Last year, I kept calling advice and reporting that he wasn’t getting any better: “He hasn’t thrown up in twelve hours, and he seems to be getting worse not better! This doesn’t seem right!” They kept assuring me that as long as he was drinking and wetting diapers (which he was), everything was fine.

I realize that wet diapers and liquid intake are their benchmark, and not every kid with the stomach virus needs to go into the ER, but we all learned a scary lesson last year: Sam can do fine on the benchmarks and still be dehydrated. And it can get really scary, really fast. So I was glad that his medical provider has that in his records and that this time, they were proactive and didn’t just keep telling me that everything was fine.

So into the ER we went, and they ordered Zofran (anti-puke drug) for Sam. It took a couple of hours to get the Zofran and for it to take enough effect for him to stop dry-heaving, but it did the trick, and at 6am we were discharged and able to head home. And this time, he recovered like a typical child—slowly being more willing to eat and drink, and now, three days later, he’s doing well.

My poor, sweet boy in the ER, waiting for his Zofran. As sad as he looks here, at least he’s bright-eyed. Last year, he was nearly unresponsive when we brought him in—couldn’t even keep his eyes open for more than thirty seconds or so. This was much less scary!

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Once the Zofran kicked in, he fell asleep holding my hand.

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Discharged and waiting for a take-home prescription of more Zofran in case the nausea and puking came back (it didn’t!). He tried to take a little nap on the chairs:

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A FOUR-HOUR nap the next day did wonders for him!

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By the end of the day, he was looking tired but eating dry toast and applesauce:

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Much relief! And also great relief because somehow, none of the rest of us got it. That is a first! Sam took one for the team, apparently!

I actually wrote another blog post about that long night. If you missed it, click here.

As promised, let’s end happily! Saturday we took it pretty easy, with Sam still recovering and me having been really nauseated all day Friday. (I never actually got sick, but I was nauseated all day. Not sure if that was a really mild touch of the bug or more just that I had been awake all night and was exhausted. I’m frequently nauseated, so that latter option wouldn’t be unheard of for me.)

But Theo really wanted to go to the district STEM Fair, since his class’s project had been selected for the district-wide fair. So he and I went while Sam and Chris stayed home. Theo ended up being the class spokesperson, which was pretty amusing. The district’s science coordinator came by to “judge” the projects (there were no winners, but each entrant did get interviewed) along with another woman from the district, and Theo and one of his classmates presented it to them. Theo, being a talker and with his classmate being on the quieter side, ended up doing most of the talking. At one point he mentioned aquifers, and the two women said, “Did he just say ‘aquifers’? And he’s in third grade? KILLED IT!” (By the way, I had to look up what an aquifer is. My eight-year-old apparently knows, even if I didn’t! In case you, like me, have no idea what an aquifer is, here’s a link!)

Theo and his friend presenting the class’s project to one of the judges:

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Theo presenting to another person from the district:

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Anyway, the district judges really loved the class project because it was about what water works best for certain plants—acidic, alkaline, or base/control. The kids also talked about salinity and the effects of saltwater on plants. Given that California has a huge agricultural region and is bordered by an ocean, the judges felt it was a particularly relevant project. Theo and his classmates were pleased as punch!

It really was a fun project! Though my favorite may have been the one that tested who has the most germs in their saliva: old dogs, young dogs, old cats, young cats, or humans! I also really liked the one that had slugs crawl on different types of materials/surfaces to see which one they could move fastest on!

After the STEM Fair, we went home to pick up Chris and Sam, went out for bagels, and then stopped at Theo’s school to shoot baskets.

Still a tad bit pale, but eating plain bagels!

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Cracks me up when he eats them this way!

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Sitting in the shade, watching Daddy shoot baskets. Check out how green our hills are!

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Can you spy all three of my guys?

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Theo shooting:

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I’ve mentioned Theo’s school is at the top of a hill, I think. This was taken from the schoolyard. See City Hall below? And the tiny cars on the road below? Theo trudges up the hill from that road every day—it’s a surprisingly steep hike! Not sure what I’m going to do when Sam starts, as I don’t think Sam can hike up that hill on his own (and I can’t carry him up every day—he’s 35 lbs now!). We may have to resort to driving to school. Blah! But anyway, I just love the views from Theo’s school!

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Oh, and here’s something else fun and not doctor-related: We went to the park and out for pizza slices on Sunday! After months of rain, we have a gorgeous weekend of temps in the low 70s, so we had to take advantage! (I’m trying not to remember that this would’ve also been a gorgeous weekend in the city with my BFFs…sigh…)

Sam wanted a selfie, but then he looks vaguely irritated in this one!

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Happy on the swings!

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We did haircuts, too! This is Sam’s first time in a big-boy chair. Our usual barbershop of choice ticked me off (long story), so we went to another one, and it didn’t have kid chairs. Sam did great because Chris let him watch Thomas on his iPhone. Before that, there was much wailing. 🙂

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Couldn’t get a decent pic of Theo, but here’s big boy Sam!

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And a last bit of fun! Sometimes, when I’m trying to work in my nice, quiet den at home, I get really sleepy. I don’t drink caffeine, so to perk myself up I’ll take a quick, two-minute break from work and do something mindless at my computer. This week I decided to Google myself. Turns out a letter I wrote to our state senators has been published on the United States Senate website! I kind of geeked out over that—pretty sure that’s my thirty seconds of fame right there. 😉 If only it had worked, though. Alas, we still have Jeff Sessions as our Attorney General. But I did think it was pretty cool that they at least thought my letter was worth putting on their site. Here’s a link if you want to read it.

Anyway, hope you all had a fabulous week (with fewer doctor visits than we had)! Next week I hope to post some fun pictures from the World Down Syndrome Day celebration Sam and I will be attending on Sunday. Alas, Chris and Theo won’t be coming, because they’ll be on a Cub Scout camping trip to Half Moon Bay. Chris better take some good pictures for me. I love Half Moon Bay, but I declined to join them on the camping trip because (a) it’ll undoubtedly be quite cold at the beach in March; (2) I don’t trust Sam not to wander out of the tent and toward the water or off the bluffs when we’re sleeping; and (3) I didn’t really want to miss the WDSD celebration at the park, as it’s one of my favorite yearly events. And anyway, I think it’s good for Theo to get one-on-one time with Chris, so they’ll have fun!

Oh, and one last fun bit: Chris and I will be married ten years this June, and I had long planned that for our ten-year anniversary, we would go to Hawaii (where I’ve never been!) with the kids and renew our vows, just the four of us. Unfortunately, the budget didn’t allow it. (I can’t complain—the budget is allowing some travel this year, which makes me very happy! It’s just not quite enough to go to Hawaii, which is incredibly expensive.) So, I was slightly bummed about not being able to renew our vows as I had planned, but what can ya do? I told Chris we could do it for our twentieth anniversary instead.

But…BUT! It just so happens that our very favorite event of the year—the Genentech Gives Back concert—is scheduled for our anniversary!! We are so excited! So, ahem, Grandma Kathy and Papa, be warned that you’ll be hit up for a night of babysitting for that. 😉 We shall renew our vows in spirit while sitting in a baseball stadium listening to whatever rock musicians they hire this year. (Not sure they can top last year’s Pink for me, but I have also been dying to see Bon Jovi, and they are touring this year. I told Chris that Genentech needs to line up Bon Jovi for the concert, and then Jon Bon Jovi can officiate our vow renewal. HA!)

So anyway, I shan’t miss our aborted trip to Hawaii too much, given that we get to attend our favorite event of the year instead! Wheeeee!

Miscellaneous pix from the week:

Ditalini pasta with yellow tomato sauce, with roasted fennel and blood orange salad. The pasta looks bland but was actually really flavorful, and I love fennel!

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By golly, he finally learned how to fold and roll socks! This sounds like something minor, but for a kid with significant challenges with visual-spatial skills, folding is actually pretty difficult. I was very proud of him—and he was very proud of himself!

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Poutine with cheese curds, mushroom gravy, and a side of greens watermelon radish salad. Delicious!

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Incredibly boring-looking rotini with artichoke hearts, which was actually surprisingly tasty:

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My first fiction-ish book came out!! I say “fiction-ish” because it’s a fictional tale, but it was told by someone else. (Washington Irving, of course.) My job was to re-tell it for third-graders. It was the most fun project I’ve worked on so far!

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The Cat Who Doesn’t Give a Damn apparently wants to test out her nine lives. That’s a second-story railing she’s balancing on. Not smart, Violet.

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Seriously, cat?!

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Cheesy rice bake. It doesn’t look terrific, but it was quite tasty. Spiced with harissa, among other things, and with spinach in it. Yummy!

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Theo’s teacher took this picture of him using a virtual-reality thing in school. He thinks it’s the coolest thing ever!

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