Wednesday, September 23, 2009

10 things.

1. BubTar started running a fever on Sunday and he had a sore throat, headache, and body aches. We went to the pediatrician Monday, thinking it was strep and we were right! He was absent Monday and Tuesday, and he was none to pleased about returning to school today.

2. I had my first Biology exam on Monday and suspect that I did very well on it. I love the feeling of taking an exam and knowing the material so well that I know my answer before I ever look at the multiple choice options.

3. I'm a little bored with the Internet right now. Weird, right? Somehow this doesn't keep me from spending too much time on it daily.

4. My Chemistry class has me wondering if it is possible to drop dead of boredom. It isn't the material, but the way it is presented. Professors, take note, simply writing on the chalkboard isn't enough to keep your students awake and engaged! At least, it isn't enough for THIS student. I look forward to lab, but lecture is an exercise in keeping my eyelids from slamming shut.

5. The weather here is lovely today. LOVELY! Today, KayTar may not risk heat stroke by insisting, as she always does, to change into long sleeves and pants the instant she gets home from school.

6. KayTar's feeding situation has vastly improved since we discovered a few months ago that she likes to eat her foods FROZEN. We buy pre-cooked foods, like chicken nuggets, and she eats them straight from the freezer. Some days she'll eat as many as SIX nuggets for lunch. If we cook them? She nibbles at one, perhaps. She still gets tube feeds, especially in the morning before school, but she is eating more real (yet frozen) food.

7. She is getting her 6 year molars and it is terrible. She never had trouble teething as a baby, but these molars are really hurting her. Last night we woke up around midnight and couldn't sleep from the pain. I gave her Ibuprofen and put her in bed with me and eventually she dozed off. The other day she grabbed her face and was crying, because it hurt to smile! Poor kid.

8. (knock on wood) She's been back on the name brand Pediasure consistently since her last episode and she hasn't had one in 69 days. Is it related? Who knows, but we'll take it!

9. Friday I volunteered at the kids' school, working in the library. I enjoyed myself quite a bit and discovered that organizing bookshelves can be somewhat of a zen experience. I stayed for the duration of KayTar's school time and then we went out for lunch and shopping (we were searching for a rolling backpack for KayTar). I invited BubTar's best friend to spend the night with us, so we had company in the afternoon, and we also had dinner with my parents. It was a relaxing and enjoyable day, which was exactly what I needed.

10. KayTar has begun going to first grade for reading group. They still haven't finished her reading test, but she is WELL above a first grade level, this much they know. (she demonstrated as much by reading my Biology index cards to everyone in the pediatrician's waiting room, "Phosphorus, carbohydrate, enantiomer isomer, protein...can you give me a tricky one, please?") However, because she is just a little Pre-K kid, they don't want to move her up too quickly due to the social and behavioral expectation in the higher level classes, though next semester they might move her to second grade for reading. She is THRILLED that she gets to go to first grade and that she gets her own reading folder with homework in it. She cried on Friday when she discovered she didn't get homework on the weekend. She has also been announcing that she is a FIRST GRADER to anyone who will listen. Yes, this includes strangers in the checkout line at the grocery store or anyone who might make eye contact with her.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Out of Order.

I should be at a meeting at the kids' school right now.

I should be working on an essay for Comp II right now.

I should be cleaning my house or conquering Mt. Laundry right now.

I should be making calls to a few of KayTar's physicians right now.

I'm not.

Yesterday was wild. I woke up in the morning and instead of getting myself half ready (shirt, bra, pants, socks and shoes), I had to get myself fully ready (add hair and makeup and coffee to go). When I dropped the kids off at school, I had to stay for a parent volunteer meeting, which lasted for about an hour and a half. By the time I got back to the house, I had about 45 minutes before it was time to pick KayTar up. I got VERY LITTLE accomplished. After picking KayTar up, we came home, ate lunch and played a bit and then it was time to go out to the medical center for KayTar's flu shot appointment. After that, we got back on this side of town JUST in time to pick BubTar up, we didn't even stop at home first. Then it was Homework with BubTar time, which lasts 1-2 hours every day, during which I stole 10 minutes (in 1-2 minute portions) to watch a fraction of an ER episode, just so I felt like I had done SOMETHING for myself. After homework time, Josh got home, we exchanged notes on the kids, I ate a croissant sandwich (delicious) and was out the door. I got home from school around 9 and my head was just about to pop off my shoulders.

I had run my rear off all day and in the end, felt like I had accomplished nothing. The house hadn't been tended to. My Comp II assignment hadn't been touched. I had discovered earlier in the day that my school email account was not working and thought, "Oh! That's why my professor hasn't emailed me in days, even though I sent her an urgent question about my assignment!" So I sent her another email, asking her to email me at my alternate account to answer my Very Urgent Question. She hasn't emailed me yet. She hasn't replied to my thread on the online class bulletin board that I posted a couple of days ago either. That isn't the ONLY important thing that I am waiting on (I'll spare you the various rants, most have to do with the calls I need to make to KayTar's physicians) and being stuck in limbo, without being able to take care of items on my to do list is adding an exponential amount of stress to my day. If the ball is in my court, then I can take care of it, make sure it happens, but when I'm depending on someone else to give me the information I need to proceed? I cannot relax until it becomes my responsibility again. I only have so much time to dedicate to these things and the longer I wait for an answer, the more of my (very small) windows of time slam shut.

This week has been off-kilter and it is making me anxious. Monday was fine, a regular day, much like my 24 Hours post. School work, drop off/pick up for the kids, laundry, straightening the house, going to class, volunteering at the hospital. Tuesday was much the same, except in the evening I had to squeeze in Open House at the kids' school, get to class just in time for a POP QUIZ and lab. Fun. You already heard about yesterday. So today, I am skipping the meeting at the kids' school and playing catch up, hoping to return to some sense of normalcy. Tomorrow morning I am volunteering at the school and I need today to get my bearings again. As soon as I publish this post, which I will be referring to as my mental health break* for the day, I will be off to furiously attack my to do list for the day, setting things right again.

*In all honesty, I have spent much of this "break" on the telephone and have worked out approximately 2 of 5 of the major issues, and my professor emailed me! HOORAY! Life can go on! I have also started the laundry and straightened the living room. I'm feeling better already.

PS: Everything was taken care of by noon, I had plenty of time yesterday to play and read with KayTar, and do a science experiment and play video games with BubTar (he had no homework), as well as time for the usual things. It ended up being a delightful day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

24 hours.

12:00am Sign out from my volunteer shift and head home for the night. If it hadn't been a slow night, sign out would have been closer to 12:30-45. I call Josh from the car to let him know I'm headed home. At 10 'til 1, I get home. Josh is still half-awake in bed, waiting for me. I tell him he doesn't have to wait up, but he likes to. He comments on the fact that I'm home early and tells me KayTar has been coughing, that he had to go up and sit with her, hold her upright for a while to let her catch her breath. He says she was gagging a lot, but didn't vomit. I wash my face, brush my teeth, and pull on my pajamas. Then I go and fetch KayTar from her little bed and put her in mine. Josh and I pass each other in the living room and whisper our goodnights. He is bunking in BubTar's room again.

KayTar stirs, "Mom, are you there?" "Yes, I'm right here, baby, are you okay?" "Yes, I was just asking where you were." She coughs and coughs. "Do you need your Albuterol?" "No, I'm fine." "Can you take a big breath for me?" She does. She doesn't sound like she is working too hard, so I believe her. We toss and turn and drift to sleep around 2, perhaps.

Josh's alarm clock goes off. It takes me 10 minutes to register why he isn't turning it off, he is sleeping upstairs again. I get out of bed and turn it off, perturbed at being woken fifteen minutes early. When my alarm goes off at 6, I hit snooze once, just because I'm angry about waking earlier. Of course, I don't ever fall back asleep.

I get out of bed, stumble to the closet and grope for a pair of pajama pants in the dark. I walk to the kitchen and start the coffee, then I sit at my computer. At 6:30, I start calling up the stairs to wake Josh, it takes far too long and I resort to calling him by his full name. This works. BubTar wakes easily, as always, but it takes both of us to rouse KayTar today. Josh dresses her in the dark, then tube feeds her. She can't bear any light in the morning, none at all. BubTar dresses himself, I dress myself, and then I fix KayTar's breakfast, which she eats at school. Soon enough it is time for the hair fixing assembly line, followed by shoes, backpacks, and out the door. We're a little off schedule when we leave the house at 7:22, because KayTar needed a last minute dose of Albuterol.

7:50am Home from drop off. I pull on shorts and a tank top and head for the recumbent bike. The first 5 minutes are horrible, I continually bargain with myself over when I can stop. Once my heart rate speeds up, I feel better and make it a whole half-hour. Then I pop a bagel in the toaster and get in the shower. After my shower I put cream cheese on my bagel (strawberry, if you are curious) and sit down to eat it and write the first portion of this post. Then, of course, I check in on Twitter.

Time for school work. I have two chapters in my Composition II text to read. I alternate reading my text with checking in online periodically. It keeps me motivated. I have a second cup of coffee. I watch the PowerPoint lecture for the week and complete a quiz. I call the Texas HHSC to clarify our instructions on the kids' CHIP renewal paperwork. My estimated wait time is 4 minutes. The on hold music is ridiculously loud.

10:27am My cell phone alarm rings right after someone answers my call. Time to go get KayTar. I put on my shoes while I talk on the phone, quickly get my question answered and I'm out the door. In the car line, I read a book, Becoming a Doctor. KayTar is crying when I get her, she is cold. Outside. In Texas. At home I have to get her a hoodie immediately. She is a weird kid sometimes. She plays XBox and drinks Pediasure while I make more phone calls to her surgeon (about g-tube replacement), her ENT (about hearing tests), and a pediatric special needs dentist in our area. I have to leave messages at all three places. I watch the President's address and try to corral KayTar into watching it. She is not into it.

11:30am Try to talk KayTar into taking a nap with me, it is a no go. "But Mom, PLAYING is much more fun than NAPPING." Maybe for you, kid. I start a load of laundry and straighten up the living room. The ENT's office calls me back to get some information and tell me they will call again tomorrow. I finish sweeping and mopping, and remember to call the neuro-ophthalmolgist to see if they have received KayTar's medical records. I leave another message.

12:08pm Lunchtime for me, leftover spaghetti from my parents. Yummy. Play with KayTar for a good while and then read through her Brain Quest cards with her and realize that she needs a harder deck. Give her a popsicle (I have a theory that she has been self-medicating with popsicles, keeping her glucose up, which is why she hasn't had an episode, KNOCK ON WOOD), turn on Max and Ruby, and remember that laundry I started earlier. Better take care of that. I watch a little ER and fold laundry while KayTar watches the Fresh Beat Band and dances around.

My cell phone alarm goes off, time to pick up BubTar. In the car, I read and listen to KayTar chatting with Isabella (EYE-sa-bella, her imaginary friend). BubTar had a great day, as always. He checked out his first books from the library, Dwarf Planets and Electricity. They made banners for their reading groups today, his banner/team name wasn't chosen (The Mushroom Martians, they really looked like mushroom aliens!), but he is proud of his work regardless. I like that he colored his banner red, seeing as the Mushroom Martians (or "Marsians" as he spelled it) were on Mars. We get home and it is snack and TV time for the kids and homework time for me, I have to finish a take home lab for Chemistry that I put off over the weekend. I fill out the calendar for Josh for the week, medications, activities, who needs baths when, that sort of thing.

4:00pm I play some Fusion Frenzy on the XBox with my favorite little guy, then I start getting ready for class. I tube feed KayTar.

Josh gets home. We exchange notes on the kids. Give kisses and I'm out the door. Almost. KayTar calls me back because I forgot to give her a hug with her kiss. I swing by Taco Bell for dinner, a chicken quesadilla and diet Dr. Pepper. I eat while driving and finish up in the parking lot at school. I manage to read a couple pages of my book, too.

My chem lab partner and I are the first group to finish our assignment and I head home, pleased that I stayed conscious through lecture. My teacher likes to read from the book and she only makes notes on the chalkboard occasionally. I don't learn well this way, I have to write to learn, to be in motion, so her lecture style creates a perfect environment to be overtaken by a nap. I have to stop by the grocery store on the way home, we're running low on some staple items.

9:30pm I get home, put away groceries and peel my clothes off, it is definitely time for pajamas. I pour myself a glass of wine and Josh and I settle in to watch Hell's Kitchen. After Hell's Kitchen, I watch a few episodes of Forensic Files in bed while Josh plays a computer game.

11:59pm I publish this post and tuck myself into bed. Goodnight!

What about you? What does a typical day look like at your house?

Monday, September 07, 2009

In KayTar news...

They are in the process of testing KayTar's reading and comprehension levels at school. So far, she is up to a second grade level for both. They are still testing her, little bits every day, because she is still just a four year old. Everyone at school knows her now, the little smartypants from Pre-K who can read anything you put in front of her. At morning drop off, random teachers from other grade levels shake my hand and say, "Oh! You're KayTar's mom! She's so wonderful!" I picked her up early from school last week and the office staff said, "We were just talking about her!" That kid knows how to make an impression. They don't know what to do with her! Her Pre-K teacher says she is somewhat bored in class, she isn't only advanced in reading, but across the board really. If nothing else, they plan to put her in reading group with an upper level class. The trick will be challenging her, but not placing her with kids TOO much older. She may end up in a reading group in her brother's grade level. Her teacher is using her in a presentation for the staff this week about how children with special education levels CAN be intelligent and successful in school. My little KayTar, she just flattens those boxes they so like to put children in.

She has been sick this year, almost since the start of school, but has only missed one day so far, which is a vast improvement from last year. Josh hasn't slept in our bed in at least a week, KayTar's breathing has definitely not been at its best, which is the biggest problem, and she can't be trusted to sleep on her own when she is like this. One night last week, she vomited in her bed upstairs and was just laying there, on her back with vomit on her face when I got to her. It would just be so easy for her to choke. We've been putting her to bed in her baby papasan chair (still the best money we've ever spent) and around midnight I move her into my bed. This weekend she has been getting worse, one evening I had to restrict her from everything (including her brother), in addition to her meds, to get her breathing under control. Though, today it seems to be better. (KNOCK ON WOOD) We'll see how this week goes, I hope she doesn't bring home any new little microbial friends!

Friday, September 04, 2009


Last weekend, I was told that I might have cervical cancer.

My first thought was, "Oh shit. I have no insurance."

My subsequent thoughts were something like, "This is going to be MORE than expensive, and now that I have 'abnormal cervical growths' in my medical file, the chances of getting into a private plan is slim and the chance that a plan will cover any related charges is none."

Sometime after that, I got around to thinking, "Holy shit. I could die."

Then, of course, I spent some time mentally kicking myself around for not getting a pap spear done since my pregnancy with KayTar.

It was Sunday when I was told all of this, so first thing Monday morning I twittered nervously about it and then put a call into my OB's office. They were booked solid, so I found another OB who was able to see me on Wednesday. From Monday to Wednesday, I tricked myself into thinking I was coping better than I actually was, which as it turns out is a valid coping skill after all.

When I finally saw the doctor (after two days that somehow stretched into years), she said that everything looked good and the ER doctor had just seen some benign cysts. I could have kissed her. I didn't, but totally could have. Sweet, sweet relief. It suddenly felt like I had been holding my breath for a decade! When I paid my fee of $287, it felt amazing. "Only $287!" I thought, "What a steal! No biopsy, no surgery, no chemo. Just $287 and my good health." I think they could have charged me just about anything and I would have happily handed it over, big dumb smile plastered on my face, so lucky did I feel about knowing my life had magically gone back to normal. I know not everyone is so fortunate in that respect.

The first moral of this little story is that NO ONE should have bankruptcy or health coverage be their initial thought when their health and life are threatened. If you suddenly have an unexpected medical need, health care shouldn't suddenly be unavailable to you because you--GASP!--need it. As a nation, we've got to fix that.

The second moral is please make sure you get your pap smears and yearly exams, even if you don't have health insurance (if you can somehow manage it). Saving $287 today can cost you a whole lot more tomorrow. I surely won't be skipping one again.