Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tonsillectomy: part III

I'm posting this from the seventh floor of Banner Cardon Children's Medical Canter. Abe had his surgery yesterday and it went really well. He is already breathing so much better. He can sleep with his mouth closed and he says he can hear better.

He is in a lot of pain. He's just a little too young to understand that the yucky tasting liquid is what makes him feel better. Especially when it hurts so bad to swallow. The pain medicine is problematic. He can have it every four hours, but it only works for three. When the three hour mark hits, its like flipping a switch. He goes from being totally content to writhing in pain, screaming and tearing at his throat. Then of course he is in no mood to swallow anything, especially not horrible tasting Lortab, so he freaks out and ends up spitting most of it out and there's no way of measuring how much he actually got so they can't give him more for four hours even though there's more medicine on the towel than in his mouth. This sends me into what I can only call a Mama Bear Rampage that has definitely been a source of nurse's station gossip. Lets just say they approach me with caution. I have found that the great thing about hospital nurses is that you get a totally new set every ten hours and the new set never knows what kind of fit I threw to the last set. In all honesty they have been fabulous. We are just really ready to go home. Hopefully the doctor will come clear us soon.

This whole hospital drama has been interesting. I didn't know an experience could be simultaneously so stressful and so boring. I'm sleep deprived and in need of a shower, but mostly I'm just glad to have this surgery done and Ham on the mend.

He has been working it with the nurses and staff. Everyone adores him and he has definitely been batting his lashes for attention. Yesterday before surgery I overheard a funny conversation. They didn't know I could hear them. One nurse came into the hall with a big stuffed dinosaur and told the other nurse that she didn't know what to do because she only had one stuffed animal left and she couldn't decide which kid to give it to. The other nurse said, "Give it to that super cute one." She agreed and then walked in and gave it to Abe.

Our room is in the pediatric oncology ward. This provides a healthy reality check if I get to feeling sorry for Abe. The other kids on this floor are undergoing chemotherapy and recovering from transplants etc. I met a woman in the cafeteria this morning who's child has a raging case of meningitis and may not survive. This makes me so thankful for my healthy children. Words can't express my gratitude. This is what I think about during the fourth hour while we are waiting for pain meds.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Never Without a Crisis

Ham has had a snotty nose for what feels like forever. He has always been a heavy mouth breather which has earned him the nickname Darth Vader, which he loves. I don't like to use antibiotics, but I was finally worn down and decided to take him in to the doctor. I have always assumed that he will need his tonsils out at some point. Our family doctor didn't have any available appointments so I made an apt. with the Ear Nose and Throat Doctor that did Jack and John's surgery earlier this year. I kept trying to talk myself out of the appointment because he's really not sick sick, and I wondered if I was over-reacting by taking him to a specialist right off the bat. I decided to go anyway. Better safe than sorry.

When we got in to see the doctor I explained that he has had a runny nose and I just need a scrip for antibiotics. I reminded him about Jack and John and then asked him at what age he would consider doing a tonsillectomy. He said that he is way to young to consider it. He apologized and insisted that a kid has to be at least three before surgery or else it is just too risky. I was like, "Hey no biggie. we're just here for antibiotics anyway. We'll come back for a tonsil checkup in the next few years."

Then the Doctor looked into Abe's throat. He burst out laughing. He said "I'm going to now completely contradict myself and tell you that this kid has to have his tonsils and adenoids out immediately. Lets call the hospital and get their next opening right now. I have never seen a case so bad in a kid this young in my entire career. This can NOT wait until he is three."

By the time we finished the exam we learned the following things:

Abe has two raging ear infections, needs tubes in both ears and has probably been in major pain for a long time. He probably has significant hearing loss and most likely hears everything like he's underwater. The doctor was surprised that he doesn't have delayed speech.

Abe's adenoids and sinuses are so inflamed that he has no airflow in his nose at all and his airflow is so restricted by his tonsils that its like breathing through a little straw. He probably hasn't slept for a solid chunk of time for a long time because of airway restriction. Major obstructive sleep apnea.

The reason he is so drool-y is because swallowing is super painful and he would rather let the saliva drip out than swallow unnecessarily.

We're having the surgery at Banner Desert on Friday morning and he has to stay in the hospital afterwards because of his age and the risk involved with operating on such a young kid. It won't be a simple out-patient thing like Jack had, but a minimum of two days and one night in the hospital. It will be a super painful recovery but will restore his breathing and hearing and save him from a life time of chronic infection. I told Ham about what we have to do and told him he won't sound like a Sith Lord anymore. Now he can be Han Solo. He wants to still be Darth Vader because he wants to wield a light saber. He told me this emphatically with hand gestures showing me Darth Vader's mask over his mouth and then lots of sword motions with his arm and light saber noises. I told him he could be Luke Skywalker and keep the light saber. He was satisfied so surgery is on for Friday He has no concept of what it means to be at a hospital across town by five in the morning. Frankly, neither do I. I am very anxious about the whole thing but more than anything I'm glad that there is a solution to this problem. I was freaking out about the whole thing and then stopped myself and said a prayer of gratitude for the blessing of modern medicine and competent doctors and mommy intuition.

I feel so bad for him to know he's been hurting without complaining at all. I didn't even know he had an ear infection or a sore throat. Poor little guy. I'm so glad I took him in now. I realize now that I was more prompted than paranoid.

They put him on strong antibiotics to knock down some of the infection before surgery. The anesthesia is less risky if he is clear. The problem is I can never get this kid to take medicine of any kind. Its always a wrestling match. Jack has always been the same way so I was prepared to negotiate when I gave him his first dose last night. We had finished reading books for the night and he wanted to read one more so I told him that if he would eat this delicious liquid candy then I would read one more book. We made a deal but then of course ended up having to hold him down on the bed and funnel it in to his mouth with a syringe while he tried to spit it out. It got all over the place and was a major fight before I was satisfied that he got enough consumed. Then he walked over and handed me the unread book. "Read Book now."

I said "I don't know, Ham. You didn't really keep your end of the bargain. You made it really hard and you tried to spit it out. That wasn't in the deal." Without missing a beat he looked me in the eye, pointed to the empty syringe and stated "Not candy."

I read the book. It is simultaneously heartwarming and disturbing to lose an argument to my two year old.

In other Kramer Family Crisis news... I wrecked both of our cars at the same time. Yes, thats right, both of 'em. I backed out of the garage in the van and John's car was in my blind spot and I completely dented up the sides of both vehicles, ripping the rear view mirror off of the Focus. Not my finest moment. Of course the repair cost is not much more than the deductible so insurance will help but not much, and either way our policy doesn't contain anything that will make me feel like less of an idiot. I had the entire family in the car plus a couple of neighbor kids so there was no escaping my shame. I'm so mad at myself about it. I have to remember my gratitude... No one was hurt and the cars are still driveable, just a little trashy looking now. Oh well. Life goes on. Hopefully we have met our monthly quota of drama for the month and it will be smooth sailing for a while. We just have to get through Abraham's surgery and we're golden. I'll keep ya posted.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Raising my presidents

This may be a little early to announce but I think I can safely say that Abraham speaks English. This year has been full of learning for him and its like his communication skills have just exploded. A few things Ham has come to appreciate in recent days:
Gravity. I swear he is all of a sudden more coordinated and has far fewer unintended run ins with the surface of Earth. He is still crazy active but seems more coordinated too so thats always good.

Ham has learned the power of the potty. I won't go so far as to call him trained, but he definitely has a healthy respect for big boy underwear and pee pee prizes. He is still reaching for the brass ring of the poo poo prize. We are so close.
Ham is just fun to be around. He will eat anything he is fed, even raw vegetables and food storage creations. Incidentally, he loves a good nap, and is pretty much happy tagging along with me wherever I go. He's smart too. He knows his colors and sounds, he can trash the house in the time it takes for one adult to shower. He loves to go to Church and Shopping. Especially Sam's Club (Which he honestly believes is called Ham's Club) It is his personal store. Just ask him. He walks in with his chest out pointing to himself with both hands "Hams's Club." He's not the least bit surprised when he is offered free food at every corner. It is after all, his club. If we can harness his curiosity, creativity, and ingenuity, don't be surprised if you really are spending forty bucks a year to shop at his store in about 30 years. Jack likes to tell about how Abe will be president of the United States because he's named after a president. This is about the time we dropped the JFK news on our John "Jack" Fredrick Kramer. He too has a name that puts him in the running to be a president. Incidentally, he promises that he won't let himself get shot and he won't be a democrat either. I was vaguely aware that we gave our boys presidential names, but didn't realize we picked presidents who met violent ends. Leave it to Jack to figure that out.

Jack is so much fun for me right now. He comes up with the funniest stuff. Yesterday he asked me what it is called when there are two dots in a sentence, one on top of the other? I responded, "a colon?" He was totally exasperated. "no, mom." me: sorry, I thought you were talking about a device used in a sentence to make lists called a colon. What were you talking about?" {big annoyed sigh...} It is a colon, mom. You're not supposed to answer the question. You're supposed to say 'I don't know' and then let me tell you about the colon and then you're supposed to be so amazed that I know what a colon is and say how smart I am. To which I responded, "I was supposed to pretend I didn't know? I was supposed to hide my own smartness to highlight yours?what about me? Who is gonna tell me I'm smart when I know what a colon is?" "Uhhh... call grandma. She'll tell you you're smart." So the circle of life continues. I have agreed to let Jack answer his own questions and have agreed to seek my own self esteem from my own mom. That works, I guess. Mom, this is your cue to leave a comment telling me how great I am. I know you'll come through for me. Next time I see you remind me to tell you all about the magical world of punctuation.Please pretend to be dazzled.

We went to the public pool for the last time this summer. I'm glad it is cooling off, but I will miss that awesome pool. I discovered it a little late in the season so we only went a few times but its the best $.75 you can spend when its 110 degrees out. Jack mastered the low diving board and Ham and I spent hours in the lazy river. I keep Ham in a padded swimsuit. You know those ones that have big foam inserts on the chest and back. They look a little ridiculous, but they make it totally impossible for a kid to go under. Our particular suit is not technically coast guard approved like a life vest but I like that it gives sun protection too.

Speaking of fabulous swimsuits, I also got a new tankini top that I love. Its the first swimsuit I have ever found that actually has a sized built in bra so it really gives support. Not like a stupid soft cup shelf bra, or a typical swimsuit half bra, but a full built in, choose your real cup and band built in bra. Plus a smoothing liner inside. The only swimsuit that I have ever felt publicly presentable in. So I was waiting to get into the lazy river with Ham and I had just told my friend Kara about my new swimsuit and the lifeguard stopped us. The following exchange took place:

lifeguard: "oh, sorry, we don't allow padded swimsuits like that."
me: flustered and embarrassed and annoyed "What in the world are you talking about? Its not padded! Its just really really supportive!"
lifeguard: "Yes, it is obviously padded but its just not coast guard approved. I'll let it go this time but next time put him in trunks and they will give you a life vest rental for free at the office."
Oh. Abe's swimsuit. yeah. I knew that. I'm not an idiot. did I mention that I know exactly what a colon is and how to use it? I'm smart. I swear. right, mom?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Insomnia and the Microwave

It is three in the morning and I am wide awake. As a confirmed insomniac, I knew getting up and getting something done would be far less torturous than laying in bed wide awake mentally listing things I should get done. Blogging was the least noisy thing I could think of and the chihuahuas thought they had died and gone to heaven when they saw me coming down the stairs wrapped in a down comforter. Then I microwaved a DiGiorno Chicken Bacon Ranch Flatbread Melt and they pretty much lost their little walnut sized brains over the whole experience. Lap Dog Nirvana.

Speaking of Digiorno Chicken Bacon Ranch Flatbread Melts, they are my new food obsession. If you haven't tried one yet, I recommend that you never do because its like crack. Be smart. Don't start. I must say that one of the advantages of my mystery illness that made me drop sixty pounds inexplicably, is that I can consume insane amounts of calories at any time of day and feel like I'm doing something good for my body. I have gained 15 pounds back and been feeling much better and I'm sure that at some point I will feel compelled to curb my caloric intake but for now the microwave is my best electronic friend.

Speaking of my microwave, I just discovered many of its previously unknown talents. I was standing there waiting for my flatbread to melt and since I really had nothing else more pressing at three AM, I decided to be useful and change the little lightbulb that had burned out on the underside. I swear that bulb burns out weekly. Then I noticed that there is a feature where you can program it to turn on and off every day at a set time so I followed the annoyingly slow scrolling instructions and set the night light timer. Then I realized that you can program the scrolling instructions to scroll faster so I did that. Then I saw the help button, so what the hell... let's see what help this appliance offers. Turns out you can tell the microwave exactly what you are cooking and it will magically sense how long it needs to cook for. Genius. Queso dip? warmed to perfection. Ramen Noodle Soup? I'll never use the stovetop again. Frozen leftover lasagna? a no brainer. I almost feel guilty that I have owned this thing for four years and never even knew it's skills. It is now also set to remind me when it is time to pick the kids up from school and it promises to use it's quieter less irritating beep to do so. Years from now when Jack has children of his own and he realizes what a pain in the neck it is to leave the house at just the right moment so as to avoid the hellish elementary school traffic jam but to also avoid losing a child to heat stroke, and he thanks me for being so lovingly diligent on my carpool day, I will give full credit to the microwave development department of General Electric and then celebrate the moment of parenting success with a bag of popcorn that has no un-popped kernels but is not scorched at all.

Okay, now it is four am. I'm doing pretty good with this whole time killing thing. Feel free to quit reading at any time. I'm sure the rest of this post will be far less scintillating than my love affair with the microwave. Although before you abandon me completely, please take a moment to push the help button on your own Spacesaver 3000, because heaven knows, we could all use some help anywhere we can get it.

Speaking of help and parenting success, I have been reading every parenting book I can get my hands on lately. Like most moms I'm just figuring it out as I go along and mostly raising these children with the good old method of trial and error. Of course, just when I get something figured out, the child grows up out of that phase and then the next child is so completely different that whatever I learned the first time around is totally useless. I was recently reading a book called Nurture by Nature where it uses the Myers Briggs personality types to help you figure out how to parent each individual child based on their unique personality needs. I have always been a big fan of personality tests. If you are not familiar with it, google it. Or ask your microwave. I'm pretty sure mine completes full psychological inventories. Basically, everyone is one of 16 types. Some combination of the letters ENFP or ISTJ. When you do the test and then read your profile, its almost creepy how well they know you. Like they have been spying on you or reading your diary or interrogating your microwave (okay, I swear I will let the microwave thing go now). I am an ENFP Jack is an ISFJ. This of course makes him almost exactly opposite of me. Ham is still too young to really accurately peg but I guarantee he is much closer to me than Jack is. Its been a huge eye-opener to recognize the different needs of different members of the family. For instance, I thrive on change. If a routine develops, I go out of my way to change things up because to me consistency is boring and I instinctively dismantle structure. The problem is that ISFJs of course thrive on structure and consistency. This would also be a good time to mention that I married an ISTJ, who is my EXACT opposite. I had no idea I was going to end up with a house full of schedule loving, promise logging, variety-detesting people. When I look at the times that Jack has had a lot of melt-downs, its always a time when a lot of things are changing. Even good things. So here I am trying to be a super cool mom creating all kinds of fun new experiences and changing things up all of the time so that everyone's creativity can flow and no one has to be enslaved by repetitive monotony, and then I find out that certain people will probably stop pooping their pants and throwing tantrums in public if I just set a damn schedule and stick to it. So I have gritted my teeth and instituted some strict timelines and chore requirements and what do you know... everything is running much more smoothly. I didn't realize that when I say something like "Hey Jack, I'm going to let you stay up an extra hour tonight." or "I know I usually only let you get one thing at McDonalds but today you can have a Happy Meal!" What he is hearing is "Hey Jack, your whole world can crumble at any moment and you can't rely on any of your cherished rules, but I hope that Kid's Meal toy is worth all of our sanity!" Okay, Its not that bad, but you get the idea. I realized that I am doing him no favors by changing the rules. ever. Its just who he is. I have also realized that unless I am totally prepared to follow through on something, I can not even mention it. Statements such as "wow, the weather is cooling off. I bet we can start going to the park again soon." will inevitably result in the following harassment: "When are we going to the park? You said we were going to the park. Lets go to the park right now. Park. You promised. I want to go to the park. Its cool out, so were supposed to go to the park. When are we going to the park? We never go to the park even though you said we would go to the park. park. park. park." Then theres Abe who is like, "hey, screw the park. Lets just empty the toy box and play with the dogs and check out what the microwave can do at three AM, and by the way, that Happy Meal was the bomb." Okay, he doesn't actually use the English language to communicate all of that, but we are clearly on the same page.

It got me thinking about how life is all about picking your priorities. We can never make everyone happy all of the time and as a parent and spouse, we actually end up more satisfied when everyone else's preference gets met first. I find that most of the time my guiding parenting principle is the question "What will inflict the least amount of emotional damage?" And then I go with my gut. I figure that between that effort and a lot of time spent in prayer begging for the well being of my children, The odds are in my favor that these boys will grow up to be well adjusted adults who will eventually thank me for going against my grain and picking them up from school at exactly the same time each day.

I have read that human beings are hard-wired to blame their parents. For example, I had the happiest, most loving childhood known to human kind. My parents provided for me in every way and my mom in particular raised me with a sense of fun and faith and instilled in me a sense of self worth that is absolutely priceless. But when I think about my childhood, whats the most salient memory? I was enrolled in Weight Watchers at age 9. (Mom, if you're reading this, I SWEAR I am over it and I'm so sorry to have just posted that on the world wide web, but the good news is, you are the only one in the world who loves me enough to still be reading this post this far down, so technically, thats still just between you and me and the other fatties from 1986.)

As I mentioned earlier, Jack has had some bumps in the road with keeping his underwear skid free, much to my dismay. I have tried a number of different tactics to incentivize him in this matter. Prizes, rewards, beatings, you name it. Then the other day I noticed that it had been a while since he had been in the restroom so I urged him cheerfully to go in and do his business. The kid looked me in the eye and said, "What kind of prize am I gonna get for it?" To which I replied, "Jack, you are going to get the best prize of all. You are going to get a freaking sense of self respect and the knowledge that you are not a disgusting freak who is six years old and okay with the sensation of feces on your own ass." Yeah... Not my proudest parenting moment. Sometimes the ability to hit the nail on the head verbally is a skill I wish I didn't have. John overheard and he was unimpressed with my harshness as well. It was true but it was mean. These are the moments Jack is likely to blog about in thirty years.

My point is, I think we all do better with slightly imperfect upbringings. If we raised our kids perfectly and never had inappropriate moments, I'm not sure how prepared they would end up for real life. Thats what I keep telling myself anyway. I am so thankful for my family. it boggles my mind that I should be so blessed to even know these people. My parents, my siblings, my husband, my kids, my friends, my microwave. I am blessed.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys