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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Want Bacon With That?

I did it! I did it! I did it!

You've heard of The Shot Heard 'Round the World? Well, at 9:21pm on Tuesday, November 30, I let out The Scream Heard 'Round the World.  Yes, that odd piercing screech you may have heard at that time was me.  Screaming with joy.  Because I had just received a winning word count from NaNoWriMo.  I had just seen the winner screen come up.  I had finally finished my 50,000 words in thirty days, and I had won.  This makes my third winning year in a row out of four years of doing NaNoWriMo (I lost the first year).

Am I proud of myself?  You betcha!

I'm also toast.

Writing 50,000 words in a month, especially when they were so difficult in coming in the beginning, is quite taxing.  My writing brain has officially turned to mush.  So my first order of business has been taking a little writing vacation.  But that doesn't mean my plate is empty -- my To Do list is tremendous.

I should specify that I was taking a fiction writing vacation, because while the fiction writing is on hiatus, the copywriting continues.  I've been helping SoundGuy and his colleagues with copywriting and layouts for their business.  That's taken some time since these men I'm dealing with...  Let's just say it's been work.

Then there's Christmas.  Christmas will be tough this year since we've also become victims of the economy.  We're not as bad off as many, but we're in nowhere near as good shape as we were last year.  It's going to take some work on my part.

Some of that work involves handmade gifts.  Gifts like these crocheted dish sponges , these crocheted dish sponges , and the crocheted dish sponges from this site.  I'm also planning to make a bunch of these hangers, and a bunch of scarves and a prayer shawl on my Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine.  And if I have time, a few crocheted dishcloths, as well.  Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I can dedicate my time to hand knitting, machine knitting, and crocheting.  I've got to get crackin'!

And speaking of handmade stuff, check out this adorable tote bag!  And this one. Can you believe them?   Both are crocheted with "plarn" fashioned from recycled grocery bags.  I'm in the process of making my plarn, because I must try these patterns.

Ooh, and the fall portraits.  I took fall portraits of my kids.  Must get those processed.

Additionally, I've still got writing stuff on that To Do list.  I have to finish re-entering CHESTER & RUBE (my NaNoWriMo 2008 winner) into the computer so I can try and edit that one into a series of early reader books.  That's my goal with that one, anyway.

Then there my winner for last year's NaNoWriMo, SAVING WONDERLAND.  I need to finish writing it and edit it for submission.  Which means I should probably figure out where to submit it.  That one may end up as a trilogy.

We mustn't forget BLUR, this year's NaNoWriMo winner.  At just a hair over 50,000 words, it's actually almost finished, making it the shortest story I've every written (have I mentioned I'm wordy?).  I want to get that baby done.  At that point, I'll decide if it's worth the effort of trying to get it edited.  It may end up as one of those creatures under the bed, waiting to attack in the dark of night.

Always lurking in the back of my mind are my previous mss, BURN ME ONCE and IRRESISTIBLE HARMONY, both of which I'm still planning to submit (or re-submit, as the case may be).  I just need the time for updates and final edits.  And assembling the submission packages.

Oh yeah, and finding my courage.  ::sigh::

I need more hours in the day.  It looks like I'm going to be toast for a while.  Not quite so bad as long as I can get some bacon with it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

NaNoWriMo Has Me BLURred

There's still more to LittleDude's story, but updates may be even fewer and further between this month.  It's November, and that means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is upon us again.  That's the time I completely lose my sanity and try to write a 50,000 word novel (or 50,000 words of a novel) in thirty days, from November 1-30.  Which of course means all my spare time (what little I have) will go to writing.

This will be my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo, and once again, I'm doing something a little different.  Last year's NaNoWriMo project (a win!) was SAVING WONDERLAND, the story of Dinah, who was transported through a faerie portal into Wonderland, a land that's a mixture of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz and all the fairy tales we grew up with jumbled together.  Dinah is thought to be the savior of Wonderland, the one chosen by the Wise Ones to wrench the land back from the House of Green and restore her to all her former glory.  The story's not done yet, but it's been great fun writing.

The year before that was another win with CHESTER AND RUBE, the tale of a small white duck and a giant purple dinosaur and their adventures in Feckerson Forest as they embark on a quest to save their beloved homeland from the evil Centipig and his pigapede minions.  I'm in the process of attempting to break this story down into a series of children's books.

My first year with NaNoWriMo was a monumental failure with SHIFTING RHYTHMS, a contemporary romance.  I still want to write that story, but I've yet to find myself in the correct frame of mind.

This year's project is going under the working title of BLUR, and here's the novel blurb from my NaNoWriMo profile:

BLUR (working title)

When daydreams merge with reality

Her husband left her for a younger woman.  Her teenaged daughter is heading off to college.  Her job pays the bills, but is mundane.  She has no romantic prospects.  Few friends.  In short, she's fallen face-first into a deep, unending rut.

Until Grace Walters learns the power of a daydream.

She dreams while working at the power company.  She dreams while cooking dinner.  She dreams while vacuuming her quiet, empty house.  And in those dreams, her life is interesting.  She has friends.  Lovers.  Adventures.

Summer comes, and her daughter's off on a pre-college adventure.  When her boss tells her she must either take all her saved vacation time or lose it, she takes the summer off work to immerse herself even further in her newfound love.  Her daydreams. 

And that's when her daydreams take over, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.

So far, I'm having fun with this, although writing Grace's fantasies has become much more fun than writing her reality. I still don't know how this one will end, though. Will it turn out that she's not just daydreaming, but traveling inter-dimensionally and actually living these dreams? Or is it a much sadder ending, and the daydreams have taken her sanity, leaving her staring blankly from a window in a mental facility? I guess I'll find out soon!

In the meantime, I will resume LittleDude's story when I have time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Definitely Pancreatitis

As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours, and it has sure been pouring around here.  I apologize for the long break between posts, but I had more pressing issues to deal with at home.

Before we pick up where we left off, here are links to the story so far.  In order, starting with the oldest post first:

  1. Into Hell...the First Weekend
  2. The First ER Trip
  3. Back to the ER
  4. Finally...Some Hope
  5. In Isolation

When we last left off, we were in the middle of our first morning in the hospital. I had just discovered my son was in isolation, and I had no idea why.  That's where we'll pick up today.

I had been sending status updates to Twitter and Facebook via text message.  I'm still in the dark ages with a "dumb phone" and am too cheap to pay for internet access on my phone, so I had no idea if anybody had been seeing or responding to my updates.

  • doesn't have net access for indiv replies. We appreciate all your comments, prayers, & good thoughts. Update soon  6 August 9:57am

I'd had my Scrubs episode encounter before I ran home.  When I returned, one of those doctors was waiting for me.  With news.  I don't remember much of what she said.  Blame it on fatigue, blame it on now once in the hospital, everything seemed to run together.  Blame it on whatever you like, it won't change the outcome.  I still won't remember a lot of it.  I do remember her saying initial bloodwork showed elevated amylase and lipase levels, which is why they had to cut off my son's food and drink.  I also remember her saying the bloodwork results could indicate Pancreatitis.  The plan was to restrict food and drink for a couple of days and they still thought we'd be out over the weekend.

While I'd heard of Pancreatitis, I couldn't really tell you what it was.  I'd had no reason to know.  I'd never had it, and as far as I knew, nobody in my family had either.  When I spoke to my mother shortly after the doctor left, I asked her to google it for me.

  • LittleDude was feeling better, but symptoms have returned. Bloodwk shows levels still up. Waiting to talk to drs.  6 August 10:32am

We'd been hopeful, since despite my son's hospital admission he'd been feeling so much better, but that first morning we had a couple setbacks.  First was the news about the possible Pancreatitis diagnosis.  Then LittleDude's diarrhea, which he hadn't experienced for at least a day, returned.  Follow that with a return of chest pain, and I was extremely concerned.

A nurse returned with a new medicine for LittleDude.  His chest pain had been diagnosed as heartburn, and he would get regular doses of Zantac through his I.V.  As long as it meant my child stopped having chest pain, I was all for it.  She also told me that she'd seen my son's bloodwork, and the levels were still up, despite only having the equivalent of only a half dozen crackers and twelve ounces of Gatorade in two days.

  • Dr just came in. Says it's def Pancreatitis. They don't know what triggered it. LittleDude not allowed to eat. 6 August 10:53am

Before long, the doctor returned as our nurse had promised.  At that point, she confirmed the diagnosis of Pancreatitis.  Unfortunately, that meant LittleDude would not be eating or drinking until his enzymes came down to acceptable levels.  Neither of us wanted to hear that, but I admit I was grateful that we finally knew what was wrong with him.  To me, that meant he could finally be treated.  Unfortunately for my LittleDude, that treatment meant going even longer without food or drink.  Even worse, the doctor mentioned the possibility of needing to find alternative ways of supplying nutrition to my son in the event they had to restrict food more than a couple weeks.  It looked like that weekend discharge we were hoping for was out.

When the doctor left, I called LittleDude's school.  I had been keeping his teacher informed of his condition via e-mail, but the last one I'd sent her was on the second day of school, the day before our second ER trip.  And that one had been hopeful he would return by the end of the week.  I now knew that wouldn't happen.  I left a message for his teacher with the school registrar.  She was extremely sympathetic, but gave me even more bad news.

  • was just told by LittleDude's school if he doesn't start by next Fri, he'll be withdrawn & have to re-register. 6 August 11:41am

To say I was devastated by this news would be an understatement.  And I was confused.  My son's entire school career had been spent in this district.  Other than kindergarten, his entire elementary school career had been in the same school.  He was in the hospital; a legitimate reason for absence from school.  Now they were kicking him out? 

And then I'd realized I'd forgotten to ask the doctor about my son's isolation.  11:41 am, and the day already sucked.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In Isolation

Sorry for the week without a post -- my kids had a week off school for Fall Break and I took time from posting to try and prevent them from driving me absolutely bonkers.  I'm still not sure if it worked, but I'm back and ready to continue the saga of LittleDude's illness.  He's better now, BTW, but it was still difficult for our entire family.

Before we pick up where we left off, here are links to the story so far.  In order, starting with the oldest post first:

  1. Into Hell...the First Weekend
  2. The First ER Trip
  3. Back to the ER
  4. Finally...Some Hope

When we left off, I'd just been told that my son, who'd been sick on and off for almost a week, was being admitted to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite.  The admitting doctor estimated a minimum 48-hour stay.  I still had no idea what was wrong with my child, but I had hope that we would finally get to the bottom of it and get him well.

It was close to 3:45 a.m. when we were moved from the emergency room to an inpatient room.  LittleDude had long since fallen asleep, and I could barely keep my eyes open.  Once we left Emergency, the hospital corridors were dark and quiet, and if I hadn't been so tired, I might have found them to be a little eerie.  As it was, I just thought they were long.  I was so ready to get some sleep.

We finally got to our room, where the night nurse was waiting for us.   She got us settled, showed me where my linens were, and somewhere between 5- 5:30 a.m., I went to sleep.

  • was sent frm 1 ER to another yest, still no clear ansr. Good news - LittleDude admitted to Scottish Rite last nt. 5 August 9:25am

Our first morning in the hospital arrived with a gaggle of doctors surrounding LittleDude's bed.  LittleDude was still zonked out when the doctors came in.  Despite sleeping, I didn't feel very rested and was unbelievably groggy when the docs gathered 'round my kid's bed.  I may not have been able to sleep well, but my son was sleeping like a rock.  At their request, I told the doctors my son's story to that point, the whole time wondering why they didn't just consult the doctor's notes in his chart.  I would later liken that experience to being in an episode of Scrubs, but without the funny.   

LittleDude finally woke up, and he was famished.  As the day nurse brought him something light to eat (I can't remember for certain, but it might have been some Jell-O and Gatorade), I secured permission to run home and grab the few things we would need for a hospital stay into the weekend.

It was weird.  We'd just arrived the day before -- hadn't even been there a full twelve hours yet -- but still when I climbed into my truck, it felt like I hadn't seen it in forever.  And when I pulled out of that parking garage, man was that sun bright!  I raced home, threw a few things into a bag, made a few phone calls, then raced right back to the hospital.  LittleDude was in a strange place, filled with strange people, and I wanted to leave him alone as little as possible.  I wasn't sure how he'd handle it; he'd been through so much already.

It turned out I didn't have to worry.  When I got back to the hospital room, LittleDude was happy as a clam (considering the situation), laying comfortably in his bed, watching one of the DVDs the nurse had secured for him.  When I walked in the door, the first thing he asked me was if I'd taken his Nintendo DSi with me (I had -- unintenionally -- it was in my bag).  The second thing he told me was he'd been told he couldn't eat anymore.  He wasn't too pleased about that -- neither of us had eaten much of anything in the past twenty-four hours and he had been craving tacos since he'd been in the previous ER (he'd smelled something that reminded him of tacos).

With the news he couldn't eat or drink anything, that mild craving that had started the day before escalated to obsession that would continue throughout his hospital stay.  My son was fantasizing about a big bag of tacos.

Something else had changed while I was gone, as well.  A yellow notice had appeared on my son's door instructing all who entered to wear gowns and masks and to wash their hands before and after.  In other words, my son had been put on "contact".    I later found out from the lady in the hospital library that "contact" is their version of isolation.

My son was in isolation and I had no idea why.


The story continues:  Definitely Pancreatitis

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Finally...Some Hope

Today is Part Four in the ongoing tale of my son's (LittleDude) recent illness.  If you need to play a little catch-up, I'll link the first three parts for you:

When we left off yesterday, LittleDude had had an abdominal x-ray and an ultrasound, had spent the afternoon and evening back in the emergency room, and had gone for a CT scan.  We still didn't know what was wrong, and had just been sent to an Atlanta children's hospital in the hopes of finding out.

During this entire ordeal, I updated Facebook/Twitter via my cell phone -- I'm still in the Dark Ages with a "dumb" phone, so I didn't have internet access.  The updates I had sent up to this point were:

  • is worried. After doctor visit & trip to ER, LittleDude still not getting better. Back at doctor's office now.  4 August 11:27am
  • is back in ER w/LittleDude. We're still not sure what's wrong. Reg dr wants him admitted to hosp. Pls pray 4 us.  4 August  3:39pm

When we left that emergency room, LittleDude looked great.  He felt great.  He even talked about it.  "I come to this hospital feeling really bad and I always leave feeling really good," he declared in the parking lot.

"I know you feel good," I said, "but you're still sick and we still need to find out what's wrong."

"I know," he said as he climbed into the truck.  "I know."

The ER doctor had opted to leave the IV catheter in my son's hand in the hopes it would still be good when we got to Atlanta -- that way the poor kid didn't have to get stuck again.  LittleDude and I were both all for it.  Anything to make the process a little easier.

We made a quick stop at the house, ran through the McDonald's drive-thru so I could finally get my first meal of the day, then went straight down into Atlanta.  The hours was late, the traffic was light, and we made it in less than an hour. Still, LittleDude was asleep when we pulled up to the emergency room doors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite, and I was pretty exhausted, too.  Which made the free valet parking they provide to all ER patients that much nicer. 

We were instructed to sign in then take a seat and wait for our name to be called.  Past experience with other hospitals told me it would take a while, so I settled in for a long wait.  To my surprise, we were called within a couple minutes.  I wasn't complaining.

After my son's information was entered into the computer, we moved on to the triage nurse.  For the umpteeth time that day, I chronicled the timeline of what LittleDude had endured thus far, adding in what I'd been told earlier that day.

Not the ER, but the same shade of green
I had an amusing Damn, I'm tired moment when, while weighing my son, the nurse asked me if I thought his color was off, or if he was always that color.  I studied my child a moment, then told her he did look a little green to me.  She laughed, and told me it could be because of her walls.  I looked at the walls around me and saw for the first time they were all painted bright green.

I couldn't help but laugh at myself.  "How did I miss that?" I asked her.  "I must be even more tired than I thought."  Outwardly I was laughing it off -- inside, I was worried about my own state of mind.  How could I have not  noticed those bright green walls?  And more importantly, if I was really that tired and my son wasn't admitted that night, how the heck was I going to get us both home safely?

From there, we saw another nurse then were ushered in to waiting room #2.  This room was filled with tiny, child-sized chairs and maybe a handful of people.  A large screen on the far wall was showing the movie Toy Story 2.  I figured that was the spot we'd be sitting a long time, but I was mistaken once again.  Shortly after we went in, we were whisked away from that room and straight into an exam room.

The nurse assigned to us gave us our first bad news that night.  After trying repeatedly to flush the IV catheter the other ER had so kindly left in LittleDude's hand, she finally deemed it unusable.  She would have to remove it and put in a new one.  My son, who had already been through so much, dissolved in immediate tears.  I explained how much trouble he has, and showed her all the places he'd already been stuck.  Then gave her the speech about my child and needles and screaming.

For some reason, hospital personnel don't believe me when I give them that speech.  This nurse gave me that look, the look that says you poor, delusional, overprotective mom, and assured me it wouldn't be a problem.  She'd get it on the first try.  She did take one precaution, though.  She grabbed another nurse to help hold LittleDude down.  I reiterated the fact that he'd scream but stay perfectly still, but that wasn't believed, either.

Once again, I wasn't looking so overprotective when she had three unsuccessful attempts under her belt, my son was screaming and crying, and they were running out of spots to stick.  They give in and brought in a ringer, who did manage to get that IV into my son on the first stick.

The first doctor we saw insisted the ultrasound showed no problems and pointed out that both the vomiting and diarrhea had stopped and he wasn't running a fever.  I freely admit that I argued with this doctor at this point.  I could blame it on fatigue.  Or exhaustion.  And both would be plausible excuses.  But the truth is, I read the writing on the wall.  This doctor thought I was overreacting and my son didn't belong there.

I asked her if the ultrasound showed nothing unusual, why weren't we sent home when the original report came in?  Regardless of what she saw or read, the technician who originally read that ultrasound saw something that prompted my son's primary care physician to send him to the emergency room.  She continued to disagree.  Insisted the ultrasound showed no anomolies.  They were going to run bloodwork, but I had the distinct impression she intended to send us home.  I panicked because I knew that if that happened, LittleDude would be just fine for a few hours then would end up worse than before.  And he'd have to go through this crap all over again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Nobody came back into the room for a while, and that was just fine with me.  LittleDude clicked around on the television, found a Disney movie to watch, and soon fell asleep.  Somewhere between 2 and 3 am another doctor came into the room.  She introduced herself as my son's "admitting doctor."

Admitting doctor.  Hallelujah!

To say I was relieved would be a gross understatement.  She couldn't yet tell me what was going on with him, couldn't say why he'd been feeling so sick before and not so much then.  What she did tell me was somebody would be coming to take us to a room so we could get some rest and they'd be running a few tests the following day.  She estimated a minimum 48 hour stay.

When she left our room, I felt better.  We'd made progress.  I still didn't know why my son was so sick, but I knew we'd find out.  And I knew he'd get better.


The story continues:  In Isolation

Friday, October 1, 2010

Back to the ER

Welcome to Post Three of LittleDude's Hospital Adventure.  The first and second posts in this saga are here and here.

When we left off yesterday, we were on an upswing.  Our family physician had sent us to the ER where LittleDude was treated for dehydration.  LittleDude was feeling better and things were looking good.

Tuesday arrived, and things were still looking good.  We'd ventured into cracker territory for food with no adverse reactions.  LittleDude had awakened that morning with a very mild fever that was so low it might not have even qualified as a fever.  At any rate, I was starting to plan on a Wednesday start of school for my son.

I made a little chicken noodle soup for him that afternoon, and tanked him up on water and Gatorade.  No matter what, I would not let him dehydrate again.  He seemed to be handling everything okay -- no vomiting, no diarrhea, and a non-fever fever.  I dared to breathe a sigh of relief, and even went to bed that night feeling pretty good.

Little did I know...

2:30am arrived with my husband shaking me awake.  "Where's the vomiting medicine?" he asked me.  I struggled to blink the sleep from my eyes and process the question I was being asked.

"Medicine," I mumbled.  "Cabinet."

My husband disappeared from the room, but returned again just seconds later.  By that time, I'd managed to sit up, but I was still confused.  Why was he looking for the nausea meds?

"How do I use it?" he asked, little brown pill bottle in his hand.

"You're supposed to give it to him at the first sign of nausea."  At that point, his questions finally clicked in my head.  "Why?  Is he not feeling well again?"

"He's throwing up."

Crap, I thought.  Crap.  Crap.  Crap.  "I don't know if it'll work after he's throwing up.  We were supposed to give it before the vomiting started."

"It's worth a try," he said over his shoulder as he left the room.

I still wasn't fully conscious, but I managed to get out of the bed and to my kids' bathroom without running into anything.  Believe me, that's quite a feat, as I've been known to randomly slam into walls.  Especially when tired.  SoundGuy spotted me.

"Go back to bed," he said.  "I've got this."

I don't remember what happened next, but I must have stumbled back to the bed.  The next thing I knew, it was morning and the sun was coming up.  LittleDude was asleep and the house was quiet.  I crept into his room to check on him.  The vomit bucket was within his reach, but empty.  Maybe it's over, I thought.  I kissed his forehead and left as soundlessly as I could.

It wasn't.  Over, that is.

A couple hours later, LittleDude was up and seemed to be feeling okay despite the night he'd had.  Together, we decided not to attempt any food; we'd stick with water and Gatorade.  We started with just a little water and the antibiotics the ER doctor gave us on Monday.

Bad idea.

The moment that stuff hit his stomach, it came right back up.  And up.  And up.  How could 4 ounces of water and a couple tablespoons of medicine take so long to come back up?  My poor child was on the floor in front of the toilet in the downstairs half bath.  I ran up to his room and grabbed his bucket, then tried to get him up to his bed.  If he had to go through the pain of heaving up his insides, at least he could do it comfortably in his bed.

It wasn't to be, though.  He got as far as the bottom stair in the foyer and could make it no further.  At this point, I was beyond worried.  I was so far past concerned it was but a speck in the rearview mirror.  I'd sped right past those things and was firmly in the realm of scared.  Terrified.  What was wrong with my child?

This wasn't good.  This couldn't be good.  Why did he keep getting sick?  What was going on?  I called the doctor again.

Initially, I was told our primary care physician was to be in surgery all morning, but they could get us in that afternoon.  Whatever.  I took the appointment.  In the meantime, I'd just sit over my son and fret.  Seriously -- this kid couldn't even keep water down.

Maybe twenty minutes passed before my phone rang, the doctor's office number appearing in the caller ID.  The doctor had come out of surgery early and he wanted to see my son immediately.  No argument from me.  I got my son dressed, grabbed the bucket, and we went to the doctor's office again.

This time, LittleDude fell asleep on the examination table before the doctor even came into the room.  We had to wake him up, and it wasn't easy.  More reason for me to worry.  The abdominal pain was still there, still in the same place, and the doctor was very concerned.  This time, he got his x-ray, and what he saw prompted him to send us for an ultrasound of LittleDude's gall bladder.  He couldn't tell for sure from the x-ray, but thought it might be enlarged.  We were sent to a diagnostic center in the next county and told to wait there for the results.

LittleDude didn't vomit again for the rest of the day, but it could have been because there was nothing left in his body.  After what I'd seen that morning, I found myself wondering if he even still had a stomach.  My son was tired, a little listless, but otherwise seemed okay.  We had the ultrasound done, and when the results came back, our doctor sent us back to the ER.

"I want him evaluated for admission," he'd said.  "We need to find out what's going on."

On the way, I called SoundGuy and updated him, not there was much to tell.  We'd had an x-ray, and ultrasound, and were going to the hospital ER.  I promised to call with any new developments.

First thing they did at the hospital was put another IV in.  My son hates needles.  I know, many people do.  But needles don't seem to be to fond of my son, either.  On Monday, it took them four tries and three different spots before they finally managed to get that needle into my child.  When the nurse and her student came to put the new one in, I warned her.

"His veins dislike IVs as much as he does," I said, "and he's a screamer, but he will stay perfectly still for you."

She smiled at me like I was out of my mind and assured me they'd be just fine.  Fifteen minutes later she wasn't smiling anymore, and the student had given up.  They did finally get one in, and it happened just like I'd warned.  It took a while to find a good vein that didn't run and hide as soon as the needle approached his skin, and he'd screamed like a banshee, but he stayed perfectly still. 

We spent the rest of the day in that ER.  Thank goodness each bed had it's own tiny television -- that little idiot box kept my kid from going completely stir crazy since he was trapped in the bed the entire day.

The ER doc looked at LittleDude, listened to what he'd gone through over the past five days, looked over the meds he was taking (I'd learned after the last ER visit and had packed up everything he takes and brought it all with us), and after consulting with the pediatrician on call, ordered a CT scan.

Apparently, when those results came back, there was quite a bit more consulting going on before a verdict finally came to us sometime after 9pm.  They had no idea what was going on.  It seemed all my kid's symptoms indicated different things, and each negated the other.  The ER doc told me the pediatrician said, "There's too much going on with this kid, and I'm afraid he might need a higher level of care than we're equipped to give."

Not very promising, is it?

From there, they'd called a pediatrician at one of Atlanta's children's hospitals who suggested maybe they should just hydrate my son then send him home and see what happens.  Thankfully, this ER doctor wasn't willing to do that.  Even though he didn't know what was going on, he was certain my child was sick, and he wanted him seen.  That night.   I'm extremely grateful to that doctor for not being willing to take no for an answer.

At that point, he said LittleDude was being transferred to a children's hospital in Atlanta.  Together, we decided my son would be more comfortable and at ease traveling in my vehicle, so I was allowed to take him myself as long as I promised to take him that night.  And so, with paperwork and a CT scan disc in hand, we left one ER, only to head for another.


The story continues:  Finally...Some Hope

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The First ER Trip

Today's post will be Part Two of LittleDude's illness saga -- his first trip to the emergency room.  Part One, if you haven't read it yet, is here.

When we left off yesterday, LittleDude had been sick all weekend and was being treated for a bad case of diarrhea.  Monday morning came, the first day of school.  MiniMe left the house for her first day, but we let LittleDude sleep in.  His poor little body had been through so much over the weekend; I was grateful he was actually getting some rest.

When he finally did get up for the day, we realized that despite multiple doses (as recommended) of Imodium, the diarrhea continued.  As did the fevers.  I called the doctor again, and got him an early afternoon appointment.

First, let me say I misspoke somewhat when I said that LittleDude's abdominal pain had stopped.  It never did stop, but it did become manageable and localized, and it no longer made him scream.  When we got in to see our family physician, we went over what happened that weekend, including what prompted my phone call.  We covered the symptoms he was currently experiencing.  Our doctor poked and prodded LittleDude, as doctors do, while my child lay there on the examination table, barely responding.

The abdominal pain concerned the doctor, so he ordered a urine test, bloodwork, and an x-ray.  LittleDude, being a big boy, asked that I wait in the examining room.  So I did.  A few minutes later, I overheard the doctor ask one of the nurses if she'd taken the x-ray yet.  She responded that she couldn't get my son out of the chair.  That got my attention.  It got the doctor's attention, too -- his tone of voice changed.  Unfortunately, he was moving away from me and presumably toward where my child was, so I couldn't hear what he said.  Another few moments passed before LittleDude returned to the examination room, flanked by our doctor and a nurse.

If you're looking for a surefire way to panic a parent, I've got one for you here.  Be a doctor, stand in the middle of an examining room in your office, and tell said parent her child needs to go to the emergency room immediately.  A number of different things, different scenarios, raced through my mind, each more horrible and devastating than the one before.  The reality, while serious, was nothing to the extent I was worried about.

It turned out that LittleDude was dehydrating.  Not a huge surprise after what he'd gone through over the weekend, but still not good.  In fact, quite serious.  It showed in his heart rate, his fingertips, his listlessness.  His symptoms indicated there was something else going on, as well, but for the moment, the dehydration was the most important thing.

After picking MiniMe up from school, we made the 20 minute drive to the ER.  Our doctor said he'd call ahead and let them know we were coming, as he wanted LittleDude's abdominal pain evaluated as well.    During the course of our stay in the ER, I watched my son carefully.   They immediately put in an IV, and as the fluids entered his system, I watched him recover.  His color returned.  His personality returned.  He returned.  A few hours and an IV bag later, we finally headed home.

We were sent home that night with Zofran for the nausea, an antibiotic, and instructions to introduce food slowly.  No answer about the abdominal pain, but I was still hopeful.  LittleDude wouldn't be able to go to school on Tuesday (the rule is a child must be fever-free at least 24 hours before attending classes), but we could shoot for Wednesday.  When I got home that night, I e-mailed his teacher again with an update and fell into an exhausted sleep.  Still not terribly restful, but not as troubled as the night before.


The story continues:  Back to the ER

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Into Hell...the First Weekend

Here we are, nearly two months after LittleDude got sick, and I've finally managed to type up the post I've been promising.  It's taken forever, but I present to you the story of LittleDude's hospital adventure.  It's such a long story, I'll be breaking it into a number of separate, smaller, more manageable posts.  Easier to read.  Today I'll recount the beginning of LittleDude's illness, before we understood just how sick my young man really was.

It started on Friday.  The last Friday in July to be specific.  It was already an unusual day for us:  SoundGuy was heading out of town overnight for a sound gig, and my mother, who had been visiting a few weeks, was flying home.  I was up early, extremely early for me.  After taking SoundGuy to the airport, I returned home just after 6am to find my mother and LittleDude up.  LittleDude was quite proud of himself -- school was starting on Monday, and he was practicing.  That meant he was up and had already eaten.  That he would be dressed was too much to hope for, but I praised him anyway.

Until time to take my mother to the airport, the day proceeded as usual.  Even the trip to the airport was pretty normal:  LittleDude fell asleep during the 45+/- minute ride.  The unusual part didn't start until the ride home.

About halfway home, he started complaining of feeling sick.  MiniMe and I gave him a bag he could use for vomiting, if necessary.  He took advantage.  Now, my family has done quite a bit of traveling by car, and although LittleDude has been carsick in the past, it's been years.  Carsickness didn't even enter my mind.  What did enter my mind was Crap.  School starts Monday.

When we got home, I told LittleDude to head on up to his room and get some rest.  Not only did he go straight up without complaint, he actually went to sleep.  And he slept through the night.  Yes, I was worried.  I would be keeping a very close eye on him over the weekend.

The next day, the vomiting stopped, but it apparently did so to make room for the diarrhea.  And fever.  At one point, his temperature climbed to nearly 104°, but we easily controlled it with Tylenol, so I opted not to contact the doctor.  Yet.  The close eye continued.

Sunday came, and with it came the pain.  LittleDude, still running fevers albeit much lower, rolled around on his bed complaining his belly hurt.  "It feels like somebody's reaching in and pulling my guts out," he said.  That was it; I put in a call to the on call doctor, who determined it was cramping.  "Imodium and fluids," he said. 

The pain did eventually stop, although the diarrhea and fever continued.  We'd keep an eye on him Sunday night, then decide what to do on Monday morning.  Either way, he wouldn't be starting school with the rest of the kids.  I e-mailed his teacher, crawled into bed, and fell into a troubled, uncomfortable slumber.


The story continues:  The First ER Trip

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's Building...

Many of you know of the recent trials and tribulations we've had recently with LittleDude's health.  As soon as I get a spare few moments (actually, a bunch of them...this is gonna take a while!), I'll be posting the full story.  With pictures.  But no disgusting ones because that would just be ... well ... disgusting.

A few people have expressed true surprise and curiosity at LittleDude's diagnoses of salmonella and pancreatitis, so my plan is to take you step-by-step (as well as I can remember, anyway) through our adventure.  As soon as I can.

If SoundGuy would just finish updating Frankie (my laptop computer) it'd be sooner.  But we take what we can get, right?

BTW -- LittleDude is as good as new.  Thanks again for all the good thoughts and prayers.

Watch this space!  A detailed post is coming soon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Drowning in a Sea of Information

(WARNING: This post is exceedingly long and prone to incoherent rambling.  Read at your own risk.)


Have you ever done extensive research on a subject only to find yourself conflicted about the results?  It's a new feeling for me.  I've always enjoyed research, whether it was for a book I was planning or a purchase I was about to make.  Research was fun because learning was fun.  I love to learn.

Until now.

The results (thus far) of my current research have left me floundering and confused, even scared and kind of hopeless.  This is probably because of the reason for my research.  It's not for the benefit of a work of fiction or the purchase of a new toy.  It's not a vacation or deciphering an odd dream.  It's my son.  My son's life.

In previous posts on my old blogs, I've discussed challenges my LittleDude faces -- more for my own benefit than anything else, though it's always been a real bonus if it helps somebody else.  I've talked about his tentative ADHD diagnosis and medication.  I've mentioned his psych eval and counseling.  I've covered his struggle with springtime allergies.  I've lamented his battle with Alopecia Areata (AA).  I might have even touched upon his learning disabilities (dyscalculia and graphomotor/dysgraphia issues).

In reading that last paragraph, you may get the impression LittleDude is a sickly child.  His AA (which has caused the loss of 98% of his hair including his eyebrows and eyelashes) leads many people to mistakenly presume he's currently undergoing chemotherapy.  He is neither of those things.  He is a boy with a large vocabulary and a quick smile.  He loves deeply and gets his entire body involved when he laughs.  And according to his psych eval, he suffers from a "nonverbal, contextual learning disorder."

That's when my research came in.

As soon as I received the diagnosis (a year after it was completed, but that's a whole 'nother blog post) I did what I presume any concerned parent would do.  I googled all the unfamiliar terms.  Some were easy enough to understand, but one, the big one, required more than a quick Google search.

It was that pesky nonverbal, contextual learning disorder.  The first thing I learned was Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD or NVLD) can't be explained in a single sentence.  I also learned that a lot of the articles about NLD are extremely dry and, with respect to their authors, were excellent at putting me out on those nights when sleep was elusive.

I wasn't too concerned initially -- because we thought stress or anxiety could be triggering LittleDude's AA, we already had him working with a counselor.  But now, a year later, his counselor is almost ready to discharge him.  Clearly, the time has come for me to become better educated on the challenges my son faces.

I reached out to the NLD mailing list:  What books should I be reading?  I made purchases based on their recommendations, and that's where I am now.  Reading books.

Sounds benign enough, right?  What harm could a couple books do?


Let me preface this by saying both books (which I list at the end of this post) are excellent.  They are informative, easy to read, and I'm coming away with a better understanding of what my son's going through.  So in those regards, these books have succeeded.

Unfortunately, they've also succeeded in scaring the snot out of me.  Thankfully, I don't mean that literally, though it's pretty darn close.

Scary thing #1:  the book titles.  Both are very simple and straight forward.  I looked at the book covers and knew immediately what the books were about.  Always the sign of a good book, right?

These titles indicate they're about Nonverbal Learning Disorder and Asperger's.


While I've never neard of NLD, I had heard of Asperger's.  Admittedly, I didn't know the exact nature of Asperger's, but I did know it was no small deal.  And now, before I'd even cracked these books open, I was terrified.  My son has something comparable to Asperger's?  That wasn't good.

Scary thing #2:  Scary phrases like not learning math beyond a fourth grade level and never be able to live independently.  The good thing here is these books show these phrases to be untrue, but still.  As a mother of an NLD child, once I've seen those phrases, how am I supposed to forget them?

Scary thing #3:  While there was some degree of comfort in the fact that I now had an explanation for many of my son's behaviors, it's terrifying, too.  In those first couple chapters, a majority of the behaviors described as NLD are behaviors I see in my LittleDude.  If there was any doubt before of my son's diagnosis, it's gone now.

Scary thing #4:  Where the heck do I go from here?  With the deck so stacked against my son, how do I help him?

Knowledge can be a good thing.  A powerful thing.  But in my case, knowledge had left me devastated.  Depressed.  And distinctly feeling like I'm in way over my head.  I'm drowning without a life jacket or water wings in sight.

It really is a scary thing.  With information more readily available, it's too easy to overload.  Knowledge might be a good thing, but too much of it can be dangerous.  And I seem to be a sucker for the danger.  I've been reading NLD mailing lists.  I've searched out every website I can find that mentions NLD.  I've searched for support groups and have even reached out to a local Asperger's group.  I'm a victim of info overload, and now I can't figure what's next.

This is where my extended family and my friends lose patience with me.  I don't ask those who love me for help and support.  I don't know how.  Instead, I internalize.  I disappear into my own head and try to figure out how to solve the problem.  I stop socializing.  I fret and worry and make myself sick.

So, how do I close this post?  I have no idea.  I've not yet found my answers.  My stomach is still tied in knots.  I'm still in way over my head.  And I still don't know which way to turn.  Not a happy ending.  The good news is it's also not the end.



Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Context Shmontext

I love how things that sound perfectly reasonable in context can sound completely off the wall outside their context. Take a recent line I wrote for my story, for example:
I'd have to go commando for the rest of my stay, but I couldn't blame the zebra for it.

Within my story, that's a perfectly reasonable thing for my character to say. Reading it here by itself, though, would have the average person scratching their head and worrying for my sanity.

(Trust me, it really does make perfect sense in context.)

Or another favorite from my story Burn Me Once:
Never doubt a psychic old lady in thong underwears.  It ain't good for you.

Or those moments where, while absolutely not eavesdropping, you hear just a snippet of conversation from somebody nearby.  Something that makes you think Wow, I really started listening to that conversation at the wrong time.

I was reminded of this during a recent drive with SoundGuy, when the song "Kill the King" began to play in the truck.  In context, perfect sense.  It's Mordred singing about his desire to kill King Arthur and claim the throne for himself, and it shows up on a rock opera about King Arthur.

See?  Perfect sense.

It was the possible out of context reactions that had us laughing, though.  And that's because we were remembering how not long after I bought these CDs, LittleDude started Pre-K. 

When I first bought the Once and Future King CDs, we listened to them a lot.  So much that even my kids were singing along.  With most of the songs on those CDs, that wouldn't have been a big deal.  But the average person might have questioned my parenting decisions when hearing my  four-year-old sing these lyrics on the playground:
I wanna kill the King of Britain dead
I wanna thrust a knife deep in his chest
I wanna feel and see his blood run red

And if that's not bad enough?
I'll kill the King, I wanna see him dead
I wanna seize his Kingdom, gonna take his head
I wanna kill the King and rule myself instead

Yeah, I was waiting for the concerned phone call from his teacher.  Luckily it never came. But it's still one of my ultimate Out of Context moments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Cat Came Back

Do you remember that old song?

The cat came back the very next day
The cat came back
I thought he was a goner
The cat came back
He just couldn't stay away

In this story, I would be the cat.  I had let my old blog die, and thought I would enjoy being free of the tethers of regular blogging.  And for the most part, I was.  But, as that old saying goes, things change. (Boy, I'm really doing the old thing, aren't I?)

Digression aside, I have returned to the world of blogging.  A different kind of blogging.  Unlike my old blog and website, this blog won't be as focused.  It won't be updated as regularly.  And it probably won't be read by anybody but me.  But it will be here when I need it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to browse templates.