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March 2011

Whap

I mentioned to Steve much of what I told you about Celexa and he nodded and said, yes, yes, true, true, much better, now with 1000% less get-a-grip but... did you also mention the narcolepsy?

So in the spirit of unvarnished disclosure: for the past month or two I have been noticing what might be considered a side effect. Namely, I start to read stories to Caroline and Edward after lunch but we only make it through about three or four books (or half a Curious George) before my eyes roll back into my head and my last conscious thought is of reaching for the remote control. Thus Steve frequently finds me sound asleep under the pages of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, while Caroline and Edward sit on top of me watching Wonderpets. Since my inability to sleep let alone nap harks back into my infancy Steve feels - reasonably - that the Celexa is making me unnaturally sleepy. So be it. Nothing is perfect and when Edward fell and bit through his lip today I was a beacon of maternal calm due at least in part to Celexa.

That said I do find it inconvenient to pass out for an hour in the middle of the day and I will discuss it with my doctor when I see him next month. I've started running again and I think that plus the vaguely Buddhist recommended therapies plus the fact that the children are getting bigger (I have loved loved loved having newborn/baby/toddler twins but the fact that they seemed so breakable and there were two of them and one is Caroline, frankly, stressed me out) might lead to a Celexa exit strategy. We'll see. 

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He was his sunny self again by this afternoon but if you look closely you can see where Edward punctured himself and you do not have to look closely at all to see where he hit his chin. He and Caroline were playing in the basement with Patrick and it was more or less at the exact moment that I loaded the dishwasher and reflected upon how nice it was that the kids are old enough to play without constant supervision that Patrick burst upstairs with the news that Edward was hurt. I was able to gauge the severity of the injury less by Edward's shrieks (Edward always sounds like that) than by the fact that having delivered the news Patrick promptly flung a banket over his head.

Edward and I met on the basement stairs and he was bleeding all over the place.

"I bumped my yip," he sobbed "and I am beeding ah ovah the pace."

I gave him a cold, wet cloth and a kiss and some tylenol and decided to take him to the doctor after Steve looked at the oozing lip and shrugged eloquently. Since this is not my first rodeo I packed a bag suitable not only for the pediatrician's office but also for the emergency room. So far only at about 25% of our urgent care visits turn into hospital trips but still... one in four. When I took Caroline into the doctor for her mouth/chin gash we waited for an hour for the walk-in doctor only to be told that they send facial cuts to Childrens' to be stitched. Then we had to drive and wait all over again and the six books I had brought for the lobby were no longer meeting her needs. So this time I was ready.

After he stopped crying Edward realized he quite liked the attention he was getting, which either says "twin" or "youngest" or "hypochondriac." He was very chatty at the pediatrician, telling first the receptionist and then the nurse, "I bumped my yip." When we got into the exam room he stood on the chair in order to see himself in the mirror and then tried different expressions (The Waif, The Urchin, The Orphan) to highlight his pitifulness. 

When the nurse asked how it happened he said, as if surprised by the obviousness of the question, "I bumped it when I falled."

This reminded me of my old friend Pete who jumped from a third story window when his new roommates set the house on fire. They were freebasing in the oven, just in case you were wondering how that happened, and if you were wondering why Pete moved into this den of iniquity it is because he had been crashing in my four room apartment for three weeks and I finally told him he simply must find a new place to live. And yes it has been twenty years and yes I still feel guilty about it.

Pete, who had broken half the bones in his body, was conscious when he got to the emergency room so the nurse gave him forms to fill out. When he was asked whether the given address was his current address he wrote "not anymore" and when asked to describe the cause of his injuries he said "not the fall. the ground." Pete was always very droll.

Where was I? Oh right. I was telling you about how Edward explained that it wasn't the fall it was the rapid deceleration into the arm of the chair that bumped his yip.

The doctor studied his mouth for a long time and finally decided that it was better to leave it as it is. She did not think they could get the edges much closer with stitches and she thought he would basically eat off any dermabond so she told me to watch out for infection and sent us on our way.

I saw our usual doctor in the hallway and he came over to ask how Patrick is doing. I told him that Patrick had another episode on Saturday (oh by the way - Patrick had another headache/vomit/fall asleep thing on Saturday) and that we were seeing the ENT next week for a CT scan. He said good and that we should bring him into the clinic again too.

Speaking of Saturday, last week I sent out an email to all the neighbors we know with kids about the same age as ours and said that we were going to be hanging out at our house after dinner on Saturday and they were welcome to bring a bottle of wine and their kids and come join us until bedtime. This was a new form of entertaining for me (wildly half-assed and exponentially liberating) and it was surprisingly fun. We had five or six couples and about a dozen children and I made crab dip and "cookies" (Jane Brody recipe - combines rolled oats and wheat flour with a little egg white, a sprinkle of sugar and few chocolate chips; I figured it was harmless enough for kids at that hour) and that was it. The kids ran around like maniacs, the adults drank wine and watched basketball and when the little kids went home/to sleep we put on a movie for Patrick and his particular friends and continued with the wine and the watching. Or we would have if Patrick hadn't appeared suddenly at my side and announced that he had a headache and needed to go to bed with a bucket right that second. Within five minutes he had vomited, taken some ibuprofen and fallen into a profound sleep in the center of our bed. By morning he was fine again. I continue to be mystified. He had gone to tumbling that day but it was hours earlier so... I don't know. I really don't know what is going on with him and I am anxious to get back to the ENT so we can either diagnose or rule out some more things.

Ah yes. Basketball. Some of you mentioned your surprise that I made it all the way through the month without mentioning the High Holy Days of March. Nerts, I say. First our entire clan got obliterated in the suicide pool (elimination format; one team per day but you can only pick a team to win once during the entire tournament - it takes careful planning, razor sharp instincts and a certain hoops genius. like I said, all five of us got knocked out by day three.) Then I wallowed at the bottom of the money pool until Sunday when all of the sudden my Kentucky pick wasn't looking so very silly after all. In fact, it looks brilliant except for the fact that our old football pool nemesis (PHIL - you have to hiss it, PHIL) also has Kentucky picked and he has more points that I do so there is no way I can win even if Kentucky does. So... VC-who? VCU! Woot.    

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I was so touched by Caroline's obvious concern for Edward until she explained that she was crying because she wanted to go to the doctor and get a sticker toooooooooooo. It was all very Madeline.

PS The comforter that allows Steve to play Inuit while I stay sensibly warmed is made by Cuddledown and is from their Dual Warmth line. We got the cheapest option as I recall and it is still very soft and nice and everything. Link here.

PPS Book time!

Patrick and I got lost in the Chrestomanci series. Not, I hasten to say, because of the books themselves but because of our limited access to them in an audio version. We wound up with The Lives of Christopher Chant on cassette, which I cannot play in the car. I tried bringing a forty year old boom box with us as we drove to school but 1) Patrick could barely hear it and 2) it goes through 8 C batteries in, like, twelve minutes. I finally checked the book out for him today and I expect he will simply read the rest of the series. So we need something else to listen to. Is The Hunger Games too much for him do you think? Is Fablehaven worth listening to?

Also, Caroline and Edward have developed a passion for... it's hard to explain but it is a fictionalized account of one of Vivaldi's violin students arriving at the orphanage and it appears at the end of one of their Vivaldi CDs. Edward has a screamy passion for Vivaldi (BiBALdi.) Four Seasons. Fall. Allegro. and Caroline likes most of Winter and the presto part of Summer so that is all we ever listen to in the car. As you can imagine this was getting a bit old (I'm not so into classical and although I guess Vivaldi is fine he's not, like, Mads Langer or anything) so at first I was pleased when they started asking for the Vivaldi story part over and over again. Now, however, however it is driving me to the brink of madness.

We must find something new but what books are there that I can listen to with Caroline and Edward? I tried Stuart Little today and it started well enough but by chapter three Caroline's polite "Bibaldi please" had turned into a shrill "I don't LIKE Stuart! I don't LIKE him! I want that little two inch mouse to go right back down that drain."

So any audiobook recommendations for Patrick or Caroline/Edward or (with summer car trips fast approaching) a trifecta of Patrick/Caroline/Edward appropriateness? 

PPS I am debating a summer return to speech therapy for Edward. I truly cannot decide if his lack of L's and gummy R's and slipshod THs and SHs and CHs are age-appropriate. My instinct is that his speech is getting markedly clearer without any outside assistance and no one else (like his preschool teachers) has mentioned it so I might just be seeing him to his disadvantage through crystalline Caroline. Or maybe he needs a little more therapy. Can't decide.


This Metatarsal

My daughter is the Pied Piper of nudity. After thirty minutes in her presence even the most gently nurtured of children will find themselves trying to explain to bewildered parents what happened to their pants: "Well, Caroline said... ."

We had friends to dinner on Saturday night and the mystery of Lucy's leggings may never be solved. Caroline explained that she put her BFF's clothes in the dryer (isn't she helpful) but this story has yet to be corroborated by any evidence (like the finding of the leggings. in the dryer.)

And poor Edward, all pink and sturdy, keeps emerging from the basement with, "Mommy! I'm COHD!"

I say, "Of course you're cold; you're naked. What happened to your clothes, Edward?"

And he tries to crawl under my shirt as he explains, "Well, Cayayine said... ."

Every night I tuck in a pajama-wearing Caroline only to find her au naturel hours later, curled under the blankets with her pajamas hanging from the lamp. Now that she no longer requires a diaper this does not presage the laundry disaster it once did but it makes me cold just to look at her. And I hate being cold, so although I also hate trying to cram a sleeping child into footie pajamas (it's like trying to put the breakfast sausage back into the casing) I have dutifully done so every night for weeks and weeks. 

Recently it occurred to me that this maternal solicitude might actually be doing her a disservice. I mean Caroline (despite her older brother's dire predictions to the contrary) is no dummy dope. She can get herself dressed and undressed with firefighter speed and since she is almost too in touch with her own feelings

(Caroline: I was worried that Edward was going to take my butterfly wings and then I ran but he ran too and then he tried to take them and I said no Edward Swiper no swiping but he did and then I was mad and I knew I had to bam him but I did and now *fake sob fake sob* I feel so so sorry. But I will bam him again)

can't we assume that perhaps she takes off her clothes because she likes to sleep without any pajamas? Steve after all... well. He also shoves the electric blanket all the way over to my side of the bed and sleeps with his feet hanging out from his side of the special duvet we got that snaps in the middle and allows you to have two different levels of warmth: Normal Minnesota Weight and Steve.

So I have been fighting my instincts to get her dressed again at night and now I just cover her with four blankets. When she comes down in the morning she is back in her pajamas so... I think she's ok. She also has some great career options ahead of her. I hear burlesque is making a comeback and someone, somewhere, is always casting for productions of Equus. Or Hair.

And to continue this theme (not Nudity. the theme is One Should Try to not... oh what's the word? Transfer? Convey? damn it, it's eluding me... Project! onto One's Children) I feel kinda guilty because I inadvertently discovered that Caroline is shockingly good at puzzles but it had never in a million years occurred to me to give her one. She just never struck me as a sit-down-and-do-a-nice-puzzle type but Patrick brought some of his old toys up for the twinkles and Caroline was enchanted with them. She did three Melissa & Doug puzzles one after the other

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and then the next day she dumped all the pieces together and did three at once

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Oooh hey, maybe she'll be a naked brain surgeon! Or a naked architect, a naked air traffic controller, a naked particle physicist... good spatial skills are useful in so many fields.

I pointed out to Steve the speed with which Caroline was putting together simultaneous puzzles and he said, "Well, she'll certainly be able to parallel park." Then he ran because those are fightin' words.

He thinks he's so witty - making fun of my limitations - but lots of people cannot parallel park. In fact I'll bet if I backed my car into nine people in the Target parking lot at least seven of them wouldn't be able to parallel park either. So there.

+

Edward - like his brother and sister before him - was a little hesitant to use the toilet for all his toilet needs and - again like his brother and his sister - required something in the nature of a bribe at those critical moments of resistance to get him past the NO.

"Edward," I said in a manly, straightforward fashion that well became me, "you sit there and poop in that potty and I will drive you to Target to pick out a special present."

Although that might sound to you (and Edward) like I meant I would drive him right that minute I meant it more like.... keep it up and there will be a reward at some as yet unspecified time in the future.

This has been going on for a couple of weeks and it has worked in stages until Edward finally seemed on-board enough with the program that I decided yesterday we'd achieved success. Mission Accomplished. Special present acquisition team, ho! 

I was helping Edward get on his shoes and he said, "I go in the potty, Cayayine, so we're driving in the silver car to Target to get a special present!"

Caroline looked at me, like, ET TU BRUTE, and said, "I go to the bathroom all the time. And I haven't gotten a chocolate chip in... since more than yesterday."

I said, "Yes yes, fine. You too. We are all going to Target and you can both pick out one big kid special present for giving up diapers

("Edward wears a diaper at night," said Little Miss Viper-Tongue) 

for giving up diapers except at night and for being such a big boy and a big girl. I'm so proud of both of you."

I drove and they sang and then Caroline started talking about what her special present would be. She thought she might like her own car and I said I would see her in hell first (translate that into preschool: something like "Silly girl! Only mommies and daddies and responsible teenagers who have never climbed out of windows and who can pay for their own car insurance get to drive cars!")

Edward said, "I know my special present. I know what I getting!"

And Caroline and I said, "What, Edward?"

And Edward smiled beatifically and said, "I going to Target and I buying... a pacifier!"

D'oh!

[He got a dragon racetrack thing and he slept with it. Caroline picked out a Barbie. A FAIRY Barbie with a molded plastic corset, arms that stick straight up over her head and the most improbable fuckme heels since whatever designer it was tried to break all those ankles with en pointe shoes at Fashion Week. I would worry about what this doll might do to my pumpkin's budding feminism: but 1) I loved me some Barbie back in the day and Aphra Behn and I are like this; and 2) Barbie hadn't been in our house more than 30 minutes before Caroline had stuffed her headfirst into the mouth of Edward's dragon. I haven't seen her since.]

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Edward. My sweet - only rarely and then developmentally appropriately psycho - Edward. He reminds me of a more balanced Patrick at this age. Like a young Patrick he digs letters and words and numbers and he understands how they work together. He can recognize some simple words like "big" and "go" and "car." He always wants to know how to spell everything, so a request for him to drink his milk can take five minutes: what does "drink" start with? what does "milk" start with? then what? He can count to 100 and he can add numbers as long as you don't go all crazy and ask about anything higher than five. When the woman at the carpet store asked him what his favorite color was yesterday he tapped his chin thoughtfully with one plump finger and said, "Ummmmmm, I yike... grey. A niceth grey."

He's incredibly good at throwing balls and dribbling them with his feet. He plays elaborate games with his cars and his trains and they always make sense, like, his cars are having a big race or the trains are trying to deliver balls to the airport. Caroline never plays like that and Patrick didn't either so I find it endlessly entertaining to listen to the conversations he creates. My mother observed that in a lot of ways he seems to be the baby of the family and I think that is true. He does things at his own pace and the fact that Caroline moved out of a crib or stopped using a bottle or diapers didn't faze him in the slightest. He was like oh how nice for her; now change my diaper, put me in my crib and I'll be seeing you at 4 am for my bottle of milk. Not now you understand, then - he just doesn't give things up until he's ready.

- someone in my comments last summer suggested that the reason I was depressed was because I had failed to sleep train my children and I live in the middle of nowhere. I was amused at the time and now that Celexa has helped to curb my crippling anxiety I am even more amused. I think I was depressed because I never left the house and I never left the house because I thought that monsters would eat my babies. Getting up with them because they were crying in the middle of the night? Not that big of a deal. And I like the woods. And believe your choices are the only valid choices much? -

Celexa. While we are on the subject, I suppose.

By last Fall my anxiety had gotten completely out of hand and I was making everyone miserable. The lightbulb moments for me (sorry if I told you this before; I don't remember) were two-fold. The first was when I asked Patrick to plug in the sewing machine and he looked at me in total horror. He sincerely believed (at eight years old) that putting a plug into an electrical outlet would kill him. The second was when I realized that Caroline kept saying everything (and I mean everything. like Cheerios and the hair brush) was dangerous. 

To be fair to myself and the extent to which I broke him, I do think that Patrick has a naturally cautious temperment. That said, it did not help him develop appropriate perceptions when I had spent his entire life freaking out about dangers; real imagined and always exaggerated. To this day he refuses to walk from one side of the produce section to the other if I do not come with him. My belief that he needed to be within arms reach at all time registered loud and clear and I feel terrible about that. But... we're working on it and I think that the fact that I feel so much better is making him feel better. Just the other day I convinced him to walk all the way to the bathroom by himself at the library and... nothing bad happened. Go figure.

So Patrick was afraid I was trying to electrocute him and Caroline - who does not have a drop of fear in her entire body - was going around talking about how dangerous things were. It horrified me. I know it's all very Mrs Lovejoy but I suddenly heard myself through the wee mouths of whatsits and I sounded like a looney. Worse, I was making a timid child more timid and I was on course to wreck an amazing, courageous spitfire spirit. Not that Caroline doesn't need some major boundaries, just that she doesn't need someone telling her she cannot do something simply because it scares ME. I mean, seriously, there is no reason why Caroline cannot be a naked roofer if she wants to be. Sure she needs to be older than two when she goes out there again but if she wants to walk the naked high wire it doesn't matter that I have a fear of falling. 

So I knew these things but I still couldn't get past my visceral responses to the contrary (in much the same way you can assure me that the snakes in the pit into which I am being lowered are all non-poisonous but I will still die from the mortal heebie-jeebies) and I wanted to change. So that is when I took Steve with me to the doctor and got a prescription for anti-anxiety meds.

To recap I started on Paxil and I took it for a month during which time I was sleeping 18 hours a day. I asked for something that might enable me to stay awake long enough to enjoy all that new anxiety-free time  and I got Celexa, which I have now been on for about six months. At first it was AWESOME. Like... I have never felt that good in my entire life, felt like a pop song, wanted to have sex all the time, AWESOME. Apparently that was a side effect - a really really nice side effect - appropriately called euphoria and it wore off after about two months. Then I was like, well, this sucks. Where are my rainbow marshmallow unicorns? But gradually I noticed that I am, just, better. Calmer. Able to take children to the indoor playground without having honest-to-god panic attacks about the climbing and the falling. And I noticed that I am making new friends and seeing old ones more. It felt totally normal to suggest meeting a local blog reader; to have people to dinner more often; to send out a mass email saying we had a babysitter and were going to a wine bar, did anyone want to meet us there? It's not the sugar-high I was on in the beginning but it feels pretty great. 

And if this were a real Celexa advertisement I would now show you baffling images of butterflies in meadows and people running on a beach and puppies frolicking and snowflakes glistening and I would race through a list of potential side effects that would make your blood run cold. But it's not so I get to just tell you I like it.

PS I picked Caroline up from preschool today and her teacher said, "Does Caroline know Spanish? We did Spanish today and she was just amazing."

I modestly admitted that it is true. Caroline is fluent in Dora and she can totally get by in Diego. Recently she has expressed interest in doing an exchange program to Kai-Lan so we expect she'll be picking up Chinese too. 

As we left the class she waved and shouted, "Goodbye! Goodbye friends! Good luck! Adios! ADIOS!"

She is such a fraud.     


Belly Jarl

Caroline: Let's go to Rainbow Mountain!

Edward: OK! Let's go!

Caroline: I'm Dora!

Edward: You're Dora!

Caroline: And you're Boots!

Edward: No. I'm not Boots. I'm Edward.

Caroline (thinking): You're Edward.

Edward: I'm Edward.

Caroline: You're Edward the monkey.

Edward: I'm Edward the monkey!

Caroline: You're Edward the monkey... named Boots!

Edward: I'm Boots!

Caroline smiled and steered him toward Rainbow Mountain where - one presumes - she has set up her secret underground lair in preparation for taking over the world through mind control.

The twins have spring break this week. I wondered what I should do with them during this time of unalleviated togetherness but before I could decide I blacked out because they had sucked all the oxygen from the room. When I woke up I no longer cared all that much. Yesterday was Play in the Melting Snow And Then Take a Bath Day. Today is Haircut Day, which is odd because I swear I just got their hair cut five minutes ago and yet Caroline is peering through her bangs again and Edward looks like Andy Gibb. I think Steve and his offspring dedicate the internal resources that other people (Good People, mainly) use toward picking up after themselves to grow hair.

Note: I have often read criticisms of mommy bloggers who type away while their children languish unattended and I have to ask: HOW? Even now that Caroline and Edward have started playing together (and more importantly playing together with 50% less biting pinching bamming and smacking) I still find myself unable to do... anything when they're around. You don't even want to know what I had to offer Steve in order to get him to take them away for two hours so I could write this little chunk of American literary history. 

So forgive the pauses.

Patrick's appointment was so satisfactory that in describing it I want to say silly things like Woot! and Da Bomb.

It was a very cut-and-dried meeting. The ENT looked at his MRI images and then asked me to tell her what was going on with Patrick. I explained the ups and downs of the past two months and reminded her - for what it was worth - that when she removed his tonsils and adenoids in 2009 it was not because there was a clear indication that they were making him so sick, but more because we did not know where else to look for the bacterial infection at that point. 

She said, oh yeah, that was a last ditch thing wasn't it and proceeded as if she was dealing with something that might be chronic. This sounds like a minor point but my fear was that they would ask me how long Patrick has had sinus infections and I would say, oh, does he have sinus infections? and they would tell me to come back in six months after I'd kept a record.

Actually I did say that I was surprised by the MRI findings because Patrick has never had a runny nose or nasal congestion or anything to indicate that this might be a problem. She said that that in itself could be the problem; meaning nothing is draining. She asked what had been done so far and then tactfully but firmly rejected the ten days of omnicef prescribed by pediatrician II. She said that ten days of anything in isolation will not help a kid with infected sinuses so she wants him to continue the omnicef at least for another two weeks plus an oral steroid for three days followed by a topical steroid until further notice. The hope is to bring down the inflammation and allow Patrick's bacterial swamps to clear enough for him to either get well or for her to be able to see what is going on in there.  She didn't seem particularly hopeful about the former possibility (although maybe I'm reading more into her manner - and the pamphlet she gave me on pediatric sinus surgery - than was there) but we'll see.

She then scheduled him for a mini CT scan in her office in three weeks (lower dose radiation, 20 second head shot) followed by another appointment with her. If the antibiotics and steroids are effective at treating his existing infections we will then move on to determining cause (allergies or sensitivites, for example) and managing as needed. If the antibiotics and steroids do eff all then she will try to figure out why and work from there.

So that's that and if you asked me whether I would rather give a cat a pill or get Patrick to take his Flonase I would have to think very very hard about it.

In other Patrick-related news we went to look at the school like his current school (look at me trying to skate around the word "gifted" - I really am neurotic on this subject) only closer to us and with a sixth grade  and we really liked it. I mean, Steve and I really liked it and then I brought Patrick for the kids' visit day and he really liked it too. He astonished me during the presentation, raising his hand repeatedly to ask the current students questions about the program (decent ones, too, like "Would you say that they try to incorporate fun into all the classes?" and "Do you have a music room?" and "How would you rank this playground against your previous school?") and when I went to take his hand during the tour he slipped away from me and walked with the principal. As they turned the corner ahead of me I heard him asking her when the school was built and whether they have problems with ice dams. He amuses me and more to the point I always think of him as being so shy. Clearly he's no longer shy. Aggressively chatty might be a better description.

At the end of the tour the head of the district's programming asked what he had thought of the playground.

He said, "Liked it, liked the school, hope I get a spot here." 

That was a month ago and he's been checking the mail ever since. He got his acceptance letter on Saturday and I sent his enrollment forms on Monday. It seems like a great school and I am optimistic that being geographically closer to his classmates will net him more opportunities for spontaneous social interaction. There is nothing spontaneous about driving half an hour each way.

Oh and thank you very much for your thoughts on phones and things like phones. You were very helpful. I have tentatively added an iPhone to my list of things I want one day when I am feeling like throwing money around (I was intrigued by the iPad suggestions but have concluded that ya'll must live in much more Wifi'd areas that I do - we have it in very few public spaces out here.) So the iPhone is now snuggled on my list of things I don't need between the insanely expensive KitchenAid Mixer attachment set that would enable me to make my own crackers and one of those little robot floor cleaners. I saw an ad for a new one last night - called a Mint I think - that showed this small box zipping along cleaning floors and I gasped. Steve was, like, "OH NO, NO MORE FLOOR CLEANERS. You have a PROBLEM" and I shushed him as I rewound the commercial. The people in it looked so happy. There they were with their feet up having drinks and the floor cleaning cube picked up cat hair and Cheerios in the background. It was like seeing Valhalla.

What? How can they be home already?


Put Your Left Foot In And You Shake It All About

Sorry about that. Not only was that last post nearly incomprehensible; I left it hanging there - all twisty and baffling like a homemade windchime - for several days longer than I intended.

Granted in the interim I have only received limited clarification from the pediatrician (not our usual pediatrician, by the way; apparently once you start seeing one person for any given illness they don't let you swap back again - or so I've inferred from my tactful but ignored hints that maybe my real, beloved doctor would like to weigh in.) And Patrick is more or less the same - no crushing headaches, no projectile vomiting but still a little... out of it. And we were exceptionally busy for the past several days. But I am sorry I did not post sooner.

According to the pediatrician the radiologist reported that Patrick has inflammation and infected fluid in multiple sinuses: right maxillary, right ethmoid, left ethmoid and a big maybe whoknows on both the frontal sinuses which are either completely full of gunk or not there at all. Or still forming. Or something. He also has some white spots on his brain, which are signs of inflammation most likely related to the virus from a few weeks ago. My working theory - which has been entertained by no one except my mom - is that Patrick got some random kid illness that spread to the brain fluid, resulting in a viral encephalitis. He was then miserably ill for ten days, gradually got better, flared when his mother stupidly let him do flips and then gradually got better when the internet told his mother she needed to give him large does of medicinal TV and no flips. 

Flowchart:

- either the sinus infections are a secondary infection stemming from the viral whatsit OR
- Patrick has been suffering from chronic sinus infections for an extended period of time (like a year and a half) and the encephalitis developed from there.

(Sorry this must be incredibly boring)

Anyway, I talked to the pediatrician again and she explained what the radiologist had found and then she started discussing ways to manage Patrick's possible migraines, which confused me even further because I had thought that the sinuses would explain the headaches. She said maybe, maybe not.

Patrick's at about sixty percent of his usual capacity and I am very very VERY glad we are seeing the ENT on Friday. I would put money on my belief that Patrick has either an abscess or a cyst or a structural issue somewhere in the bones or the cavities of his head and I think she is the right person to sort that out.

Moving off the topic until then.

A little over a week ago (right at the zenith of the big health scare, actually) I heard Edward talking to Patrick in the bathroom.

He said, "What are you doing Patrick?" and I tensed because I was afraid Patrick was getting ready to throw up again. But no.

Patrick, using his kindergarten teacher dipped in maple sugar voice, said, "I'm going pee in the potty! Edward do YOU want to go pee in the potty TOO?"

Edward said, "OK!"

So Patrick said, "Here. Let me help you. First we pull down your pants... that's right! Great! Then you need to get rid of that silly diaper! Bye bye diaper! Good job! Then you hold your penis like this and step close to the toilet and... pee!"

Nothing happened. But from that moment on Edward refused to put on a diaper except at bedtime. The first day he just peed in his pants all day long and I thought - REALLY Edward? - but by day two he would hold it until someone (me, Caroline, Patrick) would think to help him into the bathroom. Two days later he went to preschool in underpants and had no accidents and he's been reliable ever since. Voila. I call him our dark horse potty prodigy and I am AMAZED that Edward wound up being the easiest to train. Sure he was an elderly three and a quarter and he would have been thrown out of most mainstream nursery schools by now (Caroline and Edward are in the 2-3's class - diapers are cool) but what he lacked in precocity in made up for with speed.

[Did any of you see the Washington Post article about the woman whose child was asked to leave preschool after many weeks of 8+ accidents until she was really toilet-trained for real and the woman responded by: 1) bringing a note from her pediatrician saying it was perfectly normal ; 2) petitioning the school board; and 3) agreeing to a Post interview?]

Oh and the fact that he shouts "I'm doing it! I'm doing it!" and then runs around with both fists pumping the air and no pants also scores some points with me. He's mostly dry and he's cute as hell.

Speaking of cute as hell, Patrick's team had their Destination Imagination competition on Saturday. If you've been around long enough you will know that once upon a time I worried mightily about Patrick's social skills and shyness so watching him interact so comfortably with his teammates all day and then get up in front of an audience and perform was terrific. They learned a lot, they had a great time, they worked well together and they came in a respectable fourth. My mom used to joke that by the fifth or sixth game of one of my brother's soccer tournaments she would secretly start rooting for the other team so she could finally go home. I realized that I was holding my breath during the awards ceremony and that my biggest fear was that they would come in first or second and go on to the state competition or - god forbid - win THAT one and go to globals. So much for unconditional maternal support.

PS Verizon is now available through iPhone and although we are not off the double X austerity budget yet exactly I am hopeful we might be in the future and I am thinking of allocating my ad money for an iPhone. I mentioned this to Steve who laughed. Then he laughed some more. Then he fell on the floor and lay there laughing until I had to nudge him with my foot a little. When he finally realized I was serious he said well ok maybe HA HA HA but even if that wasn't a ridiculous idea when we HA HA have no cell service in the HA HA house and you HA rarely leave HO HO HO except to carpool isn't the monthly charge rather extortionate?

I said - with quiet dignity - that I would ask. So for those of you who do not live in a hollow tree, those of you who do not rely upon tin cans attached with string to communicate with the outside world: how much do you pay a month for your cell phone service and does it cover the internet? I mean, I still don't know how to text nor do I want to do so but is there a way to get google on my phone (and apps! I want to know what an app is!) and if so how much do you pay?   


Eureka

OK. So!

The radiologist called the pediatrician last night (and then the pediatrician called me - literal Telephone) and explained that although they did not get as many views of Patrick's brain as he would have liked the ones they did get were fine. He said that he is 100% certain Patrick does not have a tumor in his head. So that's [understatement].

However what Patrick does have in his head are multiple pockets of significant infection. 

It was one of those conversations that I wish I could have had twice. All I heard was fear worry anxiety NO TUMOR birdsong rainbow lollipops. Then she mentioned infection and abscess and the need for something in a massive broad-spectrum antibiotic and I said GREAT! SURE! WHATEVER YOU WANT DR. NO TUMOR and she said she'd call in a day or two when she got the Lyme's results back.

After she hung up and I settled down I regretted not asking where and what and why and how. Like, in retrospect, I'm not even sure if Patrick has abscesses in his head (I think he does) or she was just worried that he might develop them. Also I want to know how his bloodwork looked because I am not sure how we are going to be able to tell in ten days if the antibiotics worked when his symptoms are so... erratic. It would be helpful to know if his CRP continued to go up. Well "helpful" for those of us playing epidemiologist at home.

I thought about the whole thing this morning and decided that it is something of a coincidence for Patrick (who contrary to current events is a pretty healthy kid) to wind up with two major bacterial illnesses (one which got him hospitalized; the other which almost got him hospitalized) two years apart but within an inch of each other in his body. You probably don't remember this but they wound up taking out his tonsils and his adenoids because those seemed like the likeliest places to be harboring the infection and although both the tonsils and the adenoids were swampy disgusting messes I almost wonder if some of the surrounding areas weren't affected as well. Maybe they've been affected ever since or maybe there is some structural issue that makes his head the Deadwood of fugitive bacteria? I don't know.

Anyway, following my Matlock-like hunch I called the office for the ENT who did Patrick's -ectomies and I lucked into a cancellation appointment to see her next Friday. He will just have finished his antibiotics at that point and it will be good to have someone look at him who has the capability to screen his head on the spot if needed.

So there it is. Patrick yet again has a mysterious bacterial infection in his head but this time it is - relatively speaking - really very good news.

Hugs and kisses. I am singing with relief over here. The unknown and potentially unknowable were killing me.

PS I read this over and I think I sound like a fool. I should probably clarify that my relief is limited to the fact that I was seriously concerned that we were dealing with a brain tumor. Relatively speaking an infection seems more easily managed than a mass. I'm still worried about my little sugarbeet.


Five Yard Penalty Repeat Second Down

Patrick and his MRI operator showed up in the radiology waiting room about thirty minutes after I left him in the process of becoming the creme center of a very loud, very large metal twinkie.

He said: I WAS holding still. I WAS.

She said: Yeah, I know honey, it's really hard but unfortunately there was so much wiggle that the images we got were pretty degraded.

Then they both looked at me.

I patted Patrick who was tearful and I blinked at her, mostly wondering why she was telling me this. Don't they just try again or something?

No, apparently they do not.

She said that the radiologist would be sending a "limited report" in a couple of days and maybe we can reschedule for another MRI with sedation or maybe our pediatrician will be satisfied with what they were able to get.

The good news is that Patrick was headache-free for five days. The bad news is that he then had another one yesterday. The good news is that it didn't make him throw up. The bad news is that it did make him queasy and sent him to bed. The good news is the radiologist didn't say he'd seen a mass or lesions or obvious brain swelling. The bad news is that I am not certain if he was able to see anything - good bad or indifferent - at all.

I don't understand so I have a call into our pediatrician telling him what happened and asking what we should do.

I'll let you know. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your support and good wishes and commonsense and advice and prayers and just being virtually here for us.