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February 2011



Breathing in deeply through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. The Someone I saw suggested that as a technique for managing a panic attack and when I had one en route to Arizona I discovered that although it did not make me feel even the tiniest bit less screamy it gave me something to do other than gnaw my fingernails.

I am not a patient person. For about fifteen years I had a series of terrible haircuts because when I decided that the hair needed to go I always wanted it to go right that second; so hello Walk-ins Welcome. I mention this because you can multiply that by about four hundred billion to reach the urgency I feel to get Patrick into someone who can help him. That said, one of my biggest regrets is the fact that when Patrick was so sick two years ago my need to have him seen right that second resulted in a series of last minute urgent care appointments that caused Patrick to be examined by about twenty different doctors. I am sure each of them was good in their own right but their lack of familiarity with Patrick and the course of his illness caused them to draw more blood than a lakeful of leeches and put him on a three month yo-yo of every antibiotic known to pharma. This in turn did nothing but kill off the marginal bacteria leaving only the special forces bad ass bacteria that put Patrick into Children's with an IV in his arm. Mistakes were made and I strongly believe that if I had made more of an effort to insure continuous care from his primary provider he would not have needed to be hospitalized. It's on my guilt list.

Anyway with the uncertainty right now it's been extremely important to me that we put together a plan that will lead to an accurate diagnosis and proper course of treatment and/or management. It's been a crappy week of phone calls and waiting - and the news so far is worrying - but we're on the right path I hope.

I brought him into the pediatrician on Friday. His regular guy didn't have any free appointments so I scheduled with another one who Patrick has seen in the past. In the hall I saw our doctor and he told me that he had noticed Patrick was coming in so he'd briefed the doctor we'd be seeing. He'd also finally been able to talk to the pediatric neurologist we wanted (I was pleased to see one of you recommended this guy by name in the comments) who had some thoughts as well and he'd passed all that along.

The doctor spent a long time with us and I especially appreciated that when Patrick ranked his worst headache as a 3 she had the insight to ask, "And what would you rate the worst pain you have ever experienced in your life?"

"Ummmmm, a three and a half," Patrick said.

"Ah," she said.

She had him re-tested for Lyme's since she knows we live in the woods and she felt his symptoms could be consistent with that. She also repeated the blood work from three weeks ago when his CRP was a little high and his white blood count was low. Finally she did a neurological exam.

At the end she said that there are some red flags. She said the headaches concern her, particularly the one that had woken him up and the one this week that he had woken up with. She said apart from the anecdotal evidence she thought the exam itself was worrying - his balance is off and his reactions were unequal between sides. Something like that. They scheduled him for an MRI at Children's on Tuesday. Depending upon what that finds we'll either deal with it or move forward to treat the headaches with their office and the neurologist. In the meantime the neurologist has suggested daily riboflavin (vitamin B2) as something that has been useful in treating his migraine patients. Also, ibupfrofen as needed. Swimming is ok if he feels up to it. Tumbling (obviously) is out until further notice. Oh and the next episode of vomiting lands him in the ER in order to move our current timetable from soon to now.

So there it is. We're waiting. Patrick is doing quiet things like writing a choose your own adventure comic (hint: it doesn't matter which doors you choose, eventually you are going to wind up going down the spiral lava slide right into the giant shredder of death. sorry) and sketching factor trees for Edward, who is currently obsessed with numbers.

"Can you count the numbers for me?" Edward asked this morning and then he put his head on my chest while I counted. Steve walked in as I got to 436 and said, "Well. This is weird."

And Caroline is walking around with a pair of binoculars pressed backwards against her eyes, exclaiming, "Oh no! Everything is SO FAR AWAY!" She walked into the kitchen counter a minute ago and I'm pretty sure she said, "Oh damn it!" but at least she was quiet about it.

And that's our weekend. Waiting.

The Hell?

Patrick's pediatrician is sending him to a neurologist following the fourth of what we are now calling his episodes in a little over a week. The episodes vary a little but for the most part they involve blinding headache pain followed by projectile vomiting. The first time was after the split lip and it seemed reasonable to classify it as being related to a mild concussion. The second time occurred a week later after he was running around. Then two days after that he woke up screaming in the middle of the night and threw up all over the bed. Tuesday morning he woke up with a headache that didn't seem so bad but halfway through breakfast he ran to the bathroom and dry heaved. In between these bouts he feels fine, normal, ok, great but he has taken to carrying a large silver bowl around with him just in case he suddenly shoots vomit out his nose (I was unfamiliar with just what projectile vomiting is - now I know and I wish I didn't.) We call the bowl his bucket and it struck me how not ok Patrick is, really, when I was picking up the living room last night and said to myself, oh I'd better bring Patrick his bucket in much the same way I remember to put the book he is reading next to his bed.

So we don't know what is going on and for the those of you (see dopey but harmless comment on last post) for whom I need to spell this out: I AM VERY WORRIED ABOUT HIM AND I AM SEEKING NEAR-DAILY MEDICAL INPUT.

Seriously, what the hell? Migraines? Post-concussion whatsit? Allergies? Right now the neurologist cannot see him until May 2nd (GOD) but our ped has promised to try to get that moved up. In the meantime I'd like to pursue all the possibilities we can collectively imagine. You always have such good insights into things. 

My poor baby. I drove him to swimming yesterday and when we got to the parking lot he said, "I'm sorry but I think I'm too nauseous to do this today." I just drove him home again.

But, like I said, most of the time he feels totally normal.

He's on this team at school that is doing some kind of creativity competition that involves... I don't understand it, actually. There is a building challenge and they've written a script and there are some other parts to it as well (it's Destination Imagination, if that means more to you than it does to me.) Last week I picked him up after their meeting and he cheerfully told me that he had invited his team of seven to our house where they were all going to make their own pants for the tournament. I thought this sounded overly ambitious but the competition makes parents sign a blood oath saying they will not help assist input or intervene in any way whatsoever so I just smiled with my teeth clenched and said Mmmmmmhmmmm?

Patrick made a list of what he needed, solicited color preferences from his teammates and then I drove him to Jo-ann where he picked out notions and fabrics and told the woman at the sewing counter how many yards he wanted of each. She kept looking over his head at me until I threw up my hands and said, "I don't sew. This isn't my project. I just drive."

As it happened we got almost a foot and a half of snow over the weekend and we (the other parents and I) decided it was not worth it to have the kids over when the roads still weren't plowed. This left Patrick to make seven pairs of pants by himself on Monday. It took eleven hours and to his credit he did them all but he bitched incessantly as he worked and he kept asking if I felt sorry for him.

I didn't and I asked him if he felt sorry for his teammate who was busy typing up the scripts or the ones who built the prototype thingy while we were in Arizona. He admitted he did not. So I said, "See? It's part of being a team. You are all working. Now buck up and get back to those straight pins unless you want me to tell you about working conditions for child laborers in 19th century woolen mills?"

He got back to work but at the end of the day he called my mom:

"Nana, I made seven pairs of pants and it took me all day long and I didn't get to do anything else today that was fun, like play, AT ALL and my mom and dad didn't feel sorry for me."

My mom said, "Oh sweetie pie you poor thing! That's terrible."

Patrick purred. I just rolled my eyes.

The pants looked pretty good, though.


Our new babysitter worked out beautifully. She was great with the kids and after they went to bed she cleaned the kitchen; she even neatly labeled the leftovers she put away. I expect any second she will be stolen from me but until that happens I am clinging to her with both hands and booking her solid, so we're going out to dinner this weekend and getting her to help with the twins during Patrick's tournament the week after that.

It's such a nice feeling to know - however briefly - that we have help when we want it. In retrospect (although I love Minnesota) I don't know if I would have moved so far away from our families. It sort of sucks to be so isolated when the kids are little.

Anyway, I went upstairs to say goodbye to Patrick before we left on Saturday and found him working with a box of old letter stickers he had found. He told me he was doing a letter recognition sheet for the babies and I said great, have fun with that.

When we got home I found this certificate on Caroline's door


I said, awwwwww.

Then I checked Edward and found this.

Feel free to click on that link for the punchline. I'll wait. Somehow I don't think that tutoring session went as well, do you?

I like to ask the twins to show me different emotions, partly because it makes me feel like Fellini and partly because it is sort of boring to spent lots and lots and lots of time with post-toddlers.

Edward as Angry.


Two interpretations of Thoughtful





And Caroline nails Coy


I know there is other stuff going on but I cannot seem to think of any of it right now, maybe because I'm perserverating on Patrick. I am really worried about him.

Dam It

Concussion. I'll be damned. Oh, sure, I suppose it seemed obvious to you. Blow to the head followed by visual disturbance, headache and vomiting but for some reason... now I feel guily and kinda dumb. You know what else? Apparently "keep an eye on him" is one of those phrases (like "maybe I should see someone") that I understand imperfectly. I was, like, ok! Great! I will keep an eye on him! So at intervals I would go stare at Patrick while he slept and think, "I wonder what I am supposed to see?" Does a concussed person swell? Turn purple? Thrash around? Would I notice if he was slipping into a coma? You should have seen me trying to pry his eyes open so I could shine a flashlight into them.


It was one of those nights when I contemplated the fact that every adult is basically a fraud. Nothing makes me more sympathetic to people blundering around running companies or ruling nations than these times when I look around and discover that *I* am the closest thing in the room to an expert on lasers or Rhodesian Ridgebacks or head trauma.


Patrick slept for twelve hours and when he woke up the next morning he was normal. Even his lip looked better. So - apart from a little sloshing of the brains - he continues to survive my parenting. He's taken it a little easy this week, though. Just in case.




In other news you can use:


an ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on the edge of a roof and it prevents the melting snow behind it from pouring safely onto the ice-and-dirt beds below. When this happens - in the absence of a miracle - the water seeps under the shingles and given enough snow and just the wrong combination of extreme cold followed by unseasonable warmth; you get water sluicing down the walls of your living room.


I tried to explain this phenomenon to my Mid-Atlantic mother and my Pacific Northwest brother and from their murmured condolences I realized that there is something about having to put plastic pitchers on your window sills that is... shameful. Vaguely indecent. Like ice dams are the STD of home ownership.


"Really? Water? Pouring from the ceiling? Don't you have insulation? I mean, doesn't the house have some kind of... external barrier? Weren't you protected?"


I felt the need to explain that it's not like our house has been hanging out with crack houses and it has never happened before and, really, even well-constructed, energy-thoughtful homes can fall victim to an ice dam when we have THIS MUCH SNOW and it has been THIS COLD and the weather abruptly turns tropical.


Seriously, check it out. It's like Spring around here.




The upside was the fact that it finally got above fifteen degrees and the down was that we developed an unexpected water feature four feet away from our couch.  


Steve came up with a temporary fix before there was too much interior damage (he climbed on the roof and swore at the ice until it melted) but it sucked nonetheless. As I fell asleepp I forgot what was going on and thought, ah, the relaxing plinkety-plink of summer rain on a tin roof and then I snapped out of it and realized that my lullaby was actually the steady ka-ching of water damage.




I don't want to jinx anything but I might have found a babysitter. I asked if she could do this weekend or possibly next weekend and she said she could do BOTH. In the past we have always used a nanny service (nanny professionals in St Paul - they're great and we've had wonderful people) but the hour minimums plus the mileage plus the hourly rate have placed them outside our austerity budget range unless it is an emergency. So although preschool affords us the time to occasionally - how did you phrase it in the comments? take a hike? - spend time together during the day; the last time Steve and I went out at night alone was... I don't actually know. It has been at least six months. We did meet some work people before Christmas and that was fun (we went to burlesque show because nothing says Business like tassels and a well-placed feather boa) but just Steve and me and a no-stress evening? It's been forever.




Patrick made a very clever box for his valentines. I continue to find him exceptionally witty.





Somehow that picture reminds me of Edward's latest culinary obsession: lemons. As in, lemons.




I love his diabolical eyebrow. Love it.




After I finished that last post Patrick went to a swimming lesson and received his mid-session progress report. It duly noted his ability to front float 30 seconds and tread water ditto and concluded with the recommendation that he should enroll next time as a... Minnow.

 A Minnow! My boy Elroy McKilljoy, an intermediate level swimmer. WOW! Patrick was all shrug yeah sure I can totally front symmetrical paddle 25 yards but those of us who lived through the first 2190 days of beginner's class are relieved.

Actually, back up.

Half of us are relieved; feeling that anybody who gets an X for mastering back alternating paddle 25 yards can probably now safely go down a water slide, which is the limit to which we had allowed our hopes to soar. The other half of us are confident that this is but the first step on Patrick's way to ruling Atlantis.

Steve and I - I don't want to say we quarrelled because I would hate to give the impression that a cloud ever mars the sky of our azure love - Steve and I had a loving validation of each other's viewpoints on the subject.

I waved the mid-session report in Steve's face and said something like, thank god Patrick can now swim to the side of a reflecting pool should he ever accidentally fall into one (perhaps during a book release party) and I can finally stop lugging him to swimming lessons.

Steve, looking rugged yet tender, looked up the Minnow class online and said "Are you insane, Fatfoot? Patrick has mastered the basics and now he can start working on his form."

"Form?" I laughed like a thousand angels eating creme brulee. "FORM? Guess what. After watching eleventy hundred swimming lessons I can assure you that your eldest son will never - and I mean never - butterfly anything. OK, maybe a whole chicken. But that's it."

Steve said, "Nonsense. He has the build. Long and lean."

"Long lean and two-thirds osmium. The kid SINKS at 31 seconds. Besides he wants to devote more time to his tumbling."

"Swim lessons take precedence. It's a... ."

"So help me if you say 'safety issue' one more time I will strangle myself with his goggles. We wanted him to be able to play in a pool without drowning and it looks like he can now do that. Besides, he is starting to make progress in tumbling and he really enjoys it. He has asked about moving to two tumbling classes a week so he can improve faster. And you know what I read? I read that the only happiness in life comes from a healthy self-esteem and true self-esteem can only be developed through setting a difficult goal and reaching it. Like mastering a back-flip."

"Or finishing the 200 meter in 1:51:40."


Swimming! Said Steve. Tumbling! Said I.

We asked Patrick what he wanted to do and he said that if it was all the same to us he would like to continue with both swimming and tumbling.  

Ah. Well. OK.

I am not a big fan of the overscheduled child (to be completely honest pre-Celexa I was not a big fan of leaving the house at all) and right now Patrick is on a Destination Imagination team that meets once after school and once on Saturdays, he has swimming on Tuesdays and he does tumbling on Thursdays. I have told him that I will not buy him any more canvas until he takes a proper art class. Not that I don't like what he has painted thus far just... e.e. cummings, you know?

Good lord. I am writing this while Patrick works on some tumbling skills during the Friday night open gym (hence the train of thought) and he just popped up in front of me like Banquo's ghost all covered in blood. Apparently he was trying a flip into the pit and the knee bone connected with the jaw bone; his tooth went halfway through his lip. Poor kid. He just sat next to me drinking cold water for a few minutes and then I sent him back out there. I cannot decide if I am being bracing or abusive.

[Written an hour later]

Survey says... abusive!

Oh my god I feel so guilty. Patrick came back to where I was sitting and he said his lip really hurt, he was done, let's go home, he probably needed stitches, Mom Mom Mom are you there everything is going black and blurry et cetera. In my defense this is his approach to pretty much everything so I didn't take it seriously. In fact I made him wait for a minute before we left so I could finish downloading a systems update on the gym's borrowed Wi-Fi (not only does our home satellite internet SUCK; it limits our downloads to almost nothing - it is bad and we do not get enough of it. Bazooka Joe part 2.)

On the car ride home we started listening to Charmed Life (gasp! so good! already!) but as we turned onto our road I heard the now familiar but totally unexpected sound of Patrick throwing up in the back seat.

* People will give a lot different suggestions when they are asked for The Answer. Douglas Adams came up with 42. Me, I say: Ziploc bags. I have them everywhere, even next to Patrick's seat in the car. 99.9% of the time this is pointless but every now and then...

Anyway he threw up and cried and threw up some more and I tried to soothe him and encouraged him to direct himself toward the Ziploc while driving as fast as was reasonable under the circumstances. 

Did I mention that last week? It was one of his later symptoms, the vomiting. Anyway he was throwing up last week and now he is doing it again and I feel like the world's worst parent because I made him do two backwards somersaults before I was willing to drive him home even though he was talking about his sore lip. I should have been able to interpret that "sore lip" meant he felt Worse.

He's asleep in my bed. I'm worried about him. 


One of the few parenting tenents that Steve and I agreed upon years ago was that our children (if any - deo volente) would learn how to swim as early as possible. I don't mean that we disagreed on everything else, just that we didn't have a whole lot of things that were important enough to us that we were able to develop preemptive strategies. I wanted to always eat together as a family (which we do, by the way, although it usually totally sucks - nothing ruins a nice meal faster than the presence of my children) and Steve wanted merkids. 

"It's a safety issue," asserted Steve, a former lifeguard and current father of three.

So, fine. Shared vow to support swimming lessons. Check.

Then along came Patrick and about eighteen months later he and Steve started going to a Daddy and Me community ed swim class. It was ok. They splashed, Patrick turned blue with cold and I got the house to myelf for an hour. They did these for a while and once we had established that Patrick was comfortable in the water we moved him over to the Y to start actual lessons, which is pretty much when the wheels fell off the bus, the bus caught on fire and then it sank. 

We started Patrick as a Pike and after x sessions with zero progress we took the plunge (ho ho!) and ponied up for private lessons. He did this for six months before the instructor suggested that maybe the presence of other children might help? So he went back into Pike and stayed there (off and on) for another year. Maybe two. Every session he'd start brimming with enthusiasm and he'd end with another slip of paper recommending that he re-enroll for the same level next time. He liked it. He thought it was fun. He was perfectly gung ho; he just couldn't swim.

So we moved him to Foss, which is a swim school for swimmers where people who swim teach people how to swim. Swim swim swim. He started as a Middle 1. He stayed at Middle 1. He took a break. Came back as a Big... 1. 

SIX YEARS of swimming lessons and still the only thing keeping Patrick afloat was the air trapped in his trunks. If I were a litigious type I would have wanted to sue somebody. As it was I contented myself with asking at the desk what - precisely - the ad line "Swimmers. Guaranteed" was intended to convey. I was told it meant that they were confident they can teach a child to swim. I asked if they had any time frame in mind and they said no, not really. Thanks!

So we pulled him out of swimming and had him evaluated for physical and occupational therapy where we discovered that Patrick's left and right sides had never been formally introduced to each other. He did six months of therapy and made tremendous progress (now that he was finally being instructed in movement by people who understand how bodies and minds are supposed to work together) and just before Christmas he returned to the Y to start his new swimming class... as a Pike.

Actually they call it Guppy because he's so old but just between you and me he's still a Pike...

(hmm the children are in school and Steve has just entered the kitchen wearing nothing but his eleven o'clock shadow, hiking socks and a towel - I think I'm being very subtly seduced; who am I to resist him, hein?)

AHEM - fan fan

So Patrick is still a Pike but he only has half a skill left to master before they graduate him to Pike 2 or Guppy Plus or whatever it is. In retrospect I wish we had thought to get him evaluated a little sooner by someone other than a twenty year old swim instructor but... oh well. He's always been cute in the goggles.


The reason I brought this up was the picture of Edward cheerfully inhaling a pint of water in the sink reminded me that the twins - per our marital contract - started swimming lessons a month ago.

It's sort of been a disaster and I spend most of the time perched on a bench poolside with my hands covering my face; waiting for the minutes to elapse.

As Edward's mother I think the other kid in his class is a pushy, bossy, perfectionist, know-it-all and I wonder why her parents have never taught her the importance of graciousness or taking turns.Throughout the lesson you can hear her saying, "No, Edward!" "Put your face in, Edward!" "Stay on the wall, Edward!" "Kick like this, Edward!" Then she simpers at the teacher and delicately blows perfect bubbles or scoops water like she was a Baskin-Robbins' employee of the month five times in a row.

As Caroline's mother I frequently question the judgement of allowing the little boy in her class to take Pike at all when he is clearly too young for it. Didn't his parents realize that his idea of a good time would be climbing out of the baby pool and sprinting for the water aerobics class? And what about the time the teacher was just getting Caroline positioned to try a front paddle when the other child leapt from the side and tackled them both from behind. It was appalling. Sure, he seems comfortable enough in the water but that only means that he comes up laughing (and coughing) when he plunges into the deep end for the millionth time. And not to judge but I have yet to see him monkey crawl once.

Since there are only two kids in their class I spend a lot of time judging myself. Oh, and praying for it to end.

In retrospect - again with the hindsight - I should have put Caroline into a Pike class with a couple of four year old girls who could, you know, snub her a little for her own good and I should have put Edward into the AHL.

I don't have any live-action shots as the Y does not permit photography that might include other people's children (heads up, couple in the infant class whose schedule coincides with Patrick's lesson and who have taken more pictures of their baby in the water than National Geographic receives in a decade) but Caroline and Edward are pretty cute in goggles too.



Better (?)

Sorry sorry sorry, I intended to update much sooner today. I didn't mean to leave you with the crashing minor chord.

Patrick is much better. Or Better, if you prefer. His headache finally went away and he assures me that he feels terrific. I'm skeptical - mostly because his lips are still scarlet and his eyes are sunken and he is running a consistent nonfever of 99.change (he's a 97 degree person in the general run of things) - but in the absence of any actual symptoms I let him go back to school today. Somehow the fact that I think he looks a little funny didn't get past Steve's Severed Limb School Absence Acceptability flowchart (you know the one: Does child have severed limb? If yes - stick a bandaid on it and go to school; If no - why are we even having this conversation) and Patrick was anxious to get back to class.

So he's back to normalish but I am watching him (one might saying hovering) because he just seems Off. You know? Why are his ears red? What's with the nonfever? What is up with the lips?

In other news Edward expressed a desire to not wear a diaper today. We set off some fireworks and threw an impromptu ticker tape parade and life was one technicolor dance spectacular after another for about fifteen minutes until...

let's just say that the only thing to do was throw him into the nearest body of water and start pouring bleach on everything else in a thousand meter radius.


He was the only one who found the situation hilarious.


No news is pretty much no news.

Patrick isn't worse although there is considerable debate over whether he is perhaps marginally better. I took him back to our doctor this afternoon after his sunny early morning slumped into glassy-eyed acceptance of not one, not two, but three back-to-back Diego episodes while he lay helpless on the couch and Caroline and Edward perched themselves next to him like gargoyle Carebears. 


Did I mention that our perfect storm of misery today included our furnace breaking this morning? It was so cold when I woke up that I tried to just get everyone to climb into bed with me. When I was eventually thwarted in this endeavor (children, she notes with scorn, and their need for breakfast) I went into the kitchen and discovered that our house was 57 degrees. Until the HVAC guy showed up at four in the afternoon we piled under blankets in front of the television. It helped that Patrick was pretty much immobile after noon and the twinkles are always willing to be distracted by the pretty blinking lights. 

Seriously, with my need to deal with Patrick's illness and Steve's work (alleluia!) Caroline and Edward have watched so many animated episodes of whatsit in the past seven days they are now muy fluido in TV. Caroline made a paper plate rabbit in honor of Chinese New Year at preschool on Thursday and when I complimented her on her bunny skills she said, "He's Jerry the mouse and he hits cats with hammers." Edward gets his shoes and says, "Hey, mommy, vamonos!"

Anyway Patrick is still straddling the fence. He's not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital (which he will hate) but he is not well enough to do much else.


We'll see. Continued good thoughts appreciated.

The Wait And See

The short version is: we don't know what's wrong with Patrick.

We saw his pediatrician this morning. When the doctor walked in Patrick was lying on the exam table with my jacket over his head and the minute he walked out Patrick threw up all over the floor of room nine. In between ´╗┐Patrick tried to talk us out of doing another blood draw ("Look, I'm having a harsh week already") and he described the permanence of his headache ("It hurts not all the time exactly just almost nearly pretty much always.")

I love our pediatrician. Have I mentioned that before? Oh, really, a million times? Well I do. I think he is a great doctor and I also have a wee crush on him (every time he looks deeply into my eyes and asks how Edward's bowels are doing I melt a little and I confess that I hesitate just a moment before every appointment as I choose between my long-sleeved black Target tshirt and my long-sleeved grey Target tshirt - it's ok. Steve understands.)

But this isn't about tshirts.

He said either Patrick is at the end of a normal albeit nasty virus or we have something more serious going on and unfortunately it will take another day or two for us to figure out which one it is. Under the heading of More Serious he mentioned post-viral complications like Kawasaki Syndrome (atypical presentation but shout out to my internet diagnosticians) or maybe we're looking at viral encephalitis.

The doctor called me early this evening to check on how Patrick is doing (love him) and told me that he had gotten some more test results. They were mixed ok - platelets are back up but Patrick's CRP is now slightly elevated. He said that he is going to have little tolerance for anything less than significant improvement by tomorrow and that he'll call in the morning. If Patrick's not capital B Better we'll reassess (read: I think he'll send Patrick to Childrens.)

Patrick had a good afternoon and an adequate evening but he faded toward bedtime and when I went to check on him a few minutes ago his head was soaking wet again. Not feverish just night-sweaty.

We'll see.

Thanks for checking and thank you - so much - for your comments today and yesterday. They really helped.         


All Kinds

Patrick picked up an illness and has been lying motionless on the couch for the past three days. His face and hands are mottled by a rash; his head hurts so much it makes him cry; his eyes are blood-shot; his lips are swollen; and he has maintained a medium to low-grade fever since last Friday.

What to do?

We were in Arizona when he started to get sick and although his love for desert plants

(Hey! Look at that sagauro! Hey! Look at THAT sagauro! HEY HEY HEY! STOP THE CAR! Turn around! Did you see that SAGAURO!)

enabled him to rally for a few days it was obvious he didn't feel well even as he inventoried cactii. We did a few desert hikes, located a couple of geocaches which - unlike the ones near us - were completely clear of snow, checked out the Tucson contemporary art scene and took advantage of Flandrau Observatory's public viewing but I could tell he was beginning to languish.

By Saturday night he blinked a few times at the plate covered with all his favorite foods and said, "I'm going to bed." He shared a guest bed with me and he spiked a fever that caused him to not only soak the sheets with sweat but wrap them around himself like a mummy.

Sunday afternoon we flew home with him slumped against my shoulder; not even opening his eyes as I fed him M&Ms like a baby bird.

"How are you doing?" I kept asking him.

"I'm dying," he groaned.

Based on my previous experiences with him (he said, "I'm fine I'm fine I'm fine" and then was hospitalized because he was so very not fine at all) I was quite alarmed by his self-assessment and took him to the doctor on Monday as soon as they opened. She checked him for strep (negative;) looked at his ears (clear;) listened to his lungs (bell-like;) and then ordered a blood test. 

Patrick hates blood tests in much the same way people object to being set afire and the scream he emitted as they pricked his finger is probably still making dogs howl somewhere in Minnesota. Doting mother that I am I still had to smother a laugh because good LORD, kid, it's only a finger poke. He sounded like the Queen of the Night.

Anyway his bloodwork came back indicating a virus (although the low platelets gave her pause and she suggested we get him re-checked at some point in the future just to be sure that nothing wonky is going on) and my instructions were to keep him rested and hydrated. Tomorrow will be the seventh day of his sickness and if anything he seems to be getting worse, although his fever is mostly gone.

I'm trying to decide whether or not to take him back to the doctor. Would you?

On the one hand: YES, he's SICK.

On the other hand: a virus just needs to run its course and taking him back to Sicksville isn't going to make him better faster, it will just expose him and his overtaxed immune system to more germs.

What do you think?


Caroline and Edward had a great time with Steve


I said, "Aren't those the Halloween treat buckets?"

"Halloween treat bucket hats," Steve corrected.

Four days before I left for Arizona I said, "I think maybe Caroline and Edward should try to give up their pacifiers. Maybe we could take the pacifiers away four nights from now and then give them back in, say, three days or so. If they still want them by then we'll give them back."

Steve said, "Well ok if... HEY!"

I was joking, of course, but Caroline and Edward are bedtime pacifier junkies and I have been thinking we should do... something about that at some point.

I tried to remember everything you guys told me back when Patrick was a bedtime pacifier junkie and I remembered something about letting the kid trade for something better. Or something.

Anyway after my conversation with Steve I told Edward that whenever he was willing to get rid of his pacifier I would take him to Target and he could pick out a race car track. He looked thoughtful and then said, "No."

The next day Steve took Caroline and Edward to run errands. As I was putting Edward's shoes on I mentioned that he was going to Target and he said, "I will have to give up my pacifier but I will get a race car track."

I said, "Oh? Do you want to do that? Are you sure?"

And he said yes.

So Steve took Caroline and Edward and their pacifiers to Target and they each chose a special present. Caroline picked the ubertacky Dora the Explorer singing-oh-god-make-it-stop microphone and Edward got... a race car track.

When they got to the checkout line Steve (who had not believed me when I swore this would work) said to the cashier, "Um, we're doing a pacifier exchange?"

And the brilliant Target cashier said, "Oh yes of COURSE. Your pacifiers are going to go to a little girl that really needs them and you two big kids are going to get to play with your great new big kid toys!"

And Caroline and Edward put their pacifiers on the checkout counter and she handed them their presents.


That night Caroline was a little weepy when she went to bed and bewailed her lost pacifier. I reminded her that she now had a great new Dora microphone and remember? The little girl who needed a pacifier has one now!

Caroline sniffed and said, "I don't even like that little girl."


I patted her head and she went to sleep.

Edward just brought his race car track to bed with him and although he said we could go to Target and buy new pacifiers I said no, no we cannot and that was that.

I am AMAZED that it worked but there you go. Use it as you will.


Prior to being struck down by the plague Patrick discovered acrylic paints, stretched canvas and the self-timer on my camera - in that order.

He calls this: Self-Portrait. 


I wish he felt better.

PS I pinched a nerve in my neck and after three days was still in so much pain I actually cried at bedtime. I saw a chiropractor - more in desperation than anything else - and after two crkkkkkkkkkkng sessions I have to admit my neck is starting to feel much better. I can even partly turn my head. Will it work for good or will I have to keep going in to have my spine straightened, do you know?