Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In case of emergency

We are almost upon the 1 year anniversary that #3 had an appendix bursting situation.  I've meant to post things I've learned, but .....

1.  Trust your instincts.  I called the doctors office at 4 concerned enough about the day of #3 not feeling well.  They said give it a day, unless her symptoms changed.  Really, we know our kids well enough to know when the pain and uncomfortableness is different from "normal".  I say "normal" because unless there is an extreme amount of blood or other bodily issues, I tend to keep one eye on the problem and go about my business.  I let my kids self administer bandaids, icepacks, arnica, epsom salts and vitamins.  When I called the after-hours medical advice line 4 hours later, they urged me to go to the hospital ER immediately.  Prior to receiving morphine (8.5 hours without pain meds or diagnosis) #3 stated that her pain was 11 out of 10.  She never cried.  Who really could have guessed the extreme pain and condition that was happening.

2.  Have an opinion about what hospital is best for kids.  Just as you check out schools before your kids go, you should know what hospital you want your kids to go to and why.  We are equi-distant between 2 hospitals.  One has a pediatric ER and one does not.  One has pediatric surgeons and one does not.  One is near a maximum security prison and one is not.  Guess where we ended up?  11 1/2 hours in the wrong hospital made for a long night and then some.

3.  Take a plug-in cel phone charger and snacks with you when you go.  You never know how long you will be and how important your phone with texting and games can be.  Also, no one is there to help the parent of the patient.  There is no way I'd leave my child in a space, in 11 out of 10 pain, to hunt out a vending machine, next to prison inmates and stabbing victims.  Normally, I wouldn't be eating between 8 PM and 8:30 AM, but something about staying up through the night helping a sick child made me want a soda or something to keep me up.  I guess it is a good thing I didn't have anything with me to eat or drink because then I'd have to go the bathroom.  Non-ped ERs don't care that there isn't anything to keep your in pain, puking and pooping child entertained.  Thank goodness for phone tic-tac-toe and Dora movies, but what a drain on the battery.  Also keeping in contact with the spouse at home with the 3 other kids and any other support throughout the night is a handy thing too.  Running low on energy from no sleep or food and battery power on the phone are very stressful.  Thank goodness for the Ambulance driver with a phone plug that matched.  We barely made it with power, but we made it.  I now travel with a plug charger in my car in case I end up in a similar situation.

4.  Question the doctors.  We started with an ER doctor that I swear we've had before.  When #4 had an ear infection and the ER was our only option for pain relief, I believe this doctor was very dismissive.  He did not trust my instincts or believe my concern was valid.  He was wrong and was the person saying to me, "If it was my child, I would not run the invasive tests".  Really he was saying this because he must see a lot of cases of gas that parents think are appendicitis.  After 8.5 hours in the ER, I wished we ran the tests when we got there and not 3-4 hours after we had gotten there.   He was basing his opinion on how stoic #3 was being.  He doesn't know her though.  The most whining and crying is usually over a sibling issue.  Since we were without siblings, there is no one to show off for.  We also learned the hard way that nurses and doctors don't always communicate when they change shifts.  Asking questions is important when you don't think you are being heard or need to clarify something.

5.  Go to the bathroom before the ambulance ride.  Luckily I had the foresight to ask the ambulance doctor to stay with #3 while I did this task.  Once we got to our destination, it was straight to surgery prep and such.  No time to pee.

6.  Write everything down.  Bring a small notebook and pen.  I did not and wished I had.  After 2-3 days with little to no sleep, it is hard to remember what you are being told or who is saying it.  People change shifts and days blur.  Write it down.

7.  Have a phone tree established for emergencies.  Determine when you are not in crisis who needs to know.  Set up a process to notify them without you needing to call everyone.  Create an e-mail dist-list to have if necessary for updates.

8.  Use social networking sites if you belong.  It is a way to give simple updates to a larger group than text or e-mail.  You never know who has advice, knows someone to help or can help you in ways you haven't thought of.  It is also a nice way to have communication with those other than your sick child, nurses and doctors.

9.  Accept help.  There is no way to keep a family of 6 running when one of the adults is missing.  Plenty of help is offered.  There is no way to predict who will help or how or what, but be open to it.  We were blessed with friends who took multiple kids, prepared meals, came by to visit and so on.  The kids' schools were flexible and so were others we had prior commitments with.

10.  Be patient.  Tests take time, recovery takes time and then it takes more time.  It took time for the family to adjust when we were discombobulated, and then not.  Recovery took time, and then it took time for the residual attention to stop.

11.  Lastly, you are always your child's advocate.  You know your child.  It is not as if people are out to get you or your child, but knowing when to say stop or how far the whining should be accommodated is your job.  Being a parent means making the best decisions for the welfare and goodness of your child every day all the time.  It doesn't change in case of emergency or not.  I repeated myself in situations I felt were worthy many times to everyone who came into our room.  At the end of the day, I doubt I will see any of the nurses or doctors again (hopefully and nothing personal) and if I offended them with redundancy, then oh well.

p.s. We have now learned that appendicitis is not more or less common in children.  It is not hereditary.  It is ambiguous until it is not.  There is nothing you can do to prevent it and you don't need an appendix to live.  Hubby did research and said it is a leftover organ from when we were more related to cows.  Moo.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hair of the Dogg

This post is on my brain.  So much so that instead of starting my new regimen of going to bed early or when I'm tired, I'm writing it.  Also because it relates to tomorrow night.  Once again, I have made a parenting decision and am shocked at the negative feedback by friends to my choices.   Let's be clear, I am not second guessing myself.  I am seeing more how there are so many ways to look at every situation.  Where I see an exciting opportunity, others may not agree.  Even when those others are people I trust a lot.

I'll start by saying that I love music.  I especially love live music.  I went to my first concert in the 7th grade with a friend and her dad.  The Kinks!  What I remember most is how many times Ray Davies changed outfits, not the lyrics.  The only time I obsessed about the lyrics was when it was the Violent Femmes singing "Add it up".  Where I grew up, we had tons of opportunities for live music.  For me, it was a mainstay.  As I grew older, I still made sure to see shows that interested me.  As a parent, I still see live shows.  Things that I notice are that I like more intimate shows now or being close.  Also, prices are soooo expensive.  My recollection is that for $20 I could get a ticket for the show, and a t-shirt.  But, that was almost 30 years ago.  With prices of shows now, and festival styling, how would my kids ever get to see live music to the extent that they want to compared to how I did?

My mom would be happy to know that I don't like most of my kids' music choices.  My oldest listens to a station that sounds like a morning shock show all the time.  They do like some of my music, but prefer the new fangled stuff.  When #1 was 8, before he jumped into the world of pop and hip-hop, I took him to "Not so silent night".  It was a mix of bands that I swore if they ever played together again, I'd be there, regardless of the venue.  It was at an arena and our friend's husband couldn't come.  With an extra ticket, I felt that it would be a great way to let #1 see live music that we both enjoyed.  At the time, his favorite band was the White Stripes and bands like the Killers, Deathcab for Cutie and Franz Ferdinand were of a similar fashion.  What happened that night was interesting to me.  He slept through one band and loved one that I didn't care for (not listed above).  It also sparked the interest in live music.

So, since that night, when he hears on the radio that bands are coming to town, he begs to go.  None of this music sounds good to me.  Also since that night, #2 has been indoctrinated into live music.  She got to see Jack Johnson at the Greek in Berkeley.  A lovely venue and singer all in one.  She would have never chosen it, but really had a nice time.  I have also been heard saying that I will always see live music, even if it is a band I don't care for.  This is not new.  I took my then boyfriend, now husband, to Dire Straits.  Yuck.  But it was live and I still had fun.

Fast forward to now.  Snoop Dogg is coming to the Fillmore.  I have never seen a bad show at the Fillmore.  It is a beautiful venue.  I want my kids to appreciate where as much as who they are experiencing with music.  The Fillmore is a great place for this.  Snoop seems like a compromise.  He's a bit old school and less ridiculous or transparent as current newbies.  He has kids, is laid back and has some good beats.  I think he's even been on Nickelodeon shows that my kids watch.  It is an all ages show, so I got 3 tickets.  #1, #2 and me.  A friend would have joined us, but the show sold out.  Tickets weren't cheap, but since it's a location I love and show I'd like to see, it should be worth it.

I have restricted music #1 wants to download based on lyrics.  I don't care for Flo rida's lyrics and his redo of "Right Round".  To be honest I haven't paid too much attention to the rest of lyrics since then.  Until #1 had a homework assignment of an essay on a song of choice.  He printed it out, blacked out the inappropriate stuff and went on his way.  The next day I looked at the lyrics sitting on my computer screen (the boy never closes out his documents).  Um, so not okay on the lyrics.  The whole song would really have to be blacked out due to sexual content and innuendo.  I guess I should be happy that all of the innuendo went over his head and he had no clue.  When he got back from school I explained that the song couldn't be used due to sexual content.  His reaction was "eeew".  I'll take it for now, but see this as an opportunity to talk about these types of topics in the not so distant future.

When friends and such have heard I was taking the kids to see Snoop Dogg, most reactions were about the potential for the kids seeing "smoking".  I think I'll be okay on that since their reaction to people who smoke is "don't they know they're going to die from that?" and "who was the Beatle who died from smoking?"  My main objective was to have them keep their judgement to themselves to discuss after the show without pointing fingers.  Then a good friend was so appalled with the idea.  Not for the smoking, but for the content.  It really caught me by surprise.  Was I doing my kids a disservice exposing them to this?  Weren't they already exposed to this?  "Yes," he said, "but, not in person".

I still stand by my decision, but it has prompted me to obsess about the logistics.  I know the kids can't stand for multiple hours at a time.  My plan was to get there early and perch on a wall near the bar that I usually like to hang near.  I'll remember the ear plugs.  Hmm, with only one adult, how will the logistics of the restrooms work out?  Seeing the show is one thing, but do I feel comfortable sending my boy to the restroom by himself?  How do I wait for him without leaving #2 or lose our spots?  Well, no bathroom breaks until after the show is my plan.  Not really sure how it will work out.  There is also a section upstairs with balcony seating.  I have never been early enough for these seats.  I guess we'll have to get there when the doors open and work it out.  It's an adventure.  One I hope we all enjoy.

The more I write, the more opportunity I see for open dialogue.  My rule has always been that I will expose the kids to things we enjoy.  If they abuse it, they will have restrictions.  This has been in place for swearing, content and the like.  With a 4 1/2 year old still amongst us, we all have to watch what we say/do.  So far, they have handled the responsibility pretty well.  Last year, I played hooky with #1.  A day he planned for us.  I asked him if he and his friends talked about girls.  He said, "no way, we talk about swear words".  I realized then that there is still room for interpretation and opportunity for discussion.  I also realized that it may be the perfect time to discuss it since we all know it's in the future. I can't shield my kids from everything imaginable, but I can control the content we discuss.  I see tomorrow as one of those opportunities.

p.s. Is $50 + t-shirt $ the new $20?  That's crazy talk!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 recap

All these recaps of last year pushed me to give you an update of some of my blog posts from last year.....  Also, I've been wanting to revisit some of them with new statuses but am not savvy enough in blogging to post changes.

Bunks:  We are all back to our own space.  #1 in his own room and all 3 girls together.  We disassembled #1's bunk bed into 2 single beds.  We thought the illusion of the 2nd bed could double for the sofa request.  No such luck.  We're still looking for a solution for his room without being too    and maintaining a creative flair.  Each of the girls has gotten to personalize their bed with new linens, compliments of Grandma and Grandpa for Hanukkah.  We're trying to accessorize to bring their choices together.

Sugar:  We still have 1 gallon bags of "new" candy from Halloween in the freezer per child.  #1 was motivated with M&Ms by his tutor and raw chocolate by his therapist.  It's crazy how it makes his world go round and him so much more amenable.  We have stopped allowing yogurt past after school snacks.  With 20+ grams of sugar per serving, it was doing us a disservice.  Now, fruit only after dinner.  We still do donuts on Sundays before Sunday school.  The go all sugared up, but then it's God's problem, right?  The tough part is that Mom (I) am temporarily/possibly permanently gluten free.  No donuts for me.

Schedules:  We had #2 choose 2 of 3 seasonal sports to compliment the year-round taekwondo.  Since she and her brother are within striking distance of their black belts, we wanted to focus only on it for a season.  I am still torn with requests and interests of/by my children, friends and parents.  Just today we were swayed into signing up for winter indoor soccer.  My basic thought on this league is that it is expensive ($165-$190) for the short game only season.  It's in small cramped gyms where it is hard to be a spectator.  #3's dear friend and amazing coach pretty much begged and stalked us today to get us to sign up.  Because we love her and him, we waffled and as soon as we can figure out how to get the late fee waived, will be signing up.  Oh, the games are Sunday.  Ugh, now we are paying for Sunday school and not going.  Pfew, only 2 games have conflicts.  Topic for the future is summer camp and camps in general....

Freedom:  Not only did we let #1 go to practice twice a week with friends, but we are now having all 3 big kids come home by themselves 3+ times a week.  The caveat is that #3 is always accompanied.  #1 and #2 alternate who "has" to go with #3.  We make sure in the morning that the wheels match up, meaning that if someone is on a bike, something similar in speed is with the partner.  This plan has received concern based on situations in areas not our own.  There have been abduction attempts near my folks, but I cannot let those deter my plan to give my kids some freedom.  It is freedom that is not unplanned or unworried.  There is no playing after school or on the way.  I am home waiting 95% of the time.  They do not have phones and can call from school before they head home if there is a problem.  We have not had any problems.  Future post is still going to be cell phones with kids.

Buckle up:  #4 is now our only child in a booster seat.  Funnily enough, when she is not in the car, #3 likes to sit in her booster.  I guess it is always better when it is someone else's.  #1 is now allowed to sit in the front seat for non-freeway trips.  We've decided that the speed for these in town trips is low and the seatbelt isn't choking him.

Choices:  Our same friends have had us over.  Some others have asked us for help.  Some Tuesdays I take 8 kids to school.  Some other days, my neighbors take portions of my kids to school.  We recently suspended our annual holiday party, but were able to pull-off a new year's chile-fest.  Again, choices.  #1 wants to go to sleep away, mucho expensive camp this summer.  We are in conversations...no birthday party/present, etc... choices..

Health:  A few runny noses, but no major illnesses.  #1 is now taking vitamin D and all vitamins are self-serve on the table.  #4 has to be monitored so she doesn't take too many, they're like candy to her.  So, cod liver oil, sambucol (elderberry), vitamin D, a probiotic and enzyme are on the vitamin train.  No flu shots and other than a suspected but negative case of whooping cough, we are healthy!  We tried switching out gluten bread for non with a revolt.  Now cinnamon bread is only for the weekends.....

Volunteering:  Still a believer, still helping out in the class.  On a bond oversight committee and working on neighborhood projects and saying no to everything else of the volunteer type.

Praise:  I have been better, but not perfect.  It's not easy to not react.  It's not easy to connect without conflict.  I keep trying to improve and communicate.  It's all a mother can do, along with paying for therapy....

Gamey:  No, Hanukkah did not warrant us an iPod touch for #3 or an x-box blah blah blah for #1.  Boy have they been haranguing.  I still don't see the benefit since we don't have time for the things we do have.

Charity:  Same as before.  Only cranky part was the in-class giving.  Hanukkah was way early this year.  We were done and gone with our in house part.  2 weeks later was the school portion.  How crazy and time consuming.  It all adds up.  We ended up giving within the school to needy people we have never met, but couldn't give to people who have helped us throughout the year.  We'll find a way for balance, somehow.

Piercing:  I've heard we've inspired some friends to "let" their daughter get their ear pierced.  Other friends have seen our place of choice and rejoiced.  So far so good all of our recent piercings are healthy.    We have slacked off on our cleaning regime.  It's been a month, I feel like we're out of the danger zone.  One more month to go and then we'll be hearing clamoring about more earrings.  The girls are vying for some of my earrings.   Uh-oh.

Planning:  Oops, I forgot to look at the assignment packet that was given to #3 the week before break.  Yikes, 3 big things due along with normal stuff, the first week back.  Not a good mix with cranky kids who don't want to go back to school.  We will find a way.