Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas wishes

The fact is, it is harder to get information from Joey than it is from Andy. When a child has communication issues, you have to really put in the effort to get what you need. Christmas can be one of those moments when I find myself wondering, What does Joey really want from Santa? How much of what I have is projecting what I think he wants?

With Andy, he makes things pretty plain. What he doesn't directly ask for, you can see him getting excited about things. If everything under the tree was a dinosaur, Zoboomafoo, or a construction set (legos, tools, etc), he'd be ecstatic.

But what about Joey? There isn't a lot of merchandise with Max and Ruby, and the books are a bit disappointing. He has a bike. He has his computer, and is very happy with the games there. He has plenty of the kind of blocks he likes. The fact is, as soon as we detect interest in something, we already do our best to support it. He has books and toys of fish, of firetrucks, of cars. What could he want?

So plan B: ask. Joey, what do you want Santa to bring you? What do you want for Christmas?


I can work with that.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Pneumonia update

The doctor switched us from the very icky white medicine to the less icky pink medicine. She said he should be good to go to school on Monday.

In the meantime, we have him camped out today on the livingroom couch. He was happy to see Andy for a while, but little brothers tend to be bouncy, and Joey needs to recover, so Grandma swooped by and bundled him off. Besides, I think Andy is getting a bit jealous of all the attention Joey has gotten. At Grandma's he can be in his glory.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


This morning Joey woke up- the boys slept in just a few minutes- smiling and saying, "School!" Ellora was chirruping for breakfast. Andy was giggling about being a nekkid butt. All was well with the world.

A little later, bundled up and waiting for the bus, without warning, Joey turned to me and said, "No school. Because I am coughing." My mommy sense twitched, but he wasn't feverish, he was smiling, and he was still looking out the window for the bus. So onto the bus he went with a note to his substitute teacher about my cell number, just in case. After all, he had stayed home sick yesterday.

One should not ignore a mommy sense twitch.

I got Andy off to school, finished up some stuff at the office, and picked him up. We went to lunch. We had ordered it when the call came.

Joey "wasn't breathing quite right." We paid, before the food came, and out the door we went. Poor Andy!

When I got there, it was more than "not breathing right." He had turned blue, and the nurse had measured his O2 saturation at 57! (the ER nurse was a bit skeptical about him being conscious with it that low, but the nurse actually wrote the numbers down for me- 57, 74, 94 in a 20-minute period.) They had him take many deep breaths and got it back to 94. Presented with the options available, she recommended the ER. Off to the ER we went. As I locked him in the car, he started another episode- his fingers were blue- but we got him to breathe like the nurse said and dashed to the ER (which is practically across the street). He was pinking up when we got there, no fever, saturation of 88-91, and coughing. We were put in a triage niche and waited.

Adventure one: bloodwork. We had to take him to the lab and I hugged him in the lab chair while three very patient phlebotomists got they blood they needed from him. He screamed the entire time, but held his arm still. I can't say I blame him. The lab folks always say things like "this will pinch" but I feel the $*#^$(^ needle in my arm the whole time (IV lines and shunts drive me to distraction!). I would say Joey does, too.

Adventure two: x-rays. After waiting outside the x-ray lab with a very patient Andy and Grandma at our side, we got our picture taken. He actually did a lot better than I expected, considering he clearly had no clue what the tech was asking him to do. Unlike last time, this tech was willing to set up the guards and help Joey out by holding up his hands, and keeping him in position, and giving him extra demonstration of how to hold his breath. Consequently we got each pic on the first try, and much faster.

Adventure three: nebulizer. Next we had a breathing treatment. At first Joey was OK with it, but as the few minutes wore on, he got anxious about getting the mask and mist in his eyes (which were bothering him because his temperature was starting to creep up), and it got uncomfortable for him. We had a hard time getting him to calm down and breathe instead of crying, fussing, and barking. However, it seemed to work, he was breathing better.

Adventure four: waiting. We were shown back to the waiting room to await test results. Joey's fever shot through the roof, and he fell asleep on a couple of chairs. By now, poor Andy was ravenous, so we sought out the gift shop for food (the cafeteria wasn't open yet, and we had no change for the vending machines). The child survived the afternoon on potato chips, Cheetos, and gummy worms, with apple juice. Joey took a few swallows of orange juice and a gummy shark before we were finally called back to a larger room in the ER (not just a triage chair).

Adventure five: the good news and the bad news. Dad arrived with his iPod, to the joy, relief, and distraction of the boy. He got to watch movies of himself while waiting for the doctor. The PA came to tell us it was a touch of pneumonia in his right lung, and his bloodwork indicated massive infection. The bad news: Joey was getting an antibiotic shot. The good news: by getting a shot, he could go home, because modern medicine rocks. The nurse who came in to give him the shot was the gruffest person we encountered the entire time. I suspect her demeanor had something to do with the three "code yellows" that came in while we were waiting (since something about "trauma" was mentioned, and there were three Stafford ambulances outside, I suspect there was a car accident with multiple injuries), rather than her personality or professionalism. I think we really struck a chord when Joey started really losing it (he was very upset about having to have a shot in the first place, so the actual moment we had worked ourselves into a bit of a fit) after the shot was over, because he was "broken". She got confused and asked, "what's broken?" and I explained that he's autistic and that is his way of saying he wasn't feeling well. She got the oddest look on her face, kind of like when realization smacks you hard. She fetched him a popsicle.

Adventure six: vital signs. After an antibiotic shot, you sit and make sure there will be no allergic reaction, the nurse comes to take your vital signs, then they do the release stuff. Makes sense. However, Joey was very, very, very done, and to have that blood pressure cuff squeeze his arm again, which is very uncomfortable for him, just put him over the edge. We fortunately had an excellent nurse who took good care of Joey and just kept talking and helping Joey understand he had to stay still and quiet. We finally got the stats they wanted, and I could finally take him home and get some advil in him to get the fever down.

He's tucked into bed now. His fever is down, he's feeling better, he got to watch TV in Mom's bed for a while and has five, count them, five glow sticks to play with. He ate crackers and ice cream for me, and drank some pomegranate soda (it's by 7-Up, and yes, you should try some, it's magnificent- and only around for the holidays, which kind of sucks). I got his meds filled and so we are on the road to recovery. Andy is staying with Grandma, so both boys should be getting some R&R.

Wordless Wednesday: Artful Boys

(and the fate of the Turkey Hat)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sick Boy

Joey is home sick today. Whenever I hear "I'm sick. No school today because I'm sick" I always check it out. Especially since our start with Ms. Sc, Joey has again been all about school. We definitely had a long night, with increased coughing. I think if Andy wasn't bouncing on him this morning, he would have slept like Ellora did this morning (we couldn't find her all morning- she didn't appear until after 1!). We got the cough under mostly control with some meds, and otherwise he just seemed tired.

Then the fever appeared. I now have that under control, too, but it just goes to remind me: Joey knows when he's not right. When he says "no school" it is a good idea to find out why.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Tangle of Days

The holidays are upon us, and time swishes by like Santa in his miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer. The guys feel that speed, the excitement, the anticipation; ad I do my best to share with them the magic, the joy, the love that goes into Christmas here. I also do my best to not go insane. It's an interesting tangle.

Meanwhile, life continues.

Joey wasn't feeling so good this morning. He didn't eat much for me yesterday, and he didn't eat today (I emailed his teacher about it, so she kept me apprised). He wanted a sandwich for dinner, but he didn't eat it, he just carried it around on its plate. I think what he really wanted was the routine of having food. I was supposed to take them to Chuck E. Cheese, but with Joey feeling off, I thought it might be a dangerous plan. Stomach bugs can be nasty and sudden.

Andy had a lovely tantrum at the end of the day, because I tried to talk to him about his habit of co-opting Joey's toys. In particular, there is a small blue plastic bin that belongs to Joey, and Andy decided he wanted it. The chorus of "Mine! Mine!" commenced, upsetting Joey (who wanted his bin). Yes, tantrum city. Biting, kicking, screaming, total tantrum- we even reached a level one meltdown at one point, where all we could do was hug him and not let him kick things. Yikers.

On the other hand, he was a perfect angel at lunch, despite noise, crowds, and not our usual table. He ate his lunch and gabbled about his food and his coloring and his dinosaurs, the other people in the restaurant, school... a charming little four-year-old boy.

If I can get everybody even-keel, I plan to upset the schedule by pulling everybody during the week to go up to Baltimore and visit Valley View and the trains at Kenilworth. After their trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Oh, and in the middle of putting up garlands and trees. And...

As we ease into the "holiday mode" we'll have fewer hiccups, it will become something of a baseline norm. But now, as the decorations start to go up and realization of impending fun and excitement dawns, we're in for some roller-coastering. Because hey, they're kids, and its Christmas. It's still a bit of a tangle.