The blog post that never happened

Today I planned this whole long blog post about a girl in a Mercedes convertible who was behind me on the highway. She had raccoon eye make-up on, and an intense driving style… and bright pink license plates with her name on them. I was going to write about how, even though her car (minus the plates) was really cool, I would never trade places with her in a million years. I was assuming, of course, she was young and single and disdainful of my minivan and blah blah.

But then I thought maybe she stole the car. Maybe the eye make-up was really bruising and she was running away from something or someone. Or maybe her sugar daddy bought the car for her as, like, gross sex repayment. Or possibly she works really hard at her architect job or whatever and loves eye make-up and the color pink. There are an infinite number of possibilities for this girl's story.

I decided not to do the blog post because it would be dumb and potentially divisive. I don't know anything about this girl, just like she doesn't know anything about me.

I tell you this because I still have this hankering to write something about her, but maybe it's just going to have to be a series of short stories or something. 

Also, now you know that I really do actually think about what I write on the blog rather than just spewing out craziness. I mean, craziness gets spewed, but there is a smidge of forethought sometimes.

OK. Well, that's it. My whole plan has been dashed. I could tell you about my burgeoning (possible) goiter, or my mammogram coming up on Thursday, but then I would have to realize that maybe my fixation on this girl and her car has more to do with my tender grasp on my own aging process than on anything else. And I'm too tired to write about how I'm getting old. HAHA.

Sigh.

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Stand back. I have emotions and I am feeling all of them at once.

You guys. Ike-a-saurus is almost five years old. Can you believe this? I can't believe this. And I know people say things like that all the time… "Wow! The time really flies!" and "It's unbelievable how fast kids grow!" but this is like a whole different thing. I'm not sure I can explain it. Just look into my eyes. See all of those feelings swirling around in there? Yeah.

He could start Kindergarten in the fall.

Like, actual school.

His fifth birthday is the DAY BEFORE school starts, though, so we've been debating whether he should start or not. He's still so tiny – 28 pounds! Maybe waiting a year is a better idea. But then his pre-school teacher was all, "Send him! Send him! He loves school and does great with his peers and knows all his letters!" So I thought, OK. Maybe we should do it. Maybe we should send him.

BUT THEN I started worrying about things like middle school. Will he really want to be the smallest kid with no chance of a mustache in the 8th grade? Or would it be better if he was the smallest kid with the most complete mustache? If he starts school now, then he will get to be in middle school for a year with his sister. If we wait a year, they'll never share space in middle school. Does that matter? Do they care?

And then after thinking all of that I had a panic attack and had to watch some Anthony Bourdain to calm down.

The thing is, with this kid, I have never thought about the future. Can a mother admit that? I hate to admit that. I have always been so scared for him that I've never thought farther ahead than the end of the week, the end of the month, maybe the end of the year, but not even that until very recently. It's always been one step forward, celebrate. One more step forward, celebrate. So now, all of these thoughts and worries not just about next year, but how this decision might affect things in years to come is especially overwhelming. My husband still can't bear to think that far ahead. We have been stunted in our imaginations by fear and worry, and now that I'm trying to break away from that I am just… overwhelmed.

It should be easy, right? Start school in the fall. If it doesn't seem like it's going to work, pull him out and try again in a year. Or, don't start school in the fall. Stay in pre-school, make volcanoes, think about Kinder at a later date. But instead of being easy, the decision just weighs on me like I'm deciding the fate of the world.

What if we send him next year and he gets RSV and ends up in the hospital? What if some big kid knocks into him and crushes his windpipe? Would it be better to wait a year because he'll be bigger and have more strength and more immunities built up? He's already been in pre-school a year, so one would hope these immunities are already building. And I know kids are not exactly likely to go around crushing each other's windpipes.

But what if we wait and he starts school and becomes bored and restless and hates it?

What if we don't wait and he's not ready emotionally and can't sit still in the third grade for those goddamned tests and that reflects on him as a student and then affects the rest of his school career?

Plus, don't we owe him another year of just fooling around? After everything he's been through, shouldn't his prize be one more year without having to walk silently through the halls and sit in a desk? I thought maybe so, but then a friend of mine pointed out that maybe for him, allowing him to join the masses and be one of the crowd is exactly what he does want and need. Maybe he's the kind of kid who thrives on desks and lines and journals and we don't know this yet.

Sigh.

I took him to Kinder camp today where the prospective students get to hear some stories in the library and take a tour of the school and then have a nice snack. It's a little redundant for him because he knows the school and the library already, but still, I figured it would be nice for us to go. I could silently size up the other kids, watch his interactions, and it would help me figure things out. Well. He wasn't too keen to let go of my hand and sit with the kids during story time. He was very excited to say hi to his sister's former Kinder teacher, though. And he very much enjoyed the snacks. We could have stayed for a playground get together afterwards, except that I burst into tears and we left early.

So.

Not super helpful.

The kid is resilient. I know that. He will go where he is put and he will comply when things are asked of him and that is what will happen no matter what. But after spending so many of these five years feeling like I haven't had much of a choice about his future – how we've just been hanging on to the crashing waves and being happy to catch a few breaths of fresh air – now that an entire, important, choice is resting in my hands…. I can't figure it out. This is something I can screw up on my own, with nothing and no one to blame but myself. This is a decision that will follow him throughout his years in school. Will he be 18 when he starts college? Or 17? Will he be the first in his class to drive or the last? Will he care about any of these things? Or will they haunt him? Or will they make him puff out his chest?

This is a good problem to have. I know that. It's a problem I never let myself worry about until now. So, ultimately, I'm incredibly thankful to be this wound up about Kindergarten. Incredibly. And yet, I still agonize over it.

At some point a decision will have to be made. He is totally into the idea of Kindergarten, so maybe I should trust him to let me know what he wants.

Maybe I should stop overthinking it.

Maybe it's time to watch more Anthony Bourdain and take some deep breaths.

 

 

Let me just recap the last week or so for you…

Coughing, fever, ear infection, paleness, worry, neb treatments, more neb treatments, ER, oral steroids, CRAZY TOWN, antibiotics, antibiotics, doctor, doctor, doctor, more neb treatments, milkshakes.

Ike-a-saurus, he of the non-stop talking and joking and asking of questions, has pneumonia. Actually, we found out today after visiting the pulmonologist, it is pneumonia in one lung, and atelectasis in the other lung, all compounded by a reactive airway (which is a fancy way of saying asthma). No wonder the poor child has been huffing and puffing.

Thankfully, we are now on day nine of Omnicef, day four of Bactrim, day four of Orapred, and day, I don't know, one billion? of xoponex neb treatments, so things have (knock on wood) turned a corner. He is bouncing off the walls. Literally. I AM SPIDERMAN WHO ARE YOU I LOVE YOU MOMMY WHEN IS IT TIME FOR A NEB I FEEL SO EXCITED ALL THE TIME WHAT'S ON TV CAN I HAVE A MILKSHAKE? The Orapred really helped get the little guy back into an easy breathing situation, which has been such a relief to see over the past 36 hours. Totally worth the insane chatter and crazy squirrel eyes.

So, really, the pneumonia and atelectasis weren't great at all, but the breathing problems and not great o2 sats were more a cause of the reactive airway/asthma kicking in because his lungs were irritated. Or at least that's what the pediatrician said and the pulmonologist confirmed.

Interesting.

Now we test out an albuterol inhaler and we decide whether a daily maintenance steroid puffer is something we want to start in the fall before school (be it pre-school or Kinder, we still haven't decided). 

Everyone always asks if, as a former preemie, Ike-a-saurus has asthma and I always say no. But I guess that's because saying, "he only has acute asthmatic symptoms when he has a respiratory virus" is way too complicated.

The hope is that if we decide to do the maintenance puffer then he'll be able to make it through the winter, in a germy environment, without having any colds settle into his lungs. That seems too good to be true, though I honestly worry about being on longterm steroids, even if they are inhaled. He's already so tiny.

Oh, well. I know this is the most boring blog post ever, but it helps me to write it all out. Now I feel like I've emptied my brain a bit and I can concentrate on other things… like drinking more coffee. Or, I don't know, passing out face first onto the couch.

At least we had no overnight stays in the hospital AND, when the pulmo looked us up in the system it had been two YEARS since we last visited. Those are things to be very happy about, even in the midst of drama. Now we just have to get this boy bigger and taller so that he can outgrow his reactive airway.

I'm working on it. Don't worry about that.

Did I already say whew? Whew again!

A moment from today

Ike-a-saurus and I were at the pediatrician's office today, and saw a doctor we don't usually see. He's an older gentleman, and is someone my other kiddos have seen occasionally. I know him, but not well – and he knows us, but not well.

The doctor looked through Ike's chart, checked him over, prescribed some medicine for a respiratory infection, made some small talk about Ike's vocabulary and former preemie-ness, and then said, "It's amazing what medical science can do now, isn't it?" I nodded, kind of half paying attention while I gathered up our things. 

He handed me the prescription, gave Ike some stickers, turned to leave the exam room and then stopped abruptly in the doorway. The doctor looked me right in the eye, smiled warmly, and said, "You've done well by that boy." Then he walked through the doorway, shutting the door behind him. I just kind of sat there, stunned, feeling ridiculous at the tears suddenly welling.

Sometimes it's nice, though, you know? To have someone you don't really know acknowledge how difficult things have been, and also acknowledge that you're on the other side now. (I mean, I hope we're on the other side. This gnarly almost-pneumonia/nebs-every-4-hours respiratory virus is shaking my confidence a bit.)

So many stories you hear about doctors have to do with their bad bedside manner, and how they treat their patients as disgnoses instead of people.  But not all doctors are like this. In fact, in my experience, most of them are not. Some even go farther than just rote kindness. They genuinely care.

Anyway, today's doctor visit was a surprising, touching moment in an otherwise mundane and moderately stressful day. I hope everyone gets a moment like that here and there. It was really nice.