Recovery – Everything is Relative

recovery

 (Merriam – Webster)

Medical Definition of RECOVERY

:  the act of regaining or returning toward a normal or healthy state
Recovery.  Is it a place?  A state of being?  A state of mind?  Who knows?  But, we spend a lot of time here.  It’s really sort of a family affair, although without a doubt the one who takes the brunt of it is always Meghan.  Four times in the last 10.5 months, and most recently three times in the last 6 months,  there has been general anesthesia, and necessary recovery.  That is a record for her that I pray she never surpasses.  
view from the top
In November and May it was the knee – one emergency, one planned. In between it was the hand.  A pesky, tiny AVM, gotten before it got to be too big of a deal.  She JUST was cleared to take a break from the recovery PT on Thursday.  And on Friday it was the wisdom teeth.
We laughed a lot before the teeth came out.  We called her an overachiever and kept the mood light reminding her that years from now she would be able to boast being the first, when her friends inevitably would need theirs done too.  This surgery had a glimmer of “normal” attached to it – although distinctly unique in her age.
But, being unique isn’t always a place you want to be.  Especially at 12.  Sometimes you just want to blend in a little.
cs lewis hardship
It’s less than ideal to have a weak knee with a persistent AVM.  It’s no fun at all to grow AVMs – even tiny ones – in the palms of your hands.  (One in EACH hand to be fair.)  It doesn’t make for good conversation, when your experiences are operating rooms, and your excitement comes from which doctor hurts less when they put the needle in.  Which 12-year-old would really know how to respond?  It’s certainly not the place you want to be as the FIRST wisdom tooth survivor of all your friends, when none have seen their own swollen puffy cheeks, or have any idea the pain as the incisions begin to heal and the stitches work their way through.
And I knew the prcedure even surprised the surgeon.  When I went to her as she woke up, the medication plan had changed.  Initially she was to recover on Tylenol.  I was handed a script for a narcotic pain reliever and instructed to be sure she used it.  It’s never dull.  Or easy.
fly then walk
It’s no solace to her that I understand THAT surgery.  Because I had it AGES ago, and I don’t remember too much except pain.  And, I won’t be in school with her tomorrow to give her Tylenol, or reassuring glances, or soft food.
Recovery, when she was little included furry stuffed animals, and lots of rest time.  It included balloons, and all sorts of pomp and circumstance.
Recovery, now is more about the sporadic texts and occasional pop-overs while she tries to maintain her school work.
Recovery now includes the realization that it’s very definition of “returning toward a normal or healthy state,” could prove to be elusive, indefinitely.
We do a lot of talking.  We all know how fortunate we are.  We all understand how much worse all this could be.  We have depth of knowledge of those around us who suffer.  We think.  We pray.  We miss our friends.
grass is greener
Recovery, on this beautiful holiday weekend, involved trading walks in the fall air, for open windows.  It involved being nearby all night, because I was allowed.  Recovery means family time.  And maybe that’s one of the things that keeps us sane.
Perhaps “recovery” has become a routine venture.  And THAT in and of itself could lead to a whole lot of other conversations.
Tomorrow it’s back to business.  The plan is to swim by Thursday.  After all, there is a meet this weekend.
Our goals in this house far exceed recovery.  That’s way too repetitive.

We like a challenge.  We are BEATINGCOWDENS!

until-its-done1

Swimming Upstream

sardines

The phrase “packed in tighter than sardines” was in my head as Meghan and I tried to navigate the overcrowded local middle school fair tonight.

It was hot.  Hotter than it should be October 9th, but exactly as hot as an overcrowded Public High School cafeteria is on your average fall day.  It was stuffy, humid, and uncomfortable.

As we traveled from table to table, remarking how much easier it would be to see over the never-ending crowds if there were some signs indicating which school was where – we just tried to get a feel for the place, and for each table.

We went interested primarily in two schools, but open to read and learn about more.  One school is small.  It works off a lottery and opens only 150 seats a year.  The other school has over 1100 students.

And as I pondered some pros and cons based on size alone, I was reminded of something a friend from work said a few months back. I may not have her exact words, but it was something to this effect,”The problem with where we live is that something becomes popular, just because a few people go there.  Then it gets more popular, and more people go, but no one ever investigates the quality.   It develops a reputation based on one feature, and people don’t look farther.”

lottery

There I was, one of those people.  I kept saying I wanted my kid in the lottery for the school, “because its small.”  I was not impressed by the people at the table.  I was not impressed by the lack of information about the school.  I was not impressed at all.  I may still go to their open house, but it will be with a very open mind.

Then there was the other school. The one with 1100 kids and the principal himself standing in front of a well constructed information board.  He answered questions, clearly, honestly and patiently.  He spoke with confidence about the school.  He invited parents in during the school day for tours.  He looked every parent in the eye and spoke as if their child was the most important thing on his mind right then.  And, even if he doesn’t remember any of them tomorrow, he proved himself to me.  It’s difficult to fake the sincerity involved with shaking someone’s hand and looking them in the eye.

And we were about an hour in to this ordeal when Meghan’s knees began to give her trouble.  Still pressing on – because that’s what she does – I knew time was of the essence.

I also knew it was time to have the conversation about “barrier free” schools.  See, in the city of New York, most schools have multiple floors.  This is fine for most kids, and for general physical fitness.  But when your 10- year -old has already endured 4 knee surgeries…

There will be discussions about the IEP, about the 1:1 health paraprofessional, about the physical therapy, and about the appropriate placement for Junior High for my girl.  Because wherever she goes, the Cowden’s Syndrome goes too.  So we need to find a place where they are BOTH welcome.

whatplan

Every which way I turned tonight I ran into old friends.  There were some I haven’t seen since preK, and others we connected with at various points along the way.  The kids are older now, almost young adults.  I can still see them running on the lawn after PM session, or on the soccer field.

All of us looking, somewhat stunned, somewhat unsure of what the right place will be for our child.

deer_headlights

As I drove past Lowe’s this weekend I saw a Christmas tree and almost got sick.  “Wishing our lives away,” I thought to myself.  Except tonight several hundred parents and children stood, on October 9, 2013 contemplating placements for September, 2014.

I find this just so ironic, considering mine is clearly not the only life that can’t plan a week in advance.

I put Meghan in a chair to rest her knees while I finished the last of my conversations with two lovely, helpful women.  And as we began the trek back to the car I had a million questions racing through my head.

Question-mark-sign

There is clearly a lot to do, and a lot to think about.

But, that will have to wait.  Tomorrow’s appointment is in Long Island, and even when they try to fast forward my life, it reminds me that we can only travel one day at a time.