Wild. These last few weeks have been just that.
I’m always amazed at exactly how much can fit into hours or days. Sometimes I try to recap a day, and find myself shaking my head.
Meghan is in high school.
I feel like we’ve been looking at high schools since January. We had it figured out by May. So we thought. September 15th is ok too. Because the plan was clearly not ours to make, and like so many other things was guided by a higher power.
It’s not the high school she planned to attend. It’s not even the high school she started in September. But, on day 8 – she enrolled in a school a few miles away. The reasons are irrelevant. The outcome is what matters.
Currently her school mascot is the “Warrior.” Somehow that seems remarkably appropriate.
She is catching up on notes missed the first 8 days. She is organizing in a way that only she has, and getting herself set up. She functions largely alone now. Years of supporting schoolwork have paid off.
September is chaos. Pure chaos. 21 years of Septembers, 14 of them as a mom and a teacher. Not a single one gets easier. No matter how many years I do it. The new schedules, the logistics of organizing, and establishing routines, both at work and at home can generate extra gray hairs at the thought.
The only thing the same is the chaos. And the inevitable illness.
The weakened immune system, and maybe the ragweed allergy, means there is never a September I can recall for her with perfect attendance – or without a sinus infection.
There are so many things packed into a day. Sometimes I can’t think more than a few hours ahead because it gives me a headache.
Right now there is swim. A whole lot of swim. There is swim for her 12 month team, and there is high school swim. There is practice for both. There are meets several times a week. I think there is an 11 day stretch in October where there will be 8 meets.
There are new friends. There is a team. There are old friends reunited. There are kind people. In so many ways there is some peace. Finally.
Except 7 days of 9th grade (actually 6- the sinuses sidelined her today) don’t, or can’t make it all ok.
While my girl works to establish herself as an athlete, a student, and a generally nice human in her new school, she continues to battle every moment with her health.
And because it is that “invisible illness” kind of battle, no human would imagine what it takes for her to get through these days.
She sleeps poorly, struggling for hours each night to settle the pain in her body and the activity in her mind. She wakes fatigued, and with great effort.
Her pill case overflows – thyroid medicines- 2 kinds, allergy medicines – a pill and 2 nasal sprays, antivirals, medicine for reflux. Currently another (sigh) antibiotic, and a short course of a steroid for the sinuses. Strong probiotics, a multivitamin, and a few others, all cross her lips every day. Each one carries with it its own set of risks and side effects. Yet, we have had to make the decision each time that the benefits outweigh the risks. There is a lot of trading “this for that” that you do when you have Cowden’s Syndrome. It’s a dicey game. There are no right answers, and every educated guess could backfire.
The medication leaves her more tired.
The thyroid being gone during these years was necessary torture.
She is gaining back strength lost during months off her normal routine this spring. The knee is back to allowing her activity, but the body continues to prefer the development of one side. The difference is so subtle to the eye, but to her it feels so much more. The right side lags behind.
The foot is smaller and more narrow on that side as well. It leaves her stride off. Again she compensates. Again she aches.
The chiropractor readjusts about twice a month, sometimes more.
The backpack is heavy. Everything throws off the stride.
The sneakers are carefully chosen. I shudder at the thought of shopping for dress shoes for my tall, thin, beautiful girl to be “party ready.”
The stomach, once improving, seems to be back on strike. The pain is more frequent. The heartburn, once gone, creeps into life more regularly. But, as is the story of the chicken and the egg, trying to tease of which medicines are causing what is no easy task.
There is no “typical” 14 year old girl.
There is no “typical” Cowden’s Syndrome patient.
We are all just trying to figure it out the best we can with what we have, where we are.
There has been a lot of talk lately about disclosure, and the internet. There is no real way of teasing apart what is syndrome related and what just is. Meghan and I tell this somewhat censored, but typically brutally honest version of our struggles, not because we think others have it better, or worse, or even the same, but rather to validate that Cowden’s Syndrome is real. It doesn’t take a holiday. It affects every day and every decision we make.
I have a follow up from my voice surgery this coming week. I’m not so sure how it’ll go. All that back to school talking, even with the head microphone, has been tough.
I scheduled my next vascular surgery for February 21st. Exactly enough time to stay wrapped for 5 days and make it back to work on the 26th. They thought I was nuts. The leg hurts now. But, the luxury of time needs to be saved for things that can’t wait.
The only thing constant is change.
The shell of it all remains the same, but the logistics and decisions forming the web get increasingly complex.
Change is constant, but we remain
through it all.