Bravery/ Courage

Brave

Bravery – Ready to face and endure pain; showing couragecourage
Courage – strength in the face of pain or grief
It’s not a secret how I feel about my girl.  It’s not a secret at all that I hands down find her to be one of the bravest and most courageous children I have ever known.  She faces adversity better than most adults I know.  She presses onward with determination, not drama.
I don’t mean for a minute that there is never a hiccup on the path.  That would be delusional, and even unfair for a child who has yet to pass her 10th birthday.  But I mean, that despite the pebbles, rocks, and sometimes boulders tossed in her path, she keeps her head up and stays focused on what matters.
Yesterday we has testing at MSKCC in NYC.  We were told to arrive by 8:30 AM for testing at 9.  It was to be a 2 hour pituitary function test, followed by an ultrasound at 12:30.  Then we would be home by about 2.
So we woke at the crack of dawn – a nasty habit this summer – and arrived in our designated spot by 8:20.  As we were meeting the oncology nurse, a truly LOVELY and compassionate woman- a representative from the doctor’s office came bustling in to tell us the medication needed to start her test had not arrived at the hospital, and should be there by about 3.  She then proceeded to tell me maybe I wanted to reschedule.
Let’s say succinctly that the conversation that followed took place out of Meghan’s earshot.  The medication would arrive at 3.  We would have our ultrasound at 2.  And everything we left the house for bright and early WOULD be accomplished, before we headed home.
I can be a calm and rational person, at the right time.  But, the right time is NOT after you confirm an appointment at 4:30 PM the night before and FAIL TO SEE IF THE NECESSARY MEDICINE IS ON SITE!
So, I saw the woman off on her tasks to fix what had been broken, and I took the cues of my girl who thought, “We are in Manhattan – Let’s see Daddy.”
We took the shuttle to 53rd street and 3rd Ave.  Then we WALKED to 42nd and 7th.  Just in case there was even the slightest doubt that Meghan needs her wheelchair in Disney – it has officially been confirmed.  The 25 minute walk each way did more damage to her legs than I could have imagined.
Toys R US times square
But, we did get to Toys R US.  Meghan has been there before, as it is one of the stores her Daddy helped light before it was open, and it is so close to his office, but a toy store of that size is a huge thrill nonetheless.
She left with a Merida doll from the movie “Brave.”  Ever so fitting in so many ways.  I knew Daddy would have to take the Barbie size one home with him, so we surprised her with a Polly Pocket sized one when we got back to the hospital.
brave 2
Why did you like this doll, Mom?        
Because YOU are the BRAVEST girl I know.
The shuttle took us back to MSKCC by 1:30.  We promptly bought Tylenol for legs that could barely carry her and went to endure a 40 minute ultrasound.  Then it was back up to the floor for the test.  The medicine arrived – barely, just barely, but it arrived in time so that after an IV was placed, and a super painful injection given – we began the 9AM test at 3:15.
And there she sat, for 2 hours, in her chair.  Reading, playing with her iPad, watching movies.  Uncomfortable.  Exhausted.  Brave.  Courageous.
It may take a week or more to have the test results, and I will pray as I always do, that they return without any evidence of a problem.  But, time will tell, and the waiting game is one we are well practiced at.
So as we arrived home at about 7 last night – 12 hours after we left for the day- we consumed a giant dinner prepared by Daddy, and my poor exhausted girl took some more Tylenol and fell fast asleep.
Only to be woken this morning by the ring of the alarm clock.
run-clock
An 11 AM MRI/MRA of the wrist was waiting for us at 1st Ave and 38th Street.  The June 4th injury never healed, and it was finally time to get some answers.  The doctors we have seen all have differing opinions.  AVM? Arthritis?
When I tell you I have actually lost count of the number of MRIs my girl has had, you may find that odd, but there truly have been THAT many.  We have the pattern pretty much down.
We let the (hopefully) nice nurse pick the IV spot.
courage 2
Of course this time, since it was a scan of her RIGHT wrist and hand, the really solid veins in the RIGHT side were off-limits.  So, after two painful sticks to the left, she ended up with the IV on the side of her wrist.  And even with the discomfort she was in, she listened intently as the camera was placed in the MRI room, and absorbed her directions on positioning.
My cursory question of “How long?”  Was answered with “Less than 45 minutes.”  It’s almost a silly question to ask because I have no watch, no radio, and no means of telling time in the room.  But, somehow it makes me feel better.
Ear plugs in place, the door closed us in, and she headed into the tube.  My hands remained on her ankles, and I could hear the deep breathing.  It was just her and Merida inside the tube now.  Bravery at its best.
couraqge 1
It was 11:25.
It was well past 12:30 when we were told to wait it out while they ran through the images to be sure the doctor saw them.
time-warp
And then it was 12:45, and some time after 1:00 we were taken to another room.  Another room with a smaller tube and a stronger magnet – for a few more pictures.
This doctor, this attending, at the hospital reviewed her images, and wanted more.  This doctor I will never meet, who is not the radiologist who will read the images, who somehow got called by the tech doing the exam.  This doctor wanted more pictures.
So as Meghan laid on her belly in the tiny tube with Merida by her side, she sensed things weren’t quite right.  I gave her an abridged version of my inferences.
Then I chuckled at her response.
If something is wrong with my wrist, how will I do the archery we signed up for in Disney?
We will make it work Meg.  No worries.
And she laid, quiet and still as could be as 5 minutes became 20 before we were done.
So that’s it?  You aren’t going to tell me anything?  I asked the tech.
I am not a doctor was the painful reply.
Understanding they can’t, it didn’t help the growing pit in my stomach.
Your doctor will have the results  Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.
Meghan got dressed and I held her up as she limped the 6 blocks to the parking garage, an all too familiar summer scene replaying itself. It was 1:45 PM.
Last night I asked when I was going to get a break.
I take it all back.
BEATING COWDEN’S will require stamina and strength I never imagined I could have.
I will continue at this pace forever, and as I wait for the test results I will be buoyed by the Bravery and Courage of my favorite 9-year-old.
brave 3

JUNE!

It’s June.  It doesn’t feel like it.  At least the weather doesn’t.  It’s cool and rainy.  I guess that’s OK for now – while we are still wrapping up school.

It has been a long week.

I don’t usually leave my blog unattended for so long.  I am behind at writing.  I am behind even further at my reading.  It seems the days just blend together lately.

It is June, and when you are a school teacher, this is a month of eager anticipation, and volumes of paperwork to be settled. There are boxes to back and things to carefully put away in preparation for the fall.  There isn’t much time to be still.

schools out

Well – in another 2 weeks it is!

It’s June, and when you are an advocate – you do take a few minutes to celebrate the victory that put speed bumps on the street where you had the accident that damaged your back forever and ever.  You are grateful for the citizens, and politicians alike that fought relentlessly.  You are thrilled by speed bumps, but you still want that stop sign.  You celebrate with a glass of wine – or two.

crash

It’s June though, which means that damaged back has to ache longer in between trips to the chiropractor, and the PT you promised yourself seems like it may never happen.   You are the mother.  You will get by.

It’s June and when you are a Mom of a kid with Cowden’s Syndrome you spend 2 or three afternoons a week at physical therapy to make her chronic pain bearable.  Not totally sure the pain is related to the Cowden’s, but sure it’s related to SOMETHING, you scoff at the denial for school based PT and wonder what they would say if one of them could spend a morning in your house watching your 9 year old walk like she’s 90.  You balance those PT appointments with swimming lessons, all in preparation for the team she will join.  The team she is desperate to swim on successfully, and God willing – pain free.

competition_pools

It’s June, so you balance the breakthrough of the virus on that adorable immune compromised 9 year old’s face with increased doses of the antiviral medicine and extra trips to the pediatrician.  It’s June so when it’s not pouring – you make sure she has a hat to keep the sun off her face.  And when you look at the dose of antiviral medicine you start to feel a bit guilty, nervous maybe, about her liver – and all the prescription medicine.  So, you take a chance and toss the Celebrex to the side.  Hoping maybe, just maybe she can get by without it.

celebrex100mg

It’s June and its raining.  You feel a little guilty about “forgetting” to tell her you stopped the Celebrex, but each day you hear the complaint of another joint, another ache, another pain.  Ten days later you abandon your hopes of relieving the stress on that young liver, and you relent. Too many Tylenol – not cutting it.   Celebrex it is.

The war rages – all the months.  The battles are won and lost on a regular basis – but the war looms large.  I don my armor – a large binder of medical facts, bloodwork, and reports.  I gather my inner strength.

It’s June.  Summer vacation is coming, but there will be no camp in our house.  It doesn’t fit in with the schedule.

calendar

Every six months.  Every doctor.  Forever.  Mine, and hers.  Different doctors.  Different times.  Different facilities.

I am getting better at the scheduling.  I have learned to bunch them together.  So, we go in February and again in July.

For Meghan it’s the thyroid first.  That foreboding nemesis.  Ultrasound, appointment… and we will see what comes next. Then its the AVM follow up, and the genetecist.  That’s just the last week in June.

Mom has an MRI to schedule to look at that spleen, some more surgical follow ups…

There will be 15 appointments before the 2nd week in July.  That’s if every one goes well.

This is how it has to be.  We have to work, she has school.  We can’t have the appointments all throughout the year, so we must endure them all at once.

It’s June.  I am already tired.  Wrapping up one full time job to focus on another. I feel my anxiety rising.

Getting all my rest.  Gathering my inner strength.  Armed and ready.  Kicking Cowden’s to the curb…

We can… WE WILL!

keep swimming

Every Day is a Great Adventure!

My walking team (minus1)

Ever feel like you lived a few days all at once?  Yep.  Today would be one of those days.  From the physical to the emotional – I am shot.  And it is only the BEGINNING of the week!

We walked today, my mom, my friend and I.  When Mom picked me up this morning we were both a little grumpy.  then we both cried a little.  It just seemed wrong heading out without Meghan.  But I took some solace in the fact that when I kissed her at 6:30 AM her skin was blessedly cool to the touch.  Maybe it was over.

So we picked up our  friend, and determined to enjoy the sunshine, we were in central Park a few minutes after 7.  Professionals by now, we do all of our shopping, and gathering of “free stuff,”  then we walk it to the car so we can race pretty much unencumbered.  And Meghan, for having not been there, made out quite well in a wide array of paid items and “free stuff.”  Well deserved!

The starting line…

Manhattan was crowded as ever, but thanks to my aggressive little Mom we were up close to the front when the race began.  We moved aside to allow for the runners and then had a really enjoyable walk without the tight crowds we sometimes experience.  We got to chat and walk, and enjoy each other and the sunshine.

Holding the banners Meghan made for us

At the finish line. Aren’t we pretty in pink?  🙂

So after a fun and exhausting morning we headed home.  Meghan was so thrilled that we hadn’t forgotten about her.  I was less than thrilled to see her on the couch, a clear indicator that the fever returned.

So, just like that came the transformation from walker to Mom.  We started making plans for who would watch her Monday.  She reminded us about her friend, and ours, a neighbor who loves her like she is her own.  Meghan said, “Just ask Patty!”  So I did.  Patty will be here at 7:15.
Thinking it was all taken care of, we sent Meghan for a nap.  Restless a few minutes later, the thermometer revealed a scary 104.2.  Knowing what he would say, I had to call the pediatrician anyway.  That number is too high for me. So, he happened to be in his office and invited us to come in.  (I adore my pediatrician.)

He spent a few minutes sizing her up.  The Tylenol was starting to work and she was down to 103.7.  After an agonizing 20 minutes he sent us for blood work at a local ER.  I am not a big fan of the local hospitals, but thought perhaps a brief visit MIGHT be ok.  Not so much.

In the literally blood spattered walls of a tiny room with no access to TV or cell phone, we sat while they took 2 blood cultures and a CBC.  She admitted at 4 PM with a fever of 102.9.  They gave her a dose of Motrin.   We waited for the blood for almost 2 hours.  As I grew anxious they told me they were having trouble finding it.  Almost ready to leave, it turned up – with a terribly low white blood cell count, but nothing else noteworthy.  We left quickly, being discharged at 6:30 with 99.4, having learned/remembered 2 things.

1. It is not OK – even for a short visit, and

2. Motrin – Motrin – Motrin

We had a hard time deciding who got to shower first as we cleaned off the filth we had just been in.  Dinner, some TV, WINE(for me – not her!), and it was off to bed.  Fever free at 8:30.

Headed up now for the 11PM Clindamycin.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Every day is a great adventure!