Friday, December 31, 2010

Catching up on the Past

I took a blogging break. In case you didn't notice. Many times I had thoughts and ideas and pictures and stories to post, but I didn't. I sat around, played games, and disconnected from the online world. It was nice. It is also nice to be back! :)

And now, I will commence in trying to catch up with some of my stories and pictures.

First, I had to make up for my good-lesson but sad-for-kids Family Night. It is not even close to being my favorite thing to do, but the kids L-O-V-E to decorate gingerbread houses. And, since last time I gave them fake presents and made them give up toys, I figured what could be better than unlimited access to candy?

I always buy the pre-baked kit, and this year I was estatic when I opened the boxes and realized they were not only pre-baked, but also pre-assembled! Wahoo! All we had to do was slap on the
frosting and plaster it with candy!
The kids had a sugar induced coma blast chewing decorating the houses! Kydon and I had fun as well. I used to get so annoyed trying to keep them from eating it and destroying it and eating too much candy. Now I just let them do whatever they want. 2 days after decorating, I tell them it is the last day for houses and they better finish whatever they want, and then I take them to the trash.
It is the only way I can let them do gingerbread houses while keeping my sanity! And, after two days, no one cares when I throw them away. I have not had any protests.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I am enjoying my family! I hope you are enjoying yours! I will be back to blogging soon!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A season of peace

I have been on top of my game this month. Way back in November I was sitting at work and decided to plan out my calendar for the next month or so. I figured out all the things I was committed to do. I planned everything out. I scheduled go time and down time and shopping time. Everything was set.

I actually accomplished the goal. I got most of my projects finished, I did the shopping and the wrapping and the baking and the visiting and helping and sewing. I worked and planned ALL month long to have this week- the week leading to Christmas- free and clear.

I pictured evenings at home, drinking hot chocolate and reading "The Best Christmas Pagent Ever". I pictured early bedtimes and warm baths for the children.

Despite all my plans and work, things just creep in. At first, it is only one little thing- that isn't bad. Then another, but it is something we really need to do. And one more, because it is the only time that works for everyone. Well, before I could blink, this week is chock full. Parties, activities, trips, and more going on than I can believe.

We will be up late every night. Each day I have to rush around to prepare for that night. Baths will be few and rushed. There is no hot chocolate, and I'm reading the book in the car as we go from place to place. It is not the week that I have dreamed of.

But- it is still wonderful. Watching their faces last night as they sat on Santa's lap (I'll post pictures when I find where I put the camera) was precious. Watching the baby cousins cry at the very thought of getting close to that Big Man... enjoying the families presentations... laughing and scrambling during the annual white elephant gift exchange... it was wonderful! The rest of the week will be as well- it is all great things we are doing, just a different pace than I was hoping for. And, you know, reading in the car was pretty awesome too. We weren't snuggled on the couch, but they were laughing and intently listening, and it made the car ride fun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Time for a PSA. Also, a bit of a rant.

Last week when I worked, I took care of a patient that I just can't get out of my head. I won't be posting any details here to keep her story private. But I will say that despite her parents doing everything EXACTLY right, a very simple and easy illness turned into a debilitating disease because of doctors who missed things. Part of the reason I keep thinking about it is that it was such a tragic story, and part of the reason I keep thinking about it is that I almost experienced the exact same thing. It brought back so many memories of a time when I went through the same thing.

Jack was a scrawny 2 year old who had been through more than his share of illness. He was coughing and sputtering all thought the night, running fevers, and basically just displaying all the signs of pneumonia. I took him to a doctor, who told me he had a minor virus and to take him home and not worry about it. I tried my best to argue with her and explain that even when he is at his sickest he still smiles and plays. Despite my efforts, she did not take me or my child seriously. I then spent the day in agony- I KNEW he was sick and needed medical attention. I KNEW he probably had pneumonia. I knew he was going to get worse if not treated, and he was already pretty bad. After spending an entire day debating with myself and discussing it with everyone I knew, I finally took him later that day to an urgent care. Luckily we saw a doctor who DID take his illness seriously. He gave him a shot of antibiotics, a chest x-ray, a breathing treatment, and two prescriptions for antibiotics and more breathing medication. He also kept him at the urgent care for a while and said if he didn't improve immediately he would send us to the hospital. Quite the different picture from a "minor virus".

But the thing I keep thinking is: What if? What if the 2nd doctor hadn't caught it? What if he told me it was nothing or just a small ear infection? I almost believed the 1st doctor- if a second had said the same thing, I would have believed them. I would have taken him home and his infection would have taken over his already weak lungs.

I tell people all the time, and I am reminded again- YOU have to be the one in charge of YOUR OWN health care (and, by extension, the health care of your children). If you have a fantastic doctor, that is awesome, but it does NOT take away your responsibility. The best doctors can miss things. The best doctors only know what they know- they might not be able to treat the thing that you need treated. Here are some random bits of advice:

--If your child is sick, and you feel they need treatment that they aren't getting, see a different doctor. Go to a different doctor in the same practice, go to an urgent care, try the emergency room if it is serious enough. One doctor telling you it is nothing may be completely wrong, and it is up to you to seek other help.

--It is sad but true: Doctors treat the patient they see. If you are in the office, and your kid is jumping up and down and smiling, they will not believe how sick they are. Even if you tell them they have been lethargic and feverish and stuck to the couch for 3 days, and this jumping is not only the most active they have been, but is also a result of massive tylenol and advil infusions, they still treat the child they see. The great doctors will take your symptom description seriously and believe you (the bad ones won't), but even the great ones will take into account the fact that the child is up and jumping and smiling.

I will tell you my trick. When I think it is something simple like an ear infection, I go ahead and give them the fever medicine and take them in. When I think it is something more serious and they are really sick at home, I withhold the medication, and I wait for them to spike a fever, then take them in to either the doctor or the urgent care. That situation above with Jack? Part of the reason I got such aggressive care the second time is that I stopped the tyl/adv and waited for his fever to spike. It is SAD! To know that you can give a dose of medication and your kid will perk up in 30 min, versus just laying like a limp rag and burning up. But the truth remains- doctors treat what they see. When that second doctor SAW the lethargy, and the fever hit, he was much more willing to treat Jack. The first doctor saw him laughing and playing as a result of medication, and treated the child she saw.

--Reporting a fever. The first question any doctor will ask is: How high has their fever been? This is a diagnostic tool- viruses generally give lower fevers- 99-100's. Small infections, like ears, UTI, etc will generally give fevers 101-102. When the fever gets to 103/104, it sometimes means a more aggressive or serious infection. How can you manipulate what you report? DON'T LIE! You never want to report a fever as more than it really is. However... it can be manipulated. Sometimes a doctor will ask you WHERE you took the temperature- but usually not. Here is why WHERE matters:

Normal temps: oral- 98.6, rectal- 99.6, under the arm- 97.6, ear (wildly erratic and unreliable- please don't use that method), forehead- 98.6.

As you can see, if your child is running a fever, their mouth will tell you 101, under their arm will only say 100, and the rectum will be 102. Just this difference of location will vary the temp by 2 degrees! If you tell your doctor the temp is 100, they will check the ears and throat, but they will be suspecting virus. If you tell them 102, they will check things like throat and lungs a little closer, and they will look for things other than a virus.

Doctors like numbers. If you say "they have been breathing really fast" or "their heart was racing", they understand what that means. BUT- if you take the time to count- and can tell the doctor "he was breathing 60 times a minute" or "his heart was beating 170", those numbers will tell them a LOT more than vague descriptions. It does not take medical training to do these things- look at a clock, start counting (put your hand on their chest to help), count how many times in 15 seconds, then multiply by 4. They always want to know the "worst"- the highest number, the highest temp. The more details you provide, the better they will be able to treat you/your child.

--Watch what the doctor is doing. When they listen to the chest, are they listening in spots all up and down, front, back and side? Are they doing a quick examination or a through one? Are there things that would impact not getting a good exam- like the child won't open their mouth to see their throat, they are crying which means you can't hear the lungs, etc? The default is to do the best they can and if they can't see something, they usually just don't worry about it. That is fine most of the time, but if you think your child is really sick, you need to make sure they get a good exam. The first doctor with Jack? She spent a good 30 seconds listening to one spot on his chest, and saying "take a deep breath... breathe in really deep". He didn't do it- he was 2! But I knew that meant she couldn't hear any sounds in that part of his lungs. It could have been a result of 2 other loud kids in the room and him not breathing deep. But in his case, the absence of sound is because that is where the pneumonia was. You hear pneumonia by NOT hearing breath sounds. It is your responsibility to make sure that the doctors do their job.

--See a specialist. If your child has a lot of ear infections, go to an ENT. If they have allergies, see an allergist. Your primary care doctor is a fantastic resource, but they can't possibly know everything. Specialists are there for a reason, and more people should utilize them. Most people I talk to say "it isn't that bad" or "she is doing okay". That is not enough. You should take them to see people who are experts at what they do. It is not disloyal to see a different doctor- it is taking charge of your own health. Even if the treatment ends up being the same, at least you know that you have explored all the options.

--Look at ALL the options. Abigail's allergies were horrible until I found an herbal supplement that was better than all the prescriptions put together. Diet has a huge impact on just about every health condition. Your doctor will generally not know anything about other remedies, but Dr. Google can give you all kinds of information about it. Talk to people. Do reasearch. Educate yourself.

Wow, this is really long! I have another post about fever management- but I will write that another day! Can you tell we have been sick a lot this past month?? :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I never said my brain was fully functioning today.

I have been awake for almost 36 hours now. Severe sickness and cold symptoms on Monday and Tuesday, very little sleep Tues night, up all day running around on Wed, then I went to work Wed night. Thank goodness my cold is gone, but at midnight, right when the only way I can keep myself motivated not to quit my job that very second is dreams of my soft pillow and warm bed... they closed school for a little ice.

How ironic, when I am always wishing and hoping and scheming for ways to keep my kids home from school. How sad that the one day they are off all I want to do is sleep!

I'm trying to calculate exactly how much sugar and caffeine I will need to get through this day! Unfortunately, trying to calculate anything is probably not a very achievable goal right now!

Also, how in the world can we possibly be out of Advil? I buy it by the bucket at Sam's Club. Of course, it is my drug of choice for almost every occasion, but how can we run out TODAY? Sick and wrong.

Also, the day shift nurses were mostly all late to work today (because of the non-existant ice). And when mine showed up basically on time, I did the happy dance because I wouldn't have to stay late when I was already exhausted! Except that she was the slowest-report-receiver EVER, and I was actually the very last night person to leave! And before I left she asked if I would do one more thing. I said no.

Also, why does one hospital give me 3 or 4 patients, when the other campus of the "same" hospital give me 5? It doesn't make any sense at all, but I do know where to sign up to work from now on.

Also, Kydon took the car because the truck slides all over the place when there isn't ice, so I was worried about him driving. So we are stuck at home- not that we have anywhere to go anyway, but still, it is something to complain about.

I think the kids would love to make sugar cookies. It would keep them busy, and give them something fun to do, and they would be able to have a good memory of their snow day. I even got out the ingredients to make them, but I just don't know if I can handle the mess without completely losing it.

Also, the kids are being super-de-dooper good today. They watched a movie while I dozed, and now they are playing nicely in the basement. I just checked, and they are all getting along, playing with only kid-appropriate things, and just enjoying themselves. Maybe I should be sleep-deprived more often. There is no way I'm stopping all this nice play to have them make sugar cookies.

Usually after I work we order something for dinner, because I am too lazy to worry about fixing something. This week I had a goal to not do that and to make dinner. That goal got abandoned when I realized the kids would be home and Kydon was still going in to work. Pizza, anyone?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Guess Who's Coming To Town?

This weekend was our annual church Christmas party! This year they changed it up a little and made it a pajama party with breakfast food. Yum!
3 Cute Kids in front of a Christmas tree! They had the best time running around the gymnasium, playing with cousins and friends, and waiting for the Big Guy to show up!

When Santa finally arrived, they let the kids go up by age- 3 and under first, then 6 and under, etc. Waiting for our turn was SO hard!

It is SO SAD when you don't get to go first! Especially when you have been waiting and waiting and waiting to for this moment to be able to tell Santa your greatest Christmas wish!
The wait can sometimes make you crazy!
When it was FINALLY our turn, Abigail asked for: MP3 player and a camera. She is 6 going on 16.
Yes, she has been a very, very good girl this year!
Jack asked for a Real Polar Express Train that is electric and you can push the button and it goes around and around. He asked for the same thing last year, and Santa brought a polar express train, but it was the wooden non-electric variety. I guess he thought he would try again.
Jack was also a very, very good boy this year!
Going up, Aidan was debating- he was either going to ask for Spiderman silly bands, which I think Santa had already ordered from Amazon the elves, or an electric train that does all the things in the movie "The Great Locomotive Chase". In an attempt to sway him toward the silly bands, I told him that I don't think they even make an electric train that has all the things from the movie. He reminded me that the elves can make ANYTHING. Right you are- just make sure to ask for the silly bands!
Whichever one he decided to ask for, he deserves it for being such a good, good boy this year!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mommy Messes Up

We have a weekly Family Night. Basically just one evening a week where we gather together as a family and discuss a faith-based topic. Usually the lessons are pretty casual, and I don't put all that much work into it all. This week, however, I got a few ideas and started forming a plan.

I wanted to talk about Jesus being the gift of the season, and talk about why people say that Jesus was a gift. I had the fantastic idea to wrap up 3 baby Jesus' from various nativity scenes, then let the kids open them to start off the lesson.

Then I wanted to talk about giving to others, about people who don't have everything they want, and sometimes not even the things they need. Each of the kids had taken an ornament from the school's giving tree, and I wanted them to somehow feel a connection to what we were doing- some sacrifice of things we have to give to those who don't.

So, we started off. They were SUPER excited to open a present-- then disappointed that it wasn't a toy. But, no big deal, we kept on. I then had them think of what they would do if they had $20 just to themselves to buy whatever they wanted. After they each named various things, we talked about all the things we have and how some people don't have all those things. I handed them each a giftcard for $20, and told them they could each choose to keep it or to give it to the giving tree at school.

Ugh. It was heartwrenching for them! We actually had to talk about it a long, long time to get them to "choose" to give it away. Jack held onto his for the longest time.... he just wanted a Monster Truck! Finally, with some gentle coaxing from Daddy, he too gave his up.

As I was tucking them into bed, Jack had the saddest look on his face- he said "I just wanted to keep the $20!" I felt so bad! I knew that we had taught them about giving, but first they opened a present that wasn't really a present, then I gave them each money and made them give it right back! Maybe it did teach them, but I don't know if it was the best way to go about it!

I guess it's official- I screw up sometimes!