Monday, August 19, 2013

Sick days

If you have had young kids in your life, you might remember when they would become sick or get hurt, or perhaps you're living through it now.  I found that it was especially difficult when the girls were babies.  It was always a mystery trying to figure out what in the heck was wrong with them since they couldn't speak.

One of the "best" sick days was the day when Annie could tell us what was wrong.  It took a bit to get it out of her...she had an unexplained fever and vomiting, so we asked obvious questions such as, "Does your tummy or head hurt?"  We thought she just had a stomach bug, so we were fairly content to let it run it's course.  Then I talked to my mother-in-law, who had the foresight to ask, "Does Annie's throat hurt?"  Now that wasn't even a blip on my radar.  Never having had strep as an adult, I just didn't know the symptoms of strep.  So when I asked Annie, and she answered "Yes!," we packed her up into the car, took her to the doctor, and picked up a handy-dandy antibiotic prescription.

Then you have Laurie who is almost 7.  She was born with congenital heart block (diagnosed at 21 weeks in utero), and was supposed to have a pacemaker put in immediately upon birth.  She defied all of that.  Her heart was and is very just beats slowly (alarmingly so).  We have been told that she'll need a pacemaker "one day," but she was good to go without it for a long while.  We're just supposed to look out for the signs that her heart is having trouble - excessive sweating, unable to run due to shortness of breath, fainting.  So far, so good though!  She certainly doesn't present as a kid who has heart troubles...ask anyone who has seen her in action!

But since she is nonverbal, she still can't tell us when something is wrong.  Somehow I have a much harder time with this now than when she was a baby.  Because she isn't that fussy when she's sick or hurt, we only have a clue when she loses her voice, gets the sniffles, refuses food, has a fever, or somehow inadvertently shows us that she has been injured somehow.  You bleeding all over the place because she ripped a toenail. She doesn't cry.  She certainly doesn't tell or show us.  She is just pretty stoic.  When she's out of sorts, we practically beg her to tell us where it hurts.  I've pointed to her body parts (or Annie's or even my own), used the iPad, and even tried to get her to show me by pointing to a doll.  She has no interest in any of that.

Once she fell off of a ride at Chuck E Cheese and broke her foot.  We had no idea because she only walked around with a slight limp.  It wasn't until she jumped around in a bounce house, and landed a little funny, that we realized she had done more damage than we had thought.  So we took her to the ER, and she came home with a day-glo pink cast that she had to wear for a few weeks.  It really didn't faze her one bit.  She walked around as if she didn't have a care in the world, much less a broken foot.

If she's uncomfortable, or isn't happy about something (like being changed), she will often break into song. Her recent "go-to" song is "Jingle Bells," but we've also heard renditions of the ABC song and "Itsy Bitsy Spider."  We heard all three of those when we had to take her to the ER for severe constipation earlier this year.  It was so sad.

When Laurie is sick, Annie rises to the occasion.  She gets her stuffed animals, drinks, and will just sit with her for hours.  She's so good with Laurie.

But really, our biggest clue that Laurie does not feel well is that she is still.  And she's quiet.  It doesn't happen frequently, thank goodness, so when it does, we're always alarmed.  But we do get a lot of great cuddling in, even if we do start sweating from the little heating pad.  Truthfully though, as horrible as it is when she doesn't feel well, sometimes we're relieved to have the break.  I think it just gives everyone a chance to regroup.  Inevitably she bounces back, and she's back to her usual havoc-wreaking self.  And despite the havoc, we're always happy for that.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


So Laurie loves to watch TV shows and movies.  Often she has the TV playing a kids' show while she has the iPad running a YouTube video of Teletubbies or some other nauseating show...both at full volume, and often when she has her other techie toys going (like the Leapster or LeapPad).  Don't even think about turning the channel to something you want to watch.  Not even for a second.  Laurie will march right over to you with the remote control, place your fingers in approximately the correct areas on the remote, and then bark an order at you.  Try to ignore her if you can.  It's endearing (read: scary), really.  If you give in and change the channel, she'll then rip the remote out of your hand and run across the room with it so you can't change it back.  Sometimes I hide the remote (shhhh....). 

Laurie goes in phases where she wants to watch the same thing over and over.  And over.  Currently we are in a "Cabbage Patch Kids" show phase - particularly the "Vernon's Christmas" episode.  It's cute and has catchy music.  I find myself singing the songs at odd times...hopefully no one else has heard me!  I do sing them with Laurie around, sometimes, and if she's in the right mood, she'll join in, which just makes my whole day.  Most of the time she just looks at me as if I fell off my rocker.

Other times when she's in perseveration mode, she'll try out various inflections with you.  During a strong Strawberry Shortcake phase (called "Shortcake" by Laurie), she would come up to one of us, grab us by the hand, and drag us into the den where'd she look up at us and say:

"Shortcake?" (cute, right?)
"ShortCAKE?" (because maybe the cute wasn't ramped up enough)
"SHORTcake." (obviously you aren't getting it)
"Short. Cake."  (as if you really are the most clueless person she's ever met)

Eventually you give in because you just want a little peace and quiet (that's cleverly disguised as white noise).

Along with her strong desire to watch as much musical TV as humanly possible on as many devices as she can get her hands on, Laurie has been trying to figure out how the remote works on her own.  It's the only way she's going to learn, because you know that I'm certainly NOT going to teach her!  One day she somehow initiated a subscription to the Mandarin Channel.  I didn't know it until we got our bill.  Thankfully, Time-Warner Cable removed that from our invoice.  I guess with an Irish last name, they figured that the likelihood of us watching that channel was pretty slim.  They then told me that you can set the cable box so that nothing can be ordered without calling them first.  Thanks, TWC.  Information I could have used earlier!  Of course, now if we try to order a movie, their system is always "temporarily down."  That's ok, though.  I'm certain I would fall asleep during the movie anyway...

Recently Laurie was playing around on the iPad, and was watching a clip of a Barbie movie on YouTube. Earlier, the hubs had signed in to my Gmail account which somehow linked to YouTube.  Well, Laurie "liked" that Barbie movie clip, and now the whole Facebook world apparently knows that I "like" it too.  Yay, Facebook!!  (It seems like it's a little bit "Big Brother," if you ask me).  

She's also figured out how to maneuver the Wii.  This is both a good thing and a bad thing.  It's good because I'm not plagued with orders to start up a new song on "Just Dance Kids," or to replay the same one over, and over (or heaven forbid...have Laurie freak out on me because I just can't figure out WHICH song it is that she wants!).  It is bad because she can pretty much do it herself, and thus spends an inordinate amount of time just making each song pause and restart.  It makes me CRAZY.  

You know, when I was a young kid, we had a cabinet-style TV that sat on the floor.  We didn't have video games, a computer, or even more than 4 channels on the TV (cable TV wasn't even available in my parents' neighborhood until I was in college).  I have a hard time imagining what my life with Laurie would have been like if this were the 1970s & 1980s (never mind any earlier decades).  I know that I take for granted that Laurie has these things to entertain her and to help her communicate.  But I'll never be ungrateful for them.