Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Morning Drama AND Blogiversary (Re)Giveaway

So this morning, right after I got to work, I returned from the restroom to see the school had called, and I figured it was about E, who had an engorged tick on his head last weekend while I was off whooping it up in Connecticut, and we were practicing "watchful waiting" (as advised by one of my co-whoopers who happens to be a nurse practitioner) until this weekend, when the bite spot started swelling up and looking red and hurting, and E developed that droopy-eyed low-energy appearance of a kid who just feels off, and we figured this was what we were watching and waiting for, so I called the doctor and made an appointment for 1:00. Only after I hung up did I listen to the voicemail and learn that M had jabbed a lead from his new mechanical pencil under his right thumb nail and that it hurt so he threw up. We waited for the school nurse to come in from one of the other two (or is it four?) schools she covers and when she wasn't able to get it out, I called the doctor back, only this time it took an hour to get through to anyone and they had no appointments and suggested I go to the ER.

So I left work and picked up both boys. By now it was 11:30 and it seemed unlikely that we would be able to get through the urgent care center fast enough to get to E's appointment in time, and M looked perfectly fine and healthy, except for a thin gray line under his fingernail, and as I was raised in the "Let's wait and see how you feel Thursday," school of healthcare, as well as in the belief that warm salt water is the cure for all flesh wounds, I handed M a tupperware of just that elixir, headed into town to feed both boys and run a few errands before E's appointment, where of course the doctor waffled a bit, because no one knows about Lime disease, really, but it was the right incubation period, and he does have a bit of a fever, but then again it's hard to tell if it's a bullseye or just red, what with all the hair in the way, and do you want to take chances with a disease of not entirely clear consequences and possibly lifelong effects or take chances with an antibiotic? Three weeks of three times-a-day antibiotic?

I had just recently read this post, and it did make me pause. While I'm not terrified of medicine, or even red dye number whatever, I do try to minimize my children's exposure to both--I always buy dye-free ibuprofen and give them honey (or ginger syrup) rather than cherry-red cough syrup. On the other hand, lifelong debilitating disease...yikes. The doctor and I agreed we should treat him. He was very thorough in looking up the recommendations and dosage on the computer (he recently practiced in the city and had little experience w/ tickborne illness; but he was also concurrently going through something very similar regarding his own young son) I appreciated his honesty (a doctor who can say "I don't know" is somehow much more reassuring than one who has all the answers) and his willingness to broach all sides of the issue. E has never had to take antibiotics before (Z did once for pneumonia and M for an ear infection; otherwise we've been very lucky), and I figure of all the times to rely on Western medicine, this is one.

By the time we were done, M did not want to go to urgent care, and I found the prospect increasingly ridiculous, so we picked Z up from daycare, headed home, M returned to the salt water soak and all three boys zoned out in front of the TV in a rare breaking of the "no screen on school nights" rule. Later, after C came home, he extracted the lead (which was a good 5/8 inch long) using--wait for it--a razor blade. It was stomach-turning, but it worked and M immediately headed off to practice guitar.

Here's the most terrible thing about this whole story: for the last week or so I had been thinking, nay, hoping, that if one of the kids got sick, I could take a day off and get some of the millions of things done that are pressing down on me like an ice sheet grinding away at a mountain. And now I have one kid with (possibly) Lime disease and another with a self-inflicted stab wound. And I had to take most of a sick day. And I didn't get one blasted thing done. I hate the phrase "careful what you wish for" because I detest cliches in all forms, but really that one couldn't be more true, could it?

ANYWAY, today is my four-year blog anniversary, if you can believe that (what I can't believe is whatever possessed me to think Thanksgiving week would be a good time to start a blog??). I just went back and saw that first post just to check the date, and it brought back that great big sense of inadequacy that dogged me then (and now), especially when I viewed my own life in comparison others' lives in blogtopia. I wanted this to be a little space where I kept it real--talked about the very unperfect side of motherhood. I hope I've accomplished this in some small way. I do know that I've learned to slow down and appreciate the little things, to pay attention and take pleasure in moments that, while far from perfect (or blogtopian) and wonderful in their own way. I have, on occasion, been accused of making my life look perfect, which it is not, and that is not my intention (so please come back and read this post if that thought ever strikes you!). Thanks for sharing this journey with me, whether you've been here since the beginning, or have just popped in for a visit.

As a small token of thanks, I have to give away to one reader a signed copy of The Beautiful One Has Come, a collection of short stories by Suzanne Kamata, who was one of my very first writing teachers several years ago. I won the book on a giveaway on Suzanne's blog Gaijin Mama a few months ago, and now I want to pass it on to another reader who might enjoy it as much as I did. Suzanne is an ex-pat living in Japan with her Japanese husband and bicultural twin children, one of whom is deaf and in a wheel chair. Many of Suzanne's stories explore the nuances of life as an American in Japan, as a mother of bicultural children, and as a mother of a disabled child. Once you've read The Beautiful One, I hope you check out Suzanne's novel Losing Kei and the anthology of essays about mothering across cultures, Call Me Okaasan.

With the book, I'll throw in some chocolate and something small and handmade. So please leave a comment here between now and next Monday (November 28) telling me about a good book or a bad Monday (and your email address so I can contact you if you win). Thanks and good luck!


  1. Hope your little ones will both be okay, good idea about bringing the saltwater with you! congrats to your anniversary, i'v been reading your blog only for about a year and a bit but I love it! I'm in the UK so don't worry about including me in the giveaway, but a really good book is "diary" by chuck palahniuk.

  2. My favorite novel of all is "Possession" by A.S. Byatt, in large part because of the wonderful variety of forms of writing contained within the cover -- prose, epistolary, poetry, all in one amazing story!

    I am all too familiar with the "be careful what you wish for" phenomenon. May you have some time to accomplish what you need to without further injuries, and may everyone stay healthy!

  3. I'm not one to jump to antibiotics or even tylenol, but you don't want to fool around with Lyme. It is very prevalent in my town (husband is finishing up his 3 weeks of antibiotics). I've seen what happens when it's not caught early...err on the side of meds with this one!

    Hope everyone is well soon!

  4. I hope they are okay. I am actually writing an essay about the mixed feelings of sick days.

    I just finished reading my favorite sci-fi author (Joan Slonczewski)'s new book The Highest Frontier and I loved it. Future-political scion goes to college in spacehab and has adventures with corrupt politicians and aliens - very satisfying.

    I don't even want to discuss bad mondays, I'm afraid.

  5. Congrats on your 4 year mark! I enjoy your realistic portrayal of a working Mom & her family. Keep up the good work.

    As for the Lyme, I am glad to hear that you are treating it. My 14 yo son is on antibiotics for his 5th case of Lyme! The first 4 times he was put on erythromycin and it cleared up very quickly. This time he is on Doxycyclene and it is taking longer. It is worth noting that I normally don't give my kids medicine or take them to the doctor very often.

    I am also being treated for Lyme, I have been sick for a few months now and take it from me-you DO NOT want your kids to get this. It is no fun.

    I have one question. Why didn't the doc take a look at M's fingernail while you were at E's appt?

    You are a busy woman. I am amazed at all you get done. Your kids will remember lots of good things I am sure.

    I cannot explain my Monday in this public forum but it was not my best.

    I recently read Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil. It is a light and fun read, not great literature, but was just what I needed.

    If you have any Lyme questions, feel free to ask.

  6. Thanks everyone for the well-wishes and the book recommendations!

    M's thumb is good (so far) and E seems better (and loves that yummy pink medicine); though I forgot to buy yogurt to counteract the destruction of beneficial intestinal fauna.

    Aunt Kirstie--Yikes! Five cases of Lyme? That stinks. The doc didn't look at M's fingernail because the triage nurse (a.k.a. gatekeeper) had already told me he had only a 20 minute slot for E and wouldn't have time, and M chose to stay in the waiting room reading (and in the end he used more like 30 min., after he had looked up the treatment).

  7. Lovely! Thanks for the chance. The book sounds great.

    I have so many favorite books, one of them is Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez.

    lovelydomesticdiva (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. A razor blade!?! Wow. I'm glad you documented this day because it's one for the books.

  9. Hi Andrea. This book sounds so interesting. Would love to win it. As far as my recommendation goes, all I can say is that I am currently _obsessed_with the Little House books. Highly recommended if you haven't read them as an adult. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all well.

  10. Goodness, what a day. Your boys sound resilliant.
    I love that bunting and the bird.

    i just finished State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and LOVED it. Now I'm reading Cutting for Stone, not quite as thrilling as Patchett's novel, but lovely writing.

    Congrats on sticking with your blog for 4 years!

  11. Ooh, I'm so excited I'm not too late to enter! I had this open in a window days ago and then forgot to comment. A book--well, I've had magical realism on the brain lately, so this is neither current nor particularly relevant to anything, but have you read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's _100 Years of Solitude_? It's in my top five.

    A bad Monday? Is it super pathetic if I say that every Monday is bad because I'm so depressed about the quality of my eldest's kindergarten class?

  12. Every Monday is bad isn't it? I mean (usually) we have our lovely family time on the weekends, only to be brutally ripped from us early Monday morning. I hate Mondays.

    As far as books, I'm just in shock that there are moms who have time to read. I read magazines and blogs, but I can't think of the last time I snuggled down with a book. It's almost like seeing a unicorn isn't it? I did go to my cousins wedding a while ago (sans kids) and read a book on the plane and at my hotel room. I loved the book, but it might have just been because I actually got to read it :). It was The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent.

    Hope your kids are on the mend! I too try to avoid medicines and dyes. Aiden actually used to have a "hyperactive" reaction to Red Dye #3. He seems to have outgrown it, but I feel like if it was bad for him then, there is no reason for him to have it now. I'm of the "suck it up and deal with it" mentality (ok, not really, but sometimes I think I should be).

  13. Andrea, I'm sorry about your hellish day, and I hope everyone is healthy now!!

    Congratulations on four years in the blogosphere! I'm grateful for your words and inspiration!


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