Recovering

Thank you, thank you to those who have reached out following the last post. I sincerely appreciate it. Especially because the messages I received were just… check-ins. Love it. Thank you.

Very conveniently, I got to spend the days following that post with my beloved family having a wonderful weekend.

It started that very Friday when I got to visit Graham’s school for an annual kindergartner parade for the Chinese new year.

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Pictured above [in the red paper hat] is Graham’s teacher. She is so great. Patient and kind and always looking for new ways to help our buddy in class.

This parade thing? This would be something that I typically wouldn’t be able to make if I worked outside the home. But here we are. I got a flyer inviting parents to join, so I did. And do you think it makes a difference?

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You’d better believe it does.

I talk with Graham fairly regularly about how my being available to hang out after school and come to things like this during the day are a temporary thing while I’m on the job hunt. And we then talk about how we are just going to enjoy the heck out of it while it lasts.

I think we’re doing a pretty good job. :)

On to the weekend!

Graham was edgier than usual, but we did have unseasonably warm (and SUNNY!) weather, so we got a chance to take advantage by making a trip to our local zoo.

I’m going to take a moment and say how impressed I am with the Madison zoo. First off, it’s free. You drive up, park and walk in. No one so much as counts heads or anything. Crazy.

Knowing it’s free, I expected something fairly modest. In fact, when we said we were going to go to the zoo, Reid immediately yelled, “I WANT TO SEE THE LIONS!!! :::ROOOAARRRRR:::,” Andy and I were all, “Well, there may not be lions,” and “…there might be some sort of big cat, maybe.”

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But no. There were lions. And a tiger. (No bears!) And giraffes and penguins and chimps.

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We ran into one of my friends from my hometown there and his wife and son. It felt like all young families in Madison were at the zoo Saturday. The day was perfection.

Sunday was pretty great too – to start.

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Despite the big smiles in the zoo pictures, Graham was pretty crabby on Saturday. We attributed it to too many Saturday morning cartoons. After a particularly nasty outburst from him, we stripped him of T.V. rights on Sunday.

Funny that these ‘no T.V.’ days end up being the best days. He and Reid played alllllll morning and were so sweet with each other. Graham was mildly complaining that morning of his tummy feeling icky, but otherwise we had a pretty normal day. Graham and Andy went to the hardware store for some lumber so Andy can build some shelves in my closet. Reid and I ran some other errands that morning too.

Graham had lunch then we played Uno through Reid’s naptime. Take a look at these awesome card holders Graham thought up! I’m sure it’s mommy goggles, but this kid just impresses the pants off me sometimes.

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It wasn’t long after this picture was taken that our day took a turn. Graham went out to the wood shop with Andy to make little card-holders out of wood, but they came back in after 10 or 15 minutes when Graham started feeling super suspect. Not long after, the fireworks started. 😉

Poor kid. It seemed like this thing was going to be fairly run-of-the-mill bug. After a couple of rounds in as many hours, things seemed to be slowing down, but he then made the regrettable error of chugging a bunch of water which made the gastrointestinal gods angry, which then led to him… making sacrifices… every 20 minutes for the next 3 hours. He even woke up moaning a couple of times shortly after he went to bed.

It was bad enough that we were resorting to trying a bit of Dramamine and placing a call to the on-call pediatrician for advice, which we haven’t done for a stomach bug since Graham was a toddler. This one was a doozy!

After a quiet night, we figured Graham would be feeling much improved this morning, but we sort of rushed things too quickly. Soon after he got up, I offered that it might feel good to get in the shower. He agreed, but shortly after getting under the water, he started moaning, “I need my trash can” again.

Thankfully for him it was a false alarm. But – message received. We’re going slowly this morning.

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Project Rehydration is in full effect! I treated him to a couple of Redbox DVDs, fresh sheets and jammies and – per the on-call pediatrician’s advice – taking 2 tsp shots (yep, out of an old college shotglass!) of Gatorade every few minutes. Which means I’ve been writing this post in 5 minute increments.

Suffice it to say, we’re recovering. In more ways than one. Graham’s little smile in the above pic is a ray of hope. He should be feeling much perkier as the day stretches on. Meanwhile, I feel more positive this week. And I feel in my bones that this job hunt is drawing to a close.

In the meantime, I’m needed at home. It’s a good feeling to be where you’re supposed to be.

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

I have to write this down, so that I can remember this allergy journey we’ve been on with Reid. Last year about this time, Reid – at 1.5 years old – was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. First with a food reaction, then with a positive skin scratch test.

The Year Follow-Up

This May, we had our year follow-up with the allergist. We got to tell him about the time Reid bit through a Snickers wrapper and sunk his teeth into peanutty-nuggety goodness at Halloween. We chatted about Reid’s wheezes when he runs after his big brother down the sidewalk.

At that appointment, Reid had a blood draw. They submitted it for allergy testing of all tree nuts (which we were explicitly told to avoid last year) and environmental allergens. I’d been giving Reid Zyrtec for what I thought were seasonal allergies (turned out to just be a cold), and dingbat me gave him Zyrtec the night before our appointment, which pre-empted our being able to administer a skin scratch test for all these things.

That whole blood test/skin scratch test nuance becomes important later. Stay with me.

We left the appointment with a new asthma maintenance regimen to follow and made an appointment to follow-up with the allergist in a month to check on his breathing.

The Results are In

A week later, we got the blood test results back: negative for all allergies except for cats. The nurse relayed the message that we could now try tree nuts “safely at home” and that our allergist recommended we stick to individual tree nuts before moving on to mixes. Done and done.

It’s funny the mindset you get into when you’ve been avoiding something for a year as if it were basically poison. It seems almost unbelievable that tree nuts wouldn’t cause some sort of harm.

I know, I’m living the irony – the TORTURE that Facebook is to read sometimes because some folks are so fearstruck by absolutely nothing consequential when there is hard data available that reinforces that whatever it is is completely harmless. I’m now doing that very thing.

In fact, Andy and I did our little happy dance and immediately started to list all the breakfast cereals available to us given these test results. And yet weeks passed while I consciously opted out of opportunities to let Reid try nuts. We’re about to go on a long car ride… Camping really isn’t the time for this… yadda yadda.

Trial and Error

Honey Nut Cheerios was the first thing we tried. Success! He LOVED it. Devoured an entire bowl, in fact. And he didn’t explode! I mentally high-fived his immune system that day and crossed that off my long list of anxieties.

Last Monday, Andy came up to the bathroom where I was getting ready. He held Reid, facing out, in his arms and said, “Mommy… look at this,” then proceeded to lift his shirt which revealed a red rash covering his entire trunk. I blinked a couple of times, but my mind didn’t connect the dots until Andy said, “He just had a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds.”

The hives came shortly after. We gave Reid the Benadryl, per his allergy action plan, then watched him for signs of any sort of distress. None came, so we called the allergist’s office when it opened and followed their instructions.  Reid now fully medicated, he watched Despicable Me, and I googled error rates of food allergy blood tests (15-20% chance you’ll react to the actual food when you get a blood test negative, by the way).

We already had a follow-up with the allergist for Reid’s asthma regimen, so we tacked on “tree nut re-testing” onto the agenda for that visit. Good times.

Back to the Allergist

Reid had his allergist’s appointment today, and I’m more confused than ever. Reid doesn’t have an almond allergy. 

We tested him six ways from Sunday:

  • Skin scratch test for all tree nut allergens: negative
  • Crushed up almond, scratched on the skin: negative
  • Gave him an almond to eat: negative
  • Gave him five almonds to eat: managed to choke one down before refusing to eat any more because almonds are gross and ENOUGH WITH THE ALMONDS ALREADY YOU CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!
  • Crushed up remaining uneaten almonds into vanilla ice cream: negative (and DELICIOUS)

A half hour after the contaminated ice cream treat, Reid’s doctor told me with certainty that Reid isn’t allergic to almonds – or other tree nuts for that matter. We scoured the cereal’s ingredient panel for other possible reactive items, but cinnamon was all we could come up with. Reid eats cinnamon toast and other cinnamon-y things, so… nope.

My prevailing guess is that peanut in some form or another was accidentally introduced to the cereal. It can happen. I’ve seen how it can happen. We in the food industry try so SO very hard to make absolutely no mistakes where food safety is concerned , but it takes one guy not reading a label. Or a label not being where it should. R&D running a test for a new peanut cereal on that line and it not getting sanitized properly. I thank God that Reid’s allergy isn’t life-threatening. I can’t imagine what life would be like for us if it was.

Silly Baby

Reid is home with me today. Wheezing again. He’s taking it like a champ, but we did go see the doctor today to see why his Flovent/albuterol cocktail doesn’t keep him breathing easily during a flareup.

Clearly, he takes this all in stride – as demonstrated below.

He thinks he sounds funny when he’s wheezing, and he has this funny little chipmunk laugh that he does. I wanted to get it on video and ended up just rolling tape and getting a good collection of Reid’s daily antics. It’s perfect. He is a little hamball. Just imagine what it’s like when he and Graham get together! We get nothing done!

On the breathing front, we now have a higher dose of Flovent, and we now have a nebulizer to administer meds when he has a cold to hopefully get his two medicines administered more effectively. Here’s hoping!

Zinc Lozenges

I’ve been thinking a lot about health & wellness here these past few days. Reid continues to recover from his tummy bug – which good! Except, oh right, he still has a chest cold.

And fun! Graham now has it [the chest cold] too.

He is also chock full of vague complaints like he “has stuffing in his throat” or “cracklies when [he] breathe[s]”. He also looked at me and said, “Mom, I think I have a sore throat.” This comment, for no good reason took me back to a time when I was home from college for break.

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I walked into my parents’ living room and flopped onto one of the armchairs and complained about having gotten a sore throat. My mom was sitting across from me on the couch, reading, and mentioned that she’d gotten some zinc lozenges from the chiropractor that I could try.

“Have you tried them already?”
“Yes.”
“Did they work?”
“I”m not sure.”
“You’re not sure??”
“I don’t remember.”

I laughed and gave her a hard time. How do you not remember if something worked or not? Mom and I are in full agreement – the sore throat is the worst part of the cold. So how could you have such an unsure assessment of something that was supposed to fix the worst part of a cold.

She ignored my jabs and asked again if I wanted one, so I agreed to try it. She went to the kitchen and opened a prescription pill container (not actually a prescription, by the way, just the container that it happened to be sold in. Sketchy, no?) She extracted one of these.

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Like this… only the size of a milk cap

There were no words. It was gray-brown, and grainy-looking. Flat and HUGE. Mom just said, “I know.”

I popped it in my mouth and held it there. A huge Necco wafer gone horribly wrong. It tasted like it looked. Chalky, grainy, brown. Slightly metallic. Earthy, like someone ground up and dried down a bunch of twigs from the backyard.

I moved it around – as one does with a lozenge – but found it to be sort of unwieldy and obtrusive. I had to have grimaced. Mom said, “Give it a minute.”

So, we both resumed our original places in the living room. She with her book, and I with my twig-wafer. The thing slowly started to dissolve, making it only rougher. The muddy flavor was increasing, as was the metallic taste. My stomach started to turn. I wondered if the sensation was psychosomatic or if there was actually something in the lozenge I was physically rejecting. The worst part was: I still had a good quarter-sized lozenge left to dissolve – the thickness of about three quarters too.

I looked over and said, “Dith you finish thith entire thing?” Mom replied, “No, I had to spit it out.” I sprung off the couch, spit it out in the kitchen and came back to the living room. The metallic aftertaste and the nausea lingered. When I came back, she continued, “I’m not sure if it actually works or if it’s just so bad that it takes your mind off your sore throat.”

“So,” she continued, “did it work?”

Green around the gills and trying to bring feeling back to my tongue, I thought about it and then realized…

“I’m not sure.”

Building Immunity

Seriously. Reid is sick again.

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I’m pretty sure this [above] is what I looked like this afternoon. Reid is not only on Day 3 of a head/chest cold but now also has a stomach bug as well.

Yes, absolutely correct, for those of you paying close attention. He did, in fact, have a stomach virus two weeks ago to the day. He apparently has been lucky enough to pick up some other strain. Probably from his 2-year well visit to the pediatrician on Friday. Kid is cutting a tooth, so in addition to climbing on every vinyl chair in the doctor’s waiting room and flipping through all the books, he was also chewing on his fingers non-stop.

But, hey, whaddyagonnado.

Thankfully this time around, I was able to get him psyched about “grape juice” (shh, don’t tell him, but it’s Pedialyte). Both kids went on a Pedialyte strike for about a year, making hydration more of a challenge in times like these. Big thanks for small blessings, I guess.

In other news, I got Christmas cards out this weekend and Christmas decorations distributed in the house. I never realized just how difficult it would be to decorate a new house with a previous home’s decorations. It took forever, and it’s definitely going to be a work in progress over the next couple of years.

Andy and I also got outside today and conjured up some exterior decorations. I’ll see if I can snap a pic one of these days. We were able to repurpose some lit garland from the old house. Very unfortunately, 3 of the 4 strands had half their strands out. This, we realized after it was attached to the roofline.

Yeah.

I was like, “Well, these won’t be lit garland this year.” Andy was like, “Yeah, that’s going to bother me.” Suffice it to say, stringing lights on garland on an extension ladder in 34 degrees was an experience I hope not to relive soon.

Okay, ever. But it does look pretty. Proof coming soon.