Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I had all of these plans for today. I worked very hard over the weekend, racking up some overtime. Today, I was supposed to catch up on laundry and make the to-do list shrink a little. Instead I have slept most of the day. Okay, more like the whole day. It is almost 3 pm and I just woke up. Blah.

It would seem we are moving again. This time we actually have found a place in Cincinnati, and I am excited to go back home. There is just so much to do. It really is crazy. This time, we are hiring a moving company to do the job. I already have a job there, as you know. But we are moving downtown, and there is no way my beautiful gifted child will be attending inner city schools, so we have an appointment next week to meet with the powers that be to get him going at the local private school.

As for the house? Beautiful. If you like the shiny new look, you will prefer the hose we are now in. But this one we are moving to? 10 ft. high ceilings, a fireplace in every room, pocket doors and deep windows. Hardwood floors and enormous rooms. We love it. I cannot wait to get to the life we had before we moved down South years ago. To get Evan away from this crazy school he is attending. To not have to leave for work 2 hours before I am scheduled to be there.

More later. I am going back to sleep.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why am I a Republican?

A while back, a friend made the statement to the effect that, with all my family has gone through, they cannot believe I am not backing Obama for this election. As the day approaches when we all will have a voice in the selection of our next leader, I have been pondering the very question he asked.

We were poor. Very poor. On two occasions in our life. I think I should speak on those two occasions.

Our first trip through Poverty was when we were first married. Evan was a newborn. We were struggling to pay the basic bills like rent and electric and car payments. I knew the only way to remedy our financial situation was to make more money. You cannot cut back on your expenses when your expenses are the bare bones of need. But how was I to go back to school to do this for my family?

We turned off the cable. We went without a phone. Internet access? Nah. With the money I saved from my budget, I paid payments on tuition at the local college so I could start taking classes. And while taking those classes, I made sure that I studied like a mad woman. Even for those classes that were a cakewalk. I did this so that my GPA remained immacualte. The healthcare-related fields are pretty challenging, so the school used anatomy and physiology to weed out non-hackers. I remember my instructor getting called into her boss's office over my 100% overall grade in the course. This is a hard class, why does this girl have a perfect score? I remember my instructor saying that is is just Andrea.

So I worked. And worked. And worked. And the next semester, I didn't have to worry about my finances because I had proven my worthiness of my education that I had others willing to step foreward to say "Hey, I will give this girl a scholarship because she has earned it." It was not because of my race or gender or family status or religion or for any other affiliation. It was because I proved myself.

So I graduated. With honors. And within the first month after graduation, I passed my credentialing exams and had a license to practice. And because I had done so well at school, I had many people willing to overlook my greenness as a new graduate and take a chance on me. We could afford the brand new house suddenly. I could afford to give my son everything he wanted. The few years we spent without a pohone or cable or internet no longer mattered because we had those things now. I did it.

Then March, 2008 hit us. I was working, making way more than our family needed. My husband was a stay-at-home-Dad. We could afford that luxury. And then I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was terrified, and terribly ill. I was unable to work. The only comfort I had was that our country has laws to protect people like me. I took FMLA leave for two weeks while they did about 8 head scans in 2 weeks. The little money we had saved up disappeared as the medical expenses rolled in. And then my employer broke the law and fired me, even though I was on leave. This is when the Summer of Hell began. I tried to make it. I did everything I could do. I applied for jobs everywhere, despite the fact that I had not been medically cleared to do so, being honest about what had happened. Noone wanted to take a chance on me after what had happened. The electric and cable were disconnected on the same day. My car was repossessed. I lost it all. I was finally persuaded to go and try to get help.

So I did. It was the most humiliating experience I have had. I took my paystubs and all the necessary information and I applied for governement assistance. Foodstamps, medical cards, cash assistance. I will never forget the worker's face when she looked at my paystubs, stating that I made more money than anyone she had ever known. I saw the look on her face when she found out that my son actually belonged to my husband, that we were married when he was born and that, yes, my husband still lived with us. I got approved for the help. $200 per month in food stamps for my family of three, and $200 in cash assistance. For the months of April, May, and June, my total aid was $1200. Last year, I paid $25,000 in taxes. I had, technically, earned my little piece of help.

But I had an aquaintence who got help also. She had never worked, not even completed high school. Her husband had a full-time job. They got $600 per month in food stamps, $300 in cash assistance, Medicaid for the whole family, their rent subsidized so they only had to pay $50 per month. Noone pressured her to get a job, to get her GED. But the number of tax dollars made available to her family was limitless. All she had to prove was that they had no money. There was no concern with whether or not there was any effort on their part. For my little bit I got? I had to fight tooth and nail, had to provide lists of job contacts. The amount of money I received in one month was about equal to what I earned in one DAY before my family encountered our crisis. Did they really believe that I didn't want to work? That I could be content with that? My rent was 4 times the amount of cash assistance they were giving me.

I had always believed that those taxes I paid went to help people like us, who were in a tight spot because of something horrible that had happened to them. As the amount of my taxes grew and grew with the amount of money I earned, I figured I was doing my part to help society. I assumed that society would return the favor if I needed it. Boy, was I wrong. That isn't how it works at all. The food dollars I got kept us in groceries for about 2 weeks each month. The money I got went to pay for fuel so I could interview for jobs. The only thing that even kept us from drowning was the fact that before that point, I had always paid my bills. The electric company and phone company and landlord were all lenient with us because you could honestly look at our records with each company and see a a distinct break beyond which I had stopped paying earlier and in full, and had started to fall behind. And the only way out was for me to finally find an employer who would do the research, look into my story and see that while it was unfortunate, I really was terminated from my only job in my field because I had been diagnosed with the tumor. The only way to recover from the ordeal we had survived was to accept that position, even though it was an hour and half's one-way drive away, and count down the days until I was no longer an orientee. To the point where I could take overtime and dig myself out of the mess we had fallen into.

So No. I will not vote for a candidate who will endorse or condone the redistribution of wealth. Do the people who will do nothing to help themselves truly deserve the same-sized piece of the pie that I do? Do our tax dollars truly need to go to fund more programs to help these people, when the very people they were designed to help fall through the cracks? The people like me, who work and better themselves, who pay their taxes without complaint and then encounter something so terrible and can't get the help they need?

Instead of creating more programs to help these people, maybe we need to reign in the programs we have. Adding a work requirement, like Obama has done? Is that enough? I have always worked, and when the money I earned wasn't enough, I did what was necessary to get a job that would provide the funds we need. Everyone can do this. Even if you are not academically inclined, there are still technical schools out there that can get you trained in a trade, some of which pay even more than I make. So you can be productive, so you can make your contribution to society.

Until some more of this happens, I will not vote for a candidate like Obama.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Mother's Wishes for Her Son

Playing with MovieMaker again. Making myself cry.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Drawing the Line (With a Broken Pencil)

Evan comes home from school yesterday, walks through the back door, and flings his backpack on the kitchen floor while telling me that he was on "red card" today for behavior. John's immediate words were: "Son, you are grounded." Evan looked dejected and sad but did not protest. I think he has gotten to the point where he accepts his punishment with defeat. And I cannot help but notice that while last year, Evan loved school and would be heartbroken on days when he did not go, this year he dreads it.
So my baby boy spills it to me. He was using a little boy's pencil for one reason or other. We know this little boy and his mother and the child honestly cries over everything. Anyhow...Evan was using the pencil and pressed too hard on his little paper and the lead broke. I made sure I clarified that the lead broke and not the entire pencil. Evan's response: "No mommy, just the black part at the tip." Of course Whiny Butt started to cry. Mrs. X sharpened his pencil for him, and all was right with the world. Until she disciplined my son for that.
I have gotten to the point that I am not taking the school seriously. It feels as if they are ganging up on my little boy and I will not stand for it anymore. If they are going to punish my son for accidentally breaking the lead of a pencil, I can no longer go along with their methods. Up until recently, if Evan was on red card, for whatever reason, he has been punished here at home as well. It is a slap in the face to know that I may have been punishing my son for such trivial infractions. That I am spending a fortune to take him to a private child psychologist for "behavior issues at school" when the misbehavior is this.
For the first time since all of this has started, I called the school and let them know I was pissed. As a matter of fact, I told them this: "If pencils are such a rare commodity at an elementary school that a child has to be reprimanded for accidentally breaking the lead, then please let me know and I will be glad to send a case of pencils in with my son the next time he attends your school."
I also instructed my son that the next time someone teases him, he is to tell that child this : "My IQ is twice your parents' annual salary, so please do not speak to me." And when someone is physically agressive toward Evan, he has been instructed to report to the nearest school employee with this statement: "I do not appredciate X's physical aggression toward me and would appreciate it if you would address it." He may only be 7 years old, but he will use those words, too. I cannot wait for him to do so.
I'm tired. I do everything I can as a parent to help my son learn to value education. I try to be as active a participant in his education as I can, backing up the teachers and administration. But through this process I am now starting to turn the focus on advocating for my son, who is being mistreated.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Show Me Your "Sexy"

John was washing the car and I had the camera out and told him to give me a pose. This is what he came up with.

I Love My Husband: Number 4

This commercial plays on the television, and it does not matter what John is in the process of doing. He could be cleaning, eating, watching a show, playing with Evan, and he will still drop what he is doing, jump up and do a little dance. But his version is not G-rated. He cracks me up on a daily basis.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


So I had the ER again last night. Busy, busy, busy. There are significantly fewer therapists at night than during any other time period throughout the day, and last night we were ever shorter staffed. Lovely. Crazy-busy. And I am running all over the hospital, and one of the seasoned nurses asks me if they were to create a full-time ER RT position, where I would exlusively work nothing but the emergency department on the weekends, would I consider accepting. I said I would. Actually, my exact response was "Sure!". But as the clock was approaching go-home time and we were intubating yet another end-stage COPD patient, I was left wondering wtf I was thinking. My status as an adrenaline junkie and my gluttony for punishment momentarily overcame my rationale. And I think I was just basking in the compliment. I mean, when I started there, I was told the ER RNs would run me over until they were convinced that I knew my stuff. Now their faces light with smiles when, at the beginning of my shift, I walk through those ER doors. I guess I have proved my worth.

Ha. Another One Bites the Dust

I know some people who are not so happy this Sunday. I refer you to the scores for Saturday's games.This is my fave, of course, despite the fact that my husband insisted it was not going to happen. Even though he is a UM fan, yesterday he was pulling for the Spartans. But this one made it a pretty damned good day for me also. I love football season.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dream Home

3 Stories. Pine floors. Sub Z Stainless steel fridge and Viking range. Thge top floor has a sleeping loft with city views. One of those 20th century rowhouses in Covington, right on the river. Wrought-iron gates, exposed-brick walls on the interior of the home.
Expensive, but my dream home nonetheless. And it is available.

I Hate Fridays

Nope, not that kind. The actual day of the week, before Saturday and after Thursday. I hate those. That is my Monday. But better yet, I cannot sleep like I should when going into work for one of those long nights. I maintain a first-shift schedule all through the week by keeping appointments, running errands, and attending school functions and meetings for Evan. When Friday hits, and I actually slept like a normal preson the night before, I just cannot close my eyes and drift off. I have tried everything and none of it works for me. Poor John has even tried playing with my hair, giving me massages. Anything to help me relax so I can drift off to dreamland. Perfect example: Here I am now, blogging about the need to sleep on Friday, when I should, in fact, be sleeping. Grrrr.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Run Like Hell" Makes Me Sad As Hell

I want to do this. But there is no way we can meet the deadline in time. And I am not ready for any sort of run. I asked John and he wants to also, so I guess the plan is to gather some stuff for next year's "Run Like Hell" event for Cystic Fibrosis. I can think of nothing more fun to do than to run through a cemetary in Halloween costume for charity. It's only a 5K. Easy-Peasy.

My Pumpkin at the Pumpkin Patch

I got the lovely experience of being UberMom with Evan this week as we made the pilgrimage to Vogt Farm in Batesville, Indiana this past week with his Cub Scout Pack. We knew well in advance that we were going, but being that I have a career, I tend to forget the details unless they are staring me in the face. So after Evan left for school that day, I pulled out the event flyer to take a look. " Bring One Dozen Cookies, Please." D'Oh! These people apparently did not get the memo that I do not bake. I can cook, but I do not bake. It has been my Achilles' heel as a mother, one that brought tears as an expectant mother. I had made a chocolate cake, and I wanted to ice it. But I made it way too large, and the cake saver doodad would not fit over the top of the thing. The top layer tried to slide off and had to be rescued, and each time someone took a piece, the sides of the cake scraped against the sides of the container. It was not pretty and John referred to it as "Chocolate Ugly Cake". It tasted good, though. But I, in all of my pregnant glory, shed tears over this. I could just see my soon-to-be-born child taking cupcakes to school which noone would dare eat.
So here I am now. I still cannot bake, but they want cookies. John says, "Andrea, just go buy a bag of Oreos or something." No way. I am now playing the role of CubScout Mother. Oreos do not fit the bill. So I head to the grocery store to get the needed ingredients. (I guess I am a bad mother in that I do not keep the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies in my cabinets at any given moment where I am struck into a baking frenzy.) So I decide on frosted sugar cookies, and I get the goods, including those little pumpkins that taste like candy corn.
So I stand here in my kitchen, and I individually decorate not the requisite one dozen, but two. And they are cute and pumpkin patch-ish with little sprinkels and pumpkins. And when we get there, all of the other Moms tell me they are adorable. As they are hauling out their bags of Oreos and Chips-Ahoy!
Then we get to the festivities at hand, and Evan has a ball getting messy and into things. He pets animals, rides a pony, and he and his Pack Leader completely lose me, City Girl Supreme, in a corn maze. That picture up there is them running away from me. I kept hearing that eery Children of the Corn music in my head as I wandered through it. But at least Evan knows his Mom is a good sport. Then I discovered that one of the leaders just happens to be a guy I dated in high school. Lovely.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Mother's Urge To Protect Her Young

I was never prepared for this hurt. No one tells you when you decide to have children that you wil physically feel their pain. You cry when they get their immunizations as babies. One time, when Evan was 10 months old, he had a stomach virus that left him dehydrated and his electrolytes completely depleted. He had to have an IV, and I had to leave the room. I could have sworn I could feel the stick myself, outside of a closed door, in the hallway of that ER. None of it prepared me for this.

Evan went to see the child psychologist today. She got down on the floor with him, playing with Legos, and managed to pull out of my child all of things he never told me. I sat by silently, trying to focus on the questionnaires she gave me to fill out, while my son poured it all out to her. In his beautiful mind, he could not understand why he had to do the mundane schoolwork presented to him in class. He knows this stuff, so why should he have to prove himself to his teacher? Then we got to the part where his retention in kindergarten was discussed. It was all I could do to keep myself from breaking into gulping sobs when I heard the sadness in his little voice as he explained to her in very adult terms how the children at school called him a dummy, or stupid, or retarded because he was forced to repeat kindergarten. How they pick on the Southrn accent we all find so adorable. How he is taunted about being a "rich" kid because of the shoes he wears. He said sometimes they combine it all: Dumb rich hick. Never, in all of this time, did I imagine my bright and beautiful child would be the butt of jokes at school. Never did he utter a single word about any of this. I told him as we were driving to his appointment that we were going to meet a lady who was going to help us with the problems he was having at school, and how important it was that he tell her the complete truth about what is truly going on. I am so proud of him. He did just that. I sat there and let him speak.

Her opinion of my son is that he is a "social butterfly with an abnormally high intellect". That he never should have been forced to repeat kindergarten, and that the school should be doing more to offer to him more challenging and engaging work. We will continue to meet with her to work on these issues. His IQ? I will not report that publically, but I will say it is freakishly high.

But then I came home. After grocery shopping and playtime, homework, bath and bedtime have passed, I am alone in a silent house. And I feel this deep, primitive urge to wreak havoc on the morons who did this to my son. He has been hurting and I could not fix it. I know about it now and still am not sure I can fix it. I want to keep him home tomorrow. I want to tell him he never has to go back to that place, full of cruelty for him. My understanding of the teacher's view, my desire to back the school, and my inclination to put up a united front with them in front of Evan? Those are all gone. I want to fight them tooth and nail to ensure that they do right by my child. If he had an impairment of any kind, the law would force them to come up with an individualized plan to meet his needs. Well he has needs, just at the opposite end of the spectrum, and I do not see why they should not legally be forced to accomodate Evan as well. And the children who have tormented him, when in truth he is exponentially more intelligent than they are??? They need to be dealt with by the teacher. How could she not know this was going on?

I have not made a decision yet as to what I plan to do about this. I need to speak to John first, and he will be home from work soon. Private school? Home-school? Just change districts? Raise hell at his existing school? Maybe a combination of any of those. Hell hath no fury like a pissed mother. And I will go down protecting my baby.

Closeted Rebublicans?

Apparently, it is not cool to be a Republican. Only the most established celebrities will admit they are backing the GOP. WTF?


Today is the day I am taking Evan to meet with the psychologist to get to the bottom of the trouble in school. I am terified to hear her say that I am a bad mother, that somehow I am to blame for this. I love my son enough that I can tolerate the pointing of fingers if it means his life will be better. But this gets my thoughts going on how we, as parents, are not given instructions on how to raise our children to be responsible and competent adults. Sure, we can read the research by child psychology experts and pediatricians. But they come with no guaruntee. When I was a young child, corporal punishment was the way to go. Part of what kept me in line was the idea of going to the principal's office for a paddling. Of course I never had to, but the fear was there. And now? Parents aren't even supposed to spank their children, let alone the staff of his or her school. So how do we know that, years down the road, the techniques and research and methods invoilved in disciplining our children will not turn out to be a no-no as well?
And then there is the guilt. What if this is not a discipline problem at all? What if this is something psychological and/or physiological? I have been grounding little Evan and taking away his priviledges for some time when he acts up in school. But what if he cannot help it?
The whole thing just breaks my heart. As a healthcare professional, I know that mental illness is the same as being sick in the way we traditionally think of " being sick". But the stigma of it, even after all we know, doesn't even escape me. I just cannot get over the fact that I am taking my son to a psychologist. Therapy bills aren't supposed to rack up until after I have screwed him up for 18 years. How bad am I that we are having to start now?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Plan for the Future?

I asked my son what he wanted to do when he grows up. His daddy would be so proud.

The Carnival Ride

Picture clowns and cotton candy and calliope music. No we did not go to the fair. Or carnival, or amusement park, for that matter. I am speaking of my husband's car. Yes, my husband's, since I bought the new one.
Here is how this went down: I was on the way home from work in the piece of crappola. It started suddenly pulling to the side and bouncing and doing all sorts of weird stuff, so I pulled over, thinking I had a blow out. Nope, the tires were all fine. So I finish the drive home, and that was the day I went and looked at the Caliber. John has continued to drive the little Kia, as most of his driving is minor stuff compared to mine.
I'm not sure how it happened because we have since then been driving the Caliber for the things we do together as a family, but somehow, Evan rode in the Kia with John. I must have been at work with the new car or something, but anyhow...
Evan told me yesterday as we were getting ready to eat dinner about his ride in Daddy's car.
"Mommy, It was like being on a RIDE at the FAIR!" I choked on my Diet Mt. Dew, and fought back the laughter while he explained just how much fun it is to ride in Daddy's car.
So now I am going to have to take the Kia to be diagnosed. Once it is fixed, and it is no longer fun to ride in, Evan will be so disappointed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Just Mommy and Evan

Today was a beautiful day, and just happened to be my first afternoon off in quite awhile. John started his new job today, and so it was just Evan and I. We had a really good time reading books together, playing outside and more. Evan made a new friend, as you can see from the pics. I couldn't resist taking out the camera and getting a few snapshots. As the sun went down, we ordered a pizza and played board games inside before it was time for bed and bath. Really just a nice, peaceful, simple day. In a way it made me really sad because it reminded me of how little time I truly have with Evan nowadays. And I got a refresher in just what an amazing little person he is turning into.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Doc in the Box: Books for Soldiers might close

Doc in the Box: Books for Soldiers might close

Hey! If you're reading this, help these people out. Thanks, Sean, for bringing this to our attention! These are the two things I am most passionate about: reading and our troops, and Books for Soldiers puts it all together!

I Want...

To be here. In this picture. Between the palms. I can feel the breeze now, smell the ocean, hear the waves. Instead I am here, dealing with money and parenting and work, along with about 50 other random obligations. I want to forget it all exists. If I can just make it through the next 48 hours, I can have 4 complete days of peace while my son is at school. I have no overtime shifts this coming week. I need a break from that. All I have to do this week is clean, do my laundry, manage Evan's scouts and school functions. My obligation at work won't begin until Friday evening. It will be so nice to wear just the Mommy hat, instead of switching roles several times in a day. Just...48...more...hours...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Because He's Different

My heart is breaking right now for my son. He is getting in trouble at school daily. Despite this, for some reason, the schoolwork he brings home is always perfectly done. The only flaw we, as his parents, can see, or that his teacher can see is that his handwriting is not always what we would hope. As a matter of fact, on his progress report, across the board were 100% scores, except for handwriting. Yet he continues to disrupt the class. Exhausted from all of the slips and notes brought home from school, John and I sat down with the principal, the teacher, and the school's guidance counselor. We were attempting to solve this problem Evan seems to be having. I have exhausted all resources, and I am terrified that the "bad kid" label will follow my son throughout his education if we do not do something, anything, to stop this.

We have taken away playthings and priviledges. We have grounded. We have tried the opposite, as in rewarding the desired behavior. I even took him on a mini shopping spree one day when he not only brought home a perfect math test, but also a perfect behavior report. As in, I literally took him to the store and gave him free reign to choose whatever he wanted. (He chose books!) So what else can I do?

Well, after the call from his teacher this afternoon, I was so frustrated that I started searching things online. Here is the thing: I blame the school system, partly. And here is why:

Evan was 4. He was a very small 4, as a matter of fact. But he had just barely made the cutoff for kindergarten. So we took him to be assessed, and they said he was ready to start big-boy school. I would have much rather him stay home and be my baby for another year. But I trusted them to let him start school. He did remarkably well.

So when I graduated from college, credentials in hand, we moved to Indiana. He continued the second half of kindergarten there. At the end of the year, we were told he was just too small and young, that they wanted to retain him, and he should repeat kindergarten for the next year. I disagreed with their assessment of him. They counted such things against him as his physical size, his status as an only child, and more ridiculousness beyond his control. But I allowed them to retain him, not realizing the impact it would later have.

Now, after 2 years of kindergarten, he is in first grade. Academically, he is perfect. There is nothing they give him that he cannot do well. As a matter of fact, he is slated for the gifted and talented program, which does not start until the very end of the school year. For now, he is with average first graders.

His teacher uses such words as immature, impulsive, and spoiled to describe his behavior. When I explained that he has been assessed for ADD/ ADHD and was found not to reach the criteria for a diagnosis, she acts shocked and hints that medication may be the answer. In the classroom, Evan is limited to what he is allowed to do. When they go to the school library, he is only allowed to select books from a special selection designed to meet the abilities of average first graders, despite the fact that Evan can read way beyond that level. After bringing this to his teacher's attention, she has started to personally escort Evan to a special, more advanced section to choose books in which he may be interested.

In the meantime, he continues to bring home the pink discipline slips. He knows right from wrong, and can verbalize that he should not be behaving that way at school. He can explain why. He also tells me that they give him "baby stuff" to do at school, and this is further exhibited by the fact that he breezes through multiple homework assignments within 10 minutes or less. Total.

Reading articles on gifted children left me in tears. We, as parents, want nothing more than a normal child. Scratch that. We all want our children to be exceptional, smart, beautiful. And yes, all children have some gifts. I don't claim to be any different. But the more I read, the more I realize that my son truly is different. Which means more to me than others.

Not a lot of people know that I was burdened with the gifted label as a young child. It is not fun. You think differently, process information differently than the other children. Adults puzzle over your behavior. I could never handle riddles and puzzles because I would over-analyze everything to the point that others would think I was stupid. I wasn't. I just thought through things differently than others. Because of that, I never fit in with the other kids. As I got older, I could act differently to make myself fit in. But I never truly felt at-home with anyone. To a degree, that is continued now.

It is very difficult, as a parent, to vocalize your child's flaws. As in, "Nope. I won't admit it. He is my son, and he is PERFECT." But as I read these articles, it was like I was reading about my son from someone who knows him better than I do. I reverted back to being the kid nobody understood. And for the first time since trying to figure all of this out, I remembered what it is like to carry that label. Everything made sense to me. The fact that Evan was slow to start talking as a baby. The experts told us back then that they suspected that his thoughts were too complex for his limited speech ability. Then I flashed on his experimentation and the times I struggled to keep him from trying to cook in the middle of the night. And what about the time when he was 4 and I punished him for sneaking out of his room and filling my coffeemaker with cocoa powder in an effort to make hot chocolate. To him, that was an experiment.

Everyone will tell me not to worry, that he could not possibly remember. But here is the thing: He will. He will, because I do. I can recall the scratchy blanket I was wrapped in when my family made a pilgrimage to Disney World when I was 3. I can remember the smells, the feelings, the sights of it all. I remember my little pink Strawberry Shortcake bathing suit and asking my Mom what the fuzzies were on the seat, where it had pilled from the poolside concrete. I remember my pink bibbed overalls I wore in preschool, can describe to you the layout of Learning Station One, where I attended in Cincinnati. I remember eating breakfast with Mom before she dropped me off, at Burger Chef (before it was Hardee's) and asking the manager why Chef wasn't spelled S-H-E-F, because that was the sound it made. I was 3. So I know he will remember.

I am so afraid I have failed my son. Whether through upbringing or genetics, or whatever, that I have done this to him. I have made him Different.

Mommy's Little Cub

Evan came home from school yesterday with a flyer clutched in his grubby little hand. His face was aglow, and I waited patiently for him to explain what the excitement was about. "Mommy, I can be a Cub Scout!" Then John got excited as well. So tonight at 6:30, together with my boys, I will be heading to a Cub Scout meeting. John is sure this will be his opportunity to interact with his son. I am pleased that they will get the opportunity to do this together. John says that while he was never a scout, he is a veteran of the "biggest Boys' club there is". He is sure he can teach the children skills about survival and more.

In the meantime, I received a call from my beloved son's teacher. Apparently my child called another faculty member a "doo-doo head" and now my son has to serve a detention. I do not understand him at all. I was the child who cried when she got her name put on the board as a warning. My husband was the kid who got suspended for fighting all of the time. I think Evan is a mix of the two. I just never counted on my 7-year-old son having to serve detention. I went through my entire school career without ever having to serve one. What is going on with my child?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Still Loooooooove Him

Heidi wears Christian at The Emmy Awards. I am mourning that Project Runway season. I have since lost touch.

Allowing a Connection

"I'm dying.", he said. " And I don't want to."
I had to stop. I couldn't not stop. I could hear the tears in his voice.
Here's the thing: I try not to feel while I am at work. I know to the average layperson, this will seem terrible. Because I wear the badge of "healthcare professional", I am supposed to be this all-feeling, caring, compassionate individual. To a degree, I am. But I am also human. On a daily basis, actually multiple times per day, I see patients as they face death. I cannot allow myself to feel. If I did, it would be my downfall. So when I am at work, it is all science. In other words, let me help you physically overcome your disease. If the disease is going to win, I will at least go down swinging for you. I win the fight many, many times. But I lose, also. And then I have to go home to my family, intact, and play the role of Mommy.
There are some situations where I cannot turn it off. Well, I can almost always turn it off. It is just that sometimes, after I have turned myself off to what is happening, the emotions of it all catch up with me later on, when all is calm. The first time I had to resuscitate a baby, John knew immediately that something profound had happened to me at work. I walked in the front door, enveloped Evan in my arms, and automatically started to cry. But while I am at work, I cannot allow myself to shut down. I am a professional.
So here I am with my patient. And he is dying. I have just finished giving his bronchodilator treatment. I've replaced his oxygen cannula, and have turned to leave his room in the intensive care unit when I hear those tears in his voice. He has end-stage COPD. Not only does he have to face the fact that he is dying, but he is doing so with the full realization that his actions caused the condition. He is ashamed. He is sad. He is guilty. But mostly, I hear fear: fear for himself, fear for the loved ones he will leave behind. And in his voice, I also hear my mother. You see, we never truly get over the loss of a mother. Never. Enough time has passed for me since my mother's passing that I can carry on with my life without you ever knowing that she died. But she died of COPD. And I became a respiratory therapist. My ability to disconnect keeps me safe from ripping open the wounds.
For the first time since I was a child, losing her mother, I am powerless with this patient. I cannot stop what is happening to him. I can intubate and place him on machines that will keep him alive, but I cannot grant him the ability to truly live. I've seen the chest films. I've looked through his chart. And I know that nothing I can do will help him. So as his wife sleeps peacefully in the corner of the room, I sit with him. I hold his hand, and we cry together as I tell him about my mother and he tells me about his wife. To him, I am the other side. I am the one left to live, and he is the one afraid to leave. I tell him the truth. I miss her every day, but the degree to which I do became less and less debilitating each day. I explain how I reached the point where I can see the influence she has had on my life, shaping me into the person I am. How I can see her in my son's smile, even though the two of them never met. I tell him how she lives on inside of me.
My day finishes. I am no longer on hospital time, but rather my own. I hold his hand as he drifts off to sleep. He seems more at peace, somehow less afraid. But later on, in my home, as I close my eyes to try to sleep off the night I had, all I can see is my mother's face. Swimming in my tears I never shed.