A Plague Upon This House

posted by Momo Fali on November 11, 2008

This is a glimpse of how a family manages to get through a bout of the plague. I highly recommend keeping these suggestions in a mental file.

Here is said family’s recycle bin. Note how Mom and Dad deal with stress by drinking cheap beer and large quantities of wine. Oh, and see the Mueslix box? That’s what happens when you haven’t been to the store in over a week and want to make Magic Wheaties Meatloaf, but after you’ve started mixing ingredients together you realize there isn’t a Wheatie to be found.

If your substitute choices are Kix or Mueslix, go with the Mueslix. It’s a good alternative, but you will have to take some time to pick out the raisins.

This is what happens when a six year old plague victim gets tired of playing with his Matchbox cars. He makes stick figures out of the track. Don’t be alarmed when he tears it apart limb from limb.

These are bath toys, and because Mom’s tend to make plague victims bathe a lot, these toys get frequent attention. If the victim happens to name them…oh say, Jessie, Jessley, and Jorley. I highly suggest knowing those names, which one is which, and be able to make up some great stories about the three of them on the spot. Because a soaking-wet, tired, rash-covered, feverish, projectile pooping kid tends to be a little sensitive.

Get used to running out of clean clothes. It’s okay. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending your daughter to bed with plaid pajama bottoms and a camouflage top, and putting your son down for the night in fire engine pants and a green, dinosaur shirt. No one can tell they don’t match in the dark.

And finally, about that laundry…if you wear a zip-up sweatshirt to pick up your daughter at school, and you don’t have a clean shirt to wear under it, make sure the plague victim you’re holding doesn’t pull your zipper down. Just sayin’.

What I Wouldn’t Do

posted by Momo Fali on November 9, 2008

There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my children. This giving of myself started when I was pregnant. I gave up my energy, my sleeping habits, and my waistline to the child inside me. I also gave up quite a bit of my stomach contents.

Once my kids were born, I surrendered even more sleep and I turned over my cracked and bleeding breasts to an electric pump. My preemies had this cute thing they did called not latching on, which left me tethered to an electrical outlet for the better part of their infancies.

Parents stay up all night with sick children. They miss important meetings at work so they can make it to recitals. They don’t see their favorite band in concert because they’ll be chaperoning an out of town field trip. And the best of the best give up entire summers to coach Little League teams. Isn’t that right, honey?

All parents give of themselves, but because of my son’s health problems there have been times I needed to give a little more than I felt comfortable.

There was the time I slapped on a lead apron so I could hold him still during a CT scan. The doctor had wanted to sedate him, but I knew I could keep him calm…by singing I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. I kind of forgot there would be a technician running the scanner. Poor lady.

There were the times my boy went into sensory overload at the dentist and I had to lie strategically in the chair with him on top of me, just so he would open his mouth.

And, I’ll never forget doing a song and dance routine in the middle of the hospital’s lab, so the phlebotomist could get get a blood draw. I bet the phlebotomist will never forget it either.

But there are also times as parents, when we just can’t give enough.

Yesterday, in the midst of his nagging, mysterious illness, my son looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Mommy, you have to make me better.”

At which point, I just went ahead and gave him the only thing I could. I sacrificed my heart and let it break into a million pieces.

Gratitude

posted by Momo Fali on November 6, 2008

When I started this blog back in 1872, I did it for very selfish reasons. I was looking for a creative outlet. A place to tame the wild writing beast who had been chomping at the bit since college. I also thought it would be great to journal the crazy things my kids do.

When my son told a woman with big lips that she looked like a fish, I knew I needed to write this stuff down. Not only so we could look back and laugh, but so I had material to use against him later. If the kid wants to embarrass me, I will save up all these juicy bits for when he brings home a girl I don’t like and I can tell her that she resembles the masculine woman who he once referred to as “kind of a girl”.

In starting this blog, what I did not expect to find was a community.

So, to all the people who left comments yesterday, thank you. To all the people who sent good wishes, I appreciate it so very much. To all the people who sent e-mails, who offered to send my son a card, who asked his name so they could pray for him, I am grateful to you.

We are trudging through. He is not in the hospital, but he is not well. The doctors think it is part bacterial, part viral, and possibly part allergic reaction. He has a fever, he is covered with a sunburn-like rash that occasionally turns into hives, he has vomited, he has bad diarrhea and he is lethargic. But, things could be much worse. They certainly have been before.

But like before, he will get through it, and because I wanted a place to occasionally write down a few words, we have a lot more support than we used to.

And lest you think the kid is losing his wits, at the doctor’s office today, he asked a nurse with droopy scrubs on if she had pooped her pants.

Lemon Juice

posted by Momo Fali on November 4, 2008

I do my best to look at life through rose-colored glasses. I’m not saying life is always easy, because it’s not. But, no one will ever be able to convince me that any good comes from being gloomy. That negativity stuff? It can be soul crushing.

But sometimes, you get slapped in the face with something so bad that you can’t find the slightest tinge of rose anywhere. Sometimes, when life gives you lemons you just end up making lemon juice.

My son is sick. He was born sick. The concept of being thrilled about a newborn is something that is completely and utterly foreign to me. When I look back at the birth of my two premature children, I recall anxiety, and in the case of my son, fear that I would lose him before I ever got to see him smile.

That fear kept me from bonding with him. I kept an emotional distance because I didn’t want it to hurt if he wasn’t going to survive. It took me a long time to recognize that, but it’s true, and I hate myself for it.

When my boy was an infant, if not sleeping, he was crying because he was hurting. He didn’t want to be held because he associated touch with pain, thanks to all the poking, prodding, IV’s, nose tubes, and catheters. That made it easy to create a gap between us.

He doesn’t want me, I can’t soothe him, he’d rather be left alone.

Now tell me, what kind of Mother distances herself from her sick child? This kind. You can’t really own up to something like that with rose-colored glasses on.

But eventually, with the right medical cocktail, he stopped crying so much. After lying around lethargically for 13 months, he had his first heart surgery and started to crawl. His pale face with the blue circle around his lips grew chubby, bright and pink. He was awake, alert, and happy, and that black hole in my heart started to close right up.

Somewhere along the line, I can’t say when, I stopped counting hospital stays and started counting my blessings. Compared to a lot of other families, we are one of the lucky ones.

And, after my son survived a strep pneumo infection that almost took his life when he was two, and after he stopped breathing after a surgery when he was four, I became fully aware that my boy means the world to me.

After I finally fell madly in love with this kid, I watched as he struggled and damn-near clawed his way out of more illnesses than I can count. He has had more IV’s, EKG’s, blood draws, CT Scans, x-rays, surgeries, tests and biopsies than most people will in their entire lives, and yet he finds a way to make me laugh every day.

He is kind, sweet and funny. He is also as ornery as the day is long…and I love it! Go ahead and embarrass me, kid. It means you’re alive and kicking.

Losing him now is not an option. The thought of it just makes me mad. Which brings me to this post.

Today he complained of neck pain, then he developed a rash, then he wouldn’t eat, then he came down with a fever. The pediatrician thinks it could be a bacterial infection called adenitis. He was immediately put on antibiotics, and we will be following up with the doctor tomorrow.

This could involve draining an abscess, IV antibiotics, and a hospital stay. And, anytime we’re dealing with something bacterial, there is a risk to his already defected and malformed heart.

The thought of this, of him going through a bad illness yet again, causes me to take off my rose-colored glasses, throw them to the floor, jump up and down on them, and as I’m walking away from the crumpled heap of metal, I turn and hock a big, fat, thick, loogie on the twisted mass.

I hate that he may have another up-hill battle and that he will suffer in any way.

This kid taught me that love can be scary and it’s not always easy, but that letting something true and pure into your life can be the most fulfilling experience you will EVER have. He has shown me strength beyond measure and more happiness than I thought possible. I love that kid a lot.

Huh. See that? I already fixed my specs.