Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, April 29, 2005

What I Was Thinking, 2:42-3:04 pm, PST

I really should be working on that release about the role of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in alveolar epithelial cells in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

I’m bored. My stomach hurts. I wish I hadn’t eaten that mango.

I wonder if Baroy is remembering to get Em to push fluids? If he doesn’t, she’ll end up wheezy again. She really hated that breathing treatment yesterday.

My mom should DEFinitely switch to a Mac.

I really should be working on that release about the mechanism of action of motexafin gadolinium in tumor cell lines.

I hope N is playing with someone at daycare. There’s no way I’m going to be able to get out of here early enough to pick him up before the very end of the day. Poor kid.

Hey, I didn’t hear back from the speech therapist about the recommendation that he be seen by that preschool assessment team. Oh, and I didn’t hear back from Monica, either. I wonder if she thought I was trying to take advantage of knowing her to get her to move N up in the queue and get him assessed quicker. I mean, I was, but...I hope she wasn’t insulted by it.

Oh, that reminds me. I should probably call the urologist’s Pasadena office and see if he can see N any sooner than late May there, rather than at the hospital. Now, where did I put that number?

I really should be writing that release on using optical imaging techniques to measure lasik flap thickness.

Why don’t I have my sister’s home phone number in my Rolodex? I have her office number, her cell number...I guess I’ll call Baroy and ask him to look it up in my home Rolodex.

I wonder if Em needed another breathing treatment. I hope she’s not being all weird like yesterday and waiting for me to come home before she mentions that her head’s hurting again.

I wonder if we got the paperwork from CHLA so I can get N an appointment with the developmental ped.

I wonder if we could afford for me to take an unpaid leave? I can’t do this for much longer.

That Greenspan book on challenging kids is really good, but N doesn’t quite fit any of the categories. And I need more info on floortime. I wish his special needs book wasn’t so fucking expensive. I haven’t heard back on my interlibrary loan request for it, either. Shoot. Eventually, I’m just going to have to suck it up and buy it full price.

I have no idea why I’m being so cheap about something like this. I’m probably going to end up spending hundreds on uncovered therapies. What’s an extra $35?

I just don’t give a shit about anything right now. This is not good. I know Tammy said it was OK to be sad, but I hate feeling so dead inside.

Ooooh, I can’t forget to pay Tammy’s bill. Never good to stiff your therapist. I’ll do that this weekend.

I also need to finish up the school newsletter. It’s already a week late. Now, what did Lynn tell me this morning about the penny drive? Shit. My brain is shot.

I really should be working on the release on intra-vitreal triamcinolone. I can’t believe the conference is this weekend. I can’t believe I only heard about it on Tuesday.

Bonnie wants me to call that liver guy and apologize to him for whatever it is we said to piss him off. I'll email him instead. Later.

Why am I writing down my insipid, scattered, manic thoughts when I should be writing that release on Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy?

Damn. If I pay bills and work on the newsletter this weekend, I’ll never find the time to finish that query letter for Libby. Not to mention the book proposal. Oh, but I can’t forget to send my resume and clips to that guy for that antibacterial story. I have no idea what they pay, though...

I wonder if Baroy’ll hear back from Disney soon? He needs a break.

And why hasn't Rosie responded to me either? I sent her an email AND I left her a phone message. Oh, i really hope she's not avoiding me. That'd suck.

If Em and I don't pin down an exact date for her trip back east this summer, I'll never manage to get her into camps for the other weeks. I wonder if I'll have enough vacation time left to stay for a little while and play with my new nephew? Probably not. Maybe I really should take some leave. Maybe if I take some leave, I could find the energy to give a shit about stuff again.

This isn’t funny any more. I absolutely must sit down and write the retinal implant release, or someone’s going to fire me.

Of course, if I get fired, I’ll at least get unemployment...

Right. Health insurance. We’d be screwed.

What is our policy on unpaid leave, anyway?

Right. The releases. How many of them can I get away with putting off without getting fired?

I'm off.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Giving Credit Where Credit's Due

On Tuesday, somewhere between the call to the speech therapist to find out if she can indeed make a direct referral for N to be evaluated by the "preschool assessment team," and the call to Childrens Hospital (and have I ever mentioned how obscenely and ridiculously angry it makes me that I often have to write about a place that deliberately leaves out the apostrophe in its name?) to get started on the paperwork for his assessment by their developmental pediatrician, and the call to Childrens again to make an appointment for N in their urology department (his left testicle, which had descended perfectly, has decided to reascend), and the three calls from Baroy at home asking me what to do for Em, who came home with a fever from school (um...take her temperature? Give her some Tylenol? Are you really this incompetent?), and the Google search on how certain of N's facial features can be linked to developmental delays which can be cured by brain surgery...somewhere between all of that, plus work or something vaguely resembling it, I started having a panic attack.

it took me a while to recognize it, but it started adding up quickly: shallow breathing, tingling fingers, tingling cheeks and lips, tightening in my chest, my mind racing all over the place. Panic. But, luckily, I've learned from past mistakes, and I keep a couple of Xnax on me at all times, for emergency purposed. This was just such an amergency.

An hour or so later, my phone rings, and it's my mother. She wants to know what the speech therapist had to say. (Not much, there are red flags, she doesn't know what it is, but if it were her kid, she'd want someone to intervene.) We talk for a while about what I'm doing while we wait for assessments, the kinds of books I'm reading, the feeble attempts at 'therapy' that I'm making.

Near the end, my mother says, "I have to tell you, I'm really proud of you. Not only for all you're doing for N, but you just sound so calm. Your voice isn't racing and you really seem relaxed and confident about what you're doing."

I won't lie. I was tempted, for a second, to say thank you and go on. But I just couldn't do it.

I laughed. "Yeah," I said. "Isn't it amazing what half a milligram of Xnax can do?"

Monday, April 25, 2005

Learning to Float

I've been grinding my teeth at night, Baroy tells me. I've also been snappish and moody and sensitive to even the most innocuous remark, though he wisely has refrained from pointing those out to me. I suppose you could call it PMS, since I will, in fact, get my period sometime in the next couple of weeks, but really, I think that's stretching the definition a bit. I'm just feeling pissy, is all. Or, rather, pissy and distracted and anxious and distant and angry. Yep. You definitely want me at your next party. No doubt about that.

I know what it's about: I'm worrying about N. What I'm doing for him. What I'm not doing for him. What decisions need to be made. What decisions should be put off for a while. How aggressively to follow my impulses and pursue answers about the things that hinder him. How aggressively to fight those impulses so as not to pathologize what are otherwise normal little-kid traits. I'm worried that I'm not going to find the answers I need, and so will not be able to help him be all he can be. I'm worried that what I'm actually doing is actively working to destroy the very traits that make N N, that will make him successful in life. I'm worrried that by spending so much energy and emotional time trying to find answers to questions that may not need to be asked, I'm in danger of actually preventing him from being all he can be.

I'm worried. I'm very worried. And there's no way for me to be sure, at any point along the road, that what I'm doing is right. As I've said to many people in these last few weeks, there is no controlled experiment here. I don't get to raise N twice--once during which I intervene, and once during which I don't--to see how things turn out. And so I need to take the path less likely to harm him in the end. And that's intervention. I think.

And so, today I'll be returning to the office of the speech therapist who assessed him last week and said he has no articulation problems, but that she has "other concerns" about him. And then, after that meeting, I'll be making an appointment for him to see a developmental pediatrician at our local children's hospital who, thanks to N's I-can-make-it-happen pediatrician (whose babies I really want to have at this point, I love her so), is now just waiting for my call. And I have the information for a place where other assessments can be done as well, and which is exactly the sort of place I'm looking for to fill in the gaps, should they need filling in.

None of this, however, has done anything to calm my mood or assuage my fears. And all this worry has been coloring my interactions with my little boy, who I love with such intensity, such fullness that I feel sometimes like I can't breathe. I hate looking at him and seeing a swirl of possible diagnoses; I despise the ongoing narrative in my head that dissects his every move, our every interaction, to see where it fits in the always-evolving schema of 'what is wrong with N.'

What it comes down it is that this all feels so big. No matter how much I stuff it down, no matter how hard I try to push it away, it's there, and it's huge. It's an enormous presence in my life. And even though I have support--oh my, do I have support, from all corners of the globe--ultimately, the weight is on my shoulders. The decisions are mine; what happens to N right now is my responsibility alone. It's simply mothering, but magnified.

Last week, I watched N fall into a shallow pond, and I knew what needed to be done. He was face-down in water; when he lifted his head, he called for me. I knew that he needed help, or he could drown, even though the water was shallow. And I knew how to help. I knew what to do. But now, it's less clear. I think he does need rescuing, but maybe not. He's not calling my name, or at least I can't hear it. I don't know how deep the water is. I don't know if he's really face down, or if instead he's just floating on his back, watching the clouds, learning how to be. If I reach down and haul him out of the water now, am I a hero? Or am I simply an interfering, overprotective mother, who refuses to allow her son to learn how to float, to live, on his own.

He's so little. This is so huge. I'm not sure I'm up to the task.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Dip

It's official. Nature hates me. And, by extension, my family.

Witness what happened to me when I tried to ride a tandem surrey by the beach in Santa Barbara last week--or, rather, witness the enormous bruises that are still 'decorating' my left leg. Witness my close encounter of the stupid kind with that rattlesnake on Sunday. And, now, witness N's little swim in the murky, gunky, god-only-knows-what-pestilence-is-infesting-it pond at the local botanical garden this morning.

It was my day to at least partially give N the same sort of mommy-bonding time Em had last week. We only had a few hours, but I had a plan. We'd go to the local playground while it was still quiet, so he could have the run of the place. (That was perfect.) We'd play on the adjacent huge open field, kicking a soccer ball around. (That was made even more perfect by the appearance--oh my god, you'd think they were celebrities--of the tree-trimming guys and all their equipment, which kept N entranced for at least 15 minutes.) We'd then head to the botanical gardens, where we'd look at the fish in the pond, do some of the kid-related activities, and then ride on the mini-train around the camellia forest before maybe grabbing some lunch at the overpriced cafe.

It was this last part where things got a little, um, sticky.

We started at the pond, where N could see the GIGUNDOUS koi fish swimming around, as well as a couple of ducks and a big ole turtle. Then we went to walk around the camellia forest, where it turned out there were like 16 stations spread out over a small, kid-friendly trail (no rattlers) that were pages from a really sweet story book. So we ran from station to station and read the book. N was entranced. The trail let us out in a huge grassy field that was bordered, at the far end, by the same pond we'd started at. N wanted to see the fish from the other side of the pond, which is hard to do when that side is mostly covered with high grass and reeds. But we found a small spot where he could peek through to see all his new animal friends. Except when he leaned forward to get a better view of the turtle, which was now sunning itself on a nearby rock...


All of a sudden, there's my boy, face first in the pond. He picked his head up immediately, and called for me, but didn't cry. He just seemed...startled. I was trying to find a way to grab him and drag him out. I knew where he was was very shallow, but didn't know what would happen if he drifted away from shore. (We've been watching a lot of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory lately, and all I could think of was Augustus Gloop sliding into the chocolate lake...) Finally I got a purchase on his arm, turned him around, and swung him out of the pond.

The child was positively waterlogged. (When he told his uncle the story later, he said, "Uncle, I was SOAPING WET!" Hee!) Since it was still early in the day, I had a jacket over me, which I immediately wrapped him in, checking to make sure he hadn't gotten cuts or bruises where I could see. He was calm, just sort of surprised-looking. The only time throughout it all that he looked like he might cry was when I said, "I'm sorry, kiddo, but I think we're going to have to skip the train this time." (His reply, "But WHY?" Kids.)

I called Baroy from the car to tell him to get a bath ready. (Pond scum=Ew) And within ten minutes, N was soaking away, telling his dad about his great adventure. "And Mommy SAVE ME!" he announced proudly, as if he'd been snatched from the lion's jaws.

Ah well. At least he'll have a good reason to remember this day. Anyone can take you on a train ride. But how many times do you get to have your mommy save you from the depths of a shallow pond and the jaws of giant koi?

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Rattler

I stood stock-still, alone on the trail, staring ahead. There it was, maybe 30 feet ahead of me. It had slithered out of the brush on the side of the trail, and literally took my breath away. Three feet long, minimum, and easily thicker than my forearm, the rattlesnake seemed completely unaware of my presence. All I could think was, "I'm an idiot. I'm a total, freaking idiot."

Why? Oh, let me count the ways:
1. I'd gone up into the not-even-two-miles-from-my-house newly-reopened wilderness park to get a glimpse at the trails I'd heard so many nice things about, and instead couldn't resist actually hiking up a ways, just to see what I could find.
2. I was alone.
3. I was clad in shorts, a tank-top for running in, and sneakers without socks.
4. The only supplies I had? My pocketbook, my cell phone, and my iPod. Oh, and a tin of Altoid's ginger mints. (Curiously strong, indeed.)
5. I had no map of the trails.
6. It's been a minimum of 10--and probably more like 15--years since I've done any hiking at all.

Really, if there were any justice in this world, you'd all be reading about me in the Los Angeles Times in about a week. ("Missing hiker found dead; Angeles National Forest rangers say, 'She was like the poster child for what not to do when hiking a trail.'") It would have been especially amusing when they tried to identify my remains by using dental records, considering I have no dental records, or at least the only ones I have go back more than 25 years.

Anyway. Back to the rattler. I stood there staring at this curvy monster, trying to remember something, anything, about rattlesnakes. How fast can they move? Do they avoid confrontation, like I do? Can a rattlesnake bite kill you, and if so, how quickly? Do they like ginger Altoid's?

I couldn't answer any of those questions. All I could think of was how, at the bottom of the trail system, there was a huge message board, with all those usual hiker-warnings. It hadn't been more than half an hour ago that I'd stood there for a second and perused it: There was a note about the mountain lion population, a request for you to clean up after your dog, and a few other odds and ends, including a "how to tell a poisonous snake from a nonpoisonous one" chart. If the writer of that one had been within striking distance, I would have simply thrown him at the rattler in complete disgust. "A poisonous snake will have a triangle-shaped head that juts out from the rest of the body," he'd written. Um, sure, OK. But really, the key point was that this snake, the hugest I'd ever seen, HAD THIS ENORMOUS...RATTLE...STICKING UP AT THE END OF ITS TAIL. I'm no herpetologist, but even I could make that particular ID. What I needed to have read was WHAT TO DO when you're standing on a trail watching a rattlesnake meander around, seemingly completely unaware of you.

Because I was still fairly far away, and because I had already begun descending the trail and knew that there was no obvious way to loop back to where I was trying to go, I was determined to try and get the rattlesnake to wake up and notice me. Why I thought a three-foot-plus snake filled with poisonous venom would be terrified by a five-foot-barely woman whose only weapon is a slightly biting wit is beyond me. Still, I started taking loud steps. The snake didn't seem to hear me. I rolled a few small rocks down the path a bit, making sure they never got close to him, but rather hoping that it would attract his attention to the fact that he was no longer alone. He did eventually move back over to the side of the trail, hidden by the grass, but I could still see his rattle. He was more-or-less out of sight, but not out of striking range, by any stretch of the imagination.

And then, along came my knight in shining lycra. A bicyclist, coming up the trail I was heading down. As he neared the snake, I held up my hand to stop him, and crept a little closer. "There's a HUGE rattlesnake in the grass right near you," I called out. "Huge." He stopped, and peered into the grass. I took the opportunity to literally dash those last few yards, past the snake, past the bicyclist. (I figured that, if worst came to worst, at least he would have been there to get me down the trail quickly.) As I passed him, sprinting, I said, "Be careful. It's right there."

He hesitated only a second, and then apparently decided to proceed up the trail. His tire had only moved a fraction of an inch, enough to make a slight crunching sound on the rocks, when we both heard it. Hell, people in Oregon heard it. CHCHCHCHCHchchchchchCHCHCHCHCH. The rattlesnake was clearly not happy about the bicyclist's choice.

I didn't even look back, just muttered, "Oh my god," under my breath, and skip-ran several yards further down the path...followed within milliseconds by the bicyclist. "Think I'll just head on down the trail instead," he said with a weak laugh.

"Good choice," I replied.

At the end of May, I will have lived in Southern California for 12 years. I've experienced earthquakes, including Northridge. I've had rabbits killed by coyotes. I've had to kill several black widow spiders who've chosen to live inside my home. I've seen raccoons and skunks on my front porch; I've rescued (and inadvertently killed) squirrels and oppossum. But this was my first rattlesnake, ever.

It was also, I'm thinking, the last hike I'm going to go on for a long time.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Day Trippers

A few weeks back, Em had asked me if we could have a ‘mommy-daughter day’ some time soon. Because I’m off Wednesdays, and this was her spring-break week at school, I decided that we’d head up the coast to Santa Barbara for a day of sun fun. (Hence the ill-advised bathing suit purchase detailed below.)

We had a really wonderful time. We walked, we talked, we made sand camels, we buried each other's legs in the sand, we dipped our toes in the frigid water, we shopped for souvenirs, we ate, we laughed. As I said to her at one point, you could tell what a fun day we’d had by the fact that I was still in a good mood after losing my cell phone (which was later turned in, thank goodness) and banging up my left leg really badly after we rented a side-by-side tandem buggy/bike thingy and had a little bit of an accident on it (NICE bruises on my leg, but no more harm done than that).

My personal favorite part of the day: Sitting at lunch at an open-air restaurant on the pier and thumb-wrestling. (Yes, she beat me three times in a row, but it wasn’t fair, because the waitress kept coming by and asking me questions, and I got distracted! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.) At one point, I was just looking at her and thinking, ‘God, when I was her age, I could never have imagined this moment in my future.’

So I said to her: “Hey, Em. Tell me about what your life is going to be like when you’re my age, when you’re 41.”

She thought. “Well, I know I’ll be married.”

“You will?” I said. “OK, then. Tell me what he’s like.”

“What do you mean?” she replied. “Are you asking what kind of guy I’m looking for?”

It’s very hard to keep a straight face when words like that come out of a 7-year-old’s mouth, but I managed.

“Yes, I guess so,” I said.

“Well,” she said, with little hesitation. “I want a husband who isn’t like all worried about his hair all the time and what he looks like, and who’s really into music and stuff. And, of course, he’ll be in a band.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah. And we’ll live in a nice house with a big backyard, but not too big, not so big you can get lost or you can’t take care of it.”

“OK. And will you have kids?”

“Yep, two. A girl and a boy.”

“What are their names?”

“The girl will be Elizabeth, but she’ll be called Lizzie. And the boy will be Samuel. And if it turns out that we have two girls, the other girl will be Samantha.”

“I see. And what about you? What do you do? Do you stay home with the kids?”

“You mean 24/7? Oh, no!” [I swear, all I ever talk about is wanting to stay home with them, so this is NOT coming from me. Keep your hate mail to a low roar please.] “I’m going to be a veterinarian, of course. And we’ll have six or seven pets. Dogs, cats, a few bunnies, a guinea pig, and a hamster or a mouse or rat.”

“That all sounds wonderful. So, tell me, when you’re 41 and all of this is happening, are you happy?”

“Oh, yes,” said my beautiful blue-eyed daughter, she who has her whole life ahead of her, who makes me smile just by looking at her. "Oh yes," she said, beaming. “I’m very, very happy.”

That's all I care about.

Monday, April 11, 2005

I'm Too Sexy For My Mother's Underpants

I did an almost perfect job of packing when we flew back to New York last month. Almost. Except for one thing. I forgot to pack underwear for myself.

I discovered that little fact the morning after we arrived, when I went to get dressed. Not a huge problem, really; I knew we'd be heading to a store later in the day where I could purchase some new pretty, lacy things if I so desired. But at the moment, it was a conundrum. I mean, I'm no prude, but there's something about the idea of going commando when you're spending the day watching college basketball with your 76-year-old stepfather that's just...disturbing.

So I trudged up the stairs, asked my mother for a loaner pair, and trudged back down to put them on. Baroy, who'd been in the bathroom the whole time, came back into the room as I was frowning into a mirror.

"What's the matter?" he said, before glancing up.

"They fit," I replied glumly. "I can't believe they fit."

"What fits?" he asked, only then looking up. "Wh-Wha-What are THOSE?"

"My mother's underpants," I said, still frowning into the mirror. "And they fit me."

Baroy put his hand up, a sharp, sudden movement. "The only chance we have of ever having sex in the future," he said, "is if I leave this room right now, and you never say another word about this again."

Once upon a time, I used to be kind of sexy. Not so much in the "oh my god, take a look at HER" kind of way, but more in the "I'm fairly smart and kind of funny and I don't take sex too seriously but I'm pretty sure we'll enjoy it" kind of way. But also, I tended to make the right choices, to make the most of what I had. I have never had any use for thongs or lacy camisoles; rather, I was the kind of girl who used to automatically throw on my boyfriend's button-down shirt over a pair of my own blue jeans, a move that almost never failed to get an appreciative response.

At some point during the past few years, however, that instinct died a horrible and apparently painful death. Unfortunately, I was never informed of the tragedy. Instead, I've continued to go around thinking I know what I'm doing; that I can do no wrong.

I and my mother's underpants are here to tell you that I can, and I have.

The final death knell for whatever sliver of sex appeal I may have retained sounded this afternoon when I decided to model my new bathing suits for Baroy.

Here is everything you need to know to understand why that was a stupid idea: I currently weigh about 20 pounds more than I did the last time I bought a new bathing suit.

"I know it looks a little like a grandma bathing suit," I said brightly, bounding down the stairs in my new two-piece halter-top-with-built-in-support-bra and mini-skirted-bottom-designed-to-hide-unsightly-hip-bulges suit. "But I think it's kind of cute."

Baroy turned with a smile that almost immediately faded. "Yeah, it does," he said. "It does look like a grandma bathing suit." And he turned back to the dishes he was washing. Then, realizing that he'd perhaps been impolitic, he turned back again, "But, yeah, it's cute," he said, weakly.

This is the way my sex life ends.
This is the way my sex life ends.
This is the way my sex life ends.
Not with a bang, but with a grandma bathing suit.
[With apologies to T.S. Eliot]

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Yin and Yang

I sometimes wonder what it was that brought Baroy and I together, because in so many ways, we’re such opposite types. He says that it makes for a good partnership; that we balance one another. And in many instances, he’s right. But sometimes I just can’t see it that way. Sometimes it just makes me feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, and there’s no one there to help me shoulder it.

So it is, right now, with N. I had a long talk with The World’s Most Wonderful Occupational Therapist yesterday, the one who led the class that observed N’s preschool on Monday—a key point here being that WeeyumWise does not go to preschool on Mondays. So N was in all his separation-anxiety glory. Anyway, not only did she spend extra time with N, but she then sat with me for a full hour, talking about what she’d seen and what she thinks I ought to do about it. And, keep in mind, the woman has absolutely nothing to gain from this. She doesn’t have a clinical practice any more, so she won’t be the one to get a new client out of the deal. And she wasn’t charging me for our talk yesterday; in fact, she scheduled it during her lunch hour, and then kept apologizing when her family called her a few times, because they knew it was her only free hour of the day. Even though I didn’t love everything she said, I loved her.

What did she say? Well, nothing too surprising, I guess. She said N has social issues that need to be addressed if I want to be sure he’ll be successful in his early elementary years. And also communication issues that she said she still can’t quite put her finger on; she’s interested to hear what N’s speech evaluation in a week and a half turns up, if anything. Plus, she—like everyone else I’ve spoken to who’s a so-called professional—is just not sure about the whole imaginary friend thing he does. It’s somehow just not quite right.

Still, she said he’s wonderfully quirky—she kept telling me what a truly special kid he is, and I believed she wasn’t just blowing smoke up my rear-most orifice. But she said that some of the quirks, if not addressed, may turn into weirdnesses down the line. And that’s what I want to avoid, if I can. I mean, if he’s going to be the short kid—and he IS going to be the short kid—then he’s going to need some pretty solid social skills to avoid having his early adolescence turn into a complete and utter nightmare.

When I asked for specifics, she gave me an example of something that I, as his mother and security blanket, have never had a chance to see. She said the kids were all playing outside in a circle, and N wanted nothing to do with them. She asked him whether he would go and join his friends, and he said, “Want me show you what I do?” She said sure, and he sat her down just outside the circle, with her back in line with the kids’ backs. Then he put his hands on her face and positioned it so that she was looking slightly to the side, away from the circle.

“Now you can’t see anybody,” he said. “They’re invisible.”

“But I can still hear them,” she said.

“Yeah,” he replied calmly. “I know. But it goes away after a little while.”

That story just about broke my heart.

The good news, she said, was that when he was inside, and put at a table to do an art project, he did make comments back and forth with the kids near him. So he does have the social skills to handle other children, she noted. It’s just that not all social situations in his future are going to be facilitated by an adult with crafts, you know what I mean? And he needs to be able—he needs to WANT—to bridge the gap between himself and his peers and make contact with the people on the other side. And that, in a nutshell, seems to be what he’s missing right now.

Anyway, she recommended I take him to our local children’s hospital—where his pediatrician practices anyway—and get him evaluated by this group they have that does a complete developmental workup on kids. He’d be looked at by a psychologist, a developmental pediatrician, a speech pathologist, an occupational therapist...all at one time.

And this is where my issue with Baroy comes in. Because he was just so Not There when I talked to him about all of this last night. He couched it in other terms: he’s afraid “they” are going to want to medicate N, he’s afraid that the more people I have look at him, the more likely it is that they will find something, anything, to pin on him, even if it’s not the truth, he’s afraid all of this is overkill and that N’s going to have ripped from him the things that make him N. And, see, those are my fears, too. (Well, not the medicating part, because I know that I’m not letting anyone medicate my 4-year-old.) But despite them, I’m more afraid of what happens if I don’t help him now, of what happens if he just goes down this road. There’s no turning back the clock later. I’d rather err on the side of caution with my child.

Now, I’m sure that sounded convicted and confident. But trust me, I am SO not either of those things. I’m conflicted and not at all confident. And all I want is someone—no, all I want is my husband—to be right by my side, buying my theory, backing me up when I start to falter because I’m just not sure. Instead, what I get is someone who tells me he supports me because he knows that I know what’s best, and this is an area he long ago abdicated to me, but that from where he site, watching, he knows that this is just not how he would be dealing with it.

In other words, he said, though not in so many words, “I’ll support you in whatever decision you make. But just know that, really, you’re on your own.”

I am really, really tired of being on my own.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Just the Facts, Ma'am

I'm meeting tomorrow with the occupational therapist who assessed N on Monday.

In about two weeks, he'll be getting a speech assessment.

Next Wednesday, I'm taking Em up to Santa Barbara for the day. Baroy is going to keep N home from preschool and play with him all day. He wants to take N to a kiddie golf course nearby and let him hit off a tee for the first time in his life.

I'm in the middle of reading the first draft of my brother-in-law's new book

I found out today that my book sold over 4,000 copies in the first month it was out, in December of last year. It will need to sell that many many times over if I'm ever to see another penny out of this thing.

I took the first steps today toward making a decision that could completely change my life.

I haven't been this excited (or terrified) in years.

Monday, April 04, 2005

OK! OK! I Get It!

So I've been thinking a lot about getting N evaluated for more than just speech issues. Like maybe getting him an eval for some sort of overall behavioral/social/sensory issue that might explain some of his more problematic quirks. Part of what's been holding me back is that I'm loathe to pathologize him for the quirks that make him unique and funny and special. But the other part of me says that he's having such a hard time in preschool right now and in some other areas of his life, and maybe there's a simple or even not-so-simple answer to what's going on, and I could do something to make his world a little simpler and more navigable.

The truth is, though, that there's more to it than that "oh, I'm so concerned for my son's welfare" crap up there. There's also the fact that getting him an eval for that stuff means me doing a lot of legwork. Which means phone calls. To strangers. Which I hate--HATE--doing. It means deciding between developmental pediatricians and occupational therapists; it means trying to figure out who is right for N and me; it means appointments and follow-ups and so on and so on in a schedule already squeezing me so tight I think I've broken a rib.

Anyway, I was leaning toward seeing a developmental pediatrician--not because I think that's the better route, but because Tamar (who I'm too lazy to llink to; she's in my blogroll) knows one who's good, and in my neighborhood. Actually, I believe that he'd be better off with an OT assessment; I don't think he needs the big guns of developmental pediatrician. But hey, if the referral fits...And besides, I wouldn't even know where to START to look for a good OT.

Which only goes to show you how insanely dumb I can be. To wit:

We were at WeeyumWise's birthday party yesterday, and there were a bunch of parents there from the university's preschool, all hanging out together while the kids play. It was nice. After all, it was the first time in a long time I'd gotten to just sit and talk to J, who works...wait for it...as an OT at the university. There I was, talking away about how I'm a little concerned about N, blah blah blah, and then I literally hit my forehead.

"J!" I said. "I cannot believe I didn't think of this before! Do we have any child OTs you would recommend?"

Did she? Only about five or ten. She's going to send me their numbers today. And they'll be totally covered by my insurance, as are all our university's health professionals.

But wait. That's not all.

After dropping N off at preschool this morning, I stopped in to talk to the director about the ongoing issues with N not participating when Weeyum's not there.

"We're doing all we can from our end," I told her. "I'm even working on getting him an OT evaluation, to see if there's anything there." (Well, I am now. So shut up.)

She started to laugh, and then pushed a clipboard across the desk at me. On it were the names of approximately 25 OTs and OT students who were going to be arriving at the preschool within minutes. Why? To observe the kids, of course, as part of their training. And to evaluate any of the children who the teachers thought might have issues they could use help with.

(One of the huge benefits of having your kid in a preschool on the campus of a major academic medical center is that they get seen by more pediatric, physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing trainees than you can shake a trike at. These kids are constantly being evaluated, played with, observed, whatever. Not that I remembered any of that before this morning. Or at least I didn't put 1 and 1 together...)

So, within minutes, I was shaking the hand of the very nice woman who was leading the students, giving her N's name and a really brief idea of what I'm concerned about, and she was going to marshall her forces, and they were going to be sure to pay special attention to him today, and they'd let the director know what they think, and she'll get back to me within a day or so.

I mean, really. It would be ironic, if it weren't so...obvious. Nothing like having your face metaporically slapped by god as he shouts, "Get a grip. Open your eyes, you damned fool!"

So, um, yeah. Maybe I'll get N an OT eval one of these days. Or today, even. I'm on the case, finally. Even if I have to be led every step of the way.

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