Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
After three weeks (or so -- I've lost track in that particular way of long vacations or ongoing insomnias) of near-daily doctor visits and too-frequent ER dashes, we still have no diagnosis.
We have an old-fashioned quarantine.
Oh, they're not calling it quarantine. There's the lack of a sign on our door. And there's a serious lack of slowing in the visits and phone calls such as you would expect in a true quarantine situation.
Not that I have any knowledge of quarantine protocol that goes beyond what you could learn in a movie (by that name, I think? Quarantine?)... anywho, I don't know the first thing about quarantine.
But I do know Sarah's on steroids for their anti-inflammatory effect, and I know we're not going to chess class, or archaeology, or the zoo, or anywhere else but stir crazy for two weeks until her next round of tests.
Sarah folds over on herself. Sarah is as flexible as a gymnast, a ballerina, a switch-hit debate star. This flexibility is her strength and her signature and a great reason in a long list of reasons to love her.
But right now Sarah doubles over like a crepe, golden but much more fragile than your workaday pancake. She folds in on herself as a morning glory does at dusk, exhausted in retreat from the beauty of the day. She's a souffle', sensitive to temperature and sound and the moods of those around her.
She's been ultrasounded (now that's a funny made-up verb) and X-Rayed and EKG'd and poked and prodded and annoyed as all get out by (apparently) falsely cheerful RNs. Her blood's been drawn too many times to count and I want to shout at the medical profession to please plan accordingly. "How much blood can the anemic girl spare?" Katie wanted to know. I want to know too.
Staying home for two weeks sounds restful. But now that I've had a day of it? One day? I'm exhausted. I am strung out like a strand of costume pearls on thin elastic. I am run through a wringer washer and hung to dry with the wrinkles getting crackly in the dry heat of a desert day. I am possibly just now sifting through the half-dozen doctors' ideas and concerns and oft-conflicting recommendations. Did we really just do all of that? Did I remain standing for that? Did we all?
Why didn't someone warn me to sit down?
In these past few weeks I have given so much thought and prayer to the concept of chronic illness and disease. The need to remain cheerful and calm for my children and myself is prime, but the inner dread and worry that I feel is somehow projected outward to the thousands of families who face debilating and life-threatening problems. How does one march forward? How does one maintain grace and hope?
I want to know.
Oh, and this brings me to another point. Everyone else wants to know as well. Everyone wants to find out what's causing Sarah to be so sick. The doctors are working very hard, following thin leads, trying to alleviate her symptoms while we're at it. Our families are also very supportive. But it's maddening. It's easy to fall into the role of armchair quarterback, backseat driver, Doogie Howser, M.D. Every medical site on the Internet has been attacked by Sarah's extended family, every symptom searched, every known illness cross-referenced. There is an answer, and I am confident it will be found soon. I'm frustrated though. I'm ready for her to be better. A miraculous healing would be fine by us.
As soon as I tucked the girls in bed tonight I went looking for something to read. And Barb did not disappoint! I am so grateful for my front-loading washing machine and my stocked freezer and my pea plants peeking out of the soil. I'm so grateful for modern medicine and for the Internet (although sometimes the Information Age is overwhelming).
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
You heard right.
It's the sort of heavenly-chorus-of-voices day that features a perfect combination of 58 degrees, impossibly Jello-esque blue skies dotted with marshmallow puff clouds. It kinda makes you hungry for a church potluck. Kinda sorta.
Now that was unfair.
Our church potlucks are unbelievable. They give church potlucks a good name. My kids ask EVERY Sunday if we can stay for a potluck. Maybe the ladies of our church should open a Sunday-only restaurant. Even if Jello isn't one of your major food groups... I'm just sayin'.
The best thing about most church potlucks is that you don't have to cook. Well, you have to cook a large quantity of one item. And you have to plan ahead-- already we are seeing why it might be a problem for me.
This week it has proven impossible to plan anything. Or possibly I should say that it has proven fruitless to plan. Pointless. I love lists as much as the next girl. To-do lists. Honey-do lists. Long-range goal lists. In fact I like lists so well that when I am pregnant I don't nest, I list. (That's my husband's joke, not mine. Ba-dum-dum.)
So this week I have (had) a lot of plans. Doctor appointments, accountant and attorney appointments, work, writing (oh, the certifiably important but the least urgent and therefore the first to go), parenting (this list is in no particular order, obviously).
All those plans? To the place handbaskets are rumored to travel with regularity. One-way ticket.
But it's a beautiful day! I think I'll plant a few more peas as soon as I can check a few more things off my list.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
We visited a nearby wild animal park for a safari adventure, then enjoyed a picnic of sorts in the car while we waited for the sun to warm up the not-quite-spring air. After lunch we walked through the small animal farm and zoo exhibits. It was exactly the getaway we all needed.
Look over there!
Shall we look through the guide to identify the creatures or just marvel at them?
We saw these signs everywhere, but no one took them literally until an apparently benign little duck took a chunk out of Carolyn's hand.
The monkey was on the lookout. But he was behind glass. We learned that it's been proven that primates can plan ahead. I guess they're one up on me already.
I know y'all were craving a picture of Laura's toes. The girl will not leave her socks and shoes on. And don't get me started on her hair bows.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
This photo I couldn't resist sharing. Remember Fern's visit of last week? This was her enchanted fairy-inspired hairdo. (With the merest hint of rabbit ears.)
Sunday, March 8, 2009
A quick stop at the feed store is never as simple as it sounds.
Sarah made some banana bread while I made the whole wheat yeast bread. She has been feeling a little better but has strict instructions from the doctor not to get rowdy. I wish he'd included sassiness in his list of "do nots." (As we were leaving I heard her whisper ever-so-quietly that he's "not the boss" of her. Ah, but I am, I answered.)
The weekend has been full of quiet country drives and bread baking. Bread baking is meditative and exactly what the doctor ordered for me.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
MSG. Madeleine, Sarah, Grace. After all the agonizing over names, and nicknames. After actually bringing two of our four girls home from the hospital without names. How did it escape my attention that the first three girls' initials would form that (in)famous collection of letters that causes headaches but also somehow ends up in lots of really yummy ethnic food?
MSG. The gang of three. Laura, our fourth, is striving every day to catch up with the big girls. She's been walking and talking much more than any 14-month-old ought.
Sarah Olivia, the first of our daughters to wait awhile for her name, is as sweet as a girl whose name means "princess" should be. She's a classic middle child in her peacemaking and easygoing manner, but she's possessed of plenty of spunk and creativity of her own. Don't touch that girl's watercolors... I'm just sayin'.
Maybe it's because she waited for her name, but she's 100 percent her own girl. Never one to be swayed by popular opinion, she's quick to beat us all in Scrabble with a 46-point use of the word "moron," which of course is off-limits in conversation but does exist in the Scrabble universe... and in strategy games: she's the one to make the important chess sacrifice with a perfect poker face only to erupt in giggles as she goes in for the checkmate.
Sarah's been facing some health struggles. She has a form of anemia called Thalessemia. It's chronic and usually not a hindrance to her daily life. But these past weeks, and maybe months, she's dealt with pneumonia and now some new symptoms that have precipitated a slew of tests. She thinks her blood as it's drawn looks like root beer. She entertains the phlebotomist and me. She can barely walk back to the car.
So we wait for test results and we pray that the news will be good. We save our energy for a trip to the General Store to celebrate her best friend's birthday with ice cream cones. We try not to hold our breath when we have the odd quiet moment. We realize the nurse can make or break our day with how long she pauses between words.
Tomorrow holds more tests. Today holds some pizza, homemade, and some Scrabble. And a lot of prayer.