Entries Tagged 'Educating myself' ↓

Googling MLK Today

Every Martin Luther King Jr. Day I Google him. Why? Well, because I need some reminding. And considering the recent shootings in Tucson, Google has schooled me once again with the sort of MLK wisdom that we should all literally be plastering to our foreheads. I’ll let his words speak for themselves.

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”

And…

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Today simply marks a day when I send a little prayer out into the wind for tolerance and peace.

You know about tolerance right? It’s when you actually stop thinking you know better, for just a moment, and then listen to what someone very different from you has to say. Because isn’t making that choice not to listen and not to like that person and not to think of that person as your equal “too great a burden to bear”?

And as for peace, well I took this picture yesterday. You know me. Wildlife – birds in particular – always seem to bring me a little peace. So, here’s hoping.

Baseball Ready for My Boy

My son loves baseball. He loves it so much in fact that I feel remiss as a mother and a blogger for not having mentioned this fact in detail here before. It is an enormous, entirely captivating, thoroughly significant part of his life, his thinking, his playing, his focus, his every day purpose.

You think I’m exaggerating.

My six year old has a battered, dog eared, ripped and taped coffee table book about ballparks that my mother gave him for his last birthday. It is now in three pieces, it’s binding completely unraveled. And he reminds me that it is out of date. Where is the new Yankee Stadium? Where is the new Nationals ballpark? When will they reprint it with the updates? I don’t know. He keeps paging through though, carefully organizing the pages that have slipped out, memorizing every picture and statistic.

Somehow, he has pilfered my father’s MLB.com login and password. And every morning, after spooning up his cereal and haphazardly pulling his uniform on, he runs over to the PC and checks last night’s scores. He watches replays. He pulls up teams. He checks old games and stats and player information. He calls me in to see a play. “Mom! Check out this walk off home run!”

In the backseat of my car, there are two copies of Sports Illustrated – worn, weary and coverless. But they have all of the 2010 MLB stats and player information. He reads them on his way home from school every single day.

We have a pitch-back positioned up against our backyard’s back woods and a home plate lying there in the grass. First base lies up against the fence of the empty house next door. (The fence is our “Green Monster”, the abandoned yard is our “Sandlot” – just replace the dog in the movie with snakes, rabbits and armadillos.) Second base is in front of my dining room window. Third base lies in front of the back porch. If he doesn’t have school, my six year old pulls open the slider and runs out to our backyard ball field before the sun has even peeked up over the trees. And then, one after the other, he throws tennis balls into the air and cracks them up over the house. Over and over and over. And after each hit, he talks and cheers and yells the play by play to himself as he rounds the bases. Over and over and over.

There is also a “Mommy base”, where my folding lounge chair is positioned in left field. My three year old always makes a stop there as he rounds the bases. You know, just for a quick snuggle and chatty recap about the game in play. My six year old does not stop however. There is no “Mommy base” in the MLB.

On weekend evenings, he begs. “Just one more inning, Mommy. Just one more. Please.” And so our nights are filled with MLB baseball, no matter the team. Repetitive pitches, fouls, outs, man scratching, commentators mentioning historic facts as filler, spitting, swinging, staring, nothing happens. He remains focused while my husband and I wander away to make dinner. And suddenly there is a double play, the inning is over. He jumps up and down and races around the house and gives my husband and I high fives while we simmer veggies on the stove. What just happened? He is happy to reenact it on the hard wood floor – dives, catches, slides, it’s the most exciting thing in the whole wide world.

Do you know where the oldest ballpark in the country is? Do you know the entire line-up for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox? Do you know the oldest team in the country? Do you know who won the first world series? I don’t. But my son does.

Do you know how much space a full length MLB game takes up on a DVR? He records games every day. And we quietly erase them a few days after that.

Guess where he’s celebrating his 7th birthday? Predictably, in the parking lot of the Trop before a Rays game. Baseball cupcakes, friends with their gloves, sneaking down to the edge of the field to watch warm ups, climbing up to nosebleed seats to watch the game, Lets Go Rays!

We just finished our Little League season where he played on a local coach pitch team. Proudly. He would practice before his games and perfect his slides on the dining room floor. He remained stoically “baseball ready” in the outfield. He dove and rolled for any catch that he could, certainly re-enacting some highlight or another. When ready to hit, he would twirl his bat before the pitch – also something he had obviously seen somewhere before. In the dugout he clung to the fence, staring, watching, jumping in place nervously. He counted the plays, disagreed with calls (later, while being tucked into bed), slid into bases, dove, swung, ran, tagged and tried so so hard. He wasn’t the best player and he wasn’t the squeakiest wheel – but he adored every single moment.

I just signed him up from baseball summer camp. And once school is back in session, there will be Fall Ball too. Again.

It’s a whole new world for me. And I want to be entirely into it with him – but I tapped out of sports about as fast as it took a well aimed kickball to knock the glasses off my wee first grade face many decades ago. I didn’t know the difference between a hit and a run until this Little League season. And is there a difference between a “double” and a “double play”? I’m pretty sure there is.

But I’m trying. And adoring his passion and irrepressible glee for it. And screaming “Way to go baby!!!” from behind the chain link fence at the ball park. And searching for foul balls in our snake infested “Sandlot”. And pitching (no matter how often I’m labeled a “belly itcher” rather than an actual pitcher). And counting up his gear and shaking dirt out of his cleats and washing his uniform and slowing the cart down through the baseball aisle every single time. And sitting through inning after inning, with him snuggled at my side, hanging on his translated play by play.

I’m really trying. And loving it. And always always baseball ready for my wonderful boy.

The Gift of Sixteen Years

As the month of October comes to an end, I am sharing my mother’s story as one last reminder about breast cancer awareness. Please read, consider, educate yourself and share.

Photobucket

My mother did not die from breast cancer. In fact, she was diagnosed many years ago. We found out she had a malignant lump in her breast days before her 50th birthday in 1993. The lump was small and hidden close to her armpit – she could not feel it no matter how hard she tried. But it was detected and it had begun to metastasize.

We have a long history of breast cancer in our family. My grandmother, my aunt and my grandfather’s sister are all survivors. They were all diagnosed after menopause and they all survived. And knowing her history, my mother marched in for annual screenings. Did she feel that it was only a matter of time? I think so. And so do I.

But here’s the kicker to her story. She only found it because she had two mammograms. You’d think one mammogram would be enough, right? The first screening saw “something” but they had determined it was only a cyst. Not to worry. Yeah, not my mom. So she went and got a second opinion. She sought out the best of the best. And they confirmed what she feared.

It was not a cyst.

After a lumpectomy and further testing, her malignancy lead to six months of chemotherapy and radiation. And hair loss, and sickness, and depression, and a nice schnazzy wig to top it off (that she often muttered “never looks quite right”).

But here’s my point. My mother went on to survive another sixteen years after her diagnosis. She went on to have an amazing career working with food aid, traveling the globe and trudging through rice paddies in Asia. She went on to watch both of her children graduate and marry and have three grandchildren. She went on family trips and work trips – trumping my father’s record number of countries visited. She lived those next sixteen years fully. Sixteen years she may not have had if she were not aware of her breast cancer risks. Sixteen years she may not have had if she never followed up with a second opinion and mammogram. Sixteen years she might not have had if she didn’t get amazing care and thorough treatment (that she could luckily afford).

My mother may have passed this summer but she was a breast cancer survivor for sixteen years. And for those sixteen years, her entire family is extraordinarily grateful.

Find out your family’s history. Do monthly checks. Have annual mammograms if it is recommended at your age. Talk to your doctor. Consider all of your options. Don’t ignore anything. Be your own best advocate.

oct09breastcancermomweb-page-001

To contribute to my my mother’s Susan G. Komen memorial fund, please click on her icon at the top of this post. Thank you.

Type A Mom Conference: Finding My Community

And I’m back.

tamcarBack from something quite mind-blowing. And now I have the task of summing it all up into words, words, words… words which brought me there in the first place. Words which I’ve learned will wield quite a bit of power if used well. Words which better do every woman there and the entire Type A Mom experience some attempted variety of  justice. No pressure. So here I go.

Connecting with people online comes with the blogging territory. If you didn’t already know that, consider yourself informed. When you blog, you interact, you contribute, you gain readers, make friends, read others, become immersed in peoples lives and then connect on many social media levels again and again and again, everyday. What I mean is: I have a lot of online friends. I don’t care what your “ew, that’s kind of creepy online stalker-ish” thoughts are on such friendships – I have them and I’m proud of them.

So. This weekend, I had the opporitunity to travel deep into the hills of North Carolina and seek out some of these very women to meet in “real” life. Women who, over the course of four days, became more than just words. They became people – with great accents and loveable mannerisms and diverse backgrounds and fabulous shoes and hysterical stories and gorgeous children and genuine hearts. They live, they breathe, they are more than just a 140 character tweet. Yes, all of my apparent imaginary friends had come to life. In Asheville.

Clearly, I was busting with so much squee, glee and enough “OMG” that I saw stars and felt a teeny bit faint. I was, for all intensive purposes, frigging besiiiides myself I tell you.

So let me get down to these amazing people.

First up, I meet Corina at Down to Earth Mama and Ilina at Dirt and Noise. You wouldn’t have thunk it was for the first time. But those are my girls. They were from the minute I met them last Thursday. Smart, funny, sassy, thoughtful, invested… and did I mention smart? So smart.

tamwomenUpon arrival at the bar the first evening, I was greeted by a delish Type A Mom cocktail along with Kelby and Astacia themselves. Friends continued to arrive, glasses raised, the laughing roared, hugs were traded, wonderful moments all around. That night my heart soared as I found Moosh in Indy, Pundit Mom, Deb on the Rocks, Sugar Jones, Anissa Meyhew, Heather Spohr, Melanie Edwards, Susan Peyton, Angela England, Jennifer James, Mary Davis, Renee Ross and so so many more. And over the weekend, I was introduced to such fabulousness as Cecily Kellogg, Laurie Smith, Rachel Herrscher, Arianne SegermanJulie Roads, Barbara Jones and Nirisha.

(Maybe, somehow you don’t know who a few of these women are. But they are kind of a big deal. And not just to me. So go find them, bookmark them and get to know them too. For real. You won’t be sorry.)

That same night, Kelby showed me the Type A Mom magazine where she had dedicated that issue to “two astounding mothers of Type A Mom editors who passed this year”. My mother was one of the two she mentioned. So yes. In that bar that night there were tears too. Thank you Kelby.

Oh wait! There were panels! I mean, they were kind of the point to all of this right? And those panels practically deserve their own post. So much was hashed out. So much was discussed. For instance, we tackled some of the following questions:

How can women involve themselves in politics of any kind as a blogger? What effect can we actually have? What are our expectations for working with companies and PR representatives? How do we advocate for ourselves? What level of professionalism is expected? How do we blog with authenticity? How to we keep it real and keep on writing? How much do we share? What the hell is SEO and how do we get a clue about it? Does blogging mean any kind of long term pay off or future as a writer? Did you know blogger karma always, ALWAYS pays off? Can’t we be ok with being paid in cupcakes and cough syrup or should we demand actual payment for our writing and reviews? Should we be called Mommy Bloggers? Does it matter what we’re labeled?

The panels and the thoughtful discussions they inspired were enough in of themselves. And I learned a great deal. But those panels (as fabulous as they were) weren’t what left the greatest impression on me.

tamtableIt was community. It was realizing that while I blog at home in my own stay at home solitude, there are women out there who have my back and support me. It was understanding that every blogger – no matter how well known – puts her pants on one leg at a time. We all have insecurities and frustrations with blogging, we all have hopes for our futures with our writing, we all -to the core- appreciate those that read us, we all find our momentum from the most impressive element of this conference: community.

To all of the women there sharing hugs and affirming each other with conversation, thank you for gracefully folding me into this astounding community of ours.

Oh and by the way, I still don’t think I did this whole weekend any justice. To get a better sense, go here and read more. I will be adding posts as I find them so feel free to share some with me in your comments:

Down to Earth Mama

Cutest Kid Ever

Extraordinary Mommy

Triangle Mamas

Secret Agent Mama

Dirt and Noise

Pensieve has a ton of TAM posts linked here too.

And for way way WAY better more pictures, go check out the Type A Moms Flickr Stream.

Oh and by the way again. My favorite sponsors?

I loved the tee I got from Kika Paprika. I guess we all did.tamtees

Creative Memories was wonderful to share some amazing software that I am playing with right now (it is currently minimized below this window).

Little Debbie kept me full of chocolate cake. (I mean really, what more could I ask for?)

tamhat

And UV Skinz made my son very happy with this umbrella hat.

Type A Mom Conference or Bust!

So thanks to my wonderful, amazing father flying in to babysit my kids and my wonderful, amazing husband who is working his tail off so that I could even afford to go to in the first place, I am heading to the Type A Mom Conference in Asheville tomorrow.

And I’m going to be 100% honest here. No kids, blog chatter for 4 days and connecting with my blogger girl friends? Yeah. I’m kind besides myself with glee. I’ll be roadtripping with Down to Earth Mama and rooming with Ilina from Dirt and Noise. And I will be stalking too too many to list. So many it’s kind of embarrassing. At least Pundit Mom expects some stalking from me. So does Anissa Meyhew. And shoot, Kelby Carr? Fugetaboutit. Oh and Sugar Jones should watch her back because I may just tackle her with a hug. There are too many… TOO MANY I TELL YOU!

*Panting*

Must calm down. I can say I’m stalking people, but I can’t really stalk anyone for real. (Right?) Seriously. BE COOL, CAROLINE.

(Noting to self: No panting, no staring, no following. Got it.)

So that’s where I’ll be. I feel kind of like I am telling my mom what I’m doing. I promise to call if I’ll be late. No, there won’t be any sex or drugs, I swear (…that I’ll be made aware of)… (although, my fingers are crossed behind my back in anticipation of a couple cocktails however…). Leave the porch light on and I promise I will tell you ALL about it when I get back.

The Flu Shot: the Good, the Swollen and the Fevered

While we escaped without much fanfare from H1N1, the flu season has certainly made its mark on my family already. Because we’re dealing with more flu issues yet again. No, my 6yo didn’t get H1N1 – miraculously, he seems to have remained immune while his friends and brother all have succumbed to it. So I think we’re done with the pig.

However. I decided to get both of my sons the flu shot. Since it looked like we had made it through well enough with the Swine thing, I may as well cover all our bases, follow all the recommendations of our doctor and our school, and get my kids vaccinated.

No big deal, right?

That’s certainly been the case for my all swined out 3 year old. I don’t think he even cried when he was given his shot. And since then, all he has to show for it is a quarter sized red mark at the vaccination site. No biggee.

tlegNot so for my 6yo. His leg hurt him right away after he was vaccinated. And by the time he got home from school that day, he was limping and the site was sore to touch. The next morning, he woke up with a 102 degree fever. The nurse I spoke with on the phone said that this is a normal side effect. He should take some Motrin and he should be fine in a day or so. Ok. The motrin worked wonders. But when it started to wear off, his leg actually started to swell and the vaccination site started to show a patchy rash that spread up and down his thigh.

What the hell? He’s had flu shots before, but they’ve never reacted like this!

Once again, I was on the phone with the Friday night After Hours office. I need an appointment. Now.

We were there in within the hour. By then my poor kid (who was due for his Motrin) was struggling. The fever was kicking his ass. And his leg looked awful.

fluhandoutWhat did the Doctor say? Yes, his reaction IS normal. It is not an allergic reaction since my son is not allergic to eggs (thankfully). He said he is just reacting to the inactive virus that is part of the vaccination. This is not the flu, just some side effects from it. Ok. And while my 3 year old’s reaction was simply a tiny localized red spot, my older son obviously reacted quite a bit more. He said to take Motrin* every six hours without fail for the next 24 hours. We should also keep a cold compress on his leg and the swelling should be better when he isn’t feverish. And that was that.

His fever has continued today, but the Motrin helps a great deal. So does the cold compress. I am assuming he will be back to normal tomorrow or the following day.

But still. It makes me rethink this flu shot thing. Sure, it HAS been pointed out to me that even with these fairly strong reactions to the flu shot, this is better than having the flu itself. And I agree. My 3 year old had a flu shot last year and did not get the flu. My older son didn’t get the shot and he suffered with a horrible flu for a week. So yes, this IS the better option.

That said, I can’t help but feel iffy about this whole flu shot business. This foreign “inactivated influenza” stuff being shot into my kid’s leg and putting him on his ass. My poor kid.

And with all of it’s bad press recently, I never even asked about thiomersal or whether it was being used in these vaccinations. (*hanging head in shame*) And I didn’t ask about it yesterday either. (*smacking forehead*) I gather it is rarely used any longer – or if it is, it is used in very small doses.

So where does this leave my kids? Well, they’re vaccinated – and my 6 year old does seem to be soldiering back.

But next year? Would I do this again? Not after a long, hard talk with my doctor to see what to expect. Because the Swine Flu was less of a hassle for my 3 year old than the side effects of the vaccination were for my 6 year old. I know we were lucky with H1N1 – VERY lucky. And fairly unlucky with the flu shot. So I am trying to keep my head about me through all of this – but I just can’t help but feel a bit iffy… maybe I even have a little flu shot remorse.

Flu exposures, flu shots, fevers, misery, side effects of all of it… maybe there is no escape. Maybe the flu gets you one way or the other – its just a matter of how MUCH it gets you.

Regardless, I am OVER this Flu season already. I hope we’ve paid our dues. We’ve done our time. So. Leave us alone now, ok?

*Note: While I followed the directions on the Motrin bottle, the Dr. actually noted that I had been under-dosing him for his size and that might explain his further swelling and recurring fever. It was a quick reminder that I should always check in with my pediatrician regarding dosage amounts. As they grow, so does their dosage. I should know better, Chandra Wilson told me so.

Do I Send my Child to School with Confirmed Cases of H1N1?

swinefluI found out last night that there are four confirmed cases of H1N1 – aka the “Swine Flu” – at my son’s elementary school right now. One child is in my son’s “cluster”, another is in his teacher’s son’s class. Four days into the school year and it has already begun. What do I do? Should I keep him home from school? Or am I over-reacting?

While I considered what I was going to do, his teacher called me last night. She assured me that they are taking every precaution they can to sanitize the school. Children each have their own supply cases and are told not to share. They use hand sanitizer regularly, they wipe tables down between every “station” change or class change. They are encouraging children to change clothes and even bathe as soon as they get home. They are asking parents not to send children to school with any flu like symptoms. They are doing everything they can. (So many props to his teacher by the way, I can’t imagine how much work it is to try and keep 20 six year olds germ free.)

And I also should repeat what my wonderful mother in law (an experienced nurse and mother of four children herself) has been telling me since this flu began getting so much press months ago: “H1N1 is just another strain of the flu. It is NOT dangerous to those without compromised immune systems. Everyone is over-reacting entirely too much.”

Well, considering how fast this strain spreads, I am very grateful it is not as dangerous because it is impossible to protect children from germ exchange. My son’s teacher can sani-wipe those tables every five minutes but its all for nil if one kid (my kid?) picks his nose and high fives his best friend, right?

But another class mom decided not to send her son today. It’s Friday, one day off (plus a weekend) can’t hurt. If you can avoid being exposed to the flu as much as possible, you would right?

However, this is only the beginning. I have a feeling we will be seeing many, MANY more cases of H1N1 at my son’s school this year. A local Tampa school reportedly has 30% of their student body out with H1N1 so far. Am I going to keep him home every time another case surfaces? First grade won’t get very far if I do. I don’t think this is something we can avoid. Shoot, we were in Target yesterday – how many H1N1 germs did we brush up against? And I didn’t sanitize my kids when we got back to the car either. Oops.

So, if it were your child, four days into the school year with four confirmed cases of H1N1 (*SO FAR*), would you keep your son home today?

Me being me, I did some research last night. I found the CDC’s “Guidance for State and Local Public Health Officials and School Administrators for School (K-12) Responses to Influenza during the 2009-2010 School Year” document interesting. Basically? From the way it reads it seems as if the horse has already left the barn. The virus is out there and spreading fast. So how does a school decide when to send their kids home? Well. It’s up to them. If there is an increased severity of H1N1 as compared to the Spring of 2009 (um yeah, I’m thinking there will be…), they suggest the following regarding school dismissal:

“School and health officials should work closely to balance the risks of flu in their community with the disruption dismissals will cause in both education and the wider community. The length of time schools should be dismissed will vary depending on the type of dismissal as well as the severity and extent of illness. Schools that dismiss students should do so for five to seven calendar days and should reassess whether or not to resume classes after that period. Schools that dismiss students should remain open to teachers and staff so they can continue to provide instruction through other means.

Reactive dismissals might be appropriate when schools are not able to maintain normal functioning for example, when a significant number and proportion of students have documented fever while at school despite recommendations to keep ill children home.

Preemptive dismissals can be used proactively to decrease the spread of flu. CDC may recommend preemptive school dismissals if the flu starts to cause severe disease in a significantly larger proportion of those affected.”

And along with hand-washing and proactive germ war-fare they also do suggest (parents, pay close attention here) that:

“Those with flu-like illness should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. They should stay home even if they are using antiviral drugs.”

So after all this consideration, what did I do about my six year old going to school today? Well, I really wanted to talk to my pediatrician before I decided. But no go, they were closed when I found out last night and school starts before they opened this morning. So. As I lay in bed hemming and hawing this morning, I heard: “HACK, cough cough, HACK, HAAAACK.” Shocking. My six year old has developed a cold. Yeah but that’s all I needed to push my “on the fence-ness” over the side. It could be a cold, it could be a start of something else. So I’ve decided I am going to keep him home today.

However, I know I can’t keep him out every time I hear the word “H1N1″ so I am going to call his pediatrician (who tends to err on the side of caution usually) and follow their recommendations from here on out. I am waiting for their office to open now. So while I wait – we wait, really – please enjoy this  MUSICAL INTERLUDE.

(a blogger “on hold” if you will…)

(And I soooo love The Carpenters by the way so if you bust on Karen, you are going down….)

….Aaaaand we’re back.

I just spoke to a very helpful nurse at my son’s pediatrician’s office. She said the following:

  • The Swine Flu (H1N1) is no different than any other flu and the preventative measures are the same: wash hands regularly, don’t share bottles, don’t drink from water fountains, use hand sanitizer, you know the routine.
  • Stay home if you see any signs of the flu in your child. Symptoms at their office have included a very high fever, headache, very congested thick cough, runny nose, glassy eyes.
  • If they do have this or any flu, they should stay home 5 days after the onset of the flu.
  • So far H1N1 has been milder than the regular flu and they have not seen any serious cases at their practice yet.
  • Those who should be especially concerned about exposure are those with young infants, pregnant women, elderly relatives or any folks with compromised immune systems.
  • Be sure to get your child a flu shot this year since many strains are expected to be virilant. (I did some research on the H1N1 vaccine and here is what I found.)

So basically? Yeah, I am probably over-reacting by keeping him home today. Sure he has a cough but if its JUST a cough, it’s probably just a cold. She could not emphasize enough how important it is that we sanitize as much as possible everywhere we go – but these preventative measures go for ALL strains of the flu, not just the Swine Flu. The Swine Flu is just one of many kinds of strains going around this year – and it’s not even the most serious strain. But that strain just happened to get the most press.

If flu strains were actors, consider H1N1 the Lindsey Lohan strain. Not the most impressive of all the strains, but the one that gets the most paparazzi.

(Um, that’s my analogy, not the nurse’s.)

Oh and my mother in law? She was kind of right. Just for the record.

Happy three day weekend to my coughing (although it’s probably just a cold) six year old.

Update: My youngest did end up having Swine Flu very shortly after this post was written. Thankfully, after immediate treatment with Tamiflu, it really was no worse than any other flu experiences for us. And that has been the same for most friends and family members who’ve experienced it so far. But I do know that hasn’t been the case for everyone. It sounds as if this strain has had varied reactions depending on the person and the time it was caught. My best wishes for health and healing to everyone until this passes.

“Fluid Wouldn’t Cause this Kind of Loss.”

On this very rainy afternoon, I swooped into the school’s office to find my sweet boy waiting patiently with his backpack amongst the other children being picked up for various doctor appointments or raging fevers. He giggled when he saw me and off we went to the ENT, along with a snoring two year old strapped into his car seat. After hearing some mixed messages these past weeks about my son’s hearing, I was anxious to find another opinion and to get to the bottom of it all.

The ENT’s office was efficient and, within minutes of arriving, paying our co-pay and submitting our paperwork, I was sitting across from the ENT herself. She was smart (I could just tell she was), she had a dry sense of humor and a kind, approachable personality. While clearly not one to be condescending to her young patients, she was also not one to shy from the facts with the parents either. We took the time to go through his history in detail. And then with a half smile and a calming approach, she examined my son’s ears.

ear1“Well. Fluid wouldn’t cause this kind of loss, I’m afraid.” Yes, she did see some fluid but not enough to warrant the sort of loss he is experiencing. She went on to explain the test results to me. There are two sorts of reasons for  hearing loss. In layman terms (because I really don’t know any other sort of terms yet), loss can be a result of either something external which affects the conduction of sound (fluid in ear, wax, ear drum issues) or the loss is a result of the nerve not transmitting the sounds accurately. The audiologist had tested for both sorts of loss in his left ear. To test the nerve itself, she had measured his hearing through the bone. And since both tests in the left ear showed the same results, it is likely his loss is a neural issue. To that end, some inner ear fluid would not affect the neural test either.

So what does that mean? This sort of loss is permanent. And yes, there is a chance it could get worse.

The good news? His other ear is a rock star. She said that because we (parents and teachers)  have not noticed any loss before this, his right ear is probably doing an amazing job compensating for the left ear’s loss. Usually parents see behavior changes, confusion, less participation in school, lower grades, etc. with hearing loss. And while he isn’t the chattiest kid around (yes, he IS related to me, I promise), he has been doing fantastic at school and has never given any of us any obvious signs he can’t hear well enough.

Will he need a hearing aid? He might. We’ll see. She thinks that since he is coping just fine as is, an expensive hearing aid might just get lost and not worn anyway. She doesn’t think its worth it. Yet. She did mention that she wants to retest his ears in two months and maybe do a CT scan of his inner ear structure. We’ll reconsider the hearing aid possibility then.

So how do I feel about all this? I’m disappointed. I wanted his hearing issues to miraculously clear up with a little Claritan. (What parent wouldn’t?) But I am also not surprised. It just didn’t seem to make sense that fluid would explain months of failed hearing tests. I knew it was too good to be true.

I am also not disheartened. His right ear is getting it done. As I have mentioned before, he seems no worse for wear. He has been coping well with this loss all along and he is doing great at school. Shoot, without those audiologist results, we never would have even known he had a loss in the first place. Besides, so many readers, friends and family have pointed out that a mild or moderate hearing loss is kind of no big deal. Really. He’s good. Especially if his loss does not change.

But that’s the key. That he stays as is. That his hearing loss does not get worse.

While I am writing this, my five year old is watching Pinky Dinky Doo. (Nothing like a little after-school downtime with Noggin.) And do you know what he just did? He turned the volume up, slightly. And the other day I noticed that while he as speaking to his beloved uncle, he had the phone on his left ear and almost immediately put the speaker phone on.

Huh.

Oh. Right. I get it now. Or at least, I am trying really reeeeally hard to get it. Maybe I am only now noticing his hearing behavior when I never did before. But this is a learning process. That’s what parenting is after all. We try to learn to be better parents everyday. I am simply just adding one more thing I need to get better at to the list.

Hearing Mixed Messages

I thought I’d post an update about my five year old and his hearing loss. As recommended by our audiologist, we contacted our pediatrician to catch him up on all of the recent developments and get a referral for an ENT. Of course, he insisted we come in to make sure my son didn’t have any fluid in his ear. I was not particularly enthused. Sure, after 3 exams (with ear checks) over a period of months, our pediatrician would suddenly find fluid and that alone would explain his hear loss? I was doubtful and annoyed he would be taking another co-pay from us – but we went along none the less.

(Because, for real, what the hell do I know about all this anyway?)

And guess what our pediatrician found? Fluid. In fact he found a significant amount in his left ear particularly. Clear fluid, not infected fluid, but it is chronic enough – he thinks – to cause this sort of hearing loss. So, yes, he needs to see an ENT. He thinks that sort of fluid could even be related to an allergy issue. Perhaps once this fluid is cleared up, his hearing issues will be resolved.

*Blink*

What? But the audiologist examined him and his ears thoroughly. And these tests have taken place over a period of months. We’ve never heard anything about fluid. (And if it was fluid, could he have had fluid in there all this time?) We were told that his ears were healthy, he responded well to the tests and the results showed that this loss was most likely permanent. We were told that it will affect how he learns at school. And that we’d need plans and procedures and all sort of official paper work done.

Clearly, there are differing opinions. (Those with experience in the medical world are shocked, I am sure.)

So off to the ENT we go. For a third opinion. I am very curious what he’ll have to say now. And while we wait to for our appointment, we’re working on clearing up this fluid with some Claritin.

(It can’t all be as simple as that, can it? Just clearing up some fluid? Shaking my head here. But we’ll see…)

Meanwhile, my kid goes along with it all, shrugging his shoulders at the whole bit. And apart from falling apart alone in the car after dropping him off at school that morning (only hours after hearing the news) I have taken cues from my son and really relaxed about it all myself. I am new to all of this and only just learning what it means to have any degree of hearing loss. But thanks to friends and family alike giving me their personal insight, I have learned that life with a hearing loss is doable. Obviously its doable. Hes been doing it all along as it is. At this point, I just want to know what the situation is so that if accommodations are needed, they are made. That’s all.

I get how minor this is in the grand scheme of it all – believe you me.

And if I was worked up about his potential hearing loss for those few hours after I heard the news, cut me some slack. When a mother finds out news about her children’s health – no matter what it is – it takes a moment to regroup.

But back to the point, my kid is great. Who knows what that left ear of his is up to.  But right now, he is heading into school today to show his class a project he did about asteroids. I am extraordinarily proud of him. Did you know the biggest asteroid is about as wide as Florida? Did you know that some asteroids have moons? I can’t wait to find out how it goes.

Tampa Bloggers and Friends Walk for Maddie

Click on banner above to donate.

On April 25th, I will join local Tampa area bloggers and friends of the Spohrs to walk in the memory of their daughter Maddie. Maddie passed away unexpectedly on April 7th after a miraculous life with her family.

If you’ve been reading along in these parts recently, you’ll know that Maddie’s passing this week has moved me deeply. Her death rang through the entire parent blogging community, in fact. Every parent who knew her story and then heard about her passing seemed to stop, mourn and then react. At this point, over $25,000 has been raised in Maddie’s honor for the March of Dimes. And currently, a fund is being put together to help sponsor the funeral expenses which are expected to cost over $7,000. (Donations for funeral expenses can be sent to a paypal account at formaddie@hotmomreviews.com)

Money raised for the March of Dimes will help:

  • support all-important research offering preventions and solutions for babies born too soon or with birth defects
  • educate women on things they can do to increase their chances of having a healthy baby
  • provide comfort and information to families with a newborn in intensive care
  • push for newborn screening and health insurance for all pregnant women and children

If you would like to learn more about Maddie, I would encourage you to visit the March for Maddie website. And please view the slide show below. Thanks to the March of Dimes, Maddie was a bright and shining light in her parents’ lives for 17 months. What a very special gift she was.

Finally, please consider passing on my post to others (tweeting, stumbling, sharing on facebook, however you feel comfortable spreading the word) and encourage your friends to sponsor our walk for Maddie on April 25th. Every little bit helps. Imagine if every person who viewed this post donated even just one dollar? What a fabulous start to this walk we would have.

Thanks so much for your consideration. And here’s Maddie…