Friday, August 19, 2016

Middle's Update

I started writing this post the night I was watching the women's 200-meter backstroke semifinals, live from Rio, and this is mostly because I was waiting for Michael Phelps to come out and stun the world again.

Special Edition is a little surprised that "we are an Olympics family. I didn't know that." Well, we are not nearly as devoted as, say, Jen Hatmaker, whose nightly posts have been a source of absolute hilarity for me. (I nearly herniated myself, laughing over her observations on Ryan Lochte's hair color. Mostly because they mimicked mine. Intervene, Jesus.)

And the updates on the dear wee ones here ended up having to wait due to my last book project, which was on a deadline, but I'm sure you've been breathlessly waiting.

You need to breathe.

I need to not neglect this blog.


She's had quite the summer. We had her checkup with her pediatric ophthalmologist in mid-June, regarding her exotropia. For those of you not in the know, this is an eye problem that looks kind of like it might be a lazy eye, but it's not. Short version: her eye muscles don't want to work well together, and they are not strong enough or tight enough to force her eyes to focus together like they're supposed to. Her glasses have been compensating for this, but even so, when she's tired, her left eye especially drifts way out of alignment. Both eyes are exotropic, but the left is the most obvious, particularly when she's tired. Despite our efforts, the doctor checked her eyes and determined that Middle was now at the point that she needed surgical correction.

The first available date was the week Middle was going to be at swim camp, and since Middle wouldn't be able to put her head under water for two weeks following surgery, we definitely didn't want to cut swim camp short, so surgery was scheduled for July 7. Middle was both petrified and excited. She finally got to have surgery and get presents like her sisters had gotten for their surgeries!

When we picked up Hubby from work, and I was explaining all this to him, Middle piped up from the back seat that she wanted to pick out her stuffed friend as her hospital buddy. (We've gotten both Youngest and Oldest a stuffed friend for the day of their surgeries.)

"I know what you want," I said, glancing in the rearview mirror to catch a glimpse of her in the back seat. A quick look at Hubby showed he was smiling.

"What?" Middle demanded.

"A duck!"

There was an audible, slightly-indignant gasp from behind Hubby's seat. "How did you know?"

I proceeded to quote her, verbatim, from a conversation we'd had no more than two weeks before, "'Mommy, I have to tell you something. Dodo birds aren't my favorite animal anymore. They're my second favorite. I just can't stand it anymore. I need more ducks!'"

Hubby dissolved into giggles, while Medium muttered a mostly happy, "Oh. Yeah," from the back seat.

I risked a glance at Hubby as we sped up the highway. "Why are you laughing? I told you about this last week!"

"I know," he gasped. "It's still funny!"

Medium had, you see, decided about six or eight months ago that ducks were no longer her favorite animal. Dodo birds were, despite their distinct extinctness. While she never fully explained it, I suspected that some pesky third-grade stinker found out about her love for ducks, made fun of her, and so she found something much "cooler" to love, even if it meant shoving ducks to second place and not being able to get any Dodo bird figures for Christmas. She was, however, terrified to hurt Gramma's feelings by telling her she no longer loved ducks. So, when she'd made this pronouncement a couple weeks before, it came as no surprise to me, but the method of delivery was a scream. Hubby had dissolved into giggles then, too.

A couple of days before the surgery, after a mother-daughter disagreement about chores (she wanted to be done; I said she needed to do two more things before she could be done with the den cleaning), I heard something suspicious: the sound of a full garbage bag thumping down the stairs. In retrospect, I should have recognized what was going on as her nerves about the approaching surgery. Oops. I only realized it when I saw the date on the picture I pulled to use here. Innyhoo...I discovered that Middle had bagged up all of her ducks because someday she was "going to have to pass them down to my children, so I'm going to have to get used to not having them, so I might as well start now."

Some days, this girl is so my Mini-me, it's frightening.

Partial Meeting of the AJSFA
We had a conversation about how she's only nine and a half, and she doesn't have to worry about that for a very long time. I showed her a big box in the attic that holds a bunch of my stuffed friends, which I still have, despite my rather advanced number of years compared to hers. I asked if she wanted to see what was in there. She said no.

But within fifteen minutes, she'd changed her mind, and wanted to see what I had in there (which, by the way, was a box much bigger than she thought, as it was a vacuum box, and still doesn't contain the entirety of the Auntie J Stuffed Friends Alliance). So I helped her get into the attic and we brought the box down to the living room. And we squealed over my Friends.

I was really hoping the stuffed duck from my childhood was going to be in that box. I was going to let him go into Middle's extended care.

Needless to say, I unpacked the bag of ducks and gloriously dumped them back all over her bed at her request.

Surgery on July 7th was very successful, and the surgeon—her ophthalmologist—was very pleased with how well the procedure went. On its surface, it's a simple surgery, putting a dissolvable suture into the controlling muscle to tighten it and thus force the eyes to align. Poor Middle woke up in recovery essentially blind, because her eyes were covered with a massive ice pack, and she couldn't see us. She could only hear us, and the anesthesia does wonky things to the brain. Hearing her say, "Daddy, is that really you?" was heartbreaking. She felt better once she could feel us touch her. The PACU staff were wonderful. Having never experienced anesthesia before, nor narcotics, we didn't know how she was going to react to certain medications. We were so grateful that the anesthesiologist was willing to come back several times to check on our daughter, who didn't seem to be responding to the pain medicine right away. He said that sometimes he sees kids not respond right away to the
Middle with our PACU nurse
medication he used, and then it kicks in with a bang—and that's exactly what happened with Middle. It seemed to take forever to kick in, but when it did, it was very obvious it had. We were able to travel home with popsicles and some cool new sunglasses for Middle's now very sensitive eyes, and between the prescribed pain medicine (which we used at night) and staggered over-the-counter stuff, we were able to keep her mostly comfortable as she recovered.

The following week was my birthday. I did not celebrate last year, despite the decadal mark I hit, because it was so soon after losing Dad, and those kinds of birthdays were always such a big deal in his family. I wasn't sure I really wanted to celebrate this year, but knew I needed to, even if just for my kids. Mom came out again (she had been out the week before for Middle's surgery), and we all drove out to a gorgeous lake about an hour and half away from us. Hubby had been to Ollie's recently, and had found a Civil War book he wanted, so he'd allowed the kids to spend $5 on themselves, and the twins had found a set of walkie-talkies they really wanted. Since we took two cars, we used their walkie-talkies to communicate, and it was an hour and a half of, "Do you read me?" "I read you. But do you read me?"

After several hours of fun in the sun at the lake, including meeting up with my cousins who live within 40 minutes of the lake and were able to come out and join us at the spur of the moment, we headed for home, and stopped at a local Hoss's Steakhouse for my birthday dinner. At one point, before our dinners arrived, I looked next to me to see Middle yanking her straw out of her drink in order to sluck down the soda remaining in the straw. Since I'd just asked her not to do that a few minutes before, she looked impishly guilty when I caught her.

"I can't help it!" she exclaimed. "I'm a hooligan!"

Mom burst into laughter while I fought to rein in my smirk.

"Or," Middle mused, "a hoolibarian. A hooligan and a barbarian." She smiled proudly at me. "I made that word up myself. A combination of hooligan and barbarian."

"I know." I couldn't contain the chuckle. Mom was still laughing. This girl... God, does Dad see this stuff from up there? He'd love this one.

And we have conversations like this all the time with Middle. It's frightening. It's awesome. It's hilarious.

This morning, I was half awake while Middle was talking to me about her library book, about drawing reptiles and lizards, and the conversation had started out about why her book didn't have any pictures of pterodactyls in it, just the pteranodon and quetzalcoatlus flying dinosaurs. I tried to pay attention, I really did, but I was exhausted and zoned out at some point along the way. I know she mentioned something about several of her classmates saying things (all of them boys), but the next thing I clearly heard was, "And then the kitties will have crunchy poop. Yeah, really crunchy poop."

I decided Rule #2 was best employed there and let her keep talking until I needed to go check the load of clothes in the dryer.

Innyhoo, the first follow-up checkup for Middle's eye surgery showed that one of the muscles had been a tad over-tightened. Dr. S was a bit surprised ("It's been awhile since I've done that; guess I have to keep myself humble," she observed). However, the extent of the exotropia in that eye was so severe that she suspected Middle was still relying on old muscle memory to help it keep crossing the way it was, so she wanted to give it a month and see how Middle was then. When we went back a week and a half ago, the eye was greatly improved, and Middle just needs new glasses to help finalize the proper muscle adjustment.

Starting fourth grade and a new school this year has been a big adjustment, and with everything that's gone on this summer, we've been very glad that Middle has her counselor to help with processing the fear of the surgery and the new school and school year and several other events.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you are rude, spiteful, or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge just for putting up with you.

Please be nice.