Wednesday, September 13, 2017

JAWthritis?

I get accustomed to the patterns and rhythms of life. I get lulled into a state of peace, and I forget how easily the "normal" can change.

Emma's arthritis has always followed a pattern. When it all began, the arthritis flared in her ankle, then knee, before other joints revealed their involvement. Subsequent flares have followed similar patterns, always beginning in the knee or ankle. Both are big, obvious joints with familiar symptoms that make identifying the presence of arthritis fairly easy.

This time is different. (IF this is a "this time.")

During this summer, Emma complained off and on of pain in her jaw when chewing. It always happened first thing in the morning, then felt better as the day progressed. I wondered if this was arthritis, or if it was caused by clenching over night, since the kid has a history of grinding her teeth when asleep. Then the pain stopped and my brain stopped pondering the cause.

Then her knee showed a little more squish than normal, and she had some stiffness there a few nights in a row, and I thought: AHA! The ******* arthritis is back! So I started some homeopathic remedies and emailed her doctor, but the squishiness went down and the stiffness went away, and my brain stopped stressing.

Then the morning jaw pain returned. We tried a mouth guard at night to prevent clenching and the jaw pain went away, and I sighed in relief.

Then the morning jaw pain returned. This time, the pain was accompanied by a clicking sound. We tried the mouth guard some more, the jaw pain stayed. We used essential oils, the jaw pain stayed. One day, about a week in to this particular adventure, it hurt not only in the morning, but also at lunch time. When my girl came home from school and told me that she couldn't chew quesadillas, I knew the jig was up.

I emailed her doctor.
The next day. her doctor, Emma, and I had a video appointment. (Technology is so cool!)
The NEXT day I spoke with the scheduler in radiology and Emma's first ever MRI was on the books.

I cried that day. Multiple times. I cried like a hysterical, broken down woman who carries the grief of knowing that her daughter is in pain. I cried like a working mom of multiple children who has to juggle schedules and childcare and plan to face early morning traffic to take her daughter to an appointment in a big, loud machine to confirm whether or not the joints in her jaw are indeed being attacked by her own immune system. I cried like a woman who worries and fears possible bone damage in her beautiful daughter's growth plates on her face.
After my lunch-break (aka "cry-break")  I moved like a zombie through the rest of my work day.

Thank goodness for an incredible, relaxing weekend after that. I needed to forget my worries, and I was able to do so with dearly beloved friends and my husband in a beautiful place.

Then the new week started, and we prepared by watching youtube videos full of MRI noises and adorable nurses demonstrating how an MRI appointment usually plays out. (Again, I must say: Thanks technology!)

Now we are here, at the end of the day of Emma's first MRI.

We got up early and got to the appointment with plenty of time to spare. Emma looked adorable in her special hospital gown, but since she asked me not to post the picture, I won't. The appointment took an hour. The MRI machine was loud, and my kid was SO GOOD at holding still, even though she didn't want to and was getting a headache by the end. She also got an I.V. injection of contrast dye LIKE A CHAMP. She didn't even flinch, because she is incredible.

After her appointment, I took her out to a pancake breakfast, naturally. Then I took her through a drive-through dairy for her very favorite pineapple and strawberry ice cream cone, because ice cream heals all wounds. THEN I took her to the grocery store and bought her a pizza Lunchable, because crappy food makes kids happy. Finally, I dropped her off at school.

What I should have done next was come home, lie on my couch, and sleep off the emotional exhaustion that has been steadily increasing for a week.
I didn't do that, though, because that's not who I am. I am neurotic and high-strung and I really like using my time to do jobs that I don't want to have to do later. So, I did chores, things that don't really matter, but help me to feel better.
Which means I'm still exhausted, on so many levels.


So what's next?

I wait for results. I wait and feel exhausted and sleep fitfully and I wait. Now that you know, you get to wait, too.

Thanks for sitting and waiting with me during this one, friends.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Times They Are A-Changin'

My Baby Turned FIVE.
No, seriously. I have a five year old and a seven-and-a-half year old. How is that even possible? Wasn't I just pregnant with kid #1 yesterday?

Liam is an amazing little dude. He is outgoing, social, and will chat your arm off if you let him. He has lots of passion for life, a great desire to explore and climb, and very little concern for his well-being. He also sucks at listening and following directions if he is mid-Lego-building or show-watching. He drives me crazy.
I love him madly.

Emma is awesome. She loves art and music, but I have to fight to get her to practice piano. She loves reading, but is quite particular about the type of book she'll choose from the library. She loves to swim, but dislikes swimming lessons because they are "no fun" and she doesn't like when her instructor tells her what to do. Welcome to the rest of your life, kid. Her freckles match mine, her stubbornness matches mine, and her sensitive nature matches mine. We're going to butt heads in her teen years, but I think we'll come out okay.
I love her dearly.
Emma is still off all arthritis medication and has been so for nearly six months. Fingers crossed her arthritis stays away, but I'm not so sure it is listening to me. We're keeping a close watch on a squishy knee of hers. Autoimmune diseases are stupid.

That big kid will soon be in 2nd grade, the baby child is about to start kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN. I'm not old enough to have such grown up kids. What is even happening?

With both kids out of the house every weekday, my life is going to change. I'm a little bit excited and a lot bit anxious. I know they'll do amazingly wonderful, (have you seen these kids? They're incredible!) but my routine is about to change, and anytime I face a big change I get nervous.

It's nothing too new... I'm going to work more at the veterinary office where I have worked part-time for the past twelve years! Soon, I will work daily instead of one or two days a week. I'm going to be back to the grind!

Hooray for work outside of the home! There are many things about my job that I look forward to: Adult company, financial compensation for a job well done, using my skills to help others! Things I am not looking forward to include: When the hell am I going to have time to do the laundry/go grocery shopping/clean the toilet/sit down and relax?!?! Those are all the normal concerns of working people, but I've been mostly at home for the past seven years and I run my household like a machine, so I will need to adjust. And adjusting to change is hard.
It will all work out, but my machine is going to need a tune-up and some new settings.

Anyhow, that's what is new with me. What's going on with you? What do you do when you are facing life changes and feeling nervous? What changes are you currently experiencing in your life?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Art. Art Art Art. Art.

E-Mom! Did you take a picture of the name?!?!!?
Me- I think I can remember "Still Life with a Melon."

For months I have been longing to take Emma to a fine art museum because I know how much she would love it. Finally, today, we went.

In case you wondered, I was right. Emma loved the experience. Poor Liam was dragged along too. He was bored and quickly grew tired of being told to hold my hand, to stop jumping, and to go dance in the corner away from the sculptures, but hopefully some of his memories of today are pleasant. 

Emma is my artist. She will draw, color, write, dance, sing, or create at the piano with a patience and attention span that frequently amazes me. She has been this creative being since she could first sing and hold a crayon. I love that about her. I want to nurture that element in her. We absolutely had to buy a sketchbook at the museum's gift shop because she insisted and I couldn't say no. *sigh*

My parents are members at The de Young and The Legion of Honor museums in San Francisco, which means I got to get in for free! (I like free.) Mama, the greatest woman in the universe, drove the kids and me to The Legion of Honor this morning. It is a wonderful museum that I have been to many times. I have fond memories of going there as a kid and as a teen, but it's been a while since my last visit. There are paintings and sculptures within those walls that moved me when I first saw them, artwork that I will always hold dear, and I'm glad I was able to share that space with my children today. Bonus: The special exhibit right now is of Monet's early work, which I'm glad we were able to see, even if it was crazy crowded and we were exhausted.  

It was a lovely day. Behold our photos:



Me, Sassy, Sassier, and a famous bridge.

So many Rodin sculptures.

Emma was really attracted to still life paintings. 

My girl and a Renoir.

"Get dressed and stop bothering the cat!" -A story of my life.

Two beauties admiring two beautiful Monet paintings. 

My favorite girl in front of one of my favorites.
"The Russian Bride's Attire" by Konstantin Makovsky

Babies + Monet = Swooning Mom

He wasn't miserable the *entire* time.
In addition to still life, Emma adored all of the fancy ladies.
This was purchased on a postcard and is pinned into the wall next to her bed. 

Someone insisted on buying a postcard image of this one, too. 

Mom! Mom was there, too. 

I wasn't allowed to carry my backpack on my back,
but sometimes I carried this monster on my front.




Also, because tomorrow is Memorial Day...




Seek beauty and art all around you, my people. It is nearer than you might think.