Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Munchausen Miles

For those of you who are not familiar with Munchausen By Proxy, the term refers to a disorder by which a Mother illicits the attention and sympathy of medical professionals through the intentional sickening of her children. It's actually not funny in real life when you think about it but today does not feel like real life to me. I feel like I'm living in a sitcom and when I awaken, I'll have three little boys in GAP t's and elastic waisted matching shorts and this will all just be a silly dream brought on by listening to the ridiculous Mothers conversations between Mothers of teenagers who clearly have problems in the parenting skills area. Or so I, naive young Mother still wet behind the ears, thought (judged) before my own little cherubs blossomed into teenagers.
I have been humbled.

I am writing following the third pediatric doctor's appointment today. My Tuesday began with an early morning call from the school nurse regarding our middle son. A subsequent mid morning visit to our pediatrician was next and was followed immediately by a visit to Children's Hospital of Minneapolis for additional testing- the lovely Pertussis nasal sweep, a distant cousin of the absolutely kid preferred Q-tip strep throat gagger. Perfectly articulated by our little patient, "absolutely worse than the resetting of my arm Mom." First poor guy brakes his arm. Then his mother goes on strike (during which time he's happily OD'd on Velveeta Mac&Cheese and sporting stiff- from too much detergent and hung to dry boxers…) yet my boys is unwilling to end the strike with the rest of us. He cant sleep and now the potential diagnosis of Whooping Cough. Poor kiddo...

And so, I respectfully submit to Mothers of America, and nutritionist everywhere: Can you guide your somewhat resistant family to "eat clean" and yet agree to the rare request of a Mc Donald's drive thru when you're A) running late B) admittedly frazzled and C) feeling badly for the middle child who may or may not haven fallen between the cracks on the illness sidewalk because he's rarely demanding (though stubborn) and more often than not, an easier child? Does talking and ordering food-like products into a voice box outside make me not only Major Bad Mama but also Captain Food Hypocrite? We did just stop at the pharmacy to pick up the prescribed anti-biotics so perhaps a boost of extra antibiotics that I'm sure found its way into the "hamburger" may be considered a good thing…? Justified!

Golden arches bag handed off to the back seat, finally today- though booked 2 weeks prior, our final medical stop of the day. Time for the follow up visit for our youngest son; a recheck on his sprained foot. A frequent and recent visitor to this Orthopedic Surgeon's office, perhaps my car may just go on auto pilot like they do on Delta flights so I can eat too. (If you're keeping track, as of 4:30 pm, 4 conversations with medical professionals- not including the lovely ladies at the front desks and the booking departments, and the pharmacist. No time for a sit down lunch.) As this day progresses, I'm feeling like my strike was 2 years ago and I'm now back- full throttle and fueled with petroleum based cheese and a GMO bun... And like every fossil fuel dependent, good American consumer, I'm racking up the miles. Nice footprint legacy today...

Actually, I left out the one medical conversation- a brief email fired off to the pediatrician in the wee hours of the morning (prior to school nurse call) when my middle son awoke with another coughing fit- hence appointments 1-3 (see above). My unsolicited advice to any parent: Spend as much time and resources looking for your OBGYN as you wish but what matters most in your little Black Doctor Book is your pediatrician. Dr. Hobbs has saved our boys both literally and figuratively. And it doesn't hurt that both my husband and I think he's armed with not just a plethora of medical knowledge and the best in his field (just ask Minneapolis St Paul Magazine). Dr. hobbs is armed with a great sense of humor and relaxed manner, and he has put us at ease more than once in his office and at the hospital. Don't let that demeanor fool you however as when in the midst of an undiagnosed illness running rampant through our internationally traveling son or a limb dangles at an angle that is unfamiliar to me, he certainly runs show. I've never shared the last name of my babysitters as there are those that will recruit them from right under your nose and book 3 years worth of Saturday nights but I am, against my better judgment- mentioning our doctor's full name because if you're a parent of boys like mine, I'd be a rat not to pass it on.

Thankfully home after the long day but very much aware that the night is young and G-d only knows if we're headed out for an additional prescription or doctor visit yet again. (I speak from experience). So following our very busy medical day, I am ceasing the moment to write during a more quiet period. I actually think it's somewhat cathartic to write following a day like this so if it's not a hit with you at least I'm feeling a little better. My husband, bless his post-strike heart, is working to catch up at the office after being out of town. He offered to pick up dinner as I was a bit swamped today and never quite made it to our neighborhood grocery store- Costco. My youngest son, post sprained foot check up, is completing homework at the kitchen table. My middle son,though still coughing, is alive and well following the morning's events and pity lunch. He is resting comfortably in his room upstairs- where I run up to check on him when the kitchen reminder timer dings. And our eldest is "stranded here" as I won't give up my car just in case there is an after hours emergency- a 5th visit to a medical professional. Again, the night is young. I'm not ruling out anything and certainly I'm not going to jinx myself…again.

The existing jinx is about 16 hours old. I will mention here that late, late last night (officially early this am) we returned from a trip during which we visited 8 colleges in 4 days with our eldest son. Before finishing up on my arrival-home-to-do-list, I remember thinking to myself, "hey, it may be 2:30 am but my husband and I were able to travel away from home and two children without a fall, a break, an ER visit for stitches or a Strep outbreak. It's a good week, a good trip." That is when Elliott joined me in the kitchen to inform me of his coughing fit. I shared with him that I was updating my Blog and mentioned aloud that this may be a record for us. In the last 4 years there have been countless incidents when we have left town and our children have taken ill or gotten injured. Well, you may ask, "why don't you stop leaving town?" If only it were that simple. First, it happens when we're home and when we're away. (This was just a good 4 day run.) It happens if we're traipsing through a Rainforest or through the Northwoods. My children don't discriminate. Injuries and illness occur whenever, wherever. Second, there isn't enough bubble wrap for my boys. My dear friend Dana suggested bubble wrap for my three sons. There is not enough manufactured in these United States to protect and contain my wonderful boys. Third, you might want to try not to judge. It didn't bode so well for me as here again tomorrow I will sit- insurance card in hand and countless hours ahead of me at the dining room table sorting out what I paid for who, when, where, and why. I am using my Delta Visa to pay these numerous bills as I am a shameless miles whore. After the last four years my husband and I have made a pact that one day soon we're going away, alone where there are no cell towers. Note to self: tomorrow do an iPad search for "currently attending med school student, looking for part time work with children". And, notify school and pediatrician of pending travel plans...

With reference to the aforementioned pact following whirlwind 4 years of our life with 3 very busy boys and our injury/illness list up until now…it is admittedly a dream light years away. In the meatime a few friends have suggested that I should write a book about my life as the Mother of 3 boys. The challenge- there doesnt ever seem to be enough time now and later I don't think I'll ever remember all of this! How my day (and life) with our kiddos has gone so far could absolutley fill a few chapters but for now it seems, a blog will have to do.

Bare with me now please as though detailed, there's some logic here. I'd like to run down a few things in case it triggers my memory later when I'm lounging on a beach, on some exotic island writing my book. Perhaps even a little humor here too. After all, laughing is the best form of medicine. If necessary, and you struggled with the sequence of today's doctor visits, perhaps keep track of who broke what and where with Post-its and pen? It's what I do and it seems to work. (If nothing else, you'll support 3M, a locally based company and the manufacturer of Post its. They also make the finest bandages and sterile wraps and I for one, absolutely need them to stay in business.). And perhaps one day I may call you for the Cliff notes?

First thing this morning, as I mentioned, the school nurse called to share with me her concern about my Middle Schooler's persistent cough. We've spoken before.- Nurse Karen and I. This MIddle Schooler has struggled with his broken arm for 6 weeks now. It's big, it's awkward and he can't sleep very well. But It's all relative though as three years ago our eldest broke his arm only 6months into the same school year at his then, new school. 6 weeks later, after a few days out of his cast, he was in a ski accident over Spring Break in Aspen. This is the call a parent dreads as he was there with another family. After a brief stay in the ICU of the Aspen Hospital which specializes in trama, we brought him home in a wheel chair with a breathing apparatus, 2 broken arms- surgically pinned and repaired, strained ligaments in his leg, and later we would discover, a significant concussion. (Thank you Dr. Sunberg, our beloved Orthopedic Surgeon who actually diagnosed the head trauma.) Same kid contracted Strep and Staph while doing service work in Fiji and returned to a subsequent 3 day stay at Chiidlren's Hospital Minneapolis. Last year, thankfully, he returned home from Australia with just a little sleep deprivation. So I guess, looking on the bright side, last year was a good year for our eldest.

I can not leave out the youngest child as truth be told, as is the case with many a baby of the family, our littlest tyke is tougher than the sum of his two brothers and parents combined. An enormous heart, generous beyond words, and a quick witted sense of humor, this bright baby of the family has caused the least of the gray hairs that quickly overrun my head. In fact, I believe Nurse Karen has recently had our youngest in her office with his sprained foot. We discovered at a recent visit to the Orthopedic Surgeon of son 1 and 2 that son 3 has been walking around on a sprained foot for upwards of 3 months. As for his visit to Nurse Karen, I'm not certain but he may have been in there last week as well to rest his booted foot. Otherwise, barely a mention until it hurt enough for him to limp into the kitchen and complain of intermittent pain once or twice a month. Today though it was our middle son in the capable and caring hands of Nurse Karen. I hear she has a new couch in her office. Maybe I could visit Karen too- as just the attempt to document the last 4 years is giving me a headache. That is, if she can squeeze me in between my sons' visits.

Are you still with me? Need a fresh Post It? Back now where we began today and where we will stay- with our mIddle son who had intermittently complained of that cough that appeared and disappeared intermittently over the last few weeks. It prevented him from getting sleep though this is not unusual for him. We call him "The Thinker." He's our most lovable pickle-in-the-middle and he goes with the flow so when he occasionally referenced his coughing initially as no big deal, we thought the same. (He does a lot of work in that beautiful brilliant head of his before surrendering to sleep. Likewise, during his waking he has any number of fascinating insights and facts to share. Cough was not high on his list.) Hence the reference to the crack and the sidewalk. Frankly speaking, I'm not certain that had this been our first born, 6 month old baby, we would a) been home watching him sleep and/or had the baby monitor set to 10 on my nightstand and b) would have phoned and woken the pediatrician on call with very little attention paid to the lateness of the hour.

Another injury for the record, if you are eventually going to accuse me of Munchausen should be disclosed. Before doing so however, take a few minutes to add to your contacts: Dr. Hobbs (Pediatrician) and Dr. Sunberg/Dr. Lane (Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons)). Add Minneapolis Children's Hospital (especially friendly and easy to navigate this enormous facility but perhaps because I am a former volunteer at Children's Hospital as who better to empathize with visiting patient families than a Mother who has sat in the OR waiting room herself). Next, enter under "O" for Orthopedic Surgery Clinic Gilette Childrens St. Paul, and "P" for physical therapy at Gilette Children's West. (Mention our name at Gilette's as they may remember us. While scheduling Jeremy's follow up PT appointments for his foot, our other son suffered a coughing fit and proceeded to throw up in the garbage can under the complimentary coffee bar in the waiting-room. Youngest son immediately hobbled over on one foot to enthusiastically share the details.) Occupational therapy visits were best at Minneapolis Children's. And finally, enter "C" for Cosmetic Dentistry (lost a front tooth to a water ski) Bassett Creek).

Wait. Don't log off. Dang it! "V" is for the flippin' Vet! Our dog Ricky, the batteries in her collar must need replacing,-ran through the Invisible Fence this morning and she is now limping across the kitchen floor. Well, get it line Little Miss Ricky!
I'll try and get her an appointment for tomorrow. Sometime after 10:00am as I've got to get through that stack of medical bills and insurance submissions. Perhaps the vet accepts Delta Visa as well? I could use the Frequent Flyer MIles. Or should we call them Munchausen Miles?!
Hey, call me what you wish but the more frequent flyer miles the closer I am to that tropical island vacation with Dan...

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