2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Advertisements

Tonight I feel angry…

1. I’m not honest enough.

I had a blog once that was painfully blunt. It was my outlet for five years when I battled depression and anxiety. That battle actually went on for more like 10 years. Some friends stuck it out. Others found me too aggravating, and I was aggravating. But they can still go to hell. I’m good now and have been for several years. I was delightfully sarcastic and dark in that blog. Or at least I think I was, in my own little world. I didn’t tell family I had it. It’s long gone since the day a disgruntled employee at Journalspace intentionally sabotaged the server, destroying an entire online community. The one and only time I backed it up was two months prior to that fateful day. I wanted to print it once, but it was over 500 pages. Sometimes it’s hard for me to be completely open in this blog because I use it as a forum to raise awareness for Connor. This means family and family friends read it (although as I discovered tonight, my brother hasn’t been, so he can suck it. I pushed him on a cactus once as children and I’m not afraid to do it again bwa haha). As I get more comfortable, I might open up more on a personal level.

Which brings me to the fascinating world of Facebook. Feel free to unfriend me if my unending lobbying about TSC annoys you. Of course, it’s not like those people would be reading this. I have been blown away by the thoughtful, kind words from people that I haven’t seen in years, didn’t know well even then, and sometimes never even met. Especially when some of the people I spent significant amounts of time with at some point in my life have never cared to say a word to me about Connor.

2. The TSC community needs to go balls to the wall.

I’m not in the greatest mood because the last couple of days I’ve been lobbying like crazy to get votes on behalf of the Australian Tuberous Sclerosis Society. They started out well in the lead. Earlier today another group had a 30 vote lead. Now it’s over 100. I’m about sick of the lack of awareness and touting of various opportunities to get funding for TSC. Once again we are faced with a vote where we aren’t even at 2,000 flipping votes. More like 1,600. Just like the Chase Bank competition a few months ago. Yet I’m part of two online communities, one with over 2,000 TSC people and another with over 5,000. Something isn’t clicking here. I’m angry.

3. Life isn’t fair.

Yesterday, one of the children I know with TSC was rushed to the hospital in the midst of a status seizure. If you don’t know, that is a seizure that won’t stop without medical intervention. From what I hear, it can involve being pumped with so much medication to stop it that they have to be in a hospital because they would otherwise die from an overdose. Connor has never had one, but once again, on the list of increased possibilities with TSC, that is one of them. When I was teaching,I  would, from time to time, have to be trained on a medication that is inserted into the rectum to stop a seizure. I never had a student have a seizure, but I now know that drug is Diastat and that is what it is for. I used to cringe at the idea, never knowing epilepsy would be a factor in my life. Wouldn’t phase me now, though we don’t have any and I’ve never had to use it. Funny thing is that I think that the last 9 months of my life would make me a most fantastic and understanding teacher. Too bad by the time I left, teaching was 10 percent of the job. Garbage paperwork and filibuster meetings were the other 90.

But I feel bitter because this child has been through enough. He’s never been seizure free for a moment. He’s not even four and already lost a kidney. He’s been through enough. Hey, God. Feel free to cut him a break. Feel free to cut a whole lot of babies a break.

Forget TSC. Do you know how many kids out there have a health problem? You don’t. Not unless yours does. Until then, you don’t know. Forget TSC. What about all the other stuff? Once your eyes are open to one, it’s everywhere. Can you believe there is a little girl out there that was not only born with TSC, but is now battling an unrelated childhood cancer? Really? One rare disease wasn’t enough? Did you know cardiac birth defects are as common as 1 in 100? Can you believe that the physical therapist assigned to Connor has a 3-year-old granddaughter battling cancer as we speak?

People are praying everywhere.  But I’ve learned something. Prayer makes the person praying feel better. Don’t get me wrong. I love that people are praying for Connor. He’s had prayers all over the States, Colombia, India and more. Don’t stop. But it gives me this mixed feeling of bitterness and relief. Sure, I want to believe it will make a difference. But I don’t really believe it does. Some prayers get answered. Some don’t. I don’t know that I prefer to believe God is answering some and not others. I’d actually rather believe things are just happening down here. Otherwise, why do some deserve to get answers and others don’t? I’m sick of stupid prayers, too. Do I have the right to call other people’s prayers stupid? Probably not, but if children are sick and/or dying and God is helping you win a stupid ass football game or experience great weather for your fishing trip, I’m gonna be pissed. Is God the reason your wedding went beautifully? No, you got lucky. And if you think God is the reason your centerpieces didn’t wilt and drunk Uncle Jack didn’t embarrass you, you’re a moron. Good luck with the rest of your life thinking God is going to fix all your piddly marriage problems.

I don’t know how people give it all up to God and just believe it is all for a reason. I want there to be something after we die. That’s the only reason I don’t blow it off all together. But while we’re living…what is there? I don’t know.

You want answers? I WANT THE TRUTH! Well, good luck with that.

December has been a tough month for blogging. I feel like I’ve been going, going, going. That’s even more than I usually feel like I’m going, going, going with a 9-month-old. It started with stressing over trying to get that confounded EEG appointment, then going down to Florida to see Chris’s parents, coming home and checking into the hospital the next day for the EEG, getting discharged in time to start all the family festivities with those that came to town, then Christmas. I was so exhausted I had to renege on plans to hang with some friends at a bar downtown. This after weeks of thinking, “man, I want to go out.” Not that I don’t go out, but I wanted to go out more like I went out pre-baby.

It didn’t help that we went from warm, sunny Florida where it was still summer, and we floated around in the backyard pool with beers in our hand, back to chilly Atlanta, where we immediately had to check in for the stay from hell at Scottish Rite.

Pics from Florida:

A snowman

A pool

A pier

A kiss

A flamingo Santa

A elf

A duck

A crane

A chris and me

So we got all nice and relaxed in time to check in for Connor’s EEG where we could promptly become stressed and agitated. We had no issues with our neurologist. He kept us informed and even let us out a day early as we’d caught several “episodes.” This is our second less than satisfactory in-patient experience. First time was after his brain surgery. The surgery part went great. We love our surgeon and we had a good experience with the surgery department. There were a few issues once we moved to his room though, the primary anger-inducing one being that the day after surgery when he started swelling, he was clearly in pain. His heart monitor kept going off because of it, but nobody ever came to check on him (or for any other alarm for that matter). Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand that every alarm is not an emergency, but as parents, when things go off repeatedly for an extended period of time, we might benefit from a little explanation of what warrants concern. Not to mention, it’s already stressful and then you’re sitting in a room with all this machinery beeping at you obnoxiously. It got to the point where in the middle of the night I just started silencing them myself (after it had been clearly established which ones were clearly unworthy of response). At any rate, we finally asked when his next round of pain meds would be. I stupidly assumed (as I am new to the medical world-my first hospital stay being Connor’s birth) that he was getting them because his skull had been drilled into and his brain resected. “Would you like him to receive pain meds?” was the response. “Ummm…yes. He’s in pain and crying.” The nurse responded, “Yes. I saw his heart rate kept going up on the monitor out there.”

Well, alrighty then. But this was before I read an article that advised to never have surgery on Fridays because weekends aren’t exactly the best staffed, so I chalked a lot of it up to that. Also, before I continue, I want to be clear that it’s not my intention to bash nurses. We’ve had great ones that were very proactive in pushing doctors that were taking their sweet time taking care of business, especially in the NICU, but it’s like any profession. Some are great, some are good, some suck. Because then there was the evening Aunt Donna watched him while we went to dinner and he pulled his IV out, spurting blood everywhere. The boy loves to yank his wires. She was left applying pressure to the bleeding spot until the nurse could return with a bandaid. Good thing it finally quit bleeding because nobody ever came back. We also couldn’t get his med schedule reestablished while we were there becaue every time shift changed, nobody had passed on that he takes them at 8 and 8, so they were coming at all crazy, inconsistent times.

So this time we were there mid-week. I do think he got more attention this time, which was funny because it was just a testing situation. But the meds were consistently late messing up his sleep schedule, sometimes more than an hour. And the most frustrating part is that I don’t want to yell at the wrong person. I don’t want to go off on the nurse, because if they are understaffed, that is not her fault. But with a lot of the stuff that doesn’t go smoothly, you just don’t know where the breakdown happened. I’m particularly uncomfortable in this area because I taught for seven years and I know what it is to have parents let you have it over things you have no control over.

But even midweek, we weren’t issue free. There was the EEG removal and shutdown I mentioned in my last entry. Then came the big one. The second night we were there I noticed Connor’s eye was red and irritated. I thought perhaps that in his rubbing and messing with his electrodes he may have gotten some glue in his eye, so I asked the nurse if there was something that could be done to soothe it. She was uncertain whether it was irritation or an infection so she wanted to check in with a doctor first. Thirteen hours later he finally got a saline flush. (And I had brought up the eye problem twice more). By then it had progressed to goopy, not opening, and him screaming like a bat out of hell when we pried it open. Sixteen hours later after more followups from me, a pediatrician checked him out. He’s still screaming and refusing to open his eyes. Seventeen hours later he got ointment and a swab to test for pinkeye. The swab would later come back negative, affirming that perhaps if he hadn’t had to wait 13 hours for an okay on a simple saline flush, that maybe he didn’t have to suffer the next few days, even after he came home, unable to see us or his toys. Here I thought being in a hospital was the optimal place to be if something like this happened. Who knew we’d have been better off at home and taking him for an emergency pediatrician appointment? Sixteen hours as a patient in a hospital. What happens if you contract MRSA? Does a limb have to fall off?

Headed home after his two-day EEG. Too bad he can't open his eyes to see his awesome hair.
Headed home after his two-day EEG. Too bad he can’t open his eyes to see his awesome hair.

I’ll end my diatribe there. But I will say that I’m the calm(er) one, always telling Chris not to burn bridges. God help any hospital that houses me should I ever lapse into a coma.

There was one thing that led me to feel grateful after this stressful stay. After we were home, a friend posted a link on Facebook  about the passing of a friend’s premie baby. I didn’t know the parents, but as I was downstairs bitching about Connor’s eye, there were parents above us in a NICU I know all too well losing their child after 77 days of life. Things can always be worse. I can’t even imagine.

As I mentioned, Connor’s eye-rolling “episodes” as I now call them did not show up on EEG as seizure activity. After another day of comparing video of his eye-rolling with simultaneous EEG activity, one correlation our neuro could find was that when Connor is awake, electrical activity from his left occipital lobe tuber spreads over the left side of the brain. When he’s sleeping it spreads all over the brain. However, when he has the eye-rolling episodes, the activity resembles what it does when he’s sleeping even though he’s awake. But it doesn’t build up into a seizure. It’s just a little quick burst of activity from the tuber (which if I understand correctly isn’t uncommon in TSC) that dies away before it builds into anything. So, for the neuro, it still doesn’t explain why his eyes move like that when he has these clusters. He is still looking into it because he’s never seen this before. I’m glad now that he didn’t okay the ambulatory EEG because the test would have been a wash without video.

Anyway, December has been so crazy I never got to do my post about decorating for Christmas, which I love. So here are some shots of our house:

B outside

B Santa

B soldiers

B train B tree

B room

And my new pride and joy: a Lego Christmas village! Put together, of course, by Chris. I don’t have the patience. Chris’s initial plan was to assemble and disassemble on an annual basis since he enjoys Legos. Several hours of construction later, that plan was out the window. I’ll explore the fake snow option next year, but after hours of work, Chris was opposed to anything that required the manhandling and moving of the parts. Very, very opposed. So Merry Christmas. I didn’t break the village!

village 3

village 7

village 6

village 5

village 4

village 2

village 1

Shots of Connor’s first Christmas in the next blog entry!

And the results of Connor’s EEG are….Mom is clinically insane!

What a lovely evening. I am lying. There is a possibility we will be discharged tomorrow instead of Friday. If there is a God, he will get me out of this place. Oh, Connor’s fine. But I’m going mental. I can actually handle staying here, no problem. It’s the not having control thing that is making me completely insane. Tonight the meds came an hour and 15 minutes past his med time. By then I’d had to give in and feed him although feeding him is essential to getting the meds into him, and we’d missed the window to put him to sleep. So my baby that goes down no problem 98 percent of the time, screamed for an hour, and now continues to stir every so often and wake up to cry enough so that I have to pat him back to sleep. Just when I thought we established a firm schedule of the meds being 40 minutes late. Look, if you won’t allow me to do it, then you gotta bring them on time. And if you’re understaffed and it can’t be done, well, then you’re gonna have to let me freakin’ do it. I’ll sign a damn waiver.

So, the big news! What do we know so far? Our neurologist stopped by to talk about what he’s seen so far on the EEG. Connor has had a few episodes now which could clearly be seen on the video and the neurologist has gone over the activity that coincides with those events…and the conclusion is: Drum roll please!!!! (you better be pounding your desk at home)

Nothing. We still don’t know. Nothing is there. No seizure activity is appearing on the EEG. Everything looks good in the abnormal way the EEGs of people with TSC can look good (meaning it is normal for people with TSC to have an abnormal EEG due to the tubers, even if they are having no seizures).

WTF, baby. WTF.

Since all the activity is with the eyes he added two more electrodes right next to them to see if that changes anything. So we shall see. I suspect we will check out knowing no more than when we came in. However, we may be increasing the keppra as his episodes got shorter last time we did. And possibly going down on the klonopin (clonazepam) as that never seemed to do much.

So, I’m glad the EEG looks good, but ummm, apparently we need to work on Connor’s attitude because he rolls his eyes at me at least 50 times a day. Just kidding. I don’t know what to think.

I just scanned over what I’ve written so far and it reminds me of why I hate baby discussion forums. Everyone talks in acronyms and I got sick of having to google everything they said.

The day was otherwise exciting as the kids got a visit from the seizure dog today. Connor loves dogs. I’m bummed I wasn’t able to snap a pic of the big smiles he had when the dog came in. It makes me really want to get him one, but Chris and I both agreed they were too much work. So we had a baby instead.

seizure dog 2

seizure dog

Connor also managed to massacre the electrodes on his head today. Two factors contributed to this. One, he inherited this crazy gene from his father that makes him sweat even when it’s 20 degrees out. Two, he likes to yank on things, especially wires and hair. Once he had created a sweat lodge inside his gauze turban, it was all over. It started to unravel around 4. Previously someone had come in right away if something came loose, but this time no. I casually mentioned it to a nurse, but I guess I didn’t properly express the imminent danger of these tiny little hands. Later, Aunt Donna came to watch while we went to dinner. It was straight raggedy by then. And when we returned, I guess one of the techs had shut it off from their remote monitoring station (perhaps located in the Lost hatch?).

Just then the nurse arrived, so I addressed the elephant in the room.

“So we’re here for an EEG, and jeepers this is awkward, but there is no EEG. Does this mean I can go home and hit the Jack Daniels?”

I will say, someone was there shortly after to redo it. Shift change had just occurred. When I replied 4 o’clock to her inquiry about when this started coming off, her expression was, well, I will call it “interesting.”

Connor would rather go get a frappucino.
Connor would rather go get a frappucino.
Yup, data is looking a little questionable.
Yup, data is looking a little questionable.
I look away for 2 minutes and he's draped himself in wires and other medical material.
I look away for 2 minutes and he’s draped himself in wires and other medical material.
EEG part deux
EEG part deux

It’s a good thing I’ve learned in the last few years to be a more positive thinker…

…because people are driving me insane. In order to maintain my positive thinking, I must vent somewhere, so even though I’m about to do some more complaining, I’m just emptying the irritation can so I don’t kill anyone who looks at me funny tomorrow.

So first, the good thing. Since I’m reporting to you live at Connor’s hospital bedside, I can tell you he’s had two episodes while hooked up to the EEG. Finally. They weren’t able to thwart us this time. He’s having more clusters a day, though the clusters tend to be shorter than before. Today I saw five for the first time since this eye rolling started, although the last one, may have only been a couple quick rolls.

All hooked up with nowhere to go.
All hooked up with nowhere to go.

Now here’s the part where I unload. What can I say? I’m tired. This EEG business has been going on since 6 am (and I don’t count the ordeal of getting this appointment-see previous posts). I had to wake up to call the transfer center to see if there was a room for him. There wasn’t. But that was okay because I knew it was a possibility we would be on standby at first waiting for one. At least they let us wait at home. So I have to call back at 8. Then I have to call back at 10. Then they say call back at 12. Okay. Deep breath. Sick kids get precedent and apparently there’s a massive influx of RSV cases. I’m not a monster. I do understand that. Another deep breath. Then YAY! They call ME back at 10:30 and say to be here by 12 because they will get him hooked up in the lab and hopefully a room will be ready by then. So we come to the hospital. Where we wait. And wait. And wait until two hours later he gets his electrodes. But there’s still no room, so the test isn’t going yet. So we wait. And nap. And wait. And we finally get a room at almost 5 pm.  They almost broke me waiting for the electrodes. Oh yes, it was close. But I maintained.

Killing time, waiting for the room.
Killing time, waiting for the room.
Shut up, Mommy!
Shut up, Mommy!
That hurts for realsies.
That hurts for realsies.

That was nothing. Here was what really got my heart thumping. We went over all his meds earlier in the day and they had been submitted to the pharmacy. It was made very clear that all meds during his stay would come from the hospital pharmacy and must be administered by the nurse even though we do it at home every day. I will cut them a break on that given the litigious nature of this society. But, one of Connor’s meds is not easy to obtain. I was highly doubtful they’d even have it in stock considering I heard they recently ran out of a major antibiotic. But hey, they have all their information hours before his med time, right?

His med time in the evenings is at 8. At 8:25 I was about to call and see what was up because he was getting sleepy and cranky, when the nurse comes in. We administer Klonipin. Then Keppra. Then…taking vitals? “Are you giving him his vigabatrin?” I ask. “Oh the pharmacy wanted me to ask you about that. They wondered if you had it here because they don’t have any.”

For a moment I flashed back to the night a few years ago that I was at my favorite bar, Fado (before it moved and stopped being awesome), having too much to drink and breaking up with a guy via text (don’t judge me for the text. I don’t usually condone that. There’s more to the story). I was, shall I say, not in a good mood, and fueled by alcohol. Fado had recently hired a new valet, and he, how do I say this politely, sucked a fat one. Drunk girl was ready to leave, he had my keys, and was nowhere in sight. (Disclaimer: I am not the one who drove my car home). Thirty minutes later, after inquiring to his whereabouts with several bartenders, he wanders out of the kitchen where he was hanging out. I said, “There you are! I need my keys!” And he said…are you ready for this? He said, “Relax.”

I. Lost. My. Sh#%. Lost it big time. It is the only time in my life I have ever gone off on someone in the service industry. And as I did it, I could see my friends Lili and Angel desperately looking for an exit so they could disassociate from me. I went batsh#% crazy. But I don’t feel bad because I would be vindicated another evening when he blocked a bunch of cars in and failed to take the keys from the owners blocking them.

But Connor cannot duck away from me. My actions can affect him and his future treatment, whereas I knew our favorite bartender Kevin would never fail Angel and Lili, so I calmly replied, “Yes. I did wonder if you would have that drug.” What I did not scream was, “ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? THE PHARMACY JUST FIGURED THIS OUT? WHAT IF I DIDN’T HAVE IT? IT’S ONLY HIS MOST IMPORTANT MEDICATION!”

I’m growing.

And when I was asked to turn it over to have the pharmacy verify it, I stashed a bunch out of sight. Navigating the medical world.

I’m learning.

eeg playing

Video EEG screen
Video EEG screen