Tag Archives: Georgia

Politics and Pinot

Oh, I have a blog? I should probably update it. I’ve been so busy. I’m starting to get materials together for the D.C. trip with the TS Alliance in March, been filling out paperwork for Connor’s services and looking into starting hippotherapy (horses-yay!), and trying to read the books I bought on the ketogenic diet. I’m a tad bit nervous and anxious to get started. I’ve already tweaked his diet a bit to be low carb and higher in fat, which I think is helping his seizures, but no where near what the diet requires. It’s way too extreme to do without medical oversight. I can’t totally relax though because our appointment in Birmingham is Feb. 4, but that is just to meet with the neurologist. Though I was told he’d be admitted soon after, Connor doesn’t actually get scheduled for the clinic until that appointment. I’m scared they’ll pull some unexpected wait to start out of their pocket. I’d kept our appointment at CHOA just in case they could get us in earlier and save us the travel or in case something went awry with Birmingham. But come to find out, even though Connor’s neurologist has spoken to several people, and I have spoken to several people regarding starting keto, they still have him down for starting modified Atkins diet, even though the plan of action was changed before Christmas.  I wish someone could explain to me how I have several conversations with someone about the fact that I’m bring Connor in for one thing and at no point does anyone say, “oh oops. He’s scheduled for something else!” Whatever. It’s the same old thing with CHOA every time, no matter what it’s for.

I’ve also been wrapped up in the sudden and surprising momentum of the medical cannabis movement in Georgia. The parents I’ve been talking to did an amazing job of getting the attention of the media and several legislators. Things are rolling and there’s more to come! I’ve been emailing my state legislators and the governor and we’re really seeing a lot of growing support. Access to medical cannabis has the potential to be life changing for so many suffering people.

Connor’s stubborness is reaching epic proportions. He will be two in March and he still won’t give up the bottle. A couple weeks ago I thought we were rounding a momentous curve. He has a sippy cup with a mouthpiece that can be interchanged with the bottle nipple. We’ve been more focused on cup drinking lately so it had been a while since I tried putting the actual sippy cup mouthpiece on the sippy cup instead of the nipple. I handed it to him and there was 15 seconds of drinking. My hands were on my mouth, trying not to gasp, practically jumping up and down. Then he stopped, pulled it out of his mouth, gave it a careful visual inspection, realized he’d been had and threw it down. The next 30 minutes were a standoff in which he would have no part of it. He had to accept a few sips from his training cup and his straw cup (which he’ll only take when urged and helped) before I relented and gave him the nipple. I like to create the illusion that I’m winning.

In spite of all this, we did have a great night out this weekend with two of our couple friends. Connor spent the night with my parents and we went to a wine tasting, dinner, had some drinks and hung out at a friend’s place. Part of the excitement was that we would be able to sleep in on Sunday, but I was having so much fun that we didn’t head home until four. I don’t think Chris was too pleased — he really treasures his sleep — but he humored me.

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This morning I met up with Sara and her two boys for a trip to the Fernbank Natural History Museum. I wasn’t really sure Connor would be into it, but he had a blast. They have a pretty sweet play area.

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I’ll close with this open letter written by Aaron Klepinger. I posted previously about his son Hunter.

My son Hunter has had intractable epilepsy for over 8 years and the seizures have severely impacted his development. He was able to do more before his seizures, such as stand unassisted against the couch. After starting to seize, he has regressed to a 1 month old development level. He depends on us for everything (transferring, feeding, diapering, etc.). We have failed 12 pharmaceuticals, often with devastating side effects such as hours of screaming fits, increased seizures, non-stop sleeping, no sleep, etc. We have tried vitamin supplements, chiropractic, intense neuro-developmental therapies, ketogenic diet for 2 years with constant dietary changes, and VNS implanted (https://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/vns). 

He also has been diagnosed with a movement disorder. He flails his arms and legs and moves his head in all directions usually for hours at a time, sometimes in rapid succession. He moves and kicks so much in bed, we have had to put his mattress on the floor because he has fallen off the mattress. We are considering having to make a custom bed for him to keep him safe. His wheelchair has had to be customized heavily to stop him from hurting himself. We modified our Georgia home for his protection also. His shower there is extra wide so he doesn’t punch and kick the walls as he did when he was bathed in the bath. We also had to buy a ~$2000 bath chair out of pocket to strap him down while we bathe him. The typical chair covered by insurance would not provide enough support.

Since starting medical cannabis treatment, we are seeing way less seizures, more moments of relaxation, more happiness, greater eye contact, and greater awareness of his surroundings. Throughout his life, he has had a lot of GI issues, including constipation. We have noticed better motility with his bowels as we have increased the medical cannabis. He also used to clench his fists so tightly he would cut his hands with his fingernails. He did this fist clenching almost 24/7/365. He no longer does this.

In reviewing the past ~3 months of online seizure data, his seizures have gone from 17% of days without seizures (likely less than 17% if I dig further into paper records sitting on a moving truck now) to 47% of days without seizures after starting treatment (47% is a confirmed, hard number). Seizures that were 5, 10, or 20+ minutes before are now under 2 minutes. His more mild seizures we can’t even tell if they are a seizure now they are so quick and unpronounced. He holds his arms out as if he thinks he’s going to seize and then the seizure never comes. And this is all on a low dose, having just started medicine. Seizure medicines usually take months to tweak to a proper dose and this is the same way.

Haleigh Cox and 150,000 Georgians that have epilepsy should have the medical option of this gift from God. Thank you for helping us come home and share this medical treatment with so many other people suffering. 

For your colleagues in the House and Senate, Georgia has a great medical tradition, including Emory, the CDC, and many health oriented companies and non-profits such as the American Cancer Society. We should step to the forefront on this health issue too and lead the way for states like Alabama and Tennessee that are considering legislation. Lets look at the science and put patients first. Medical cannabis is improving my son’s quality of life dramatically. It is our moral obligation to end the suffering of sick people. Lets pass some legislation this session before someone dies from unsafe pharmaceuticals. Compare the 40+ side effects (including death) of the most prescribed seizure medicine (Depakote) to the side effects of cannabis (none, virtually). Add to that the benefits that patients are seeing. It is clear the science supports medical use of this plant. Lets move forward with a bill in 2013 so Haleigh can live and Hunter can come home and stop being a prisoner in the state of Colorado.

Let’s go Georgia…We can’t let Florida, Tennessee and Alabama beat us.

Oh, did you think this post was about football? Then you clearly don’t know me. It’s the SEC of MMJ. And Georgia is losing.

Some Alabama lawmakers ready to legalize marijuana-derived oil that helps control seizures

Article here.

‘Glimmer of hope’ for medical marijuana in Florida

Article here.

Medical Marijuana Bill Filed in Tennessee

Article here.

And for those still hung up on not being able to see marijuana as anything but an illegal drug (even though pediatric treatment is an oil that isn’t smoked and doesn’t get you high), why are you okay with FDA-approved drugs that can do this:

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One of Connor’s meds carries this rare but potential side effect. Read about it here.

Still opposed? I guess you are okay with seeing my baby do this.

People should not have to leave their homes so their children can receive medical treatment.

Photo taken from Faces of Cannabis web site.
Photo taken from Faces of Cannabis web site.

This is Hunter and he is eight years old. I met his mom, first at a music class she attended with her younger child, then I saw her again at the pool where Hunter and Connor both receive aquatic therapy. One day I realized I hadn’t seen them in quite some time, only to meet mom and dad again in a Facebook group. They had moved to Colorado to obtain treatment for Hunter after several seizure medications, VNS and the ketogenic diet failed him.

They have finally found an effective treatment in the form of medical marijuana–20 minute seizures are down to two minutes and he went six days straight seizure free for the first time in eight years –but now they can’t come home to Georgia. And they aren’t the only ones. Many families have left everything behind to move to Colorado to obtain access to medical marijuana. Charlotte’s Web is a well-known strain featured in the CNN special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and created by Realm of Caring. It is low in THC so the kids do NOT get high, and it is in the form of an oil, so they do NOT smoke it. Sometimes people even have to leave other legal states so that they can get the form of marijuana their child needs. New Jersey is such an example. Though medical marijuana is legal, Gov. Chris Christie has made it exceptionally difficult for families to get what they need.

From the Huffington Post: “See this is what happens. Every time you sign one expansion, then the advocates will come back and ask for another one,” the governor proclaimed during a press conference from his statehouse office. “Here’s what the advocates want: they want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. It will not happen on my watch, ever. I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances. So we’re done.”

Remember that as he sets his sights on the Oval Office.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal also opposes it.

These families want to come home. And I don’t want to one day face the same decision they have if we can’t get Connor’s seizures under control. If you are interested in the legalization of medical marijuana in Georgia, please check out this group.

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Is this the person with the most Christmas spirit in Atlanta?

If you are wondering where the biggest lovers of Christmas — or at least of Christmas inflatables are located — they are here, at Peachtree Dunwoody and Winall Downs. I don’t know how the neighbors feel about them, but I looooove this house. And I have it on authority from some commuters, that it’s a royal pain in the butt, but for me, it’s absurdly fantastic. I have no idea how many inflatables there are, but several of them move. When we went by this year, several cars were stopped in front checking it out. And better yet, the people who put this up direct attention toward charity. It was drizzly the day we went by so the information sheathed in plastic that they had placed on a table at the foot of the driveway was covered in drops, but a quick Google search led me to the recipient of the donations, Genesis Shelter, a group that works with homeless infants and their families.

It appears our new neighborhood is dominated by white-light people. So I needed a little color in my life. And I got it:

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Now here are some photos I took in 2009. My, they’ve grown!

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And a little update — Connor is feeling much better and is back to tearing the house apart and attempting death-defying jumps off the back of the couch.

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Looks like we’re trying the modified Atkins diet.

IMG_5584Sigh. I really hoped this wouldn’t be necessary, but the last increase in Onfi didn’t make much of a difference and we’re still at 1-4 seizures most days. I e-mailed his neuro and asked if he thought there would be any point to another increase, or should I just bite the bullet and move forward on the diet. I knew when I sent it what the answer would be since he had brought up the possibility of the ketogenic diet a few weeks ago. I was relieved that at least he thought modified Atkins was a reasonable alternative to keto. Not that I think MAD will be easy, but just the thought of keto intensely overwhelms me.

I keep reminding myself that if it works, it’s worth the extra effort, and if it doesn’t, we only do it for a few months. We”ll be meeting with a nutritionist at the CHOA keto clinic to start.

But if it doesn’t work…then what?

We’ve tried seven different medications, and even more effective cocktails only decrease seizures — they don’t stop them altogether. Sure, there are more meds we haven’t tried, but as I shared in my previous post about medical marijuana:

…less than 1% of patients who failed to respond to three anti-seizure drug regimens achieved adequate seizure control on subsequent drug treatments even though some were treated with as many as nine different drugs or drug combinations. -WebMD

I’m going to start this diet fully optimistic that it will work. Because if it doesn’t, the other options are to explore surgery again or live with the seizures. Sure would be nice to have the option of pediatric cannabis in Georgia. Please watch this clip from The Doctors in which Paige Figi explains what a miracle it has been for her daughter with Dravet Syndrome.

I am also seeking guest posts from people who are either legally using medical marijuana to treat their children, or are seeking it’s use — possibly entailing a move to another state. E-mail pin.the.map@gmail.com.

Petition for legalization of medical marijuana in Georgia.

I don’t want to kill my kid, I’m just really fashionable.

I’ve been combing the Internet for an indoor swing for Connor now that winter is settling in. It has actually been in the 40s here in Georgia, otherwise known as “Oh My God I’m Gonna Freeze To Death Like The Original Pilgrim Settlers” weather here in the south. At least we have Chick-Fil-A and Waffle House so we won’t starve. His spurt in motor skills was well-timed right before the part of the year where I climb underneath 12 blankets and don’t get off the couch for five months.

His newfound independence reminds me of the Terminator films. Everyone was all, woo hoo! Skynet! Oops. Apocalypse. You see, Connor, too, has become self aware and he will soon be on an unstoppable path of destruction.

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But apparently an indoor swing is not attainable for a reasonable price once you factor in the cost of hardware SOLD SEPARATELY. ALWAYS. SOLD. SEPARATELY. Everything I need is solely manufactured for kids under 25 lbs.

On my fruitless quest I was reminded why I hate home design blogs.

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Originally featured on Martha Stewart (surprise), shared on other design sites.

Yeah. Let’s install a trapeze in the living room. This is modified from my initial reaction which involved some four letter words. I became intrigued…what other impractical and deadly joys are out there that I’m ruining Connor’s life by not providing?

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Original credit here

Okay. This is a cute use of space and it’s apparently really the boys’ bedroom. So this is actually a lesson in parenting. It is apparently possible to have an elevated surface, two kids and no homicide attempts. I only have one kid so I can’t speak as a parent, but I can speak as a sister, and I SOOOOO would have pushed my brother off that on a daily basis. And I would have gotten away with it, too. Just like the time I gave him a bloody nose and claimed I was trying to stop him from running into the street. He wasn’t.

This is hailed as a “vibrant and lively” kid’s bedroom:

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Credit here

I agree. If your kid is Don Draper.

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Credit here

I mean….I don’t….what?

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Just the other day I was telling Chris we need a little more excitement in our lives in the form of trips to the ER.

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Credit here

Seven years I spent yelling at students to get down when they were climbing on things they shouldn’t. Could have saved my breath since apparently parents are indifferent to broken limbs.

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Credit here

Again, words fail me. I assume Johnny Depp himself comes to install it with the $60,000 price tag?

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Credit here

Your daughter is never too young to learn the art of pole dancing…

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Credit here

Sing with me! The best part of waaaaaking up, is dying an untimely death after getting your foot stuck in a drawer!

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This one’s pretty cool, I just think it was stupid to do the room in white. Getting your kid’s blood out is going to be a b****.

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Spinal cords are overrated. Besides that’s why we keep prisoner clones in the basement.

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Most of the people who buy this playhouse end up living in it. But the kids get the master.

“You’ll feel more rested if you get up at the same time every day.” LIES!

I’m having a terrible time keeping up with the blog now that I’m doing some other writing for meager pay to support my eBay habit. I’m trying, I swear! If I could just become a morning person, I could get so much more done. But almost 17 months of consistently getting up at 8 a.m. and I still can’t function properly until 10. Grover taunts me every morning with his chipper, go-getter attitude.

The big news is that Connor just started crawling the other day while we were in Blowing Rock, NC with my parents. He’s not doing it consistently, still doing a lot of commando crawling, but at least we know he can do it now. We are very excited. The cats are not. He’s also now demanding far too much attention after having Chris’ parents stay with us for the half a week leading up to the trip, and then another half week with my parents.

I think Connor would really enjoy having pet ducks in our backyard. Chris disagrees.
I think Connor would really enjoy having pet ducks from Blowing Rock in our backyard. Chris disagrees.
Swinging with Grandpa in Blowing Rock.
Swinging with Grandpa in Blowing Rock.
Meeting the giant doggie at Mast General Store in Boone, NC.
Meeting the giant doggie at Mast General Store in Boone, NC.
The dog makes a great rug.
The dog makes a great rug.

He also just added aquatic therapy to his regimen.

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We are so loving how attentive he is to what is going on around him these days. He had a delightful meeting with the Chick-fil-A cow recently, and also cheered up some not-so-enthusiastic waitstaff at Texas Roadhouse during their obligatory hourly line dance. His clapping and enthusiasm had the embarrassed, Man-I-really-need-the-money staff smiling.

I like ladies. I like music. This is some sweet line dancing.
I like ladies. I like music. This is some sweet line dancing.

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We had an appointment with his neurologist this morning and I requested we try name brand seizure meds (Trileptal and Keppra), in place of the generics since we continue to have breakthrough seizures. Many people swear by them as generics can vary in potency so much, so I’m hoping it makes the difference. I’m sure insurance will be delighted. But after they just sent me the private info of three people by accident…well, let’s just approve it, seeee (in gangster voice).

In other awesome news, as Connor was approved for the Katie Beckett Medicaid Deeming Waiver, we were then also able to apply for HIPP. which is a Medicaid program that helps pay your private insurance premiums in cases of serious health issues, as it is in their better interest to make sure you keep you private insurance, than lose it and resort to full Medicaid. We were approved, and this allows us a lot more income to put towards any other needs we want to meet for him. And my wine. I’m so thankful that Connor’s Early Intervention program people have been so good at making us aware of these programs. So if you have a kid in EI, make sure you have applied for Katie Beckett, and if you have done that, make sure you apply for HIPP (I don’t know what the variation is from state-to-state. I know we are lucky that such services are easily attainable here in Ga compared to what I hear about some other states, particularly in the midwest).

As for the house, I kid you not, we told our realtor toward the end of the month that we were taking it off the market July 31. We finally got an offer on July 27. So this house is under contract and we are under contract on our new house, as well. We will finally have a room we can dedicate to Connor’s mess–I mean, toys.

Don't feel bad! You've been a good house.
Don’t feel bad! You’ve been a good house.

I swear this has been the most humid Georgia summer of all time, but others have told me I’m insane and it’s always this bad. At any rate, I’m ready for fall and to wear my new scarf that my sister-in-law Donna made for me from Chris’ old shirts.

The King of Izod has some extra space in his closet now.
The King of Izod has some extra space in his closet now.

Also, two events I want to make sure TSC families are aware of in the area:

298465_187704037963818_1579148_nOn Saturday September 8, we are having a family bowling event. Cost is $10 per person, which includes shoes and unlimited bowling. Food will be provided. Details here.

On Thursday October 10, we are having an educational meeting on financial planning for your children with special needs. Details here.

 

Walking for a Cure and Trying to Employ My 14-Month-Old

I’m still here, even in the midst of all the awesome guest bloggers I’ve had so far this month for TSC Awareness (still accepting guest posts). You might remember me from such posts as Bite Me, United Healthcare or Bite Me, Medical Billing Department That Won’t Call Me Back.

The last week has been really busy. I’ve been doing some freelance writing, which has been immensely rewarding in all ways but financial. But if I keep it up, I’ll have that Italian villa by the time I’m 127. I write for the parenting and education divisions of an online media company. No seriously, I write about parenting in, not one, but two locations. Makes you rethink your Google searches, huh?

The Georgia Step Forward For a Cure took place on Saturday May 18 at Marietta Square. So far it has raised $70,000 and counting–thank you Dee and Reiko for organizing this year after year. I was also named as the new chair for the Atlanta/North Georgia TS Alliance, which I’m pretty excited about. Sarah, a reader who has been following along with the guest bloggers, asked me if I would be there. I told her to look for the obnoxious yellow shirts. She found me.

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Connor is doing well; he’s still progressing, although it can never be fast enough when your kid is delayed. We just hit 14 months, and we’re hoping he’ll crawl soon. He can hold the position if we put him in it, it’s the moving part that is the problem. He can move backwards when he’s on his stomach. The problem is, he doesn’t ever want to be on his stomach. He will expend more energy trying to flip himself over when I have him wedged in on both sides, than he will to move a couple feet. He can also stand with minor support, but again, we have to put him in the position. He doesn’t pull himself up yet. I’m also desperately hoping to hear some consonants soon. He has mastered uh, and quite frankly, at this point he can add a ffff and a kkk and I’ll be the one parent that’s thrilled.

We recently increased his meds when it seemed some sort of seizure activity was breaking through again. It helped, but I still occasionally see his eyes go up and linger a few seconds, or he’ll stare off to the side with tightly pursed lips. They don’t seem to have a lingering effect like previous seizures though.

His delays do seem to have created the very player of son I swore I wouldn’t ever raise. I’ve never formally announced his health issues in music class, although I also don’t hide it. Some people have become aware as the music teacher is also his music therapist, and they have overheard us talking. I also wear my TSC shirts to class. But some may actually believe that I am such an incredible disciplinarian, that I have actually trained him to never leave my side (easy to believe when you’ve never seen him try to empty his entire bottle into his belly button). So there he sits, very cool, very “you come to me, I don’t come to you.” And the girls, oh yes, they crawl right over. They can’t help themselves. He’s so James Dean, if James Dean traded his cigarettes for music sticks.

I’ve also been looking into just how young kids can start gymnastics because it would be a shame for Connor to ever lose the ability to do this:

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We might be looking at a career gymnast. Of course, he has also shown an interest in dentistry.

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And Salvador Dali impersonation.

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Tanglewood Farms…and serious matters, too.

Does anyone know how long the ear-shattering shrieking phase lasts? Asking for a friend.

Connor is continuing to do well. Since mastering sitting at the beginning of January he has increased his range of reach around him, and pulls himself back to sitting from positions from which he would have toppled right over not so long ago. His flexibility is frankly disturbing. But when one wants toes, one will have them.

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If assisted into a crawling position he can maintain it and lift an arm to reach for a toy. He can also hold himself in a standing position. The key is to now help him achieve these positions independently. Oh, and move while in them. My lower back longs for the day.

The good news is that we still haven’t seen any eye-rolling seizures since February 10. The bad news is that I suspect he may be having occasional absence seizures upon waking. I’ve counted maybe 6 or 7 instances in which shortly after waking up, he purses his lips tightly and stares off to the side. They aren’t very long–maybe 20 seconds or so. They don’t seem to have any lingering effect on him, but it’s still frustrating. We get these little windows of no seizures, and then something changes. We see the neurologist again on the 24th so we’ll discuss it then. Of course, this is much better than what was going on before.

As I mentioned, his current mode of communication is high-pitched shrieking. It’s kind of funny until he keeps it up for half an hour. Or we’re in a restaurant. He’s otherwise so well behaved in public, but his love of his own voice shattered some mimosa glasses at brunch the other day. Hear it for yourself. But don’t click that at work. People will think you are seriously weird. And then watch this just because it’s funny to see how much he loves seeing himself.

I’m having trouble gathering my sarcastic thoughts since I’ve been watching CNN coverage of the bombing at the Boston Marathon all day, so here are some happy pictures of our trip to Tanglewood Farms, an awesome petting zoo of miniature animals in Canton, Georgia.

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The only downfall of the weekend was that Connor exhibited some signs of allergies. After we had been at the farm for a bit, he began to rub his face into us again, and his eyes seemed itchy. This also happened the day before at a friends birthday party. Pollen? Like Daddy? Orrrr….

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was it the pony at the party? Pollen or farm animals? Pollen counts were at record highs (or so I’m told. Pollen only affects me as far as irritating me by getting all over my car and porch rocking chairs). Time will tell…