Monthly Archives: May 2006

Tips for helping families with seriously ill children

I have recently begun reading Blogging Baby. Yesterday I commented on this post about a drive to send cards to a little girl with cancer. I was a little concerned she (well – her parents I suppose) might be overwhelmed with the number of cards and hoped they were on board with it and also wondered if she had any siblings that could also receive cards so they didn’t feel left out.

The author of the blog post emailed me and asked me to provide some dos and don’ts for helping families with seriously ill children.

Here is the resulting post.

I have also been contacted about contributing to an article being written for a parenting magazine.

I guess you can’t always choose your areas of expertise – I am glad if I can be at all helpful to other families in our situation.

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It’s that time of the year….

Time to get gifts for teachers. I am lucky – I only have two kids in school. I am even more lucky that some of us moms from preschool went in on some gift cards for the 4 teachers that frequent Julia’s classroom (more on that in a minute). I do want to thank the teachers – but it is just more complicated than getting a little trinket these days. Nathan has his main teacher and then he has teachers of “specials” ie. art, spanish, PE. I know that some parents get gifts for all of these teachers. I don’t even know who these people are so I am not going to do it this year. Take one point off the “good school mom” scale. Then there is a pressure of what to get his main teacher. I think it is pretty widely known these days that teachers have no need for a plastic apple with “world’s best teacher” on it. I decided to go with a gift card to Panera. Of course, when you go the gift card route the monetary value is clearly stated – so the value is a whole ‘nother decision to make. I went for $10.

Back to Julia. She has one teacher and two aides in her class. The speech teacer also has an office in her classroom and works a little with the kids. None of us like one of the aides and she doesn’t say two words to us parents. We reluctantly gave her a gift card as well. Same with the speech teacher – some of us wanted to and some of us did not. In the end we got all four gift cards to a shopping center – $5 a teacher and there were 4 of us.

I recently realized that parents also give gifts to bus drivers. I hadn’t thought of that one. I got him a $5 Panera gift card. He is a really good bus driver and has taken good care of Nathan during bus drills. I hope $5 isn’t too cheap but he can get a nice lunch off of it.

One of the moms in Nathan’s class is putting together a scrapbook. I had to develop some pictures, go pick them up and gather up my scrapbooking supplies and spend about an hour making 2 pages. I am sure it will be nice but when I think of all the time, thought and stress than went into this whole end of the year circus it makes me a little crazy.

Well – I am done…until next Christmas….

One on one

I am spending some time alone with Nathan (well with Lauren too – but she can’t talk) for the next few days while Luke and Julia are in Chicago. It is strange because Nathan and I have spent lots of time alone together but it has always been treatment related. In a lot of ways I wish I was the one alone with Julia. I really don’t know her nearly as intimately as I know Nathan. I don’t know her as a person apart from her brother. This is something that has bothered me for a long time. Sometimes I observe her in a way that makes me feel like I am a stranger watching someone else’s child. She was 15 months old when Nathan was diagnosed and she was my BABY. Our bond was so strong. Unfortunately when Nathan was diagnosed I literally felt something break inside me and I didn’t even want to see her. It was my way of dealing with the most horrifying of news. I think my gut reaction was that I could no longer let myself have such strong feelings about Julia because the pain of losing her would be unbearable. Until Nathan was diagnosed I had never really imagined losing a child and the shock of finding out I might ( or probably) lose Nathan really changed me. It was not a change for the better but it was a change that let me cope and function the way I needed to. Now, three years later I realize the toll it has taken on me. Everyone tells me how great I have done but they don’t see the struggle inside.

I am planning on taking some steps to address my emotional health. I am hoping it is not too late to undo some of the damage.

Luke called me in the middle of my writing this. He and Julia are doing great. He told me that when they started pulling out of the driveway this afternoon she began to cry. I have to admit that really surprised me. I don’t know why that should suprise me but I just don’t realize the extent of her love for me and I suppose that is a big piece of what I have just been writing about.

Sigh.

Yummy lunch

So – I just whipped up the best lunch. I love it when I can grab leftovers out of the fridge and make something delicious. Today it was a one-egg omelette with salmon, asparagus and brie. Fabulous!

Academia

I just spent the last 24 hours in Illinois and Wisconsin. My father was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. This explains his credentials and the reason for the degree. If you scrol down in this document to Ogren you can read a far less techinical excerpt.

It has been a long time since I have been in an academic setting. We attended the graduation ceremony with all the doctoral students. There were around 1,000 graduates. The thought of the amount of hard work and number of years toiling present in that arena was mind-boggling.

After the ceremony we attended a dinner at the Chancellor’s house. Sitting at my table was one of my brothers, a professer of botany and his wife, the chair of the botany department, and the university Provost. I have to admit I hadn’t a clue what a Provost does. It turns out he is second in command to the Chancellor. It was interesting to hear an overview of his resonsibilities and challenges.

I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner table conversations. As a stay-at-home mom, I rarely find myself around the table with other adults where there are no kids or discussions about kids. It was very refreshing. Intellectually stimulting conversations are very few and far between in my life. I don’t stop and think about my place in life very often, but in times like these I realize how different my life is now compared to when I was in the corporate world. I progressed fairly quickly in my career to posistions with important sounding titles and reponsibilities, but a mere 6 years into my career I left to stay home. I am not saying I regret it, but in some ways it is as if these accomplisments and experiences have been erased. They were something I took pride in and my career was something I was really good at. As a stay-at-home mom, I am only average (to below average) in my skills. I think that this is one of the reasons that singing in the church choir has meant so much to me. To be doing something I enjoy and that I am good at adds a lot of quality to my life.

Over the next few days I will write some more about my trip.

Thundersnow

I heard some thunder last night. I woke up to snow this morning. I wish I would have peeked out the window to see the lightening flashing through the falling snow.

And yes, it does snow in May here. June, July, and August are our only snow-free months.

An update on the sick house…

I did get it Monday night – but only mildly. I still felt like crap yesterday and am better today. Julia was still throwing up yesterday morning so I took her in for a shot of phenergan and she is much better now. I was getting worried about her Monday night so I called the doctor and basically asked them to tell me what dire signs to look for and could I put her to bed in her current state without killing her. The nurse thought I ought to bring her in but when I explained that I was home alone with 3 kids and sick myself, she told me Julia would probably be OK.

Half good, Half bad

That was our weekend. Saturday started with some birthday present shopping and then Luke and Nathan went to a baseball game and Julia, Lauren and I went to a birthday party. We rendezvous’d at a restuarant for dinner and then called it a day. Sunday morning we went off to church. The sermon was titled “Singing in the Dark” and the last hymn sung was “How Can I Keep From Singing?”. I didn’t hear much of the sermon or the hymn since I left partway through the service to nurse Lauren so I could sing service #2. On the way up to the choir loft I caught sight of Luke in the cry room. It threw me for a loop since I had no ideea why he would have been there. I left early during second service and went back to the cry room and found Nathan fast asleep on the couch. He was feeling rotten and was really out.

We got home and he went to the couch and slept for a few more hours. At this point I was getting pretty worried. Nathan can never just be sick. We always have to wonder if it is cancer. Part of me was wishing he had a fever to explain the feeling bad. The other part was glad he didn’t have a fever since unexplained fevers were his first symptom of cancer. It is a lose/lose situation.

Julia, Lauren and I went to another birthday party. Luke texted me that Nathan was awake and eating. On the way home I got a call asking how to use the steam cleaner. Nathan had thrown up. So – that was good news – seemed like it was definately a bug.

At about 10:30 last night we heard a hearth wrenching scream and found Julia throwing up in her bed. (yup – definately not cancer) Luke had to get up at 4:00 am to go on a business trip so I sent him to the basement to sleep. I was awake to say goodbye since Julia threw up every half hour all night.

So we will all be hanging around home all day. I am hoping Lauren and I (well – Luke too on his trip) don’t get this.