Monday, June 17, 2013

Nose bleed.

As if we don't have enough to juggle, April would bring another unfortunate unexplained injury to our family.  Our doggy tore her doggy ACL.  Yeah, I didn't know that dogs even had ACL's...  really the only association or context I ever had of it, was hearing a famous athlete injuring his ACL.  But our lovable labrador is a really active retiree of athletics.  She is in her 50's (in dog years of course) and is going gray (she has asked me for the number of a good colorist), so it never even occurred to me playing leisurely fetch in the yard one sunny afternoon would go down the history books the demise of her doggy sports career because of her torn Acute Cruciate Ligament.  Whatever that means.  Some ridiculous surgery and vet bill later, we had our pathetic pup hopping around with a massive cone on her head running into walls and refusing to eat.

I am not good with surgery.

Or blood.

With animals.

 Or with people.

So the whole experience of having two boys with CF throws me into a really messed up rollercoaster ride some times.  The blood draws.  The tests.  The explaining the complexities of the disease to a children so they can learn about it themselves.  It ain't easy for me.

I am good at yelling at the mail order pharmacy or the medical equipment idiots.  I am great at putting together our regimen and getting the boys to adhere to it.  I am good at understanding the science and the research.  But for the life of me, I just am not good with some of the boo-boo's and the band-aids that have invaded our lives with CF.  I guess, honestly, explaining an Acute Cruciate Ligament surgery to the dog is probably one of the easiest things that I could do in a day.

One spring morning, my husband and I are groggy and disheveled hearing Michael enter our bedroom and ask, "What is this brown stuff all over my face, Mommy?"  I look at Michael's confused expression as he swirls his finger around his whole face.

Oh.  My.  God.

If he weren't walking and talking, I probably would've called 9-1-1.  My sweet little boy is covered - COVERED - in crusty brown blood.  I could swear through my morning haze there is either is a really unfunny joke going on or it is a scene right out of horror show.  Probably the latter based on the survey of things.

I dart out of bed and grab Michael's face in my hands.  I poke and prod trying to find the starting point of all this mess.  He is loopy since he's still tired and not fully awake and making annoyed expressions as I tug on his skin and shift his head around in all angles.  I haul him quickly into the bathroom and start wiping the blood away with a warm washcloth.  The darker, dried blood all over his forehead, his cheeks, and his chin.  It isn't until I find fresh blood in both nostrils that I realize that it is a nosebleed.

My mind starts racing...  what could it be?!...  humph...  a nasal polyp?...  inflammation in his sinuses?...  is the Pseudemonas infection in his sinuses that is causing the bleeding?...  yesterday morning, I wiped some blood from his nose at breakfast...  agh!  THIS IS WORSE...  and now two mornings in a row.  WTH?!...  Do we do his CF treatments?...  Was this a result of last night's CF treatments?...


Then my rational side (yes, stop laughing, albeit delayed, there is in fact a rational side) quells the chatter with one simple statement. 

Everyone gets nosebleeds.

Yes... but CF.  There is so much more...  to think about...  polyps...  infection...  nebulized antibiotics...  and blood!!!...  my...  brain...  hurts...  running...  all...  the...  scenarios...

But everybody gets a nosebleed some time in their life.

I frantically get him cleaned up.  He is self-conscious and doesn't want to go to school for fear of his nose starting to bleed in class.  I don't even think before picking up the phone and dialing the school's absentee line and calling Michael in sick.  Then reality sets in...  When I explain that he won't be able to attend a friend's birthday party this afternoon since he is missing school, he changes his tune and decides he really wants to go to school.  I am uneasy about it, but agree that it's the best thing.

Later that morning, I speak with the school nurse to let her know the situation.  She gives me some comfort.  "You know, it just could be New Jersey."  She lets out a relaxed laugh.  I love her, because she is a great resource and helps me feel comfortable each day that Michael is in good hands at school.  "This time of year, quite a few kids come into my office with nosebleeds...  often just the irritants and allergies flying around."  My tension fades a bit after hearing the nurse's candor.  Soon aftewards, a cross-check phone conversation with the pediatrician who suggests adding a little allergy medication into Michael's daily drill would help, my blood pressure has finally dropped to normal since my initial morning heart attack.

It is days later as I peer into my cold cup of coffee and glance back at the clock.  I need to get moving if we are going to make it to Michael's school in time.    Dylan watches some morning TV as I primp trying to achieve a "very PTA mom" look for the big Super Kids Program at Michael's school.  I watch the clock closely as I swipe on my many coats of mascara.

The three Kindergarten classes have worked hard and rehearsed the production, which is a compilation of characters and stories from the year-long reading program culminating on stage this morning.  There are certain to be delightful songs, which Michael has practiced again and again (most notably in the bathroom at the TOP of his lungs).  There will be choreography that he has explained to me very seriously ("Mommy, there are signs and on the word 'feet', we pull the signs down").  And there is Michael's palpable excitement of a stage show and all it's logistics...  "I have three important jobs.  But I am not speaking in the microphone.  Some kids are, but I am not."  Michael shrugs as he often does when he explains things with deftness.

Dylan and I head out of the house and hop into the car on the gloomy and muggy morning.  A-Ha!  I am pleased that we have given ourselves plenty of time.  30 minutes out the door, arrive with 25 minutes to walk in and get a seat.  BOYYYYY, was I wrong.  When we arrive, there is no parking in the school lot or on the immediate street.  I snort in my head, possibly even out loud, knowing that we have park on an adjacent street and walk some distance to the school.  With a four year old.  When the skies are ready to unload torrential rain.  At any moment.

I practically tug Dylan the whole way, WILLING him to walk faster.  When we finally arrive in the school, I realize I am covered in sweat and Dylan is exhuasted.  We politely take the program that a Kindergarten student is handing out to incoming families.  And BAM!  As we enter the gym, the THICK humidity slams into me like walking into a brick wall.  Grrrrrreat.  My boys tend to sweat more than other kids.  They tend to dehydrate faster than other kids.  And Michael insisted on wearing his character's costume without edit...  he had to wear the jeans and the long-sleeve hoodie shirt.  It is the perfect storm.

Dylan and I collapse into the additional row of seating that the school's janitor has been setting up.  Actually, the last row of seating.  Funny, how I always end up with the nosebleed seats.  I am just happy to have made it and to be seeing Michael's Kindergarten stage production.  I know just how proud he is and what a HUGE deal this is for him.

The music cues up and the lights hit the stage.  The curtains pull back and there almost in the near center is Michael.  He is wiping sweat off his forehead and already looks exhausted from the heat, but he sings happily even merrily gesturing along with the other children.  The lovable voices floating through the dense humidity in the gym seem to lighten the air.  They waft into the rafters and become a rainbow of audible joy.  I try to enjoy every minute and take in all the moments.  Dylan is restless with the heat and I scurry from my way-off seat up the aisle to get a little closer for a few a pictures.

Just then, Michael spots me and we lock eyes.  Through my worry and my juggling, I am instantly put at ease.  He grins at me and waves.  He doesn't care that he is not singing along at this very second or of that he is not doing the motions.  He just wants me to see him.  His beaming expression is like none I have seen from him -- ever.  He is thrilled that I am there.  I know that this moment is locked in my heart forever.  My eyes well with tears and I couldn't be prouder.  Super Kids indeed.

Yeah, I'll think I'll take a seat in the nosebleed section any day.