Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Holiday Scare


      The holidays are a busy time with Christmas cards to write, shopping to do and decorations to place. Our Christmas celebration ended and we were enjoying Grandma and Grandpa's company.  It is always fun when they stay with us.  The Sugar Snaps were delighted to have Grandma and Grandpa's loving attention and enthusiasm. We went to sleep after a nice Christmas Day. Capri and Grayson threw up during the night.  We changed their sheets and took care of them.  The morning of the 26th, we gave them baths and then were in the process of getting them dressed when my left hand went entirely numb and my index finger twitched dramatically up and down. My vision blurred for a second or two. I felt a sudden heaviness in my left arm as if it had gained five pounds in a matter of seconds.  I remember studying neuropsychology in graduate school and even considered it as a specialty on my road to becoming a psychologist. I know these are potential signs of a stroke.

     I probably would have convinced myself that it was nothing if it were not for the Sugar Snaps. It is my personality to not want to be high maintenance and waste the doctors' time.  Being a Mama has changed my perspective.  I knew I needed a doctor to tell me it was 'nothing' and I was not qualified to make that decision.  So, Greg took me to urgent care while Grandma and Grandpa watched the Sugar Snaps.  The urgent care was packed with people coughing and looking generally miserable.  It took a long time to see the doctor.  Once I got in, the doctor told me I should have gone directly to the ER.  Urgent care is not qualified to test me or to help me if I had a stroke.  He advised me to take an ambulance to the ER (which was just down the street).  Greg drove me there instead.

Four reasons to go to the doctor...
    When we arrived at the ER at the hospital where Capri was born, I began to explain why I was there and they already knew. The doctor from urgent care had called to let them know I was on my way.   After a few tests that came out not showing any major problems, to my surprise, they decided to admit me...over night.   I had only been away from the Sugar Snaps for one night when we went to the ocean when they were smaller and my parents took care of them.  I do preschool with them at home.  I am with them almost all the time.  Whenever Capri is scared of falling in the potty, she announces, "Mama's not going anywhere.  I'm not going to fall."  I assure her, "you're not going to fall.  Mama's not going anywhere."  The thought of being away from them in a hospital was upsetting, especially when they were sick.   I had every test imaginable, including an Electrocardiogram with electrodes and gel all over my head which dried and left my hair looking sticky and gross.  Who cares how your hair looks in the hospital really...but it is one of those things where I felt even more aware of how out of control my life had instantly become.  My looks mirrored how I felt inside. 

     My roommate was in her 80's and had suffered a second stroke.  She had trouble communicating the most basic information, such as her name and what month it is.  It reminded me of my Grandma who had a stroke several years ago.  She is trapped inside her body unable to share what she is thinking much of the time.  She is frustrated that she knows what she wants to say and cannot say it.  I wondered if this would be my future. 

     One of my nurses told me I was his healthiest patient.  He thought I would surely be discharged after the first night. I thought so too.  When the doctor came in and told me I was staying for another night (third day), I began to cry as soon as he left the room.  I wanted to go home so badly.  I was hooked up to an IV in my arm with fluid.  I had to roll the cart with a bag of fluid attached to my arm each time I needed to use the restroom and it tended to beep for the nurses whenever I moved.  I learned to hold my arm in such a way where it beeped less.  I did not want the machine announcing to my roommate, her family, and the nurses whenever I used the bathroom.

      We did not want the Sugar Snaps to visit all at once due to the potential for them to get sick by touching everything in sight.  Capri visited me with Greg and "read" me a story from the hospital literature about how she loved Mama and Daddy and missed her brothers who were at home. She admired my hospital 'bracelet' and did not seem bothered that I was hooked up to the IV.  The next day, Grayson and Ryder paid me a visit and felt like big kids when they tucked me in to my hospital bed. We decided not to have Xadyen come in as he was the most likely to touch everything and push every button he could find.

      I was discharged yesterday and diagnosed with a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) and will follow up with the hematologist and the neurologist.  The most common stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, smoking, birth control pills, older age and being male did not apply to me.  I found out my history of possible blood clotting leading to miscarriages (which you may have read in our story), my Mom's history of a blood clot and my history of migraines were risk factors. Stress can also be related.  These don't appear on most of the risk factor checklists you find on the internet.  It felt so good to come home and hug each of the Sugar Snaps for a long time.  I want to be here for them.  This was an eye opening experience that things can change in an instant.  I want it to keep my promise that "Mama's not going anywhere."

     Have you (or anyone in your family) had any health scares?  I would love to read your stories in the comments.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Seeing Rudolph through Grown Up Eyes

     I remember watching holiday videos as a child and getting excited about the magic of Christmas. Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph were real to me. I looked forward to sharing those classics with the Sugar Snaps. We did not do any T.V. before the age of two and I am selective about what they watch. I figured there could be no harm in watching cute holiday movies. I watched Frosty the Snowman with them. I liked how Sally, a little girl, accompanied Frosty to help him get to the North Pole. He helped her get warm and she helped him to stay cold. It would have been better had the magician realized that what he did was wrong  rather than changing his ways so that he could receive presents on Christmas morning.  When the Sugar Snaps are a little older, we will talk about that.

Capri loves all things related to Christmas.

     On another day, we watched Rudolph. I have been careful not to expose Capri to programs that suggest that female characters need to be rescued. It was a couple of brief moments in the film, but they made me cringe. Clarice was advised not to go on the journey because she was female. She went anyway which was good. In another part of the movie, it was stated that they had to get the women home (in a macho tone). There were other unsavory messages in the film too.   Clarice's father said that he would not have any daughter of his playing with a red-nosed reindeer (insert any religion or ethnicity here). Santa was not the warm and jolly man that I remembered. He was rude to the elves when they sang a song they wrote just for him. Mrs. Claus was left to apologize for his behavior.   There was an elitist quality to Santa's team of reindeer.  It seemed to be the main goal of the male reindeer to be part of that team and there was an underlying implication that they were not good enough if they did not make the cut.

 Xayden loves to dress up as a reindeer.

     When Rudolph was not allowed to 'join in any reindeer games due to his differences, the adult reindeer coach approved of this segregation and bullying.  Insert this message into a modern school.  People would be outraged if an adult promoted that type of behavior.  When it happens, it makes the news.  The final disturbing message portrayed in the movie was that everyone 'loved' Rudolph once they found out that his nose was useful in lighting the way for Santa's sleigh.  So, it is OK to be different as long as others find you to be useful.  It reminded me of this quote:

 "And what is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."   -- Ralph Waldo Emerson.  

      Rudolph transitioned from being considered an unsightly weed to a 'newly discovered plant' of great value.  I feel like there are too many negative messages in Rudolph that I cannot explain to the Sugar Snaps at age three.  We will not be watching it again until they are old enough to have that discussion.

     I am glad that more modern programs for children carry fewer of these negative messages.  There is a part of me that wishes I could still view Rudolph like I did when I was a child.  Yet, I cannot take the psychologist and the Mama lens away.  When they are older, I know they will be exposed to similar messages, but we can talk about them.  I do not want those messages to sink in and take hold before that. So, Frosty will stick around our house during the holidays.  Rudolph will too but only as a decoration.  What are your thoughts on Frosty and Rudolph?  I'd love to hear from you.  I read each of your comments.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Easy Keepsake Ornaments Children Can make


       We had fun decorating the Christmas tree as a family.  This is the first year that the Sugar Snaps 'get it' and are actively enjoying the process.  They made cute and easy plaster ornaments in Occupational Therapy. Their therapist generously brought different plaster ornaments for each of them to decorate and they worked on their fine motor skills decorating them with a paint brush and Q-tips. The ornaments are wonderful keepsakes and really are easy to make. If you would like to try it, simply get unpainted plaster ornaments from a craft store or online and provide your child with non-toxic paint.  When the single color paint dries, children can use Q-tips to add dots or other details in other colors.  I put their names on the back and with the year and we hope they will last until they are grown up and can put them on their own trees. 

     It is so much fun to see the Sugar Snaps' perspective on Christmas.  They eye each ornament as if it has en element of magic.  Capri was especially fascinated by the Santa ornament pictured below. She said it was a baby Santa and cradled it lovingly before finding a spot for it on the tree.  She helped me to see the ornament in a new light.

"Baby Santa"

Ryder reached up to place an ornament on the tree.

It was fun to see the four of them side by side decorating the tree together.

     I love that we have a hodgepodge of ornaments, each with a memory.  I remember the magic of picking out which ornaments to place on the tree as a child.  It is fun to recreate that with our own family.   I think it is interesting to look at the ornaments the Sugar Snaps made because while they all had the same materials (except for the shapes), their decorating styles are all different. Can you guess which one made each ornament?    What are your traditions decorating the tree?  Feel free to leave a comment sharing your holiday traditions.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holiday Lights Drive

     When we stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's house for Thanksgiving, we went to a drive through Holiday lights show (Fantasy of Lights) to get into the holiday spirit. It was $10 per vehicle (early in the season) and we packed the six of us plus Grandma and Grandpa into our minivan.  It was well worth it. They went all out turning Vasona park in Los Gatos, California into an incredible display of lights. They had various themes in different areas.  There was even an entire section devoted to dinosaurs complete with sound effects! 

Xayden, Grayson, Capri and Ryder loved going out in their 'jammie jams' to see the lights.

The Peace on Earth sign was beautiful.

 The Sugar Snaps loved the large Sea Serpent swimming alongside a ship.

Drive through tunnels of light separated the sections.

It was fun to look up at the lights as we drove through.

There was a tall majestic tree wrapped in lights serenaded by a marching band.

     We loved the holiday lights display.  It was so much fun to hear the Sugar Snaps shout, "Look, it's Christmas," in each new section of lights.  Maybe next year, we'll dress in our jammies too. Last year, we had fun walking through a holiday lights display pushing the Sugar Snaps in strollers.  They would insist on walking now!  It's amazing how much they've grown.   Have you gone to see the holiday lights this year?  Is your home decorated on the outside?  I'd love to hear from you.  I read each comment. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Family Fun

     We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving holiday at Grandma and Grandpa's (my parents) house.   I always enjoy making the mashed potatoes.  There is something homey and decadent about fresh mashed potatoes.  Since the Sugar Snaps and I are vegetarian, Grandma and Grandpa got us a tofu 'turkey' from Trader Joes which was very good!  My brother, much to his surprise, did not know which one was the vegetarian gravy.  Grandma and Grandpa set up their living room as a playroom full of books and toys when we visit.  Grandma even rotates toys in and out to keep them interested and entertained.

Thanksgiving 2013:  Ryder, Grayson, Xayden and Capri

The Thanksgiving Table

Vegetarian Turkey

Mashed Potatoes

Capri admired Uncle David's "monster truck"

while Xayden and Grayson gave it a 'test drive.'

     Then, Uncle David took the Sugar Snaps' 97 year-old Great Grandma home in the Hummer ('monster truck').  People were amused to see her in the truck on the way to the Thanksgiving dinner earlier in the day and waved to them as they drove along. We enjoyed spending time with family this Thanksgiving.  It was a great way to share gratitude and a wonderful meal.  What did you do this Thanksgiving?  What are your traditions?  I would love to hear from you.  I read every comment.

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