Monday, March 31, 2008

Round-Up: Org Junkie Style

You may recall my posts back in February about organizing my kitchen. You may also recall that Org Junkie listed my posts in her top 12. Well, today she is hosting the March Dining Room version.

I don't have a dining room so I didn't plan to participate this month. Which was a good thing since I'd like to get a "do-over" for the month of March. Or a barf bag and a caffeine filled i.v. Which ever is more convenient.

That's my not-so-funny way of saying I haven't felt up to much this month. BUT things are looking better. Food is staying down and energy levels are climbing so I'm hoping to participate in April's Round-Up: Master Bedroom. I'm not sure yet if I can post the real before pictures of how my bedroom is at this very moment. The shame maybe too great. The piles. The clutter. The tubs of clothes. {Sigh}

Anyway. I told you all of that to say that one of my real-life-friends DID participate and she did a great job. So go see Alicia's dining room. And please, please, please leave her a comment telling her how fantastic her dining room looks. I promise a couple of comments from you wonderful people will totally make her day. I know it does mine. {HINT. HINT. to all you lurkers out there. I see you on my statcounter!}

Thursday, March 27, 2008

There might be a silver lining but there won't be any greenbacks.

For ten-and-a-half years my husband has worked for corporate America. For seven-and-a-half of those years I have been a housewife/stay-at-home mom. Even when we both earned incomes we have only lived on Joel's income. (Something I recommend for ALL families!!) All that to say - we are a single income family.

Because he works for corporate America, Joel always receives a raise each year. Some years it's more than others. After the internet bubble burst back in 2000/2001 he only received a cost of living raise, not a merit raise. But something is better than nothing and it covered the increase in our health insurance premium.

The way this company processes benefits and raises has never made sense to me. In the fall of each year we choose our insurance coverages (which always seems to go up). The new premiums go into effect in January. Then they have reviews of the previous year's work performance and cost-of-living/merit raises are approved in March. We see the new salary amount in the first April paycheck (checks come twice a month).

All that to say, I have to figure our budget at least twice a year. First, in January to determine how to fund the increase in insurance premiums. Then, again, in April to decide where the raise will be spent. This year I won't have to worry about running the numbers a second time.

Why? Oh, thank you for asking. Because today, 4 days before the new salaries were to go into effect, corporate announced there will be no raises this year for anyone in the company. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Not even a cost-of-living increase.

I am annoyed. Frustrated. Aggravated. Mainly because our health insurance went up about $200 a month in January. Our property taxes have gone up. Our homeowners insurance has gone up. And I'm spending almost $2 a dozen for eggs! And $2.99 for a gallon of milk!

Since Joel emailed me the news (he's too smart to drop this bomb face-to-face or on the phone) I've been reminding God that we have expenses we were planning to use that raise for. Like the $500 co-pay for Ben's stay in the hospital earlier this month. Some projects around our home. Not to mention the baby coming in October. And He keeps reminding me that it's all His money, He owns the "cattle on a thousand hills," and He's always provided for us in the past.

In the interest of full disclosure, not getting a raise won't "hurt" us in the sense that we're going to have to cut expenses in order to make it. Nobody's going hungry, eating ramen noodles or not getting new shoes. We have a surplus in our budget each month (because we work hard to be frugal!) and we have no debt other than our mortgage. But this year is the Year of the Three to Six Month Emergency Fund. So no raise really means it'll just take us longer to fully fund our emergency fund. Which is a bummer.

In the midst of this bummer, I'm choosing to look at the silver lining in this little financial cloud. Joel didn't get a salary DECREASE - that's good. And, as one of his co-workers said, at least he still has a job - that's very good.

But please, Lord, could you give us a different job with a better company, preferably one closer to the South, and a bigger silver lining?!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blow Out! And I don't mean tires!

Every momma of a diaper wearing child understands what I mean by the phrase, "Blow Out!" Generally, a blow out is accompanied by horrible odors, massive amounts of wet wipes, and a change of clothes.

Saturday Ellie blessed us with not one. Not two. But THREE blow outs. The one I changed reeked of rotten eggs. I started to change another one but convinced Joel that would only result in a blow "up" from me. He accepted his role of martyr and took one for the team.

Since she had no fever. Ran around like normal. And exhibited no signs of viral or bacterial infection I chalked it up to whatever she's been eating lately and thought nothing more of it. Until Sunday afternoon following Easter dinner with our church family. When someone mentioned that Ellie might have a stinky diaper. Just then she walked passed Joel, who turned to me and said, "Blow out." Ugh! You can't imagine how glad I am Joel changed her from the pretty Easter dress into a plain onesie and jeans when we first arrived at Amy's!!

If we had to have such a mess while away from home, my friend Amy's home was the best place to be. Mainly cause her kids are the same ages as mine. And she has wipes. And a changing table. And she understands these things happen. And she didn't get grossed out by it.

After a million wipes I got Ellie cleaned up and dressed in the spare playsuit from my diaperbag. I seriously need to update the outfit I carry for her. It was a one-piece playsuit - size 12 months. She normally wears 18 months. It fit because she's so tiny but looked like capris instead of long pants. = )

The rest of the day passed without further incident. Ellie had a couple of really yucky diapers on Monday but things seem to have settled down for her. I chalked it up to "who knows what" and moved on. Until today.

After a quick trip to Target (in search of discount Easter candy of which there was NONE!) this morning I started preparing lunch. Will requested half a sandwich. Without jelly or honey. Just peanut butter. This was my first clue that all was not right - actually the 2.5 hour nap he took yesterday should have been my first clue. You have to understand that Will, who is just shy 5 years old, eats as much as I do.

He miserably ate his half sandwich, refused the apple slices or anything else to eat, and ASKED to be cleaned up so he could go have his nap!! He said his tummy hurt. Oh, boy! A brief stop in the bathroom (yeah he's toilet trained!!) confirmed his tummy isn't feeling too good. After his 3 hour nap he moved to the couch and laid around looking miserable until Daddy arrived home. He's not running a fever but he is a warm. He managed to sit at the table for supper with the rest of us but only ate about half a dozen bites of toast.

So. Me thinks we have a virus amongst us. Oh, fun. Not. Thankfully, we have nothing pressing for the rest of the week or weekend. I'm hoping the rest of us can escape contamination and enjoy a peaceful weekend. And, Amy, if M2 come down with this little bug I'm so very, very sorry!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Don't you know 36 inches is bigger than 3 feet?

Tonight our bedtime Bible reading with the boys was the story of God sending quail to the whining Children of Israel (As opposed to the whining Children of Stephanie - they'd have no use for quail. For them he might choose chocolate cupcakes. But I digress.).

The story describes quail 3 feet deep for a day's walk outside the Camp. In order to bring that detail home to Will I had him stand up and explained that he's 3 feet tall so the quail would have been to the top of his head.

The point was entirely lost. He kept telling me he's more than 3 feet tall. And then he'd count as he raised his hand up his body. By his count he's about 15 or 19 tall. No set measuring standard needed.

Finally, to put an end to the futility so they could go to bed, I informed him he's 36 inches tall. He considered that "very much taller" than 3 feet and went to bed a happy little man.

Ah, the mind of a three-year-old male child! It's a wonder to behold!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I will do a real post at some point.

I know some of you are on pins and needles about the ticker in the sidebar. I've had a lot going on this week and will tomorrow as well so I'm not likely to get a real post done in the next couple of days. All that to say, here's a list.

* Yes, I am pregnant. 9 weeks. I've been to the doctor, seen the heart beating (the ultrasound pics came out too dark to see anything), and am hugging the toilet on a regular basis. Added to the throwing up is the exhaustion. I'm good for about 2 hours of activity a day. Yes, with the boys I was sick (lost 10+ pounds with Will & 5+ with Ben) but barely sick or tired with Ellie. So you can guess what I'm thinking about this baby. Yes, that means I was sick the whole time I was at the hospital with Ben. It just made the whole experience even more memorable!

* Ben's follow-up GI appointment was today. They believe it was an "inflammatory polyp." No known cause. Shouldn't come back. No need for screenings until his old. Some people get and some people don't. (For OBU folks the doctor reminded me of Amy Sonheim.)

* My niece, Addison Lee was born Sunday night. 7 pounds, 3 ounces. This is my brother's first baby. With both sets of grandparents within 5 minutes of her house, I think it's safe to say Addi is going to be well loved and attended to. = ) I've yet to see pictures but I'll let that go for now.

I think that's it for now. Hopefully I'll muster up enough energy and focus to write a real post before the weekend. I make no promises though. I still have pictures of Ben in the hospital. Maybe I'll get those up tomorrow. = )

Monday, March 17, 2008

MOB?! I don't think so!!

A week or so ago I accompanied my friend, Jessica, to pick up her wedding dress from a bridal shop in our area. She had it on hold and wanted to try it on one more time and pay for it. Jess went into the dressing room and put on the dress. She came out and we oohed and ahhed over the dress (it's gorgeous and she got an AMAZING deal!!). Then the sales clerk, a lady I'm guessing to be in her late 40s walks up to us and says,

"O! Is this MOM?"

Referring to ME!!! Jessica is 22. In order to be the mother of a 22 year-old girl I'd need to be at LEAST 42. I'm 33. Everyone assures me I do not look old enough to be the MOTHER- OF- THE- BRIDE!!

Needless to say, Jess and I both assured her I am NOT her mom nor anywhere close to old enough to be her mom.

I'm still smarting over such an insult. Really!! The nerve of some people!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ben's Lab Results Back

Just wanted to let you know a doctor from the GI doctors' office called today and the lab results are back. They are negative for anything scary. Yeah!! Thank you, Lord!! She said that the polyp was probably just an inflammatory polyp. Not sure what that means. We have an appointment for next Wednesday (March 19) to ask all of our questions.

Thank you for praying for us. It's been a stressful couple of weeks, to say the least.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ben Details: Friday

This is my last post on the details of Ben and the hospital last week. I know you are all glad. = )

Friday morning started at 6 AM, not because of nurses but because we had to be at the hospital by 7:45 AM. Have I mentioned that I'm NOT a morning person? Somehow I managed to get a shower, dress myself and consume a slice of toast and half-a-cup of tea.

A sweet friend, Jessica, came to our house at 7 AM to watch Will & Ellie while the rest of us went back to the hospital. Oh, fun. Not.

We arrived at the hospital in plenty of time and found the room the nurses the night before had told us to go to. Only it was the wrong room. We had to go back to the first floor to admitting. You know hospitals and paperwork! Ben received his bracelet and we went back upstairs. And waited. And then filled out more paperwork answering the same old questions. Ben changed into the cute hospital pajamas and Joel & I received our bracelets.

While I changed Ben, Joel actually read his bracelet. And realized they had Ben's middle initial wrong. The bracelet on Ben's arm also had the initial wrong. The bracelet I'd just approved 20 minutes before.

Which meant the entire time he was in the hospital the wrong initial was on his records and all 3 of our bracelets. In my defense, when your son is pooping blood, you are seriously sleep deprived and you are loudly subjected to Sponge Bob at all hours of the night the last thing you are concerned about is if the middle initial is correct on the paperwork.

I'm not sure who made the mistake initially. It could have been the folks in the ER. It could have been me. Somehow Benjamin J.(oel) got turned into Benjamin W. Again, in my defense, I live with Joel William and William Timothy so it's an honest mistake to make.

Anyway. Joel brought the mistake to the attention of the nurse and she had to do the paperwork all over again. It remains to be seen how this mistake will affect the insurance paying for our hospital stay. I'll fight that battle when it comes.

We finally got all the paperwork settled. And went to wait in another room. With LOTS of toys. Ben didn't mind all the waiting. = ) While we waited Dr. Paul (a woman) came out and explained the colonoscopy procedure and asked us all the same dadgum questions! Then I signed more paperwork giving permission for the procedure.

A little later the nurse came to get us and took us down a hallway. Only one parent could go into the back so we had to choose. I asked Ben who he wanted to go to the back with him and he chose Daddy (who was carrying him at that moment). I confess to being o.k. with that decision! I exited through a door at the end of the hallway and went to ANOTHER waiting room (yes, there were 3 waiting rooms!).

Joel came out about 10 minutes later. He said they laid Ben on a bed and had him play with a gas mask thingymabob. Ben got to choose one that smelled like grape or cherry. He chose grape. Even after playing with it for a few minutes he still got a little scared when they put it on for real. Joel said his little lip quivered and pooched out (I expected that!). And then he went to sleep. And Joel came to the waiting room with me.

By now it was about 9 AM and I was hungry so I walked over to the cafeteria for a bagel and Dr. Pepper (remember I'm a southern girl and don't do coffee, pop/soda/coke for breakfast is a whole 'nother story!). I returned to the waiting room and had the pleasure of watching Regis and Kelly. Sometimes I wonder if she really is that ditzy or if it's an act.

While we waited I told Joel I felt like the doctor had already made up her mind she wasn't going to find anything. She really seemed to stress constipation and "straining during bowel movement" just like all the other doctors did!! You can understand my frustration. My biggest fear was that they would find "nothing" and send us home. I knew that would mean doing it all over again in a couple of months.

After about an hour and a half, Dr. Paul came into the waiting room. She explained she found a polyp just inside Ben's rectum and some other small bumps further in his intestines. VINDICATION!! I am not a crazy momma and know the difference between blood from strain and more serious blood. ThankYouVeryMuch!!! Don't get me wrong. I would prefer that there be nothing wrong with my baby boy. But I knew in this case something wasn't right and I wanted them to figure out what it was! Biopsies of the bumps were taken and the polyp was removed. (We go back March 19th for a follow-up and to get the lab results.)

Right after the doctor left us the nurses called us to come to the recovery room. I had asked them beforehand to have us (me) in the room before he woke up. I told them he would have a really hard time if we weren't there. I was right.

We got to his bed and he was thrashing his legs around. I don't think he was really awake at that point. I started talking to him and he calmed down a little but didn't really look at me and kept arching his back. The nurses had a "recliner" next to the bed so I picked him up and sat in the chair and just snuggled him. He kept squirming and arching his back. He still had an i.v. with fluids going (he hadn't had anything to eat or drink all morning) so I was a little concerned he'd pull that out.

As I snuggled him I started singing the songs I sang to him when he was a baby to put him to sleep. To the tune of one of Barney's songs: "I love you. You love me. We're a special fam-i-ly. With a daddy, momma, Will, Ben and Ellie (added that last part after she was born) don't you think we're special, too." I have other variations about Ben being special, made by God, blue eyes and his dimple. As I sang he calmed down considerably! And then he passed gas. I really think the gas was what caused him to thrash around.

After about 20 minutes he calmed down completely and fell into a natural sleep. He slept about 45 minutes; gradually waking when I started touching his face, moving him around and talking more. After a couple of minutes he was his usual cheerful self. He managed to keep down a cup of apple juice and we were discharged. We arrived home around noon. All a little weary but no worse for the wear.

Around 5:45 PM our pediatrician, Dr. Silversmith called. That's on a Friday night. After office hours. He asked how everything had gone and explained that he'd been keeping up with us through the on-call doctor in his office. He was glad they had a diagnosis. His words were "I wasn't going to be satisfied with a 'no-diagnosis." I can't tell you how impressed I've been with our group of pediatricians. They acted just like doctors ought to act - believing the momma that something is wrong and not being satisfied until they figure out what that thing is.

Ben has been fine all week. No more blood. Back to his normal active happy-go-lucky self. Momma on the other hand is pretty nervous and trying to keep the "crazy" thoughts in my head under control. You can my praying for my sanity and that the biopsy results to come back benign. = )

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ben Details: Thursday

I promise I'm almost done giving the day-by-day details of our hospital stay last week. Then I'll move on to other, less dramatic and traumatic, events.

Thursday morning Ben and I were again awakened by a nurse checking his temperature and blood pressure. At least I expected all the nurse and doctor interruptions (3 stays each a week long for c-sections has taught me some of the procedures of hospitals). We again had a student nurse assigned to us. This time we had a girl, under 25, and more experienced than the guy the day before. She really seemed to know her stuff. She was really sweet and we enjoyed her all day.

When we woke up the RN informed us Ben was not to have anything to eat or drink because of his Meckle Scan at 1 PM. NO WAY, JOSE! That's going with out food or drink from 6 PM to 1 PM: 19 hours! Not gonna happen! So I began, again, campaigning the nurse for at least some juice. After some discussions with the doctors, they decided my little guy could eat breakfast.

He enjoyed a slice of french toast and apple juice while watching Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George. After breakfast the nurse brought in an iv and pump. Ben did not care for being leashed to the pole but he managed to do a fair amount of climbing and jumping despite the tube coming from his arm.

We spent the morning taking it easy and watching t.v. And snuggling. Lots of snuggling. = ) A little after noon, Daddy called to say he and the other two were on their way. So Ben and I watched out our window for our van. Finally we saw them drive by! We waited a few minutes and then walked down to the elevator to greet everyone.

Our little family was so excited to be reunited! Will enjoyed his time playing with Micah the day before but was really concerned about his little brother. He even asked questions about Ben dying!! Ben was excited to show Will "his" room and the playroom. We all managed a few minutes in the playroom before they came to get Ben and Daddy for the Meckle Scan.

After a while Will, Ellie & I returned to Ben's room and watched t.v. while we waited. If a t.v. is on it has Will's undivided attention so he was no problem to entertain. Except for when a nurse came in the room. One touched his foot as he sat on the bed watching t.v. The way he jumped you would have thought she'd jabbed him with a needle! Another one couldn't resist smushing his cheeks. That time he baled off the bed! Poor Will. He's been the most traumatized by the whole thing. = )

Meanwhile, Ellie explored our room and discovered the small bathtub/shower in the bathroom. After that she walked around saying "baff" and trying to get her pants off. Cute at home. Not so much in a hospital surrounded by a bunch of strangers.

While we three hung out, Ben experienced another traumatic event. Joel told me when they got back that they TAPED MY BOY TO THE TABLE! It's a good thing he went and not me cause I wouldn't have allowed it. They explained the procedure to me as x-rays with one of us standing right by him. It never crossed my mind they'd tape him down!! Good grief! Give the boy a little gas so he can sleep if it's going to be that necessary for him to be still. Not only did they tape him down but they lowered a machine within inches of his face! Joel said Ben cried a little bit and then fell asleep. Thank the Lord!!

When they returned to us Ben was refreshed from his nap and Ellie was climbing the walls for lack of her nap. It didn't take long to decide the Gang needed to head home. Just as they packed up to leave a volunteer book reader came into our room with a stack of books. As we said good-bye Ben's bottom lip pooched out and he started to get upset. Thankfully, the book lady quickly engaged him in a story and took his mind off the rest of the family leaving.

I had already established with the nurse before the scan that Ben could have soft foods for the afternoon and evening. His colonoscopy was scheduled for 1 PM on Friday and they snuck some stuff to clean out his bowels into his apple juice. Given he hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast, I requested a popsicle. Grape - his favorite. = ) Jello followed that.

About 4:30 the doctor on the floor came in and informed us "there is no reason for you to be here." "We've been talking about it all day." "We're afraid your insurance won't pay for you to be here tonight so we're sending you home." This was the first I had heard of ANY of this!! You can understand my frustration and surprise. Apparently, colonoscopies are done as an out-patient.

So I called Joel to come back and get us. Needless to say it threw plans for that night and the next day all off. While we waited for the doctors/nurses to rush our discharge papers through they brought us supper - more jello, juice, and broth. Needless to say, I ate the broth. I had a happy little boy with all those special treats for supper! Especially when they unplugged him from the iv pole!

We finally left the hospital around 6:30 PM and made a stop at Wal*Mart to pick up more juice, popsicles, jello and supper for Daddy. Once we arrived home the goal was to get Ben to drink the rest of the medicine to make him poop and to take him to the potty. The doctors had been very concerned about him getting "cleaned out" and that he wouldn't drink all the medicine. Clearly they are not accustomed to dealing with my boys, who've never met a medicine they didn't like. They even told us to buy enemas to further clean him out. Craziness! Given that he'd barely eaten anything for over 24 hours I wasn't concerned about him having much to "clean out." Not to mention I'd like to see one of them try to give a three-year-old boy an enema!!

Ben described the medicine, when mixed with apple juice, as being "spicy." About 9 PM we still had around 2 ounces left for him to drink. I asked Ben if he wanted it straight or mixed with juice. He said straight and gulped it down in 2 swallows. I think we were all tired of him going to the bathroom by the time we went to bed.

Around 10 PM we all fell into our beds. It was the first time in 2 days I didn't have a headache. And wasn't forced to listen to a t.v. My bed has rarely felt as good as it did that night!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ben Details: Wednesday.

Again, I ask that you bear with me as I process last week and write out the details. Part of my reasoning is that I can do it hear once rather than over and over in conversations and emails. = ) I promise by the end of the week I'll have other new and exciting thoughts.

Wednesday morning started off for me around 6 AM. Have I mentioned I don't do mornings? At. All. Added to that I only got about 2 hours of sleep with a t.v. blasting on the other side of the room and cushions on the chair-bed that kept sliding apart right about where my tush hit. So the headache I woke up with was no surprise.

First came the nurses to take blood pressure and temperature. They also wanted more blood from Ben because his second blood work (taken when we settled into the patient room) showed his hemoglobin had dropped and he was a little anemic. A concern given the bleeding he had on Tuesday.

I should mention that Hasbro Children's Hospital is also a teaching hospital so in addition to the regular doctors, regular specialists, regular RNs, and regular CNAs you also have all of those as students. All that to say we had a male student nurse, under 25 years old, but really fun and still excited about his chosen profession and being around children.

Ben doesn't take long to wake up - he's my morning bird. So he quickly hopped out of bed and took in his surroundings. Thankfully we had the bed by the window. A HUGE floor to ceiling window overlooking the street and ER entrance. Watching the cars drive by and the ambulances pull up provided a lasting source of entertainment during our stay.

Around 8 AM Daddy arrived. Our sweet friend, Andy, picked up Joel and the other two kids from our house. He dropped Joel off and kept Will & Ellie for the day. More accurately, his wife, Amy kept them. I've been told Will didn't want to go home and Micah also hoped they would stay the night. = ) Needless to say, they had a fun day!

Around 8 AM our on-call pediatrician, Dr. Noel, stopped by. She was on fire, let me tell ya! She could not believe they had tried to send us home from the ER the night before. She explained some of the possibilities for Ben's bleeding and stated that she wanted us to stay so we could get testing done. A little later I heard her talking with the hospital doctors in the hallway letting them know in no uncertain terms that they were to run tests and figure out why my healthy three-year-old boy was pooping blood. I couldn't help thinking she dealt with them just as passionately as if Ben were her own little guy!

The doctors decided that Ben should have nothing to eat by mouth, so there was no breakfast for us. But they wanted him to poop again. Apparently hospital doctors don't understand that in order to poop you need to EAT SOMETHING! Given that he hadn't eaten a full meal since lunch the day before I didn't expect him to poop. So I began campaigning for him to at least get a soft meal (jello, popsicle, juice) cause the poor boy was hungry.

While the doctors twiddled their thumbs over what to do with us Ben noticed something very fun from our window. The outside of the building is all angles so our window actually looked into another room around the corner from us. And guess what he could see lining the window. TOYS! Yep. Hasbro has a playroom. I'm guessing there is one on each floor but I don't know that for sure. As soon as it opened Ben and Daddy walked around the corner and played and played and played.

If you ask him about the hospital right now he'll tell you all about the playroom. Not the scary tests or getting poked with a needle or watching t.v. or the bed. Nope. The playroom had blocks! Added to all the fun toys he had Daddy's undivided attention. He was a happy little boy!

I tried to rest while the boys played. Ha! Our roommate's mom went home at 6 AM and returned mid-morning with an entourage. I'm not exaggerating! She showed up with her 19 year-old daughter, her sister, the sister's boyfriend, the sister's ONE WEEK OLD NEWBORN!!, and the sister's 4 or 5 year-old daughter. Who in their right mind takes a newborn to a hospital during flu season when you don't have to?!

Around noon my campaigning for food brought success. Ben received an extra tray with pizza, chips and a brownie. I promise I don't understand hospital thinking. First nothing to eat. Now pizza?! Needless to say he woofed it down. And not long after that he pooped. Without blood.

We hung out for the rest of the day waiting for a GI doctor to come look at Ben. When he finally came he mainly wanted to talk about constipation and straining during a bowl movement. It was so frustrating for them to keep coming back to that!! Part of the problem was the whole time Ben never had pain or looked sick. He literally ran around the room and climbed all over the place. He didn't LOOK sick. The end result of the GI consultation was that we would have a Meckel Scan on Thursday and a colonoscopy on Friday.

The Meckel Scan put a tiny amount of radioactive stuff in him and checked his intestines for an extra piece of tissue. It was explained as being sort of like an appendix only left over from being an embryo.

Daddy hung out with us for supper - gross chicken with rice pilaf. For a 3 year-old?! Ben ate jello and Daddy ate his supper. Around 7 PM I kicked Daddy out. He didn't want to leave us but the other two needed to be picked up. For the first time Ben really cried and threw a fit. He wanted to go home, also. It took super-human strength for me not to have a good crying fit along with him.

We watched t.v. while Ben calmed down. During this time I watched my very first episode of Hannah Montana. I don't understand that show at all. I also watched American Idol. Ben didn't like the girl with the striped hair. He said it looked like a skunk. = ) He also didn't like the way most of them sang and couldn't understand why the songs weren't about God or Jesus. = )

We took a quick walk around the floor and then got ready for bed. Ben wanted me to sleep with him, which I was o.k. with! As we settled in, JayQwan (our roommate) woke up. His mom & entourage had left around supper. He woke of crying, wailing, asking for his mom. I went and got a nurse who I truly believe should not be a pediatric nurse. Her empathy was greatly lacking.

I lay in bed snuggling my sleeping little guy and JayQwan cried, "Momma, where are you!? Momma, come back! I want my momma. I wanna go home." For over half an hour. You can understand that I cried right along with that poor little boy! The nurse just stood over him patting his back, telling him "don't cry she'll be back." Eventually a CNA came in and watched t.v. with him.

Finally his mom showed up. LIVID that the nurses had the audacity to call her back to the hospital. "This is their job. That's what they get paid to do. I don't get paid to do this. I haven't had any sleep or rest. I just got home for 5 minutes and here they are calling me back up to the hospital." On and on she ranted into her cell phone for another hour. While the t.v. blasted and that sweet little boy sat beside her in his hospital bed.

And so ended another exciting night in the hospital. Exhausted does not even begin to describe my physical, mental and emotional state.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ben Details: Settled in a Patient Room

Please bear with me as I sort out the events of last week. I promise by the end of this week I'll have new events to talk about. = )

So, Tuesday night they finally moved us upstairs to a patient room. Ben got to ride up to the 5th floor in a wheelchair. At 36 pounds there is NO way I could have carried him!!! He was a little nervous about the wheelchair at first until I reassured him I was following right behind.

As we entered our room I realized this would be "semi-private" accommodations. Drat! The other family seemed to be in the final stages of settling in as we entered the room. A momma and her little boy (who I later learned was 5 years-old). Shouldn't be too bad, I hoped.

A nurse came in and helped settle Ben into bed. And asked ALL the same questions. Again. At least she was really nice and seemed experienced. After she left a doctor on the floor came in and asked me all the same questions and examined Ben. By this time I concluded that no one in that hospital actually READS the charts. They just take their own notes.

My poor little guy's had his tush looked at by most of the doctors at Hasbro! It was past one AM, I was tired and my little guy was tired. The last thing I wanted to do was answer the same questions for another doctor. So I'm afraid I got a little punchy, annoyed, and was all around not a model mother of a patient. But the questions this guy asked were a little ridiculous. The one I remember was "has he been camping recently?" Honestly, I laughed out loud! Camping? In February/March? In Rhode Island? Where if we're lucky the temperature gets up to 45 degrees on a sunny day around noon? Um, no. We've not been camping, unless you count sleeping on the living room floor in sleeping bags with Daddy on Friday night.

Finally he left and Ben drifted off to sleep. THEN came another doctor. The boss of the first one. Asking all the same questions!! Aargh!! She looked at Ben's tush and the poor guy was so asleep he never stirred through the whole thing. I informed her, yet again, that I had the diapers with the blood and that they refused to look at them downstairs. "Sure. I'll look at them if you'll open them up," was her response. Apparently, hospital doctors are afraid of little boy poop. Go figure.

Keep in mind it was nearly 12 hours since those diapers were filled so it was a little hard to distinguish the blood. Except for that nickel-sized blood clot. That was still clearly visible. After she looked at the diapers she quit talking nonsense about constipation and straining during a bowel movement.

Then nurses came back in to take blood. Unfortunately, they couldn't get it out of Ben's IV so they had to stick his other arm. He slept through most of it. Toward the end he started whimpering and his bottom lip pouched out and quivered. The nurses were amazed. What can I say? He's a sound sleeper. = )

Finally all the medical people left us to sleep. I laid down in my oh-so-not-comfortable hospital chair that folds out to be a bed. And then our roommate's mom started talking on the telephone. Loudly. While the boy watched t.v. Loudly.

Her conversation would have been funny if not for being so sad. Her live-in man called to find out where she was. "In the hospital with MY son." (I'm not sure if he was the father or not. The boy never asked for "daddy" or any man.) Then she proceeded to accuse him of being with some "female." And basically said she would beat up the woman when she found out who she was. He finally convinced her he was at a friend's place, only to have her launch into "you chose your friend over me." (I should mention she was a large black woman speaking with the stereotypical accent and grammar.)

All the while the boy (JayQwan) is sitting beside her watching t.v. and the nurses keep coming in asking if she wants blankets to make out her bed. She kept telling the nurses - IN FRONT OF HIM- that she didn't need anything; "as soon as he goes to sleep I'm going home." Can you imagine leaving your 5 year-old son, who has just been admitted into the hospital for an infection in his foot, in the hospital at night alone?!

She finally got off the phone around 3:30 AM and I eventually drifted off to sleep. Until the nurses came in around 6 AM to check blood pressure and such. And woke everyone up except JayQwan. The nurses said he had managed to stay awake at least an hour after his mom fell asleep. I thought, "good for him! He outlasted her."

All totaled I had about 2 hours of sleep during our first night at the hospital and explained our situation to 4 hospital doctors and 3 hospital nurses. A fun night it was NOT!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ben Details: The ER.

Please bear with me as I chronicle the events of this past week. You probably aren't all that interested in the play-by-play but I need to get it down now so I can remember it in the future. There's a lot I don't want to forget so this will probably be long and not very witty or interesting.

About 2 or 3 months ago Ben had an episode of quite a bit of blood in a series of bowel movements fairly late at night. We called our pedi. and he said to wait and see if it happened again the next day. If it did, to bring him in to the office. The next day Ben was back to his usual self. No pain, no blood, just regular Ben. Through out this time every once in a while, maybe once every couple of weeks he'd have a tiny bit of blood on his poop but not enough to concern me. I just chalked it up as straining during the bowel movement.

Then Tuesday the same kind of episode happened again. Around noon he had a small poop with a little blood. After lunch he voluntarily pooped in the potty (Oh, Happy Day!!!). When I checked on him it was quite a bit of poop with quite a bit of blood. Ben kept telling me, "Look, momma, the water is red." But since it was in the potty it was hard to tell just how much blood there really had been. I put him down for a nap (in a pull-up) and about 20 minutes later he got up with a dirty diaper. This time there was more poop and a lot of blood, including a blood clot about the size of a nickel! This time I knew it was more than just straining and called the pediatrician. It was about 1:45 PM and I was able to get an appointment for 5 PM. The nurse I spoke with said to bring in the diaper if possible so they could take a look at how much blood there was. I called Joel and he came home around 3:30 PM. About the same time Ben got up from his nap and had pooped a little more in his pull-up with a little more blood.

Ben & I took off for the pediatrician's office for our appointment. We go to a group of about 5 doctors. Dr. Silversmith is "our" doctor (he's great and even has 2 boys close to the ages of mine so he doesn't get freaked out by my guys' bruises and crazy stunts!) but he wasn't in the office. We saw Dr. Zinck even though Dr. Noel (both women) was the doctor on-call for the day for sick patients.

Dr. Zinck started asking questions and seemed ready to write it off as strain during bowel movement until she looked at the two diapers. Then she got serious about us. She sent us to Hasbro Children's Hospital (Yes, it's named after the toy company which is based in RI. I'm guessing at some point they donated a lot of money to the hospital.) in Providence. She sent us there because she wouldn't be able to get us in to see a GI doctor for a few days and going to the ER should expedite matters.

So, Ben and I stopped at home, packed an overnight bag, and grabbed a small supper to eat. Then we took off for the ER. (Unfortunately, Joel and I were not able to vote in our state's primary as a result. Not that our 2 votes would have helped our candidate any. Sigh. Oh, the pain of living in a blue state!) We arrived at the ER around 7 PM. We finally made it into a room after 9 PM. Talk about being tired! It was all I could do to stay awake sitting in the waiting room bored to tears. Also, I kept thinking, "We came in without the flu, please let us go out without the flu!" I had my travel sized GermX with me and kept cleaning our hands. = )

We finally got into an exam room and they whisked us off to X-Ray Ben's stomach. He was a trooper and barely whimpered, though the whole thing was a little scary for him. We got back into our exam room and the nurse put an iv into his arm. The poor guy! One nurse held him down while the other one DUG around in his arm. His lip pooched out and his eyes filled up with tears and he whimpered. He tried to hold back the tears and not cry. I told him he was very brave and that it was ok to cry. Then I asked him if momma could cry. He quickly responded "nooo." Let me tell ya, it was all I could do NOT to cry. Another half-hour or so later a doctor examined him.

A pretty girl doctor who, I swear, could NOT have been more than 25 years-old! She asked all the same questions our pedi had asked and the nurses had asked. Did I mention she was pretty? With long full auburn hair that she had to flip (I PROMISE, she flipped it just like only a pretty girl knows how to do!) out of the way so she could examine my son. I really wanted to tell her that she's working in the ER. No one cares how pretty her hair is. PULL IT BACK, for Pete's sake so you can do your job!

I explained all my answers to her and offered her the diapers with the blood so she could see for herself how much it was. "I don't need to see them," she responded with a wave of her hand. I could see she was dismissing us as "strain or constipation." Argh! Then she left and after another half-hour or so ANOTHER doctor came in. This one was a little older, probably 30s, definitely more experienced. And not doing the pretty girl hair flip. I think she was the boss of the other girl. So I explained everything to her all over again. If you are counting, that's 3 doctors and 3 nurses I've explained the situation to in about 4 hours. She also didn't feel the need to see the diapers.

I could tell they were not taking me seriously about the amount of blood and were going to send us home. They explained all the possibilities that could cause the blood (including straining, constipation, and just random-never-going-to-know causes) and implied they were sending us home and we should see a GI doctor for further diagnosis. I started praying. On one hand I wanted to go home. I was tired and emotional and nobody wants to stay in the hospital with their little boy. On the other hand, I knew this was serious and the longer we waited to look inside him where the bleeding was occurring the harder it would be to diagnose him.

FINALLY, one of the doctors came back and said they had called my on-call pedi. (Dr. Noel) to release us and she informed them she was not comfortable with us going home and wanted us admitted. Yeah!!! for a doctor who believed me!!

And thus began the LONG wait to be moved upstairs into a patient room. We nearly went to sleep in the ER. Both of us were so tired. And hungry. And thirsty. Though Ben did score a grape popsicle which caused us to have to change his shirt and left a purple stain around his mouth that the nurses upstairs mistook for bruises.

Finally around 1 AM Tuesday Night/Wednesday Morning they moved us up to a patient room for "observation." That's SIX hours in the ER. 2 ER doctors and 2 ER nurses. 1 set of X-rays. And 1 IV installed.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Pre-hospital posts that were floating around in my head.

Before my life went all crazy on Tuesday, I had a few posts floating around in my mind. I don't have the energy or time to write them out as full posts so I am resorting to a list in order to get them out of my mind.

1. Monday I took the kids to the pediatrician for Ben's 3 year check-up and Ellie's 18 month check-up. Ben came in at 50th percentile for height and 90th percentile for weight. He's always come out like that on the charts. What can I say? He's a solid little fireplug.

Ellie came out on the charts at 10th percentile for both weight and height. This always makes me laugh. She is such a tiny little peanut! Believe me, she eats just fine (if it's chips & salsa or chocolate!). She's healthy, just tiny. In fact she's just now really fitting into 18 month clothes. It's weird for me because the boys have always been ahead in clothing sizes (Ben's worn 3T for 6 months!).

2. On the way to the pediatrician's office Monday we dropped another van load of boxes off at the Salvation Army. I tell ya, decluttering is addictive! Anyway, when I pulled up another van already sat backed up to the spot to unload so I parked close by. At first I thought the two women were dropping things off. Then I realized they were rummaging through the donations other people have left (the drop-off point is at the back of the building on the outside so it isn't supervised). Then I saw them pick up a clock radio and put it in their van. After a minute or two of me shooting dirty looks at them as I unloaded they climbed in their van and drove away.

For crying out loud! How low and dishonest can you be?! Stealing from the Salvation Army Thrift Store?! At first I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they really are poor and can't afford things. But then I thought, wait a minute! The Salvation Army isn't charging an arm and a leg for stuff. And they help people who don't have money. So I don't think these women were really hard up. I think they are just dishonest and thieves. Though they probably wouldn't consider themselves that.

3. At the pediatrician's office I watched two other moms (I'm a people watcher, what can I say?) who each had small infants. One had a 1 month old; the other a 2 month old. It was funny to me to see the difference in mothering. I didn't ask but I'd be willing to bet the one mom has other children. She just had a certain confidence and relaxed demeanor that says she's NOT a first time mom (even when Will almost fell on top of her baby). The other mom was clearly a first-timer! = ) She fed the baby and then proceed to gently burp him. And by gently I mean rub and softly tap his back to get him to burp. Also, she could barely be out of her teens. As a three-timer I wanted to tell her, "Sweetheart, he's never going to burp like that. You gotta pound on that little back. I promise he won't break and he'll feel lots better after a good burp." Of course I didn't say any of that. I just smiled to myself and laughed at how far I'm come as a mom.

4. I had a moment of realization that I no longer have a baby in my house. Because Ellie is so small (see # 1) and is the youngest child in our small circle of friends I still think of her as a baby. But watching those two newborns just laying in their infant carriers and then watching my Baby Girl moving chairs, climbing and playing with toys really showed me she's not a baby anymore. = ( Part of me is sad she's not a snuggly infant but mostly I'm glad to sleep through the night (most nights) and not have to think about bottles or baby food.

5. Remember the posts I wrote about decluttering my kitchen? (Here and here.) Well, Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie chose my posts to include in her Monthly Organizing Round-Up. If you are looking for ideas to organize your home head over there and look around!

I think that does it for all the pre-hospital posts I had in my head. I'll try to be back over the next couple of days with more details about our hospital experiences. Both medical and non-medical. Like watching Hanna Montana for the first time - can someone please explain that show to me. I'm confused why the girl is going by two names. Then there's a whole post in my head about our roommate and his family (it was a semi-private room) - 3 AM phone conversations and t.v. viewing did not make for good sleeping!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Ben: the short version, short for me anyway. = )

I'm sure most of you have been checking for further updates so I'm going to make this short in order to get it out to you. I'll try to write more details in the coming days. As I told Joel last night, I'm got about a dozen posts in my head from this past week. = )

The hospital sent us home about 7 pm Thursday night. "There's no reason for Ben to be here now and we're afraid your insurance won't pay for another day." So they rushed the paperwork and sent us home.

We were all happy but frustrated to be home. Happy because staying at the hospital is never fun; frustrated because we had to return to the hospital this morning (Friday) at 7:45 AM for a colonoscopy because Thursday's Mieckle (sp?) test showed nothing.

So once again we checked in at the hospital, answered all the same questions and grew frustrated again. Basically, because Ben showed no signs of pain, discomfort or further bleeding, they kept wanting to say he strained during the bowel movement or was constipated. After having every doctor and nurse question your judgment for four days you start to get really fed up! I knew the blood was too much to be caused by strain or constipation.

The doctor finally came out after an hour and explained that they found a polyp just inside his rectum, removed and cauterized the area. They looked at the rest of his intestines and found some small abnormal bumps and biopsied those. So the polyp and biopsies have been sent to the pathology lab and we'll get the results in a week to 10 days. We also have a follow-up appointment with the GI doctor in about 2 weeks.

I'm glad that we finally have a diagnosis! And it shows I'm not a crazy momma. There really was something wrong!

Tonight - a Friday night! - around 5:45 our pediatrician called to check on Ben and find out the results of today's test. You know you have a good group of pediatricians when they fight the hospital for you and call you after hours on a Friday night!!

Let me conclude this "short" post by saying thank you to everyone who commented, emailed and prayed for us this week. We appreciate your concern and support. Please keep praying that those biopsies all come back benign.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Update on Benjamin

[This is Joel again.]

Thanks for your prayers and your patience in waiting for an update. I have spent all day at the hospital. The day was pretty much a waste. Ben feels fine and he and I got to spend a lot of time play together, which was nice. However, the hospital could not seem to make up it's mind what to do with Ben. He is not in pain and shows no outward signs of any issues. They would have preferred to send us home and make us set up some out-patient appointments. Our pediatric practice however, fought to keep us in so that they would have to do something with us, to try and find out what was causing the bleeding. Which we appreciate, though it stinks that we have to sit around in the hospital twiddling our thumbs.

As a brief bit of history that I did not include on the previous post, Ben has had one previous episode before, about 2-3 months ago. It was almost exactly the same as far as how long it lasted, the blood, the blood clot, etc. The first time it happened, it happened in the evening. We talked to the on-call doctor for our pediatric practice. He had advised waiting until the morning to see if the bleeding continued. It did not, so no follow up happened. When it happened again a few months later, it was definitely more concerning.

I'm tired, so I won't go into all the details. Ben will be in the hospital at least through Friday. Tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. he has a merkel scan. Friday at 1:00 he has a colonoscopy. I never thought I would be taking my three-year old to have a colonoscopy. Both of these are for the purpose of trying to figure out where the bleeding comes from.

Please continue to pray that the doctors will discover what caused the bleeding. Also pray for Stephanie and Ben who will be spending at least three nights in the hospital. Poor Ben. He really wanted to come home this evening. He was fine until I left to pick up Will and Ellie from our friends' home.

Thank you for all of us,


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pray for Benjamin

This is Joel, Stephanie's husband, posting on her blog in her absence.

I would like to ask you to pray for our son Benjamin. Earlier today he had a lot of blood with his bowel movement, including a blood clot. So Stephanie called the pediatrician and got an appointment at 5:00 p.m. to bring Ben in. The result of that appointment is that Stephanie is currently on her way with Ben to Hasbro Children's Hospital, to the emergency room. The pediatrician said it could be a number of things and that the hospital would run some tests. If it had been earlier in the day, she would have tried to get us into see a GI doctor. We don't know how long it will take or if they will have Ben and Stephanie stay the night.

We would appreciate your prayers for Benjamin, Stephanie and the doctors.

Thank you,


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Random nothings.

Just wanted to say we're alive and well here. I've just fallen into the same funk that so many in Bloggyland seem to have lately. I'm not likely to get a real post up tomorrow either as Ben has his 3 year-old check-up tomorrow which means taking Daddy to work so we can have the van and then picking him up again in the evening.

We have had a fun weekend, though. Saturday we ran errands as a family and stopped a Target to return some things. The plan was to leave Target, eat an early (it was before 5 PM) supper at On the Border (only my favorite restaurant that Joel is sick of), then pick up a few things at Price Rite and head home.

As we were pulling out of Target Joel says, "Isn't that Amy in front of us?" Sure enough! Imagine our surprise to see our friends 2 cars ahead of us. Especially since they've been out of town and don't live in our neck of the woods. I grabbed my cell phone and called her. The long story short is that she and the kids joined us at OTB for supper! Such unexpected fun!

The boys could hardly contain themselves through the next 3 stop lights on our way to the restaurant. Will kept yelling at the cars ahead of us to move so he could get to his friend Micah. The kids were so cute when they greeted each other (because of trips they hadn't seen each other in about 3 weeks). Lots of yelling and jumping and hugging. Don't you love watching little kids with their best friends?! = )

I think we totally confused the waitress. They put us at a large round table (3 adults + 2 big boys + 2 booster seats + 1 highchair = big fun!). Some how we managed to seat ourselves so that the 2 girls were between Amy & I and the 3 boys were between Joel & I. Which put Amy & Joel sitting beside each other. The waitress kept looking to me for directions for my guys even after Joel told her what we needed. It was pretty funny. Also, we ran into a girl from MOPs and Joel said she looked a little confused by Joel sitting by Amy and not me. I don't know why I'm telling y'all this other than is amused me at the time.

And since this is a post about nothing but random things I'll describe my afternoon to you.
1:30-ish: All 3 kids down for naps.
1:32-ish: I laid on the couch under a blanket following a brief stop in the bathroom.
.... Snoring .... Snoring ... More snoring ....
5:00-ish: Dragged myself off the couch and into the bathroom after Joel sent the children to the living room and turned on a light. The light and the children wouldn't have disturbed my sleeping but my bladder was about to explode so I thought it best to get up. I honestly thought it was about 3:30. And if you think I'm going to have trouble getting to sleep tonight you are sorely mistaken!!

I'll end this rambling post about nothing now. I've got to get ready for bed. = )
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