Thursday, May 10, 2012

Just Like My 3rd Child

It's somebody's 2nd birthday!
(BTW, Conor put the hat on him.)
My husband has dubbed Linus, our 3-year old standard poodle, my third child.  I often chafe at this, but, truth be told, the moniker fits. 

I dote on Linus, hug him, love him, fret over him, take him to get regular haircuts, try vainly to train him but get only a resemblance of obedience (if he's in the mood), wonder at various times why I ever got him, and then miss him like crazy when he's gone off to the kennel.

Yeah, just another one of my kids.

Recently, Linus became quite sick with some sort of stomach bug.  How do I put this delicately?  It involved liquid coming out of both ends of him. Hmmm, that wasn't too delicate.

Liquid poo is not pretty and never delicate, although it IS hard to pick up with my kelly green 100% biodegradable ASTM D6400 standard doggie-poop-bag.

So I took him to the vet. Bada-boom, bada-bing, $307 later, I still have few answers.  However, I do have some expensive new dog food, probiotics, and, hopefully, some medication to soothe the savage stomach beasties.

As I sat there listening to the veterinarian run down various theories about the causes of liquid poo and what tests to run (cha-ching, cha-ching went the cash register in my head), it dawned on me that dealing with Linus' medical issues aren't unlike dealing with Conor's.

After all, despite my son's prolific verbal skills, he still doesn't communicate well so he can't always tell us what's going on. It’s a guessing game, just like the veterinarian was theorizing about what was wrong with Linus.  Linus can't tell us that he ate a 10-day-old piece of buffalo chicken wing off the corner of Roland Avenue and Northern Parkway when I wasn't looking, and sometimes Conor can't tell us exactly what's going on with him either.

Even if Conor answers "Yes" to something as basic as "Does it hurt?" you can't always trust that the answer is correct.

Does your toe hurt, Conor? Yes!
Does your arm hurt, Conor? Yes!
Does your leg hurt, Conor? Yes!
Does your hair hurt, Conor? Yes!
Do you want a million dollars, Conor? Yes! 
(Well, really, who wouldn't, I suppose. Stupid question.)

Point to where it hurts, Conor. Here! (He points at the window.) 

Today my husband took Conor to the pediatrician to try to figure out why he's taking an hour-long nap every day. (Conor, not my husband. Although, I have to say, you can often find Jim snoozing right next to Conor on the couch. He’s so snuggly. Conor, not my husband.) In the evenings, after the naps, we would poke Conor with a hot cattle prod to keep him awake until 9:15pm so he would go to be
d and sleep through the night without a problem.

He'd pop out of bed at 6:20am (of course, always does), then go into our bed and ask to take a nap.

For the kid who used to take medication just to make him sleep, this is extremely odd behavior. Jim and I noticed it during our trip to Florida on Spring Break, but we assumed Conor was over-stimulated from being in a new place and most likely not sleeping well on the pull-out couch in the living room of our hotel suite. (Those things are torture, but I’m not past putting my kids on them. They’re more flexible. The kids, not the couch.)

Well, the only nice thing I have to say about Linus’ liquid poo is that it is convincingly biological. Something concrete is going on. But something vague like Conor’s uncharacteristic sleepiness?

Its been a month and a half now, and I’ve struggled to get a doc to take us seriously. Maybe they secretly believe that we're happy he's napping every day, I don’t know. I totally would be thrilled, if waking him up didn't result in a cranky, irritable, agitated kid out for revenge.

Yeah, wake me up, will you?  This'll show you.

I did my best. I really did.  I waited a good two weeks before I called the pediatrician. (So uncharacteristic of me. Usually I would have freaked out much quicker.) I figured maybe Conor was just exhausted from the change in routine.

Then I broke down and called. At first the pediatrician told us to "Give it a few days, let's wait and see". (Those with children on the spectrum will appreciate the "wait and see" attitude. They must have a class in medical school where they teach you how to say "Wait and See." Is he vomiting, have diarrhea, fever, rash? Then stop bothering me, neurotic mommy, and Let’s wait and see.)

So we waited (some more). And he was good for a couple days. And then he wasn’t again.

So, the next week, at a routinely scheduled appointment, the neurologist suggested we look at medication, consider sleep apnea, and recommended we check his thyroid.

“No, no,” I said. “I don’t think it’s the medication. I track that, and I would have noticed. He would have been sleepy right away, right? Not four weeks later.”

See? I keep a journal. We’ve done this since he was little. It’s one of the only ways to keep track of everything that’s going wrong on with your kid after he regresses.

See? Ok, not great notes, but notes.
You can see that his sleep is erratic during this period.

Then she suggested sleep apnea. “Does he snore a lot?” she queried.

My husband, who had spent Christmas vacation sharing a bed with Conor, assured her emphatically that he did not snore. (Conor, not my husband.)

So there we were. Sitting in our uncomfortable plastic exam room chairs. Waiting. It’s a good thing we didn’t hold our breath, though. She wouldn't give us the forms for a blood draw. We'd have to go to the pediatrician for that.

So now we have to pay ANOTHER doctor bill, take him out of his routine for ANOTHER doctor's visit, and hope that the pediatrician takes us seriously enough to actually investigate infectious reasons for his unusual fatigue.

Now, I'm not hoping my kid has an infectious disease. Quite frankly, I hope he doesn't, although sometimes it's nice to have something you can actually treat. (I suppose the next step would be a sleep apn
ea test. Which is more appealing than messing with his medication, I have to say. Meh.)

Maybe he'll be diagnosed with a beastie that makes him sleepy and then we'd give him a nice round of antibiotics, and then he'd sleep from 9:15pm until 6:20am.  He'd wake up, sail through the day with nary a problem or behavior, high-five his dad, try to grab my neck, eat his sweet potato, and go to bed again with a smile on his face.

Hey, it could happen.

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