Poop

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“Here is a phenergan suppository for your nausea. If you puke that up, we have a serious problem…”

It always gets a laugh, even out of the sickest patients.

But the vomiting of poop… it does happen.

Cue the pager.

(Beep, beep, beep!!!!)

It was late at night. Of course. I was still groggy from sleep.

“Yeah, doc. I have an admit for you. She is 27. Nausea and vomiting for two weeks. Dehydrated.” Then a pause for dramatic effect. “And I’ll be damned if she isn’t vomiting stool.”

I sigh. Can’t turn away someone puking poop.

I check my hair and make sure mascara has not melded with drool and smeared across my face, then head to the ER.

Sure enough, the poor woman is hunkered over an emesis basin and bilious vomit mixed with poop is pouring from her mouth.

I get her a wet towel to wipe her face and put a nasogastric tube down to her stomach. Then I write admit orders, complete with three or four nausea meds and IV fluids, then head back to the call room feeling satisfied with myself that I have saved the day.

The next morning, she is still puking poop.

The next day she is still puking poop.

And the next day.

And the next day.

For a whole dang week.

We imaged her from head to toe and found nothing. Blood work was all perfect. The GI specialist was scratching his head.

Then one morning, while wearing silent tennis shoes, I burst into her room to find her hunkered over the emesis basin again. This time, however, she was eating the poop.

That’s right. Eating poop.

As it turns out, she would eat her poop and then force herself to vomit when she was sure a healthcare worker was watching.

This sort of thing, yeah… She was suffering, just not in the way we had thought. You are probably grossed out. You are probably writing her off as a looney. Before you do that, though, think about what kind of life stressors you would have to have in order to reach this point.

We ALL have that capability. We do what we think we have to do in order to survive. If faced with having to eat poop or death, I would absolutely eat poop. In a heartbeat. There are probably a lot more things I would rather eat poop to avoid if I sat down and thought about it for a while.

Food for thought, so to speak.

Timeline From Hell

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“Mommy, are there timers in the Enchanted Forest?” Blue eyes looked up at me hopefully.

“No, baby. No timers.”

He smiled.

“Good. I hate timers.”

And there it was. How he really felt.

We made our second annual birthday trip to the Enchanted Forest this weekend to collect presents from the Birthday Fairies. (Confused? Check out this post.)

In the real world, however, he and I battle each morning about getting dressed. He lies on the floor. He stands on his head. He bites his toenails. He plays ninja pirate and terrorizes his sister. He picks his nose and eats his boogers. He picks his nose and wipes it on the wall. He screams, sobs, spits, kicks. Anything and everything to keep from getting dressed.

In desperation, I got a timer. He gets ten minutes to get dressed. If he doesn’t, he loses a toy.

I now have a closet full of toys.

So I had reached the conclusion last week that the timer thing was not working. I was planning one of those “come to Jesus meetings” because I cannot fight him like that and still end up running late for clinic.

Hearing his feelings about the timer, made my heart ache. I remembered my own father going stark raving mad because I showed up 5 minutes late in the parking lot from church. When I say stark raving mad, I mean near apoplectic. I have serious anxiety issues about time now.

I don’t want this for him.

He is just a little guy with a sweet heart and a wandering mind. He is not trying to deliberately ignore me. It just comes naturally to him. He is four. Not forty. I need to stop trying so hard to squeeze a kid into a grown up world. Maybe the world could give just a little?

So yesterday when I woke him up I whispered, “Wanna get dressed without the timer, buddy?” He nodded and smiled with his eyes still closed.

And you know what? He did it. No screaming or yelling. No ninja pirate. No timer.

This morning, same thing.

On the way out the door, he grabbed my hand. “Mommy, it makes me feel good when you brag on me.”

A reminder to not focus merely on the negative. Praise can be a powerful motivator, even more than punishment. I am not perfect. Neither is he.

And that is just fine.

IKEA: Relationship Stress Test

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I don’t usually post twice in the same evening, but another post “I Can English” by amommasview got me reminiscing about this particular IKEA trip a few months ago. Check out her event “IKEA Sundays”!

Instead of marriage counseling, couples should be required to make a shopping trip to Ikea on a holiday weekend with two small children in tow (not necessarily their own) with a list of five furniture items they need to decide on and purchase successfully. If they can survive this without breaking anything or murdering anyone and STILL want to get married, it was a match ordained in heaven.

The union is clearly blessed by God himself. Let no man tear asunder…

Ikea is well known for its “some assembly required” issues, but there is so much more to the experience than just that. Putting it together is actually the easy part.

My kids want to flop down on any upholstered surface they can find. Walk a few steps. Flop. Walk a few steps. Flop. Walk a few more steps. Flop. Lord help me. Time outs stopped working on the first floor.

The toy section is a mine field! At least it is a cheap minefield…

Why on earth are there only two tiny women’s bathrooms in that whole huge, gigantic store?

And why, even though you make a potty break upon arrival, do your kids decide that they have to pee at the one single place that is the farthest from both locations…right when you are about to locate and gather the appropriate boxed items from the warehouse area?

And when you get to the said bathroom, running at breakneck speed before the toddler bladder breaks lose, why does the floor have to be wet with a thin layer of slippery, muddy appearing goo (I really hope that was only mud and not something else) that has clearly accumulated through the whole day thus far and makes walking treacherous? Why does the low, kid friendly sink have to not function and the others have a full 18 inches of countertop in front before reaching the bowl… soaked… with no paper towels in sight because instead they only have the loud air blade hand dryers that terrify small children?

After promising the kids we would take home Swedish meatballs, why did the register in the food section have to be closed? “Take your items to main check out to purchase!” the sign says. Right. Damn you and your tasty meatballs that are worth actually standing in line again for another 20 minutes!

Someone is bound to need to pee again before this is over…

Just when I thought I was home free, there was the discovery that children’s beds actually have the slats sold separately, necessitating another two hour round trip back to IKEA before closing time so a 4 year old boy who had his heart set on his new big boy bed does not get disappointed.

Why do I love IKEA so much? Arrrrrggghhh! I am a tortured soul.

In Honor of Navy Day

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My grandfather enlisted in the Navy at the beginning of World War II.

At the time, he figured that it was inevitable he would get drafted and if he enlisted he could at least pick his branch of service.

He picked the Navy, thinking that he would be farther away from the front lines.

He was newly married, a baby on the way.

He wanted to survive.

The finishing touches went on the house he built for my grandmother the night before he shipped out. He built it himself nail by nail. She and the baby never slept a night in that house, moving in with her mother instead.

Stationed in the Pacific, he quickly realized it was not what he had bargained for:

“The problem was that I could not dig a fox hole in a steel deck…”

So, for everyone who has ever faced fear in the Navy…

Thank you.

Mrs. Scary-Berry

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In high school, back in my day, to graduate on the honors track you had to take two years of a foreign language.

It was “suggested” to me, by my parents, that I should take Spanish.

It would be useful, they said.

However, my mother had minored in Spanish in college and if there was one thing I did not ever want to do, it was to follow in my own mother’s footsteps.

So I signed up for German.

In no time flat, my mother had marched me up the counselor’s office and demanded that my schedule get changed to Spanish. And bonus: my other electives had to be rearranged so now I *got* to take a typing class instead of art.

Anger consumed me.

For two years I seethed. The only B’s I ever made were in Spanish. I wanted to send the message to my parents that I was purposely not trying in that class.

I don’t think they cared, actually.

But I sure did.

So, one day I this week I was cruising through blogs that I follow when a gravatar picture caught my eye on a blog comment (I wish I could remember whose post)…

I know her.

I checked the name.

Sure enough, she was my Spanish teacher from way back when. She was tough and demanding and “scary” and fabulous in her frilly dresses, impeccable hair and nails, and matching mules that slapped her heels when she walked.

And she blogs! I should also mention that she looks exactly the same as she did back then. I don’t. She does. Perfectly coifed hair and all. How’s that for aging gracefully?

Do you know how weird it is to hear/see your Spanish teacher from high school (BEFORE the existence of the internet) say/type the word “blogosphere”? Pretty damn weird, I tell ya.

So.

Mrs. Scarberry, thank you for giving me “B’s” when I didn’t really deserve them. Thank you for still managing to teach me something in spite of myself.

In the end, Spanish was exactly what I needed. So was typing.

I hate to admit that.

There is always a plan bigger than us…

Fallen

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I am your reflection in the water…

Always looking up, always hoping, but forever only existing in that other world where we cannot touch.

Destined to never to stand beside each other.

A leaf falls, the water ripples. You are gone and so am I.

The Fairy Godmother

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As a kid we would make a trip every other year to Chicago to visit my Polish grandmother.

The thing that I loved the most, aside from the buttery sauerkraut pierogis and big bear hugs, was Colleen Moore’s fairy castle at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Every single trip I had to circle that thing over and over again. Sometimes I would just stop and stare, taking in all of the intricate details:

Marble bathrooms with running water. The weeping willow that actually cried and the rock-a-bye-baby crib. Tiny books of fairy tales. Gilded beds.

Envy.

I had this dream that I was really adopted. These other people could not possibly be my family. Someday I would find out that I was really a rich princess and then I would buy this very same dollhouse.

One day I realized that I really wasn’t a princess. My real parents weren’t coming for me.

Ever.

So I decided to make my own dollhouse.

I used cardboard boxes from the local wholesale club, adding on rooms with each trip. I used the plastic from package “windows” to make the glass of windows. Tubing from broken squirt guns made plumbing. Curtains and linens were cut from fabric scraps. I used old tinfoil for mirrors. I constructed furniture from left over cardboard.

Before long I had a mansion that rivaled the fairy tale castle, complete with a pool on the roof.

Fast forward…

My daughter wants a dollhouse.

I can afford to get her a fabulous one, with tiny furniture and a working doorbell. I want so desperately to give her everything her heart desires…

…and yet I also want her to learn to how to make her own dreams come true.

So no dollhouse. For now.

The Enchanted Forest

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As a mom I have discovered that Santa holds sway only between Thanksgiving and New Years.

The Tooth Fairy picks up lost teeth. She doesn’t care if the tooth resided in the mouth of a good kid or a bad kid. The reimbursement is the same according to my son. Apparently the kids at school have told him the going rate is $20. Rich Tooth Fairy.

I hate her.

The Great Pumpkin is a myth, I am told.

God loves us no matter what.

The Easter Bunny is good for a couple of weeks.

My scary face, apparently, is not all that scary.

So what is a mom to do when she needs to blackmail her kids into submission?

Invent a fairy!

My kids are obsessed with their birthdays. It is a topic of conversation year round: planning the party theme, changing the party theme, listing present wishes, discussing cake flavors and wardrobe, etc.

Sooooo… the Birthday Fairy was invented!

The Birthday Fairy brings your single birthday present from the Enchanted Forest. She sees all. She knows all.

And you can bet she does not give presents to bad little boys or girls.

I love, love, love the Birthday Fairy!

Fear of the Unknown

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“Draw a clock face for me. Put the numbers on it and then I will tell you what time to make it.”

But all I can do is try to write the word: C-L-O…. I cannot even remember how to spell it. I give up.

“Can you count backwards from 100 by sevens?”

No. I never was any good at math.

“Well then, try to spell the word WORLD backwards…”

I can’t. I never was any good at spelling.

“I want you to remember three words for me: Ball, pen, chair. Repeat them back.”

What words did you say? I can’t remember.

“Where are we?”

What do you mean? We are here!

“Where is here?”

I laugh. We are just here!

“What town is this?”

I don’t know.

“In what state do you live?”

I don’t know that.

“What country?”

I was never any good at geography.

“What is the date?”

I haven’t the foggiest. I don’t pay attention to that.

“Do you know the year?”

No.

“Do you know what season we are in?”

Stop asking me stupid questions!

“Write me a sentence.”

What kind of sentence?

“Any kind you like.”

I hold the pencil but no words come and the blank page just stares back at me accusingly. Fear is in my throat making it hard to swallow. Tears sting my eyes.

Something is wrong but I don’t know what.

What is happening to me?

There are whispers outside the exam room. I catch snippets: … car keys… no driving… might burn house… oven… never alone…

I want to run. But where? Where am I? Where is home?

What is wrong with me?

Who are you?

The Booger Man

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The man sitting on the exam table rubbed his finger slowly across his nose as he listened to me talking about his cholesterol and 10 year cardiovascular risk.

Why does he keep doing that?

I quickly rubbed my finger across my own nostrils.

Is there a hair sticking out? It has been a while since I last trimmed my nose hair…

He did it again.

Is he trying to tell me something?

I rub again. This time harder.

Oh my gosh! I have a nose booger. One of those dry crusties. I can feel it stuck inside my nose. What if it comes loose?

I try not to breath hard. I don’t want to dislodge it.

Then he rubs his nose again!

I rub my nose.

He touches his gingerly, circling each nostril.

Oh, lord help me! It IS hanging out isn’t it?

I twitch my nose.

He twitches his nose.

He looks hard at me.

“Doc. Is there something hanging out of my nose? You keep rubbing yours. Are you trying to tell me something?”