Friday, July 26, 2013

Hive Mind

Sometimes it's no fun to feel like you have to hold everything together; that you can't allow yourself a break-down. Because you have decided that everyone else around you is too busy, and you can just take care of it--all of it--yourself, and don't be a bother, and you're strong. Because all it takes is one time for someone to tell you that they "need your support" or "can't deal with someone else's insecurities right now," and you shut down. But you sometimes feel like you are built around a core of tears, and you've sunk that core so deep that you don't think you will ever get it out. Plus, asking for help is a weakness, not to mention that it allows others to control you on some level.

Anyone else ever feel like that? No?


Back in early May, we noticed red spots on FJ's arm. They looked like hives, but having never seen one in real life, I wasn't sure. They seemed to respond to topical Benadryl, but they also could have faded on their own overnight.

They kept coming back. They didn't seem to be related to anything in his environment, and we had not introduced any new foods, activities, or products. The first thought is, of course, allergies, and allergies piss me off. I asked his pediatrician about it at his 5-year appointment, and she said that some kids can get hives from being jostled or bumped. The bump causes mast cells to release histamine, and hives form. He's pretty active, so this seemed plausible. Like Ross Geller, I bruise like a peach.*

Finally last week, I decided to take him back to the doctor. The spots had become chronic and didn't seem to be responding to the Benadryl as well, if they ever were. I was floating uneasily on a sea of unspoken misgivings: we had been too lucky with his health, and now he had some kind of underlying auto-immune condition.

Turns out, this condition is relatively common, though it can be auto-immune. Or TB. Or hepatitis. (Sea of Misgivings sloshing.) It's called chronic urticaria, and our pediatrician does not like it because we really don't know what causes it. 99% of the time, there's nothing. It could have been a virus that sets off a of histamine loop, and after the virus goes away, the histamine loop can continue for awhile (She has one kid who has been going through this for 6-8 months). She does think FJ's spots are "weird" (thanks, kid), and it's odd that they don't itch. Being cautious and covering all the bases, she ordered a blood test.

At FJ's 5-year appointment, he had two shots covering 7 diseases: Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis, Measles, Rubella, and Chicken Pox. It was quite upsetting for him; he screamed and cried. A kid doesn't care that this is going to be quick and it will keep him healthy. Heck, all you have to do is look at the front page of the paper to see how good even grown-ups are at long-term and cause/effect thinking.

On our way to the clinic, he asked if he had to get a shot, and I said, "No, but you might have to have a blood test." He was scared. He kept whispering in my ear to ask the nurse and ask the doctor about it.  How about now? Now? NOW? When he heard that he was having one for sure, he started crying, and he cried pretty much the whole way up to the lab and then while we were waiting. (Skies darkening, sea of misgivings churning.) He then asked me to make up a funny story about a raccoon, which I did (raccoon lives in an apartment building with a bunch of squirrels who think he has stolen their nuts), and he listened to that until they called his name.
And he started crying again. (I don't like the sea. I'm not crazy about boats, you know. I'd rather be in the water. It's a control thing.)

Once we decided which arm to use (both arms looked good), a second tech had to come in and help pry that arm from my chest. He's quite strong, and he was wailing and sobbing. I felt so bad for him. It's one of the many times that we can't help our kids. This thing has to happen, there's nothing I can do about it. So you take in all their stress and fear along with your own stress and fear; there was a pressure around my heart. Constriction.

He wailed, "Is this going to hurt?" and they said not as much as a shot, and had me affirm that this is true (I do happen to agree. Shots are worse). He was still crying right through the poke, and they said, "That's it, now we just get the blood." As blood flowed from his little arm into the first of many vials, a bright red worm, he stopped crying and started charming. Telling stories, talking about the dead squirrel in the back yard, the raccoon in the apartment building... He finished with all three lab techs listening to him as he held court and left with a Kit Kat Bar.

We went to the beach.

The blood tests are numerous, and so far all have come back (mostly) normal or negative, with a few variations that a certain nurse I know thinks are probably not a problem. I have not heard from the doctor yet, but she may be waiting for the last test to come in. Oh, and also the poop.

Did I mention the poop?

I get to bring in poop. Three samples total. One every other day. I have little vials with a fixative and spoons built into the lid and a pot for him to poop in. He's not looking forward to this either, and I suspect he might be holding out on me as I have yet to get a sample. The one time he pooped, we were in a huge hurry, and I could not set up the whole system.

In the evening, we went to a music/movie festival at which daddywhumpus' band was playing. It's kid-friendly and really fun, and I had no chance to wind down, breathe, stop the uneasy sea from roiling. When Pete was done playing, I stepped into the pub for a glass of wine. Then, while texting my mother about the appointment on the way home, I started crying. By the time we were getting ready for bed, I was barely holding it together. Then Pete said, "Why are you having a break down?" and I snapped it all back into control as best as I could and left the bathroom.

Sometimes it's no fun to feel like you have to hold everything together.

*I recently played "Friends" trivia with two girlfriends, and I really thought that this game would know nothing I did not. Actually, I simultaneously feared this and was proud of it, you know, like when you say something you do is nerdy and you are such a geek, but you really think it's cool? In any case, one question asked about Ross's middle name, and we could not guess it. The game (and Wikipedia) says it's "Eustace," and I call bullshit. Someone, help me out here. Which episode revealed that?