Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Great Fall

Today Ian experienced another first that I had been dreading. While at school, Ian went down a ramp on the playground with his wheelchair, caught his front wheel on a wood chip, and flipped forward face-first. Since he's strapped into his wheelchair, it followed and sat on top of him. The school called me and I rushed to the health room to get him. He had a fat lip, road rash on his face, and also a bloody nose that they'd managed to stop by that point. I felt terrible for him, as did all his teachers and therapists that were waiting with him when I got there. The lady in the health room gave me the accident report and recommended I call Ian's pediatrician to see if she'd like to see him because he suffered a head injury.

The aftermath

Once home, I called the pediatrician's office and spoke with the nurse. I told her what had happened to Ian, and at first she didn't seem too concerned by it. Just your typical playground fall. Then she pulled him up in the computer system and saw he had spina bifida and a VP shunt in his brain. Then everything was different. "Take him to the emergency room at Children's Hospital" she said.

Cut to: me and Ian sitting in the emergency room waiting area at the children's hospital where he goes to spina bifida clinic. Justin and Lydia are attempting to park the car. Ian is in okay spirits, watching TV and the other waiting area children. An hour and a half later, we see a doctor. She asks questions while checking Ian over, and determines he has no broken bones in his face, no debris in his scrapes, and isn't having symptoms consistent with a concussion. She gives me some salve to apply to his face, I sign some papers, and we're back out on the street.

By the time we get home, Ian is exhausted. We eat dinner, let him watch 20 minutes of the movie "Cars" (his current favorite), and put him to bed. Part of me wishes I hadn't taken him to the ER because he probably didn't really need to go. The other part of me is glad we went and had his shunt checked, just in case. As for Ian, he'll be better with some rest and plenty of Neosporin. It's going to be fun telling people he was in a bar fight for the next week.

Monday, May 21, 2012

D-Day (Dentist Day)

Today the kids and I survived something I'd been dreading for weeks and avoiding for years. That's right, they each had their first dentist visits today. *scream*

Since Lydia is under 18 months she only had a quick little exam in which they counted her teeth (she has seven), and brushed them quickly while she screamed. It wasn't that bad, but she was stuck to me like Velcro afterward (what else is new?).

Ian, on the other hand, was way overdue for a first dental exam. His pediatrician had asked me to schedule him for a dental exam before his two year well visit. That was two years ago. Though she continued to ask me about Ian going to the dentist, she didn't really make me feel bad about not taking him, so I just kept avoiding it. Like a lot of kids, I'm sure, Ian hates having his teeth brushed. Once we've muscled the toothbrush into his mouth, it's a fight to keep it in there. Most of the time it ends with Ian gagging, and occasionally throwing up, because of his very sensitive gag reflex. The thought of letting a stranger poke around in his mouth and try to brush his teeth with that spiny toothbrush-thing while he's choking and gagging was enough to make me "forget" to schedule the appointment for the last two years.

My other hang-up (and I don't know if this is my being selfish for me or for Ian, but it's probably both) was that Ian already has so many appointments and doctor visits that it was hard to bear adding another one. It seems like every week I am dragging him to a doctor visit, a testing appointment, a brace adjustment, an orthotic fitting, or a specialist consult. And that's on top of his schooling and out-patient therapy appointments. He has to endure a lot of things he doesn't want to do at these appointments, so to add one more to the docket just seemed cruel, to him and to me.

It had to be done though. We went to the dentist today, armed with noise-reduction headphones, his blankie, and an extra shirt in case of throw-up. We needed none of them. Ian was allowed to sit on my lap and the hygienist cleaned his teeth with minimal guff from him. She was very nice and patient with him (and me!), and tried to put him at ease before she did something. At the end he happily accepted a prize from the treat bucket (a little orange dinosaur which Lydia now loves and will not part with) and had his picture taken with the dentist. Only six more blissful months until we go back and do it again.

Ian's fourth birthday, as well as his four year well visit, is fast approaching. This year, instead of looking at the floor and mumbling when the pediatrician brings up the dentist, I can proudly say Ian went, didn't throw up, and didn't bite any one's finger off. That's the measure of a successful dentist visit, right?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teacher Appreciation

I've heard conflicting reports as to whether this whole week is Teacher Appreciation Week or if today is Teacher Appreciation Day, but either way our family has a lot to be thankful for. I sent cards along with Ian to school today...seven of them. He has a main classroom teacher, two aides in his classroom, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and an adaptive physical education teacher, all of whom needed to be thanked for the diligent and outstanding work they do with Ian each week. I'm in awe of the progress he's made over this past school year, and a large part of the credit goes to his teachers and therapists. They all possess the drive, patience, and humor that it takes to work with Ian day in and day out. As he grows I hope I will always be able to say that his teachers are as excellent as the ones he has this year.

Outside of school there are also three other important people who are helping Ian and our family. He receives outpatient therapy from physical, occupational, and speech therapists on a weekly basis in the afternoons. These three therapists have been working with Ian since he was two, and I'm so glad they are a part of our lives. Not only do they work well with Ian, but they answer my questions, give me advice, and come with me to testify at the appeal hearings when their therapy sessions with Ian get cut. Unlike Ian's school therapy, I sit in on all the outpatient sessions, so this time is really invaluable for me to learn exercises and techniques for home use. Though they aren't technically teachers, they sure do teach Ian (and me!) a whole lot, so they need to be appreciated too.

I also genuinely want to thank others in our lives that are teachers. My mother-in-law has been an elementary school teacher for over 20 years, and is always finding things from her personal teacher stash to pass on to me for Ian. She's interested in how Ian is doing in school and what kinds of new things he's learning. One of my best friends, whom I've known since kindergarten, is just starting out in the world of teaching but she's doing a great job. She's always willing to help me out with Ian, and also listens to me gripe when problems arise. I always tell people she's the kind of teacher you want your kid to have. Another family friend is an elementary school teacher and has been in my life since I was born. One summer I remember going with her to set up her classroom, and that experience made me consider becoming a teacher myself. Even our neighbor across the street is a special education teacher in our district, and I'm so thankful for the advice she gives me about Ian's schooling.

I'm so grateful for all the teachers in my life, and those that are now in Ian's life. Too often, teachers are under appreciated for the excellent, and sometimes difficult, work they do with our children. It is very important work, and not work that should be taken lightly. Having a child with special needs has made me all the more thankful for their help, knowledge, and guidance, which I value so much!

Thank you to all the teachers, aides, therapists, and daycare workers out there!