Friday, June 16, 2017

You Can Call Me Dawn Lazarus: Part II

No. I didn't have another "episode" thank goodness. Let's just get that outta the way right off the bat. I did go to the neurologist though so that I could find out what had me all Dawn Lazarus-y.

He looked at my brain scans and asked me to recount the situation to him. I talked about how long it had lasted and what had happened and he told me I was very brave for not going straight to the emergency room because it sounded exactly like stroke symptoms.

Except that if I had THOUGHT at the time FOR ONE SECOND that I was having a stroke then OBVIOUSLY I would have gone to the emergency room. I had no idea what, on earth, was happening to me. Also, I mean, is it really bravery to sit around waiting to die when someone could help you. No. No it is not. Other than his (obviously sarcastic) quip about my heroics, I liked him just fine.

I'm not sure I mentioned anywhere in my original Dawn Lazarus post that I started getting a migraine in the middle of the whole situation. I did tell the ER doctor about it and, turns out, that was a pretty important mention. It wouldn't have been weird at all for me to leave out that detail because I typically don't talk about my headaches.

I know a few people who have chronic headaches that never go away. So I don't talk about mine--which do go away. But I get headaches several times a month. (I know, I know. The chronic headache people would give a limb to only have a headache a few times a month.) Inexplicably, this began happening immediately after moving to Utah. I would blame it on altitude or lengthening my proximity to the equator or something but, now that I get them, I am not immune to them in California or any other place we go. They also seem to be hormone related. So I have no idea why they started when we got here and whether or not Utah was some sort of trigger. It was CERTAINLY A TRIGGER FOR MY TERRIBLE EYE ALLERGIES SO I WOULDN'T PUT IT PAST HER. Oh Utah, you dry, fickle minx.

At my last annual exam, I mentioned to my doctor that they had gotten worse and more frequent. She did give me a prescription for a headache medication but I never filled it. Excedrin still works--I just have to take more of it now. This working Excedrin phenomenon is, I believe, directly related to the fact that I almost never, ever have caffeine (because it makes me urinate like a racehorse, if you must know and I hate that) so when I shoot caffeine straight to my brain, it kills the headache. Anyway. None of that is important. I could have simply said, "My headaches have gotten worse." But, then you wouldn't have had that beautiful horse imagery. And, now that I think about it, why do we say that? Do racehorses go more than other animals?

I googled it. "Racehorses are commonly given Lasix which is a powerful diuretic. They pee a lot right before they race, we're talking gallons and gallons. The medication is thought to help prevent nasal bleeding, which sometimes happens when racehorses supremely over-exert themselves." So there you have it. I feel sorry for racehorses.

My headaches have gotten worse.

And this was also very pertinent information for the doctor who diagnosed me with a complex migraine or, as it is referred to now, migraine with aura. The aura--which can be anything from seeing strange light to lost vision to the inability to speak--typically lasts less than an hour. The ensuing headache can last up to three days.

On the one hand, I'm pretty glad I'm not dying. Other than a big giant and potentially embarrassing pain in the neck (or, in this case, head), the only lasting effect is that it does slightly elevate one's risk for stroke. On the other hand, this could happen at any time and in any place. It can also begin happening with regularity. GOOD TIMES.

If I get one and my symptoms are the same, I do not need to do anything about it. If something similar happens but my symptoms are not the same, I have to make quick to the emergency room. I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't print up a card that says, "Hello. I am having a neurological episode and cannot speak or read. It's likely a complex migraine. I'll be fine. In the meantime, I need you to call my husband."

Triggers include (but are not limited to): Stress, pressure or altitude change, and hormone levels. Good thing those are easy to avoid, right?

Anyway. I truly am glad that it's nothing more serious. I'm pretty happy that I didn't have a stroke at 35. And I'm blessed to only have several headaches a month. But just a warning: if I seem super disoriented and unable to speak. I probably am. You can just call me Dawn Lazarus.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bon Voyage

Years ago, my parents asked us if we'd be open to having them take our boys on a trip--when they were a little older. Of course, we enthusiastically agreed. They talked about all the different options. We were really up for anything. I mean, we're the parents who took our kids to Israel when they were four and seven so, short of them planning a trip to Afghanistan or Syria or maybe the Gaza Strip, we were fine with it. 

The time has come. At eight and almost eleven, the boys are ready for an adventure with their grandparents. It's a combined birthday present (and, really, it could count as their birthday gift from now until forever) and they've known about it for several months. They've been receiving twice weekly clues to try to figure out where they're going. 

Clues like:
You'll need a passport
There may be an animal in your room from time to time
Many cultures come together
You will have the opportunity to go back in time

And so many more.

Garrett was dead set, most of the time, on it being a cruise. Matthew wasn't quite as invested in the clue situation as Garrett was but was very excited when he found out that there would be a lot of opportunities for eating.

I had told only a limited number of people because I was so worried that the surprise would be ruined. When I told people, most of them made requests for my parents to adopt them as grandchildren. Most of these people are close to my age and I'm not sure my parents are looking for adult grandchildren but I GET IT because this trip is AMAZING.

My parents flew in on Thursday and told the boys on Thursday night where they were going. They're cruising to Honduras and Mexico! (And, yes, their parents are JEALOUS!) Here they all are just before we took them to the airport...

Last night, they stayed in Houston and this morning they went on to Galveston. They've boarded the ship and are waiting to set sail.

They've already found lots of yummy food and have enjoyed one of their favorites...crawfish.

My parents booked the MOST FUN excursions for them. We cannot wait for pictures so we can live vicariously through them. We hope they know how very blessed they are and we hope they're minding every last manner. Bon Voyage, Boys!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Happy Birthday, dear Will

Dear Will,

There's no way I could have known, one year ago, the way you would change me, the happiness you would bring me, the incredible blessing that you would be to me. Twelve months ago, when you came into the world, I didn't even know it. I was watching a softball game and laughing with friends and then, two states away, you were living and breathing and existing.

I didn't know. For two entire days.

But then, when you were two days old, this picture of you came across my phone.

I don't think I used to believe in love at first sight. I loved your brothers the moment I saw them but when I saw them they were tangible and squishy and in my arms. It may well have been love at first snuggle. But you, Will, I loved the second I saw your picture. I loved a photo so intensely that I couldn't stand the thought of being away from you for one more second. I became a powerful believer in love at very first sight.

You were wonderful, precious, delicious--even. I almost couldn't believe that you were mine. I took twenty gazillion pictures of you, knowing that, though the nights were long, you would stay like that for no more than a quick minute.

Summer faded into fall and we tried to figure out how to get you to sleep without being swaddled. It was rough. I thought we might have to send you off to college with a large blanket, some strong Velcro, and solid instructions for your roommate on how to wrap you tightly. We pushed through and, it turns out, you won't even go to preschool still needing to be swaddled. Your pacifier is another story. That thing may be hanging out of your mouth in the third grade.

Seasons are prone to moving quickly. One jumps on top of the other and soon, an entire year has gone. How much quicker they go when raising children. Fall turned to winter and on that first day of the season marked by snow and frigid temperatures, we officially adopted you. It was a beautiful day and my mama heart--the one that always hopes and always believes but is always just a little afraid that something might happen--exhaled a sigh of love and dreams and endless possibilities. 

You. Were. Mine.

The winter turned into "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which, in most places, is called spring. You didn't seem particularly bothered by the cold weather of winter or "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which is weird because you spent your womb-months in Riverside. It is H.O.T. in Riverside. But, you are definitely my kid and a So Cal boy because you will remove your socks and shoes at every opportunity. You want to be barefoot all the time, with your feet in the sand and a non-alcoholic umbrella drink in your hand. (I'm guessing on those last two but, I mean, who doesn't?)

"Little Bit Warmer Winter" has turned into "Hot Summer" even though summer won't officially be here for another two and a half weeks. You've taken to playing in the backyard, swinging in your new swing from Grandpa Jon and Grandma Ginny, splashing in your new water table from Grandpa Gary and Grandma DeDe, climbing on your brother's old helicopter toy, and working on your tan. I assume your olive complexion will turn sun-kissed brown in a matter of days.

You are determined, noisy, strong-willed, feisty, joyful, and smiley. There is so much personality in your teeny tiny body and you are so full of life that I sometimes wonder if you'll just spontaneously burst and send glitter and confetti flying everywhere. Your smile lights up the entire room. Your giggle ripples through us all until there is a symphony of laughter that shakes our world in all the best ways.

You crawl at lightning speed, toddle everywhere, and aim to destroy absolutely everything absolutely all the time. One of us has to redirect you every 2.7 seconds because you will almost positively kill yourself if we give you a five second head start. Outlets, cords, and heavy objects would be your toys of choice if we turned our backs for only a moment. You will, occasionally, play with your actual toys but are much more fascinated by ALL THE THINGS IN THE WHOLE WORLD that are not toys. On her resent visit, your Grandma DeDe commented that everyone should just get you random household items for your birthday. You were thrilled to play with her dental floss for a good ten minutes. I'm thinking of taking your presents back and getting you your own checkbook, a set of Tupperware, several rocks, a ballpoint pen, and disposable baking tins. Because those are, quite literally, your favorite toys.

You eat ALL THE FOOD. Certainly, you have your favorites and bread is not among them. I worry for you in this family. If it's true that you are what you eat, your oldest brother is a walking carbohydrate. While you enjoy taking a few bites of pancakes and toast before throwing chunks on the floor, your favorite foods include blueberries, bananas, vanilla Greek yogurt, carrots, and beans.

You carry around burp cloths like blankies, enjoy throwing--but not reading--books (I will persevere. I will win. You will, ONE DAY, sit in my lap for more than three pages. Annnd, dude. It's not like I'm asking you to sit through three pages of Dostoevsky. We're talking about cardboard books about farm animals and dinosaurs for crying out loud!), find Peek-a-boo to be utterly hilarious, enjoy bath time, love your brothers and your dog and cat and the hamster (who does not love you but, can you really blame her? Her experience with you is limited to a couple of very rough encounters.), and you thoroughly enjoy babbling incomprehensible chatter.

You say, "All done," although it sounds more like, "ahduh!" You say, "Dada," although less so lately. You, apparently, say, "MOM!" but only when I'm not around to hear it. And that is about it. It's fine. If I had a child who attempted to speak before he was twenty months old, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Eh. Einstein didn't talk until he was four and it turned out alright for him.

They say that in parenting, the days are long but the years are short. I don't even know if the days seem so long to me anymore. I've got your big brothers as proof that the world just keeps spinning faster and faster with each phase of the moon. But it does seem impossible that almost a year has gone by since I first saw your face on my phone, since I first stepped up to your bassinet in the hospital and laid eyes on you, since I first lifted your tiny body up into my arms and snuggled you in to the place right next to my heart, where my love for you had grown for all those many months.

Happy Birthday, Will. It's been an amazing year.


The way that God designed things, a rainbow often appears after a storm, giving hope of better things to come. That is why a baby born after the loss of a child is called a Rainbow Baby. The literal definition of a rainbow is an arc of prismatic colors appearing in the heavens opposite the sun and caused by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in drops of rain.

Will, you are prismatic colors--vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, blues, and violets. You are the reflection of sunshine. You are all I waited for and so much more. Everything about you is warmth and wonder, crisp and clean. You are the way the world looks after it has poured down rain, after a storm has wreaked havoc, after the sun has come back out again and made everything new.

"There may be storms that rip up your world, but heaven can come down and brush a rainbow across all that pain like a sacrifice--and make you believe the promise of justice and wholeness to come." -Ann Voskamp

You are the rainbow that Heaven brushed across my life. Happy Birthday, dear Will. Happy Birthday to you.