If you read the previous post, you’re bound to be wondering about Silas. He’s doing well and was released with the diagnosis of bronchiolitis, which is usually only found in kids between 6 months and 2 years (people 2 and older are immune, according to his doctors). In children that age, it’s not a big deal. In wee ones, it’s very serious business.
But it wasn’t sepsis or meningitis, so he’ll be fine and isn’t contagious anymore, though his cough and nasal congestion could linger for months. And he may be left with asthma, which runs strong in our family anyway. But you can see from his picture today that he looks pretty perky.
But this post is really a photo essay about his extremely perky soon-to-be-2-year-old sister, the wild thing of the family. She’s had some challenges lately that have made her a little wilder than usual, like Mama disappearing six weeks ago and coming back with competition in her arms – though Sylvia loves “Baby Siley” to pieces now.
Then Saturday night when Jude and Syl were asleep, Mom disappeared again – and so did their beloved baby. Jude, being a wise 6, understood what was going on and worried about his baby brother. He knew Mom would return, but he knew Silas was very sick. By the time Mom and baby got back Tuesday afternoon, Sylvia, who’s too young to understand, was pretty on edge.
Liz had her childbirth follow-up appointment today, so Sylvia came over to stay with the doggles and me – and “POP!,” when he got back from an appointment.
After eating some lunch, she was on the move the entire time.
Sylvia is very bright and very polite, but she is fearless, possibly dangerously so. And very tall and speedy. She spent quite a while running in the backyard with our huge dogs, making me gasp more than once over close encounters with a thundering Zuzu – though it was Sylvia who cautioned me – “Be careful, Yah-yee” – as I cleaned up dog poopage so she could do that running.
She checked out our garden and clapped with delight when Pop threw a ball for Tess to catch. She went up and down the back steps repeatedly and called for Matthew next door, who couldn’t hear her because he was in the house.
She did slow down to read Pop a book. He tried to read to her, but she wanted to do it. It was a book of colors, and she did a pretty good job.
When it was time to leave and I was holding her hand to walk her to her mom’s minivan, she used her other hand to gesture to the dogs.
“Tess, Zuzu. Come on,” she commanded around her pacifier. They came and walked her to the car.
She’s the middle child of two brothers. But I suspect she’ll rule the roost.
Just a quick catch-up note tonight, but let me start by saying that though I’ve been very worried about my baby the past couple of days, this story has an optimistic ending.
Here’s how it started:
Saturday, John’s sister, Kitty (who’s here visiting from Yakima) and I had a lovely afternoon wandering in and out of shops on Kavanaugh, followed by a lovely dinner at Brave New Restaurant with my sister and brother-in-law, Cathy and Paul, followed by a nice time at Julia and Rich’s in honor of Katie’s graduation from Hendrix (she’s a fellow English major).
Then things changed drastically.
Though little Silas has been under the weather recently, his pediatrician had assured Liz a couple of weeks ago that it was “just allergies,” so the message from Liz was a heart-stopping shock: Her mother’s intuition kicked in that night and, though he didn’t feel particularly hot she’d taken his temperature then called the medical exchange at 9:30 Saturday night. The nurse she talked to could hear Silas breathing in Liz’s arms and told her to get him to the ER immediately. I called her back about 10, the second I got the message.
Since Brent was out of town with his band, John flew over to stay with Jude and Sylvia, and Liz picked me up; we were at Arkansas Children’s Hospital ER by 10:30.
We left Kitty here with the dogs to fend for herself, though John returned in the middle of the night when Brent got home.
Liz and I spent the night in the ER watching Silas, who had a significant fever for a 6-week-old , struggle to breathe and get stuck four times as nurses tried to get an IV started in his tiny veins. I cried like a baby over the first attempt, but Liz was steely.
She only faltered a sec when the doc said Silas might be septic and would probably need a lumbar punch (spinal tap) in addition to blood and urine cultures and a lung x-ray. Whatever it was was serious, and he was admitted for treatment and observation pretty early after arrival, though we didn’t get in a room until 7 a.m.
The poor limp, tiny boy went down for a chest x-ray – Liz got to go with him for that – which showed streaks in his lungs, which in turn demanded the lumbar punch. Fortunately, the early tests from that procedure, called Gram stains, showed no organisms in the fluid, which tentatively rules out sepsis and meningitis, though the cultures have to grow for five days to be 100 percent sure.
The docs are calling it probably an early viral pneumonia or bronchiolitis. I’m calling it the most scared I’ve ever been in my life.
I’m so proud of my daughter. She is a rock. And little Silas is a tough baby boy. He’s so much better after fluids and antibiotics – today he was smiling and cooing, even with his tiny IV to annoy him. If all goes well, he’ll go home sometime tomorrow.
But my life will never be the same. I’ve known for many years how quickly life can turn upside down, truly I have. But I’ve never known it to this dimension. Or in such tiny dimensions. Or with so much pain and force. My heart is in my grandchildren’s little hands.
Kiss your babies and hold them tight, no matter how old or big they are. Some people no longer have that privilege.
And now I’ll try to sleep. My babies are having a better night.
So this is just a quick post mostly about more changes in the ongoing project that we call home. Living in a construction project is not for the faint of heart, and if you think we’re crazy, well, you’re not the only one.
But we love it (most of the time).
Speaking of love, Mother and I went this week to watch our oldest grandchild/great-grandchild, Jude, who has recently changed from a little kid to a tall, lanky 6-year-old, as he ran 35 little laps for his school’s Boosterthon. He did great and had a ball. We’re so proud of him in general and especially for how well he’s adapted to having two little siblings after years of being an only child and the only grandchild.
Baby brother Silas, at just over a month, is growing like a weed and changing every day.
OK, back to life in the big house. John’s latest furniture project, a chair, has change from this:
It’s just my size.
But the real flurry of activity has come upstairs – in the past couple of weeks, we’ve had one crew in hanging, floating and texturizing sheetrock and another painting. It’s been noisy and dusty and nuts, but the results are amazing. Things are a long way from through, but they’re much closer than they were.
Take a gander.
I also want to mention one last thing that has nothing to do with changes in our house, but I keep thinking about it. Last Saturday, Julia and I rescued a fledgling robin from the middle of Markham by UAMS. He was hunkered down and scared stiff by the cars whizzing by, so it was easy for me to grab him.
The little guy (or girl), who spent the night in a box in our dining room, wouldn’t eat for us, so we knew we’d have to turn him loose soon. I tried baby bird food in a syringe, and John dug him up worms and fished potato bugs out of our compost bin, but little birdy wasn’t having any of it.
After worrying about him all night, I decided to put him in our fenced-off garden to protect him from our dogs and all the cats who live around here.
He had very different ideas, though, and immediately hopped through the fence and into the alley, alternating low-flying with hopping. Before I could even yell, “Watch out for cats,” a male cardinal swooped down from our neighbor’s privacy fence to assist the little guy. Pretty darn precious. I lost sight of them as they headed down the alley together.
Don’t know what became of baby bird, but we tried our best. He seemed to be a survivor. And that caring cardinal is a champ.
2 comments May 11, 2013
Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck when you’re feeling overloaded. For me, much overload is self-inflicted, like the piles of books and magazines I need (and want) to read, the sewing to be done, the garden to plant, the blog posts to write. You get the picture.
And because, Ayurvedically speaking, I’m a vata/pitta, heavy on the vata, when I get stuck I tend to spin in circles, metaphorically and sometimes physically, when I really need to do what it takes to break on through to the other side and get back to the business – or pleasure – at hand.
For me, that entails either listening to loud, good music or exercise. Sometimes both, as in just turning up the tunes and kitchen-dancing.
I’ve felt particularly stuck lately, with the shoulders and the sore shin and the growing piles of stuff in my house, not to mention the construction going on upstairs and all the work I need to get done.
John called me a “whirling dervish” the other night, which stopped me in my tracks for a discussion along the lines of, “Yes, Sufism is a type of Islam,” (me) and, “No, I think it’s something else,” (John). That entailed a Google search to prove that it is indeed the mystical branch of Islam, and oh, by the way remember that poem by Rumi that I sent you when we first met? (That would be me to John.)
Ohmygosh, I love that poem.
The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somehwere. They’re in each other all along. – Jalal ad-Din Rumi
Now, where was I?
Oh, yes, the point of this post is that exercise can be the best possible way to break on through. Just let everything else wait and get some endorphins flowing. Even if you think you don’t like exercise, I’ll bet you will eventually.
I’ve continued to do my three-times-a-week baby weights and walking as much as possible, though pollen has driven me to the treadmill (hence the shin thing, I think). But I’ve been slacking on the other days, except for hula hoop breaks, which are good exercise and great for my sanity.
This morning, though, enough was enough. I got my rear in the living room to do a workout DVD, and instead of going with one of my standard faves, popped in a new one, Ivy Ingram Larson’s Full Fitness Fusion.
Whoa. Fun, fun, and fun. A bit Lotte Berke, a bit Pilates, a bit weights, some calisthenics and a tad yoga. Effective and quick. I highly dig it.
(In a previous incarnation, I was a health and fitness columnist. Review copies still come on occasion, which is how I came by this one – and I’m glad I finally got it off the stack.)
Granted, I’m 20+ years older than Larson and her girlfriends in the video, and, granted, I had to adapt for rotator cuff and other issues. I didn’t use weights, since yesterday was a weight day, either. I’ll probably give this one to my daughter, since she’s more Larson’s age range, but this is a great workout for anyone.
Just remember to adapt. I can’t do reverse plank at all, for example, so I did boat pose instead. Probably shouldn’t have done the modified pushups, my right shoulder is saying. But sometimes I can’t help myself.
Larson, who’s married to a surgeon, has MS, which she seems to be controlling nicely with diet and exercise. She and her husband have a very cool and helpful website, cleancuisineandmore.com, which I encourage you to visit for general health tips and more.
And if you’re looking for a fun, quick workout, try this one. I’m smiling. And not whirling for now.
By the number of hits this humble blog has gotten on the post about my stepfather’s death from a bowel obstruction, I need to come back to the topic. I will, and I’ll also write about my own lifelong battle with, ultimate major surgery for and continuing problems with my own gastrointestinal system.
It’s laid me low again since Sunday night, which annoys the hell out of me and scares the people who love me.
And regular readers know that Daddy died from colon cancer – it’s rampant in our family and it’s still killing way too many people each year.
But right now, I haven’t got time for the pain. Things were scary for a while but are considerably better now (except for my damned right shoulder, which flared up again a minute ago because I forgot and cleaned a spot on the rug). So I don’t want to go there tonight. Positive vibes and all.
But I’ll come back to it. I don’t mind sharing ugly/embarrassing details if it can help anyone else.
Maybe you’ve figured that out.
Today, though, I’d rather talk about happier things. Like getting my new bicycle last Friday evening.
Like keeping Annabelle and Luke overnight last Saturday.
Like seeing the fabulous actors/director panel discussion on the Rep’s presentation of “Death of a Salesman” with Mother at the Clinton School of Public Service yesterday then taking her shopping for a new mattress.
Like seeing Nancy Pelosi today (again, courtesy of the Clinton School) in a packed and polite house under Robinson Auditorium with my friend-since-we-were-teens Anita.
Like enjoying the coo-ey preciousness of little Silas and that my daughter has joined the moms-in-minivans brigade.
Like the fact that my semi-tame, huge hummingbird is already back, even though he’s way too early and had to fuss at my window because I didn’t have his food out Saturday. Poor little guy. He’s going to be cold tomorrow night. John and I discussed trying to lure him into the house but haven’t figured out how.
He’s out there right now feeding away as I type. I love that little guy.
Oh, and like spending $84 at Dillard’s for the following: one dress, originally $108; one pair of super-skinny red jeans, originally $88; a leopard print top, originally $29; two sleeveless tunic-length tops (one with a scarf!), one originally $48 and one $34.
There and back in about an hour. Nothing like finding uber-bargains (that actually fit) to cheer up a woman who hates shopping.
And now my aching shoulder decrees that I stop. It doesn’t understand that I don’t have time for the pain. Getting old is for the birds. Except I get five grandchildren for my aches and efforts!
Add a comment May 2, 2013
Tags: bowel obstruction, chronic gastrointestinal problems, colon cancer, Death of a Salesman, Robinson Auditorium, rotator cuff, Spokes bicycle shop, the Clinton School of Public Service, the Rep
April 27 is Neighborday, a very nice construct being promoted by the folks over at Good.Is. The point is to get out and meet some neighbors, something I plan to do this afternoon, with grandbabies in tow.
We’ve hit the neighbors jackpot already, with one of my best friends (Julia) within walking distance, Bob and Theresa across the street, Alyssa and Matthew next door – too many to name, which is very cool in 2013.
But Neighborday harkens me back to the days of twisting by the pool in Indian Hills, when you didn’t have to force neighborliness at all.
For two of those idyllic years in the late ’60s-early ’70s, Daddy (who died 31 years ago this past Thursday) was president of the Indian Hills Community Club, which meant – in addition to me having to work at the pool for free (but I loved it) – teen dances and adult parties at the pool. He and Mother always loved a good party.
We literally danced on the diving boards and felt ever so cosmopolitan – like something out of a beach party movie. When we girls were lucky, the lifeguards asked us to slow dance.We also spied on the adults and saw them twisting by the pool, too.
What fun days. I don’t have any photographic evidence here, but if I find some at Mother’s some day, I’ll add it.
But just hanging out on Blackhawk was fun, too, and I do have photo proof of that. Every day kids would meet in the street and come up with some kind of fun. It happened organically, no planning required.
Neighborliness just was. When new neighbors moved in, you went over to meet them. Even if you didn’t really like someone, you were friends by proximity and you accepted each other.
You rode your bike all over the place and got to know people several streets over. You met kids who went to Catholic schools at the pool. Neighborliness was easy.
While many factors have played into the demise of the neighborliness of the good old days, I blame much of it on the disappearance of front porches and the privacy fences surrounding back yards. You’ll notice in these pics that we’re in the street or front yard or driveway. We had huge, huge backyards that we hardly touched.
Recently Cathy and I discussed that we need to meet Mother’s neighbors. She and Bill moved there in July 2002, and we don’t know a single person to call should we need someone to check on her since she’s 20 minutes away.
The street has tidy lawns, no porches and privacy fences.
See what I mean?
Anyway, it won’t be on Neighborday, but I am going to do something old-fashioned, like bake some cookies or bread and take it to her neighbors on each side and ask for their phone numbers for emergency use.
And you know what? I’ll bet they like it.
Happy Neighborday to the Indian Hills crew. Still love you guys.
Though this is really just a taste of things to come, we’ve had some major changes in the past week or so.
On the happy side:
Since his arrival April 8, little Silas has changed almost daily, as newborns are wont to do, but he still looks more like our side of the family than his siblings, who are little spitting images of their dad and G-Mom.
Sylvia has changed from being a toddler whose world was turned upside down to a gracious hostess and concerned big sister. (She still won’t give up her pacifier, but that will come.)
On the sad side:
John’s little mother’s condition has changed a bit for the worse as she’s slipped further into confusion.
On the wistful side:
My grad school status changed from “out on family medical leave” to “withdrawn in good standing.” We’ll see what the future holds, but now is not the time. That much is obvious.
My scooter changed ownership, from me to our good friend Dave, who plans to paint it red and hot-rod it up. (I never rode it to school – my children strongly vetoed that – Ben was of the mind that someone would snatch me off it at a stoplight and Liz just flat said, “No way.” Pam offered to pay me not to ride it. And John and I haven’t had time to pleasure ride in a long time, so it’s just as well.)
On the exciting side:
Our dining room has changed for the better, since John brought home the insanely beautiful liquor cabinet he made for us in his furniture design class at UALR.
I exchanged my scooter for a newly ordered bicycle, which should be here soon. I’ll still have two-wheel transportation, just Lolly-powered. (Hope I love my Electra as much as I loved my Schwinn. And that it is as easy as riding a bike to get back to.)
And things are changing like mad on the remodeling/reconstruction front, most recently in the form of a new red roof – and mega sheetrock delivery from River City Materials, a company that can do amazing things with a crane and crew, like getting 12-foot sheets of Sheetrock through a second story window.
More to come. Much more.
Back in 2006, my rotator cuffs, which I’d been nursing along damaged for years, became critical, resulting in two surgeries – the left, which was by far the most painfully urgent, in March and the right in December.
Jude, all whopping 8+ pounds of him, was born between the two surgeries, on June 28. Liz was constantly flitting about trying to protect me from myself as I held that precious boy.
Lately they’re not doing so well, much to my frustration. They hurt, the right one to the point that I’ve had to pull out my sling, and almost to the point that they feel in need of further repair – though my intrepid and talented surgeon, Larry Nguyen, told me there really wasn’t enough healthy cuff left for more surgery. I was quite a mess, he said, with one shoulder having multiple tears and the other a large hole.
Dr. Nguyen was pretty amazed that I have full range of motion, something he told me not to count on – including a somewhat pitiful reverse namasté. But I never lost range of motion, so I was atypical in that.
I’m not happy about this one bit. I’ve got babies to hold, projects to finish and about the filthiest house you can imagine. (We live in a construction project, remember?) Repetitive motion is the worst thing (dusting, mopping, painting, etc.), and what set them off this week was cleaning three door shelves in our refrigerator. Go figure.
OK, and large grand babies. But holding them is non-negotiable. Housework –meh.
What started the problem was extreme weight lifting in my 30s and early 40s followed by over-exuberant yoga in my later 40s. Since I had such little shoulders – my bones are pretty petite – they were my favorite body part to work in the gym, and, boy, did they respond. In very layman’s terms, the muscles got too large for the space allotted, so they became impinged.
That alone hurts like hell. Over time, bone spurs from arthritis started to rub on the impinged/pinched areas and caused some tearing. I’d do PT until they felt better and get a cortisone shot here and there, but I’d be damned if I was going to have surgery. Nope, not me.
They were so bad in 2003 that I had emergency steroid shots to get me through the Yoga Journal Conference I was lucky enough to get to cover for the DemGaz when I was a health and fitness columnist. Then I rested them for a bit and went right back to workout status quo.
But what finished them off – and made surgery unavoidable – happened after a returned to teaching. In my journalism classroom at Central High School in late January 2006, one of my students (a girl about my size) had a grand mal seizure, and after holding her desk still, then catching her to lower her to the ground – she’s was unconscious and dead weight – all I could think about was her condition. I’d been living with shoulder pain for years and didn’t give the twinges a thought.
Until a few nights later, when I got in bed, that is. The pain in my shoulders was so intense that it nauseated me and made my body shake. I had to get up and sleep as best I could sitting up on the window seat. Pain meds and sleeping pills got me through a few weeks so I could postpone surgery to coincide with spring break in March.
Newspaper or yearbook sponsors don’t miss work. I returned with my arm in a sling and took a group of kids to a conference in San Francisco in April – in my sling. The kids loved it when the metal rings made the airport detector go off and I had to get wanded. I remember them laughing, and I think they took pictures.
The second surgery was just before Christmas break, and I returned from that with a sling, too.
Not too long after healing, maybe a year, I started back to the gym with John and, well, I shouldn’t have. Dr. Nguyen told me after I went shamefacedly to see him that I was banned from gyms for life because I can’t be trusted not to overdo. So all these years, I’ve made do with my baby weights and high reps. (Don’t scold – I’m actually supposed to do that for therapy.)
Except right now, I can’t. I’m recuperating from cleaning my fridge.
At least I’m still fairly ambidextrous – and typing doesn’t hurt as much today, so maybe I’m on the mend.
What’s extremely frustrating about my shoulders going out now (in addition to being useless and in pain) is that I’d just started to get my mojo back after losing it since Bill died and Mother turned from the cutest young mom on the block to a little old lady. She’s starting to bounce back a bit but things will never be the same.
Broken hearts take a toll.
I didn’t realize how undone I’d come until I started pulling back together a bit. I hide things well, but I’m still fighting anger over how Bill was allowed to suffer. Part of my shoulder issue may be from carrying that psychic weight, so I’m working on being more aware, as well as being more careful physically.
But, again, I have grand babies to hold – and German shepherds to walk and weights to lift and rooms to paint and very little patience for healing.
I’ll try to be good. But no promises.
For his birthday today, my baby got some blue suede shoes – saddle oxfords – along with a more standard pair (he picked them out when I took him shopping) and a woodworking tool-thing he wanted.
I really like the whimsy of the blue suede shoes, and the fact that they’re very much ones that Daddy would have worn and of which dearly departed Bill would have said, “Boy, aren’t those snazzy?!”
That’s my guy. Hip, but retro and snazzy. Love him madly. He’s the cutest, spryest 62-year-old you’d ever meet and people never believe his age.
Wonderful grandfather, understanding dad (no need to add step – they’re all our kids), loving son, son-in-law, brother and brother-in-law. That’s John.
He was also his big sister’s 3rd birthday present – he was born on her birthday, by induction, as the best present or the biggest trick a little girl could get. You’ll have to ask Kitty which version is correct, but she’s pretty crazy about John and he her, so I’m guessing the former.
So this is Kitty’s happy birthday, too. And their younger cousin JoAnne. And John’s lifelong friend from back home, Paul Busoli. And our Little Rock friends Mike and Mike.
Plus Loretta Lynn (whom, oddly, one of Willie Nelson’s roadies told me I look like when I was about 20 – it was the ’70s).
Tonight we’re going to Curry in a Hurry with Cathy and Paul to celebrate. Rhonda and Mike came over with Italian Cream Cake she’d made in Mike’s honor but wanted to share.
And it’s a beautiful day for my guy. All this inspires me to write him a birthday poem.
The man I wed still makes me laugh most every single day,
and when he’s dressed in suit and tie, he takes my breath away.
But even when he’s slouchy, he’s still so very cute
the annoying little things he does are really rather moot.
The way he loves our offspring is unconditionally, the way
a dad and granddad should – and the way that he loves me.
So John, dear, happy birthday, though this poem is rather lame.
I’ll love you for forever and “Lucky” is my name.
2 comments April 14, 2013
Dave Brubeck has something else in mind, but for me, now, “Take Five” will make me think of grandchildren.
As in, “Would you care for some grandchildren?”
As in, “Sure, I’ll take five.”
It will also make me remember how Take 5 in labor and delivery (Silas Cartwright Stroud), was just as exciting as Take 1 (Jude Marshall Stroud), Take 2 (Annabelle Rose Hall), Take 3 (Sylvia Frances Stroud) and Take 4 (Luke Turner Hall).
They’re all perfect, healthy, beautiful, bright and funny – and all as different and delightful as can be.
Pop and I are so lucky.
Silas is a little angel who came quickly and politely on April 8. (Since he’s No. 3 of the Strouds and Sylvia was a high-speed delivery, I was relieved he debuted at the hospital and not on the kitchen floor or in the car. And I’m so proud of my daughter – through all three deliveries she’s been rock-steady, determined and efficient as heck.)
Mommy and Daddy are in heaven again. Little Silas is rocking his sister’s life a bit right now – at 22 months, Sylvia’s used to being the baby herself, but Jude is an old hand at being big brother.
Jude’s first words at the hospital upon meeting the wee one: “He’s really cute. He looks like a little old lady with no teeth, right?”
(I’d actually noticed in the L&D room that twice Silas made an expression that looked much like my grandmother, Verna Jewel Tackett, when she had her false teeth out, so Jude was actually pretty right on.)
Sylvia’s first word upon seeing him was a questioning, “Baby?” By the time she left, though, she said, “Bye-bye, Silas.”
She’ll get used to him. The rest of us already are. For John and I, he’s the piece we didn’t know was missing, the fifth wheel that makes our LollypopWorld turn more smoothly.