Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chalazion: Another Fancy Word

I recently took Luke to see a pediatric ophthalmologist (read: eye surgeon) because the stinking stye that popped up overnight on his eyelid in December is still there. Crusty and no longer swollen, but still there. At a visit to the pediatrician at the end of February, the doctor asked, "What's up with his eye?" I said, "It's that stye he had in December." Yeah, he sent me on to a specialist because it's no longer just a stye, it's a chalazion and it will need to be surgically removed. I was hoping the eye surgeon would want to try some ointment first, but no, he's passed the point where it would heal itself with or without ointment, so surgery it is.

"Chalazion" is a fancy word for a blocked oil gland in the eyelid. It is a type of stye, and it can start as a regular, old, normal, stye, but sometimes it doesn't go away. Luke's is on the upper left eyelid. It definitely hurt when it was in the stye phase, before it popped and scabbed over, and it still hurts periodically. I know it bothers him, even when it isn't hurting. It just keeps scabbing over. He knocks the scab off, and it bleeds and then scabs over again. The surgery to remove it should only take 15 minutes, and he will have general anesthesia because kids can't be still during that procedure. Obviously. I'm not sure I could be still to have that done to my eye, though I understand that for adults they just use local anesthesia (shiver and cringe). They say he'll be able to go to school the next day, but we'll see how he's feeling. He might get to wear a fun eye patch for a few hours after surgery. Please read that last sentence again with sarcasm.

Since we saw the eye surgeon a couple of weeks ago, I am no longer allowed to touch or look too closely at Luke's scabby eye. As he fends me off, he tells me insistently, "I went to the doctor! No! I went to the doctor!" We've had several discussions about the surgery, and I came to the realization soon after the doctor's appointment that we are in uncharted waters. Both kids have had surgery before, but both of them were only 21 months old at the time. This time, Luke understands a lot more about what I'm saying, and he's worried about it. At bedtime the other night, he asked me, "The doctor will take my eye and give me another one?" I explained that he's not going to take his eye away, he's just going to fix the bo-bo (Where did we ever come up with that non-word?). I talked him through the whole process again, and he responded with, "That's too stary (scary)." Poor little guy.

It will be nice to see him without a scabby eye again, and thankfully, he's first up in the OR tomorrow so his fasting will be limited to the wee hours of the morning. I fully intend to scoop him out of bed and into the car, and I hope he'll sleep until we get there. Withholding that juice cup is hard on everyone.

"No! I went to the doctor!"
Updated 4/15/2013: The surgery went smoothly, and aside from a couple of hours worth of swelling where they injected his eyelid with numbing medicine, his eye looked better than it had in months. Right after surgery. It was amazing. He layed around most of the surgery day and woke up bouncing off the walls the next morning. The actual eye ball stayed goopy and red - almost like he had pink eye - for about five days, but I used the ointment they gave me until it was gone and it healed up nicely. At this point, several weeks later, there is just a small pink spot where the chalazion used to be; it looks great.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Around the House

It's been a while since I shared a random list of things they say, but I've collected a few recently that I want to make sure I remember. Enjoy.

"If he's naming his dog after you, it must be pretty serious." - Dave, in response to Ella telling us that her friend, who is a boy, got a new puppy and named it Ella. She denies that he is her boyfriend, put Dave does make a good point.

"I makin' songs." - This was Luke's response when I told him it was time to take his drumset back to his bedroom so he could go to bed. He makes lots of songs, all the time, on whatever instrument he can find, but I believe he may be partial to drums. As I carried him, kicking, away from the drums this morning, he told me his legs were his drum sticks. I foresee an upgrade to a real drumset in the not-so-distant future.

"Sometimes in life, you have to have a baby brother." - Words of wisdom from Ella. I think she's finally accepted the fact that he's never going to be a sister.

"I a fast boy. I run fast in my shoes and take off and fly! I a super fast boy!" - That's Luke Roper, Super Fast Boy. He also has a super hero Fast Button built into the top of his hand that he occasionally pushes so he can run super fast.

At 6:30 one recent Saturday morning, Ella tore open her bedroom door and marched down the hall to demand, "Where's Daddy?" I peeled open my eyelids to see her standing there, almost impatiently tapping her foot, with a kindergarten math workbook in one hand and a giant pencil in the other. I told her I thought he was downstairs. She said, "We're going to do some math," turned on her heel and marched away. I am equally proud and reverent of that child's nerd tendencies. Also? I'm ecstatic that she already loves math. She told me that math is her favorite subject in kindergarten. She doesn't even start kindergarten until August. I hope she has better luck with geometry than I did.

"Hey! Hey, Mommy! Hey, it's me, Wuke Boper!" - Luke, demanding my attention. I wasn't aware that I was being terribly inattentive, so I'm not sure if he just needed to identify himself, or I just didn't hear him the first few times. Either way, he's Wuke Boper.

"What are we going to do when they are teenagers?" - Dave's response after he planned, purchased, and cooked our supper two nights in a row. He finally understood that we really do eat as many groceries as I buy every week (a lot). I guess that's something you just can't really fathom until you plan, purchase, and cook the food, then see how much is left.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

PET Scans

About a month ago, as Papa and I were loading the kids into the car after work and talking about when Dave's next PET scan would happen, Ella asked me something to the extent of, "Does Daddy have pets?" I told her that he does not have any pets other than Georgia and Gypsy, and "PET" is the name of the test he has to do to see if his cancer is still gone.

She's my daughter, so she asked, "What does it mean?"
I said, "I'll tell you what it means. Are you ready?"
She nodded.
"Positron Emission Tomography." (Except I stumbled over the T word because I can never remember that.)
Her eyes glazed over, so I went on.
"It's a test where they give him special medicine, then roll him through a big scanner and watch how the medicine works in his body. If there is cancer in his body, they can see it when they scan him."
That seemed to be a satisfactory explanation for her.

Since then, I've answered that question from other people and a variety of other questions about the PET scan, so I thought I should blog about it.

Positron Emission Tomography - those are fancy words. It's a nuclear imaging test used to detect cancer (and other things, I'm sure, but primarily cancer). Some doctors poo-poo it, but oncologists believe it's golden - and for the price of it, it should be. It works like this.

The patient has to follow a no-carb diet for the last meal prior to the test (be it supper or breakfast, depending on test time), and eat/drink nothing but water for the five hours prior to the scan. It's not as horribly, hideous as fasting for a glucose tolerance test because you can still drink water (ahem), but nothing makes you want to eat a pile of noodles like being told you can't have carbs. Luckily, I just happened to walk by the calendar as I was cooking supper last night and noticed that the PET scan was scheduled for this morning, so I had to break the bad news to Dave that he couldn't eat the mac and cheese. His expression was positively combative as he demanded, "Why?!" I reminded him of the PET scan. He insisted he would be hungry if he couldn't eat the mac and cheese. I handed him a bowl of salad to go with his chicken and green beans. He finished the salad and said he wasn't hungry anymore. I packed a pile of mac and cheese for his lunch after the scan. Ordinarily, all of us would go carb-less on the night before the PET scan, but I honestly forgot this time.

Once he gets to the PET center this morning, he will be escorted to a little room with a sweet recliner. The tech will inject radioactive glucose into a vein in his hand or arm, and he'll kick back in the recliner for an hour to let the glucose move through his body. After an hour, he goes into the scan room, lies on the table, and gets scanned. That part takes about 45 minutes. I've only gotten a glance of the scanner because I'm not allowed in there, but he says it's like a CT scan but bigger.

The kind of scan he gets is actually a PET/CT combo, which is common. As the tech and the oncologist explained to us before the first one, the radioactive dye will "light up" when the body metabolizes the glucose, and cancer metabolizes it differently/faster than normal body tissue. They are watching to see what parts light up. There are parts of the body they expect to light up on the scan - like the brain and the heart - because of how they metabolize glucose, but they are looking for other parts that light up that would indicate cancer. They use the images collected in the scan and reconstruct 3D images of the body, then a radiologist reads the scan. It takes a few days to get the results.

Here's a picture of a whole body scan I found on Wikipedia, where you can read a lot more of the technical stuff about PET scans if you are a nerd like me.

That's basically it. It's a 2 hour process, and I think the hardest part for Dave is adhering to the diet.

Updated: The PET scan was clean and he graduated to the next phase of follow up care so he will start having scans every six months now instead of every three.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Flip Floppin'

We spent a fantastically beautiful weekend outside, starting with Ella's first soccer games Saturday morning.
We played in the park Saturday afternoon, but I didn't bring the camera. It was warm enough that Georgia needed a swim in the creek to cool off. We cooked on the grill and played ball  in the yard in the evening.

Sunday afternoon wasn't quite as pretty, but it was still warm so we played outside until we were tired of wiping the gnats out of our eyes.

This is one of our modified balance beams. When I asked Luke to step away from the wall, he said, "This one?" and proceeded to show me that I don't have to worry about him walking on it anymore. I shouldn't; I watched him walk on the regulation beam at gymnastics all by himself this week. Instead, I'll only worry when he's riding that duck and not paying attention to the edge.  
This is Ella performing the Rombo Circus. As usual, I'm not sure what that is, but I'm supposed to take her to practice on one side of the driveway and watch her perform on the other. It appears to be some combination of cheering and dancing.  
Gypsy adopted her warm weather sleeping spot when she got tired of playing with Luke. He thought it was hilarious that she was in the flower pot. 
 Luke played his horn for us while we walked down to the creek to let Georgia take a dip.
Luke shed his flip-flops for the warm weather. 
I would apologize for my unpainted toes, but really, you are just lucky that the last of the old plum colored polish I put on there in October finally chipped off. Ella's little flip-flopped feet were too cute not to share.
I absolutely adore the first beautiful, shorts and flip-flops, and grill cooking weekend of the year.

Monday, March 11, 2013

When Ella was Lost

It took 4.75 years for me to lose one of them, but I finally did. It was quite a feat, considering that the one I lost is the one I would have voted Most Likely to Never Be Separated from Mommy.

Luke? He'd be easy to lose. Unleashing that child requires constant vigilance. Ella? Well, let's just say there's a reason I recently spilled hot tea on her head, and it's not because I'm careless in the kitchen. She is the Moon to my Earth. Blessedly, the gravitational pull has relaxed quite a bit over the last couple of years, but I still don't have to worry about her wandering too far ahead of me in public places. Half the time I have to force the child to go into the bathroom stall without me while I stand directly on the other side and wait for her. She just doesn't wander freely in public. Blessedly.

We went on a play date to the zoo over the weekend with another mom and her little girls. The other girls went into the lorikeet exhibit to feed the birds, and Ella decided to try it, too. She followed them in and their mom helped her by holding a bird on her hand while it drank out of Ella's nectar cup. Luke accompanied us to the zoo, but he could not abide any lorikeets that day. I had to take him out of there, so I told Ella to stay with her friends' mom because I was going to take Luke outside to wait. She agreed and I left through the Exit door, on the opposite side of the exhibit.

Luke and I waited and watched, and we finally saw the mom and two girls come out to wash their hands, but no Ella. I asked where she was and the mom told me that she got scared when one of the birds landed on her and she decided to leave the exhibit.

Immediately, I knew that she had gone back in the Entrance door and into the little store, and that she must be freaking out because she didn't find me there. I hurried Luke around the building as quickly as one can hurry a meandering toddler, and poked my head in the door just as one of zoo employees was telling another employee, "This is Ella and her mom is lost." I said, "I'm Ella's mom!" The employee asked Ella if I was, and let her come to me when she confirmed. She was very upset.

We stepped to the side and I knelt down in front of her to hug her and let her cry. When she calmed down I said, "A bird landed on you and you got scared." She nodded. "You went back inside and couldn't find me." She nodded. "You thought I was lost and told the lady who works here." She nodded. "You were really scared." She nodded. I hugged her harder and promised her I had not left her; I was just waiting at the other door. She took a deep breath, a drink of water, and she was ready to continue her play date.

As I was telling Dave about it later, I realized how very proud I was of her handling of the situation. She and I talked about it again that evening and she told me that when she realized I wasn't in the store, she found the lady who worked there and told her her name and that she had lost her mom. She said the lady told her her name, too. I reiterated that she did exactly what she was supposed to do in that kind of situation and that I was very proud of her. 

She was never really lost, but she absolutely thought she was and for a few brief moments between realizing what had happened and seeing her with my own eyes, I had The Fear. I'm so glad she remembered all of the instructions we've given her in case she gets separated from us.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Nine Things I Learned from Food Network

I was chatting with someone about cooking the other day, and I mentioned that I learned how to cut an avocado from watching Food Network. That made me think about other things I've learned from Food Network.

I love to cook. I love to watch cooking shows, and back in the Before Kids time of my life, that's what I used to do while I drank my coffee on the weekend mornings. I've learned a whole lot about cooking from Food Network, so I made a list.

Nine Things I Learned from Food Network

1. How to cut an avocado - Slice it down the middle, around the pit, then separate the halves and scoop out the pit. Score each half lengthwise and crosswise into cubes while it's still in the peel, then scoop the whole thing out with a spoon. It's so easy.

2. Olive Oil - Or EVOO, as Rachel Ray rebranded it. I use it for everything. I keep vegetable oil in the house for brownies and the very rare occasion that I fry something, but olive oil is my go-to cooking oil. Also, it's very moisturizing so I've added it to glycerin soap and I used to to get rid of Ella's cradle cap when she was a baby. I didn't learn that from Food Network, but had I not learned about EVOO before then, I probably never would have tried it.

3. Popping garlic - Ever tried to peel a clove of garlic? It sucks. Rachel Ray  taught me to smash it with the flat side of the knife first, and the peel basically just falls off.

4. Chicken stock - You can make quick meal taste like it has been cooking all day with chicken stock (or beef, I guess). It really works. I have a yummy, easy marinara recipe using chicken stock that tastes like an Italian grandma cooked it. Chicken stock is also a good replacement for water if you want to make the flavor richer, or wine if you don't have any on hand or are opposed to cooking with alcohol.

5. Knives - Rachel Ray gave me the courage to use the big vegetable knife. It's my favorite one; I use it almost daily. I can't fathom how I'm supposed to chop anything if I work in someone else's kitchen and they don't have the big knife. The chopping is my favorite part of cooking.

6. How to cook pasta - All of the women in my life cook pasta by adding oil to the water, but Rachel Ray (Yes, I love her.) taught me to leave out the oil and had a heaping helping of salt instead. It's the bomb. Side note: Even Rachel's mom puts oil in her pasta water, so I'm not saying it's wrong, I just don't do it that way anymore.

7. You can grill anything - Bobby Flay opened up a whole new world of grilling for us, and during the summer months we grill everything.

8. What leeks are and how to wash them - Not just leeks, which I have cooked a few times, but all kinds of vegetables that I didn't know existed or that I was intimidated by because I didn't know what to do with them. Really, not just vegetables, all kinds of food. We eat a wide variety of food in our house, from classic American to Italian to Mexican to Chinese to Indian to Thai to pub style and other things in between, thanks in part to Food Network.

9. How to prepare eggplant - Before you cook it, peel it, slice it, and soak it in a bowl of cold, salty water for 15ish minutes. That makes it less spongy so it doesn't soak up all the oil or sauce or whatever you are cooking it in that would make it soggy.

I don't get to watch much Food Network these day, but I do pin new recipes like crazy on Pinterest. Then I spend a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon prepping our meals for the week so we can eat well, even on the crazy nights. The meal planning and prep has become one of my favorite jobs lately.

Saturday, March 02, 2013


It's been one year since we found out that Dave had cancer.

One year since his surgery.

One year since he stopped using tobacco.

One year since our priorities shifted from the trivial to the important.

One year since we opened our eyes to God working all around us.

One year since normal readjusted itself.

One year ago today.

Today, I am grateful for Jehovah Rapha - the God who heals.

"'For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,' says the Lord." - Jeremiah 30:17