Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Tale of Two Vacations AND Benjamin is Sick

Well, as if being gone from home for nearly two or three weeks wasn't enough, now we are dealing with some health issues with Benjamin that have my time and mind occupied. I guess I'll start with that.

About a month or so ago (Who can really keep track of the weeks?), Benjamin started getting kind of congested. He was also visibly teething (drooling, sticking things in his mouth, etc.), and Andrew always got congested when he teethed, so I just chalked it up to that. He didn't seem to feel bad, only a little irritable at times. The first couple of days, he also had a little bit of a cough, usually only when he was sleeping. The thing that persisted over the course of several weeks, however, was fluid on his chest, mainly when he was drinking his bottle of milk (and sometimes when he'd eat food). Again, we all thought it was just extra drainage from teething, and since he didn't seem to feel bad, we thought we'd just wait it out. Plus, Matthew and I went to the beach, and shortly after we returned, I took both boys (with other family members) to Texas.

On the way home from Texas (this past week), I called the doctor and she wanted to see Benjamin on Wednesday. On Tuesday and Wednesday (before the doctor), he sounded decidedly better and I almost cancelled his appointment.

Good thing I didn't.

She said she heard wheezing in his right lung and sent us next door to the hospital for a chest x-ray.

Now I was thinking that this might have to do with that large pneumatacele (air pocket) they discovered in his right lung during his open-heart surgery. But when we looked at the results on her computer, the pediatrician pointed out that while there is an issue in his right lung, it's not near his pneumatacele.

But he does have pneumonia.

And that's not all.

She thinks that he may be aspirating his food/drink into his lungs when he is drinking/eating. There also may be reflux issues, along with the pneumonia.

So right now, we are doing five thing to try to get this under control:

1. He is on Amoxicillan twice a day for the pneumonia. (Neither of my boys has ever had to have an antibiotic, so this is a first!)

2. He is taking Prevacid twice a day for the reflux. We have to do this on an empty stomach, which makes timing tricky, considering he has to take another medicine around the same time.

3. We are giving him breathing treatments with a nebulizer, using Albuterol, about three times a day. He hated it at first but is now MUCH better with it.

4. We are thickening his milk with Thick-It so he won't aspirate. Thankfully (so far) he doesn't mind. IN FACT, the nectar consistency that we are using (per his doctor) has allowed us to move seamlessly from a bottle to a soft-spout sippy cup. We are still having to warm his milk for now, but that is okay. Also, he doesn't hold his cup (or bottle), so we still have to hold it for him the whole time. All of these things added up (when I let it) stress me out, so I just have to try and keep it in perspective. Many kids can't even drink out of sippy. Or tolerate milk. Or even sit up yet. But it's still hard at times.

5. We go back next Friday for another chest x-ray.

Speaking of that, I had kind of an emotional day on Wednesday. I had been doing great with Benjamin's Down syndrome for awhile. But I should have known it comes and goes. While I was at the doctor's office on Wednesday with Benjamin, waiting for the doctor, I could hear the nurse in the next room doing the beginning part of a little girl’s 15-month well visit. The questions were simple enough and of course the answer to all of them was “yes” from the mom. “Is she off the bottle? Is she saying at least three words? Does she respond to simple requests? Can she point out some body parts?” My heart just broke all over again. Benjamin is nowhere near any of that. He usually doesn’t even turn to look at you when you call his name.

I know to expect delays. But that doesn’t make it easy when it is painfully obvious that he is like a six-month old. And then the pneumonia. I should have brought him to the doctor weeks ago. It just wasn’t a good day.

But we must persevere. I try to keep things in perspective. While in a crowded rest area bathroom (while I was holding Benjamin by the sinks and rinsing out bottles) on the way home from Texas, a lady asked me how old Benjamin was. I immediately wondered, "Can she tell? Does she know?" I replied, "He's 14 months." A few moments passed and she said, "Is he walking yet?"

And then I knew.

She knew.

You don't typically ask that about a typically-developing 14-month old. I said no, that he was cruising the furniture but not taking any steps. She said that he seemed small, like their 13-month-old foster son. He isn't sitting yet.

He doesn't have any stomach muscles.

Here I was feeling sorry for myself that a stranger can tell that my son has Down syndrome just by looking at him.

But her foster son (presumably also with DS by the way she was talking) has no stomach muscles.

See? Perspective.

So that's where we are right now. We had a lovely Fourth of July over at my parents' house. I am getting more of a tan this year, which is really nice. I used to tan really well as a teenager when all I had to do all summer was hang out at the Morris Estates Pool. (HOLLA!)


I recently went on two vacations. Well, one of them was a vacation. The other was more of a trip. Why? Because my kids went on the second one. LOL

First up, Matthew and I went to the Outer Banks, North Carolina, for one whole week. By ourselves. It was fantastic but went by far too quickly. The boys both stayed with my parents, and they all had a ball. Here are the OBX (Outer Banks) pictures:

On the way we planned a stop at Cheesecake Factory. I do not know why we don't have one of these in Chattanooga??!?!?!?!!! We have everything else!

If you have not tried the Fried Macaroni and Cheese (appetizer), you have not lived.

The view from our oceanfront condo. I just love going to the beach and staying ON the beach. In my opinion, it's the only way.

I had to take most of the pictures. LOL

At the end of a grueling game of miniature golf at Lost Treasure. Matthew whooped me, as usual.

Being silly. As usual.

Another sign you have not lived: If you have not tried Birthday Cake Remix at Cold Stone Creamery. We got it twice.

I'd always wanted to go parasailing. It was so fun! We did the full height of 1200 feet. It honestly was not scary!

There is a GREAT Gap Outlet there (along with some other good stores), and my goal was to go there and buy some size 14 jeans (and other clothes). I think it was my proudest moment. To be in that dressing room and put on some 14L (gotta love long jeans for us tall gals) jeans and THEY FIT! I bought two pairs. I also loved sending back some XL tops for some L ones b/c they were too big. I've never had to send clothes back for a smaller size! Let's just say I single-handedly stimulated the U.S. economy that day with all my Gap purchases. :)

Hubba, Hubba!

Stone Oven Pizza has the BEST pizza ever. This is the Greek and the Cheese Steak White. We also got this twice. I wish their delivery area was 700+ miles. ;)

A few years ago while in the OBX, we witnessed a beach wedding.

This was a beach funeral. It was very sad, even all the way up on our deck where we couldn't hear anything. Here are all the beach mourners. There's even a guy playing the bagpipes. At the end of the ceremony, they all threw beautiful long-stemmed flowers into the water.

These were the surfers who did the "paddle out." I assume the deceased was a surfer; this is common from what I read later online.

If you click on this picture to make it larger, you can see that the girl in the front (on the left as you look at them) has a box on the front of her surfboard. I assume these are/were the ashes? Maybe they sprinkled some out in the ocean.

Later, you could still see the flowers up and down the shore. So sad.

Look how close the dolphins get!

Yummm.....I do love me some fried seafood. And lots of tartar sauce. (That's coleslaw in the bowl...)

The sunrise on our last day. (I went back to sleep.)

But don't worry. While we were off relaxing and eating delicious food, the boys were having a BALL at my parents' house. They, however, needed some Prozac by the end of it. ;)

I think Andrew swam three times a day.

Oops! You have to let the Bullfrog sunscreen dry before you put his swimmies on or the ink rubs off. He liked it. LOL

Hmmm...I can chew on these, too!

He goes off the diving board without even getting in first!

No one actually took a nap in this picture.

This is Benjamin's attempt at a Hitler impersonation. Hitler with Blueberries.

Waiting for Uncle Justin

"Yeah, I'm WHAT?"

He enjoyed his baths in the sink.

There's always something to learn from Uncle Justin. And it's educational and wholesome. (Unlike from Uncle Michael...)

I was so shocked when Mom showed me this picture. Andrew doesn't usually let Baby B this close.

And this is why.

Evidently they made up later and had a little brotherly fun in the kitchen.

He yells, "CANNONBALL!!!" even though he never actually does a cannonball.

I had barely been home three days when I loaded up the van with me, Andrew, Benjamin, my mom, and my brother Justin to drive to Texas to visit my mom's family. My older brother Michael, his wife Edie, and their four children also went. If you drove straight with no stops, it would take you about 11 hours. It took us 14. Oh, mercy. The trip there wasn't actually that bad. The trip home was rough. But we had a good visit and we made it home safely.

McDonald's on the way

Justin is asleep in the far back, and Andrew is watching a DVD. THANK YOU, DIANA for loaning us your portable DVD player. We would have DIED without it!

Oops. Is it illegal to listen to your mom's iPod and drive at the same time? I think I might want an iPod for Christmas. I've held out for this long but I think I'm ready.

I think my look says it all, "HE FINALLY FELL ASLEEP!!!"

Goofing around with Uncle Justin

The next day at my grandmother's house

Andrew loved watering her plants. And himself.

He also loved wearing my grandmother's hat. HA!!!!!!!!!!

My cousin Allison with Benjamin. He loved all the attention!

Uncle Justin helping out with a bottle. As you can see, neither boy had combed his hair that day...

I got the idea to put a washcloth on Benji's head in the bathtub. What resulted was Mom and me laughing hysterically at "George Washington."

We like to call this one "The Angry Colonist."

The next day we went to my Uncle Peter and Aunt Kathy's house where Andrew got to drive a tractor!! They even knocked over a tree!!! He was in heaven.

There were also two four-wheelers.

There was a baby pool for Baby B.

And a GIANT homemade slip-n-slide for the older kids. (Two giant tarps duct-taped together and doused with tons of bottles of baby shampoo.)

The older kids enjoyed it, too. Michael and Justin would run full speed toward each other from opposite ends, land on separate floats, and collide in the middle. You can't see Justin here, but he's underneath Michael.

I love this boy! (Have I mentioned that before?)

The food there was wonderful! Saturday night we had Seafood Extravaganza at Kathy's house.

Spinach dip

tartar sauce and cocktail sauce

Andrew loved the cupcakes!!


This isn't the best picture, but on my plate is much goodness: fried shrimp, coconut shrimp, twice-baked potatoes, spinach dip and crackers, hot crab dip, squash casserole, corn casserole, and french fries...and I had to put my sauces on Andrew's (finished) plate.

Justin and I had to take a picture to document Benjamin's super messy hair. It was out of control, and this picture doesn't do it justice.

Speaking of out of control, check out Justin's milk glass for his Oreos. What a goof.

Sunday after church and Mexican food (yum), we took some family pictures. Even though both my boys were overtired and needed a nap, I managed to get a halfway decent shot.

On the way home, we passed this beauty of a car. In case you can't read it, it says, "RIP Michael Jackson 'The Way U Make Me Feel.'" Wow.

The best part is that after three weeks of NOT dieting, I went to weigh in at Weight Watchers on Thursday and I only gained 0.4 lb!!! I am only 0.6 lb away from a grand total of 20 pounds!

Well, there you have it.

I sure feel better now.

I only have 220 blog posts to read in my Google Reader. Will I ever catch up? Maybe. But I'll have fun trying. I love to travel, but it is nice to be home.


datri said...

Absolutely love all the pics!!

paula said...

Eunice and I sitting here cracking up- and I was even there when most of the pictures were taken. We voted one of the best was the shot of George Washington bathing. Love you!

Anonymous said...

What great pictures! It looks like everyone has had a wonderful summer so far...

My prayers are with you as you go back to the hospital. Hang in there - God always seems to give me some perspective too when I have those days of heaviness on my heart..

My name is Sarah said...

What a great time it looks like you had. My mom says be thankful you do not have a Cheesecake Factory = ### + $$$$ in your town. We have one right down the street. We had to cut her off:)

Stephanie said...

ok, this was the best post ever. I laughed, cried and everything in between. I am so sad about B's illness. I hope the meds kick in and he is back to his happy self!!
Just so you know, I am currently on a lot of amoxicillin everyday of my pregnancy and we have a nebulizer because my boys get chronic croup so I am with you there too.
I miss you so much. I loved all the pics from your travels. You look FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love you-

Diana said...

loved this post!! Benjamin is so sweet and I pray that all of his issues are quickly resolved. I am also so happy that your ped. is on top of things. I am so jealous of your no kids vacation it makes me want to run away! I also am going to have to insist that next time you go to Texas you take me and the DVD player b/c that slip and slide has my name all over it!!!

Astrid said...

Your boys are so sweet. I'm so glad you guys had a good time. Will pray for baby B to get better soon. Just in case it makes you feel any better, Jed is going on 15 and a half months and isn't walking yet, either. He doesn't even have a reason:)

Anonymous said...

Who ever said that a vacation is a vacation? Hmmm.

LOVE your pics Angela - you take the best ones! Looks like the Amick family is having a wonderful summer so far.

Thanks for stopping by my site.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a lot. Sorry B is still sickie. I hope the thickner works in his milk. You know, Ben did not hold his own sippy cup until Lily was born (20+ months old) and even then, he did so under protest.

You look so fantastic and those boys are so stinkin' adorable. Missed you around here lately. :)

ktgray22 said...

Your vacation looks like it was fabulous! By the way, I work with a lot of infants and toddlers with DS - and I don't think it is extremely obvious that Benjamin has DS. And I often ask people with 14-15 month old "typically developing" children if their kids are walking. Toddlers are not considered behind in walking until they are 18 months old and not walking. I know 3 almost 15 month old kids who still aren't walking- my niece, and 2 kids in our play group. Benjamin will get there!

By the way- you look FABULOUS!!!! Congrats on the 20 lb weight loss- I am truly envious!

AngieW said...

I hope Benjamin is feeling better soon.
My Ben had a very similar sounding illness a couple months ago, and we went in 3 time before they gave him amoxicillan. That's what finally did the trick.
We have also had issues with reflux. I told our old Dr. that Ben seemed to do better when he gets real food right before or after nursing or having a bottle, but he look at me like I was crazy. I think the Thick-It might be the answer. Thanks so much for posting about it.
Looks like you had an awesome time on your vacation!