Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Natural Beauty

I don't know the exact age one suddenly becomes aware of their external appearance, but I feel like for me it landed somewhere in that super awkward 5th grade, age 11-12. I remember really wanting a pair of Gap overalls. Not just any overalls. Gap.

I think my best friend at the time kept pushing me to shave my legs and get a "training bra". Something I would have never wanted to do on my own. When I came to my mother about these things, she all but scoffed.

"Why would you want to shave your legs!? Then you have to just keep shaving them. It's such a pain. Put it off as long as you can."

"A bra!? Sweetie, you don't need that yet."

Don't even get me started on her opinion of make up before the age of 30!!

Even through my high school and college years, with my "athletic build" (aka lucky to even call them A cups, AKA pecs) my mother continued to be surprised that I would opt to wear a bra. As if it were an option!!?? We call this a societal norm, mother. *eye roll*

In hindsight, I realize that hair growing, Birkenstock wearing, bra-avoiding woman is and always was a hippie. Nevertheless, her "natural beauty" tendencies rubbed off on me. I couldn't help but agree, shaving is a pain (maybe that's why I swam, so I had an excuse not to), bras uncomfortable and make-up cumbersome. Add to this my impatience, inability to sit still and the tooth sensitivity of a 97 year old, we have the perfect storm of NO DESIRE to maintain hair nor face. Especially, in the spa type setting.

Part of my wants to believe my mother. That natural beauty is best. That I got her wonderful Lebanese skin, not my father's Irish genes. That I don't need to have a morning and night routine for my face. That it's ok to go 6-10 months between hairs cuts and 4-8 months between coloring. That maybe it's ok to just go grey. That even though I simply shower and put lotion on my face every 1-4 days, I will avoid that bastart named time. Sucking the life away from my once beautiful, youthful, strong, tight skin and body.

Yet, the logical side of my knows this isn't possible. I am not special. Then there's the perfectionist side of me (which I attempt to suppress on an hourly basis) can't just "let myself go".

I am finally getting to that point in life, where I look at pictures of myself and think, "Oh god. Delete that!!! I can't possibly, actually, in real life, look like that...f%#*" Delete. Delete. Delete. Please god, that was bad lighting or a f%#*ed up lens. Right!?

Based on the increasing frequency of this occurrence as well as the ever-evolving improvement of the phone camera...I think I might actually look like that.

I am 35, and, with this recent Achilles tendon rupture during a fun game of pickleball, feeling every bit of that age.

My hair is greying. My wrinkles becoming more evident. (Do I continue to lose weight and allow the wrinkles to multiply, or just keep the pounds which support my baby face?! Descisions, decisions.) My rosie red cheeks (also known as the skin condition Rosacea) is no longer "cute". Nor are the freckles (AKA sun spots, AKA pre-cancer) that fill my face, shoulders, arms and quite possibly back (I mean, I can't see back there.)

Basically, what I am trying to say, is that I have moments where I've decided, I'm too far gone. Time has done it again. Never will my skin, hair, body, ever look youthful again without some MAJOR help. The effort of which I don't think I'll ever be ready to give.

Then, I have a busy Saturday of running around, taking my children to sporting events, prepping for a birthday party scheduled for the next day. I'm Gimping about in my boot, feeling old and decrepit and questioning why I committed to going to a wedding tonight as well. Before I know it, the sitter will be arriving in 25 minutes, and I haven't even showered! Nor has Matt.

I sprint {hobble} to the shower, I dry my hair, I lather on some tinted face moisturizer and a bit of bronzer, eye shadow/liner/mascara and blush (because the Rosacea isn't red enough) as the straightener warms up...run it through my hair a few times, and we're off to the show.

I insist on a few selfies, because, well, we are somewhat put together for the first time in a few months...and low and behold!!!!!???
I can see a glimpse of the once youthful, Erin. She's there. All is not lost, nor too far gone. Well, I'll be damned. Maybe my lens really IS broken this time?? Though, my roots are SUPER evident, so, no denying that whole thing...
...but without a single filter, I choose to see the natural beauty. (And Matt looks nice too.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

One measely step.

On March 18th, I was playing pickleball with some other moms from the kids' school. One of my favorite activities. I had also signed up for an adult soccer league to start in a couple weeks. I had been slowly and lightly been reintroducing regular exercise into my life, as I wanted to avoid a soccer injury. Funny. For the first time in my life, I was being cognizant of the fact that I'm now 35, overweight, out of shape and too competitive for my own good (well, I've always known that part) as opposed to feeling invincible and 20. In the last year, I'd cut out drinking other than for social events, and I'd minimally reduced my caffeine and caloric intake. I had been, albeit at a snails pace, feeling healthier and healthier. I wouldn't say my efforts were overly impressive nor commendable by any stretch of the imagination, but the trend was in the right direction.

Yes, the, day before was not my best day (health conscious-wise...fun-wise = different story), because it was March 17th. St. Patrick's day. A Saturday as well. I spent the whole day standing in wedges and drinking beverages. I have no doubt I aggravated my feet and ankles in those shoes and left my body dehydrated and tight. In hindsight, I do remember waking up and having difficulty walking due to foot pain, but I easily ignored the discomfort. When I got dressed for pickleball, I selected a super-old pair of tennis shoes, because I felt they were still my most supportive for a court sport. As I continued to get ready for my ride to arrive, I helped Matt scurry the kids out the door for dinner at his parents. The whole time, I felt tempted to call the ride off. To tell them that instead I am spending the evening with my family. As Matt started the car, I went so far as to run up to the door and have him roll down the window. I asked, "Should I just come with you guys and skip pickleball? I kind of want to be with you all." He shrugged and said, "No, just go have fun." For the first time, ever, I just wasn't so sure it would be fun. I couldn't explain the feeling then, but I wonder now if it was dread?

Did I know my body wasn't ready for this kind of beating? Did I ignore signs of exhaustion and inflammation all day? Then again, I've been in waaaayyy worse condition before. I say I drank all day, but it really was not in excess. As I walked on the courts, I said something about being cold, and one of my closest friends says, "What? You are never cold". It's true. I did heed some of these feelings, and decided I wasn't going to go gang-busters. I wasn't going to drink. I was simply going to play and enjoy myself as well as the company and relax while it wasn't my turn on the court.

Then, when I was on the court, waiting to return a serve, during my 3rd game of the night. The ball came at me, slightly to my right and I had taken what I would describe as a longish lunge/leap type step in that direction. Except, the most bizarre and traumatizing event then took place. All in less than a split second. It seemed as though my left heel was not following my step, and that a large, heavy metal weight had fallen from the ceiling and landed directly onto the back of my ankle creating a very audible crashing sound and the pain you'd expect from getting a crowbar into your achilles, or a gunshot. As I swung my head around to look behind me, trying to find the source of this sensation, I scanned the room. Why was everyone going on as if nothing happened? Did no one else hear the thunderous crash? Such brief confusion; the ceiling intact, players all playing, nothing awry. But, also as my head was turning back, I was completing my step off and my left foot was about to land in front of me...and that was when the entire situation came to a flooding realization...

"FUUUCCCCKKKK!" I screamed, as my left foot stepped down, and I quickly lifted it back up, hopping on my right. Now, the other players stopped play looked my direction. Guess, they heard that. "I just snapped my achilles tendon. Oh my god, I just snapped my achilles tendon. It's gone. Fuck. It's gone." I am muttering aloud as I'm hopping to a pole. What I'm not saying aloud, but is flashing through my head is, "I don't have time for this. This is a real injury. This requires surgery and no weight bearing and time off work and physical therapy and a long time away from sports and being active and not playing in the TOPS (parent) tournament at school and pain and so much work for my husband. Oh my gosh, so much work for Matt. I have 5 kids."

As I get out of my head, I look up to see I'm surrounded by the friends I came with, and their somewhat stunned expressions. I instantly become nauseous, and my ears are ringing and I'm getting tunnel vision. All signs of pre-syncope (almost fainting) for me. I tell them, "I have to lay down, I'm going to throw up." I try to figure out the best way down and opt to go to my knees first and roll over. Everyone wants to help, but no one really knows what to do...and it dawns on me. I'm the doctor. Normally, I'd take charge and tell everyone what to do in this situation. So, I start barking orders. "I need ice and a wrap, do they have an ace bandage? And bring me that Advil I saw on the table. Oh man, I'm going to throw up. Also, my phone is on the table. I want to text Matt." I'm still on the edge of consciousness as all this is happening. In my memory, it felt like I was watching through a looking glass and someone else was asking for these things. I lay there and just let Whitney, an RN and Katie, a PT, ice and wrap my foot.

Next, I hobble to the car leaning heavily on 2 people. After lots of back and forth as to the best course of action, I opt for my mother's. She has a boot and crutches and no small children running around and bothering me. On the drive I text my ER and Ortho friends. We decide I can make it through the night and just get in to see the Ankle guy in the morning. I hang with my mom for a bit, she eventually gets me home, well after the kid's bedtime. I arrange for the nanny to arrive early and my mom to get the boys to school so we can get to the 7:45 appointment. I am horrible at crutches. Getting up to bed was simply miserable. Getting anywhere was miserable. Matt helps me get into pajamas, helps me ice and elevate my foot in bed. I can tell, he knows as well as I do that this is our future for the next few weeks. That is when I finally cry. Not from pain or discomfort. But from anger and pity and perhaps, even, a little guilt.

I know it might shock everyone to hear this, but I enjoy being busy. I don't typically sit down, except during the very specific hours of after 8:30pm and periodic short moments through the day. When trying to describe my energy, one of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD comes to mind, "Often on the move, as it propelled by a motor." I've guessed my "motor" to actually be a mixture of OCD, competitiveness and anxiety...but maybe I simply have ADHD. Who knows. Whatever the stem, it's who I am and how I've always been. Our house, our relationship, our (my) way of life depends on this motor. This puts undo stress on our families, our friends, our nanny and, of course, Matt most of all.

Matt and I have determined my current level of functioning to be that of a 3 to 4 year old. I'm able to eat my own food if a plate is made for me, dress myself if clothing is brought to me, and wipe my own a$$. That's pretty much the extent of it. I know this is ever so temporary. Just a few weeks of absolutely no weight-bearing. A few more weeks after that continuing to use crutches and a scooter. And then months of a boot and physical therapy. Our previous life will slowly come back, week after week, month after month, and in a year, I'll be playing pickleball again like a champ. Regaining my post as Number 1. But for now, it still hits me pretty hard, every so often, at how truly worthless I am at the moment...and how exhausting Matt's life currently is. One measly step.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

You're not alone, George.

George turned 6 this weekend. He had a joint pool party with his BFF, Nate. To be clear, this is officially his 2nd BFF, his original BFF was Hen(d)ry Bush. The only reason this pool party happened is because the 2 of them planned it. No, really. Nate and George come home with convincing stories about one another and their lives, every night. Us parents frequently exchange notes. Rarely, are their stories fully true or accurate, but guaranteed, they are hilarious. Every time. The pool party was no exception. They seemed so sure this "pool party" had been planned, who were we to disagree? The teachers, and even classmates, admit that the two of them tend to just excitedly speak and giggle about things of which, nobody actually knows what they're talking about. It seems the two of them live in their own little world.

When I first learned of this friendship, it absolutely over-flowed my heart with joy.  Not just because I enjoy Nate's parents, but because, I'd worried no one would "get" George. You see, of all my children, I have always found George to be the hardest for me to understand, connect with, jive. He and his father bonded so easily. I, on the other hand, just frequently feel frustration when trying to parent him. He tends to have these stubborn moments, where he simply shuts down. Being born with an extremely low supply of patience, this dynamic doesn't work well. George has some of the highest highs, he makes us laugh more than any of the other kids (though Diana has quite the master to learn from and is advancing quickly), but he also brings out that anger {I typically try to deny even exists with in me} and I just have to walk away. I say all this with complete love for my child, each one has their own, very individual list of peaks and lows. Today, in church, I truly couldn't decide what I was observing in George. A peak? Or a low?


 




 


There was a pew plus about five seats spaces between George and I this morning at the weekly Wednesday all-school mass so I had a great view of him. On this particular day, the kids were coming off a 4.5 day break turned 5.5 days due to weather, which also means Cabin Fever. I could see Curtis a bit further from me, then Brock one more row from there. Curtis yawned, stretched, picked his nose bit, but otherwise seemed content to just sit. Brock gazed all throughout the church, bobbing back ever so slightly the ENTIRE mass, and at one point I was sincerely concerned that he might have literal ants in his pants. No one seemed to notice or mind. Then we get to George. You could see that George wanted to be still. He loves to please people. His favorite thing in the world is to help others and see their appreciation and satisfaction. His second favorite thing is probably hugs. He doesn't want to be a disturbance or disobedient, yet, he could. Not. Sit. Still.
He could not sit upright. The kid next to him was coughing, so he needed to cover his ears. The music was too loud. His shoe felt funny. He needed to blow his nose. I'm sure the hard wooden pew was too firm on his bottom. His shirt probably had shifted and he could feel the tag of his pants. For all I know, the light was too bright, the piano too loud, the temp too hot. He was being assaulted by so many uncomfortable, bothersome things, and when he tried to fix them, he was being asked to hold still. To be quiet. I could feel his exasperation. I could sense how conflicted he feels in his little heart. Wanting so much to please his teachers, parents, loved ones, friends...yet his body is sending him totally different signals. I could see him bring his hands up to his face and rub it in frustration - something identical to my coping with irritating/frustrating situations.

In this moment, I suddenly knew. There I am. There is my genetic contribution to my little Matt-clone, daddy's boy. I used to dread mass. The hard pew, the kneeling, the sitting still, the quiet, the holding hands - some dry, some sweaty, some dirty. The hot. The cold. The sounds. I dreaded assemblies. I watched me classmates sit stone still, cross legged, on the gym floor, and would give myself pep talks: "Look, they seem comfortable. Courtney Jianas hasn't moved in 45 minutes. Everyone else can do this, so can I." I'd repeat this over and over as my legs burned on fire from holding still, and finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I'd extend my legs. Stretch out my back. Whisper something to a friend. Go to the bathroom. ANYTHING to not be trapped like this for one moment longer.

There were times I was accused of being a teacher's pet, and now, seeing George, and how much he loves to help. How it could mutually help him get out of the restrictive classroom rules, while not being a disturbance and actually being productive, I see why I did it. Why teachers allowed it. Instead of being punished for moving and talking, I was being useful. Busy is such an over-used word these days, but that's what we are. Me, Brock, George. We are busy.

I could see George frustrating those around him, but, in my heart, I smiled. He's in Kindergarten, he will hopefully continue to learn coping skills, as I did. As Brock has. I could see Brock staring at the ceiling, probably in a completely different world, distracting himself from the mass discomforts. Though, now I find the church to be a place of peace, and quiet, I still struggle to hold still. Constantly switching which leg is crossed, giving myself pep talks not to lean my butt against the pew while kneeling, convincing myself I don't need to go to the restroom. In high school, teachers frequently found me in the hall "on my way to or from the restroom"; it became a running joke from a lot of them where they'd ask if I actually attended any classes. In college, I simply didn't attend lecture. In med school, I had to have the outside, back row seat due to my frequent position switches, moving, getting up and down. I would subconsciously hike my scrub pants up past my knees because somehow that is more comfortable.

So, this part of me is so frustrated for kids like George. And Brock. They are good kids. They just sort of beat to their own drum. The structure and rules of school will always be a struggle because it simply isn't their "style". So far, we have been incredibly lucky to have amazing teachers that seem to "get it". There is no snuffing of their personalities or creativity while also trying to help guide them to behave a bit more conventionally while in school. We, as parents, don't accept any sort of disrespect or defiance and expect them to do as they're asked. We are flexible and willing to work with these boys in whatever way they need to grow up to be intelligent, functioning, happy, loving and respectful individuals. The school seems to be totally in line with these principles as well.

George will not have an easy road. I wonder if he will make it through 8th grade in this more rigid-type educational structure, perhaps he will eventually require an alternative school. Perhaps not. All I know, is that I love this kid. For all his struggles, he has the biggest heart a little boy could ever possess. He uses hilarious facial expressions, bizarre hand movements, funny stories and comedy all around to protect that sensitive infrastructure. It's irresistibly endearing. If nothing else, he will always have people that love him, and coming from experience...that is more than enough. You're not alone, George. {You have Nate.}

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Don't Get Your Hopes Up

December 13th.

Finally! Matt walks in the back door to find me hunched over the laptop at the dining room table. Kids running a muck. A few of them crying. Partly because they're hungry, but mostly because their mother's been neglecting them all day in order to slave over a very non-essential, time-consuming, extraneous Christmas gift that has brought out the very worst in her OCD. 

"Thank goodness you're home, can you take the kids away? I have been working on this for 5 hours and they need to be ordered by end of day today to get here in time for Christmas." I say as Matt walks over to view what exactly has been hoarding ALL of my attention today. 

I excitedly show him my work. 20 custom photo mugs for all of my family. Some even outfitted with a meaningful, or funny quote...which took me an hour, easy, to figure out how to compose. But! We aren't talking just your standard, run of the mill, 10 ounce ceramic mug. These are Magic Mugs. 

These mugs start out black and only when holding a scalding substance do they magically reveal the image. Groupon gold I tell you. The instant I saw these items for only $4 each, I snatched them up. Game over. My brain had already fast-forwarded to Christmas day. Everyone opening their mug. Seeing an ugly, simple, black mug and thinking "wow, thanks Erin." Then, setting it under the Keurig and seeing a very thoughtful and significant image slowly appear from the bottom up. Suddenly, everyone would LOVE their mug. They'd be clawing and fighting their way over to the Keurig. Others might start heating water on the stove. Maybe even microwaving it. All smiles and excitement. There would be laughter. There would be tears. People not expecting gifts would get one. I would be the Christmas day HERO!! Magic is quite the understatement. 

He sees some of my work, grins at a few of them, and says, "Erin. Don't get your hopes up."

Pshhh. Who me? No. Never. I'm fully aware that these are a $4 Groupon, so the odds of things not going smoothly are very high. Likely the correct photo won't even end up on the mug. I have braced myself. I AM a reasonable human, thank you very much. But...it's going to be sooooo awesome when they do show up and they are perfect. And I am the Christmas day hero.

"I know, Matt. I haven't. I just need to get them ordered now." 

He eyes me skeptically. "Ok. But don't get your hopes up."  He proceeds to call all the kids out of the kitchen and settles onto the couch in the family room.


December 20th

I received notification that my Mugs have left the warehouse! I am ecstatic. I instantly click the tracking number. The FedEx information loads quickly...and THAT my friends...is the instant Christmas was ruined. 

Expected Delivery Date: December 28th, 2017.
Location: Prairie Village, KS

Wait. What!? Prairie Village!? A double whammy, not only is it being delivered no less than THREE DAYS TOO LATE, it's going to my OLD ADDRESS. I had been fighting with the damn "auto-population" during check out the whole time, and obviously, the Mac won. I was at work when I saw this, and, even though I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've cried {during pregnancy doesn't count} in my life, I found myself choking back tears. 

I had gotten my hopes up. 

I felt so defeated. I wasted precious hours on these. And though, by themselves, they are a cool gift, it just wouldn't be the same to not experience the wonderful chaos that would ensue upon opening these gifts Christmas day. 

I tried to pull myself together. I tried for the next 3 days to not look at the tracker. I tried to re-ignite the spark of excitement for Christmas. I couldn't let it go though. I called FedEx. I called the Mug company. I asked Matt to call FedEx. I had my old neighbor walk down and give the owners of our old house my phone number in case they miraculously showed up before Christmas. Now. In my defense, my melancholy probably intensified due to 1-3 children puking and pooping and with fevers at any given moment starting on the 15th. 

At this point, I am just praying for nothing short of a Christmas miracle to get me out of this funk.


December 23rd

The illnesses continued. In both my house and throughout the community. I had to make another REALLY difficult and Christmas-ruining decision to cancel our 12th Annual O'Laughlin Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. It didn't seem right to invite people in to my stomach flu-ridden home. Also, I feared the bug could hit me at any minute. So, to add insult to injury, instead of prepping my glorious Winter-wonderland of a home, I popped into work to get some charting done. And, because I am a glutton for punishment, I checked in on the package tracker, one more time. 

Estimated Delivery: Out for delivery.

Wait. What!? Is this a prank? What exactly does this mean? This time, I am taking Matt's advice. Absolutely, not getting my hopes up...but...I think we are getting the mugs!!! OMG OMG OMG OMG.

An hour later...

Estimated Delivery: Delivered. 

They made it. The neighbor texted me. Matt picked them up from the old house. I opened each one. Poured hot water in them and watched the magic. Each one worked. It had the right image. It was perfect. I wrapped them in the special bags I had purchased specifically for the mugs. I sighed such a sigh of relief. I think I was glowing. For a moment, the sick feeling about cancelling the party had gone. Things were right in the world. I could not wait for Christmas morning. Could. Not. Wait.

Everyone was going to be so surprised. 


Christmas Day

We awoke in the wee, wee, like 1 to 2am morning hours to Curtis puking. Then Diana puking. Then Mitch pooping. Then everyone crying because they wanted to go downstairs and see if Santa had delivered. Then going to wake up Dee only to find her crusted in vomit. A lot more crying ensued as we showered her and delayed gifts even longer. I felt off - probably from the less than 4 hours of non-continuous sleep, and was, again trying to hold back tears. What a disaster. 

Our whole schedule got pushed hours back. We were rushed everywhere we went! I could hardly muster the energy to sit and smile. Getting the mugs to everyone felt like work. There was nothing magical about it. And frankly, I didn't get to see much...

...I went home sick. 

No Christmas Hero here. Unless you count surviving the day. But, even after ALL of that...

...I will probably still get my hopes up. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Magnetizing Story.

The morning of November 20th started like any other Monday. Absolutely miserable. And chaotic. As per the usual, I believe I awoke to Mitch standing at my bedside asking, "Who is watching us?"

Leah.

"Whyyyyyyyyeeee!?? Ugh."

Mitch, it doesn't matter, you have school all day, you will hardly see her. (It doesn't matter who I name here, he always whines. Unless I say it's me or his father. Even then he whines, because I'm not sure he can speak in any other tone.)

"Do I get my lunchbox?"

Yep, just like EVERY Monday.

No reply, he sulks off. Because, that's also what Mitch does...sulks. He's simply a peach.

I then got up, maybe I showered, definitely I gathered uniforms, then I proceeded to try to round up the 3 grade school boys, quietly, as Diana frequently sleeps in until 8 or so. Or, at least pretends to, then sings to herself for a bit. Lately, she has been doing recaps of her day in song to the tune of Let It Go, "We went to Science City, it was Science city, and the guy!!!! He fell down. And we played at Science City. And *jibberish, jibberish, jibberish, jibberish* Science City..."

After reminding Brock at least 7 times to get his shoes and socks on, he finally does it, but only after bribing him with breakfast. Or threatening not to give him breakfast if he doesn't get them on...does that qualify as a bribe? Maybe it's extortion. I don't know, there's a fine line there, am I right?

On this particular Monday, I'm pretty sure we were privvy to "uncooperative George". You know, as opposed to "screw waiting on these adults to help me, I can do everything myself, in fact, I'm looking for my own apartment George". Though the latter gets him into some pretty age inappropriate situations (I'm just waiting for him to attempt to drive himself to school), it's great because I will wake up to him 100% dressed, and potentially even self fed. Where as, "uncooperative George" has the most incredibly severe, frustrating, yet almost admirable stubborness one has ever encountered. Things that he can do in seconds become "too hard" or "take too long" or "my arms don't work" or "I'm too tired" or "I hate sk-cool" or "Why is *insert whoever the sitter is for the day* watching us!?" So, that's fun.

I haven't mentioned Curtis, because unlike ALL of his siblings, he kind of simply just does what he is supposed to...routine doesn't seem to bother him a bit. I think he might even enjoy it. Routine means he gets to mindlessly go about his day. In stark contrast to his older brother, who I feel has not less than 772 thoughts reeling through his mind at any given moment, I think Curtis might have 1, or 2...on a really hyper day. Bizarrely (but maybe the right adverb is: unfortunately) Curtis is our "Black sheep", yet I feel also the most "normal".

In other words, my other kids are all #$%*ing weird.

Which, perhaps, is a great way to get to the moment where this EXTREMELY typical Monday got a bit off track. I know, I know, I'm with you, at what point exactly was it "on track"?? All of us made it to our appointed locations, on time, and relatively cleanly dressed, so, yup, those are pretty much my standards these days.

I was traversing through the insanity that is Monday morning in a doctor's office. Seeing patients, returning calls and emails, checking labs...when my phone began to ring, and I could clearly see it wasn't the school, but the actual Kindergarten teacher herself calling. I didn't get to it in time...but that sick feeling was there. This was a first. A call during school hours from the teacher! That means the kid didn't even get to the school nurse, or it was so bad the nurse couldn't call because she was performing CPR or whatever they do for a child that has a tragic accident at school.

I try calling back. It's busy. I text "Sorry I missed your call, do you need to talk?" I then get this reply:
Oh thank God! One magnet, not a problem. And, it's uncooperative George day, so not much would surprise me. Then, I get to thinking, wait. But has he swallowed any other metal recently? Why do I even have to ask this? He's 5 and a half. Aren't we past the whole 'worried your child might swallow something phase'? Crap. Will we EVER be beyond that phase with this child? Ugh.

"It's fine unless he has swallowed any other metal! Please ask him if he has swallowed anything else."

A bit later, from 2 different sources: He says he has an entire piggy bank in his belly. But insists it's from when he was 3.

"Does he seem to be laughing about all of this? Can we trust his answers?" This is a real legit concern. George tends to do things simply to get a laugh. So, I really needed to know if he was making light of the situation.

Teacher's reply, "No, he was definitely a bit panicked after it happened. It wasn't on purpose."

After texting a few of my medical comrades, we deem everything to be ok, and that we will just become concerned if he develops some abdominal pain or stops pooping. Which doesn't happen. We aren't real diligently watching his poop either. Honestly, Brock is more stressed about the situation than any of us. Eventually, we all kind of forget about it. Except Brock.

Flash forward to the early, early morning of December 1st. George is writhing in pain on and off for hours through the night. So many families have had that stomach bug, I don't really think anything of it, except, please don't throw up anywhere except the toilet. Pleeeasse. But the kid just can't get comfortable. I push around on his belly, which doesn't seem to illicit any kind of pain, and it feels nice and soft and normal. I go back to sleep. Then, I hear him groaning, I wake up, and BOOM. It hits me. The magnet!!!! I punch Matt awake. "The magnet! We don't know if that has ever passed. Crap. Should we just wait until morning, and I'll X-ray him?" A groggy and confused Matt contributes very little to the discussion and I go check his belly again. All seems fine. It's now 2:30am and George has gotten up again, crying now. Matt very sternly asks him if it really hurts and if we need to take him to the hospital. George says, "I think so". (PS. In the meantime, Diana has awoken with a 102.4 fever and is miserable. No sleep for all!)

There it is folks, after a collective 28 years worth of children existing in our home, we took one to the ER. We all knew it would be George. I then get this text:



Two hours later, an exhausted 5 year old, and relieved 34 year old return home, and crawl back into bed. Matt mutters, they said if he keeps pooping it's fine, and give him some Mira-lax. George sleeps soundly for the next 3 hours. In the reasonable hours of the morning, I called some concerned grandparents to reassure them about the situation, but Brock overhears me saying the magnet is still in there. I get off the phone to see a pacing, bug-eyed and very worried Brock. "The magnet is still in his stomach!?" After a ridiculous amount of reassurance, we get all the boys off to school, George included. Reminding George that he cannot poop without telling us! And to quit flushing before an adult gets a chance to look at it. Brock becomes agitated and yells at George, "Stop flushing the toilet, George!!!" At this point, the whole house is in hysterics about George not taking this situation serious enough. Lucky for George, he has 4 siblings, more than happy to announce when he is pooping.

According to a few different accounts, George proceeded to proudly point at this right-lower quadrant, exclaiming, "the magnet it right here". I am sure the kindergartners were just soaking up the drama of it all, and George provided all the proper theatrics.

Meanwhile, I'm over-thinking things. Is it stuck in the ileo-cecal valve? If it is, what kind of procedure could get all the way to the small intestine? How long can we let this magnet hang out in his gut? I'm trying to get through my work day, to rush home and prepare my home for 30 women, after almost no sleep and a house full of tired and ill children, with no nanny, because she called in sick as well. December 1st will absolutely go down in history as one of THE most chaotic, difficult and fun days in the O Family Circus history.

Fast forward again to December 6th. A Wednesday. I am off other than a short meeting, so I scheduled George to see GI, because no one has witnessed a magnet in the toilet. If I'm being honest here, we didn't search real hard, Matt and I were far less concerned than Brock with seeing the poop. After impressing all of the Children's Mercy staff with his ability to loudly snap his fingers, George gets examined. They say just more Mira-lax and a repeat Xray. Also reassuring us, this could take up to 6 weeks to pass.
On December 8th, after many uneventful (thankfully) nights, we get a chance to x-ray his little belly again. The children entertained my entire office as we awaited the results. NO MAGNET!! It was gone. I'm not sure I've ever seen Brock more relieved. I'm not sure Curtis was ever truly aware of what was going on, anyway. Mitch seemed bored. Diana, I'm sure is working on a beautiful sonnet about the whole experience, and George? After I exclaimed, it's gone! Says, "Oh". That's it. After all of this excitement, chaos, stress...a simple shrug and an "Oh".

I know you were all hoping this story would have a really exciting and dramatic ending. But it, well, there ya have it.

Addendum: Upon texting the teacher to let her know of the good news, she was thrilled, and also informed me that if we had recovered the magnet that it belongs back in the Science center at school...uhhhhh...