Saturday, August 29, 2009

God's Knitting

A week ago today, I received the shocking news that my brother had cut off his finger in a power saw while building a playground for Baby Boy.

Since then, many thoughts and prayers have run through my mind. It's funny how you never realize how important a finger is until you -- or someone you know -- loses one. It immediately becomes critically important.

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible, and it's one that has crossed my mind a lot this week while praying for the healing of the finger.

Verse 13 says, " knit me together in my mother's womb." I love the use of the word "knit" in this verse, and it especially seems fitting in this situation as I pray for God to knit my brother's finger back together every bit as perfectly as He knit it together the first time -- in our mother's womb.

It's a strange thought really, to go back in time 31 years ago and think about God creating that tiny finger that we are praying so fervently for now. He knew then that one day that finger was going to be severed from its hand. When He made it perfect, He knew His creation would one day be destroyed. And He created it perfectly anyway. (You know there's totally a lesson in that.)

The strange part of it is the realization that MY fingers -- and everything else about me -- were knit together in that same womb just four years previously. Of course that's a fact that we know in our heads, but is that anything you've ever truly thought about? That you were inside your mother's womb? That you and your siblings spent the first nine months of being within that same womb?

Anyhow -- I know that if He so chooses, He can knit the finger back together every bit as beautifully as He did the first time. And in the meantime, He's already done lots of wonderful things through this tragedy.

My brother had planned to change his health insurance last month to one with a much higher deductible, and which had a 40% copay instead of the 20% he currently had. He forgot to do it. Boy, is he glad now.

They always have a cookout for Baby Boy's birthday. Last Saturday morning, before he went to the store with the intent to buy everything they would need for the party, they made the decision to order pizza this year instead. Had they not, they would have had a gazillion burgers and hotdogs, and all the fixings in their refrigerator -- and my brother is now not able to grill. Boy, are they glad they went with pizza.

The surgeon only operates on Tuesdays. This past Tuesday, he was solidly booked all day. Next Tuesday he is booked, as well. And following that, he's going on vacation for two weeks. It could very easily have been over a month before he could do the surgery on my brother's finger and in that amount of time, the bone would have healed and they'd have had to rebreak it, and who knows what might have happened with the tendons, nerves, arteries, etc. Monday afternoon -- just before my brother went in to have the finger looked at -- an extensive surgery that would have lasted several hours was cancelled, therefore freeing up his schedule for most of the day, enabling him to do surgery on the finger three days after the accident instead of a month afterward.

Healing is already good. The surgeon was impressed with how quickly the skin was regenerating and growing back together, and is hopeful that a skin graft may not even be needed after all. He didn't need to put a pin in the bone, as first thought, he simply wired it -- a procedure that will be much less painful and invasive to remove than if a pin had been required. The artery that was severed did not need to be operated on because the remaining artery was supplying good bloodflow to the finger and it was pink -- this is excellent because the surgery to replace the artery was very risky and only had a 50% chance of being successful, and even if it was successful, could result in problems later on down the road. Despite the appearance of the tendons being severed, my brother is able to bend the finger -- that's nothing short of a miracle as the doctor has no idea how he's able to do it. And finally, although he was initially told he would have numbness and tingling permanently due to the nerve damage, the surgeon was able to take a nerve out of his wrist -- one that he said would slow reaction time a little but there are other nerves to do the job and as it's his left hand it will be barely noticeable to him -- and put it in his finger. It's not yet known if that will be successful and restore normal sensation in the finger.

So we continue to pray that God will knit each and every part of the finger back to its original condition, and thank Him for all the answers He's already given.

It's Official: I've Been Adopted

Shortly after I moved in, I began to notice a frequent visitor on my property. A lanky gray tiger-striped kitty seems to have made herself quite at home here.

It's the most skittish cat I've ever met, and I assume it to be feral and not some neighbor's pet. Where she came from and why she chose my home is beyond me. I've never fed the cat. I've never let it in the house -- not that it would come in if I tried.

The cat has calmed a little, but it has been impossible to woo its friendship. I often spy it curled up in one of my patio chairs when I come home from work. Early on in this relationship, the moment the cat saw me -- even from across the yard -- it would bolt. Sometimes it would bolt before I even knew it was there -- I'd see nothing but a flash of gray across my yard.

At times when I saw the cat before it bolted, I tried to speak very softly and gently to it while slowly approaching it. It has gradually let me get nearer, but still nowhere near enough to be friendly. Now it lets me walk across the deck and into the house as long as I don't make eye contact with it, without bolting. If I pass the door and head toward the cat, however, it's not long before it's gone.

The other day on my way out to the mailbox, I noticed it hiding in a row of monkey-grass that lines the walk. The arc of the grass made a little parasol of sorts to give it shade from the warm sun. I didn't approach it and it stayed in its comfortable spot.

But today. Today I think the cat has made its first gesture of true friendship toward me.

No, it didn't let me approach it. No, it didn't ask to come in the house.

It left me a present.

A dead mouse is lying on my deck just outside my back door.

How nice.

I only hope the cat won't be offended if I leave it there in the hopes that it will return and take the mouse elsewhere!!

Anyone want to come over and dispose of a dead mouse for me? :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Biblical Discipline for Sensory Kids

Someone stumbed on my blog recently while searching for the term "Biblical discipline for sensory kids" and it got the wheels in my brain turning.

And here are the thoughts that were produced.

First of all, sensory kids are two things -- they're sensory (i.e., their sensory integration skills are deficient)... and they're kids. Let's look at the first component: they're sensory.

Sensory kids often display what the rest of us consider to be inappropriate behaviors. The tricky thing is, though, for the child, that behavior is very appropriate.

For example, if an ear-piercing and excruciatingly painful sound interrupted your conversation with your boss, would you simply ignore it? Of course not. You'd either cover your ears to try to block the sound, would cringe, would leave the room, would look for the source of the sound so you could eliminate it -- something. And that would be considered appropriate. Unless you had a horribly unfair and unkind boss, you would not expect a boss to punish an employee for not listening to him considering the disruption.

Take that example into a typical situation that might occur with a child with sensory integration dysfunction. Let's say said child is in the classroom listening to the teacher, and then one of the fluorescent lights in the ceiling begins to hum. Most children are ignoring the hum. A handful may be slightly distracted by it. But one child freaks out -- jumps up, covers his ears, screams (probably in pain!), maybe even runs out of the room.

Based on *your* sensory experience, this child's behavior is inappropriate. But based on that child's sensory experience, that hum was perceived by their brain as very loud and very painful. So actually their behavior was completely appropriate.

Should the child be disciplined for this behavior?

"But you can't just have them getting up and running off... you have to teach them to deal with disrupting sounds... they have to learn to ignore it like the other kids."

Really? Like you would just have to learn to spend your day working in an office with an excruciatingly painful sound ringing in your ear all day long and just ignore it? Is that the solution? or is eliminating the painful sound the solution?

This is just one example of millions of possibilities of WHY a sensory child may seemingly "misbehave" but their behavior is actually appropriate to their sensory experience. I do not for a minute believe the Biblical (or appropriate) way to deal with this child's behavior is to discipline the child, or try to teach them to just deal with the scenario.

The way to handle sensory-induced "misbehavior" is to analyze the occurrence to figure out what is going wrong in the child's sensory system that is causing them to behave the way that they are. Then eliminate it. Eliminate what you can environmentally -- can the fluorescent light be repaired so that it no longer hums? Can the locations where the child spends the most time be rewired to have other QUIET lighting instead? Can the child be given an assistive listening device that will dampen all environmental sounds and put the teacher's voice only directly into their ear? While doing everything possible to eliminate the source of the problem in the child's environment, the child should also be getting treatment to improve their sensory integration skills so that they can begin handling more and more of these situations without experiencing these problems.

If you remove and treat the problem, then the "inappropriate" behavior is going to disappear. If the child is no longer hearing the hum of the fluorescent lights, the child will sit quietly in his seat and listen just as he is expected to do.

Let's say, though, that someone viewed the child's behavior as inappropriate, and instead of looking at the reason the child acted that way, simply disciplined him. How much punishment do you think it's going to take to "correct" the behavior if the child is still being forced to hear an excruciatingly painful sound all day long in his classroom? An awful lot...

But unfortunately, parenting a sensory kid isn't quite that cut and dried. Because not only is the sensory kid SENSORY -- he's also a kid. And kids frequently do have inappropriate behavior that does require discipline.

The most difficult part for the parent is determining when your sensory kid is misbehaving because he's sensory, and when your sensory kid is misbehaving because he's a kid.

The best suggestion I can give you on how to tell the difference is to think before acting. You know your child and you know the types of sensory stimulation that tends to send your child through the roof. Analyze your child's misbehavior before jumping in with disciplinary tactics to see if the child's behavior was more likely due to inaccurate sensory processing or if it was just plain bad behavior. (Some clues too that may help you in difficult situations are looking at your child during the misbehavior -- is he flushed or sweating, or are his ears red? does he have a rapid heartbeat? rapid breathing? those are all big red flags to you that your child is not choosing to misbehave, your child's autonomic nervous system is on HIGH alert and this was caused by sensory overload.)

Does that help? Treat sensory (atypical) misbehavior; discipline voluntary (typical) misbehavior.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Phone Call

When something happens, do you ever go back and replay scenes in your mind and wish you could re-enter the scene and make some small change to prevent the something that happened?

I do. All the time. And yes, I've seen The Butterfly Effect. But I do it anyway.

Last night, my dad wanted me to come over as he had something to show me. When I got there, my brother was also there, borrowing my dad's saw. He's building a playground for Baby Boy's birthday present. "I was going to just go ahead and buy the pre-cut kit, but I priced them and it was $1000 for what I wanted to build and I can get the materials for it for just $300!" he exclaimed.

Wish he could go back and rethink that decision. Believe me, the kit would have been well worth the extra $700.

It really staggers the mind how life can change in a moment. Mat Kearney has a song out right now which has made me think of that each time I hear it, and think of the people for whom this has come true. "I guess we're just one phone call from our knees..." he sings.

I got one of those phone calls this afternoon. The totally unexpected kind that sends you into shock. It could have been a much worse phone call than it was -- but it was bad enough as it was.

My sister-in-law called. I had just talked to her an hour or so before, discussing potential gift ideas for Baby Boy's birthday, so I thought perhaps she had new information or ideas to share about that.

Instead, she said in the grimmest voice I have ever heard from her as she's one of the most optimistic cheerful people ever, "Can you come get Baby Boy? We're at the emergency room. Your brother cut off his finger."


I told her I'd be there as quickly as I could get there, and dashed out the door as waves of sickness washed over me. He cut off his FINGER. I know there are many many worse things that could happen to a person, but right now, cutting off a finger seems pretty bad!!

The emergency room experience was less than ideal. I hurried there as fast as I could drive amidst all the weekend traffic, parked the car, and dashed in frantically. I know panic was written all over my face, and after glancing around the waiting room and not seeing them, I ran up to the nurses' station. Four or five nurses were sitting there chatting with each other, and didn't even ask me what I needed!!

Now they didn't know who I was or why I was there. Someone runs into the emergency room with a look of panic and the nurses just ignore them? For all they knew, I was having a heart attack or something, or had someone dying out in my car that I needed help to bring in! And they just ignore me.

The security guard asked me if he could help me, and just then my sister-in-law came out with Baby Boy, handed him to me, said the side door was unlocked and she left chili cooking and could I please turn it off, and dashed off again.

I later learned that she had dropped my brother off at the entrance so he could run in and get help while she parked and got Baby Boy out of the car, and the same thing happened to him. He had to yell, "I CUT MY FINGER OFF!" to even get the nurses to look at him, and then, do you know what they said?

"You'll need to sign in."

Yeah. They really said that.

The security guard gave a disgusted look and said, "Give me the pen, I'LL sign him in!" He must be used to them...

Then they made him stand there, holding his hand wrapped in paper towels from home, mind you... and answer all sorts of ridiculous questions such as, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much pain are you experiencing right now?"

When they took him back, they told him to lie down on the hospital bed, and they handed him some gauze. That was it. He lay there for two hours -- and had to put on the gauze himself!

When the orthopedic surgeon arrived, after examining and doing X-rays, he said he was going to stitch it up for now -- because apparently they don't do surgery on the weekends... -- and then he'd need to call Monday morning to see when they could fit him in. He then said, "Now I'm going to clean up the wound, just like they did earlier, and then stitch it together..." and my brother said, "They didn't clean it..."

The doctor was appalled. "They didn't clean it!?" he asked.

No. He sat there for hours with a piece of gauze, with all the dirt and germs and who knows what else right there in the wound.

So he cleaned it and sewed it back together and we'll see what happens. They don't know yet whether or not the finger can be saved. He'll have to have at least two surgeries, and maybe more -- a pin put in to hold the bone together until it grows back, the tendons repaired, skin grafting... There was some dead tissue (I can't help but wonder if that was due to lack of immediate treatment!) and he said it would depend on whether the rest of the tissue around it died as well, in which case he would lose the finger, or whether it was okay, in which case he felt they could save it and he could regain use of it except for some numbness and tingling which would be permanent. So we'll see what the next few days holds.

I am still in shock, I think. I surely do hope they can save it. I'd hate for him to have to tell his son, "Well, at least your playground didn't cost me an arm and a leg -- just a finger."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back to School

It's that time of year again. The Walmart aisles are lined with crayons, scissors, and glue on sale for mere pennies (despite the fact that children in our state's schools aren't even supposed to be bringing school supplies anymore), teachers are busy readying their rooms to welcome their new little pupils, some parents are counting down the days until they can send their children back to school, and other parents are nervous and tearful over their little ones starting preschool or kindergarten for the first time.

I like back to school time. As a child, I loved the Open House our school always held a few days before school actually started -- a time to go in and see your room, meet your teachers, get your books. I would go home and read my new reading book from cover to cover before school even started. The teachers always had a bulletin board with the names of the students on it -- perhaps a construction paper crayon for each child, or a little school bus with a name on each bus. It was fun at Open House to look at those displays to see if there were any new children in the class this year, or if anyone had left over the summer.

Even as a teacher, I liked back to school time, even though it meant going back to work after a summer of freedom. Honestly, I never cared for summer break as a teacher. It was too long. I savoured the first week of it, enjoyed the second, and after that, it got to be rather dull and tedious. I spent most of it traveling to break the monotony of staying home day after day. I was totally for year-round schooling -- you get a couple weeks off each season and a month in the summer. I'd gladly have traded those extra two long months of summer for longer vacations in fall, winter and spring.

It was always fun as a teacher to look forward to a new year, starting fresh. As a speech therapist, I kept most of my kids from year to year, dismissing a few here and a few there as they corrected their problems, but the bulk of the kids I had in the spring of one year would still be mine come fall. It was still exciting to see all my old kids and see what progress they may (or may not!) have made over the summer, and I was always eager to meet all the new little preschool and kindergarten students, as I screened each one of them to determine which of them were going to need me. :)

Somehow... even in the same school, in the same room with the same materials, with mostly the same teachers and students, every year seemed like a totally fresh start. A clean slate. I loved screening and testing new kids, I loved making new schedules, I loved putting up all my little incentive charts fresh and empty for each student, and filling up the prize box with new and nifty little toys I thought the kids might work for.

I haven't worked in the school system now for five years, and quite frankly, I miss it. Especially this time of year. I love the job that I have now and whenever I contemplate returning to the school system instead, all the huge pros of this job stand out way above any pros the school job might have. The independence... the flexibility... the PAY. ;)

But I miss the older kids. I love the 3-7 year old age range and in the schools, that's the range most of my kids fell into, since by the time they're 8 or 9 I've "fixed" most of them. :) I like babies and toddlers too, but sometimes I'd love to sit down with a child who can actually work at a table, who can play card and board games, who can follow directions and cooperate!! I miss that.

But then I think about all those eaaaaarly morning risings... the bus duties... and the breakfast duties... the lunch duties... and worst of all, the RECESS duties (particularly in the winter when they're stuck indoors!)

And then I'm pretty glad to spend my days feeding babies and playing with farm animals on the floor with toddlers after all. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

All in a Day's Work

Received a lesson today in how to operate a Taser, from a coworker who had just had to use one when a father threatened to kill her at a home visit.

Later today I had the pleasure of having a child vomit right next to me, on my toys. At least it was right next to me, and not while on my lap, where he had just spent the previous half hour.

And finally, I come home only to notice brown smudges on my arms and my watch.

I can only hope it was chocolate...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Family Reunion, Names, and just General Ramblings

Warning: This post has no continuity whatsoever. I had to add "general ramblings" to the title because really that's all this is. One long ramble.

Well, I'm home from the annual family reunion. And I'm officially afflicted with baby fever.

This is actually a good thing. Here I've wanted all my life to have a baby, and lately I've noticed I'm not terribly interested in babies. I think it's because I'm surrounded by babies and toddlers day in and day out for work. They're not MY babies, and I've become desensitized to the "ooh, a baby" thought that used to occur when seeing babies was a rarer thing.

We have a new little family member that I've not mentioned here yet because I wasn't exactly sure what to say about him. Or what to call him. I've been thinking about the kids' names for awhile and have come to the conclusion that they're going to have to change -- or at least, Baby Boy's is going to have to change. I haven't yet figured out what to change it to, but he's turning three years old, and is no longer a baby.

And now we have another baby boy in the family. And Baby #4, gender unknown but I'm very much hoping for a girl, is due in a few months. :)

So... names, names. Little Girl has assured me that she is going to stay little forever, so her name is fine. But the rest of them... any suggestions? :)

Anyhow, when Little Girl and I returned from South Dakota, she was a big sister. Long story and not one that needs to be told anyway, but at least for the time being, I have a new nephew and have absolutely fallen in love with him in no time. He'll tide us over until Baby Boy's new little sibling arrives this winter, and then maybe -- MAYBE -- by then things will finally be moving on the adoption front for me. I've never seen such a slow process...

A couple weeks ago, we all went out to eat after church, but my sister was involved in a meeting there and didn't come, so I took her kids -- Little Girl and the new baby. As we were leaving the restaurant, I was carrying him in his bulky carseat (note to self: when I have a baby of my own, take the Ma Ingalls route: SIMPLIFY. It's not hard to take the BABY somewhere, it's carting around all the junk that comes along with him that about kills you! It's crazy!) -- anyhow, I was lugging him in the carseat and asked Little Girl to open the door for me. She did so, and someone standing there commented that she was Mom's little helper.

Mom. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be called that and it not be a mistake...

Anyhow. Back to the reunion. We had a great time, but it was interesting to see Baby Boy's reaction to the new baby, considering he's got his own little sibling on the way. He's always been a mommy's boy -- and if mommy's not around, daddy will do -- very unlike Little Girl who has always been equally loving and affectionate with all of us. Baby Boy doesn't have a whole lot to do with any of us as long as Mommy or Daddy is around, and it drives me nuts.

So this weekend, I was holding the baby and Baby Boy just kept waaaatching... the minute someone took the baby from me, Baby Boy scrambled up on my lap... and sat there forEVER. He's never done this. He's not a lap-sitter (except for Mommy and Daddy). So I figured it's baby-jealousy. Which is going to make it very interesting when his own mommy and daddy, of whom he is so attached and possessive, have another one.

I commented on what had happened to my brother, and he snapped his finger at Baby Boy -- "Come on, get up."

"WHAT!?" I said, still holding him -- "Why does he have to get up!??"

"He needs to get over it," my brother commented.

"Noooo!" declared I. "I've been waiting almost THREE YEARS for him to be cuddly, and now that he's finally done it, you're telling him to get over it!?"

He's actually been a lot more interested in me ever since I went with him to Disney World. Whatever the reason, I'm quite happy about it. I like this new Baby Boy that actually acts like he likes us. :)

While on the reunion, we did a few fun activities. One was an old steam engine train ride that went to a historic settlement. This was the entire reason I wanted to take the train ride -- to visit the village! Little Girl and I were quite looking forward to this, and finally we arrived. Imagine my shock to hear other people (NOT in our family) on the train muttering, "We have to spend a HALF HOUR here???" and "I'm just going to stay on the train and wait."


What on earth!? Why don't these people appreciate history? Meanwhile I was complaining about the half hour as not being NEARLY long enough! We rushed through and didn't even get to half of it.

We stayed on a big farm. Little Girl's Ingalls Homestead experience was apparently evident, as she was right at home in the barn. The owner adored her, said she's his little farmer girl and make sure we bring her back next year so he can put her to work.

On the way home, she told me she wants to live on a farm.

I do too. I know just the farm I want. Unfortunately, it's owned. :)

Maybe someday.

Done rambling now. Sorry about that. :)