Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thankful for conjunctivitis

I didn't even know that was the medical term for "pink-eye" until the boys came along. Since then, Kieran's had it twice, and I got it once. Of all the illnesses to get, it might be the easiest. My eyes felt irritated and itchy, and the "goop" was pretty gross, but I felt fine. And wearing sunglasses to hide my bloodshot eyes just made me look cool.

The worst thing about Kieran's case this time is that the doctor prescribed DROPS! THAT, my friends is tricky. I've worked out a system whereby I can sit on him without crushing him but keep his arms pinned down. He cries and twists around, I reassure him that it will help his eyes feel better, and within a few minutes, he's back to playing.

I am thankful for conjunctivitis. When pink eye is the worst illness your child faces, you're lucky. Several of my friends have children who are facing far more serious illnesses.

Little Evan Thomason is the son of a friend of mine from high school. He was diagnosed almost two years ago with a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma. He has undergone several different kinds of chemotherapy and has just regrown his beautiful blonde hair. He has an amazing voice, and talks like a child much older than he is. He uses phrases like "I would love to" and sang for the entire audience after a performance of Cinderella at Butler. My students have adopted him as our little "mascot" and ask me about him continually. We read updates in class and watch every video that Melissa posts. Tomorrow we'll have to watch this one. Just yesterday, Evan got the first part of his "Make A Wish" granted...and he became a celebrity for the day!

Little "Tater" just turned one and spent the first month of his life in NICU...and the doctors still aren't sure why. He's had multiple tests and biopsies, all with no diagnoses. He has had surgery to have a GI tube inserted, has been on oxygen and most recently had a tracheotomy so that he can breathe with a ventilator. He is somewhat delayed developmentally, but he has made so much progress in his first year. And he quickly developed CHARM!

Princeton is 4 (hmm...maybe 5?) and was diagnosed a few months ago with a rare kidney disease. His mother teaches with me at Butler and says that the doctor has told her it's a condition most patients grow out the time they're in college. That's a long way off, folks. And in the meantime, he is on a variety of medications (one of which they're having to reevaluate because it hasn't been effective) and a stringent diet with almost NO sodium. He even asks, "Does this have sodium?" before he eats anything. Can you imagine a little boy asking about the amount of sodium in his food??

Bella Rose is not even a year old and has already had two heart surgeries. She was also born with an ear abnormality and is completely deaf in one ear. She had her second open heart surgery a month ago and will have surgery on her spine in June.

And two weeks after Bella's surgery, a friend of mine had a sweet baby girl named Abigail. A few days later, she was diagnosed with a VSD, or hole in her heart, that will require open heart surgery sometime in the next few months.

I can't imagine what these children and their parents are going through. That's an understatement. Sometimes I try to imagine watching Connery go under anesthesia for surgery, or Kieran have to drink 16 oz of disgusting "contrast" for a CT scan ...and I chicken out. To see them laugh and play, but know that internally they are fighting for their lives? I can't do it.

Kieran got his last eye drops tonight. We celebrated by letting him dramatically throw the bottle in the garbage. And I thought to myself, We are so lucky.

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