New Adventures

I have been refraining from writing, for reasons that only a few will know. I apologize to those few, in advance. I have reached a point where I cannot refrain any longer. I write not to gain sypmathy, rather, because it helps me cope.

Courtney is having helath problems. You need some background before I continue, so please prepare yourselves. Sadly, they started with headaches. A kind of headache she has never experienced before. She only thought she knew pain~ until it felt like someone had stabbed her through the eye with a knife. At first it presented like cluster headaches, very predictable, same time every month, same intesnsity. We went to a local neurologist (we refer to her as Condesending Bitch), she walked in with the preconcieved notion that Courtney was suffering migraines, reluctantly ordered an MRI, noted that the 0.6 mm cyst on her pituitary glad was a typo, dismissed it, and sent us on our way with a prescription for migraine. Things got worse. Courtney started showing signs of hormonal issues. Off to an endocrinologist we went. Thyroid does not look as it should, stretch marks she shouldn’t have, vision problems, weight gain, short term memory issues, panic attacks, confirmation that the cyst is .6cm, not mm ~ you get the idea. The endocronologist ordered tests on every hormone the pituitary glad regulates, plus an MRI with contrast. Meanwhile, we made an appointment with her former heasache specialist. He’s awesome! Headache diagnosed as something that could possibly be csused by said cyst, medicine prescribed, although difficult to obtain. Courtney goes for more blood work to monitor kidney~ and apparently liver~ funtion. MRI with contrast at outpatient clinic at UT Southwestern unsuccessful due to inability to start IV. Headache specialist calls the day before MRI to inform us that liver enzymes are slightly elevated. MRI rescheduled at hospital. MRI successful.

First off, let me apologize for the choppy paragraph you just read. I have not the energy to worry about that at this time. Second, let me tell you about the amazing adult Courtney has become. Some days are better than others. I have had more than a couple of days of phone calls where I had to, figuratively speaking, talk her off a ledge to get her to school. It is no easy task to deal with a classroom full of 25 kids, whilst trying to calm a panicky 18 year old so that she can get to school. I would love to be home every morning to help kick her out the door, but that is not feasable. Barring appointments, between the two of us, we manage to get her to school on an almost daily basis. She has dreams. As odd as it might sound to some of us, she wants to teach math. She is passionate about it. She’s scared~ scared that she won’t remember the math she is taught, scared that she won’t be able to see to do the math. She’s scared she won’t fit into the cute dress she bought for graduation, that she won’t be sitting on the stage at graduation as a salutatorian; just plain scared. Here’s the thing that makes her so amazing~ she still gets up every morning, takes a shower, and more often than not, gets her ass to school. She knows she is likely facing surgery. She doesn’t wallow in self pity (although she frequently wants to), she does what needs to be done, she laughs, she faithfully follows Premier League Soccer, she looks to her future as a teacher, she wants to plant flowers, she prepares, as best she can, for AP exams, and looks to dual credit exams; she continues to do what needs to be done, hopes for the best. We see the endocronologist Wednesday to get results of the MRI and hormone testing.

Courtney is currently sleeping comfotably on the couch. After all, she was up a full two hours earlier than usual in order to be in Dallas at 8:30 this morning. TO say she was stressed is quite the understament. She was afaid of more blown veins~ there were three on Saturday. Fortunately, the IV team at Clements University Hospital was able to start an IV with one try. I think we will have an IV team ready from here on out. Courtney never ceases to amaze me, and I know she never will. I think she gets her strenght from the love of my life, her father, and the glue that holds us together. No matter what happens, she will proudly walk across the stage on June 3, earning a distinguished diploma from Denton ISD.


A lot sure can change in a year.  A year ago today, Courtney and I were on our way to Rochester, MN.  All of us were a tad anxious about the uncertainty that lie ahead of us~ after all, the Pain Rehabilitation Center at the Mayo Clinic was our last hope after eight years of that condition we no longer speak of.  Today’s uncertainties are mostly of the mundane variety~ what to have for dinner tonight, will there be rehearsals, and… well, you get the idea.  A good portion of more than half of Courtney’s life had been spent trying to get her out of pain.  Today, there is no talk of pain in reference to Courtney.  So what has the last year been like around here?  Read on…

I will say, when we got home from Rochester, things were a bit shaky, and I admit to fearing a backslide.  Courtney still had school work to catch up on, she was staying late at school for rehearsals everyday, and the winter break could not get here soon enough to suit her.  She struggled a few times but once she caught up on sleep and school work, things got better.  I spent several months wondering how she was doing, but I knew I could never ask.  Today, I’m rarely, if ever curious… I can see it on her face.  I can say with confidence, that the last year of her life has probably been the best year of her 16 years.  She finished her freshman year of high school with a 4.8 GPA, her summer was spent mostly inside by choice~ rather than as a result of that condition~ and her sophomore year has thus far been pretty damned amazing.  A year ago, the activities of the last two weekends would have put her down for days, if not weeks.  This year, a weekend of Homecoming activities and standing around in costume at the local Barnes and Noble for hours, followed by a weekend of three performances on Friday, all day spent with the boyfriend, and a late night with friends, only makes for a very tired, somewhat cranky Courtney.  A year ago today, smiles were starting to become rare, getting out of bed every morning a struggle, and the only thing I could see in her eyes was pain.  Today, smiles are a very regular occurrence~ it’s actually somewhat frightening how cheerful she’s been lately~ getting out of bed, although inconvenient, does not require every bit of strength she can muster, and I see nothing but happiness in her pretty hazel eyes.  She glows and it only makes her more beautiful than she already was.

I want to take a minute to thank all of you that helped us get to Rochester, as well as those of you who were with Courtney and I for three and a half weeks of pain rehabilitation.  You all gave us a new life.  I brought home a brand new Courtney on November 14th of last year.  Thanks to you, Courtney and I got to experience something that we will never forget, something that forever changed the life of one of the most amazing people I know.   A part of me used to suspect that the condition she suffered through for eight years helped make her the incredible person she is today.  We’ll never know, but based on what I’ve seen the last year, she would be just as amazing had she never experienced a day of pain in her life.

By the way, if you are thinking I haven’t told you how she’s doing with that pesky thing that sent us to Rochester, then you didn’t read very closely.  In all reality, I don’t even know if she has bad days anymore.  I don’t really want to know.  You see, if she has them, it doesn’t ruin her day, and she is no longer consumed with thoughts of it never ending.  Instead, she is busy being an above average teenager!

A New Journey Begins

I have sat down at my keyboard several times over the last week or so, knowing I had something to say, but not quite knowing how to say it.  Today, I sit, knowing that my head, my heart, and my fingers are all riding the same wave.  As much as I love to write, I am happy to say that this will be my last post regarding Courtney and the pain that has been her constant companion for eight years.  All that hope, courage, and strength I have been writing about for the last year has finally paid off…

Eight years ago, we heard Courtney say her head hurt.  It’s been a long eight years.  All of you know at least a little of our story~  some of you have been around since the beginning, some for the year I’ve been writing, and a few for just over three weeks~ and all of you have~ whether you know it or not~ helped my beautiful family on our journey through Courtney’s pain.  Thanks to so many of you, that journey has ended, and a new one has begun.  I’ve said it before… I’ve no doubt Courtney would be an amazing child even if the last eight years had not been what they were.  I do strongly feel that those years gave her courage and strength to begin her new life.

When we arrived at the Pain Rehabilitation Clinic on October 22, Courtney’s pain was a 58 on a scale of 1-10.  I spent three weeks putting on my brave face, not asking about her pain, doing my best to do what the wonderful people at the PRC told me to do, all the while wondering what was going on in that sweet, wonderful, head of hers.  In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter anymore.  I know tonight that no matter what is happening, pain is not at the forefront of her mind~ it has been banished to a part of her brain that is quite difficult to reach, and I am supremely confident that she will continue to do what needs to be done to keep it there.

Words are truly inadequate to describe to you the gratitude I feel for all that each of you has done to help us get where we are today.  To see her smile, to hear her laugh…  it gives life new meaning, restores hope, and brings great joy.  I could not possibly be more proud of the amazing young lady sitting next to me, watching TV~  I love you, Courtney!


It’s been a while since I have written.  What can I say?   Sometimes life gets in the way and you find yourself wondering where the last two months have gone.  I know precisely where they’ve gone, and sometimes think I will wake up and it will have all been a horrible nightmare… I’ve been assured that won’t happen.  Other times, I find myself feeling as grateful as I’ve ever been~ every evening I get to sit at the dinner table with the three people I love most in this world, and I will never again take that for granted.

So where have the last two months gone?  Read on, my faithful followers…

When last I wrote, Courtney’s pain level was, on a scale of 1-10, a 28~ today it is 55.  A couple of weeks into the girls’ summer vacation, Ed started his two week vacation.  Our plans for picnicking and fishing at various area lakes were put on hold.  Pain aside, Courtney was simply not feeling like herself.  Insomnia had set in, when she did sleep, her tiredness seemed disproportional to her pain, and she often spoke of “feeling like butt”, which basically means she didn’t feel good.  This prompted a two week tour of North Texas doctors’ offices, starting with the family doctor.  Much blood was drawn, results came back, and more blood needed to be drawn.  A visit to the eye doctor to check for spinal fluid behind the eyes, and a referral to a rheumatologist, yielded negative results for a cause of her pain and suffering.  The rheumatologist referred Courtney to Children’s Medical Center Dallas, Pain Management Center .with a possible diagnosis of Pain Amplification Syndrome.  Because her headache specialist had tried everything, we made the appointment, and proceeded to do our best to keep everyone happy until her appointment on July 31.

Life got in the way.  A week after Ed went back to work, our lives were, forever changed.  Ed had been complaining of sharp pains in his chest for a couple of weeks.  Because he had experienced this before and been told that he was not having a heart attack, we were not overly concerned.  The pain got to a point that warranted him seeing our family physician.  An EKG came back with normal results, he was declared “weird” by our doctor (we love our doctor, she is very blunt and to the point, and often sarcastic), and referred to a cardiologist.  He never made it to the cardiologist… instead, he made it to the emergency room.  The ER doctor seemed confident that he was not having a heart attack, but ordered cardiac enzymes nonetheless.  Turns out doctors can be wrong.  He was, indeed having a heart attack.  With a 99% blockage in his major artery, and three other arteries having between 95-99% blockage, a quadruple bypass was his birthday gift.  It was a hard pill to swallow.  Fortunately, he’s a young man with a strong heart.  Home from the hospital, we all did our best to adjust.  With Courtney’s pain level rising almost daily, and Ed unable to do much for himself, each day was a learning experience.  For the most part, we managed well~ the girls helping out as much as possible, and Ed being a good patient, made things much easier than they might have otherwise been.

Life got in the way.  My best friend of 28 years passed away unexpectedly.  With Ed in only his second week of recovery, I was unable to make the 1,500 mile journey to bid farewell to my beautiful friend.  As much as I tried to be fully present to be our family’s primary caregiver, I imagine that I was often absorbed in the nightmare in which I found myself.  I could not appreciate my family any more than I do!  My emotional state was in serious jeopardy~ after all, one can only take so many emotional hits, so close together~ and had it not been for the strong people I share my life with on a daily basis, I find it difficult to believe that I would be coherent enough to be writing our story.

Our story is not finished.  See, the appointment with the pain management people had some rather unexpected results… it turns out they can’t help Courtney.  Because the rheumatologist had suspected it, I was not surprised at the diagnosis of Pain Amplification Syndrome ~a fancy term for “your pain has become your disease, and your brain and body no longer process pain in a normal way”~ I was however, surprised to learn that there are only two places in the country that treat the syndrome… Dallas is not one of them.  Being told there was nothing they could do for us was always a thought, nagging at the back of our minds.  Being told that they wanted Courtney to go to the Mayo Clinic for a three week rehabilitation program designed to retrain her brain and body, was nothing we had imagined.  In case you are unaware of geography, Rochester, MN is a long way from Dallas, TX.  It seems even further when I consider the cost of getting there.  Given the events of the last three years~ four hospital stays for Courtney, expensive medicines and frequent doctor visits for her, and two surgeries for Ed (he had his thyroid removed in December of last year)~ money has now become the biggest obstacle in the way of Courtney being pain free.

I refuse to let life continue to get in the way.  Courtney will get to Minnesota.  It seems unlikely that it will happen before the end of the year, but we will try our damnedest.  Here’s the deal, Courtney has dreams, lots of them.  She wants to go to college, become a scientist, take another road trip across the country to see her grandparents, climb mountains, scramble upon giant boulders, act in school plays, hang out with her friends, be able to go to the mall with her sister and know that she won’t suffer for two days after.  The biggest dream of all is the one that needs to become reality… to be free of pain.  It is our job to make that dream come true.  She has yet to give up hope~ neither shall I.

It has been a little more than a month since Ed’s surgery, three weeks since Missy’s passing, and a week since Courtney’s appointment at the Children’s Pain Management Center, and for the first time in more than two months, I am alone in the house.  I prefer to do my writing when it doesn’t take time away from my family… I am not a multitasker, so when I write, I am quite unaware of what is going on around me.  There has been much for our family to absorb this summer, none of it easily done so.  I could not be more proud of my family at this moment~ several storms have passed our way, and we can all still find joy in the small things and take comfort in each other.

Finding Joy

 I don’t know about you, but I love morning glories.  They appear so delicate and each flower lasts only a few short hours.  Despite their delicate appearance, they are actually a quite hardy flower~ how else do you explain how well they tolerate the Texas heat?

Morning Glory Opening

In her last weeks of being homebound from school, Courtney did some planting.  She planted strawberries, veggies and herbs, hoping to be able to consume the fruits of her labor.  Once she had finished planting, she expressed a desire to try growing two varieties of flowers~ calendula and morning glories~ her and Jessica’s birth flowers, respectively.  She put them in the same planter, hoping to symbolize their relationship, and her love for her sister.  She is a thoughtful child, frequently expressing her love for her younger sister with simple gestures… just one more thing I find so amazing about her.

I’m going to back track for a moment.  After three months of being homebound from school, Courtney went back to school with only a month left of her last year in middle school.  Although she was happy to be back with her friends~ frequently cheerful, little complaining~ pain was her constant companion.   I can only imagine how exhausting it was to get up, put on a smile, spend eight hours a day in fluorescent lights, surrounded by constant noise, and unfriendly smells, after three months of rarely leaving the house.  Despite all of that, and with little instruction for most of the semester, she finished the year with a stellar academic record.  Her last day was bittersweet, having been gone so long, knowing that next year she will be in  high school.  She declared it a great year, in spite of being homebound for so long, thinking that maybe that made it even better.

Although we have managed a few games of Wii frisbee golf (who knew such fun could be had playing with the stipulation that you must take all of your shots while sitting down~ this is not as easy as it might sound), thus far, summer vacation has started with her being able to do little more than lie on the couch wishing the pain away.  Naturally, we hope to make the most of our summer and I’ve no doubt fun will be had… it just might have to be had indoors.   It is only early June and temperatures are inching close to 100 degrees here in North Texas, with bright sunshine, and rather oppressive humidity~ not exactly what I would call migraine-friendly weather.  Perhaps it would be easier if the pain wasn’t constant, its level rising on a daily basis.  At least then, she could get out for a bit every couple of days.  Sadly, that is not the case, so she finds joy and pleasure in whatever she can.  Which brings us to morning glories.

Courtney is tired… very tired.  Sleep is one of the best things for her at this point, but stubborn child she is, she won’t sleep during the day, and tends to rise rather early~ for a teenager, that is~ in the mornings.  Yesterday evening, we told her she needed to sleep as late as she could today.  Under normal circumstances, she would have agreed… there are extenuating circumstances.  The morning glories she planted, representing Jessica, have started to bloom.  Each day brings even more flowers, to be enjoyed for a short time.  Courtney was reluctant to miss them~ much love went into those flowers and she gets such joy out of seeing each and every one.  I assured her that I would take pictures of the flowers this morning, and to please, sleep.  Sleep she did, she emerged from her room two hours later than normal, opened Facebook and was greeted by pictures of morning glories.  Some of the flowers are still open, but soon they will close, to be replaced tomorrow by more blossoms.

Although Ed and I have always tried to appreciate the little things in life, to find joy in the beauty that surrounds us, to make the most of our situation, I think Courtney has deepened our ability to do that.  She never takes a good day for granted.  She always sees the beauty in the things around her… from morning glories to spiny lizards (I’ll explain that another day).  Much like her  precious morning glories, although she might appear delicate, she is actually quite strong.  Fortunately for us, her beauty will be here for us to enjoy for years to come.

Open and Beautiful

Courtney has become fond of saying, “I have a migraine condition.”  Although truer words have never been spoken, she says it in jest.  It is part of her good humor in the face of severe status migrainosus that has lasted more than a year.  She uses the phrase at various times, most often when she has a “brain fart” or has lost a game of frisbee golf on the Wii, the idea being that migraine is the cause of her loss or lack of wit.  Her most recent use of the phrase was at school last week.  Yes, I said school.  I admit, my little blog has a small following, most of you coming here by way of Facebook, but I still feel compelled to announce that, after three months of being homebound from school due to her migraine condition, Courtney is in her second week back to school full-time.

It probably comes as no surprise that her first day back to school, she was nervous.  I was, quite frankly, terrified.  Coming home to an empty house that morning was heart breaking and I was racked with worry the entire day.  I needn’t have been.  The bounce in her step, smile on her face, and no “my head hurts” ~that being code for her pain has increased or she can feel it more~at the end of the day were enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes.  Her second day back was considerably easier for me.  Stephen Stills has never sounded so wonderful, as his beautiful guitar and low, soul-soothing, often raspy, always straight from the gut voice kept me company all day.  Pardon me while I daydream for a moment…

I was able to relax, knowing that Courtney was happy to be back in school.  By week’s end, her step was still light, she had reclaimed her desk in each of her classes, we were hearing tales of fun she had with friends~ the best story being of a chess game she lost in five moves, to which she replied… “I have a migraine condition.”~ and her pain level had only gone up once, and for the first time in two years, actually came down to it’s original level.  No, that does not mean she is in any less pain than she has been, it means, simply, that the pain decreased the same amount it increased.  Although I missed her the entire week, I was happy to see her happy and relatively healthy.

We bought Jessica (for those of you that don’t know, Jessica is Courtney’s little sister) a fishing pole a couple of weeks ago.  She has been fishing with friends lately and discovered how much she loves it.  The plan for the weekend was to go to an area lake, Ed and Jess hang out fishing whilst Courtney and I talk, read, and enjoy each other’s company after her first week back to school.  Although we went to the lake, plans changed.  Courtney wanted to spend some time with her little sister, so she decided she would fish with Jess for a while before hanging out with me.  Turns out, she loves fishing.  A wonderful day was spent at the lake, both girls catching their first fish, as well as major sunburn.  Apparently, too much sun and fishing makes for a miserable Courtney.  No worries, a bit of aloe, some hydrocodone, and several games of Wii frisbee golf brought her back to normal rather quickly.  Never has a few games of frisbee golf left me as happy as it did Saturday night.  While waiting for Ed and Jessica to take their throws, Courtney put her head on my shoulder and whispered to me, letting me know how much she missed me while she was at school.  My heart soared, tears flowed, as Courtney and I teamed up against Ed and Jessica.  An affectionate Courtney is a rare thing, indeed and the day could not have ended on a more pleasant note~ all were happy, love was flowing.

After much relaxing and a lot of Solarcaine, Courtney was ready for school Monday morning.  She shares all of her core classes with the friend that beat her at chess in five moves.  He took full advantage of this to remind her, every chance he got, that he beat her in five moves.  And each time, she replied… “I have a migraine condition.”   These are smart kids, frequently finishing work quickly, allowing the kids to chat when done.  During Algebra, the words, “five moves” and “migraine condition”, were exchanged quite often leading to one question… “How does a migraine affect your ability to play chess?”  To which Courtney responded, “On a scale of 1-10, my migraine is a 28.”  One of her friends suggested that she change her pain scale.  Her response was simple, to the point… if she changes her pain scale, no one will really understand just how bad it hurts.

When I started writing today, I was thinking how glad I was that Courtney has had seven days of school and is still in no more pain than the day she went back to school~ a rather amazing feat, all things considered.  Hell, she even managed a field trip to the Dallas Holocaust Museum, on a bus for 45 minutes one-way, with no increase in pain.  I was elated; things are looking up.  After all, another Super Moon came with no aura, no increase in pain.  If the pain got worse, it didn’t stay worse… until today.

For the first time since she went back to school, she declared, as soon as she got in the car, that her head got worse.  Granted, the day isn’t over.  I am still hopeful that a good night’s rest and getting her EOC (End of Course exam) for Algebra done, will result in a decrease in her pain.  That being said, she once took a state mandated, standardized test with a level nine~ at the time she had never had pain above an eleven~ migraine.  She got a perfect score.  At the very least, she will take her EOC with a level 28 migraine… she’ll pass with flying colors, I’m sure.

I can’t say it enough… Courtney is an amazing child.  She deals with pain, the likes of which I have never known.  She doesn’t change her pain scale~ not because she wants sympathy, rather, because she wants people to understand, to know that, although she looks like she feels good, she is simply managing, and that this is serious business.  In the midst of that pain, she manages to find joy, to enjoy the little things in life, to be able to say~ without hesitation~ that knowing how miserable she was after a day of sun and fishing, she would do it all over again, to be able to say, “I have a migraine condition.”… all with a smile on her face, never giving up hope.

Un-Balancing Act

Today’s post originally started on a humorous note~ the girls were driving me crazy and it was fodder for my writing.  Consider yourself warned~ it will end on a more serious note, with me realizing that, although I was able to find the humor in the adventure that is our life, sometimes, reality does intrude.  The point was to be: one homebound eighth grader + one sick sixth grader= one mom ready to pull her hair out.  I started writing at 8:30 this morning.  It is now 6:30 in the evening.  When I called this morning to inform the attendance clerk that Jess would not be at school, I noted that I was starting to twitch, with the girls having only been awake for 36 minutes.  I made that comment because the entire 36 minutes had been spent with me as mediator to their arguing.  I am used to mediating, today’s was easy~  Courtney could play on the Wii for 30 minutes, Jess could play on the Wii for 30 minutes.  The rest was just the usual sister getting on sister’s nerves, speaking it aloud.  It made me twitch.  I hope you understand; when all is said and done, I said exactly what I wanted to say when I started this post~ it just didn’t come out quite the way I thought it might.  That being said, my opening line was perfect and I feel I must share a bit of humor… I love my children.  Truly, I could not possibly love them more.  With that qualifier, I beg of you, make them go away!

And now begins the journey that brought me to edit my opening…

During the summer months, I don’t mind the girls being home all the time.  I get tired of the fussing and fighting, but for the most part, I am free to go about my daily life, leaving them to argue or do whatever it is they do when they are getting along.  I sometimes step in as mediator, judge, jury, or ring master, and then go back to doing whatever it is I need to do.   Unfortunately, school is in session, Courtney is still homebound with lots of work to do, and Jessica is home sick.  This is day three.  Jess is feeling better. Fever gone.  Unfortunately, the fever was not gone soon enough for her to go to school today.

I must back up a bit… Last week was not conducive to Courtney getting school work done.  If I am recalling correctly, the week started with an increase in her pain level.  Any time her pain level increases, work pretty much stops for the day.  I can only imagine  how difficult it is for her to continue to hope that things will improve, only to have that hope crushed when things get worse~ it makes it hard for me to force her to continue working.  Tuesday saw a line of severe weather heading toward us, arriving right around the time I leave to get Jess from school.  This presented a problem.  No way was I going to leave our 14-year-old daughter home alone with the possibility of large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes.  Courtney was dropped off at Dad’s office while I went to cower in a hallway at school.  Wednesday’s work time was interrupted by an appointment, and school work is turned in at 9:15 Thursday mornings.  Most of her daily work was done~ with the exception of an Algebra assignment~ leaving two major projects still to complete.

And now this week… Courtney was all set.  Because Friday (the day homebound teachers return completed work and pick up the next week’s work for all of their students) was a school holiday, her homebound teacher, Misti, adjusted Monday’s schedule so that she could pick up students’ work on her way to their homes.  This meant that we had been moved from 9:15 to 10:30, leaving time for me to dye Courtney’s hair before Misti arrived.  Courtney was very efficient, spending her time waiting to rinse, doing Algebra.  We ran into a problem… one bottle of dye didn’t quite cover her entire head.  Okay, that was fine.  As soon as Misti left, I would go get another bottle and do the touch-up, Courtney would work while waiting to rinse and dry hair, and then spend the rest of the day getting school work done.  Misti brought her work for the week, we took a look at everything, I emailed a teacher who had work for her, but didn’t get it in the box, and Courtney made a plan for the week.   Plans change when your sister comes home sick in the middle of the day.

I left to go run errands, including getting more red dye, and Courtney started to work.  I was gone five minutes when I got the phone call informing me that Jess couldn’t stay at school, she was running a fever.  In the 30 minutes it took to get Jess and bring her home, Courtney had managed to get a lot of work done.  Granted, the science was pretty easy, but I was proud, nonetheless.  After getting Jess settled, I set to getting Courtney’s hair done.  Apparently Courtney thought it was a good time to take a break.  I can imagine it’s hard to get motivated to do school work while your little sister is curled up watching TV, being waited on hand and foot.  To the best of my recollection, Courtney did not get much more work done Monday.  Because Jessica ran fever all day Monday, we knew she would be staying home Tuesday as well.   I thought Courtney and I could successfully regroup and she could get some school work done while Jess spent time resting, trying to feel better.

Caution, writer goes off on a tangent, continue at your own risk.

My main job title for the last~ almost~ 15 years has been “Mom”.  As such, I play nurse to our kids when they are sick.  It is tiring work, but the rewards are always worth the effort.  When they were little, although I always hated them being sick, I enjoyed the time spent cuddling with them.  They wanted nothing more than to be held and I always had open arms.  Once both girls started school, I began to enjoy that time even more.  Rarely were the girls both sick at the same time.   When one of them got sick, I was free to spend almost eight hours giving one child my undivided attention.  As they got older, they stopped wanting to cuddle.  Sad, I know.  Now all they want is the assurance that, yes, they will feel better soon, I will make ten batches of pancakes if that is all they feel like eating, a hug now and then, and to know that if they need anything, I will gladly do it for them.  I love my job.  In some ways, it was less demanding when they were younger… or maybe they were just quicker to pardon me when I didn’t do my job as well as I could have.  I can honestly say, I wish I had done a better job the last few days~ I didn’t get a chance to hold Jess while she was sick. I did make her a batch of pancakes, make a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, and did my best to make sure she didn’t have to move a muscle, but that pales in comparison to having my undivided attention for eight hours.

Every parent is a teacher, if you don’t want that job, don’t become a parent.  With Courtney homebound, the job of teacher in my job description, has taken on new meaning.  Misti is a wonderful homebound teacher.   Had we been able to, we could not have chosen a better teacher for Courtney; I will be forever grateful that Misti has been here for her. She is an easy child to teach~ having taught herself almost three chapters of Algebra over the last two and a half months~ and Misti has had to provide very little instruction for her.  I was amused this morning when she got here, itching to help Courtney with Algebra (Misti had been sure to review the lessons Courtney was working on).  Courtney obliged, and together they made sure that she would have no trouble getting through the rest of the chapter.  With only one hour a day, four days a week, Misti cannot be here to give a needed nudge to get work done, or answer questions that need to be answered at 1:00  Wednesday afternoon, in order to be sure work is complete, ready to go sometime between 9:15-10:15 Thursday morning.  Misti’s job description does not include coming to our house several times throughout the day to remind Courtney that there is work to be done.  I think that falls in my job description.  And sometimes, there have been things to teach that I have been willing to tackle.  Although I like poetry, I have not thought about iambs in 25 years.  As her classroom teacher said, it is hard to teach on sticky notes.  And just as hard to teach when it is not something you have done in several years.  I have no doubt Misti could have managed, I just thought I would save her that nightmare.

This week has been a balancing act.  Somewhere along the way, I became unbalanced.  Jess was sick, I needed to know how high her fever was before Misti could come for Courtney’s hour.  This meant that Courtney didn’t get any alone time in the morning.  Most days, I am taking Jess to school when she gets out of bed.  She then has another 30-40 minutes, while I run errands, to do whatever she wants to do.  Usually she plays video games.  You would think that a child with such a severe migraine would have no desire to play video games… you’d be wrong.  It gives her something to focus on besides the pain.  For the last two mornings, she has had to share with Jess.  Jess didn’t have to do school work for two days, Courtney did.  Misti left on Tuesday morning, Courtney got a small bit of work done before her dentist appointment and when we got home, she followed directions~ work for an hour, take a break for an hour, work for an hour.  I have to give her credit, it was a well thought out plan; she spent x amount of time doing work from her core subjects, in the order of her class schedule.  The only problem with the plan was that she only worked for two hours, taking her through only four of her five core subjects.   After the second hour of work, she declared herself done.  The teacher part of me couldn’t help but wonder why one of her core classes had been left out.  If I were to tell you all of the work she did, you would be impressed.  If I were to tell  you all of the work yet to be done…

After the teacher part of me got angry with her for neglecting her work, the mom part of me took sympathy on Courtney.  Jess was still being waited on, whilst watching TV in my room~ if I were Courtney, I would have a hard time with that.  After all, it just doesn’t seem fair that your little sister gets to do nothing while you do school work.  I get it.   Jess seemed to be moving toward fever free, all indications being that she could go to school today, and I had given Courtney my lecture and made a deal with her.  Truth be told, I have got to stop bargaining with that child.  Jess couldn’t seem to get far enough away from the 100 degree mark to make me comfortable sending her back to school.  Courtney had to share again this morning while Jess was in rare form… the bickering commenced minutes after I got them out of bed.

As for school work, Courtney worked hard today.  Unfortunately,  neither of us really knew that, although the Algebra she had left to do was fairly easy, it was also time consuming.  The deal was, get certain work done to send with Misti Thursday morning, and I would allow her Thursday to finish work for me to drop off when I took Jess to school on Friday.  Some of the work is not very time consuming, some she just doesn’t feel like doing, and some will take quite a bit of  time.  I know which teachers are willing to cut her a break.  I also know that I cannot lie to these teachers.  It is my fault her work is not done.  My balancing act failed.  Courtney will not have Thursday and Friday off… she will have her work done before Monday morning.  It should have been done by 9:15 tomorrow morning.

I find it difficult to force a child in severe pain to do work when all she wants to do it watch movies with her sister.  Sometimes, it is no easy feat to balance what needs to be done with what what is best for Courtney’ s pain.  This is a learning process.  I am learning, all the while trying to teach Courtney how to manage her life.  She teaches me, as well.  This week, I learned that sometimes, I must tell the child in pain that she has to do things she doesn’t want to do.

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