Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kids Vs. Pets

Tuesday, early evening, C starts coughing, but it isn't too bad.

Wednesday morning, upon waking, C is wheezing and can't catch her breath even when sitting still and just talking.

The diagnosis from the doctor is Pneumonia. The second time she has been diagnosed with it in 8 weeks. The same thing happened last time: a simple cough into Pneumonia within 24 hours. C is also referred to an allergist/asthma specialist. We think it's "just" asthma since it since it's mostly just wheezing and asthma is known for complicating even the simplest of colds.

But in the back of my mind I wonder, "what if?" What if it's the pets?

We've had Sierra since early 2004, before we were married. 

 Zoey joined our family in 2006.
C and B have adored our pets. Sierra and Zoey have snuggled up with all of us when we've been sick, have stood guard faithfully next to baby carriers, occasionally help with after dinner clean-up (Sierra is known for finishing uneaten meat and Zoey "hoovers" the floor), and have provided C and B with entertainment and a sense of responsibility (C and B fight to feed them when the bowls are empty, and to give them treats).

And now?

Now they have to find new homes.

And I am heartbroken. So is One Ordinary Dad. So is C. B doesn't get it yet, but I know he's going to go looking for one of his furry buddies sometime in the next few weeks and be upset when he can't find them.

Yes, there is asthma, and there are seasonal allergies, but C's pet dander reaction was off the charts.

The doctor measured C's oxygen in take. It was low. Almost scary low. And while she is recovering from Pneumonia, the doctor said it still shouldn't be that low. In other words, my girl has been struggling to breathe in her own house. Because she hasn't had a visible reaction and because her "struggle" to breathe isn't really visible under normal health conditions (it's not like she's walking around the house panting), we've never known.

We asked what it would take to keep the pets. In short:
  1. C would have to have a regular allergy shot-- best case it would be once a month, worst case it would be 2 or 3 times a week, the doctor said he would start her at once a week and see how she responded. 
  2. Both pets would need to be bathed TWICE a week. 
  3. All carpets (we have hardwood and lots of rugs) would need to be cleaned once a week. 
  4. All slipcovers, comforters, decorative pillows and throws would need to be washed once a week. 
  5. Our HVAC needs a special HEPA filter and that filter would need to be changed once a month. 
  6. We'd have to spray our furniture and floors once a week with tannic acid (an anti-allergen that kills pet dander and costs $20-$30/bottle with one bottle being enough for 1, possibly 2, applications. 
And none of that is guaranteed to work. We could try it all for a month and have C's levels retested to see if it's effective, but if it's not, we'd still be where we are right now.

This weekend, Zoey is going to live with family. My grandmother and uncle have always watched Zoey when we've been out of town and have grown to love her. They live close by and C and B can stop by and hang out with her whenever they want (C can still be around animals, she just can't live with animals). We're still trying to find a home for a cat and fear she may be harder to place.

Once both pets are gone, we have a lot of cleaning ahead of us. We still need the HEPA filter (but don't have to change it as often as we would if we were trying to keep our pets). And we need to do one application of tannic acid to kill the lingering dander. We will need to clean carpets and wash slipcovers, comforters, decorative pillows/throws, and vacuum every nook and cranny. And we'll need to clean out all of our air ducts.

And then all should be well. C should be breathing easier. We'll go to get her levels checked again. She'll go in once a year to have things checked. If she doesn't react as strongly to pet dander in the future, we might be able to explore having another cat or dog in the future. 

But in the meantime, in the now, my heart is broken. I am devastated. We all are. But C is a human. She doesn't want weekly shots (we asked and were willing to try). C grew inside of me for almost 42 weeks and is a physical piece of me that Zoey and Sierra are not.

I know there are those out there who think we should go for it, who think we should fight to keep our pets. But the thing is, One Ordinary Dad has walked this road before. He had the same diagnosis when he was C's age and he knows what it's like to wheeze and have trouble breathing. He doesn't want that for C and neither do I. Clearly One Ordinary Dad's issues lessened over time and we can only hope and pray that the same will happen for C.

~One Ordinary Mom

PS...C's fifth birthday is coming up. We may have felt slightly guilty that we have to give up our beloved pets and gone a little overboard on her present, getting her one of these.  It's a little out of our birthday budget, but she asked for a camera and video camera (this does both) and does enjoy our iPads, so this has the best of all three worlds and will hopefully last her into second or third grade, at which point we may be looking at a more sophisticated device and e-reader (yikes).

Monday, January 21, 2013

These Days

I've been under the weather for every single day of this new year. It's mostly been a bothersome cold. Right after the new year and right before I started back to school I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and told to take over-the-counter meds to manage symptoms until they went away. They didn't. I went back to the doctor today and am now in possession of some pretty powerful cough medicine and a z-pack (antibiotics) with the promise that I should be 100% by the end of the week. We'll see.

In the meantime, we've been alternating days of rest (puzzles and movies and books and putting our jammies on early) with days of being out and about (the zoo and a baby shower and a game night with friends).

I received my "Master Teacher" designation last Thursday. It's a designation from the state that basically required that I a.)already have at least 7 years of teaching and a Master's degree and that I b.)secure recommendation signatures from my building principal and one other person plus write a 12 page paper explaining how I meet all the criteria of being a Master Teacher and include evidence (in all, a 40 page reflective paper on my teaching practice). We went out to celebrate by getting ice cream (pictured above).

2013 is off to a slow start for sure, but we're looking forward to so many things. My sister-in-law will be welcoming a precious baby girl into the world at the beginning of April. My husband's best friend is getting married in Los Angeles in June, and we're looking forward to a few days away. My family reunion (mom's side) is in Myrtle Beach in July, and it will be Bs first time at the beach. The neighborhood pool four blocks away is getting renovated and redone. C will start kindergarten in August (but right now we're busy planning her birthday party at Run, Jump, and Play).

Our next few days are supposed to be cold-- like windchill advisory cold. I imagine we will be spending many more evenings in our jammies early rather than out and about. Stay warm, friends.

~One Ordinary Mom :-)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So Long, 2012

Hello, 2013.

Highlights of 2012:
  • Traveled to DC and Disney World. 
  • B learned to walk. C learned to read. 
  • One Ordinary Mom and One Ordinary Dad turned 30. 
  • C learned to swim and ride a bike (still, with training wheels, but we'll take it).
  • B went from a few words to full sentences. 
We will not miss the GI troubles that plagued me at the beginning of 2012 (the ones that turned out to be an egg sensitivity) or jury duty. We won't miss some of the car troubles we've had-- maybe 2013 will bring a new one.

2012 brought us great music-- we saw Joshua Radin, Over the Rhine, and Mumford and Sons in concert.

It also brought us great books-- so many, I had to break it down into categories (I did a lot reading this year apparently):
  • Favorite fiction books read this year-- a tie between The Art of Fielding and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • Favorite non-fiction-- The President's Club (fascinating no matter what side of the aisle you're on). 
  • Funniest-- Let's Pretend this Never Happened (I peed myself just a little bit reading this one).
  • Best YA-- another tie between The Invention of Hugo Cabret and The Mysterious Benedict Society
  • Best for fueling the soul-- Jesus Calling (though Reflections for Ragamuffins was a close second). 
If you have the YouVersion Bible App, I highly recommend the Soul Detox reading plan. I did this for a month over the summer and it helped me clear out a lot of toxic mind junk.

2012 brought One Ordinary Dad and I time to see a few movies in the theater. Argo and Les Miserables were two of our favorites this year. 

Last year my resolutions were:
  1.  To branch out in my knitting (which I did when I made these awesome legwarmers).
  2. To learn how to use my camera more (which I kind of did-- I'm a little more comfortable in RAW and learned a few more editing tricks).
  3. To unplug a little more (despite gaining an iPad as a wonderful 30th birthday present from my husband, it is something I've been a lot more aware of lately and I don't think I spent nearly as much time in front of a screen this year as I have in years past). 
  4. To grow and cultivate my faith. This will be an ongoing process, every year. But this year, we took a risk on opening our home and small group to a few new families (worth it), I went through YouVersion's Soul Detox, and experienced God in a new way through Jesus Calling
So what's up for 2013? As far as resolutions, I'm keeping them simple:
  1. Make time to curate my stimuli-- in other words, setting aside intentional time to fill my mind with things that challenge me, inspire me, and cause me to see the wold in new ways (whether through reading, creating something with knitting, listening to some vinyl-- yes, my husband has made a convert out of me, running, photography, anything that stimulates my mind).
  2. Put my faith into action. One Ordinary Dad lives by the philosophy, "Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words." I want more of that in my life. I want to reflect the awesome-ness of my creator in not just my words, but in my actions too. 
Yes, that's really it as far as resolutions go.

And as for our family in our little corner of the world? 2013 will bring about some great things. For starters, C will start kindergarten (hopefully at an awesome magnet school in our district). One Ordinary Dad is going to continue in his role as stay-at-home parent by day/craft brew routing logistics guy by night/Excel data analyzer whenever a job comes his way. B will hopefully get potty-trained. And as for me, I'm hoping that I have news of the Master Teacher designation (something I applied for in December) soon and in the fall, I'll enter year 10 of teaching.

God has blessed us with health and happiness in 2012. I pray He blesses us, and you, with the same and more in 2013.

~One Ordinary Mom :-)