Tuesdays With Kal & Finn

Today was Kalvin's last day of school.
And it was only a half of a day! 
 That is it. 
180 days completed.
Summer is about to begin.
 But first, we had something to take care of.
We have had a pet turtle, Cookie, for the past year.
We inherited Cookie from Kalvin's cousin,  Logan. 
Logan rescued Cookie from the lake in his back yard when he was the size of an Oreo cookie. 
Cookie has grown to the size of Kalvin's hand.
I feel pretty comfortable saying Cookie has spent 90% of his time in captivity trying to escape.
I couldn't stomach watching him swim into the glass.
 Over and over.
Clawing to get out.
 One.  More.  Day.
The warm weather finally arrived.
And we had a mission.
To find a better living arrangement for Cookie.
  I spent some time investigating how best to free Cookie.
So we could give him a better home.
We decided to set Cookie free in a local a pond.
Here we are sending Cookie off.

You can see Cookie now has a gorgeous, very large home.  Filled with frogs and guppies.

It was hard to put him down.  To let him go.

But we knew he would be happier.  We knew it was the right thing to do.
Cookie scaled the big rock.

And then swam away.  Quickly.  Never looking back.

I had no idea a turtle could swim that fast.
Bye Cookie.  Enjoy your new life.
I think you can spot him there in the middle of the picture.
  (Sorry, these pictures were taken with my IPhone.)

Finn was not quite so sure about letting Cookie swim away.

But we were all tickled with joy that Cookie was now swimming freely in the big pond.


But then we realized Cookie was gone. 
And probably for good.
The tears came.
 And we were sad for a while.

 Kalvin decided to take a little piece of memorabilia from Cookie's new home.
He picked this stick.  His sense of nostalgia amazes me.

We drive past this pond daily and now will always think of Cookie as we pass by.
  As hard as it is to say goodbye, I think we all know this is the best thing to do.
For Cookie.

Then we headed off to CVS.
Where a stranger, standing next to us in the checkout line,  gave each boy a dollar bill. 
Just because.

I told the kind woman that the boys would be sure to pay it forward this summer.
And she said that is what she had hoped for.
What a great lesson for the boys to experience this summer.
Paying it forward.

We talked about who we might help with our dollars.

We will tuck the dollars way and wait for the perfect moment to surprise another stranger.

Oh, and about those Bruins, you ask?
  Kalvin was upset about Game six.  It was heartbreaking.
But he seems to have moved on. 
He begged me to take him to CVS to get a football magazine. 
And of course the boys of summer are still on every night...

This Job is Very Humbling

"This job is very humbling" is the first quote I thought of when we received a call from Dr. Kim last week.  Those were Dr. Brown's first words to us following my second fetal echo at Children's Hospital. 

At my first fetal echo,  Dr. Brown told us he thought our baby had Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF).  The doctors drew diagrams and explained the defects to us.  We went home and set out to learn all we could about TOF.
A month later, at my second fetal echo, Dr. Brown started the conversation by stating, "This job is very humbling..." and then began telling us that the second echo revealed that our baby's defect was actually not what they originally thought.  It was not TOF.  It was called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TOG) and Pulmonary Stenosis (PS).  He went to explain to us that this new diagnosis,  in his opinion,  was actually better than TOF for a few reasons.  He went on to explain the reasons.

At that point in time, the advantages really didn't seem all that much better to me.  My baby still had a congenital heart defect.  My baby still needed open heart surgery.  And,  now my baby needed open heart surgery at three days old instead of being able to wait until three months old.  How was that better?  But I just believed in what Dr. Brown told us.  I had to.  I had to convince friends and family of the same thing.  No one really understood how a baby needing open heart surgery right away was better off than a baby needing open heart surgery at three months old.
  I can still see the look on Dr. Brown's face.  Numb.  Apologetic.  You could see that he was genuinely upset for giving us the incorrect diagnosis a month ago.  But to us that wasn't really a big deal, our baby still had a heart defect.  TOF or TGA.  It was all Greek to us.  Then.

We had learned a lot in that month, but we hadn't lived it yet.  We didn't really understand.   It is amazing what you can learn in eight years.  They say if you want to really learn a foreign language you should spend some time in the native country.  Living with CHD,  you become a heart specialist.  Fluent in all sorts of medical jargon that you couldn't even pronounce a year earlier.
Dr. Kim called last week with the same type of news.  After reading the CAT scan results, the Interventional Radiologists feel they may be able to get a wire through the femoral artery and widen it.  A team of doctors have met several times to review the CAT scan results and come up with a new plan.  Wow.  One procedure versus two major surgeries.  This is fabulous news.  A miracle of sorts.  If it works.  Angels are surely watching over us.  Prayers and positive thoughts.  Prayers and positive thoughts.  That is what we need now.  Read  here  about the artery stretching surgeries Kalvin was facing.
I know I should be elated.  Singing from the roof tops.  Maybe it just hasn't fully sunken in yet.  But I find myself feeling a little hesitant.  Maybe I don't want to get too excited,  only to be let down if this doesn't work.  I am nervous.  Nervous we may find ourselves back at square one in August. 

I know that kind of thinking isn't helping anyone.  I will block out the possible negative outcomes.   I will think positively.  After all,  the Angels appear to be watching over for us.  This is going to work.  This is such a blessing.  The angioplasty procedure is set for July 29th!  Wooohooo!! We have our summer back.

Kalvin summer 2007

This boy has always loved the water.

No fear.  No anxiety.  Just pure fun.

Seaweed and summer.  Oh boy.  Bring it on.

Tuesdays with Kal & Finn

Tuesdays are my one day off during the week.
  I spend it like most mom's out there shuttling my little ones
 where they need to go.
 We have our routine. 
The three of us.
 It is fun for me because it is the only day
 I get to be with my boys on a school day.

 But in reality it is not all fun and roses.
Most of the time we are racing around to
 an orthodontist appointment,  piano lesson,  physical therapy
 or doctor appointment for someone. 
 Lately,  I have tried to make sure we have some fun together.
 The three of us. 
We have decided this summer
 to try and have a whole day of fun together
 every Tuesday.
Tuesdays with Kal & Finn. 
We will try and keep you up on our Tuesday adventures.
   Here is a continuation from this post here. 
 What a Day at the Park Can Reveal About Brotherhood.

 Finn brought us to his favorite park.

This boy just exuberates silliness and joy.

 He makes us all laugh.

Kalvin tends to be a bit more serious.  About most things.
Finn tends to be a bit silly.  About lots of things.  Big and small.
Just watch how he transforms a game of tether ball.

His laugh.  It makes you laugh.  And laugh.

This boy like to be near the girls!

Just look at that face.  He knows exactly what he is up to. 

He also loves nature.

And exploring.

Finn just loves to be like his big brother.



It's A Yes Or No Question - CAT Scan Time

Kalvin was not happy about having a CAT scan.  He knew it involved needles.  We couldn't tell him otherwise.  He opened the door to the room where it would all take place with complete trepidation.

You gotta love Children's Hospital.  Their signs make you smile.
And much to our surprise.  We were blessed with the Red Sox room.

The four walls were covered with decoupage that was made to look like Fenway Park.  We were told that the artist used pieces of old record album covers to decoupage the walls with.  He had inherited the record albums from his father.  The details were incredible. 

It was a great distraction for Kalvin.  For a minute or two.

You can see the fear all over his face.  This fear was all about the needle.  Not about lying in the tube.  Just about the needle.  Earlier in the day Kalvin had an echo and EKG which made it a very long day for the little guy.  When Kal gets tired, he doesn't deal well with stress.   Read about the echo appointment Here.

He was starting to get really upset.

  We had to just move forward.  We needed to get the needle over with.  We have been blessed with some very patient nurses over the years.  Today, they all weren't quite as patient as the best out there. 

But he was great once we got the IV in.  The IV (needle) is needed to administer the contrast (radio active dye). 

Ahh, the radioactive agents.  Something I have learned to block out.  A coping mechanism I acquired over the years and have used quite frequently.   I just "block it out" as if it is not happening.  As if it is not  r e a l.   Probably not the best approach, but one that helps keep me somewhat sane.  Most of the time. 

I don't like the idea of radioactive dye entering Kal's little body.  For this reason,  I have asked that the lung scan be removed from his annual checkup,  unless deemed absolutely necessary for a particular reason.

I didn't see any way around this CAT scan.  Dr. Kim needs the images to get a more accurate look at his femoral artery and the artery they will be stretching in his abdomen.  Dr. Kim will be using the stretched portion of his abdomen artery to replace the damaged portion of his femoral artery.  For more information on Kalvin's upcoming novel artery stretching procedure read here.

You can see Kalvin's dad off to the left,  touching Kalvin's hand.  I was off behind the protective glass shield.   Away from the CT scanner because the nurse asked me if I could be pregnant.  I hemmed and hawed silently to myself.  Stared at her.  Blankly.  In an instant my mind was reeling back to another  time.  The nurse then snapped at me, "It is a yes or no question.  You either are or you are not."
Well, that isn't really true now,  is it?   I could be.   But don't know yet. 

The fetal heart forms the third week after conception.  Before the mother even knows she is pregnant- most of the time.  Once you have a heart baby,  you think an awful lot about those three weeks.  Could it have been something I did that caused my baby's heart to be like this?  Was it the cleaning spray I used to clean the bathroom?   Perhaps the toxins I breathed in on my walk to work?  Did I have a glass of wine?  Was it my shampoo?  My makeup?   Something I ate?   Did I take aspirin?  Advil?  Tylenol?

 What caused this to happen to my baby's heart?  Was it genetic?  Or was it simply bad luck?  Could it be that we were that 1 in a hundred  for absolutely no known reason. 

The truth is, no one knows the answer.  Yet.

I found myself staring at a radioactive machine and thinking "what if I am pregnant?"  It would be a miracle.  And then quickly I decided,  I was not exposing my possible miracle to this radioactive material.  Even though, I  had just let them pour the radioactive agent into my seven year old's veins.
See how it plays with your mind.  The guilt.
 So I chose to stand off to the side where I felt I would not worry about the "yes or no" question.  I would then be able to carry on with my day with one less thing to worry about.
When it was all over,  we celebrated.  We took Kalvin to Fenway Park.  We knew it was closed.  There was not a home game on this day so we did the next best thing.  We had lunch at the great Jerry  "Rem Dawg" Remy's sports restaurant right next to The Park

Where our waitress was very patient.  And Kalvin did not eat a thing.  He was too busy watching sports on the ridiculous number of televisions which included two gigantic behemoth screens.

One end of the restaurant opens onto Boylston Street and the other onto Yawkey Way. The ends are made up of floor to ceiling windows that were opened wide allowing the fresh air to flow through.  It was a great ending to a very long day.