Thanks

This year, more than ever before, I am thankful for my and my family’s overall health. While there have been a number of scary moments throughout the past year, including my own surgery, Alex’s struggling to breath, Zach’s father spending a week in the hospital, and my great aunt being diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, I am thankful that we were all helped. We have health insurance, and for that I am thankful. We have the ability to pay for what isn’t covered, and for that I am thankful. We have each other, a support system, and for that I am very thankful.

I have only been in nursing school for three months, but I have spent over 300 hours working with patients in the hospital. Some are relatively healthy, most are not. Some have family, a lot do not. Some have health insurance, others will be bankrupt after they leave the hospital and receive the bill. Some got better, a few did not.

This year, I am thankful for what I can do. It may not be much as a student nurse, but I have witnessed firsthand what a difference the little I can do makes to a patient. From helping with a bath and changing sheets, to actually listening to what they have to say and going out of my way to get them food that they will consume, to giving them pain medication when their nurse is struggling to keep up with her patient load.

I am grateful that I live the way I do: with Zach and Alex, in a good neighborhood, near my mother and soon near Zach’s parents. We may struggle, but at the end of the day we have food in our bellies, clothes on our back, and a really, amazingly, wonderful life.

Today, I am thankful for a lot.

Today, I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. And I am thankful that my mother came over early to help me prepare.

Today, Alex said “tankooo” about 50 times. And for that? I am thankful. Those simple words tell me that he is happy, healthy, and becoming a wonderful little man.

Two years ago, we celebrated Alex’s first Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving 2007

This year we had a friend of the family over with her son. And for the first time, I witnessed Alex truly interacting with another child. They spent almost the entire afternoon and evening playing together, and for that? I am thankful.

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I am thankful regardless of the fact that a large chunk of that “interacting” was…active, let’s say.

Wrestling

And for the record, I’m also thankful for sweater vests and the simple pleasure that a paper napkin can bring to a toddler.

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The Plague

The Plague came, and good grief I wish the last little lingering fight it has would just leave.

Alex came down with something about three weeks ago: fever, nasty cough, “thwoat huwts!”, constantly running nose. He seemed to recover pretty well, only to come down with another something nasty yesterday.

During his cough, I came down with the same thing. Fever (up to 102.6, high but nothing serious at all), sniffly, hacking up a lung, and busy answering the dreaded question: “Do you have Swine Flu?!”

I don’t actually know the answer to that. It’s possible it was Swine Flu, and it’s possible it was just a flu, and it’s also possible it was just a nasty, nasty, cold that then turned into a sinus infection. (And oh my god sinus infections are awful! This was my first, and it’s still hanging around, though it’s not causing me any pain at this point. Phew!) Regardless, Alex was fine after that illness, and I’m fine. And chances are if you catch it, you’ll be fine.

But here’s the thing: The flu kills people. Every year. Especially babies, young children, the elderly and anyone who has other conditions that put them in a compromised health status. And this current flu? Is hurting otherwise perfectly healthy individuals.

While it may not hurt you, it does hurt others. So if you are telling yourself, “I don’t need to get vaccinated against the flu. I probably won’t get it, and if I do it’s not a big deal!” you are right…kind of. But the thing about immunizations that most people seem to not understand: it’s not only about you. It’s about protecting others.

The more people that don’t get the flu, the more people won’t die from it. By preventing yourself (and your family) from getting it, you are also preventing the people you come in contact with from getting it. By immunizing yourself, you are protecting people who are unable to get vaccinated and who could become deathly ill. You are protecting the people who, for whatever reason, the immunization did not work on.

It’s not only about you, it’s about others. If you have the ability to get vaccinated, you should do it. Or at least think about what not getting vaccinated means: it means you may get sick, which means you may have to take time off of work, pay for medicine, find someone to watch your kids while you are struggling with a fever; it means you will probably get someone else in your life sick; it means you may carry around the illness and give it to someone who couldn’t be protected from it and could end up in the hospital because of it.

Yes, I am pro-vaccine. Absolutely, unapologetically, pro-vaccine. It is a choice that each person must make for themselves, and I would neither force a vaccine on someone nor judge them harshly for choosing not to get a vaccine. But this year, with this flu, we are going to see a lot of people die. More than the seasonal flu, and more “healthy” people than usual. Earlier this week, there were multiple people in the ICU (at the hospital I work in) with the H1N1 flu, one of whom was 6 months pregnant and in a coma.

Yesterday, we took Alex to the pediatrician because he was having trouble breathing. The night before, he had a runny nose and a cough. In the morning, he was still coughing, and it’s possible he had a slight fever. By the time he woke up from his nap at daycare, he was wheezing, using his whole body to take in shallow breaths, and was in clear distress. He’s an otherwise healthy kid, but whatever he managed to catch in the last few days? Made him unable to breath. It’s possible it wasn’t a flu, but if it was something that could have been prevented? Well…a sigh is all I have for that.

Nebulizer

Why I Love This Age

So far, two has been a pretty amazing age. I’m still not over my fascination with Alex’s language development, and I have a sneaking suspicion I won’t be over it for a long time.

Because my time is limited these days (and by “limited” I mean “practically-non-existent-oh-my-god-how-is-it-November-holy-crap-I-have-how-many-tests-next-week-good-lord-did-my-son-grow-eight-inches-since-I-last-saw-him”), instead of making potentially entertaining posts about individual occurrences, here are two Alex snippets:

Instead of naming the colors (which he knows for the most part), he has decided it is much more entertaining to name what color it is not. Case in point: The other night I took out four crayons, each a different color, and asked him, “What color is that crayon?”

“It’s not blue!”

“Yes, but what color is it?”

“Umm…it’s not yellow!”

“Yes, but what color is it?”

“Umm…it’s not…orange!”

(For the record, it was a red crayon. And it was also not purple or white.)

Anyone who has had any experience with toddlers can tell you this, but: sometimes, they make no sense. None. Zilch. Zip. Nada. It’s not only because the way they say words is, well, less than perfect, it’s also because sometimes they just say really, unbelievably, random things.

Alex was drawing (again) tonight, and started talking about pandas. Nice pandas, mean pandas. A panda playing with a shark, who had eyes…and a tail.

Me: Whatchu talkin’ about, Willis?

Alex: Nooooo, Mommy! I not Wiwus, I’m Ass-ix!”

My little Alex. Who is not Willis. Or red, blue, purple, pink, orange or yellow.

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Only A Slightly Creepy Tradition

On Alex’s first Halloween we spent the day traveling from Pittsburgh to Boston. I put him in a costume because, well, why not? Who doesn’t love a tiny little person dressed up as a penguin to amuse his mother?:

Happy Halloween

For his second Halloween, we went to exactly one house for Trick or Treating, two doors down from us. The very nice woman giving away candy on her porch handed Alex a chocolate bar that he promptly handed right back, walking away from her.

Halloween 2008

This year we had a slightly more exciting Halloween.

At 4:30 in the evening, one hour before Trick or Treating started, Zach, Alex, and I drove to the Halloween store near our house. We looked through the toddler costumes and found exactly one that would work. Most of them were, well, nasty. Or just insanely expensive.

Once we procured Alex’s Halloween costume, we met up with a friend and did a bit of Trick or Treating. Nothing wrong with letting your toddler take candy from a complete stranger, right?

Needless to say, he loved it. While he only said, “Twick oh tweat” once or twice, he said “Tank yoooo!” every.single.time. Even if his thank you was so quiet that only a fly on his nose could hear it, and often was said as we were a few steps away from the intended recipient, I still count it as a parenting success.

And, besides, he looked pretty darned cute as a vampire.

Posing

Alex and “MARKY!” matched, which was a lovely surprise to the evening:

Little vampire

Vampires Mark and Alex