Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ring of Fire

Have you seen the his and her KY Jelly commercials?  You could say that they are nuanced at best.  Let's get down to the brass tacks on this one: Man and woman are in the bedroom looking frumpy, unhappy, and bored. Their faces are dotted with zit cream and their bodies are adorned in flannel.  The screen changes and they are swinging through the air as acrobats or swimming with alligators in skimpy outfits suddenly toned and bronzed.  Once again the screen changes and our frumpy, unhappy, and bored couple are now stunned, teased, and exhausted.  Their faces show pure astonishment at what has happened and their flannel nightclothes hang from the ceiling fan and bedside table.  You guessed it.  That his and hers KY Jelly changes lives!!!  The commercial claims that special sensations are what differentiates the product.

And so it was this commercial that hit me like a wall of fog as I sped down Lookout Mountain headed for Walgreen's.  Just an hour before, Emma Virginia and King were splashing in the bathtub together and I was acting as paparazzi.  I finally got an adorable picture of them that showed the pure delight in what we all know to be childhood bath time.  An instant later, King deftly pulled his feeding tube out of his stomach.  Just so you know, it is not meant to be pulled out.  Instead it should be removed by releasing the water in the latex balloon that holds it inside the abdominal wall...and then pulling it out...very carefully.  Let's be honest, you feel sick to your stomach.  That's ok.

This also happened to be the first time that it had been taken out since the surgery.  We were only 3 months in to the process and headed to have it changed in the next week.  Did we freak out? Yes.  Too much? Looking back, yes.  We had a new G-button (feeding tube) kit here at home, but had not even opened it.  I remembered that we needed lubricant to get the new button in place. Did we have that? No.  In the meantime, the surgical site had swollen almost completely shut.  I had also understood that the maximum amount of time that the surgical site could be open was two hours.  After the yelling, shaking, pacing, hyperventilating we had wasted 45 minutes.  The panicking was taken to new heights!

Naturally, since we do not have KY Jelly at our house I decided to text message my neighbors to see if I could borrow some.  I always learned that as long as it is less than one cup, you should be able to borrow it from a neighbor.  What was I thinking?  To make things better worse it was a Sunday morning.  Since my neighbors were already at church they received these text messages there.  The cherry on top, right?  I didn't hear back from them immediately, and decided I needed to find some product of my own.  Hence the drive to Walgreen's.

As I raced into Walgreen's headed for that section I spied a helpless cashier.  This is not a product on the weekly grocery list, so I begged her to help me find the original KY Jelly.  I was terrified that I would take King the cayenne pepper tingling sort that "changes lives."  Can you imagine???  All I could think of was his poor little swollen surgical site and the his and hers commercial.  The cashier was really confused as to why I was so desperate for KY Jelly on a Sunday morning (mind you it was 10:00 AM-the church bells were tolling all over town) and why I was intent on it being the original one.  Of course I wound up telling her the whole button-yanking tale which sent her into a fit of prayer.    I have tremendous appreciation for prayer, but King and his button were waiting on me and Mr. KY back at home.  Eventually, I walked out of Walgreen's with the desired product.  No tingling sensations for my little Prince.

Once I got home the opening was even more swollen.  We had a very hard time getting the button in, but finally my husband got it to go through the opening.  What a relief?!?  Wait?  The thing has to be changed once every three months.  For the next month, I pretended that I would not have to change the button.  The two months after that I had nightmares about having to change the button.  Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it!  I wanted to do it while my husband was at work to be sure that I could do it alone.  My mother was in town and silently stood by while I demanded that she NOT help me.  In fact, that sentence summarizes a lot of what my poor Mama has to put up with...she's a doubt about it.

After four suckers to keep King occupied, a migraine for me, and enough hyperventilation to round it out, the button went in.  I felt like I was back in Ecuador jumping off a 30 foot cliff.  Hey, at least I didn't lose my bathing suit top this time.  King has only done this once, and we have changed his button as scheduled several times by now.  Each time I am a little less nervous and my cliff gets a little closer to the ground.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Jiggety Jig

I am so glad to be home.

As I travelled into Chattanooga this evening everything looked more beautiful than ever before.  Nickajack Lake glistened like a sapphire, Mocassin Bend's curves summoned a closer look and the unlit letter in the Chattanooga Choo Choo sign was artful.  When I pulled into my driveway I was thankful that the rain caused all the weeds to pop out in my lawn of clover.

Today started out harder than it ended.  Anticipation has a funny way of doing that to me.  The fight and the build up are always worse than the actual scenario.  When will I learn this lesson and let go?  Please Lord, let it happen sooner than later.

Appointment #1-ENT
King had a Nasal Endoscopy to see if his surgery needed correcting.  Everything was perfect!  However, he does have another bad sinus infection or perhaps the same one.  The ENT feels that E Coli is growing persistently in the sinus cavity as it was before.  The Augmentin should have taken care of it, but did not.  

Appointment #2-General Surgeon
King had the area around his G Button checked because it is red, weepy and swollen.  At first glance, they knew that there was granulation tissue.  This happens when the body tries to heal in a place that it can not (there is a tube in the way of the hole closing).  This causes a green discharge, raw skin and bleeding.  The nurse used silver nitrate to cauterize the unwanted tissue.  This was very painful for sweet King, but will be incredibly helpful in the long run.  I was not prepared for how badly it would hurt him.

Appointment #3-CF Care Center (Pediatric Pulmonologists, Infant Dietitian)
Guess What????  King is at the 49th percentile for weight to length!!!!!  I had myself (and everyone else---sorry about that, y'all) convinced that King was failing to gain weight on the curve.  He is doing an awesome job especially since he has been so sick!  Everyone was very proud at the Care Center!

Remember the yucky E Coli?  The pulmonologist feels that we can try one more oral antibiotic until Tuesday.  If by Tuesday King is not showing marked improvement we will need to check him into the hospital for a 2 week course of IV antibiotic.  He started Bactrim tonight and hopefully it is going to make all of the difference in the world!

I hope we get to stay home next week with our lawn of clover.  

Hi Ho Hi we go.

I have a date today.  It may even end with a kiss goodnight.

I am escorting King to several appointments.  He will be seen by the ENT, the CF care center and the surgeon.  It is quite the line up.  Let me just tell you-I should have lifted weights for this.

  • King requires an appointment with the ENT as a follow up for his last surgery.  The ENT will do a nasal endoscopy to assess the surgical site.  This will allow him to see inside the sinuses.  Since King has another sinus infection it is quite fortuitous that we have this appointment.  There has been mention of a stint being placed to force the sinuses open.  I wonder if we might discuss that further today?  
  • King also has an appointment at the CF care center.  This is his monthly appointment where weight to length will be charted, a throat culture will be done to see if he is a carrier of any serious bacteria that could damage his lungs and his medications and therapies will be reviewed.  
  • Additionally, King will need to be seen by the surgeon's office.  His G-tube (feeding tube button) has become red, irritated and weepy.  ***Just in case a parent is reading this that is scared of feeding tubes, I want you to know that this should not be a big issue.  I really don't want to scare you.  The feeding tube is the easiest thing ever...I mean that.***

I would be lying if I told you that I am not nervous.  I am.  I am nervous for King and nervous for me.  It's not that I think something bad is going to happen.  I just hope in the most raw way that we don't get any bad news.  What is bad news anyway?  We can handle anything, right?  Of course, this is not the first time that King has been to the ENT, the surgeon and the CF care center.  Old hat, right?

I hope he doesn't require another sinus surgery, I hope he doesn't culture any damaging bacteria and I hope that everything is OK with his G-tube.

Where is the fun in all this?  We get to see our friends, the doctors and nurses that understand us better than most anyone else.  We get to go on an adventure together.  We'll make memories.  The memories may or may not include a bloody nose for one or both of us!

Wish us luck as we shove off together.  "I've got your love and you know you got mine 
So were gonna make it, I know we will " Thats right, King, my most wonderfully made boy.

In the case that this is all too serious for you, please find humor at my expense.  It is the very least I can do for you, 
my friend:

At 10:30 AM CST I will be walking through a hospital wiping everything down with Lysol.  I may even wipe small children who appear contagious--because that is rational.  I usually get yelled at scorned by one nurse in particular for wiping the entire patient room with Lysol.  Yes, that includes the floor.  Am I the only one that has considered how dirty shoes are?  Hello?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wee wee wee all the way home.

I love pig. I love pork. I love sausage. I love the way they make the sausage look like a pig in the butcher's case. I love to play with piglets. I love my cookbooks that are solely about pork.  I love my McCarty pig.  I love pink and white gingham because it reminds me of pigs.

You get it. I love pig.  It is odd that I love the pig both frolicking and for consumption.  You don't have to tell me-I am dealing with that dichotomy.

I also love to cook.  I also love the Junior League.  I am fortunate that this is not a dichotomy because clearly I have enough issues to address.  Perhaps that is why I became involved in the great era of the JLC coobook, Seasoned To Taste: Savoring the Scenic City. I literally learned how to publish a cookbook. Isn't that amazing?  It was incredibly enriching.  I hope that Emma Virginia can experience something like it one day.  Not only did I have such an opportunity to learn many new things, but I got to do it with the most fabulous group of girls ever.  It would be impossible for me to tell you how many hours we met about the cookbook, how many events we turned into cookbook events, how many times I served family and friends cookbook recipes for testing, or how many blocks of cream cheese I purchased.  Recently, I told this same group of girls that I still can not go to the store without buying at least two blocks of cream cheese.  Cream cheese is the glue that holds us cookbook girls together.  It's a good thing that cream cheese is sticky because we were all chiefs in the process, and it would be a fib to say that it was all cookies and cream.  There were some weeks that we spent every day together editing, naming, researching and pairing recipes.  Did you get a push present when you had your child?  Well, I got a push present when the cookbook was published...I did carry it for well over 9 months...that counts, right?

My job on the cookbook committee focused on the recipe portion of the book.  We had a committee that culled recipes upon intake and tested each one furiously.  We received over 1,000 recipes and managed the tasting and testing throughout the JLC.  God bless my husband-he was forced to eat five course meals many a night...I could never promise that the meal would be a hit either.  We just had to get those recipes tested!!!  We even had tester holidays where the menu was planned around recipes that had to be tested by the deadline.  The taster ratings slips practically became a part of the silverware at our dining table. Looking back it is all quite humorous.

It would only make sense that when the cookbook testing commenced I would still be pretty focused on food.  Around this time Emma Virginia decided that she really loved ham-all.the.time.  Breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.  I started purchasing a ham a week and testing myself on what all I could do with it.  My neurosis came out in full force as I began centering all meals around our guest of the week.

Once I went to a grocery store to visit the butcher.  I asked him for a ham and proceeded to tell him all that I would do with said ham. I would make ham and apple sandwiches,  ham and lentil soup, red beans and rice, split pea soup, ham quiche, ham broth, etc.  He was neither impressed nor amused which really hurt my feelings. I felt certain that a butcher, a man that knows his meat, would be impressed that I would use all parts of the ham! Instead he felt badly for me and offered to find me another low cost meal option.  The butcher completely misunderstood!  I think he felt that I was telling him that all our family could afford was a ham a week.  No, no, no Mr. Butcher.  He wouldn't hear it.  He could give me a good price on a certain cut of beef and perhaps I could "vary" my menu.

I told him to keep his beef-I'm no ham traitor.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Story Girl

It is true that I love to tell stories.  As a young girl from first through fifth grade I told stories competitively.  I happened to be pretty good at it too!  It was fun and I loved could say that it caught on.  Those close enough to me know that I still love to tell a good story.

Those first years I competed in UIL storytelling which was a program created through the University of Texas.  Our family, destined to follow the flat lands and agriculture, relocated to Texas from the Mississippi Delta.  UIL was where I found my niche.  The program called for children to listen to a story told once and recreate it in their words and actions.  There were rules about how much one could move, how far off the storyline one could go, and so on.  I absolutely adored creating my stories in front of the judges.  The bigger they smiled, the harder they laughed, the more shocked they seemed, the greater the passion for storytelling grew.  Compare me to an auctioneer reading the audience if it helps with the visual.

With age, I graduated to UIL Oral Reading.  This competition was based on one's ability to present published poetry over a 6 minute period of time.  I would memorize the selection and reference the requisite binder held in one hand while gesturing with the other hand.  The poem that took me farther than any other was Roald Dahl's "The Anteater."  We had to change the main character in the poem to a girl named Pearl as opposed to a boy named Roy.  Hence one of my many nicknames, "my girl pearl."

Now, I imagine that you may think "what a funny thing for a child to do."  I also think it sounds odd and somewhat somber for a child's activity.  Storytelling was to me what T-ball was to most of the boys around.  I was coached, I practiced endlessly, I aimed to win, I earned my confidence, I advanced through levels and on we go.  Once I even twisted my ankle on the way to a competition causing it to swell to the size of a Texas grapefruit.  I still went to the competition and won.  I am guessing that this has something to do with my lack of sportiness and the fact that I still can not ride a bike...not the twisted ankle, the focus on mental gymnastics.  Note to you: when you say to me, "It's just like riding a bike"-that is a real downer.

My single worst memory in all of those years was of a time that a judge FELL ASLEEP as I recited my poem.  There has never been an angrier more disappointed little tyrant in all of the land!  How dare he.  I tried to wake him up by raising my voice, but to no avail he snored.  The best part of competing was that I got to go shopping for snappy outfits with Mama.  I still remember my favorite one: a brown suit jacket (pint-sized) with a polka dotted pleated skirt.  I do wonder how my parents managed to handle my inflated little personality?  Today I get to manage my own little handful, Emma Virginia.  From what I hear, she already exceeds my stamina as a fourth grader.  Condolences or congratulations?  You tell me!

My family eventually came back to the Delta, to our family, and to a place that is rich in stories.  Stories of the Delta are endless and far flung which is what makes it a most compelling place to live and love.  There are two published Delta storytellers that I would suggest you get to know: Gayden Metcalfe and Julia Reed.   Julia Reed pays homage to the Delta through her books and the many publications to which she contributes.  Gayden Metcalfe, who happens to be the Mother of one of my precious friends, hits the Delta trifecta on the head with The Pastel Trilogy which she wrote along with Charlotte Hayes. Visit to get just a taste before purchasing copies of your own.  These women write beautifully no matter the topic.  Delta storytelling doesn't stop with literature, it runs far deeper through food, celebration, politics, family, religion, agriculture, and music.  Much like Faith, I can't seem to put reason to why the Delta is such a special place.  Since you can't depend on me, I give you Eudora Welty as she writes in "Delta Wedding."  "In the Delta, most of the world seemed sky.  The clouds were large-larger than horses or houses...The land was perfectly flat and level but it shimmered like the wing of a lighted dragonfly.  It seemed strummed, as though it were an instrument and something had touched it."  I can't imagine a more perfectly peaceful place.

Now I live in Tennessee where I find another culture, although different than my beloved Delta and the people that give it lifeblood, one that is rich in it's own right. I still love storytelling, but it has taken on a different light.  I tell stories as a fundraiser, as a mother, and as a friend.  I feel lucky to experience my friends and loved ones through the eyes of a storyteller.  I hope that it allows me to absorb another dimension in life.  To find the emotion, the humor, and the love in each day could only be a blessing.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I do declare.

Since when did it become offensive to make a declaration?  I think somewhere along the way society inferred that a declaration is too strong of a communication.  Well, I do declare, that they were wrong.  

Speaking of declarations, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Yes, the Declaration of Independence means so much to this great country.  However, this particular part of it means so much more when applied to our own governing bodies.  Should we not live out our days seeking to be fulfilled in the simplest means?  

When referring to the Missouri Compromise, Thomas Jefferson stated, "But as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.  Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other."  He was discussing, in my thoughts, a most hideous and sad time in our history.  I will never really know of course, but I feel that our friend, Mr. Jefferson, would have been a thorn in my side.  In any case, I do absolutely adore the comment as an application to cognitive process.  I feel certain that is not how Mr. Jefferson meant it.  Certainly there are cases where we have our shrimp and grits too; but, the fact stands that is not always the case.  

This comment also strikes me as an internal fight with Faith.  So often it is frightening to let go and realize that the decision does not lie within us.  A dear friend asked me recently (as so many have) how I deal on a daily basis with King's Cystic Fibrosis.  This time the question was posed differently-they waited for the answer in the authentic form.  I think many times people ask the question with a prescribed answer attached.  Because I knew that the wish was for an honest answer I was able to declare what I know to be true.  Faith.  To be so extraordinary and powerful, Faith is impossible to explain by reason.  It is a personal feeling, a burning inside, an emotion so deep, and a stronghold on the present.  I declare that Faith is what allows me to carry out the days.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness means something different to each of us. For instance, King vomits every morning (I feel due to sinus disease...another story for another day).  I really wish that he would stop vomiting and we could go back to "just" having CF.  Conversely, if you have a child with severe reflux and then they are diagnosed with CF, you would wish you could go back to "just" having severe reflux.  If you ruined your best pair of heels in The Grove, you would wish you had just worn the less expensive pair.  If you spilled spaghetti sauce down the front of your shirt, you would wish you had been more careful.  The hungry man that watched you do it would just wish he had the first bite.  The Declaration of Independence was an amazing thing for those that were allowed the freedom to "hold these truths to be self-evident." However,  I seriously doubt that Jefferson's slaves were tickled pink to dissolve political ties with Great Britain.  Life is all relative, but that does not mean that we can afford to ignore the lives of fellow man.

If you're in the mood for a curveball (we might as well tie baseball into this, right?) let me just tell you....As much as Mr. Jefferson and I could have debated intensely on ethics, Little Milton (the Blues singer) would have been the friend to sing me right over the rainbow.  I worked feverishly this morning to remember the lyrics to We're Gonna Make it.  I've had parts of it in my head for days now! The pleasure was all mine to discover: 
We may not have a cent to pay the rent 
But were gonna make it, I know we will 
We may have to eat beans every day 
But were gonna make it, I know we will 
And if a job is hard to find 
And we have to stand in the welfare line 
I've got your love and you know you got mine 
So were gonna make it, I know we will
I think Little Milton must have been a man that didn't fear the meaning of life.  Grits Ain't Groceries is another of my favorite songs that I love to sing to Emma Virginia:
Because you know I love you baby
Oh you know I love you baby yeah
Now if I don't love you baby I tell you
Grits ain't grocery,
Eggs ain't poultry,
And Mona Lisa was a man
If we can take a clue from Little Milton, life is simple and declarations should come easy!

As we navigate the cognitive process and realize our potential for fulfillment, might we also take the time to live up to the simplest of our liberties.

Sell or be Sold

(I wrote this post months and months just never got posted!)

I love the Ricola commercial.  I don't know if it is the Ricola song or the background, but it makes me want to be a part of the Ricola movement.  A movement? Yes, a movement...for me at least.

I come from a Mother who happens to be very persuasive.  She vehemently believes in Diet Sierra Mist, exercise for therapy, gargling with salt water, well-behaved dogs, sorting clothes before washing, her microplane zester, her lemon juicer, and the list goes on.  Here is the kicker-the things that she markets must be proven to be effective.  She sort of has her own FDA system.  She can tell you all about her method or product that she would live and die by.  I love this about her because she also believes in me.  Note to you: don't mess with me-she will take you out-BIGtime.

"Where is Ginger going with this?"  I put that in quotes because I know you just asked yourself that question.  I love to sell and I love to be sold...just like Mama!   However, I am hard to persuade if you don't have a good case.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to like Ricola.  I have been trying to sell myself on Ricola for a long time.  My tastebuds have been in direct opposition of this sales pitch which is very annoying.

Guess what?  A few months back my tastebuds gave in and we now LOVE Ricola!!!  The smart folks over at Ricola created some delicious combinations involving honey.  I can now proudly purchase bags of Ricola drops and not feel guilty for wasting $2.94 on a pretty bag.  Yes, I used to purchase the Ricola cough drops because I found the bag irresistible.

Monday around 2:30 my throat revolted against any calm or pleasant feeling I had in my body.  It felt like I was healing from a tonsil piercing.  My mother was in town and suggested that I (forced me to)-you guessed it-gargle with salt water.  I did.  That didn't help.  I painted/sprayed my throat with Chloraseptic which was NO treat for the ole palate.  That didn't help.  After writhing in pain all the way down Lookout Mountain my Mother suggested that I call the doctor and beg for an appointment.  This is another thing I learned from her.  If someone tells you no it means you didn't explain yourself appropriately.  We give lots of detail in situations like this.  After visiting the doctor I went to the pharmacy to pick up some cough drops.

As I approached MY Ricola cough drops I noticed a bewildered man pacing in front of the cough drops.  Since I know the feeling of utter confusion when faced with this important decision, I asked if I could be of assistance. The man told me that he was in town visiting and that his child had fallen ill.  They needed cough drops.  I would also like to say that he was oddly confused by the concept of a cough drop.  Yet another note, we were dealing with an intense language barrier.  I was immediately torn between my old standby, Luden's, and my new love, Ricola.  I decided that I needed to tell this perplexed stranger about my study on cough drops.  I asked the age of his child and whether he or she could be trusted with a hard cough drop.  He said yes.  I am proud to report that he left with not one but two bags of Ricola after hearing the pros and cons on the whole lot of cough drops.  I would still say that cherry Luden's are a wonderful treat for any tot...or adult for that matter.

I am my mother's daughter.