Tuesday, October 30, 2007

R Heads R Better

Back many, many moons ago when we lived in Seattle, every time we drove by the Rainier brewery, D would amuse himself by chanting (in some sort of weird pseudo-robot voice), "Our heads are better!" Apparently in some previous incarnation there had been an ad for Rainier Beer that incorporated this pithy saying. And when it comes to beer, there is no possibility of my husband EVER forgetting any minutiae connected with it. (D loves his beer. Boy does he love his beer. Maybe I'll cover that in some future post.)

Be that as it may, I find myself thinking of that phrase now, since indeed, the boyos' heads are now demonstrably better, or at least a tittle more symmetrical than they were when we started. (Is tittle a real word? Heck with it; I like it. I unilaterally declare it a real word! Even though I suspect that using it minus the usual "jot and" is against the Word Police rules.)

We made the trek down to Santa Clara (about 2 hours from here -- a long drive but luckily the boys slept most of the way) roughly a month ago, and met Dr. GQ. Dr. GQ is one of those snazzy docs who wears verrrrrry expensive ties and French cuffs, and also has published papers on the subject of plagiocephaly and oh, by the way, just happens to have been a Fulbright scholar. Despite all this, he's quite likeable. He breezed in, poked around on the boys' heads for about 20 seconds, and then gave us the five-minute lecture on plagiocephaly and using helmets to correct it. Or, of course, not. (That sounds too brief but since we were already well versed in what he covered, it was more than enough.)

He also used calipers to measure the boys' heads diagonally, first in one direction and then in another. Each direction should have had the same measurement. In point of fact, both boys were off by more than a centimeter. Dr. GQ had already informed us in his little lecture that his cut-off point for recommending helmet use was one centimeter. He said that even if heads were out of alignment one centimeter or more, they would usually fix themselves -- but it could take all the way until they were adults (meaning that kids go through the formative years with "Charlie Brown head syndrome"), and also, there is a small percentage who do not self-fix. And of course those poor people who do not self-fix and who end up with asymmetrical heads are generally not very pleased about it.

That, plus the fact that Humongous HMO would cover the cost of the helmets ($3,000! Each! Three freakin' grand, can you believe it?) decided us in short order. Helmets all around! And one for you too, barkeep!

Rather luckily, the facility in Oakland that makes the type of helmet we are using had an opening for us that afternoon. So we grabbed some wretched McDonalds' food and buzzed back onto the highway for another hour, up to Oakland. The boys eventually fell asleep, but their car seats are clearly not overly comfortable, and they were getting a little testy about being crammed into them for hours on end at this point.

We had a bit of an adventure getting to the Oakland office, since I had misunderstood a tiny but crucial bit of the directions as given to me over the cell phone, but I'll gloss over that quickly since the whole thing was, ahem, my fault. We got there eventually and were wafted right in to the tiny office by the young man who does the helmet fittings.

Fitting Guy said he has done thousands of helmet fittings, and indeed, it's rather obvious, just watching him work. This type of helmet uses measurements taken by laser, of all things -- the same kind of laser scanner used by the checkout at your grocery store. Fitting Guy tied tiny little white "do rags" over each of the boys' scalps and positioned them, one at a time, in the head scanner. Sam got a good scan in two tries (wiggling screws up the image, as you can imagine!) and Gus took only one try. It was fascinating to see the 3-D computer models of their heads as shown immediately on Fitting Guy's screen. (What was even more fascinating, in a queasy sort of way, was noting the way both boys' heads are noticeably "squished" in a diagonal direction.)

We picked out "themes" for the helmets (I picked out rockets and sailboats, both on a blue ground, but called back the next day and changed it to a plain blue one and a plain yellow one instead -- I had some notion at the time of painting them with tiny little murals but I think I'm going to blame that one on the superglue fumes there at the office). We fed the boys their bottles there at the helmet office (we had fed them their previous bottles at Dr. GQ's office) and got on the road for the hour-plus drive home -- which was not much fun, since Sam decided he had HAD IT with his car seat for the day -- not that I blame him -- and he fumed and fussed and carried on for most of the way home. I just about dislocated my arm turning around in my seat and re-shoving the binky in his wailing little mouth every thirty seconds. Then I had to drop D off at the university to teach his evening class, and finally got home (with sleepy Gus and the still-wailing Sam) to put the boys to bed by myself. Oy. Long day.

And a long post already. More on this anon.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Is it just me, or is there a resemblance?

Cuteypie Sam in his little helmet, and...

The Poky Little Puppy?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Must be getting close to Halloween

Presenting.... two little tiger cubs! Grrrrrrrr!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Carrots? Carrots!

Featuring Gus's first encounter with carrots. Apparently successful. (He also likes pears, which are the yellow dabs interspersed with the orange.) Don't you think the orange makes his eyes look even bluer? I think he may be on the verge of a fashion trend here.

All wrapped up and no place to go

Featuring Sam in his lovely new sunshine yellow plagiocephaly helmet (which has a velcro fastening, which is why the afghan stuck like glue, enabling this shot).

Friday, October 12, 2007

A scare

I apologize to my readers (all three of you, bless your pea-pickin' little hearts!) for taking so long about putting up a new post, but really, things are just nutsy here. Whenever I feel like I just might have things a teensy bit under control, something new happens. Today was a case in point.

Yesterday was the boys' six-month checkup (never mind the fact that they're nearly seven months; that's the way it is when you're dealing with Humongous HMO). Dr. Pixie looked them over carefully, as she always does, and asked in detail what they were doing. I told her about Sam's apparent wish to become the first ever Baby Marathoner: He will stand for as long as you will balance him, dancing and grinning and having the best old time. (We also call him Elvis Boy.) I have never outlasted him. It's clearly a matter of time before he pushes off the starter blocks and starts doing laps around our living room.

Gus, however, takes things a bit easier. As in, he clearly believes that legs were made for kicking (by preference, Mommy in the stomach) but chooses not to believe the vile rumor that they can also be used to stand upon. Whenever we stand him up and encourage him to use his legs, he just grins that adorable little (two tooth!) grin and oozes gently downward into a pile of baby goo. Hah, he says. He's expecting a high school graduation present of four strong bearers and a gold-leafed and velvet-upholstered litter. Walking, Gus clearly intimates, is not part of his future. (But let me reiterate that he does have quite strong little legs. Boy has a kick like a mule!)

At any rate, I told Dr. Pixie about Gus's antipathy toward standing, and after observing his other slightly floppy attributes, she ordered a creatine kinase test (CPK). Creatine is released when muscles break down -- which of course they do every day, as we use them, but they are also built back up again. Gus had a tough time with the blood draw, since his elbow vein rolled around for the tech instead of sitting still to be properly poked, but in a minute he was all past the screaming, and all was good again. (Well, until we trotted over to get his and Sam's immunizations. Three shots at a time, right into their little thighs -- ouch! I think I might scream too.)

I didn't think much about the blood test since Dr. Pixie didn't seem overly concerned, but this morning I had an email from Humongous HMO telling me that his blood test results were in. Of course, they couldn't just email you the results, right? No, you have to check into their (badly designed) web site, go through about 10 screens, and finally find out ... that Gus had a CPK level of 291. Normal, the web site informed me, is 0 - 200. His results were flagged as "high."

I was still pretty rational at that point. I fired off an email to Dr. Pixie, asking her to either email me back or give me a call so we could discuss this. Then I turned to my old buddy Go*gle for information, typing in "creatine kinase infants high" ... and got return after return featuring the words "muscular dystrophy."

It doesn't take long to become completely nutsy with that staring you in the face. Muscular dystrophy. Wheelchairs. Shortened lifespan. Oh my God....

I won't bore you with my blow-by-blow account of the rest of my morning. It was divided between Go*gling for more information, and taking care of the babies, with the added feature of my little boys curiously touching my face to feel the tears flowing down my cheeks. I couldn't stop crying. Or praying, for that matter. I admit, it was a bit of an overreaction, but while I am fairly rational about my own ailments (real or imagined -- with not too many of the imagined type), I am a complete nutcase about anything that impacts or could possibly impact the boys. I know, they're just two little boys, nothing particularly wonderful or special about them, objectively speaking -- except that they are my little boys, and I am besotted with them, and if you ask me, I will seriously tell you that yes, they are the most wonderful little boys that God ever created and put into this universe. (I am prepared, tentatively, to admit that in some other universe -- using the Many Universes Theory -- there might be some little boys who are just as cute and amazing as my two. But not in this universe. I'm pretty sure of that.)

Thankfully for my sanity, Dr. Pixie got back to me about 2 p.m. She said, essentially, that 291 was a nuthin'burger. She said that in the dystrophies, you see CPK levels of 2,000 or so. She agreed with me that it was probably a good idea to track it, just in case, so we will repeat the test in a couple of months, but she added that many infants and toddlers under the age of two have elevated CPK levels, and no one knows why. It doesn't seem to hurt them any, she said.

So that's why I can never seem to get a post up here. I spent at least two hours that I didn't have on tracking down an ailment that my kids don't have. Duh.

(In other news, the boys did get helmets for their plagiocephaly. More info and pics in a couple of days -- promise!)


And one addendum: Can anyone tell me how to set things up so that when I receive the emailed version of reader's comments, I can email them back? Right now, when I hit Reply on these emails, I got an automatic No Reply address. Is this just because I'm using Blogger or because I'm stupid? My blogging deity, Cecily (whom I adore as a writer though I disagree thoroughly with most of her politics), has the lovely habit of always replying individually to her reader's posts. I would love to do that too but clearly this is beyond my ken. Suggestions?