Thursday, 2 August 2012

Would the Right Diagnosis Please Sit Down!

This blog is about our youngest son, Callum, who at the present time is being treated for "chronic constipation".  At least that's the current diagnosis.  Prior to that it was "mega colon" and prior to that it was simply "issues with potty training" or as I'm sure some people thought "issues with parenting".  Oh, and prior to that we just had a busy boy in diapers.  Talking about this is not easy and maybe some would question whether this topic is blog-worthy or not but the truth is - this is our life and will be his long after we're done looking after him!  

We have learned that the morbidity rate with chronic constipation is higher than that of diabetes...didn't know that!  

Callum is now 6 years old and is known to most people as a child who has "no sit in his bum".  He has been a challenge to toilet train right from the get go - and I say "has been" because we're not finished yet!   Callum is always in a hurry...has been so ever since we knew there was going to be a new mouth to feed!  He arrived into the existence two months early - couldn't wait to get on stage and put on a show for the whole world to see!  He was a very impatient breast-feeder, we couldn't get the spoon in fast enough and as soon as he learned to walk he pushed that aside for running...and I've been running ever since!  

We tried everything doctors and other well-meaning parents have suggested to get Callum to have a "normal poop".  Timers, books, games, toys, music...we tried it all.  As parents we read article upon article on potty training and boys in particular, and were very careful not to "force" him to sit on the potty as we didn't want to put him there before "he was ready". For a while we thought he was just being manipulative but we were told by physicians that we had to force him to sit because obstruction, hemorrhoids and other complications were becoming a risk.  So we tried the firm approach and sat him down with a timer and entertained him as best we could.

Then came school!  We weren't being too successful in getting him to cooperate in the toileting department and we suspected an all-day every day kindergarten plan might present a problem so I quit my full time job so I could be available to run to the school at a moment's notice.  Sure enough, Callum wouldn't poop at school and I was running there at least every other day or so to bail out the teacher.  Socially, school became an issue because the teacher tried an approach of setting a timer for Callum to remind her to send him to the bathroom (every hour!) and the kids in the class all knew when the timer when off that it was time for Callum to go to the bathroom!  

Callum was to the point of almost being incontinent and having "accidents" or "leaks" almost every day.  Our GP diagnosed him with "mega-colon", gave us a gentle laxative and told us it could take a year or two to correct the problem.    So we carried wipes, extra undies and clothes wherever we went.

That was two years ago!  Fast forward to 2012 and move down a few thousand miles to the Cayman Islands and we're still dealing with the same problem only we now have a pediatrician from the UK who's quite aggressive and is trying to get to the bottom of the problem...pun intended!  

An x-ray one month ago showed he was full right up to his tummy...which means basically that his system has been overflowing...and probably for the better part of two years!  Fast forward to just yesterday and he's still full!  But add in there the fact that we have been giving him...change that - forcing him to take a very salty and yucky tasting laxative for a month that gives him the runs but no normal poop.  As soon as the doctor showed us the x-ray yesterday, he immediately got on the phone to a children's hospital in Miami to speak "urgently" with one of their Gastroenterologists as he was "very disconcerted" about the x-ray results.  

So now we've been told to stop the yucky tasting medicine that it "failed miserably" and to wait to hear from the doctor in Miami about what to do next.  

Apart from looking forward to less laundry, "accidents" in public places, and ditching my backpack, I'm very much looking forward to the day when I can say "yes" to invites for play dates or even sleepovers...away from home and without me and my backpack in attendance!  And I'm sure Callum will be much happier (as if he could be happier!) - maybe much more confident when he is able to know how and when to poop all by himself like all of his friends.  

Funny thing is the doctor has promised Callum that once he is cleared out and pooping normally that he will feel so much better and have much more energy!  Yikes...seriously??!!  Maybe I should start learning how to roller blade now!! 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Near Death Experience in Cayman

We have had quite a few creature-sightings in the past little while, so many that some of my homeschooling friends are quite convinced that we should be well equipped to simply live off the land!  Last week we were serenaded by frogs night and day; they seemed to be coming out of the woodwork along with millions of microscopic ants.  During many of our after sundown excursions around town we have been entertained by crabs of all sizes expertly demonstrating the crab-walk everywhere, even right up to our front doorstep, even scratching on the front door.  I'm not sure where they get the idea that we might let them in!

Yesterday, we began our morning with a 6 inch ugly centipede inching his way across our dining room floor.  I quickly ran for a pair of shoes and stomped him out of existence then took a picture to share the "ickyness" with friends and family.  

We spotted a large turtle meandering through the grass on the way to the grocery store one evening.  Immediately I asked Jay to stop the car, insisting we must get a picture of this fella, and that it shouldn't be too hard, since it was a turtle after all! Well, this tortoise probably would have beat the hare in the race.  I was only able to snatch a distant and very blurry picture of him because the closer I snuck up to him, the faster he literally RAN away!

Iguanas in various sizes and colours roam the island in large quantities and are quite fascinating to observe.  When they are feeling threatened they run like lightning, a sight which is both amazing and comical to witness, especially given their very short legs and broad build.  Today, we were witnesses of a near death experience for one of our neighbourhood iguanas!  I had just finished chatting with a neighbour outside, walked across the lawn and come in the front door when there was a very loud and panicky scratching noise on the outside of the door.  So outside I went again - but this time through the back door and around to the front. There on our front doorstep was a large iguana, the type with the loooong striped tail, sitting still as a mouse and looking like he'd seen a ghost! 

We figured out later that the cat I had seen scurrying around the corner had actually been chasing the iguana and had almost caught the poor guy's tail!  That iguana hung out on our front porch for probably 15 minutes, not moving a muscle.  I even approached within a few inches for a closer photo-op and he did not budge!  Just in case he, like the crab, had a notion that he would like to come in for a visit, I didn't mention to him that I had a back door and that I planned to use it until he felt safe enough to leave his post.  From inside, we watched him eventually very slowly creep around the corner and that was the last we saw of him.  I can imagine that he may have some fairly traumatic nightmares for a few nights and perhaps will need some Valium to settle his frantic nerves! 

Amazingly enough, we are still awaiting our first parrot sighting, although we are given to understand that they fly in pairs and are seen quite often.  Perhaps they like only certain areas of the island and although this island is quite small, we have yet to see it in its entirety.  

Our boys have always wanted a pet gecko or iguana for their own.  How much greater the opportunity is for them to observe, learn about and enjoy in their natural habitats, these reptiles as well as many more of God's great creations on this island.  

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Alphabet Songs

This blog is geared to my fellow homeschooling moms who have children that are music lovers.  Our Callum is very passionate about music and I'm always looking for ways to teach him his 3 Rs through music.  We are starting on some simple word families with him but I'm still finding that he is struggling with some of his letters.  So I started a YouTube search and I have discovered some great Alphabet Songs and videos that I think are really going to work for him.

The website is called "Have Fun With Teaching" for "Alphabet Songs"  and here is the link if anyone is interested

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Today I met an angel...

It's hard to believe that it's been a month since the boys and I joined Jay in Grand Cayman.  The month has gone by so quickly on one hand and yet in some ways it seems like forever.  The old saying "a lot of water under the bridge" is a true picture of our lives as so much has happened since we set foot on the island.  "The adventure of a lifetime" continues to present us with many new challenges as well as blessings and opportunities for personal growth.  

Robert is settling in very nicely with his school assignments.  He will have a birthday early next month and is very excited about that!  One surprise for me was discovering that the Kindergarten curriculum provided for Callum is designed for a classroom setting!  I'm quite sure that the consultant was aware that I was "home"-schooling!!  So there are kinks to work out there which probably will result in a change of curriculum for Grade 1.  

I am very passionate about teaching my children to troubleshoot their own problems. Whether they're solving math equations, spelling a difficult word, trying to catch a gecko or resolving a personal conflict I think it's important for them to learn how to use their brains!  Budgeting involves very creative troubleshooting skills.  I also am learning that in my own life it has been so easy to slap down the "plastic" rather than wait for cash on hand, or even repair rather than replace broken items.  "Making do" is becoming a way of life for us that we're surprisingly growing to prefer!  AND, we're using our brains too!!  Creativity in this area of life can be a lot of fun and I am convinced our marriage is growing stronger because of it!  

Today I met an angel!  It's funny how many times I have tried to attend various garage sales since we have been here but for one reason or another it has never worked out until today.  And in God's perfect timing, the garage sale we went to today was tailor-made for me, not necessarily in terms of material things we needed, but in terms of blessings!  The lady running the garage sale quickly found out that we were fellow homeschoolers, and shared her heart of compassion for people in our to the island, homeschooling their children, and setting up home in a very expensive country.  She gave us a 50% discount on pretty much everything we wanted to purchase, and in addition gave us a large container FULL of construction paper...for free!  What a gift!!

That's what I cherish about God's doesn't matter if you attend the same church, have mutual friends, or even if you live in the same country. We never know when we might be called to be used of God or be blessed by God through a total stranger.  I may never again cross paths with the angel I met today, but I am grateful for the divine appointment that God provided and I pray that He will bless her for her generosity.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Long Time No Blog

It seems like forever since I last sat down to pen the latest adventures of our family. We had  our first visitor when Nana came to town for a few days.  Her week of holidays with us was action-packed with a trip to the chiropractor, a few dinners at the beach, patiently waiting on us to make a decision on which car to purchase and all the rigmarole that goes along with that and watching our children while we obtained immigration medicals, outstanding documentation and photos to complete Jay's final work permit.  And just to keep the week lively, Jay was scheduled for his first week on-call during that week as well!!

Our homeschooling curriculum arrived last Friday and the boys and I have successfully now completed a few days worth of school work!!  Robert is doing very well on his own and is enjoying the challenge of assuming responsibility for his academic achievements.  Callum is doing great as well and is enjoying our story times together.  The principal from the Christian School nearby has very graciously offered to let the boys attend music, gym and Spanish classes in the fall which will be a great way to augment their schedules.  

Yesterday the boys and I were blessed with a visit from a lady at church who has lived on island for a very long time.  What a wonderful and informative visit during which I had pen and note paper in hand scribbling down one suggestion after another about where and when to shop for the best grocery bargains and where to dine on a dime.  

We also learned from Miss Bodden that the reason most locals don't have their street address memorized is that official mapping on the island only began just a few short years ago!!  One of my sisters would get along well down here - especially when they give directions like "you know where the brown building is?...well just turn there and we're through the roundabout on the right hand side just past the big breadfruit tree"!!  We are a very techie savvy household and our latest struggle with culture shock is attempting to navigate through many streets without signs and realizing that even a GPS or Google Maps might not even help!!

Sometimes I think that we tend to put earthly values on God's blessings and thereby minimize their impact on our lives.  His daily provision in our lives so often goes unnoticed and unappreciated.  Tonight as I sit and put thoughts to paper (or screen), I am humbled by God's provision to our family.  Just today, for example, we have received a blessing that by our standards is "huge" and yet was no greater challenge for God to accomplish than supplying us with every breath we take!  I think that we become more aware of how alive God really is when we're faced with a situation where we can't do anything else but focus our eyes on Him.  And that's all part of God's great plan for our lives isn't it?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

One Week Ago

It's hard to believe that a week has gone by since our move to Grand Cayman.  Many things have changed in our lives in that short period of time.  We don't drive on the right hand side of the road anymore and whoever is driving doesn't sit on the left side of the car anymore.  We turn the water heater on only when we need it and the dryer door opens up horizontally rather than vertically.  The currency we deal in has dimes that look the size of our nickels and nickels that look the size of our dimes.  

One week ago we lived with lights on all over the house, washed half-loads of laundry and ran the A/C as cool as we wanted at very little expense.  Now we are challenging ourselves to wash the dishes and the laundry, take a shower, clean and cool the house using much less water and electricity than we ever did before.  We have also changed from living in a home we purchased, have become landlords ourselves and now live in someone else's investment.

One week ago our two boys were begging for a pet lizard, iguana or snake.  Now they have a multitude of those critters at their disposal in various colours, shapes and sizes.  Centipedes before were stepped on because they were found inside our home and they grossed me out. Now they are whacked very aggressively, inside or outside, with whatever large object you can quickly get your hands on because besides being gross they are much larger and known to pinch!

Grocery stores here are very similar to those with which we are familiar, except of course the prices!  Cost-u-Less is perhaps the best place to shop - it is very similar to Costco other than there are no membership fees and it is missing the Wii section (as noted by Robert).  Other than that it will still Cost-u-More!!  Eggs in the Caymans are very cheap and we are becoming experts at hunting for those "manager's special" or "reduced for quick sale" stickers.  Menu planning is quickly becoming a new hobby of mine, which is ironic because I have procrastinated in that area of organization for a long time!

One other thing that has changed is that we are having more heart-to-heart chats with our children and their bear hugs seem to be more frequent and perhaps even a little more intense!  

As I look back over this one short week I would have never imagined that so many changes could take place!  So many of our adjustments are positive as we are learning to conserve, share and appreciate things in ways we never thought possible.  In some ways we are being forced to make changes we would have never been willing to submit to previously.  God has an amazing way of accomplishing His work in our lives and, if necessary, will take us to whatever corner of the world He deems best in order to mold us to be more like Him.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Heart surgery

We have had a fantastic week since arriving here on Tuesday, yet you can't put a price on the blessings received from worshiping with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ even if most of them are still strangers at this point.  The worship music was just that...very worshipful and there was lots of it!!  And once again I was reminded as loudly as a clash of thunder, that God's timing is perfect.  

The Sunday School class Jay and I attended was a video series on a book by Ted Tripp called "Shepherding a Child's Heart".  I have previously read this book and felt that this would be a great class to attend since I was familiar with the subjects to be discussed. One thing I didn't already know was that God had planned a long time ago that I should be in that class today and hear the charge that this speaker was giving to his viewers.  

Mr. Tripp shared an illustration of a parent/child interaction where he could have very easily used my name as the mom involved and would have accurately described an encounter with myself and one of our boys as recent as a week ago.  

I was rebuked that all too often I am focused on my agenda for the day or the moment and not on the hearts of the precious lives God has entrusted to my care.  Sometimes fixing a child's behaviour seems the simplest course of action, but unfortunately, the simplest thing for me isn't always the best for my children and can have long term repercussions on their hearts.  

More soul searching thoughts on my blog today...I guess that probably tends to happen when we're sticking to our budget and not running around spending money in order to occupy our time!  Maybe, no change that to I'm POSITIVE, that this is all part of God' great design in bringing us down here!