July 2, 2009
Orthodontist/Medical/Adolescence and whatever else pops into this post
Yay for the new orthodontist! He is exactly what we needed after Hug-o-rama office. Dr. B. is a perfect match for Hannah's personality and mouth. He wants to try to see how much space he can create with just the braces rather than start her out with the palate expander. He was pleased that we homeschool because then it's easier to schedule some extra time at each appointment and Hannah won't be hurried. He spent lots of time chatting with her, and explaining about the molds he'd take the next time she visits him. He gave her some mold forms to practice holding in her mouth. This is exactly the kind of thing I regularly do with her, practice playing dentist or doctor so she is ready for the actual procedure.
Before she gets started with her braces she has to have a tooth pulled. It's a baby tooth that needs to get out of the way for the last adult tooth (which is trying to come in sideways). So we've got to meet with the oral surgeon. I know our dentist could do it, but I'd rather have a surgeon who could give her a little Versed to keep things sweet and comfortable. I like that Versed impairs short-term memory so she won't remember much of anything.
The last time she had Versed was for her tonsils. I had asked about anesthesia and they told me that first they'd give her an IV and give her Versed. I thought that was ridiculous because it would make more sense to give her the Versed orally and then give her the IV when she was already loopy. It's not like she would have had a problem with the IV, but what's the point of the Versed after the trauma of the IV? You might as well go straight for the anesthesia at that point instead. Anyhow, they did do it my way and it worked out great. (Oh man! Am I powerful or what?) (These are not the droids you are looking for.)
The night before heart surgery 2 1/2 years old
Hannah has been pretty healthy for the past five years or so. She nursed until she was 2 1/2 years old, and we started her on nutritional supplements soon after she had her open heart surgery. (I'll post more about the supplements later--I know there are many people who are curious and many people who are not curious, so I'll make that an independent post to read or skip as you desire.) Even with nursing and optimal diet, I can't say that she was healthier than any other young child with Ds--in fact, I'm pretty sure she fell into the sicker-than-most category. We did the antibiotic cycle plenty of times, and a few short hospitalizations for respiratory issues. She'd get a cold, but it would never leave, so she'd have a secondary infection. We did all the saline sprays and nasal washes, but she'd stay green and I'd eventually cave in and bring her in to the doctor. Within a day or two she'd be completely clear. Until a few weeks later when she'd get the next cold. She was sick the most from October-March.
As she grew, the illnesses became fewer and farther between. By age six she started being able to get over colds more easily. She was getting bigger and she was more efficient at coughing and blowing her nose. It also helped that we homeschool, so she wasn't around other kids all the time (we do, and did, lots of activities with other kids, but I was always around to make sure the hands were washed). She's done pretty well for the past 5 years, rarely on antibiotics for lung or sinus issues.
Age 6, when she was always dressing up that
spring horse of hers. Crazy girl!
Now her medical challenges run more along the lines of apnea and acne! She has been doing very well with her CPAP machine. I still put it on her after she's drowsy or asleep, but she is capable of putting it on herself. It's just a little bit sweeter to let her listen to her music and fall off to sleep. She takes care of all the rest of the details, removing her mask in the morning, unplugging the machine and taking out the humidifier. It seems that the mask is helping block some of her oil glands as well, so she has recently started getting a few pimples. I can't believe it! She's just 11...
Hannah is definitely on her way to growing into a young woman. Together we have been reviewing some books about growing and changing bodies. Hannah is very excited to begin her menstrual cycle, which we expect within this next year. She tells close friends that she is "growing into a woman". We use the words that we found in the "Bodies, Boundaries and Sexuality" book (still love it the best--even for preschoolers, don't be scared! Go buy it!). "Having your period each month is one way you can tell that you are healthy." I was so glad to have this explanation for Hannah because I really didn't want to get into the whole reproduction aspect of the menstrual cycle. Hannah knows about how eggs are fertilized and how babies grow, but I don't really want to have her assume that because she has her cycle that she will be able to have babies. I know that women with Down syndrome can be fertile, but at this time I am not thinking that becoming a mother is in Hannah's future. Not having to discuss eggs and the reasons for her period is a good thing right now. In a few years, when she discovers boys and has more questions about relationships, it will be a better time to discuss these details of reproduction in depth.
It is so helpful to have Kate around to follow through with these discussions as well. Hannah looks up to her siblings very much, and both Kate and Chris take their roles pretty seriously (and make sure she gets her fair share of sibling teasing as well). What will happen this fall when they are both gone?!?! Maybe I need to get an exchange student. Anybody want to get rid of their teenager for a while?