Friday, September 10, 2010

The North Hills school district school board sucks

If you have school-age children and are considering moving anywhere that puts your kid going to school here, don't.

Several years ago, the school board, in it's reelection-driven wisdom, decided it was to expensive to operate all the neighborhoods school that are a selling factor for the homeowners. And decided to shut half them down and renovate the remaining elementaries into megaschools. The "plans" surrounding that involved a complete lack of any logical thought or actual planning, the result of which is that my children, instead of attending the megaschool one mile from their house, are attending the megaschool five miles from their house. But hey, as long as they don't raise our taxes, right?

At the end of last school year, an email went around from a concerned parent that the district did not plan on having nurses in any elementary school full-time. So at the kindie orientation I made sure to ask the nurse what was going on with that, as my older child is asthmatic. Where I was reassured that only during lunch periods is the nurse's office unattended, but that the school secretary has a key. We told the kid he's not to have any asthma attacks during lunch. But hey, as long as they don't raise our taxes, right?

Fast forward to Tuesday, the first day of school. We have a new bus route with a new bus driver, and a crossing guard. Kids get off to school fine. All the moms and some of the grandparents show up to meet the kids at the bus stop after school. And we stood and waited in the 90 degree sunshine. And waited. And then our former bus driver drove by, and hollered out her window that the buses just got a late start and were on their way. Ok. Fifteens minutes go by. I call the school. The secretary assures me that the buses are just running late, and that they haven't heard anything else. Our former bus driver circles back at the end of her route, sees us all standing there, and radios the transportation company. (See, that nice crossing guard doesn't have a walkie talkie, cell phone, any sort of device where he could communicate with any authority.) And she then hollers out her window that our children's bus has broken down, but she doesn't know where.

And as this is the first day of a new bus route, none of us have any idea where our children may be, on a hot, broken-down bus, now a full hour after school was dismissed. Our children finally arrived at their stop ten minutes to five. A full forty five minutes after they are supposed to be there. Eventually, all the homes receive calls from the school notifying us that the steering on the bus had broken, but the children were all home safely.

And then one of the older students on the bus informs us all that the bus driver had made a wrong turn upon leaving the school, and had taken the kids on a nice little scenic tour of Ross township business districts before the bus breaking down. So the next morning one of the other mothers decided to follow the bus to school, and watched the bus driver run a red light. But hey, as long as they don't raise our taxes, right?

And finally, apparently there is not an adequate staff of cafeteria workers, at least for the kindergarten lunch period. The older kids are fine, I'm sure. They're used to how it works. They can open their own milk cartons. Something went on during lunch on Tuesday, when my little one bought lunch. He's not willing to do that again. And when he packed yesterday, he drank the juice box and after the rice krispie treat. The yogurt and baby carrots and fruit roll up came home. I sent a note in to his teacher asking if she had any info, but she knows nothing and he won't talk to her about it either. But hey, as long as they don't raise our taxes, right?

Somehow in here, I'm supposed to be instilling a love of learning in a child who, this morning, insisted he likes absolutely nothing about school and just wants to stay home with me. A child who, on the first day, went to school without crying, and said he liked the playing, just not the learning.

And hey, you know what, they raised our taxes.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

There's a penny on the floor and it stays...

Unless you are a five-year-old boy living at my house.

In that case, if there is a penny on the floor you will pick it up and put it in your mouth. And choke.

And then your mother, once establishing that you can breathe and speak, will rush you into the car and to the nearest, albeit good-for-nothing-more-than-stitches-and-broken-bones, hospital. On the theory that if it is in his trachea and it moves, she needs to 1.not get lost, and 2. be able to tell 911 where you are. Local hospital personnel moved very very slowly when confronted with a woman rushing in asking her kid, "Can you still breathe? Can you still feel it in your throat?"

But they were able to take an x-ray. I so wish I had the x-ray to post. Picture the typical neck/chest x-ray film, with a big fat round coin in the esophagus across the collarbone. The ER doc shows us the lovely film, and shows us that it's definitely not in his trachea and that he's getting air, which calms mother's near panic. For just a moment. Until he says, "We don't have an ear, nose, and throat, or GI doc. I'm going to call Children's and see if they want you to go home or take him in in the morning, or what."

Go home? Go home? In what world is it an option to take a kid home with a coin plugging his esophagus?

Luckily, the Children's doc wanted to see him and get another film. Dad takes him off to Children's; I take the bigger boy home. They get x-rays at eleven and again early the next morning. That sucker wasn't moving.

So, they must sedate the child and go in and remove the penny.


This is the view from the eighth floor of the new Children's. What a lovely hospital. Such a lovely hospital that for the first half hour, all I could think was wow, this is so nice, wow, this is going to cost a freakin' fortune. So then the pediatrician comes in on rounds.

"Why do you think it's a penny?"

"Because he said it was a penny?"

"Oh, because usually anything smaller than a quarter they can swallow and pass."

She also said that they find once a kid does this, they are more likely to do it again. Happy happy. Joy joy.


Yep. It's a penny.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why We Need Healthcare Reform


Why Asthma Sucks, Part 78

The boy has asthma; the baby does not. This does put them both in the catgory recommended to receive the flu vaccine every year.

The boy also has food allergies, including an allergy to eggs. The boy had his first flu shot in December of 2002, before his allergy was diagnosed. He had no reaction to the shot.

The following spring his allergies were diagnosed. His records don’t list him being vaccinated when he was one or two. One of those years I was expecting the baby, and would have received one also, but there was a shortage that year. I was not hauling my hugely pregnant self and a toddler into town to wait in the county health department line with a bunch of elderly people for hours.

Bellevue pediatrics gave him his flu vaccines again in October of 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. He never once had a reaction to any of these vaccines.

The child has had severe asthma flares since he entered kindergarten. Every cold that came along his first year in school landed him in the ER.

And now it’s fall 2009, the year of the swine flu. A highly contagious, new strain of the flu for which there is no herd immunity. Which is hospitalizing children and young adults at rates much higher than the elderly and ill, opposite the seasonal flu.

We schedule the flu shots. The nurse practitioner refuses to administer the vaccine. Wants his allergist to sign off on the flu shot. We contact the allergist’s office. It’s been eight months since he’s seen that doctor. Eight months ago that doctor wanted to challenge his egg allergy, which we chose not to do at that time as we had just challenged his milk allergy and were introducing dairy to his diet.

The allergist’s office wants us either to challenge the egg allergy, or get enough of the flu vaccine from Bellevue pediatrics to use as an egg challenge. Here comes the epic logic fail: how in the hell were the flu vaccines he received in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 not challenges to his egg allergy but an extra dose of the vaccine this year will be?

In summary, we now have two medical practices more concerned about being sued over a possible allergic reaction than the possibility of a school-aged child with compromised lung function catching swine flu.

And guess what, while the two medical practices are busy trying to push their responsibilities off on each other, the child catches swine flu. Well, technically we don’t know that as the pediatrician discouraged us from having his strain typed, but she did say the swine flu IS the only flu they are seeing.

Child also has an ear infection, so we leave the doc’s office with prescriptions for amoxicillin and Tamiflu. But not the child-friendly, liquid dose of Tamiflu. The pharmacies are all out of that. His weight puts him between the two dosages of capsules Tamiflu is available in. This means he takes two pills twice a day for five days, twenty pills in all.

Except UPMC Healthcare considers ten pills to be a prescription of the 30 mg dosage of Tamiflu. Therefore, the pharmacy that does have Tamiflu (and we called them all) has to give us two and a half days worth for our forty dollar copay. And then two days later I get to take a highly contagious child out to a store to pay another forty dollars for the other half of his medicine. So screw you, UPMC.

And while I’m at it, screw you for uglying up our skyline.

And we are fortunate to have health insurance. We’re fortunate that we can come up with the two copays. Because that Tamiflu is the only thing that has kept our kid out of the ER. We’re fortunate we have jobs where we can manage to get some time off and juggle our schedules.

The baby was vaccinated for both seasonal and swine flu. Which we didn't get to quickly enough, as he woke up today with the same flu symptoms his brother has. Their dad works in a small office. Worst case scenario for him should he get sick is he stays out of the office longer and works from home more.

I work retail. We’re going into the holiday season, our most crucial time of the year, in a recession year. My company gives us PTO (paid time off) days. We can use these as sick days, vacation days, kid emergencies, whatever, but we cannot schedule them after November tenth. We can only carry one over into January of next year. So, the actuality becomes all of us full time employees use or lose our paid sick time by the first week of November. I’m out of sick days. If I catch the swine flu, I will be taking massive doses of ibuprofen and DayQuil and heading to work.

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of School

So I cried.

I did not cry last year for first grade.

I was hysterical the first day of kindergarten.

But the neighbor mom, whose kids are a year ahead of mine, had to pur her little girl on the bus. (And let me just say, that the Britney-fied outfit from Justice should not be made in that tiny little size.)And so the big brother held her hand and helped her up on to the bus, and I started tearing up. And when the mom turned around visibly crying, I lost it. And then she said, "now what am I going to do?"

And that's the point really. Five turns into eighteen. And then what are you going to do?

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Garage Bug

I? Am not a nature girl.

Forget the wrinkles or risk of skin cancer, the sun burns me. Within seconds.

Mosquitoes feast on me.

So, I leave nature alone as much as possible with the understanding it leave me alone.

I have boys. Two curious, energetic, outdoorsy boys. They like bugs. They really like to scare their mother with bugs. The older boy is in first grade. In the days of No Child Left Behind. Know what that means? That means these kids get math and reading books, and most everything else is hands on. Which has it's pros and cons. First graders learn about bugs by raising mealworms. Which become some sort of beetle. Which come home on the bus. To their father's house, thank dog....

At my house, we have some daddy long legs living in the stairwell. Occasionally a stink bug makes it's way across the living room floor. But there is this thing that has taken up residence in the garage.


It's on a web. I have no idea if it's predator or prey, but it's been there a while. It's up high, next to where I get into my car. We've made our peace, the creepy bug and I. As long as it doesn't ever move while I am in the garage, I'll leave it alone.

The baby was playing in the garage the other day and happened to see the creepy garage bug. He comes barreling upstairs, insisting I come! Come! Mommy! Right come! and see this bug.

So, figuring this is what he's referring to, I come down to see the bug. Told him I'd seen it before, it wasn't bothering anyone.

“When did you see it, mommy? Did it make you freak in your pants?”

Ah, boys.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I got nothing

No inspiration whatsoever. I could bitch about work. Or the weather. But instead, here's a poem lifted from Wicked Alice.


Chella Courington

You know me well strolling streets to be with people without

being with people. You ask for one dollar. One dollar.

What if I only have a twenty? Can I owe you for tonight?

Your eyes bloodshot like mine bags holding them up.

Johnson roamed London midnight to sunrise. Couldn’t bear

the garret stacked in leaves of words worked reworked

amanuenses oblivious to stale air to his rambling Fleet.

My rambling State slipping in my skin bleak above cement.

Days disintegrate unseen except by you grave lady reaching for me

singing a hymn my mother sang When nothing else would help

love lifted me. I’m not him: I can’t take you home. But I’ll leave you

this bill & all the change in my pocket.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

I’m working today. So, we had dinner and a movie night last night, during which BabyStar insisted on unwrapping, ahem, giving me my presents. He has finally reached the age where he doesn’t blurt out what the gift is as it’s being opened, but thinks anything taped up in paper is exciting.

The children’s father chose Marley and Me for the movie, as they had already watched all the other children’s movies on the OnDemand or Pay-per-View or whatever overpriced cable thing he has at his house.

And I am not even going to bitch about the end of that movie. I’ve read the reviews. I knew what was coming. And I knew that if the kids didn’t get upset on their own, they have a crier for a mother and would have gotten upset seeing her get upset.

I was just unprepared for what got me upset.

(I would imagine I’m the last person on the planet to see the movie, but just in case I’m not here’s your huge spoiler alert.)

There’s this scene early on where the happy pretty couple is expecting their first baby, and go in to have a sonogram. There’s the tense ultrasound tech, and the nondescript, soothing doctor speaking hollow platitudes in a hushed tone.

They left out a lot. They left out the cramps. They left out the blood, the copious, unbelievable amounts of blood. They left out how a body can open up and let go. They left out the catheter, the internal ultrasound, the Rhogam shot. The left out how kind, how willing to share their personal lives all the strangers who work at emergency rooms can be.

They left out the scene where you put your clothes back on and walk out into the cruelly bright April sunshine, into everything green and growing and blooming, and go forward carrying emptiness, carrying failure.