Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Lately I have been sort of obsessing over time. Or should I say, the counting of days, weeks and months.

Two weeks ago Sheila and I took Toodles to Boston Children's for some scheduled appointments. Scheduled. As in no surprises would take place because these were PLANNED appointments.

Remember what they say about the best laid plans?


She was scheduled to see the Gastroenterologist and something called CP. I assumed CP stood for cerebral palsy which is what kiddos like Tessie, who have no known diagnosis. generally end up being labelled with.

And we all know the saying about assuming anything, now don't we?

The GI doc was very nice and we had a good appointment. She did want a couple of xrays taken to check out Toodle's belly but still, not a big deal.  We agreed she would review the xrays later and pending any terrible findings, we would see her again in two months.

The next day we had the CP appointment. The waiting room was quite busy and one mom told me that it wasn't uncommon to wait hours for a scheduled appointment. I am here to tell you, that lady wasn't lying. We waited nearly two hours to see the doctor. The appointment was for 9:30 and we saw the doc at around 11:25. At one point I even told Sheila that I thought we should just leave. After all, this was just an appointment to be told that my kid had CP. I know my kid has CP (not really though considering what she really has is genetic and has never been seen before in anyone else, thus the CP diagnosis).  But still, something told me to wait. So we waited. And waited and waited.

When we finally got to see the doctor, lo and behold, he was an Orthopedic Surgeon whose specialty was dealing with kids with CP. Well, huh. That was a tad unexpected. Still, I though it was good because Tess was overdue to see and orthopedist. He looked her all over, asked me some questions and then sent us for...can you guess? Yup, more xrays. Two of her hips and two of her spine. Back to radiology we went. Afterwards we went back into his office so he could talk to us about the results. And I still had no clue anything was amiss. Just blissfully unaware that he was about to punch me in the gut.

He was showing me the xrays of her hips and was talking away about how her hips were coming out of the joint and bone was rubbing on bone and she most likely had pain and would have more pain from it and if something wasn't done soon then we would miss our window to fully repair them and on and on...

Then it hit me. He was trying to tell me that Tess needed surgery. Major surgery. On both hips. Soon.

I lost it. I just started bawling in front of this poor doctor who had known me all of about fifteen minutes. I apologized for falling apart and I swear to God, this doctor got choked up. His eyes got all watery and he had to keep clearing his throat and his face was all red as he was saying to me, "I suddenly have a tickle in my throat." As a mom, this made me love him. I just knew that he got it. He understood and sympathized with me. Once I pulled myself somewhat together, he told me that he would suggest getting the surgery done sometime within the next six months. In the meantime, he would get together his "team" that would be in the operating room and then meet with us again in about three months, go over everything, and set a firm date for the surgery. He also warned me that the recovery time of this particular surgery is about a year from start to finish. Six months until she would act like herself again and six more months until deemed "fully recovered." Gulp.

So we left the hospital to head home and we had just gotten on Rt 1 in Boston when my cell rang. It was the GI doc. The radiologist who read Tessie's xrays just happened to see the very bottom of her left lung in one of them and it looked like she was developing a pneumonia. They recommended we take Tess to her pediatrician as soon as we got back to Maine.

And the hits just keep on coming.

By the time we got back to Sheila's house it was too late to do anything except get ready for bed. I did talk to Jen on the island since it seemed like she should be in the loop given the fact that she is our island doc and, naturally, got crying while telling her. The next morning we took Tess in to see Dr. Stephenson and while discussing everything we had learned in Boston, I started crying again. He assured me that he would be more worried if I didn't show any emotion after hearing that my daughter needed major surgery. He also said, and this is just another reason why he is awesome, that if weeping mothers bothered him then he was in the wrong profession!

After looking Tessie over and not finding anything to suggest she was coming down with a pneumonia, he still agreed to treat her proactively as a precaution because Boston had really felt like she was developing one. We started her on antibiotics that day.

The next morning she spiked a fever and was sick. Quite sick. Still, I figured that the meds just hadn't had a chance to kick in and I brought her home. For about sixteen hours.

The following morning her fever, which had thankfully gone down the night before so I assumed (there's that word again) that the antibiotics were working, was back even higher than it had been. I called Sheila who called the pediatrician and we were ordered to get back to the mainland pronto and he would meet us at the ER.

At the ER the doc added a second, stronger antibiotic and let us go home to Sheila's with some fairly strict instructions which included definitely NOT GOING BACK TO THE ISLAND. He debated about just admitting her then and there but I basically asked him not to since she was still able to maintain her oxygen levels so well and we had Sheila to help us. Plus, we thought the second antibiotic would do the trick. Needless to say, it didn't. Two antibiotics and they weren't even touching the pneumonia.

Things were getting a bit scary.

She was admitted into Special Care less than 36 hours later and ended up needing to be given oxygen for about 24 hours. Her pediatrician consulted with her Complex Care pediatrician at Children's and, as fate would have it, that doctor has just done a six month study on something called pneumonitis and thought that was what Tess had based on xrays and her symptoms. She suggested a specific course of IV antibiotics and Dr. Stephenson adapted his treatment of Tess accordingly. Like he said, "When the person who actually conducted and wrote the study suggests the best way to treat the patient, you do it."

Tess still got a little worse before she finally turned the corner and myself, Sheila, and even Dr. Stephenson were getting nervous. He later told me that he had discussed with her Boston doc about a plan B treatment if it became necessary but thankfully, plan A worked. Tess spent 3 days in Special Care and once she could maintain her oxygen levels herself, she was moved to a regular room for two more days. She spent a total of five days in the hospital and two more days after that going back in for IV infusions before being allowed to come home. She is still on antibiotics for another seven days while I am on pins and needles waiting to see if she really is going to stay on the road to recovery or decide to throw me a curveball and start to get worse again. I was told that the recovery period for this type of pneumonia is about six weeks.

Six weeks... six months...a year...who knew that time could be such a scary thing?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How I became a Farmer

I'm not sure if you've heard the news but it's pretty big. And I do mean big.

I just bought a farm.

Yes, you read that correctly. I, Joanna Reidy, am now a farmer.

It's a pretty good size farm too. I have long horn cows, horses, goats, sheep, chickens and bunny rabbits. I'm considering getting a baby turkey to raise since it's almost Thanksgiving but I'm on the fence about it (a little farmer's humor for ya, "on the fence").

My animals keep me pretty busy. Tending livestock is no joke.  My chickens are free range because that is very important for the quality and health of the eggs they will produce as mentioned in this blog post by my friend and fellow blogger, Tracy. Plus, I make my own feed directly from vegetables I've harvested from my garden so it's all organic.

I like to make my own dairy products as well. Cheeses, milk, buttermilk, etc. all made right on my farm, all by me. I sell them at the local farmer's market stand.

Running a farm single handedly can be quite tough some days. Running all over the acres and acres of farmland, feeding and watering my animals, working in the garden, and, in my spare time, going to my friend's farms to lend a hand can be exhausting.

I took some photos of my new farm for you to enjoy. I think you'll find it quite informative. So without further ado, I give you...


                         REIDY FARMS

The sign as you enter the farm.

     An ariel view of the farm.

   Phew! Farming is hard work. Just look at this photo of me literally wiping the sweat from my brow!

 Buy organic and buy local!

 Catching a little shut eye in the stable for a few minutes.

So obviously, aside from the link to Tracy's blog, this whole post is a joke and my attempt at 1) trying to cope with the boredom of sitting in a hospital for almost a week and 2) making my ridiculous FARMVILLE playing on Facebook seem light and funny instead of lame and pathetic. I mean, let's face it, a grown woman pretending to be a farmer on a virtual farm is not exactly awe inspiring. And I will admit, when it shows up on my Facebook Timeline I cringe in embarrassment. Yet I'm still farming playing.

I think Ellie said it best when she caught saw me playing and said, "Farmville? Really, mom?"

Yes, really.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yabba Dabba yell a lot at everyone to get this thing made!

Another Halloween has come and gone.


In the words of Ellie, "Tessie's costume is probably the most awesome one any of us ever had!"

My response? "Yes, Ellie, it's only too bad that you all couldn't have had wheelchairs so you could have had such awesome costumes too."

Score one for mom. Or not. You know, because Ellie wasn't being whiny about it, she just loved Tessie's costume. I can't help it though, it is in my nature to be a wise a$$.

Ellie was right however. This costume ROCKED. Well, Bedrocked. You see, this year my Toodle Bug was dressed as Pebbles Flintstone! "What's so great about that?", you might be wondering. Why, I'm glad you asked.  The great part was that we made Tessie's wheelchair into one of the Flintstone's cars.

Of course, in typical Reidy, aka Griswold,  fashion, we had a few bumps in the getting-ready-for-Halloween road.

Tessie and I had gotten out of Dodge when Hurricane Sandy blew through and were waiting out the storm safe and snug on the mainland. I really wasn't sure if we would even get home for Halloween but I knew if we did, this is what I wanted for Tessie to dress up as. I did already have the costume and, in a fit of unusual preparedness, had even already purchased the materials needed for the canvas roof and granite looking tires. However, they were all sitting in a pile in Tessie's bedroom.

So Halloween morning I called to check in with the hubby and to let him know that yes, in fact I will brave the ferry boat and come home and oh by the way, did I mention that you need to make Tessie a Flintstone's car for her wheelchair? Oh, I didn't? My bad. But we really will need it done when we get off the ferry because we'll only have about an hour to pull it all together. Did I leave you directions? Well...no. It only needs a wood frame, you're a carpenter, you've got wood everywhere! But make sure it looks Flinstone-y and good, and fits her chair and....

When we got home I'll be honest. I may have become a tad bit hysterical and possibly been yelling at everyone in my path to GET BUSY! The house was a wreck, Tessie needed to be dressed in her costume, and the car, while framed up, still wasn't totally finished.

Poor Charlie, Ellie and Bina. They were looking at me like I had just sprouted three heads. "Stop standing around! Come on! Pick up! Bina, start making wheels for the car! Ellie, sweep the entry floor! Charlie this car needs to be fixed! You made this part too long! String?!! Do I have any string?!?! No, I do not have string, WHY would I have string?! Bina, cover the steering wheel in duct tape! Oh really, Charlie?! So you don't think duct tape is very Flintstone-y. Well it is if it is CHEETAH print duct tape so HA! Yes, this has a hole in the back of the canvas! The Flintstones had a hole in the back of THEIR canvas roof! Ellie, why are you just standing around?! DO something!! Well, how about help me with this wig! TESSIE!!!! You have GOT to stop throwing your head to the side!"

And on and on it went. At one point Bina actually grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "JoJo, you have got to calm down!", or something along those lines. It's really all a blur.

But when all was said and done, and my blood pressure had dropped back down to somewhere near normal, we had managed to pull together the best costume of HALLOWEEN ever!

Charlie, Ellie, Bina and I proudly present......


But wait, here's a video...and in typical diva fashion, Tess is clearly not nearly as impressed as we all were...Yabba Dabba Doo!