Saturday, July 30, 2011

I've got a case of SBAD

Seasonal Blog Abandonment Disorder.

Summer begs for relaxation.  Outside adventures and spontaneous trips, followed by catnaps and relaxing.  Somehow half the summer is gone already (although Dave is just now joining summer-in-progress, since yesterday was his last day of summer school) . . . and my motivation for anything that requires mental energy is slim.  I have fleeting thoughts of things to write about, but then I see a sprinkler or an ice cream cone and they slip right out of my head.

I thought to myself "I feel like I slack on blogging every summer", which prompted me to go back in the archives to last summer around this time, and I saw this post*.  Oh my goodness!  Maya is so little!  Parker is so little!  My family is getting so big (literally)---just a year has made a huge difference.   Slow down, everyone. 

The highlight of this past week was cancelling therapy for a day and running away to CT to visit Maya's cousins. 

A playhouse + play doh?!?  I don't even know where to start.

We caught little toads!  I think I may have been even more excited than Maya :)

Ah, summertime.
Anyway, sorry for the potentially longer stretches between posts.  I'll try to get my act together.  And September brings school (for Maya) and unemployment (for me) so I should have plenty of free time to write then.

*PS-My favorite part of that post is in the comments--I love the comment by Anonymous: "Dana, you are definitely starting to get funnier." Thanks?  I think?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

She's got beauty, brains *and* jokes . . .

Maya is really funny.  She loves making us laugh, and quickly realizes what cracks us up . . . even when we try to hold it together.

That's the only intro you need.

With that sort of physical commitment (and total disregard for her personal safety when a joke it on the line) she may just be the next Chris Farley.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Letter hunting . . .

This video kind of makes me think back to those grossly misrepresentative evaluation results that we got a few months ago. 

Um, 0.4th percentile for cognitive development? 


It's a shame that the person who did the evaluating wasn't smart enough to understand Maya . . .  because Maya was certainly smart enough to understand her.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summertime and the livin' is (finally) easy*

July's appointments are done (earlier than expected, thanks to a cancellation that allowed us to get in this week instead of next).  We have a few weeks before we're scheduled to hit another waiting room, and it feels pretty good.

I have some work I want to do on the blog, but it's going to have to happen slowly, because summer brings better options than computer time . . . like sprinklers, and puddles.

She loves the drain, and trying to get little leaves and sticks to go through the holes.  I may be responsible for that.  Hee hee.

If you don't "like" us on Facebook then you stink missed out on two things today:

1.  First, Amsterdam International hit a milestone---over 1,000 shares on Facebook.  Wow.  (1,001 as of this morning.)

2.  I received a list of iPad (or iPhone) apps for children with special needs.  I didn't make the list (it comes care of Mark Surabian of Cognitech Cafe & the JCC), but I have permission to share it.  It's a 14 pg pdf file---if you'd like it, please shoot me an email ( and I'll send it your way. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Listen up!

Before this afternoon, Maya's spontaneous vocabulary was only 1 word:  Bye.  She loves bye and bye-bye and will shout them any time someone appears to be leaving anywhere.  People stand up at the dog run? "Bye-bye!"  We pass by someone in the hallway? "Bye!"  We leave the apartment? "Bye-bye.  A-bye.  Bye!"

(She can also say "mama" and "dada" but those are generally prompted.  And  "Mmmmm" can mean: milk, Maisy, Maisy video, moon, more, cow or moo.  "Hhhh" ("ha", but the a is silent) means "help".  These sounds are word precursors, but not true words, you know?  Like, we understand them, but not other folks.)

But this afternoon, with her fabulous speech therapist (who I know is probably reading this!) Maya latched on to another word. 

And it's soooooooooooooo cute.

Did you hear that sweet little voice?  Saying a real word?  It's like a drop of rain to a man in the desert . . . on one hand, I wanted to jump out of my skin with excited, grateful celebration  . . . and then, so quickly, a thirsty voice in my head says "More, more, give me more, talk more." 

It will come. 

PS.  How cute is it that "done" appears to be a full body effort?  Adorable.

PPS.  Her first two clear words are "bye-bye" and "done".  We've got a strong willed little girl on our hands :)

(Hearing update:  We've got nothing.  More tests today solidified what we already know---when she uses both ears, in a quiet room, her hearing seems to be normal.  We need more detailed data, but it's difficult to tease out of her, as some of the tests are too sophisticated just yet.  We'll return at the end of the summer, and will be teaching her a new way to take a certain behavioral test between now and then.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You need to know about button batteries.

Please share this post.  Injuries and deaths from button batteries are serious, on the rise, and preventable.  Most people are completely unaware of the grave danger posed by a swallowed battery . . . until tragedy touched the life of a friend, I had no idea that batteries were so immediately hazardous.  Every parent, babysitter, grandparent, etc who cares for small children needs to be aware of the serious danger posed by lithium button batteries.

If you live with small children, you likely have taken safety precautions to make your home a safer place for them.  Knives are stored out of reach, hazardous household cleaners are secured, doors have locks and pools have fences.  But within your home right now, you have at least one item (but probably several of them) that can cause grave injury, or death, and you are possibly unaware of how rapidly fatal it is.

The Button Battery

These are button batteries (lithium batteries).  They are found in so many common items:
  • toys
  • books (the kind that make noises)
  • small remote controls (for air conditioners, ipod docks, etc)
  • watches
  • hearing aids
  • clocks
  • musical greeting cards
  • cameras
  • keychains
  • flashing shoes
  • and more (see a more complete list here.  Basically, if it's small and battery powered, there's a button battery in there.)
Parents already know that kids shouldn't play with batteries.  But these button batteries are even more dangerous than the traditional batteries simply because they are smaller and easy to swallow (or stick in an ear or nose).  And because they come in so many items, the saftety regulations are somewhat vague.  A button battery in a toddler book, for example, is highly regulated and must be secured in a compartment that requires a screwdriver to open.  Pretty safe.

But what about those singing greeting cards?

Kids love those cards . . . but the only thing between the child and the battery is a layer of paper. If they wander away with one and rip it apart, the battery is sitting right there.  (Some cards do have a battery lock, but many don't).

And small remotes? I know from experience (because I'm constantly dropping things) that many of these pop right open when they hit the floor, exposing the (shiny, interesting looking) battery inside.

The Danger
(This is the part where some people shudder and think: "I don't even want to know any more about battery dangers because now I'm going to be paranoid about batteries and have nightmares." You know what? Suck it up. The parents of the 12 kids who died due to button batteries since 2004 would probably give anything if they could reverse time and become more aware of the serious danger caused by them.)

Kids swallow these batteries.

And then very, very bad things happen. 

When a battery is swallowed, it generates a small electric current, which burns the tissue next to it.    (An experiment showed that a button battery will burn straight through deli meat after only 2 hours.)  In some cases, a swallowed battery is small enough that it can pass through the system (with careful medical monitoring).  In others, the battery becomes lodged (often in the esophagus).

As soon as the battery is lodged against tissue, the electrical current starts. Tissues are seriously damaged.  Resulting injuries have required surgeries, feeding tubes, respiratory tubes, and home nursing care.

And if the battery can burn through deli meat, imagine what happens if it reaches a blood vessel.
There are several possible routes of injury, and a few ways that a swallowed battery leads to death.  (More information about mechanisms of injury is here.)

The Bottom Line
Batteries are not (by far) the most commonly swallowed household item (they rank at about 1% of the total swallowed items, with 3,500 cases reported to poison control each year).  "But while swallowing batteries has occurred for years, the development of larger, stronger lithium cell batteries has increased the risk of severe complications." (from the NY Times)

Few other ingested items will cause potentially fatal damage so quickly.  And because parents often are not aware at just how serious battery ingestion is, these batteries may fall into the hands of children, and then get accidentally ingested, without their knowledge. 

What Parents Need to Know

1.  Button batteries can cause serious injury and death if swallowed.

2.  Button batteries are in your home and may be more easily accessible to your child than you think.

3.  If your child is playing with a product (key chain, small remote, greeting card, etc) that contains a button battery, they must be supervised.

4.  If a child is playing with an item and you are unsure if the battery has fallen out, or you can't find the battery (a remote broke into pieces that scattered, a musical card was torn up, etc) than you need an xray.  Head directly to the emergency room and tell them "My child may have swallowed a battery."  This is a do-not-sit-in-the-waiting-room type of situation. 

5. If you suspect that a battery may have been swallowed, you should call the battery ingestion hotline: 202-625-3333.  Likely they will tell you the above.  They will also likely tell you that panic is not necessary, but swift action is.

6. Even dead batteries can hold enough charge to kill a child.  So dispose of dead batteries appropriately and immediately.

One More Thing

Share this blog post.  Or share one of the articles linked below.  Or share the National Capital Poison Center page.  Put it on Facebook, print out a copy to give a friend, send an email to the caretakers of young kids that you know.  When a parent has bleach in the house, they know the dangers to children.  The dangers of button batteries should be known by everyone so that the proper precautions can be taken.  We can't be careful of something that we don't know about.

(And if your friends react with "Oh my!  Why did you send me that terrible thing about the batteries?  I can't stop thinking about batteries now!"   . . .  well, then good.  Better to leave someone aware and slightly paranoid than ignorant to the dangers.)


National Capital Poison Center

A NY Times article about babies and button batteries

A comprehensive article that speaks with a doctor who published a review of button battery data from 1998-2008. 

A video from ABC news that shows the batteries and hears from experts.

One mom's story: My son died after swallowing a button battery

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Learning to fly*

I saw a glorious thing today. 

We've been watching flight lessons on and off all week long.  It's been amazing---the mom and dad pigeons have been arriving every morning before 7, enticing the "babies" onto the railing and convincing them to test their wings.  (I've never thought about it before, but learning to fly is kind of scary.  They've been on my terrace all of this time, and now just have to hop off and flap?  Kind of crazy.)

Anyway, this afternoon when I went outside to try to bully them out of here check on them, only the younger baby was there!  And when (s)he saw me, she fluttered up onto the railing.

and then . . .

Kind of amazing, actually.

My face definitely lit up behind the camera as I took that picture.  A bizarre mix of pride and smug get-off-my-porchness.  I ran back inside and said "They're gone!  They flew away!  I even saw one fly!  I think they're really getting ready to leave!"

And then, this evening:

Look at those smug faces. 

The younger one is on the left, the older on the right.


They don't like me (and I think they know the feeling is mutual) but they couldn't fly away when I went out there tonight.  They seemed unable to leave the balcony, which lead me to google investigate pigeons and night vision, and it seems like they can't see so well at night. 

My flash probably wasn't helping.  Oops.

I have hope that the end is in sight, though.  Watching one of them fly away was pretty amazing . . . inspiring, even, if one could be inspired by a stupid dirty pigeon.  They aren't that smart, and they aren't very brave.  Their whole world was a corner of our cement terrace, mostly under a blue plastic tarp.  With only a few days worth of nudging and coersion from their parents, they literally made a huge leap of faith.  

 And their world became infinitely bigger.

Friday, July 8, 2011

July is like that time I was stuck in an elevator

I'm not a fan of elevators.

Particularly in the summer time, in the older buildings where the ventilation is questionable and the elevators are small . . . there's a little voice inside my head that starts when the doors close, chanting "just-get-there-just-get-there-just-get-there", and a small but undeniable breath of relief when they open again.

Back in the summer of 2005 I was stuck in an elevator for 24 long minutes . . . and during that time I miraculously only had about 20 seconds of panic, simply because more than that wasn't an option.

It was a tiny elevator.  Dave & I were accompanied by a very large middle-aged man, a woman in her late 20s, and a very elderly, frail woman who had only gone downstairs for a moment to pick up her mail.  The (extrememly tiny) elevator started up only to stop midway between the second & third floors.

A high pitched

It was June. It was hot. There was no ventilation.

We were packed in like little standing sardines, literally about an inch between each of us.

All of our eyes were wide and I could feel blood rush to my head and my inner panic voice start with "Nonononowe-have-to-get-out-of-here".

And then the other man totally. lost. his. mind.

He pushed past everyone to the front of the elevator (which made the elevator shake) and started pounding on the door, which made the elevator shake more (scary).  He was screaming (screaming) "GET US OUT! I CAN'T BE IN HERE! GET ME OUT OF HERE! HEEEELLLPPPP!"

And instantly I took the panic rising in me and put it out, like dunking a match in water, because I had lost the luxury of having a meltdown.  I don't think you can have 2 hysterical people in an elevator, and his hysteria clearly trumped mine.  So he got to panic and we focused on convincing him that this wasn't a big deal.  Eventually the NYPD arrived to set us free.  (To this day I ask myself "is this elevator too crowded to spend 20 minutes in" before I make an elevator commitment.) 

Anyway, this July is kind of like that elevator.

For the past 3 days, I've been flailing, feeling an anxiety rising up with every appointment that gets added to the calendar.  Our therapy schedule has totally flipped, as everyone shifted for the summer days . . . this leaves me standing in front of my giant calendar early each morning, rubbing my eyes and mumbling "Wait, what day is it?  And who is coming here when?" Also, since everyone vacations at some point, each therapist has to squeeze in make-up sessions while they're around.

On top of that, we have a crazy number of appointments.  This week included the 4 hr audiology eval and a 1.5 hr functional hearing eval.  Still to come this month are (chronologically): a physiatry eval/revisit, preschool registration, another hearing eval, an opthamologist eval, another hearing eval.  And possibly an ENT follow-up thing.  And there are only 15 business days left this month.  That's a lot of appointments. (Also, because the team that we are working with is fantastic, there are a lot of emails, surveys and inventories that have to be completed before & after appointments. The fax machine has been buzzing with reports and data from the appointments. Papers are piling up.)

I had to buy a travel calendar to carry in the diaper bag because I can't keep it straight.

For the past 2 days my inner voice has fluctuated between " I hate July I hate July I wish that this was done already" to "How will we ever make it through July?" to "One day at a time, one appointment at a time, we will get through this month".  That seemed like progress, but then a flash of realization today . . . am I wishing away a month?  A whole month?

My big goal for this month of my life is just survival

That can't be right. 

So I'm putting out that match of anxiety again, as I will not allow myself the luxury of struggling and moping through a month.  I am consciously choosing to pull out my most zen self. 

I will not rush through this month.  There will be sprinklers. 

There will be ice cream. 

(There may also be less lengthy blog ramblings . . . que sera sera.) 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A few vacation pics, and a hearing non-update

We had our big hearing evaluation on Tuesday.  The good news is that her hearing appears to be better than we thought after the ABR . . . she may not even need hearing aids (that's yet to be determined).  The tricky news is that we did 3 different types of evaluations, and each yielded different data . . . so, what does that mean?  Basically it means that, per usual, we remain in some sort of undiagnosed limbo with more testing on the horizon.  Hmm, that feels familiar.  The next appointment is tomorrow.

That aside, we had a fantastic mini-vacation upstate for the long holiday weekend.  (Even Parker came and enjoyed).  A few pictures from a hike we took:

A hiking girl