Friday, 10 August 2012

Latest addition to the madhouse......

The latest addition to the madhouse, is definitely not what you'd expect.  The reaction to her, I didn't quite expect either.  It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and came complete with an 'adoption' certificate.  We had no idea what to call 'it' and, infact, we weren't even sure if it was a boy or a girl.  So we decided to ask the children.  Cameron and Katrina decided they would just pick names that they liked, and shout them out for the rest of us to comment upon.  Ayden sat quietly, looking at 'it'.  Then he declares 'It's a girl' I looked at him and said 'Ok, it's a girl'.....and he said 'No, look, it has a bottom.....but no willy, because THIS is a tail, I have a bottom and a willy because I am a willy means a girl'.  I wasn't quite sure to address that, other than that clearly he was right.  I found it rather fascinating that neither Katrina or Cameron were even bothered, and clearly saw 'it' as an 'it' where Ayden saw 'it' as a.......well.......personality.

No one could still think of a name for our new addition however.  We searched and searched and searched.  It was harder to find a name for our new addition than I would have thought.  So.....what is this 'it' we are talking about??  We would like to introduce you, to our latest addition........


Rowan has become very very attached to Domino.  We had a few settling in problems, and it took a little while for us to work out where Domino will be sleeping, and apparentl what she likes eating, but both Ayden and Rowan have decided that Domino likes McDonald's chips with curry sauce, along with diet coke to wash it down.

Domino's first outing was a big outing.  Domino had to come with us to the hospital.  Rowan hates the hospital.  So we decided that Domino deserved her first day out, and Rowan could show Domino all the things we have to do at the hospital, this made things a lot better for Rowan!!

So here are the pictures of Domino's trip to the hospital.

First we had to sign in, and then we have to wait to be called.

While we wait, there are toys we can play with, Rowan decided that Domino needed to try some new foods, McDonald's chips just aren't good for you.

When the lady with the blue T Shirt on calls your name you have to go into a special room, where they weigh you and measure you to see how big you are growing!!  Domino didn't like the scales, she kept sliding off, oops.

Once that's all done, we have to wait for the doctor to be ready.  Rowan's doctor was a big grumpy and wouldn't let us take a picture of Domino with the Dr.

After the doctor's appointment, we have to walk through our town to go back to get the bus.  In the town we live in, there is a really nice art project.  It's called 'Wild In Art'.  Last year, it was the 'pride of Northampton' so all the schools, and lots of other organisations too were delivered a 'lion'....they were plain white model lions.  Each school then decorated them, then they were displayed throughout the town.  They were absolutely gorgeous.  Some adult artists made some too, and there were lots of different ones. Outside our main shopping centre was a Lion that looked just like Alan Carr!  With the goofy teeth, and the glasses, Alan Carr came from Northampton!  It was very very funny!  So this year, because the project was so successful, it has been expanded to cover all kinds of different animals, with all kinds of different designs.  So Rowan and Domino went through town seeing how many different animals we could find, what they looked like, and then posing for photographs.  It gives a little bit of interest to our town!  And they are hiding all over the place!!
  A Rhino, depicting the Balloon Festival that is in Northampton every year.

Domino couldn't climb onto this one, there was nothing to hold on it, and it was so tall!

  This Gorilla sits in the middle of town, Rowan thinks he looks a bit like a security guard, but the label says he's a pilot.

Rowan helped Domino climb onto the back of this Lion for a picture.

                             Oh that is a lot better, a tiny gorrila, much easier to climb onto!

This Hippo is a giant blackboard!  Everyone writes on it with the chalk out of the pink cups!  Rowan and Domino made their mark too :o)

This is Rowan's favourite animal in town.  We decided though that the Rhino needed more Spots.  Lots of animal prints all in one.

We thought we lost Domino, but no, she was sunbathing on the pink flower Rhino, phew.

It had been a busy trip to town and both Domino and Rowan were very tired!

Goodnight Domino and Rowan, sweet dreams!

I would just like to say a big Thank You to the guys and girls at Post Pals, for running this project, the Dotty Project, and Thank You to Dotty for allowing us to adopt one of her Littermates.  We are looking after her well and she is enjoying many days out, she is a valuable member of the family now.  We have been to GOSH, we have been to the park, Domino comes everywhere with us now.  Thank you.  She gives us another focus when we are out and about, and has allowed Rowan to be much more interactive, although without words still.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sometimes, you have no choice but to give up.

Just before I begin this blog post I want to say that I am not going to name names, because actually that would make no difference anyway, and would open me up to possible legal stuff going on.  I will use the abbreviation CIN for 'Child in Need Team' and DCT for 'Disabled Children's Team', SW for Social Worker and SS for Social Services.  Mainly because I am just lazy!

So.....Rowan went into GOSH for his admission and his liver biopsy was done.  We are STILL waiting for the results however.  3 weeks later, over 10 days after we were told the results would be in.  I have had contact with the team, and they are constantly checking for results but so far nothing.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Some people say no new is good news, but what actually would qualify as 'good news' and 'bad news'.  Good news is what?  Things come back normal and we are no closer to a diagnosis, no closer to finding out what's wrong, no closer to finding a better treatment plan?  Doesn't really sound like good news does it.  Is getting an answer good news?  What if that answer is a terminal answer, what if that answer means that nothing can be fixed?  What if the results come back as showing something that will require an intense treatment plan that requires lots of hospitalisation and still no 'cure' (we are fully aware that there is probably no cure for Rowan especially as he still has no diagnosis).  Is that good news?  Or is that bad news?  I guess there is no such thing as 'good news' and 'bad news' at this stage, it's just 'news'.

So whilst dealing with all this, I had news that the DCT was closing our case for Rowan.  Basically, since Rowan has been born, we have been escalating up the 'social work team' ladder.  We have been stuck amongst all the changes to the teams, so in the last 4 years (from when I fell pregnant with Rowan) we have been under 4 different 'teams' with 7 different social workers.  Each team deeming us 'too complex' and moving us up the ladder.  So.....last year after the child protection conference (which SS initiated) we ended up with two 'teams'.  The DCT for Rowan (as he is a disabled child) and the CIN team for Katrina, Cameron and Ayden as they are deemed 'Children in Need' with having Rowan as their brother, their own needs, and an 'unstable' mother.  The DCT funded a childminder for the older 3 children on a Thursday as an assessment they did said that we would hugely benefit from a 'break' a 'day to ourselves' seen as our family is so full on all the time.  A day that I didn't have to rush to do the school run as our childminder picks them up from home and drops them off at 6pm.  They also sorted out a play scheme for us last summer holidays so the older 2 children went for a week each, and Ayden went to a childminder too.  They used to organise taxis for school runs when one or the other of us was away, I can't organise it myself, because of their ages, they need to make sure the driver is all checked, and therefore another organisation need to book it (even though it's the same company we always use). 

So....Rowan has his nursing care package which is funded 80% by health (so the NHS) and 20% by social care (SS).  Then the childminder started to be paid by the CIN team as it was for the older children.  SS made promises that they would input support so that I could do my DBT course as safely as possible.  So they'd put extra childcare in.  I was feeling fairly......supported?  OK so I'm not a huge fan of social workers, well, my social workers.  I hold a grudge because of the child protection process, and the amount of times they've promised things and taken them back.  But I did kind of feel like we were getting somewhere.

On the Monday we were off to GOSH, I checked my emails on the way.  I had an e-mail from the DCT SW which basically said that they were closing the case.  Now,  I was somewhat shocked, but they tried assuring me it would all be ok, and they weren't closing the case, they were moving him to a more appropriate team, to be with the other children so we have one social worker, not two, it will be more co-ordinated.  My team went nuts.  There was no question time, no discussion opportunity they were just closing the case, end of story.  No room for movement at all.  I was not happy either.  They were trying to assure me that all would be ok again.  We wouldn't really notice any change, everything would carry on as it was.  I don't handle change very well, and was really worried.  Who was now paying Rowan's care package as it comes from the DCT budget.  No one would answer me from the DCT as the case was now closed.  So I started emailing the CIN SW to find out, again she was ignoring my questions.  The worst things you can do to me is lie, ignore me, or hide things from me. 

I repeatedly asked over the course of the week (while I was in GOSH) what was going on and if someone could explain to me what was happening to the promise of support and I heard nothing.  So instead of stressing over it, I concentrated on Rowan's admission and keeping my mind focused on what was happening at the time.  If you've ready any of my posts from that week, you will know that it was pretty chaotic. Due to the stress of the journey home, both for Rowan and I, and the change of going from hospital to home, it always takes a couple of days for everyone to settle back to reality.

The Saturday was filled with cleaning, washing, tidying etc.  And then Sunday was a PJ day.  At about 2pm I checked my emails, just expecting the usual junk mail, maybe someone tagged me in something on facebook, or some company offering me 99% off deals.  And there appeared an email from the CIN SW.  Yes it was a Sunday.  The email basically asked me if I could update her on an appointment I took Katrina to, as she was completing the core assessment on Katrina before they closed the case.  Erm......hold on......CLOSE THE CASE? So I emailed back, just clarifying what she was saying and yes, they were closing our case.  All 4 children's cases.  So all that 'we're transferring Rowan to a more suitable team' stuff was complete crap.  When I asked how long until the case was closed I was told 10 days.  We had a meeting between that Sunday and the following Thursday and she was going to say something then with her manager there.  So actually they were only going to give us 7 days notice.  Once again, no room for discussion nothing.  So, I had lots of questions.  Here were my questions with the answers I was given.....

1.  What is happening to Rowan's care package as SS are paying 20% of it, how can they be paying a package for a child who has no open SS case, and if that's the case, who will be reviewing the package?  (basically every 3 months two people come out to discuss the care packaged and decide if we need more, or less hours, and one person is from the NHS, and the other is a SW, as those are the two 'organisations' funding the package.)

Well, it's highly unusual, but someone, somewhere, somehow will be funding the package still.  Don't worry.  Oh and we have no idea who will be reviewing it, probably just any social worker.  (Going to make decisions based on a child they know NOTHING about......going to be interesting!)

2.  What is happening regarding the childminder we have for the older 3 children?

Well, that will no longer be funded as you will no longer have an open case to SS.....(This is where I lost my rag, and responded with 'How the hell can you assess that I need a childminder, fund it, then take it away with no warning, all along you've bleated on about how my children need stability, and then remove one of the most STABLE situations they have right now.  One adult they trust that's not a parent.  And what is meant to be happen now, I have made commitments (OU) based on that childminders support).....and that is was NEVER going to be long term (although we were also never told otherwise).  They said they were not saying that we did not need or benefit from a childminder, but they wouldn't be funding it.  So we need to fund it ourselves, and any extra childcare we need will have to be bought in by ourselves.

3.  Ok, so what if I can't afford the childminder, that you as a services assessed that I needed a year ago, and despite the fact that the situation has not changed, you now decide no longer needs to happen?

Um.....well......tough (Ok, maybe they didn't say the word 'tough' but that's what I heard).

4.  Why are you closing the case?  (Ok I guess most people would have this as question one, but I was MAD)

There are no child protection issues, the children are well looked after, there are no concerns about them, we are good parents.  Therefore we do not meet their criteria as they now only deal with children on a child protection plan, or children they are removing from their parents.  So.....if you are a good parent, sacrificing your own health, your own sanity, your own life, then you don't need (or deserve) any help looking after your children in order to be able to look after yourself a little bit.

5.  You say there have been big changes in our circumstances, can you name some?

Lots of things have changed.  (Like what?)  Lots of things (Such as?)

6.  We have a child in need plan, not all of the 'actions' on that plan have been completed, yet you are closing the case?  How?

All the actions are completed.  (So what about the ones about seeking help, for me to explain self harm to my children?)  There were no resources available, so there is nothing we can do.  (That's a rubbish excuse, that I have been fobbed off with for 6 years now, and you lot told me you would help me with it, and now it's not possible!?)

7.  So when do we actually lose the childminder?

Well we will pay her until the end of August.  Then it's up to you whether you continue to pay her or not.

8.  So, I assumed the help that was promised for me to do my DBT course is also revoked?

There were never any promises made.  (This is where my mental health worker chips in 'erm, yes you did, you asked hours, what the commitment was like, what CMHT (community mental health team) were asking for') and their response, was 'we understood the commitment, but we never said we would help with childcare.  There is nothing documented to say that we said we would help' (equally, when discussing the situation, not once did you say you were NOT going to help)

So, whilst all this discussion was going on, I started asking other questions, such as, what happens now then.  I had given up fighting.  What was the point? No one was listening to me.  No one was going to listen to me.  And I just started getting upset.  I worked my arse off of my kids.  I tried so hard to help myself, I agreed to therapy that I'd said no to for years, I started an OU course, and it feels like I have been penalised.  We were in a meeting with all these questions.  I started to raise my voice.  The SW told me she'd 'sort this' and 'phone them' and 'do this' and 'do that'.  I was seeing red.  So I told her to 'stop feeding the room bullshit, you are leaving in a week's time, these things have been outstanding for over a year and now magically you are going to solve all the problems in a week, bollocks'.  The SW manager pipes up, and tells me to calm down, and that SS closing is a good thing.  (Clearly I don't see it that way).  Basically at the end of the meeting it was agreed that we would step down to a team called the 'core offer team'.  They have service coordinators that help sort out messes likes ours.  We were under that team before, until we were moved to the DCT.  They are not social workers, but we felt so supported under them.  They do not have a budget though, so they can not pay for childcare.  I felt like I got the consolation prize.  But I had to admit defeat.  I wasn't going to win. 

My mental health worker tried.  He said things in that meeting that I really didn't want people to know.  And although I know some things are my fault, because, although I will sit here, on the Internet, and admit to the world that I see and hear things that aren't real, there are thing that I do not share with anyone, and only share with my mental health worker at a push.  I have real issues with trust, especially with professionals, and this is exactly why.  They make promises, then say they didn't make them at all.  Making me feel like I made it all up in my head.  I came out that meeting feeling awful.  Some of the way that I have been feeling recently was made perfectly clear, the amount of 'risk' I present to myself was also made clear, and yet, despite SS stating on numerous times that my 'mental health is just as important as the children's health' they basically told me at the meeting that they don't care.  My ever decreasing mental health state, has nothing to do with them, because they are children's services.  My mental health state is to be sorted by the community mental health team.  So all this rubbish that is told to families about 'working together' and 'looking at the whole family' is a load of rubbish.

Leaving that meeting with the consolation prize, I tried to move my focus to looking at the core offer team, and hoping they will be able to help me feel more secure.  A couple of days after the meeting, the SW emailed me again.  We do not fit the Core Offer Team criteria either.  They are refusing to offer us a service.  I felt like I'd been repeatedly kicked in the stomach.  I am trying to help my children as much as I can.  I do the work of several professionals, paid in love and smiles and cuddles by the children, and I do not deserve to have an identity of my own it would seem.  Basically my mental health worker told everyone in the room that I have a 'suicide plan, with intent'.  Now, it's not an attention seeking plea, it wasn't a 'last ditch attempt' to get them to keep the case open.  There are lots of the things going on for me that are causing huge problems for me.  I have had a really big downward spiral with my mood in the last few weeks.  And this whole situation made me feel completely worthless.  Like I meant nothing to anyone except my children.

So, where does that leave us now?  With a CAF.  Do I have any hope that this will work out OK in the end?  No.  Do I have any choice but to just let it happen?  No.  I had a CAF when I just had Katrina, single parent, mental health issue.  No physical health issues at all.  And there wasn't much that could be done for us then (before all the budget cuts).

Right now, I have given up fighting.  I have given up arguing with services over what I want and/or need for my children, and for me.  I have given up fighting to keep my mood stable.  It's through the floor and below.  I have given up fighting my way through each day.  I let chaos happen around me.  I don't chase things, I don't argue, I don't question things.  That requires energy that I just don't have.  Maybe not fighting, in time, will make things better.  If I'm not so hung up on being combative with everyone, maybe, even though nothing will be sorted, I won't be so stressed.  I attend appointments, but with no 'everything is ok' face.  I shrug like I can't be arsed, I am physically in the room, what more do they want?  Services are not there to help out struggling parents, who are saving the government thousands every year by doing the job of therapists, nurses, PAs, doctors, taxis, educators every single day, trying to enable our children to reach their full potential.  Don't ask for help if you need it.  The answer will be no anyway.

Since I originally type this out, my mood has further deteriorated.  I have shut down.  I don't want to be around people, I don't want to join in idle chit chat.  I do the bare minimum to get through the day.  Right now we are in limbo, no social work team, no caf, no core assessments completed.  No hope of Rowan starting nursery in September.  I don't want to reply to texts, or emails or phone calls.  I don't want to bring anyone else's mood down.  Like I said I do the bare minimum.  I had to take Rowan to the hospital today to get more antibiotic as the poor little dude is in pain constantly and is having issues with a recurring rash, and losing weight etc.  I don't want to be so miserable, but I can't change it, if I could I would.  I wouldn't even bite your head off if you insulted me or my children. 

It has also transpired, that this whole situation may have come about, because Rowan has no diagnosis, and therefore fits no box.  Therefore SS don't know what to do with us, what help we need, or where to send us for advice/support.  So they close the case because they have 1000s more that they do know what to do with.  Obviously that's not official, but it's the general feeling a lot of our team have, and a lot of people I have spoken to.

So for now, I am existing, not living.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Postive Post.

I have noticed that a lot of my posts appear to have a little bit of a negative twist to them.  I don't mean to do that, but our life is full of bittersweet situations.  Also, I am not a naturally positive person.  Experience has taught me that nothing is truly positive, and I handle life a lot better if I can see the negatives, and predict them, and then they don't hurt so much.  I am what would be known as a pessimistic person, and I'm comfortable with that most of the time.
I have decided to try and have as positive post as I can.  Without too much medical stuff in it.  Showing the world that while my family is so amazingly different to so many other families, and certainly local families, we are also very much the same, we just have to approach life differently sometimes, and think a little harder, prepare a little longer.

Rowan is a 'pal' of a charity called 'Post Pals'.  If you want to read about this charity then go here: Post Pals basically this is a charity that sends letters, cards, postcards and sometimes little gifts to the children who are 'pals' and their siblings.  It's a fantastic charity, and puts smiles on the children's faces on the darkest of days, often created by the cost of a postage stamp, and a thought.  Sometimes all these children need to know is that someone cares, that someone has spent a few minutes that day thinking of them.  Rowan has only been a pal since just before Christmas and LOVES his post.  As do the other children, especially when Rowan is in hospital, or has not been too well demanding more of our time than usual.  This year we went to our first every 'Post Pals Party'.  This is an annual event, where all the volunteers who write to the children throughout the year, and all the 'pals' and people who are interested, or support post pals, all get together and have a fun day.  The people who write to the children get to know the children a little better, you get to say hi, and thank you.  You put names to faces.  So this year we went for the first time ever.  I took Cameron and Rowan with me.  They had an absolutely amazing time.  Every single person at that party had something they could have moaned about.  It could have been one of the most negative atmospheres ever.  And yet, every single child and every single adult was smiling.  (Some, including myself were freaking out on the inside however).  Every single child had fun.  It was a place where no one cared about your difference.  No one stared, no pointed, no one had any negative comments to make.  It was one of those events that I will never ever forget.  As a parent of a 'pal' it was rather odd, all the people who write to Rowan, know what he looks like.  There is a photo on his page : Rowan's Pal Page (please look through the pals, choose one, and write a letter, or a note, or just write 'Thinking of you today' in a card, how about a list of jokes, or that story about your pet, use your imagination!!)  However I didn't know who ANYONE was.  So everyone was there 'Hello Rowan' 'Hi Rowan' and I'm stood there just smiling like a Cheshire cat.  I told a lie, I did know a couple of the other 'pals' and their families, and so it was a nice time to catch up with them, that wasn't in a hospital setting.  It was also good for Rowan to see his friends outside of a hospital for the first time ever.  And it was good to confirm to Rowan that boys have tubies too.  (He has only ever met girls with the same tubes and lines as him).

There were lots of things going on at the party.  From a HUGE inflatable slide, that I think made a lot of parents hearts skip a beat as their child hurtled down this slide, with a squeal and smiling from ear to ear, and I think a lot of adults actually went on the slide.  I will raise my hand and say when we got there, way before most people turned up, I went down this huge slide with Rowan.  He wanted to go on it.  I was determined to let him go on it.  So we climbed up, I sat him on my lap, I made sure all his tubes etc were safe, and he absolutely LOVED it.  I think Cameron spent most of the party on that slide!  There was a bouncy castle, and a ball pit, a Peppa Pig Treasure Hunt, a buffet, face painting, and a raffle where the children just kept on winning, and kept on smiling.  I kept noticing how many people were smiling. 

The other thing that happened at the Post Pals Party, was something that I will remember forever and then some.  Singing Hands were at the Post Pals party.  Who are Singing Hands?  Pardon?  You don't know who Singing Hands are? You haven't lived.  Singing Hands are a group of people who use singing and signing together.  If you don't have a small child, or a child with additional needs you just won't understand how amazing they are.  For us, there are three reasons we (and Rowan) love Singing Hands (if you want their website it's Singing Hands ).  When Rowan was in his 8 month stay at GOSH, stuck in his cot, I spoke to one of the other Mum's who did signing with her daughter, and we borrowed these DVDs from them, they were Singing Hands DVDs.  I watched them with Rowan, and he started to sign.  I honestly believe those DVDs, and those two ladies, have a massive part to play in Rowan's life.  If it wasn't for the signing, (which is always used with the words) he wouldn't be talking today.  He still uses his signs if what he is saying isn't too clear, or if he's not comfortable in a situation he sometimes won't talk, but he will sign.  It gave us something positive to focus on in such a negative situation.  Singing Hands used to go to the cubicle of the little girl who we borrowed the DVDs from to do a 'sing and sign' session.  One of the first times Rowan bottom shuffled, it was to get to the cubicle to go and see.  He didn't go in, he didn't make his presence known, he just sat in the middle of the corridor and watched.  When he was well enough, we started taking him to the Activity Centre at GOSH on a Tuesday.  This was the ONLY thing that was focused on Rowan being Rowan, not Rowan being poorly.  It was often the only time he would leave the ward, a change of scenery for him.  I started to plan my week around that trip to the activity centre.  It was a time that Rowan and I bonded over.  It gave us things to praise and celebrate, the new signs he was doing, and he picked them up so quickly! 
When we came home from hospital, Rowan used to ask for his 'hands' all the time.  We watched all the songs on you tube that had singing hands on or in them.  He was hooked.  It became a bedtime ritual.  Needless to say we bought him the DVDs, so every night, Tracy and Suzanne are in Rowan's bedroom, singing and signing.  Sometimes it's at bedtime, sometimes its at 2am when he can't sleep.  Singing Hands offers Rowan the distraction when his pain is bad.  In fact as I type this I am aware that one of the DVDs is in the CD ROM drive of my laptop.  Still in there from last weeks GOSH stay.  So Singing Hands were at the party.  All the children were amazing.  Rowan.....shy, quiet, selective mute, anxious Rowan, suddenly evolved into confident, lets get stuck in, trying to sing and sign the songs he knows so well, smiling.  It honestly made me cry.  And for Cameron, also usually a shy and quiet child, he was the showman.  Boogieing away, singing, signing, they have been as much a part of his life, as Rowan's and mine.  It truly was nothing but positivity.  So much so, during Rowan's GOSH stay, I took him, on Tuesday, to the activity centre, to see 'Singing Hands'.  Once again I scheduled it into his week, and he was even more involved in his signing.  You may think I am being a bit over the top.  But you have no idea how much a tiny thing like that means to you in a situation that is nothing but negative.  And I know a lot of parents in a similar situation feel the same.

Rowan may have a lot of differences to the 'average' child.  But he does the same things as other children too.  He has just started to do pretend play.  And he thoroughly enjoys playing with all kinds of pretend play toys.  From toy kitchens, to baking, hoovering, to happyland.  Amongst all the medical stuff, he does lead a fairly average life as a 3 year old.  It may take 30 minutes of medical care things before he can go to play, rather than spontaneously deciding to play, but he does still get to play.  And he plays with his brothers and sister.  And some of the time, they even manage to play together without scratching /biting /smacking /shouting /squealing /crying.

And some days he doesn't get dressed until 11am at the weekend, just like everyone else :o)
This is one of Rowan's favourite games.  The 'phone' in our house we have lots of kinds of phones.  Rowan likes pretending all kinds of things are phones.  From an actual toy phone, to a book, to his hand, and to his foot.  This 'foot phone' is currently a favourite.  And it makes international calls to his 'Aunty Vowry' all the way in the USA, as well as to Daddy who is sitting right next to him.  He does absolutely love telephones.  Talking of 'Aunty Vowry', this is someone else who makes Rowan smile.  Rowan and me both.  Valerie is not only an amazing lady, and an amazing Mom, and an amazing nurse, she is also an amazingly creative person, who puts smiles on hundreds (maybe even thousands!!) of children's faces who have feeding tubes, and other medical devices.  Valerie makes what she calls Belly Buttons.  Seen as I am having a bit of a 'linking' blog post, I will link you to her website too, where you will find Rowan and lots of other gorgeous children, with gorgeous smiles. Belly Buttons  Belly buttons are cloth pads, that go around feeding tubes.  The boring bit is that they collect gunk that leaks out, and they help with granulation (extra skin).  They help stop little (and big!!) people's skin from getting irritated and sore and just generally not feeling happy.  Valerie makes these sites happy.  It also makes these feeding tubes fun.  It makes them less medical.  Lots of children (including Rowan) thoroughly enjoy 'choosing' a pad (or two in our case) every day.  It gives them a little bit of control.  It teaches them that it's not so scary.  It makes them proud of their tubes, not terrified.  Rowan for sure has gone from hiding his buttons away, to proudly displaying them to anyone who wants to see them.  Valerie also makes 'Belly Belts' to protect tubes, and hold the feeding tubes.  And what's even better, is that these aren't about making money for Valerie.  She genuinely loves these kids, and loves making them happy, and loves seeing the pictures.  It is a labour (or is that labor) of love for Valerie.  We Love Aunty Vowry.

Although this is a fairly bad photo (blame the photographer) it is also one the most amazing photos I have ever taken.  The meaning behind this photo is more important than the photo itself.  This is Ayden, riding his little brother around the 'track' at his nursery.  Rowan went to nursery for an hour, a taster, a settling in period, evidence gathering type visit.  This is the nursery that Ayden already attends, and we can't wait for Rowan to attend to.  Ayden has done amazing things at nursery, despite the odds being stacked against him, and we're sure Rowan will do the same.  This is the first time, that Ayden has really been able to be a 'proper' big brother.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but he has never been able to do anything with Rowan.  Ayden, like every 4 year old is clumsy and heavy handed and we spend the whole time telling to 'be careful' around Rowan, that it's really only been the last few months they've really properly interacted.  Most of that interaction is fighting and shouting at each other, but sometimes you get little glimmers of the brother love I want my boys to have.  Ayden was massively protective of Rowan at nursery 'mind, it's my bruvva' as Rowan is trying to manoeuvre his way through the room, or the garden, 'Rowan look at this' it was genuinely all positive interactions.  They sat nicely together at the computer, and played TOGETHER.  It really makes me appreciate how much they have BOTH been through the last 3 years, and that actually, even though they spent the best part of 2 years apart, their bond runs much deeper than we ever realised.  It made me feel really proud of my boys.  Rowan climbed on the back of this bike (with Ayden's help) and sat down.  Ayden then sat on the front.  And he pedalled Rowan around the track several times.  They were both so happy.  They did something together that didn't need an adult.  Rowan relied on Ayden, Ayden was the big brother.  And he absolutely loved it.  When it was time to go, I left Ayden at nursery, and went to take Rowan home, and Ayden was absolutely heartbroken.  There was me, thinking it was me he didn't want to leave, and it was Rowan.  He didn't want Rowan to go home.  The bottom lip came out and he was genuinely upset.  It actually made me cry.  Through all the fighting, all the crap they have dealt with, they absolutely love each other to pieces.  There was not a hint of anything negative in Ayden when we left him.  I am so proud of them.

Some of you may know that we recently got a dog.  As if 4 children and 2 cats weren't enough.  We have a dog, yes we are nuts (I have proof on a piece of paper!).  His name is Luca, and he is 15 months old.  He is a Husky.  He is absolutely gorgeous.  Obviously, being a dog, there is a certain level of responsibility.  Katrina has taken on the job of 'Luca feeder'.  She feeds him twice a day, and it is one of her 'jobs'.  She seems to really it.  Luca, although technically still a puppy, (a rather LARGE puppy) is very well behaved.  Sitting down, he stands just a little bit taller than Rowan.  We were originally a little wary of him around Rowan and thought we may need to do a little bit of rescuing Rowan, where Luca knocked him over, or constantly licked his face, or something else.  However, Luca has been absolutely amazing with Rowan, and in fact all the children.  Ayden is not exactly gentle.  He hugs Luca so tight sometimes I think his eyes are going to pop out.  Ayden has fallen on him, stood on him, he's leaned against him.  He winds him up something chronic.  And Luca just takes it all in his stride.  I'm not going to say he's the perfect dog, he hates being left on his own and howls (sorry neighbours) and he pulls a lot on the lead, but we're working on it!  Generally though, it was one of the best decisions we ever made, and I don't for one minute regret it (the cats however may disagree, we're working on them too).  Obviously having a dog, means that he needs walking, regularly.  It's given me an opportunity to escape.  When I just want time on my own, the dog needs walking.  It's given me an opportunity to explore our local area a little bit (and get lost, which I did last week, and had to use google maps to get me home!).  It also gives us the opportunity to let Rowan experience things he hasn't really before.  He loves picking 'Fowers' and giving them to everyone.  Something so simple, but he hasn't ever really been around grass and outside spaces.  He does like going out.  He likes taking Luca for a walk.  Luca has increased Cameron's confidence too.  I think he likes being about to talk to his friends about his dog, rather than his poorly brother.  When we go out, people tend to comment more on our 'gorgeous dog' rather than our 'disabled son'.  Luca brings a lot of joy into our house.  And a lot of adventure too.

I'm just going to post a series of pictures now.  More of Rowan.  From laying with Daddy on the floor with his 'massager' that he was given by someone from 'Post Pals', a picture of the smile on his face when he received his new Bizzies, again, from someone through 'Post Pals' (notice how this charity really makes Rowan smile!?) to Rowan falling asleep on Daddy's lap, and picking the fluff out from between his toes.  All the medical things that go on with Rowan, and yet, underneath it all, or on top of it all, is a 3 year old little boy, just trying to live his life, the same as you and I, he just has to go about his a little differently.  His rules are slightly different.  And while you are teaching your child to not climb on things, I'm teaching mine how to safely climb on things to reach them.  While you're teaching your child to not touch things, and not eat with their fingers, I am teaching mine to do the complete opposite!  We all live life our own way.  There is no right way.  As long as it contains a smile, then it's your way.

 Rowan picking out his toe fluff (above)   Rowan realising he has 'big boy bizzies' thanks to Denise. (left)
                                                                             Falling asleep while having a 'Daddy cuggle'
                       'Look Luca, Fowers'
                                                                              Rowan's back is hurting, Daddy is fixing it with his massager, thanks to Ally.

Days 4 and 5.....

In the madness I completely forgot that I was updating the blog.  So, I will do a kind of 'catch up'.

Day 4

As suspected I didn't really get much sleep.  Between having to adjust rates of feeds and swapping them over and dealing with bleeping pumps, Rowan decided that 2am was a good time to be awake.  He then didn't fall back to sleep until 430am.  After an hour and a half of singing hands on my laptop.  Part of me was miffed, I just wanted to sleep, but he was so gorgeous signing along and mouthing the words that i just couldn't be cross.  430am he fell asleep, and there was no point me going back to sleep.  So I just laid there for an hour or so.  At 530am I got up and showered and sorted myself out.  Packed up my room, and left, to arrive on the ward for 7am.

Rowan is so good with not being allowed to eat, he seemed to understand.  At 10am, we were called, and we went across to the new theatres in the new GOSH building.  It was all rather posh, although they weren't ready for us (even though they called to say they were ready) and made us stand in the corridoor.   Now I'm not moaning, but if you are going to make people wait outside in the corridoor for 15 minutes, you really need to get some chairs in the hallway!!  Anyway, there was a bit of a mess, as the anaesthetist and the consultant weren't told that Rowan was allergic to chlorhexadine.  They had been told most tapes, and we'd cleared some that were 'ok' luckily they double checked with me first as they would usually use chlorhexadine for cleaning before and after the liver biopsy.

He went to sleep and all was ok.  I did a 'starbucks' run and got myself a coffee and grabbed a sandwich.  He was due to come back at about 12ish and I wasn't sure if I would get out for lunch or not after Rowan was back, sometimes he's clingy, sometimes he sleeps, sometimes he just screams blue murder.

NO ONE had told anyone that Rowan's surgery had been moved.  All of a sudden, there are lots of people running around like headless chicken's.  Rowan's gastrostomy site had some 'extra skin' (known as granulation) around his tube that wouldn't go away no matter what we did to it.  So they can do a special treatment called silver nitrate and it basically burns the skin away.  Seen as Rowan was having an anaesthetic, we had agreed with the gastro team that they would burn it off while changing the peg to a button.

For those of you who don't know the difference......this is a peg tube (the one with the white triangle on)

And this is a button......

Anyway, there was no silver nitrate in theatre.  So the gastro nurse and the gastro doctor are LITERALLY running around to find some.  They had though they had a couple more hours to sort it out as originally he was going to theatre at 130pm.  Once they had run around, and got to theatre, put scrubs on, it wasn't needed anyway.  Where they had to stretch the stoma (hole) to get a 'fatter' tube (the button is fatter) in, the granulation (extra skin) was now flat.  The Gastro nurse came to tell me what was going on before I got to collect him.  She didn't want me panicking.  Basically there was a LOT of blood and lots of his tubes and buttons were covered in blood, as well as the liver biopsy site.  While she was telling me what was going on they phoned to say he was ready to be collected.

One of the things you need to do with a liver biopsy is make sure they lay as still as possible afterwards to prevent further bleeding.  The gastro nurse said no way was he ready.  It had only been 10 minutes since they were finishing off the liver biopsy.  She told me to wait as they had obviously woken him up too quickly wanting to go for their lunch.  It takes a while for the nurses to co ordinate, and get all the emergency equipment sorted to go and collect him.

When we arrive, we have no idea where Rowan is.  They failed to tell people that the new theatres don't have a recovery area, they move the children across the hall to the 'old' building.  So after a hunt, I could hear him screaming at the top of his voice.  Far from calm.  He was not a happy bunny.  As soon as I picked him up he was OK, and calmed down, and he started demanding the cannula was out.  He is very funny about cannulas.  He hates them.  Normally, they don't put them in until he's asleep and we are usually lucky in that they take it out before they wake him up.  This time they left it in.  Why I will never know.  The nurse in recovery was very reluctant to take it out for him.  I explained (above screeching) that he had IV access for emergencies, he has a central line, if they don't take it out safely he will just pull it out.  She took it out for him.  He was very disorientated and I was very worried.  He kept saying 'I need a hospital, I need a hospital, ow ow, I need a hospital' it was very strange and he's not normally like that.  He then wanted all his clothes off.  He was not a happy boy.  Rowan is normally very self conscious about having his top off.  Stripped naked and screaming we took Rowan back to his bed.  He just continued to scream.

The gastro nurse came in and was basically saying he was like this because they woke him up too quickly she's seen it so many times before from working on a surgical ward.  He wasn't at all with it, and he was a horrible colour and he just wasn't right.  He then kept repeatedly saying 'I need a nurse, I need a nurse, I need a nurse'.  It took a good hour to calm him down.  Whilst screaming the endocrine nurse pops her head round the door to find out what's bothering him.  'He's post op' she was told.  'Pardon??' 'he's post op'........then there was the look......'He wasn't due to go down until 130 this afternoon' 'well it's been done and he's back' 'did they take the liver biopsy samples' 'as far as I am aware' 'um, no that can't be right, one of those samples needs to go into silver nitrate, and we have that already, and we are supposed to do that, which is why he was booked for 130pm so one of us is free'.......I just looked at her horrified.  She RAN to the consultant and then RAN to theatre and was chasing these biopsies around.  Luckily they were saved, and are being tested as I type.

I managed to settle Rowan down and he looked like he was going to fall asleep.  I grabbed the opportunity to quickly dash out to get myself a microwave meal for my tea so that after Rowan had fallen asleep I could actually eat.  I was literally 20 minutes.  When I got back, Rowan was on oxygen he was looking pretty awful, the nurse wasn't leaving him, he was on constant monitoring he looked very grey and very not right at all.  He was on 5 litres of oxygen.  I kind of stood in the doorway and just went........'what the hell? I can't leave you for 10 minutes can I!?' he had had a minor 'blip' while I was out.  Silly silly boy.  He was ok though and a couple of hours later he was back to normal.

At about 6pm, the gastro nurse came back to check all was ok, and she had a look at his button.  It was gunky and manky and she said she'd come up in the morning to help me clean it before we went home as Rowan would still be a bit sore.  Also, she came to tell me that Rowan's gastrostomy site (which had just had the button put in) and his jejunostomy site (the other button) were both infected.  I knew they were, I could just tell.  We had been putting an ointment on his site for 3 weeks and it was still there.  And now he had grown another bug too.  So we would have to start 2 high dose antibiotics to try and 'kick it' out of his system. 

We kept him dosed up on pain relief and kept the oxygen on but near him while he slept as the amount of oxygen in his blood kept dropping slightly but it was fairly uneventful.

Day 5.....hometime...

Rowan woke up demanding he go to the 'gym'.  Had missed physio yesterday as he had his surgery.  I really didn't think he was going to be that bothered, but he was practically begging me to go.  I cleared it with the doctor, then i cleared it with the nurses and we went to the gym.  He walked into the gym, I took his shoes off and he went 'bye mummy seeya in a bit, love ya'.  I just stood there in shock and just said 'bye then dude, have fun' he went 'i do esercising' (exercising) and off I went.  I went and packed all our things up to get ready to go home.  He LOVED going to his gym by the end of the week.  We'll have to see how he goes at home!

After I picked Rowan up from the gym and sorted him out with some lunch I enquired about transport home.  As usual, there was a problem.  The doctor was still waiting for microbiology to tell us which antibiotics Rowan needed to be on.  And then they had to be ordered from pharmacy.  Knowing what I know, I knew this was going to take AT LEAST 4 hours.  Wasn't really what I had wanted to hear, but, that's the way it goes sometimes.

Last night, we reduced Rowan's TPN by half the volume.  Just to see what he does with his weight.  To see whether he will then make up extra calories with food, or whether he will lose weight or what.  He had already lost 1lb in a week, and we're not really sure why, assuming it was the nil by mouth and lack of milk and food etc.  Anyway, I was all up for them reducing the TPN.  The aim was to get him off of TPN for one night a week.  One night a week where we wouldn't have to be home by 630pm.  One morning a week where I wouldn't wake up to bleeping pumps and have to get up regardless of whether rowan was still asleep or not.  One night where I may actually be able to get a night out!  One night where Lee and I may be able to get out together as we'd just need a babysitter trained up.  Seemed like such a good idea!!

Friday morning we had problems, about 11 his blood sugar was 3.7.  That's not too bad, but it's not ideal.  I decided to take Rowan to his favourite place on Earth.  The Disney store on Oxford Street.  He had never been, but he LOVES the Disney store.  I took all my emergency bits and bobs with me.  When I arrived at the Disney store Rowan was quiet and withdrawn.  As usual in a busy, unfamiliar place.  I took him in the lift to go downstairs (he was so excited) and he whispered to me 'Mummy, I hypo' I checked his blood sugar and sure enough 3.2.  Hypo.  So I waited the alloted 10 minutes. And I asked him again, and he nodded that he was still hypo.  3.1.  So I put milk into his new tube, and gave him a sugary gel (known as hypo-stop) and he perked up. 

I asked him what he would like as a gift from Disney Store as he'd been SO brave.  And he just stood there, and said 'I....don't.....know' so completely overwhelmed!  In the end he opted for a mickey mouse that he doesn't already have, a top, a cup and bouncy ball.  Yes he's spoilt rotten.  Then I stopped at McDonald's again to get him chips to make sure his blood sugars didn't crash again.

Got back to the hospital and the general feeling was that reducing the TPN wasn't going to work.  Transport was booked for 4pm.  We went downstairs to wait for the car.  It was a little crazy, trying to work out what kind of car we'd need etc.  Then it was stuck in London traffic, then it was ok, then it was stuck.  I was getting a little edgy, knowing Rowan had already been hypo earlier in the day, and then as we edged closer and closer to needing to connect Rowan's TPN, I wasn't comfortable.  Just as I was about to take Rowan back to the ward to put him on some dextrose the driver turned up.  I had to make a decision, so decided to risk it.  I made sure I had hypostop, and the BM kit, juice, food, eveything just incase.  We should be ok.  I kept telling myself it would be ok.

Someone remind me next time not to risk it!!!  Silverstone was on.  There was flooding everywhere.  There were 3 accidents on the M1 between London and my house.  The driver told me we'd be ok.  Add an extra 30 minutes to the journey but we'd go on the A1(m) to avoid the traffic.  WRONG.  We didn't get too far into the journey before there was an accident.  The driver was horrified.  He knew we had to be home as soon as possible, and we were stuck.  Absolutely stuck.  Then my nightmare unfurled.  Rowan was hypo.  Treating a hypo in gridlocked traffic was hard work.  Then his pain relief began to wear off too and there was nothing I could do.  The seatbelt straps were sitting on his new tube and on his wound from the liver biopsy.  I started to get upset because there was nothing I could do.  The driver lost his rag, and decided we'd go through all the little roads, stay as parallel to the A1(m) as we could and just cross our fingers.

It was a very eventful journey home, I won't go into the gorey details but lets just say that next time I will not 'risk it'.  I will think twice, and I will contact that TPN or those fluids.  The driver was AMAZING.   It's a shame I never did find out his name.  His distraction methods were fantastic.  Talking about the big warehouses with Rowan and they had a discussion about how there were space ships in there with 'green aliens' and sometimes 'purple aliens'.  We made it home just before 8pm.  It took almost 4 hours to get home.  But we made it.

Now just to wait for the biopsy results.  I'm not believing that these results will show anything.  I am so used to 'normal' being the result I'm not sure how I'd react if it actually shows anything, and I'm not stressing or worrying about them.  Been there, done that, and I've learnt from experience that constantly worrying about the 'what if's' is pointless, as so many times we draw a blank.  Worrying about it changes nothing, it can not influence which way the results come back.  I will just deal with whatever happens next.  If anything.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Day 3.......of 5.

This morning Rowan had physio and only cried for 10 minutes. He still didn't really do much physio but he's calming down. Which is a huge achievement.

After physio we went to the ward and made plans for tomorrow to keep Rowan as safe as possible. We had a chat with the Endocrine team about Rowan and we may need to increase his growth hormone dose as he's growing outwards but not really upwards, so looks fat bless him. We also talked about Ayden and where we are going with him, we are still waoting for an appointment to come through but Dr Hussain is going to try and sort things out for us.

Rowan had physio in the afternoon and took his cars to make his bridges in physio and, with only 5 minutes of screaming, he actually did some exercises :o) its a HUGE achievement for him. Physio is hard work but it will help him in the end.

Rowan and I went out for dinner, to McDs as he was so so good at physio. Unfortunately he didn't fall asleep until 9pm!! At 8pm I got a call to tell me that Rowan's surgery has been moved from the afternoon list to the morning list. So that meant no sleep for me basically. I need to turn his milk off at 230am and swap him to clear fluids, then at 530am turn that off, and then be on the ward for 7am to put him on fluids instead of TPN. Its going to be a long night!!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Day 2.......of 5.

So, we were in the patient hotel last night and neither of us got much sleep. I'm not sure why but it was so hot!!! I got up at 630am as we had to be on the ward by 8am. Showered sorted things out. When I came out of the shower, Rowan had a big grin on his face and told me 'i binished' (i finished). 'finished what Rowan?' 'Teepee' (TPN). He had disconnected his own TPN from his central line. This is incredibly dangerous for so many reasons, from a possible fatal line infection to a possible hypoglycaemic episode causing all kinds of complications not to mention the loss of precious calories! So chaos commenced and I arrived on the ward for blood tests to make sure he hasn't infected himself!! And an extremely stern talking to!

We had to be on the ward for 8am as we were having a lung vq scan. Well it didn't happen. There was a lot of technicalities that were causing problems for the last 8 months whoch is why this test is now 8 months late and today was no different. The gas that they use for the test didn't arrive. So the test couldn't be done. That was that.

There was a bit of a bed issue, Rowan needs a cubicle on the ward so jiggling patients around was necessary. They asked me if i was happy to stay in the patient hotel tonight and tomorrow night, save them a hassle, and meant I could come and go as i pleased. So thats where we are now. A little bit of a faff because I needed to connect hos tpn at the hotel and do bloods and then take the bloods straight back to the hospital, and then back again to bed. All a lot of messing about but its done.

Rowan isn't sleeping properly and so neither am I. He's not really doing is physio yet, we are still trying to get him to do as he's asked and not enter the gym screaming. So yesterday he screamed for 30 minutes. Today he screamed for 20 minutes. All I want is a plan and to know how bad this is, and how much realistically to expect from him. I don't want to push him to hard and make it worse. But I don't want to give in to him all the time either. I'm hoping that will happen soon ish. Maybe Friday. For now we just keep trying.

My mood is all over the place, rational, then irrational, I'm ok one minute and floods of tears the next. In control yet out of control at the same time. Trying to pretend its all ok when really its not! Lots to deal with. As usual. 3 days to go. That is all. This is how I manage hospital stays, I count down the days. 3 to go.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Day 1.......of 5.

I am going to do things a little differently this week. As many of you know I struggle with hospital stays and seen as that is where I am at the moment I wondering maybe blogging at the end of the day will relieve some of the thoughts and emotions that make me feel like my head will explode.

So today is day one. So far so good. We were collected on time and it took 2 hours. The driver didn't say a SINGLE word to me. Nothing. Was a very quiet journey by all accounts although reasoning with a 3 year old that a 'garbage fuck' and a 'fuck' were different. Of course he meant a garbage truck, and a truck, however as i tried to get him to call them 'lorry's' instead he thought i was offering him a 'lolly', and so he began a mini tantrum over a lolly, or lack of.

We arrived in one piece, managed to place our belongings in a 'luggage storage' area in the 'patient hotel' and dashed to the 'lagoon' which is the new hospital canteen at gosh. While i was impressed with the space and the difference compared to the old one, Rowan was fascinated with the 'mickey mouse club house' and the fact he can choose snippets of mickey mouse to watch on the tv, yes this is IN the canteen, sorry Lagoon.

Rowan attempted his first 'physio rehab' session today and it didn't quite go to plan. The session was for an hour, Rowan screamed for 30 minutes, then was cuddled for 30 minutes. He has learnt screaming gets him what he wants as he is so LOUD! Tomorrow we will try again however. Now that the physio team know its all noise and i'm happy for them to tell him to pack it in.

We then popped to the ward we will be on tomorrow, sorted out some emergency meds for me (easier to get it faxed over from my psych than to try and see a 'crisis team' in London psych). The gastro CNS also came to see us to swab Rowan's feeding tubes again as it would appear the infection is there, and the fucidin cream we are using may well be causing contact dermatitis. Anyone have a brick wall I can bang my head against? With the green output that is leaking from Rowan's sites he may also have a gut infection. We will have to wait and see when the results are back Thursday.

The plan for the week is at least one physio session every day. Metabolic review, Endocrine review, Gastro review, peg change, liver biopsy, lung vq scan.

Tomorrow at 9am is the lung vq scan. This I am in no way looking forward to. Whether i approach it with a positive mental attitude, or whether i approach it expecting it to be awful I haven't yet decided. There are pros and cons to both. We shall see how my mood takes me. One day at a time.

1 down, 4 to go. (oh and yes it is my birthday today, no i haven't done anything nice, and no i have nothin planned)

Friday, 29 June 2012

Birthday Bug!

Monday was Bug's (also known as Cameron) Birthday.  He is a huge 7!

7 years ago, I was 19, newly single (my husband had left me), and terrified.  I dashed to hospital and out came Cameron.  Only 3 and a half hours of labour.  Cameron was a 7lb 8oz baby.  The midwife wrapped him up in a blanket and handed him to me.  Then she left the room to run me a bath.  When my Step Dad came in to see 'the baby who had no name' he unwrapped him, and he noticed he had a 'deformed ear'.  I didn't care, my baby was perfect in my eyes (although why the midwife didn't see it I don't know.)  I had wanted to called 'the baby' Oliver right from the day I found out I was having a boy.  His 'sperm donor' wanted to call him Tristan.  So how did we get to Cameron?  Well......

When 'the baby' was born, he just didn't look like an 'Oliver'.  I know it sounds stupid and some people will say to me how can he not LOOK like an Oliver, what does an Oliver look like.  Well I don't know, but when I looked at him I just couldn't call him Oliver.  So I wondered if maybe Tristan would suit him better, but no, I couldn't see that either.  So he was just 'baby'.  He was literally 20 minutes old when Katrina came in.  She entered the room, with her hands on her hips, aged 2 and a half, and wanted to know 'where's by baby brother Cameron then'.  I have no idea where it came from, as far as I was aware she knew no one called Cameron.  I looked at him, I looked at Katrina, and that was that, from then on he was Cameron.  Just before I registered him, I looked at him, still unsure whether I could called him Oliver, but no, he was definitely a Cameron.

The first year of Cameron's life wasn't easy.  He wouldn't really grow very well, he was constantly sick, he had lots of hospital admissions and lots of appointments.  We tried almost everything going.  He exhausted both our local hospital, and the nearest children's hospital with tests and poking and proding, and still no real answers.  At 18 months old I was told I'd be extremely lucky if I still had him when he was 2.  He was losing weight so quickly, acting like a starved child.  He'd search the floor for crumbs, despite the fact he'd JUST eaten.

He'd had tests for so many different things, and everything was negative.  One doctor at Brighton Children's Hospital decided that he would send Cameron to GOSH to see his 'friend'.  This friend was our (now) favourite doctor.  He took one look at Cameron, and decided he needed an endoscopy.  From this we were told he had a rare form of Coeliac's disease (see previous post 'it's only a diet, right?).  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  The day I thought my whole world had ended.  I was 21, and I was still getting used to parenting on my own.  I went to see the Dr, and he told me I had to take gluten out of Cameron's diet.  What the hell was I going to feed this small child, with bread and pasta and cakes, sausages and burgers, chicken nuggets taken away.

We survived it.  And we still survive it.  It just felt like it was one thing after another with Cameron, the steroids he needed caused awful bruising and people used to look at it like I was doing somethin wrong.  I felt so self conscious being only young with two small children and one on the way, that I avoided going out if possible.  I didn't need people assuming something bad was happening to Cameron when it was merely the steroids, and him learning to walk.  Cameron didn't walk until he was 23 months old.  He met all his milestones quite late.  He struggled (and still struggles) with his speech.

At the age of 3 Cameron was give a diagnosis of 'microdeletion of chromosome 16p11.2'.  I accepted it and moved on.  He is who he is.  He is my bug.  Nothing has come naturally for Cameron.  Actually that's not true.  His ability to love everyone and everything, animal or person, is natural.  He sees the best in people, before he sees any flaws.  He has so many friends at school, I'm not even sure if it's physically possible to not like Cameron!  He appreciates everything, no matter how tiny.  He is shy and quiet, and very well behaved 98% of the time, but somewhere beneath the surface he has an amazing, inspiring determination to defy the odds, and get on with his life.
On Cameron's birthday I found myself appreciating Cameron so much more.  5 years after we were initially told he would be alive.  This year has been a huge year for him.  He is no longer bottom of the class.  He is reading, he is writing, he has friends, he has been going to parties, he has been really well health wise, he is starting to have his own interests, his confidence is ever growing, his personality is growing too.  He is turning into an individual, and while I should have realised earlier, I didn't.  Katrina has always been very independant and always had her own personality, Cameron hasn't really, or maybe I haven't realised because I have been so consumed with the medical stuff.  I am starting to learn who Cameron wants to be, not who he thinks other people want him to be.

For Cameron's birthday we took him to the circus.  It was a rare treat.  I'm not actually sure we've ever done anything like that for the children.  Katrina went out with Brownies but all 3 boys thoroughly enjoyed it.  Then on the Monday Cameron went into school covered in the mandatory badges, with the usual bags of sweets for his class.  He had a good day, and is having great delight at telling everyone 'I was I'm 7!'.  And although he really isn't growing, and he really is tiny compared to all the other children (he's the size of a 4-5 year old) he see's himself as 'bigger'.

Don't let anyone tell you what your child will or won't do, nor how they will turn out.  Be proud of who they are, not worry about who they should have been.  Don't write off 'young Mum's' and don't write off 'Mental Mum's' either.  Cameron continues to amaze and inspire us, and it's exciting watching his character growing, I don't know who he'll be when he's older, I don't know what he'll do, I know at his age my parents had my life mapped out.  I don't have Cameron's life mapped out, I dont' care what he does in his life, as long as he does it happy, and content, and staying true to who he is.  He may have had a crap start in life, but he hasn't let that define who he is, and we won't let it either.

Everyone who decided to turn their back on Cameron as a 'poorly child' or me as a 'young attention seeking mum'....screw you.  You missed out on the most AMAZING child.  He has taught me so much, he has changed my life, and my outlook on life for the better.  I have learnt so many things that I never would have learnt if it wasn't for Cameron, and while some things I'd rather not have learnt, I wouldn't change him one little bit.  Cameron may not be the 'perfect child', or a 'picture of health' but he's learnt things about life that some adults are yet to learn.  Those who turned their backs on us should be ashamed of themselves, and embarrassed, but I know they won't be, they are living the life they always wanted, selfishly, while I gave up my life for Cameron, I gave up a job I loved, but I loved Cameron more.  You don't deserve to be in my son's life.  I hope one day, when he wants to come and find you, you kick yourself.  And the only person to blame is yourself. 

But for now, I will continue to love Cameron, no matter what, unconditionally, I will continue to support and encourage him in WHATEVER he wants to do, or wants to try, whether I think he can do it or not, I'm not going to be the one who tells him he can't do something.  You never know until you try!

I love you Bugless.  Happy Birthday little dude.  Mummy will love you forever.  No matter what.