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Contrary to my promise to do so, I haven’t updated my blog in a few weeks.  But, don’t worry.  It isn’t because I haven’t been writing.

I wrote a short story that, while still a work in progress, is a good first start and perhaps, something that I’ll submit somewhere someday.  I need more defined goals, don’t I?

Last weekend, I took Bear back to my hometown for the first time since March.  I am always amazed at how when I first arrive, my rural little hometown feels so foreign.  After half a day there, though, it begins to feel familiar again.  The first morning we spent there, I put Bear in her jogging stroller and took a twenty minute walk across town to visit my grandmother.  My hometown is flat with few trees in comparison to where I now live.  I reveled at how it was so quiet and peaceful that I could hear a car driving down the street three blocks away, and if I turned my head in time, I could clearly see it pass between houses.  As I walked, I could easily tell who was home, and even hear moms talking to small children inside their houses as I passed.  Sound carries easily there without the trees to soak it up and other sounds to drown it out.  On our walk back, I thought about how all of the familiar names on realty signs and inscribed into rocks in front of houses now belonged to my classmates rather than their parents.  Later, when we went downtown to shop, I was amazed how some people (mostly those from my parents’ generation) so enthusiastically welcomed me and how others (mostly those from my generation) looked at me like I was the prodigal son returning home and they were his brother.

On Sunday, Bear battled stomach issues that I am fairly certain can be traced to some mystery zucchini bread that a lady in a hometown clothing store gave to my grandmother with Alzheimer’s, who then gave to Bear while my back was turned.  There were a few exciting minutes that my aunt spent frantically digging pieces out of  my daughter’s mouth.  Bear spent most of the next day with some nasty diapers and had periods where she cried and beat on her tummy, crying “Owie!”  Her response reminded me why I work so hard to only give her food that I know will not cause her to react.

Yesterday, after several good days at daycare, Bear came down with a fever.  She also began using her new, favorite word “owie” indiscriminately, so while we knew that something was hurting her, it was impossible to tell what.   At first, she would pull up her pant legs and hit her knees and saying “Owie.”  Then, during diaper changes, she would say “owie.”  She would also open her mouth to say something, and a huge bubble of saliva would come out instead.  These symptoms, along with her fever, seemed concerning, so I called the pediatrician’s office and her allergist’s to see if he would call in a prescription for some compounded non-soy containing Tylenol-type medication.   Around 6:00 last night, Bear began acting strangely.  She couldn’t seem to keep her eyes open, and she was moaning softly.  This, of course, scared me, and I immediately took her to her pediatrician’s after-hours clinic.  By the time we arrived, her fever had reached 104.  Despite enduring a strep culture and a catheter to obtain a urine sample, we left without any answers. Her pediatrician promised that a high fever wouldn’t “boil her brains” but acted annoyed that her allergist wouldn’t let us give her generic painkillers that contained soy.  I was annoyed that he was annoyed, but mostly I was tired and sad that my daughter was still not well and that we didn’t have any way to help her.

Fortunately, Bear’s fever broke last night.  She has not felt well today, but the absence of the fever has greatly improved her spirits.  She seems hungry but doesn’t want to eat.  She continues to have strange drooling issues and to say “owie” when I change her diaper.  She has also started telling me that her hand hurts.  We think that she has Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, but until blisters start forming, we won’t know for sure.  She seemed happy to take a nap, and for now, is sleeping peacefully, and I am still waiting for a call from the compounded pharmacy that someone has made a painkiller that my little girl can safely take.  However, I am hoping that we’ve passed through the worst.

Is it strange that I care what Bear’s doctor thinks of me?

I have internalized this fear, since childhood most likely, that unless I have an illness with a tangible symptom that leaves no doubt to the observer that something is amiss, that doctors will think that I am making up my problems.  It doesn’t help that the primary issues that I have been afflicted with have few tangible signs:  migraines (oh, you have a headache, people will ask?), polycystic ovarian syndrome (for me, a diagnosis based on the exclusion of other causes), and during pregnancy, unexplained bleeding (that was, well, unexplained).

Poor Bear is now bearing the ill effects of my insecurity.  I have no doubt that the response I received from her pediatrician when I called last week about my concerns regarding her digestive issues would have irked anyone.  But, a small part of me wonders if I am dwelling unnecessarily on issues that are not that big of a deal – that other parents wouldn’t think twice about – and therefore, the doctor’s annoyance with me was justified.  This said, Bear is clearly uncomfortable.  She beat on her belly the other night, right before we found floaters in the tub and after refusing dinner.  She wakes up from deep sleep to pull her little legs up to her belly.  She has bowel movements all day long.  And, of course, she reacted quite spectacularly and frighteningly to soy milk.  My mothering instincts, fledgling though they may be, tell me that something is not right, even if the problem is something minor, like consuming too much  milk at one time.

I took Bear to a new pediatrician today.  This doctor actually saw her in the hospital after she was born.  He is famously laid-back and also famously personable, and he was very nice to Bear today.  He did not seem overly concerned about Bear’s trouble with milk, and despite my continual back-pedaling and apologizes, he ordered a blood test so we can uncover any food allergies that she might have.

Although, this test is not exact and will not answer the question of whether Bear is intolerant to certain foods, it is a starting point.  And, I appreciate that, even if I am completely wrong about the cause of Bear’s symptoms, at least the doctor was willing to suggest something constructive.  Now, if I can just let go of my concern that he thinks that I am going to be a problem parent so that my idiosyncracies don’t make me one.