Tag Archives | medicine

Slow growing

“Growth disorder.” It was one item on a checklist of ailments that I was filling out at the dermatologist’s office, where I’d taken Liam so the doctor could inspect a mole on Liam’s back.

“Growth disorder,” on a list with asthma, leukemia, shingles, bleeding tendency (what on earth is that, I wonder? Don’t we all have a tendency to bleed?)…a list of problems long enough to fill the entire sheet of paper.

It’s the “disorder” that gets me, although I suppose, technically, that’s the correct term for why Liam is so short.  Conventional medical wisdom dictates that preemies “catch up” in growth by their second or third year, but true to form, Liam flew in the face of convention. He stayed small, stayed off the growth chart, that ubiquitous measurement of “normal.”  He stayed small to the tune of being always the smallest kid in his grade, so small that people ask him if he and Caleb (who is almost four years younger) are twins.

We’d debated for almost a year about whether or not to give Liam growth hormone. How do you say to your kid that you love him just the way he is, in all his ferocious tiny glory and then say, “but here’s a shot so that you can get bigger and look different?”  My friend Patsy made the analogy to giving a kid braces: no one is going to die from bad teeth, but why not give your kid the advantage of a nice smile? Our endocrinologist said that Liam’s size wouldn’t be an issue…if we lived in Costa Rica. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to do with that information—plan to send Liam to college in Costa Rica so he can get a date?

In this country, unless you’re the short Clinton cabinet guy, being a man who barely scrapes five feet can be tough. And Liam has shown no interest in horses (or labor policy) so I’m thinking that jockey is no more an option than being Secretary of Labor. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading · on May 23, 2011 in Children, growing up, HGH, preemies

have you been infected?

My friend C. drove our kids to their soccer game in Queens today because her son said “you NEVER come to my games.”

Now I happen to know that Carolyn does go to games, and practices, because I’ve been there with her, in the freezing cold and the soaking wet and the steamy heat.  She’s schlepped my kid along with her kid to practices uptown, downtown, eastside, westside, and everywhere in between.

And yes, you’re absolutely right, I owe her big time, but that’s not what I’m writing about.  I’m writing about what infected C. this morning: guilt-inducing amnesia germs (GAG for short).  I’ve had bouts of this disease, and if you’re a parent, then you probably have too.  The infection spreads like this:

“You never let me stay up late.”
“My brother always gets what he wants and I never do.”
“Why can’t we ever take a taxi?”
“Nobody cares what I do, ever.”
“You always miss my concerts.”
“How come we never get to have pizza for dinner?”

There is a corollary medical condition here called miserari absolutis, in which the patient decides that the current unhappiness is in fact permanent—and actually, upon reflection, s/he has been miserable since birth.

GAG exists independently of actual fact. The patient may in fact have been up hours past bedtime the previous evening, been given all his brother’s toys, taken five taxis, spent the entire afternoon with one or the other parent, had every concert extensively videotaped, and eaten enough pizza to sink several battleships.

Logic has no effect on GAG, however, for either the patient or the parent.  The misery is so palpable, the pain so great, that the parent who has been infected can only react: administer later hours, taxis, pizzas, rides to Queens, whatever the case calls for.

Luckily GAG is not terminal, although under certain situations I can see that it might be. Nor has a permanent cure for GAG been discovered. Administering large doses of alcohol to the parent can sometimes help—but that may also exacerbate the disease, in that the parent wants the child only to be quiet so that mommy can enjoy her glass of pinot gris. (Speaking hypothetically, of course. I would never turn on the TV and order in a pizza just so I can start cocktail hour early.)

I’m also afraid that children do not grow out of the infectious stage.  As long as the host parent is alive, GAG thrives, seeking out education, housing, cars, perhaps eventually babysitting for grandchildren.  Grandchildren, in fact, are about the only solace, if by solace one means “payback:”   Try these phrases on for size: “we haven’t seen the grandkids in ages,” or “I’m sure you’re too busy to visit us,” or “I guess you have lots of better things to do these days than bother with me.”

Feels good, doesn’t it?

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Continue Reading · on March 12, 2011 in Children, family, NaBloPoMo, Parenting

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