In our house, this means success.
Once we arranged primary caregiver status for the girls (an ordeal worthy of a post in and of itself), one of the first items on our agenda was take the girls to a doctor.
Given their mother’s failing health and our own experiences with the girls, we feared the worst: blood borne diseases, tuberculosis, worms. Mom has Hepatitis C; TB is a distinct possibility (DC has the highest TB rate in the United States, with people living under the poverty line at increased risk); and the girls had—we learned recently in an enlightening dinner table conversation—already had their own bout with intestinal worms. I think Kimberly and I thought that going to the doctor would be an end—a diagnosis, a prescription, a cure. In truth, it turned out to be just the beginning.
We are still waiting on the results of the battery of labwork ordered by the doctor (and augmented by Kimberly and our nurse/friend Michelle). A thorough physical examination revealed a number of relatively minor issues that had gone unnoticed and untreated:
Asthma: The hacking coughs? Not TB, as we’d feared, but a totally curable form of asthma. Doctor’s Orders: inhalers. Honestly, the girls love them.
Hair fungus: Due to a combination of neglect (neither of the girls had ever had their hair cut) malnourishment, and stress, the girls' hair was dry, damaged, balding in spots, and in severe distress. Doctor’s Orders: special shampoo, an intensive care regimen, and haircuts. This will be the subject of a future post.
Bad vision: Jennifer sees 20/50, which may explain why school can be a challenge. Doctor’s Orders: glasses. We’ll get those this weekend.
Shoes that don’t fit: Embarassing that a doctor had to tell us that Paulette’s shoes were too small. Doctor’s Orders: new shoes.
(got: carrot/ prune/ cherry/
spinach/ orange/ pineapple/ tofu juice?) -->
And, my personal favorite and the subject of this blog, chronic constipation. Every mother’s dream. Doctor’s Orders: intensive hydration. To her orders, we added leafy greens, green drink (a blend of pineapple juice, spinach and silken tofu), cherry juice, prune juice, detox tea, yogi “get regular” tea, warm water, and carrot juice. Sometimes, we just blend this all together. They love it.
Getting them to produce is one thing, but getting them to produce without pushing too hard is another. Fortunately, we have a timer system (no more than ten minutes in one sitting), and plenty of bathroom reading. Unfortunately, the choices are The Economist, National Journal, or "About You: Puberty and Stuff" (a booklet the school nurse sent home with the girls). We had a breakthrough tonight, when in a moment of victory, one of the girls (whose anonymity we’ll preserve) announced that the painful waits were over: “I just sat there, and it just came out!” These two mothers couldn’t be prouder.
Unfortunately, pride has its price. One of the lab tests for the girls (note: the doctor did not order this test; we snuck it on the form because of our concerns about intestinal worms) required a stool sample. In case you should ever be called upon to do this, I recommend laying out saran wrap between the lid and the rim (pressed carefully against the sides so it doesn’t go under the water) to catch the poop.
Also, wear gloves.
And breathe out of your mouth.