cheering for the lesser of evils

the chronology may be a little skewed because we did not keep a time line as things were happening
the basic time frame is correct
the specifics are a blur
it happened so fast
and of course... this rant was tossed together in between dinner... homework... chess games... and bedtime prep

although it is not entirely over
the worst is hopefully behind us

it is strange... but it is true... we often cheer for the lesser of two evils
and no... this is not going to be a political rant

in mid-September of this year my older son Dean woke up with a stiff neck
I did not think much of it at the time
it did not seem out of the question for an eight year old to get a stiff neck
we thought that he could have slept in an awkward position or perhaps he did not have enough covers on a cold night in our drafty old house

so... Dean was treated with some occasional children's Motrin and an abundance of parental compassion

it did not seem like such a big deal
it lasted a few days or maybe a week
then... the stiff neck passed and Dean was his old self again
we shrugged it off as nothing

then in late September Dean woke up one morning with a pain and stiffness in his elbow
the night prior had been one of those adult parties where the parents all bring their kids... needless to say it was madness
I had figured that Dean had bashed his elbow in one of the many pig piles that developed in their
Lord of the Flies style games that had occurred in the basement

just as Dean could not explain his stiff neck Dean could not explain the soreness and stiffness to his elbow
I asked if he had banged or bashed his elbow the night prior but Dean was confident that he had not injured himself
ice and motrin were administered as we drove up to my first cyclocross race of the season

it was the day of Charm City Cyclocross and the whole family was packed in the Honda Element for a drive to Baltimore

Dean and Grant were registered for the Lil Belgians while I was set to race the Masters B
after I finished my race I brought out the boys bikes and migrated over to the Lil Belgian's course
when got there Dean told me that his arm hurt too bad for him to do the race
being who I am I asked him to try a few laps... after seeing him on the bike I saw that he was not himself
I accepted that he was not in any shape to "race" his bike on this day

Lisa and I monitored Dean's behavior over the next few days

when the soreness\stiffness to the elbow did not improve I took the day off from work and Dea
n and I went to the ER for X-Rays
the way things were looking we thought that Dean may have broken something

at the GW Hospital Emergency Room Dean and I played various games on the iTouch as we were shuffled from the examination room to the radiology department for X-Rays and then back again
after review I was relieved that there was no sign of a fracture
in the discussion with the doctor I gave what background we had
mention was made of the stiff neck
and that the cause of the soreness to the elbow was unknown

we left George Washington Hospital relieved that there was not a break that would put Dean in
a cast
we accepted that it was just banged and bruised and left with his arm in a sling

a few days later I witnessed that Dean appeared to be running around playing normally
so I tossed the sling aside and decided to cancel the orthopedic appointment

things got back to normal... the diagnosis at the doctor was accepted and we went on living our lives
Dean was running, playing, and fighting with his brother again... it was business as usual
no soccer games were missed
the elbow stiffness that had prevented him from riding his bike in the Lil' Belgian's Race at Charm City was long gone
when it was time for the Lil' Belgians at DCCX
Dean raced and won his category... dominating the rest of his class... then Dean lined up with the older kids and raced a strong longer race where he finished second making his dad very proud
(Grant also raced strong that day which also made me proud)

somewhere in this month of October the stiff neck returned
just as the first stiff neck I thought maybe Dean had slept on it funny
I quizzed him if he had been cold at night or if we needed to crank the heat to warm up his often drafty room
extra blankets were offered... but none of these resolves were accepted
I paid special attention to the warmth of Dean's room, the number of blankets on the bed, and the placement of his head on a large stack of pillows

the mysterious stiff neck vanished just as it came and we maintained the routine of every day life
not really thinking anything of it

then with a day or two absence of any soreness or stiffness Dean started to have a pain in his bicep and shoulder
again... this was a pain that was not brought on by any impact or injury
Dean was saddened by his inability to do the things he loved while Lisa and I grew worried about what was happening in front of us
immediately Lisa and I started scanning the web and consulting friends to see if anyone had any information about this very odd migrating joint stiffness and joint pain

online resources gave a long list of possibilities... none of which we liked
most of these bad and evil things contained a long list of symptoms that Dean had not suffered
all Dean had was this migrating joint stiffness and joint pain, he did not have any of the other symptoms that were associated with all of these bad and evil things

there was one illness on this long list of bad and evil things that was slightly less evil and even a logical assumption... Lyme Disease
we live and play in the woods of Rock Creek Park
it is common practice to remove ticks from our black dog Brutus

I began to think that Dean might have Lyme disease
the more I thought about it the more it made sense
so I tried to read a little more about Lyme Disease
with the stiffness and soreness continueing in Dean's bicep\shoulder we made an appointment at his pediatrician's for a review and a test for Lyme Disease

it is frustrating... it is not so easy as snapping your fingers and stomping your feet to get an appointment... we were able to get an appointment for a few days later
in that time the migrating joint pain and joint stiffness left Deans bicep\shoulder and moved to his knee
it was sad to watch my want to be active son hobble about
I fought the notions of the worst... yet I braced myself for the worse

I could not help but think the worse... that Dean had some sort of illness that was going to be long term
it saddened me to think that what Dean was suffering from could be damaging to his health and fitness

I went through all sorts of emotions and of course I prayed
it is funny when a recovering Catholic want to be atheist gets a sick kid... they fall back on the old stand by... prayer

deals were made with the big guy... promises... you do this and I promise I will do that
it was scary

I was scared

the morning of the doctor's appointment it pleased me to see Dean and the strength of his arms
his climbing was as it was before the stiffness\soreness to his shoulders
at breakfast Dean did something like a dip between two chairs where he tried to show how he could not extend both legs as straight

although his knee could not be bent the areas that had been effected previously did not appear to show any sort of after effects
when the symptoms left those areas those areas appeared to return to normal
there was some sort of relief in this

my scans on line and my conversations with friends did not bring me the definitive answers
we had not yet met with the pediatrician

this list of illnesses was so scary that I just wanted it to go away
I resigned myself to the hope that I would accept no diagnosis and to have this just leave him forever

finally... Dean and I took a trip to the doctor

the doctor did the basic doctor bullshit... touch here... tap there... move this for me... pay the co-pay... give me your insurance card... etc... etc...
now go someplace where they can blood test you

I had asked Lisa to call our pediatrician and specifically asked if they could test for Lyme disease... they had told us yes... here I was at the doctors and I was being sent elsewhere to get a blood test... I was agitated to say the least
we left out and paid our co-pay... paid for parking... then drove across town to the lab where t
he test would be taken
this of course would involve another swipe of the insurance card, another co-pay, and some more money being paid for parking
here we waited several hours so that finally Dean could sit for a little over than a minute to have his blood drawn

there was no peace of mind
we still knew nothing except for the fact that we were going down the proper channels to try a
nd find a resolve

I continued to try and google different word combinations
still looking for something that would match these symptoms

someone had to have experienced this same set of symptoms

Dean never felt sorry for himself... he kept on being Dean
even with his "gimp knee" he played tag and tried to ride his skateboard sitting down

running and riding a bicycle were not options for him... but Dean was still able to hobble around and play tag
laughter never left him, but there were moments where he expressed that he could just be normal again
as any father would do I hugged him
when I hugged him I wished that I had the power to have my hug remove his sickness and make him well again

before the results return back there were more issues
Dean woke in the middle of the night with cramping and pain in his left hand
I gave him Motrin... asking if the Motrin helped... Dean was not sure if the Motrin helped... but he told me that he hoped that it helped... so we continued with the Motrin
my long and tall 8 year old climbed into bed right in between Lisa and myself... there was no co
it was nice to have him by my side

the test results came back sooner than expected...
well... Lisa called to see if the results had come in yet and sure enough they had
Dean had tested positive for Lyme Disease
strange... but there was a huge blanket of relief that fell upon us
the mystery was solved and treatment could be started
all those other things that we tested for were so bad and so evil that we were happy to hear tha
t our son had Lyme Disease
yes... three cheers for Lyme Disease
as bad as it may be... it is no where nearly as bad as any of these other things

we got a prescription for antibiotics and things started to clear up as soon as Dean took
his first dose
the medicine is rough on his stomach... but Dean is able to be Dean again
running... playing... jumping... falling down... and riding his bike just like a normal kid again

I was relieved that I had not made any promises in my prayers that I could not keep
We were estatic that we caught things early enough... we hope that we caught things early enough...
the antibiotics are still part of our daily routine and there had not been any sight of the previous symptoms

since our diagnosis we have learned that a long list of children's friends have tested positive for Lyme Disease... although none of them had Dean's symptoms

Dean never had a bullseye bruise... Dean did not suffer any fatigue... there were never really any more symptoms than the migrating joint stiffness

it was a scary experience that is nearly behind us
it was painful to see our son not as healthy or as strong as he should be
it was crazy scary to think of what the future could have been if he had in fact been diagnosed with something more serious

the photos are of both Dean and Grant



Big Daddy Mike said...

Yo buddy! It's odd how someone so personable, so close to you can keep his worries and concerns so close to the vest when they are significant. And I completely understand.

Your expressions of concern towards the D-man spoke straight to so many daily concerns that I have about our kids. I really feel for you guys: not knowing what is going on really sucks.

Keep up the good thoughts. We'll see you guys soon. Take care of those monsters...

Erik Leaver said...

Glad to hear that you finally figured it out. I've been joined as a recipient of Lymes disease by several teammates this past year. Everyone has horror stories--and worse when it's your kid. Best of luck on the road to recovery.

Unknown said...

I'm glad your son is going to be okay. That is some of the scariest stuff a parent can face! Rubber side down.