It's just another freezingsnowyfrosty mildly chilly December day here in Northeast Ohio, the perfect time for yet another appointment for my little Roo. (I think I'm going to start scheduling next year's appointments NOW so they don't all end up in December again...!) Today's field trip: Dermatologist.
As you probably know, about 6 months ago we started to notice some patchy baldness on Roo's head. At first we thought it was just one spot, but it spread and spread, until now he looks like this...
I know, right?! It's like God said, "How could this kid possibly be any cuter? I know, I'll make him BALD!" I'm with you--it's totally adorable. It makes him even more of a rock star than he already was.
Still, I was concerned that the hair loss pointed to a deeper issue, so several months ago I took him to our pediatrician to get it checked out. After a rather disappointing consultation with her (I'm not going to get into it here, but let's just say I'm exploring my pediatrician options...), we determined that it was not a thyroid issue and that it was time to talk to a different doctor. Our pediatrician recommended we see a dermatologist, so I made some calls and got us an appointment.
So here's a funny story... Typically when Roo needs to see a specialist, I call our local Children's Hospital and they have someone on-site. For dermatology, though, they have a variety of local doctors they recommend (none on-site), so I just wrote down all of the phone numbers and started making phone calls. As it turns out, I did this on a Friday, and apparently dermatologists don't tend to work on Fridays. I didn't realize that this was a "thing", but I called 6 different offices and only one was open! So I scheduled an appointment, even though it was over 6 weeks away. (Yep, I had to schedule today's appointment back in October! Who knew dermatologists were in such high demand?) The receptionist told me that they would send me a registration packet a few days before our appointment, so I jotted a very vague "Dermatology - 10 AM" on today's date on the calendar and left it at that.
Fast-forward to yesterday, when I realized that A-I never got a registration packet and B-I had no idea which dermatologist's office I had actually scheduled an appointment with! So this morning I was frantically calling every doctor on the list from our Children's Hospital web site. (And wouldn't you know, this time FOUR of them were open on Friday...!) I finally found our winner, and Roo and I set off for the visit.
As I mentioned, most of our visits take place at the hospital--or at one of the two connected medical arts buildings on the same campus. I didn't realize how spoiled I have become with their facilities and quality of care, but I will not take it for granted again. This office building was probably built AND last updated in approximately 1952. It was in a crummy section of town, it was run-down, it was... just not what I expected. But Roo seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself, and spent our FORTY-FIVE MINUTES in the waiting room entertaining everyone within ear shot with his "singing" and laughter. (I'm so thankful for that. Trying to contain a two-year-old to a small space with no food or toys for a long period of time can quickly take a turn in a bad, bad direction, but he was so good!)
Sooooo... after all of this build-up... after months of wondering, weeks of waiting for the appointment, many minutes in the waiting room... we had approximately 1.5 minutes with the doctor. BUT he confirmed that Roo has exactly what I suspected from the beginning: a condition known as Alopecia Areata. This basically means that his body has, for some reason, started making antibodies to fight hair follicles. His hair may regrow, it may not. He It might grow back for good, or he could have several more episodes throughout his life. Little is really known about it. But here's the good news: it's JUST hair loss. There's no underlying health issue, no other side effects, no related concerns. He's just bald & beautiful.
The doctor did perscribe two ointments to stimulate hair growth. So far I have not filled them, and I'm not sure if I will. First, because all treatments associated with alopecia are rather... hit or miss. There's no real guarantee that they will work, and they can't prevent future outbreaks. Second, any time you are working with medications, you're looking at possible side effects. One of the two ointments we would use is a steroid. It's a mild one, but still. We're just talking about hair here, folks. I don't know how much I want to subject my 24-pound 2-year-old to steroids so that I can comb his hair.
And if the ointments don't work? Well, the next step is to create an allergy in his body to something, which will theoretically stimulate the immune system, which could then stimulate hair growth. Again... I'm not giving my kid an allergy so that he can have hair. It's just not gonna happen.
So... I feel like all of our appointments thus far have been rather anti-climactic, but I'll tell you something I have learned over the past 3 years: Anti-climactic is pretty darn great. I'll take boring news over bad news any day.
And if you know anyone who loves kids but has that pesky baby allergy, let them know that we have an American Hairless right here... ;-)
Yep, December is the month of Christmas, family, and appointments for Roo. We kicked it off Friday with his annual cardiology check-up, and yesterday we followed it up with our first meeting with the school district.
No, time hasn't gone that fast. Roo isn't ready for kindergarten just yet. :-) But here's how it works (at least in the state of Ohio): from birth to age 3, children with disabilities get services through the county, typically through the Board of Developmental Disabilities. This is called Early Intervention. In our county, Roo received home-based services--the therapists and Early Intervention Specialist came to our house for all of his appointments--until age 2. (We actually pushed it a few months past that.) Then this fall he started attending a toddler class at the county DD school, which is going splendidly. (I have been planning an update on that one for a while. I'll get there...!)
But once he turns 3, his services fall under the purview of our local public school system. It is actually still administered by the county until he's in kindergarten, but it is within the schools... yeah, it's a little less than crystal clear. But a transition will take place at age 3, and 90 days prior to his third birthday, we need to start meeting to plan that transition. And since the 90-day mark happens during Christmas break, we had to schedule it a little early.
So yesterday morning we met with our Service Coordinator (She is with the Department of Jobs & Family Services, and she helps to keep track of Joey's various services and medical records. She is also our Help Me Grow provider, a program that I did with both Lamb and Monkey, so I have known her for seven years, and I ADORE her. I am SO INCREDIBLY SAD that we will not be working with her, I'm tempted to have another baby so that we can do Help Me Grow with Becki again. :-) ), the Director of Special Services for our school system, and psychologist who works for the county.
The goal of this particular meeting was not so much to set goals or create his plan. This was more of an introductory meeting, where they talked to us a little about the process, and they asked us a lot of questions about Roo. The ladies were very nice, and I know one of the therapists he will be working with, so I feel really good about how it all went.
So, similarly to the cardiology appointment, I don't feel like I have a big update, but I DO feel like it was a positive outcome.
One thing we DID discuss, though: Technically he is supposed to switch from his current school to the county-run preschool (located in our elementary school) right at his third birthday. But in general, students who turn three after Spring Break are able to stay at the DD school for the remainder of the school year, then move to the county preschool in the fall. Well... Roo's birthday is DURING Spring Break. So we are really hoping to keep him where he is until fall, but we have to wait to hear from the director of the DD school about whether or not she is able to keep him there.
So that was our meeting in a nutshell! We'll go back in a month to schedule his evaluations with his new therapists, then we'll meet again in February to actually go over his evaluations and set his goals.
If you "like" me on Facebook, you know that Roo has a big month of appointments this December. Today we kicked it off with a trip to the cardiologist.
And again, if you follow me on Facebook, you know that this morning did not get off to a good start. In fact, my morning began with Lamb crying that she didn't want to go to school because of two separate "playground dramas" that came up yesterday. (And I have to say, nothing makes my head want to explode like 7-year-old drama.) And then Mr. Fantastic and I had a bit of a fight, the kind that couldhave easily been resolved by an intelligent discussion, but I was too busy being stubborn and defensive to actually talk about it. And Roo wouldn't eat anything for breakfast and I was trying to get everyone to school on time and we have a really busy evening and I was trying to figure out a plan for dinner and determine what errands still needed to be run before tonight and... sigh. It was stressful.
Finally, I had the big kids on the bus, Roo in the van, and I was running out the door in any attempt to do some of my errands before the (9:30) appointment, when Mr. Fantastic called... to remind me that all of the carpets in the house were getting cleaned this morning! I honestly thought I was going to throw up! So I grabbed Roo, put him in his crib, and RAN through the house, picking up the toys and other small items on the floor and THROWING them onto beds, couches, whatever to get them out of the way. It was a mad dash, and I am thankful that no one has that on tape.
I tell you all that just to say... My heart & mind weren't really where I wanted them to be in preparing for this doctor's visit when I left my house this morning. Fortunately, I got about 20 minutes of Quality Jesus Time in during the drive to the hospital, and that was extremely helpful. We didn't get to run any early errands, but we DID get to the appointment on time, and I was much calmer when we got there.
As for the visit itself, it went very well. In fact, we were out of there in less than 30 minutes! (Our cardiology appointments are normally about 2 hours.) We have seen a lot of doctors with Roo, and I have to say, I LOVE our cardiologist. We only see him annually, so I know that he doesn't remember us from appointment to appointment, but he is always professional but kind, talks to Roo, he's PREPARED and AWARE of Roo's chart/history before he comes in, he asks pertinent and intelligent questions, and explains things thoroughly without being condescending. And he's very considerate of our time and sanity levels. Does it get any better than that?
ANYWAY, after he went over Roo's history with me a bit (he has an Atrial Septal Defect, and Ventricular Septal Defect, and a cleft mitral valve), he listened to his heart for quite a while with the stethoscope. And because his defects are minor, and because he needs to be a little bit older (about 5 years old) before they can do any repairs anyway... AND because getting him to lay on a table for an echocardiogram would likely be a disaster... he recommended that we wait until next year for another echo. I was THRILLED. Mr. Fantastic and I were just talking this morning about whether or not the echo was even necessary, and it was great to hear it confirmed from the doctor without my having to ask.
So I don't feel like I have any major updates, but all in all it was a good appointment. Roo's heart issues are still present but minor, and we'll head back to cardiology in a year. Now we can just enjoy our ultra-busy weekend, and prepare for our first "transition planning" meeting with the school district on Monday morning.