Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A Brief Scare and The Back to School Blues

We had a small scare this week. Steven came downstairs about 8 pm looking scared, his eyes as big as saucers, holding his head, saying he had a headache that felt like the headaches he had a year ago, right before he was diagnosed.

The headache didn't last too long, probably only 15 minutes or so before it abated. Afterward he felt nauseated. It was like a bad flashback, last year, we'd just gotten back from Oregon, the late August headaches...

The fear must have shown on my face, because Steven immediately took my hand and said it didn't feel so bad after all, not that much like the other headaches, not as severe, and please mama don't be too upset.

Probably the entire incident lasted 25 minutes or so, then he was fine. Not too long, but it felt a little like talking a short walk with the creepy Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

Summer is almost over. School starts on Monday.

Our kids like school. Sean and Steven have always done well, top of their class.

Steven spent most of third grade 2000 miles away from his school, in the hospital. Now we're going to give fourth grade a try.

Steven's oncologist in Memphis recommended not moving him ahead, reasoning that he's used to being at the top of his class without having to try too hard, maybe now he'll be struggling just to catch up and keep up.

Steven's third grade teacher thought he should try to move ahead. Part of the problem is that we already held him back a year to start kindergarten, so as it is he's the oldest kid in his class. To hold him back another year would just increase the age difference, socially he's just not a third grader any more.

We held him back at the time, not because we thought he couldn't handle things academically, but because we just wanted to give him an extra year to be a little kid. He missed enough time as an infant to medical problems and surgeries, we imagined his worst problems were over and were just trying to give him a little more time...

While in Memphis, I seriously considered home schooling him, but after we got back I decided its actually better for him to go to school. First, that's what he wants to do, secondly, Steven is a loner, not many friends, school is one of the places where he socializes with people other than Sean.

So, he'll go back to school Monday. He's a little apprehensive, but he's OK with it.

Me, I'm worried about him, he's always been a different sort of kid and a loner but his absences and the events of last year have served to further delineate him from his peers. His bald patch, his surgery scar, his hearing loss, his high-pitched voice, the quarterly trips back to Memphis for MRI's, and the stigma of having been diagnosed with a catastrophic illness that could return just seems like way too much to saddle any kid with.

I wish I could take it all from him, I'd gladly bear any or all of his burdens, if only I could ease his load somehow...

-- Kathleen

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