Thursday, July 2, 2015
"Having conquered fashion, Gail Chovan takes on Country Music: her new hit single 'Just Another Shitty Bump in the Fucking Road', is in stores now." - Evan Voyles, Monkeytown Free Press, entertainment section Things here in Paris were going fairly swimmingly. We had settled in after a week, went out with new friends, entertained old ones and even got some work done. The twins were adjusting nicely to our crazy schedule. Creed was sleeping up in his cozy, windowed mezzanine and Zelda was with me at night. Days were spent out in the Marais: showrooms, cafés, Gay Pride celebrations, strange little art exhibits and the snazzy parade for Carnaval Tropical. So, when Creed said he had a bit of a headache on Monday, we decided on more water and no Orangina. Temperatures were nearing 90+ degrees... Our nanny for these first two weeks has been Zoé. I like to consider her as an example of life coming full circle. When Evan and I married in 1998, I had dear friends come over from Paris for the festivities. Alex, Manu, Christian and Georges are all good friends of 30 years who I have named "les Célibataires" - the French Bachelors. Except for our wedding, Alex brought Edith. And then, they went back to France and had a baby girl: Zoé - who was actually in utero at our wedding. And this summer, she is "Nounou #1. Life is funny that way...anyway, back to the bump... And then Tuesday, Creed woke up with a migraine and was vomiting - something that has happened on occasion here in our Parisian summer times. But, this next shitty bump in the fucking road is that Creed's ventricles in his brain had been swelling. Last December and then again in March, Creed had an ETV - an endoscopic third ventriculostomy - to allow for built-up fluid in his brain to drain properly and lessen the swollen ventricles. (Literally they drill a hole through his brain...he likes to tell that to people.) This past Tuesday night, he was writhing in pain...vomiting again...and I had to dial the "15." I had seen these symptoms before. Based on Creed's medical history, the ambulance took us to the children's Hôpital Necker. They are well-versed in pediatric neurology. He is in surgery as I write this while sitting in a café in almost 100 degree heat, simultaneously drinking a glass of dry rosé and a cup of hot tea. They are doing another ETV, a septostomy and removing the right shunt valve that hasn't been working. So much new French vocabulary: ventriculostomie, septostomie, et ablation de la valve droite ...I feel like Emile Zola doing research for a neurosurgery novel for his series Les Rougon-Marquart. (For those of you not familiar with 19th century French literature, Zola wrote a series of 20 novels based on multiple branches of a family. As a writer, he was considered a "naturalist" - and a "socialist", I might add. Before beginning his text on a slice of French life, he would have his assistants research all of the vocabulary appropriate to the novel's setting: such as words specific to a coal mine, the railroad or a laundry...My bucket list has always included reading all of the books in Les Rougon-Marquart.) And I digress. So, here we are...another shitty bump...it makes us jump out of our complacent seats, it brings tears to our loving eyes and once again, makes my kids stronger than I could ever imagine. Zelda (who before I mention this, I need to knock on every beautiful wooden door here in Paris for luck) has not had a seizure in almost 18 months. I often laugh when I mention that she had even been in the hospital here for an extreme seizure during their first summer in France 5 years ago. But today I kissed Creed and being the twin that he is, he said, "Mommy, I miss Zelda and Daddy. And Zelda hasn't had a surgery in Paris yet, has she?" Good lord, this is a fucking bumpy ride...
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Creed and Zelda are now 9 1/2 years old. Third grade is over...and what a year it has been. On an amazingly positive note, Zelda has not had a seizure in over a year - since last March 22 when she entered the hospital and had 11 surgeries and infections that ravaged her body for three months. She was a full on 3rd grader with an amazing team of instructors that integrate her both academically and socially into her public elementary school. That being said, she still doesn't get playdates or many party invites. She is happy and independent but doesn't quite know what to do with a "friend." We are working on that as well as a recent diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum - huh? Now they tell us? Zelda is feisty, silly and spirited and her brain works in twists and turns that sometimes wreaks havoc with her emotions. Each day is a new adventure. She and I just returned from a week in Houston at BELL camp at the Lighthouse for the Blind. What an amazing facility! She went each day from 9 to 3:30 where they had activities specifically geared towards kids with visual impairments. Zelda has always been integrated into the "seeing' world so it was interesting to observe her with other VI kids. She was definitely the most outgoing and adventurous AND vocal. The first day I received a call about her obstinance and use of "bad" language. Oops! We are working on understanding the appropriateness or lack thereof concerning the use of the F, H, and S words. Hmmm...But she did swim to her heart's content each day in our lovely Melrose Place-like airbnb pool. It was nice to spend a week with my daughter and have that time for us the two of us - I learn from her every day. Creed - aka The King of Monkeytown - switched schools in October. He is now firmly ensconced in a private school for dyslexic kids and he is so happy. The school is amazing and progress is being made. On the other hand, he went through 2 brain surgeries this year - one in December and the other in March. Basically one of his VP shunts was not draining so they drilled into his head and performed a Third Ventriculostomy where an opening is made in the base of the third ventricle to allow the smooth flow of CSF. Oh, just Google it... We have no benchmarks at our house for Creed and Zelda's education. When I remember back to 3rd grade at Allen W. Roberts school in New Providence, NJ, I had my favorite teacher named Miss Eddy. I was reading "Little Women" and I made a diorama for my book report. I also was head of my class in memorizing the multiplication tables. I have 2 now-rising 4th graders. One is slowly learning Braille and one reads a few words at a time. Life is different and my kids are amazing. They are joyful, kind, friendly, creative and absolute snugglers.