Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oh...you'll know.

One of the [many] side effects of Vincristine is neuropathy. We are asked about Eve's gait each week. Is she stumbling? No more than usual. Is she falling down more often? Well, no, not for a two-year-old. Does she look like she's getting slappy-footed? Is slappy-foot even a real medical term? How will I know if she is?? Oh, you'll know.

But the thing is, I'm not sure I will.

Maybe I was absent the day that the maternal instinct fairy sprinkled her dust over my big, pregnant belly. (Maybe the stretch mark fairy left her no room?) Whatever it is, I am missing something in the instinct department. When I was pregnant with Natalie, I went to the obstetrician twice a week during my last trimester. Twice a week, I asked my doctor how I would know when I was in labor. Twice a week, the same annoyed doctor began to reply, "Oh, you'll know."

Imagine the doc's surprise when, eight months pregnant, I showed up for a regular appointment complaining of a backache. Apparently, I did not know that I was in active labor, even though I was five centimeters dilated. Had I not had an appointment scheduled for that day, I would have been at home watching Discovery Health and eating Taco Bell, probably giving birth to Natalie on our living room couch. Oh, apparently I didn't know afterall.

And the kids...the poor kids need to really be screaming for me to think they have an ear infection. They better be feverish, too. Because I won't know they just aren't acting right. Preschoolers never act right! I might be more inclined to think the kids are working on their catcher signals than pulling on their ears out of pain.

I never knew when they were teething. We just randomly put Orajel on their gums whenever they would get too fussy. Even if there was no pain to be numbed, it would shock them just enough to bring the screaming down a few notches.

So now that I am aware of this neuropathy side effect, and am equally aware of how easy it would be for me to miss it, I am doubting myself as of late. Each week the doctors seem a wee bit surprised that her stride has been unaffected. "She walks like normal...I think...I mean I'm pretty sure...I don't know...would I notice??" I'm worried that she's got the slappy-foot, and I haven't been paying attention.

But you'd think I'd notice, right? Right?


  1. The one thing we noticed with Josh is that he stood with his feet noticeably farther apart. As in he needed a wider stance, for stability when standing, instead of standing with his feet a few inches apart, they'd be 12 inches or more apart. Our staff said it was telltale of Vincristine neuropathy. And slap footed is because they slap their feet down with no heel toe motion, the foot becomes this floppy appendage they just slap down. Josh didn't do that, but I saw other kids do it at the clinic, you would think they have a brain tumor it looks that awkward.

    Josh was on full dose vincristine for 7 months and his gait stayed about the same, he did in the last two months start running into door jams and our island in the kitchen. As in, whoa, I thought I would walk by that and damn I just slammed into it. . .you won't miss that. . .at least not after the fifth time or so.

    It is hard though, they are toddlers, they are prone to running into things, and getting injured, and just walking funny to be weird. We really noticed it in his hands, his dexterity stunk and he dropped stuff a lot, butter fingers would apply.

    Oh and if it makes you feel better, when Penny was 2 she randomly told me she had a boo boo in her ear, but was normal otherwise. She ruptured her ear drum in her sleep that night. . . and slept through it. Sometimes it isn't about you missing it, but your kid being way too tolerant of pain.

  2. You have to remember that you see docs every week. Even if you don't notice, they will pick up on it. That is part of the reason they are there. You also have other adults around to help you notice if she were walking funny. Heck, Natalie can probably help you notice any idiosyncracies. :)

    FWIW, I did not know I was in labor and I have let my kids have ear infections without my noticing.

  3. You're so not alone. I love how we're supposed to instantly know everything! I am sure that they'll help you know. Just like they can do with everything else. What an interesting name, though. Slappy-foot. I wonder if it is a true medical term? If so, who the heck came up with it?

    Happy Holidays!

  4. Rebecca doesn't suffer Neuropathy from Chemo drugs, but her seizure medications do periodically make her like this.
    For us the change is impossible not to miss - even in a child whose gaite is unsteady to begin with.

    She suddenly walks and moves as if VERY VERY drunk. Picture in your head the guy so drunk he zigs and zags with every step. Can't seem to really get one foot in front of the other (they will probably criss cross in front of her). They really look like a stumbling, bumbling drunk.

    Let Natalie and Daniel help clue you in - they may even ask "Why is Eve walking so funny?"
    That is your "You'll know".

    And yep - been there done that for the "you'll know" - heck I knew I was in labor but since I wasn't dilating the doctors didn't think I was (until 3 days later when I STILL wasn't dilating yet kept contracting like crazy).

    I hope and pray you guys have a GREAT Christmas and NO FEVER for Eve.
    The constant "fever watch" is annoying, but worse is the ticket "Go straight to ER, do not pass Go, do not collect $200".
    Chemo sucks doesn't it. Bleah. (We are blessed to be almost 2 years out from her last Chemo).

  5. gwyn had neuropathy, that was the feet and leg pain i spoke of. oh, and how she could fall to the ground from just standing still; like a stage move during a concert. as for the med to correct it.. her sides from it(neurontin)were far worse than the reasons to take it, so after a discussion with her onc, we weaned her off. lucky for her, this all came about near the end of treatment. it was an accumulative affect. i will pray for eve to beat the odds of developing it.

    uh, yeah..the know factor applies to those moms who have alien alliances and never find out half way through the day that their underwear is inside out or leave the house thinking they finshed putting on their "face" only to do a quick mirror check before going into starbucks and see how they should have coffee at home before having coffee out. uuummm...starbucks...

    i hope the griffith homefront has a merry christmas, we'll be thinking about you. enjoy your holiday through your childrens eyes, bake cake and be merry!