And Then . . . Everything Changed

“When something goes wrong in your life, just yell ‘Plot Twist!’ and move on.” ~ Unknown

Photo by Pixabay on

Last time I wrote, we were enjoying a vacation at the beach – albeit with a rocky start, but still enjoyable.


For months my son has been complaining of abdominal pain – I blew it off and blamed his diet of Taki’s and Monsters among other junk food items. He complained of being tired – I blew it off and blamed his teen years coupled with late nights. I dutifully made a doctor’s appointment, and then his boss called, asking if he was okay due to things she had observed. Hmmmmm . . . . The day of the appointment, he was reaching into the cabinet to get a glass for water and I noticed I could clearly see the bones in his wrist. HMMMMMM . . . As do most teenagers, my son prefers baggy sweatpants and hoodies as his clothing of choice. Rarely do I see his arms or legs enough to notice a significant loss of weight.

After arriving at the doctor’s office, the results of his blood tests were very telling. Coupled with his symptoms and a 10-lb weight loss in two weeks, it was becoming clear that he was truly ill. After badgering the office for a month (with a pediatrician who wanted to “watch it”), we finally got referrals to a GI doctor, and clinics at Children’s at UAB. The hematologist/oncologist called me at home after we spent an afternoon in the ER — because it is so rare to see polycythemia vera in someone so young (he’s 17), he’s referring us first to infectious disease and then rheumatology to rule out any other possible underlying conditions before seeing him in the hematology/oncology clinic.

This was breathtaking news, the kind that rocks you on your heels. Granted, like most teenagers, he’s had some moments that were less than auspicious. Testing, pushing limits, throwing down gauntlets — but he had turned a corner and was making better choices, making plans for his future, attempting to get into the Army — and now this . . .

At the same time my son was testing the waters and pushing the limits, his 16 year-old sister was also pushing the envelope. She, however, did not and has not turned a corner. Over the past few months, she has continued to make extremely poor choices. Stealing alcoholic drinks from the refrigerator and denying it. Lying about her whereabouts and who she’s with. Staying out all night with false excuses (which were easily identified as false), flagrant disregard for rules and curfews — not just mine, but also the town curfews — to running away, not just once but twice. The first time, she was picked up with a man 10 years her senior who was the proud owner of several outstanding felony warrants from a neighboring state. The second time, she was picked up with her biological mother in a local flea-bag motel after telling her mother that I had “kicked her out.” That was blatantly untrue as she had emailed me most of the previous day begging me to kick her out (and myself declining) and alternating between asking what she could do to get kicked out, sending me google searches on emancipation, and vowing that there must be SOMETHING she could do to get me to kick her out. She ended her escapades by skipping school the last two days that I was working.

As of yesterday, she has her own juvenile probation officer and a lovely black accessory on her ankle with a GPS tracking ability. While my curfews were 10 pm on school nights and 11 pm on weekends, she now has to be home by 7 pm and 8 pm respectively. Her brother prefers to spend his free time at various friends’ houses because he’s too tired to (as he says) “deal with her shit.” Her sister is fed up with her behavior and doesn’t want to be around her either. She has created so much drama in the household, it has affected everyone very negatively.

I’m ready for another vacation! Soon!

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