The Samantha Years

Fe, fi, fo, fum….what’s going on with Samantha’s tum?

At first I thought it was the dreaded UTI. Logical, typical, predictable.

Thursday meant canceling school, other appointments, loading up the Malibu and heading down to TCH.


“Really? Can we check again?”

I sometimes get an idea in my head about Samantha and hold onto it like a dog with a bone….grrrrr…must be UTI….grrrrr

Samantha had been on edge, pulling her feet up and pretty lethargic ….grrr…UTI….don’t touch my bone…..

She also had another nasty MRSA filled ear….okay, I’ll see you an ear infection but that didn’t explain her tummy. Or did it? It’s a puzzle with little Sammers

The doctor pulled in the other specialists and the next step was confirmed; they needed to take some blood for a metabolic panel.

Trying to get blood from Samantha is like milking a turnip. A squirming, hysterical turnip. I would rather stick bamboo up my toenails than hold Samantha as they try for another lousy, scarred vein.

In fact it’s so much fun, I pulled Samantha’s Grandma in the room too. I like to share. Grandma Judi’s a trooper.

Blood was drawn and four hours later, we headed back to the Land of Love with no answers but a prescription for her nasty ear.

Yesterday Samantha still wasn’t on her A game. At lunch we get a call that her metabolic levels were off and we needed to come back in for further tests. Liver issues are huge for mito kids so we headed back in.

“We think Samantha has mild pancreatitis.” Our smarty doctors said.

“Pancreatitis!!! Oh my God. What does that mean????” As Samantha’s mom, I have a tendency to go to a bad place when we get a diagnosis. I usually go there before I know the meaning or the treatment. I freaked out when I heard Samantha had the Rhinovirus.


“Heather it’s another word for the common cold.” But the common cold and mild pancreatitis can be very serious for Lil Miss if it’s not treated and monitored.

Her pancreas is mildly upset from the ketogenic diet and her seizure meds. Treatment? Give her clear liquids for 24 hours. Recheck blood levels at TCH on Monday.

Not so bad. We got home around 7:30 last night. Samantha feels much better as we are ‘cleansing’ her system.

In spite of our long TCH days and my grumbling about blood tests, I am so grateful that our doctors look a little ‘deeper’ when it comes to Samantha. A happy pancreas is a good thing.

The Samantha Years

I Cannot Buy an iPad

Today Apple unveiled it’s highly anticipated tiny, tablet computer….

The world waited with breath that was baited….

I heard it on the news this morning….

The iPad.

I laughed out loud. I have iPads in my bathroom, next to the maxi pads. Funny, but this is a HUGE corporation, surely they have checked with the public, focus groups and shareholders to make sure no one else thinks the iPad protects against those ‘days’ I surely, truly, must be the only one who thinks the iPad is for those lady days.

But no…..

The New York Daily News thinks it sounds like a feminine hygiene product, even techie men are saying the iPad might help keep your knickers fresh.

I have an iTouch and sometimes I feel a little naughty for saying iTouch…where is my iTouch? Oh the battery in my iTouch has died. I must plug my iTouch in.

I am sure the iPad is fabulous. Apple owners love their products. Heck, I love my iTouch (hehe, I said iTouch). But where are the women on the Apple marketing team? Couldn’t someone have said that the name just doesn’t go with the flow?

Perhaps the marketing people need a little help…I thought I would put in my two cents.

The iPad….small, discrete, no one will know but you

The iPad…put it in your purse and go

The iPad…so thin you will never know it’s there

The iPad…life doesn’t slow down….neither should you

Shorter, lighter periods…is there an app for that?

The Samantha Years


My Grandma Dodie had a birthday last week…..I think she turned 87. How awful am I that I can’t remember if Dodie is 86 or 87?

Bad Grandaughter.

Back in the day, my Dodie was fabulous. She taught me how to dance by standing on her feet in her kitchen. She and my Popa always had coca-cola in their refrigerator and you could never eat too many potato chips.

Thousands of lightening bugs lived in their backyard.


Popa and Dodie bought me velvet dresses and impractical boots with heels. My feet were cold for a whole winter and I slid through the cross-walk to school…but I had great boots. Even today when I want to add a little fabulous to my outfit, I pull out one of Dodie’s choker’s or handbags.

I visited Dodie today. I’m not quite sure she knew who I was but she was still fabulous. She watched me pull out a birthday card….she let me read it to her. I pulled out flowers…eh, flowers.

And then I pulled out a big heart shaped box of chocolate and set it on her lap. Her eyes got wide. Her little fingers started to pull at the celophane…..

“Dodie, do you want me to open this for you?”

“uh huh!”

She eagerly plucked a carmel, dipped in dark chocolate and popped it in her mouth. It didn’t matter who I was, we were now friends.

Mama always said… is like a box of chocolates

The Samantha Years

Learning Moments

I was planning on posting about our wonderful weekend in Beaver Creek and the fact that mama can’t do the bumps the way she used to….

This will come soon but something else has occupied my left frontal lobe…it’s taking up too much space so I must purge. It’s a good purge.

We got home this afternoon. Samantha was cranky, bags needed to be unpacked, calls to nurses must be returned and appointments for the week had to be made.

Samantha was tired; reduced to screaming in the middle of the floor. Bart was getting ready for a trip and I was supposed to lead a discussion tonight on Including Samuel. Including Samuel is a documentary on inclusion in public schools. It is a wonderful, moving documentary but I wasn’t in the mood to be moved.

I thought about cancelling the discussion. Long underwear, ski boots and gloves covered our living room floor. Samantha needed some attention. I was tired from the weekend and overwhelmed by the week. I couldn’t give anymore of myself.

But I went….long underwear wasn’t going anywhere. Bart and Samantha finally cuddled on the floor. I had committed…I headed to the library.

Instead of a group of caregivers, teachers or therapists, our audience was a group of adults living in a community home, people who have lived through public school inclusion or in many cases, separation into special needs classes.

At the end of the movie, one girl put her hand to her heart and said “This was my life!”

It soon became clear that I was not here to teach the pros and cons of inclusion, I was here to learn; learn about living a different life, being separated in school, being included and spending too much time in a hospital. We talked about Samantha, eating through a tube and trying to change perceptions.

I took away much more than I could ever give.

The underwear is still in the living room.

***The showing of Including Samuel was sponsored by the Arc of Larimer County A second screening will be held at the Fort Collins Main Library on January 30th at 2:45 pm. Admission to both screenings is free.

The Samantha Years

Stay at Home Sentence

Get Born Magazine is looking for ‘firsts’ for their Spring publication…..not sure if this will make the cut but this is my essay on when I first realized I needed to be a stay at home mom…..

Stay at Home Sentence:

We sat across from each other in the ICU. Our 6 month old was stable but knocked out on seizure meds; there was nothing else to do so we worked. I typed to the tune of her heart monitor, answered emails, closed deals, made sure my team had everything they needed.

It was January 30th. I had to close last minute sales in order to make commission for the month. My head was buried in my laptop. My husband’s head buried in his laptop….we worked….in the Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital.

My husband looked up from his computer. “When are you going back to work?”

“I’m not.” I answered, finishing my email. I am not. I finally had the nerve to meet his eyes. He looked at me and nodded…agreed….I am not going back to work. His eyes went back to the screen. I paused and looked the ceiling, watching the words I just uttered dance across the lights.

What did I just commit to? The fact that Samantha was so sick and we were both answering work emails was ridiculous. Someone needed to bite the bullet. Someone needed to be at home with her. I knew that someone should be me.

I had always entertained the idea of being a stay-at-home-mom but once those words…I’m am not going back to work , vomited from my mouth I felt like I had lost myself. I had lost ten years of ladder climbing, schmoozing, selling, getting on the managerial fast track…I had just committed career suicide…identity suicide. Who am I if I am not working???

Truth was I didn’t even like my job. I wasn’t saving lives or changing the world. I worked in marketing….trying to convince people to buy things. My daughter was very, very sick and I was negotiating with clients who were trying to convince people to buy things…Important things….garden gnomes, aprons with cute sayings, fart machines…life changing items

But it was what I did. What do you do Heather? Well I work for a company that tries to get people to buy garden gnomes and fart machines. This is what I do. And even though I didn’t really like what I did, there were parts of my job that I loved.

When Samantha was four months old, I had to go on a business trip to New York. I coordinated her care with my mom and husband. I cried as I said goodbye. I felt guilty and called myself a bad mom…..

And then I got on the plane and took a four hour nap. I then took a taxi to the W Hotel in Manhattan, checked in, changed into my pajamas, ordered room service and watched four hours of back to back episodes of Sex and the City.

I woke up the next morning after having the best sleep since I was pregnant.

The next morning room service brought me an omelet, fresh orange juice and coffee. I ate, uninterrupted, still in my pajamas and watching the Today Show.

I took a twenty minute shower and doused myself in Aveda products. No baby shampoo in this shower. No baby to have to listen to while keeping the soap out of my eyes.

I called my husband and pretended to feel guilty about a 2 am feeding. This was difficult because the W Hotel in Manhattan does not recognize 2 am feedings or poopie diapers or projectile vomiting. They only recognize things of the fabulous and sexy sense.

I dressed in a black silk suit, kitten heals and marveled in the fact that my jacket showed no signs…what so ever….of baby vomit.

I was fabulous in the meeting; witty and charming. I closed the garden gnome deal. Our team celebrated at a restaurant off of 5th Avenue.

Two months later, I sat in two-day underwear in the ICU at Children’s, watching over my daughter. I was feeling very un-fabulous, sad, beaten down. I did not care about my garden gnomes.

But my clients love me, they need me.

But my daughter needed me more. I knew I was doing the right thing…perhaps the life saving thing. Samantha needed someone to scour the internet, bother the doctors, ask questions, write down answers and ask questions again.

But I couldn’t help but be sad about a decision that was not mine, a decision that came out of necessity. I missed my kitten heals.

And I became a somewhat bitter, stay-at-home mom.

I protested for a while. I wore only sweat suits and refused to shave my legs. I traded my United Airlines Visa card for a Grocery rewards card. I watched a lot of Oprah. I also focused on my daughter, her care and realized the job I was now doing was rewarding, life-changing and life-altering. I wrote, I advocated. I discovered the sweet, sweet world of the afternoon nap.

I emerged from my funk a couple months later. Perhaps there is life beyond the garden gnomes. My new feet no longer fit my fabulous kitten heals. They were traded for a pair of sensible Merrells. The silk suit still has a place in the closet…hoping for another Manhattan date with the W.