The Good and the Not-So-Good News

What a day.

First, the good news:

My boss’s tumor was completely resected, and he is still talking, texting, moving, giving orders, and making jokes. Given where the tumor was in his brain, this is a huge relief. We are so thankful for the prayers of all the saints, the power of God, and the technology that was used in the surgery.

We got Addie’s bone age back. Indeed, she is not four years old. Actually, interestingly, her bone age was the same as Palmer’s. If you’ve ever spent time with them, you know there are years difference between them developmentally.  There is 18 months of error on either side, so there’s a big margin. So she too could technically also be as young as 4 1/2 or as old as 8 1/2. So we are choosing to keep their ages as they have told us: age 6 for Addie, and age 8 for Palmer.

(Grab your Pepto and your Tylenol.)

Now, the not-so-good news:

I had called our attorney last week about changing their birthdates, and she finally had a chance to call me back today. She said Immigration will no longer allow changes in birthdates, because of new anti-terrorism laws, and sent me the documentation from Immigration to prove it. She said we CAN change it at the State level, but that Immigration won’t recognize it. Having two different birthdates, one at the state level, and one at the federal level is not seen favorably by any government agency. This will make it nearly impossible, if not impossible, to get passports, citizenship, drivers’ licenses, voters’ registration cards, etc. She said the decision to change their birthdates has serious ramifications.

Because children who are internationally adopted go through puberty early, having them at non-age-appropriate grade levels is not good. We’re back to them going through puberty in first and second grades.

We’re hoping that the school system will take the doctor’s word for it, but not require us to go through the process of officially changing their birthdates. We shall see.

The bigger concern came from the x-rays Addie had to prove she doesn’t have tuberculosis and the one used to do her bone age. We found out this evening that Addie Rose has a very enlarged heart, and needs an echocardiogram at Vanderbilt as soon as possible. Tomorrow afternoon, actually. And in addition to having calcium-deficient bones, she has significantly enlarged bone marrow. This means that hematology/oncology has to get involved, in addition to pediatric cardiology. The two could be related, which would not be good.

The news about Addie Rose is difficult as a parent, and as a medical professional. Still, we don’t know exactly what all of this means until a whole plethora of doctors weigh in on their thoughts. We are also headed to the ENT tomorrow to have Addie evaluated for hearing loss, as we try to figure out the cause of her developmental delays.

I think we could use a little more of the good news, don’t you think?

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Uncle. Ebenezer.

When I was growing up, my brother loved to pin me to the ground in some hideously uncomfortable position until I cried out in pain, “Uncle!” Then he would set me free, defeated.

This week has felt like a game of “Uncle” with God.

  • Our kids aged 2-3 years overnight.
  • Pneumonia.
  • In a matter of days, my boss was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor, announced his resignation, and has surgery tomorrow morning. My heart absolutely breaks for him and his family.

All of this was in less than 7 days.

“Uncle! Uncle!” I’ve had enough. This week’s events are on top of a fraudulent adoption last year, a horribly delayed international adoption, and a traumatic in-country experience that I’m still trying to deal with, on top of two kids who live under my roof, but don’t speak English.

I. AM. TIRED.

It’s times like this when I cry out, “God, am I doing something wrong? Am I not doing what you wanted me to do?”

And God always takes me back to my Ebenezers.

An Ebenezer refers back to the Old Testament in I Samuel 7, when Samuel set up a stone as a marker where the Israelites defeated the Philistines to remind them where the Lord was their help in providing victory.

There are times in life where God does something so spectacular that you can always look back to that moment and know that you were on the right track. For instance, when I applied to Trevecca, Ken was interested in being an RD. I had pestered him for weeks about calling Trevecca about an RD position, and he finally did, the week of my interview. What they said stunned us, “Well, we only have one men’s RD position.” Our hearts sank. “But he resigned yesterday. Why don’t we interview you this week when your wife is here to interview?” He got the job, and I was accepted to the PA program. I can always look back to that moment and know exactly when it was that we knew we were supposed to go to Trevecca.

Last fall, we needed $17,000 for adoption fees and we had not even begun to fundraise. But God provided, miraculously.

When I prayed for years for God’s intervention in our family, He provided the answer through Ken.

Even now, the letters, emails, and cards I get from current and former students are my Ebenezers, reminding me that God has called me to Trevecca and that what I do makes a difference. I keep them posted on my dresser at home, on my desk at work, and in a bright yellow file labeled, “Rainy Day File.” I would have quit 4 years ago, had it not been for these visible Ebenezer in my life.

Time after time, there have been Ebenezers in my life, marking the times when God has shown that I was on the right path, reminding me of the times when He has sent help in time of need, and spurring me on toward the next Ebenezer.

When I cry, “Uncle!” God answers right back, “Ebenezer!”

Uncle. Ebenezer.

 

 Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood. 

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Searching AGAIN for the New Normal

The morning after our kids admitted they were much older than our agency had told us, we went to work on a new plan. In addition to already known, although minor, health problems, we now had a new set of problems on our hands. I think Ken said it best when he said, “I feel like someone kidnapped our kids, and put 2 others in their place.” Our son should be in 3rd grade, rather than Kindergarten, and our daughter should be in 1st grade, instead of the 3-4 year old classroom in a local preschool.

If you have a headache, are feeling nauseated, or are even mildly disinterested, please feel free to skip this post. If you are interested and feeling well, grab some Pepto and Tylenol for what’s to come.

Here are the people who are helping us decide on a new plan, as well as continue with the necessary parts of our current plan:

  1. Our family physician, Dr. Wallace
  2. Our international adoption physician, Dr. Rothman
  3. An ENT specialist, Dr. Fortune
  4. A developmental psychologist, Dr. Ashford
  5. An occupational therapist, who evaluated Addie as being 3 years old in her motor skills. This wasn’t really a problem when she was 4, but now that she is 6, it is.
  6. Several radiologists, who have caught a rare abnormality in Addie’s neck, as well as who are determining their bone age (Palmer’s has been done, and Addie has hers on Monday)
  7. A team of neurologists to consult about Addie’s neurologic state
  8. The public health department– because they come from a country where diseases that are rare in the U.S. are common
  9. Metro Nashville Public Schools, including the local school, the English Learners program, and soon-to-be a few others
  10. Addie’s preschool staff
  11. Ken and I. We both have advanced education in medical and developmental psychology, but want to make decision as a team.
  12. Our kids

Where do I begin? Well, first of all, we have to decide how old our kids are. Once we found out their birth certificates were falsified, we realized we should throw out their birth day and year. We now have to, as a team, decide what age our kids are. Aging of internationally adopted kids can indeed be difficult.

An important consideration is puberty. Studies have shown that internationally adopted kids go through puberty very early. Girls start as soon as 8 and boys as soon as 10. This means we have just 1-2 years before our kids are likely to start puberty. On our current schedule, that would put Addie in 1st grade and Palmer in 2nd grade when they start to develop. So it’s really not okay just to leave them where they are at on their birth certificates.

Another consideration is that our kids know their age when they were in the orphanage, and know that they were told to lie. If they didn’t know, we might have more options. In fact, the picture in which they said they were 6 and 8 was from last December. Whether they know that it was from a year ago, is questionable, but they could even be 7 and 9 at this point. They aren’t talking about that, but we’re aware it’s a possibility.

Another factor is that they are not speaking English. Addie essentially admitted to me what I have believed: that someone told her not to speak English. That someone is likely the person she shares a room with. It is very difficult to assess childrens’ developmental abilities without language comprehension, since much of intelligence is based on receptive and expressive language.

We have found out from other parents of children from the same orphanage, that Addie has always been “slow.” She has never talked, walked, or run as other children her age do. She was always very loud, even for the Congolese. So her developmental issues aren’t because of a cultural shift. It’s who she is. I find it ironic that other children knew she was “slow” but the adoption physician wasn’t astute enough to pick it up. Ahem. We are having her hearing tested to see if hearing loss explains her delays and speech problems.

Now that I know that her speech problems are not cultural, and her actual age is 6, we have to be more aggressive with getting her therapy to maximize and even realize her potential. Because she is 6 instead of 4, the Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) should be involved. She will qualify for services that would be very difficult for us to afford with our extremely-high-deductible health insurance. We will likely have to say farewell of our plans to send them both to private Christian school once their English comprehension was up-to-speed.

I called the school where Palmer is attending on Monday to explain the situation. Their first reaction was expected: “What in the world?” Their second reaction was that they believed that even though we don’t have their birth certificates changed, we needed to move Palmer to the third grade, according to the law, because we know about the age disparity. We wrestled with MNPS all week long, played phone tag, talked to lots of different people, but ultimately it was decided that we will need to advance Palmer more slowly, but the goal is to get him within one year of age level within the next year or so. This means skipping TWO grades in approximately 1 year. Remember, he’s not even speaking English yet. It’s a very tall task.

On the other hand, we want to go ahead and treat Addie like she is 6 right away so that she qualifies for services and get her in a more academic setting as soon as possible. Her current preschool has 15 minutes of academic work per day, and she is surrounded by one 4 year old, and seven 3 year olds. Behaviorally and academically, this isn’t good for her. Her preschool is trying to test her for Kindergarten readiness, but Addie hasn’t been very cooperative. She knows we’ve called her bluff and our expectations are changing. We’re not sure if she has a fundamental lack of intelligence, or has had a lack of being challenged.

Essentially, we are asking 2 different things for 2 children with the same problem. Fortunately, MNPS realizes what a pickle we are in, and has expressed both condolences and sympathy. They are taking a week to think about it. Because we have no proof at this point how old she really is because her birth certificate was falsified, we are at an impasse until the international adoption physician (and all of the above) helps us assign a new age and create new documentation.

Addie has an abnormality in her spine that was picked up on a chest x-ray. That, coupled with the fact that she is 3 years behind in her fine and gross motor skills, make me and the adoption physician wonder if it  is related to her developmental delay. It is an abnormality that is so rare that we all thought it was a typo, until I did some research and found that it is not all that abnormal in African children. No one here has heard of it, either, until they get out the journals. We are going to let the team of neurologists from Vanderbilt look at the original film, and decide if they want to sedate her for an MRI. What follows after that could vary. Just therapy? Surgery and therapy? We’ll see. It could be nothing, or it could be a big deal.

As you can see, deciding why Addie is so delayed is becoming as big of a dilemma as what to do about it. Palmer’s biggest challenge will be the fact that regulations say that he needs to be in an age appropriate classroom as soon as possible. We’re asking MNPS to do what is best for our children individually, and that’s a tall task for a huge school system.

Oh, and have I mentioned, we still have to file for readoption, refile our 2011 taxes, and apply for the Certificate of Citizenship? Oh, and have I mentioned that I have pneumonia right now?

International adoption is hard enough, but we are overwhelmed with the to-do list to make our situation manageable. We’re searching for the new normal.We march on. This is the race we have been called to run. Two to three doctors’ visits per week. We’ll be needing to add psychological and occupational therapy to that soon as well. It’s daunting. I’m running out of time on my part-time maternity leave. Soon, Ken and I will both be working full-time. Our families are thousands of miles away.  

We have to grieve after the kids go to bed, or while they are at school, because we in no way want them to think that we are disappointed in them.

Forgive us if we don’t want to talk about it in passing. It’s just too much for casual conversation, especially in front of our kids. If you want to take us to lunch or out for a cup of coffee, or call us on the phone when the kids aren’t around, we’ll talk. We love to hear the words of support, which have poured out since we broke the news on Tuesday, through e-mail, text messages, and cards. We need them.  We need a team of cheerleaders in our life, because our team is tired. Very tired.

We know that though this situation has been brought about by much evil and deception, God has intended it for good. I’m reminded of when Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.” Genesis 50:20, NIV.  We cling to that.

The Truth Comes Out

When Palmer and Addie Rose got home yesterday, they knew something was up. I sent them outside to play while Ken and I talked. We hadn’t had a chance to debrief the news we received only 48 hours before that our kids weren’t who we were told they were.

Yesterday morning, Palmer had spit oatmeal at me, refused to wear his jacket, and threw a temper tantrum all the way up to the point where he was climbing the school stairs, and he suddenly realized that it wasn’t cool to have a temper tantrum in front of 100 other kids. So he lost his backpack of toys and his jacket yesterday for the way he acted.

I’m sure they were conspiring about how to run away, so I decided to break it up.

I called in Addie Rose, and asked her to sit down with me and look at her picture book. I took her picture book that we had sent to her in Africa, and showed her the picture of her in the orphanage. I asked her how old she and her brother were in the picture. I wasn’t too hopeful I would get an answer, since they don’t speak much English, but she actually said that she was 6 years old and he was 8 years old in that picture. I made sure we were understanding each other. Yes.

I also got a good look in her mouth, and counted her teeth. She has her six year molars. Four year olds can’t have six year molars, especially when they come with a history of malnourishment.

My four-year-old is actually six.

We started working on alphabet flashcards, and she only knew about four. Her preschool teacher said that she knew all of her letters, numbers, and colors when she was at school, but she has been acting like she doesn’t know any of those when she gets home. So, like a good mom, I gave her a time out for not doing her best. Then I promised her a bubble bath with toys if she could get her letters correct.

She got a shower last night instead.

My time out for her to think about how hard she was trying was strategic. I went out to her brother in the backyard, and had my husband ask him, in French, the same question: “How old are you in this picture?”

His head hung in shame.

We both told him that we will still love him if he is older, but we wanted to know what soccer team to put him on in the spring.

He told us (in French) that he was 8 and his sister was 6 in the picture.

Same answer, different child.

Confirmation.

I hugged him for being honest with us, even though it was hard to tell the truth.

They have not told us who told them to lie, but it’s in there. It will come out. We also know that our agency knew their real ages, because it was common knowledge among the children in the orphanage. We were purposely deceived. And our kids have been burdened with perpetuating a lie, so that we wouldn’t send them back to Africa. That’s a heavy, heavy burden for children.

The good news is that we now know how old our kids are.

The bad news is that we are grieving. And we have to allow ourselves to do that. In 48 hours, we lost some good years. We lost 3 years with our son, and 2 years with our daughter. We went from an exceptionally bright child and an on-track child, to a child that is now capable but behind, and one that has very serious developmental delays that will need intense therapy. The fragile picture of our family, as dysfunctional and new as it was, has been shattered, and we now have to start over with new expectations, new rules, and a new plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why haven’t I met your kids yet?

Because you don’t work in Lamb’s Club or at their schools, babysat, or haven’t brought us a meal. 🙂

In all seriousness, you all still freak them out a bit. Palmer still cries. every. single. Sunday. after church. Even if he appears happy when he’s there, he is still getting freaked out by all of the attention. He knows how to survive for the moment — smile, participate, etc. but when he gets in the van or at home, he lets us know that church is HARD.

I’ve heard that in Kinshasa, there is a folk story that they tell children, “If you are naughty, the white people will come and steal you in the night and eat you.” Now whether our kids have been told this, I’m not sure, but if they have, can you imagine how they must feel walking through a crowd of 700 people staring and smiling at them?

“Do they like me, or do they think I look delicious?” may very well be their thoughts. They may even still be thinking this about Ken and I.

They are at church every Sunday, but we will not parade them around and do lots of introductions. There will be years for you to meet them and watch them, just like you would with any other child. They are 4 and 5 and didn’t ask to be mini-celebrities. They’d rather just blend in, which is already hard to do. Please try not to stare, be overly friendly, or treat them any differently than any other child in the church you don’t know.

Can I hug your kids?

Please don’t. We’ve actually tried to be flexible on this, but the adoption books all recommend that no one else should hug or kiss them for months as they transition into their new family. Our flexibility has backfired.

If you go to our church, parents, please talk to your children about this:

Every week, at least a 1/2 dozen people ask Palmer for hugs. Often, the same person asks Palmer for a hug a 1/2 dozen times. Palmer is not a hugger. That’s his right. Frankly, it takes a really special moment for him to even hug us, his parents. Remember back in Kinshasa? His birth family hugged Ken and I good-bye, but NOT Palmer. Please allow him some space to heal in this area. To Palmer, your kids are strangers.

Addie Rose has the opposite problem. She hugs everyone. She also calls every woman over 30 “mama.” She had 15 caregivers, called “mamas” in the orphanage, and every preschool teacher, Sunday School volunteer, babysitter, etc. is another “mama” to her. I am her mother. She needs to learn that — even though I’m not the most fun, or the prettiest, or give her as much candy as others. She needs to get her needs for affection from Ken and I, not from a dozen other people, and especially not relative strangers. She may even spontaneously want to hug you. Please remind her that you bet that her mommy or daddy would really love that very hug the  next time we see her. This is a vital lesson for a young girl to learn. Please help her to heal in this area.

Do your kids speak English yet?

Very little. But don’t be mistaken, they understand almost everything you say. They are just a little shy in speaking it. School is helping. Don’t be surprised if you ask our kids a question in English, and they respond in Lingala. We think that Addie Rose doesn’t realize that there is a difference between French/English/Lingala quite yet. If you speak French, you can speak to them in French, and they will likely respond to you in French. But we’re encouraging English in our home, and only using French for emergencies.

What do your kids like?

Curious George has been the biggest hit with both of our kids! They love to read all books, but especially Curious George. The Curious George cartoons on Netflix have been a huge hit too.

Palmer loves to learn to write letters. He is way ahead on his homework already (second week of school). I always have to MAKE him stop doing his homework (parent of the year) in order to eat dinner, get to church, etc. He always tells me lots about what he has done at school. I wish I knew what he was saying, but I can catch his enthusiasm!

They love toys that make noise, move, or wind up. It’s almost like they like the cheapest toys the best. They are learning how to do basic puzzles. Lincoln logs and Lego are a hit as well. Putting things together and taking them apart is very similar to what they are experiencing in real life, so that’s how they prefer to play.

Palmer loves soccer and is great at it. Addie’s motor skills are improving in this area. She’s going to be great with people.

Mostly, they play with each other. They are not used to having toys, so learning how to play with toys has been hard for them. We’ve had to push them a bit to practice fine and gross motor skills by playing. We don’t really know very much about what Addie likes to play with because she just likes to play with whatever Palmer is playing with!

Why were your kids brought to the orphanage?

That is their story to tell. When they are old enough, they may tell you, but Ken and I will not. No orphanage story is a happy one.  

Isn’t your life like a fairy tale come true?

We more liken it to a Biblical tale in which we’ve done something dangerous enough to get Satan’s attention. Make no mistake, there is still spiritual warfare going on for the hearts and minds of our kids. We are so thankful to have them home, to have the waiting over, to know them and their unique personalities and giftings. But they are grieving deeply and in their own ways. One responds to deep grief with laughter and dimpled smiles, and the other responds to deep grief with tears and tantrums. And as much as we want to help them, it’s difficult without a shared language. But every day is a smidge better than the day before. Every day, Ken and I earn a little more trust. Sometimes we laugh at how far we’ve come from when we first met them, and it’s only been two months. The best is yet to come.

A Fruit Slice of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down

Our kids began taking their medicine for their imaginary disease today. We knew it would be a battle injecting yucky metallic medicine in their mouths, when they have no understanding of what is going on or why they are taking it, especially since they are not sick. Ahem.

Ken and I thought long and hard about how to explain it. No, they don’t speak English.

We could just force them to take it and swallow. Not so good for trust-building.

We could try to mix it in with food and try to disguise it. No, what if they don’t eat the food? It’s not like we can get more medicine.

So we did what we feel all good parents would do in this situation: bribe them with candy.

Now, lest you think we are totally irresponsible parents, we actually have not given them ANY candy since we have been home. In some ways, their diet has been similar to infants — trying basic and familiar things first, and adding a few new foods per week. Of course we wanted to start with healthy foods, so we just haven’t gotten around to introducing candy. They don’t seem to really like sweets as much as they do vegetables, fruits, and meats anyway.

Ken and I agreed that this was an important enough occasion to break the candy fast.

I carefully drew up the medicine into the oral syringe, grabbed a candy fruit slice (because REAL fruit just won’t do in cases like this), and held both up to Palmer.

“Palmer, this is medicine. If you let me give it to you and swallow it, I will give you a piece of candy.”

His eyes brightened. He nodded. The deal was sealed with a smile.

Squirt. Swallow. Candy.

He ran out of the kitchen giggling, arms waving in the air.

Addie Rose started shouting from the breakfast table in Lingala, “Me! Me! Me!”

So I made her the same deal, and she accepted.

Squirt. Strange face. Swallow. Candy!

She giggled with delight.

Maybe this isn’t going to be so hard after all. This bribery thing really works.

After church today, we walked in the front door of the house with the smell of a crock-pot lunch wafting in the air. Our kids first words?

“Medicine! Candy! Medicine! Candy!”

Much aPoo About Nothing

We took our kids a couple of weeks ago to the Vanderbilt International Adoption Clinic, where we spent 5 hours having all manner of poking, proding, x-rays, and the ever beloved stool sample. Actually, only one child made a “donation” while we were there, so we were sent home with SEVEN containers to collect stool samples from our children. Four from one child, and three from Addie Rose, the “donor.”

One must think that of course this is because they were having abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, irregular stools, etc. No. Our children were completely asymptomatic. But JUST IN CASE they just weren’t telling us that they were having pain, the doctor thought it would be a wise idea to spend hundreds of dollars and multiple gag reflexes collecting and submitting stool samples.

I disagreed. I’m actually in health care myself, which makes me terribly noncompliant by my very nature. The kids were starting school, we had lots of appointments, vaccinations, school testing, and were carting the children to and from work and we were not about to carry around the “hats,” gloves, tongue depressors, and little bottles to submit stool samples from asymptomatic children.

So, two weeks after the “donor” submitted her sample in the doctor’s office, the doctor called me back with the results of the culture, ova and parasites, and giardia antigen. Basically, everything was normal. BUT there was something called blastocystis hominis in her stool, and SOMETIMES this causes abdominal pain. In most people, it is completely normal to have this in their stool, and in fact there are no treatment guidelines because even if people have it, as it tends to resolve on its own. But just in case she thought it might be significant for Addie Rose and Palmer because our children had done so much complaining about abdominal pain.

Oh wait, they hadn’t.

So the doctor wanted to treat both kids for it, with a medicine that basically treats any possible parasite that the stool sample wouldn’t catch, and wouldn’t require us to submit more stool samples.

No stool samples? No chasing our kids to the bathroom every time they have to do a doodle? But we have to treat an imaginary disease. Hmmmmmm. DEAL!

The only problem with the medicine is that it has to be compounded — it doesn’t come in premade form, so you have to get it from a special pharmacy that is willing to mix up the medicine from scratch. Fortunately, our local Walgreens is a compounding pharmacy, so our doctor said she would call in the prescription for both kids on Monday morning.

So, I waited 24 hours, knowing that it would take a little while longer to mix up, and went to the local Walgreens on Tuesday.

They said they had received the prescription for our son the day before, but not our daughter. Actually, her name and date of birth were in the system, but not a prescription.

“Why would you have her name and date of birth if you never got a prescription for her?” I asked.

“Well, I’m sure she’s been a patient here before,” they countered.

“She’s four and just arrived in America. And I’m her mother. She’s never been a patient here. You MUST have the prescription around here somewhere.”

There wasn’t a good answer.

The truth was, even for our son, the delivery truck had failed to offload the medication, so it wouldn’t be ready for our son until later that day. “What about our daughter?” I asked. Well, they didn’t have a prescription for her, so they offered to call the doctor and clarify that the prescription was for both children. After all, the only one that had been diagnosed with an imaginary disease that we were now treating so that I wouldn’t have to submit stool samples, was our daughter. He’s just being treated because he is related to her. Because this is how things work in the world of medicine.

Knowing that compounding a medication again takes time, I went back 48 hours later to pick up the medication for both children.

“Yes, the medicine for your son is ready,” said the pharmacy tech.

“What about my daughter, the one who actually had the (imaginary) disease?”

“No, I’m sorry, we don’t have a prescription on file for her.”

“You mean the prescription you were going to call about two days ago so that by the time I came back both would be ready?”

Blank stare.

The pharmacist came up from behind his pharmadesk and said that he would call immediately and confirm the prescription. Sure enough, he did, and the doctor confirmed that both children had the same prescription for the same imaginary disease. He said it would be ready in an hour.

Not wanting to wait around for an hour, I said that I would come back the following day, because, after all, imaginary diseases are not urgent.

On my way home, I got a call from Walgreens. “Um, remember how we said that we would have the prescription ready later today? Well, it turns out, we used up all of the medicine for your son. So you’re going to have to drive to another Walgreens in another town to pick up hers. But we can even tell you what town to drive to!”

“Oh, it’s no rush, I can pick it up tomorrow,” I insisted.

“Well, we’re afraid that we won’t be able to get the medicine in until next week.”

“You mean, you don’t have a courier service between different Walgreens stores if one runs out of a particular medicine, but another store has it?”

“Yes, in fact, we do.”

“Well, how about we go with that option, and you use your courier service, rather than me driving out-of-town.”

“I guess we can do it, but it won’t be ready until tomorrow.”

“Again, I’m in no hurry to treat an imaginary disease, but what I won’t do is treat one child one week and treat another child another week, nor will I drive out-of-town to buy a medicine from you.”

“Okay, we’ll have it ready tomorrow, here.”

Friday just before noon, I got a phone call from Walgreens telling me that my prescription was ready. Finally! I made my third trip to the same Walgreens.

“We have your prescription ready for your son!” they said cheerfully.

“What about my daughter?”

“We don’t have a prescription for your daughter.”

“This is my third time here. For the same medicine. Could you by any chance check?”

The tech consulted with the pharmacy manager and then returned. “Your daughter’s medicine will be on the courier service that will arrive this afternoon. Would you like to go ahead and buy your son’s medication?”

“Not a chance,” I replied. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“Oh, it won’t take that long,” she persisted.

“Yeah, okay,” I said, trying not to lay the sarcasm on too thick as I walked away.

Finally tonight, Saturday night, we went to Walgreens and both prescriptions were ready, a mere 5 days after they were called in. Of course, our insurance didn’t cover them because they don’t cover “alternative drugs” like, ahem, antibiotics, but after 5 days and 4 trips to Walgreens, I was just happy to never have to go back! That was a whole lot of poo over an imaginary disease!