Babygirl's parent-teacher conference was yesterday. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. After all, she's missed as much school as she's attended this quarter. I was particularly concerned about her music class. Arts classes (music and art) are only one quarter long. The rest of the year is divided between Technology (known as "shop" when I was in school) and Home and Careers (known as "home ec" in the dinosaur days, and aka "Homos and Queers" to the extremely un-PC kids of our middle school).
Things are going extraordinarily well. It seems that having a new kidney makes you smarter. She is keeping up with her homework and nagging her classmates to do the same. She is more social. Less distractable. Her test scores are up. Her math and reading skills have taken a decided turn for the better. Her overall average will likely put her up for Honor Roll for the first time in her life.
Her teachers generally exempted her from missed work while she was gone - especially music. But her current test scores reflect the entire quarter's learning, including what she missed.
The only test she did poorly on was one where the class had a BIG review the day before the test. We were in Philly on review day.
I'm so incredibly proud of her. She works hard, and deserves every good grade she gets. But before the transplant she worked every bit as hard, and was barely getting by. I think, perhaps, that she WASN'T the "healthiest sick kid you'll ever meet." I am certain that we underestimated exactly how sick she was.
This thing snuck up on us. Her kidneys took years to die, and we were totally unaware that it was happening. Her school struggles were simply part of who she was. And when the dialysis doctors told us that dialysis would make her do better in school, we were (rightly) skeptical about it. Dialysis is NOT a cure for kidney disease. Their goal was to change the metabolic chaos of total kidney failure to the appearance of manageable insanity. And while it was clear that she did feel better, the sleeplessness and ongoing anemia were adding to the fatigue and lack of concentration.
Because the kidney failure was gradual, and because she had such a huge history of things that could slow her down (starvation in infancy, leg fracture at 9 months, functional blindness diagnosed at age 6) we had no reason to think that there might be MORE.
I suppose I could feel guilty about this. I don't, really. I still feel bad that we didn't notice that the poor kid couldn't SEE, but this was far more insidious. I'd like to be able to give a list of things that might have tipped us off, so I could share it with other parents and maybe help them find this sooner. But I can't really think of ANY except the fact that she complained of feeling cold.