December 31, 2008
This morning I came downstairs and found his travel mug full of yummy coffee. Score for me, but too bad for him. He usually doesn't notice that he left it until he reaches over to grab a sip and gets nothing but air. This morning was a little different. He was rushing to work yesterday and needed to make a pit stop. But he didn't have time. What's a guy to do? Duh, use the now empty travel mug, of course.
This, by the way, is not an activity condoned by me. Or my mom. Or any gal I know. We are far too proper to do any sort of disgusting thing like that.
So he does his business and LEAVES THE MUG IN THE CAR. I don't know if he usually brings me mugs that he's urinated in, but using a travel mug is news to me. I'm looking at the travel mugs in the cupboard in a new light after today. Thinking that we should buy some disposable ones...
This fateful morning, my warnings of, "You really shouldn't do that" finally come to fruition. He reached over to find his coffee and only after taking a big 'ol sip realizes that it's his urine from yesterday. Gag.
Chalk one up for the big momma who knows it all!
December 25, 2008
Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We hope that you read this after a wonderful day spent with family and friends. We have been blessed beyond belief in the past year. God has answered our prayers in ways we never would have imagined. It has been awe inspiring for me to remember what I was hoping for last year. Anticipating the arrival of two more children and wondering what our family would be like once we became seven. From the outside it would seem that our lives have unravelled in the past six months, but don't be fooled. What seems like turmoil is nothing when we have the understanding that God is working in our lives to make us stronger. Perhaps we can help others through our adversity. Please revisit our Christmas greeting from last year to get a better understanding of having real hope.
Here's the best we could do as far as a Christmas photo. This was an impromptu picture taken on our way to church. I think they did pretty well, considering there are five kids (one of them a squirmy toddler) and an impossible number of things that could happen to ruin a picture.
December 22, 2008
In the recovery room Sally was eating an orange Popsicle and said, "I like this blue Popsicle. It's so good."
My first thought: Oh my, did you say blue? Does this mean you wanted an orange cast? At least you can't move your head to see that your cast is what everyone else calls blue.
What she heard: "Yeah, that's a good lookin' Popsicle. That's what we call orange, honey."
Aside from the color issues, she's doing well. The sore on her back looked like it was healing nicely and should be completely gone by the time the cast comes off.
After all of the turmoil from last week, her doctor wants her in another cast for a few more weeks. She's just not strong enough to be in the brace, and the old cast is...disgusting. A few more weeks in a cast is a fine alternative to a serious injury caused by jumping into the brace too soon. That whole bed-sore-from-the-metal-objects-in-her-back thing is a worry also. Though Sally's doc assures us that she will be fine once the pressure has been relieved from her back. So here I sit, again, waiting to meet Sally in post-op. Thankful that this could possibly be our last time in this situation.
December 14, 2008
I lay in bed yesterday morning, wondering if I should really leave Josiah. I wasn’t out of bed and I was praying for some clarity when I finally got up. As I stumbled past the girls’ room, I smelled something…yucky. Nah, putrid...fetid, rotten…you get the idea. Something reeked and I feared that it was coming from the sweet girls’ room.
Sally’s gained a little weight, as a result her TB meds have been upped. Last night was her first dose, eight teaspoons of medication. I guess it made her sick. From both ends. The story gets even worse, she not only vomited and had diarrhea, but she didn’t wake up to call out for help. A domino effect could get started here on what her life was like before we got her that she managed to sleep in such disgusting filth for a few hours. Nevertheless, we’ve got a revolting story to tell so I will press on.
I was at a complete loss. I’ve seen and managed some nasty things, even blogged about a few buggers. This one took the cake. Sally woke up, climbed down from her bunk and excrement trickled out onto the floor. Not knowing whether her meds made her sick, or she had a stomach bug, I immediately sent everyone else upstairs and shut them into the boys’ bedroom. Then, I shut Sally into the bathroom and got a BIG black garbage bag. I wadded up her pillow, jammies, sheet saver (which did an amazing job of saving the sheets) and threw them away. I heard the garbage men outside and ran, in my jammies, to stop them with my vomit covered junk in the bag.
Then, I called the doctor’s office. In a frantic tone, trying to keep from totally freaking out I explained that Sally had puke down the neck of her cast, feces up the back of her cast. I wasn’t speaking with a familiar voice, but tried to relay my urgency without screaming into the phone. She, matter-of-factly (as if she deals with this all of the time) told me to get a warm washcloth and clean her up as best I could. Then, take that washcloth and using my hand try to clean inside the cast, as best I could. Then, lay Sally on the counter and wash her hair (which was crusted with vomit). I’m thinking laying a diarrhea laden child on the KITCHEN COUNTER is probably not a good idea. Especially when you have four more kids who may be susceptible to whatever caused the...bodily explosion. So I started with the de-pooping of Sally’s legs and cast, with a lame wet washcloth. I promptly threw every washcloth into a new trash bag. My next job was to remove feces from floors and the exterior of the cast. I’ll share a little secret here, I used bleach. Lots of it. I know, it’s bad for you, but did you miss out on what I was up against? Possible infection of 4 more children, then fleeing the scene to visit my sister in Colorado? Horrible. So I bleached the floor, the bunk stairs… and the cast. I tried to bleach the cast, but was sadly unsuccessful.
Then, I let the four maniacs out of their prison upstairs and put Sally onto the counter for the vomit removal. Much easier than the other end, I still proved myself a flop in the ‘Can you remove filth from inside a cast?’ motherhood test.
I slathered Sally in smelly lotion, coated her hair in smelly goo, and put tights on her. The smell was still there. Really strong. I called the office again and got a voice mail, but warned them that I would continue calling until I spoke with them.
I looked at the clock and two hours had passed since the charade began. I’m frantically doing laundry, trying to get everyone packed, and calling the doctor’s office again. Calling the cell phone of the doctor’s assistant, until, finally, she calls me back. In an oh-so-nonchalant manner, “Apryl, what’s going on?”
“It’s bad!! It’s very, very bad!! I’ve done all I could and I can’t even sit next to her on the sofa, I just tried to and I felt sick from the smell. I’m leaving tomorrow for Denver, can you help us?”
She said we needed to come in right away. Like ‘right away’ is in my power.
It was 2:00, I had JUST SHOWERED and no one had eaten lunch. We were setting records. I threw together sandwiches, dropped the Bigs off at art lessons and raced to the office. Then we had to sit, in the waiting area, smelling up the whole place with pukey poop smell. It was wretched. They took one look at Sally and got out the big saw (after donning gloves and spraying the room with Lysol). She screamed, Josiah screamed, and we gagged. It came off and revealed a dime embedded in her chest (interesting) and just a wee bit ‘o mess around her bottom (surprisingly did a better job than I thought). They x-rayed—good results, new bone has grown and the rib is grafted in. The tore the old cast apart to just the shell then re-padded it and covered it to hold us out a little longer. Upon getting a look at her back, I was dismayed. She still looks lumpy, but has healed well, the pressure from the rods against the cast has caused a bed sore-like wound at the site of one hook.
Right now, Sally’s in her cast. An ace bandage is holding it together. She has a hole cut in the back exposing her tender spot (though I’ve been assured this is perfectly safe) to allow it to heal.
The foul odor? You’ll have to ask my mother-in-law about it, since I masked it heavily before I left. I have a sneaking suspension that Sally’s cast is still suffering from the episode. Only a few weeks left with it, then just a brace. Time won’t pass quickly enough.
December 6, 2008
December 3, 2008
Jill showed this video to me at her house a few weeks ago. I can't help but feel convicted for going overboard during the holidays. Having kids helps ease the guilt because I use them as my excuse for going bonkers. We don't want to disappoint, do we? Certainly the children will be utterly destroyed if there aren't mounds of gifts under the tree. Today, Everett was giving Sally the lowdown on Christmas rituals around our house. He said, "Mommy and Daddy usually just give us like 3 presents, we get lots more from the grandparents." Oh, really? If he thinks we only give them three presents, why bother giving him more? So, this Christmas, why don't you join me in being radical?
November 30, 2008
I hate trying to play catch up and I'm still surrounded by chaos. So, I'll do the easy thing and just post some pictures. You just checked in here to see the cuties, anyway, right?
November 5, 2008
November 3, 2008
I got an email yesterday about the Rainbow Kids website. There's a lot on the site, but the most important, by far, is the listing of waiting children. If you are early in the process of adopting, or thinking about adoption, please go check out their list! There are many children in Ethiopia (sibling groups too!) listed as waiting for families. These kids are ready for adoption, but need a family who is ready with their dossier (or paperchasing) to get matched. Take a few minutes and visit the site! Pass it on to those you know who may be interested in adopting!
November 2, 2008
October 31, 2008
When I picked the guys up from art class, I was informed that a 'big kid' had made some nasty comments about Ella's hand. I then got some details on exactly what happened from Eli. He is the informant of the family, but confuses his details and Everett generally ends up talking over Eli with the truth. I was buckling everyone into the van when Eli said, "This big kid, he's like 10 or something, said Holy Cow to Ella's hand. Then he said it was a freaky hand and Ms. T had to get him in trouble."
Sigh. I could have filed away a perfect speech for this. In my free time I should start coming up with answers to questions that I
"WHAT IN THE WORLD? Well...hmmm, that wasn't very nice of him, was it?" Ella was welling up with tears looking at me during Eli's rehearsal of the dialogue.
"Okay, you know what I think...I think that kid is a...big dumb dumb. I mean it. I think...well, I think he's stupid. Yeah, he's stupid." Now, I'm holding Ella's chin and looking in her eyes (and I've forgotten what a tried and true 'good' mom would do). "You listen to me, when some nasty kid says something ugly like that to you, if I'm not around to remind you, you just think, 'My mom tells me you are stupid.' Say it with me. He's stupid. He's stupid. He's a stupid boy to say something so mean. Honestly, God made all of us different, just look around our van! It's sad that that boy isn't bright enough to see that God made each of us special and it's wonderful that he made you different than everyone else. He has a reason for each of us to be the way we are. So I'm telling you to think it to yourself, 'Well, my mom thinks you are stupid.' "
Yeah, the only thing is...I don't let my kids says things like stupid and dumb. I'm also thinking there might be some fist fights later on when my little girl VERBALLY passes on my "stupid" comment. Good thing she has three brothers.
Then in the van that night, Eli asked how babies got out of their mommy's bellies. Always trying to put off the inevitable, Seth told him that it was just a little too late at night to start that discussion. That prompted a line of questioning until Seth told him that women have an invisible zipper inside their stomachs that only babies can operate.
I'm thinking that this is probably not a good solution. I leaned over and said that maybe he should give them a better answer--like the truth. He gawked. Then Everett said, "No, really, how do they get out of there? Do they burst out, what happens?" We just realized (we are really slow) that Everett hears everything we say when we are in the van.
So I told them. I told them the absolute truth. Ella and Sally were stuck on udders and milk and cows so the conversation quickly turned to 'why don't horses have udders'. Thankfully. Since I was getting a little...ahem...flustered. They now have heard the truth. Not the whole truth. I will try to remember to tell them that they cannot share this new found knowledge with the general populace at church. I'll probably forget though, so if my kids hang out with your kids, you might just want to go ahead and have 'that discussion'. Not the whole discussion! Please, spare me those questions! I need another 10 years to think about what to say. Or I can hand it over to Seth, "There's this stork..."
October 25, 2008
The big boys
I took pictures of him DURING LUNCH. I thought I would post a few, but Seth laughed so hard when he saw them he told me to put them into a slide show complete with soundtrack. This video will reveal that my dear husband is indeed a HUGE nerd, because he came up with the "perfect" music all on his own. I'm proud to say that I've never actually seen a 2001 space odyssey anything.
October 24, 2008
There are going to be a flood of families traveling in the next month. Courts in Ethiopia closed from August to October. Once they re-opened, families could pass court and travel about two weeks later.
October 22, 2008
I'm about to show you the coolest thing--her old MRIs. I guess that sentence just gave me away as a huge nerd (you have to say that in robot voice to really savor it). It's too bad I didn't have these copies earlier, as maybe it would help you to see what was going on in her back. I should have tried to get a copy of the x-rays they did last night, being able to see the rods and rib in place would probably help too. I'm a visual learner (and a huge nerd).
Well, there's a cliff hanger if I ever left one. My scanner is off and I'm too lazy or tired or both to clear off the stack of children's artwork from the top to turn it on. I'll scan the copies in the morning. I will be well rested and chipper. Since that happens one day out of seven.
This one is from September, right before surgery. It's a closer view, shows the same as above, just more damage done. Again, the gray area is the infection, you can see it's eaten up her bones and is right up against her spinal cord.
It took a while for him to return to bed, but at some point I heard a toilet flush and knew all must be well. Intruders won't usually take the time to use the facilities while breaking in, right?
He was laughing. The thump, thump, thump was Ella hopping on one leg (remember, she's got a prosthesis that she doesn't sleep in) to the bathroom. He heard the toilet running and glanced into her room. She was wide awake staring at him. When he got up to her bed he asked if she was okay. She just stared. Can't imagine why, except...maybe...she still had food in her mouth?
He said, "Can you talk to me?" She shook her head in the negative.
My friend told me we should contact Guiness about this. I'm inclined to agree. I can see the title: World's most stubborn little girl manages to hold food in her mouth for a record breaking nine hours.
The morning went well, Ella woke up eager to eat. Unfortunately, during breakfast I noticed vomit all over the back of her jammies. Upon removing them, I noticed it in her hair. She politely informed me that she did throw up in her bed. Like its no big deal to puke and then lay in it. Dear me.
After two showers--TWO showers since the first one didn't remove all of the unconsumed pasta--life seems back to status quo until lunch.
October 20, 2008
What is this madness?
This is Ella four years after leaving a Ukrainian orphanage. Still dealing with 'food issues'. When we brought that cute two year old home we never expected to hear the doctor tell us that she was "failing to thrive" after three months with us. I expected more obvious behaviors--hoarding, rocking, night terrors, but got none of those. I suppose we should have been happy that our daughter wasn't struggling with other things. Instead, she was voluntarily starving herself to have control over some facet of her seemingly out of control life. We pleaded, coerced, and tried to force her to eat. We tried all kinds of foods to no avail. We couldn't tempt her with anything. I finally started feeding her half and half mixed with pediasure powder. She drank constantly and this was one way to give her some calories.
I don't remember when Ella started eating, but it happened. It's never been quite 'right' though. I always thought that at some point everything would just click for our daughter. One day, she would wake up and shake off the orphanage dust. Sadly, the survival skills that she learned as a toddler have stuck. As time passes, the behaviors don't rear their heads too often--nothing like those first few months at home. But every once in a while, subliminally, Ella reverts back. And watch out, because life is about to get pretty ugly.
Last week, Ella wouldn't eat her lunch. It was the usual fare, stuff she always eats. I put it away and told her she could have it for dinner. Then, I sent her to her room for a while. That seemed to be what she needed and she happily ate her dinner. A few days later the same thing happened. But, all was still well...until Sunday. She decided to pull out the big guns, by refusing lunch and dinner. Then this morning, she didn't eat breakfast. She didn't eat lunch. She finally ate dinner (it was passable to us--three bites of lasanga). Our policy is to just ignore her. We let her know that if she doesn't eat, she can miss out on the fun thing we will be doing after the meal. Very nonchantly and calm. Always calm, always cool, always scoring a point for the parents. Sometimes, Seth and I even meet for little sessions in the bathroom to figure out our next game plan. I'm serious.
Yeah, didn't work so well this time. Sunday, we figured out that we needed to turn up the heat a bit. I turned a MOVIE on after lunch yesterday and she still wouldn't eat. She lives for TV time. This was a serious anty upping on our part. She wouldn't budge. Seth popped popcorn. Still no dice. Fine, just sit on your bed and be hungry. It got a little more serious today when she started holding food in her mouth. She took one bite at breakfast and just refused to swallow. This may sound bizarre to you, but we've been seeing it around here for, oh, about four years. The I'll-take-a-bite-but-you-can't-make-me-swallow routine. She's obviously got some skills since she ate lasagna for dinner and managed to hold it in her mouth until bedtime. Seth thought that was a record breaker, but I can't wait to call him in the morning and let him know that she woke up with a mouthful of lasagna.
Why is she doing this? Great question, if you have the answer please contact me immediately. My first response is that she wants attention. She doesn't care what kind of attention she gets (we learned this early on), so even negative attention will do if she feels like she's missing out. My second guess is because we were gone at the hospital, life is out of control, yada, yada. That doesn't jive with her waiting two weeks before starting this nonsense. So, I'm thinking it's got to be attention. Which is why Seth and I have to pump ourselves up not to give her attention for this mess. And we chastise ourselves for not seeing sooner that maybe she was feeling left out. She gives us no warnings that she's about to burst. It would have been nice for her to pull me aside last week and say, "Mommy, I'm feeling a little weird about Sally being hurt. I want some special attention like she's getting."
Too bad I don't let her watch Dr. Phil or maybe that would have happened. Except I've never heard her string together that many words at one time. Sigh. Tomorrow is a new day. I have high aspirations for that bowl of cheerios.
October 17, 2008
A week has passed and I didn't even notice. Sally seems to be almost completely back to herself. She's still getting a dose of medication every six hours. She's pleading to ride her bike and go back to church. She still spends part of her day laying on the floor. She drags a quilt around the house and flops down on it when the mood strikes her. Since that won't fly in Sunday School, she's still staying at home on Sundays.
We have had a week of 'normal.' Normal for us may not seem normal for you. We had school at home every morning, went to art lessons, went to the park, and took many, many walks. The madness of our daily lives was delightfully...mundane. Blissful, even.
October 9, 2008
This is what Sally looked like when we got to her in the ICU. I took this and sent it home with my mom so she could let the kids see Sally. We weren't sure if they would be okay visiting her the next day, but they were. She said when Eli woke up on Friday the first thing he said was, "Did you bring a picture of Sally home last night?"
Our first glimpse of a smile. This was the "retake" after she saw her frowning face in another photo. She's without ventilator and various tubes by this point.
Feeling good enough to wear her handmade hospital gown. She got so many compliments on her assorted hospital garb and everyone LOVED her quilt (that's for you, Grandma).
In a moment of drug induced stupor Sally needed Dora to cuddle with her. That's a gigantic Dora balloon, by the way.
First meal in three days. Chicken broth, delightful.
I was a proud mama. All of the children were so brave. They are so little, but came to the hospital and absolutely tried their best to cheer their little sister up. They clamored for her attention and did silly things to make her smile. She adored their brief visits.
My three sisters came through with the one gift I tried to find for Sally before surgery--a Maisy doll. She came in the mail and was delivered by the three kids (who gave all credit to the Aunts). Sally was beside herself (well, as joyful as you can be while in pain and under the influence of drugs).
Seth took this picture because...it's funny. Really, when the nurse brought these diapers in we couldn't stop laughing. I think they are a men's large. Obviously, they didn't work very well. Every nurse that came in had heard about our "explosion". She's in her turtle shell, this is before her permanent casting.
Yesterday in the playroom. Her first time walking since surgery. I couldn't believe that we were even trying it! Thrilled beyond belief, she wanted me to call 'the guys' so they could come and meet her in the playroom.
In a moment of quiet last night before bed, I told Seth that I couldn't believe this week was over. The past month I've felt like this would be such a traumatic experience it would be 'The Event'. All other hardships would be compared to this and probably fall short. I honestly thought we would have weeks, if not longer, in the hospital. Followed by months of recovery at home.
Seth looked at me and said, "I thought she was going to die."
Sitting on the other side of that, realizing we are back to normalcy. I'm baffled. I'm thankful. I'm ready to cry at any moment. I'm praising God.
Thank you so much for encouraging us. Thank you for being the prayer warriors when I was falling short. For waking up at odd hours and talking to God about Sally when quite possibly that was the moment she was crying out in pain. I can't thank you enough!
October 8, 2008
Ortho doctor stopped by to check out his handiwork on Sally's cast. He compared her x-rays after casting to the x-rays immediately after surgery and said they are exactly the same. So, even after all of her rolling, moving, and attempts to dislodge the grafted rib, everything is perfectly in place. She's a little uncomfortable because of how tight her cast is, the belly hole is a little window compared to her last cast. If she complains too much we'll call the 'Cast Man' and he can cut it up some. As he was leaving, the doctor said, "She has done amazing. Usually these kids are in here for a few weeks."
Huh?! We expected about a week, if all went well. I guess usually kids don't do quite as well as her. The PICU nurses were calling her a superstar. She's an amazing, resilient little girl, BUT she has a Father in heaven who works in miraculous ways and we give him all credit and glory for her experience this week. I'm still in awe.
October 7, 2008
We aren't sure what will happen today after she is in this cast. As far as we know, she will be in ICU for today. We are hopeful that she will be admitted to the regular floor today with plans to leave Thursday.
UPDATE--Sally is in the cast (from chin to hip) and still on target to leave tomorrow or Thursday. I know I'm feeling good about her complete encasement in plaster, but she seems a little 'miffed' about it. No more slipping out of her protective shell at 2 am...
The doc found a fabulous product for her--gortex pantaloons. I snicker at the name, but am overjoyed that she won't soak the cast with urine...today. Next week--maybe, but today the gortex is there protecting it from stinkiness. She will be in a cast for three months, getting it changed out after six weeks.
Right now she's sitting up coloring for the first time since we got here. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to God for seeing her through this with such an amazing outcome.
October 6, 2008
"Mommy, Rara has earrings. I want earrings, too."
"Maybe when you have your birthday. Then you can be sure you really want them. Ella doesn't want them because it hurts at first."
"For my happy birthday I want them. I want a ring like yours, too." Riiiiight. I feel bad about all this mess, but I'm not about to buy you an engagement ring, dearie.
This morning we eagerly waited for the general surgeon to come in and check out the drainage from Sally's chest tube. When he came in, the PA with him said, "How do you say her name?" He looked over and said, "Haven't you ever read the Bible?" Seth laughed long and hard about that, since Salome (we messed with the spelling to aid pronunciation) is only in there twice.
The surgeon said that she hadn't had hardly anything drain during the night and we could proceed with removing it. Plans for that and casting were made until our ortho doc came in and said he was afraid to put her in a permanent cast since she may...ahem...foul it up. She had a *little* explosive action last night in the diaper she was wearing. It took three of us to get everything cleaned up. Needless to say, putting her into something permanent while she's struggling to get onto the potty is probably a bad idea. So we will wait until tomorrow.
While he was here, he decided to just get rid of the chest tube and central line (stack of IVs coming from her neck). Quite a bit of drama and hysterics involved in that little operation, but we are one step closer to leaving ICU. He said that we should leave the hospital on Wednesday!
October 5, 2008
She got rid of all tubing from her nose yesterday (joy, joy!). Today, she starts eating again. After last night, the doc has started her on codiene by mouth in addition to the IV meds. She took that (with much pleading and prodding) and then had a popsicle. Life is good. She's been waiting for popsicles since Thursday. We haven't heard nary a moan for at least 2 hours. Where was the peace last night?
Still waiting on the chest tube to come out tomorrow (if she keeps up with her great progess) then we can get out of ICU. Not that I'm terribly anxious to get out of here. We've scored the biggest room. We have extra beds so Seth and I can stay in the room all night. The big kids have come by daily to visit with Sally and it's uplifted her spirits to see them. She's trying really hard and so are they. The child life specialists have an activity room and library for the hospitalized kids and siblings. We take turns with one or two kids in ICU while someone else plays in the activity room. That has been a blessing. I probably wouldn't get to see the kids at all if we didn't have that room. They can only sit in a hospital room for so long before anxiety kicks in. Josiah, for obvious reasons, has only been in for a few minutes to see Sally. I took a picture of Sally yesterday with Ella, when she looked at it she made me take another so she could smile. It looks like a grimace, but I'll post it when I get a chance.
ICU doc just visited. She's "doing beautifully". I'm trying not to think about the 'what might have been' and just thank God for what is right now.
October 4, 2008
Today we hope that she can get rid of all tubes coming from her nose (it's good to have goals, especially in the hospital). If she can hold down her stomach juices, then they will take out the stomach tube. It looks like she'll lose a tube a day. Hoping to be out of ICU on Monday.
Here are some pictures from the visit yesterday...
Thank you for your prayers, visits, and emails! Sally has been 'pleased' to hear about everyone praying for her.
October 3, 2008
Personally, I was up all night. The nurses came in once an hour to fiddle with her. I jumped out of the chair and ran to Sally every time--that sleepless, middle of the night, stupor that makes you act wild. Seth slept in the room with us. I'll repeat that, he slept. At 5:30 I couldn't bear laying there any longer. I stood next to Sally's bed and lost it. I've held it in for so long. Once I let myself feel relieved about surgery and how well she's doing, I couldn't stop myself from weeping. I'm in a place I never imagined I'd be. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for God's care and just cried. I was crying, thanking God for all of you who were praying for our daughter yesterday. I was crying because she's been such a trooper and I'm terrified of what today holds for her. Then, Sally woke up. With clarity, she looked right at me.
I couldn't stop myself and couldn't talk. I was caught by her doing the one thing that I wasn't allowed to do with her watching--bawling my eyes out. Seth came over (chiding me) while I tried to compose myself (which didn't happen). Finally, I gave up on sucking in the tears and hoped she wouldn't notice. She was visibly upset and so I started telling her about the people who are praying for her, grandparents that are going to visit, and then I said, "Maybe the guys (that's what she calls the three big sibs) can come and see you today. Do you want them to come here?"
A glorious thing happened, she looked at me and gave me the 'Ethiopian nod'. I didn't think she was even listening to me. She's mad, confused, and hurting, but she's still sweet, strong, Sally.
Thank you for your prayers and wonderful comments (if you haven't left one for Sally go visit the "For Sally" post). You have all been a blessing to us; I'll continue to update as Sally makes progress.
2:30 Sally's been off the ventilator for several hours now. Then she was on O2 for a couple of hours but is off that now as well. She is breathing well, but is still quite uncomfortable. She's making tremendous progress; she's able to talk to us and let us know what she needs and how she's feeling. The rest of the kids and grandparents were able to come and visit with her for a couple of hours, take advantage of the local attractions (foos ball, air hockey, library...) and enjoy a delicious trip to the cafeteria.
We should be in ICU for a few days until her chest tube is removed. We (and the staff) are amazed at her progress--truly answered prayers. Thank God for her quick recovery this far. Please continue to pray for her as she is in pain and being weaned from the 'strong stuff' that has kept her sleeping until now.
October 2, 2008
8:45 Nurse called to say that surgery has begun. It took a while for anesthesia to put in various IVs and get her prepared.
9:30 Our favorite ortho nurse stopped by to let us know that Sally's rib is out and they now have access to her back. She said that she is doing well and they will let us know as progress is made with cleaning out the abscess.
11:20 Doctor just updated us. He's done with the first part of surgery! This is an answer to prayer!! He said the infection was contained and easy to clean out. Once they opened her up, her tissue was healthy and free of infection. They cleaned the infectious mass out and then removed the vertebrae that were affected. The rib that they removed was long enough for him to cut in half and use both pieces for support. He left one piece connected to the blood supply (it will grow) and anchored both pieces to the healthy vertebrae on top and bottom. Her nerve function is great, and the general surgeon is closing her up right now. He will begin the rod implants shortly and expects that to last for three hours.
12:45 The Doctor called the waiting area and said they have started the second half of the surgery (ie. rod implants). We thought we were already on our way with this, but it took a little longer to get her closed up. Now begins the last three hours of waiting.
3:15 Another update...the surgery is still underway and is still going well!
4:00 Rod implant surgery is over! They are closing her up. The doctor will be out with a report soon.
5:30 Doctor is here--Sally is on her way to ICU. She is doing absolutely wonderful!! Praise God, she's got FULL nerve function, and never even had any blips on the monitor. She lost only 400cc of blood and didn't need a transfusion (he said that is well below average blood loss during the surgery, we were expecting transfusions). The rods are placed, he added bone growth 'helper' to her vertebral column (the 'gutters' along the rods). Her ribs stayed perfectly in place during the flip to her back and we are waiting for x-rays to make sure everything is placed perfectly (chest tubes, etc). He didn't replace her cast, but put her into a splint-like shell to keep her stabilized, for fear that she may startle awake at some point and injure herself. The splint will allow her chest to be monitored more safely. On so many levels the surgery went perfectly--even better than perfect. God has answered our prayers today!
She still has a long road ahead. She will be ventilator for a few days, and still needs to wake up and wiggle her toes (hopefully sometime in the night otherwise they'll do it in the morning). Please THANK GOD for his care today and continue to pray for her as she recovers!
Thank you so much!
We've been crying in the waiting area as I'm reading your comments...
October 1, 2008
September 29, 2008
He gave me a rundown of the various tubes I should be expecting to see coming from Sally when she's in ICU. Then, he explained what would be coming or going from the said tubes. Then, he told me about lungs collapsing and pneumonia. Then, I asked how long we should expect Sally to be in ICU and he replied, "Oh, three to seven days." Like so nonchalant. I guess he didn't meet up with the planner in my mind that had us there about two days. Big difference in two and seven. Especially when you are talking about sleeping in a chair and watching your kid live with tubes coming out of her everywhere. I was giving him my 'deer in the headlights but faking like I'm okay with everything he just said' look. I think he knew I was freaked out. I'm not a very good faker.
I picked up the rest of the brood from my dear, absolutely should be sainted, friend. We went home and unloaded more groceries (I bought 10 loaves of bread today, I'm officially losing my mind). I laid the baby down for a nap. The biggies and I made chocolate chunk cookies.
Yeah, I'm thinking that's probably not numero uno on the list of things to do days before your daughter goes into surgery. I missed getting that list upon arrival at parenthood. So, I'm making up my own rules and they include chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. While our deliciousness was baking, I pulled out odds and ends of schoolwork to finish. This caused a barrage of complaining by the eldest child (who has determined that he needs to go directly to college since he's done with this nonsense). His murmurs blended well with the bickering of two more children and I had to send everyone to opposite corners of the house. A moment later, eldest somersaults from his appointed chair onto cast enclosed daughter and slams her to the floor...face first.
I'm at my breaking point, folks. I sent the offending boy outside and followed him. Then I explained that I couldn't take little tiffs. They could wait until life was normal again and bother each other. For now we must all get along and OBEY me. Then, I sent him in to do his work like a pleasant child and I...bawled...like...a...baby.
I just sat in the sun and had myself an absolute sob fest. Shoulders shaking, tears streaming down my face, and crying to God. I haven't cried since the day we found out about Sally's surgery. She watched me cry in the elevator and still asks me, "Why did you cry when we were at the doctor's office?" Obviously, that made a big impact.
I've held it it for too long and let *some* of it out today. In front of 4 pairs of eyes. I heard their whispers through the screen, "Everett, what did you do to Mommy?" A minute or so later one of them said, "Mommy, do you need something?" Then a chorus of, "Can we help you? Are you okay?"
God, why did you make them so rotten with this wonderful sweet streak? I hugged them all and we sat down and ate too many chocolate chunk cookies. Still only three days until surgery, but for a few minutes that's forgotten.
September 28, 2008
They did cut the cast off, but had to do it BEFORE she was knocked out. The anesthesiologist took one look at her and said he couldn't get her mouth to open wide enough to put her out. So they brought some 'happy juice' and the saw. It came off right there in pre-op. Sally was loopy, but managed to wail the entire time. He sanded the edges down so it won't cut her and then put it back on with bandages. My eyes actually started welling up with tears because of the strong odor. The inside of the cast is brown with dirt, funk, and skin. She had three flowers from a headband embedded in her back. She picks at the headband and I guess one day a few fell right down the back of the cast and got stuck. She also had some grass and unknown other items down there too. The nurse and I rubbed her down really well with a warm washcloth. Sally just kept repeating, "Ahhhh, more, more!"
That night she sat in the tub for a long time and I scrubbed and scrubbed. It was disgusting. She was ecstatic about taking a bath after so many weeks of just dipping her toes in.
Four more days until surgery...
September 26, 2008
That afternoon, I backed Moby into a mailbox at the piano teacher's house. At the grocery checkout afterwards, I had to leave my groceries on the belt and RUN with Sally to the bathroom because she has a terrible habit of waiting until urine is running down her legs before she mentions needing the facilities.
That was just Monday. Imagine four more days of incidents like that (though no more wild creatures have arrived inside the house). That would lead us to today. Sally has her pre-surgery MRI and CT. Afterwards, while she's still knocked out, her cast is going to be removed. I'm thinking that the guy who cuts it off may need a mask. It stinks so bad that Eli asked last night if worms would come out with it (yuck). Then Everett said, "Nah, not worms, but definitely lots of dirt. Tons of dirt."
Either way it's going to be nasty and they are planning on putting it back on her by wrapping a bandage around it. Personally, I think plans may change once they get a whiff. Like torching the thing the moment it comes off of her body. The doctor is nervous to let her be without it for the next week. So she'll get to take it off to bathe and sleep.
The scans today will give the doctors a last view of what they are dealing with. Hopefully, the abscess will be small and there will be no surprises. We will meet with him on Tuesday to hear his final plans for surgery. We are still praying that both surgeries (on her back and her front) can be completed Thursday. Prayerfully she'll need only a week to recover and then we will be home.
Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and recipes! You all have been a blessing to me and my family! I'll do my absolute best to update the blog as things happen next week. Please continue to lift Sally up in your prayers as surgery day approaches.
September 20, 2008
#1 I'm looking at one week, maybe two weeks, but possibly even a month or more in the hospital with Sally. I have my mother, my in laws, and my husband for help with our four non-hospitalized kids. That means they need meals. It could possibly be just 7 dinners (fending for breakfast and lunch is easy) but could be around a month of meals. Anyone have easy ideas for meals that I can freeze? Kid-friendly, but really easy for me to prep (remember, I've only got 11 days left) and just pop it in the oven and go? I'm willing to experiment with all kinds of crazy food, but I'm not about to leave my mom trying to convince Eli that he should eat the spinach stuffed shells.
#2 I haven't had a child in the hospital (excluding emergency room visits) so I don't know what to expect for a long term stay. Anyone have any advice on what to bring/do for Sally? How about advice on explaining surgery and hospitalization to a child who doesn't have a firm grasp of English? We've already read "Maisy goes to the hospital" about 1,568 times. Any other suggestions?
#3 What about the kids who have to stay at home? What kinds of things can I do now to prepare them? And (this is just merely because I'm curious) should I make them do school?
I'm making myself crazy. I feel like I'm getting ready to leave the country, but the hospital is only a scant 5 minutes away. I'll be coming home. Our kids will be coming to the hospital. My family can call if they can't find the casserole dishes. Though I'm planning on contributing to a landfill by supplying paper products for the time that others are responsible for maintaining sanity around here. Loving on the kids will be enough, I don't need to ask them to run the dishwasher...or cook...or wash clothes...or clean the bathrooms...
I appreciate all of you--your emails and comments have been so encouraging! I'm actually writing this post because so many of you were so helpful with the "stinky urine soaked cast" issue. I figured a bunch of genius' like you could help me a little more! Looking forward to hearing from you again!
Just to give you an idea of my mental state: I bought 15 jars of peanut butter today because they were on sale and (here's the kicker) "I don't want anyone to run out of peanut butter while I'm at the hospital." We do eat a lot of peanut butter, but I don't think we will be running out until 2015 much less in the next month.
September 15, 2008
We just left the dentist. I should have gone directly home and taken a nap. But, Everett needs a pair of slacks for church. I decide that stopping at the department store wouldn't be a bad idea. I must have lost my mind. Every time I get home from an "event" I always forget about the looks, questions, and conversations that take place while I'm out. We are a spectacle. Five kids walking around with one adult would get some stares. One Asian child, two African children, and two white children walking around with one adult gets quite a few stares. Add to it that one child is in a cast up to her neck (talking LOUDLY ALL THE TIME) and we get more than looks. It's almost as if the Muzak in the background screeches off while we walk by.
We get into the store and ride the escalator to the second floor. Now, I realize that escalators can be dangerous. I've heard the 'crocs stuck in the escalator' stories. But they are high fun for kids. Especially the kid that hasn't been on an escalator since the plane trip home from Ethiopia. We shop, I see the prices, we get ready to leave. Our trip up to the second floor was so easy that I don't consider how careful I need to be on the ride back down. We are all seasoned riders now, right? I don't realize that you can't see how high you are as you ride up. Looking from the second floor down a moving staircase is terrifying.
Ella got on and then I stepped on (with baby in sling) and Sally ripped her hand out of mine and froze. I'm going down...down...down. Three of my kids are standing at the top. For a split second I consider running up the down...but I'm not Lara Croft. So I start yelling (this is more my modus operandi), "Everett stay with them! You guys just stay there! I'll be right back! But, GRACIOUS STEP AWAY FROM THE ESCALATOR BEFORE YOU FALL!!"
I slowly turn around as they step away and meet the stares of the entire cosmetics department. All conversation has ceased. All eyes are on me. Ho hum, nothing to see here folks. I'll just be running over to the other escalator. For fun.
I almost told Ella to stand by the earrings and wait (she was slowing me down) until I got my wits about me. Telling this child to stay put would be idiotic. Once, I gave a spiel about taking candy from strangers, helping to search for lost puppies, etc. After my 30 minute talk about stranger danger, I asked her what we say to strangers who offer us candy. Her reply, "Thank you!" Yep, can't leave her alone. Ever.
Ella and I get back onto the escalator and as I'm pulling her around the corner I hear this thumping noise. It's my other three kids who have overcome their fear of escalators and found out that playing with the rubber black handrail can be quite entertaining. Just as I'm almost to them, two concerned clerks approach them. And why wouldn't they? Three kids alone playing on the escalator? Sounds negligent to me. Dangerous even. I think I hear children's services being called as I grab two sets of hands and pull them onto the escalators. We safely make it down and I try to hold my head high as we make our exit. Sans new slacks and sanity.
September 8, 2008
We were joined by Aunt Gayle and Uncle Dale. I'm certain that they were completely and utterly overwhelmed by our
obnoxious exuberant brood. (It doesn't matter how you slice it; five kids equals madness when compared to a household of two). We managed to put on quite a showstopper of an afternoon. Entertainment included high diving by Ella and Eli, pouting from a master-in-training (Salomae), and amazing eating feats by Josiah. Sadly, this could only be found exciting to those closely related to our prodigies. I saved the day by providing corn-on-the-cob. Who knew that Auntie Gayle was such a fan? It only took about 3 hours to grill on our slower than molasses contraption called a gas grill that your husband refuses to fix so you can just dump charcoal in it and grill that way. For years. And wonder why you even bother to grill at all.
Eli working his wonders as he flops (on his knees) into the pool from a standing position on the slide.
That said, Aunt Gayle must have been charmed because as she was
screaming out of the driveway leaving; she gave me a gift for the kids. I promised her that I'd let her know what I decided to do with her 'little gift'. Drum roll please...
We threw the kids a party.
Once I thought about it, I figured they didn't need more toys (though they would have been happy with that). It's back to school time. I was feeling a little sad for my kids as they watch their friends getting ready for a new school year. So I told the kids we'd have a party for them and some of their home schooled friends. Auntie Gayle made it happen. Complete with water balloons, grilled hot dogs (why did I bother, the microwave would have been fine), sand, bubbles...and chocolate. They had a blast. I think Aunt Gayle might have enjoyed it--just picture Popop's birthday but add another 20 children (and water balloons). You get the idea.
September 4, 2008
The hat is courtesy of Rara and Popop's cross country trip. Seems to scream Vegas to us, but we are unsure of it's origin. One thing is certain, it's a new birthday tradition. For the kids, that is.
August 28, 2008
I actually had more pictures posted here, but got frustrated with how they were organized. It may seem a little cluttered or disorganized as a result.
These two are from the rodeo. If you don't "get" what Eli is doing, then read this post from last year and get ready to pee in your pants. If you overlook Peta violations and child safety issues, watching kids bullet out of a corral on a sheep is hilarious. Everett, unfortunately, was too old to participate this year. He was part of the peanut 'somethingorother' where you dig up peanuts for cash. He and about 20 other youngsters raced around in the sawdust and poo digging for bags of peanuts. At the end of the allotted time they were paid a dollar for each bag they found. Delightful, until you, and an entire stadium of onlookers, watch as your eldest and another boy struggle over the last bag. They played tug of war until the sack ripped in half and peanuts spewed everywhere. It did my heart right to see Everett reach into his pail and give that boy one of his bags. I congratulated him on his generosity when he sat down with us. His reply? "Oh, that was his bag, I took it when he dropped it but decided to give it back to him." Oh, okay.
Here's a 'Before' shot of the clan as we decided to take an afternoon stroll. My Dad and Grandma sat this one out (because they are so smart). One minute we are walking across a meadow in the Ozarks and the next minute we are in the jungles of Vietnam (complete with hacking ourselves a path through 6 foot tall bamboo). Thankfully, we had cell phones and called my Dad in for a rescue.
This is Sally meeting her first fish. It didn't go over so well. Later, she was reclining in my Mom's lap when Ella yanked a fish out of the water so fast that it flew behind her and nearly took Sally's face off. She mentioned that incident just a few days ago. Scarred her for life.
This is my Great, Grandma meeting our new babies for the first time.