October 31, 2008


Twice today I had parental fumbles. Fumbling is not unusual, but it steams me when it could have been prevented. The kids are old enough to catch me bumbling with "Errrr, uhhhh, umm" and then they have the audacity to laugh. Laughing at wise mommy...the nerve!

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 can't shouldn't respond to on the fly. The following is the perfect example of what happens when I try to think while buckling...

"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

This post is just to let you all know that our house isn't all emotional chaos and medical novelties.

The big boys taught encouraged the littlest boy to take on a new challenge. You can only imagine what it may be. I'll just say that they told me my mom tried her hardest to keep Josiah from exhibiting his skills at the table. She was unsuccessful in deterring him. Why would he quit doing something that brings gales of laughter from his biggest fans?

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


This week families from our agency left to pick up their kids. Some of these kids we met while in Ethiopia. It's so exciting to watch them 'come home'. Here are the sites: Redferns, Schmidts, Lusse, and VanWettens.

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

Sally's Update

We had Sally's first visit with her doctor last night. We brought all of the kiddos because the local paper wants to do an article on Sally's surgery, our family, etc--since we are so interesting (read-crazy). I'm more than happy to talk about how the Lord has blessed us and provided for our family, especially Sally's miraculous surgery and recovery. We met the journalist and had a wonderful conversation with her before seeing Sally's x-rays. She got rave reviews from her doctor. Everything is still in place and looks fantastic. The second best bit of news was that we won't need to see him again until she's re-casted. Not that we don't like her doctor, but hauling five children to the office is cumbersome.

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.
Okay, I'm a little late, but here are the scans:
The first is my fav, you can see basically her brain to her bottom. It's from June. The light gray area in front of her bump is the infection. You can see the deteriorated bones between the abcess and her spinal cord.

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.

The Saga Continues

At 3:30 in the morning Seth and I woke up. Errr, we were already awake because Josiah had been fussing for a long time. He was finally quiet and perhaps (though at the time I dared not think it) even asleep when we heard thumping coming from downstairs. Thumping never exudes comfort, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Seth, in his courageous state, went to investigate. I tried to keep my eyes open in the off chance that he needed some aid in throwing out whomever was thumping their way into our house.

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's a Mom to do?

I just put my daughter to bed. Her cheeks were filled with lasagna. And her epilepsy medication. It gets even better. She had eaten that lasagna almost 2 hours ago. I think I smelled vomit, but it was just her and the lasagna...digesting in her mouth. I couldn't bear to kiss her cheek so I did something I would never picture myself doing. I blew her a kiss and waved goodnight...from a pretty good distance.

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

Josiah's One!

Today our baby turned one. Everett spent most of the day telling him he's too old for...whining, crying, crawling, bottles, etc. With all of the surgery drama I had set myself up for being in the hospital today. I decided that we wouldn't *tell* Josiah that his first birthday was celebrated a week or more later. He had the best gift we could hope for--our family all present as he celebrated his first year. It was nothing fabulous by traditional standards--we will do the hyped up celebration later with extended family. Here's a clip of Josiah on his first birthday...just started walking in the past few days, thinking he's the only reason anyone ever laughs, and generally the most spoiled kid around. We adore this baby...is he still a baby?

Disclaimer: If you are in a public place you may want to do a little volume control. By most standards our house is LOUD. We sing in this clip. I mean, we scream in this clip. Josiah joins in and it gets obnoxious. Also, I had more control over the candle than the video portrays (that's for our social worker, just in case she's watching).

Pictures from the week

I took pictures all week long. Some for Sally, some for our kids at home (I didn't want them to come into ICU and freak out). You've READ about the past week, but pictures are always a nice balance. I'll put them in here chronologically...
Happy and clueless before surgery. She's pretty pumped about the 'fancy duds' we are wearing. The hospital's program allows one parent back in the OR but you've got to be dressed appropriately.

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.

We are home!

Yesterday, Sally walked down the hallway to the play room. That was our last step to get sent home. Her doctor couldn't believe that he was letting us leave, but we got home yesterday afternoon. The past week has been a blur, but an amazing experience in seeing God answer the prayers of so many people.

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

Day 6: Out of ICU! Home soon?

We moved late last night from ICU into a regular room. This was a nice step in the right direction. The criteria for her release today was for her to walk and continue to eat and drink; she's done all three so far today. She walked around in the play room and played and painted for a while, then she walked all the way back to the room (a couple hundred yards). So, it looks like we're on target to leave sometime today!

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

ICU Day 5

We had a good night last night. Sally is stuck in ICU until we can get her pain under control. Last night was the first time that she wasn't crying every hour or two. This morning, we were told that she was having her casting early. It worked out well because she had just had a dose of Tylenol and was "chipper" as we rolled her downstairs to the cast room.

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

ICU- day 4

Last night was beautiful. The upped meds yesterday (and Tylenol by mouth) made an amazing difference in Sally's disposition. Seth went home yesterday to take care of the kids. Sally drifted off most of the day, but when she was awake she was pleasant. We actually had a full conversation for the first time in days:
"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

ICU day 3

Can it be? Today we are halfway through our hospital stay. We hope. Last night was the worst yet. Sally's developed a tolerance for her pain medications and wasn't on oral medications yet (which last longer). She spent a good part of the night moaning, crying, and chanting something in a language I couldn't understand. I told the nurse she was singing an Ethiopian mourning song and he thought I was serious. Nevertheless, she was upset, we were upset and there wasn't a thing we could do. She wanted to move, move, move and finally moved herself out of her splint to the point of screaming with discomfort. Neither the nurse nor I (in my cognizant state) could understand right away what she was so upset about. Once we saw what had happened I almost lost it. I keep picturing these precariously positioned ribs getting jarred by a false move. We managed to safely manuever her into the splint and she fell asleep.

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

ICU-day 2

Sally had a rough night. She's (medically) doing phenomenal, but she's started to get very uncomfortable. She's lucid long enough to start welling up with tears. If she gets to that point the nurse gives her a boost of sedative to calm her down. She's got a continuous drip of pain relief, but sometimes it isn't enough. Last night, Seth took the early shift (until 4 am) while I slept then we switched. Sally slept most of the night, but woke up at least once an hour to ask us to move her. She has this idea that if she can just wiggle off to one side of the bed then she will find relief. So one of us has to be awake to answer her and then grab a nurse to help us roll her to one side.

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

Intensive Care-day 1

7:30 am Last night, the doctor pulled Sally off of the paralyzing drugs that she's on and she moved her feet on command! She's doing amazing, breathing with the ventilator and moving her hands and feet. She should be weaned off the ventilator today. Right now she's waking up more often. She's unhappy for obvious reasons. Her hands are tied down and she has tubes everywhere. Her worst enemy is the respiratory therapist who came every hour during the night to suck mucous out of her lungs. Sally would startle awake and thrash her hands during the procedure (that lasts just a few seconds). She is trying to talk to us, but can't. I can't imagine her anger with this since she's the nonstop chatterbox of our house (if you know the other kids this should mean a lot to you). Once the breathing tube comes out she should at least be able to express her anger verbally.

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

Surgery Day

7:30 Sally and Apryl go back to the operating room. Sally gets freaked out in the OR because of all the commotion. She calms down a little and soon passes out.

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!

For Sally

I know that we are covered in prayer. I am blessed beyond understanding by the sheer volume of people praying for Salomae. Many of you will be checking on her today by reading our blog. When Sally is a little older, I would like to be able to tell her about all of you who have been prayer warriors for her. When you stop by today, would you do me the favor of leaving Sally a comment? I've made it simple, so all of you lurkers can come out of hiding--no blogger id needed, just click on 'comment' and follow the directions.

Thank you so much!

We've been crying in the waiting area as I'm reading your comments...

October 1, 2008

Our Last Appointment

Josiah wakes up really early most mornings. Today was no exception. He and I cuddled in the dark living room on the sofa as he finished his bottle. His eyes closed and we both started to drift off. I was trying to forget about laundry, lesson plans, and posting about surgery. Just enjoying the few moments I could with a baby that is usually too busy to cuddle. I settled in and thought he was asleep when he ripped the bottle out of his mouth and burped in my face. Such is motherhood, I suppose.

Instead of cuddling, here I sit trying to remember everything that we talked about last night. The important stuff? Since the doctor hasn't done this exact, specific surgery before, he doesn't know how long it will take. **side note--that sounds horrible, he hasn't cleaned TB off of a kid's spine, but he's done a strut graft and fusion before, so don't freak out** The complicated part is cleaning out the infected bone and abscess. The general surgeon is going to do that (he's got experience cleaning TB out of organs). After that, he'll take a rib and anchor it into healthy vertebrae on the top and bottom. Then he will flip her over and put anchors and rods along the weak area of her back. He said it could take from 2 to 10 hours to get the first part done. He feels very confident about the surgery and about the final results.

I can't possibly recall what we talked about for an hour, but I left feeling much better than when I arrived. I was at the 'vomiting point' on our way up. Obviously, it doesn't take much to feel better than that.

Here's the last picture of Sally's 'bump' before surgery...