Isaiah 43:5

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. Isaiah 43:5

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two Weeks Post Op. (Recovering at home... part 2 of 3)

As I sit here typing this update, I realized that exactly two weeks ago , I was typing from the surgical waiting room at Hershey Medical Center. 

Lucy’s recovery continues to be going extremely well.  She's making daily forward progress.  On Monday, April 21st , Lucy, John-Merle and I went to her physical therapy evaluation.  I wheeled Lucy into the building in the wheelchair and big brother kindly carried her little walker.  While waiting for the therapist, Lucy wanted to walk around and check out the toys.  Not wanting to squelch the desire to be mobile, I took her out of the chair and put her in front of the walker.  She was motoring along fabulously and that day was the last of the wheelchair (at least until next surgery), it was put away!

By Wednesday afternoon, she was bravely taking a few steps without her little walker!  This has built her confidence and today (Thursday) she’s not using her walker much at all.  I anticipate it too will be put away very soon.
I’ve only been giving her Motrin or Tylenol a few times each day.   All of her steri-strips have fallen off and her surgery site looks so good.  I’ve been putting vitamin E over it a few times daily.  (hoping this might minimize scarring?!  The incision is about 7 inches long.
The physical therapist told me she's going to be suggesting twice a week therapy to get her "back to baseline."  If she continues making the progress she's currently making each day, I think she'll be back at baseline within the next week!

Picture taken the night before surgery
And......after .....  :*(
On Easter Sunday it was beautiful outdoors and Merle and I took the boys and Lucy to a nearby rail trail.  We put the boys bikes in the back of the Suburban along with Lucy’ wheelchair.  Not long into our walk, Lucy repeatedly told us she wanted to ride bike too.  Without much thought, I replied “you have to walk first, then you can ride a bike.”  LESSON LEARNED.  Don’t tell this spunky little girl “this then this” because she will remind you over and over what you said.  Four year old's have a very different concept of time.  Having almost 100 stitches, the bike riding isn't gonna be happening as quickly as she'd like.  But, no doubt in the near future they'll be a little Asian pre-schooler flying around on a bike in our driveway.  

Lucy is scheduled for her post op. visit with Dr. Dias, her neuro surgeon on Monday, May 5th.  We expect him to be very pleased with his little patient's progress!

More random photos from our week!

A beautiful reminder of the REASON we celebrate Easter

Coloring Easter eggs for the very first time

Sadie was a pro!
Emily was "overseer" of the egg coloring operation!

Big and Little Sis!

Not in the mood!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Recovering at home (part 1 of 3)

Wow, our first days home with a little girl recovering from surgery have been a whirlwind!  The busyness hasn't been solely from caring for one four year old girl recovering from spinal cord surgery but instead from four children who are sick!  Apparently Lucy's big brothers were missing the extra special attention from Dad and Mom.  One brother began running a 103 degree fever another brother topped that with a thermometer reading of 104.4 degrees and the third was diagnosed with strep throat.  Second night home, I had four boys in sleeping bags on my living room floor (my dear 21 year old son voluntarily slept in the room with us) because I wanted to keep a close eye on rising body temperatures and make sure none climbed any higher then the 104 degree mark. So here I was back on a sofa in my street clothes - hmmm.....kinda reminiscent of the five nights we had just spent in the hospital!
Living room floor, a.k.a. "infirmary" 
So how's Lucy's recovery going now that you've been home a few days?
The first night home, our little girl slept 13 hours(only got up once because she was cold and Mommy gave her some pain meds.)!  Apparently, her little body was exhausted from all the interrupted sleep.
We continued to give her prescription pain medication the first full day home.  I decided on Thursday, (exactly one week post op) that I'd see if we could control pain with just using Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen- over the counter pain relievers.  Rotating between the two has been working well the day went on, her appetite began to come back some which makes life easier.
Lucy has had ups and downs with standing and walking.  But the past two days we've seen great improvement.  Her right side (side with deformed foot and knee contracture) continues to be quite a bit weaker then her left but we're seeing progress by the day. On Monday, April 21st we will attend our first out patient physical therapy session at a local pediatric rehabilitation facility.  From what I can tell her most pain comes from sitting on the potty.  Something about that position must really aggravate her back/incision.

Rockin' the walker!
Some other GREAT therapy has been being able to soak in some rays and get some a la natural vitamin D!! Oh blessed SUNSHINE!

Who says if you're in a wheelchair, you can't help with the chores?
Mommy took advantage of the sun filled days to disinfect the house and wash everyone's bedding and hang it out on the wash line!

Alas......spring has arrived!!
Other types of "therapy" may look like this......

"Reading" a card
Reading a book with your best friend!

Thanks friends for all the get well wishes!!!

This recovery process is tiring and at times painful but we're sure blessed to have the prayers, love and support of family and friends!!  THANK YOU!!  We covet your on-going prayers as Lucy girl continues to recover over the next weeks.

We continue to give our Heavenly Father all glory, honor and praise in carrying Lucy and our family through this journey!!  He hears our prayers and strengthens us!

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day Five post op- DISCHARGE DAY!!!

Goodbye ID wristbands
Last sleep for awhile in a hospital bed
We're excited to let  Lucy's friends and family know that we're at H-O-M-E!!!  Dr. Dias came in this morning and gave us the green light to be discharged. We met with physical therapy again and received more  ideas to use at home in helping Lucy build  lower limb strength and regain her walking ability, orders to receive out patient physical therapy and they also wrote out a prescription for a walker to use like the one they had her practicing with.
More practice with the walker

Standing much more upright then 24 hrs. ago!
While waiting for the discharge paperwork and the walker to arrive, Lucy freshened up with another bed bath and Merle made his last Starbuck run and also went to the hospital pharmacy to get Lucy's pain medication prescription filled.
I had concern about the pain level during the 40 minute car ride home in a car seat.  Merle positioned a travel pillow behind Lucy's back and strapped her in.  She seemed to be very comfortable AND.... because Mommy had given her Benadryl for the car ride home (she still suffers with car sickness on longer trips) she slept like a baby the majority of the ride home AND then slept in Daddy's lap for another two hours!  In fact the three of us took a much needed nap.

My dear, sweet Mother (along with my father has been holding the home front together and keeping 3 boys on schedule during our hospital stay  made us a most delicious meal of pork chops, cheesey potatoes and green bean casserole!
A nice nap, shower and home-made meal was such a wonderful "re-charger".  Our world felt right again with all eight of our children under the roof for a short time this evening!!  Lucy very much enjoyed having some time to play with her bestest friend, (and niece) Sadie Joy!

Two peanuts can fit on the little wheelchair together!

Playing together

Home with family!
While I'm sure the personnel at the hospital Starbuck's will be missing Merle's daily morning trek (did I mention they began writing his name on the cups the past few mornings without him telling them?!) - we're thrilled to be back on the outside again.
An iced vanilla chai for Mom and Bold Columbian Narino for Dad
Many, many thanks again for the many, many prayers, cards, care packages and love given to Lucy Kim.   We've felt so encouraged, loved and uplifted by you!!  
And to think.....................a year ago, "Little Miss So Sad" was still waiting for her family in an orphanage half way across the world!!
Praise God with us for His healing, peace, wisdom and protection this past week and continued prayers for the long journey of recovery ahead!
I will try my best to continue to keep you updated on Lucy's recovery as I can!
Selfies in the hospital
Blessings to each of you and again thanks for journeying with us!

Post-Op - Day FOUR

*click on any picture to enlarge
Lucy girl has been in FOUR different hospital rooms since leaving the recovery room on Thursday afternoon!  One room change came at 1:30 a.m. only to leave that room ten hours later to go to our fourth room.
Often I'm usually ok with change and sometimes embrace the new.  But I must admit, I was struggling to keep optimistic and upbeat because not only were we moving rooms constantly, but each room was a step back (meaning going from the big, happy cheerful rooms created the past few years all the way back to the 1970's style room that is part of the overflow portion of the hospital).
By nature I'm a bit of a whiner and complainer, and in fact am ashamed to say I fall into that negative attitude and spirit way too often - compound it with lack of sleep and I'm not pleasant to be around.  However, I've  been working on changing this negative and ungodly behavior/attitude but it's H.A.R.D. at times.  Still a work in progress.

This is me while"working at it!"
I don't think it was by coincidence that while waiting the many hours in the surgical waiting room last Thursday, Merle shared something that John Piper had recently written:

"Don’t murmur about delays and inefficiencies in the hospital, when you are getting medical care that surpasses by a hundredfold what is available in 90% of the world".
“Do all things without murmuring” (Philippians 2:15). Paul said that the effect of not murmuring would be that we shine as lights in the midst of a crooked world — including the needy world of medicine."
 - John Piper - Desiring God blog post (4/8/14)

I've thought often about those words of powerful truth the past few days and also reflected on the fact that my sweet little girl  IS getting medical care that surpasses even a mere fraction (if any) of what she may have gotten while in China.  So why should I be "murmuring"?
Lest you think I'm some kind of angel, I'll readily admit it took much more prayer, effort and time to get myself into a more cheerful countenance when I was sitting in a 2x4 room.
Off the pulpit and back to Lucy's medical update -
Dr. Dias - our wonderfully caring neurosurgeon

Someday she'll love this man for what he's done for her and her future!
When our wonderful neurosurgeon, Dr. Dias came for his daily check in - he was thinking that maybe we were ready to go home but after talking, reviewing the facts - he deemed it best we stay.

Dr. D. planned to again increase stool softener and laxative dosages in hopes of Lucy having a bowel movement and the major factor of her not being able to walk or bear weight needed to be addressed in a more straightforward manor.  He planned to give physical therapy a call and have them consult with us while still here in the hospital.

Atlas, about two hours after Dr. D. left, Lucy girl had the long awaited bowel movement!! Wohoo -- one of the two major hurdles jumped!  Big sigh of relief......

Mid afternoon the physical therapist and a student arrived at Lucy's bedside.  I was looking forward to this meeting because I really had no idea HOW we were going to get this little girl up and on her fee, t let alone walking.  They assessed where Lucy was at physically, her pain level tolerance etc. (all the while Lucy thought it was play time)  They had brought a little 22" walker with them.  With a lot of helpful tricks up their sleeve (and educating Merle and I about using some of these tricks when we get home) - they had Lucy girl taking a few steps with the aid of the little walker and their assistance.  It was very tough for me to watch (J.E.D. you were on my mind all the while!!!).  She did a lot of crying and really it was hard for us to discern what was pain and what was fear.  (some sweet "been there done that" de-tether Mom's told me that often fear is at the root, but also that it is quickly overcome with confidence).
The following pictures are posted with love and dedication to Robert DiBona.  I've thought of you A LOT Robert boy while here at the hospital and how brave and strong you were when you went through your tough surgeries not so long ago!  Do you remember using a walker this tiny??  (Love you Robert!)
Ummm....  think I can do this
Brave girl's first few steps with walker

Building strength in legs, practicing standing

Core and back muscle strengthening - sitting on side of bed
Having periodic company has been a blessing and god distraction for all of us.  Lucy's Aunt Rhonda Lucy  and Uncle Don had a great idea in bringing in some of Lucy's favorite Chinese take-out with her.  Lucy did agree to eat some of it with much less coaxing, whining and begging to eat a few bites.  

Aunt Rhonda and Lucy playing the Princess cupcake game together

No shirt and Chinese - doesn't get much better!  Thanks Aunt Rhon!

Who knew - blowing bubbles = good  respiratory therapy
So by day's end, I didn't have to doubt that staying here longer was the best for Lucy and Mommy and Daddy.
Sweet Dr. Ephraim Church putting new steri-stips on Lucy's incision

We're optimistic that tomorrow we'll be able to go H-O-M-E!!!