Monday, May 30, 2011

Radley (Dec 8 1998 - May 29 2011)

I don't blog, I don't really bookface but I got to get something off my mind before my heart explodes, so here goes...

Ole Rads, our 12 year old lab, passed away peacefully yesterday from bone cancer. Ironically or cruelly, I haven't decided yet, he had bone cancer in the exact spot where my daughter couldn't connect her bones together at birth. I missed the signs of his pain and I am sorry that when he needed me the most I was too busy to care for him before it was too late; that is my only regret from having Radley. He was uncontrollable at times, maddening a lot, but unforgettable to those that met him. His cup always runneth over and that is what I will miss the most.

Thanks for keeping my family safe and keeping the Nazi's at bay
Thanks for greeting me with a smile everyday
Thanks for leading me to my wife
Thanks for loving my son
Thanks for keeping my floors free from food, and sometimes countertops and tables too
Thanks for being a friend when I thought I had none
Thanks for keeping April's cold toes warm, a job I will reluctantly take on now
Thanks for leading when I could not
Thanks for teaching me to play everyday
Thanks for your last lesson, to stop and smell the roses, and pay attention to the ones you love

Rest in peace bud and we'll throw the ball around soon


Sunday, May 29, 2011

I can do all things...

I may look back on this time in my life and think, "whoa that was rough" or I may look back and think "that is the summer I finally grew up."

Please don't take this post as whining. Please, because I am not whining. I just feel like things are too much today. Our 12 1/2 year-old chocolate lab, Radley, hurt his back leg yesterday and is likely not going to recover. This is so heartbreaking. I have never had a family dog before and as Christian recently pointed out, I have spent a third of my life with Radley. He was one of my first conversations with Christian. I worked at Christian's office in Georgia for a few weeks the summer before I graduated from college. We were walking in from lunch one day with a big group of people and Christian had pictures of his dog. I asked the dog's name and Christian said Radley which started a conversation about our mutual favorite book of all time, "To Kill A Mockingbird." Who knows where I would be today if there were no Radley to get me talking to the love of my life.

I am trying not to be selfish and ask: why us? why now? how much more? Part of me is scared to think about it because truly in spite of this rough patch, we are so very blessed. And part of me already knows the answer: Why not me?

Last night Grace had a rough night. I probably only got three hours of total sleep. And Christian slept on the couch with Radley because he could make it up the stairs. It just seems like things are really hard right now. I know that we are not promised an easy time but I feel like I am being tested to my core. I actually feel at peace most of the time. I am holding my own through this and can feel God working to keep me strong. But then I have moments, like right now, where I just feel weary. I am just not sure I am strong enough to walk through this.

I know that time will pass. Grace will get better. We will mourn our dog. Life will feel normal again. But the walking through it, now that is the tough part.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grace Post Surgery

Well is has been an interesting week. Grace's surgery went very well. We were terrified going into it and Christian and I had a very long two hours while we waited for her procedure to end. The surgeon was able to position Grace's hips in a cast. She did have to cut Grace's muscle on her left leg in order to allow room for her joint to go into the socket. Now Grace will spend six weeks in a spica cast. After the six weeks she will have an additional surgery and cast change with six more weeks in a cast. The goal is for her bones to grow around that hip joint so that the joint no longer pops out of position. If this happens Grace will not need additional surgeries. We are praying her bones will grow and heal properly. We ask that you join us in this prayer.

The cast care is interesting. There is really just a small opening in which to handle the diapering busy. We have had a few blow outs and it has not been fun to clean up. This has not yet sent me over the edge but I did have a big fit yesterday after an especially nasty poop. I mean really the bathroom stuff is not fun.

Also, sleep is a challenge. So far her longest stretch since the surgery has been three hours. This makes for a tired momma and a tired Grace. Thankfully Christian is home with us for now to help with Jack and keep the household running.

Overall we are good. Thanks to friends and family we are being supported with meals, surprise cookies, cards, emails, texts, and lots of prayers. I have so much peace through this process which is not my normal nature so I know I am being prayed through this time.

Grace really is her normal, sweet and happy self. I knew the day after the surgery when she was smiling and laughing at me that she would be okay. Jack is a little confused but is hanging in there. Overall my family is doing well and we are very aware of our blessings. We do have such a great life and are not losing sight of that during this stressful and exhausting time. This too shall pass.

Thank you all for your love and support.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Details on Grace

I haven't blogged over the last week or so primarily because I have found myself in an insecure and dark place. While I have enjoyed my time with Christian, Jack and Grace, the pending surgery is always on my mind. Based on my experiences I know that when I am most insecure, I am also more likely to be snarky and mean. I didn't want to put that energy out into the world for others to read and absorb.

I am feeling stronger now and have come to accept that we are going to have to walk through this challenge with Grace's health. We cannot go around it or avoid it. I am her Mother and will be there every step of the way.

I feel so blessed to have a solid support of family and friends who have offered help with everything from watching Jack, to bringing food, to prayers and cards and words of support. I am so grateful and feel your love!

I wanted to share the details of Grace's procedure on Thursday and the path we are looking at over the next few months and possibly years. On Thursday morning Grace will go into surgery at The Children's Hospital. This first surgery is called a closed reduction. Grace will be placed under general anesthesia (thankfully because she is breastfed she will only have to go four hours without eating prior to surgery) and I will be able to stay with her until she is put under. I am nervous about my ability to be tough through that process but I want to be there for her. The surgery should only last 50 minutes.

The first step is to do an arthrogram. This is where dye is placed in each hip joint with a needle so that an X-ray will show what is going on inside and around the hip joint more clearly. The purpose is to determine if there is tissue in the joints. If so, they will wake Grace up and she will have a more serious surgery in a few months. This is not what we want. However, if the joints are clear of tissue they will use the dye to place the hip joints in the best possible position prior to casting. If they go this route she will also have an adductor tenotomy. An adductor tenotomy is where they cut each groin muscle to allow the hip socket to be more relaxed for better results while in the cast. Before she wakes up she will be placed in a spica cast. I am very nervous about her care while in the cast.

After being in the cast for six weeks, Grace will go back in for an additional surgery. She will be placed under anesthesia again and another arthrogram will be preformed to determine the progress of her healing. She will be placed in a new spica cast and will remain in the cast for an additional six weeks. After a total of 12 weeks Grace will be removed from the cast and will be placed in a brace for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

My prayer is that she will be casted this week and will not need more invasive surgeries. The surgeon did warn us that there is a 50% chance Grace will need the more invasive surgery in a few months. She also warned us that depending on how Grace's body heals and develops she may need additional surgeries throughout her childhood (hence the dark place I sometimes find myself in). Regardless Grace will have to return to the doctor regularly throughout her childhood to monitor her growth and development with the risk of her having to have surgery if the results are not good.

This is not a life threatening illness and for that I am abundantly grateful. However, it is a life altering condition. If we do not fix this now Grace will likely develop arthritis in her hips during her teen years and would likely need hip replacements early in life. Not repairing this would make it hard for her to ever carry a pregnancy or manage as an adult without chronic pain. It is important that we address and repair this condition now.

I have so much fear right now. Fear that she will have horrible side effects to the anesthesia. Fear that she will not get better and will have to live her life in pain. Fear about caring for her with a body cast. Fear of being too exhausted to function. I am full of worry even though I know worry is fruitless.

The one fear I have about myself is that I will fail my family through this process. I am so scared I will not be strong enough to handle this challenge. I don't want to disappoint the three people who love me the most.

There are two conversations with my mother that I keep remembering. The first happened a few years ago. We were talking about travel and my mother said to me, "You aren't scared of anything. You will travel anywhere in the world without worry." I interrupted her then with a laugh and told her that I am always terrified when I travel alone to strange cities and have to rent a car and find my hotel and meet with people. I have always been so intimidated to do new things and meet new people but apparently she didn't see this. And I see now that doing something in the face of fear does not make me weak. It makes me brave.

The second conversation happened on this Mother's Day. I was thanking her for taking care of us as children because I know she did not have an easy time and I told her she was so tough. My mom said to me, "April, you are so much tougher than I ever was." My mom believes in me. She thinks I can do and handle whatever is thrown my way. These things offer me encouragement. I think during this time I have to find my strength through the faith others have in me. Also a friend sent some good insight. She offered that God would not give us more than we can handle and he must trust that I am strong enough to handle this.

So here we go. Please pray for my sweet family. I do love my life so much. God did not pull me out of a tough upbringing and drag me through my tumultuous twenties to leave me broken in my thirties. This I must believe.

Thank you all for the encouragement.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Worst Case Scenario

This morning I woke up thinking the worst case scenario at today's doctor appointment with Grace would be 12 weeks in a body cast. Well, this afternoon our reality is that is now the best case scenario.

Sometime in the next week or so Grace will go into surgery. Depending on what the doctor sees she will either come out with a cast on (best case) or she will be woken up and we will wait 6 weeks or so until she grows a bit more and she will have a more serious surgery and then be placed in a cast for 12 weeks. Either way she will spend at least 3 months in a body case.

The good news is we have a week off with no braces. I can snuggle with Grace and bath her as often as I like. We are focusing on resting and enjoying our time together before this next hard part begins. I will add more details and thoughts later. For now, I am just trying to get my head up for some air.