Saturday, June 24, 2017

Random April

Adam sweats like no one else!

When Adam and I got our king bed a few years ago, we thought, "This will be so great!  Not only will there be enough room for the two of us, but we will also have enough room when the kids come to snuggle!"  Well, that was a big fat joke.  Harper has been waking up in the middle of the night recently and I end up pulling her into bed with me.  Inevitably, I always end up on the very edge of the bed with no room to roll over!

T-ball season started again.  There were a couple of familiar faces from last season, too!  (Unfortunately, due to Henry's surgery and inconsistent coaching, this team kind of fell apart and Henry didn't get to participate in much more than a couple of practices.)

Claire stayed home from school for a couple of days due to a tummy bug, and Harper took it upon herself to be her sister's comforter. 

Harper liked to help me with the yard work.  In this case, that meant digging up a bit of dirt and throwing it back over her shoulder.

My friend, Jennie, invited me on a downtown excursion with her sister.  We hit up Powell's, had lunch at the food carts, and had ice cream at Ruby Jewell.  I had a salted honey and almond flavor.  It tasted like an ice cream version of Bit-o-Honey candy.  Yum!

Watching this boy walk and trot around a mere week after back surgery is amazing to me.  

And while there is no picture to go along with it, the biggest news is that Adam accepted a new job, so we will be moving to Idaho Falls!  We are excited to move closer to family and for Adam to begin his new job at the end of May!

Henry's Surgery

Henry has been a toe walker long as we can remember.  We'd gone through some physical therapy last summer in hopes of helping him, and while it stretched out his tight feet and legs, it didn't solve the problem.  When the PT ended, the therapist advised that we have some occupational therapy and even a sensory evaluation to determine the next steps in helping Henry get off his toes.  I let it slide for quite a while.  

Adam wrote down some of his thoughts about what happened next so I will add that here:
"My dad is a lot of great things, but one of the things I often forget is that he is really quite a gifted physical therapist. I've watched him over the years passively observing my son, Henry. He'd always seemed more concerned about his gait and posture than I did. During our visit there last Christmas, my dad played a little balance game with all the cousins, but his only interest was likely Henry. At the end of the night, my Dad had a conversation with me that must have been a very tough for him to have. He made it very clear. There is something wrong with Henry, and I should see a neurologist to rule out the really terrible things (e.g. muscular dystrophy) and narrow in on what the issue is. I really can't remember being so scared. There was something wrong with my boy.

"We went to Henry's scheduled checkup with the pediatrician a few days later and asked for all the tests, and expressed our concerns. The tests thankfully came back negative. I've never been so relieved. The doctor referred us to a pediatric physiatrist for evaluation. The day before this meeting Claudia was at book club and mentioned Henry's toe-walking and coming appointment, and one of Claudia's friends, a speech therapist, recommended we ask about tethered cord. The physiatrist went through his algorithm and my wife mentioned tethered cord. The physiatrist had what looked like, to me, a kind of a "Eureka" look and scheduled an MRI.
"Last week, we met with a pediatric neurosurgeon and it was clear: Henry has tethered cord. (His symptoms included leg pain, muscle weakness, inflexibility, and bladder/bowel issues.) We saw the MRI. We saw the spinal cord being pulled lower than it should be. We saw the filum, which I guess isn't supposed to visible because of how thin it is except when tethered. We saw the small opening in a vertebra because it is technically spina bifida. And then the surgeon who effectively developed the surgery to correct this problem told me the relatively simple solution. Henry goes in tomorrow for back surgery. But I feel grateful that my dad knew something was seriously wrong and that he told me. I'm grateful Claudia was in that book club. I'm grateful she knew that friend that had seen other kids with Henry's symptoms. I'm grateful that the surgeon who will be performing Henry's surgery has been doing it for 20 years. My son is brave. He has been telling everyone about his surgery tomorrow."

Adam took Henry to the children's hospital first thing in the morning.  Henry had a last-minute bout of fear and he terrified of going to the hospital.  Henry was given something to help him calm down, and Adam and Henry called it a "bravery potion."  Adam said it made Henry pretty silly, but at least it calmed his nerves.

He got a litte dino to keep him company while he waited.  He named it "Rex."

Dr. Wehby finished the surgery in about 30 minutes and said that everything went perfectly.  

Before the surgery, Henry wanted to know if he could see a picture of his "string," as he called it.  Dr. Wehby was happy to oblige.  Henry was thrilled with his picture.

Fresh out of surgery

They needed to bring Henry out of the anesthesia slowly so that he wouldn't thrash around. In fact, he needed to stay on his back for the next 24 hours.  Like they did when he had his MRI, Henry was given a popsicle as he came out of anesthesia to help with a dry throat.  He was still half asleep, so it was funny to watch!

Bum shot!  Actually, that little piece of tape is all that was needed to cover the surgical incision.  It was amazing how small it was.

Goldfish, popsicles on demand, mac-n-cheese, power aid, and bedside movie. You'd think Henry created the menu himself. Not a bad gig for a 5-year-old.

I spent a good part of that day with Henry in the hospital, while Adam took Harper home.  He watched movies and played bingo using the tv and the hospital phone, winning a couple of really cool prizes.  The next day, Henry was able to sit up, gradually get up of bed, and later in the afternoon, he could come home.

Adam's mom got Henry a picture book about a boy named Henry.  We took the time to read a little story while we waited to be discharged.

As far as recovery was concerned, Henry needed to take it easy for the next two weeks.  No running around, riding his scooter, playing on a playground, or basically anything that could cause him to fall down.  This kid refused any and all pain medication from the time he came home from the hospital, so as soon as he started to feel no pain, getting him to take it easy became hard.  But he was a champ.

The first two weeks after the surgery, his nighttime wetting actually got worse.  I felt this sense of dread that we ruined Henry.  At our two week follow-up, the PA we met with explained that it could take months for things to show improvement.  I still felt frustrated.  And then, suddenly (I think it was a day or two after this follow-up), Henry started waking up dry or nearly dry!  And then he did it again for a week!  Adam and I noticed that he can hold it longer during the day.  Henry's gait has changed a bit, and he seems faster.  He can now reach down to his lower shin, where before he could only reach down to just past his knees.  We need to work on his strength - and certainly his stamina as he builds his muscle strength - but we've noticed some improvements.  We aren't completely in the clear for any of his original symptoms.  There is room for improvement, but the important thing is that he is already improving!  It's truly amazing.

Adam and I are so thankful for all the pieces of the puzzle that fit together so quickly and so seamlessly.  Before his appointment with the physiatrist at the end of January, I simply prayed that we could find some answers as to what was going on with Henry and that we might be able to "fix" his toe walking so that he could develop normally physiologically.  I had no idea what a journey we would be going on in such a short amount of time.  I am just thankful for how we were guided to the right path.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Rest of the Time...

Erin was here for over a week (which hardly ever happens!).  While we did some big things like Seattle and the coast, it was fun to just hang out, too.  

Erin was here during Easter.  It was fun to have her help in the kitchen.

Harper was also a good helper in the kitchen when it came time to make the cake.

We lunched downtown one day, visiting Pine Street Market, which is a food hall with a number of food vendors, many of which are offshoots/simpler versions of some of the big restaurants in Portland.  I chose to try out Marukin Ramen.  I have never EVER liked the Top Ramen noodles that are so often a staple of college dorm rooms.  But this was the real deal.  In fact, this place has a location in only two places: Tokyo and Portland.  I got the tonkotsu shoyu - a pork broth with bamboo shoots, mushrooms, spinach, pork pieces, and a soft boiled egg.  It was probably one of the best thing I've ever eaten.  I'm only writing about it now so I remember what it is, in case I ever have a chance to try it again.  It was that good.

Harper simply wanted pizza.  Her method of eating it makes me laugh.

Erin is really smart about succulents.  I think they are such fun looking plants, so I made her come with me to gardening stores to find the perfect plants and soil.

The finished product!

We had to take Erin to an escape room.  We talk about them so much that we had to let her try one out.  While this wasn't the best as far as production value, we had a great time and finished the Revolutionary War-themed room within the hour!

It's really a great time whenever Erin comes to visit!

Beach Combing

We simply had to have a Coast day while Erin was in town.  We've almost always gone to Cannon Beach, so this time around we decided to take her to Newport and do something new to her - and to us.  

We had hoped to check out the inside of the Yaquina Head lighthouse, but unfortunately it was closed.  But all was not lost - the lighthouse is perched above a natural area with amazing tide pools to explore.

Starfish, anemones, sea urchins...this place had it all.

The beach itself is made up of these good sized basalt rocks...which proved a little tricky for Harper.

The kids were in heaven, finding all sorts of creatures they wanted to bring home with them.

The Oregon coast is so amazing.

We also stopped at Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area.  Adam and I visited years ago when Claire was a baby, and though the beach was fun, we never saw anything that resembled a punch bowl.  Well, that's because we were looking from the wrong vantage point!  We finally found the punch bowl!

Our visit ended with a whirlwind run through the Newport aquarium (which is what happens when you get there an hour before it closes and still have to pay full price) and a trip to Mo's for clam chowder and seafood.  


Erin was here just in time to catch the end of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival down in Woodburn with us.  We hadn't gone since Henry was a baby, so it was fun for both Henry (who, of course, didn't remember anything from his previous visit) and Harper. 

The frilly ones caught my eye this time around.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Girls' Day Out

Erin came to visit us over her spring break, and as soon as she got off the plane, we whisked her away to Seattle for a girl's day out.  First stop: Pike Place Market

Everyone comes to see the famous fish throwing, but almost everyone leaves the market with a bouquet of flowers.

It kind of reminds me of Faneuil Hall.

The original Starbucks!

We had to find the gum wall.  Gross, but kind of fascinating too.

Next stop: Pacific Science Center.  There was a special exhibit of the Terra Cotta Warriors from China.  We had some time to kill before our timed entry of the exhibit, so we checked out a few other areas of the museum.

There were mini warriors hidden throughout the museum and Claire had fun looking for (and finding!) them.

Claire would have spent all afternoon in the butterfly garden if we would've let her.  She was a happy camper.

The Terra Cotta Warriors did not disappoint.  

While little kids probably wouldn't have appreciated the statues, the exhibit was surprisingly kid-friendly.

Third stop:  the Space Needle.

Final stop: the troll under the bridge.  This was something Erin had heard about, and she just had to see it.  It was on (of all places) Troll Street.  It was a quirky way to end our full day.

Harper Turns 3!

We sure love this little girl, and we were excited to wish her a happy birthday.  But, of course, this little sassafrass decided to have so...