Sunday, December 8, 2013

A superstitiously brief post

I'm well aware I've been absent since March and for good reason. Things have been going well. No news is good news. And with Kate and the girls down in Florida for Emily's bi-annual checkup with The Man, it allows me the time to sit down and put more than two coherent thoughts together. BUT, the last time I did this, Emily developed a nasty infection which resulted in multiple surgeries and some scary moments. So, in light of my feelings on jinxing those closest to me, I will simply post a couple pictures, cross my fingers that everything goes well tomorrow and hopefully be back here soon to give you a healthy dose of Tredwell family news and sophomoric fart jokes.
They get so big, so fast. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Respect the streak.

I've been around athletics long enough to know that you always, ALWAYS respect the streak. This past Friday, I finally got it in my head that it was time to strap in and put up a new post. It had only been, what, four months? If anybody's still paying attention, then it's time to reward them with a brief update, some cute pics and maybe a new fart joke.
The premise would be so simple. I wasn't going to apologize for not having written. I've done that enough. It was going to be about progress. Emily is doing so well, that I didn't need this anymore. If you'll recall how The Gray Area started, it was because Daddy didn't want to make a bunch of phone calls every time Ems met with a doctor and it slowly morphed into my own personal therapy session. But with Facebook making updates so quick and easy, The Man hitting his groove in West Palm Beach and Emily just seeming to catch almost every break in regards to her PFFD, I was feeling borderline optimistic about life in general. Emily had gained 8 cm of growth this summer with almost no complications. She had her fixator removed and was fully weight-bearing in 24 hours. That just doesn't happen. Sure, the process was a daily grind that pushed our limits both mentally and physically but it was certainly no worse than anyone else's experience. We got through it. And, thanks to her lack of complications, it was most likely smoother than most. With visible progress and a plan in place for the next several years, there's just not a lot to talk about. I was not worried.
Granted, this space has built up a tiny little following and I have been told how helpful this blog can be to those who are going through/about to go through the PFFD experience, and that gives me a sense of purpse in regards to keeping the party going. But, and it's important you remember this, I'm a bit of a selfish prick. With all due respect to my loyal readers, if my own mental well-being didn't depend on me staying up until after the kids were asleep to feebly attempt to dry heave some words on to this page, well then it just wasn't gonna happen.
So that gets us to Friday. I'm finally going to put the kids to bed and make this happen. But then Emily took a little spill. Nothing major. This kid has been running, jumping, diving and falling for months now. She's at the kitchen table practicing her letters, complaining her leg hurts.
No it doesn't. You just don't want to do your letters anymore.
Nope...really hurts. I want to lie down.
Ok then.
Mom goes off to work. Daddy, Paige and Anita Faker hang out around the house.
By 8:30, Phoney Braxton is asking if she can go to bed. She has NEVER asked to go to bed. Certainly not at 8:30. Hmmm...
Home from work the next morning, Mommy checks on her and Ems is not happy. Couldn't sleep. Doesn't want to move her leg. Doesn't want to roll on to her hip. Does NOT want you touching it. To the ER, Robin!
(Brief side note...as we're getting checked in and Emily is going on and on about pretty much any thought that pops into her head, the admitting nurse comments "well, her jaw isn't broken." Indeed.)
God bless 2013 and all its modern technology. While Emily is getting x-rays, I'm in the gamma-ray-proof booth snapping pictures of said x-rays with my iphone as they pop up on the monitor. I'm then forwarding those pictures to Team Paley. By the time we had been returned to the ER bullpen, we'd already gone back and forth about how there's no fracture and an appointment to remove the rod has already been scheduled around our check-up a week from Monday. Piece of cake.
Fast forward to later Saturday evening. Kate, who's gotta be pushing about 28 hours with no sleep, gives her a little kiss goodnight...and JESUS this kid is hot! 103 fever. Uh, Dr. Paley? What do we do?
Well, of COURSE he knows people up here. He sends us off to Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford. The ortho who's on duty is one of his peeps and by 2:30 AM, Ems is in the OR getting her rod removed and a nasy infection flushed out of her femur. Good times!
Since then, she's had a second infection flushing (pardon my lack of a detailed explanation...allow me to do  my impression of our meetings with the doctor... blah blah medical jargon blah blah technical terms blah blah...and there's me. So...yeah) and is moments away from getting a picc line placed so she can get an almost constant stream of anti-biotics over the next couple-few weeks.
What have we learned kids? When you don't respect the streak, you end up spending three days in the hospital with your kid going through multiple surgeries while you silently weep and irrationally blame yourself for not respecting the streak. I'm not saying it's a good yearbook quote, but it's certainly worth noting.
In the meantime, here's some pictures and a promise that I may go away for a while, but I'll always come back.
Paige, who looks like Mommy, but relaxes like Daddy.
That World Famous Femur back in December.
Until next time...smooches!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hey, November...what's going on?

I know, I know...I'm shocked as well. First blog post since July? Yep...that's about right. For those of you who have been through a lengthening already, you are well aware that there is little time for anything but physical therapy, pin site cleanings and...uh, I don't know...sleep? I mean, yeah, there's a couple minutes here and there for things like work or spending time with spouses or other children. But that means things like blogging, exercise and personal hygiene get dropped like first period french. For those of you who are prepping for that first lengthening...good luck. You'll get through it. You won't like it, but you'll get through it. Trust me...I know.
Because here we are! We're on the bright side of the tunnel and the forecast at Camp Sweatpants is mostly excited with a chance of awesome. Since finishing her turns on September 5th with a full 8 cm gained, we've done our best to keep up with PT and pin site cleanings (editor's note: we fell off pretty hard. It's a long, LONG process.) We sent our first set of x-rays to The Man on October 5th, hoping for a positive report with the chance of getting her fixator removed sometime in late November/early December. Honestly, I wasn't even expecting a particularly prompt response...Paley was in India at the time (lecturing in some obscure dialect, no doubt.) And yet, not even an hour later, at 9:30 AM eastern, we got more good news than we could have hoped for...
"Nearly healed. You can book removal and rodding for one month from now."
And so, I sat...quietly crying in my office, unsuccessfully trying to get myself together so I could go teach health to a bunch of 7th graders. Mr. Tredwell was late to class that day.
What can I say? I'm not even sorry. Those five months had been some of the most difficult in all our lives and now the end was finally in sight.
Fast forward to present day. At this moment, we're less than 60 hours away from this device finally being removed from our child's leg.  
One step closer to normal. 
 May 14th...the day before the fixator was implanted. 
 That's a good-sized block she was standing on back then!
 It wasn't ALL bad times.
 November 2nd...look at that long leg!!!
 An aerial view.
Go back to that first pic...how is this the same kid?!?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pushing forward.

At no point am I on record as saying this would be easy, but, well...I can't really finish that. I'm sure more optimistic people would say something to the effect of "with all this horseshit, there's gotta be a pony in here somewhere!" I'm working on it, but I ain't that guy.
Don't let me mislead you. Emily is making great progress. That top picture was taken Sunday, July 22nd. That's our girl with about a one-and-a-half inch discrepancy. More than two inches of new bone since we started turning that pin on May 21st. While we recently had to slow down our pin turns (Emily was starting to lose flexibility in her quads and hamstrings) that's been the extent of our hiccups. Compared to some of the people we've met and the stories we've heard, she's doing amazingly well.
Having said all that, I will go on record as saying this sucks.
Allow me to get a little selfish here. I have never been more physically, mentally and emotionally drained in my life. Sleep is irregular at best. Stress is giving my skin teenage flashbacks. I'm getting used to the headaches. I've never drank so much coffee in my life. And four times a day, I hold Emily's hands and try to talk her down while she screams and cries roughly eight to 12 inches from my face.
Four fucking times a day.
Meanwhile, Kate is the one doing the actual work. She physically holds Emily down with a knee across her back as she stretches her right quad. She intricately cleans the pin sites with the skill of a surgeon...only in this operation, the patient is very awake, very loud and very mobile. Currently battling a nasty cold, Kate looked at me today and said, "I just want a day off." Sure, let's book something around...ooh, how's Christmas?
While it's hard to argue with results, it is certainly difficult to focus on the big picture when the daily grind is so very taxing. Emily is on to us. She knows when we put electric stim pads on her leg, she's got about 30 minutes before we're going to stretch her quad. She knows when we pull in to St. Mary's that it's time for PT. When Kate pulls out the bin of pin site cleaning supplies, the whimpers begin immediately. She tries to say she doesn't like going in the ocean (until she starts bobbing around in the waves...then she can't hide the joy) because she knows the ocean is followed by the pool which is followed by pin site cleaning. She's been doing this for two months. She's not stupid.
Every parent is pushed by a kid testing his/her limits. Where do you draw the line? Which battles do you choose to fight? Today, she stood in the corner of the lobby and flat out-refused to go in the room for physical therapy. It was a 15 minute-stand off. She eventually went, but this is uncharted territory. We're not arguing about a skirt that's too short for school or a concert there's no way in hell she's going to and no, I don't care what Amber's parents let her do. Four times a day, we're just working this kid over and she doesn't have a say in the matter. Come on, Ems...it'll be good for you later...how come you can't see the end game, you...you...little kid? Huh? How about a little perspective?
The good news is, the rest of the day (what's left of it, that is) she's in pretty good spirits. She's probably watching too much TV and her diet sucks (she's losing weight...apparently quite common for Paley kids) but...I ask again...where do you draw the line? Is a chocolate frosted donut going to get her through the afternoon? Well, goddammit we're getting a chocolate frosted donut.
And there is an end in sight. Met with The Man last week and he was pleased with her progress, giving her about six more weeks here in Florida. The party won't stop there, as the daily PT triple sessions will continue for another few months until her fixator comes off. But at least we'll be home.
At this point, I'll take anything I can get.
 Emily gets weekly prizes for being good. Her last two choices? Animal and Pepe from the Muppets. She respects the classics!
 Getting face to face with a turtle at Loggerhead.
Some sisterly love.
 I think Paige is gaining the weight Emily lost. And then some.
 Her new 3 cm lift. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Grinding away.

I tried making a list of pros and cons to sum up our current adventure and I failed miserably. It came across as such whiney horseshit. Obviously, the first big negative on the list was the fact that Kate and I make Emily scream and cry a minimum of four times a day as we care for her pin sites and stretch her out. After that...well, what else is there? Ooh, I wake up with headaches from grinding my teeth all night. Wah, I don't have time to work out. Boo hoo, I'm not sleeping as much as I'd like because one of my two children usually wakes up in pain during the night. What's their excuse? Paige is six months old and cutting teeth so...yeah. And Emily? Well, she has 10 stainless steel pins DRILLED INTO HER LEG. Maybe it's that. Or maybe it's because of the small bar we install on this device each night which keeps her leg locked straight. Can't believe she can't get comfortable. Softy.
But there are positives. I swear. The ocean view from our condo is awfully nice. Perhaps most importantly, we're making progress. Real, visible, measurable progress. If my math is correct, as of yesterday we have grown 5.3 cm of new bone since May 25th. For the metrically impaired, that's just under 2.1 inches. That's right. Wow. 
Even more impressive is that she has maintained a necessary level of flexibility and range of motion during that time (mostly due to Kate and a team of physical therapists manhandling her on a daily basis.) No small feat when you consider the stress on her muscles, ligaments and tendons. If we can keep this pace, she would hit 8 cm on August 9th which just so happens to be her 4th birthday. While that seems unlikely (it's rare for kids to continue growing bone at this rate. Usually flexibility wanes, pain increases and a slowdown is required,) it would be a nice birthday present. Still, I'm sure she'll want toys or something. Just like a four-year old...completely missing the big picture. 
In the end, that big picture is what matters most. The daily grind, the small hiccups, the everyday struggles...all of that will all be washed away if we can just continue to maintain the forward momentum. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Getting by.

Yes, I suppose some things have happened since the last time I graced the blogspot domain. Where to begin? Pick up where we left off? Ok then!
After two and a half weeks in West Palm Beach, I flew back to Connecticut in order to finish out the school year. Grams flew down to tag me out, keeping our 1-to-1 adult-to-child ratio intact. While it's certainly helpful to have another mother with substantial experience on site to ease the burden, I am definitely worried about Kate. She is the one responsible for PT, pin care, and anything fixator-related as well as general care for two small children. Everyday is a seemingly neverending stream of events that has both physically and mentally taxed her even more than I'm sure she thought it would. While Emily maintains her sunny disposition (most of the time) it cannot alter those periods of time where Kate is stretching her out or cleaning her pins while Emily SCREAMS at the top of her lungs. I don't know what kind of sociopath would find themselves unaffected by that, but let's just say I would not care to dine with that person.
The good news is progress is being made. Monday was her four week appointment with The Man and everything looks swell. 3 cm of bone growth (that's 1.18 inches for the metrically-impaired) has already been gained and her range of motion is right on target. Of course, now we begin to hear from other parents about how once you hit the 4 cm mark, the stretches get tougher, pain begins to increase, and the process slows to certain degree. What? You thought this would be easy? Ha ha, nooooo....
So Emily continues to rock, Paige gets cuter by the second and Kate's stress-induced ulcer is probably the size of Delaware by now. Me? I'm super! House to myself with no adult supervision! Woohoo! And yes, it sounds like a dream come true but allow me to be perfectly honest...it sucks.
I have certainly been working out more often and my diet pretty much consists of cereal, salad and steaks on the grill. But coming home to an empty house has me all over the place emotionally. Sure, we can get on our iphones and technically "see" each other but you and I both know it's not the same.
On a positive note, I was able to fly down this past weekend for a quick two day visit and it was wonderful...riiiiight up until it was time to leave. On Father's Day. Uh-huh. Emily rode with Kate and I to the airport and, as we pulled up to the terminal, Ems started unbuckling and getting ready to go. We had to explain to her that Daddy had to go back to Connecticut and she was going to stay here. Her face drops. She gets quiet. And Daddy spent the next 90 minutes trying to piece himself together by himself in the airport. Happy Father's Day!
What can I say? We're getting by. School ends tomorrow and, after a week of basketball camp, I'll be back down south with my girls. Right now, that's all I can ask for.
Admit it...you used to think 3 cm was tiny.
 Safe with Daddy.
 These two LOVE each other...
...at least, until the slapping starts.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Recent pics...as promised!

Some time ago (don't ask when...I've lost all sense of time and space) I promised you some pictures of our recent adventures. There are a number of them below. I'll try and give you a detailed update later tonight but with at least one child crying pretty much all the time these days, my promises are worth about as much as a warm bucket of hamster vomit. So...yeah.
Anyway, enjoy and we'll talk later.

Trying to get through an emotional thank you at SCF's "Girls for our Girl."
Like I said...MASSIVE.
Fighting my way to a 35th place finish...out of 38. Sigh. 
Some of my favorite ladies...Emily, Daniel Hand basketball players Maggie
Fitzgerald, Hannah Johnson, Graceann Kraemer, Paige, Mommy and Gram. 
Paige, keeping everyone loose while waiting for Emily to get out of surgery.
Shortly after waking up and already smiling.  
Already up and about just 24 hours after surgery.
A look at Emily's new hardware from the inside.
The fixator is our friend! A friend that constantly causes us pain.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

That's a strong finish!

I was going to talk about how nice it was to just sit at "home" today with my family.
I was going to talk about how unpleasant pin site cleanings are.
I was going to try and be funny.
I thought this was better.
video
Have a great night everyone. I know we will.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day three...I think.

Yeah, it's safe to say I've lost track of time and day at this point. Kate took Paige back to the condo last night for a night in an actual bed while I took the hospital chair/bed and watched Ratatouille on repeat with Emily. During the night, we had a parade of nurses come in and out to remove the epidural, catheter, draw blood, take vitals, etc. It does not make for restful sleep. Nevertheless, she's still in dreamland at 10 AM while I get some quiet time with the laptop.
Yesterday certainly had its ups and downs. We got her out of bed and in a wheelchair so we could wheel her down to the playroom. She was apprehensive at best, not wanting to move or get out of bed or stand or sit. There were tears and a lot of "I don't think I can!" Fortunately, she moved past it all rather quickly as she focused on her Disney princess figures, paint and a constant barrage of bubbles.
As day turned to night, she began to complain of pain and we could only guess her epidural had shifted/been pulled and therefore wasn't delivering that sweet, sweet medication that makes this part almost tolerable. It's next to impossible to gauge the pain levels of a three year old, especially this one. I've seen her take some really hard falls and get up laughing. I've also seen our bulldog brush up against her and she cried like he clamped down on her arm. Still, with the help of some movies and the now ever-present stream of bubbles, she kept it together long enough to eventually fall asleep.
It should be noted that while she was dealing with her painful episodes, Paige thought that would be a fine time to meltdown in an overtired fit. This room is about 10 x12 and on the third floor. Going out the window became a viable option after a while. Ah, but we live on to fight another day!
The physical therapist stopped by to drop off a walker. Apparently we're going to try and stand today. Should be...interesting.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Done for the night.

So, the e-mail/picture situation never sorted itself out and, frankly, I find myself channeling Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup when I say, "I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to!" I'm kidding, of course. I love my readers. Both of you.
But the truth is, I'm sufficiently fried and I'm pretty sure Kate is getting beat up by both Emily and Paige right now while I sit in the coffee shop downstairs with the free wi-fi. So you'll pardon the tone and lack of originality.
What can I say? Emily Conquest Tredwell is a champ. Tougher than everyone you know. We finally got the band back together about 4:00 and, when we first saw her, she was talking away like she hadn't just been unconscious for several hours while stainless steel pins were drilled into her leg. She is now in her room, demanding gatorade, movies and giggling every time she presses the button for more pain meds.
Everyone's exhausted and certainly thankful to have cleared this hurdle. Unfortunately, this was the easy part. NOW we get to start four months of daily PT. And, yes, it will suck.
Keep those positive vibes coming. I'll keep you posted as best I can. And someday...pictures. Promise.