If you read my last post, and I mean really read it, you might recall somewhere in that rambling mess that we returned from Florida last Thursday night, cleaned up poop, slept, went to work, slept a little more and then hosted the first birthday party for our beloved Ems. No small task, right? Well, despite a little fatigue, I really think we pulled it off. Everybody who attended, young, old and in-between, seemed to have a pretty good time. Of course, I don't really have proof. Oh, wait...yes, I do. BAM! Cousin Sarah does it again!
This past month has been a bit of a whirlwind for my little band of Tredwells. Kate and I spent July 7th to the 9th in Chicago, quickly followed by a week-long family trip to Texas. After a ten-day breather at home, we were back in the air for six days in Florida, returning home for good on August 6th at about 11 pm. For you math junkies, gnaw on this word problem for a minute...
Tim and Kate flew more than 2600 miles with their infant daughter, Emily, to two different locations in the United States where the sun is known to rest approximately seven feet off the ground during the day. One of these locations featured Tim's family whom he rarely sees and loves dearly, but includes two spirited, small children. The other location features a surgeon who may potentially have a solution to Emily's rare condition but only through dramatic and painful surgeries. Tim has a propensity for snarky comments when he gets tired, angry, stressed, frustrated or just plain bored. Using the information given, calculate how long Tim will have to wait in Purgatory before being allowed entrance to Heaven, if you think he hasn't already booked a reservation for a seat next to the broken air conditioner on the bus to Hell.
Ok, that took a long time and probably wasn't worth it, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Shut it.
Anyway, we got back late Thursday night to find that our bulldog Moose had missed us so much, he left liquidy poo all over the first floor of our house. ALL OVER. You know those thoughts about coming home after a long trip and being so happy to just be home and see your dogs and not be living out of a suitcase? You know that feeling? Well, it lasted as long as it took me to open the door and be assaulted with canine biological weapons. Not good times. Bad times.
And the hits kept coming. Kate and I cleaned up, caught a quick sleep and split the next 24 hours between work and feverishly preparing for Emily's first birthday party which, as anybody with children can attest to, takes more than just mixing Kool-Aid, opening a fresh bag of Ruffles and making sure the front door is open.
Nevertheless, the weather was perfect, the party was awesome, merriment was had and pictures were taken. But we'll save that for its own post. We've got other stuff to discuss.
The whole point of being in Florida was to see Dr. Paley. He had suggested we fly down for an MRI and a consultation. Naturally, we did as we were told. We tacked a few days on to the front end of the trip to at least give this trip a vacation-like feel. Emily attended her first Cubs game where she watched them lose in typically crushing fashion (get used to it, sister) to the host Marlins, checked out the Miami Seaquarium and polished up her tan on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale.
But then it was all business. To say I was on edge about this MRI would be an understatement. The thought of drugging my only daughter so she'll lie still is not a pleasant one. The good news was that she would be given chloral hydrate to drink instead of sticking her with an IV or strapped up with a gas mask. And, typical of our little fat kid, she sucked it down like it was fruit punch. The nurse who had spent so much time telling us kids usually throw it up because of its awful taste thought it was hilarious.
One moment I'll probably never forget came as Kate was rocking her to sleep. Ems was clearly fighting it, but the eyes got heavier and heavier. Right before she went down for the count, she looked up at me and gave me a little buh-bye wave. Afterwards, she reached into my chest, yanked out my still-beating heart and made it into a keychain. Damn kids.
In the end, she made it through both the MRI and the x-rays with minimal fuss. Kate even managed to sneak a quick picture of her enjoying a well-deserved bottle in her adorable little hospital gown. The rest of the day was shot as Ems was still loopy from the drugs. Of course, she recovered enough for a late night dip in the pool, plenty of food and a good night's sleep.
The next day we arrived for our 2:00 appointment with Paley and were greeted by the friendliest team of nurses. They could not get enough of Emily and the feeling was clearly mutual. We also met with the patient coordinator who introduced herself by saying, "I'm the patient coordinator, Caroline Eaton....I love your blog!" Ms. Eaton is well-versed in Paley's ways. Besides working with him, she has appeared on his operating table multiple times. That's a pretty big vote of confidence, in my humble opinion.
We also got to talk with one of his physician's assistants who spent a good amount of time getting to know us. She spoke almost reverentially about him, talking about the amazing things he is accomplishing in surgery. Again, all evidence that we are on the right track.
After Paley finished another small miracle in surgery, he came upstairs to see us. The visit was brief as he went through the necessary images of Emily's leg. With an eight cm discrepancy and everything else looking strong, Ems is right where he thought she'd be when he first saw her six months ago. He said we can expect that discrepancy to triple by the time she's fully grown. Of course, he just may have something to say about all that. His first statement will be August 17th, 2010. Super-hip surgery is scheduled.
You turned one year old today, Ems. We waited nine months to meet you and your arrival instantly altered the course of our lives. Your mom and I have spent the last year falling more and more in love with your infectious giggle, your Coney-Island-hot-dog-eating-contest-like appetite, your animal noises which all seem to sound like the same jungle cat, the fact that it appears like you're imitating me, but there's a good chance you're actually poking fun at me. It's just the way your dad would do it.
What you don't yet know is how much I admire you, Emily. You have no idea what's ahead. Right now, you couldn't care less that in just over a year, you'll go through a horribly complex surgery that will put you in a lower body cast for six weeks. You couldn't possibly fathom what it's going to feel like when you have to go through three separate, painful procedures to help that right leg catch up to your left. You just keep smiling. And you keep making other people smile. You make it impossible not to.
In one year, you have taught me more about inner strength, resiliency and courage than I could have ever imagined. But you're just getting started, aren't you?
Thank you, Emily. Thank you for everything you have given us. Thank you for being you.
I get paid to try and convince kids that eating right and exercising is the secret to inner harmony. I spend the rest of my time trying to find an equal balance between myself, my family, my friends, my house, my team, my dog and my assorted vices.