Monday, August 23, 2010

All home. Together. Finally.

I think the standard intro here is "what a long, strange trip it's been." But, frankly, that quote is overused by high school yearbooks and dirty hippies and I'm too tired for this nonsense.
The simple fact is we're all back home and I could not be happier.
It was a difficult and emotional two weeks capped off by Dad's 16+ hour drive through mostly monsoon-like conditions. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I dropped Kate and Emily off at the airport Friday night. Rightfully nervous, Kate took control of our precious cargo while I aimed the car north. Emily was merciful and slept the entire flight, landing in Hartford around 9:30 PM. I believe I was in northern Florida at that point.
Just being home seemed to lift Emily's spirits. She had her grandparents, her toys, a full fridge...and really, what else do you need?
Meanwhile, I took a slightly longer route. A brief stop in Columbia, SC allowed me to spend time with our friends Matthew and Melissa (and FINALLY meet their precious daughter, Olivia.) This allowed me to recharge a bit before the home stretch on Sunday.
But no matter how long it took, or what traffic I hit, or how hard it rained, or what detours I had to take (are you getting the picture or am I painting with too broad of a stroke? The drive sucked) NOTHING made it better than walking in the door and hearing Ems say "wanna go see Daddy?" I'm easy. I know.
And things have improved. Drastically. She is happier. More mobile. More like the kid we've always known. She is still capable of getting plain surly, but show me a two-year old in a lower body cast who DOESN'T act out periodically.
It's been about 26 hours since I walked in the door and I'm starting to feel almost normal. And if things are back to normal, that means I'll probably go on a month-long blog hiatus. If so, I apologize in advance. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures. And thank you all for helping us get this far.
That's the happy girl we know.
Piper taking care of her favorite patient.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"There is nothing fragile about that hip."

That's the quote of the day. Who said it? Who else? Dr. Dror Paley...the only guy whose opinion really matters in this case.
And it really could not have come at a better time. We are fried. All three of us. Emily is ready to get up and go (that's frowned upon at this point) and like any good two-year old, she's giving us the business by just screaming that she wants to get down, wants to get down, wants to get down, wants to get get the idea. Of course, we're mortal human beings...there's only so much Kate and I can take, especially when that's happening in the wee hours of the morning.
Got up today, dragged around the room for a bit before getting ourselves together and heading over to the hospital for our one-week follow up. This, of course, means we have to take another x-ray. Want to guess if she was a fan of the idea? (Here's a hint...she wasn't.) Then wait for Paley to come see us.
While waiting for Paley, Caroline Eaton came in the room and looked genuinely afraid as Ems just let it go for a long, long time. "I've never seen a reaction like this!" Super.
It should be noted that we are REALLY spoiled by this kid. She was the happiest, most mellow kid on the planet for the first 20+ months of her life. That ended last Thursday. Now, we can all understand why she's so upset (although if anyone told us we had to lay on the couch and watch TV for six weeks, a lot of us would probably be ok with it) but it doesn't make it any more fun to deal with.
So there we were, walking her up and down the hallway in the stroller, hoping and praying she'll decide to calm down, just for the sanity of everyone on this wing of the hospital.
Tony, the ortho guy, came in, removed her hard cast and replaced it with a soft cast...essentially a clamshell brace which can be fastened with velcro. Emily did not share our enthusiasm. Eventually she would wear herself out and take a nap on the exam table. The next 25 minutes were the most peaceful, most wonderful minutes since they began keeping track of time. I wish I were exaggerating.
When Paley came in, amazingly, Emily did not stir ("I have that effect on kids" he said with a grin.) He looked at her leg, her incision, her x-rays...and used words like "beautiful," "great," and "fantastic."
"That is a perfect Superhip," he said. Which is pretty funny...cuz, ya know...he did it.
(Hey, I've said it long as he gets results, he can high-five himself, call me names, punch me in the junk...whatever he wants.) He also dropped the quote featured in today's headline which was pretty comforting, considering it led to a conversation about what was now considered taking Ems swimming, giving her an actual bath...just no weight-bearing activities for another five weeks. At that point, take a new set of x-rays and, barring anything unusual, she should be free to ditch the brace and wreak havoc on Camp Sweatpants like Godzilla in Japan.
Now we're back in the timeshare...for one more night. We've already been to the pool, had a nap and started to pack. 24 hours from now, the ladies will be in the air and I'll be bearing down on the Florida/Georgia state line.
Things are looking up!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Remember all those good feelings this morning?

Yeah, they're a distant memory.
Emily has been a monster today. Not that I can blame her, but at the same time, there's really not a lot we can do (ever try and explain that to a two-year old? I see you out there'd it work out for ya? Uh-huh...poorly is correct.) What does she want? She wants to be outside...playing...on the beach...without a cast on. How much of that can we make happen? Um...none.
For now, she sleeps. But it's only a matter of time before mighty Kong awakens from her slumber.
45 more hours...

Getting her appetite back?

I don't know what happened last night, but by 11 AM, Emily has eaten half a peanut butter sandwich, cheerios, a generous helping of raspberries, popcorn and washed it down with plenty of milk. I know she had a rough night and Kate had a difficult time calming her down...but whatever she did gave her the munchies. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An almost normal day?

We're getting closer to normal. Not close enough, but closer.
I got up this morning and went for a run (painful, to say the least.) By the time I got back to the room, both the ladies were awake and ready to rumble. Today's adventure? The mall! We strapped Ems into the stroller and got to it. I think we were in the Gap for about seven minutes before Emily started flipping out. We learned. No stopping. Shop on the fly. Missed that outfit the first time? Too bad, sucker! Keep it moving!
The fun part was Kate projecting her desire to get a little lunch at the mall on Emily as we walked by a Ruby Tuesday.
"Emily said 'eat'!"
And she did. However, I put the timing of the statement and the location of the restaurant as pure coincidence. Nevertheless, lunch out was a welcome break. Emily even forked some salad to her own mouth. Clearly, a little independence made her feel better. She probably had more to eat today than she's had in the last five days. I'm no expert, but believe that's a step in the right direction.
An afternoon nap for the child allowed Kate some much-needed time at the beach. I'd like to believe it allowed her to re-charge the batteries, but I think it might have made her more anxious to speed through the next five and a half weeks. Right now, she's dozing off next to Emily on the pull-out couch...and Ems is kicking her saying, "Mommy! Wake up!" You can almost see Kate's tolerance-o-meter move into the red zone. I'm thinking one more viewing of The Incredibles might end with her sending furniture through the window like a drunk rock star.
Nevertheless, we push forward. I can't BELIEVE tomorrow is only Wednesday.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sorry, Aunt Sue.

Ok, so the days are blending together a bit and I believe my lack of posts today can be directly attributed to that. Although it might be laziness. Or forgetfulness. Or a blatant disregard for what my fans want. I don't know...choose one. Seriously, whatever gets your motor started.
Not a lot to report today. Ems is growing more polite, which I believe is a sign she's feeling better. She even had some popcorn and a handful of craisins (that's not a typo, they're dried up cranberries. She loves them) to go along with her milk which, while disgusting to folks like you and me, is a start to getting her back on the food train. We're getting there! Of course, if she kept up her previous dietary habits with her current activity level (lying supine on the pull-out couch, propped up on pillows, watching DVDs) we'd all end up on the Maury Povich show talking about how we ended up with a 300 lb. two-year old. And, really, no one wants that.
Meanwhile, Kate and I are chomping at the bit to get home. Getting up today, feeling almost refreshed and doing a quick count to realize we've got another five days here was NOT the way to start the day. Nevertheless, we're scouring all the brochures in the lobby to see if there's anything we can do that will allow Emily to get outside without getting too hot, sweaty or crazy. Even if we can put her in the stroller and roll through the mall, it's something.
Our post-op visit is scheduled for Thursday at 1:00. Sadly, this is the most exciting thing we have going right now. Unless, of course, we get to go to the butterfly museum tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed!!
For those of you who are still following along (and haven't passed out from all the excitement) Kate's sister-in-law Laurie had surgery of her own today. Diagnosed with breast cancer in May, she is currently at Dana Farber in Boston. The way I see it, a whole lot of you have included Emily in your prayer circles. While we have God's ear, please include one for Laurie.
That's all for now. More tomorrow, I promise.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Before and after.

I don't have a good caption. I'll just say I'd rather never do this again.

Home, kinda.

We're free!
We got discharged from the hospital this morning shortly after 9:00. I would talk about how excited everyone is, but,'s impossible to tell because nobody has any energy. Emily is obviously limited by her spica cast so she's still annoyed with the universe. Kate dropped us off at the timeshare before running off to pick up supplies for our remaining time here in Florida. I really don't know how she has the capacity to keep going. This is the longest she's been out of the hospital since we walked in there Thursday morning (she's been gone 90 minutes as of right now) and that's really saying something. Hopefully she'll be back soon and can get some sleep in an actual bed. Or at least a shower.
Perhaps an update on the kid, then? After getting her epidural removed yesterday, her temperature dropped almost immediately. She now sits at a comfortable 98.1 degrees (she apparently runs cool.) Although not everything went so well. During the night, her IV blew which caused her arm to swell and some obvious discomfort for our girl. However, I think getting in the stroller and saying goodbye to the hospital and multiple daily visits from the nurses eases most of that pain.
For now, she is sleeping propped up in a chair with her blanky and puppy, still wearing her hospital gown.
Getting closer all the time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I think it's Saturday...

During the summer of 2001, I was lifeguarding at a local country club. I was 26 years old, in grad school and about to become a teacher. In other words, experienced enough to know what I was doing but old enough to know better. Hang out by the pool all day, out just about every night. It was one of the most fun summers I've ever had.
One night, we wandered into our local hangout and noticed the lack of customers. I turned to the bouncer and said, "kinda dead in here for a Friday."
The bouncer looked at me sideways.
"'s Tuesday."
Take away the good times and sweet tan and that's pretty much how I'm feeling right now. Rarely without a coffee in hand, sore from sleeping on that damn recliner and just looking for excuses to get up and wander the hospital.
Kate, on the other hand, continues to play Atlas. She is unflappable. Helping every nurse without overstepping, never more than an arm's length from Emily...I am amazed by her more and more. I keep trying to push her out of the room...but she just...stays.
While she's keeping everyone on the same page, I worry about when she's finally going to let go. I have a feeling it will all come out at the most bizarre time. Three weeks from now, I'll put a spatula in the wrong drawer and she'll choke me into submission. And really...what jury would convict her?
Ems is slowly coming around. The fever finally got below 101 today. Kim, the AP on call this weekend, came through to check on the incision (looking good) and to take out the catheter and epidural. Everything appears to be ok which is obviously good. Now, if we can just get her to start eating. Looks like Emily will be dropping some of that baby fat she's been talking about. A little late for beach season, sweetness!
But she is being such a trooper. She flips out anytime a nurse enters the room, knowing they're going to be poking or prodding or basically making her a little more uncomfortable, even for just a few seconds. Thank god she doesn't have daddy's vocabulary. It would get SO inappropriate in that room...
Hopefully getting out of here tomorrow. Will continue to keep you posted with anything new.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day two.

And I thought I was tapped yesterday.
Nothing quite like a good night's sleep on a reclining hospital chair to really take the edge off. Although I can honestly say after yesterday's activities, I probably could have slept on hot coals and just would have dreamed blissfully about barbecue. Kate snuggled up next to Ems in bed and managed a little sleep, but she's still in nurse mode so that's no easy task. I still haven't seen her break down, although I'm sure it's coming. Nobody's that good. Not even the Fonz! Wait, what?
Anyway, we made a step towards normalcy today. I managed to get out of the hospital and shoot back to the timeshare for a shower, some fresh clothes and a deep breath of non-hospital air. Kate even stepped out for an hour to go to Target which I'm sure was oddly refreshing for her.
Emily continues to be pretty mellow. She's had a constant fever of about 101 and her hemoglobin count was low which required a blood transfusion, but nobody seems too thrown off by this so that works for me. The company line is this is very standard stuff for second day after surgery. Basically, whenever the nurses come in and start saying anything medical, I just gauge Kate's reaction. If she visibly tenses up, I know to be concerned. So far, so good.
It's been helpful to have such a great nursing staff with us the last two days. All three nurses we've had have been friendly and professional. Granted, I could be easily fooled (if they're nice to Emily, I figure they're doing the job...I know, way to set the bar high) but Kate has said repeatedly how good they are. As always, if she's happy, everyone's happy.
Except maybe Emily. It wasn't until about 2:00 that we started to see flashes of the kid we know. Before then, she would wake up briefly, cry, try and push the cast off and just repeatedly say she wanted to get down. Since then, she's pointed to the TV (Sesame Street DVDs) quietly naming the characters and generally started to look a little more together. Kate had said she should get a charge of energy after the blood transfusion. Great. Here come the accusations of doping and the eventual attempt to take away her Tour De France wins. Who are we talking about again?
Our friends the Estrins stopped by briefly (Mariel had her superhip just last week) and everybody looked great. Mariel handled her surgery like a champ and was apparently really giving it to every staff member who came in the room ("I don't like her! I don't want you here!") which is even funnier when you know how nice her parents are and what a cutie she is. Turn up the heat, kid!
So that's where we are. A dramatic improvement from 24 hours ago. As I understand it, things should continue to improve each day. Let's hope so.
Again, thanks to everyone for the continued support. It has been literally non-stop. I'd probably be completely overwhelmed if I wasn't so freakin' tired. If I ever seem unappreciative, feel free to remind me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

All systems go. UPDATED - 7:25

We arrived at the hospital shortly after 6 AM and were taken into pre-op at about 6:30. I was able to hang on to her for a good amount of time while our nurse did all the pre-game testing/paperwork. Afterwards we put her on a bed and all sat to watch the latest Wallace and Gromit selection while we waited for the call.
Around 8:00, Emily gowned up and we attempted to slip her some pre-anesthesia sleep juice (really? You expect me to remember the name of the drug right now? Shame on you.) She wore more than she drank but she got just enough to get good and loopy. Still, she was getting antsy after another 15 minutes and clearly wanted to be anywhere else. A coloring book saved the day and she was still on her belly coloring away when they wheeled her to the OR. Kate got to put on her own biohazard outfit as well and went back with her while I was sent back to the waiting room (after taking a few minutes to attempt to compose myself in the hallway, I trudged back into the lobby to get some coffee...within SECONDS of walking through the door, I hear a "hey, wow, play basketball?" Seriously? Right now? I'm thinking on a day like today, I should be legally allowed to choke this person. I'm writing my congressman.)
Kate came out a few minutes later and looked great. She was very proud of her little girl. Apparently, everyone agreed she did really well...right up until it was time to put the mask on her. She fought it for the whole two seconds it took to put her out.
Thanks again to all the staff who were professional and courteous in the time leading up to surgery. Especially my man Servando, the physician's assistant who not only colored with Emily on the operating table, he offered his cell phone number to be used 24 hours a day if we needed anything. Either he's really good at his job, is trying to win that Team Paley bet we discussed last night or I am making this cargo shorts/hooded sweatshirt ensemble WORK.

UPDATE - 9:18 - Dr. Paley just came out and gave us a wave saying they're going to start in about five minutes. Buckle up, kids.

UPDATE - 10:37 - Servando just stopped by to check on us. He is not in the OR with Emily (he's working on another case) but is in contact with the team and "through signs and body language" things are going well. Caroline should be coming out to talk to us soon.

UPDATE - 11:09 - Caroline checked in and said the word from The Man is that things are going "great." No surprises, for good or ill and he should be finished in about 90 minutes. We still won't be able to see her for about three hours, but we're making headway.

UPDATE - 12:28 - Found out our final post-op appointment with Paley will be on Thursday, not Friday. The thought of hanging out until Kate's Saturday evening flight got even less attractive, so we called the airline and attempted to make a switch. The customer service rep initially balked, saying it would cost an additional $180 per ticket. However, after talking about WHY we're down here, she knocked it down to $60 total. Done and done. Thanks, Delta!

UPDATE - 1:06 - Nothing new to report. It's brutal watching the "staff only" door open only to have it be no one we're interested in seeing. Starting to numb up a bit.

UPDATE - 1:26 - Paley just came out and talked to us. Everything looks "beautiful." He said the only part that was a bit abnormal was the need to shave some bone where the femoral head connects to the pelvis to promote a more natural range of motion. She's being closed up right now after which she'll be casted, they'll take more x-rays and moved to recovery.
Getting closer!!

UPDATE - 3:10 - We were just moved to a different waiting room. Should be able to see her anytime now.

UPDATE - 3:17 - Kim, another top notch physician's assistant, just came out to tell us "the epidural must be working" because Emily is awake, looking around and just smiling. That's our girl!

UPDATE - 7:25 - Well, I'M tapped.
We finally got called into the recovery room at about 4:20 and Ems looked pretty beat up. She was a little swollen and pale and would wake up only briefly. When she did, it was like she was trying to cry but it took too much effort, so she just went back to sleep. We sat next to her for about an hour (the LONGEST hour all day...and that's saying something) before they got her ready to move up to her room. When it was time to roll, we gave her blanky and puppy...but it was the binky that finally got a smile. Once that binky was in her mouth, she lit up, looked at us and said, "Hi Mommy! Hi Daddy!" Like crack, that binky.
We got situated in her room and just kinda sat. The room is a little bare and we're on the sunny side, but I was more than happy to get out of that recovery room. Too many wires, too many people, too many bells and whistles...just too hospital-y. It's a little calmer now.
Paley stopped by a little before 7:00, gave her a once over and a thumbs up before moving on to examine more of his craftsmanship. Jennifer, the PA who closed Emily up after surgery also stopped by and gushed about how great our girl was going into the OR. When she left, Kate turned to me and simply said, "I like her." Agreed.
Since getting to her room, Emily has been out for the most part. The epidural is humming and pain meds are at the ready. Kate and I were catching up on texts/phone calls before I figured I should put a wrap on this for the day. Unfortunately, that meant leaving the room for the wi-fi connection in the 24-hour coffee shop they have here. The most unfortunate part? Now having to navigate my way back. I hope to see the ladies again before Ems is discharged on Sunday.
I'm just so thankful for the support today. A lot of people checked in by text, phone call, e-mail, blog comments...and that's on top of the people who were physically here for us today. Most importantly, thank God I married Kate. She so easily switched back and forth from mom to nurse that I don't think I ever saw her where she didn't appear to be in complete control. I, on the other hand, was a puddle most of the day. Not my manliest performance. Uh...I don't have a redeeming joke here. Shut it.
So that's it for today. I'll be sure to keep you in the loop in the coming days. Thanks for keeping up with us. We all did it together!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The clock is ticking...

Again, I don't have a ton of jokes or quote-worthy material to post tonight. It's been a long, exhausting day. Emily showed her two-year-old-ness like a champ during her pre-op, absolutely refusing to let the nurse take her blood pressure, maintaining a zen-like calm while they drew blood from her arm and then requiring three adults to hold her down while they took x-rays. If her head fully spins around, I'm out. Dr. Paley's on his own.
Team Paley once again showed why people travel from all over the globe to see them. The staff could not have been any nicer or more helpful. We were in the hospital from 11 AM until about 2 PM, took a brief break for lunch (Sonic!!) and then back for more meetings, pictures and Paley-ness until about 5:30. While it was a difficult day mentally, it obviously could have been far, far worse. Some brief notes from today's activities...
-Kate and I get to decide which one of us wants to go into the operating room with Emily and anesthetize her. Oh, and it's helpful if she starts crying, because she breathes harder and falls asleep faster. How's YOUR day going to start tomorrow? Got a tough day at the office? F--k off.
-We're looking at close to seven hours worth of surgery and surgery-related goodness tomorrow. 90 minutes for prep, three hours for the procedure, an hour to cast and another hour for her to come out of her haze.
-Met a pair of moms (one from Michigan, one from Utah) who are here with their sons for lengthenings. Both were extraordinarily friendly and talked about the community that exists around the hospital making things so much easier as everybody has somebody to lean on. Comforting, to say the least.
-At one point, one of the moms talked about Paley's ability to remember each child and even their specific interests. Caroline Eaton, who was in on the conversation, chimes in, "the really amazing thing is that he can look at x-rays and recognize the kids by their femurs!" I am NOT making that up.
-Caroline led off one of our meetings today warning me to not post any photos of Ems in her spica cast. Apparently, after a few conversations with the FBI, she found out there's some pervs out there who are into that sort of thing...ifyaknowwhatImean. I WISH I were making that up.
-In the final, self-serving note of the evening, Caroline mentioned Paley's weekly meeting with his team where he presents upcoming cases. In front of about 40 people, he read directly from The Gray Area while discussing Emily. Allegedly, there are now bets being placed as to which staff member will be mentioned in future posts. And if you think I'm not immature enough to somehow use this to our advantage...well, then you clearly have not been paying attention. Having said that, nothing makes sleeping in a reclining hospital chair easier than a nice fleece blanket. Ahem.
Anyway, the last supper is finished. Emily is watching Kung-Fu Panda (I know...I'm shocked too) blissfully unaware of what awaits her. Kate and I hope to get SOME sleep before walking through the hospital doors at 6 AM. But I wouldn't bet on that.
I'll have the laptop with me tomorrow and will try and give some updates throughout the day. If you know anybody upstairs with any pull, put in a good word for us. We'll take all the help we can get.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The waiting game.

I'm running out of clever intros and witty banter so I'm just going to put out the nuts and bolts and let you throw in your own fart jokes where they seem appropriate.
We flew in from the Dominican (which was a BLAST) on Sunday, landing at JFK around 4:30, met up with Kate's parents in long term parking where we collected Emily and some bags and got on the road. We wanted to make it to South Carolina where we had friends waiting for us, but by 1 AM, everybody was struggling, so we shut it down just south of Richmond, Virginia.
Back on the dusty trail by 10 AM, we made it to West Palm Beach by 11 PM with ONE STOP. That, my friends, is impressive. Emily was a trooper and had about the same amount of meltdowns as Mommy and Daddy. (I figure she's allowed. Imagine how bad it could have been if she was aware she spent her second birthday in the car.) Kate took the first six hours then, after a delicious Cracker Barrel meal, hopped in the back with Emily where they watched movies on the DVD player while I finished the run. Safe to say I could have slept on a bed of nails last night and still would have hit the snooze button.
Today was a low-key, mellow day. Cloudy and rainy outside, so not a lot to do. Grocery shopping and dinner out. Right now, I'm in the lobby (with the wi-fi connection) while Kate valiantly attemps to strap Emily down after she finished a bottle of lemonade at dinner tonight (we go away for five days and now she doesn't drink milk anymore? Me and the grandparents are having words...)
Tomorrow we head to St. Mary's for an 11 AM pre-op with the hospital staff and then another appointment with Dr. Paley and his people. Then, back home for more waiting. Thursday morning is D-Day. Time is grinding to a damn halt at this point.
There is definitely some tension around the room. Everyone is trying to put on their happy game faces (except Emily who just goes with whatever mood strikes her. God, I want to be two years old.)
Don't know what else to tell you. Will have more tomorrow after the visit with Paley.