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.

Go long!

I feel like I've been here before....
Yes, I know. "Tim, you WERE here before! Remember, last year when they took that screw out of Emily's hip? Or the year before when you were down for her Superhip? Oh! What about..." I got it. I GOT IT. Thank you. The point is, Emily is on the operating table right now, I haven't slept enough, the waiting room is crowded, I don't have a good intro and, if not for my headphones blocking out Al Roker's discussion about prom season, there might be an incident requiring police involvement. But other than that, I'm perfect!
Before we get into this, let's do a quick recap...
Remember that fundraiser Shoreline Crossfit put together for Emily? Well, big doesn't even begin to do it justice. It was MASSIVE. One of the most amazing and emotional days I've ever been a part of and that is not an overstatement. Daddy even competed against the big dogs and achieved his goal of not finishing last. Something tells me you won't see that on a Nike t-shirt anytime soon.
It wasn't long after we wrapped that event up that it was time to head south. Yesterday we spent a good portion of the day taking care of Emily's pre-op appointments. She had a brief moment of apprehension when they wanted to draw her blood (completely fair) but held it together like a champ. The promise of cotton candy AND a little time at the beach seemed to lighten the mood.
Then it was off to the waiting room to wait for a brief evaluation of her X-rays. My man Servando came in and gave us the rundown. The discrepancy is currently 10.5 cm and the goal for this lengthening will be six to eight cm. (Ok, can I have a moment here? I'll admit it. Last August when we found out her growth plates are still open, there was a small part of me that really thought this discrepancy wasn't going to get bigger. It was approximately eight cm, it had been approximately eight cm and now we're going to go for this first lengthening, knock out eight cm and be done with this whole damn thing. That is not the case, nor was it ever the case. But I made the mistake of allowing ignorance and optimism cloud my better judgement. The lesson as always, I'm an idiot.)
Anyway, the nuts and bolts of this process remain the same. Three to four days in the hospital as she recovers from the implantation of the fixator. PT to start almost immediately and will eventually move to three sessions per day. Pin turns four times a day (this is how the bone is lengthened.) Pin site cleanings once a day and 10 days before we can throw her in the ocean (salt water is good for the pin sites.)
And, as of this moment, she is on the operating table and Paley is working his magic. Candace, Paley's patient advocate, is coming out to give us updates and we're hearing things are going well.
I'd love to tell you which part of this is going to be unpleasant and which part won't be as bad, but if you're still reading you know that we've already established how smart I am. So I, uh, won't. Just know that every kid reacts differently to the lengthenings, the PT, the pin site cleanings...everything. It's a process. And we'll do the best we can.
Wi-fi is a bit spotty in here so none of the pictures I wanted to post are included. Hopefully, I'll be able to put up a separate post a little later chock full of big, bright, colorful pictures. In the meantime, check my facebook page if you want real-time updates. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to wrap this up later today.
Thanks to everyone for staying with us. We need all the help we can get.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I wasn't joking.

I'm sure some of you thought it was cute when I put up my last post about how much I like the people at Shoreline Crossfit for putting on this event for Emily. "Aw, that's nice. The people at his gym are looking out for his little girl. They probably feel bad for him. Skinny bastard can probably barely do a pushup!" (Editor's note: shut it.)
Then, thanks to the extraordinary talent of SCF member Chris Bruno, they put together this video to promote the event. Emily is on display in all of her flowery cuteness. I talk a lot but sound almost coherent (I'm serious...Bruno might be a genius.)
The video is all over facebook right now and the comments are piling up. Out of curiosity, I googled "shoreline crossfit emily tredwell" and what popped up amazed me. On the first page alone, four different Crossft affiliates had linked to the event (Elm City Crossfit, Crossfit Nor'Easter, Crossfit Strongtown and Crossfit Milford) as well as two different tumblers and a site dedicated specifically to Crossfit competitions.
Therein lies the difference. I'm not saying anything negative about your gym. I'm sure you have made friends there and the 20 minutes you spend on the elliptical followed by 100 crunches is just as good as any Crossfit wod (I'm kidding, of course...it's not even close.) The Crossfit community is unmatched. It's a great feeling when people you know and like are willing to help you in times of need. But I can't even begin to explain how it feels when people I've never even met are so willing to open their hearts to me and my family. Crossfit athletes sweat together, struggle together, fight together and, most importantly, never, ever, ever let each other down.
Thank you all for making a difference.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SCF for life.

I know I've mentioned my people over at Shoreline Crossfit a couple times in this space. If you haven't been paying attention or you've never heard of them, you better ask somebody! This is different than any gym, any fitness center, any health club...you name it, SCF is better. It's a community of people who push, prod, encourage and drag the very best out of you. I jumped on board two years ago when my basement workouts were teetering on non-existent and can't imagine how I ever got by at a YMCA. I honestly don't think I can say enough good things about this place.
Even Emily is a fan, although it's not hard to imagine why. She has tons of space to run, they have gymnastics rings to swing on and, frankly, there's nothing like a little foam-rolling after a hard day of being a three-and-a-half-year-old to work out the kinks. She frequently says to me, "Dad, we have to go to crossfit so I can get strong and climb trees!" Then she flexes and kind of growls and it's ridiculously awesome.
But then, they went and set this up. What can I say? People are just determined to make me remember that there is good out there...and, clearly, it seems to swirl around our little girl.
To everybody at SCF...I'll never be able to thank you enough. But, when Emily has two legs of equal length and is smashing WODS as a member of Crossfit Kids in a few years, that will be better than any thank-you note I could ever write.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I've got a couple minutes!

And another season goes in the books. The Daniel Hand Tigers took another step forward this year, going 14-9 and even hosting a couple post-season tournament games. Good times! While Ems will no doubt miss being able to show off for the girls, I think she's happy to have her daddy home more often. At least, until I make her eat all her dinner. Then, not so much.
While I'd like to still be alive in the playoffs, I'm happy to have a moment to breathe and enjoy all the March Madness with my girls. I do miss them during the winter.
But now we trade one adventure for another as we wrap up all the basketball-related responsibilites and prepare for Emily's first lengthening this May. It will be here before any of us know it. Guh.
So, until I'm struck with some Florida-induced anxiety (cue emotional breakdown in 3...2...1...) here are some pictures of cute kids and one tired, old man to tide you over.

Ems LOVED gymnastics. I don't think anyone has more fun than her.
Naps all around. Uh, she's breathing, right?
Emily loves Paige! Especially when she's not crying.
Baby Paige!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Go Stags!

A few months ago, I declared my undying support for Fairfield women's soccer. Well, I may have to expand that love to include every team at good ol' FU. This past Saturday, Team Tredwell was invited to the second annual Fairfield University Student Athlete Talent show, put on by the school's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (affectionately known as SAAC...yeah, I'm leaving that alone.) It appears the folks at Fairfield have a pretty good grasp on the fact that they're young, intelligent and talented and they want to use those gifts for the powers of good. So they put together some skits, charge a couple bucks and raise some money for a good cause....in this case, that cool kid, Emily Tredwell.
Before I go much further, I should ask...how many of you have gotten a standing ovation? Seriously...a room full of people standing and cheering for you? Ever make a big shot or give a good toast at a wedding or maybe just drop a plate while you were waiting tables? Well, Ems got her first on Saturday night. She's three and a half years old. To start the show, the emcee introduced her as "the real reason for all of us being here." As we walked out, the crowd you see in the top picture EXPLODED. Standing and cheering. Emily? All smiles. Waving. Like a pro. Like this happens all the time. Meanwhile, dad is trying to fight back tears and mom is holding a sleeping three-week old (yes, Paige slept through the whole evening...she needs to store her energy so she can stay awake crying all night. Good times.)
We took our seats and were treated to an evening of dance numbers, creative outfits and even a racy number from the men's soccer team. I won't go into details, but the soundtrack included Tom Jones' "You can leave your hat on." Uh-huh.
In the end, it must be said that the field hockey team's live action version of Super Mario Bros. was extraordinarily creative, but the men's cross country team took home first place with their Justin Bieber routine. HIGH comedy. And we can't talk about Fairfield Athletics without mentioning the women's soccer team who put Emily in an autographed t-shirt, brought her out on stage with them and even let her say hi into the microphone (cue hundreds of college kids saying, "Aaaawwwwww!") They tried to get her to join their dance routine, but a bout of shyness kicked in and she was quickly brought back to mom's waiting arms.
To everyone at Fairfield University...you continue to amaze and inspire. I don't know how much was raised and I'm not even sure I care. You've helped me to remember there is so much good out there, which is something I have been known to forget. My family and I will never be able to thank you enough.
Go Stags.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I told you 2012 would be big!

How do I even begin? It was a big weekend. Huge. I could tell you all about it, but why? Remember Cousin Sarah? She was there when Emily was born. She was there when Emily turned one. And she was there to help us welcome Paige Conquest Tredwell to the team Sunday afternoon. Baby Paige weighed in at 8 lbs 2 oz and just a shade under 22 inches. Oh, you don't feel like reading? Fine. She set it to music as well. Go ahead...watch it without tissues. I dare you.
If that was all that happened, that would be more than enough. But right before the weekend hit, our man Dr. Paley took his game to the next level. That won't help Ems this summer, but I'd wager heavy on the fact that her future in West Palm has taken a dramatic turn for the better.
Ordinarily, I'd use the rest of this space to fulfill my regular quota of fart jokes, but I've got a new baby to play with and you've got a handful of links to follow. Have fun. I know I will!