Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Week Later . . .

This morning I was once again over at our morning elementary co-op, in charge of character/game/lunch time.  In a random bit of deja vu, the big van did not start again, but at least this time it had the courtesy to fail right in front of our house, as opposed to at the church, so we were able to switch everything including Verity's car seat base and stroller over to the minivan and only be 15 minutes late.

I was aiding the 3rd and 4th graders this time, instead of the 5th and 6th graders.  There was a child in each class celebrating a birthday, so we got cupcakes first for the 4th graders, then a big frosted cookie with the 3rd graders.  Lots of sugar!  In the 3rd grade class, I told a few girls we did NOT have to play dodge ball for game time, since apparently they play that game *every* time (said with appropriate 3rd grade drama and sighing).  I held firm to that, even though the boys insisted that EVERYone loved dodge ball, and that it is the best game *ever*.  We instead played a few variations of tag.

As co-op was finishing up, one of the 3rd grade girls presented me with the picture above:  "Best Teacher Ever".  I am assuming that this designation was awarded because of my resolve concerning dodge ball.  The ironic thing though?  The artist is the younger sister of the girl who drew me the sad cow picture last week! When I got home, we were laughing at their imagined conversation tonight:

3rd grader:  I had the best teacher ever!  We didn't have to play dodge ball!  She was so great!

5th grader:  Her?!?  She plucks eyes out of innocent cows, leaving them to wander blindly around fields!  She's the WORST teacher ever!

What a difference a week makes!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happy Needle-Free Birthday!

Yesterday was Luke's big day!  His surgery AND his 16th birthday!  We headed off to Bethesda, getting there at 10:00.  We went to the "same-day procedure check-in desk", and they took us to a little cubicle where Luke donned this stylish outfit.  Then we waited around for approximately forever, twiddling our thumbs.  I read my book and Luke read an old Reader's Digest I had in my tote bag.  The hours rolled past slowly, especially for Luke, since he hadn't had anything to eat or drink since Thursday night before bed.
Around noon they finally took us over to the anesthesia care unit, where Luke got his IV.  The anesthesiologist came out and talked with us.  I did have some questions for her, particularly about why them putting Luke all the way under was better than doing a spinal or something.  She said that with a spinal, you have at least 2 hours of numbness, and you have to stick around until all that wears off, while when you use general anesthesia, you can go under and come back out pretty quickly.  Since it was getting so late, I was okay with not waiting around even longer after the procedure.  The surgeon came out and talked to us, and he looked at the lump above Luke's knee and agreed that it looked pretty obvious where the needle was.  I asked him about trying to get it out with a local, and he did not want to do that.  He said he thought it was still a little deeper than we were thinking from the x-rays, and the local only numbs the surface.  If Luke moved around during the procedure, that would be bad, especially as they were trying to get something so small out.  Well . . . okay, I guess.  We weren't really thrilled about that, but this guy was the head pediatric ortho surgeon, so I guess he knows what he's talking about.

Eventually they took Luke back about 1:40, and I headed off to wait in the surgical waiting room.  I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Lisa Wingate, called The Story Keeper.  It was so good, so the time really flew by.  Also I finally was able to eat my peanut butter sandwich and orange, since I hadn't wanted to eat in front of Luke.  I was so hungry by then!  The doctor came out about 2:20 to say they were done and to hand me the specimen jar with the needle tip in it.  It was a good 1/2 inch!  (You can see it at the bottom of the jar in the picture.)  The surgeon said everything went really well, no surprises, but that they were going to keep Luke in a knee immobilizer until his follow-up appointment 2 weeks later.  Ummm . . . okay.
Not too much later I was able to go back and see Luke, who was looking just fine.  He came out of anesthesia just fine, which was a huge praise.  His leg was bandaged up like a mummy, in a thigh-to-toes ace bandage, and then on top of that, he had this huge immobilizer thing around his knee.  They wheeled him back to the place we started out at, where Luke got dressed again (fitting his sweats over the huge immobilizer) and got his discharge instructions.  I have to say, we were both pretty surprised at the instructions, since they made it seem like he had a major knee surgery, like his ACL repaired, or a knee replacement or something.  The nurse kept telling him he should under NO circumstances bend his knee, and it was so important to keep the ace bandage on for 5 days "to keep the wound together".  He was supposed to wear the immobilizer at all times, even when sleeping, and after 5 days he could take a shower, wrapping the ace bandage (or maybe just the wound itself?  Hard to tell).  There was even a paragraph in the instructions about how he would be referred to physical therapy, where he could start regaining the full range of motion of his knee.  So . . . yeah, that's so not what Luke had done.  Although when he unwrapped the whole thing today, we were surprised to see that the incision was longer than we thought it would be, considering where the lump was.  Still, it's not really any different than what the guy did at the ER when he tried to find the fragment, and there wasn't all this rigamarole after that procedure!  Luke's not going to play basketball tomorrow, but he's also not wearing that crazy knee immobilizer thing either.  And he is just wearing one smaller ace bandage.  He's felt some throbbing, so he's been taking tylenol, but they sent him home with oxycontin!  Good grief!   His follow-up appointment in scheduled for Thursday, March 12.
We (finally) got back home around 5:45.  Nathan and Caleb had kept everything running around the house, giving Verity bottles, changing diapers, etc.  I was very ready to nurse, but I was also glad I didn't have Verity with me.  That would have made for *such* a long day for both of us!  I nursed, frosted a cake, put the toppings on a cheesecake, grabbed a quick bowl of soup, and then we rushed off to Bible study, where we brought dessert to celebrate Luke's birthday.  We brought chocolate cheesecake, a chocolate banana cake, plus M&M bars.  Everything was eaten--we brought nothing home!  At least there was a little birthday celebration on the actual day!  Funny thing--at Bethesda, they ask you for your full name and date of birth pretty much any time anyone comes to talk to you.  So all day long people asked Luke, and he responded with his name and "Feb. 27, 1999".  Only one person looked up and said, "Hey!  It's your birthday!"  Everyone else just checked it off and moved on, LOL.
Luke did get to celebrate a little early.  Wednesday night Bob got tickets to the Capitals/Penguins game, and he took Nathan, Luke, Jonathan, and Caleb and Daniel McC (our Caleb had basketball practice).  The seats were amazing, and everyone had a super fun time!  The McCs gave him a giftcard to Chipotle, his favorite place, plus a bag of peanut M&Ms.  Today we had his birthday dinner, which was chicken packets, cabbage, peas, and fruit salad.  I think we can guarantee this will be a birthday Luke never forgets!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cow Eyes and Vans

Today was an interesting day.  I was over at the elementary co-op all morning, being the "aide".  I led game time, lunch, character time, and prayer request time for the 5th and 6th graders--and I dissected cow eye balls.  That was originally supposed to happen during the anatomy unit on January, but 2 weeks of that unit were cancelled due to snow, so the lady who had planned on doing the dissection hadn't been able to.  Although it turned out she was really very, very squeamish and didn't really think she could do the dissection in the first place!  She asked me if I'd be willing to do it during my aiding time, and of course I was more than willing.

The dissections were really well and were really fun.  I've done a ton of eye dissections, so I'm very familiar with them.  Not to brag, but I'm actually pretty good at leading dissections!  The kids started out thinking it as gross, but by the end they were all really enthusiastic and thought it was all really interesting . . . except one 5th grade girl.  She came into the class with a snotty attitude, telling me her mom had said she didn't have to do the dissection.  I told her no one was really "doing" the dissection except me, since there was only one eyeball per class, so she could just stand back and watch.  Then she told me well, she didn't have to watch either.  Fine, whatever, just sit at a table on the other side of the room and listen.  It's interesting.  That's what she did, and I didn't think anything of it.  Her classmates kept telling her to look at things because they were all so enthralled, but she resolutely faced away from us and wouldn't even turn around.  

She drew a picture while she was sitting there, and she left it there on the table for me.  It was a picture of a cow, with all these little thought balloons around it, saying things like, "I want to keep my eyes, thank you very much", and "Why would anyone want to give up their eyes?"  I was rather irritated because she definitely left the impression that I was going around plucking eyes out of innocent cows, leaving them to wander blindly around the fields.  Instead, I would think eyes would be the possibly most agreeable thing to dissect.  No one is raising cows for their eyes alone, LOL.  Those cows aren't wandering around blindly--they've been turned into hamburger!  If we didn't dissect the eyes, they would just be thrown away.  So after feeling so happy that everyone really learned a lot and were so enthusiastic, her attitude really dampened my mood.  

Then the day sort of went downhill from there.  I got the news that Micah had some trouble with the little tiny potty in the nursery, and somehow he dripped all over his pants when he was peeing.  It didn't even occur to me to pack extra clothes for Micah (although I did for Verity, since she blows out fairly regularly still), so they had to scramble.  They found some small pants, so they put Drew's 3T sweatpants on Micah, and put this camo pair of 18 mo. pants on Drew.  Micah went commando, since I didn't even have extra underwear for him (lesson for next week for sure, LOL).  

We made it out to the big van along with Joel and Elena McC, and . . . . the van wouldn't start.  Verity was crying since she was fried, Micah was wanting his underwear, Drew was fussing about something . . . it was very loud.  We tried jump-starting it, but nothing worked.  Nathan and Isaac had to come rescue us driving both our Sienna and the McC's Sienna, since we didn't all fit in one minivan.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love having the older boys be able to drive?  My feeling of relief when they drove in the parking lot was so huge--the cavalry is here!   

We made it back home an hour late.  Continuing our tradition of having random stressful things happen on days when people visit, we had not one but 2 visitors today!  One was a family considering joining us next year, and the other was one of the writers of Tapestry of Grace, who was sitting in on our dialectic lit class.  Oh well, no need to pretend we have everything together, LOL.  

Bob went back over to the church and rescued the big van.  Somehow the wheels were turned too hard (even though I pulled through the parking space??), and so it was locked or something.  Nothing to do with the battery at all, which was a big relief.  Now I am putting off finishing my prep for my Latin class tomorrow.  I don't want to use my brain any more today--I'm so tired!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Update on Luke

Several people have been asking if there is any news on Luke and his needle fragment.  Luke had his pre-op appointment today.  On Thursday Bob brought home a bunch of magnets from old hard drives at work.  They put them together, and Luke spent some time waving them over his knee, making sure the same pole was always pointing down.  After several hours of that, he could bend his knee again, and you could see a lump under the skin, so it seems like the magnet helped bring it up to the surface.  He and Bob actually went back to the ER at Bethesda Saturday morning, hoping someone would just take it out, since it was obviously so much closer to the surface.  But no one wold touch it, since his case had already been briefed to all the ortho residents, and it was someone else's "baby".  But they did do new x-rays, including one with his knee bent, and then they could see that the fragment is between 2 cm and 1/2 inches long.  Because the new x-rays took so long to get, Bob and Luke had an adventure driving home in a big snowstorm, so that was exciting.

So today they scheduled Luke for surgery on Friday morning.  They'll call us on Thursday morning to let us know exactly what time, but most likely we'll have to arrive between 6:00 and 8:00 AM.  Whee! They are going to try to get it out using local anesthesia, but if they can't get it, then they wiil put him under and try again, so that is why they are doing it in the OR.  Unfortunately the OR is booked until Friday.  By then the fragment will have been in his leg for over a week--and Friday is Luke's 16th birthday.  Happy birthday to Luke!  We are praying they will be able to get it out with the local anesthesia, with a minimum of rooting around in there, so that the recovery time is quick.  He'd really like to be able to play in his basketball game on Sunday, but that may be stretching it.  Thanks for praying.  It's been a wild ride!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Special Visitor!

This past week had its share of bad times (Luke's needle incident, frozen pipes), but it also had some wonderful times!  Amy came to visit!!  It was a late birthday present.  It was going to be a surprise, but she and Bob couldn't figure out how to get her from the airport to our house on Tuesday, so last Wednesday night, she called to tell me she was coming.  And *that* was a big wonderful surprise!  It also explained some minor things, like the end of a conversation Bob had with my mom, where he was laughing and saying something like, "Well, we got that settled in the nick of time" or something.  This was still before my birthday, so I assumed some package was coming, although when nothing came, I never thought again about it because my life is not such that I can just sit around and ponder things, LOL.  Also, Bob had been asking some weirdly detailed questions about my Tuesday teaching schedule for Rivendell.  As it turned out, Amy was scheduled to land during my free period after lunch!

Then weather happened.  It wasn't all that bad here, but the government shut down, so Bob didn't go into work on Tuesday.  Amy's connecting flight from Charlotte ended up getting canceled before she even took off from Ohio, so in one of those rare times where things work in your favor, she snagged the last seat on a direct flight from Dayton to D.C., getting in 2 hours earlier!  Woo-hoo!  And although I was teaching anatomy when she landed, Bob was able to run over and pick her up!  Yay!!
It was such a nice visit.  I will say we didn't really show Amy a good time or anything, though!  I taught Latin on Wednesday afternoon (and Amy watched Frozen with the girls, which made them VERY happy.  They couldn't believe she had *only* seen it once before!)  Thursday morning she made the trek to Bethesda with me for Verity's weight check.  Verity is up to 12.8 pounds, so that's  gain of over a pound, which made the doctors happy.  I still have to go back next Thursday for another weight check to make sure she is maintaining, which did not make ME very happy.  Oh well.  Verity also got shots, which did not make HER very happy, although she seems to have forgiven everyone for the stunning betrayal.

Amy also went with me to Faith's gymnastics class Thursday afternoon.  It's only 45 minutes long, so usually I just sit over there, reading and thinking about stuff I could be getting done at home, LOL.  But this week Amy and I talked the whole time, and believe me, the time has never passed so quickly!
Amy did some waterpainting with the girls, read a ton of books to the boys, and also helped the girls make this quilt!  My mom and dad had given Anna this kit to make it, and I just have not had a big chunk of time to help them get going on it.  But Amy diligently helped the girls tie a million knots, as well as fabric-glue on a bunch of shapes, and the quilt looks so cute!  The girls are enjoying sleeping with it.
It was SO good to see Amy again and catch up!  Before the boys started high school, we used to travel back to Ohio a lot more during the year, but lately we've only been able to make one trip during the summer, and sometimes a trip back for Christmas.  That's not enough time!  Plus, it was a godsend for me personally, to have this visit.  The saying goes, "The days are long, but the years are short", and it's never felt more true.  I have felt like the weeks just bleed into each other, with no break at all.  When I'm done with Rivendell on Tuesday and Latin on Wednesday, then it should sort of feel like the weekend, because I'm done teaching.  But Wednesday night 4 people have basketball practices, taking up the whole evening, Thursdays we're back in our regular homeschool morning routine and Faith has her science/art co-op and gymnastics, plus Luke has basketball, then Friday Caleb and Jonathan have art, Caleb's math class, Faith's swimming lesson, Bible study, then the weekend has 6 basketball games, church, Luke's rocketry team meeting, teen CBS for Nathan and Luke, and I'm prepping for my classes . . . and then the week starts again.

So Amy's visit was a much-needed mental health break for me!  It was very refreshing and encouraging.  And it was lovely that she didn't expect to go sight-seeing every day or actually go out anywhere or do exciting things, LOL.  We just did our usual (busy) routine and hung out together, so that was so relaxing.
Here's one last picture from before I took Amy to the airport on Friday.  The space pajamas that Micah is wearing were a gift from Aunt Amy many years ago, when Nathan and Luke were the ages of Micah and Drew.  They've held up quite well, I would say!  We have a second pair downstairs in a tub, but Drew's too big for them this winter.  So many memories from so many years!  I am SO blessed to have such a wonderful faithful friend for so many years!  Thanks again for the visit, Amy--it was such a blessing!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sew, an Accident

Yesterday I was on the phone with Bob when Nathan and Luke came downstairs.  I could tell they were flustered, and Luke pulled up his pant leg to show me a little spot with some blood on his thigh right above his kneecap.  I was looking mildly concerned while still trying to listen to Bob when I heard them saying something about a needle.  I told him I needed to go, and then I heard the full story (although even then I didn't really understand what had happened, so I wasn't quite right in the details when I posted about it on Facebook).

Luke was doing push-ups in his and Nathan's room.  When he finished, he brought his knees forward really fast, up to his chest, so he could get up.  Somehow he hit a needle that was somehow stuck upright-ish in the carpet.  The needle punctured his thigh and broke off right above the kneecap.  It's still a mystery how the needle got up in their room, and how long it had been there.  I mean, they sew on patches and mend little things, but no one remembers doing anything like that lately.  And Luke was right by their door into the bathroom, where he and Nathan both walk barefoot or in socks a zillion times a day.  What are the odds that a needle would lie in wait for however long until someone's thigh hit it at just the right angle?!  Luke hit the jackpot!

We all cast about for things to try.  (Hint:  if you google "broken needle in skin", you will be brought to a bunch of forums for drug users, with foul language and absolutely horrible stories . . . gah.  No drugs for me!)  I called the Tricare nurse helpline, and she told me to have Luke be seen "in the next 6 hours".  This was around 4:30 in the afternoon, which is prime rush hour, plus we were expecting a "snow squall", with bad visibility and high winds, so that didn't seem like a good time to hit the Beltway on a trek to Bethesda.  The Tricare lady agreed and gave us a pre-authorization code for an urgent care place just a few minutes away.

Bob was on his way home, so when he pulled in, Luke got in the car, and they headed off.  The urgent care place took x-rays, so they could see the needle point, but the doctor didn't feel able to deal with it, so he sent them off to a local ER.  The doctor there also did not feel comfortable trying to extract it.  He consulted with an orthopedic surgeon, and there was talk of trying something on Monday. Well, that made it pretty much not an emergency anymore, and we have heard horror stories of Tricare deciding not to pay for situations that it didn't deem as real emergencies for people who had gone to off-base ERs.  At that point, the snow storm had passed through, and rush hour was over, so Bob and Luke stopped home to grab some dinner and a backpack of stuff, and then they headed off to Bethesda.

There happened to be an ortho doc in the ER, so the doctor that was examining Luke consulted with him.  The ortho guy decided he would like to try getting the fragment out.  He made the attempt there in the room, with a CT machine hooked up so he could see where he was aiming.  Alas, however, he could not get it out.  That means the next step is an actual surgery in the OR.  Unfortunately, there weren't any spots open for non-emergency operations today or tomorrow, so as it stands now, Luke will go in Monday afternoon for a pre-op appointment, and THEN they will tell us when the surgery is scheduled, which is a bit inconvenient, since that means I'm not sure what part of my weekly schedule will need to be rearranged.  Tuesday is the only day that really can't work, which of course practically guarantees that will be when it will be scheduled.  In the meantime, Luke has to keep his leg straight, so the fragment doesn't go in farther.  He's missing basketball practices and games, rugby practices, etc., and we don't really have any idea how long recovery will take, assuming they can get this thing out next week.

Bob and Luke got home last night around 2:30 AM, so that was a long night for pretty much nothing.  We would appreciate prayers that the surgery will be successful next week.  What a completely random accident . . . so weird.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Comparison

 Here's a picture of Verity that Grace took a few weeks ago.

 Here are 2 pictures of Grace that I took when she was the same age that Verity is now (a little over 4 months).  Same skinny face and big eyes!

And here is a picture of Grace from Christmas.  She's beautiful--and skinny as a rail!  Verity should be so lucky as to follow in her footsteps!