Friday, July 25, 2008

Amelia's Story - Part 2

If you're just arriving, you may want to skip down to the previous post, which is the beginning of the story.

When we arrived at Scottish Rite, Amelia was already in the ICU and the medics on the helicopter had given her some phenobarbital when she had a seizure on the way over. She was finally getting some restful sleep, and the on-call doctor had already been by and let us know that we'd be seeing a neurologist by the next morning. (Note that just being in that pediatric ICU was a humbling experience. In order to go to the restroom, you had to walk the length of the ICU. I looked around the first time I was heading that direction, and the phrase "there is always someone worse off than you are" must have went through my head a million times. In the waiting room was a family on their knees begging God to please heal their child. It was quite an experience and one I'll never forget. The next couple of times I had to walk through the ICU, I kept my eyes on the floor or straight ahead as some things were just too hard to see. It even comes to my mind today that somewhere there are families experiencing this very thing today, and I should always have them in my prayers.)

The neurologist met with us the next morning and informed us that he wanted to do some tests, but at first observation, he could not find anything wrong. She was doing so well and had not had any more seizures, so we were rather quickly moved to a regular room. He wanted to observe her for a couple of days and do an EEG to see if any seizure activity was showing up. The EEG was normal. They did a CT scan, and it was normal as well. By Tuesday, she still had not had another seizure, so he felt that everything was fine and that it was just a freak occurrence. He was going to let us go home the next day and was going to allow the phenobarbital to be tapered off, but just to make sure everything was covered, he wanted to do an MRI of her brain.

She was scheduled for the MRI the next morning, but it was later into the afternoon before it actually was accomplished. They didn't want her to eat anything before she went down for the MRI so I could feed her just before they performed the test and she'd sleep through it. She was getting so hungry, and finally some agitated nurses helped us get her in. The MRI was completed, and we went back up to the room expecting to go home soon.

In a very short period of time after we returned to her hospital room, the doctor and a nurse came in. I was rather confused as he had already said his good-byes. The rest of my family was downstairs with my other two girls eating supper, and Brad had gone into work that day and was coming back up as soon as he got off work to take us home. The doctor sat down in front of me and said he had some bad news. His first words were, "It's not a tumor." But he went on to say that the MRI was abnormal. Apparently, she had white matter in her brain that was parallel on each side - like a mirror image. He said this was characteristic of a metabolic disorder, and now we had to determine which one she had - as there are many. I had heard enough about metabolic disorders to know this really wasn't good news.

The next plan of action was to draw lots of blood, every eight hours or so for the next day or two, obtain urine samples, and do another spinal tap to obtain spinal fluid samples. All of these things would be needed to perform the many, many different tests that would be required to determine what type of metabolic disorder she had. By Thursday evening, all of these things were completed, and we were finally able to go home. Most of the tests took up to two to three months to obtain the results, so we had quite a wait ahead of us.

But, we didn't just sit around and wait. From the time she entered the ER at our local hospital, we immediately began calling people and asking them to pray for her. Every night as a family, we gathered around her and prayed for her. We taped scripture to her cradle that would be an encouragement to us as we waited and prayed for her to be healed. The few months before she was born, I completed a Beth Moore Bible study called "Believing God." What I learned during that time of study was a tremendous help throughout what we were going through. A phrase she had quoted in one of the chapters especially stuck with me. It said, "When you don't know what to believe God for, just believe Him to be Big." My biggest prayer during this time was for Him to please show Himself Big to us.

In the meantime, she was continued on the phenobarbital, and after a VCUG determined she had kidney reflux, she was placed on daily antibiotics. We followed up at the neurologist's office (He was a wonderful doctor from Colombia and I had a lot of respect for him. He was very kind and compassionate.), and he wanted to repeat the MRI in six weeks to see how much the white matter had progressed at that point. That would give us a clue about how serious her situation was.

We went back for the MRI around six weeks later and then went home and waited for the results. A few days later, someone contacted us and said that her MRI was normal! The white matter that had been seen on the first MRI was no longer there! Praise the Lord!!! Also, as all the tests returned, nothing abnormal was found on any of them!

We went back for another check-up with the doctor, and he said, "I can't explain it." (I was so overwhelmed at that time that I could hardly say anything, but I did send him a letter a few days later telling him how we "could" explain it.) Before beginning to taper her off the phenobarbital, he wanted to do another EEG just to be sure. A few days later, we had the EEG performed, and he called our home and said it was abnormal. I really didn't let that worry me as I knew God was answering our prayers in that situation. So, we repeated it a few weeks later, and just a few days before Christmas, we got a phone call saying that the repeat EEG was completely normal. What a wonderful Christmas present! I was thrilled to be able to begin tapering her off that medicine, and thanks be to God alone, she has never had another seizure.

As of today, she is still on the daily low-dose antibiotics to prevent UTIs and damage to her kidneys. She originally had the kidney reflux in both kidneys, but her last VCUG in October of 2007 revealed that one side had healed and the other was a grade 1. She'll go for her three-year checkup soon, and I'm sure they'll schedule her next VCUG soon after that. I'm praying that it will be healed also so she can drop the antibiotics.

In the meantime, on her past two birthdays, I have been strongly reminded about that time three years ago when we didn't know what was going to happen. I am so thankful that God chose to heal her. Not only that, it made me more thankful for all my children and how I should not take one day for granted. As a friend told me recently whose daughter is graduating from high school this year, "hold on to every moment." That is certainly what I want to do.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Amelia's Story

Amelia was born in July of 2005, and for the following week after her birth, she seemed to be following the normal path that my other two daughters had followed after their birth. She was born on a Saturday, and the following Saturday, she seemed to be quite fussy. As I felt of her, I noticed that she was feeling a little warm and I suspected a fever. I called the nurse at the doctor's office early in the afternoon and told her what was going on. At that point, the thermometer was not showing a fever, but she was definitely feeling warm. The nurse didn't seem alarmed, so we waited about doing anything. For almost the entire day, I had to hold her in one position, and if I moved her too much she would start crying. I remember basically sitting in a chair and holding her for quite a long time. She was still feeling warm and the fact that she wasn't comfortable when she was moved prompted us to make a trip to the ER on Saturday night.

The ER was quite full when we arrived, so we signed in and went and sat down. I was in tears already at this point as I was very upset to be in the emergency room with my one week old baby and couldn't begin to imagine what was going on. A nice older lady sitting next to me started talking to me and suggested that I made sure the ER staff knew how old Amelia was. I did, and almost immediately we were called back into a room. They checked her temp, and it was quite high. The thermometer we had been using evidently was not working properly. At that point, they gave her some Tylenol. The doctor then came in and examined her and said that they would need to do a spinal tap to make sure she didn't have meningitis. They also did x-rays and catheterized her to check her urine for infection. I guess the Tylenol knocked her out as she thankfully slept through the spinal tap. When all that was over, they wanted to admit her. We got a room, and the worse part after that was the nurses trying to find a vein to start an IV on her so they could start antibiotics. Finally, that was accomplished. They started her on at least three antibiotics to cover anything that might be going on. By the next morning, she was resting much better, and later that day it was determined that she had a urinary tract infection. They wanted to keep her until Monday, but you could tell she was already feeling better and was no longer running a fever as of Sunday afternoon. We made plans to be discharged on Monday evening when the doctor made her rounds.

On Monday afternoon, the rest of the family had gone home for a while to rest, and Amelia and I were laying on a sofa in her hospital room. All of the sudden, her arms started jerking. I didn't think anything about it - I was thinking startle reflex? Within an hour or so, she did it a few more times, so I called a nurse in the room the next time it happened. The nurse immediately said that Amelia was having seizures. The doctor came in soon after, and since there was no apparent cause for the seizures, she felt it was best to have her transported to Scottish Rite in Atlanta. In the meantime, as we waited on the ambulance, a hose was connected to the oxygen mechanism in the wall behind the bed, and I was instructed to wave this in Amelia's face every time she had a seizure. She had so many as we waited, and this was so difficult. I was still quite hormonal anyway, and I just could not believe what was going on. (They didn't want to give her anything to stop the seizures as they wanted Scottish Rite to actually see what was happening.)

After two or three hours, the ambulance still had not arrived. We later learned that there was a child in the ER that was determined to be "sicker" than Amelia, so that child was given the ambulance. At that point, it was decided that they would send a helicopter for Amelia. I nearly passed out, especially when they told me that I would probably not be able to ride. We could ask, but it probably would not be possible. They arrived shortly, and as we had been told, it wasn't possible for us to go along, but I have to say that the workers on the ambulance were absolutely wonderful. They quickly talked to us and tried to console us as much as possible and then even gave us a hug before they left. That may have helped my feelings a little bit, but I was still a train wreck. We then went to the parking lot and watched as they loaded her up and took off. We then ran to our car and began the journey to Scottish Rite.

During all of this, we had called my sister thinking that she could come and pick up my mother (who doesn't like to drive in Atlanta) and take her to Scottish Rite since Brad and I knew we wouldn't be leaving anytime soon after we got there. There was a mix up and Angela went to Scottish Rite instead. This turned out to be a huge blessing as she was there before the helicopter left us, and she was able to let us know the moment it arrived in Atlanta. I was then able to rest a little easier when I knew she was on the ground.

(I'm out of time, so I'll continue the story tomorrow.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Amelia!

It's hard for me to believe that Amelia is turning "3" today! We had her party on Sunday evening, but we forgot one very important thing. She had requested several weeks ago that we hunt eggs at her birthday party, and we completely forgot! She got so caught up in her presents - namely a little pool with slide and other objects that squirts out water in all directions - that it didn't occur to any of us. So, that's on our agenda for today - to hunt eggs. We'll also have a special lunch and go out for ice cream with daddy after supper.

For weeks now, whenever anyone asks her how old she is, she usually says, "I'm two, but I'm trying to get three." Well, congratulations! You made it!

She has been such a wonderful addition to our family. I never imagined myself having three children, much less four, but I hate to think what I would have missed out on! Amelia is a miracle, and if I have time, I hope to tell her story tomorrow. In Hebrew, Amelia means "work of the Lord." We have definitely seen Him work in her life, and we are forever grateful.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Day at Our House

After reading Becky's blog, I thought it would be fun to document what a day looks like at our house. Not sure if it's typical (or if there is such a thing), but here's what today looks like:

6:00 - Alarm goes off.

6:15 - I slowly roll out of bed and make it to the living room for my daily Bible reading, currently reading Isaiah (unfortunately, I'm not understanding a lot of what I'm reading. This is not a book of the Bible that I've studied much before, so I think I need to do that in the future.) - Note that I'm thankful it's July, and I'm only one day behind according to my "Read the Bible in a Year Calendar."

6:45 - Pick up and put away clutter in living room and quick clean kitchen (thankfully there wasn't much to do since I actually had enough energy to clean up after supper last night!). Put a load of clothes in washer and dryer.

7:00 - Deep clean master bathroom and closet. The closet was in need of a good sweeping and putting away of clothes from the past few days.

7:30 - Iron Brad's shirt for work and fix his lunch and gigantic water jug.

7:45 - Turn on computer and check e-mail, etc.

8:00 - Mill wheat and make biscuits w/butter and jelly for breakfast. Continue computer time while they're cooking.

8:30-8:45 - Walk dog. Wake up Madison and Cari and eat breakfast. (I'm still letting them sleep in a bit as we're just getting off our summer schedule, and I'm trying to slowly wean them off. Plus, we're still a bit exhausted from quite a busy weekend - all day softball tournament on Saturday, church at our home on Sunday morning and Amelia's family birthday party on Sunday evening - all enjoyable of course, just a little tiring.)

9:00 - Girls are started on their chores while I get dressed and straighten my bedroom. Wash/dry/fold more clothes.

9:15 - Cari normally has to empty one level of the dishwasher but because of an episode last night had to do her sister's level as well today. I guess she was on a roll because she went on to reload the washer with the dirty breakfast dishes and wash in the sink the bigger stuff that I don't put in the washer - without being asked! Thanks, Cari! (I had to mention that in order to understand what happens next.)

9:45 - Now I'm ready to go downstairs and get their school work ready to begin. About the time I hit the last step, I hear what sounds like a waterfall on the other side of the basement (thankfully, the unfinished side). I was afraid it was the hot water heater, but then Cari came rushing down the steps and said there was a small flood in the kitchen.....

So, I go back upstairs (my legs are actually sore from the many times I've gone up and down those stairs the past two days!). Apparently, when she took the stopper out of the drain hole, the pipe beneath the sink separated from the drain, and all of the water that was in the sink ended up in the cabinet and onto the floor. I'm not sure how the basement was involved. The "positive" aspect of this: I guess I needed a good reason to clean out from under the kitchen sink....... We brought in towels and got the water out of the floor and then cleared out all the stuff from under the sink and dried it all off and then wiped down the cabinet floor. I re-attached the pipe to the drain, and it's not leaking, but I have a feeling that it needs something more. I have this feeling because the same thing happened a few months ago, and I forgot to ever mention it to Brad so he could look at it and see what it needed. So, Brad, if you're reading this, now you know. (Because I'm sure I'll probably forget by the time you get home today.) Then I put everything in its proper place and finally made it back downstairs.

10:00 - School work!

11:45 - We're hungry. Time to eat lunch - cheese pizza and garden fresh tomato sandwiches! Followed by popsicles. Clean kitchen, again. Wash/dry/fold more clothes - I save the putting away of the folded clothes for the mornings. They sit in stacks on top of the dryer until then.

12:30 - Back to the school work!

2:00 - School work is complete. I have to mention that the past two days have gone really well. I know it's only been two days, but I'm really enjoying this curriculum (My Father's World) so far. For the Bible and Geography lessons, the focus verse this week is John 3:16, and the lessons are on different people groups. Today, we made a poster with John 3:16 on it and used National Geographic magazines to cut out pictures of people who may need prayer (or representations of people groups that are need in prayer) and pasted their pictures around the verse. It was rather eye opening just looking at those magazines, and I think we all needed a reminder that some people live very differently than we do in other parts of this world, and they really need Jesus.

Madison is using Apologia Science this year and said this morning that she might actually like science this year! - she's usually a "history" girl.

Girls go outside and play/swim while I'm back and forth, inside and outside, and preparing supper in the crock pot - Chicken Fajitas.

2:30 - I need a nap, and so does Amelia, so that's what happens. Madison and Cari go to their rooms for reading time.

3:00 - Amelia is still napping. I just needed a power nap. Snack time of swiss cheese and crackers while I'm sitting here typing on my blog.

3:30 - Madison is baking cookies. Cari is laying down on the couch as she says she spun around too many times in the pool and has been nauseous ever since.

4:00 - Our contract is up with the real estate agent, so we're just going to do the By Owner thing for a few months so we can easily take it off the market in three months (if we need to) when the baby arrives. I made some flyers last week, so now I'm going to print several and put them in a "Take One" box that I purchased at Wal-Mart. Then I need to attach everything to the stakes (including the For Sale by Owner sign) and then go find a place in the yard to place them.

5:00 - Not a lot going on so I take time to read a few pages in a book I'm currently reading about the Bradley Method of childbirth. Girls are watching Food Network and/or playing in their rooms or downstairs.

5:45 - Get ready to take Madison to softball practice. We're having thunderstorms, so she'll just be going to the batting cages today.

6:15 - Brad got off early, so we meet up with him in town and he is able to take Madison to practice. Cari, Amelia, and I come home and eat supper and watch a movie.

8:00 - Everyone is home now, and there is lots of activity.

9:00 - Clean kitchen.

9:30 - Shower and get ready for bed.

10:00 - Goodnight!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Encouraging Messages Regarding the Blessing of Children

I enjoy listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss's radio program Revive Our Hearts. This past Monday and Tuesday, July 7th and 8th, she interviewed Holly Eliff, mother of eight children. The topic was "Embracing God's Gift of Children." This was a great series. Click below if you'd like to listen. You can listen online, download them to your computer, MP3, or iPod, or you can read the transcripts.

Monday, July 7th: A Full Quiver

Tuesday, July 8th: God's Provision for Children

Apple Pie! Yum!!!

My friend Liz may not know it, but she created a monster when she brought her homemade apple pie to our fellowship meal last Sunday. It was delicious! - and she even brought some vanilla ice cream to go with it. I thought it was also the perfect complement to the 4th of July weekend - not too many things are more American than apple pie.

The problem is, I'm finding myself wishing I had an apple tree so I could make an endless supply of apple pies! That's not going to happen anytime soon, but I did visit some friends on Monday who had just been apple picking near their home. (I promise I did not know that ahead of time!) These very generous friends insisted I take some with me, and I'm sure you know what happened to those apples!

The above picture is my apple pie that I made using one of Tammy's recipes. It tasted great, and I was so thankful to find a homemade crust that actually works out well when using freshly ground whole wheat flour. In the past, the recipes I've found for whole wheat crusts have usually delivered a chewy crust. I prefer crispy, and that's what I got with her Foolproof Pie Crust. (I did cut the recipe in half since I was only making one pie, and I probably ended up using a bit more flour so it wouldn't be quite so sticky.) I highly recommend this recipe!

Nap time.....

Monday, July 7, 2008

Our 4th of July

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend! We had some enjoyable family time, and here are some of the highlights...

We left home around 9:30 a.m. and headed north to Helen, Georgia - about a two-hour drive. "Helen is a re-creation of an alpine village complete with cobblestone alleys and old-world towers." As you're driving through, you feel like you are in another country.

We packed a picnic, but it was raining when we arrived. We knew it was just a passing shower, so we had our picnic in the car while we waited for the rain to stop. It had stopped by the time we had finished eating.

We then went tubing in the Chattahoochee River. (That's not us - couldn't get a picture since our camera is not waterproof.) This was so much fun! It was crowded of course, and there were the occasional traffic jams and what felt like "bumper boats," but we had a great time. The "bumper boats" came in handy whenever we got stuck on a rock - if you waited a minute or two, someone was sure to run into you and get you going again. The tubing lasted for around 1.5 to 2 hours.

After the tubing, we walked around the town of Helen and visited a candy store. Cari and Amelia spotted some chocolate covered Rice Krispies treats covered in sprinkles on a stick, so that's what you see them enjoying in the picture. Brad, Madison, and I enjoyed some homemade peanut butter fudge that was so smooth and just melted in your mouth.

When we finished up there, we had planned to drive back home. But, Brad said he felt like driving further north, and that was fine with me. We ended up in Hiawasee, Georgia and were fortunate to find a room at a Holiday Inn Express, which was near a beautiful lake - Lake Chatuge. We went and ate supper, went back to the hotel and rested a bit, and then drove over to the lake to watch some wonderful fireworks - some of the best we've seen in a few years. (Obviously, we haven't quite figured out how to take pictures of fireworks!)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Education from the Chiropractor

I'm now down to visiting the chiropractor once every two weeks. (I began with three times a week, then two times a week, then once a week, and now where I am now.) I was more than ready for my visit this week, which happened yesterday. I am now 22 weeks along in the pregnancy, and I'm beginning to feel the familiar lower back pain. But as I have been visiting the chiropractor, I am learning that it's not really the lower back that is the problem. In fact, in order to fix my back pain, he didn't touch my back! He worked on my feet and my neck!? Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But it worked. My left foot was the one with the big problem yesterday, and evidently that correlates with the right side of your body - usually with the hip, back, or neck. My neck happened to have a lot of problems on the right side yesterday. How interesting!

Evidently, I don't have much of an arch left in my feet. I never really paid attention to that until he pointed it out to me. He says that a lot of problems that people have with back pain are actually related to their feet - and I happen to fit that category.

So, after fixing my problem yesterday, he informed me that it will just keep coming back if I don't stop wearing those flip flops and sandals all the time! I should only wear shoes with arch supports. He also said I should avoid walking around with bare feet. But that's one of the benefits of summer, isn't it? I really don't function well inside the house with shoes on. I tried the Fly Lady trick of cleaning with shoes on - it only slows me down and also confuses my 2-year-old. She knows I only wear shoes when we're about to leave to go somewhere, so she's constantly asking, "where are we going?"

Looks like I have a choice - 1) listen to the chiropractor and only wear shoes with good arch supports - hopefully I can find some stylish shoes and won't have to visit the SAS store just yet - or 2) deal with the back pain. I guess option number one is the best choice.

At any rate, yesterday's visit was very interesting and informative. So, if you happen to be having some back or neck pain, take a look at your feet!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Signs of Summer

Here's my cucumber plants - no blooms yet.

I almost had some blueberries, but I didn't get them covered up when we had a morning freeze back in the spring. They've been this size for two months!

I have a cantaloupe bloom! But don't worry, I'm not getting too excited yet. I know we're still in the fragile stages!

Note to self: Pansies need water.

My Hosta is growing nicely this year, but if we don't get some rain soon, they may not be very pretty much longer. I think we have a watering ban except for after 10:00 p.m. (I need to check on that.) If so, I need to do some late night watering.

Here's Amelia playing in the sand. Brad had purchased this for an outside project, but Amelia has now claimed it for her own.

Madison at the All-Star Tournament last week.

Typical Sisters.....