Monday, July 28, 2008

Surgery Pictures

Here is Children's Hospital in Birmingham, in the UAB medical district.

Owen played in the one-day surgery waiting room before we were called back. He was so excited. The poor thing didn't have a clue how bad his "throat ouchie" was going to be.
The interning anesthetist went over Owen's medical history and made friends with Owen. He appeared to have a heart for kids.
Owen got to drive a car while we were waiting for the call from the operating room. His new Paw Paw bear got a ride too. Paw Paw W. gave him the bear before we left Atmore.

Still waiting...and listening to Daddy's iPod. Bless us all, Owen got a dose of Versed before he had to go to surgery. After that took effect, he couldn't have cared less about being carried away from Mom and Dad by a total stranger.
This was the morning after his surgery, in the Special Care Unit, right before we got moved to his room on the 5th floor. Jason had spent the night in that chair, getting zero sleep. I had spent the night at the hotel room with Jack and got nearly 5 hours.
We had a nice visit from Lisa, who was up in Birmingham for her job as a legmaker!
Owen still wasn't too excited about life.
Not totally excited about drinking, either, but wanted to take a little walk down the hall. Fortunately for us all, Owen doesn't care about the color of his cup---yet.

He felt a little better after a sponge bath and real pajamas, and was ready to cuddle with Jack.
And then he found the bed controls.
The next day, our nurse Ms. Beth saline locked his IV, and we got to take a wagon ride over to the Children's Harbor, which is an absolutely awesome building across the street with all sorts of games and activities for parents and children. It even had a basketball court and an exercise room, and nap rooms, showers and laundry facilities for parents.
Owen tired out quickly, and wanted to come back and play Clifford and Elmo on Daddy's computer.

Jack got lots and lots of Grandma time.

Owen's fire jammies were an absolute hit with the hospital staff. They spread the word amongst themselves about "that cute little boy with the fire pajamas." One CA stuck her head in to check Owen, and then laughingly told me she wanted me to make her husband a pair of fire jammies.

Our nurse Ms. Quinita, who worked the 3-11 shift, was outstanding. She even went so far as to bring Owen his very own stethoscope, because he kept asking her to "hear my heart."

One last Owen-requested heart check by his nurse Ms. Beth on the day of discharge. We loved Beth--she had a little 3-year-old boy named Evan and a 9-month-old girl named Emma.
All loaded up and ready to go home. Guess who slept 90% of the way back to Atmore?

Friday, July 25, 2008

The five senses

If your five senses were present in room 541 at Children's Hospital,

You would SEE a normal-looking boy with a very bothersome IV in his left hand.

You would TASTE some pretty bland, soft food--Jell-O, mashed potatoes, yogurt, ice cream--doctor's orders. I'm not sure why the ham and cheese sandwich, French fries, over-cooked chicken, mushy broccoli and oatmeal cookies were on his tray, other than for the highly prized quality of sogginess that most hospital food achieves after being under a lid for a while!

You would HEAR loud snoring from a small boy. The doctor says that will tone down as his swelling decreases.

You would SMELL--well, in short, post-anesthesia gas. If only we could put a scratch-n-sniff feature on this post....

You would TOUCH some very sweet, soft, freshly sponge-bathed and lotioned little boy skin.

Owen ate a little lunch under Mommy's direction, then got very tired of swallowing, so he got some more Lortab. He then quickly fell asleep with the help of a back rub and a story from Grandma B.

We are forcing fluids down his throat and hoping to have his IV removed this afternoon. Probable discharge tomorrow morning. We are feeling the need to get home to our little girl and life as normal.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

surgery day + 1

owen is sleeping and daddy is pulling the night shift again. i left owen around seven thirty this morning while he was sleeping off his final dose of loritab and didn't see him again until around five this evening. the difference was very encouraging. he was awake and begging for his bug bite crackers. the doctors cut that idea short so he polished off two cups of orange jello. his throat started hurting again when he was trying to go to sleep so he needed a little motrin but that was his first pain med since the loritab this morning. children heal amazingly fast. he moved to a private room from the scu around ten thirty this morning and that is a welcome change. if you want to feel good about your life, just hang around a children's hospital. most of us would choose to keep our own problems.

a central waiting room services the burn unit, pediatric icu, and the scu. during the day it is difficult to find a seat and around four this morning there were probably fifteen people sleeping there. no one looked remotely close to comfortable. one lady from near alexander city has been there since last saturday. her four year old grandson was hit by a drunk driver and drug under the car. he will need reconstructive surgery on his face and he had one leg amputated just below the knee. she doesn't plan on going home before her grandson and he won't be going home anytime soon. a girl in the bed next to owen's room in scu would have nasty coughing spells and needed the nurses to pound on her back--presumably to loosen the mucus in her chest so she could cough it up. a little boy from arkansas was visiting his dad in mississippi and ended up in the burn unit at uab. some children have parents with them whenever possible. some don't. many of the parents appear quite poor. many who appear the poorest are single women. i cannot imagine the stress of trying to care for a sick child alone and with limited to nonexistent resources. sometimes i worry about owen and his future. this hospital gives me a perspective that, while not enjoyable, is necessary. God has blessed us tremendously.

i need to make a vending machine run while junior is good and asleep. i think there is a juice machine by the cafeteria. if i am lucky, they will have fruit juice that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient. it can be very difficult not to live on junk while staying in a hospital.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Surgery Day

owen finally has his pharyngeal flap. we left home yesterday afternoon and stopped at the bass pro shops in prattville where owen had a wonderful time at the fish tank--a fun store even if you don't hunt, fish, or camp. part of the thrill for owen was having his bontrager grandparents along and his little sister at home. he was so excited he couldn't sleep till eleven last night. grandpa b left for indiana this morning and grandma stayed behind to help with jack. we arrived at the hospital by 10:30 this morning but since owen's was the last surgery on the schedule he didn't begin his procedure until 3:00 this afternoon. for a little boy with nothing to eat or drink he did fantastic. i remember him asking for milk two or three times all day. about thirty minutes after owen went into the o.r. i received a call from the surgeon wanting permission to remove his tonsils. it seems they were "enormous" and he couldn't do the pharyngeal flap procedure with the tonsils in place so out they came. dr. wiatrak said the surgery went very well but there is really no way to predict how much it will improve his speech. success will be giving him the physical tools to speak properly and the ability to unlearn all of his bad compensation mechanisms. we won't know if the surgery accomplished this until the swelling goes down and he spends a lot of time with a speech therapist.

now we are in the "special care unit" which is a step down from intensive care. owen is sleeping off the anesthesia and morphine. joyce, jack, and ruby are out getting supper and i am hanging out with owen. i will get the night shift and the scu rules prohibit eating, drinking, or sleeping at the bedside. excellent. he should only have to spend one night in the unit and move to a private room tomorrow.


While Jason was out finding supper and I was out feeding Jack, Mom stayed in the room with Owen. When I came back, Mom looked at me with a funny smile and said that 20 minutes beforehand, Owen had pulled out the tubes in his nose and handed them to her while she was standing at his bedside. (The tubes were there to maintain an airway.) The nurse made a call to the doctor and found out that if the tubes need to be replaced, Owen will probably have to undergo anesthesia again, which if needed, won't happen until morning. We are hopeful that won't be necessary, as his O2 sat is still looking good at 96% on room air.

10 minutes until we get kicked out of here. We'll keep updating...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jack Attack

So far today, I've been puked on twice by Jack, and it's only the early afternoon. Apparently his eyes are bigger than his stomach. He must have been overeating; instead of a polite burp or satiated belch after his feedings, he spewed vomit. Thankfully, this happens only a small percentage of the time. You'd think I'd learn and feed him on the accursed plaid couch instead of my comfy recliner.

Yesterday, at 3 weeks old, he weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces, up from a birth weight of 6 lbs., 3 oz. So the little guy is definitely thriving in spite of the occasional spit up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One Bad Pig

One bad swamp, rather--home to many wild hogs that feed off the crops. After weeks of late nights and early mornings scouting for wild hogs that have been tearing up a corn field, Jason finally brought home a trophy. He insisted I get out of bed to see this:

Thoroughly disgusting. And these are just babies.

He was probably returning the rude awakening, fair enough. I insisted he get up out of his Sunday-afternoon-living-room-floor coma to see this incredible cloud formation:
It was pretty cool--the kind of thing that makes you want to crack open ye olde Earth Science college textbook and study a bit.

In other news, Helen is much more loving and accepting of her baby brother Jax, as she calls him.
I just received a nice gift--entertained youngun's. Jason and I stayed up late Monday night to put a new play kitchen together for the kids. Their faces on Tuesday morning were worth it!

Necessary feature for an Owen-pleasing play kitchen: a microwave that goes ding. Try saying that to a salesman with a straight look on your face.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

More pictures of Jack

For those of you near and far who are needing a Jack fix:His ears look like they might be the stick-out kind!
Fourth of July. Jason's soybeans in the background.
First Sunday at church. I couldn't resist putting him in the same preemie-size outfit Owen wore for his first Sunday. Jack wasn't too happy about the hat, but he humored me for a bit.

And check out my SIL's new photography site! She took some pictures of Jack--click on the links to find her baby album.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mixed Reactions

We are home, and all doing well. Jack is a terrific eater and a wonderful sleeper. He's been waking up twice a night to eat voraciously and then fall back into a milk coma. He stays awake for a little while after daytime feedings, and has just been a sweetie so far. We hope he stays that way.

Here I am the morning of my induction, 40 weeks plus 2 days, ready to be done with the whole deal.

Here is Helen on her first visit to see baby Jack. Not very happy with life.
A trip to the candy machine with a treat of peanut M&Ms helped. Peanut M&Ms can solve a lot of problems.
Grandmas can solve a lot of problems too.
Helen still does not want to hold her brother, but will allow him to be in Mommy's lap while she is there too. Baby steps....

Owen, on the other hand, is delighted with baby Jack. "Baby Jack came out of Mommy's tummy!!"