Thursday, February 25, 2010

Baby Steps

Well folks, we're back from our Orthopaedic check-up.
And yes, I realize that was two full days ago, but I just couldn't stomach writing about it until now.

Let me back up and say......I think I tend to err on the side of sunshine....or atleast glasses three-quarters full.....but Tuesday was bad. 
I was frustrated and angry and not afraid to admit it.

As my dear friend reminded me, it's ok to tell God when you're not happy about something.
He knows life is not all rainbows and warm-fuzzies.  So I and God had 'words.'
And I shed lots of tears.
I'm tired and my son is more tired.  And it's all so unfair.
(And if you're tired of reading about our pity parties...feel free to click here and read about happier times.)

But the reality of the situation is that we will never reach the end of a timeframe where Merrick is magically back to 'normal.'
At no point should I have expected him to put down that foot and take a step.
Maybe I didn't ask enough questions about this surgery, but now we know.  This ordeal is far from over.

We traded one type of gnawing, inexplicable pain, for another.  An avoidable, uncomfortable straining pain.
And it's this new pain that has become a reality for him.
He now knows how to cope with this new pain.
He hobbles/crawls/scoots or uses the walker around our house....and in public he is frustrated by the slowness of his walker, so he begs to be pushed.   Merrick would much rather hop in his wheelchair than spend all day hopping on one leg and steering around his walker.  Wouldn't you? 
Someone asked me about the walker the other I struggled to unload a wheelchair and 5 kids in the rain.....yeah, well, I'll force him to do many things, but that darn walker really does look torurous.  So I get all motherly, and compassionate, and let him take the break.

What I thought would be a blessing to him is too much of a workout.  He has spent the last 6 weeks tenderly nursing this bum leg, and now we expect him to use it again?
Pshaw!  No way, it hurts mom!

Compounding our issue on the way to our Dr. appt he tripped and hurt the top of his foot.
He was using his walker and dropped his 'bad' leg too close to the ground.  I wasn't nearby, but he says he fell onto the top of his foot.  His screams of pain and loads of tears told me it was more than just a stubbed toe.  So I mentioned it to the Dr. during our visit.  I was concerned to have him put weight on it if there was a sprain or even a hairline fracture.  But my concern was pooh-poohed.  And my request for an x-ray deemed unnecessary.  I was told to return in 3-4 days if it still hurt.
Bah!  Can you see where my anger began?  The Momma Bear in me was ready to roar!  You want me to take home a hurting son for half a week when we're here NOW? 

Next, the Dr. explained that he expects much limping, and only gradual weight bearing at first........No rough play for 2 more weeks, and then a total of 6 more weeks of physical therapy before he hopes to see Merrick walking around again.  Um, I'm sorry, at what point did I miss the synopsis of this 12 week process?  When we talked about surgery I was only given info bit by bit.  There is much to be said about asking as many questions as possible, but at that time I only had his casttime recovery in mind.
This trickle of information was obviously meant to keep us limitedly informed so we wouldn't be overwhelmed.  But MAN!  Talk about a shock!

So now the work begins.  I keep praying over his foot and we don't see any bruising or swelling- so the likelyhood of it being broken is slim.  I just wish I knew how hard I should push him.  Both Jarrod and I are so eager to see him walk again, that we talk him through each motion, distract him from the pain of a step, and cheer him for every milestone.  But we're all so tired.  And if he really didn't break anything then his tears are just indicative of how hard we will have to fight for each step. 

Physical therapy is no joke.  This continues to be a long hard journey for Merrick, my softy, sensitive, uber dramatic, and hater of all things uncomfortable middle child. 
Keep praying the miracles our way.  I know they are coming, but they sure are taking their time!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Misty watercolored miracles

It's so easy to get caught up in survival mode, no?
Breakfast, clean up breakfast, school/library/errands, Lunch, playtime/school, prep dinner, Dinner, clean-up, laundry/chores/bedtime/school prep/blog, sleep. 
Lather, rinse, repeat!

That schedule almost makes a dent in a possible day's filling.......and I didn't even add in the kid's activities/classes/appointments, etc.

So life in general is busy enough that a week can slip away all too quickly.  Next thing you know, you're enjoying Daddy time on the weekends and getting ready to start all over again. 
It's like washing the dishes....didn't I JUST load/unload this thing?

So I'm jumping off that crazy train for just a second to update you.  And may I add, thank you to those of you who hound me to put up these updates.  I need the reminders ;)

Through the downpour of busyness, we've seen miracles appear and vanish as quickly as a rainbow.  The wonder lasts for those moments, but if I share it with you, the happy thoughts can linger a little longer right?

For instance,  Merrick finally received his Junior Walker.  This little piece of aluminum has granted him simultaneous independence and exhaustion.  Walking with it is similar to walking with a pair of crutches...only with more stability....and without the aching armpits.  I'll detail on our family blog, how perfect the timing of it's delivery was.  Suffice it to say....this small piece of equipment is such a blessing for our son!
Sometimes we forget how limited he is right now.  I actually pause at the email inviting us on a hike.....wait are we free?  Oh, that's right, hiking is not really our thing right now!   But having a walker he can use...frees him up from banging around in a wheelchair, or needing someone to manuever him around corners.  Ah, freedom, a bright and shining arch!

Secondly, I may have mentioned our bill pile....steadily growing since December.  The medical bills which will total in the thousands.....and for which we had no other recourse than to begin paying with credit cards.  Those medical bills just sat there....staring at us.   Then tonight we finally got around to filing our taxes.  Wouldn't you know that we will receive MORE than enough to pay off those bills when all is said and done.  And poof! Another rainbow appeared, a promise of provision and a substitute to carry our load.
That promise was always there.....we didn't NEED the tax return to know it....but our precious Savior is so merciful.  He knew our meager faith could only take so much, so He provided this remind us we were never alone.  He has never left us....even when things look bleak.  He has given us a spectrum of hope.

So now as we're in our final week of non-weight bearing therapy/hobbling.....I'm waiting expectantly for the next light show.  It will have been over 6 weeks since Merrick tried walking.  I'm believing on the miracle of his muscles to strengthen and his body to remember how to balance.  For all of the exercises we've done with his legs....and for all the ones we have forgotten to do.  That the scar tissue that goes through such thick muscle has been massaged enough to remain flexible for it's graduation to walking.  It's not a rainbow I hope will be there.   At this point it's a miracle I KNOW we will see.

And that my friends, is what we've been up to....just sky watching a bit, and waiting.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

When I grow up I want to be a Firefigher! (TOSHC Review)

In the next few posts you'll see me switching things up a bit. 
I have partnered with The Old Schoolhouse (TOS) Homeschool Crew to review a few homeschool products. 
I'm thrilled to 'share the wealth' with you well as to try out new learning tools with our kids!

The Old Schoolhouse is a 'MUST READ' magazine in the homeschooling world.....but they also have a fantastic storefront with a constant influx of new materials. 
The list of Freebies is ever changing, making TOS a favorite stop on my homeschool resource list.

First up, we checked out their E-book 'When I grow up I want to be a Firefighter!'

This unit study could not have come at a better time since we will be visiting a firehouse this semester. 
I usually like to put together a unit study before a family field trip, but this time I was saved from all the leg work!  I was super impressed with the information packed into these 70+ pages.  Not only did we learn about the day-to-day life of a modern-day Firefighter...the packed-out booklet took us back through the history of firefighting and broke out the information into science, math and language arts lessons.  Some of our favorite topics were the descriptions of a bucket brigade, the use of robotics in firefighting and the current salaries of Firefighters nationwide.  For a topic this familiar, our boys were surprised at how much more they could learn about these heroes!

And Oh, the simplicity of it all....using the booklet was easy.  Each day we sat down and read a new section from the book.  The kids colored the coloring pages while I read. 
Next, we'd follow up with a couple of the activities included to reinforce our reading.  Our second grader enjoyed the math problems that covered everything from bar graphing to multiplication and averaging.  For our Kindergartner there was copywork, a fill-in-the-story script and tons of games for us to play.   This series is recommended for ages 4-10, and I agree wholeheartedly!  Though I'd extend that age range up to the 30s...(ahem) since even I learned a great deal. Without purchasing anything else, we were able to dive into firefighting and come away feeling informed! 

What little boy hasn't dreamt of becoming a firefighter?  Now our kids know more of what they'd be getting into.   I can't wait for the kids to take their new knowledge to the firehouse!  I'm praying they'll be bold enough to talk about all that they learned.

'When I grow up I want to be a Firefighter!' is offered for $7.95, and I think it's affordable enough that I'll be recommending this e-book to our Co-op, so the other kids can prep for our trip!   It's so nice to have everything from activities to history lessons all laid out for you instead of scouring the library, or the internet for resources.  When it comes to supplemental units in our schooling, who has time for all that?  Besides, I trust TOS to provide quality information at an accessible cost. 

If you are interested in the 'TOS WannaBe' series; check out these books as well:

I personally love e-books for their easy storage.  I have enough booklets crowding our shelves.  Once I download an e-book file, it is mine to keep and print out at my leisure.....No running to make copies or ruining the original materials!  Of course each purchase is no matter how easy it may be!  But at that price, TOS makes it easy to snatch up a book for your own family!

So that about raps it up for my first review....let me know what you think in the comment section!
And check out more excellent TOS products here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Quick Merrick Update

I seriously haven't had an ounce of 'extra' energy to post here.
But Merrick....he on the other hand is FULL of energy ;)
So we're at 8 days sans body cast...and things are looking pretty good.
Two days later we visited the physical therapist...
and he and Merrick hit it off! 
It helped that they have the same birthday....
AND the first day was super easy since Merrick still cannot put weight on his leg.
On the other hand, The PT guy...we'll call him Sam, told me that he HAS to start exercising because the both legs are showing atrophy. 
And if you know me by now....all I need is a little permission!
Let's get this boy moving! Just tell us what NOT to do :D
So Merrick came home with arm strengthening exercises and instructions to do slow leg lifts everyday.  He has been so faithful to do it.....grimacing all the way.
He basically cannot lift his leg completely straight....sweet boy.  If  it's not one thing it's another!
In the meantime, we've kept busy...jumping back into our routine....and swapping his GINORMO wheelchair for one my mom uses after her knee surgeries.
(Poor guy....we should probably remove that purple bag from the back!)
So on Monday we ventured to Fenton's Creamery in Oakland...and then ended up at this beautiful Regional park aftewards.  While most of the boys were wandering the hills exploring....we busied ourselves at the park.  Then I decided to take Merrick for 'a walk...'
First we crossed this was MUCH safer than it looks...but I loved how we tottered on the we stopped to take pictures.  I promise it was over a very small trickle of water!
Then we came up to the hill that the other boys had climbed. 
I popped Merrick on my back and up we went....
I made it pretty far right?  See where we parked the wheelchair?
....but as we looked up the surprisingly steep hill.  Well let's just say the revelation of my natural clumsiness struck me.....and Merrick and I shared a nervous giggle as we decided to head back down to safety.
We'll leave the climbing to the rest of you monkeys!
So now we wait......Merrick has a junior walker that should be delivered in the next few days.  And then we'll keep the wheelchair for long trips only.  Merrick has figured out how to hobble around pretty confidently......So I find myself walking through the day mentally taking note of which leg is his injured leg.  Right...oh, yeah, his right leg. 
His skin is completely recovered from it's time in the cast....and he treats his leg gingerly....but he's fought back for a lot of his independence.  He even climbed this ladder on one leg while we were at the park!
So there you have it.....
check in with our family blog for more details. 
But we are alive and kicking....literally!
And I'm praising God that Merrick still has two legs...even if one is weaker than the other for now. 
Please join us in praying for a full recovery...and strength for him to get a little baseball time in this season!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Cast-Off: a fact sheet

Fact:  We visited the Orthopaedic Specialist today.
Fact:  We went in smiling.
Fact:  This was only 25 days after surgery.
Fact:  It takes 6-8 weeks for a broken bone to heal.
Fact:  It takes less than 5 minutes to remove a single spica cast with a saw and a pair of scissors.
Fact:  That part didn't hurt.
But it was all downhill from there.
Fact:  Neither one of us was prepared for the stiffness in his joints, the pain at the site of the incision, the muscle soreness, the renewed lack of mobility or the mandate to keep him off his leg for another 3 weeks.
Fact:  The cast went away, but so did our smiles.
Fact:  Just when you think you've got it all figured out,
a trial will come to test your resolve.....and force you to admit on WHOM you are relying.
Fact:  I had started to rely on my own strength again.
Fact:  We needed another talk about the power of prayer and the temporal state of our worries.
In light of eternity, and the relative size of the troubles of others.....
3 more weeks of wheelchairs and lifting with our knees is a drop in the bucket of a much grander scheme.
Fact:  Today was no surprise to God. 
He knew the number of our tears before we even knew we'd be sad.
Fact: We have much to be thankful for.
Fact:  By bedtime we were smiling again.

A Letter to the Church of Facebook

This might get a bit deep, so I thought I'd put up pretty pictures I took at the Academy of Science last week.  Enjoy the light as we ponder.
All of this drama in our life has me thinking.
You realize who is really interested in your life when one of your loved ones is hurting.
And I don't mean that in any accusatory way, since I know that I fail to send a card, offer a meal, or make a call even if I'm deep in prayer for a person.  But I ask you...if we DON'T do these things....then who will?
My hubby LOVES to give me a hard time about my time on Facebook, but then he saw all of the responses we received during this time of praying for Merrick. 
You know who you are.
And though my thank you notes are not nearly finished.....
You have to know how grateful we are, for the line you emailed, the prayers you sent, the food you cooked, the presents you blessed our kids with, and for the visits.....and so much more.
A dear friend of mine once said that her neighbor converted to a certain church because the members of that church had brought her soup when she was sick.
It was simple....they had invested in her life, and she saw truth in their religion. 
Love in action.
The thing is, I'm not that impressionable.  Our faith in God will stand
whether or not we receive from others. 
BUT it is quite a testimony to the power of this medium,
that the majority of this concern, prayer and care came from Facebook friends. 
The thing about relationships is that they take an investment.
I chose to invest in our blog as a way to document our journey, as well as to update as many people as possible.  After the first visit to a specialist it became impossible to call more than a few close friends and my family each day to report new if I just updated the blog-hooked it to FB, then everyone received the info simulatneously, or as they were interested. 
I don't have to explain this information highway phenom to you.
The thing is.....only a handful of members from our actual church follow this blog.   So at the risk of preaching to the choir here.....
I have to state that majority of the congregation had no idea what was going on until after we were home from surgery.
In fact, many of the members actually thought we had just left the church. 
That makes me so sad to think that they may have just given up on us. 
Just when we may have needed them most.  We were absent, but in definite need of prayer. 
There was one exception.....our children's ministry director happened to call about a funeral while we were checking out of the hospital.  He was completely oblivious to our situation, but I assured him that all was well now and we just needed to wait out the recovery period. 
Later the next week he showed up with a plate of homemade brownies, two dozen DVDs, and a Get Well card for Merrick.  I was very touched by the thoughtfulness.
And I hope this doesn't come across as a scathing critique of our church.
I hold no ill feelings for any group or individual person.
But as my husband likes to say...there is just SO much that is off in the American church nowadays.
I just think we need the reminder to be as in tune with our community as we can be.
So I'm going to challenge you to step outside your techie world.
Put down the iPhone, stop your texting, and go by someone's house today, or actually DIAL the phone and find out what is going on in their life today.
I refuse to be so out of touch again.

Now my disclaimer is this......I KNOW you have been in the same situation as I have.  And if you are feeling like a martyr right now, then you need to realize that you are AS responsible for making a move as anyone one can read your mind.  Reach out, and maybe it will take more than once.
But I promise you that God will send you an opportunity for someone to be there for you...and for you to be there for someone else.
For the greatest command is for us to Love one Another.
So let us live by that golden rule....
and Treat others as we would like to be treated.