Friday, March 22, 2013

chalazion surgery update

So last Thursday, Gracie-girl had surgery to remove her "bump" aka chalazion.

I'm blogging about this mostly for other moms who might search these words, looking for information or experience to help them in a similar situation.

When Gracie woke up last Thursday morning, I let her play the iPad in my room while her sisters ate breakfast, since she couldn't eat anything. That was a pretty good distraction! She was able to drink clear liquids until 8:30, so I gave her some juice right at that point.  She complained about being hungry a few times, but she didn't have any meltdowns.

We took Lily to grandma's house and then headed to the hospital. Her surgery was at the same place Lily's was, so it was familiar to us. Gracie wasn't there for Lily's surgery, but since she stayed the night--Gracie did come visit and helped pick us up after discharge, so it was familiar to her also.

They have a pretty great system that flows well. Every family gets a pager, and they buzz you each time they are ready for you--to register and check in, to get prepped and then when they are ready for you in surgery. Bean went to work for a few hours in the morning, but arrived when we were getting checked in--perfect timing.

Of course I took some "pre" photos. Her chalazion wasn't too swollen at the time, but it's definitely visible.

Sidenote: Don't you just love her freckles!!?? And her green eyes too. So unique, especially in our family of mostly blue and brown. My dad has hazel eyes, but his tend to be more blue than green--so not sure where she gets the color from.

Even though she was hungry and a bit anxious, she was in a pretty good mood. After all, she had her parents all to herself!

After a little more waiting, she got to change into the fun hospital jammies. She kept asking why she had to wear them, but there wasn't too much protesting.

In the pre-op area, the TV remote is also the TV speaker. I have a similar picture of Lily in pre-op for her surgery.

Not long after we were prepped, Bean left to pick up the other girls. He wanted to stay, but duty called. It was half day for Miss Rose and Lily needed to be picked up from Grammie's house.

I don't know if all Children's Hospitals are like this, but I LOVE that ours allows a parent to go back to the surgical suite with the child and stay with them while they are "gassed." This way, they are "asleep" before you are gone. Lily still was crying, even though I was with her--she didn't want to wear the mask and it was just scary for her. But I was happy she was crying with me holding her instead of with strangers.

I donned the lovely marshmallow suit, and Gracie liked we had matching hats. (The doctor marked the surgery area with a Sharpie, which is the extra mark on her face.)

Our anesthesiologist was fantastic. He started telling Gracie a story about his daughter and how she loves animals and wanted a goat for Christmas, so their family in Texas now has a goat on their property that is hers. Within just a few minutes Gracie was drowsy and then almost completely out and away I went, leaving her in their capable hands.

The doctor had told me the procedure usually took only 15 minutes. I was taken to his "consultation room" to wait and it was no more than 20 minutes and he was there to give me a report. He said they had to clean out "a lot of stuff" in the chalazion pocket and surrounding area. He gave me cream for her eye and said to follow up in 6 weeks.

His report helped give me confirmation that we made the right decision. If he had said it wasn't too bad, I would have second-guessed myself. But it seemed to me like it was well worth what we went through to have it taken care of.

It look about an hour (which I expected) before I was paged again to come to recovery. They have cute names for the various rooms to help the kids feel at ease. The recovery room is called "The Popsicle Room" because almost all kids get a popsicle after they wake. Gracie apparently had no problem remembering she was promised a popsicle after waking up because she was already halfway through it by the time I made it back to her.

She told me a few times that she felt sleepy and woozy (big word for an almost 6-yr old!) but she recovered really well. Within another 30 minutes she drank some Gatorade, got dressed and was ready to go. The only thing she was bummed about was that she had to wear this eye dressing until the next morning.

On our way out, of course she needed to pose for a picture with Ronald McDonald. He sits in front of a Ronald McDonald house for parents that is across the street from the hospital. If you have a hospital band, indicating you have a child there, they have free meals, drinks and even rooms you can sleep in if needed. I never actually made it there because I never wanted to leave Lily the two times she stayed overnight. But my cousin spent several weeks at the hospital with her son and I know it was a true Godsend.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Gracie asked for nuggets and fries for lunch on the way home! Girl was hungry :)

All in all, it was a great experience and not traumatic at all.  The eye dressing annoyed Gracie quite a bit. I didn't realize until the next morning when I removed it (getting that tape off was NOT fun) that the dressed had folded itself in half later in the day and so it truly was aggravating her. I was SO happy to put her to bed knowing we could take it off in the morning.

I chose to keep Gracie home from the school the next day because it was Friday and a half-day also. She never once complained of her eye hurting her, but it looked vulnerable to me and kindergartners can be crazy, so better safe than sorry.

The most challenging part of this whole process has been the post-surgery treatment. We are supposed to be doing multiple warm compresses on her eye and there is ointment to put INSIDE her eye twice each day. She hates it. Understandably so. But it seems pretty important.

I neglected to take some current pics to share what it looks like as it heals--I'll do another post for that. The doctor said there would be a black dot on the outside of her eye that would go away in 10-14 days. He cleaned out the gland and then cauterized it from the inside, creating a scab that shows through the skin. The area is still swollen and looks a bit pussy as it heals. But it's not bothering her, which is a huge bonus.

I'm just praying that this is successful and there are no complications with recovery! I suppose we will know in another week or two as it continues to heal.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

some words I'm living by (to get through nursing school)

I probably think on the theme of this blog at least once a day. Perhaps not the phrase "embrace this day" but the idea of taking it one day at a time, living in the moment, not worrying about tomorrow. I chose this blog title because I believe it and I find that my outlook on the life is better with this approach.

During the summer Bean and I went to my first orientation for nursing school. It was a little overwhelming to hear about various aspects of the program, extra expenses (which I totaled today for tax purposes to the tune of $1,000), and how intense it was going to be. I think they try to scare us on purpose. And for good reason.

Nursing school, an accelerated BSN program is no joke.

As we reflected on some of the ins and outs of the program on our drive home, Bean and I decided we would just have to take it one day at a time.

One of the most difficult aspects of the program is the lack of foreknowledge for each semester. Everything is always changing. And then it can change again mid-semester. For example, I will be taking a full load this summer. We received an email last week stating that our summer schedule wouldn't be available until May 20, which is less than two weeks before the summer semester starts. Which is especially challenging when you have childcare to arrange.

We have no choice but to take it one day at a time.

People ask me how it's going and I usually say a few things...

-it's good.
-it's not hard, but we have to learn a lot at once.
-we have some sort of theory exam or skills test almost every week
-but I love it.

There are days I worry about the tension and stress this program puts on my family. Currently, I leave Monday morning at 6:45am and am not home again until Tuesday at 4:00pm. I am gone again for 12 hours on Wednesdays. Of course Miss Rose has baseball practice on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the past few weeks she's had baseball games on Tuesday. So Bean is handing most of this on his own. He does a wonderful job, but solo parenting is hard and tiring.

There are days I question if I'm doing the right thing and if the cost is too high. There are days I think may need to drop out and figure something else out for a career.

But this is something I've been working towards for over 5 years (the Lily surprise added a little time to my plans!). We have prayed and sought counsel. And this is where God has led us.

This isn't just about me, but it's about us as a married couple and as a family. I'm the one in class and clinicals and the medical facilities. But my husband and my children are in this nursing program too. Without them, their support and their belief in me, this wouldn't be happening.

In reality, 18 months is a short period of time.  August 2014 will be here before I know it.

I saw this on Facebook today, and I may need to plaster it in my car, my bathroom, my backpack and everywhere else in my life.

The last line speaks to me the most.

"The time will pass anyway."

I have dreamed of being a nurse for many, many years. When  I was young, being a doctor was the only career I ever spoke about. I loved playing with baby dolls, but instead of playing house, I'd play hospital and make my dolls their own medical charts.

God led me to full-time ministry for over 10 years, which I loved and found so fulfilling. But now he's opened this door.

August 2014 is coming one way or another. I will either be a nurse or I will not.

I'd rather be a nurse than anything else.

So one day at a time. Embrace the day and what it holds. Work hard. Study hard. Love my family hard.

The time will pass anyway. So what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

bye bye bump {another kid...another surgery}

My brother, sisters and I rarely visited the doctor as kids. My mom says we got our regular vaccinations and had some of our annual check-ups. I don't remember getting colds or infections requiring antibiotics. None of us had any odd medical issues. A few broken bones and stitches required but that's just kid stuff.

I missed out on that luck with my kids. In typical mom fashion, I want to discover some way I've failed that has caused the numerous infections and medical anomalies we've dealt with. Poor Miss Rose has terrible hay fever and seasonal allergies, just like her dad. When they linger, they turn into sinus infections which often need antibiotics to be treated. I wait as long as possible, but I hate when my girl is miserable. I'm cautiously hopeful that Miss Rose is growing out of the sinus infections because she had fewer last year than the year before.

Then there is Lilybug and her fever monster. I am SO thankful that we finally got a diagnosis for her month fevers and that the removal of her tonsils eliminated the fevers. Last month Lily had the flu, and her first fever in a year. It was fascinating to me that Lily began telling me she was sick and "I think I have a fever" several hours before her fever actually developed. Her little body has experienced so many fevers already in her life, she knows what one coming on feels like.

I would like to blame both these issues on my husband because he has bad allergies and even required allergy shots as a kid, and he had his tonsils removed at 7 for recurring tonsilitis and my nephew (his brother's son) was also diagnosed with Fever Syndrome and had his tonsils out at at 3. But it's not the hubs fault that he seems to carry these things in his genes.

{warning...kinda graphic medical photo ahead}

What I don't know is where THIS came from.

{summer 2011}

Which a few days later became this...

(Friends, I looked and I hadn't shared this photo before on my blog. The skin became so taught that it opened up and began to drain. Gross and yet medically awesome.)

And then it scabbed over, but continued to decrease in swelling.

It got SO much better. But it never went away completely. She still gets clogged oil glands, but I catch them quickly now and they go away in several days with diligent warm compresses. Flaxseed oil and washing her eyes with baby wash help with prevention. This one that got so infected and swollen is a constant bump under her eye. It ebbs and flows in size. 

Finally, at her last eye exam the doctor confirmed it will NOT go away on it's own. It is too large, still. He said it isn't causing any damage and doesn't affect her vision, but if we wanted him to remove it, we could make that request and it really was up to us.

Bean and I contemplated this quite a bit. The main reason being, this procedure is considered out-patient surgery. Due to her age and the nature of the procedure, she requires general anesthesia. They will go in from the inside of her bottom eyelid, make an incision and clean out the gland. It is only supposed to take 15 minutes. But you can imagine how traumatizing it would be for a child to experience while awake

It some ways it's elective and part of the motivation is cosmetic. I don't want her to look back her her childhood pictures wondering why she always had a bump under her eye.

You can't see perfectly in this photo, but if you look closely the right eye is red along the bottom and slightly swollen.

Gracie has been expressing a desire for her "bump" to be gone and sometimes she includes it in her bedtime prayers. 

So we decided to do it. I finally called the doctor last Monday and then got a call on Friday that there was a cancellation and she could be scheduled quickly.

Tomorrow in the late morning, the bump will be gone! Hopefully to never return. 

Of course the idea of my child going under general anesthesia is a little daunting. When Lily had her tonsils out, she wasn't even 3 yet and everything was adventure for the most part. Gracie will be 6 in a few weeks and will be much more aware of every little thing.  I'm hoping her recovery is quick and easy and that she's back at school on Friday.

Could we please stop with the surgeries though? Can my kids get healthy and not have these freak medical issues? I AM thankful this is very minor and somewhat elective. Lily's fevers were scary and had much more effect on our lives.

I am thankful for good health insurance and a husband who works hard in a job that provides it. 

Everyone wave with me now...

Bye bye bump! 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

who's at your table?

A few weeks ago I got a notification that I was mentioned on Twitter. My sister had re-tweeted Shauna Niequist, saying she was excited to be speaking in Newport Beach in just a few weeks--and then my sister tagged me and my good friend. We are all big Shauna fans.

I was actually introduced to Shauna's books by my little sis and her friends last year. I first read Bittersweet and it couldn't have been more perfect timing. I was in the midst of some bittersweet experiences, some quite similar to Shauna's. Then I read Cold Tangerines and loved it just as much. (Her blog has sample chapters you can read or listen to.)

I've been following Shauna through social media (aka legal stalking). I appreciate her honesty and realistic approach to life and faith. She doesn't believe in living in a Christian sub-culture. She is excited about going to the Jay-Z and Justin concert. I'm insanely jealous of that (and my sister, who is going too).

The chance to hear her in person, for just a 90min drive, was exciting. I debated greatly however. I'm gone from my home and my family for three days straight. And then when I'm home sometimes a lot of my time and energy is devoted to studying. I try to be as present, mentally and physically on the days I'm not at school.

But, I just couldn't pass it up. And although I know it was a sacrifice and self-less act, Bean gave me his blessing. He later said "this isn't something you can do anytime." I took in the recycling I've been saving (which drives Bean crazy) and got $12 which paid for more than half my ticket. Hey, when you are in nursing school and living on minimal income, every little bit counts.

Since I have a lot of friends who live in that area, I threw it out on Facebook to see if anyone else wanted to come too, and one of my BFF's (although I don't ever really use the term BFF) wanted to come too.

My sister's friends are big fans of Shauna also, so we had an entire table at the event.

Shauna was primarily speaking on her new book that comes out next month, Bread and Wine. It is about friendship and meals and the fellowship that happens at the table. Shauna and a group of friends get together once a month for a meal. They each bring various items. They eat, and connect and share life together. It's about community.

Shauna challenged us to do the same. To make sure we are at a "table."

I am blessed with some of the greatest friends. I have friends I have known since childhood and can pick up with in an instant. I have best friends that I may not talk to every day, but they know the most about me, my life, my experiences and what makes me who I am. I have friends with whom I have walked specific journeys and they are the only ones who can truly relate and understand. I have friends who have become family. I have family who are friends.

I was blessed to have two of my "friend worlds" collide when my lifelong best friend came to the brunch (just because I would be there and she lives in the area) and my wonderful friend with whom I have many shared experiences over the past few years. They now follow each other on Instagram. Kinda proud of that.

But still, I find myself lonely at times.

It is this life. This crazy, busy life full of commitments, kid activities, lack of time and funds. This life where I am going back to school at 35 while raising 3 children and cultivating a marriage. I've always lived in this in between space of a stay-home mom and a working (student) mom.

It is distance. Some of my best friends live far away enough that meeting for coffee takes a few hours and a lot of coordination. Or it takes a longer drive and at least half a day to spend time together.

It is me. I think sometimes I'm not the best friend to those around me. I feel like I don't know how to cultivate new friendships in this season of family and constant crazy. Maybe I don't know how to show I need friends. Or time with them.

A few months ago I had a realization. Which I feel like was affirmed in what Shauna was sharing.

What I truly need is community. I even shared this with a group a few months back as a prayer request. That in this new stage and season of life, I would find community.

It's so easy to be too busy. To be too caught up in your routine, in your to-do list. So easy to not reach out, thinking that others are too busy or uninterested.

I think I know who's at my table right now. Some of them I know well. There are others I don't know as well, but who I want to know better.

While I would love to do monthly dinners like Shauna and her friends, I don't know if that's feasible for life right now. Mine, and others. Maybe it is.

What I do know, is I'm going to pay attention to those around my table. Those I see in different parts of my life, those who I see in multiple parts of life. We may not be gathered at a table right now. We may be gathered at the Little League field or the park, during the coffee break at church or a park playdate. Summer is coming and it's easier to gather and commune.

Shauna says: "So Bread & Wine is about food, but more than that it’s about connection—the connections that are made when we screw up our courage and walk away from our fears, when we open the doors to our homes and our hearts and gather people around our tables." 

I'm going to do my best to cultivate community. I don't really know what it looks like. But I'm looking for it.

I cannot wait to read Shauna's new book and learn even more and glean from her experiences. I'm hoping in a few years she writes a book on motherhood. And a book on women in ministry would be cool too.

Let's gather around the table.

Shauna is our celebrity of 2013. In 2011 we met and shook hands with Rev. Run (something we were super excited about, but he wasn't as excited as us) and in 2012 everything in Kathy's life came to meeting Ameena Brown . Ameena was so warm and friendly--even the next day, when I almost hit her with my car, she still smiled at us and laughed with us!

Trailer #1: Bread and Wine

Trailer #2: Into The Mess