Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Surgery Day

Last Wednesday was Madelyn's surgery for her finger. We knew they would be taking the tip of the finger off that didn't reattach successfully, then cleaning the finger. After that, we, and they, didn't know what route they would take to fixing it. It all depended on how much good tissue was remaining, how much bone was sticking out and a bunch of other factors that aren't really fun to think about.

As I mentioned in the last post, Madelyn wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything the morning of the surgery. Usually, she wakes up, chugs a glass of soy milk, eats some breakfast, chugs another glass of milk or water then eats breakfast with Patrick when he gets up. Even then, she'd probably eat more if she didn't want to get down and play so much. Amazingly though, she did awesome the morning of the surgery. We let her have her pacifier a lot that morning so she'd have something in her mouth to occupy her and that seemed to do the trick. She was in a great mood and was mostly just curious about all the new toys and people in the surgery center.

Here we are playing on the big chalk board wall in the waiting area...

And here is Madelyn in her hospital gown. One of the saddest and cutest things I've ever seen. She was so sweet walking around the waiting area trying to play with all the other kids with her little diaper hanging out of her gown.

This is Angie and Madelyn waiting to go back to the O.R. (M is waving bye-bye with her splint hand.) There's a rule in place at CHOA - that is apparently there just to make one parent feel terrible* - that says only one person is allowed to go back with the child to be with them when they "go under." Angie and I discussed which one of us it would be but she ultimately won because she's better looking than me. I mean, come one, she even looks pretty in a hospital gown...

Angie said Madelyn went under quickly but with quite a fight. It took 4 adults to hold her down to put the mask on her. That's my baby girl :)

Angie and I then waited for a solid 5 1/2 weeks for surgery to be over. Ok, it was actually about 1 1/2 hours but it felt like forever. Luckily, Grandpa came to see us and it was the perfect distraction. My Dad has a calming presence about him and when he's around I just generally feel better about whatever is happening. Madelyn apparently feels the same way because after surgery she couldn't get enough Grandpa hugs.

At 1 PM, they rolled our little girl into our room on what looked like the longest bed ever. They warned us that she would be very out of it, lethargic and probably wouldn't move around much for the first 20-30  minutes but we shouldn't worry. We immediately went to her side and as soon as she saw us she stood up in the bed, IVs and everything to come hug us! After going back and forth between Angie and I for hugs, she then fell asleep on Angie and took a nice nap.

Our surgeon came in and told us the surgery went very well. They were able to do the less involved of the two possible repairs (the V-Y Flap rather than the Crossed Finger Flap) which was great news. It means a faster recovery, better long term results in terms of sensation in the finger, durability and appearance and only one finger to heal rather than two. We hung out at the hospital for a while letting Maddy finish her nap and then made sure she could keep food and water down.

Once we got home, it was literally less than five minutes after walking in the door Madelyn was yelling for me and trying to get me to chase her around the house. She danced and tumbled and was back to her fun and silly self almost immediately. Here she is dancing around the living room just a couple hours after surgery. You can hear her voice is still a little raspy from having the tube down her throat...

Thank you again to everybody for all the prayers and kind words. Thank you mostly to my amazing family that I sometimes forget how blessed I am to be in. Each one of them is better than I am in so many ways. Madelyn handled this whole thing, from the injury to the repairs, more courageously than I would now and she's only 15 months. Patrick has been amazing in his ability to roll with the punches and schedule changes and has been completely selfless as we've had to give Madelyn extra care and attention. And of course Angie has met this whole thing with the same quiet force she meets every challenge with. I am always amazed and impressed watching her be a Mother. She is fearless and patient and endlessly compassionate and I'm eternally grateful I get to go through all of this with her.

Madelyn had her follow-up appointment today and the finger seems to be healing very nicely. She got a new green cast this time. The plan is to go back next Tuesday and hopefully get the cast off for good!

*Really though, everything at Children's was great. The staff was all super friendly, the rooms were perfect and the whole experience was made easier by being there. I just wish I could have walked back with Angie and Maddy :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Aquarium Visit and Maddy Update

This last weekend Meme and Papa got us tickets to the Georgia Aquarium for a much needed distraction from all the hoopla (a word you should try to use in a sentence this week). The last time we went to the aquarium was a year ago almost to the week.We took just Patrick that time since Madelyn was so little and had a great time. It was so cool to be able to go with both kids this year, though. They loved everything about it.

Things that made Patrick a little uneasy last year, like petting stingrays, he (almost literally) jumped right into this year. At one point he reached in a tank, grabbed a star fish by the leg and pulled it out of the tank to show me saying, "Dad! Look at this cool sea star!" Luckily none of the aquarium staff saw this happen so we didn't get kicked out.

Madelyn couldn't get enough of the huge aquariums and tried to say "hiiii" and wave at every single animal there. When the animals didn't respond she then turned her attention towards other aquarium goers and tried to meet every person by saying "hiiiii", waving and then usually patting them on the back or head. She also found out her cast made kind of a cool noise on some of the tanks so she'd usually hit each tank as we looked at all the animals inside with her cast arm.

We learned last time that because of the lighting and glare from the tank walls and my general lack of photographic talent, most of our pictures from the aquarium turn out pretty terrible. So this time, I took quick videos along the way with my phone. Here's a short video recap of some of our aquarium visit...

Judging by the extremely quiet ride home, I'd say the kids had fun...

Thanks so much to Meme and Papa for the extremely thoughtful gift. The kids had a wonderful time and Angie and I had a blast watching them enjoy the day. It was the perfect way to take our minds off the hectic week and have some family time.

As for Madelyn, she's still doing great as long as no doctors are trying to cut her cast off or put a new cast on or touch her or stand near her (Don't worry Grandpa, we haven't told her you're a doctor yet. You can still expect plenty of Maddy hugs.). We had a follow-up appointment today that went well and the surgeon decided surgery tomorrow is still a good idea. Her surgery is scheduled for 11:30 but we have to get there at 10 to start the whole process. There are still a couple different options for how the surgery could go once they are able to get a better look at the finger with the stitches out and the tip taken off so we won't know how long it's going to take or exactly what they're going to do until we're in the middle of it. Honestly, I think the part Madelyn is going to hate the most is that she's not allowed to eat or drink anything until after surgery. Madelyn likes to eat or drink something pretty much all the time so her not eating from 6 PM tonight to sometime tomorrow afternoon is going to be extremely difficult. Wish us luck in the waiting room as we try to fill out paperwork and mentally prepare ourselves for what's to come while also trying to calm a very hungry and thirsty 15 month old.

Thank you again to everyone for all the prayers, thoughts and kind words. We'll make sure to update as we know what's happening. If it's not in the main part of the blog, it'll be on the right-hand side.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Perfect Weekend With a Not-so-Perfect Ending

First things first: congratulations to Matt and Abbie Doran! We had a great time at their wedding last Saturday. The wedding was beautiful. Abbie and Matt looked amazing. The party was super fun. The kids were perfect in their roles of Ring Bearer and Flower Girl. In fact, I'm thinking of hiring them out to other wedding parties. I promise we'll write more about the wedding soon and hopefully we'll have some pictures of the event by then to go with it; but, this post is more to give an update as to what is happening with Madelyn.

Trips to the ER are considered a sort of rite of passage for parents. You hear about it from other parents and you pray it doesn't happen to you, knowing full well that it eventually will. All you can really do is hope it's for something not too terrible or something silly like a quarter stuck in a kid's nose. Well, we had our first trip to the ER this last weekend almost immediately after all the wedding festivities had come to an end. Sadly, it wasn't something silly but, luckily, it also wasn't anything life threatening.

For those who read this blog that haven't heard, Madelyn got her pinky finger shut in a door Sunday night and suffered a "partial amputation." Yep, that's what they call it. That's what we had to write on a bunch of medical forms and say multiple times to doctors when talking about our little baby. Not fun. Basically, the top part of her pinky finger on the palm side tore completely off other than a very small piece of tissue holding it to the rest of her finger.

Sunday night Uncle Tim drove Angie and Madelyn to the ER (I was at church at the time but met them there. Tim, I can't thank you enough.). The doctors did what they could and reattached the part of Madelyn's finger that was hanging by a thread with 14 stitches in hopes it would heal and reattach on its own. It was not a good night. I'm going to tell you that if you've never had to hold your screaming child down while someone they don't know does something very painful to them, you are lucky because it is easily 100 times worse than it sounds. Our Madelyn was a champ though and rolled with it as best she could. After they were done stitching her finger tip back on, they bandaged her up, waited for her to "come to" and put a sock on her hand to keep her from picking the bandages off. Maddy did awesome and barely seemed to notice the sock hand. When she woke up the next morning, she almost immediately climbed up Patrick's chair and tried to take his food. She's a tough cookie that little Madelyn.

We had an appointment with a hand specialist yesterday and got some bad news. It looks like the finger tip isn't reattaching as we had hoped. The whole tip of her finger is completely black, in fact. They put a cast on her arm (yes, her entire arm. Apparently it's difficult to make a cast small enough to fit a 15-month-old's hand that they won't wiggle off) and sent us home. We'll go back on Friday for them to evaluate how the finger is doing, but, we're assuming it won't be any better based on how it's been so far. The doctors are really just giving it a chance because there's no rush and she's young.

The three options right now are:
  • Highly unlikely: We go in on Friday and the finger has started to heal itself and reattach. We leave the finger alone and let it continue healing.
  • More likely than option 1 but still not probable: Option 1 doesn't work so we go back in next week, at which time they'll surgically remove the stitches and top of the finger. If there's enough viable tissue under the finger, they'll re-cast the arm and let the finger continue healing itself.
  • Probably what will happen: They remove the tip of the finger, find there is not enough good tissue to have the finger repair itself and have to graft from some other part of the body to do the repair. 
So there you have it. As of right now, Madelyn is doing awesome. She slept surprisingly well last night even with her new clunky cast and is her same old rumble-tumble self. She's in a good mood and is still able to do most of the things she's been doing, even if we'd rather her not (eg: climbing everything in sight - see video below). We know that Friday won't be fun since they'll have to remove the cast to examine her finger and at this point the mere sight of a doctor makes Madelyn cling to us and start screaming. We also know that next week's probable surgery will be even worse. But, this is a temporary problem and if we had to go to the ER, there are a lot worse ways we could have gone. This is nothing life threatening, nothing long term other than a cosmetic issue and some loss of feeling in her pinky. Even of all the fingers she could have damaged, this is the best one. I have two perfectly good pinkies and still wonder why most of the time. They never really seem to do what I want them to anyway. The part that's the hardest about this is just the procedures and how much they bother Madelyn. But, we understand how blessed we are that in the grand scheme of things, this is a very small injury and in a year or two this will be a small bump on the road.

Finally, thank you to everybody that's sent emails, texts or called over the last few days. Thank you to our families for helping out with Patrick while we were in the ER or at the doctors or just needed some time with Madelyn. Thank you to people who brought us dinner. Thank you for all the love and prayers. And Patrick, if you ever read this someday, thank you for being such a patient little boy over the past few days. We've given a lot of extra attention to Madelyn, your schedule as been thrown off track, you've had to be extra careful when playing and you've handled it amazingly well.

We'll continue to keep everybody posted on what's happening as it happens. We'll either update here in the main blog or post smaller updates to the Twitter feed on the right-hand side. I'll leave you with a video of our Madelyn being herself, despite her cast :) ...

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Maybe the TWO exclamation marks in the title will distract you from how long it's been since we've posted. I don't even have a good excuse, like, "my computer's broken."

Anyway, Easter this year was wonderful. I think I'll say at every holiday for the next several years, "now that they're a little older they really have fun with WhateverHoliday." And it'll be true. Up until they cross that tipping point where holidays and parents and anything fun becomes lame. But for now, this year was no exception and they both loved Easter even more than last year.

We started by dying Easter eggs, which was great fun. Madelyn started coloring on them, then discovered she could use the crayon like a chisel to break the shell and eat the egg inside. Needless to say, Maddy didn't really dye any of the eggs we gave her but DID have a face full of hard boiled yolk.

Easter morning, we spent at home hunting eggs and opening Easter baskets. Both kids had a great time going through their baskets and finding hidden eggs all around the room. Madelyn LOVES bunnies in general so getting stuffed bunnies as a gift was a dream come true. She also thought the egg hunt was pretty fun, but then when she discovered the eggs had food in them (crackers in hers) she fell in love with Easter. Bunnies AND food?! Let's do it every day! Patrick, as expected, turned the egg hunt into a "rescue mission" of sorts and had a great time searching the house for missing eggs. He had some Dinosaur Train toys in his Easter basket that have slept in his bed with him every night since. He also got a little cement mixer that was in almost every Easter picture that morning because he wouldn't put it down.

Then we headed to church. We went to the service before the one I was playing drums for so we could all sit as a family and I could help with our wiggly kiddos. Patrick did awesome through the whole service and sat surprisingly still, quietly asking lots of questions. I spent most of the service outside with Madelyn watching her be fascinated with the big fountain and run around in the perfect weather.

It was our year to host which we typically do at our house but we instead did at the Suskays' neighborhood clubhouse. Let me say, it was WAY easier to have there and thank you to the Suskays for letting us use the facility. With our two little ones it's difficult to keep the house clean for more than five minutes some days so not having to worry about getting the house ready, getting the yard ready, making sure we have enough chairs and tables and all that fun stuff was great. Plus, the clubhouse has a really nice playground by it so the kids could go play any time they wanted. We also did an Easter egg hunt for the kids in the field right outside the clubhouse.

We had such a great time. The weather was literally perfect so the kids got to run around outside a ton. We spent a bunch of time playing at the playground and then just hung out and ate on the covered deck. But the highlight was the Easter egg hunt. We had marked the eggs with P, M and C for Patrick, Madelyn and Carson to make sure everybody got the same amount and the two little ones didn't end up with some of the big kid candy Patrick got. The little girls' eggs were mostly filled with stickers, crackers and bubbles. Watching the three of them run around the field looking for eggs was awesome. It makes us realize again how lucky we are to have so much of our family this close to us. Every picture of the kids I look at I can't help but mentally flash forward 15 years to sitting around a table looking at the three of them being silly together and laughing about how little and cute they were.

So, thank you to the family that was able to make it. Thank you for bringing so much awesome food and spending the day together. And thank you to Abbie and Mollie who are always so generous and take pictures with our camera at things like this so Angie and I can both be involved with helping the kids. It really does mean a lot and you guys capture wonderful memories for us we would otherwise miss.

Here's a slideshow of all the pictures from Easter. Or you can check them all out at once in the gallery.