Sunday, October 31, 2010

Settling in at Home Again

So here we are, three days after Angelee's surgery to put her bone flap back in.  I'm having a hard time believing that we were ever really up at the hospital.  It went so fast.

We had to be at the hospital at 6 am (makes for a really early morning and a long, dark drive) for her surgery which got underway at 7:30.  The neurosurgeon (who was the best I've ever worked with, and I've had a few) was out visiting with us after the surgery by 11.  Angelee was through the recovery room (groggy and grouchy) and settled into her room a bit later.  The early afternoon went quickly and routinely, and I left at 4 to get out of the city before rush hour got going.  Besides, I had to finish the Halloween costumes so the boys could dress up for school on Friday.

She wasn't happy about being in the hospital again.  I wondered if it would be worse for her this time because 1) she remembered the unpleasantries from the last hospitalization, or 2) she would be more coherent and aware of things she didn't like.  She didn't seem to have any bad memories, but she was more colorful about telling us her opinion this time.  I think this was part of the reason she had such a rough night.  She didn't want to go to sleep unless Daddy was holding her, and would wake up and cry if he put her down.  They walked the halls, watched movies, rocked - anything to get her to sleep.  She finally conked out at 2 am(!), only to be rousted in a couple of hours.  They had to take her vitals at 4.  They had to draw blood at 6.  Doctors visit at 7, and vitals again at 8.  By the time I came in at 9, I thought Trent, looking haggard with dark circles under his eyes, was just getting into the Halloween spirit by being a zombie.

Angelee, however, was quite perky when she woke up at 10.  She was playing in her crib, singing songs, picking at the IV, and happy to get a good morning milk.  She ate enough snacks that she wasn't very interested in her breakfast.

The neurosurgeon, when he came in, said she looked too well to be able to stay in the hospital.  (The other kids might get jealous.)  She had to have a CT scan, get her drain (draining fluid out from between the skull and the scalp) removed, get the two IV lines out, and then she could go home.

We were home by 4 - extremely fast by hospital time, which usually drags on its own schedule.  We had a celebratory dinner of lasagna and the season's first eggnog - love eggnog season!  Angelee ate three bowls of the pasta, and we had a great time watching her do it.  It was good to be home.

We watched with interest as the side of her head and her face swelled up again, until her left eye was completely swollen shut.  Only the tips of her long lashes were visible.  They told us to expect swelling and possibly a mild fever.  Check, and check.  The boys think it is cool, in a gross, Halloween-y way, that her head has swelled up enough to make her ear tip out at an odd angle.

By Saturday morning, her eye was starting to open just a bit, and the puffy area was reddish, like it had been 4 days post-surgery last time.

We did let her dress up for Halloween, in a borrowed outfit (thanks, Robyn!) and a new crocheted cap to match.  We had lots of suggestions for costumes for her: football player (with the helmet), car accident survivor (needs more stitches), Strawberry Shortcake (with a big, poofy hat), and Frankenstein's daughter (she's a natural!).  She made an adorable fairy, and her little brothers were sweet peas in a pod.  We could tell she lives in a house full of boys, though.  The pink, ribbon-festooned thing in her hand is not a "wand," but a "stick."

Today her right eye is also swollen, but her left eye is looking better.  They are almost the same now.  She's still very demanding, grouchy, and temperamental at times, showing us that everything just doesn't feel right to her yet.

Her head is still very tender, but the plated and screwed bone is strong enough that she doesn't need to wear the helmet anymore.  We want her to wear a little hat instead (Mom's getting crafty with the yarn), just to keep her fingers from picking at the stitches.  They will dissolve in a couple of weeks.  If I'm careful, I can kiss her head gently.  I've missed that.  Kissing the top of a cold plastic helmet is just not the same.  And it's so nice to feel, instead of a soft squishiness, a nice, hard head.  I love my little girl's wonderfully safe skull!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Coming Home!

Wow!  I hardly have time to fire up my computer here and Angelee is cleared to come home.  She looks great, and everyone is amazed at how quickly she is recovering.  She's running around the room in her shoes, but won't let us put any clothes on her.  I'd better go get the juice from her before she dumps it on the babies. Sound like a toddler?  :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out, Humpty Dumpty!

Angelee's surgery was supposed to be between two and four hours.  It ended up being a little more than three and a half.  When the surgeons got in there, they realized that her little growing body had been calcifying -  making bone - to cover the exposed brain area.  The surgeons decided to take out the new bone (it was uneven and would give her a bumpy head, and also the old pieces wouldn't fit back in properly) and use the new as to fill in gaps or holes.  This they did successfully.  They screwed the bones (new and old) into place using screws and plates that are absorb-able.  In a year, they won't be there anymore.  Freezing skull pieces until you need them.  Disappearing screws.  How cool is that?

As Angelee came out of the anesthesia, she was fussy - but only for a moment until she'd fall asleep again.  When she really started to wake up, she looked around, looked at me, looked hard at the bed, and fiercely said, "Down!"  She noticed the despised oxygen monitor strapped to her big toe, stuck it up in the air, and demanded, "Off!"  Yup, she's back! 

When I left the hospital later this afternoon, she was drinking all the apple juice she could get her hands on, stealing Daddy's slushies, and watching Enchanted.  She likes to hold his hand, and still freezes up when strangers enter the room.  She's talking and moving around in her crib, and told me in no uncertain terms that she had an owie on her head.  Poor little sweet girl.  It's such a relief to be done with the surgery, and have her awake and alert again.  It is so much better than the last time!

They said she could be going home as soon as Saturday.  Wow.  A huge thanks goes out to Dr. Riva-Cambrin and all the wonderful people at Primary Children's Medical Center who put our little girl back together again today.

Surgery Again

As you walk into the section of the hospital that deals with brain injuries, you see a big, fun quilt on the wall.  Its colorful panels depict various fairy tales, drawn by elementary school children.  Ironically, a great portion of the pictures are carefully drawn depictions of the head-injury icon, Humpty-Dumpty.

Today, all of Primary Children's horses and all their good men (and women) are putting our Angelee back together again.  She's in surgery right now, and has been for the last three hours.  They said it would be between two and four hours, so she could be coming out any time now.  I'll pass the time in the waiting room by posting cute pictures of my baby girl, and trying to avoid the doughnut cart (darn!).

Here she is just before surgery, looking at the fish in the giant tank.

Daddy made a glove-balloon in the waiting room yesterday.  What fun!

A rare time of catching a laugh before she ducked her head and ran away.  :-)

Signing "crackers" - she was hungry!

Angelee in her pretty Sunday dress, before we ate tacos for dinner

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back to the Hospital

We went up to the neurosurgeon today to see about getting Angelee's bone flap put back in.  He said everything looked very good, and asked, "So when do you want to have the next surgery?"  He seems to think it's not too big of a deal.

To make a long story (including waiting an hour and a half in the exam room) short...

We are going to the hospital tomorrow.  First thing.  As in, we need to leave the house at 5 am.  

And we should be coming home by Sunday.  Dust off your prayers and send some good hopes up to Heaven that it really will be that short.  I'm worried that something will go wrong, and I'm trying not to think about that.  Instead, I'll feed the babies and finish sewing the Halloween costumes and try to get Angelee's jammies on and fix lunches for tomorrow and pack the diaper bag and and and...  I need to go to bed.

Monday, October 25, 2010


We almost named her Angelique.  Trent loved the name.  Mais oui!  It was French, after all.  I wasn't wild about it; something wasn't quite right.  We compromised by using the original root Angel and adding Lee, named after Gramma.  I'm afraid she may grow up thinking her name is something different altogether, though, because it's what we call her more and more:  Angelino.  I know, it changes both her nationality and her gender.  But it happens that way so often.

"Angelee!  No!  Don't lay on the baby!  Angelee!  No!  Stay in the house.  Angelee!  No!  Don't play on the stairs - you might fall down go boom.  Angelee!  No!  Don't climb up the bookshelves.  Stay down off the counter.  Oh, that cake was for dinner.  Don't jump off the coffee table.  You're gagging the baby with your finger in his mouth.  Angelee!  No!  Angelee!  No!  Angeleeno!  Angelino!"

Here is one "Angelino" I managed to record.  Things got too quiet for just a moment as I was winding the day down.  The babies were in bed, Angelee was in her pajamas - and disappeared.  I think the rest of the story is self-explanatory:

Pretty smug about that one, are we?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cute Little Pumpkin

Just wanted to share our little cutie and her party with the pumpkins.  She found these fun decorations as we were leaving Primary Children's Medical Center yesterday.  They had these all lined up along the flowerbeds.  What fun they are there!

She loves the flowers we have been making to stick on her helmet with velcro dots.

 Just look at those big blue eyes!  Gorgeous!

 I'll have this one, and this one...  
(Do you like the foam heart stickers we stuck on her hat?  She loves them!)

What a cute little pumpkin!

Visiting the Rehab Doctor

We went back up to the hospital yesterday.  Angelee had a follow-up appointment with the rehab doctors - but we weren't sure who or where.  We wandered all around the hospital for a while until some nice people helped us to find our way.  It was nice to see some of the people we know, and to see that Angelee is not nervous or afraid of the hospital.  That's a good thing to know as we get ready to go back the next time.

To make a long visit short, it seems that Angelee is functioning very well.  Duh.  But the nice doctor can see evidences of brain injury in her neurological reflexes.  She is still more moody, and more impulsive than she was before.  Who knows how much more will come out in the future?  He said that sometimes you don't really see problems until the child starts school.  We will be following up with the doctor every few months for a while.

Main point: the doctor was very impressed, but cautioned that other problems may surface later.  We are happy.

Angelee had a great time playing with the balls in the therapy room
while we tried to figure out where we needed to be.

Love those slushies!

Monday, October 18, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I don't know any parents who don't wish something was different with the way their kids sleep - go to bed earlier, get up earlier, get up independently, sleep through the night...  Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

We actually got all the older boys to bed at a reasonable hour last night.  That was a miracle after the late nights of the weekend, and oh, so exciting to think of getting enough sleep!  I love my bed.

I got the twins diapered and into their pajamas; Trent took care of Angelee.  I nursed the babies, laying them quietly down in bed.  Trent got a bottle of warm milk (a concession we'll quit after everything settles down) ready for the girl.  I brushed my teeth; Angelee ran up and down the hall.  Trent got ready for bed; one baby started to cry.  We gave the baby a pacifier (also a concession), and Angelee grabbed my car keys, said, "Seeya!" and darted out of the room.  Trent brought her back into the bedroom, locked the door, and dimmed the lights.  We arranged the pillows on the bed so when we take off her helmet off for the night she can't hit her head on the headboard.  The other baby woke up and started to cry.  Trent took Angelee's helmet off and snuggled into bed with her.  I nursed the baby back to sleep again, then snuck into the bathroom.  I came out to a dark, quiet room... and a perky, "Hello, Mama!"  And then baby whimpering.  He wasn't hungry - he was awake and wanted to play.  I pulled him into bed with us and held him while trying to keep Angelee from crawling over him.  Trent spoke calmingly and soothingly.  Angelee wiggling around, smacked my shoulder with her head.  "Uh-oh," she said in a worried voice.  "Boo boo?" and then she kissed my shoulder better.  

An hour and a half later, Angelee FINALLY fell asleep, with her head on her little pillow, one leg draped across Daddy's ribs and the other foot on Mama's hip.  She looked so peaceful, breathing gently, but I knew the night wasn't over yet.  We would still have two rounds of trying to keep Angelee in bed while Mama gets up to feed babies, a dozen times of putting her head back on the pillow because there isn't enough room in the bed when she tries to sleep sideways, and a more than a score of kicks.  Trent and I fall asleep like parentheses around our little angel, only our feet touching at the bottom of the bed.  It will be nice when we get our bed back, but she's so worth it!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First Physical Therapy

Boy, I get behind in updating what is going on!

Angelee had her first real out-of-hospital physical therapy session this week.  Somehow there was a miscommunication about her abilities, and the therapist thought Angelee was not yet walking.  Angelee not only walked for the nice therapist, but ran!  After watching Angelee for a few minutes, the therapist scribbled away at her notes and happily told us that Angelee didn't need physical therapy anymore.  She has graduated before we really got going.  Way to go, girl!

Did You Hear the One About...?

Snippets of Angelee stories:

Angelee's bark came back!  Her dog has a higher "arf" than any tiny purse dog I've ever heard.  It used to be borderline annoying, but we love hearing it again.

After dinner, the boys have to clean up dinner.  They usually goof around in the kitchen some (are they boys?) and have to be reminded what they ought to be doing.  Maybe I've done too much nagging, though.  Now when dinner is over, Angelee will sit in her high chair throne, survey the serfs, and command, "Work!"

I turned on the TV for a few minutes to keep Angelee's attention while I was nursing the twins.  We don't watch much TV, which makes it all the more interesting.  After a fascinating segment on making homemade pasta (don't think I have time this week...), I turned off the tube.  Angelee's blue eyes widened and she turned to me in horror, "Oh no!"  She was really worried about what happened to the nice cooking lady in the black box.

It was late at night, I was trying to read my scriptures just a little bit before I went to bed, and I was tired.  Angelee was tired too, but for some known-only-to-them reason, toddlers often get more wired when they are tired.  So she was bouncing on the bed, playing with the covers, flipping the lamps on and off, and making me wonder if I didn't need to put her helmet back on.  I started reading out loud, with exaggerated inflection to get her attention.  "AND!  It came... to PASS!"  I read, hoping to get through at least a few verses.  I'm reading Isaiah - maybe this would help me to get through it, too.  She settled right down and listened intently.  "And now... BEHOLD!"  Her big eyes were fastened on the book.  After a moment, however, her head snapped up.
    "What?" she shrieked.  It was so sincere, so loud, so unexpected that I burst out laughing.  After wiping my eyes, I started reading again.  "Awake AWAKE!  Stand up... O Jeru..SALEM!"  I got through a verse or two before she cut in again.
     "Oh," she said, like she finally understood something she had been puzzled about for a long time.  "Ohhh."  And that's how we read that night.  Dramatic scripture readings are most interesting when punctuated by "What??" and "Oh."

The boys are very surprised, and perhaps a little bit embarrassed, that I can't do a sit-up.  Hey, you try having your belly stretched out by nine months of twins (not to mention all the other babies), and then try to pretend you have muscle tone there!  Abs of steel?  Not me.  More like abs of Jello ("bowl full of jelly" works very well for Santa, and see how popular he is?)
     I thought I might try to get back into a more healthy routine, and get going with the exercises I had just started before Angelee's accident, now that things are calming down a bit.  So I said to Angelee one morning, "Do you think Mama should get back to her exercising?"  I was getting down on the floor to do some crunches, but she beat me to it.  She laid down on her back, bent her knees, extended her little arms toward her feet, and said with a very labored voice, "Eighteen!  Eighteen!"  Then she flopped back, spread-eagled, and exclaimed, "Whew!"  Just like Mama.  How embarrassing!  (For the record, I can do more than eighteen crunches in a row now.  Really.)

A Few Good Men

Angelee has been nervous at all the strange men in our house.  They came with strange tools and strange smells, and they all smiled at her.  She curiously wanted to see what they were doing in our entryway, but shyly ducked away when she caught them looking at her.

These good men came over to replace the railing around our stairs.  It isn't up to code, and it's dangerous for little children.  It isn't high enough, the spaces between the slats was wide enough for Angelee to get her body through, and there was room enough between the bottom of the railing and the floor for a child to slip through.  I had nightmares of Angelee dangling from her helmet over the stairs. <shudder>  Furthermore, it wasn't structured so we could put a gate at the top of the stairs.

After much measuring, thinking, and weighing of options, we decided to rip it out and replace it with a solid half-wall.  I feel so paranoid about Angelee taking another fall!  The sooner it could be done, the better.  Some wonderfully energetic and skilled men from our church came over on Wednesday and pulled out the old railing, framed in the new half-wall, and even sheetrocked it in one evening!  I am amazed, and grateful.  The good people around us have been some of our best blessings.


Angelee and I went on a little road trip the other day to the helmet place.  When she first got her helmet at the hospital, it was so tight I was afraid it would squish her brain going on.  We did have to tug a bit to get it on, and then a snap under her chin meant it would not fall off.  I was afraid she would balk at wearing the thing - it would drive me crazy!  But the helmet, to her, meant freedom.  It she was wearing the helmet, she could get out of bed.  If she was wearing the helmet, she could walk around a little bit.  If she was wearing the helmet, maybe Daddy would take her for a ride in the wagon.  So she wore it without struggle, and we called it a "hat" because she loves hats.

Her once swollen head (no big-headed jokes here!) is back to a normal size, and her "hat" has gotten loose.  It slips down over her eyes, or cocks over to one side.  Usually it falls over her right eye, leaving the left side of the helmet high and not covering the thin but tough skin over her unprotected brain.  It worries me.  Also, Angelee's chin is getting a bit of a rash from the straps we have had to cinch way in to keep her hat on.  Time for a new helmet, I thought.

So that's why Angelee and I were in the car, driving and driving.  I spent the first half of the trip in deep thought, trying to sort out some of the things that have been plaguing me.  After a while, I pulled out of my reverie and remembered that I had a sweet little passenger.  We talked for a while, her pointing to things out the window and me trying to guess, without turning around and taking my eyes off the road, what it was she was looking at.  She likes seeing cars and trees.  She loves to see a dog in a truck.  She gets airplanes and helicopters mixed up, but likes both.

At our appointment, we found out that the next smaller size of helmet was too small for Angelee.  They replaced and adjusted the padding in her helmet, and now it would stay put.  I bet our insurance company is glad they don't have to pay for another $300 helmet!  So if this is the one we will keep, we can put stickers on it!  We left the office, Angelee giggling because she kept going the wrong way on purpose to make me chase her.  "Siyee (silly) Mama!" she kept saying.

We sang songs all the way home.  We sang "Popcorn Popping" and "The La La Song" ("Sing," by the Carpenters), "Itsy Bitsy Spider," and her current favorite, "O-I-O-I," also known as "Old MacDonald."  She loves making the animal sounds for a cat, horse, pig, cow, bird, sheep, fish, and bear.  She has a block with the dog, though, and can't tell us what it says.  We miss her high-pitched "arf!"  She sings along when I do the "E-I-E-I-O" part: "O-I-O-I".  I laugh and she loves it.  I love it too, and keep singing.  My voice was hoarse for a while.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Our (not) New (not) Little (not) Red Wagon

Angelee so loved going for rides in the big red wagons at the hospital that we thought we would get her one once we got home.  Turns out that the price is a bit steep.  I was hunting through the online classifieds and I found a used yard wagon.  Score!  It's not as cute, but it is bigger (fits three kids easily), more rugged (important at our house), has a longer handle (great for my poor back), and cheaper (hooray!).  And it hooks up to an ATV, but I am not ready to tell the big boys that.  Daddy padded it well with pillows and blankets and we went for a walk to try it out this evening.  Angelee told us it was "Fun!  Fun!"  She and the babies loved it.  I may have to rig up a seat belt for her, though.
More cute pictures...
Reading books with Grandma.  Grandma has more patience for doing this by the hour than Mom does.  (Thanks, Grandma!)

And playing ball with her cousin at the Boy Scout Eagle Court of Honor.  (Way to go, new Eagle-brother!)  We tied a bow onto Angelee's helmet.  At first it was cute, but it fell apart, got into her eyes, and ended up looking like the plume on a Prussian battle helmet.  Oh well.  :-)

So What's Up?

Ummm... I think I haven't been posting as much as I was before...  maybe?  Since we've had Angelee home, she consumes my every moment.  No down time.  As a result, I've had a lot of people wondering how she is doing now.

Well, let me tell ya.  She's just about a normal toddler.  She jumps on the bed.  She leads the music in church.  She laughs at funny faces.  She climbs on the couch.  She pitches a fit when you take something away from her.  She hates to be left.  She loves going "bye bye."  She gets grouchy when she's tired.  She likes to eat.  She gets into everything.  She mooches my ice cream.  She likes to look at picture books.  She gives great wet kisses.  She talks a lot, but it's not always understandable.  In other words, she's a fairly normal two-year-old.

On the other hand, she still has to wear her exoskeleton (the helmet).  Her right hand still doesn't work as well as the left.  She doesn't walk exactly straight.  Her vocabulary is only about 1/3 what it used to be.  We have to be so careful she doesn't fall.  Her words aren't as clear now.  But we've got her sweet little personality back.  The rest is just details.  I'm so grateful.