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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Micah's Surgeries Day 4 & 5

Day 4: 
What a busy couple of days! Monday was a tough day off and on between Micah waking up hallucinating, trying to rest and visitors, etc. She was becoming more and more uncomfortable as the day went on and I believe much of the stress was mounting the closer we got to surgery day #2. The fact she couldn't really rest and didn't get much sleep the night before only added to her disorientation and discomfort, I think. Despite it all, she has handled it so well!
My sisters Jessica and Abby came with my nephews and brought yummy lunch and snacks and were a great distraction for a while! Micah was very happy to see her aunt Abby!
Many other friends came by for a visit Monday as well: My in-laws pastor from Scotts Hill made the trip in to pray for Micah, my cousin Maggie brought Elijah and my Aunt Polly and my sweet Oma who made sure to tell Micah several times to rest rest rest! Maggie also brought Get Well notes from she and Elijah along with flowers and a bag of treats! My close friend Lawanda came by again, this time with quite the surprise for me:
Oh yes folks, that there in that paper sack is.....GARRETTS popcorn!!! My FAVORITE ever since Lawanda introduced it to me when she brought me some from Chicago. She asked her cousin to bring some for me when she came back from Chicago this weekend just so she could surprise me! So.stinkin.delicious. I can make myself sick off this stuff. And well, I have. The Edible Arrangement is from my sweet friends Leigh and Mrs.Sally. Yum! Don & Phyllis McKenzie came by for a visit along with Gary's buddy Al and my Dad.
Angie Davis brought Dalton and Hailey Ellis by with the most awesome gift from all the elementary kids at Great Commission Church:
 Absolutely awesome! We hung it up so Micah could see it from her bed! She loved it!
Gary came by for the evening and agreed to stay the night again with me up here. He also brought me dinner AND a special thoughtful treat to brighten my day:
 GiGi's cupcakes! So thoughtful!
Micah's evening wasn't so awesome, and it was the first time she got truly agitated and upset. I can't imagine what her little body must be going through and she really hasn't been in her right mind. Its been so frightening to watch and I'm glad it has decreased a little. Praying for rest...

I feel like I'm leaving something out or not mentioning something someone has brought us but know that all of it has been appreciated! I'm just not functioning on all 4-cylinders! And I also don't even know what that means...

Day 5: Surgery #2
Up early!!  Preparation for Micah's 2nd surgery started so early today! She was so uncomfortable and very upset all morning but tried to make the most of it! The epidural turned off in the middle of the night, so the effects were beginning to wear off and though she still had some morphine in her, her anxiety was mounting. She would become upset and anxious anytime someone began messing with her arms for fear of getting yet ANOTHER shot or IV and I don't blame her! They finally pulled the 5th IV this morning as well because her arm was starting to swell on the left side this time. Poor weak little veins! But this time they promised not to put another one in until she was asleep.
To help with this process, I read her some of the notes people have been leaving her when they come visit. What a testimony to Micah of how much people love her and what a great testimony to the nurse working with the IV of how God is showing His love to Micah through our family and friends. I pray it impacted her life as well in some way.
We made it down to the pre-op area and poor Micah was just so over it. They gave her the Versed to relax her. We saw sweet Paige who was on duty in the ICU the night that Micah was admitted for the first time way back in October of 2001 and has maintained a connection with us over the years. She brought Micah a fun gift too! :) Micah wanted me to sing to her so I did a little while we waited and it calmed her down. Well, that and the Versed. They prepped her, talked to us, and wheeled my baby off!
They kept us posted all day and she did GREAT in the surgery! It took less time than the first surgery but was a much bigger operation they said. They put in 20 screws along with the rods and sewed her back up. They took the chest tube out, re-did the epidural and foley and gave her bigger stronger IVs that will hopefully last...Here's hoping.
Here is our little fighter before they wheeled her down to pre-op!
While she was out, Chris Bishop brought us lunch, my parents came by, Anna brought sweet Lucy Kate to see us (with a treat for ME and bread for us to snack on!) and Mandy with a bag full of goodies (including duck tape which will thrill Micah to add to her duck tape collection!!!! haha). 
When Micah was finally back upstairs, she was way more awake than anyone expected but eventually settled down and has been sleeping most of the evening. Gary and I were able to go downstairs to eat, thanks to Mom for sitting with Micah and then we were able to just relax and watch a movie while Micah slept on. I guess I am bracing myself for the harder days to come. Lord give me strength and patience and energy to help Micah recover! She is my little hero! I hope she hears me when I keep telling her this and I hope she remembers..
Oh one more cool thing, just a testimony of how giving Micah is! She had her soft blanket on her because she was so cold when she came up (they have an ice vest on her, cooling her torso to prevent high fevers from the surgery) but tonight when the nurses were checking her back, she asked them to give the blanket to me because I was cold. I mean, really?? Love this kid.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Micah's Surgeries Day 3

My heart hurts to see my child in pain. I've wished 100 times in the past 3 days that I could take Micah's place during this whole ordeal but God knows I wouldn't be half as strong as she is if I were! Going into these back surgeries, I thought that it wouldn't be nearly as hard as watching her fight for her life against that horrible cancer and I was right--its not nearly as hard. But it is far from easy. She knows what's going on now. She can tell us where it hurts and how it feels and what she needs--none of which she could tell us when she was in treatment 10-11 years ago, but it doesn't lesson the helplessness that I feel as a parent. I cry when I have to take my 3 kids to get their immunizations at the pediatricians office and wish I could erase the memory of their betrayed expression when you're the one holding them down for it, just like most other parents. I hate when my kids just have a 24 hour bug or fall and hurt themselves the same as any Mom. These bigger things don't lessen those smaller things! But watching Micah go through this, only a few days in has proven way more difficult than I could have imagined. I wish I could protect her from all this pain and everything that goes with it. I pray that God will strengthen me as he strengthens her little body. She is so amazing and so strong.
Sunday we woke up refreshed because of a great nurse who kept everyone out of our room all night and when he came in, he was quiet like a ninja and never made a sound so we could sleep. We both slept until the lab nurse came in at 7 (nurse Ed kept her away when she came at 5 am) to draw more blood. This would prove to be a HUGE blessing later!)
The morning was quiet and relaxing and we switched between watching movies on TV and the Olympics. My friends from high school Keith and Tracy came with lunch and Panera Bread Company always brightens a day! They also brought Micah a bag full of awesome goodies for later, which she loved. Can you tell Keith and Tracy may know a thing or two about what a tween girl is into? Haha:
The nurses and I gave Micah a sponge bath and changed her bedding which was quite the intense ordeal for Micah, but she admitted it did make her feel better to be clean. We can't wash her hair yet to get all the crusty glue from the nerve pathway monitors out because they'll just put more in for surgery #2, but her Nana braided her hair so at least her hair is out of the way and looks cute. Very important detail, you know.
Gary and the kids came up in the early evening and brought Papaw and Grandma with them. Micah was glad to see her grandparents, and I was glad to see my baby boy on his 2nd birthday. :)

Nana and Grandy came up a little while later after the Barkers left with Haven and Stone (thank God for their willingness to keep the kids for us so we can focus on Micah this week!!!) and brought dinner. I didn't have much of an appetite unfortunately because Micah had begun having some disorientation around 5 or 6 pm and it seemed to get progressively worse. By 9 pm, Micah was having frequent hallucinations and unable to get even a few minutes rest. The medical staff speculates that it is the epidural meds or perhaps a combination of them plus the nerve pain medicine and morphine. She also has gone through 4 IVs since Friday and has a pretty severe IV infiltration on her right arm. Her arm got so big that her hospital band has left marks and she had no crease in her elbow and couldn't even bend her arm. They took both IVs out of that arm and medicine was just oozing out of the IV site in the crease of her elbow. It had backed up so much that her entire right shoulder was doubled in size and has swollen her neck as well. She couldn't feel her arm and then had to get 5 shots of medicine in her arm near the IV site as a preventative measure for tissue damage. So sad about this problem that could have been prevented had someone noticed it sooner, however it was a pretty quick drip so it happened pretty quickly. Her arm is propped up on pillows to help it absorb into her body, but its a slow process.
The hallucinations continued on through the night and neither of us got very much sleep. She would close her eyes for a minute to a minute and a half and then wake up upset or confused and disoriented. It wasn't anything scary or creepy thank goodness, but normal Micah concerns and conversations. Many of which I know will be funny later because they were just so "Micah" but none of which were very entertaining last night. For the first time I felt truly helpless because no one could give her anything, even just to help her sleep until it ran its course. She finally fell asleep after midnight for about half an hour and did that off and on between hallucinations until after 3:30 am. She then slept well til 5 am to 6 am and then the doctors/residents/nurse practicioners/lab nurses all began their rotations so she slept off and on til after 8 during all that.
All in all, Sunday turned out to be the hardest day yet. But she is still such a trooper and I'm so proud of my girl. If anyone can make it through all this with flying colors and a smile, its Micah.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Micah's Surgeries Day 1 & 2

Day 1: We arrived at LeBonheur Children's Hospital Friday at 5:30 am. Everything went smoothly and we got to talk to two of the surgeons (team of 3: general surgeon, neurosurgeon and orthopaedic surgeon) before the surgery. Micah was in high spirits at this point and looking forward to get the laughing gas in a special flavor she chose herself: orange.

Micah did fabulous as they prepared her to go back and once the Versed kicked in, she was one cool cucumber
Micah & Mom

 (You can read more about what brought us to this point here.) They took Micah back after her dad and I loved on her and we watched them wheel us away. Gary and I found a peaceful empty waiting room on the floor of the IMCU and waited for a couple of hours until my Dad joined us and kept us company. My dear sweet friend Lawanda also stopped by with balloons for Micah (They are so cute! Security actually took several of them away, did you know you can't have latex balloons in a children's hospital? Who knew?) and our friend Trevor came, too. Friends made the day go by faster! But not fast enough...

The surgery ended up lasting a VERY long time because the incision had to be so much wider and deeper. Total time back was 9.5 hours and a big percentage of that was cutting and stitching. They also ran into a roadblock: Micah's left lung has been stuck to her chest wall since one of her surgeries 10 years ago so they had to carefully "unstick it" so they could get to where they needed to go. The incision was mostly in her existing incision site (surgery #4 in 2002) but the new one reached back further and came forward a good bit more and now stretches down her belly past her sternum. :( This was unexpected and we haven't told Micah about how big the new scar will be. :( They were able to release the spine and put the cadaver bone in for it to begin bone grafting and creating a stronger base (bone fusion). All-in-all the surgery went as expected, albeit long.

When we finally got to see her, she was out of it, but already in pain. We are in a very nice room in the IMCU and I was able to unpack and get settled after Gary and my dad left and Micah rested. My sister Jessica and her husband and little Lincoln stopped by and brought me dinner, which I very much needed and appreciated! Lunch seemed like forever ago. A friend from church, Barney stopped by for a second to encourage us. After they left I was able to relax a little. I even got to watch almost the whole opening ceremony of the Olympics for the first time ever!

The night was LONG and very restless for both of us. The nurses kept coming in to check vitals since there are so many risks post-op and there were others who had to come in multiple times every couple of hours to do finger pricks to get vials of blood to test. Then there was the X-ray machine a guy rolled in at 4 am and slid a X-ray film board under the sheet under Micah and she did NOT like that at all. Ouch.

Luckily, this first incision starts on Micah's left side just at the edge of her side where it meets her back and wraps around the front. This allows her to rest on her back, though they have to keep "log rolling" her which is not fun. She also has a chest tube below that that is draining fluids from around the surgery site. Oxygen tubes and monitors are still on, both wrist IVs are being used and she has an epidural pump in her back. She is also on antibiotics, Zofran and Prevacid, glucose fluids and morphine, which is a great great thing.

Day 2: We woke up to a visit from Dr.Warner, her orthopedic surgeon from Campbell Clinic and 2 of his residents. I joked "Wow what a wake up call, 3 men in our room! haha!" but they didn't seem amused by my super hilarious humor. Probably because I looked like a hot mess. Anyway, he checked on her and seemed really pleased. We had a calm quiet morning and Micah continued to rest while I watched more Olympics and worked on a tribute for a friend's birthday. My parents came to visit and my mom brought me some awesome homemade spinach and cheese quesadillas. She is the BEST! Dad prayed for Micah again.
Shortly after they left, my brother Dr.Rucker and Anna came for a while and kept us company. After they left, Trevor and his mom Lynn came by and soon after my hubby brought his hot self and our other kiddos. Michael and my sister Melanie came then too and things got a little crazy for a while! I was grateful for the company though and to see my babies for a little while. Wendy came after that and brought me a bag full of snacks that proved SUPER helpful in the following hours. Thank you!

The afternoon has been harder for Micah. They've had to continue the log rolling and she hates it. She has lots of pain primarily in her incision site, where the chest tube is coming out and her wrists where the IV meds are flowing. Her lips are covered with sores on the inside where her braces rubbed her raw during the surgery and she has drainage in her throat from laying on her back. There is glue residue in her hair from the sensors they used all over her to monitor her sensory and motor pathways during the surgery. She has TPN (liquid nutrition) in one IV and glucose in the other. The epidural is still working and she is still receiving oxygen through a tube in her nose. She is swollen and puffy from fluids but everything is normal for this type of recovery. She's like her mama though and does NOT like to feel pain.

This whole experience has of course flashed me back over a decade ago when Micah was first diagnosed. She was so small at just before her first birthday. She couldn't communicate with me then and tell me where it hurt. I couldn't nurse her because she couldn't have food but she didn't understand. She had to have been in so much pain in so many ways and yet I was helpless to ease it. This kid is such a trooper. Such a fighter. She is such an inspiration to me and I know to so many others! From her cancer diagnosis almost 11 years ago to now, she has been a joy and a light in my life. I pray the Lord eases her pain and strengthens her as she pushes through yet another ordeal that most of us will never have to face. This pic was taken almost exactly a year after her diagnosis. She has had 5 surgeries, chemotherapies and so much more prior to the time this pic was taken and yet look at that sweet face! This was September of 2002. My Micah:

Tomorrow will be better. We have hope.
This could be a million times worse and for God's mercy and grace I am so thankful!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dining Room Table & Chairs Make-Over

Black is Back--Dining Room Chairs & Table Make Over!

When our friends James & Amy Folkerts asked me if I knew anyone who needed a free dining room set, my first response was "Oh yes I'm sure I can think of somebody!" because anytime anyone offers me anything for cheap or well, FREE as in this case, I absolutely cannot turn it down! (Insert predictions for seeing me on "Hoarders: Buried Alive" one day...)
I knew my sister Melanie and her new husband Michael needed something so they made arrangements to get it to their new house and POOF instant eating area! Well...not exactly...because THIS is what they received:

Now, I have no idea what causes a dining room set to end up looking this way, but I DO know that the Fabulous Folkerts (as I like to call them now) have 4 small children AND pets and they had had this set a really long time. So there you go. The mission: to make it look like new!

I invested in quite a few cans of Valspar black satin spray paint (my only complaint is their new ergo-dynamic spray nozzles: easier on the fingers, yes, but I can't attach my handy-dandy sprayer attachment to them. Oh well. My fingers are getting stronger with every spray paint project...) and Melanie and I picked out the PERFECT fabric in a gray chevron print. I think we ended up using approx. 9 cans of spray paint on the entire project. At approx $6/can, it was still better than investing the time AND money into canned paint.
The Chevron fabric at Premier Fabrics in Memphis, TN was $10/yard and we needed about 3.5 yards. Happy birthday to Melanie. :)
This is me using the power drill to un-attach the seat bottoms. I feel extremely powerful when using a power drill. Big props to my husband for having a cordless one and big props to Michael Caffee for having a corded one that I ended up having to use when my cordless one died. Yay, manly tools. :)
I wish we had gotten a pic of me spray painting the chairs and table outside (two separate days) because it was HOT and VERY meticulous. We are talking squats, planks, and yoga positions trying to get all up in every crack and crevice!
I must say that the whole thing turned out awesome and I really enjoyed working on this with Melanie! She was available to help play with my kids to distract them while I worked, she cleaned up the dining room several times so we could move things around AND she cleaned the furniture after it got dusty outside drying. Plus she and Michael polyurethaned the table so it wouldn't scratch and could be eaten on.
Close-up on the chairs. I absolutely love the fabric!!!!

 At Melanie's request, I did NOT distress or age this dining room set like I would have if it were for myself. Mel's style is a little more modern and clean-cut whereas mine is more vintage funky fun so we compromised on the fabric (Thank you Melanie, I am so happy you agreed to it!) but I agreed to not distress the edges. I LOVE it!

 The entire project cost us less than $100! SWEET! Thanks Fabulous Folkerts! :)