January 08, 2016

His Humor

I'm quite enjoying this age of 14.

Lance is growing into a wonderful young man with a sense of humor that Alan and I find amusing.

I'm not sure I could say that his sisters fully appreciate that sense of humor yet.

The latest:

We welcomed a new member to our family over Christmas.

Her name is Gigi.

It was a Christmas gift for Sadie.  Gigi is a beauty school mannequin head made with real human hair so Sadie can use her curling irons, straighteners, crimpers and curlers and style to her hearts content.  Sadie has a great love for doing fun hairstyles.  She watches hundreds of the Youtube videos and has all of the hair apps and makes the most amazing braids and styles on her doll's hair.  She was so excited for the mannequin head and immediately disappeared with it Christmas afternoon to go style her for hours.

All of us, including Sadie to some extent, are somewhat creeped out by it.  Real hair. . . someone else's real hair -- kind-of grosses me out.  I know it is washed and sanitized, but still.  Then there are her eyes -- we all agree that her eyes follow us wherever we go.

Lance, true to his 14 year old sense of humor, decided to have some fun with Gigi at the expense of his sisters.

Evie and Sadie went into their room one night to find this. . .

A human form lying tucked in nice and cozy in Sadie's bed.

It was Gigi.

Eva and Sadie were baffled as to how she got there.

Eliza had been at work with Alan all day, I had laid in bed all day recovering, it couldn't have been Bridger and Lance was acting just as surprised about the find as his sisters were -- an act of surprise that his sisters believed to be genuine. {oh, those sweetly naive girls}

I suggested to them that maybe Gigi was possessed -- and somehow, to Sadie, that became a completely logical explanation and she wouldn't touch Gigi for days.

Finally, Lance confessed of his doings and all is happy again in the hair world.

His teenager humor, I love it.

January 06, 2016

That Sound

I hear it from across the house.

I can tell when it is coming from just looking at him from across the kitchen.

I hear it during the middle of the night as I sleep with one eye open.

And I go running.

I survey the scene.  I run get my mask and return to him.

That sound.

It is the sound of retching.

I only hear a single "hhuuuurrrreeehhh"  {how would you phonetically spell the retch sound??} and I know the rest of the day and week has dramatically changed course.

Every intrusion on his body, from pink eye to a stubbed pinky toe, comes with vomit.

Every virus makes its grand entrance with vomit and will linger the same way until the very end.

An end that takes too long to arrive at.

Medially fragile.

That is all that can explain it.

My other kids might have the same virus, a simple fever that lasts for 18 hours.

For Bridger, it is 2 weeks at home battling vomit and fever, with the fear for every time I hear that sound that he will aspirate unless I get there in time because he doesn't have the instinct to turn his head as he is laying there on his back in his bed.  We sing praises to the pharmaceutical manufacturers of Zofran.  We care for Bridger 24/7 in 20 minute increments until I can no longer keep him stable - as the virus can start affecting other systems, and then we spend the final 5 days in the hospital where he can stabilize and likely go home with something secondary contracted in the hospital.

There is something heartwarming and pathetic at the same time when I walk down the hallway of the peds unit at the hospital and the nurses are shouting out their greetings of welcome to Bridger, asking what's new since the last time he was there, telling me that they like my haircut and coming to me with a big mug of water and a pack of Lorna Doone cookies, "my usual", without me even having to request it.

We spent the first 5 days of 2016 in the hospital, Bridger's third New Year's Day celebrated there.  There is a delightful silver lining, however.  With the way our insurance benefits are structured, we pay 100% of everything until we reach our out of pocket max.  I am pleased, once again, to report that we achieved that limit in January, which makes insurance matters the rest of the year incredible easy.  I really do love it when the insurance battles for the year can be drastically minimized through an early health challenge.

endoscopy, stomach biopsy, room draped in sheeting per our "contact" label 

I am supposed to still be "recovering" from my surgery.  That word deserves quotes around it because what is recovery really?  I had the nurses assist me in changing his diarrhea diapers that were coming every 20 minutes for the first 2 days.  But other than that, this was a hard one.  Hard, because Bridger wasn't so agreeable this time around.  He was up all night the first night and very demanding of me.  After the first night, I had Alan take over the hospital duty and he and I went into our routine of him spending the night at the hospital, with his work clothes and briefcase with him.  Alan gets ready for work at the hospital as I get the kids off to school, then I dash off to the hospital and Alan goes from there to work, returning to the hospital after work as I go home to the kids and from there we bounce back and forth.  It is a routine we know and do well.  We are a well oiled machine -- a tired well-oiled machine.

During our times when Bridger is sick and we are tending to his bedside around the clock, or when he is in the hospital, Heaven is very close.  The power of who Bridger is, and the Presence of who is ultimately most mindful and aware of him, is a pure and formidable feeling that fills our home.

The lessons of faith, of prayer, of priorities and perspective are taught by Bridger in the most raw and powerful form to my other children - who are great students in those lessons.

In between all of those great lessons, and the gears of our machine that grind to keep life going for the rest of the family, that sound is echoing in my ear.  It haunts me.

That single sound.


January 01, 2016

Condensing Christmas

My favorite quote to remember each Christmas season is the tail end of a thought by one of our church leaders I once heard,

" . . . yet Christmas is what we make of it."

That has stuck with me year after year.  If we are harried or stressed, overly busy or wiped out by all of the "Christmas" doings, it is because that is what we chose to make of Christmas.

Knowing that I was going to be having major surgery two weeks prior to Christmas, I knew I needed to condense our celebrations and traditions into two weeks of what matters most.  My OCD-self insists that I always have my shopping AND wrapping done by Thanksgiving so the Christmas season can be about more important things to me than that.

We went with Grandma and our cousins to the Christmas village at Busch Gardens Amusement park with the other four kids while Bridger was enjoying time at Jill's House, his respite lodge.  It was a balmy 70 deg and was a scene straight from Norman Rockwell.

Knowing that was going to be bedridden for the two weeks prior to Christmas and not able to be the mom I would like to be, I took the kids each on a special date alone with me.  It was cute when reflecting on her date during the ride home, Sadie said to me, "Mom, you know the movie Inside Out?  Well tonight was a Core Memory for me." 

We celebrated with our tradition of attending the U.S. Army band's annual Christmas Concert at Constitution Hall. Bridger had a tender moment shown on the jumbo tron and the PBS broadcast of Santa coming down from the stage and the two exchanging a hug.

We played our traditional PRIZE game.  All the kids said that this year's version was their favorite yet.  Perhaps it is because I didn't wrap up any gag gifts in the mix like a package of toilet paper or bottle of syrup.  That never goes over well with Bridger.

I had my surgery on the 12th.  It was rough.  I told Alan to go pick me out a cute funeral outfit.  That was spoken with 97% drama and 3% assurance that I really thought at one point after the surgery that I was going to die.  It was (and still is) a hard recovery.

We had an outpouring of love from friends and supporters.  My heart gets a lot more tender in times such as this and my perspective and view of the tender mercies that God pours out on me and my family throughout this special journey overflows my heart.

I loved everything about this Christmas -- I love that it was simple.  I love that it was condensed.  I love that it was full of everything that matters most.