Thursday, April 29, 2010

One Hand Down One to Go

As Eli, Sidney, and I sit munching on usual afternoon snack of microwave popcorn, I have a couple of minutes to update everyone on surgery next Thursday. Surgery is scheduled for three hours, but as we are all aware, it could take longer. Dr Lawler advised a couple of months ago during an appointment, this particular hand is the more complex of the two. When looking at the second finger, it is obvious the finger is crooked. Two pieces of bone, in the shape of a circle, lie next to one another at the base of the finger. In this area, the growth plate is misshapen or the shape of the letter C. Our surgeon’s objective is to reshape the bone at the base of the finger and to correct the shape of the growth plate. A pin wil be placed in the end of the finger. Correcting the growth plate will require a graft of fat from the upper arm. This will leave a scar the size of a chickenpox. If additional skin is necessary to close, another skin graft will come off of her upper hip. Our surgeon has also advised she will not know completely what is necessary until she is inside of the hand. We took pictures, so other Sidney can see her hands prior to surgery when she gets older and for prospective special needs families can better understand the variety of complexities families encouter.

Our nurse let us know the pin is scheduled to come out by May 27. This is great news, as we are planning on a week of vacation in June. Worst case scenario, she will have a splint. We are hopeful this will also be gone making it easier to keep clean.

We have found the anxiety leading up to the actual event is less this time around. Like her last surgery, we feel empowered by our ability to do something which would have been out of the realm of possibility for Sidney’s birth parents. We have discussed the inability of people to seek medical treatment in China. We are certain her birth mom and dad fell into this category. When operations 1-25 are covered, and there is a lack of education, putting the pieces together becomes simplified.

In the midst of all of this, Sidney has found something she absolutely loves, crayons. We did not teach her to make circles however found her making them. Over and over and over with her right (hand which was completed in January) and her left hand. A budding artist? Only time will tell.

***As a side note, I have created a new blog on China adoption, international adoption, and anything in between. There is a lot of content available online, however I remember a lot of dated material while waiting. Some of the content is linked, however a good portion of the content will be written by yours truely. It is still under construction, and I am in the process of creating a blog button. As many of you already know, I freelance business content but nothing this fun. I also wanted another excuse to post the HTS blog button. They were integral in Sidney adjusting so quickly. Please add it to your reading list, each day will be something different hence the name

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Without boring my audience too much, we are enjoying warm weather and spending lots of time outside. This equates to Sidney taking longer naps and this makes me happy. Of course, any additional time this week has been spent preparing for a garage sale. Our community is the most zealous I have ever seen about finding a good deal.

I caught these photos of Sidney mastering the stairs on her bottom. She must have done this twenty times. Mom insisted that Eli pose with his new haircut. He wanted it shorter, because it was getting hot on the playground. By the way, the Arizona Wildcats shirt from my uncle and aunt has become a favorite. Each time Sidney puts it on I have to give the obligatory roar and she reciprocates. Sidney loves cats. I am sure animals are fascinating, because her exposure was limited in China. I still laugh about our guide in China pointing to a dog and saying “hot pot.”

We will keep everyone in the loop on her surgery. T Minus 2 weeks from tomorrow. On May 26th, we have a genetics appointment. In this appointment, we will find out more about the reasons for Sidney’s anomalies. Before traveling to China, we were unaware that her hands are a result of her leg or fibular hemimelia (missing the fibula bone on her left leg and four toes, a common result of the condition). I have done hours, and I do mean hours of reading, online about her condition. I was able to find only a small percentage of children with this condition have issues with internal organs. Of course, this needs to be ruled out. The thought of any more issues is concerning, however we know there is someone much greater in charge of her care. Genetics has advised us she will need an echocardiogram and ultrasound of her internal organs. This will all happen after her surgery, probably in June.

For now, we are content watching Sidney’s personality continue to unfold. She has definitely become more outspoken. When she doesn’t like what I am telling her to do, she tries to shush me. She can also hold her own with her brother. He, on the other hand, is not looking forward to another cast. She has accidentally clubbed all of us on more than one occasion.

OK, off to enjoy the sound of two children sleeping or absolute silence!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Mom on the Run (after Sidney)

We are finally enjoying beautiful spring weather and experiencing a healthy family! Eli and Sidney’s heads hit the pillow and Tom and I enjoy SILENCE.

As Eli rides laps on his bike, Sidney stands by and discovers an entire world outside. Watching her run as Eli chases her around is the most awesome feeling. Her hands have been the main source of medical treatment over the last few months, but her leg is her other special need. She has a limb length discrepancy of over an inch (Sidney is missing her fibula bone with fibular hemimelia on her left leg and has four toes which is normal with this condition), so we purchase regular athletic shoes and have an lift placed in the sole. This requires a prescription and a trip to the orthopedists office. Her left foot is significantly narrower than the right but has increased in length and is almost the same size as her right foot. When we purchased her first pair of shoes, they were two sizes apart. Now the length is close enough that we can purchase one size.

Sidney’s leg was something we were completely aware of until the day we first met. There is always a lot of buzz in the special needs community about undisclosed medical issues. When a medical professional looked at her special needs photo, she commented the leg looked shorter. We tossed around the idea of taking it to an orthopedist but decided it could be the angle of the camera. Of greater importance was that it did not change anything.

All of this has been at the forefront of my mind, because I am in the process of creating a digital scrapbook of our trip. It was somewhat emotional to look back. For some reason, I thought about the possibility of her limb length discrepancy on the flight over, but it caught me off guard on Gotcha Day. Our agency told us they hoped the information was all included in the medical profile but could not tell us with absolute certainty. Every parent in a special needs adoption travels with the expectation that there might be more than listed. We were also unaware of the webbing on one hand as her hand was curled under in the photo. We knew all of this could be a possibility, and she would probably necessitate surgery of some type.

None of this changed our resolve or our feeling that God had given us our daughter for a reason, and her purpose in much life was greater than her physical anomalies.
Having said this, I will tell special needs parents that it is shocking the first time you confirm there are undocumented issues. Tom said we were taken aback, because we were caught off guard. But a couple of hours later, I was fine. I think I was in a state of shock, because we were actually in China in the process of moving forward with almost four years of plans. I am certain Sidney looked back at parents who equally had the proverbial look of a deer in headlights. No parenting with Eliab could have prepared me, and yet, there was a natural feeling about holding this little girl who I never met. I will say with all honesty, it felt like the first time I held Eli.

OK, I have again rambled off of my point. Enjoy the photos of the kids trying Dad’s new work boots. I also included some photos of her hand. It is completely healed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I am finally getting my weekly blog completed after a busy weekend of Sidney’s birthday party and Easter on back to back days. 19 people squeezed into my house. After the surgery in January and upcoming dates in May, we were more than happy to have a day of fun. What I found most amusing is when it came time to blow out the candles; Sidney promptly hoisted her slight frame up on the kitchen chair, and stood poised, ready to blow out the candles. It was obvious she had witnessed this before. We have not celebrated a birthday since we have been home with candles, so it she must have seen this in the orphanage. Eliab assisted her in blowing out the candles.

Mom almost got a little misty thinking about what it means to celebrate a birthday with a family and extended family who love her very much. It was at this point I decided to use the email address the driver from the orphanage gave us on Gotcha Day to send updated photos. I have been going back and forth. I am not sure why. In the next couple of days, I will either send a framed photo or email something. Mailing might ensure it is printed off. I know from sending our package to Sidney prior to travel that items are received.

Eliab was happy for his sister, but again, learning the role of a big brother when the sibling is getting all the attention. Of course, it didn’t help that on the same night he “found out” (this is the only phrase I am using to describe what happened if any children are looking over your shoulder) about the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa simultaneously! I keep reminding him that he is the oldest and will get to do everything first. I tell him about when I was a kid about how my older brother Jason got to do everything first. Of course, as an adult, I am more than happy that he will turn 40 first.

Sidney’s next surgery is around the corner. May 6th, the doctor will complete reconstructive work on what she describes as the more complex of the two hands or her left hand. I feel at ease about the second procedure, knowing we are her parents for a reason. We have a gifted surgeon who did wonders with her first hand. I am certain other parents of special needs children will understand when I say that I am more at ease about the second procedure and looking forward to the results rather than dreading the time we are in the hospital.