Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Christmas to you, and may your days be merry and include debris removal shoes

Not every girl gets so lucky at Christmas, but as you have guessed - I am special!  See for yourself, the best gift of the season:

To all of you who follow the ups and downs of my life and stories - thank you!  I hope your holiday was lovely and joyous and full of happy times with family and friends, with the promise of more to come.  I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Can a girl really get past a stroke? Well, yes.

I know I've been woefully absent again. By the way, butt not officially broken, but I did re-injure it when, after my mother had a stroke and was hospitalized last week and was then to be released, my sister texted me "come to St. Mark's - hurry" and I fell right the fuck down again, on my dining room floor as I stood in my stocking feet and read the message. My sister wanted me to hurry, but I didn't really mean to hurry that much. Oh well, my odds are better than my mom's. She is much better now than the last few days after episode number two, and will be sent to an acute care rehab tomorrow for a make or break stint of therapy. If she makes the effort, she'll make it home, and if she doesn't, then she'll never go back into her cocoon of safety and comfort. So I'll post more about it when I get the chance, but I wanted to share these pix of Hannah Rose, stroke survivor. In the last two days she has run through the house wife a play knife in each hand, practiced walking with both hands in her pockets, practiced walking with her eyes closed and while covering her head with a bucket.  Here's hoping my mom can learn from her granddaughter.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Let me tell you about your butt" is a crappy pickup line

My butt is broken, or at least looks, feels, and acts that way.  On the advice of my physical therapists (a fun family has physical therapists for both adults and children) I had an x-ray of my pelvis today, to determine if my tragic fall caused a fancy schmancy injury - the pelvic avulsion fracture. This type of injury occurs most often in athletes, and ya'll know how athletic I am. I am at least athletic enough to be suspected of being able to wrench my own body heroically to save my precious baby from a smash to the head, and in so doing create enough torque to break bone. It is true that I saved her very well, her coat was not even wet after our crash to the pavement. I am powerful, but secretive. Deeply secretive. I was hiding the answers even from myself, and then I got professional help.  The physical therapists don't want to treat me anymore until we rule out a higher level of injury.  I think they are bored because the depth of the color of the leg length bruise is waning but that is a different post.

I asked the radiology clinic staff if I could speak to the radiologist or technician myself, to learn about my results, since the x-ray gets developed pretty much instantaneously. No, they could not speak to me about my butt. HIPAA prevents disclosure of private information. Even to me. My ass is officially top secret, strictly a need to know topic. Hopefully tomorrow, in the fullness of time, the radiologist will share the information with my regular doctor, who will hopefully have time to call me before the office closes for its Christmas party. So more people can know the secrets of my ass. Including me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thing 1, Thing 2

Sisters are doing it for themselves . . .

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hell's bells, I don't know where the time has gone. Mo specifically asked me to write about the results of constraint therapy for Hannah, and so I will, but first I'll give my excuses for why I am so very absent. I had meant to blog from Disneyland, but I was really in a lot of pain after oral surgery to extract a tooth and begin an implant process, so every time my kids were down and I could rest I didn't feel like getting on the computer. On the night before Thanksgiving, I slipped on ice carrying Hannah, two glass bowls and the school photos, all of which needed protecting and so I torqued my body in the air to not land on Hannah and thereby tore my hamstring.  When folks picked us up and dusted us off the baby wasn't even damp. I win! I really seriously injured myself though, so now when I get my kids down in the evening I need to lie down and try to elevate my hamstring/thigh above my heart to reduce swelling (not easy). So, I beg your pardon if I normally comment on your blog, or if I normally give you something to read, and I've been letting you down.  I look forward to things getting better in six to eight weeks.  Yeah.  Good times.

Hannah did three and a half weeks of constraint casting. The half week was added because I wanted someone professional to take the cast off, because my daughter is a smart cookie and if we do this again in six months I didn't want her to remember that I could take her cast off, I wanted it to be done by a therapist. We definitely see improvement in the use of her affected hand/arm. I would absolutely recommend this therapeutic approach. Hannah was upset but less so than I expected. I was a bit wound up for a while before the cast was put on because I thought she might cry for days and we would wimp out and give in and take it off. She really was fine at the outset, but she did have difficulty sleeping, and staying asleep, largely because the cast literally weighed ten percent of her tiny body weight. Those of you with bigger kids might not have this issue. My treating therapists have a child wear the cast and simply go about their daily lives, we didn't do the six hours of special OT that make up the basis of some programs in other parts of the country, so this was probably a lot easier. Hannah's biggest challenge was with eating, she simply would not use her right hand to put food in her mouth and she seemed indignant that she would be fed like a baby, but she did let us feed her. I was flexible about letting her use her binky more than we had, since I've been trying to reduce use and encourage more speech, but she foxed me by getting her day care minions to put her binky in her mouth. After a morning therapy session I dropped her at the day care and stayed to eat lunch with her so of course I fed her.  Her little friends gathered around us to monitor the mom in their midst. I kept the binky clipped to her shirt so she'd have to use her right hand to get her binky in her mouth. When she would try to do it the movement really exposed that supination is something that we really need to work on but she developed a work around. I saw her look at her two favorite boys, and say "binky" and they both leapt in and tried to be the one to get the binky first and get it in her mouth. Minions! At age two! She has since moved to the next up aged class and now is at the bottom of the pecking order, where the toddlers take her binky out of her mouth and say "binky in your pocket, Hannah!"

Results: extraordinary. the first week after removing the cast we were in Disneyland so I couldn't observe much in the way of the results because Hannah was not often in a place where she might pick up smaller items. I did buy some toys to encourage bilateral tasks - cookies in little plastic "jars" and things of that nature and we worked on those in the car. Now that we are home, I can see more of what she is doing with her affected hand. What is most noticeable is that she uses her hand much more automatically, or when necessary, she uses her hand to hold the thing she picked up first then picks up a second item with her good hand. She is much quicker to use her right hand to balance a cup or bottle, or hold a bowl of Cheetos while she feeds herself with her good hand.

Go Righty, go, get that foam number. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Long time no blog

In the last two weeks since I managed to write a post I have:
  • had Hannah's first constraint cast removed, after 3 1/2 weeks and having only cried when people asked me about it if they were people I knew and who loved me but I never once cried to a stranger (this pleases me to no end)
  • tears may have come to my eyes when my daughter clubbed me with the cast in my sore jaw
  • finished getting ready for the iconic family trip to Disneyland in the minivan, six family members and my best friend, who I think will now no longer travel with my whole brood.  I'm going with her.
  • had a tooth extracted ( I think when body parts are taken from you you should get paid, not the other way round)
  • had some other guys' squashed up sand like bone and a titanium implant placed in the hole described above, having been told going out of town with my decayed tooth holding a a bridge was "ticking time bomb"
  • gone to Disneyland with my family and my best friend, who is a Disney expert and who makes every trip more fun, even when my jaw was throbbing and I'd periodically find not two but three different child applied stains on my clothing in all the usual suspect areas representing food and other fluids roughly equally (I just did the laundry) and I still had a fantastic time
  • had two sick kids at Disney (you should buy stock in Kroger grape flavor children's ibuprofen - just a little tip from me to you)
  • did not divorce my husband or at least send him packing for a most aggravating incident
  • took some lovely pictures of my kids at the beach, which was one of my goals and which the children obviously loved, and which was the source of the friction that made me want to divorce my husband and I think I'll just stop with that there and throw in a little pixie dust

  • after pulling in last night around 3:00 a.m. the garage door worked well enough to let my friend's car out and let us park the van.  We put the kids in the bed, came back to get stuff and found the garage door would not open or close.  Since I would access back of the van through the back, this presented some difficulty.  We were held captive but I did get a lift to the store from my husband's ex-wife, then I got a ride home with my groceries from a dear friend who lives hear me, and when I got home the job was nearly done, so only $175 later we are now allowed to leave the house using our own vehicles. 
  • After the last two weeks, putting a turkey in oven sounds easy

Saturday, November 6, 2010

She said it, she finally said it!

My favorite PT, the Angel of PT as we call him, taught Hannah to say "I do!"   We can say "who loves butter?!?"  "I do!" she says.  Who loves Mama?  Who loves doggie?  " I do, I do!"

Tonight, during our nighttime cuddles while I put her to sleep, when she gets all generally squirmy and excited at first because she has her Mama's undivided attention and then snuggles happily into the breasts of comfort and joy, I said "I love you" and she repeated it.  She really did it.  It sounds like "I yuvyou" and it made my heart melt.
I love you too, honey.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Occupational therapy - constraint casting at three weeks

Halloween part two

This seems like old news but I can't stand skipping the pictures so here we go. If you noticed the Belle dresses on the girls at their costume parade party at school from the post last week, you might notice a lot of glitter. Did I mention there was a lot of glitter? Glitter doesn't really stick very well to fabric, but it is really effective on baby skin. In the time it took me to hold Hannah through the magic show, I must have gotten three glitter chunks in my right eye. Hannah's binky was covered in glitter, which was probably made by melamine eating slaves in China, and is likely to affect Hannah's future girl children in some horrific way. I knew that day that three days later it was likely the dresses would have some unfortunate accident that would cause them to be ruined (I thought it might involve tomato soup on Halloween, after trick or treating). Rain made Claire willing to change her plan and wear the candy costumes from our last parade entry, and Hannah likes to copy Claire so we went to a party and then trick or treating in other costumes. And some glitter turned up in my eyebrow, again.

Lord Honey beat me in the hands free donut eating contest. Because I love you, I will let you see this picture of me in half a convict costume, thinking that the donut will distract you from the size of my rack in that polyester, horizontally striped shirt.

The girls collected buckets of candy in a short time, Lord Honey carrying Hannah through the rain to save my neck and back.  I'm glad that one is behind me, and the dresses are out in the can.  I only "lost" them, in case they ask.  Whew.  Hey, is that glitter in your eye or are you crying?

Tulip, Welcome to Holland. Holland, meet Tulip.

We'd had some trouble getting Rocky to hold still once we changed dates/handlers. Our OT had us working more on developing protective movements such as getting one's arms out in front or to the side as necessary, and that was beneficial work, but since Rocky stopped stopping consistently, we weren't getting as much work done with grasping objects. So, we switched to Tulip, and lo and behold, yet another cute young man showed up to volunteer as the side walker. See the results for yourself.

Boys! Tasty! He is all mine.

She knows all her colors!

I can move objects with my mind! Er, um, right hand.

The walk of triumph.

Look out Holland, we have some tromping through your flowers to do.  Heh.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween part one and Irony with a capital I

A local dance company puts on a production of Thriller every year, which is so popular that many people go annually. When I was at the Shriner's hospital for a cast checkup/OT session with Hannah, I overheard that the professional performance company would be putting on a brief version of Thriller for families, patients and employees of the hospital. I wasn't sure Hannah could appreciate zombies, mummies, and chainsaw wielding maniacs, but since Claire wants to be a dancer when she grows up, I thought she could look past the scores and head straight to the dancing, so in my quest to be uber super mom, I dropped Hannah back to day care and pinched Claire for a surprise mommy/daughter bonding experience, even though I was between court calendars, and even though the bit preschool costume parade was to follow later in the day, giving me plenty of places to be inadequate and run late. We loved it. I was stunned by my ability to get this shot, given the wretched delay on my wee small digital camera.

I did love the bride of Frankenstein number, although I think the joke was utterly lost on Claire.

Now I'd seen this performance the previous week on a mom's night out with the day care staff and parents, and I knew that sometimes they picked out audience members for a little participation. I'd been talking to this mom earlier while our respective therapists worked with our kids, my OT doing stuff with Hannah and a PT and orthotist working with her son, who had one leg considerably shorter than the other with a dangly turned foot. AFter a long discussion on hair color, the talk turned to our kids, and I learned that her son, not 9 or ten or so, had suffered his injuries in a lawnmower accident when he was two. Mom herself had been operating a tractor mower on their farm in Colorado, had just told all three children to stay away from her machine as she couldn't see them as she turned, and the boy ran up and got dragged under. Since they lived on a farm at the back of beyond, they drove in towards the coming ambulance, in their fastest vehicle, a Camaro they were restoring but which had no seat belts, at 160 m.p.h. while she held her sons intestines and tried to keep them on the inside and while the tourniquet on his leg was failing. They met the ambulance, he was airlifted to Denver, and has since made excellent progress, generally getting a new prosthetic leg every six months or so at Shriners. Our conversation was cut off by our therapists wanting our attention, and so when I came back after my kid swap, there she was with the two sons she brought, sitting dead center in the "big" room where the dance concert would be presented. I knew when the masked men with boxes containing knives and chainsaws came out, someone would be called on to participate and I hoped it would not be me, leaving little Claire on her own. In one of those twists of fate, that in the end seem inevitable, the dancers chose that mom to come sit on their boxes.

And then they proceeded to pretend to cut off her foot, while her son looked on, laughing himself silly.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Monkey see, monkey feed princess wearing a big clunky cast

Hey, that monkey can get his hand in a cup to grab snacks, and I, a princess, cannot. I will make him do my bidding, or off with his head.

Snarf, snarf, snarf.

One at a time please, it is more fitting.

You may eat my crumbs, Monkey boy.

Bored now.  We are not pleased.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Constraint therapy, the middle

Hannah is still winning. Mama still whining. Nobody got a black eye from being clubbed with the cast yet. Success!

We have seen Hannah do many things with her right hand that she would never have done had lefty been available to her. Obviously the real measure of the technique's success will come when we see what stays with her later, but she is racking up experiences of Righty getting out there and doing things so I am sure neuronal pathways are being laid for future experiences to further the neuronal transmission, and so on. Lord Honey tried to get me to do something the other day and I said "no, I'm rewiring" because I was holding Hannah and doing something or other getting Righty in the game.  We've been using the Lauri peg board shape sorter, and I think Hannah knows all her colors and shapes, the tricky bit is picking up a dropped shape that hits the floor, while getting one off the sofa is fairly accurate. The first few days she wouldn't try, she might just club it with her cast, and now she'll work at it, usually til she gets it. She is turning pages more in books we read, which I've been moving her hand to do for 18 months, but now I tell her to turn it and turn it she will (board books, obviously). She normally carries Ken around, but Barbies are heavy enough that you have to hug them, our better doll figures are the Playmobil people and the wooden doll family members you get at the crunchy toy stores who can be grabbed around the body or at least the feet by a hand as small as Hannah's.  Our real failure is food, she will not make an effort to self feed with Righty. At first I could get sandwich chunks in there but now she squawks to be fed like a baby bird, and it makes her angry to be fed at the day care, possibly she doesn't want to look babyish with her friends? So I told them to bribe her with chocolate milk, because I am full of awesome parenting techniques like that. Sometimes I get a broccoli floret in her fist and she'll eat that, if it is well buttered. She can't hold her bottle, and her sippy cups are all too big. We get some success with the sippies with handles and she holds it with Righty and rests the weight on her casted arm, since it is so much stronger.

If anyone gets here just about to do this, or is thinking of it, get in touch with me and I'll give some tips if I can, and maybe a care package like sweet Mo sent.  See the beads, Mo?  I wish I had more shirts with big sleeves, but baby's big sister is only slightly bigger so we struggle even to find jammies and shirts. 

Right now, I'm glad we are doing it, but when she lies about draped across furniture looking wiped out from carrying ten percent extra body weight all day, I really look forward to taking the durn thing off.  And I am glad no one has a black eye.  Knock on wood.  The girl has a wicked left hook

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Constraint therapy, the beginning

Universe 1, Ginger 0, Hannah Eleventy zillion

Just when will I learn to trust my child? So my tension over constraint therapy has been building and building, while of course, she hears me discuss the concept but doesn't really know what is about to hit her, and I try to keep my conversation about it when around her all upbeat and light. She flailed and screamed while the cast was applied, had quite a good wail afterwards as she tried waving around an arm that was suddenly much heavier and bulkier than normal, then sat down to do OT with Tara, who had just applied the cast. As we left, Tara got a thank you, two hugs, kisses, and a wave bye-bye with Righty. Then we ate lunch at Shriners' cafeteria and she was doing so well, I took her to her day care so her day could be as normal as possible. What gives??

I wish they would have told me a few things of interest: have on hand shirts with bigger than average sleeves, or extra short sleeve t-shirts.  Have on hand some larger than average pajama options, gives tips on how to convince a two year old that "no clubbing" means no hitting mommy in the head with the cast while sporting a smile on her face.

So these pix are from Friday and Saturday and tonight we finally caught her in her armchair, already I need to update and show off some more as we watch Hannah pick things up with her right hand.  When she tires of using her hand, she just lies down on top of what she wants and grabs it with her mouth - whether it be a cookie, a binky, or a used Cheeto.  She is obviously fatigued though, since I think we added ten percent to her body weight and stuck it all in one place, so she has to lie down a lot, and she is eating at least ten percent more food to carry that extra ten percent in weight.

As I said, I should just trust Hannah to rise to the occasion and not be so worried. Here she is about 48 hours into constraint therapy trying to get her balloon string with Righty - there are more successful attempts that I filmed but I don't have the patience to upload longer videos to YouTube. Obviously, once again, Hannah is a raging success at everything she puts her hand to.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ability Found, for ability lost - pulling a The David Cook for charity

The history of why I do this is found here and here.  Aunt Becky at Mommy Loves Vodka had herself quite a lot of fun tricking the Google SEO algorithm into putting her blog at the top of the list for searches for John Mayer, on account of him being douchey and all, so, having had all that fun, she challenged her readers to do something similar for charity, harnessing the power of the interwebs to promote awareness of charities that matter. 

Ability Found is local to me, but assists people far beyond Salt Lake City. 
Ability Found provides the opportunity for everyone who is disabled to receive the right equipment to become productive members of society.These disabilities include conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, stroke, cancer, spinal cord injuries, gene abnormalities, hydrocephalus, amputations, diabetes, congenital impairments, heart disease, and lung disease. The medical and rehabilitation equipment we purchase is vital to our clients being involved in society and includes power wheelchairs, power scooters, manual wheelchairs with custom seating, handicapped vans, walkers, gait trainers, standing frames, bath equipment, continence supplies, braces hospital beds and pressure relieving mattresses.
I personally vouch for Ability Found because my daughter's favorite PT, commonly called The Angel of PT at my house, Michael J. Workman, is one of the key service providers who matches up people with equipment they need.  Michael J. Workman, a god among physical therapists, is also the inventor of the Bamboo Brace, for which I credit much of my daughter's extraordinary progress battling CP and the effects of an infantile stroke.  Michael and others like him go to a person's home or work environment, assesses the need of the individual, and looks for the right equipment to give a person greater freedom.  How sweet is that?  And they give their stuff to people for free!  Ability Found was started by a family whose son was severely injured due to a lack of oxygen at birth, and thy turned their experience with tragedy into one of hope, when they realized the needs that so many have that might be helped with medical equipment.  It all runs on donations, and Ability Found can be found right here, so you can check it out and give 'til it hurts. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Claire, this season

This is how she looks when she looks up at me, always full of love, unless she is giving me the stinkeye. Mostly she says I am the best Mommy in town. Recently she said "Mama, this sandwich is overcooked." Later, she affirmed I was still the best Mama in town. I was relieved.

I shamelessly use Claire to stimulate Hannah into crawling and doing upper body weight bearing through the blanket tunnel, because it appears to me that she is also enjoying herself.

Claire has an accomplished stinkeye. You'll will never be unable to tell what this child is feeling. Thinking, she might be able to hide, but strong emotions? You'll know.

She likes to be the little Mommy sometimes, helping her baby sister. Sometimes this means grabbing Hannah by her hoodie and pulling her down, but that certainly keeps Hannah from sneaking into the street while I get things out of the car.

This day of face painting in late summer was a preview of the child she would become, when she graduated to the Butterfly class in her day care. For the record, Butterflies learn to lie on the first day (teachers deny this, parents agree) stop taking naps, describe those kids who fall asleep during "quiet time" (a movie watched while wearing a blanket) with actual scorn, and are ever more adept at drama. Butterflies need a bandaid for all injuries, bleeding or not, and know everything.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I thought this day would never come.

When she would like her cowboy hat, and autumnal weather would finally arrive so I could dress the girls in their new clothes.  Yes, that is a purple corduroy dress with a horse print.  Yes it is.  Wait 'til you see the jeans.