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8.23.17 Support

Thank you to everyone for all of your support as we head towards these big life events. We have received encouragement, prayers, and funds. We have felt peace going forward knowing that we have this support backing us. We are so grateful to have you on this journey along with us. Thank you! 

There are two opportunities to participate with us beyond sending us your messages and prayers. A gofundme page has been set up here to help cover expenses during hospital stays and time off of work. Also, we have launched a new t-shirt design here We will only have this new shirt available for a very short time so that orders will be received by the time of Aimee's first surgery. To allow as many people as possible to purchase shirts that may not have been able to afford to buy one in the past, we kept the cost of the standard t-shirt ($15) and kid t-shirt ($12) as low as possible. If you already have a Team Aimee Love shirt, please consider pulling it out. We hope you will all be able to join us in wearing one of the Team Aimee shirts during her surgery and recovery times.  Here are a few of the style and color options that are available with this new design. 

Again, we are so grateful for each donation, each show of emotional support, each prayer. Thank you for being on Aimee's team. <3 div="" nbsp="">

8.12.17 Schedule

We have a date! 

I was finally able to connect with a scheduler and was able to set a date just in the timeframe for which we were praying. When the scheduler put me on hold for a few minutes, I prayed that everything would fall into the right timing, even if that wasn't the timing that I thought was best. The scheduler returned to the line and asked me if there was a time I was hoping to schedule!! That has literally never happened with any scheduler ever for anything at the hospital. Thank you Jesus. Though we are nervous to go ahead with surgeries, I am finally able to plan for the coming 3 months!

Over this next month we will have a few more preparation appts. In particular, we will meet with the equipment PT and wheelchair vendor to discuss what changes are needed for Aimee's chair for post-op. I am so grateful to be having this thought through appropriately ahead of time, as equipment was a huge problem after the hip surgery. Ed and I had to basically find a way to majorly modify her wheelchair on our own in order to get her home. The surgery team had thought ahead and ordered her a regular wide wheelchair, but it did not recline and had no supports... it is almost comical to remember. Not repeating that scenario. 

Here are the big highlights coming up:
  • September 18th GI surgery to place C-tube
  • October 17th Ortho surgery to place spinal magnetic growth rods
  • November 3rd baby boy is due

There are going to be a lot of prayer requests for each of these events individually, but, at the moment, there are a few keys. 
  • Health for our family so that Aimee heads into both surgeries fully well.
  • Peace about finances. We have attempted to save sick and vacation time for these 3 events. We are hopeful that Ed will have enough to cover the days we need to have him not work, but we can't know ahead exactly how that will work. Beyond being Aimee's dad, Ed is the best right hand helper that could ever be. We work well as a team together to face and decipher all types of obstacles. I am praying to have him with us during every challenging moment. 
  • Proper, on-time delivery of baby boy. All 3 babies that I have carried so far have come within a few days of their due date. I do not anticipate this time being any different, but am praying that the stress does not cause any early changes.
  • Much peace over our home and each family member as we start to prepare for this marathon. Praying we can rest and enjoy time together before we face the hurdles. 

(Caleb brought a chick to Aimee last night. She worked impressively hard to find it with her hand.)

8.4.17 The Sad and The Beautiful

To get the sad news out of the way first, I am going to give it straight away. We had to return Aimee's service dog, Yoda, last week. We were finally able to get the results of her allergy test the week before and found that she was allergic to dogs among other things. It really had not occurred to me before that she might be, though her symptoms had become much more extreme this past year. We made the sad concession that his benefit did not outweigh the challenge and took him back. Still working on cleaning out Aimee's space and removing the dog presence from her room, but I feel that she has been improved this past week. 

Before I give you the beautiful, you must endure the mundane. Tuesday, Alyssa and I took Aimee in for her contrast x-ray procedure. Knowing that I could not stay in the room with her due to baby, it was a huge blessing to have Alyssa with us. It was not a comfortable process and the hospital provided a child life specialist to help ease/distract Aimee as well. I was so grateful that Alyssa was in there too though for Aimee's sake, since she could provide feedback on Aimee's distress level and her presence could comfort Aimee. I think the procedure was also easier for Aimee to endure since she is very used to having a variety of enima type processes done daily. All the anatomy looked as it should through her colon according to the technician. We are now ready to have the GI surgery done whenever they have a cancellation or September 18th, whichever comes first. 

Sidenote: Still no contact from the spine surgery scheduler, though it has been over 2 weeks since we were cleared by Anesthesia. I left a message earlier this week, but am feeling uncomfortably aware that our timeframe is getting smaller. It seems unlikely that this will work out as we had hoped with 13 weeks left until the arrival of baby boy. 

On to the beautiful! Aimee was able to be a little bridesmaid in her cousin Angelique's wedding this past weekend. Angelique has been able to build a sweet relationship with Aimee this past year through many hours of caregiving. Aimee really lit up in her bridesmaid role. She was engaged and smiling. Her favorite moments, I believe, were attempting to eat her bouquet, walking the bumpy path back down the aisle, and dancing. Personally, I will treasure being stuck behind seeing my lovely niece and my brother prepare to walk down the aisle. It was so appropriate as she was with me at my own wedding as a young bridesmaid in that same moment. 

7.19.17 Surgeries

Yesterday was a big day full of preparation for what is to come. We met with the PASS/Anesthesia clinic to get the approval to go ahead with scheduling the spine rod surgery. Thankfully we had already done the sleep study (still no official results), but they did want to see some blood work to check on her nutrition levels and figure out a plan for the GI situation. Ideally that plan being surgery. Also, they recommended that we meet ahead with OT/PT for a wheelchair consult to see if anything needs to be changed with her supports and the back rest for after spine surgery. We were also warned that because this surgery will have to be done with her laying on her stomach, there will be a more difficult respiratory recovery time. The anesthesiologist said that even someone with normal lungs has a lag time getting back to normal, even more so for someone with restricted lungs.

After the blood draw, we met with the Urologist. His recommendation is that we consider doing botox injections into the sphincter that keeps the bladder closed. He said that in people with tone issues, this can be another area where tightness can occur. However, if we do that route, we have to repeat injections every 3 months. Rather than start that, I requested that we attempt to sort out the GI issues first and hope that it helps to resolve at least some of the urinary issues. We would like to see her need less catheters both for infection sake and for care, but I am not quite ready to sign up for an every 3 month botox.

Lastly, we met with the GI surgeon. This is a tricky choice, because neither the doctor or us are confident that this surgery will solve the issue, however, we feel that it needs to be tried before moving to the final resort of the colostomy bag. Yes, we may end up there and yes, people do manage with them, but, when/if we get there, it would be for the rest of her life. We need to at least try the cecostomy tube, because we also don't know that it won't work.

Care wise, the c-tube sounds very similar to the g-tube. Obviously we would be using it differently, but we are already comfortable with all of the equipment, tube changes, and issues that are a part of its care. The surgery itself they will attempt to do laparoscopically and change course in the operating room to a larger incision if the abdominal wall is too thick. It should only be a few days in the hospital and may be used 1 week following the procedure (assuming all goes well).

From here we try to get this GI surgery done as quickly as possible so that we can proceed ahead with the spine surgery. At this point the earliest we can get the first done is mid-September, but we are on a cancelation list. There are a few prerequisites, like a contrast x-ray study, that need to be completed. We will get these done as quickly as we can over the next few weeks and then be ready to head into surgery if there is an opening. We hope to have an official date for spine surgery in the next few days. We are praying praying that we can get a date for October. Ideally for early October so that we can get through the hospital stay and the early recovery before the baby arrives.

7.13.17 Update

Two Fridays ago Aimee met with the dentist down at UW. It actually went really well. We were able to put off any major meddling for a future date with everything else she has coming up. She even was able to get a few of her teeth polished for the first time. :) 

Last Monday night we spent at Overlake Medical Center for a sleep study. She hadn't had one in 3 years and really needed it done before the anesthesia appt in preparation for the spine surgery. I don't have the official results yet, but Aimee seemed to sleep well during the study. I wish I could say the same for myself. ;) 

Aimee loved the 4th of July. Between the noise of the fireworks and sitting next to a warm fire, she was in her element. I believe the fire was actually her favorite. She was watching it out of the side of her eye as it danced around. Really kind of perfect in the dusk light for her vision. 

Last Wednesday we had another PT appointment that Aimee loved. She laughed and laughed through the different movements. The therapist put her in all kinds of funny positions (up-side-down!!) and it was apparently hilarious. We'll have one more PT visit at Providence to figure out our best home routine and probably come back every year or so to get this updated as she grows and changes.

This Monday, Aimee went in for a renal ultrasound in preparation for this coming Tuesday's appt with the Reconstructive Pelvic Medicine team to discuss surgery options. The ultrasound was fine, as far as we know. We really don't get results until we meet with the doctors. The only real comment that they made was on how much Aimee has grown in last 6 months.

This week has been really emotional for Aimee. She has had a couple of really uncomfortable, sad days. We evaluate everything when she is that way, all jerky and upset. It can be really difficult in Aimee to distinguish between pain, allergies, sickness, seizures, crankiness, infections, intestinal distress, and tiredness. There are always possibilities that nag in the back of my mind. Did she break a bone? Does she have abdominal pain? Is it another UTI? Is she just over tired? Were those jerky movements a seizure? Those times that we discuss and rediscuss with every hour that passes. Suddenly, a day or two in, she will start to smile. We scratch our heads, shrug our shoulders, and move on to the next phase. 

Last weekend we got to spend a day at the zoo with our DeVoe family. First time we have been back since Aimee's 3rd birthday. It was really fun to have the boys see real animals up close. Aimee  cooperated with no issues and we even found a decent bathroom bench on which to lay her down. Success!

6.27.17 Spine News

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”
Psalms 39:7 NLT

Yesterday, Aimee and I met with the Orthopedic surgeon, along with the head of the Pulmonary department, to evaluate her scoliosis progression in conjunction with her lung restriction. We last met with this combo in December, at which point, the conclusion was surgery in the next 2 years. One of the x-rays that they use for tracking progression is a spinal traction. The surgeon pulls on her upper body while another pulls on her pelvis to get her spine as straight as possible and then a series of pictures are taken. These are stitched together into one long x-ray of the spine showing the inflexible curve. They used to take a photo of her flexible curve too, but it is just too ridiculous and unhelpful to see a picture of her bones slumped over in a sitting up position. 

December's spinal traction showed a fixed curve in her upper back of 45 degrees and yesterday's showed 50 degrees. This is the cut off point, the line where the surgeon says, "enough is enough." Aimee will need to have surgery to place growth rods this Fall before a further curve causes too great of damage or impairs her breathing beyond what she can handle. 

We plan to have them place magnetic rods, which will allow them to be lengthened with a magnetic remote and ultrasound every 4 months for about 3 years. After 3 years we would re-evaluate if the next size would be needed or a spinal fusion, depending on Aimee's growth. 

This is scary. Ed and feel pretty numb and terrified. 2 major surgeries in the next few months. Trying to schedule all the preparation as quickly as possible so that she can get through the GI surgery, recover completely, and still have time for the spine surgery before sick season starts. Honestly, even though I was surprised last time to hear that spine surgery would be coming in the next couple years... I was still really not prepared to hear "now". 

My beautiful, peaceful girl doesn't know what the journey holds in front of her. She doesn't have anxiety about the process. She is peaceful about tomorrow or an hour from now. Although it cannot be ignored and there is much to do in preparation, I am breathing in that peace she carries, the peace that is on her skin and in her eyes. She seeps it out and shares it if you sit with her and accept the gift. 

In other news from yesterday's appointment, we finally have a doctor who listened about Aimee's allergies and sent us for bloodwork! Every time I have asked, the response has been that there is no point, just give her meds if they help. I am excited, simply to know what is causing her this big challenge. Plus, as the doctor said, we need to know if she is allergic to dogs or other animals, things to which we could actually control her exposure. So, while blood draws are not uncommon, the larger volume ones are for Aimee. It took 3 attempts and a second tech to finally have success getting a decent vein. Yuck. Soon though, we hope to have an answer to this one. 

We also got another new inhaler prescribed by the pulmonary doctor for use during distress, which means I have 4 different inhaler treatments to use. For our original resistance and pride at having no medications, it sure seems like we have been humbled by turning into a home pharmacy. All we can do is pray for the wisdom to know what is the right step forward with Aimee. We pray that we will know when to say "yes" to medical interventions, surgeries, medications, and doctors. We pray that we will know when to confidently say "no" or "not that way". God is our only true light, the only hope for tomorrow. 

6.23.17 Process of Elimination

Poop is what it is all about lately. At least, that is how it feels around here. Yesterday we met with the GI specialist and Nutritionist. The short of it is that elimination is not going well. It seems that there has been a decrease in Aimee's neurological function in this area. The amount of times that we are needing to use a catheter for urine output is dramatically increasing as the success rate of enimas is going down. This is causing more infections and making it really challenging to leave the house. The specialist is recommending that we attempt a Cecostomy. This is both for Aimee's quality of life and in an attempt to not make her daily care decisions completely reliant on my knowledge of Aimee. Basically, in case something happened to me, Aimee's care would be more straight forward in this area. This surgery will be creating an opening into the top of the bowel and placing a tube for administering enemies from above. Initially the doctor decided that we should move ahead with a surgery that would disconnect the bowel and use a colostomy bag. After some discussion, we decided that it would be wise to try the Cecostomy (c-tube) before that more drastic course of action. However, the doctor is not certain that this will be a success in Aimee's case and, if it is a success, how long it will work for her.

The GI specialist is hoping to have this surgery done as soon as we can. However, we have to coordinate some appts over the next several weeks to meet with the GI Surgeon, the Reconstructive Pelvic Medicine team, Aimee's Urologist, and the Anesthesia team. There is a possibility that her Urologist may want to add another procedure on to this surgery to allow us to drain urine through a catheter in her belly button. There is also a possibility that the surgery may be more complicated by the scoliosis status.
Celebrating Elliot's 4th birthday

On Wednesday we met with Aimee's Sleep Pulmonologist. Aimee is doing well with the increase in sedative for sleeping. We did find out that the Neurodevelopmental doctor had written the prescription for "by mouth", which meant that we received really challenging little pills that have already broken 3 pill grinders (they usually last us 9 months or so). Thankfully the children's pharmacy will compound this medication for us to allow it to go through a g-tube and make that little headache go away. The doctor is still concerned with the condition of Aimee's nose and continues to look for other options that will work with her tiny nostrils and tiny head without touching the bridge of the nose. She also noted that we are well past due for a titration study to check that Aimee's current overnight oxygen and bipap pressure levels are sufficient. They were able to find a spot for Aimee really quickly, so we will have that done July 3-4.  It seems like most of Aimee's doctors don't like to wait around in her case for normal scheduling times.
Tuning out the PT at the previous appt.

Aimee had another PT appointment at Providence on Wednesday and did really well. In the previous appointment, I requested that no more positions/exercises be done with Aimee that do not allow her a resting spot for her head. She gets really freaked out and scared when, for example, she is over the edge of a wedge with no support. I can't blame her for that. Her head is a heavy weight for her. If you were to hand me something really too heavy for me and I had no clue how I would set it down or idea how long I would have to hold it...I'd freak out too. Aimee particularly enjoyed rolling down a long wedge during this week's session. Clearly she is a thrill seeker. :)

Last week, Ed and I met with a UW Genetic Counselor. We had an ultrasound and discussed what genetic testing is available. Unfortunately, it will be a few more years before they can test the maternal blood for just any genetic disorder, which means we would have to do an amnio to find out prior to birth. We are not willing to take this risk (1 in 400 chance of miscarriage with an amnio currently). Instead, the midwife will be able to pull blood from the umbilical cord after delivery and send that to the lab to look specifically for KCNQ2. We won't know as soon as we had hoped, but it will allow us to find out risk free as soon as possible.

Otherwise, the ultrasound showed a very healthy little baby BOY! I sure do like have brothers and sons around me throughout my life. :) Caleb is suggesting names as often as he can. Little Couscous (the current favorite on Caleb's name list) is very active and we are looking forward to knowing him better.