Friday, October 30, 2009

Pick your title: "God is Good" OR "How Sadie Learned Her Colors"

God is good. God is SO good. I know that, but God has been reminding me of that over and over these last couple days. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for the life God has given me, and the life He is giving me now. I don't know what the future holds, but I want God to be in it whatever it is, because God is good.

Just one (of many!) blessings in my life: little Sadie. Sadie turned 4 a couple weeks ago and now tells everyone "I'm not free (three) anymore!" Today, we had a little trip. By "little", I mean with no notice, I picked her up from her babysitter's house mid-morning and whisked her off to Atlanta. On the Friday before Halloween. On the Magic City Classic AND the Talledega Race weekend...yeah, traffic was chaotic. That was on the way there. On the way home, how about 5 o'clock traffic in Atlanta on Friday afternoon, construction, and rain? It was a LOOOONG day. But God is good..and the trip was good..and God was in it.

Let's start this story back at the beginning. Well, the middle anyway. :-). Sometime late summer 2008, I met with a hand surgeon here locally. Let's just say she didn't thrill me. She may be a wonderful surgeon, but she was not a good listener. She didn't listen to my questions, concerns, and opinions at all. So therefore, I won't ever find out if she's a good surgeon or not. I just wasn't comfortable. My pediatrician referred me to someone else. Much better listener, but he clearly didn't have the experience and knowledge. (remember my story of him googling treatment options?). But then I heard of a surgeon in Atlanta that had a great reputations and had done multiple surgeries on children whose hands were like Sadie's. I went and met with him. At the time, I didn't know if I wanted to do surgery or not. He was wonderful!! He spent a long time with me listening, talking, answering questions, drawing diagrams, etc. He spent a lot of time with Sadie..not just examing her hands but looking at her as a whole..and he was clearly very knowledgeable. He left me with information on pros and cons of what he would reccomend, along with directions to call him if I wanted to ask any more questions. Long story, short..we'd found a surgeon. And for multiple reasons, I decided the surgeries would be a good thing for Sadie in the long run. In December 2008, Sadie had her first surgery on her hands. She had her "floppy" thumb on her right hand removed and this lovely contraption called a fixator placed on her left hand. Here's her hands pre-surgery:

Several weeks after surgery (1st pic is the fixator, 2nd is the fixator with cover over it. Sadie picked red)

After that surgery, I had to turn a screw on the fixator twice a day. That slowly straightened her hand. During this process, Sadie and I travelled to Atlanta periodically to get things checked. It was weekly for the first month. We had a couple minor infections during this..totally normal, cuught quickly, and nothing that a round of antibiotics didn't cure. We were very fortunate. And Sadie tolerated this contraption SO well. And there were really no limitations on what she could do with it. She could shower, but wasn't supposed to immerse it in the water. Just as a precaution, we put a plastic bag over it for particularly messy activities or wet activities. Here's Sadie playing in the snow with the bag over her fixator.

Then in March, Sadie had surgery #2. Here she is at the hospital before surgery #2.

Surgery #2 was to remove the fixator and do a "radialization" of her left hand. In other words, her hand was "straightened" on the end of her ulna bone (she has no radius in the left arm). A pin was placed inside to hold everything in place. Once the bandages were removed a week post-surgery, Sadie got her first

When the cast came off, Sadie got this lovely pink splint with purple straps. And she wore it all day, every day from the time she got it at the end of March until mid-October. Everywhere she went..including swimming, the lake, and the beach. I learned to soak it in vinegar occassionally to get the smell out. Although I don't know if the lake smell ever totally dissapeared. We did take it off for baths.

At the end of May, Sadie had surgery #3. Here she is pre-surgery.

Surgery #3 created a thumb on her right hand (it came from her index finger). Amazing. She came out of surgery all bandaged up. But when the bandages came out, here's the little thumb that was there. A pin was left in the thumb for the time being. It was quickly put in a cast and this time Sadie chose black. She now had a black cast on one hand and a purple and pink splint on the other. We got some stares and questions in public. Sadie took it all in stride.

Once that cast came off (3 weeks later), the pin was removed, and Sadie got this cool blue splint with green straps for her new thumb. She wore it all the time for 3 weeks, except for occupational therapy and showers. Then she wore it just at night for another 3 weeks. She went to OT regularly during those 6 weeks and learned to use her new thumb. So, during this time, we had a blue splint on one hand and a pink splint on the other. (At our agency reunion this summer with Lifeline's facilitator in China)

Sadie has been so proud of her new thumb! And she's quite amazing at what she can do with it now. She can cut with special scissors, color, zip, turn little locks on the door, etc. What she loves most though is singing "Where is Thumbkin?" She has spent the last few months walking up to people in the grocery store and saying "I have a new thumb!".

Finally, in mid-October, Sadie had surgery #4. The PA at her surgeon's office had pity on me and actually faxed me the pre-op paperwork this time to save us a trip to Atlanta the week before surgery. We love them! For so many reasons. Here's some pics of Sadie in the couple weeks leading up to surgery. Just because they were cute and I wanted to stick them in here. First, the beach. Next, Sadie sliding with some friends at her 4th birthday party. Finally, pre-op.

This time, the pin was being removed in her left wrist (the one that'd been there since surgery #2 in March) and she was getting a new thumb on her left hand. When the bandages came off, Sadie chose pink for her cast this time. And then at a fall festival at Hannah's school a few days later, she got pink hair to match her cast. (Hannah had purple hair..didn't show up too great in the photo).

We were supposed to have that pink cast on for 3 weeks. But we ran into a little snag. Sadie's left hand was very swollen post-surgery. And when the swelling went down, the cast "slipped". Her dr. had done everything he could to prevent that and minimize the swelling in the first place (including these little "drains" in her thumb at first) but it just happened. Which brings us to today. I took Hannah to school and Sadie to her babysitter's. Then I called the dr. office. I was seriously thinking "I'm a little concerned about this, but I'm sure it's fine and I'm probably over-reacting, but I want them to tell me I'm over-reacing and it's fine". I spoke with the surgeon's assistant who said it was "probably fine" but she wanted to talk to the surgeon to be sure. He was in surgery at the moment however, so she'd call me back. So I went on to work. Mid-morning, she called me to tell me he wanted the cast off, wanted the hand x-rayed, and wanted a new cast put on and he wanted it done today. We talked about me doing it locally instead of going all the way to Atlanta. But in the end, the surgeon wasn't comfortable with that and really wanted me to come to their office. I chose him because of his reputation. He's proved himself to me multiple times already. So I trusted him. So, I made some phone calls to cancel appointments, set up care for Hannah this afternoon, and I picked Sadie up. We headed to Atlanta...We arrived in Atlanta at the surgeon's office just before 4:00 (they're an hour ahead of us). And Sadie is fine. But I'm glad we went. They all know Sadie there and she's charmed them completely! And they take very good care of her. They joke with her and laugh with her..but they're serious about doing a good job. I sat in amazement. It was the end of the day on a Friday, and they treated her like their first patient Monday morning. or better. I know they stayed late just to make sure everything was okay with her. The surgeon wasn't there (it was his day to be in surgery at the hospital all day). But he might as well have been. They took pictures and e-mailed them to him in surgery. And they took pictures of the x-rays and sent him those too. They texted and talked back and forth. And seriously, he might as well have been standing there. He directed that..another x-ray, an x-ray in a different postion..hold the hand in this position while you put the new cast on..wanted an x-ray in the cast to be sure..etc. And the bottom line is Sadie did need a new cast..but she's fine. No damage was done. But it could have been if the problem hadn't been corrected. Her new thumb wasn't the was fine. The problem was when the cast slipped, it made her wrist bend inwards. We've spent much time and surgery and effort getting that wrist to turn out..not in. Sadie will be able to turn it in when she needs to. But it did not need to sit in that position immobile or it could have started to permanently move back inwards. But they were able to get it in the correct position in the new cast, and everything is good. God is good. Oh yeah, and Sadie chose orange this time for her cast. Because it matched her butterfly wings of her Halloween costume. I actually told her that was why we were going back for a new cast: so she could pick out another color to go with her costume!

As I was driving home, I was amazingly not stressed at all about the traffic or the time or anything. I felt God's hand on my life and my children's lives and I felt like we were being very well taken-care of. Today was just one example. I listened to my insticts say something wasn't right. I had dr.'s I trusted who also trusted me that if I was concerned, they wanted to check it out. I had dr.'s who didn't take the "easy way out", but insisted I see them, today, right now. And they stayed late to make it happen. And a surgeon who directed everything from an OR across town! I'm so grateful to have found them. Sure, driving to Atlanta 21 times over the past 10 months (today was the 21st time!) has been a bit of a pain at times. But only because I get caught up in convenience and busyness at times. But when I truly stop and think of the care Sadie gets's a no-brainer. I'd drive 21 more times over the next 10 months in a hearbeat. But luckily, I don't have to. If all goes well, we'll go back in a week and a half, and then in probably another 3 weeks, and then probably 1 more time after that. And that's it. These two pics show how Sadie feels about our treks to Atlanta.

(actually, she seems to mostly enjoy the trips..and when she gets bored, she sleeps.) I am incredibly blessed..God is good. Just one example of how Good He is. Now, if I had not chosen to do any surgery on Sadie, I would be just as blessed and God would be just as good...and Sadie would be just as delightful, charming, and amazing. But because I *did* choose to do surgery, I sure am glad God put the right team in place for Sadie and that everything has worked out so well. And yes, Sadie has had a multitude of colors on her arms / hands during this past year. And yes, when we started, she knew no colors. Now she knows them all. :-)