Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring Break Part 1 - Half Marathon

I can't believe that Spring Break started just a week ago. So many big things have happened this week! Our week started with a trip to Atlanta. The original plan for Spring Break was actually to go to Savannah on Thursday for a few days and meet up with my college roommate and her family to run a half marathon there. But, since they scheduled David's surgery for Thursday we had to make a new plan! That plan included switching our half marathon to one in Atlanta the week before. So we woke up early Saturday morning, put the kids in the car, and hit the road. The first few hours were a little rocky because for some reason Lily kept getting upset about random things and crying. I'm not sure what finally calmed her down - getting to watch Frozen, stopping for lunch, or the threat of a consequence, but she finally got her act together. She even earned her three stars (my car behavior management system) so that she could get a treat the first time we stopped for gas! We hit up Chick-fil-A for lunch and let the kids get some energy out on the playground while we ordered. Then we loaded up the car again and ate on the road. We managed to avoid traffic the whole way until we passed Macon. For some reason there is always crazy traffic right around McDonough. Saturday was no different. We kept watching out ETA on the GPS climb higher and higher, and thankfully we were able to take an alternate route that saved us about 45 minutes of waiting. We still sat in quite a bit of traffic though. Finally we could see the Atlanta skyline in the distance! I still get a sense of nostalgia every time we drive into the city for the years that we lived there and that skyline meant we were almost home. We got off our exit, drove for a few blocks, and spotted our hotel up ahead. Then we stopped. Traffic wasn't moving again, at all. We inched closer and closer, and finally when we got close enough to the entrance we saw a sign that said we had to enter around the block. Agh! So we got in the left lane to turn, only to get stuck behind a taxi that decided to pull halfway up onto the curb and completely block our lane (we were on a one way street). We couldn't pull around because traffic wasn't moving, and he just sat there oblivious. We are not typically horn honkers, but we laid on that horn. He finally realized that we couldn't get around him, so he got back in his cab. Whew! Oh wait, nope. Now he pulled up to the intersection and just completely stopped in the lane. Like on the street. Apparently he was picking up people from our hotel, and instead of going around the block and turning in he decided to just make the street his own personal parking space. The people came out, loaded up their suitcases, and then went back into the hotel. We were about to lose our minds. We started the honking again. He didn't move. Somehow we finally managed to get around him and pull into the drive of the hotel. When we checked in we found out that they were filming a car chase scene for a movie with Jamie Fox, and that's why the traffic was so atrocious. I was very thankful that we wouldn't have to contend with any traffic the next morning for the race! We purposefully chose a hotel that was a block away from the race start.

As soon as we made it up to our rooms, Cherie arrived! Our next order of business was to walk to the race Expo at the World Congress Center. Again, thankful that we chose a close hotel so we didn't have to venture into that traffic again. We walked through Centennial Park and saw the finish line for our race! Then we continued on to the Expo. Along the way Brian decided to stop and let the kids run around in a field while Cherie and I went on. We picked up our numbers and shirts and checked out the booths in the Expo. We decided not to try to dried leaves they had for samples. Ok, so they weren't actually leaves but they were weird dried plant things that looked scary and gross. Nothing else really caught our eye so we went back to find Brian and the kids. They were playing near some purple trees that Lily of course loved since she loves all things purple. By the time we made it back to the hotel it was after 5:00 and we had made plans to visit with some friends for dinner. We got our car from the valet and headed to their house. We had a great time visiting with them and letting our kids play to together. I wish we lived closer to Atlanta. We have so many wonderful friends there that we love! At 8:00 we reluctantly headed back to the hotel so we could get the kids to bed and I could get to bed early too. I helped Brian tuck them in, then went over to the room that Cherie and I were sharing. No joke, as soon as we turned off the light the people in the room next to us started making all kinds of noise. Our room had an adjoining door with them, and it seriously sounded like they were standing in our room talking. We tried to drown it out with a sound machine and the AC fan, but they were still audible. Thankfully sleeping is my super power, so once I fell asleep I didn't wake up again. Poor Cherie had a much harder time, and Brian said he could hear them at 3am! (They were between our two rooms.)

Sunday morning our alarms went off all too early and Cherie and I got ready and headed to Centennial Park for the race. A cold front came through, which is great for racing, but that period of time when you're waiting for the race to start is pretty much miserable! We kept our hands in our sleeves and pockets to keep them warm, but pinning on race numbers was nearly impossible. After walking through the park we headed to the street with the start corrals. We found corral C, but couldn't find a way in. Apparently the reason that we were walking in the opposite direction of everyone we saw was because the entrance to all corrals was in the back! So we turned around and made the walk again. I'm pretty sure that Cherie hated me at this point, but it was too late to turn back! At 7:00 the first wave started, and we started walking up toward the start line. Six minutes later it was our turn and we were off!

Going into this race, I really wanted to get my best half time. I felt really well trained and with the cold weather I really thought I had a shot. Within 5 minutes of starting I quickly started to realize that this may not be a possibility. I knew that this race would have hills. But I completely and totally underestimated how many hills there would be! Let's just say that I thought running the Ringling Bridge 4 times in a 10 mile run was going to be a harder task than the Atlanta hills. In reality I basically ran the Ringling Bridge continuously for 13.1 miles. There were literally only two times in the entire race that I was on level ground and felt like I might be able to get in a rhythm. I was either going uphill or downhill the whole time! I had made a last minute decision to do some intervals in this race, and I am so glad I did! I don't think I would have made it without them. I ran the first three miles with Cherie, and started my intervals at mile 3. I ran for 8 minutes (sometimes 9 if the interval ended on a downhill) and walked for one. Unfortunately I messed up my watch somehow, so I wasn't able to use the intervals on there where it beeps at me. Instead I resorted to good old math skills. I felt pretty good until I exited Piedmont Park after mile 9. I turned the corner and looked at a neverending uphill. I almost walked so many times. Instead I did crazy runner things like talking out loud to myself, making grunting sounds like tennis players do, and letting out little yelps of achievement. I made it to my next interval and I was never so happy to walk. According to the elevation that section of uphill was about a mile, and when I reached the end of it I started to feel pretty good again. There were downhills every now and then that helped me catch my breath. Then mile 12 came. More neverending uphills. Typically I skip my last walk interval, but with that uphill it wasn't going to happen. There was some more crazy runner behavior, and I pretty much talked my way to the finish line.

Pretty much as soon as I stopped running my legs stopped working properly. I don't know if they were numb from cold, completely fatigued from hills, or just not getting enough blood, but I felt like they were unattached from my body. It's like I was walking on unstable wooden poles that may or may not move when I wanted them to. This was my fifth half marathon, and I've never experienced immediate stiffness and fatigue like that. I was pretty certain that I was going to need a wheelchair for the next few days. (No comments about how I actually did need a wheelchair after a previous half marathon.) Right after I crossed the finish line Brian called me. My fingers were so numb that I could barely figure out how to get out my phone and answer it. He told me that the kids were absolutely freezing so he was going to come say hi and then take them back to the hotel. The poor things were popsicles! Caroline was crying because she was so cold! I made them take a picture with me, and then Brian took the three oldest ones back. Lily wanted to stay with me and go find Cherie. I hobbled on my sad excuses for legs to the other side of the park and grabbed some chocolate milk on the way. There is nothing like chocolate milk after a hard race. It's one of my favorite things. I half fell to the ground to attempt to stretch for a few minutes, but it pretty much did nothing. It wasn't my muscles that were hurting, it was my joints and ligaments. But it sure felt good to sit! Now Lily was rethinking her decision to stay with me and was complaining about how cold she was. Cherie and I helped each other to our feet and got a picture by the finish line, grabbed our boxes of food, and walked back to the hotel. I took the most amazing and possibly longest hot shower of my life and felt much better after.

We decided to walk down the street for lunch instead of trying to mess with driving when half the roads were closed. We were the first people in Ted's Montana Grill, and I totally embarrassed everyone by wearing my race medal. Whatever, I earned that thing! I can't really eat for a while after a race, so I ordered soup and salad that I barely ate. At least Brian and Cherie actually enjoyed their food! Our waitress was super nice, but she kept referring to my kids as babies or "the babies", so I'm pretty sure they weren't too pleased with her. She did keep bringing them lemonade though, so she at least had that going for her. By the time we left the restaurant was full and we felt like quite the trend setters. We walked back to the hotel, said goodbye to Cherie, and headed to Marietta for the second part of our trip.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Orthodontist Visit

Today was a big day for our little guy! It was his first appointment at the orthodontist! If you remember from the previous post, the orthodontist is basically the key decision maker for the first step of David's care plan. We were waiting to see him to find out if we could use braces to close David's palate before surgery or if we would need to have an appliance put in like we did with Lily.

So today I had to be in Tampa by 10:25 after dropping the other three kids off at school. I managed to get Matthew to the bus on time and Caroline to her class a little early so that I could drop Lily off in the office by 9:15 and get on the road. Of course when I took her into the office there were other people waiting and the secretary was nowhere to be found. By the time someone came up to help us it was already 9:15. She called Lily's classroom and Ms. Cindy came up to get Lily. David and I were on the road by 9:20. According to my GPS arrival time I had only 2 minutes to spare. I made great time on the highway and was set to arrive 10 minutes early! Then I made the mistake of getting off on Fletcher. The traffic was awful and I watched the minutes tick away. We slid into the parking lot at 10:24 and made it just in time!

David was all smiles until we got out of the car. Then he got his nervous look and started shaking his head no. Sorry buddy, there's no turning back now! He was fine when we went in and played in the waiting room while I filled out paperwork. Then they brought us back to the new patient office to fill out paperwork. David was very clingy and wanted to be held so I could tell he was nervous. After the paperwork was completed we needed to take some pictures.

We went into another room and I tried to put David on a stool so they could get a regular old normal picture of him smiling. He lost his mind. As soon as I put him down he started crying and tried to catapult himself off of the stool. I scooped him up and tried to calm him down by taking a picture of him on my lap. It didn't work. He is totally crying in his picture. Then we had to go sit in a dentist chair for more invasive pictures. Seeing as how just sitting and smiling caused so much trauma, I was dreading the rest of this task. But thank goodness for Wendy. She was the wonderful woman taking the pictures. She handed David latex gloves and helped him put them on, then gave him one of those plastic things they use to hold the lips back. He was completely distracted and warmed right up to her. Next thing I know he's holding the plastic thing to keep his mouth open and biting down like a champ while Wendy took pictures. No tears!

We headed back to the office while the pictures were uploaded and printed and shown to Dr. F. for his opinion. David was happy as could be. I kept him busy with the Chinese/English app on my phone. Then Dr. F. came in, and of course he started crying again (he's really got the stranger danger thing down). To calm him down Dr. F gave him a musical toothbrush which he then proceeded to hold up to his ear and play repeatedly. Eventually he stopped crying and I could actually have a conversation! I was so excited to hear that Dr. F didn't have any hesitations about doing braces! He asked me if I wanted to come back or go ahead and do them today, and I decided it was better to just rip off the band-aid and get this party started.

At this point it was 11:20, and in order to get Caroline on time I would have to leave at noon. I had no idea how long everything would take so I called my mom for backup. Dr. F wanted to have the same tech that put Lily's brackets on do David's so we had to wait a bit for her to finish with her current patient before she could work on David. Finally it was our turn! David followed Carmen over to her chair, but as soon as it was time to sit in the chair he started freaking out again! I think that the fear and nervousness about not understanding what is happening is actually what makes him cry. Once he realizes what is going on he calms down and is pretty compliant. Carmen quickly realized that getting David to lay in the chair wasn't an option, so instead I crouched down on the floor and held him half standing in front of her. She showed David how she was going to blow air on his teeth and clean them with cotton and all of a sudden he was totally fine with it! I think he just wants to know that he can escape at any time ;o) From that point on David did awesome! He stood right there in front of her and let her do the whole cycle - dry, clean, place bracket, heat light - for every tooth! A few times he got tired and signed all done, but he hung in there. My legs lost all feeling sitting on the floor with him and Carmen's back almost died from leaning over, but at least he didn't cry! Once all the brackets were on she placed the elastic chain and we were done! David was all smiles and was so proud of himself for being brave. Now we go back next Wednesday for tightening - yikes!

Thank you all for praying for us through this journey. We are ecstatic that the first step of this journey has gone smoothly, and now we pray that the braces do their job and pull David's palate together. We probably need to visit Dr. R again and schedule surgery sometime soon as well. But today, we celebrate success!

Friday, January 1, 2016

David's 1st Cleft Appointment

Blog blackout is over! At least for today ;o) I know that many of you want updates on how David is doing, but to be honest writing about the past month seems kind of overwhelming. So I'm starting with a baby step and just updating about his first cleft appointment.

We went to see the cleft team on December 18th, except on the way up there we discovered that there was a mixup and we weren't actually on the schedule for the day! Thankfully the team coordinator is awesome and told me to come anyway and we would work something out. It actually ending up working out better! Instead of paying to see a speech pathologist (no speech, so not much to evaluate!), social worker, pediatrician (he had already seen ours), ENT (no fluid when the pediatrician saw him), audiologist (hearing tests are tricky when you don't speak English!), and dentist, we just saw our surgeon. It was just like having an office visit, just not in his office!

Dr. R checked out his cleft (non-evasively thank goodness!) and commented on both how wide it was and how old he is, compared to most cleft patients. David just sat on my lap and nervously eyed the doctor, but he didn't cry at all. Unfortunately the team orthodontist wasn't there, and he's a big part of the surgical plan. Dr. R. took some pictures of David to send to him, but nothing will be decided until we have an appointment with the orthodontist.

So, here are the options. We are hoping that we can use braces to bring David's cleft closer together. This will enable Dr. R. to close everything - lip, gumline, and palate - in one surgery. This would obviously be amazing, so we are praying that the braces are an option and that they are effective! Since David is 4, his bones are not as flexible as Lily's were when she had braces. If the orthodontist doesn't think they will work, then we go to Plan B. In Plan B David will have an appliance attached to the roof of his mouth that will help to close his palate. Unfortunately the only way to place is the appliance is with a surgery. Once the appliance is in place for about a month, David will have another surgery. In this surgery Dr. R. will close his lip and gumline and remove the appliance. The palate tissue will need time to heal from the appliance, so we will have to wait about 3 months for the lip to heal before David has a third surgery to close his palate.

We are obviously on Team Braces and are praying for one surgery! Our appointment with the orthodontist is on January 11th so we will know more then. If he thinks braces will work, they will go ahead and put them on that day so we don't have to drive back to Tampa (again!). I will update again when I know more!