Dec 27, 2010

Athelie's Burn Update - Day 10

We went back to the burn clinic in Augusta, GA today for Taylee's one week follow up visit. That was a busy place. But very proficient and professional. Everyone there was extremely helpful. Athelie was examined by the same doctor who saw her last Friday when we first arrived. Right away he said her face looked good and was healing and that everything else looked really good with the exception of her shoulder. I think the burn on the front of her shoulder is the size of a silver dollar. He said that it had not healed yet and consequently, we will be going back next week at 8:00 in the morning for another appointment. Athelie won't be able to eat or drink anything beforehand as they will do a skin graft if it still has not healed by then. The doctor said that they always try to give the body as much time to heal before resorting to a skin graft, thus the two weeks between the initial burn and surgery. If she does have that surgery, they will take skin from her thigh on the same side as her burns. It will be the equivalent of having 2nd degree burns on her leg where they remove the skin which will take another 2 weeks to heal. Obviously, we are praying that her shoulder will heal this week and that she will not need another surgery.

Although the news of another possible surgery is a little disheartening, we can't help but rejoice with the rest of the report. When we go back next week they will teach us how to care for her skin as it continues to heal to prevent scarring. The key will be to keep her protected as much as possible from the sun. That means lots of sunscreen (how much fun is it to put sunscreen on a one and a half year old???) and lots of hats (which she won't keep on). I can't help but laugh at the thought of the battles ahead (battles that I will certainly win, muahaha...).

Thank you once again for all the prayers and support so many of you have shown our family during this time. We have been beyond blessed with the outpouring of love. We enjoyed so many delicious meals last week and felt overwhelmed by the generosity of our extended family here in Greenville. Thank you again for carrying us through this time.

Dec 26, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We woke up this morning to this...(in our backyard).

Athelie had never seen the snow or played in it. So we bundled her up and took her outside (for about 5 minutes before she did a face plant in the snow - I think it stung her face and we decided that was enough).

She had a lot of fun though. She looked like a little snow bunny.

You can kind of see the left side of her face where she got burned and where it is healing.

Dec 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas day. We've enjoyed the most relaxing, peaceful Christmas. Athelie is looking better and better each day. Much of the pig skin they put on her face has come off (we've had to trim it off as it's peeled off). So she is looking more like herself. Her left eye seems to be fine. That is a huge answer to prayer. She has been running around and playing and in a good mood in general the whole week. She's also had quite an appetite the past few days. She is either growing or catching up on the meals she missed last weekend. I even saw that she has two more teeth (eye teeth on the upper and lower left side) coming in right now. So hard to believe what has transpired over the last week. We feel very blessed this Christmas and are thankful to spend Christmas at home and together as a family. And it even started snowing here in Greenville this afternoon! Just in the last hour or so it's started sticking. So exciting. Maybe we will get bundled up in the morning and go play in the snow. 

P.S. Thanks for all the comments. It is so fun to get feedback from so many.

Dec 22, 2010

Family Update

Athelie is 16 months old today.
(These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago and I hadn't had a chance to post them yet.) I love the two bows in her hair. She looks very girly. Plus, check out her cute scarf she was sporting...also very cute. :)

The past couple of days at home have been good. Athelie has left her bandges and second skin alone (for the most part). Although it doesn't look very good, I have seen improvement each day so far. She has had lots of energy. We've kept her busy reading books, watching movies, and playing on the computer. (She loves For me, this week can't go by fast enough. I am anxious to go back to the doctor on Monday, to get their diagnosis and learn her prognosis (whether she will need more surgery or not.)

We've been counting our blessings everyday and continue to feel loved, cared for, prayed for, and lifted up during this time by so many.

I'm very thankful to have this blog in place. It has been a great resource for so many people to hear our story over the past 6 days and know how to pray for us. I added a couple of buttons on the sidebar in hopes that it would make it easier for people to follow our blog. You can either subscribe and receive an e-mail everytime we post something, or you can follow our blog and I think it does the same thing...not quite sure though. Plus...I've received comments (it is a first) which has been very exciting!

Today, I am also 31 weeks pregnant. I am feeling good. Last Thursday we got to see our baby girl through a routine ultrasound at my doctor's appointment. Here's a couple of pictures of her. They are a little hard to make out, but you can see her face looking straight out.

Dec 20, 2010

Day 4

We’re home! That’s our biggest news for today. We were released today around noon and arrived in Greenville around 3:30 this afternoon. It feels good to be home. Athelie was happy to be home as well. Her appetite improved slightly, and drank a little more.

Last night, we all had a good night and caught up on some much needed sleep. Athelie woke up at 5 when the nurse checked her vitals and was unable to go back to sleep. After an hour, we decided to go turn on the lights and start our day. Athelie watched a couple of movies before getting tired again and all three of us snuggled and slept for another hour. She was herself the rest of the morning, playing with everything in sight.

Athelie has been pain free since Saturday. Her swollen left eye that was shut after surgery began to open just a little today. Before going home the doctors instructed us to keep her indoors all week to protect against possible germs and infections. (So, no Christmas Eve service or church for us. We were a little sad about that.) We have an appointment to go back next Monday morning to remove her bandages and assess her progress. Until then, we will monitor her closely at home. We are armed with medicine and instructions for removing the artificial skin off her face. Overall, we feel prepared to care for her at home. The most challenging part will be to keep this bubble of energy still and make sure her “Band-Aids” are well protected.

Ways to keep praying:

• Continued prayer for her left eye that no damage has occurred and will heal quickly

• Her skin would not become infected – as she is still fighting a cold and has a runny nose

• She would not rub her bandages or the skin on her face (we taped mittens to her hands tonight to keep her from doing this in her sleep)

• No scarring

Dec 19, 2010

Trauma in the Benjamin House - Day 3

We are well into the third day since Athelie suffered her burns. We all had a better night sleep last night. Athelie fell asleep closer to her normal time (7 pm) and slept until 6:30 this morning. Right before going to bed she drank a little bit of milk and had some cheese, which was very encouraging.

We woke up this morning thinking that we would be going home today. The pediatrician examined her this morning and thought that it would be better to keep her here another night. She hasn’t been taking in a lot of fluid, besides the IV and they wanted to make sure that she’s taking plenty on her own before releasing her. She’s out of the IV and her liquid intake will be closely monitored. So we wait another day… Overall Athelie had a better day today. She’s been more active, playful, talkative (as talkative a 15 month old can be), and in overall better spirit. She watched a few of her Signing Times videos and was introduced to Veggie Tales today. At the conclusion of today, we can say that she’s passed those fluid tests (not to be confused with fluid dynamics… that will be in 18 years). She drank a little less than 1.5 pints of milk, some juice, water, and even snacked on some baked potato chips while watching Signing Time for the third time. So we believe we’ll get to go home tomorrow.

Alysia and I have been doing well. We continued to receive encouraging emails, texts, and phone calls from friends and family. We’ve even had a good southern breakfast brought to us by a family acquaintance. The nurses here have been top notched! Very responsive to our needs and answering every question we’ve had.

A friend from church shared with us this line from a song that was sung this morning during worship: “You make beautiful things out of the dust… you make me new.” She felt like our church body was singing that over Athelie. We received that truth not only for Athelie’s physical body but also for the new person she will become once she starts to intimately know and walk with Father.

We’ve enjoyed seeing her progress in the past few hours and learning about her sleeping habits. It’s the first time that we’ve slept in the same room with her since she was 3 days old. She’s a borderline snorer (Alysia calls her a “heavy breather”), wiggles a lot, wakes up and goes back to sleep throughout the night. That’s ok because she’s the “best patient I’ve seen in my 13 years of nursing.” (that was a quote from Kim, responding to Athelie cooperativeness after taking her vitals. We knew she is special, now we know that a patient like her comes around every 4749 days.

Until next time,

Dec 18, 2010

Trauma in the Benjamin’s house

I am typing this in a hospital room of the Joseph Mills Burn Center in Augusta, Ga. The past 30 or so hours have been a whirlwind. Athelie completed surgery this morning to treat second degree burns that she suffered in the left side of her face, torso and arm. She suffered the burn yesterday afternoon around 1:45 after pulling down a cup a hot cider that was set on a side table.

Alysia took Athelie to the closest emergency room where they gave her primary care and made arrangements to airlift them in a helicopter to the burn unit in Augusta, Georgia. I was able to make it to the ER just a few minutes before they were airlifted. Athelie’s burns looked pretty bad and I got a little light-headed after hearing the description of procedure that they were going to do. That’s one of the reasons that I didn’t go to that line of profession. Alysia was of course very emotional the whole time I was there.

They arrived in GA around 4:30 while I was still home packing a few things for the three-hour trip down there. I arrived there a little bit before 8 pm. When I arrived to the room, Athelie appeared to be in good spirit, moving all over the place. But she was hyped up on morphine that was administered to her back in Greenville. She had tons of energy and it was hard to keep her off her burns. After wrapping her wounds for the night she was finally able to settle down and went to bed at 10. I was very impressed by the resiliency and strength that she showed. She was very peaceful as they were wrapping her wounds.

She went into surgery this morning to clean up her wound and add an artificial band-aid of pig and cadaver skins to her burns. Her surgery was quick (40 minutes) and she spent most of the day sleeping and recovering. She drank a few ounces of apple juice right after the surgery, but has not taken anything else since then

We’ve been overwhelmingly grateful and humbled from all the support we’ve received from so many people. We had a few visitors drive from the Greenville and Columbia to see Taylee and support us. We are very blessed to be surrounded by such a great clouds of friends, and family members who’ve boldly approach the throne of heaven on our behalf. And that was literally from both ends of the country. We have felt so humbled by so many text, messages, and support our friends and family have just poured out on us.

The doctor’s prognosis is very good. If everything progress as expected we should be released tomorrow. There will be some follow-up visits in the upcoming weeks to monitor her progress and ensure no grafting will be needed. We are in the best burn unit in the world and the largest one in the southeast. The nurses have been very encouraging; they have said that within a few weeks her skin will have grown back without any noticeable scars.

We thank you all for your prayers. Athelie belongs to Father, and we’ve entrusted her to HIM since the day she was born. I am reminded of the meaning of Athelie’s name –God shall be exalted/praise- during this time, and we rest in the knowledge that He is in control and that He is worthy of being praised. Not because of our circumstances, but because of who He is.

We’re halfway there. Here’s how you can continue to pray:

- That Athelie’s continues with her recovery.

- That she’ll be free from infections

- Reduce swollen in her left eyes and no eye complication

- Reduce itchiness on her protective skin.

- Reduce stress level for Alysia (she’s 30 weeks pregnant).

We love you all and will post another update hopefully soon.

Marc, Alysia, Athelie

Dec 6, 2010

Living Room Update

Even though the living room is not quite finished, I still need a rug, mirror, artwork, plus some pillows and decorative accents, I thought I would show you what we've done so far.

Remember before:

Now after:

Look who I found playing in the credenza...

Dec 5, 2010

Playing in the leaves

butterfly eyelashes

Nov 27, 2010

Thanksgiving '10

We spent Thanksgiving this year here in Greenville. Some friends from church invited us over to eat a fantastic Thanksgiving meal with them. We had such a good time. Athelie played with their little girl who is only a couple months older them her.

Corrie and Macy with me and Athelie

7 months pregnant...doesn't really look like it, huh?

Macy & Athelie played together.

Nov 25, 2010

Playing with Daddy

Having fun all dressed up in her super cute frilly ruffle dress.

Nov 24, 2010

First Word

Athelie was playing outside one day with a couple of tennis balls. All of a sudden she started staying "ball." So, I quickly pulled out the camera and starting shooting this video.

New Drawing

I haven't been inspired to draw or paint in months and months. However, I did do this charcoal drawing recently. It is of a vision I had one day sitting in church of God holding Greenville in the palm of his hands. If you know Greenville, then you will recognize these downtown landmarks: Liberty Bridge, Westin Hotel, and the Clock.

Decorating the girls room

I've been super excited to decorate a new room in the house. We decided to have the girls share a room. So that means Athelie will be moving from her super cute room to a new room, which obviously needs to also be super cute. We've started moving furniture around and painting. I thought I would share a couple of pictures that I've used as inspiration. I'll be sure to update you with pictures of the room once it's completed.

My color palette is purple, coral/melon, orange, and a little bit of pink.

**House Update

I bought this credenza at a consignment store for $200. It was painted this weird goldish grey color. When I got it home and put it in its place, it really didn't look great. So...I painted it. Now...I think it turned out pretty good. What do you think? Plus, I updated the hardware with some new modern rectangle pulls.

My new haircut and color

Plus, I was hoping to show off my belly bump (27 weeks), but it's kind of hard to see it.

Daddy Time at the Park

She didn't get her hair done this day - obviously!

Little Gardener

 I think I am going to have to get Athelie a sandbox. She loves digging in the dirt.