Jan 30, 2011

Athelie's Hair

I brushed out Athelie's hair the other day...maybe that was a mistake. It was a little crazy. For the rest of the day I called her my wild child. And everytime I looked at her, I started laughing.

Spring Day in January

Playing in the dirt.

Her new favorite spot

Athelie's Burn Update

This will be short as it has become a little redundant - Friday we went back to Augusta. We waited a long time in the waiting room. We got back to the clinic and Dr. Mullin's looked at Athelie's shoulder area and thought it was healing well. She no longer needs any bandages and we can put lotion on all her burned skin area - no more antibiotic ointment is necessary.

She got fitted for her compression shirt. I got to pick out colors for the fabric and seams. Fun for me. I chose something non-medical looking. She'll get 2 shirts to wear - a purple and a red one. In the meantime they sent her home with 2 temporary shirts. The shirt is quite tight, but it hasn't seemed to bother her. She has to wear the shirt 23 hours a days for 6 months to a year. We don't have to go back until her custom made shirts are ready to be picked up, or after the baby is born. Or we might just wait until her 6 week check up to go back and pick up the shirts as we are kind of tired of making that drive. It is a relief to know we won't be driving down there again for a while.

Well, that's it for now.  So thankful for her healing. So thankful life is getting back to normal.

Jan 24, 2011

Athelie's Burn Update - Day 39

Over the weekend we drove back to Augusta for the 6th time since December 17th for another check up. This was a fairly quick trip. Athelie got her bandages off. Her leg where they had done the skin graft had healed although it was quite pink. Her shoulder where she had 3rd degree burns looked good. The spot in the crease of her arm (which we had been worried about last week) had healed and looked good. The doctor who did her surgery New Year's Day (he is also the head of the whole burn hospital) checked her out. He sent us home with antibiotic ointment for her shoulder and instructions to put it on once a day this week as well as change out her bandage on her arm each day. Her leg no longer needs any bandages although the skin is so new and thin and is susceptible to blistering if it were to get hit. So, we still have to be very careful with that area. However, the biggest news was...Athelie could take a bath! She hadn't had a bath since her accident. I think it might have been more exciting for Marc and I to give her a bath and wash her hair, I'm not sure if she really enjoyed it all that much.

Sunday morning, we dropped her off in her classroom at church for the first time since her accident. She had a hard time being left. She knew as she walked in, we would be leaving, and started crying right away. For some kids, this is normal, but for Athelie, she has always enjoyed her time at church and so it was a different reaction for her. It was a little heartbreaking for all of us.

This week will hopefully be back to normal. Athelie and I will try to go to the gym in the mornings. Thursdays, we've started going to a bible study at our church. During that time, she gets to play with friends and is well taken care of. It will be nice to have a few weeks of "normalcy" before our baby girl arrives. (4 more weeks!)

We'll be going back to Augusta again on Friday so that Athelie can be fitted in a compression shirt by a physical therapist. She will have to wear this shirt for 6 months to a year. This shirt will help prevent scarring and her skin raising (think - keloid scars), especially around the skin graft area, which is more susceptible to this happening.

And of course there is lotion - applying it every 2 hours or 6 times a day or as often as possible, which most times is not that often. However, we are trying. And hats. Except for Athelie seems to have a pretty big head. Maybe it is all the hair. I am now constantly on the look out for sun hats. Preferably sized 2T - 3T. I know this is redundant as I've already talked about it in prior blog posts. But that is our life now.

Anyways, I didn't want to show pictures of her right after her accident as it was a little shocking. But we are just 39 days out and are so encouraged by the improvement. I thought I would show you a little before and now.

In the hospital right after her surgery

First day back at home after her accident.

Her neck, chest, shoulder and leg all look at varying degrees like a burn. I don't think I am quite ready to show those areas yet. Her face though, thankfully, looks so good, you can hardly even tell. 

Also, Athelie turned 17 months old over the weekend. Woohoo! She is getting so big. All her 12 month pants are too short on her. The 18 month clothes I have for her won't last too much longer. Good thing there is a big consignment sale coming up soon, I can stock up on 24 month/2T clothes for her for the spring and summer. Can't believe she will already be wearing 2T clothes! How did that happen? And shoes. Shoes are tricky. Besides Robeez, the soft leather sole shoes, she doesn't really keep any shoes on her feet.

Although her 16th month was mostly consumed by her accident and recovery, I want to also try to remember that it was the month she started talking. She is saying so many words now, I can hardly even remember all of them.

Jan 21, 2011

Pregnant Belly

I saw this picture the other day and haven't been able to stop thinking of it. Even though this is not my belly, I feel like this is what is happening every time our little girl moves. Things are going to start poking out. She is quite strong and more active than Athelie was in the belly. I keep looking at my belly too, more often, trying to see if I can catch a peek of a foot or hand or elbow, knee, something. It hasn't happened yet.

Jan 20, 2011

Athelie's new favorite food

She eats steamed broccoli by the hand full.

Jan 18, 2011

Playing with Da-da

Funny Faces

Lately, Athelie has been making a lot of funny faces. Here's a few of her faces:

Fun with Mimi

After Athelie's accident my mom booked a flight so that she could come out and see us. She was able to stay for 10 days. She was such a help and Taylee had SO much fun with her.

She got her hair done. We washed it in the sink since she hasn't been able to take a bath. And we gave her pigtails. So cute!

playing Peek-a-boo with Mimi

Athelie couldn't say Mimi enough - she just ran all of her "Mimi's" together

Jan 15, 2011

Athelie's Burn Update - Day 30

Yesterday we travelled back to Augusta for the fifth time. Thankfully the highways were all dry and we didn’t have to worry about ice or snow. With 9 inches of snow earlier in the week, we weren’t quite sure what that drive would look like. This past week was filled with uncertainty. Athelie’s leg, where they took the skin graft began bleeding Sunday afternoon (a day after we got home from the hospital). They said some discharge was normal, but since it was bright red blood - we worried. After calling the clinic they recommended either taking her to the Emergency Room or bringing her back to the clinic. With the impending snow storm, going back to Augusta was not an option. And since we really did not want to go to the Emergency Room, we decided to wait it out. We were going to take her to her pediatrician Monday, however, with the huge snow fall Sunday night the doctor’s office was closed. And since Tuesday it was also closed. We decided that it wasn’t worth it to take her in on Wednesday as the bleeding had stopped and we only had about 48 more hours before her bandages came off.

On top of the bleeding leg, her arm started stinking. Last time her bandages started stinking we ended up in Urgent Care on New Year’s Eve. As she wasn’t running a fever, we decided not to worry about the stink. However, by later in the week it was so smelly – stinking up all her clothes she wore on top of it - we could hardly stand the smell.

Friday morning the nurses removed her bandages. It was such a relief to have them off and to be able to see what was underneath. The skin graft on her shoulder looked great. They said it was healing nicely. One small part on her arm/chest, the crease where your arm and chest meet did not hold the skin graft. It was still very red, swollen, and moist. However, they could see new skin starting to form and felt like it would heal on its own and because it was such a small area that it would not require another surgery. We had hoped that the skin graft would have been 100% successful and were discouraged to know that one area had not taken, but we were just thankful that she would not need another surgery. The nurses waited until the very end to remove the covering from her leg as that was the more tender area. As soon as they pulled it off, it started gushing blood at one end. Athelie cried. It was hard seeing her in pain. However, most of the skin graft had healed with the exception of a small area. They went ahead and re-bandaged everything putting a thinner smaller covering over her still open wounds on her shoulder and leg. She can where all of her regular clothes which is really nice. We had to be quite creative over the last month since most of her clothes would not fit over the big bandages.

We will be going back next Saturday, instead of Friday, so that Marc doesn’t have to take another day off of work. At that point they expect everything to be healed, her bandages will come off, and she’ll be able to take a bath! Woohoo! We are really looking forward to that. Life will resume back to normal. She’ll be able to go back to her class at church and the gym and school. One more week of bandages and open wounds. We are still praying for no infection.

We’ve gotten her a couple of sun hats (it’s very hard to find them this time of year) and we’ve started putting them on her every time she goes outside. We’ve been putting lotion on her about six times a day. We are doing everything we can to prevent keloids and scarring. You can continue to pray for complete healing.

As the trauma of her burns has subsided we can look to the future and the arrival of our second daughter. Alysia is 35 weeks pregnant. With everything that has happened, we feel like she could have the baby at any point now. But who knows, maybe she will surprise us and be 3 days late like her sister. We are excited to meet her and are turning our focus and attention on her arrival.

I said life would return to normal, but what is that? We’re not quite sure anymore. We are so thankful for so many things. The last month has been a huge time of growth in our walk with God, in our relationship with each other, and opened our eyes to those going through similar crisis. In the future we hope to walk with those and encourage those in the midst of trauma and tragedy and so many people have done for us.

Jan 10, 2011

Yesterday Athelie moved into her big girl room!

Yay! The room she will share with her baby sister. She even helped. She put a bunch of her teddy bears on her stool and started pushing them up and down the hall. The room is not quite done - I still need some rugs, artwork on the walls, bookshelves, and curtains. I've been working on the room in the midst of Athelie's injury. It's been a good distraction. I had already designed the girls room, so all we've had to do the last few weeks is put it together. But I'm so excited with how it turned out I wanted to share a few pictures.

We stenciled butterflies on the ceiling flying every which way.

Athelie's big girl bed. It was an antique wooden bed that I found on Craigslist. I sanded, primed, and painted it. It was a lot of work, but I think it turned out cute. The door behind her bed leads to our attic. I want to conceal it. I am thinking about painting a large canvas and putting it in front of the door to hide it. Anyone else have any ideas?

This was my baby bed I had when I was a little girl that my Dad made for me. I just put it in her room and right away she was throwing off her baby dolls and stuffed animals and climbing up on her bed. (This is another door to the attic that I somehow need to conceal behind the bed.)

Athelie's so fun...here's what she's been up to lately

In the midst of Athelie's injury I wanted to point out how much fun she is. For close to 3 months the only word she said was "ball" now within the past couple of weeks she has started saying: wa-wa (water), na-na (banana), pup (dog or puppy), Mimi (Alysia's mom- which sometimes turns into lots of mimi's - "mimi-mimi-mi"), Da-da (Daddy), sometimes she will say Mama but not often, Bible, purple, cheese, sock, shoe, eye and nose, more (which all sound pretty close to the actual word). Plus she is saying some words in French like "oreille" for ear, "nez" for nose, "pp" for "pier" foot. It is quite confusing sometimes to know what she is saying! And she signs a lot. Dada is always said with the sign for daddy. Mama said with the sign for Mom. Water said with the sign for water, etc.

She is a little monkey too - climbing up and down the stairs and onto my (nursing) chair in her room. It is hard to keep her still for any amount of time.

Jan 8, 2011

Athelie's burn - day 21

We are in the midst of another chapter in Athelie’s recovery from the burns she suffered on Dec 17th. We took our fourth trip to the Augusta burn clinic yesterday (Friday) for our eight o’clock appointment, this time accompanied by Mimi, Alysia’s mom, who came to visit for a 10 days. One simple word could summarize our day: WAIT.

We arrived at the clinic a little bit after eight o’clock. We waited close to an hour for our turn to see the nurse. This was one of the most anxious waits for us as we waited to see how Father had been healing her this past week. All her burns were healed with the exception of her shoulder. They determined she would need a skingraf on that area, which would provide the most complete healing as opposed to more cadaver skin as that was no longer effective. (This is what we had expected.) Everyone we spoke to was so patient with us as we asked tons of questions and learned as much as possible which in turn gave us peace about her impending surgery. The only uncertainty was in case of infection they would not be able to do the graf which would extend the healing process and would mean more surgeries in the future.

Wait 2, 3, and 4…

It was one of the busiest days at the hospital. We waited another three hours (wait 2) before Athelie went into surgery. She was taken into surgery at one o’clock. (Poor thing, she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since dinner time the night before. Plus keeping her in one place and not letting her run around was hard on all of us.) Her surgeon came out within an hour and told us that her surgery went well without complications. They were able to do the skin graf as there had been no infection. Priase! They took a piece of skin the size of a playing card from her upper/outer thigh area, which is the equivalent to another 2nd degree burn. It is expected that this will be the most painful area now and that it will take longer to heal than her shoulder – about another 2-3 weeks.

Following her first two surgeries we were able to go to the recovery room with her until she woke up from the anesthetic. Marc thought those two instances were standard procedures, but it turned out that both instances were special cases because those surgeries occurred on the weekend. So we ended up waiting in the waiting room for another 3 hours (wait 3). (It was really hard being separated from her that long, knowing she was alone, and not being able to be with her.) We tried checking on her a couple of times, but it wasn’t until Alysia used her mommy super power that we were able to go back to the recovery room. We found her awake and really thirsty. And somewhat drugged from the remaining anesthetic and morphine they were giving her for the pain. She was quite funny actually. We gave her a couple of crackers to eat. But she ended up holding onto them instead of eating them. As she fell in and out of consciousness, she would drop her crackers and that would wake her up making her very grumpy and upset until we gave her another cracker to hold.

We stayed in the recovery room for another 2.5 hours while the staff tried to find an available room for us (wait 4). They wanted to keep her overnight to manage her pain. Again the staff at the Drs. Hospitals were great responding to Athelie’s every need and making us feel at ease as much as possible.

We were admitted to our room around 6 pm. At that point, we all felt emotionally tired from the long day which had started at 5 o’clock that morning.

Getting her to sleep was quite a challenge last night. Because of the drugs she was tired but restless. She fought sleep for hours. And thrashed around throwing herself around. Alysia ended up sleeping with her and having to wrestle her at times to get her in a lying position. After she finally went to sleep she had a pretty good night besides being itchy.

This morning Athelie woke up at 6:00 a.m. ready to go. She was back to herself running up and down the halls, dragging her blanket behind her the whole way. She has not needed pain medicine since the last dose of morphine last night.

Right now, we are waiting to be discharged as we’ve been released by both her burn doctor and the pediatrician.

We expect that this will be her last surgery and that she will be recovering from this point forward (pending any complications). Her skin pigmentation will take the longest to even out (up to a year). Keeping her skin moisturized and keeping sunscreen on will be our biggest chore from here on out, in addition to more follow up visits here in Augusta.

Lots of info. Hope I didn’t lose you along the way. Thanks for keeping updated with us via the blog. Once again thanks for all the prayers, support, and love so many of you have shown us. We are so grateful to have so many people walking with us through this journey.

Jan 2, 2011

Athelie's Burn - New Year's Update

Happy New Year’s to everyone. We had quite an eventful New Year’s. One that wasn’t planned. Friday, New Year’s Eve, we woke up to Athelie’s shoulder (the one place that had not healed yet) smelling. After calling the burn clinic they suggested taking her to either her pediatrician or urgent care as that could be a sign of infection. Since her doctor’s office was closed, we went to urgent care where we spent the majority of the afternoon waiting. As you can imagine, that was NOT FUN. Waiting any significant period of time with a 16 month is not fun, not to mention, in a room full of sickies – people were coughing, sneezing, hacking, etc. which was horrible to be around since we were all healthy and not wanting to get sick on top of everything else. After waiting what seemed like forever, we finally saw the doctor who said she had an infection. They stuck her finger and did a white blood cell count, which they found was elevated: also a sign of infection. They called the doctor at the burn clinic and he told us come in the following morning instead of waiting until Monday. He said not to let Athelie eat or drink anything 4 hours beforehand in case she needed surgery. We left urgent care with a prescription for antibiotics and went home to pack, eat, and try to sleep.
We woke up at 5:00 a.m. New Year’s day and drove to Augusta. We were the 2nd people called back in the clinic. After unwrapping her bandages and taking off most of the cadaver skin that remained on her chest and shoulder area, the doctor determined that she wasn’t infected (something we prayed for the night before) and would need surgery to clean up the shoulder area and add new artificial skin.

The surgery went well, and only lasted 40 minutes. During the surgery it was determined that her shoulder area was a 3rd degree burn. They were unable to make that diagnosis during the first surgery as burns tend to evolve if they do not heal right away, apparently. Our prayer for this week is for this burn area on her shoulder to be completely healed or at least diminished in size. We will be going back on Friday for another surgery where they will be doing a skin graft. This will potentially be the most difficult surgery as skin will be removed from her leg area and be placed on her shoulder. The good news is within 7 to 14 days she should be healed. We will then just be in the maintenance phase to take care of her skin and prevent scarring.

Whew! I know that was a lot of details. We have not communicated during the last 24 hours as Marc and I both felt really wiped out and drained. Not knowing if she had an infection and imaging the worse was very scary. In some ways, this past weekend has been harder than the previous three days we spent in the hospital right after her burn.

Despite everything, Athelie is happy. Playful. Talking a lot these days. And in a good mood in general. She doesn’t seem to be in pain. And we are thankful that she is acting like herself despite everything.

Thank you in advance for all the continued prayers and for lifting our family up, carrying our burdens, and loving on us. We are so thankful to everyone who has supported us during this time.