Sunday, May 9, 2010

An Update and it's been a year...

So, first and foremost we are long overdue for an update. Sadie is a big and beautiful girl. She's been holding steady at around 32 lbs for several months now. She keeps getting taller, though, so she's thinning out a bit. We think she is around 34". She's now 20 months old, which means that it's only 4 months until we won't be counting her age in months anymore! :) Sadie has grown to be very independent and stubborn. She wants her way most of the time and all of her loving adults give in and let her have her way! :) She's finally saying more words - ball, teeth, tea (yes there's a distinction between tea and teeth!), bottle, Where's it at? (or variations with he/she), mouth, kitty (sometimes), and she'll often repeat words after you, though not necessarily use them again later. She very definitely understands just about anything you ask her to do or even say around her. She has even figured out that I-C-E --C-R-E-A-M means ice cream, so we've going to have to come up with some new code word that she doesn't understand. She is OBSESSED with her silky blanket and would probably take it every where if we allowed it. She is enrolled in gymnastics and is getting very good! She is also taking a Gymboree class. For 10 weeks she took a music class, too, but she didn't get along all that well with the teacher, so we passed on an additional session. She takes "science" classes twice a month at COSI and has visited the zoo and Franklin Park Conservatory on a number of occasions. Sadie is a VERY active toddler! She is also a good eater, except when her mouth hurts from teeth or she has a bad cold. She has 12 teeth right now, but is definitely working on her four canine teeth! She very definitely does NOT like going to the doctor, and in fact cries when she even sees the doctor's office. That said, she is very aware of her surroundings and starts jumping up and down in her car seat when she knows we are driving near the park! Sadie also got a bike helmet recently and has been on a few rides in her pull-behind-Dad bike trailer. Sadie also loves to sit in her crib and talk to herself a good long while before going to sleep for a nap or for the night. In fact, I can hear her chattering away next door as I type this! Adam, I, and all of Sadie's relatives are very proud of her and all of the things she can do and is willing to try. She loves the park and often goes down the tallest possible slides on her tummy! She is a dare-devil! No sliding on her bottom!

For Easter the Stotts-Smith clan took a weekend away in West Lafayette, Ohio. Our favorite Ohio winery, Raven's Glenn, is located in West Lafayette. We rented a cottage for the weekend that was right along the river and literally a 5 minute walk to the winery! We went geo-caching, took a tour of the Longaberger basket warehouse, visited historic Roscoe Village, and just generally had a wonderful time! Sadie even got to have an Easter Egg hunt on Sunday morning. Going right along with Easter, Sadie had some portraits taken at Portrait Innovations. After our bad luck at JCPenney's, Portrait Innovations was a complete breath of fresh air. They had a very open and not HOT studio! They were kind, caring, and did not rush us. We could have even done a couple of outfit changes and they would not have minded! Instead, we stuck to one outfit and also incorporated a lace umbrella that Aunt Rhian bought for Sadie in Cypress last summer.

Adam has continued to be an amazing Daddy! He often changes Sadie's diaper, will comfort her when she cries, and loves to climb up and down all of the playground equipment with her! He's still very protective of her, but only in the kindest and most loving of ways. He often sits next to her at meals and helps to feed her (when she's not doing it herself). He is also taking excellent care of me, making sure that I am staying as happy and healthy as possible! I am a VERY lucky woman.

I am feeling very well, certainly much better than I was a year ago today! Mother's Day 2009 is the first time I can clearly remember having UC symptoms. It's kind of crazy to think of all that has changed in the last year. While I certainly feel blessed to have such a wonderful daughter and fantastic husband, and wonderful parents and in-laws and sibling, I have met today with a fair amount of guilt. I know that getting UC was certainly not "my fault," but I feel like because of it I missed out on an awful lot of the time I would have liked to have been spending with Sadie. I have continued to feel despairingly tired on most days, making it very hard to motivate myself to do with Sadie what I would like to be doing. I keep trying to push through it, but I just don't think I'm quite there yet. My mom keeps assuring me that it takes a very long time for anesthesia to work it's way out of your system and with the two surgeries I've already had in the past year (lung biopsy and total colectomy), it's no big surprise that I am tired. Unfortunately, I've still got two more surgeries to go before we're done with this whole mess. Which undoubtedly means more time that will not be spent in the manner in which I would like to be spending it. But, I know that I have to put myself first right now in order to be able to spend more time with Sadie and every one else in my future. I just very eagerly look forward to August and my 3rd and FINAL surgery so that I can be done with all of this and move on! I am also happy to be turning 30 as it represents a whole new decade to look forward to and enjoy!

Well, enough of my are some updated pictures of my wonderful little girl...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Update in Pictures

Ok - so for any of you the read this blog, you likely already know that I spent 11 days in the hospital in November and have been at home recovering from that experience ever since. So, while I have been home and really have no excuse for not blogging sooner, I have not. I have decided rather than update in words, though, I will update in pictures.

The first pictures show the wrap-up of Sadie's birthday celebration, snap shots from Homecoming at Butler, followed by a few Fall pictures from Brown County. She did start independently walking around the second week of October.

Next we have some Pumpkin Patch and Halloween pictures:

Finally, we will finish up with a few random pictures of total cuteness and the BEST Santa picture ever!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sadie's First Birthday Bash

Well, it’s official. On Friday September 4, 2009 at 7:50 am, Sadie Emerson Smith turned one year old! It’s amazing! She now has four teeth – two on top and two on bottom. She will eat almost anything that you give her. She enjoys feeding herself and has really started to like to use a fork and actually spear her own food. She LOVES yogurt and yogurt bites. Since turning one she has done a better and better job of sleeping through the entire night. She goes to bed between 8:30 and 9:30 pm and doesn’t get up until between 8:00 and 9:00 am! When she does get up in the night, it’s only once. She’ll have a bottle and go straight back to sleep! She’s also still taking one long (usually) afternoon nap from between 1 pm and 4 pm. She usually doesn’t nap more than 2 hours, but sometimes it’s closer to 3! Sadie is the happiest little girl! She smiles almost constantly and LOVES to clap for herself. She is an expert at walking around the furniture and can walk almost independently. She will walk with only one adult hand for help, but still prefers to have two hands. She often will stand up independently and then dance in place. Not only is it hysterical, but it’s REALLY, REALLY cute! She can clearly say “Mama” and “Dada.” She also says “ba(ll)” or “ba(ttle) (bottle)”. She very definitely understands more words than she can say, though, because if you ask her to bring you something (a brush, a toy, etc), she very often will go find what you asked for and bring it to you! Sadie also LOVES “Sesame Street,” particularly Elmo. If she is in one of her rare crying moods, you can put Elmo up on the TV screen and she will INSTANTLY calm down. It’s the one thing we have found time and time again that ALWAYS works to calm her. And, for her birthday, she received numerous Elmo gifts that she delights in playing with and allow Mommy and Daddy to have a break from TV Elmo. :) Sadie also has a strong love for books. Sadie owns more books than most children do in their entire lifetime. We keep three shelves full of these books in the living room. She delights in going over to the shelves, pulling ALL of the books off and then selecting a few that she will drag around to any adult in the room and demand that you “read” with her. By “read,” I really mean a fast flip through the pages accompanied by a very fast retelling of whatever the story is actually about. She prefers to flip the pages herself, but she really likes it when you stop and point out some of the illustrations. Her current favorite books are “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle and a book called “Cats” that has fuzzy bits and makes a squeaky noise. My mother has become and EXPERT at retelling “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” at warp speed, while still stopping to point out all of the things the caterpillar has eaten and stopping for the longest time at the last page where he has actually changed into a butterfly!

On September 3, the day before Sadie’s birthday, she woke up, had a bit of a bottle, and within an hour threw up all over her car seat and then all over grandma. My mom called me at school and I rushed to make a doctor’s appointment for the afternoon. By the time we got to the doctor – around 2:30 pm – Sadie had eaten some yogurt and a few other snacks and kept it all down. She had also had an afternoon nap. She was acting like she felt ok, but we were obviously all concerned. The doctor examined her and wasn’t too concerned. That was great, until my Mom mentioned that on Wednesday she had really hit her head very hard. Then the doctor was concerned. She was afraid Sadie’s brain might be swelling from the inside and she might be in need of a Cat-Scan. She said that we didn’t need to go to the ER immediately since Sadie hadn’t gotten sick since that morning. But, we needed to very carefully monitor and look for any symptoms out of the usual – extreme crankiness, extreme tiredness, more vomiting, etc. So, in a rather scared-to-death state, I drove Sadie home and did everything I could to make sure she was as comfortable and peaceful as possible. She was acting fairly tired, but because of the timing of the doctor’s appointment, she hadn’t had a particularly long nap. So, Adam and I just kept hoping that she would be fine and that she was just tired due to her shortened nap. Thankfully, by the time she got up on Friday morning, she seemed to be feeling better and better. Even though I had already missed so much of school due to my own problems, I decided to stay home with her. Knowing that she hadn’t been feeling well and that she had really scared me, my own body seemed to be having a bit of a melt-down on its own, so I figured I was probably better off to stay home anyway. Adam, too, took the day off. So, since it was Sadie’s actual birthday and she seemed to be feeling better, we made our way over to Grandma’s to pick her up and then went to visit Grandpa at his school. After Grandpa did a little birthday showing off, we headed over to Chuck E. Cheese for a birthday lunch. Now, when I was growing up, we never really went to Chuck E. Cheese. We went to Showbiz. But, Showbiz has long since been out of business. So, we were only left with the option of Chuck E. Cheese. And oh what a disappointment it was. I VERY fondly remember sitting and watching the cast of animatronic characters sing and dance across the stage. At Chuck E. Cheese, there was only one animatronic – Chuck E. himself. He was little and stuck in the corner. The rest of the “stage” was made up of video screens that had the other characters recorded on it and they all “sang and danced” together. Really, this just crushed my wonderful memories of the place from when I was little. Technology can be a good thing, but in this case it just STUNK! But, all that said, Sadie did LOVE to ride on all of the little rides. And, here are some pictures to prove it:

For Sadie’s birthday dinner, we decided to go to Buca di Beppo’s. I had to call ahead to make sure that they had some meals that they could prepare that I would be able to eat, but once that was confirmed, we happily headed off to dinner. Daddy, Mommy, and Grandma and Grandpa Stotts accompanied Sadie. She LOVED eating the bread, some salad, and some Chicken Saltimbocca. She also LOVED when her birthday cupcake arrived! At first, she wanted nothing more than to dip her fork into the icing and lick the icing. But, as the sugar rush started, she eventually dropped the fork and instead began using her hands. Finally, she ended up getting her head COVERED in icing. She never actually dipped her face into the cake, preferring instead to just smear cake and icing with her hands. She LOVED this whole situation and repeatedly clapped for herself for the “good job” she had done. Our waitress and some of the other wait staff even came to watch her because she was so funny! We do have the whole thing on video, and if you are a Facebooker – you must go and check it out!

Sadie’s actual birthday party was not until Sunday. Sadie had an Elmo themed party. I got all kinds of Elmo decorations from Factory Card Outlet. This included two Elmo balloons – one of which is actually features Elmo’s voice singing “Happy Birthday.” She LOVED them! I also made Sadie an Elmo birthday cake. This was a work of art! We bought an Elmo cake pan and then I decorated Elmo with butter cream frosting. It was awesome! Check out the picture:

Sadie did enjoy “slapping” Elmo in the face to get the icing off. She most preferred the black icing from his mouth. :) Sadie also had an Elmo dress on, an Etsy special, and has a very special Etsy birthday hat, though we don’t have a picture of the hat.

Sadie got to celebrate with both sets of Grandparents – Grandma and Grandpa Stotts and Grandma and Grandpa Brinkley. She also got to see her Uncle Tim and her cousins, Codey and Noah. At first, she was a little afraid of everyone, but once things got rolling, she wanted to be everyone’s friend. Sadie got MANY, MANY gifts. Her favorites included an alphabet train from Uncle Tim, Aunt Sarah, and Codey and Noah, a pull-along bead maze from Mom and Dad, a pink purse complete with cell phone and accessories from Grandma and Grandpa Brinkley, and a golf set from Grandma and Grandpa Stotts. By the time it was time for everyone to head back home, we were ALL exhausted, but certainly had had a very good day! Check out all of these pictures:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Month of August - Sadie Update and Time in the Hospital

First and foremost, this blog is about Sadie. So, I’m going to start with her. On August 17, my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary, Sadie cut her 3rd and first top tooth. Then on, August 28, my uncle’s 61st birthday, she FINALLY cut her second top tooth. She’s been working on that second top tooth since the 17th, so we were all ecstatic that it finally broke through! Yeah!

Sadie has been such a trooper over these last few weeks! She has spent a LOT of time with Grandma and Grandpa – spending several nights at their house – and has overall done a very nice job sleeping for Daddy when Mommy was unable to be at home. She is so flexible and so willing to just do whatever is needed to make everyone around her happy! I am so blessed!

Sadie also just celebrated her first birthday. But, that is deserving of a post of its own, and I will do my best to get that post up ASAP.

Now, while I normally would not want to spend a great amount of time talking about myself on here, I feel I have quite a lot to explain about recent events. So, here’s the update on everything that’s been happening with me…

Starting last May, I began not feeling well. (WARNING: I’m holding nothing back here, so be prepared for some graphic description!). This started with abdominal cramping and bloating and quickly turned into diarrhea. Then the diarrhea got bloody. I wasn’t too worried about this at first. There wasn’t a lot of blood and I figured I just had a touch of something and I’d be better in no time. I also knew I was VERY stressed about the end of school and I figured that when school was out I’d just start automatically feeling better. No such luck. So, the second week of June I scheduled an appointment with my family doctor. I described my symptoms and she did an exam in the office thinking that I probably had a mild case of internal hemorrhoids. If only that had been the case! So, armed with little to find on her own, she sent me to a colo-rectal specialist. Being a new patient for the colo-rectal specialist, though, I, of course, was unable to get an appointment until mid-July. But, the situation was what it was, so I kept feeling bad, but figured there really wasn’t much I could do to speed up the process. So I waited until mid-July and went to see the new doctor.

The colo-rectal specialist was actually a very nice man. He was very pleasant and professional. He did a procedure in his office called a sigmoidoscopy. This was not a particularly comfortable procedure, but since I hoped to get an answer out of this, I suffered through and just sucked up the few minutes of pain. The doctor diagnosed me with proctitis – an inflammation of the rectum and lower colon – and gave me some suppositories to start taking. At first, I felt a little better. But, by two weeks later I was feeling worse. So, I called him back and asked him what to do next. He said that I probably needed to have a colonoscopy and go see a gastroenterologist. This, of course, meant another specialist and MORE waiting. I actually ended up calling the GI office when I hadn’t heard back from them 24 hours after I knew the referral had been given. I had actually started having a problem holding in my bowels, and I was quite certain that I had to get all of this nipped in the bud or I would NOT be able to go back to work. So, I called the GI office. The nurse told me that they could get me in for a colonoscopy the next week, but I wouldn’t be able to have an actual appointment with the doctor until the middle of September. I started crying. I explained how long I had been suffering, all of my symptoms, and that I had been passed from doctor to doctor without feeling any better. It didn’t matter. She got me in for the colonoscopy, but I had no future appointment.

I went for the colonoscopy on August 6th – Adam’s birthday. My parents had both had colonoscopies and repeatedly reassured me that I would be feeling fine by the afternoon and would be able to do all of the birthday activities that Adam wanted to do. If only we had known! I had the colonoscopy bright and early in the morning. I got to meet the doctor – Dr. Hennessey – before the procedure. I explained all of my symptoms to him and said that I REALLY wanted an answer and for him to be the last doctor I had to see for a while. He said that he’d see what he could do and then gave me the medication to knock me out. As soon as I woke up, he said he had a diagnosis. I had ulcerative colitis. In the easiest terms to explain this means that I had giant ulcers in my colon. This was causing blood, puss, extreme urgency to go to the bathroom, always feeling like I had not finished going to the bathroom, abdominal cramping, tiredness, etc. ALL of the symptoms I’d been having and more! I knew I FINALLY had a diagnosis!

After the procedure I thought I was feeling well enough to go out to breakfast. Unfortunately, I NEVER react well to drugs that knock me out and I should have known better. About 3 bites into my eggs and hash browns at Bob Evans, I threw up. Right there at the table! Gross, I know, but there was NO CHANCE of making it to the bathroom. Thankfully we had a nice container that the biscuits had been in. So, after that not so delightful experience, we headed home. The doctor had given me two new GI medications to try – Lialda and Rowasa. Lialda was given in giant horse pills that smelled like skunk. I was supposed to take 2 of them in the morning. Rowasa was in the form of an enema and I was supposed to take it before I went to bed. Thursday night – the day of the procedure – I was still feeling so bad that I figured there was no way I was going to be able to take the enema. I went to bed uncomfortable and not knowing quite what to do.

On Friday morning I got up. I still wasn’t feeling well. I was a little queasy and things just didn’t feel right. But, I kept thinking to myself that I should just give it time and I would be ok. Adam had taken the day off of work so that we could go geocaching. I didn’t want to disappoint him, so we packed Sadie up, took her to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and headed out to a local metro park to start searching. Pretty much as soon as we arrived, I was worried. I had to rush to find a bathroom and I was having a ton of cramping – worse than what I’d been having before the colonoscopy. I kept trying to walk with Adam, though, and just push the yucky feelings aside. Unfortunately, we finally got to a point where I just didn’t think I could take it anymore. I had Adam drive me back to my parents house. Adam went home to mow the lawn and I stayed at my parents, trying to convince my body to relax.

Around 4 pm on Friday, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I called the gastroenterologist’s office and asked what I should do. I actually got a call back from Dr. Hennessey. He said that if I was feeling worse than I had been before, that I probably needed to go to the ER to make sure my colon was not perforated. After contemplating this for a while – I was concerned because I knew it would be ridiculously expensive – I decided to ask my Dad to take me. So, off we went – Friday night in the ER.

I got to the ER, actually got checked in quickly, and explained everything that had been happening. That night I ended up with a bag of IV fluids, some Dilaudid, a CT Scan, and X-Rays. The final determination was that I was just SEVERLY inflamed and I needed to begin taking a high dose of steroids to reduce the inflammation. I ended up getting home around 11:30 pm that night. Again, I had the positive attitude that things were going to improve and I was going to be ok.

Several days – 10 in fact – went past. On August 15th, I made the silly mistake of having a BIG Blizzard from Dairy Queen. It sounded so good! My body did not agree. I woke up in the middle of the night with HORRIBLE cramps and felt dizzy and otherwise just gross. But, I was feeling a bit better by the time I “really” got up on Sunday. So, I went about the day and figured that I would be ok. I never got back to feeling anywhere near “good.” I went to bed on Sunday, not feeling awful, but not feeling normal either. Around 3 am I woke up and was FREEZING! It was nearly ninety degrees outside and all I wanted was more blankets. I asked Adam to wrap himself around me when all of my blanketing was still not working. It made no difference at all. I just couldn’t get warm. I kept trying different things and different positions, but never made it back to sleep. At 6 am, I FINALLY decided to call my parents. I felt awful about this – it was their 35th wedding anniversary – but I was just feeling so crampy and SOOO cold. Adam got me some fluids and some Jell-o. I was only able to comfortably keep a little bit down. I didn’t actually get sick, but I sure felt like I wanted to. Adam took my temperature, but it was registering as normal. Around 6:30 am my Mom arrived and we headed off to the ER again. Adam had to take the day off of work to stay with Sadie. My dad had several meetings to attend.

Again, I got a bag of fluids started, some more Dilaudid, and MANY, MANY, MANY warm blankets. By the time we arrived at the ER my temperature had spiked to 102.6. Obviously there was a problem. After MUCH blood work (something like 10 vials within 5 hours), no one was able to establish why my temperature was spiking. Dr. Hennessey was actually on rounds at the hospital, so he came to see me and said they would be admitting me. They had all sorts of other tests that they wanted to run on me and I was not allowed fluids or foods. However, I didn’t really want anything right then. I just felt cruddy!

By Tuesday morning I was feeling better. I was on IV steroids and all of my other GI medications. They were still drawing blood frequently and they needed stool samples to test for other nasty infections (one of which was referred to as C-Dif and I wasn’t allowed to shower until they were certain I didn’t have it and couldn’t spread it to anyone). It is rather difficult to give a stool sample when one hasn’t eaten in more than 24 hours, but I did finally manage to eek enough out that they could do their test. It then just took FOREVER to get the results back so I could shower.

Around lunch time I was able to convince Dr. Hennessey to at least put me on a liquid diet. He obliged and by the next morning was allowing me to return to solid foods. I was also visited by a whole team of doctors from the family practice where I go. My own doctor was on vacation, but I met with probably close to 10 other doctors – all at once – to go over my diagnosis and progress.

By Wednesday I was feeling better still and actually had a bowel movement that was NOT diarrhea. Now, for a person who has had diarrhea for months, this was like a HUGE celebration! But, Dr. Hennessey still did not want to send me home. He wanted to try and make sure that I did NOT have to go back to the hospital. So, I stayed on until Thursday.

Starting Thursday morning at midnight I was not allowed any fluids or foods. This was because Dr. Hennessey had ordered another sigmoidoscopy to look and see whether my colon appeared to be healing at all. Though the procedure order went in on Wednesday, they did not actually get me in until 4 pm on Thursday. This meant I spent all day being terribly hungry again. It was NOT fun. But, they eventually took me downstairs, knocked me out, performed the procedure, and gave me some anti-nausea drugs to stop the nasty after-effects. Then I was allowed to eat again!
Around 9 pm Dr. Hennessey came up to see me and share the results of the test. My colon had not healed at all. Obviously, this was not a good sign. He told me to up my Lialda to 4 pills per day (2 in the morning and 2 in the evening) and continue with the Rowasa enemas. I was also to go to a dose of 60 mg of Prednisone per day and taper down by 10 mg once per week. After then getting into a whole side conversation about how he would be going to India for the following week, he signed my exit papers and let me go home. We had also discussed further treatment options, including a drug called Remicade that is given through an IV infusion. It had lots of not so good side effects (malignant tumors being the nastiest), so I was really hoping to avoid it. But, he said he would have his secretary call me the next day and set up a follow-up appointment. Adam and I arrived home around 10:30 pm. I was able to go to sleep and actually sleep pretty well. Another side effect, however, that I forgot to mention early is that I now have these terrible night sweats. I wake up and am COMPLETELY drenched in my own sweat. This, I am told, is because of the steroids. I really don’t know, all I know is that it stinks!

So Friday morning I woke up optimistic and thinking that I was putting this whole mess behind me. I was having some pain in my jaw and some other minor joint pain, but I thought I’d just push through and be ok. I actually went to work on Friday because it was the first of two teacher work days. I didn’t get to school until 10 am, but I stayed until after 4 pm. When I finally headed home, I was exhausted, but not feeling too bad otherwise.

Saturday wasn’t a hugely eventful day. Saturday night, however, I had an AWFUL time getting to and staying asleep. My jaw was really hurting! Around 4:30 am, I decided to head downstairs and make myself something to eat. I had a breakfast sandwich and took some Tylenol. I thought I would be able to go back to sleep, so I trudged up the stairs. Unfortunately as I started walking up the stairs, I got this tremendous pressure in my chest. I attributed it to the fact that I was exhausted, crawled into bed and went back to sleep from 6 am to 9 am. At 9, I called my mom to tell her about my night. Unbeknownst to be, she called the emergency line at the GI doc’s office to ask about my jaw pain. I didn’t mention the chest pain to her since I hadn’t felt it upon waking up again at 9. Then I got up and started moving. Not only did the chest pain return, but I was also dizzy and nauseous. So, I called my parents again and my dad said, “You’ve got to go back to the hospital, we’ll be there in a few minutes.” I started crying, not wanting to be separated from Sadie again and not wanting to go back to the hospital period. But, I knew it was probably inevitable. I decided to try and take a shower while my parents were driving over, knowing that I probably wouldn’t be allowed one at the hospital for quite some time. My parents called the GI doc back while they were on their way over. He said that I absolutely needed to go to the ER. So, off we (Mom, Adam and I) went. By the time we got to the hospital, I had to have my mom get me a wheelchair. I was so weak and dizzy I didn’t think I could walk. When we finally got back to the triage room and they took my blood pressure, it was something like 80/60. Now that’s low and I NEVER have low blood pressure! They also did an EKG, but that looked normal. So on went another day in the ER. They had to get an ultrasound machine to find a vein to put the IV into. I got morphine and again TONS of blood drawn. They eventually had to start drawing from my hand because none of my arm veins would work without immense pain. The hand would work, but it also took like 20 minutes for each draw they did! It was awful!

The results of this blood work showed that I had an elevated enzyme level that is associated with your pancreas. I had a cat scan, x-rays, an ultrasound of my gallbladder, an urinenalysis, etc. At first they tried to say that I might have pancreatitis, but since I was exhibiting NONE of the other symptoms, they decided that it must all just be related to the colitis. I was again admitted to the hospital. This time I was there from Sunday through Tuesday. The eventual determination as to why I was having the chest pain and such was that I was allergic to the GI medications – Lialda and Rowasa and needed to stop taking them immediately. So, I did. I had a heart monitor on the whole time I was in the hospital (making it impossible to do more than sponge bathe). I also had another EKG and an Echocardiogram. There was some inflammation around my heart, but not much more than you would expect to see from anyone. I was sent home on Tuesday knowing that I was now anemic (requiring twice daily pills), had to take 4 Ibuprofen 2 times per day for 12 days to reduce the heart inflammation, and was being left on a steroid taper.

I was feeling better. I had missed the first day of school and took the second day off of school to continue recovering a bit more. My students were great when I finally got to school! They were genuinely concerned about me – a drastic change from last year! It was lovely!

Then, from the 27th of August to the 5th of September, I was feeling pretty well. I remained on the Ibuprofen through Sunday September 6th and was on my Prednisone taper. I stepped down to 40 mg on Friday September 4 and obviously 40 mg is just not enough to sustain me at this point. So on Sunday morning I called the emergency line at the GI doctor’s office and sought help. The on-call doc recommended that I start a Hydrocortisone enema that evening. Now, Sunday was Sadie’s first birthday party, so I had a big day ahead of me. But, I pulled myself together and mustered through pretty well! I was exhausted because I had not slept well at all on Saturday night, but I knew I had to make it through the day and I convinced myself to do it. I had more pain and troubles on Sunday night, even after taking the steroid enema. So, I called the emergency line again on Sunday. My own GI doc, Dr. Hennessey, actually called me on Sunday, but I had missed his call. The on-call doc, though, was the same man I had talked to the day before. He said that the only recommendation that he could give me would be to re-up the Prednisone to 60 mg and he would talk to Dr. Hennessey. So, I took the 60 mg and hoped for the best. It did help, though I was clearly on a downward spiral.

Dr. Hennessey did call me back on Monday and we had a LONG conversation about what to do next. He wanted to put me on a new medication that would help my colon to heal itself, but every possibility that he came up with had some component that I was allergic to. So, after MUCH consideration, we decided that my best path was probably going to be to get started on an IV infusion drug called Remicade. Now, Remicade has LOTS of nasty side effects, including malignant tumors. I was obviously not thrilled with this option, but since this could provide me the quickest relief, we decided it was probably the best route for now.

On Tuesday I went to work. I spent several minutes on the phone throughout the day with my GI doctor’s head nurse/secretary. She worked on getting me set up with some people who could get me started on the path to getting the IV infusion going. I am actually going to have a nursing company that will come to my house to deliver the drug to me. They are all critical care nurses and are trained for any and all “serious” situations, though we are certainly hoping to avoid those! My first appointment is on Friday at 4 pm. It takes about 2 hours to receive the infusion. We are ALL keeping our fingers crossed that not only do I not have an adverse reaction to this medication but that it also brings some MUCH needed relief.

This disease has certainly brought about A LOT of changes in my life and the life of everyone around me. I owe MANY, MANY thanks to MANY, MANY people! I am very lucky to have such supportive people in my life! Adam and I also have some big things to consider for our future. I have to receive injections of Remicade at 0 weeks, 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks and then every 8 weeks from then on. There is no end in sight of being off this drug at this point. And, while I am on Remicade, it is NOT safe to get pregnant. So, we are definitely thinking about how this is going to affect our once “solid” family plan. But, the good news is that ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to adopt a daughter from China. Obviously God had a long-term plan in mind when he first planted the idea of a Chinese adoption in my head because at this point, that is certainly looking like a more realistic possibility for us than of being able to have another biological child. But, then again, the future is uncertain and things may be turned upside down again before we ever get to that point. So, for now, we are facing uncertainty with lots of hope! If you are a praying kind of person, though, we can definitely all use your prayers!

Hope all you loyal readers are doing well and I promise to update this again soon with pictures from Sadie’s birthday and birthday party! Take care!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Two Teeth, Two Trips, Four Times the Fun!

Finally, when Sadie reached the ripe old age of 10 months and 5 days, she had two small teeth begin poking through on her bottom gums. Everyone tells me that the longer you can go without having teeth, the easier it is for the child. I'm not sure that I would agree. Sadie "just happened" to get a cold at the same time that these teeth came in. We went several days with very little sleep in our nights. The nights involved LOTS of rocking and singing. Then Sadie kindly passed her cold on to Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma. But, it all ended up being ok. I don't have a good picture of these teeth yet because Sadie typically likes to put her tongue over top of them. Maybe by next month she'll be willing to show them off!

Just as those teeth were poking through, Aunt Rhian came to visit. I can't actually find any pictures of this to post. :( But, Sadie did enjoy visiting with her aunt. She was a little afraid of James, but she had warmed up to him a little by the end of their visit.

Then came my birthday! Happy 29th Birthday to me! Adam, Sadie, and I drove to Indianapolis. We had pizza at the BEST pizza place in the world - Bazbeaux. It was fantastic, as always. Then we went to check in at our hotel, an Extended Stay. After checking in and getting things settled, we headed over to Al and Suellen's to see them and Parker. Parker was sleeping when we arrived, but Sadie got right to work on playing with her toys. Parker didn't sleep for long, though, and was most interested in watching Sadie play. Sadie then got very fussy - she was tired - but pretty much refused to sleep. We decided to go for a walk to the park. That ended up being a great choice because Sadie did eventually fall asleep in the stroller. But, not before we got a picture! Daddy and Al are pushing and Sadie and Parker are swinging.

After the park and Sadie's brief nap, we headed out to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. Amy, Ben, Bryn, Shay, Al, Suellen, Parker, Sadie, Adam, and I had an enjoyable birthday dinner full of chips, salsa, guacamole, and Mexican goodness. We then decided to plan our trip to the Children's Museum the next day.

On Wednesday we went to the Children's Museum. While we had a very enjoyable time, we were also a bit disappointed. The Playscape area, the area designed for little kids, was a bit too little and a bit too crowded. We still managed to have a good time, though, and here are the pictures to prove it:

Isn't the picture of Sadie and Sam hysterical!!! Sam is the son of my friend Cathy. He was born in February. Sadie found him adorable, except when Mommy was holding him and she became rather jealous, but he is a pretty darn cute little guy! The last picture is of all of the children at the museum. Left to Right we've got: Chris, Bryn, Shay, Sam, Parker, Hailey, Sadie, and Hannah. What an adorable group!!!

On Wednesday night we all went over to Amy and Ben's. There Sadie and Shay enjoyed playing together in the kitchen. Here are the shots of that:

On Thursday we went to the Indianapolis Zoo. Sadie had a great time there! She got to see some sharks up close and then got to help Daddy feed a giraffe. We also got a great shot of Sadie and Parker.

After the zoo we headed back home. We were only here briefly, though, and then we headed up to see Great Grandma, and Grandma and Grandpa Brinkley. It was Great Grandma's 85th Birthday. Sadly, the only picture we got of the whole affair was of a picture of Great Grandma's cake.

We had a great time celebrating with Great Grandma. We got to visit with Uncle Tim, Aunt Sarah, and Codey and Noah. We also got to see Adam's cousin Stephanie and her son Justin. We had a good time hanging out with everyone.

The next day we woke up in Louisville and headed into Canton for breakfast. At breakfast, Sadie impressed an older gentleman with her incredible cuteness and he gave her a dollar! How awesome! Not even a year old and already bringing in the money! After breakfast we decided to head to Metzger Park and do some geocaching. This is one of Adam's new favorite activities. We use the GPS watch I got him for his bike and go traipsing through the wild looking for little plastic boxes. It's actually a lot of fun and we ended up picking up a Sesame Street washcloth for Sadie as a "prize" from one of the buckets.

Well, that certainly brings things more up-to-date! I'm not happy to report that I'll be heading back to work in just a few weeks. But, then Grandma gets to begin her full-time Grandma duties and she's very much looking forward to that. Sadie is waking up from her nap right now, so got to run!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Enjoying Vacation

We are back from our "vacation." We followed Daddy and Grandpa around northwest Ohio as they completed GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure). This event began in Norwalk, Ohio. We spent our first night actually staying in Milan, Ohio (a suburb of Norwalk). We went swimming at our first hotel and enjoyed a meal at an old homestead. The next day the tour headed to Elmore, Ohio. Elmore was an adorable small town and they were ready for all of the GOBA riders. They had lots of cute little shops and we ate lunch at the Red, White, and Brew Cafe. Our next hotel was in Perrysburg, Ohio. We actually stayed there for three nights! Our first night we went to dinner at Tony Packo's. Apparently Tony Packo's is a well-known Toldeo hotspot that was made famous on "MASH." It's hungarian and we all had different versions of "fill-in-the-blank" paprikas. It was ok, but I didn't think it was the best meal of the week.

The next day was Monday and the boys took a break from cycling to join the ladies at the Toledo Zoo. We called ahead on Sunday afternoon and ordered ourselves a picnic lunch. This was something that was touted on the Toledo Zoo website and I thought it sounded like a fun and easy idea. The zoo was VERY busy on Monday because it is free to Lucas County residents on Mondays, but we still enjoyed ourselves. Adam had never seen a polar bear and he really enjoyed getting to see two of them! Sadie enjoyed seeing the turtles because she was easily able to track them in their tank. She also managed to fall asleep in the stroller. This worked out very well because she slept through lunch. We ate our lunch in an area that overlooks the "African Savanna." This was awesome because we got to basically dine with giraffes, zebras, wildebeasts, and African deer. After lunch Sadie woke up and we rode on the carousel. We also bought Sadie a mini-zoo-keepers outfit, a matching hat, a frog for the water, and a puzzle. (Yes, I know she is spoiled!). Here are some pictures from the zoo:

On Monday night we went into downtown Perrysburg and ate at Zengo's. This was a WONDERFUL Mediterranean restaurant. It was by far the best meal of the week and we had enough food for probably 50 people! We had probably the best couscous that I have ever had. The whole meal was just wonderful. After dinner we walked around Perrysburg and discovered a number of cute kids stores.

On Tuesday the boys headed towards Bowling Green. The ladies went back to downtown Perrysburg to do some shopping. We found an adorable outfit for Sadie and looked at some pretty darn cute shoes. We also had a great lunch at another local stop. Then we picked up the boys, headed back to the hotel so they could shower, and then went to an outdoor shopping mall. We bought Sadie a pair of adorable tennis shoes for the fall. Then we headed to another kids toy store that we had read about. It ended up being a bit of a disappointment, but we did buy Sadie another puzzle. After the toy store we went to dinner at Gino's Pizza. This had sounded great but was again a bit of a disappointment. After dinner we decided to head to Maumee Bay State Park. This was recommended by a zoo worker. We had high hopes but things were again disappointing. For one, Sadie became horribly upset in the car on the way there. I've never seen her that upset! It was awful. When we arrived at the park, we did see a weasel chasing a bunny. That was certainly unusual. When we actually got to the beach we were disgusted to find that - due to budget cuts - the park no longer had any trash cans. Any trash that came in to the park was supposed to be taken out by those who brought it. Not surprisingly, people weren't doing this. That meant that there were dirty diapers pile along the sink in the bathroom and there was lots of other trash scattered on the beach. Gross! But, we did let Sadie get her feet wet. Here are some pictures of that:

The next day, Wednesday, the boys were off to Defiance. The ladies made a lunch/shopping stop in Grand Rapids, Ohio. This was another quaint small town. We had a good lunch. Sadie enjoyed herself. Check out this picture:

Our hotel for that evening was in Napoleon, Ohio. They had a GREAT pool! We enjoyed swimming and then headed to the local Mexican restaurant. It was actually very good and we enjoyed ourselves.

The next the boys took another break and joined the ladies in heading to Sauder Village. This is a historical village. We had a great time and enjoyed more shopping! We bought Sadie a "vegetables" collection. She had really been enjoying playing with the vegetables in Little Pioneer Village, so Daddy went and bought her some of her own vegetables. She loves them and is currently playing with them on the floor as I type this! We had a good lunch at "The Barn", the local Sauder Village restaurant. For dinner we ate at the old local pub in Napoleon.

The next day the boys headed to Fostoria, Ohio. This is a town that had seen better times. Still, we managed to get a few great pictures of Sadie. Here they are:

The first picture was taken while we were waiting for Grandpa and Dad to finish their ride. It was right before we got a phone call that Grandpa had crashed his bike. He has lots of road rash and hurt his thumb. He also pretty much totaled his bike. But, he has survived and still wants to do GOBA again next year. The second picture was taken at the hospital while we waited for Grandpa's hand to be x-rayed. Sadie was VERY patient. We spent that night in Findlay, Ohio and ended up just heading home the next morning. Adam decided to not ride the last day.

On Saturday when we got home we went to the Worthington outdoor pool for a swim. Sadie had a great time. On Sunday we drove to Uniopolis, Ohio for a family reunion. This was a reunion for my Dad's side of the family. Sadie really didn't enjoy spending even more time in the car, but she was a hit with the family.

Well, Sadie's ready for some yogurt, so I've got to run! Hope all is going well for all of you out there!