Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Which We Do More House-Type Things

Today we took Connor to see Laura, his physical therapist outside of school. Laura is currently focusing on exercises to strengthen Connor's core muscles and improve his balance so that he'll be able to sit completely on his own. She also took measurements to get him some new foot and ankle orthotics, as he has pretty much outgrown the ones he's in now. The new ones will be 3/4in longer-- that's quite the difference! Laura and Julie (Connor's feeding therapist) took a look at Connor's hives and pointed out that they are really clustered on his face, hands and around his g-tube: all places that Connor's saliva or stomach acid touch. Connor's toothpaste, which I'm more and more suspicious is the culprit, has natural strawberry flavoring in it and this could potentially be working as a skin irritant. We've stopped using that toothpaste and are switching back to one with artificial flavoring-- no new hives so far.

We also had the inspection of the house today. For the most part the issues the inspector found are relatively minor and mostly involve maintenance (cleaning the chimney and the roof, cleaning the electric furnace, etc). There were a few slightly more serious plumbing issues: the wax sealing ring on one toilet has deteriorated, there's no pan under the hot water heater, one of the faucets and a spigot outside leak (the spigot quite a bit-- it would need to be replaced before the water is turned back on) and someone broke off a few of the sprinkler heads in the front yard along the sidewalk. Since the house is being sold "as is" we want to make sure we'd be able to make the necessary repairs on our budget, so we'll be getting a quote from a plumber and a roofer. However, we're pretty sure that we're going to okay things to move forward; for a house that's almost twenty-five years old it's looking pretty good. I was a little worried we were going to get some sort of report that said things like "Roof Falling Off" or "Run, Run Far Away." So far so good.

We managed to get Jer up the two stairs into the house (it involved me pulling from the back, Jer's mom lifting from the front, Jer balancing precariously on two wheels, and a lot of muttered-under-the-breath sort of language) and so he got a chance to take a look around. He really likes the freestanding wood burning stove in the family room; I think he's already making plans to have that room be his main station in the house over the winter. We've also started talking about our timeline for renovations and moving in, and a little about what we would want to do with the house.

We're leaning towards the possibility of putting strand woven bamboo flooring down in the house. It is extremely hard and durable (much harder than regular bamboo), eco friendly, cheaper than most hardwood, easy to install, can be refinished multiple times, and it looks much more like hardwood than it does regular bamboo flooring. Some of the colors, especially the carbonized ones, are quite lovely. We wouldn't use it in the bathrooms, the mudroom, and potentially the working area of the kitchen because it doesn't care for standing water, but in the rest of the house we think it would work pretty well. We've also started talking a little about what we would use for the kitchen counters, how we would modify the landscaping, and what exactly we'll want done in the bathroom.

Speaking of landscaping, can you guess what we discovered in the front yard today?

Cherry trees. Two of them.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In Which I Have A Possible Solution To Connor's Hive Problem

I had a major revelation today about Connor's hives that explains why he's getting them!

I figured out why he s having them this week; it was school picture day today, which as we all know is the day in which children everywhere compete to see who will have the worst photo ever. This year thanks to his lovely giant red spots my child wins the pot. Now I just have to figure out how he's getting the hives-- that's still a mystery.

Actually, I do have a theory about what might possibly be causing them that doesn't involve school photography. The only thing I can think of that we've changed recently is Connor's toothpaste. We ran out of his usual and I got a different brand. Normally I give him a little water and he spits into a cup after he brushes, but he's swallowed the toothpaste a couple of times in the past few weeks. I'm wondering if maybe there's something in the new toothpaste that he's allergic to. Of course, the only way I can think to test this is to brush his teeth and let him swallow the toothpaste. Maybe I'll just buy another brand of toothpaste and see if the hives stop.

Today has been rather a whirlwind of house related things. We're closing on October 30th, which is only a month away, and I'll be gone in Texas for a week of that, so we're on a tight timeline to get everything taken care of before that deadline. We're having an inspector look at the house tomorrow, and I will be attempting to get Jer up two steps into the house so he can see the inside, as otherwise he'll be buying a house he's never seen. I won't be posting any pictures of the house until it's officially ours because, well, right now it's still somebody else's, and I would be kind of weirded out if someone posted pictures and commentary about the inside of my house, even if I was selling it. So I'll wait until after we've taken possession, and then I'll post pictures, I promise.

We had to get all of the running around dropping off earnest money checks and getting quotes for property insurance out of the way before four in the afternoon, because that's when we left for the baseball game. Jer and I received free tickets from his army unit for the Seattle Mariners game tonight. While we aren't really baseball fans (and if we were to pick a team, it would probably be the Texas Rangers anyway) we enjoyed ourselves.
It was bitterly cold (46 degrees, which is maybe not cold by anyone else's standards but pretty cold for September in Seattle) and we were way underdressed for the weather. A woman sitting below us in the stands noticed how Jer and I were shivering and bought Jeremy a jacket, which meant we could share his blanket and both be warm. She said Jer reminded her of her son.
Yet another random act of kindness from a stranger. Amazing.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Ahem . . .

They accepted our offer! Provided all goes well in the next month, we've got ourselves a house!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Which We Make An Easy Decision

We received an interesting phone call yesterday.

It was the people from the first house, the one with the huge yard and the roll-in shower. They offered to make us a good deal-- provided we cut out our real estate agent.

Um, no.

First of all the real estate agent has already done all of this work for us, which they would now not get paid for. Not only do I find that really unethical, but I'm not even entirely sure that's legal. Second of all, we know enough now about the home buying process to have figured out that we never, ever want to try and buy a house without a real estate agent. Offers? Contracts? Escrow companies? We have no clue how to draw up or find any of that stuff, and I don't really think that in the middle of buying a house is the best time to learn. So the one good thing that's come out of that phone call is that it made our house decision pretty darn easy.

So we've got an offer in on the other house: the house that will need some renovation. We've already received a counter offer, and we're in the counter/counter offer stage right now, but I'm thinking that it's pretty likely we're going to end up buying this house.

I am ridiculously excited about the idea of getting to design a bathroom.

It will probably be mostly me designing the bathroom-- Jer is not so big on interior decorating. The man would be perfectly happy living in a white box, so long as it had a bed, a toilet, an espresso machine, and Internet access. Also right now a ramp. At any rate it will be me making most of the design decisions, which is just fine as I live for this stuff.

So right now I am spending every second of my free time scouring the Internet for design ideas and the addresses of local architectural salvage places, which are pretty much the thrift stores of the home renovation world. I'm hoping we'll be able to scrounge up some really cool finds in the way of counter top, tile, etc (perhaps left over from someone else's project) so it won't look like a wheelchair accessible shower but rather more like one of those luxury Universal Design showers. Universal Design is apparently the new politically correct phrase for handicap accessible. My theory on this is that all of the baby boomers are getting up there in age and starting to need this sort of thing but none of them want to be reminded that they're getting old, so interior designers came up with a new phrase and coached it as luxury design. That way not only do they continue to have happily in-denial clients, but they can charge more for it.

At any rate I've never been a huge fan of adaptive equipment (especially for kids) that makes no effort to not look like something straight out of a hospital, so we're going to try and make something beautiful and functional. Hence the Universal Design. On a tight budget. Wish us luck.

We're going to have an interesting time balancing all of Connor's needs in regards to the house, too. Take the floors, for instance. Now, in terms of his wheelchair use, the harder the better. Hardwood, ceramic tile, stone, laminate-- all of these are good options. But for his hearing loss? Carpet all the way. All of those hard options bounce sound around the room like nobody's business, and that living room has a cathedral ceiling and huge windows on either side of the fireplace, which isn't going to help. Rugs help absorb sound but are really bad once again for wheelchairs. So we're going to have to find a balance that will allow Connor (who is still totally covered in hives, by the way) and Jeremy to maneuver around but won't bounce sound everywhere. Upholstery, curtains, and fabric covered surfaces will all help. We'll see what we come up with.

At any rate hopefully by Monday or Tuesday we'll be one step closer to buying a house!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

In Which Connor Once Again Sports Spots

What in the world is my child allergic to?

This is his second huge breakout of hives in the last two weeks. This one started with a couple on his forehead this morning, and this is what he looks like now after a dose of Benadryl. They're currently continuing to spread down his back and tummy. Lord knows what he'll look like by morning. He's also been stuffy and throwing up his formula all over the place.

I'm wondering if it's perhaps time to try another formula-- the Pediasure we're using has both milk and soy products in it. I'll e-mail his doctor tomorrow and attach a pic of the little guy-- hopefully she'll have some ideas. His eyes aren't swelling (yet) and he's not having trouble breathing other than the problems the stuffy nose is giving him so I'm just going to keep a close eye on him and continue with the Benadryl in the meantime. Poor little guy.

Jer and I went to the zoo on our date today, which was quite fun although it kind of wore us out. We hadn't realized quite how many hills the zoo has. Also small children running full-tilt towards us (and therefore Jer's feet) would periodically make Jer and me very, very nervous.

We also hit the bookstore (of course) and an ice cream parlor. That was about all we had energy for, so I drove us home a couple of hours early and went out for some alone time while Jer took a nap. We aren't exactly hard partiers at the moment.

I spent my alone time reading a book about renovating bathrooms and wandering the hallways of Home Depo. If we do end up buying the house that we would renovate we probably wouldn't be getting much from Home Depo (I am a big fan of the architectural salvage yards and discount warehouses) but it never hurts to look and see what's out there. I wouldn't be doing it myself either as I like having plumbing that works and I kind of have some other things on my plate right now, but I figure it could never hurt to have a better understanding of what kind of work would be involved. It's all pretty fascinating; I'd love to learn how to do it all someday, though I don't think that this is a project I should learn on.

Anyway, now I'm off to bed again after checking up on the little one. I'll be getting up in a few hours to give him another dose of Benadryl so I'd better get some shut-eye now!


Friday, September 25, 2009

In Which We Take A Trip To (But Do Not Buy) The Farm

Today was a pretty good day.

I kept Connor back one more day from school, which ended up being a good thing as he threw up all of his breakfast. Obviously he's not quite over being sick yet-- hopefully given the chance to recover over the weekend he'll be back to 100% by Monday. I'm pretty positive he's not contagious any more, but when you're in a class that possibly contains immunodeficient kids you can't muck around with that sort of thing. Poor little guy.

My mother-in-law and I did take him on an outing today with us; our weekly trip to the food coop and to the farm to pick up our CSA share. He'd been asking about the chickens earlier in the week because we used to go and see them every Friday; lately we've had the friend we share the CSA with doing the pickup at the farm so Connor hasn't had an opportunity to say hello to his fine feathered friends. Of course once we got to the farm he didn't want to have anything to do with them, and was only marginally more interested in the huge white tom turkey, who even fluffed up and showed off for us. Oh well.

Jer and I are headed out on a date tomorrow. Whoo hoo! I'm not sure where we're going to go yet; I'm sure we'll figure something out. It's supposed to be nice and sunny-- hope the weather cooperates and follows the forecast. We'll probably head back to the park, and then we'll figure out what we want to do from there. Going out on a date with a man in a wheelchair is a whole new world. We don't want to go anywhere with a crowd because there's a much bigger chance of someone bumping into Jer's feet. We need someplace with wide, smooth passageways in good repair. If it's a place for eating, it has to be big enough for Jer to sit in his chair at the table without blocking traffic. So many things to think about!

I'm sure we'll make it up as we go along-- we usually muddle through somehow. And besides, a date is a date. It doesn't get much better than that!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

In Which We Have A Dilemma

Boy howdy, am I tired.

I looked at houses for nearly five hours straight today. That's a lot of houses. And we think that maybe, just maybe we've found one that would work.

The house is in a very nice neighborhood extremely close to Connor's school. It's across the street from a wooded park. It's about 2200 square feet-- about 1000 square feet more space than we have right now, and it's on a respectable quarter-acre lot with established landscaping.

We'd have to do more than just put in a ramp on this house, though. The whole house is carpeted, and so we'd eventually want to replace the carpet with something more wheelchair friendly. We'd want to remodel a bathroom to have a roll-in shower (the master bath, which is already a decent size, backs up to a walk-in closet so we should be okay as far as renovations go) and the kitchen is outdated. It's also not that much less expensive than the first house we'd looked at-- their asking price is only about eight thousand dollars less than the other house. So basically this means that unless we can get them to come down a bit on the price we'd end up paying more for the house once we renovated than the house with the acre of land.

However, since the money for renovation would be coming out of Jeremy's traumatic injury insurance payment and not added onto a mortgage, the house might end up being cheaper in the long term since we wouldn't be paying interest on the extra cost of the renovations. It also means that we'd get the chance to make the decision about what goes into the house based on our needs and aesthetics. While the first house already had renovations, they were in a style that was very different from what we probably would have chosen (like those bright white tile floors, for example). We would probably do the renovations in stages-- the ramps first and the bathroom next, and then later either the kitchen followed by the floor or vice versa, depending on our needs. Once the ramp is put in the house would already be way, way more livable than the apartment we're in right now. I mean, I wouldn't have to sleep on the floor, for starters. And we wouldn't have half our worldly possessions in a storage unit so that Jer has room to maneuver-- right now he has full access only to our living room and bedroom, whereas the rooms in that house are big enough that he could get into all of them with no trouble, even with all of our furniture in them.

This house is overall more in tune with our style: huge exposed hardwood beams overhead, really open floor plan, oak door casings, tile roof, cathedral ceilings. . . it's a house that I can see us happily living in long-term. And heck, I can plant a dang cherry tree.

At this point I've seen pretty much every rambler in the Puyallup area within our price range, so we're really down to just two choices. Which one should we go for-- the slightly more expensive, already renovated house farther from town with acreage that's not quite our style, or the slightly cheaper, larger (by 500 square feet) house near Connor's school that's more in line with our style but will require renovation at added cost?

We'll see what we end up deciding to do.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In Which We Do Not Have A Particularly Good Day

So we didn't get the house.

Long story short the house was overpriced for the area and due to some poor life choices they were unable to drop the price anywhere near low enough to make it worth our while to buy it rather than get another more reasonably priced house and just remodel. So we're looking again and while we don't expect to find another house already modified to suit our needs, hopefully we'll find one that can easily be converted and that would be better than the apartment in the meantime. The agent and I will be hitting the streets tomorrow; I'll bring along my trusty tape measure and camera and we'll see what we can scrounge up. It's a little (okay, a lot) disappointing that the house didn't work out, but I know that we'll find one that with a little work will be just as fantastic, and at a price that won't make us pinch our pennies every month.

So sorry, folks. No cherry pies for you.

I just checked Connor's temperature; I am sad to say that the little guy spent most of today creating laundry for my mother-in-law to do, as he threw up on nearly every available surface. He's running a fever of 100.1 right now-- just enough for me to know that he's really sick and he's not having a bout of reflux, stress, allergies, etc. He's in bed right now propped up on a wedge which will hopefully help him keep some of his feed down, and I'll keep him hooked to the pump tomorrow on a low rate of flow so that he'll stay hydrated. I may have to switch to putting Pedialyte in the pump if he can't keep the Pediasure down. Pediasure is hard on queasy tummies.

Let's hope he feels better in the morning.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Which We Have A False Alarm

I woke up this morning and walked into Connor's room to discover that his right eye, which looked a little red yesterday, was now crusted shut. "Ah ha!" I thought, "Pinkeye!" and I promptly called the doctor and made an appointment and called his school to cancel. So when he woke up about an hour later I took a washcloth, gently cleaned his eye off, and he opened it up-- to reveal the same slightly red eye of the day before. Whoops.

Since he was stuffy, coughing, and throwing up we still kept the appointment (plus it was way too late to cancel) where they told me exactly what I expected they would say; it's a mild upper respiratory infection, his eyes are red from coughing, and keep him home for a day or two so he won't infect the other kids, but otherwise he's fine. Guess I learned my lesson; if you suspect pinkeye, soak the eye open BEFORE calling the doctor. Oh well.

In other news, apparently our real estate agent heard back from the guy selling the house we made an offer on at the tail end of the business day, and they want to meet tomorrow to discuss the specifics. I'm assuming this means he made a counter offer, though I have no idea what it is as our agent didn't say in the e-mail. Since Jer has a doctor's appointment up in Seattle tomorrow morning, we won't be able to meet with the agent until tomorrow afternoon, which means I spend a good portion of the day wondering what the heck they're going to say.

Oh, the suspense! Feels kind of like a bad soap opera. Will Jessie and Jeremy buy the house of their dreams? Will the apartment complex let them break their lease? Will Connor stop having back-to-back colds? Will Nick reveal his sordid past and confess his feelings for the beautiful and naive Angela before she walks down the aisle with millionaire murderer David? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Too bad I don't get to read the script in advance.


Monday, September 21, 2009

In Which We Have Unexpected Visitors

Jer had some doctor's appointments this morning, so we loaded up the car and headed over there. When it was over we went out to lunch, and then drove back to the house for a much-needed rest. Four hours of appointments wears one out.

Connor is still not sleeping well, and now he may possibly be working on a case of pinkeye. Joy of joys. We'll see what he looks like in the morning. He'll be very sad if he can't go to school.

No word on the house yet-- hopefully we'll hear something tomorrow. It's pretty nerve wracking, I have to say. Right now Jer and I are starting every other sentence with "If we get the house . . ." so you can tell it's weighing heavily on our minds. I'm still browsing other houses both for rent and sale so we have another option in mind if he turns us down, but hopefully there won't be a need for that sort of thing.

Loki has discovered that the sliding door leads to the great green place of Outside Land, and he is now attempting to dart through it every time it's opened. As a result of his ill-fated two minute trip outside last week in which he apparently hit some sort of flea docking station before I caught him, he brought a number of unwanted guests into our house which I discovered to my horror while petting him today. So now both of the cats have been dosed with flea medication, and as a result I am now persona non grata in the kitty world. I am being positively shunned-- every time they see me coming they get this horrified, hurt look and run away to hide under some large piece of furniture. I predict this will last until tomorrow morning, which is when I will feed them again. With any luck they will at least feel a little better in a couple of days.

Crazy cats.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

In Which I Have Odd Dreams

Forgive me if this post is rather brief; Connor did not sleep very well last night and so I didn't get a whole lot either. I'm going to try to hit the sack early.

His metabolism seems to slow way, way down at night, and food just sits in his stomach. Last night for whatever reason it just wasn't going anywhere. Maybe he ate dinner too close to bedtime-- who knows? At any rate, the fourth time he threw up I just unhooked him from his pump, figuring that he'd be better off hungry rather than aspirating. I made sure there were at least three hours between his dinner and his pump tonight, and I'm hoping that will solve the problem and that he's not getting sick, which is the other most likely reason for all of the throwing up. Anytime the kid catches a bug his tummy gets majorly queasy right off the bat.

The good news is that almost all his hives are gone, and his g-tube site looks much better. I hope he's not getting sick-- the poor kid deserves a break!

Jer and I made another outing today, sans Connor, to pick up our CSA veggies and to find some more lotion. Because of the foot exercises and massages we're doing three times a day, we're going through lotion at an alarming rate around here. I bought a big tub of it three days ago and we're over halfway finished with it. We'll probably try several different kinds over the course of these treatments; the last kind we tried had Shea butter in it and while it was creamy and a little went a long way it also had a tendency to be sticky. We picked up a different kind that's not so solid today and we'll see how it works out.

I had an interesting dream last night in between all of the waking up and cleaning up Connor-- it involved a secret room with built in bookcases hidden behind that lava wall in the bathroom of the house we're trying to buy. I was frustrated because you had to flush the toilet to get the wall to open and I was worried about the water bill and the septic tank. When I woke up I was trying to figure out a way to keep the door open without the toilet running constantly. I have a tendency to mix up reality and daily living in rather creative ways in my dreams; a couple of weeks ago I had one in which we had decided to have Jer's wheelchair towed by a sheep because for some reason Jer couldn't do it himself, and we were arguing over what type of sheep we should buy. I wanted a very sensible compact white woolly sheep of the stereotypical variety, and Jer wanted a huge impractical black ram with enormous curly horns. Weird-- especially because in reality it would be totally reversed. Jer's the practical one in this family.

Anyway, I think I'm off to dreamland again-- hopefully for a rather longer period than I managed last night!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

In Which We Set Sail In Our New Craft

Could it possibly have been a more perfect day?

This morning I faxed our offer in to our real estate agent. They're setting up a meeting to present the offer to the seller, and hopefully in a few days we'll have an answer! I expect that they'll probably want to negotiate, but we'll just have to see. It's just so exciting to have taken that first big step!

At around 10:00 or so my mother-in-law, Connor and I left to go pick up the van! Here's Connor strapped in for his first van ride. His chair is crash-tested and has a special harness and tie down system, so I can have him ride in the car in his wheelchair right next to his Daddy! We haven't tried all three of us in the car yet, but we probably will tomorrow. He really enjoyed riding in his wheelchair on the way home; he giggled the entire way (almost two hours) which tells you he really had a good time! I think he likes the big windows, and I like the built-in mirror (separate from the rear view mirror) angled so that I can see him in case he has another seizure while I am driving.

While my mother-in-law drove to Tacoma to check out a big tent book sale they were having at the mall, Connor and I went home, where I promptly handed him off to his respite care worker and Jer and I went out on a date! This is the first time since August 11th that Jer has traveled anywhere except to a medical facility or our house, so it was wonderful to have that freedom again. First we drove out to Bradley Park, the wonderful wheelchair accessible park in our town, and tried out the paved trails there while we soaked in some much-needed sunshine. Then we headed over to Best Buy, where we spent some time browsing the games and movies.

After that it was time for dinner, so it was off to our favorite Greek restaurant-- the same one Jer and I dined in on our last date just before he deployed. Jer was able to pull up quite nicely alongside the table and eat in relative comfort, which was great! The proprietors recognized me (after my son had a seizure in the middle of their restaurant I suppose I'd be hard to forget) and when I told them that Jer was back from Afghanistan, they made a big announcement and brought out their signature appetizer (it involves cheese, pita bread, and three foot high flames) on the house. Then two different groups of patrons fought over who would pay our bill and finally compromised by splitting it and then also getting us a gift card to the restaurant. Totally unexpected and amazing.

We wrapped up the night with a trip to the coffee shop, and then we drove home, exhausted but happy.

I'll try to get some video of the van in action tomorrow as well as some pictures of Jer and Connor in the van together so you can get the full effect of its awesomeness. Jer and I didn't take pictures together today-- we were too busy out having a great time!

And I would like to point out one last thing that tipped the day over into perfection-- this all happened on Talk Like A Pirate Day. Avast, me hearties-- we be casting off on the morrow for distant shores!


Friday, September 18, 2009

In Which We Might Have Found The House

Connor looked quite a bit better this morning, though his tummy apparently does not like Benadryl-- he threw up several meals today. I have to say that I prefer an upset tummy to facial swelling though, so we'll stick with it until he no longer looks like a red and white Dalmatian.

In other news, we think we've found the house. And when I say the house, I mean the house.

In addition to calling every property manager in a thirty mile radius of Puyallup, I've been browsing craigslist ads religiously twice a day. About a dozen properties in the last two weeks have looked or sounded promising enough to tour, all of which have been a disappointment. If it's built after about 1985 in this region, it's usually two story, which won't work for us. If it's built before 1985, the bathrooms and the doors are two small for a wheelchair. If it's advertised as being wheelchair accessible or with no stairs, it's in one of the two 55+ communities around here. On repeated occasions I've gotten all excited about a property for rent with WHEELCHAIR RAMP in the ad, opened it up, and sure enough, it would be in Canyon Meadows or Enchanted Firs. Those darn elitist geriatric tricksters-- always getting my hopes up only to dash them at the last minute!

Anyway, about a week ago I looked at the properties for sale instead of for rent on a whim, and there it was. A three bedroom rambler in the Puyallup school district sitting on over an acre of land, with those golden words, "Wheelchair Accessible" halfway down the page. Not only are large portions of the house tiled instead of carpeted (which means Jer can stop spinning his wheels on turns) but it also has a roll-in shower and, wonder of wonders, an accessible toilet. The refrigerator is placed where he could open it. One of the three bedrooms is tiled and would make a perfect bedroom/therapy room for Connor, and there's a jacuzzi tub in one of the other bathrooms that I could see myself spending significant time getting to know.

True, the house has some features that are rather interesting-- a brick barbecue with chimney built into the kitchen that's currently holding a microwave, the back wall of one bathroom made entirely out of huge chunks of black lava rock, two separate fireplaces that share a chimney-- one of which is electric and the other propane. But the rest of it does more than make up for its quirks.

So we sat down and took a look at our finances, and discovered that since we didn't have to buy the wheelchair accessible van we could afford to purchase the home. We found a real estate agent, toured the house (Well, the agent and I toured it. Jer's seen pictures. This should be corrected after we pick up the van), and first thing tomorrow we'll be putting in an offer. Keep your fingers crossed!

It's certainly not the end of the world if our offer isn't accepted, or it is and then the inspector finds a huge coconut crab infestation in the attic or something; we'd find another place to rent or buy eventually. But it's hard to imagine that we'd find a place quite as perfect as this one-- no bathroom conversions or door widening-- all we'd have to do is put in a ramp. It used to have one, but it was disassembled just before the house went on the market.

Can you imagine the gardening I could do with an acre backyard? My fingers are twitching in anticipation. And the house has a fifty foot high black cherry tree back there. I half suspect this house was built specifically with us in mind.

If we get the house, I will bake you all a pie. You've got until next summer to figure out how I can put three hundred cherry pies in the mail.

Maybe I'll just post a picture.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Which Connor Feels Better After We Give Him Drugs (No Not That Kind)

Little Connor woke up this morning with both his eyes starting to swell up. We got him in for a doctor's appointment this evening, where they took a look at him, said "Yep! It's hives!" and sent us home with a big bottle of Benadryl. The child already looks tons better, and hopefully he'll sleep pretty well tonight as a side effect. That would make me very, very happy.

We're picking up our van on Saturday, and as an added bonus our respite care worker, who happens to be a medical massage therapist, is going to come over and give Jeremy a back massage and work on his feet and legs while Connor, my mother-in-law and I are out picking up the van. Then she's going to stay with Connor and Jer and I will go out on a date! I am so excited-- can't wait.

One of the things Jer's medical massage therapist will be focusing on is range-of-motion exercises. After not moving his feet at all for a month they've become really stiff, so we have exercises to do to make them more flexible again. We also have exercises to get the nerves reacquainted with being touched-- apparently after a while they get sort of hypersensitive, and then you have to work to calm them back down. It's sort of like your foot went to sleep for oh, forty days or so. The tingling is apparently rather intense. You also have to massage the feet to increase the circulation and get the swelling to go down. The physical therapist used the term "milking his toes." This is a bad term to use around me with my overly fertile imagination. I bet toe milk smells really funny.


Anyway, Jer isn't able to reach good portions of his feet, so I'm doing the massages three times a day-- about twenty minutes at a time on each leg. While foot massages three times a day sounds pretty wonderful if you ask me, I assure you it's not very fun for all parties involved. At least, most of the foot massages I've had don't cause me to use quite such colorful language. As his feet slowly regain motion and the nerves settle down the massages should become less painful.

One good thing is coming out of this-- you use copious amounts of lotion during these exercises. A twenty minute lotion regime three times a day does a powerful amount of good for your skin. I don't think my hands have ever been so soft!

All the same, I don't think I will be adding this to my skin care regime on a permanent basis. If I had a skin care regime, that is. Oh well.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Which I Discover An Alien Conspiracy

Well, little guy has progressed beyond what could be explained as eczema and is now well into "allergic reaction" territory. He looks like a prizefighter after the big match-- one eye is starting to swell. I have no idea what caused this particular reaction, but if he's still not looking better by tomorrow evening I'll take him to the doctor on Friday.

We enjoyed our nice, easy day around the house. Jer's got another appointment requiring van transportation tomorrow, so my mother-in-law will be taking the little guy to school while I go along for the ride. It's going to be really nice once we have our own transportation, as the van always comes at least an hour to an hour and a half before Jer's appointments to make sure they have plenty of time to find the place. That's time we could be sleeping! Oh well-- we should be picking up the van on Saturday. Can't wait!

On a crazy side note; you may remember me discussing Tubie the alien from one of the scariest children's books I have ever seen. Well, when Connor's new earmolds for his hearing aids came, there was a pamphlet in the box about Toobie the earmold tube, who cautions kids not to pull out their earmolds by the tube. And other than the crazy buck teeth Toobie is sporting, they look exactly the same. Tubie and Toobie.

Coincidence? I think not.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In Which I Have Married The Bionic Man

The little guy had a really rough night last night-- probably due once again to the eczema, which is now in full-blown breakout mode. He even has it on his eyelids. It looks extremely uncomfortable. My guess is that this breakout is due to stress, and possibly also because he's around other kids now, some of whom may be from households with parents that smoke, use heavily scented detergent, etc. The kid is extremely sensitive to that sort of thing, though it's gotten better. When he was really tiny I couldn't even use scented soap or shampoo without him breaking out, which was sad because I think unscented soap and shampoo are terribly boring. Except for the oatmeal honey kind of soap, which smells pretty good.

But I digress. We'll take it super easy tomorrow with the little guy (he has Wednesdays off from school) and hopefully he'll start clearing up.

This morning Jer and I headed up to the hospital to have his casts, stitches, and staples removed. His feet and legs look really good, considering. His left foot does have several wires sticking out of the skin (they'll be pulled out in a month or so), which is a little disconcerting. The skin graft site is also pretty crazy-- because they perforate the skin in order to make it stretch farther, it ends up with this really interesting grid pattern over the whole graft site, which it will apparently keep for a long time. Between the wires and the grid his left leg has a very sci-fi look too it-- though with the staples out it's not quite as industrial as it was before. At any rate, it's pretty awesome, or at least as awesome as anything involving your husband getting half-blown-up could possibly be.

So now he has some air casts, which are kind of like really expensive (or actually after looking it up and comparing the prices, really cheap) Air Jordans in that they have a system of pockets inside you can inflate to cushion the foot. They also have heavy-duty treads on the bottom, which is kind of misleading since Jer still won't be doing any weight bearing for at least the next three months. Jer can remove the casts to do his range-of-motion exercises and for bathing, though he's still not allowed to get the skin graft wet so the word "bathing" is rather a misnomer, as what he'll actually be doing is "washragging."

It ended up being a really, really long day (it took over two hours just to remove the staples and stitches) and we spent all told about seven hours at the hospital, so we'll be glad of the break tomorrow, too!


Monday, September 14, 2009

In Which Connor Sports Some Spots

Poor Connor.

Every once in a while his eczema comes back with a vengeance-- usually when I think it's gone for good and I've gotten complacent. Currently he's covered all over his torso and back with teeny tiny little red hives-- too small to see in this picture. They started on the backs of his knees and kind of spread from there. I feel bad for him, though he doesn't seem to mind them.

What you can see in the picture is the irritation around his g-tube. This is the first time he's had a major breakout since the g-tube was installed, and he's broken out especially badly around that area. It looks really sore. I'll be keeping him in just a diaper at home to expose his skin to air as much as possible. Hopefully it will clear up in a week or so.

Jer and I will go down to the hospital in Seattle tomorrow morning to get his stitches and his big, chunky casts off. They'll be replaced by some removable casts, which means that for the first time in over a month he'll be able to bathe his feet! This is a job that will probably fall to me, as I'm not sure he'll be able to bend far enough to get to them. Can't wait--I'm sure they currently smell fantastic.

He still won't be allowed to put any weight on them for at the least the next two and a half months, but the casts should be lighter and make it more easy to maneuver his legs, which will be nice.

I went and looked at a couple more rental houses today, with little luck. One would have been perfect except for the fact that all of the interior doors only gave Jer's wheelchair 1/4 in clearance on either side. Even given Jer's impressive steering abilities, I don't even want to think about what those doorways would look like after just a couple of months of us living in the house. The other house I looked at once again had bathroom issues-- these were entirely too small and had glass enclosures, which are a problem when you are trying to get into a tub with two giant casts on your feet. I'm going to check out another house tomorrow afternoon-- wish me luck!

The perfect place is out there somewhere-- I know it!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Which We Take The Air

So today Jer, Connor and I went out for a walk (or wheel, depending on who you're talking about) around the apartment complex. We'll hopefully be picking up the van some time at the end of next week, but Jer is very ready to be out and about, so off we went. In the process, I made a couple of discoveries.

The first is that we no longer can just go out for a walk. We look more like a small procession-- all we need are some fancy hats and maybe a couple of camels or something. If I push Connor next to Jeremy, we take up about half of the street. Walking next to each other on the sidewalk is a no-go as it's nowhere close to wide enough, but even single file we take up the whole walk. Also because Jer is using his arms for propulsion and his wheelchair currently has the crappy indoor wheels with no traction (desperately hoping his physical therapist will order the nicer outdoor ones when he sees her), we move at sort of a sauntering pace. Impatient people in grocery stores are going to love us.

The second discovery is going to take a little more getting used to. I thought we attracted a lot of attention with just Connor in a wheelchair. I was wrong. Now when we go by a group of people, all conversation skids to a halt, people lose all pretense of minding their own business and flat-out stare at us. I'm wondering if we'll be able to get through a single day in which we go out in public during the next year without someone asking about the circumstances surrounding why there are two people in our family in wheelchairs. This is probably going to get old really, really fast. We didn't experience this phenomenon in the hospital because in hospitals, well, everyone has something going on so people don't really take any notice. You'd think I'd be used to it by now with Connor, but this takes things to a whole new level. And Jer's not exactly one for being the center of attention.

Since we'll probably be asked the "what happened" question at least fifteen times a day once we have the van and are out and about, I think we need to come up with some creative answers that we can use once we're tired of telling the truth. "Trampled by a rabid hippopotamus," is one I've come up with. Then there's "failed to outrun a grizzly bear" and "freak dueling Segway accident." Now's your chance, dear readers, to give us some more creative answers so we can avoid smacking the twenty-seventh person in Fred Meyer who asks us that question while we're trying to buy fish at the deli.

So what happened?


Saturday, September 12, 2009

In Which Jeremy Displays His Baby Hypnotizing Abilities

You can tell that I have the most awesome husband in the world, because not only does he let me take pictures of him like this, but he then allows me to post them on the Internet. And I am absolutely in awe of his ability to make amazing facial expressions-- how in the heck did you get your eyes to cross in that manner, honey? Mine do not work independently of one another like that. Totally cool.

Baby J, the baby that Jeremy was entertaining, was absolutely delighted by the way. I find that babies as a general rule are delighted by Jeremy. I swear he gives off some sort of rays that make babies go absolutely ga ga (sorry, couldn't resist) over him. The man is the Baby Whisperer. I, on the other hand, give off scary monster baby repelling rays. I'll lean over a baby, smile and coo at them, and they proceed to burst into tears. This is very sad. Maybe they think I'm going to eat them or something. Maybe I have a bad reputation among babies and word has gotten out. I have no idea.

Anyway, I highly recommend babies (of the non-crying, non-poopy variety) as stress relieving therapy for just about anyone who is not a scary monster baby repeller like me. Baby J napped on Jeremy for a while, and it was definitely refreshing for them both. Perhaps we can find one of these baby things to rent for a while. Just for the giggly awake and the adorable sleeping part, I mean. We'd pass 'er back over for the poopy and crying part, because we're nice people like that.

Unfortunately Connor is not highly enamored with baby J. Connor is of the opinion that there is only one kid in the room who should be the center of attention, and you can guess which kid that is. So upon seeing J he very politely waved "Bye bye" to her in the hopes that she would understand maybe she should find other Daddies to sleep on; the position in our household is already filled. He was rather disappointed when she did not immediately pack up and leave.

Some babies just can't take a hint, you know? Oh well.


Friday, September 11, 2009

In Which We Find Our Van!

Big news-- we found our van! Shopping was a surprisingly painless process, as we didn't have a huge number of places to look or vehicles to look at. There's really only four types of minivans they convert in the U.S. right now: the Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, the Dodge Caravan, and the Chrysler Town and Country. Of those four, the Caravan and the Town and Country are essentially the same car with a different interior and brand name, so really it's only three cars to look at. We decided based on customer reviews, safety ratings, and reliability to go with either the Honda or the Toyota.

There are only three dealerships in our area that carry adaptive vans, and they're all privately owned, so they aren't bringing vehicles in from other sites or anything-- what they have on the lot is about it. Each of the vans has the same conversion package put in it with a couple of minor exceptions (such as what type of ramp the vehicle has); otherwise the only differences are in the luxury packages and color. We weren't interested in leather seats or a DVD player or anything, so I just went to each of the dealerships, looked at what they had in the Toyotas and Hondas, and then we picked the one offering the best deal. We'll be getting a 2008 Toyota Sienna-- the one in the picture! I'd brought Connor's wheelchair into the dealership and we used a standard wheelchair already there to see what the seating configuration would look like. With the Sienna we can fit Connor and Jer in side by side, and Jer can have his legs extended without any trouble. They're also going to install hand controls for free so that Jer can drive the vehicle himself! Once he lays off the heavy narcotics that is--driving is probably not a good idea right now. Anyway, we're absolutely thrilled about the van and can't wait to take it out for the first time. We'll probably be driving in a week or two! We have to figure out where we're going to go first. I vote for somewhere with chocolate.

On a side note-- all of these vans come with a remote system that opens the door, lowers the entire rear of the van, and deploys the ramp. That thing is awesome; reminds me of a space ship. I want to pull up in front of groups of little kids and deploy it just to watch them freak out. Can't wait to play with it.

In other news, this morning Connor and I headed off for his developmental clinic appointment. Once a year he has a half-day of clinic time where one doctor after another comes in and evaluates him. Then they all get together and write up a big report which we use for his schooling, to figure out what additional services or equipment he needs, etc. He's seen in two different clinics that alternate years; this year we were seen by the neurodevelopmental clinic. So over the course of about three and a half hours we saw a developmental pediatrician, a neurologist, a social worker, a physical therapist, and a geneticist.

A couple of things came out of this year's evaluation. The first was that Connor will be having physical therapy twice a week instead of once a week. The physical therapist said that Connor is right on the cusp of sitting independently, and so she wants a PT to focus exclusively on that for a few weeks to see if we can get him to that next step. How exciting! The second major thing to come out of today was that we are going to have Connor's DNA evaluated in a new procedure that is so specific it should tell us exactly which genes are missing on his chromosomes. This won't change anything for him of course, but it should help us in the future as they figure out more and more about the human genome and which genes do what. If we can help future families facing similar genetic issues we'd like to do it. We're also going to restart feeding therapy. So a lot of good things happened today!

This post is way too long and it's time for bed. I would start a separate blog about what's going on with Jer, but than I'd have to write two posts a day and I'm way too lazy for that. Oh well.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Which Connor Sits Like A Big Boy

When I picked Connor up from school today and put him in the car, he shook his head "no" the entire ride home. He wanted me to leave him at school.

I think he's having a good time.

Major accomplishment for him today-- they have a little wooden chair at school with arms on it, and he was able to sit in it at the table without being strapped in or anything! I can't believe how far our little guy has come. I can't wait to see what he'll be doing by the end of the year!

After school, he and I drove up the road an hour or so to one of the adaptive vehicle dealerships in the area to take a look at vans. I brought along the camera so I could take some pictures home to show Jer. Connor and I will go and take a look at a different dealership tomorrow after his appointment at the developmental clinic. We've put together a general picture of what we want, but we plan to shop around and see what's out there so we don't rush into anything.

I also walked through a house today-- it would be absolutely perfect for us (200 square feet more space, wood, tile and low-pile carpet on the floors, tiny little step up to the front that could easily be ramped, island that Jer could use in the kitchen, and even an apple tree!) if not for the bathrooms, neither of which we'd be able to fit a wheelchair in. Since baths for Jer are complicated enough to manage around here as it is (currently involving the wheelchair, a sliding board, a shower chair, two trash bags, saran wrap, a roll of gauze tape, a plastic box, a pillow, an extendable shower head, about eight towels, and a partridge in a pear tree) I don't really think we want to add not fitting through the door to the mix. And I'd like to point out that while I like to think of my husband as my knight in shining armor, I don't want him to emulate the medieval hygienic habits, thank you very much. Bathing is not optional. So we'll keep looking-- I've got a couple of places to call tomorrow. I'm optimistic we'll be able to find something soon.

Things are looking up!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In Which Miracles Happen

I'm at a loss for words, which those of you who know me personally rather than just online can attest doesn't happen very often.

Every time we've been on the verge of collapse, every time our situation seems impossible, someone has stepped in and helped us get back on our feet.

I have been overwhelmed time and time again by the amazing, selfless generosity of those around us who have given so much support physically and emotionally to our family over the past month. Cards, letters, and e-mails full of prayers and well wishes arrive in droves each week. Today a number of people pitched in without us having to ask to provide us with help cleaning, with meals, and with keeping our spirits up. We also received some news so amazing I can't help but tear up while I'm typing.

Someone is gifting us with a wheelchair accessible van. We will go pick it out, and they will provide the means. They wish to remain anonymous, and have asked us to give our thanks not to them, but to God who continues to provide for us.

I have no words to express what that means to us.

Thank you.

Praise be to the Lord,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
Psalm 28:6-7


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In Which We Come To Some Difficult Conclusions

Today was a rather frustrating day.

After spending the day in the apartment, we've come to a couple of conclusions. The first is that this apartment is not going to be a viable living space. Jeremy has access to basically two rooms and a portion of the bathroom. The only area he can turn the wheelchair around in is the living room, and the wheels don't get good traction at all in making the turns. He has to back down the hallway to get properly positioned for the bed. We've rented a storage unit and are going to be moving a good portion of the furniture into it tomorrow so that we'll have some more space cleared, but he still can't reach any sinks or toilets, can't even get into the kitchen, and can't open any of the doors.

It's been suggested that we move back on post where they have wheelchair accessible housing, and if we didn't have Connor that would be a good option. However, the whole reason we moved away from post to Puyallup in the first place was that we spent five months in negotiations with the on-post school district, who failed to provide anything remotely resembling an adequate education plan for the little guy. Homeschooling is not really something I need to add to my list of things to do right now, and neither is suing the school district, so if we can manage to stay in the Puyallup area that would be really nice. Basically moving on-post would be the best-case scenerio for Jeremy, and the worst-case scenerio for Connor. We've got to find a balance somewhere in between. I'm starting to look at rentals right now and hopefully we'll find something that, even if it isn't wheelchair accessible, is more livable than our apartment is now. Keep your fingers crossed that if we find something the apartment complex will let us break our lease.

The second conclusion we've come to is that we're just going to have to knuckle down and buy a wheelchair accessible van out-of-pocket. While we are applying for the VA grant to convert a vehicle, it's highly unlikely that we'll qualify for them or pretty much any other wounded soldier assistance program because Jeremy will not be in a wheelchair permanently, but (hopefully) just for a year, after which Connor would be the one needing the accessible van. We knew that we'd have to buy one someday when Connor was older and heavier-- we just didn't expect it to be now. But without a vehicle we are totally reliant on the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) to provide a van and a driver for Jeremy, and due to a shortage of people this will most likely happen only when he has appointments unless there's some major event we need to attend. This means that for the next year, Jeremy would be leaving the house maybe once a week, and any time I leave the house for more than a couple of hours I'd have to find someone to keep him company and give him the assistance he requires right now. I'm relatively sure Jer and I would kill each other in fairly short order with that kind of arrangement. He is not the type to take to confinement well.

So I'm going to start looking for a van and hoping we can get some sort of really great finance deal and maybe do a trade-in with our current vehicle. We looked into just renting a van for a year, but that would end up costing us more than buying one outright. We'd also hoped to find an organization that would loan us a van for the time that Jer needs it and then we could either return it or buy it from them at the end of that time, but thus far we've had no luck. We weren't really expecting to make a purchase quite that large right now, but once we get a couple of payoffs from the Traumatic Injury Life Insurance we should be okay.

It's frustrating because we kind of fall into the cracks-- Jer isn't wounded enough to qualify for a lot of services, but he is wounded enough to be in major need of some assistance right now. We're not giving up-- we'll figure this whole mess out eventually, and there are some people down in the army offices on post working hard to come up with solutions for us, but we're kind of hitting a wall. Adding shopping for a car and a new place to live wasn't really something we wanted to do, but it sure beats the alternatives!

Things will get better. I know it.

On a lighter note-- Connor had his first day of school today! There he is all dressed up right before we left. We got there early to talk with his teacher and the school nurse and to leave all of the equipment he needs to keep there (his wheelchair with stroller base and hydraulic base, hearing aid batteries, three day supply of medications, CPR shield, g-tube supplies, emergency seizure meds, and food). I dropped him off early in the classroom. His teacher, paraeducators, and therapists are all really excited about working with him, which is fantastic!

We did have one kind of amusing-yet-pitiful incident walking up to school. They have these three feet tall fluorescent yellow silhouettes of children holding red flags that say "SLOW" on them at the crosswalks in the school parking lot to remind drivers that they are in a school zone. Connor is apparently terrified of these signs. A woman walked by carrying one and Connor got this horrified look on his face and then burst into tears. So we're taking the side road to avoid the crosswalks on Thursday. Poor little guy.

Otherwise I think the day went pretty well for him. He worked with his physical therapists, played with the other kids, had circle time, and even got to go down the slide on the playground today. Yay for slides! Yay for Connor!

How did he get so big?


Monday, September 7, 2009

In Which Jer Discovers A New Way To Annoy The Cats*

Thank you so much to the wonderful, person who read on here that Jer "can't reach anything and doesn't even have a table at which to eat," and promptly left a laptop table and a reaching tool on our doorstep!

The table is now firmly ensconced in his lap with his computer atop it, and Jeremy is having all sorts of fun figuring out which things he can pick up and manipulate with his reaching tool. He wants to rig some sort of mounting system on the wheelchair for it so that he can carry it around with him all the time-- it's a big hit and will no doubt prove very useful. So whoever you are, thank you again from Jeremy, Connor and me!

The cats do not thank you, however.


*No cats were harmed in the making of this blog. Though if Loki doesn't quit pawing at my surge protector in order to reset the computer and cause the printer to make those interesting noises, I may seriously consider it. I mean it Loki-- stay away from my computer. Crazy cat.

In Which Jer is Home!

So in a totally crazy turn of events, Jer is now home. Surprise!

And when I say "home," I mean actual home and not another hospital this time; currently he is sitting in his wheelchair in the middle of the livingroom, reading this blog. I know, I know, he was supposed to come home on Tuesday. Here's what happened.

Some guys in his old unit stopped by to see him, and they'd just come from the airport and so they had one of those huge army-issued vans. They heard about the problems we were having with finding a way to get Jer home, and said "Well, we can take you home now. How about that?" Jer, totally and completely fed up with hospitals after spending almost a month in them, jumped at the chance.

These guys don't waste any time. Twenty minutes later he and all of his things were loaded into the van. Forty minutes after that he was home.

So here we are! I'm really excited to have him back. Currently the transport guys with his new unit are hoping to have some sort of cabulance system set up for us before Tuesday of next week. In the meantime Jer will be staying at home, embarking on exciting new adventures such as figuring out how to turn around in the middle of the apartment without banging his feet on something and teaching the cats that leaving their tails directly in the path of the wheelchair is Not a Good Idea.

Logistics are crazy. His wheels slide all over the apartment carpet. He can't reach anything-- he doesn't even have a table at which to eat. At the moment, we don't care.

So glad he's home!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

In Which Connor Protests The Salad Course In A Novel Way

So today was a day rather filled with excitement.

I got up to the hospital this morning to discover that they had decided to release Jeremy on Monday, which is as you all know, a federal holiday. Jer's bed was still broken, there were still things all over the floor, and the hospital said they couldn't arrange transportation for us that we wouldn't have to pay for out of pocket. All of the offices on post where we could possibly arrange for transportation were closed.

We finally convinced them to wait until Tuesday morning to release him, but it was a tense hour or so there while we tried to figure out what we were going to do. Now we just have to make sure everything runs smoothly on Tuesday. Wish us luck.

So after my visit to the hospital, my brother and sister-in-law helped me fix Jer's bed, get the house cleaned up, rearrange things to make them more accessible for Jer, and put down some more paving stones so he can hang out on the porch. My brother and I are trying to figure out a solution for the carpets, as the office mats cost about 80 bucks a pop. You can buy vinyl runners at Lowes for a little over two dollars a foot, but they are only 27 inches wide, which may not work for a wheelchair, as the wheels usually run between 25 and 27 inches wide. I'm going to take some measurements tomorrow to see where Jer's chair falls in that range. One possible solution we've come up with is to lay down a plastic protector over the carpet and then put hardboard over it, but this isn't an ideal solution as it will make the carpet extremely hard to clean. We'll just have to see what we come up with.

After we ran errands about town, my brother, his wife, Connor and I headed down to my favorite little Greek restaurant in Puyallup for some dinner. Unfortunately we didn't really get to enjoy our meal because Connor had a seizure during the salad course and my brother and his wife had to get everything to go while I performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on my son down on the floor next to our table. I'm pretty sure the people around us all had some stimulating dinner conversation after we left. I can't say I'm really surprised that he had a seizure-- stress and illness lower his threshold and he's certainly had enough of both recently. Either that or maybe he just didn't like the fact that we didn't offer him any salad. Oh well.

Once I got him breathing we took everything back to the apartment, put him to bed, and ate our dinner while watching the first half of the movie Hook before everyone got too tired and we called it a night.

He's fine now; fast asleep in his room. I'm not even checking on him every five seconds right now; I can tell he's breathing from here because his nose is stopped up and he snores. Well, that and the fact that his apnea monitor (AKA the Dead Baby Alarm) is on and is not currently making a loud siren noise.

Ugh. What a day. I'm off to finish my baklava, and then I'm for bed.


In Which I Discover The Amazing Collapsing Bed

It is currently very early in the morning. 1:50 in the morning to be exact, and really I should be asleep. Well, actually I was asleep until about fifteen minutes ago, when I rolled over and my bed fell apart.

Perhaps I should say Jeremy's bed fell apart; I've slept in his home hospital bed the last couple of nights because I don't have a bed set up yet in our bedroom. The storage unit that we'll use to get our old, huge and currently dismantled bed out of the room doesn't open until Tuesday, and there's no space to put another small bed in there until the old one is gone. Anyway, apparently the guy who delivered and put the bed together for us failed to seat the bolts on the side of the headboard closest to the wall. It seemed pretty sturdy and I didn't think to check his handiwork.

So let's return to the me of fifteen minutes ago, blissfully asleep (the bed's got a memory foam mattress-- pretty cushy) until I swam up out of a dream a little thirsty and decided to get a drink. I grabbed the trapeze that hangs over the bed with one hand and used it to sit up-- or at least that was the plan. What actually happened was that my weight on the trapeze caused the headboard at the corner to detach, and I was very abruptly left dangling from the trapeze by one arm as the entire left hand side of the bed plummeted away beneath me. I am now blogging while I wait for the enormous adrenaline rush to wear off. It may be a while.

So Jeremy's hospital bed is now partially dismantled on our floor until somebody can come repair it on Tuesday-- I've tried seating the bolts myself and there's no way I have the muscle strength to do it. Thank goodness the bed collapse happened to me and not to him! At any rate, I'll be sleeping on the futon for the next couple of nights, and I will now add "bed collapsing underneath me" to my growing list of things to be paranoid about.



Saturday, September 5, 2009

In Which Plans Are Made

Thanks so much for all of the sound advice, everybody!

I think what we're going to do is get some of those vinyl carpet runners and basically "pave" routes that Jer can use in our apartment. It's only a 1200 square foot apartment and a couple of the rooms are too crammed with furniture for him to be able to maneuver in, so basically his routes would consist of going from the front door to the bedroom and bathroom, and tooling around the living room.

These will be a far cry from the Afghan rugs Jer was supposed to bring back for me, but oh well. At least they'll be easy to clean, even if between all of the modifications and equipment for Connor and Jeremy our house is starting to resemble some bizarre hospital/personal space hybrid.

I'm also going to move my potted plants around, get more paving stones, remove one of our patio chairs, and make an area for him to be able to sit outside. I think that'll be nice for us both.

Connor didn't get the chance to start school this week because he has still been sick. He's been staying at home with my mother-in-law while I go up to the hospital. Usually when Connor catches something he either gets over it in the first two days or it lingers for a couple of weeks, and unfortunately this seems to be a sickness of the lingering variety. It's been a week now and he's still coughing hard enough to throw up. I'm hoping that by the time Tuesday rolls around and school starts up again Connor will be well enough to go. Poor little guy.

My brother and his wife flew into town this morning for a business trip/visit, and guess what they got me for my birthday? A spa package! I am ridiculously excited about this. I can't wait to go kick back and relax for a while. This is the same place that Jeremy sent me to for our anniversary a while back, and along with the treatments they also have free showers with six shower heads and a blissful eucalyptus steam room there. They may have to drag my wrinkled, pruny body out of that thing at closing time. I also am planning on going dress shopping for my sister's wedding, as I have yet to do that and the big day will be here in a little over a month.

It'll be nice to get the chance to do a little for myself; I've kind of spent the last few weeks on overdrive trying to get everything here taken care of, so playing hooky for a little bit will be a lot of fun!


Friday, September 4, 2009

In Which We Are Saved Once Again In The Nick of Time

So thank goodness, disaster has been averted once again.

I pointed out to Jer that since it was a holiday weekend, if we had a problem with his pain management or something our only option would be taking an ambulance to the ER. He was going to bring this up with the foot and ankle docs when he saw them this morning, but I don't think he got the chance. Now I wasn't there, but from what Jer said I believe the conversation went something like this:

Jer: I was told that I would probably be sent home on Saturday, and I have some concer--

Orthopedic Surgeon: You were told WHAT? I'll fix it.

So apparently what had happened was that the doctor in charge of pain management had glanced at Jer's chart, seen "calcaneal fractures," concluded that the injuries weren't serious, and set him up to go home tomorrow. The foot and ankle guy has now corrected the pain management guy's assumption (I kinda wish I'd been a fly on the wall for THAT conversation). So not only is Jer not going home until some time next week, but an anesthesiology team came by to talk to Jer so that they could start figuring out what he'll need to have for pain management at home, since the "take a couple of aspirin" approach isn't exactly going to work for him. Thank goodness he'll be there a while longer! He's still in way too much pain for them to send him to be an outpatient right now. This also gives us a few more days to figure out the car problem, which is still an issue.

We went ahead and had all of Jer's home health equipment delivered today. I disassembled our big bed, and it's now leaning against the wall waiting to go to a storage unit. I'll be sleeping either on a cot or a single bed-- whatever will fit and still leave Jer enough room to maneuver in and out of the area on a wheelchair. I tried tooling around the house in his new chair-- it's going to be tough. The carpet pile is really too high for the chair to move around easily, and he won't be able to turn the chair around anywhere but the living room or the bedroom. We'll make do for now, though. We have a Hoyer Lift sitting in the room now along with the infamous commode chair and a sliding board. The bath transfer bench will get here on Tuesday.

The hospital bed looks pretty much like a regular bed if I put the rails down, as long as you discount the trapeze hanging from the top, the bed crank at the bottom, and the remote control. I made a run to the store today and bought an extendable shower head, some really nice twin-size bedding (since he's going to be spending quite a bit of time in that bed) and a whole bunch of extra firm pillows. Jer has to have his feet propped up on them.

The bed crank is kind of funny-- I didn't realize they even made beds with those any more. It controls the upward and downward movement of the bed as a whole, and you can use it to adjust the angle of the bed if the power runs out and you can't use the remote control. It reminds me of the children's book, Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans. Remember?

"Madeline soon ate and drank.
on her bed there was a crank,
and a crack on the ceiling had the habit
of sometimes looking like a rabbit."

Of course, everything reminds me of something in a book. Oh well. I couldn't help but check the ceiling, though. No rabbits, though there is one section of bumps that could remind you a little of a goat if you squint really hard and are on a lot of painkillers like Jer will be.
I'll be sure to point it out to him.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In Which Jer Has Surgery

What a day.

Jeremy was wheeled down for surgery at around 5:15 or so yesterday evening. He came back up to the room at about 1:45 in the morning. The surgery itself lasted about five and a half hours.

They did both heels. The right one actually looked better than they expected, and they were able to (mostly) piece it back together. The left one was a whole other story. The orthopedic surgeon who worked on Jer has performed about 1100 of these surgeries. He said that Jer's left heel made his Top Ten list of worst injuries to the heel he has ever seen.

Yee haw.

Anyway, the heel was far too badly damaged for them to be able to just piece it back together, so they ended up having to use pins to anchor the whole joint to the ankle in a procedure called a triple subtalar fusion. In a few months those bones will grow together. This fusion adds much more stability to the joint, and there's less likely to be pain in that side as well. What this means, though, is that Jer will no longer be able to move his left foot from side to side at all-- just up and down. So basically he's going to have to learn how to balance again once he's up and around, as he can no longer rely on the side-to-side motion of his feet (or foot) to do that. If his right heel gives him a lot of pain later on, he may have to go back and have the same fusion surgery on that heel as well.

Jer is doing okay right now-- the aftermath of the surgery was really, really painful and he spent most of the day today just sleeping. He's on a lot of heavy duty pain meds right now, but they're going to start weaning him down off of those tomorrow. They are talking about sending him home as early as Saturday. I'm not terribly excited about that idea for a number of reasons, not the least of which that since it's Labor Day weekend if he had issues with his pain management the only place that would be open for him to go to get his meds adjusted would be the Emergency Room, and the only way he'd be able to get there would be via ambulance since we're still working on the car issue. Anyway, I'm hoping they'll hold off on releasing him until some time next week, but we'll just have to see.

Ordinally this is where I would be inserting something funny to say, but I think I lost my sense of humor somewhere around two o'clock this afternoon when all the caffeine I'd been drinking wore off. Since I got about three hours of sleep last night and then spent the whole day today until about six in the evening running all the errands we would need to get done before he gets back just in case they do release Jer on Saturday, I'm rather bushed.

Glad he's got that over and done with!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In Which I Talk About Bones And Fruit

So we had a long overdue talk with the orthopedic surgeon today, in which we got a whole bunch of questions answered. I'm going to talk about it with you, but first I'm going to use a whole bunch of analogies involving oranges.

So let's talk about oranges, shall we? Hard, thick rind on the outside, soft pulpy middle. Delicious! That's pretty much what your heel, or calcaneus, is like (only without the delicious part unless you are a cannibal and we're not getting into that here); very hard, thick bone on the outside, and soft, pulpy bone on the inside. So imagine taking an orange and dropping an anvil on it or something. What happens? The orange doesn't just shatter. The rind on the outside breaks, and the inside is crushed. The orange becomes shorter, and it spreads out at the bottom.

That's pretty much what Jeremy's heels look like.

Now, you can put the pieces of the rind back together. You can't just fit the orange pulp back together though-- there are parts of it that are definitely squished beyond repair, and they're a totally different shape now, so they aren't going to fit back nicely. So what you end up doing is fitting the hard rind back together. Then you wait for the orange inside to grow back (Or if it was an actual orange, give up and eat or before it molds. Which is pretty much all it would be doing.)

So they'll be going in tomorrow and fitting as many pieces of Jer's heels back together as they can, probably using enough hardware for him to magnetize his feet and walk up the side of the refrigerator when he gets home. He'll have to wait for about a year before he becomes the human fly, though. This is because for the first three months while the inside of the bone grows back he'll be allowed to put no weight on his heels at all, and then for the next nine months after that he'll be very, very slowly working up to walking again. So we'll be looking at a wheelchair for a while, folks.

They're putting Jeremy in as one of the last surgeries of the day, though he still has to quit eating or drinking anything at midnight in case they decide to bump the surgery up. He's thrilled about this, let me tell you, but at least we got to the point where we signed a consent form this time so we're pretty sure the surgery is really going to happen. They're going to start on the right heel and provided it's not two or three in the morning when they're finished with it, they're going to try and do the left heel too. If they do manage to do both heels it's possible that he might be coming home as early as next week. I'm going to have his equipment delivered some time in the next couple of days so I can figure out where to put it all before he gets back.

I probably won't get the chance to blog tomorrow, as I am spending the night in the hospital and their internet is password protected, but I'll let you know how it goes as soon as I can!

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