Wednesday, December 29, 2010

6 Weeks Post Op

Today marks 6 weeks since Rachel's surgery and I am so happy to report that things are TOTALLY back to normal! About a week and a half ago, Rachel finally started eating like her old self. For a while she was afraid of biting with her front teeth, due to the bone graft to her upper gum. And while she still shows a little favoritism at times to biting things when she can with her back teeth, she is back to eating!! And we are sooo happy about that.

Her eating was really the last concern we had. She really is totally back to normal and we're so very thankful for that!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Pool Party...In December???

The week before Thanksgiving found our Pastor and his wife waking up in the middle of the night to a house flooded by an overflowing toilet. Their house has been packed up and put into storage, the drywall has been cut three feet up the walls, and the flooring all ripped out. And they've been living in a hotel for the last six weeks.

We now sometimes call the boys Zack and Cody and how they're all living the "Suite Life".

As tragic as it all is, living in a hotel for six weeks thus far, and really no end date in sight, does have some advantages!

Today was their youngest sons' birthday. He's Rachel's pal at church and at school. And this year, for his birthday party, they had a pool party because the pool was an indoor pool and was heated!! The kids had a blast!!! After swimming Rachel wanted to see where Isaiah's been living and together we boarded the elevator and went to see his Suite. One things for sure, this birthday party will be a memory for years to come. Rachel and Hannah both had a blast swimming in an indoor pool...just two days after Christmas!

Beware of the Neighbor Kid

If you should happen to spot something resembling that of a periscope looking over your fence, beware of the neighbor kid, for she's spying on you!!When we took the girls to Toys R Us a few weeks back to get some ideas for Christmas presents, Rachel spotted this Backyard Safari Periscope and she LOVED it! After that day, I looked for it a few places and couldn't find it.

But yesterday afternoon, as we were out doing some after Christmas shopping with gift cards and money we'd all received, we found one at Toys R Us!!! There was no hesitation in what Rachel was spending her money on!

Today, was a beautiful day and we spent some time outside putting up the girls' tetherball court and enjoying some sun and Rachel enjoyed her new toy!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rachel's Christmas in Pictures...

From now on we shall call Rachel - Ramona!
This girl can make some of the silliest faces!!
My Uncle bought the girls each one of these!!!
How about a picture of the new nose she got this holiday season?!? LOL
Getting some love from Papa.
My sister in law had this wall background with props
to do 'photobooth pictures'! It was hilarious!!!
It was a great day of hanging out and playing with the cousins!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas from our House to Yours!
This year, Rachel was in the Children's performance for our Christmas Eve service whereas she played two roles, a shepherd, and a wise man. The kids have been practicing following Sunday morning services for weeks and their practicing and the organization from the ladies who arranged it all, directed it, made costumes, props, etc did an amazing job and the performance was absolutely adorable!Following our church service, we did something different this year for Christmas Eve, we went to my parents house along with my brother and sister-in-law, and our nieces, for dinner.

Following dinner, it was time to get into more comfortable attire! I bought the four girls matching jammies and did they ever look cute!!! This might have to be a new tradition.There were presents from their Great Grandma and Great Aunt and Uncle and cousins to open as well. And Papa and Gramma gave the girls their big combined present - a tetherball court!! My girls were beyond excited!It was a relaxing evening, and not too late. The four girls had so much fun laughing and playing with their new things and just being silly. We headed for home around ten, it had been a full afternoon/evening that resulted in Rachel falling asleep on the ride home, which is only about five miles!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eye Exam

For the last few weeks, we've wondered if Rachel might need her eyes checked. We weren't sure if it was her having trouble seeing, or just the adjustments of still learning to read.

This morning, Rachel, Hannah, and Steven, all got their eyes checked. I went last April, so it was everyone else's turn, and for the girls', it was their first time to have their eyes checked outside of the simple screenings they do at school and at their Pediatrician's office.Rachel cooperated very well for the exam, and turns out she's a little far sighted. And to make a long conversation with the doctor short, Rachel will be given a very mild prescription for glasses to wear during her homework and reading here at home, and if she says she can see better when reading, then perhaps she'll then take the glasses to school for reading there as well.

She was pretty excited about getting glasses. And she sure looked cute trying on the different frames. It didn't take long and we settled on a frame and then the technician went to work on measuring and mapping out where her pupils land with the glasses on, etc. And here is how Rachel will look in her new glasses once they've been fitted with her prescription.Good thing we got her nose fixed last month! She's always had trouble keeping sunglasses on her face because of the shape of her nose, and now the glasses will fit just perfectly!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rachel's New Nose

I took this picture on Friday morning when Rachel's class was doing a book exchange. She was having so much fun and I just love the expression and smile I captured in this picture. In the last month, we've seen Rachel's nose change drastically. It really is an entirely different nose than what it was.

There are times when I just sit and stare at her little face. A lot of people now say she looks so much like Hannah with the new nose, which is absolutely amazing to me that people see that, and yet it was the work of a plastic surgeon that made her nose to look that way.

There are times when I think her nose is big, shaped a little funny, too this or too that, and then you know what, I look around at all the kids in her class, at the school, in Sunday School, even her little cousins, and they all have some silliness to their nose in some way. LOL. It's just how people's noses are and I'm simply not used to seeing such a 'normal' nose on my girl.

And just like the days and weeks following her lip repair, when you go through a time of missing that 'wide smile' that once was the center of your babe's face, you go through it again after a nose job when the nose has changed so drastically. There are at times I miss her little squishy, lopsided, and flat nose...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Performance

The entire first grade put on a Christmas program this week titled "December Celebrations". The songs and poems showcased the different ways that cultures and countries celebrate in the month of December.

Rachel's class sang "Feliz Navidad" and the girls were dressed cute in bright colored skirts and used maracas in their song.On Wednesday, all 100 first graders walked next door to the Senior Center/Apartments and performed in the recreational room for seniors who came to watch. They did a great job and had a warm response from all those who came to watch.This afternoon, they did the performance for all the parents. Again, the five classes did a great job, and it appeared that our class' song was a huge hit and got the best and most response not only from the audience, but the other classes started moving about and doing the hand motions as well. LOL. It was a great performance, and as always, I enjoy seeing my girls, and the other kids perform.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Almost 4 Weeks - Post Op Appointment

This afternoon was Rachel's 3rd Post Op appointment, Wednesday will be 4 weeks since surgery.

It's always a long shot to guess how long we'll have to wait to see Dr. Martin. At our appointment 2 weeks ago, we sat in the waiting room for less than twenty minutes, in a room, seen, and walking back out to the car within forty five minutes, record time. The time before that over an hour just in the waiting room. Needless to say, we always go prepared. Today, the three of us would have made a perfect picture for an Apple ad - each of us on a different Apple product to pass the time. LOL. After being placed in a room, I asked the nurse if I could weigh Rachel as her weight has been a little bit of a concern. And sure enough, she's down another pound since two weeks ago. She weighed 50 1/2 lbs today, 53 lbs at her pre-op. Her limited diet and her lack of an appetite is taking a toll on her little body. Dr. Martin said everything is healing up very nicely and looks great. Said the tissue in her nose will start to soften over the months. I asked him about the discoloration of her nose last week (that is now peeling) and sure enough, the reason was just as I had suspected. Because her nose swelled so much following surgery, stretching that skin, it was now dying thus changing colors and peeling. A little facial moisturizer will do the trick.

As for the inside, the bone graft and palate are healing nicely. And the best news is that Rachel can resume a normal diet!!! Whoo Hoo! She is free to bite with her front teeth, brush her teeth at the bone graft area, and can go back to using straws and her sport top water bottle! He said to ease into foods the next few days, but that by the weekend he didn't have a problem with her eating chips and crackers, etc. Things a little more sharp, etc. This was wonderful news and upon leaving Dr. Martin's office, and after picking up Hannah from Gramma's, we went to In and Out Burger to celebrate!!! Rachel ate an entire hamburger! I think this was the first meat (other than lunch meat and hot dogs) that she's eaten since before surgery.As we were waiting for our next post op appointment to be made, Dr. Martin came to the desk and told us that they were comparing todays picture to those that were taken the days before surgery and what a difference there was!

Our next appointment is for January 10th. Dr. Martin wants to see us back after all the sutures have dissolved, etc. At that time, she'll be about 8 weeks post op!

Home Sick

Rachel managed to not miss any school as a result of her surgery, but unfortunately, she's home sick today. The sad thing is that she had perfect attendance up until today.

She woke up early Sunday morning complaining that her arms and legs hurt, to the point she was in tears they hurt so badly. Her little body was burning up, but she had no fever. Her and I stayed home from church as a result.

But after a short stent sitting the bath tub, she felt tons better and we managed to make it to church for her to participate in the dress rehearsal of the children's Christmas performance that will be presented on Christmas Eve. There was no sign of her being sick, so she went ahead and went to Gramma and Papa's house for an afternoon of cookie decorating with the cousins. As the afternoon went on, she went downhill.

This morning, she couldn't handle eating breakfast without a meltdown, a sure sign of her not feeling well, so we told her she'd be staying home school, that made her terribly upset as she really wanted to go to school. When I returned home from taking Hannah to school, she was back in bed, with her TV on, sleeping. She's not eating much, and really hasn't been much since surgery. And when she does eat, admittedly so, her diet has not been a well balanced one. It's hard to come up with foods that are soft or can be eaten in the back of the mouth without taking a bite with your front teeth (ie sandwiches, crackers and peanut butter, cheese, etc). We have a post op appointment this afternoon and we're hoping that she'll be released as far as her diet limitations are concerned.

But as for her not feeling well, we're not sure what it is. A virus perhaps??

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

3 Weeks Post Op

This last Monday, I was going to lift the restrictions for Rachel as far as PE and recess goes. But upon learning the activity for PE that morning was going to be Dodge Ball, I forbid her from playing. LOL. Poor girl was so upset. All she wants to do is go back to playing and free from being 'benched'. She was allowed to play at lunch and recess, with the firm warning of avoiding the tether balls and any other activity on the black top whereas a ball was in use. She assured me she would heed my direction. Rachel also resumed Tae Kwon Do this last Monday night and Tuesday morning she woke up with her left leg hurting, this is the leg they took the hip bone tissue. With all the kicks and jumping about, I think it might have been a little soon to have resumed such activity, this was the most physically she'd done since surgery.

Yesterday, when she came home from school, her nose looked dirty. Upon trying to wash her nose, the darkness was not washing away. The skin also felt rough and dry. My thought was that her nose had swelled so much in the days following surgery, stretching the skin so much, that perhaps now, the skin on her nose will soon start to peel. I shared my observation with Dr. D'Antonio this afternoon during our speech session and she said it's nothing to worry about and all just part of the healing process. I'll continue to keep my eye on it and see how what happens.

Diet remains the same with soft foods, easily chewed foods in the back of her mouth. Maybe the restrictions will be lifted when we return on Monday for our 3rd post op appointment with Dr. Martin. I think she's tired of the altered diet and can't wait to eat normally again!

Thank You for the continued prayers for Rachel's recovery, it's because of those prayers that her recovery has been a good one!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Surgery and Rachel's Speech

Upon getting in to Rachel's mouth, Dr. Martin discovered an extensive hole in Rachel's hard palate that extended all the way back to the soft palate. He fixed it. And as the days went by following surgery, as the swelling started to decrease inside her mouth and in her nose, I started to notice Rachel's speech was sounding differently. It was more clear and crisp. Once the nasal stents came out, it was even more noticeable.

This past Wednesday, Rachel had speech therapy. It was the first time Dr. D'Antoino had seen her and heard her since surgery. It was a lot of work to get Rachel to talk that day, she was tired from school, shy for some reason, all the while still just being 2 weeks post op from major surgery.

But the little that she did talk was just enough. I wasn't wrong in my thinking that Rachel's speech had changed. Dr. D'Antonio heard it as well!! Rachel had less nasality (because the hole in her hard palate had been closed) and her production was clearer. Dr. D'Antonio was very excited and very pleased with how Rachel's surgery had already affected her speech.
Dr. D'Antonio and Rachel, the week before surgery.

Rachel still has a lot work in regards to her speech and sound production. But it's exciting to have this positive outcome from surgery and we really weren't expecting it!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

2 Weeks Post Op

It's hard to believe it's been 2 weeks since Rachel's surgery. Needless to say, we're sure happy to have that behind us and be on this side of it all.

Please look beyond the messy hair and the chocolate residual around her mouth. LOL. She's about had it with me taking pictures of her. But I just want to document her progress for our own sake, as well as for our cleft affected friends who will endure this 'adventure' in the next few years. She continues to look better and better each and every day. The redness around her nose is subsiding and so far there's been no swelling that Dr. Martin mentioned could happen after the removal of the stents. She has a few scabs in her nose, along with dissolvable stitches, but it's all looking great for just having had it all done 2 weeks ago.

Rachel returned to school as planned this last Monday. We had been on break since November 10th and Monday was the first day back to school. So Rachel has missed NO SCHOOL due to surgery or her recovery. Praise the Lord!

She has a special backpack that is packed with new coloring books, crayons, and some other activities to do during her PE, and recesses. Sitting out is simply a precaution to her getting hit in the face, nose bonked with a ball, etc. But so far, she's doing well and she has quite the following of friends who sit during their recesses and keep her company and color with her. Upon returning to school on Monday morning, Mrs. Thompson let me talk about Rachel's off track adventure of her surgery and spending the night in the hospital and what the things in her nose were (nasal stents) and most importantly how we need to be careful to not bump her, hit her in the face, etc. When I visited Rachel at lunch, her classmates shared Rachel's story with other kids who came to the table to see what the crowd was about. It was cute how they were so caring about her and concerned that every one knew not to bump her. There's been no negativity from any of the kids about Rachel and her 'new look'. It makes my heart smile to know she's surrounded by such loving and caring kids.