Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Orthodontist Appointment

It is extremely hard to get Orthodontist appointments coordinated with the times that Rachel is home from college. Rachel hadn't been seen since the days leading up to her leaving for college. 

We were fortunate enough to have an appointment this morning, which worked out well with Rachel heading back to college tomorrow morning.

New molds were taken. New wires were attached and and new rubber bands were placed. We are moving forward in anticipation of her June Surgery. 

Next Ortho Appointment will be when she's home on Spring Break in March. 

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Surgery is Scheduled!

Rachel had an appointment with Dr. Martin today. It was pretty much an appointment to keep us from falling through the cracks and on target for a summer surgery. 

Well, Rachel's on target and surgery has been scheduled!  

Rachel will be having her next surgery on June 21, 2023!!

This surgery will be her 5th surgery related to her birth defect. It will also be her biggest surgery, as Dr. Martin will move and realign her upper jaw and line up her lower jaw. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Off to College and Turning 18!

Rachel's wanted to go to Grand Canyon University ever since her older sister started attending there! She's been looking forward to this adventure for the last several months!

There are advantages to going to the same school your older sister just graduated from - aside from knowing your way around the campus, the majority of Hannah's apartment belongings were passed on - a couch, entertainment center, television, dishes, pots and pans, and a lot of other things that make setting up a bedroom at college nice and comfortable.

We spent two days moving Rachel in to her apartment on campus, getting her room all set up, and doing odds and ends the next day, out to breakfast for her birthday, grocery shopping, final tweaks needed on electronics from Dad, etc. 

We went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants for her 18th birthday. As hard as we tried to be in celebratory moods, it was difficult  as we knew when dinner was over, we'd be taking her back to the campus and saying our goodbyes. 

We are so very proud of her decision to go away to college and have that experience. Looking forward to all the Lord has in store for her in this new adventure! 

Friday, July 01, 2022

Appointment with Dr. Martin

Rachel's been in her second set of braces for almost 2 years (coming up this month!) in anticipation of getting things moved and in position for her next big surgery, which we knew would be around the time she was 17-18 or there about depending on her facial growth. 

Today, we saw Dr. Martin, Rachel's plastic surgeon. We saw him last in November 2019, where he sent us back to Dr. Garcia, her orthodontist for baseline X-rays and a return appointment for 6 months later. We had an appointment scheduled to see Dr. Martin in May 2020, but it was cancelled due to the COVID outbreak and was never rescheduled.

Here it is, a little over 2 years after we were supposed to return. It was a good appointment. Good to touch base and have her looked at. 

Rachel is where she should be (growth wise) for moving forward with surgery. Dr. Martin thinks just by looking at her, and her bite, that he might be able to get away with just repositioning her upper jaw, and not the top AND bottom as some cleft kids have. Of course he won't know for sure until he gets CT Scans and puts it all into the computer for graphing and calculating. But overall this was great news!!

The problem - Rachel leaves for college in 8 weeks. There is no way Dr. Martin can get her on the surgery schedule and done and recovered in 8 weeks. So our hope/plan is to have surgery next May/June when Rachel is home for summer after her first year away at college. We just need to check with Dr. Garcia to make sure it's okay she sits in braces for another 11 months until then. 

Profile pictures were taken today for her medical records. We have a video appointment in a couple of weeks with Dr. Martin after he checks in with Dr. Garcia. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

World Traveler

Rachel has always had this fascination with England (I blame the likes of Paddington Bear and in more recent years, Downtown Abbey). So when the opportunity arose that a tour to Ireland, Scotland,  and England was announced at school, we jumped on board and signed her up! 

The trip is organized through Education First, Hannah took a similar trip with this company in her Junior Year and had an amazing time. There are some teachers at school who want to instill in kids the love of travel and seeing new things. 

This particular trip, we signed up and committed to in December 2020. Because of COVID, we really weren't sure if the trip would happen, what restrictions there might be, etc. But it happened! And there were no restrictions! And Rachel had an amazing time! 

She was gone June 8-17th. There was one teacher and six girls from our school. Once they arrived in Ireland, they joined a few other groups that would be their travel family for the 10 day tour. 

They started off in Dublin, Ireland, and traveling North to Belfast and Derry. In Ireland she saw such things as Trinity College, St. Patricks Cathedral, visited the Titanic Museum, Giants Causeway. 

On the shores of Northern Ireland

From Northern Ireland, they took a ferry across to Scotland. Rachel was excited to visit the land of her ancestors and look for things with our last name. Unfortunately, due to the popular show Outlander, a lot of "Fraser" merchandise was out of stock. In Scotland, Rachel toured Edinburgh Castle

In the land of Scotland

From Edinburgh, Scotland, Rachel boarded a train that took them to London, England! This was the part of the trip she was most excited about! Unfortunately, traffic and delays didn't allow them to see some things they were supposed to (Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Picadilly Circus), but she splurged with an add on tour and got to go to Windsor Castle! Even more exciting that the Queen was home this particular day! Rachel's always had a fascination with Beefeaters, we were beyond thrilled for her when we received a picture of her standing with one! 

She had an amazing time on this trip. Saw so many great things. Learned so much. Before she was even home, she was talking about all the things she'd like to see someday when she can go back! We're grateful she had this opportunity and that she absolutely loved it! 

Monday, June 06, 2022

Major Life Events

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on Rachel’s blog. Aside from regular appointments with Dr Garcia, our orthodontist, things have been fairly quiet in regards to her Cleft Journey. We have an upcoming appointment with Rachel’s Plastic Surgeon in a few weeks, I’ll update in regards to that after we see him. 

But as far as life goes, Rachel got her Drivers License last November, and has taken possession of our minivan as her way of transportation. We are trying to find her a used car, as she will need a car when she goes off to college the end of August. But the used car market is outrageous these days. 

The biggest life event to happen is that Rachel graduated from High School on June 1st! 

The last couple of years have been weird ones due to COVID. Rachel finished off her Sophomore year in Distance Learning, and did her ENTIRE Junior Year of High School in Distance Learning. Needless to say, she was very happy when in person school resumed in August for her Senior Year. Despite the obstacles of distance learning, she graduated in the Top 20 of her class!! 

The week before Graduation, Rachel got to go back to where it all started, her Elementary School.

June 1, 2022 Graduation of Grand Terrace High School's Class of 2022

A few days after Graduation, we hosted a party in Rachel's honor in our backyard. We had close to 80 family and friends come to help celebrated. My brother and sister in law and nieces who live in Texas came all the way to surprise Rachel!  It was a great party and we are so blessed by the love and support of so many who came. 

Rachel plans to follow in her sisters footsteps and attend Grand Canyon University in the Fall. She has already committed and is very much excited for the new adventure that lays ahead of her. She plans to study early childhood education and become a preschool teacher. 

Needless to say, we as her parents are very proud of her and all her accomplishments and cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store next for Rachel. 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Online Cleft Convention

Things are pretty quiet surrounding Rachel's Journey. It's hard to believe, but this last week marked 11 years since her bone graft surgery!! 

Rachel still has braces on, and see's the orthodontist every 6-8 weeks. And we are anticipating her next big surgery perhaps next summer. 

I follow a few different Cleft organizations on social media and recently came across information for a Cleft Convention. Where it was to bring together people of all sorts of ages and backgrounds who were affected by a cleft of some sort. I asked Rachel if she was interested in attending and she was! 

Today was the online Cleft Convention hosted by Smile Train. We received a box in the mail yesterday of all kinds of swag - a shirt for her and a shirt for me, a note pad, an insulated tumbler, a charging pad, stickers, a pen, and a little bag of art supplies for a project they would complete during the convention.

The convention was most of the day and it included speakers of all ages. And different sessions Rachel could attend based on the subject, etc. 

There were kids/people with all sorts of varying clefts - unilateral, bilateral, just the lip, the lip and the palate, the lip, the palate, and the alveolar ridge(which is what Rachel had). Kids with years of speech therapy, kids with more surgeries than Rachel. There was so much information! There was even a little segment on dogs who'd been born with clefts!!

This is what Rachel had to say about the convention in her own words, shared with her permission:

"My first ever Cleft Con was a huge success! I learned so much and heard so many amazing stories from cleft affected people. This virtual conference helped me find new ways to tell my story and help spread awareness of cleft lips and cleft palates. Looking forward to meeting more cleft affected people and hear their stories.
Every smile has a story!"

I'm so thankful for having found this opportunity for Rachel to attend and to learn how to help spread awareness in her own way. 

Keeping this blog for the last 17 years has been my way of spreading awareness, keeping family informed in those early years when it was a very active season in this journey. But I'm glad Rachel is finding her own voice, and her own way to share with others this journey the Lord gave to her. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Back to the Orthodontist

Rachel had her second appointment this morning to finish off the starting of Phase II.

They replaced a couple of brackets and put bands on her back teeth. The wire was also put through the top braces.

Her next appointment isn't until mid October, but I have a feeling we will be back before then due to a loose bracket or poking wire. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Let Phase II Begin!

Today Rachel officially began Phase II of braces. Because of the CoviD pandemic, she had to go in alone as I waited in the car.

We thought she was just getting spacers today, but when she came out to the car, she had brackets on, and wire on all the bottom teeth. This is the first time she's had bottom braces! She was already feeling the discomfort when she came to the car.

This Xray was taken last month (June 2020). If you look closely, on the top, you can see the left side, Rachel has two transposed teeth 3 & 4. They plan on leaving them. It'd be too painful to try and move those teeth around into their proper places.

This Xray was taken in 2011. Rachel was 7 years old when this Xray was taken.  A lot of growth, and 3 years of top braces. Interesting and encouraging to see how much change has been made. 

Rachel sees our dentist on Monday to take care of filling on the back of one of her teeth, and then we return to the Orthodontist next Wednesday to finish off the start up of this second set of braces. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Orthodontics Phase II

When Rachel was little, and we saw the Craniofacial Team on a yearly basis, there was this timeline for all the surgeries and all the things that accompany being born with a cleft, including two phases of braces. At that time, it all seemed so far off in the future. But here we are at the beginning stage of our next leg of Rachel's Journey.

Today, we saw Rachel's Orthodontist, Dr. Garcia, for a follow up Xray from 6 months ago to determine if she'd stopped growing. We were supposed to have this appointment the beginning of May, and then follow up with Dr. Martin, but the Coronavirus Pandemic caused those appointments to be cancelled and moved out.

Because of the Pandemic, the amount of people are limited in the office, therefore I wrote out my note of concerns and questions and sent Rachel in the door to her appointment. She didn't like that one bit. Honestly, it felt strange sending her in to such an important appointment without me.

She didn't make it too far into the office before she was summoning me to come in. Apparently limiting how many people are in the office means you can still bring one parent and not both or all the siblings.

I had texted with Dr. Garcia last month when our appointment was cancelled. It happened to be that she was actually with Dr. Martin and they were able to discuss Rachel's case. And they felt she was ready to move to the next step.

So today, we began the next step - Orthodontics Phase II.  X-rays and impressions were taken, as well as photographs, financial contracts were signed, and future appointments made. 

After Rachel sees our regular dentist for a cleaning next month, we will return to Dr. Garcia's office for spacers between her teeth, and then a week later we return for braces! I'm not sure if they will do top and bottom at the same time, but eventually she'll have both.

This phase of braces will help straighten everything out, align everything, and get everything in place for her jaw correction surgery next summer.

The jaw surgery I believe will be the last "required" surgery for Rachel. Any future surgeries Rachel will have - lip revisions and nose jobs, are surgeries that are up to Rachel as to whether or not she wants them.

Monday, November 11, 2019

An Appointment with the Plastic Surgeon

We saw Rachel's Plastic Surgeon today, it'd been a little over 8 years since we'd seen him, following the multiple post op appointments following her bone graft surgery.

It was a good appointment. It didn't go the way Rachel had hoped it would, but Steven and I are both pleased with how it went.

The plan is to go back to Dr. Garcia, Rachel's orthodontist, and get a baseline Xray of her upper jaw. And then go back and get another xray in 6 months. And then see Dr Martin.

The Xrays are a more definitive way of determining if Rachel is done growing. If there's little to no change in those two Xrays, then we can move forward.

Rachel will need braces for at least 3-6 months prior to surgery. So at this point, we are looking at surgery in summer of 2021  (I mean, we could try and get it in over Christmas break next year, but do we really want to do that?!?!). Following surgery, she'll have braces on for an additional 6 month or so.

In regards to a lip revision and a nose job, Dr. Martin wouldn't do either of those until Rachel is 6 months post op from the jaw surgery. That gives everything time to settle and the swelling to disburse.

But all in all, it's a good possibility it all can be done and braces possibly off before Rachel goes off to college in Fall 2022. Which ultimately was her plan.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Rachel's Journey: Where Are We Now?

It's been two years since I've written anything here. Rachel's Journey has been a quiet journey the last 8 years since her Bone Graft surgery, with the exception of her having braces, and now in the last year, retainer checks.

We are thankful for the quietness. Thankful for the once every six to nine months trips to the Orthodontist. Thankful for nothing big. Thankful for nothing out of the ordinary.

When Rachel was little, we had a rough idea of what her journey looked like. Lip repair, palate repair, bone graft/aveolar ridge repair, under bite repair.

After her lip and palate repair, we knew the next big thing was her bone graft, which wouldn't come until she was 5 or 6 years old.

After her bone graft and aveolar ridge repair, we knew the next big thing was her under bite repair, which wouldn't come until she was 16 or 17. Well guess what, Rachel is now 15 years old and that girl has a plan.

It is Rachel's desire/plan to have her next big surgery the beginning of next summer (June 2020) so that she could recover over summer break, and get her second phase of braces on. And then ultimately get her braces off in time to go off to college in the Fall of 2022.

Knowing that it can sometimes take a while to get in to see doctors, I called two months ago to get an appointment with her cleft specialist orthodontist. We saw Dr. Garcia this afternoon.

As far as the next surgery, Dr. Garcia is on board. From an orthodontia standpoint, Rachel's ready. The concern is if Rachel is slowing down in her growing. They cannot do the next surgery until she's slowed down or stopped growing. And if you've watched Rachel the last year, she's been growing!

So the next step is an appointment with Rachel's plastic surgeon. He will determine if she's ready for the next surgery, or if we need to wait a while until she shows evidence of slowing down on growing.

I came straight home and called Dr. Martin's office, thinking in the back of my head we probably wouldn't get an appointment until after the first of the year, I was shocked when he had numerous afternoon openings for a week from Monday. A WEEK FROM THIS MONDAY!!!

So that's where we are at this point. We see the plastic surgeon on November 11th and then we'll go from there.

Whether Dr. Martin thinks Rachel's ready physically for the next surgery, or whether he thinks we need to wait a while longer for her growing to slow/stop, we know that no matter what, despite the fact that Rachel has a plan, this will all be done in HIS perfect timing.