Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hospital Pokes Feel Sad


The surgery scheduler let us know that Claire needs to check in to the hospital tomorrow morning at 7:30.  With the time confirmed, I let Claire know that she needs to go to the hospital tomorrow.

The first words out of her mouth were,   "NO pokes?"

It was a question.  A hopeful, wishful question. But, there will be pokes and I had to tell her, and she wasn't happy.

"Pokes, sad.  Hospital, sad.  Stay home, mommy."

In case you aren't up on your Chinglish, that translates to the fact that she doesn't like having blood drawn or IV's or going to the hospital.  She wants to stay home with mommy.

I assured her that I would go to the hospital with her, and Jenny will come with us, too.   Then I did my best to explain how they will use a "bubble-fish" (Claire's name for the mask on her nebulizer) to help her feel sleepy.  She will take a little rest at the hospital. While she is sleeping, the doctor will look inside her neck with a teeny-tiny little camera.   They will do the pokes to get some blood while she is sleeping so there will be no hurt.  When she wakes up, she will find a band aid on the place where they did a poke.

She wanted to know if she would come home when she wakes up.  I waffled a little on this one.  I just don't know.  It depends on what the doctor finds, and what he decides to do.  This is an "exploratory" surgery to see what is going on in the esophagus. If there is something simple like a cyst, or minor scarring, it will be taken care of right away.  If it is minor, she comes home.  If it is just a little complicated, she may stay overnight.   If anything is more complicated, we will schedule for another day to take care of things.   So I skirted the coming home question by saying I will stay with her until the doctor says she is ready to go home.

The blood draws are for the gastroenterologist.   He needs more tests to figure out what exactly is going on with Claire's liver. We know that it is enlarged and blood tests show "abnormalities," but we don't know exactly what that means. Since her little veins have had more than their share of "pokes," they tend to yield only a tiny bit of blood before the supply "dries up."    (My apologies to any medical type folks reading.  I'm used to translating events into the simplest language, and I don't know enough about medical terms to sound educated in this area.)  Getting enough blood for tests on a regular basis has become a very frustrating experience.  I'm glad they can do this one while Claire is totally unaware.

She is just so tired of doing this medical thing.  I can't blame her.  We went through her medical records and counted the days she has spent in the hospital.  Miss Claire has been hospitalized for a total of 4 years!  That is a lot for anyone.  It is way too much for an 8 year old.

We are praying that all the doctors will be able to figure out what is going on in relation to Claire's breathing difficulties and with her liver.  We want to be able to resolve the problems so that Claire can spend some time at home learning how to be a regular little girl. One who doesn't have to worry about pokes for a good long while.  Won't you pray with us?

Claire would rather count scoops of ice cream on her giant ice cream cone, not add up doctor and hospital visits.

What A Difference Seeing Makes!

Claire has had a terrible time with coloring, cutting, or tracing.  Following a line seemed impossible,  She was also stumbling whenever the ground was uneven, and was terrified to go anywhere without bright light. It took us a bit of  time to get an appointment with  the pediatric vision specialist, but we are so glad we did.  He promised us a "new child" once she had her glasses.  I don't know if I'd go quite that far, but  I do know that she is pretty happy about her glasses, and does not want to take them off.

Clearer vision has made Claire more willing to participate in activities that she used to avoid.   

So many new things to see between the doctor's office and the parking lot.  Wow!  It is fun to see.

Paying the bills is quite a chore.   First you must cut up pieces of construction paper to put inside the envelope.  Then you have to put on a "stamp" and a return address label.  Writing the address is very time consuming.  Especially when you have 25 bills to pay!

You must put them in the mailbox one at a time to make sure they are just right. Claire recognizes that her writing does not look the same as other writing. When asked what the mailman would think about all her bills, she says that he will shake his head and say, "I don't know...I don't know."  Then she giggles as she envisions the puzzled mailman.
Please don't tell Claire that Daddy went outside after Claire was in bed and removed all that confusing mail.  The garbage pick-up men surely won't say a word.  ;-)  Claire can hardly wait until our next bill paying day.  I guess I should start buying envelopes in bulk.

Coloring is much more fun when you can see what you are doing.  When Daddy colors with you, it is even better. Real men color princess pictures. Yes, they do.

 Jenny-jie jie  joined us at the park one warm sunny day.  New glasses made it so much easier to judge where all the steps were.  Claire climbed on all sorts of things she had avoided before.  Of course, seeing down from the top also made it a little bit scarier.  As long as Jenny was there to set an example, though, nothing was too scary to try.

Glasses are a wonderful blessing.  Of course, Claire is not used to being able to see clearly. We know that it will take her brain time to catch up to the new things  her eyes can do.  She still operates in her mode of avoiding things where she might fail.  She would prefer to misbehave or distract rather than try something she might not do well.

Glasses haven't changed her stubbornness.  When asked to cut a curved line, she pretends not to know how to hold the scissors.  When asked to trace over an "x" with her marker, she refuses to touch the pen to the page.  Bribes don't work.  Punishment doesn't work.  The only way we have found to get Claire to do something she doesn't want to is to wait her out. All options for any other activity are removed until she decides to make a reasonable effort at the task we are asking her to do.  It can be really stressful to wait, and wait.  Earlier this week she refused for 10 hours.

Yup.  Very, very  stubborn. 

Just when doubt was about to make me tell her she didn't have to write it, she decided to cooperate. She traced a perfect "x" on her dry erase book. It took her all of 3 seconds to complete the task with excellence.  Then we celebrated!  Guess what the first thing she wanted to do the next morning was?  Now that she knows she can trace those lines, she is all about showing off her skill. 

How I pray that each time I ask her do something and she succeeds, we will build trust.  We will need lots of that to continue to help her grow and learn.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The More the Merrier

It has been a long while since I've found time to blog.  I promised myself to take time to just enjoy my new daughter for a season, without worrying about solving all the problems that keep popping up.   For the most part, I've been keeping that promise.  By the time Claire is safely tucked into her bed each night, I've usually had so much fun that I'm ready to collapse into my own bed and not try to rally my thoughts to write a somewhat coherent sentence or two.

But today, for a change, we have no visits with doctors.  It is cool and rainy, so I can justify not enforcing the afternoon outdoor exercise routine for once.  And, Claire finished up her school work and chores in quick order so that she could watch  "A is for Angelina, B is for Ballerina."  She thinks that by adding a little "I'm learning the alphabet" into her request, I will be more likely to allow her to watch. :-)  If she had her way, she would do nothing else all day.    In one way, it is a huge step.  During our first months home, her attention span wouldn't last more than a few minutes.  Now she can focus on Angelina for as many hours as she can convince me to let her stay on the couch. 

I'm really thankful for for their free "B is for Ballerina" preschool study unit.  The librarian is also great about pointing out all the books with ballerina's in them.  We need all the motivators we can find.  Claire is not keen on trying to learn new things.

While she is giggling and clapping with Angelina, I can take a few minutes for some catch up.

Claire absolutely loves having her family home with her.   Christmas vacation was a delight for her.  Every day she would rejoice over setting the supper table for FIVE people.  Whenever anyone is not home for supper, she asks when they will be home over and over again.

Having Dan home from college was so much fun! Claire really wishes that Ohio wasn't so far away from Mississippi.

When Daddy and brothers join in, the music is the best.

Daddy brought a "flower present" for Claire.  She was delighted.  

Ben is always good for a fuzzy hug even if he is really busy with his last year of Law School and working at a local law firm.  

It was really sad to see everyone go back to work or school and leave us with just TWO people home for most of every day. When Daddy or Ben has to work late, supper time isn't nearly as much fun.
In fact, we would get really depressed over the quiet around here if it weren't for one very exciting fact.

There is a little boy in China running around showing off a picture of his new family.  

It is a bit of a shock, so you can't expect him to look too excited all at once. It is a very big idea to process.

Do you think this looks like a good idea?

What do you guys think?  Does this look like a good family for me?

Oh my goodness!  It is Claire. 

Claire is very excited.  She really covets the role of "jie jie" even though being the "mei mei" has lots of perks.
Every night, she points out which chair will be for her "di di" and wants to know when we can have SIX people at our table. 

Whenever we are sitting at the hospital waiting for another test or to see the next specialist, she keeps busy by making a list of things we need to get ready.  She wants us to hurry and buy socks and underwear, and a pillow and a special blanket.  She wants a toothbrush and a towel in the bathroom right now.  With each new stack of paperwork that we send off, she sings her "Hurry up, China" song...then sighs, "wait a minute, wait a minute."

 I tend to sigh right along with her.   Having already met this precious little guy, played with him, and held him in my arms while we were in China to pick up Claire, I'm finding the wait feels much harder. Perhaps we will have another lazy afternoon soon, and I can share my perspective on adding to our family so soon.

For now, I need to go pry someone off the couch with my standard, "No more, too much TV."