Monday, December 28, 2009

Sam's Big Adventure

My dad's mother and siblings all live out in Cali, and we decided a long time ago to come out here for Christmas this year. We left from Atlanta on Christmas eve at 830am. That meant we had to get Sam up and leave the house at 5am. It was pretty rough on us all. Sam was super tired by the time the plane took off, but didn't seem to have any problem with the change in pressure. As an added Christmas bonus, we didn't have to use his supplemental oxygen. We brought our pulse ox (which I haven't trusted since it sent us to the emergency room unwarranted about a year ago). Naturally, the pulse ox was reading A LOT lower than seemed possible based on Sam's general color and activity level (pre-flight it read 80% which is already much lower than usual, and then during the flight it read 74%). He wasn't blue and he was acting fine so we ignored the pulse ox and made it through the rest of the flight fine.

We stayed the first few days at my Aunt Jennifer's house in Cypress, CA. We had a big family Christmas there, and Sam got all kinds of toys and clothes. His 'stranger anxiety' has been surprisingly minimal, and he's let everyone hold him and play with him with very little fuss. Sam got to touch the Pacific Ocean yesterday, and is now up at my Grandmother's cabin which is surrounded by snow. Tomorrow, we plan on hitting the town of Wrightwood (where my Grandmother lives) and Chris and I plan on checking out skiing at their local resort. We'll be up here for a few days and then will head back to the L.A. area for the Rose Parade and (maybe) a trip to Disneyland. I'll post again when we get home, and will get photos on as soon as I can.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and please have a happy and safe New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pediatric PT

I started my journey to become a Physical Therapist when I was in grade school. I was a volunteer at one of our local hospitals. The last summer I volunteered, they assigned me to the outpatient pediatric therapy department. That was where I started to think about being a PT, although pediatrics was not necessarily the goal.

When I was in college, I got a job in a local outpatient clinic that treated people of all ages for all conditions. That job sealed the deal as far as me wanting to become a PT, and my boss and co-workers really helped me prepare for applying for and then getting though PT school. While at that clinic, I got my first exposure to kids and PT. One girl in particular, Krisanna, stood out to me. She had some pretty amazing deficits and hurdles to living a 'normal' life, but she was living it more than most people I know.

Once in PT school, I got very little hands on exposure to pediatric PT. What I did get, I loved. But pediatric PT isn't something you jump out of school and do. So I did the next best thing. I got a job at a facility with a heavy neuro population. And I have loved that job, and the people I work for and with. They have been there for me through everything with Sam, and I can't thank them enough.

But, last month, Krisanna passed away. I haven't seen her for a few years, but her bright spirit left its mark. While reflecting on her, and on our interactions, I made the decision to start a transition into pediatric therapy. Now, to be honest, my plan was to just take some peds classes and get some books in preparation for a FUTURE peds job. Providence had other plans.

About a week after I heard about Krisanna, I got a postcard in the mail from a pediatric speech clinic here in Macon. They were planning to expand their practice into physical therapy, and were looking for a PT. I felt like this happened for a reason. So I got an interview.

I loved the clinic, I loved the people, and I loved the position they wanted me to fill. I got the job.

Today, I turned in my letter resigning my full time position at my current facility. It was hard for me, and some of the reactions I got made it a little more difficult (a mix of happiness, tears, and shock). It is hard to find PTs in our area, and me leaving will make it hard on my co-workers for a while. But I just feel like this is serendipity...I feel led to this. And I don't usually talk like that. It is going to be hard at first, and I'll have to do a lot of research and studying over the next two months (the job will start February 15). But I feel fairly certain this was just meant to be.

Thanks, Krisanna.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Kids at Heart" Christmas Party

Today we went to the Kids at Heart Holiday Party in Atlanta, thrown by the Sibley Heart Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The Kids at Heart group is a support organization for kids who have had heart surgery at CHOA. The party was so nice. They had a lunch buffet, build a bear station, gingerbread house decorating station, Christmas choir, and the REAL Santa (see photos) all free of charge. Sam was a good boy, and didn't shed one tear when he sat on Santa's lap. Of course, he didn't know who was holding him, and we kept his attention away from that fact. I'm sure Sam will really enjoy this party and the other Kids at Heart events when he gets older, and I'm so glad they are available to us.

Other than seeing Sam have fun, the best part of these events for Chris and I is to meet/reunite with other families who are on this 'heart' journey with us. We saw little Matthew and his family, and met Emery and her family (photo below). Both kids are very close to Sam's age. All three have very different and yet similar conditions, and all three have had/will have very different and yet similar medical/surgical journeys. It's hard to explain. But it is comforting to us to see their smiling faces and to compare stories and experiences with them. I can't wait to see them at these events through the years, and watch them grow and thrive despite their broken hearts.
We also met a family today with a 14 year old girl. While she looked healthy, her mother told us they will soon be going on the organ list, awaiting a heart and lung transplant. What a sobering thought. When you are healthy, and all is right with the world, you tend to unintentionally ignore the fact that terrible things are happening. Even worse, you tend to believe that these terrible things can't happen to you. Chris and I did everything right in our lives. We both went to college, waited to live together until we were married, went to grad school/co-oped to give ourselves the best start in our careers..I could go on and on. If you do everything 'right', doesn't that mean these terrible things skip over you and your family? Despite everything we did right, our child will suffer. It's hard not to feel like it is a punishment at times. Punishment for what, I don't know. But I guess that is the challenge. OUR challenge is to thrive joyfully for the glory of God inspite of our lot in life, and to teach Sam to do the same.

But there is another challenge. It is to do what you can for those in need, the way that you would hope others would do for you. We have always had our needs taken care of, without ever having to ask. I have recently been searching for ways to do the same for others, particularly others suffering from congenital heart defects. I came across a wonderful family in the CHD community. Stefenie and her family have started a campaign called Cuddles from the Heart. This is a blanket donation program, where new homemade/store bought blankets are distributed to children and their families during their hospital stay to give them a sense of comfort and support. Originally, Cuddles from the Heart benefited the University of Iowa's Children's Hospital, where Stefenie's son was treated for his CHD. Cuddles has since spread, and I have volunteered to start a Cuddles branch in Georgia to benefit patients at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. I have not set a donation or distribution date yet, but when I do, I will be sure to post on how you can assist me in answering this challenge!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Check-up, 5k, and Christmas Fun

Sam had his 12 month check up this week. I missed it (got locked out of my car...long story) but Chris went. Sam is growing like a weed. He is 32.5inches (100%), 23lbs (60%) and I don't remember his head circumference but it is in the 95%. We went from the bottom of the charts, to the middle, to bursting out the top. Dr. Sims said he looked great, and gave her own OK for our California trip. Everyone marvels at how well he is doing...I don't blame them.

Sam participated in yet another 5K (this makes 3 for him). We ran in the Macon Reindeer Run 5K to benefit Children's Hospital of Macon. I have a love/hate relationship with Children's of Macon. Their main pediatric floor contributed to the down-slide of Sam the night he almost died, and hesitated for hours before calling in our Cardiologist. BUT their PICU halted the down-slide and, by cooperating with our cardiologist and the cardios at Egleston, stabilized him enough to get him to Atlanta. Regardless, I'm sure they do wonderful things there. We ran with some friends and neighbors, who brought their kids too. Poor was pretty cold. They all survived though, and Chris and I did pretty good (finished in 35 minutes).

Under the suggestion of our neighbors, we went to the Bolingbroke Christmas Parade. This little town doesn't even have a stop light, so naturally their parade was 'country'. Anyone with a John Deere tractor, big wheels on their trucks, a 4wheeler, or an antique car was asked to join in the line up. There was a group of civil war reenactors. Every 50 feet or so they would load their muskets with a blank and fire. Naturally all the kids started crying and screaming. Sam had on his snow cap, so he couldn't really hear the gun fire. Relo, however, almost peed himself in fear. The highlight for me, though, was the "Macon 1800 Club". This little group of all ages dressed in 1800 style clothes walked in the parade. One of the ladys, however, paraded in her 1800 style dress on her brand new HoverRound. Classic.

Goals for the rest of the week: finish shopping, finish wrapping gifts, run at least 4 times, and start a packing list for California!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sam Turns ONE, Savannah Style

Chris and I took off work today to celebrate Sam's birthday. We found a hotel that would accept our dog, and drove to Savannah last night. Sam donned his "First Birthday" clothes, and we hit the town. He had plenty of strangers tell Sam happy birthday, and we had one stranger actually sing him the whole song. We did the 'river walk' shops, Broughton Street, and the City Market. It was really pretty, and if we had more time we would have hit up some of the more historic places.

We did eat a BIG birthday late lunch in honor of Sam. We went to Paula Deen's restaurant, Lady and Sons. Sam ate the following: cheese biscuit, pan fried cornbread, green beans, black eyed peas, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, banana pudding, and butter gooey cake. And let me say, the mac and cheese was disturbingly cheesy, but sooooooooooooo good. We had a hard time walking to the car after that...

We ended the day with a quick trip to Tybee Island to see the Atlantic Ocean. We took some great photos, touched the ocean, played in the sand, and sang Happy Birthday to Sam with the sun starting to set behind us. He won't remember a thing. But we will. And we made some great memories today.

Happy Birthday to my baby boy, who has been through more in one year than most people go through in a lifetime. I am in awe of you, and thank you for everyday you give me in your presence. I love you.