Thursday, October 17, 2013

Little Mermaid and Life

It has been nearly two weeks now since I wrote about adding Little Mermaid to our family. Can I just say, she's taken us all for a sleep-deprived, wonder-filled, emotion-laden ride? She has us all wrapped around her crooked little finger.
we've taken a new look at things through her eyes. Little Mermaid is utterly delighted at being taken outside. I don't know if other than her ride to pre-school she has even seen the great outdoors. The leaves dancing in the trees and the light scattering through the branches light up her little face and deep giggles erupt from her round little belly. Birds twittering in the trees and the soft nose of our black lab on her arm bring squeals of laughter.
One evening about a week ago, our 4 kids were at grandparents so we could get a little break and I had gone out with my Sister-in-law for her birthday. This left Luke at home with Little Mermaid. He assured me he'd be fine and to go have fun. We're both getting this oxygen, heart-monitor, pulse-ox carrying equipment down but I was still nervous at leaving him home alone because I knew I didn't want to be left alone with her yet. I got a call about an hour later and I could hear her little giggles in the background. I could also hear birds. "Where are you?"
"Swinging" was his reply. My thought was "how in the world?" One: my dear sweet hubby doesn't fit so well in our kid's swings and two: how did he take her outside to swing with all of her equipment? But he had and she was in little girl-outdoor heaven. The beauty of nature is the great equalizer of all people.

We've also had some other big shake-ups in our life. You know the whole First Day of School post a couple of months ago? Well, the whole vertigo thing has never totally left. It is significantly better but I still have the sensation of falling over whenever I try and turn left. I can't walk across an un-even surface without intense concentration or I'll fall flat on my face. I went with Nater Mater to the Corn Maze a week ago and several times nearly took a face plant into the corn while walking through the maze with his class. As long as I'm concentrating on my feet, I do ok. I don't feel secure, but I do ok. Give me a flat surface like our own living room floor or sidewalk and I'm fine. Another weird part of this is sensory input. I CANNOT handle people giving me much of a hug. I feel like they are tackling me to the ground. This caused somewhat of a problem with Luke and I in the beginning. His love language is physical touch and right now my whole body screams "no hugs and no kissing! You're messing with my head!" It's been a bit of a challenge. We've had to learn that he has to hold onto me for me to give him a kiss or I tip over backward. Same with hugs. If my head is turned to the right, I'm fine. But if my head is turned to the left, he might as well be tipping me over as if we were swing dancing. My children find this all somewhat amusing. Nater Mater has been put in more than one time out for purposely running into me just to see me fall over. He may find it amusing, but I do not.
I had an ENT apt. 2 days before Little Mermaid arrived which left us in shock. The Doctor had refused to speak to me over the phone to give me the latest test results and insisted I come into his office for a consultation. I was irritated. He'd had the results for over a week and I just wanted to know what my latest test had shown and if it would give us any answers. The results were stunning. Either I had a tumor on my ear drum or I had Meneire's disease. Both were life changing. Both could be debilitating. I cried my way home and called Luke to tell him the devastating news. I had been getting better. I was just at this place where I was sort of stuck and couldn't seem to progress. How in the world was this going to fit in with our call to Foster Care? How was I going to work? What did this mean for our family? The ENT referred us on to another Specialist 3 1/2 hours south of us and said we needed to meet with him and they would be ordering an MRI to look for a tumor. I woke the next morning with a pit in my stomach and an ache in my chest wondering how I was going to function for the next 2 weeks before my appointment down south.
It was the next evening we got the phone call about Little Mermaid and we were plunged head first into our first Foster Care placement of a child with special needs. She was exactly what I needed. It took me the full two weeks until my ENT appointment to track down all her necessary medical equipment. I'd get up between 5 and 5:30am and start her feeding tube and meds. and breathing treatments so that I could get her off to preschool when the bus came for her at 6:30am. Then it was wake the rest of the kids, breakfast, making sure everyone was dressed and teeth brushed and we'd head out the door to take them all to school. As soon as I arrived home, I would get on the phone, grab her stack of paperwork and start making phone calls to track down all her providers, doctors, case worker, specialists and pharmacies to make sure that we could get everything to the house that we needed and that she was getting the care she was supposed to. It took all my time and energy while the kids were gone to school and I found the days flying past and hardly a thought of my ENT appointment entered my mind.
Luke and I also had a peace about the whole thing. How in the world was having a permanent issue with vertigo or major head surgery and the Fostering of Special Needs children going to work together long term? Neither of us saw it as functioning well for long, but we also knew God was not in the business of playing cruel jokes on His children and He had us and Little Mermaid exactly where He wanted. For now, that was good enough and until He directed otherwise we would continue on our path with her and take care of her and our own children to the best of the abilities He had given us.
Then yesterday the big day arrived and we found ourselves taking the long drive south in a heavy rain and fog. I could feel the fear like the heavy clouds around us threatening to barge it's way into my heart. Luke and I had prayed together that whatever the outcome we had put our trust in God and that we would accept the answer He gave us. (But could it please be different than what we had been told?)
Once again, in even the doctor (of whom there are only 3 in the State that specialize in this) we saw God's care and sense of humor. I have never heard a Doctor or Specialist use the type of language and analogies that he use to describe my symptoms and situation. He came in with all my reports in hand and then asked me to describe exactly what happened, the progression, and what I was feeling now. When I finished, he looked me scare in the eye and said, "I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that you don't have Meneire's disease and with 99% certainty you don't have a tumor. However, your dear drum is a hell of a mess and you have a long road ahead of you." He then proceeded to describe my ears like a "horses a** that when you poke it you're going to get the s*** knocked out of you." Luke and I stared at him rather incredulously and looked at each other like, "did he just say that?"  My bad ear was "like an old nag. She'll just look over her shoulder at you and continue eating her hay. She's got nothing left in her and has no idea what you just did to her. Your good ear however, responded to our testing like a good ear should. She'll kick you so hard against the back wall, you will take some time getting back on your feet."
Basically something, he didn't know what, caused the blood vessels in my ear drum to swell and severe inflammation of the ear drum. Then it all collapsed and I lost all blood flow to the inner ear. he called it a stroke of the inner ear but it's not actually a stroke. "This is the healthy stallion that you poked in the a**. He knocked the sh** out of you and it's taken you several weeks to stand up again. But when we tried to re-enact it all in the testing, your ear that took the hit is so massively damaged that it didn't respond and acted like the old nag. Understand?" Ummmmm, yeah. Your vivid analogies have made it perfectly clear.
Good news. I'm young enough that with therapy I should be back to base-line (normal) within 6 months to a year. "You got 5 kids. You can keep doing what you are doing. Just don't skip the physical therapy and this should NEVER happen again."
Huge prayers answered. We knew God had called us through the door of Foster Care. We knew that He knew the timing of my "ear infection." We knew that Little Mermaid had come to us in the middle of what seemed a terrible time and we knew that He would give us the strength to walk the path He was sending us down. It doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, but I do know He has shown His incredible faithfulness in just the family and friends He has brought to us to walk through this journey.

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