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Friday, October 31, 2008

A huge sigh of relief

For the past week, I've been reminded again how difficult it can be raising a child with achondroplasia because of the unpredictable medical questions that often arise.

Last week, I took Liz for her annual appointment with the orthopedic specialist. At age 4, this is fairly routine now. We do Xrays, chat a few minutes and usually are on our way out the door. This time was different. He noticed some concerns that led him to believe her neck may not be stable. We did the Xrays over and over again and the pictures showed the same thing.

We rushed over and completed the CT test. As luck would have it, 24 hours later (before we got the CT tests back), Liz began vomiting all night.

Immediately we wondered: Was it just a flu bug, or could it be something neurological? After speaking with her doctors in the middle of the night, we took her to the ER to be on the safe side.

Everything checked out and they said it if were an immediate neck/neurological problem, she'd have other symptoms. That was good news that she didn't have any neurological symptoms.

Then, the CT results arrived earlier this week indicating that in fact one vertebrae in her neck is slightly tilted - causing more concern.

After dealing with much red tape, I got all of the scans and sent them over-night to her neurosurgeon, Dr. D.

Dr. D's at the well-respected Children's Memorial in Chicago and has been following her since she was a month old.

I've learned along the way that often radiologists and other doctors get quite nervous when they look at scans of kids with achondroplasia. Part of that is simply because kids with achondroplasia have a different skeletal makeup.

Radiologists are trained to point out when anything is different - but other specialists like Dr. D. are trained to look at Liz's scan and see if this is consistent with kids with achondroplasia and whether it poses a medical problem.

For the past four years, Dr. D. has been consistent and offered cautious and measured opinions. I kept reminding myself not to be too concerned until he saw the scans and gave me his opinion.

Today, he made me Halloween day, when he called and reported that this is nothing to be concerned about. Whew! He felt the tilt was hardly noticeable and won't impact her neck stability.

That is good news for us and Liz's biggest worry tonight will be getting the biggest load of candy that she can bring home. She's celebrating with Mimi and Papaw in Goshen.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Watch out for those bad words

So, recently Liz informed me that there are bad words that the kids aren't supposed to say at preschool.

My first reaction: Oh crap, (ooops), I mean, Oh shoot, here we go already.

She's four and we're already dealing with bad words. Being a journalist, I quiz her instantly about what these bad words are. What are these four-year-olds saying?

Of course, as soon as I start to quiz her, she's already wise and isn't sure she should say these words, because she's already been told by her teacher that they're bad words.

Finally, I break her (I am a journalist after all).

She then whispers the dirty words (shhhhh - language warning coming).

Here they are: diaper, poopy and pee pee.

Whew! I can handle those bad words. Now, at first I was surprised that diaper was considered a bad word.

But after thinking about it, I do recall when Liz was little and not potty trained, there was at least one time when she had a dirty diaper at the worst moment and it inspired Daddy (maybe even Mommy) to whisper (ever so quietly) a bad word.

So, in our house diaper is now officially a bad word and that's fine with me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hannah and Lizzy Time

So, I could go on and on about what a big slacker I've been for not blogging for the past two weeks.

I've got tons of posts that I need to write about - our trip to Arizona, picking pumpkins, Liz's most recent medical mystery and also the "I've been tagged" post.

But before I catch up on all of that, the most important thing in recent weeks was when we went to Michigan and met a number of other bloggers who have kids with various forms of dwarfism.

The party was at Tonya's house -

And, we got to meet so many fabulous people - Tonya, Sarah, Sue, Cat and Jennifer - but certainly we were extremely excited to meet Hannah and Catie at

Hannah has achondroplasia like Liz and they're the same exact age - just one month separates their birthdays. For some odd reason, it seems many of the folks I've connnected with have litle boys - either a few years older or a few years younger than Liz. So, this was wonderful to see another little girl - Liz's age with the same exact condition and to talk to her mom.

We talked about clothing issues, bathroom problems, social stuff and the list goes on and one.

You'll see from the pictures that Hannah and Liz truly hit it off. Tonya went all out for the party - pizza, Halloween crafts, a haunted castle, bobbing for apples and the list of fun goes on and on. Not to mention all of the candy!

We're actually going to miss Halloween with Liz on Friday so we were thrilled to get to have these fun Halloween festivities and Liz got to go Trick-or-Treating in the Halloween castle.

So, you'll see the pictures were of Liz and Hannah mostly because I was thrilled to see how well they got along and you'll notice they're both such hams whenever a camera is nearby.

For more than half an hour, the two of them dug in the haunted castle finding more candy and they also spent more than an hour playing "princess of the year" upstairs - not to mention their great time throwing rocks in the pond and jumping on the bouncy house.

I hope that we can get these two girls together again because you will all be able to tell what fun they had. It was just so heartwarming to see the two of them play together.

Here they are getting ready to bob for apples.

Look who's peeking out of the haunted castle.

All smiles.

The two princesses taking a break from throwing rocks in the pond and you'll see Knoah - busy with the rocks right behind them.

Another cute pose.

A good one with Liz and Daddy.

Here's Mommy and Liz.

Here are some bobbing apple shots and those of you who have bobbed apples with me will notice that Liz is quite persistent and gets just as wet as her mom.

Most of the kids where running all over, but I got a few here in "thoughtful poses." Really precious.

The princess is back in her street clothes - almost ready to leave.

But she wouldn't leave without a hug from Hannah.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Changes...and more apples of course

The last week has been full of changes to put it mildly. Brian started a new job downtown, and for the first time in his professional career of 11 years and since I've known him, he's now working a day shift. He's always worked that evening sports shift.

The day shift is exciting because we can all have family time together in the evenings. He's writing at a well-known organization in Chicago, but not doing sports and is in more of a niche-publication like me.

Sorry, I have to be vague for policy reasons. But it's a great job, and he's already enjoying it. This however, means he'll be doing the long 2-hour one-way commute to Chicago that I used to do daily.

On the one day I do go to the city each week, we'll commute together and that's fun. It also means that for the first time since she was born, Liz is now in an all day pre-K class. We moved her to a new school. It's been going OK - and that's putting it quite optimistically.

I think she's at the age where she's testing everyone's limits. Let's just say by Friday, she proudly told me that she ONLY had one time-out that day. Trust me, that was quite an improvement.

The nice thing about this preschool is, it's also close to home as well. The good news is other than her misbehaving, I like this school. We get a calendar of each day's activities. Monday, firefighters are coming to talk fire safety, Tuesday they'll decorate a cookie, Wednesday a veterinarian comes and the fun goes on.

I think once she's settled in, she'll be fine! She's just testing everyone's limits right now - including ours. But I guess that's what 4-year-olds do, right?

For now, here are those pictures from the 2nd apple orchard that we went to two weeks ago. You'll notice no other people nearby. This is the one that's secluded and just reopened as a U-Pick this year - so it's a hidden gem for now!

Here's Liz grabbing an apple at the orchard. We were the only ones there, and she's got a really great hold on it!

Here's Brian right by one of the apple trees. He was a bit pickier than me, and seemed to get the most perfect apples!

Here I am with an apple!

Here's Liz "helping" me last weekend to make the apple dumplings. I forgot to take photos of the finished product. But they were pretty amazing and we've already grabbed a few from the freezer. Reminded me of when we went to Grandma Shidler's and made apple dumplings in the fall. Not that I can claim these were that good - but pretty yummy nonetheless.