Saturday, July 31, 2010

First Ambulance Ride

Normally when I'm talking about doctors and the ER and ambulance rides, I'm talking about James. But unfortunately this week it was MY turn to have my first ride in an ambulance! I've talked before about my ongoing back problems. Since May I've had a bulging disc in my back and a pinched nerve that have caused me much pain. I've been in physical therapy for about 6 weeks and over the past few weeks things were starting to feel better. My pain was almost gone, except for a few twinges here and there throughout the day. I'd scheduled a spinal injection at the request of my doctor, which was supposed to block the nerve that was sending the pain signals. I had that on Monday, July 19 and things felt really good for about 4 days. Then my pain level went up to about a 3 on a scale of 0-10. The next day it was up to a 5 and nothing was helping...Ibuprophen, my therapy exercises, heat, ice packs. Then three days ago was when it all went downhill.

I was home alone with the kids at about 11am and had James up on the changing table. He's a mover and a shaker now, so he can't be left alone. All of a sudden as I stood there, my back exploded in pain and I immediately crumpled to the ground and cried out in pain. I was pretty sure that my bulged disc had just ruptured. Maddie was next to me, confused about what was wrong. {But not *too* concerned, since she saw me writhing in pain and said, "Mommy, I'm sorry your back could you put on a TV show for me?"} :-) I was curled up in a fetal position, but knew I had to get James somewhere safe, so I clawed my way up the changing table, somehow got a diaper on him and his tubes contained, picked him up and laid him on the living room floor. By now, just a few minutes in, I knew I was in trouble. I had Maddie get me the phone and managed to dial Keith and tell him to come home immediately. I couldn't walk or move. It was the worst pain I'd ever felt in my life, even worse than being in labor. I felt like I was going to pass out, my whole body was shaking uncontrollably, and my arms and hands were tingling and going numb. It was all I could do to try and stay calm and do my "hee-hee-hoo" labor breathing/panting.

The 20 minutes it took Keith to get home seemed like an eternity. The minute he walked in, I told him to call an ambulance. Poor Keith...he was trying to see what I needed, calling 911, trying to get Maddie dressed and James' bag packed {he was still hooked up to his IV's and feeding tube}. When the paramedics got here they had a bit of trouble getting an IV started because my veins were starting to clamp down. Thank goodness they got one in and they gave me Fentanyl, so within a few minutes that kicked in and I was able to calm down a little as they wheeled me out of the house on a gurney. The whole thing was a bit surreal.

Once we got to Emanuel, the real frustration set in. Every other experience we've had with them regarding James has been pretty good. Apparently adults in the ER don't get the same treatment. A nurse took my vitals and then left while I waited...and waited...probably 45 minutes until I saw a doctor. Nobody checked on me or gave me pain meds or anything. Keith was in the waiting room with the kids and my mom was on her way, so it was jut me in the ER room. Long story short...the fentanyl wore off within about the first 30 minutes and, even after buzzing for a nurse multiple times without much response, I was left in the room crying in pain for over 2 hours. Nice customer service!! After Keith took the kids home, my mom came in to stay with me and bullied the doctors into getting me some morphine after about another hour. The doctor pretty much said that since I still had control of my bowels and I wasn't paralyzed, that even if the disc had ruptured there wasn't anything they were going to do {not even a new x-ray or MRI to confirm a diagnosis!}. Just get me some pain meds and send me home. How LAME is that?!

So now I'm pretty much on bedrest at home, except for a few times a day when I can manage to hobble to the bathroom or kitchen. I'm taking heavy-duty pain killers {Valium, Oxycodone & Ibuprophen} but even that doesn't take away the pain...just dulls it a bit. All I can manage to do is lay flat on the couch and use a heating pad or ice packs to get semi-comfortable. Actually, tonight I've been off the couch for about an hour, which is a record. On Tuesday I have another appointment with the doctor who did my spinal injection, so I'm hoping they'll do a new MRI and have some treatment options {besides surgery}.

I'd appreciate prayers for me and especially my dear husband who has been SUPER DAD the past few days, taking care of the kids and the cooking and laundry and cleaning and everything! He's my hero! :-)

Monday, July 26, 2010

James Update

{How could you not be happy when you see this face?!
You bring such joy to our lives, buddy boy!}

It seems that Summer has finally decided to arrive in Oregon. These warm days bring with them all the fun that summer has to at Nana & Papa's {or at least the s'mores part!}, playing in the wading pool, daily trips to the park, cooking on the grill, picking fresh berries, and lots of hanging out with family. Our routine for the last couple of days has been that Keith will take Maddie and James to the park after he gets home so that I can have a break and do stuff like vacuum, make dinner, check email {or blog!}, etc. James loves to be outside just like his big sister and just this week has discovered the joy of the swings! Maddie was always a bit cautious about the swings as a baby, but James is "all boy" about them--he flings himself forwards and back, tries to chew the seat, grabs on the chains and grunts.

{heading out to the park today}

{flashback: Maddie at 3 months}

James has become quite a mobile, active little guy over just the past few weeks. He's a pro at rolling and will roll multiple times when he's determined to get somewhere {which tangles him up in his tubes, so if he's on the floor we pretty much have to be there all the time}, he can get his knees under him and rock back and forth, and can crawl for a few paces. I'm guessing in a few more weeks he'll be full-on crawling!

Right now he does an improvised crawl: he claws with his hands while pushing off one leg and dragging the other, like a half-army-crawl / half-swimming motion. Pretty amazing, considering all the tummy trauma he's been through. But he's determined to not let anything get in his way! Go James! We're so proud of you, little buddy! :-)

{He loves this Johnny Jump-Up, which gives him great practice "walking", but we have to get creative with his tubes. He can get completely tangled in about 1 minute flat.}

{Maddie is a great big sister and loves to play with James, teach him how to use new toys, sing him songs and give him loves. James gets the biggest grin on his face whenever she's around.}

* * * * * * * * * *

We had an appointment with the GI doctor about two weeks ago and I was asking about next steps in terms of James' feeding plan: when could we start him on breastmilk, tasting different flavors, cutting back on his TPN time, etc. Unfortunately, it will continue to be a very long road. Right now he gets 8 ml/hour of formula in his G-tube into his stomach and he gets to go up 1 ml per week. So far he's been tolerating this without a problem. I was hoping he could start having breastmilk for one of his two daily bottles, but his doctor wants him to be getting at least half of his daily calories from formula {approx. 25-30 ml/hour} before she'd consider that--so that means, at best, we'd have to wait another 3.5 months before trying breastmilk. Sheesh, the boy will be 14 months old by then! That means he could easily be 2+ years old before he's allowed to try even pureed baby foods. Can you imagine that? Even now, at almost 11 months, he's very aware of what we do and what we put in our mouths. I'm going to feel like the Meanest Parent Ever withholding food from my child. James' physical/occupational therapist encouraged us to ask the GI doctor for permission for James to at least be introduced to flavors, even though he can't really have food yet. So now he's allowed to try out new tastes and is so excited about it! Most babies start out with really bland things like rice cereal and oatmeal...not James! So far he's had teriyaki pepperoni sticks, teething biscuits, banana, fruit leather sticks and mango! The other day I gave him a mango pit to try sucking on and I think he was in shock. :-)

{first try...whew, that doesn't taste like formula!}

{Hey, that wasn't half bad! Let's try that again!}

* * * * * * *
The other night I came downstairs to this sight: James and Maddie curled up together on the couch, watching Mickey Mouse, which Maddie had picked for her before-bed show. James hardly ever notices when the TV is on, but for some reason he is mesmerized by Mickey Mouse. It's been Maddie's long-time favorite too!

{The classic zoned-out TV look! Totally cracks me up.}

{Snugging with Sister on the couch is the best!}

* * * * * * * *

I also have to give a huge THANK YOU to my parents for keeping Maddie overnight on Saturday AND watching both kids Sunday night so that Keith and I could go see a movie. Earlier in the week I'd mentioned my dire need for a date with my husband and my parents came through with flying colors! I know it was fun for them to see James for a more extended period of time and to watch all the new things he's learning.

{When I told Keith I wanted to go on a date last week he got this blank look on his face and said, "A what?" I said, "You know, it's this thing where adults go out of the house without their children and they can go to grown-up places and have an actual conversation without being interrupted every 2 seconds." He said, "Really? I'm not familiar with that concept." HA! :-) }

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Homemade Goodies

We've been sticking close to home lately, taking it easy on the long, hot afternoons and doing lots of fun projects...mostly in the kitchen! A couple of days ago I saw a blog post with a recipe for Sidewalk Chalk Paint {which I'd never heard of before} and decided to make some right then and there with Maddie!

For each color of paint you will need: 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/4 cup cold water 4+ drops of food coloring {darker would show up better on concrete, but I was worried about staining, so I kept it pastel} Stir everything together and repeat for as many colors as you desire! Easy peasy!

It took about 5 minutes flat and then we had a picnic breakfast out on the front porch, lugged James' IV pole and exersaucer outside, and let Maddie paint away! Both my kids love to be outside, so I've been trying to get more intentional about being outdoors even when James is all hooked up.

Since last week was so stinkin' hot around here, Maddie and I decided to cool off with homemade popsicles! Another easy recipe...pureed strawberries, plain yogurt and pureed blueberries. The hardest part was waiting for it to freeze so that we could eat it!

One of my favorite parts of summertime is the abundance of berries! Over the years I've watched my mom make delicious homemade jam of all kids...peach-blueberry, blackberry, marionberry, strawberry, etc. She does the cooked jam, which for some reason intimidates me {the equipment, the time commitment, not getting the seal just right...I just couldn't bother with it}. But at the store I saw a pectin packet for making freezer jam and thought, "I could do that!" So this week I made my first two batches of jam...strawberry-blueberry. With just a few cheap baskets of berries and the no-cook recipe on the packet, I made a TON of jam that will last me all year! {Freezer jam is good for 3 weeks in the fridge or 1 year in the freezer.} This is a great project to do with kids. All you do is mash and stir and you're done!

Now, what to do with all that jam? I decided to make this Doctor Appreciation Week and spread the love! James' surgeon, GI doc and the pediatric nurses do so much for us {and they know us very well by now!} that I figured they deserved a little homemade treat for all their dedication and care. As a former teacher, I know what a thankless job taking care of {often cranky} kids can be, so anything to boost their spirits is always welcome! I just discovered a great new FREE online photo editing site called, so I uploaded a recent photo of James, typed my comments directly on the photo and then had it printed at Walgreens...instant thank you card! Love it!

I made these muffins to go along with the homemade jam {click on link for recipe}...

Lemon Ricotta Muffins with Toasted Almonds

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins with Sweet Berry Drizzle

Strawberry-Banana-Coconut Muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour {I didn't have pastry flour, so I used 1/2 c. whole wheat flour + 1/2 c. cake flour}
½ cup coconut flour {Bob’s Red Mill the health food section}
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 large egg
2/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and strawberries. In a separate bowl, light beat the egg. Mix in oil, vanilla, sugar and mashed bananas. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and lightly mix until all the flour is moist.

Divide mixture among 10 greased, paper lined or silicon muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top and a tester comes out clean.

I've also been trying out lots of new dinner recipes lately and I'd love to share them with you. I have TONS of recipes in my "to try" file, so I'm pretty picky in terms of determining whether or not a recipe is "repeat worthy". Here are a few that made the cut in our house:

Roasted Corn & Poblano Polenta with Shrimp {or chicken or steak}
Rosemary Grilled Steak with Tomato Jam
Grilled Pork Kebabs with Chimichurri Sauce
Asparagus with Tomatoes and Feta {I roasted the asparagus for 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees & added 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar to the tomato mixture as it cooked}
Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Peas and Sugar Snap Peas

Tandoori Chicken Burger Wraps

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
4 green onions
3 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Naan flatbread
red onion sliced thinly

To make the Yogurt Sauce:

1 small container fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon fresh mint chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

Put the chicken and all of the spices in a bowl and mix well. Form into 4 patties.

Cook the Tandoori Chicken Burgers on a preheated grill over medium-medium high grill. About 3 minutes per side. Throw the Naan bread on the grill during the last few minutes.

Mix the yogurt sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.

Slice some cucumbers, red onions, and cilantro for toppings.

Top the burgers with a few sliced cucumbers, red onion, a generous handful of cilantro, and yogurt sauce.

and on my to-make-list for these hot summer evenings...

Thai Chicken Pizza {California Pizza Kitchen style}
Cellophane Noodle Salad with Roast Pork
Cobb Salad
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Mango Sorbet

Enjoy, everybody! More posts to come! :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

{belated} 4th of July

I grew up in a family that loves traditions, which I hope to pass on to my kids as well. I'm not opposed to trying out new things, of course, but I also love the comfort and anticipation of knowing what events are to come. 4th of July is one of these times! I grew up in Springdale, Oregon...never heard of it? Gee, why not? Since it's all of about 5 blocks long? :-) You know, it's that 1/2 mile gap in between Troutdale and Corbett. Growing up, I wasn't a big fan of living in Hickville USA, but now that I'm older I can appreciate it a little's a little piece of the peaceful country life but just 20 minutes from downtown Portland. Every year Corbett hosts the quintessential small-town parade, complete with cool vintage cars, kids on decorated bicycles, tractors, horses leaving their treats all over the road, etc. Last year Maddie rode with Papa on the tractor in the parade. This year Papa drove the Yurf Dog {a crazy name for an oversized wanna-be-dump-truck golf cart} and pulled a wagon for us to ride in.

{getting ready at my parents' house; our ride is all decked out with decorations,
candy, comfy cushions, blankets, and lots of kid snacks for the long ride}

{Maddie's buddy Lucy Newell, who wanted to ride with us...until the engine started and she freaked out and began crying and screaming to get out. Maybe we'll try again next year!}

It was supposed to be filled with about 6-7 of our friends' kids, but lots of them chickened out at the last minute, so it ended up being me, Maddie, my cousin Thane from Seattle and his two boys Ethan and Avery. The parade is known for one thing...CANDY! I swear, the kids get more than at Halloween. {In fact, Alli's girls didn't want to ride in the parade because they'd miss out on the candy collection!}. Maddie and the boys were so gung-ho about the candy throwing that we pretty much ran out of the TEN POUNDS of hard candy I'd bought after, oh, the first 3-4 blocks of the parade! Note to self: next year buy *double* the candy! :-)

{James' first 4th of July and my just-go-with-it husband sporting a very patriotic hat}

{Alli's daughter Ava, who is always the Fashionista! Check out those shoes!}

{Foreground: Alli's toothless daughter Macy :-)
Background: My cousin-in-law Amy (married to Thane) and daughter Hadley}

{The parade has started--bring on the candy chucking!}