Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Knee Surgery

For about a year and a half, Grant has been complaining of knee pain. It seemed to come and go, and was often at its worst right at the moment he was asked to do something hard, which resulted in little (or no) sympathy from us. He received an unofficial diagnosis last year of Osgood Schlatter, which causes inflammation of the knee during adolescence. He couldn't finish his cross country season last year and opted not to play basketball for the first time in his life this past winter because his knee was bothering him so much.

Fast forward to the first of March this year and his knee was giving him so much trouble that he walked with a limp most of the time. With high school sports looming in the future, we decided maybe it was time to get it looked at. His pediatrician immediately knew something was off with just an examination. She ordered x-rays, then called us the next day saying the x-rays showed an "osteochondral defect" (bone & cartilage) and ordered an MRI. He got an MRI on March 15, and we got a call the next day telling us that the MRI showed osteochondritis dessicans...he had a large, unstable fracture in the bone and cartilage on the front of his knee. Our doctor referred him to Shriner's Hospital in Sacramento for further evaluation.

And then COVID-19 really hit and it became virtually impossible to get medical treatment of any sort! We had to wait over a month to get into Shriner's, and were first seen there on April 17. At our initial appointment, we were given the news that surgery was needed to repair the injury and that recovery was going to be long—anywhere from 6-18 months. He was given crutches and told not to put any weight on his leg and surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, May 5.

The night before surgery, our home teacher Steve Alston came over and gave Grant a priesthood blessing. In the blessing, he told Grant that this injury would be "inconsequential" in his life. He told him his pain would be minimal in recovery and blessed him to be "exactly obedient" in his rehabilitation and that he would have a positive attitude through it all.

Due to the pandemic, Grant had to be tested for COVID 48 hours prior to surgery. He was a trooper. 

We got to Shriner's about 11am on the day of surgery. The child-life specialist took some time with Grant going over everything that was going to happen that day, all while the hospital therapy dog laid on Grant's lap :) He was in heaven.

Waiting to be taken back to the OR.
He finally was wheeled back for surgery around 3:30pm. About 90 minutes later, Dr. Haus came out and said surgery had been a success. He said that the fracture was not as unstable as it had appeared in the MRI and no pins or screws were needed. They used a technique called "microfracture" and drilled several small holes in the bone and cartilage surrounding the fracture. This technique stimulates blood circulation to the area and helps the body heal itself. It is a slow process, but Dr. Haus said it was the best-case scenario and was hopeful that no further surgery will be required. We spent a couple of hours in recovery before coming home that evening. His pain following surgery was minimal, he only needed pain meds the first day and then managed fine with Tylenol.

The markings on his leg resembled a very sad face, haha!
He was in a locked knee brace for the first two weeks, unable to bend his knee or put any weight on it at all.

We took the boat out for the first time just a few days after surgery and Grant was a trooper. He enjoyed fishing and didn't even complain about not being able to get in the water!

Mother's Day 2020
For the last month, he has been doing physical therapy working primarily on strengthening his core and his supporting leg.

We are now at the six-week post-op mark. As of this week, he is out of the brace and slowly beginning the process of putting weight on the leg. He is not out of the woods yet, he will need to be very careful over the next several months to ensure that he does not overuse the joint...that means no sports for at least the fall, but we are hopeful that he will make a full recovery and be able to resume his active lifestyle.

He and I have done some fun things together...including sewing a pair of pajama shorts.

And experimenting with watercolor!

Through it all, the words of the blessing keep coming back to me. At his initial appointment, the doctor believed Grant would need a bone graft, perhaps a cartilage implant, and that his healing would be closer to 18 months to 2 years. This was devastating news for all of us, but especially Grant, who was eager to join his brother in sports at Del Oro this fall. The word "inconsequential" keeps coming back to me. Although it has certainly been a challenge, I am confident that this will be just a little bump in the road for Grant, but will not have a lasting impact on his life. He has been cheerful, cooperative, and grateful for the help he has received. I am grateful for access to top-notch medical treatment, and equally grateful for the power of the priesthood!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Pandemic Blues

Today is Thursday, April 30, 2020
- We are at 48 days of social isolation.
- The dollar is worth $ 5.32, the euro $ 5.77 and the pound $ 6.54.
- Gas is $2.60 on average near us 
- Schools have been closed since mid-March and are teaching remotely on-line. This will continue for the rest of the school year.
- There are lines/tapes inside the stores to keep people 6 feet apart.
- Bars and restaurants only for home delivery & pick-up.
- Parks, beaches, and walk-in places are not accessible to the public.
- All sports competitions have been canceled.
- All festivals and entertainment events have been banned.
- Weddings, family celebrations, and birthdays have been canceled. Funerals are limited to 10 people.
- People are doing drive-by parades to celebrate birthdays!
- Young kids can’t understand why they can only see grandparents & other extended family and friends on a screen or thru a window if someone visits in person. 
- Hugs and kisses are not given.
- All church meetings are canceled and the temple is closed.
- We have to stay at least one meter or more away from each other.
- There is a shortage of masks and gloves in hospitals.
- There are fewer ventilators than there should be.
- People are wearing masks in public, some places even REQUIRE that you wear them to enter! 
- Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and anything Lysol or Clorox is in short supply and limited per person... IF you can even find them!
- Stores are closing early to disinfect everything. (24-hour stores are even closing by 9pm)
- Store checkouts, pharmacies, and even fast food drive-thru windows have added plexiglass between employee and customer. Have to reach around or under to pay!
- You can't find isopropyl alcohol, toilet paper, or hand sanitizer easily. .. supply per person is limited.
- Australia, USA, and Europe have closed their borders.
- Western Australia has been divided into 9 territories & an instant $1,500 fine issued for crossing the border without a valid reason. (Transport workers, Essential services, etc)
- No one is traveling for leisure. Airports are empty. Tourism has the worst crisis in history.

The above is just a snapshot of the effects of COVID-19 on the world. As for me, I'm seriously starting to go nuts. I am normally a very optimistic and productive person. But the last few days, I literally have ZERO motivation to do anything productive. I feel like I just wander around the house half the day, looking for something to do! Steve is working from home, the boys have classes most of the day every day, Olivia is taking two online classes and working full time as a nurse's aide at a local convalescent home. But all my post-graduation plans of substitute teaching came to a screeching halt when this all hit and I'm really struggling to find my purpose and spend my days in meaningful ways. 

I decided this morning that I needed to start making a list of a few "real" things to get done each day. So today, I organized my cookbook shelf. 
Here's the "Before"

And the "After"!
I sewed the binding on a couple of baby quilts I made over the last few months. 

Also on my list for the day... "sit outside in the sun and read for an hour", which I did!

I'm fed up with politicians and the feeling of our civil liberties being stripped away. Today it was announced that all California beaches and state parks are closing indefinitely. I just don't get it. It feels very political in many ways and I am trying really hard to not get sucked into that black hole of anxiety and frustration.

One bright spot has been all the hilarious memes floating around regarding the Coronavirus. Here's just a couple from the last couple of days that gave me a chuckle! 

Monday, April 20, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic

Today marks the beginning of week six of being at home due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The whole thing is still a bit surreal to me. If someone would have told me two months ago that school would be canceled for the year, professional sports would not be played, churches and temples would be closed, and even the Las Vegas strip would be shut down, I would have laughed in their face. And yet, here we are.

As of today, there are over 2.4 million confirmed cases and 169,000 deaths worldwide. In the US, there are over 750,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 41,400 deaths. New York has been the hardest hit, with over 250,000 cases there alone (crazy!). Most states have some sort of "shelter-in-place" order, though some states are stricter than others. All "non-essential" businesses are closed, including hair and nail salons, dental and orthodontic offices, malls, etc. Grocery stores are still open and have implemented "physical distancing" measures to limit customers and keep people at least 6' apart. Toilet paper is a hot literally flies off the shelves as fast as it comes in. I felt like I hit the jackpot at Target early this morning when I scored a 24-roll package...enough to see us through a couple of months at least!

The local schools are doing a great job with their "distance learning" programs. I am grateful that Jack and Grant are the ages they are and have the ability to work independently. There was some early disappointment over not seeing friends and sports being canceled just as the season was beginning, but they've mostly gotten over that and adjusted to the new "normal."

Our daily schedule looks like this:

7:15-8:15     Exercise
8:30-9:15     Breakfast and scripture study/seminary
9:30-12:00   Schoolwork
12:00-12:30 Lunch
1:00-3:30     Schoolwork
3:30-5:30     Free time, outdoor chores
6:00             Dinner
7:00-9:00     Games, TV, etc
9:30             Bedtime

There have been lots of ping-pong games and hops in the pool to break up the monotony of the day. Over the weekend, Steve and Jack created two golf holes on the side yard. I am grateful for plenty of open space at our house to enjoy the outdoors and not feel confined in any way.

We haven't been to church since March 7. Jack and Grant have administered the sacrament ordinance in our home each week, and then we've been doing online ZOOM meetings with the Snow and LaPlante families. It is nice to share spiritual insights and feel like we are still nurturing our spirits even though we are unable to gather together with our ward. I really miss the temple...after a year of attending the temple weekly, it definitely has left a hole in my soul to not be able to go!

There have been some big blessings through this experience, in spite of the inconvenience of it all. With Olivia recently home from her mission, it has been such a gift to have all three kids under one roof for what is likely the last time. A few weeks before Olivia got home, I was feeling sad that our boys were so busy with school and sports that they wouldn't have much time to spend with Olivia before she went back to school. To have everything come to a screeching halt has meant endless family time with games, laughter, talking, and dinners together...all of which have brought us closer. The boys are having a great time together and it just feels like a huge blessing to have this time together so close to Jack leaving home (and Olivia leaving home again!).

I try not to get too anxious about the economic effects of all of this, or the government taking so much away from us. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories circulating on the news and social media and it is easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole. I am naturally a very trusting and optimistic person and so I don't want to think or believe that there are any ulterior motives behind what is happening...but time will tell! In the meantime, I'll just take lots of deep breaths and focus on what I can control, not what I can't!

Ping-pong is great stress relief, haha!

I've been sewing masks to donate to hospitals and friends...the public is encouraged to wear a face-covering in public. 

We took an impromptu drive up to the snow one day...this is I80 East, normally packed with Tahoe traffic. The roads were empty! We found a little place to pull off the road and play in the snow!

We were supposed to be in Maui, boogie-boarding on the beach. Instead, we ended up boogie-boarding in the snow!

"Snow Angels"

Time together with these three is priceless!

Olivia has shared some of her Filipino cuisine with us!

Since hair salons are closed, we've had to resort to home haircuts for the boys. Thanks to YouTube for the tutorials, haha!

Whitaker Golf Club, open for business!

The pool isn't very warm yet, but it's not stopping the boys from getting in!

Our version of "American Gothic", following moving and spreading 12 loads of wood chips!

Grant was the tractor driver, since his knee is making it hard to walk.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Back to School

It's been a busy year and a half since the last blog update, and over the coming weeks and months, I hope to get caught up on all that's happened.

In the meantime, I thought it appropriate to document the milestone year we have started!

Olivia is a SENIOR!!! How did that happen? I swear, it feels like she just started high school (or kindergarten, for that matter)...and now it's coming to an end for her! She's busily prepping for college applications, and is also in the Nursing ROP program at the high school. She loves it, and it is confirming her desire to pursue a career in the nursing field.

Jack is Big Man on Campus as an 8th grader...again, I can't even believe it! And Grant—my BABY!—is in 5th grade...his last "official" year in elementary school.

I'm still working in the library at Sunol Glen two days a week, and love being a part of the boys' school community.

And the big news...I went back to school too! After several years of feeling a nagging to go back and finish my college degree, I'm finally doing it! I signed up for the BYU-Idaho Pathway program. It is basically a "bridge" year to get me back in the mode of college-level courses, then next year, I will enroll officially in BYU-Idaho's Online Degree program.

It is exciting to be back in a learning mode, though it is requiring a great deal of effort on my part to successfully (or not so successfully, depending on the day!) juggle all my commitments. I am learning to better utilize and manage my time, which is a really good thing! The religion portion has been a blessing as well, as I have felt an increased love and closeness to my Savior, and have truly felt His hand in so many areas of my life.

It will take a few years to complete my degree—I joked with Olivia that we could potentially graduate from college at the same time! She didn't find the same humor in that as I did...! But I truly feel that this was the right move at the right time for me, and I am excited to see where it takes me!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spring Break 2015 - Part 5 - Back at Sea

After three fun-filled days in ports, the last two days of our cruise were spent at sea. I was a bit surprised at how cool it was on the water. I had envisioned hot days spent lounging in the sun...not the case! It was partly cloudy, and quite breezy on the pool deck, but we still found plenty to amuse ourselves!

We saw a great magic/comedy show by Eric Buss. He was on America's Got Talent a few years ago, and now travels doing his act. Grant was so impressed that he decided he wanted his souvenir of the trip to be Eric's "How To" DVD. He was thrilled to get his picture taken with Eric, as well as get the DVD autographed. 

We played several games of shuffleboard. Boys vs. Girls, Kids vs. Parents, and every combination in between. Some of the games were pretty close and the competition was fierce!

We played Bingo in the lounge. While we were hoping to win big bucks, it didn't happen. But it killed a couple of hours and the kids had fun anticipating a win!

We watched a few movies in our room. More like the kids watched movies while Steve and I took naps! It was awesome!

We enjoyed more amazing food than should be legally allowed. Jack was the most adventurous of the kids, and tried something new at nearly every meal. He even ate sushi...and gave it a thumbs up! The Japanese Sushi restaurant was probably our favorite meal all week!

One of my hesitations about a cruise was the fear of getting Norovirus or some other crazy bug. With all those people in a contained space for an extended period of time, it's easy for viruses to travel like wildfire.

I was impressed with Norwegian's cleanliness. Staff members were constantly cleaning the general areas of the ship, and stationed outside of every restaurant was a staff member with a spray bottle of hand sanitizer, along with an automatic dispenser. The staff member would spray your hands and say "Washy Washy"...then as we rubbed our hands together, they would smile and say "Happy Happy"! It became our family joke...and stuck for several weeks after we returned home!

Every night while we were at dinner, our room steward Juniper would come and turn down our beds and leave a towel animal of some sort on the bed (or toilet!) with the schedule of events for the next day. These were some of our favorites.

What's with the tongue in pictures these days?
I don't get it!
The kids were amused by our Butler, Chris. Grant called him a few times making movie requests or asking other questions about activities on board. I was really proud of his courage in picking up the phone and calling, all on his own.

At the end of the show on the last night, nearly 200 staff members, representing every department on board the ship, came on stage to a rousing standing ovation.

It was really impressive to see how many staff members there are on a ship, and how hard they work day in and day out. Their contracts are for a minimum of 8 months, 7 days a week without a single day off. Most were from the Philippines, and many had young children back in the Philippines living with grandparents. I got a little emotional (big surprise, I know!) seeing all of them on stage, realizing the sacrifices so many were making in order to provide a better life for their families.

We so enjoyed the time together as a family. Our time with all three kids at home is quickly coming to an end...just two more spring breaks with Olivia before she heads off to college.

I feel so blessed that our kids enjoy each other's company and are good buddies (most of the time!). I hope those relationships continue as they grow into adulthood!

Steve and I commented that we were both pleasantly surprised with how much we enjoyed the cruise. It was a good mix of sightseeing and adventure, along with low-key relaxing. We will definitely do another one!