Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So Much To Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving takes on a whole new meaning this year.

I've had many things to be thankful for in my short life, but now that a healthy life itself has become one of them, many other items come into focus. Here are just a few:

- I'm thankful for the fleet of doctors and nurses who helped me stay healthy through this crucial surgery - especially Drs. Morchower, Laird, and Mendeloff.

- I'm thankful for my loving family who stood by me, cared enough to find the best doctors to get me better, and helped nurse me back to health.

- I'm thankful for all of my friends who faithfully and frequently prayed for me before, during, and after my surgery. Without your love and support, this would have been a much more difficult process.

- I'm thankful that I'm learning at an early age to be happy that God doesn't always answer prayers the way I ask him to. I wanted Him to just make me better from the inside so that I wouldn't have to go through this, but He had other plans that I may never fully understand. Maybe a quick fix would have been too easy and I would have taken it for granted...Maybe He wanted me to get introduced to some of the best medical care providers in the country to inspire me to help others later in life...Maybe He wanted me to see firsthand how life's trials are always relative, which will end up making me pray just a little harder for the pediatric oncology and other longer-term patients I shared toys with for a few days, as I enjoy being able to go home "fixed" for good after my short stay. Whatever the reason, I'm looking forward to figuring it out someday...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Clean Bill of Health

Today my mommy took me to my two-week checkup with Dr. Laird, and he said that everything was healing just fine. No buildup of fluid or inflammation or any symptoms that I'm going to have any kind of complications post-surgery. He even said that almost all of the enlargement on right side of my heart had already gone down, which was really fast! Plus, all but two of my steri-strips have come off my "owie" and it looks great.

It will take another month or so for it to completely get back to its normal size, but it's working just fine now and I feel great. He also said that it might be a few more weeks before I start to gain weight (I still only weighed 19.7 lbs at the checkup, which is just a little silly for a 19-month-old). My mommy thinks there's some sort of conspiracy keeping me out of my "big girl carseat" because I have to be at least 20 lbs to start using that one. Maybe if I really pack on the turkey and dressing next week I'll be able break through that ceiling so that I can finally turn around and face forward so that I can start watching movies with Bubby on road trips...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Going Home

Although I've had a great time during my visit at Medical City and I would really like to stay a while to tell them "thank you" about 1,000 more times for fixing my heart, I'm ready to get back to my toys and my own bed at home. Dr. Mendeloff and Dr. Laird both said that I was well enough to go home, so it was time to pack up all my stuff and let Mommy take me on one final wagon ride down to Daddy's car.

My crazy balloon stash barely fit through the doors, but we managed to make it out without popping any of them.

Bye bye everyone!

No pictures, please.

My Last Morning In The Hospital

I had another great night of sleep - almost like I was at home. Miss Cindi was helping out some other kids last night, but Miss Kammie and Miss Jennifer took really good care of me and let me sleep in a little. I actually had such a good night that I told Daddy he could leave to take Bubby to school so that I could play with Lynne and Dee Da for a while.

The nurses kept telling me that I was probably going to home later this morning, so I really went into play mode and was extra talkative to everyone. I'm really feeling good now, and if you didn't read the first part of my blog, you probably wouldn't even know that I just had surgery three days ago.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More Visitors

After a good nap (it's so nice to be able to sleep on my tummy again) and a few more laps around the floor, some of my good friends came by to visit. The Sipes drove over from Ft. Worth to visit for a while. Layla even brought over a picture that she colored just for me and gave me a cute little bear to play with.

Lynne and Dee Da brought Alex back for another visit, and Rosy and J-Dad came by, too. We all had so much fun playing that I started to get a little tired....plus it was almost time for dinner. Around dinnertime, Uncle Andy and "Aunt" Amanda stopped by to play, and they watched me take down most of a pizza, a lot of yogurt, and some apple juice. I guess there's nothing wrong with my appetite.

Aunt Emily and her friend, Paul, stopped by on their way to a flag football game that was going on nearby, so it was nice to see them, too. Then I had a suprise visit from cousin Mark, who just moved to Dallas. It was really nice to see him because it had been a long time.

We also had a lot of friends who live too far away to visit in person but wanted to send over some nice things to play with instead. "Aunt" Donna and "Uncle" Drew sent some balloons and hearts all the way from Madagascar (via Upstate New York), my godparents Sara and Tim sent an enormous set of balloons and a teddy bear from California, the McMillans and the Davis' sent a "Jesus Loves Me" teddy bear, and the Colwicks sent a bunch of balloons and a teddy bear from Fort Worth. The nurses kept telling me that I must have had a lot of nice friends and family because they had never seen so many balloons in one room before!!

Big Afternoon

After a pretty active morning, I hung out in the room for a while and was ready to get back to it in the afternoon. I must have walked something like a million laps around the floor, passing the nurses station each time and saying "hello" or "hi, bye" to all of them each time.

Later in the afternoon, a nice nurse named Angel came by and wanted to give me a ride to get one last "picture" taken of my chest on that big, funny-looking camera. I was already getting a little sleepy from all the activity, so I rode down there in Mommy's lap.

I always like getting those pictures taken because Daddy has to put on one of those big, heavy dresses while he holds me up for the picture. I must have done a pretty good job posing because they only took one from each angle before they let us ride back up to the room. That was fun, but it's time for a nap.

Feeling Like A New Woman

I felt really well-rested this morning, so Mommy let me brush my teeth before the nurses came back to visit. At first, I thought it was a microphone and started singing my favorite Fergie song.

But Mommy told me that the American Idol tryouts weren't until January and I could wait to practice until I got home. See how clean my teeth are??

The doctors and nurses kept telling me that, after they took out that silly tube in my chest, I would be like a different kid, but I didn't realize how right they would be (makes you think that they've done this before). Miss Kathy and Miss Cindi came by to take it out a little before 6:00am. Although it hurt a little bit, I started feeling better right after they replaced it with a new bandage. I felt so good that I wanted to run around and play right away. We'll take some more and post some action shots later.

A Meal & More Visitors

We had another big night. Daddy fed me a lot of macaroni and cheese and some more mashed potatoes for dinner.

J-Dad came by and visited for a long time, and Nikki and Lowrey came by to visit again, too.

After all that excitement, I got some more medicine and got kind of sleepy. And right before bed, Dr. Morchower came by to talk with us for a while. I slept from 10:30 until 2:30, when I decided to sit up and play with the wires in my bed. Daddy convinced me to go back to sleep for a while so that I'd be ready to play in the morning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I've Moved!

Although I really liked the nice staff in the PICU, I was happy when they told me I was going to "graduate" to my new room in the regular Pediatric unit (room D615). It's a lot bigger, and my mommy and daddy have a fold out couch to sleep on now, which is a step up from the chair they slept in last night.

I did get a lot of the wires/tubes taken off of me, but they wanted to leave my chest tube in until tomorrow morning just in case, so I've been pretty cranky all day. I did pep up a bit when I got to take a wagon ride from my old room to the new one, and on the way I got to see my "bubby" (brother) for the first time. That made me happy. Also, the Marinkos brought by a bag full of goodies and a new baby doll.

I'm going to eat some dinner and hopefully take a little nap since I've been up all day. Tonight should be my last night with any kind of discomfort, and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow morning when I get the last big tube out so that I can walk around a little bit and maybe head over to the big playroom down the hall...

Good Morning

Boy, these hospital folks really like to wake up early. I got some lab work done at 3:00am, a chest x-ray at about 4:30, and a bath shortly after that.

The night went really well, and I slept quietly (and without any pain medicine) all night. I also got some of those silly wires off of my head and back, and they took out my oxygen tube, too. Taking all of that tape off hurt a little, but I'm happy to have them gone, and I'm starting to feel a little better. Miss Laura also just said that I can start having juice and water this morning, and, if I'm lucky, I'll get the tube out of my chest, which will really make me feel better.

I'll check back with a bigger update and a new picture after I wake up a little more.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Night Night Time

This is just a quick note to say that I'm signing off for the night. I'm very calm now, and the nurses are keeping just enough happy juice in my system to keep the pain from coming back. Although I ran a fever of 102 earlier tonight, I am down to a cool 97.7, so even though my eyes are slightly open, I am out like a light preparing myself for what might be a long morning tomorrow.

Thanks to Amy, Lori, Carrie, Nikki, and Lowrey for stopping by to say hello today, and thanks to my grandparents, Aunt Emily, and Uncle Andy for hanging out for most of the day - it really made me feel special, and I know my parents were happy to see everyone.

A Little Post-Surgery Nap

Wow, that was a lot to take on. I'm pretty tired, so I decided to take a little nap. I told my daddy to take a picture to pass along to my friends so that they would know that I was doing just fine. Once I wake up a little more, we'll post some more fun stuff.

I'm Done!

Thanks to Dr. Mendeloff and the awesome Pediatric Cardiology staff at Medical City, I got through the surgery with no issues. I'm still very sleepy, but I should be back to normal before too long. Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers leading up to this big day!

Lots of New Stuff

I got to do lots of exploring this morning once I got to the hospital. First I checked out my new room and my new bed.
Then the nice nurses gave me some new jewelry to wear - an ankle bracelet with my name on it.
After that, I took a self-guided tour of the PICU floor and met a bunch of new people.

After that bit of excitement, I got a quick bath and they put me in a new dress with tigers on it. Then the nurse gave me some really tasty stuff she called "goofy juice." After about 10 minutes, I started feeling a little sleepy and a lot happy. Then one of the doctors took me back to the special room and I got to say bye bye to my parents for a little while. I'll write a little more after I wake up later this morning.

Ready To Go

Boy, 5:00am came early this morning - especially since I usually sleep until 8:00. After we got dressed, I told my mommy that, even though we were going to the hospital, I needed to take my purse and my puppy with me - a girl's got to accessorize!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I'm Writing This

I'm writing this blog so that I can keep my family and friends posted regarding my heart condition and how my doctors plan to fix it so that my parents can stop worrying about me. I'm actually pretty healthy otherwise, but this hole in my heart has made my body work overtime to keep me going, and I'm ready to get it fixed. I copied a good summary that my Mommy wrote below for all of you who might be interested.

From: Jeannie Miller [mailto:miller421@tx.rr.com]
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008
Subject: Audrey Update

Hello, all. We just wanted to update you on Audrey’s condition.

As most of you know, Audrey has a congenital heart defect called an ASD (atrial septal defect, or hole in the heart). This is something that developed in the womb, and we have been monitoring it every six months. Typically, an ASD is repaired in children between the ages of two and five if it doesn’t close on its own. However, Audrey’s cardiologist expressed some concern and suggested that we move forward with the surgery now. Her weight, compared to her peer group, has steadily declined from the 25th percentile to the negative 15th percentile, and the right side of her heart is significantly enlarged due to the excessive amount of blood flowing through the hole into the right atrium. Her heart is about the size of her fist and the hole is a little more than 7mm. Although this is considered to be a mid-sized hole, it is allowing blood to flow as though it were a large-sized hole.

Mark and I met with her pediatric thoracic surgeon today and he is wonderful. Dr. Eric Mendeloff is the director of the Congenital Heart Program at Medical City Children’s Hospital, where Audrey’s surgery is scheduled. The process is a follows: they will have to go in through her chest, as she is too small to go in through a vein in her leg. They will put her on a bypass machine, cut into the right atrium, and patch the hole with a piece of pericardial tissue (the sac that surrounds the heart). This patch will become grafted into her existing heart muscle in about 3 months as if the hole had never existed.

Post-surgery, she cannot have significant pressure applied to her chest and she cannot be picked up under her arms for at least four weeks, as that would put pressure on her breastbone and cause her some discomfort. Like any other bone in the body, her breastbone will take about six weeks to completely heal back together. But other than that, her recovery is amazingly short for open heart surgery.

We are scheduled for November 4th (yes, Election Day). The surgery will begin at 8am and will last approximately four hours. Barring any complications, she will spend 1 night in the Pediatric ICU and another 2 nights in a regular room. We should be discharged on Friday. Dr. Mendeloff said that children are incredibly resilient and that she should be feeling basically back to normal by that weekend!

We appreciate all your prayers and we will keep everyone posted on Audrey’s progress.

Jeannie, Mark & Alexander

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is This Thing On???

Hi everyone! I guess if you're reading this, it's working. Since I'm only 18 months old and still trying to figure out how to work a computer, this blog thing is a big step.

I have a really big week next week, so I created this site so that I could keep all of my friends and family up to date on how everything goes. Please feel free to drop by as much as you want and to leave comments to my posts if you'd like.

If they're really nice to me, I might even let Mommy, Daddy, Bubby, Tokio, or Ozzy leave a "guest blog" from time to time, so check back often to see if we've posted anything new.

See you soon!