Friday, September 30, 2011

Final Words from Room 855

I apologize in advance for my double chin. And for that unsightly wound. But I wanted to share it because while I was anticipating my surgery I wanted all the details...more than what you read on WebMD.com. So this is going out there to all those who find themselves in my shoes one day; so that you can be prepared and know what's coming...



Okay, let the healing begin!

And a big thank you to Dr. G, Dr. M, and the staff at SHMC.

You're the best!

Post-Op: Day 3

I am so glad for a new day to be here. Yesterday was hard - but I started to feel better once they stopped giving me the pain meds. Those things were seriously messing with my mind.

I feel so tender still. And weak. Yesterday evening I thought I felt a spark of energy - so I used it to take a shower. Let me tell you, it felt divine, but was also completely exhausting. Exhausting with a capital E. But at least I'm clean now.

My new roomie is the best. She is the same age as my mother and also had a spinal fusion at L-4/L-5. But even though we had the same end result it's been interesting to compare notes. For example, my surgeon opted for a single incision on my belly. Hers went through the side and the back. My surgeon insists that I wear a back brace for 6 weeks, while hers doesn't believe in them. Regardless of the differences though, it's been comforting to have someone here to commiserate with me.

Best news of today: Donald is coming. And I am planning on another post-op video to go up later today. So if you want to see my battle scars, check back in later, okay? If that's not your thing then I would suggest you stay far far away from here (it's not too scary though - or maybe I'm just getting used to it.

p.s. Today is picture day at my girls school. I forgot all about it, but Jennifer called last night to remind me.

"How do you want me to do their hair? I can't mess this up, this is epic."

"Jennifer, first of all, you can't mess it up, you are one of the best stylists I know. And besides, for years to come I'll always look back at those pictures and remember the time my sister was there for me."

Thank you Jenn!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Post-Op: Day 2, Part 2

Today has been hard. I've felt light-headed and sick. And the meds are messing with my emotions. I have randomly burst into tears so many times. And I feel sort of life-less. Apparently they are going to take me off whatever med this is, but I have to wait for it to work its way out of my system.

I walked the loop around the 8th floor today. It took forever. Forever, forever. It was hard. I felt cold and I was shivering and I barely had the strength to keep going. But Dr. G just called and he insists that I'll get better quicker if I get up more. He also looked at my post-op x-rays and said they look fabulous. Though I already knew they would - Dr. G is a bit of a perfectionist.

The best part of the day was when my roommate was discharged. She complained about everything; from the food, to the staff, to her neighbors back at home. I have a feeling that she's the type who can always find something to be sour about. (and just so you know, she said she will NEVER come to this hospital again. NEVER.)

Okay, enough about her. Because my new roommate is soft and quiet and doesn't complain when her food arrives 5 minutes late. She and I are going to get along just fine.

Back to sleep for me now...

Exciting times in room 855

Well, I made a huge stride forward last night. I walked to the bathroom. And I didn't even cry.

I am hoping they don't send me home today. I do want to go home, but I just don't feel ready. I feel so vulnerable still...like something could go wrong at any minute and I don't want to be too far from Dr. G and Dr. M if something takes a turn for the worse.

Let's see, what other exciting things are happening in room 855:


  • I ate some mashed potatoes for dinner.

  • My blood pressure is dangerously low.

  • I got a new roommate and I wish the old one was still here. All this woman has done for the past 18 hours is complain. And she knows it too. At one point I heard her whisper to whoever was visiting her, "I feel sorry for the lady next to me, she probably thinks I'm a whiny b***h." Well...I wouldn't have chosen those words but...

  • I have a snazzy new back brace. It's going to be my friend for the next 6 weeks.

  • I got brave and looked at the incision site. Yikes. It's just below my belly button and to the left. About 3 or 4 inches in length. And completely black and blue.

  • I spend all the moments that I am not asleep (which isn't many) playing Words with Friends. So thank you to all my Words with Friends friends for keeping me entertained. You're the best!

Tootles!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Post-Op: Day 1, Part 2

Both the surgeons came in to visit me today. Dr. M was the general surgeon. It was his job to cut me open and get everything like abdominal muscles, intestines, and blood vessels out of the way. He said everything went great and there was minimal bleeding. I told him that I purposely put myself on a liquid diet on his behalf the day before surgery. I didn't think he would want to see some hamburger floating around in there. Eww gross. And then I told him how interesting it is that he's seen parts of me that I've never seen. To which he replied, "Trust me, that's the way you want it to be." He's probably right; I don't want to see my intestines. I'll just stick with seeing me from the outside.

Dr. G also came in to visit. He said that surgery went longer than planned and that it wasn't easy. Apparently I have some bones of steel in there and screwing the cage into my spine didn't happen easily. He also said that the disc was a falling about halfway into the spinal canal and that my spine down there at L4-L5 had no support at all. But he fixed me all up now, so my days of walking like the hunchback of Notre Dame should be over.

I have been sooooo tired today; slept pretty much the whole time. They want me up and moving, but I don't want to be up and moving. I just want to lay here. They forced me up twice now. Once to walk to the door and back and another time to sit me in a wheelchair and go downstairs for x-rays. And I cried. When they got me up the first time I was just so overwhelmed by it all and scared to move that I started bawling. I blame the meds though....I think they are making me emotional.

Anyways, I think they are going to back off some of the pain meds because they think I've been sleeping too much. But I just think I'm making up for lost time - all these past months where I couldn't get a good nights sleep; where the pain was just too bad.

Okay, I'm tired, all this typing has wore me out. Off to dream land again.


***please ignore typos/ etc. I am a little loopy.

Post-op: Day 1

I don't have a camera with me. So until I go home my posts will have to be picture-less (boring). Sorry about that.

It's strange being all alone here. Donald and Jennifer went back home yesterday so that the children wouldn't miss any more school. But I miss them. I really, really do.

Yesterday was interesting. I am not used to laying around all day, but I never got up, not once. I just stayed in bed, hooked up to a million different things. But they tell me that today they are sending in physical therapists to make me get up and start moving. I am nervous. My stomach is soooo tender right now. And rightfully so. They did open me up and move everything out of the way to access my spine. I hope they put it all back together right. :)

They aren't letting me eat yet. But that's okay. I am sort of afraid to eat. Just like I am afraid to stand up. But I'm going to have to brave it eventually. Maybe I can start off my eating by having one of those See's Candies sitting on my bedside table. Jennifer lovingly hand-picked all my favorites and had them wrapped up in an Autumn themed box. Autumn is my favorite time of the year. In fact, I have the most spectacular view of Spokane from the window next to my bed. And even though I don't see Fall colors yet, it just looks Fall-ish out there. A little crisp and blustery.

And while we are on the subject of things that make me happy, let me say how grateful I am right now. I am grateful to be living in a time of medical advances. Where we have doctors trained to fix things like damaged spines. Just think, if I were living in a different era of history I would have been doomed to remain a cripple forever. But I don't. I live now, and I live here, and I am on the road to recovery. It's all so wonderful!

Wish me luck today with my standing/walking. I'll have to post later and tell you all how it went.

Tootles!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Surgery Day Part 4...Out Of Surgery..On The Road To Recovery!

Well, Lisa's surgery went excellent. Dr. Gruber told me that her bones are nice and strong, and because they were so strong the surgery took a bit longer than they expected. But she should be good as new. (After 12 weeks of therapy that is.)

Here is a post operation video Lisa. She is so thankful for all the warm wishes!

Surgery Day Part 3...The Drugs Are Kicking In

Here is Lisa right when they took her back. They gave her something to "relax". Good time to get some last words in before surgery!



Good Luck Lisa! We love you!!

Surgery Day! Part 2!

This is part two of Lisa's back surgery day. To see part one, click here!

Here is Lisa doing a little pre surgery talk. I can't wait for the post surgery talk...that is when it will get interesting!


Surgery Day!

We arrived in Spokane yesterday so that I could get my bloodwork and pre-op appointment taken care of in preparation for my 5:30 am check-in time this morning.

Last night at the hotel Donald said,

"Lisa, do you want to carry Elisabeth into bed one last time? It's your last chance until January."

So....I did it. Probably not my smartest move, but we figured any extra damage I caused could be fixed up by Dr. G this morning. Right?



Disclaimer: No child was injured in the making of this movie. Only one Mama.


So this is it. I'm heading out to the hospital. The plan is to post a few videos throughout the day, so check back in, okay?


Wish me luck!

(It feels like Christmas morning!)

(Is that sad?)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Queen Elisabeth's Royal Party

The Crown:




The Decorations:








The Gifts:






The Cake:







The Birthday Queen:
(who was [and still is] very sick)







And that's how a Queen turns 4!




(Goodnight. Sleep tight.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Elisabeth's 4th Birthday!

Is it true? Can it be?
That today Elisabeth says goodbye to three?

Yes, yes, but there is more...
Goodbye to three, but hello to four!




Happy 4th Birthday
Elisabeth!




Photo courtesy of Photography by Lee Ann.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sisterhood


[Me, Jennifer, and Kristin. I never thought we looked much alike, but in this picture, I see it. We definitely look like sisters!]

I consider myself lucky on many accounts, one of them being that I have two sisters. My younger sister, Jennifer, is only two years apart from me in age. We shared everything growing up; from a bedroom to friends to a darling green shirt with 3/4 length sleeves (it still fits her). But my older sister, Kristin, graduated from high school when I was only seven years old. And while I was still at home playing with Barbie's and studying the violin, she was off exploring life. She went to college and earned a degree; she served a mission in Estonia; she got married; she started a family.

This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to Europe with both of my sisters. Those 8 days in Italy were amongst the best I've ever experienced. We laughed and laughed; we immersed ourselves in a different culture; we people watched; we ate gelato at 1:00 AM; we perused museums; we rode bikes through Rome; we traveled by train through the countryside of Tuscany.

It was magical.

But the best part of all was that I felt like we got to make up for lost time; all those years of my childhood where Kristin was already off living life while I was still working on growing up.


Happy Birthday Kristin!

You'll never know just how much I look up to you.
You are amazing.

Love, Lisa



p.s.
Please stop by tomorrow for a special weekend-edition post!! You don't want to miss it!!

p.p.s
I seem to do a lot of p.s.'s lately. Too much to say, I suppose.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maybe I should become a Gondolier...



My sister, Kristin, just emailed me this picture from our trip to Italy this past summer. Ha ha...I think I look like a venetian gondolier in my stripes. You know me, I just try to blend in with my surroundings; look like one of the locals (lol).

The funny thing is that I just bought a cardigan two days ago with those exact same stripes.

What is it with me and stripes?

I just can't get enough of them.

Perhaps I should consider moving to Italy and becoming a gondolier....

***

p.s.

What are you doing tonight?

If you have a minute between 6:00 and 8:00 you should stop by my house - I'm hosting a trunk show for Sweet Lizzi Children's Fashions. Cake will be served - as will Choffy. (Did you see Choffy on The Dr. Oz Show this week?) Anyways, stop on by and say, hello.

I might be wearing my new cardigan.


(email me for directions: greenstan@charter.net)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Declaration

This past week I read a comment thread on Facebook that really bothered me. It started off with a mother saying how hurt she was that someone had stared at her disabled child. And from there on a whole slew of parents-of-handicapped-children (PHC's) joined in saying how rude people are and how people are jerks and how in this day and age there is just no compassion for disabled people.

Excuse me?

Out of the entire history of the world I am quite sure there has never been a time as wonderful as right now. I have a child with severe brain damage - and in the past it would have been expected that she be placed in an institution (though I'm quite sure I never ever could have/would have done that), but now - in this day and age - children like Elisabeth are given an education and therapies and opportunities.

It is so wonderful! And I find myself thinking each and every day how grateful I am to not only live now, but to live here - in the United States of America. How can any of us complain?

Yes, sometimes people do look or stare. But why is that a bad thing? Why is it immediately assumed that people are looking down on your child with disgust? (And yes, this is what the mothers in this particular comment thread were saying). It is okay for people to be curious about children like Elisabeth - it's human nature to wonder. And I just don't see how that is so wrong or bad.

Another comment that I read stated how they 'wished people would ask about their child rather than just stare'. But from what I have observed over the course of the past 4 years (the 4 years that I have been a part of the disabled community) that is not a simple task. If a stranger or acquaintance - or even a friend - asks a question, it is expected that they ask the right question, and that it is stated in a politically correct form.

For example:

I have read how someone should never ever say 'what's wrong with your child?'. Oh heavens, if you do there's a good chance you'll get an earful. Rather, it would be more politically correct to say 'what's your child's diagnosis?'

But it's all so silly really. Why must we play these games? If someone is asking about your child, they are doing it with good intentions; because they care. So why make them feel bad when no harm was intended?

And - taking it a step further - why does it matter if someone says, 'what's wrong with your child?'

What's wrong with the word wrong? Why are PHC's so afraid of that word? Because the truth is that there is something wrong. Take Elisabeth for example: her brain did not develop the way it was supposed to. She cannot walk or talk or eat. So therefore, there is something wrong with her. And that's okay. That does not lessen her value as a human being. It is simply a fact.

I would encourage all fellow parents-of-handicapped-children to stop playing these games; stop worrying about how someone asks a question and start being glad that they did ask a question. Be excited to share the story of your child. Help spread the joy that comes from knowing these blessed little spirits. Instead of taking offense, take the opportunity to give a warm smile to a passerby on the street. Help them to know that it is okay to wonder and furthermore, that it is okay to ask.

And please, oh please, instead of dwelling on what-might-have-been, choose to dwell on the miracles that are.



[My miracle.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Yoga Studio (before)



Do you see that charming little building up there? Well, the left-side of it now belongs to my sister, Jennifer! And - as if that wasn't exciting enough - Jennifer is opening up a yoga studio in that cute little space.



I'm so proud of Jennifer that I could shout it from the rooftops!

"Jennifer Coats is my sister!!"

She really is doing amazing things and I just know that her new business is going to be tremendously successful. (And that may or may not be attributed to her very capable front desk manager **wink*wink**(me)).



By the way, don't be fooled by that sweet face. When Jennifer is talking business she can be fierce. Fierce, I tell you!


Stay tuned as Jennifer transforms her new space over the next few weeks!

This is going to be fun!!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Fit for a Queen

In September of 2007 she started off in the Royal Cradle...

and in September of 2009 she graduated to the Royal Crib.

Now, in September of 2011, Queen Elisabeth finds herself slumbering in a

Royal Four-Poster Bed


of her own.





Sweet dreams my little queen.


[More pictures to come when her new bedding arrives!]

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spinal Curves



I was waiting in the drive-thru of Chico's Taco's a few days ago with my sister, Jennifer. As we sat there I glanced down at my credit card (which is personalized with a family picture taken at Niagara Falls. )

Immediately I noticed my back and said to Jennifer,

"Look at my back in this picture. Look at that lovely curve. That's the way a back's supposed to be. Now my spine is all convex."

"Actually," Jennifer said, "the shape of the spine is supposed to go concave - convex - concave - convex. But yours just go's concave - convex - vex - vex."

And then we started laughing uncontrollably. I really do look pretty pathetic these days; more like 101 than 31. And when that's the case, all you really can do is laugh.


11 days till surgery. I can't wait to be upright again!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

S'more Season

Oh dear, the days on the calendar are going by quickly. Actually, this is good as far as my surgery is concerned (less than two weeks now!), but it's sad because I know s'more season (as I lovingly call it) will quickly be coming to an end.

Most nights we light up the fire pit and sit around with our best friends roasting marshmallows. The children run around the yard playing and the adults sit around the fire talking and laughing.

They are good times, let me tell you.

But, back to s'mores. I suddenly had a great idea this week: why not pack fixings for a s'more in the girls lunches? Sure, the mallow won't be roasted, but I hardly think that matters to 1st and 3rd graders.



[Prepare lunches.]


[Gather the goods.]


[Plop it in the lunch box.]


[And send them on their way.]

Graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Now that is a recipe for something spectacular.


Speaking of chocolate and spectacular....


Tonight is the
Choffy Tasting Spectacular!!


Choffy is 100% cacao bean, roasted, ground, and brewed.
The perfect drink for Autumn.


Do you want to try some?
Good, then come on over!

Open house from 6:30 until 9:00.


email me for directions:
greenstan@charter.net


And there's one more spectacular thing that I must make mention of...

My brother, Michael, is celebrating his birthday today!!!
Happy Birthday!


p.s.

I did a guest post for Hydrocephalus Awareness Month.
Click here to go read it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trimmed in Gold

My Grandma Coats loved gold. Loved it, loved it, loved it. It was kind of her thing.

She passed away two years ago and I was lucky enough to inherit her fine china. And, it's all trimmed in gold - of course.

I spent yesterday unpacking it all and carefully stacking it into cupboards. As I put it away I reflected back to a Thanksgiving dinner we had at her house when I was probably 8 or 9. We used these same dishes. And now they sit in my kitchen and my little family will eat a Thanksgiving feast of our own upon them come this November.

Like I said the other day, time just keeps marching on and many things change - but some things stay the same. (And I like that).












p.s.
I feel like a real grown up now that I have fine china.

p.p.s. The gold trim on the dishes matches my toenails.

p.p.p.s. Tomorrow night there is going to be a Choffy Tasting Spectacular at my house from 6:30 until 9:00. And you are invited! So pop on in and try some Choffy - and maybe buy a bag or two. You know, support the cause (I do have a spinal surgery to pay for after all). Email me at greenstan@charter.net for directions.

p.p.p.p.s. I think I'll be sipping my Choffy in one of those cute little coffee cups up there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Hair grows back, brains don't"


[My sister, Jennifer, at the county fair last month.]

Jennifer got her hair cut a few days ago. It is adorable. ADORABLE, I tell you. (refer to picture of us eating at Cheese Louise last week as a reference, not the picture above - lol.)

But...Jennifer didn't think so. It wasn't what she had imagined and definitely wasn't what she had asked for, so she fell into a state of shock/depression.

A little while later we were outside with Elisabeth, buckling her into her wheelchair as we waited for the school bus to arrive. Jennifer looked at Elisabeth and said,

"I know Elisabeth, you're thinking 'Get a real problem Aunt Jenn. Hair grows back, brains don't.'"

I laughed. And laughed. I'm still laughing over it.

In fact, I think that might be my new slogan for life:

Hair grows back, brains don't
.

***

And because Jennifer might not be too happy that I posted that picture up there (but hey - it was perfect for a post about a haircut-gone-wrong), I had better redeem myself. So take a look at this picture:



Oh la la, look at those legs! And those arms! Do you wish you looked like that? Well then, I have good news for you! You can!! Jennifer is opening a yoga studio in Richland next month!!! It's so exciting that I just can't stop using exclamation marks!!!!!

Details to come soon, I promise!!!!

Now go have a good day. And remember - hair grows back, brains don't.

Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Years Later

I think a lot about time; how it keeps marching on strong and steady. And while it marches on, things change, people change - the world changes. But amid that change we must take the time to reflect upon the past; to remember experiences and thoughts and emotions.

Yesterday, Donald and I explained to our children [who were not yet born] about the happenings of September 11, 2001 and how dreadful and terrible it was. And - more importantly - we taught them about the greatness of our country, about the blessing that freedom is, and about the responsibility we have to protect it.

~9/11 Memorial~











[Elisabeth says,'America, I love you so much I could just eat you.']




[A new monument was unveiled - it is made from remnants of the World Trade Center.]




[Balloons were released - one for each life lost that day.]



God bless
America.

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