Saturday, December 31, 2016

An Ode to 2016

Spinal Fusion. 
New Van. Disneyland. Holes.
Hoopfest Champions. Fire Station No. 5. Palouse Falls.
School House Rock. Joshua Bell. The Holiday Bowl. Clarence.
 Beethoven's 5th. Kennewick High 20 Year Reunion.
Gymnastics. Chinook Middle School. Cross Country. Apollo.
    Pole Vault. Junie B. Jones. Gymnastics State Championship.
Track and Field. Nixon Library. Multnomah Falls. 
Emily and Guinness. Tula Carrier.
Happy Accidents. James the Goose.   
It's a Wonderful Life. 


Each year, as I sit down to write an Ode to the year gone by, I am in awe. There is so much life that has been lived, things that one year ago I never would have dreamed of. 

A year ago I didn't know we would lose two pets, and add a new one to our family (today!). 

A year ago I didn't know that Elisabeth would have surgery to fuse her entire spine. 

A year ago I didn't know that three of my children would be transferring to new schools. 

A year ago I didn't know that I would finally see Joshua Bell perform in concert. 

A year ago I didn't know that Donald would be cast in his first play and fall in love with theater. 

A year ago I had no idea of any of it...but it all happened, life has continued to write its story.
And now we turn the page to 2017 and I wonder, what will this year bring?
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Our new goldendoodle, Apollo, who joined our family this morning!

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Goodbye, 2016!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's Lorelai's Birthday!

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Words to describe Lorelai Leigh:

Dedicated. Strong. 
Determined. Brave. Focused. 
Accomplished. Intelligent.
Creative. Honest.

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Happy 12th Birthday, Lorelai Leigh!
I love you!!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It's Alexandra's Birthday!

She is everything I imagined she would be. 

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She is a dream come true

Happy 14th Birthday, 
Alexandra Louise!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Elisabeth is Nine!!!

Oh, happy day! 
Isn't it fine?! 

My sweet girl,
Is turning nine!
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She is my world.
Happy 9th Birthday, 

Monday, September 5, 2016

The First Day - 2016



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Elisabeth Elva
~3rd Grade~

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Elsa Lelise
~3rd Grade~

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Lorelai Leigh
~6th Grade~

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Alexandra Louise
~8th Grade~

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Why this year is new and exciting...

After 8 years in dual language education, we made the decision to pull our children from the program. At this point, Alexandra and Lorelai are 100% fluent in Spanish and Elsa has a strong foundation on which to build.

In the last year we faced many issues in regards to the low income school the program was placed in and determined that it would be best for our children to be in a safer learning environment.

We have plans to have them tutored privately in Spanish so they don't lose their bilingual skills - that is something that is very important to me. I have distinct memories of daydreaming about motherhood as a child and in those daydreams my children were bilingual!

Alexandra and Lorelai are at a brand new middle school opening this year. It is fun for them to be a part of creating traditions that will be passed down to future generations. They are starting the first few months at a temporary location and will move to the new campus when it is finished in January.

Elsa was able to get transferred to the same school Elisabeth attends - which is also the school that I work at! And even better, she was placed in the same classroom as me!!! ( I am a one on one with a boy with cerebral palsy) It is so wonderful! We are together all day, eat side by side in the cafeteria, and play together on the playground (though I noticed that after the first two days Elsa was already running off to do her own thing - which makes me happy!)

So new schools, new experiences, new friends!
It is going to be the best year yet, I can just feel it!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Back-to-School Tradition!

Apple Dipping.

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 A Sorenson Family tradition since 2008.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Story About a Spine: Part 7

The night I brought Elisabeth home (for the second time) was difficult. While I understood that she would be experiencing severe post operative pain, this seemed different...this was something more.

I watched as she thrashed about and sweat poured from her head.

Then I prayed.

And afterwards, the answer came as clear as day. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The words just popped into my head:

Side effects.

I looked at Elisabeth and observed. I noticed her hand reach up and rub her nose. All week in the hospital we had assumed she had been trying to get the oxygen off...but there was no oxygen now...  Wait! It was never the oxygen, she was itchy! And the thrashing - like a person trying to escape their body - suddenly I realized her entire body was itchy!

I googled Oxycodone.

Itchy. Sweating. Elevated heart rate. Restlessness. And a million other side effects that she was probably feeling but couldn't express.

I just KNEW I was right and made the decision right then and there to give her strictly Tylenol. Oxycodone only stays in the body for four hours, so I knew I'd know by morning if I was right.

And here she was the next morning:

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I was overjoyed. 

Elisabeth was back!  

The torment she had endured the previous 10 days was lifted!

Of course I was a little frustrated, too. It was so obvious looking back on it. Then again, she had spent a week and a half in the hospital and not one nurse or doctor had thought it could be side effects. 

In reality, all the symptoms were being misinterpreted as signs of pain (the sweating, the elevated heart rate, etc.). So we would immediately give her more of the oxycodone, which unknowingly was making the situation ever worse! Oh, what a vicious cycle it was!

But in the end, a tender mercy
a direct answer to the prayer of a very tired and distraught mother.

How grateful I am. That moment was one I will never forget for as long as I live.

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[Comfort at last.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Story About a Spine: Part 6

I smiled
when I saw the new, updated sign on the garage door:

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The entire family was outside waiting and Donald [carefully] scooped up Elisabeth from her carseat and carried her in the house.

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They had 'For She's a Jolly Good Fellow' all cued up to play and as we walked in the door we all began to sing along. A joyful return for our special little queen.

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Elisabeth was once again returned to her royal throne [the couch!].

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Literally fifteen minutes after we arrived, Donald, Lorelai, and Elsa had to leave for Seattle; the regional track meet was that weekend and they were only waiting around long enough to greet us.

And just like last time, Lorelai sneaked a peek at Elisabeth's new back:

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Then they were off and it was Alexandra and I left at home to play nurse to Elisabeth.

At first things seemed relatively okay:

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But things started going downhill quickly.

She started thrashing about, sweat was pouring from her head, she couldn't sleep.

'Think, think, think,' I told myself.

I knew there had to be a solution. There had to be something causing this, some variable that I was missing.

As afternoon turned into night she became increasingly worse. I was tired, I was worried. There was no where left to turn. I knew the local hospital wouldn't take her, they had said so themselves. And driving back to Spokane just wasn't an option that late at night. Plus, I had just spent a week back there and really, they hadn't solved the problem.

I was on my own. I needed to figure it out.

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[To help ease her discomfort, Alexandra created a makeshift hospital 
bed by using a bean bag to elevate the mattress.]

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Story About a Spine: Part 5

Searching for Answers

We arrived back at the hospital the night of July 3rd and it was around 5 am on the 4th of July when she finally fell asleep - after almost two days of being awake and miserable.

This was not a fun way to spend Independence Day...but I knew it was the card we were dealt so we had to just make the most of it. 

  I tied a red and white ribbon in her hair while she slept. It was perfect.

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On the 5th we had exciting news: Donald and the girls were coming to visit! When they arrived Elisabeth actually woke up, which was amazing because mostly she was just sleeping due to sedation. And oh, what a difference having them there made! She seemed so content, so happy.

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Daddy missed his little girl:

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After spending some time with Lizzy, the big girls went down to the rec room and painted some posters to decorate her room:

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Elisabeth's ROOM

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Oh, what a difference a little bit of color makes! 
The doctors and nurses were all quite impressed.

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The next few days we were in somewhat of a holding pattern. She would sleep and sleep. Every once in a while she would wake up, but mostly she would sleep. I did get her hair detangled and combed, so that was good.

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Also, Elisabeth had a few visitors while she was there of the canine variety:

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But if sisters and dogs weren't there.  
Or if I wasn't pestering her by trying to detangle hair, she slept:

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Mostly I just took pictures of her.

On Wednesday afternoon they mentioned sending Elisabeth home in the morning. The problem I saw with that was that we had not resolved any of the issues, we had merely found a successful way to sedate her and I didn't feel that sending her home sedated was the best option. I suggested that we first let her wake up so we could gauge where exactly she was at. Everyone agreed and so on Thursday morning we stopped the sedation drugs.

It went as smoothly as we could hope. She woke up and seemed rather calm. By that night I thought, 'Yes, she is okay to take home' - though I was still haunted by what had happened the first time around.  

Why had she exhibited such strange behaviors? Why was she thrashing? Why couldn't she sleep? 

With still so many questions I agreed to take her home - a second time - on Friday.

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Up next: Part 6, The Homecoming, Take Two!

A Story About a Spine, Part 4


When we arrived home there was a sign welcoming us along with a sparkling clean house. That is just one of the gazillion things that I love about my family - when I am gone things do not fall apart. They rise to the occasion! 
(Elsa even took charge of making sure my flower baskets were watered.)

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The girls were thrilled to have their little sister home again. They hadn't seen Elisabeth in the hospital, so there were a lot of stored up hugs and kisses.

I absolutely adore the picture below...especially how Lorelai is taking her first peek at Elisabeth's 'new' back.

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And if you really want your heart to melt, look at these pictures:

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When Lorelai went over to whisper hello, Elisabeth gently lifted her hand and placed it on Lorelai's face. It was as if she were trying to say, "Why, there you are, sissy! I have missed you!."

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But then...things took a turn for the worse...

Elisabeth began thrashing and her hair was soaked in sweat. I kept thinking, "she's in pain, she's in pain". I religiously gave her the prescribed dose of oxycodone every four hours in hopes of bringing her relief, but it didn't make a difference. Throughout the afternoon and into the night she thrashed. At 3 in the morning I called the hospital and talked to a nurse who promised she would pass the message on to the doctor when he arrived. Come morning I waited and waited for a call, finally deciding at 9 am to call back. The physician instructed me to increase her dose by 1/3.

I did. And nothing improved. 

Elisabeth had been awake 24 hours and I was getting increasingly concerned. So I reached out to the local pediatrician who suggested giving her Benadryl in hopes that it would at least help her fall asleep.

Nope. Didn't work.

I called back to the hospital and at this point was a bit teary (I, too, had been awake well over 24 hours). "What do I do?" I asked. "She needs rest, her body needs rest."

The doctor told me to bring her back so that they could better manage her pain and evaluate the situation first hand. I scooped her up to put her in the car and discovered that the back of her shirt was soaked in blood. So we re-routed to the local emergency room. When I walked in they asked what was wrong and with a shaky voice I said, "She's falling apart." 

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The ER was able to bandage up her bloody incision and then I drove as fast as I could back to Spokane where they were awaiting our arrival.

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I was so glad to be back in the safety of that hospital room.

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Elisabeth was a mess. Her back was bleeding, her stats were all abnormal, she was sweating and thrashing and still unable to sleep.

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They gave her a medication to sedate her, but even so, the nurse and I stood at her bedside until the wee hours of the morning restraining her so that she didn't hurt herself. Already, her body was getting bruised from the thrashing.

At 3 am I began feeling dizzy - it had been nearly two days since I had slept - so the nurses took over and I went to get a few hours of sleep. When I woke I was informed that she kept thrashing until 5 am. Even with medication to sedate her, she had been unable to relax until finally her body gave in to fatigue. She, too, had been awake for close to two days.

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Up next: Part 5, Searching for Answers

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