Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Stander

Isaiah finally got his new stander this month! He hasn't had a usable one since prior to his surgery in July. After his surgery, his hips were so much wider, that he didn't fit in his old one. And thanks to all the red tape and bureaucracy in the healthcare system, this is how long it took to get a new one approved. It took hours on the phone just to get people to cooperate and do their jobs, when we knew it was medically necessary and able to be approved in the first place.

Now he stands for up to an hour, at least once but usually twice a day. He LOVES it! It gives him a new perspective. It is good for his muscle tone. It helps with his bowel function. And it gets him up from his harassing sister once in a while, haha.

Belle has adorably learned how to say Isaiah's name within the past two weeks. She says it all day long. She is always trying to be by him, to bring him toys, to rub his head, and to lay or sit by him. It is really sweet to watch. These two are going to stay the best of friends.

(Check for Belle photo-bombing the picture of Isaiah in his stander. Such a goofball!)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Our Normal

Isaiah is the greatest blessing we could ever ask for. He has taught us so much, including to never take anything for granted. While we do our very best to remember this everyday, it is sometimes hard to remember. What we consider as "normal" in our everyday lives, most couldn't even begin to imagine.

At least once a year, we have to be evaluated for any assistance that Isaiah might receive. Be it PCA hours, or nursing care, or even assistance for the many, many extensive things that Isaiah needs. Each time we do this, we are reminded how our lives are so vastly different from those around us. Here is an example of a typical day with Isaiah and Belle:
  • Wake up at 6:30 a.m. to give him an injection of medicine for his diabetes insipidus.
  • Get his bottles and medicines (there are eight of them as of now) drawn up for the morning, mid morning, and afternoon bottles, hope Belle doesn't wake up before you get Isaiah up.
  • At 7 a.m. give him his first medicines and start his feeding pump, wrestle with Belle while she tries to get into everything and cries because she isn't getting attention.
  • Between 7 and 8 a.m., give him a nebulizer treatment, a cough assist treatment, and suctioning, try to distract Belle by coordinating her morning bottle during this time and hope she happily feeds herself, feed her breakfast sometime in here too. If Isaiah is at all sick or congested, repeat these treatments every four hours. 
  • Provide physical therapy stretches, stimulation via sensory activities, practice communication with his PODD book, etc., try and do things that will entertain Belle and Isaiah at the same time.
  • About 10:30 a.m., start getting him ready for school, three days a week. He needs a rinse and fill of his feeding bag and more medications, hope Belle is ready for her nap during this time so she's not crying for attention.
  • Finally get him on the bus at 11:30 a.m. If the nap is working, have a few minutes to get lunch in and wash bottles and medicine syringes while she is sleeping, if not, squeeze it in while she is eating a snack, then do my best to make sure her needs are all met and that she is getting attention she deserves, feed her lunch, and run errands while I only have one to carry/push around because it's impossible with both by myself.
  • For non-school days, try and find activities to keep them both busy and happy for the afternoon.
  • Isaiah gets home at 2:30 p.m., this is when Dad takes over (after 8+ hours of working himself) so I can work from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Isaiah is sometimes overstimulated and cranky or asleep. Coordinate another rinse and fill of his feeding bag and medicines, hope Belle is happily playing .
  • Let Isaiah rest for a bit if he had school, otherwise try and keep both of them entertained and happy. Try changing his positions so he doesn't get uncomfortable. Change multiple diapers, all day. Do more therapy stretches. Make phone calls to order medicines or check on the status of equipment needs, county applications, etc. 
  • Shot time again at 4:30 p.m. 
  • Coordinate feeding dinner to Belle, trying to make food for us adults, keeping the house somewhat orderly, chasing Belle around, and still trying to find things for Isaiah to do. Let him watch some TV shows so he doesn't get bored. Re-position him every 5 minutes. 
  • Start getting ready for bed at 6:30 p.m., including baths for both of them on most nights. Have to get in the tub with Isaiah because that's the only way we know to bathe him. Give him a suppository to help him go to the bathroom and clean him up. Get all his nighttime medicines ready, rinse and re-fill his feeding bag, get him positioned just right in bed and tuck him in. Get Belle ready for bed and feed her a bottle.
  • 8:00 p.m. finally (hopefully) have both the kids in bed and breathe. Maybe try and fit a workout in? But feel so exhausted that all you can think about is getting in bed. Drag yourself to workout.
  • 10:00 p.m. after cleaning up the house, working out, and showering, finally get to bed. Hope that you can sleep through the night. Get up at 11:30 p.m. to turn off his feeding pump, and randomly as either child is known to wake up at least a few times a week. 
THIS is our normal. It is us dedicating 100% of everything we have to take care of our kids. I'm not asking for any sympathy or support, just wanting our family and friends to know what we go through on a weekly basis. To know why we can't always meet up  or make plans when you want us to. To know why we sometimes come off as tired and cranky. To know why we feel bad about ourselves for the weight we have put on in the last 4 years but are trying like heck to get back off, wanting nothing more than time to workout or run but knowing that every minute we have is consumed by our busy lives. 

We love and appreciate each and every one of our friends and family. We wouldn't change a thing about our kids, nor would we make any decision differently than we have. We just ask for strength, love, patience, and continued friendship.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Isaiah is Four!

A little late on this post, but last month Isaiah celebrated his fourth birthday! He loves pirates and one of his favorite shows is Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so of course we chose a pirate theme for his party! It was super fun. We had a ride on the pirate ship (pontoon), some swashbuckling snacks, and a treasure hunt with gold doubloons a plenty. :-) 

Isaiah is by far the cutest pirate I have ever seen. I love that we are able to learn his likes and dislikes and make his parties as memorable and fun as we possibly can. Isaiah doesn't have to say a word, we know he is having fun and that he appreciates the littlest gestures. I love my special boy! 

Back to School

Isaiah's return to school was a little late this year. He was still recovering from his surgery. He finally made it back in mid September. And he was sooo happy to get back into his routine! Although it was pretty tiring for him. I love seeing his art projects coming home, and hearing from his teachers how great his days are going.

Isaiah had to get all new school clothes. Any that he had from before no longer fit, because after his surgery his hips are so so much wider. Luckily he just had a birthday! He outgrew his standing frame and his wheelchair too because of this. We were able to get his wheelchair seat re-done, but we are still waiting for insurance approval to get a new stander. What a pain! I feel bad because he loves to stand so much, and he can't until we get this.

Here he was looking all spiffy in his Jake and the Neverland Pirates shirt and his new jeans for the first day back to school.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Cast Off

So Isaiah had his cast off about a week and a half ago. Things are very much the same. He is still not very mobile, and it's like starting over with pain. After not moving for so long he is very stiff and tender.

We still have the hospital bed to keep him comfortable. He still spends the majority of his time here. We take him for short walks and out and about. We had thought we could take a short camping trip but it ended up being way too much for him, even though we were able to position him relatively similar he was whining and crying pretty much the whole time except when he was sleeping.

He starts physical therapy next week. He also gets his Botox injections this week. Hopefully these two things will help him be more comfortable. In the meantime, hopefully some sister hugs will help.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cutness Cannot Be Controlled

Anytime I am away from my cuties, I am always checking my phone's photo gallery just to get a peek at them. They are too adorable! I try to take at least one picture a day. Even though Isaiah is stuck in bed healing, he still has some smiles. He gets some tummy time with the help of his dad on a nightly basis, but otherwise, its only one week til his cast comes off!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Making it Work

One thing that lots of special needs families struggle with is finding care for their children and balancing work and family life. We have been struggling with this for a long time, and still do. But we have been through a lot and have finally come to find a solution that works for us.

We went through a few PCAs before finding one we trusted. She worked out for a couple of wonderful years. But we never really had a back up plan, since finding someone to fill in part time is even harder. When she recently decided to reduce hours, we understood, but were sad to see her less. Isaiah loves her and they have a really good bond. We tried finding a replacement and decided that just wasn't working out. We knew we were the best able to care for Isaiah and Isabelle. But in order to do this, one of us would have to leave our job. For practicality reasons, that was me.

When I approached my employer to break the news, I also proposed another solution. I could work a reduced schedule, while still coming in for meetings one full day a week. I didn't know if it would work for them, but figured it was worth a try. Thanks to my hard work and determination, they accepted this and let me keep working. So now I work from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm four days a week and one full day. John gets home to take over at 2:30, and on the full day Isaiah's PCA stays with him.

I am thrilled with this schedule. I like to call myself a part-time stay at home mom. I get to spend more time with my cuties while remaining in the workforce. I have been working (slowly) toward my MHA, so this will continue to keep me up-to-date in the healthcare industry and valuable in the job market for the future.

I think things like this work out for a reason. Right when we thought we would need to take a major drop in our family income and struggle to get by, this just happened to work itself out. Although I am taking a reduction in my income, we are able to use some of the funds that would have gone to his PCA care as a consumer support grant, which makes us almost whole again by providing parent pay and helping with equipment needs.

Praise God for helping us work everything out and for giving us more precious time with our children.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Playing Nurse

Isaiah came home from the hospital on Saturday. Since then, mom and dad have taken on the role of nurse to him. It really is a full time job. I feel like we weren't properly prepared proir to his surgery for all of the needs he would have afterward.

First of all, he needs a special wheelchair that can recline (his could tilt back, but didn't recline) because he can never be bent more than 70 degrees up. It can't ride in his spot in the van, and in order to transport him home, and anywhere, he has to wear a special vest and be strapped flat in the back seat. Because our van is modified, we have no middle seats, so we can't bring both kids anywhere in the same vehicle until he gets back in his regular chair.

He has a normal bed, so we were trying to make him comfortable with pillows. This was nearly impossible, so we had to get a hospital bed to rent. I wish we would have had this right away, so we didn't struggle to make him comfortable for the first two days. His bed is parked in the living room and it goes up and down, plus the head and feet go up and down so changing positions is easier.

Changing him is a struggle. He has to be rolled up and onto his side, back and forth to change what is underneath him. He was swollen bad from surgery and didn't fit into his diapers. Since he was already in the largest size of over the counter diapers, we had to buy some men's Depends that we cut the sides and put on him. I also bought some pads to put under him to catch any leaks, they were meant for puppies but they work great. He hates being changed because it hurts him. He cries and I feel so bad. But this is slowly getting better.

Because he can't sit up, his secretions keep getting stuck in thr back of his throat. He doesn't swallow well, so this causes them to thicken up. He coughs a lot and gags on it. If I don't suction it out about every 10 minutes, he throws up. He also needs the cough assist machine frequently to help keep him loose. Thank goodness we already had these machines, or we would really be struggling. Plus he uses his nebulizer as needed to try and keep his lungs healthy and clear as well.

And then there is Isabelle. She tends to get pretty jealous of her brother getting attention and pretty much fusses about half the time we aren't holding her. But she also has her good moments when she can be by Isaiah. She loves him so much and tries to cheer him up. They make each other smile. It is so cute to see how their love is developing. I think she will be an understanding and helpful sibling as she grows up.

So, we pretty much won't be venturing out of the house for the next few weeks, besides wheeling Mr. Isaiah outside to get some fresh air. I am pretty much unable to transfer him myself so I have to wait each day until John is home. As hard as it is, it is only temporary. And we already have over a week done. I just pray he heals well so we can be done sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

School's Done for the Summer

Isaiah had his last day of school just prior to having surgery. He was able to participate in half of the summer session, but he was done once he had his surgery. He was doing great and I know he will look forward to going again in September.

The bus ride remains one of his favorite parts. He rode the bus all by himself a few times, and he did great. I heard that he did well in school and really enjoyed participating in all their activities. They use two switches on a tray to have Isaiah ask for turns and choose activities, and one of our goals for the summer is to get a similar set up at home. We can borrow through the Pacer Center until we find out what works best for him. I am excited to give some technology a try.

I have a whole stack of art projects that Isaiah brings home for us. I am also going to find a creative way to display these. Every time he brings something home he is so proud of it. When you ask him questions about them he beams with pride. I love that he is able to participate, and hope that he continues to do well with school as we get into September.

I'm sure Isaiah can't wait to be able to swing again!


Isaiah had his last game of Miracle League baseball on July 13th, the day before his surgery. He had a great season and was so proud of the trophy he got. It was really fun to go to all of his games and watch the kids interact and get excited about playing ball.

Most of the time John was his buddy. One time his grandpa got to help. His buddy was in charge of helping him hit and field the ball and run the bases. For one game, they had a junior team come and help all of the kids. This was pretty special. It was fun to have a more "official" feel to the game. And great for the kids to interact with others. His buddy was super nice and helpful, and glad to be there.

This is a really great program for special needs kids. I am glad we live in a community where these opportunities are available.