Tag Archives: AH

Listen to Your Mother… that’s me!

I am still full of awe and honor to have been a part of the 2014 Providence Cast of Listen to Your Mother….

Listen to Your Mother Providence Cast 2014 #aisforadelaide

(My intro written by the talented Carla Molina at All of Me Now):
Chelley Martinka is a Philly native with a little thing for Game of Thrones. A closet drummer, she’s a mom to one awesome kid living with dwarfism and is expecting her second daughter this fall. Chelley is up next with “Do It Ugly.”

Do it Ugly

Everyday, when I look at my planner, I see this quote, Dream so big you’ll look like an idiot if God doesn’t step in!

It’s a reminder to do it ugly. To get in in past my ankles, waist deep. To get dirty, cut- go full throttle.

Growing up, I was loud. I would sneak out. I smoked cigarettes and overly enjoyed cheap beer. I played a lot of sports and I was rough when I did it. I got injured. I suffered from depression. I liked a good party. I liked to study so much I graduated college with a 3.5 in 3 years with almost no friends. I got tattooed. And then got some more. I got dermal anchors before they were a trend. I dated. I over committed to people that needed “saving” and after they were saved, I moved on. I broke hearts. I uprooted myself a lot, took on a lot of jobs, was reckless with my emotions and other people’s hearts.

Doing it ugly was more about how low I could go. How many problems I could fix of someone else’s while ignoring my own needs- uselessly helping others chase their desires. I knew I’d never stick around long enough to see the ending. Like the friend who needed money for car payments… a loan I would never see the repayment of- I worked weeks of overtime. I’m not quite sure why, except it seemed like the right thing to do. I was a wild one with a sucker-streak- looking to take care of all the people surrounding me, and sleeping as little as possible while doing so.

But then it happened. I was approached by a lion tamer with the patience of a kindergarten teacher and heart of a saint. Some have come to call him Dave. So here I was married. A wife. Together we ripped apart the money pit and created a home. We both worked long ours and enjoyed uneventful hikes with our dog and nights by the firepit with friends.

Gone was the Chelley of the past, replaced with this woman who quit smoking, ran half marathons, was letting someone else take care of her once in a while, learned to enjoy wine over whiskey and, for whom staying up late lost its once alluring appeal. Who the hell was I, now?

Not looking for redefinition, she came- The reason I had to get all riled up again. My reason for getting my hands dirty- I was ready for parenting. Here I was, rolling up my sleeves and spending late hours burning the midnight oil- literally- we have oil heat. But I was more than prepared, I’d been practicing to parent this special lady since my days as a rebellious teen.

I knew everything I did from the moment I heard her cry would be things she would be proud of. My perseverance would be her life lesson. I would work hard, and when she was diagnosed with a high-functioning disability, I knew I would dig harder than I’d ever imagined. With letters, videos and a blog, I would educate about our life as a family. I’d take attacks and hard words and fight to change the stigma. I’d create a team consisting of specialists in Massachusetts, Delaware and Rhode Island. I don’t know the answer to that, would be an answer I’d never settle with.

I would allow no one thing would define my sweet girl, a lesson I’d learned from my own mother. Dwarfism, gender, religion or a favorite band would simply be aspects.

I would raise her to be generous, dignified and tough. A woman who could do whatever she pleased, in jeans or a skirt, at a bar watching the game or in the courtroom arguing her case. With my biggest dream being a world that truly sees no difference between my Adelaide and any other human. Recognizing her disability as something about her, not something that defines her.

I spent two days bringing her into the world… and I will give my life to give her dreams so big that she never knows what the ground looks like with her eyes closed.

And while most of my days are beautiful- I work hard to make sure they are. Everything in life that feels like it’s too much is all the more reason to get in there. To do it ugly. Everyday isn’t a fight, but when it is, I make sure it’s worth it, to go hard.

This life is my one shot to make it what I want and give that power to my future warrior woman- and no one will lessen my gusto or dampen my dreams- not even God, herself.

Listen to the cast:

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Filed under Educate/Adovocate/Make Change

LPA Fashion Show #lpaSD2014

While we enjoyed all the workshops that the LPA National Conference had for us, we also loved participating in other events- like the Fashion Show! Check out Addie in her first appearance in the LPA Fashion show at #lpaSD2014!

LPA Fashion Show #lpaSD2014 #aisforadelaide

#aisforadelaide LPA Fashion Show #lpaSD2014 #rehearsal

#aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 #firsttime LPA Fashion Show

#aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 LPA Fashion Show #cuteasabutton

#aisforadelaide LPA Fashion Show #runway First try!

#aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 #finalrunwaywalk LPA Fashion Show

#aisforadelaide #addiandjack ##lpaSD2014 LPA Fashion Show

#aisforadelaide LPA Fashion Show #addieANDPayton #lpaSD2014

#aisforadelaide #LPASD2014 #life LPA Fashion Show


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Filed under Community, Travel

Marvelous Monday

It’s ok that the day itself may not be marvelous, because the life that follows will be.

And that’s the damn truth.

I’ve struggled with what is OK to share, and what isn’t, and while Addie is at such a young age, I think it’s helpful for parents to know about what may happen with their small children, especially their children with dwarfism going through scarier surgeries, like decompression. For us, we may have a special case (Addie doesn’t seem to bounce back from anesthesia very well), but here’s the story.

Many parents have recalled surgeries from years past and reminded me that our kids bounce back. I totally agree that they do- Addie is such  a fighter, sometimes I think she must not be mine. But just because she fights doesn’t mean that sometimes her body doesn’t betray her, or that the bounce that some people recall as “a few days” really was closer to a few weeks… but who can remember years ago in such detail?

So… while it is fresh in my memory, while I’m living it, let me tell you what last week brought us, and why not being 100% doesn’t make this a bad week.

(Disclosure: Addie has decompression of the foramen magnum and a C1 laminectomy. There is a photo at the very end of the post you can enlarge to see the incision.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When we got to the hospital, she was asking for banana. Thrilled that Daddy was going on an adventure during the week, I could tell she knew where we were when we left the car with Hasbro’s valet. We walked in the door, I led the way to the admission room- this isn’t my first time at the rodeo. After check-in, we went up to the 2nd floor to meet with our team, do vitals, review health records… the usual. When I saw Dr. Deer, I was thrilled. I’d requested him to lead the anesthesia team and I could feel myself breathe a sigh of relief when I saw his face. “I knew the name looked familiar…” he smiled… as he’d just put Addie under for her MRI in June. Thankfully, the second I asked, Addie’s neurosurgeon put in my request. Things were starting off well.

After the big stuff was done, we went on to the way cool things, like a syringe of Versed (aka Midazolam, used before surgery or medical tests to make you feel sleepy and relaxed – This medicine is a benzodiazepine) and the playroom. As she played, I reminded Dave to pick her up after a bit because she would get loopy. He grinned and scooped her up. She looked up at him and explained in a slow voice with a beaming smile, something about Sesame Street and Cookie Monster then laughed. He looked at me… “told ya,” I laughed. He was wearing the OR gear that was reserved for me… only I am pregnant and can’t go back to the OR with the gas. I gave her kisses and more kisses and a hug that I could feel was being taken away from me. “OK, Mom. We’re ready. Dad, follow me.”

#aisforadelaide #spinaldecompression surgery #incision pre-op

And they were off. I stood there, motionless, for what seemed like 10 minutes. Then I started to pace. I stood in the doorway when he finally came back towards me- making a right to strip off the gown, hairnet and mask, and then a left to come back to the waiting room. We gathered our bags and headed to the surgical waiting room. The patient progress monitor (sort of like a departures/arrivals screen at an airport, but with patient number and status) was not updating from the day before, and I was apprehensive the whole time because it was never fixed… but with Dave sitting near the phone, I was sure we would know something soon.

And then 3 hours passed into 4. It rang… “You’re speaking with him,” Dave spoke into the receiver. I popped up from the couch where I’d been in a sleepy stupor, started grabbing my things around me and my bag. “Ok, thank you,” and he hung up. “She’s done? Can I see her? What did they say?” In his usual calm demeanor, he told me, “about another hour.” I started the timer. An hour left.

I played with my ribbons relentlessly. Orange and purple she’d said. “Should mommy wear them in a bow?” I asked. “Yes, ok,” she replied. And those were what I was holding on to.

aisforadelaide recovery surgery colors #prayforaddie #incision

At about 7 after 1 (5 hours and 7 minutes after I’d seen her), Dr. Klinge walked in. I looked at her with this anticipation and excitement that felt like it was jumping off me. As she sat down, we talked about Addie’s compression and how it looked once she got in there. She showed ultrasounds that she took of the spinal cord, the flow, and discussed how there was some scarring around her dura (the outermost of the three layers of the meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord) and pinching. I heard nothing except, “no permanent damage. We took care of it all…” as she talked on. I was handed a bag of Addie’s baby curls with her name on them, and  “Do you have any questions?” she asked.

“When can I see her?”

She smiled at me and we talked a bit more… and then she left. Addie would be going to her PICU room before we could see her (skipping the general recovery area), and after what seemed like an eternity, I saw him. Dr. Deer walked toward me and I stood so fast my chair fell over (to be fair, the HUGE bag of Addie’s medical history was on the back). I scrambled to grab everything as he told us she did great and we could come back to see her. As he scanned his badge to PICU, my heart was slamming. “She’s asking for something… a bunk…” the nurse trailed off. “Binky bunky!” I grabbed her pacifier, lifted her mask and placed it in her mouth. Immediately she calmed… but once she saw Dave, she begged to have him. He sat down and held onto her with all his might as she settled.

#aisforadelaide #spinaldecompression #surgery incision #recovery

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The first night was rough, but we made it through. As the nurse told me what her lines were for I cringed. Fluids, morphine, Valium. I felt like I was in a panic and was pretty stressed out. Dave got us dinner and even in her stupor, Addie was thrilled that my dinner included guacamole. After we got  her settled, Dave went home for the night. Around 3am I woke up and paged our nurse. The pain in my right side was excruciating, my belly was tight… a contraction that wouldn’t let go. “Do you want a wheelchair?” Julie, our nurse, asked. She was so nice… looking at me with encouraging eyes- I think she wanted to wheel me to Women & Infants. “I just need to drink some water,” I assured her. For about 20 minutes I stretched, drank water and walked around. Finally, I was able to lay back down. Scared I was going to bring labor on, I did my best to sleep, but around 4am, Addie woke up. She was puffy and itchy and wanted to be held… so I did what any 34-week pregnant mom would do. I adjusted myself as best  I could and held her to my chest. She immediately went back to sleep and I cried into her shoulder.

#aisforadelaide #recovery #dayone #incision Spinal Decompression Surgery

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Her first PT and OT session went well, although she was shaking due to lack of food and a high dose of meds, but… I got my first smile! And that made my heart soar.

#aisforadelaide #firstsmile #recovery #surgery #postop #incision

We left PICU around 1pm Wednesday, and Addie had some visitors, which made her quite sleepy!

#aisforadelaide #recovery #day2 #sleepingtoddler #incision

She wept a lot throughout the day, and stayed on her morphine and fluids, barely eating anything. Dave came as soon as he got out of work, which was just what she needed. Addie had woken up in a stupor around 6:15pm and screamed for him for a better part of an hour as multiple people tried to console her, including her Auntie Ashley. But then Daddy was there… and all was well in the world, again. Daddy makes everything better, with our one mishap coming when the line in her foot loosened as it was being taken out and blood went everywhere. Thankfully, it was one of those “looks worse than it is” things (and no, I won’t show you the picture).

#aisforadelaide #addieanddaddy #recovery #spinaldecompression #surgery #incision

We snuggled in for the night, and Dave tucked us both in with her gently whimpering for him. The wrap around her head was bothering her, but I was glad it was there. I wasn’t ready to see the full incision, which was only half visible from underneath a piece of gauze. When Addie rolled over a while later, screaming in pain, I buzzed the nurse, who came in and put another dose of morphine on for her. She looked at me through drowsy eyes and asked for “mama’s pillow”… the pregnancy pillow I’d brought for myself now neatly nestled her small body in it’s curve, leaving me with the hospital pillows to ease my aching body. Her body was wrapped up in barely anything, but she was running warm and we monitored her fever, which stayed low, throughout the night.

#aisforadelaide #addieanddaddy #incision #spinaldecompression Conversation with Dave

Thursday, August 14, 2014

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Thursday went well, with a PT trip to the activity room, a visit from Grandpa and Poppy (Dave’s dad and grandfather), and time spent with Namah (Dave’s mom). When the bandage was removed, she put her head in my hands to scratch- I went to town, gently rubbing her forehead and behind her ears. I could feel her body relaxing. When I first saw the incision I was taken aback. It was beautiful- her warrior badge shown upon her little head with such gusto and force. It almost took my breath away. From where I was sitting, it looked like 6 inches. There was something so unobtrusive about it… it was there, but her hair would cover much of it, and the stitches, being dissolvable, were not dark or menacing.

#aisforadelaide #day3 #recovery #spinaldecompression #surgery incision

She did great all day… most of the day, but after nap time, she was irritable and upset. She’d slept through her medication time, and because we were trying to go all by-mouth, she was unhooked from the IV. My mistake for thinking her being asleep was substitute- when she woke up she was grabbing her neck and screaming through tears. I buzzed the nurse who rushed meds in for her. As I calmed her and gave her lunch, she felt warm. We continued to monitor her fever, which stayed low into the night.

Addie had taken all of her medication by mouth the whole day, and thus we were almost a shoe-in to go home the next day! As I settled her into bed and laid down next to her, we both drifted to sleep. I felt Dave kiss us both and whisper I love you before leaving. I wanted to cry when he left… even though I was mostly asleep, I missed him at night. About 2 hours later Addie woke up screaming. We got her some more meds and she looked at me with these big pained eyes. I felt awful. Her fever was almost gone and she just wanted to go home. “You want to get out of here?” I whispered. She grabbed my face and smiled before we both tried to go back to sleep.

#aisforadelaide #recovery #PT #incision

Friday, August 15, 2014

After not sleeping much (she somehow takes over all beds), I hopped up and was dressed and ready for discharge before Dave even got to the hospital for his morning visit.

#aisforadelaide #pregnancy #34weeks #baby2 #camillethea #recovery #spinaldecompression #surgery

The pediatrician came in (I love that our pedi checks in with the hospitalized patients every day) and looked in Addie’s ears. With a diagnosis of no ear infection, we knew that muscle spasms were responsible for some of the waking and night screams. I agreed to leave the hospital with a script for a muscle relaxant… For my two year old. This idea went against every fiber of my being, but her being in pain wasn’t something I could handle. We were almost packed and ready to go when we got word that neuro was backed-up and wouldn’t be up to check Addie out for a while. With a sad goodbye, Dave made his way into work. As he left, I checked her head. She’s warm. “100.9°, mom. We’ll keep an eye on it.”

For hours, no one came. I tried to get fluids and food into her, we met with PT and played, and she rested. Slowly, with some meds, the fever lessened- and being under 101.5º, the neurologist agreed we could be discharged. If you know anything about the discharge process, it’s not quick. Paperwork to leave, scripts, instructions and signatures all need to happen before we get the approval, but when Dave came back at 6pm, we were ready. With bags, balloons and flowers in the wagon and Addie chomping at the bit to “please, I go outside now,” we made our way to the revolving door of Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

#aisforadelaide #spinaldecompression #incision #balloons #getwell

As she brushed her teeth for bed, I ran downstairs and grabbed my measuring tape. “I need to know,” I said to Dave. He knew what I meant. “Exactly 3 inches,” he said. And that was that. Our first night was OK, with bags of liquids, diazepam in pill form (yes, a pill…) and some sorbet for good measure, I left CVS. Addie took her meds with some disdain and headed to bed, waking only once and settling with a second dose of medication and some snuggles, until 7:30!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

With a morning reminiscent of most other mornings at home, Addie wanted to do something… so we headed out to the Hope Street Farmer’s Market in Providence (RI). She did great, and though I was upset about one person who sidestepped me and got in close to Dave’s shoulder checking out the back of Addie’s head, our mid-afternoon adventure was great- running into friends and enjoying some fresh air!

Addie came home and took a great nap, again waking in pain. Managing sleep times and pain management is a challenge I don’t think I will ever truly conquer. For the rest of the day she was OK, coming out of her grogginess and enjoying a trip to the grocery store for some dinner staples. But then sleep came in clips. After settling in, she woke up screaming and grabbing her head. I could see she was trying to get out of bed- not a good thing for a toddler on muscle relaxants, so Dave ran in while I went downstairs to get her meds. She settled in with him, but just an hour later was up and screaming again- at her door! I picked her up and brought her into bed, where she continued to scream through the night… unable to tell us what was wrong, Dave and I could do nothing but hold her and try to get her in a comfortable position.

Sometimes I feel helpless as a parent… this was one of those nights I felt like a total failure. Her cry left me in pain, and my inability to fix it left me in shame.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I first saw her Sunday morning when Dave carried her into the bedroom with my coffee. My eyes half opened, I heard her squeak, “Good morning, Mommy!” My heart felt lighter… she was doing OK. Dave looked a little rough, but I knew he would be fine. Our day, as all the others since the surgery, was up and down. There was some crying and pain, but there were also moments of love and snuggles. Her love of being outside and exploring, hand holding and snuggles made their way into each corner of our day, and we’re on the mend. We’re getting there.

#aisforadelaide #addieanddaddy #spinaldecompressionsurgery #recovery #theresnoplacelikehome #snuggles #incision

With just 5 weeks to go to 40 weeks, Dave and I are laughing at the lack of sleep… Hardcore prepping for baby two, people have jested. Loving our girls and giving them all of us, is more like it. Martinkadelux- always a team.

Here’s to a beautiful week, Reader. Mondays where we choose to see the marvelous, create it for ourselves and spread it to others.

love,

WARNING:

BELOW IS A PICTURE OF HER INCISION BY THE DAY:

#Aisforadelaide #decompressionsurgery #incision

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Filed under Achondroplasia, Marvelous Monday, Parenting/Family/Lifestyle

Marvelous Monday

“How many times has this happened?” She asked me to repeat the number.

“Six. But only 4 times this year.” It was May. I knew our batting average was not good on this one.

“I’m going to refer you to a neurologist just to get her take. Other than that, she’s perfect- don’t you worry.

Marvelous Monday Decompression Surgery #aisforadelaide

I’d heard that before. When Addie was a newborn, I was told not to worry. A lot of kids have big heads, but they just wanted to be sure. I’d pushed to know more and at 9 1/2 weeks she was diagnosed with achondroplasia. And here we were. I’d pushed it. I’d asked if these blackouts were normal. She’d hit her head. No breathing, loss of color, completely limp, eyes rolling. 10 seconds with a lifeless body that would spring back the with force of the Devil inside, screaming. Followed by a headache, but other than that, back to herself. Six. Times.

“So she hits her head, cries, then stops and passes out? Sounds like she’s holding her breath.”

“No,” I responded. “She hits her head and nothing. I pick her up, trying to stop her fall from the beginning and nothing. She is lifeless. Then she comes to. She doesn’t cry first. She’s not holding her breath.”

“I see.” I see, too. Her hands furiously typing into the tiny laptops that the hospital just implemented in their paperless plan. She’s slamming at the keys, catching each word.

“Does she  ever get headaches?”

“Yes, but they’re weather related, my husband and I get them too. She has them a few times a month.”

“So you all get headaches at the same time?”

I paused. I felt hot and upset. “No, we don’t.” I’m wracking my brain. Dave and I get them on the same mornings, but not always Addie. Some days she just rolls around holding her head, and some nights she’s done this. “But it’s not all the time,” I’m sputtering. I want to take it back. How did I miss this?

We talked for a while longer. We did a neuro workup… a few times. Then, “I’d like to order an MRI to check it all out if that’s OK with you, mom.”

I left with papers and numbers and numbness. From the first hours I spent reading about achondroplasia, I feared decompression surgery. The recovery, pain, spinal cord, scarring. Everything about decompression scared me.

The MRI was done, and that was that. I was sure she was fine. My achon baby who walked at 16 months, spoke in full sentences, showed no significant apnea after age 1… she didn’t have classic signs of compression in her spine. She was fine.

She was fine.

I got a call the very next day from a doctor. The neurologist didn’t like the MRI, the neurosurgeon didn’t like the MRI. The story, the images. They were not great news. “Give her office a call. They will get you an appointment soon.” The appointment they  gave me was nearly immediate.

We discussed surgery, but nothing was in stone. I wasn’t convinced. I wanted more opinions and I would get them in San Diego from our specialists- but after the images and story, the answer was still clear as mud. Sure she falls a lot- all kids do. The blackouts may not be from compression. Her images are not indicative of surgery. Our doctors could go 50/50 on the surgery. I felt lost, but with an order for more images. They would tell us something. They must.

So last Wednesday we headed to Boston. Hungry and hot, Addie was ready for whatever was in store so long as she got to eat at some point. By 3pm they finally took her back- she was so loopy from the meds that she could hardly whimper when I handed her to the anesthesiologist, but I was still torn apart. We met back up in recovery, where Addie was still asleep. There was a laundry list of medications, and my usual lion woke up rather calm (read: drugged) from the anesthesia with her usual intubation-throat, looking for snuggles. At last, we were in the car and headed home.

By midnight we were mostly asleep, but not ready for the next day.

We walked into the APC building at Rhode Island Hospital- full of angst and armed with her MRI from the day before. We talked again. I mentioned her falls seemed to be from slow feet. Her waking in the night. Her headaches that still happen, but not often. We talked about how she hangs her hands funny sometimes, but she seems strong. There haven’t been any blackouts since April- she hasn’t gone backwards since then. Then there was a neuro workup.

At first, I thought it was my mind playing tricks, but as the specialist hit her heel, I saw her foot jerk. The fluid motion I was looking for, the common reaction of a reflex was replaced with this ugly movement. Taking her foot in her hands, she pressed up, let go and checked with the hammer again. “Clonus.” I said. She looked at me with sad eyes, knowing eyes. She recognized defeat in my voice. I had nothing left to fight about. Clonus is a sign of neurological hindrance (a continuous rhythmic reflex tremor initiated by the spinal cord below an area of spinal cord injury, set in motion by reflex testing). Catching it and treating the compression would be key in keeping Addie healthy. She could eventually stop walking and suffer from severe spinal damage without it. Decompression was the way to go. I had my answer.

All I could think was fucking clonus.

The neurosurgeon came in. More people checked. Sure enough. What wasn’t there just a few weeks ago was emerging. You can’t make this stuff up. I was near speechless.

I’d wanted an answer. I said I did, at least. I wanted a yes or no, and I was looking for reasons. There it was. Coming in little jerky, hesitant motions. I signed the paperwork for her surgery (which is happening tomorrow) and we headed to the lab.

“Her veins roll away,” I said. “They look closer to the surface than they are. Seriously- they will try to escape. They’re hard to get on her.”

“We do this a lot,” she said back with a polite smile. No one likes to be told how to do their job, but to be fair, I warned her and I know my child.

They pulled the needle out 3 times, and moved it around in her small arm a dozen times. “I got it,” a phlebotomist beamed. The second one who’d tried. I was annoyed, I was crying. I’d told Addie that this day wouldn’t hurt. We were just going to talk to the doctor. But here she was screaming from her back, “No mama. I want uppahs. Please pick me uppahs. You said. You said. It hurts.” I tried to take it on, “I’m so sorry, bug. I’m so sorry I lied.”

“YOU LIED.” She screamed. It came in a spit. A slap in my face. She was covered in snot, and red-faced. The fear spilling from the corners of her eyes. I started to heave into her neck. She suddenly stopped crying and began to stroke my face. “Don’t be sad, mama. It’s ok. You ok, mama.” I stopped my tears. This was her moment. She began to whimper again into my chest. They taped the gauze on and she practically leapt into my arms.

We got home and she fell right to sleep. She napped. I made lunch and I started some laundry. I called Dave to tell him everything and I answered all of his questions. I joked on the phone with my mom about attempting to get a urine sample from a 2 year old. I sat down to work. And then it hit me. I started to panic. I lost my breath. The scar. It would be on her neck forever. I didn’t want her to have that scar.

It’s not the aesthetic I worry about. It’s her sweet neck. Where I nuzzle. Where I pull her hair up and the most graceful neck appears, balancing her head gently upon her shoulders. Long and lean. Untouched. Beautiful. There will be a scar in that place, to constantly remind me: I couldn’t fix this. I’m her mother, and I could do nothing but hand her over to a team of specialists.

As I came out of my panic, I decided I needed to put time aside. This week, as much as I want to write because I love to write, I will not. Of course I have work to do, but who I am means more. And who I am is a mother, a wife. I need to support my family this week and appreciate all of your love and concern as we regroup and work through this. As Addie goes through decompression surgery, we too must decompress.

Spinal Decompression HOlding Hands #aisforadelaide

I’ve spent weeks in denial- maybe months. I ignored a lot of things, never mentioning them except to friends because it was just Addie being Addie. Headaches I kept calling seasonal. Falling that looks like she was dizzy. Holding her hands in a funny way some times- almost floppy. Blacking out entirely when she hits the back of her head. Holding her neck. Screaming at night (which is pretty new). Gasping for air in the night, but not related to apnea (still sort of a mystery and hoping surgery helps). And now, clonus. I’ve denied it all too long, and I could not be more thankful to the multiple doctors who pried and asked more questions, forcing these things out of me. Showing me that decompression, though scary, is truly the direction we’ve been headed. Her strength, both physical and mental is sure to be tested, but our girl will be strong. My warrior.

Addie will be at Hasbro Children’s Hospital from Tuesday to possibly Friday (hoping for discharge before the weekend and maybe earlier), and I will be by her side the whole time. Her recovery means more to us than anything now, and while I can’t wait to be back (I love to write and share!), I have to take this time for family.

Have a beautiful week, reader. Talk soon,

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Filed under Achondroplasia, Community, Educate/Adovocate/Make Change, Parenting/Family/Lifestyle

Marvelous Monday

So much to say about what’s been going on, but I keep reflecting on our wonderful experience in California.

If you followed my social media pages, you may have noticed #lpaSD2014 making it’s way around with pictures, quotes, and events… all leading to the LPA National Conference in San Diego. It was amazing.

It is also something that we could not have participated in without the help and support of our parents and my aunt and uncle. Both my parents and Dave’s helped us get there (via flyer miles, rewards, food, and accommodations). I am also extremely grateful for my dearest, who works his tail off at work and then each weekend doing repairs to save up for the cost of eating away from home (yes, a BLT in San Diego is $10!). But it is more than the money. It’s the understanding. My mother-in-law was initially going to come with us (she will be attending workshops with us in Boston in 2017!), but decided that it was just too much for her… however, she still supported us going, which means the world to our family. San Diego is an awesome vacation spot, but the conference, the LPA organization and the knowledge and friendships we gain each year are invaluable to us.

#Aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 #family #friends #dwarfism

Addie was blessed this year with a gift from a family who lost their child to a rare(r) form of dwarfism with a Lifetime Membership to Little People of America, and we could not be more thankful. Knowing  that Addie will always have access to the best advocacy, community and medical advice, even after Dave and I are not here to guide her, eases my heart. There are so many lesser known facets to the LPA organization that I hope she explores- including scholarships and a deep-rooted community- that having this membership offers her access to all this and so much more- forever! #aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 #LPANationalConference #SanDiego

With that, the opportunity to go to as many regional (local) and national events as we can gives us all opportunity to learn, play, educate and be educated. Last year, I was a part of a panel that focused on social media and how we present ourselves as a community, and this year I spoke about why I keep pushing (advocating) for more education and awareness. Dave got to learn about different home adaptations and how he can make our house more comfortable for Addie without making it difficult for us. Even the grandparents got to go to some workshops and learn a bit more about what it’s like to grow up as someone with dwarfism, the things they can help Addie with, and just take part in the community.

#aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 #expo #travel #sandiego

All-in-all… this was an amazing experience. Made that much better by our trip a few hours north to see my Aunt Donna and Uncle Ted. While I am forever grateful to the LPA and being able to experience national events, being able to see my Uncle Ted meant more to me than I can express. My Mom did not find her brother until she was in her 20′s. Adopted at birth, she was able to reconnect years later with a lot of research… and I am so glad she did. My Uncle is amazing- traveling to see us a lot in my youth- and coming to stay with us for much longer than he anticipated, when my Dad passed. We often joke in my family that I was a wild child, but that didn’t really happen until my Dad died. My Uncle saw firsthand how out of control I became and how quickly I down-spiraled. But still, he stayed. Day after day he supported my Mom and did everything he could to help with the daily running of the house, and the big things that my Dad had been too sick to do in his last months of life. Going out to see him, hug him, talk to him and see the spark in his eye was more than I could ask for.

#aisforadelaide #lpasd2014 #family #vacation #travel

He’s sick. I hate that. I hate seeing a man who has rocked the world, serving our country, playing a major role in aerospace development, advancing the programs that offer guide and service dogs to those who need, and most of all being an amazing family man- he’s diminishing in body… but never spirit. I was afraid he would be fragile and was instead surprised to see him, stout as ever, never batting an eye when he needed oxygen or apologizing for needing a break. Quite simply, as Ted has always been, he just is. Maybe that’s where I get my no apologies life-view from… I am who I am, be damned if it upsets you or makes you uncomfortable. And my Aunt Donna, his rock, she’s kind of amazing, too. Her love, support and drive are inspiring. A teacher for years, she set Addie up with all the fun stuff while accepting oxygen deliveries, getting towels for Addie and I to swim, her beaming smile never fading.

#aisforadelaide #family #LPAsd2014 #sandiego #losangeles #travel

There are some days that are really hard. For everyone. I have a family who has taught me, and continues to do so, that there are way more rainbows than rain if we look for them. I am thankful that we got to Cali this summer… for the sun, sand, friendships, education, family.

Have you done a big summer vacation this year? What was your favorite part?

Happy Marvelous Monday, Reader! I hope you have a beautiful week!

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On being a special needs parent…

I read THIS yesterday as parent after parent on my Facebook feed shared the article. At the time, I was scanning the web from my phone from beneath my dearest Adelaide, softly crying.

Although I’ve posted a few updates on her, it’s been a whirlwind since we’ve returned from the LPA National Conference in San Diego… we landed late Saturday night, spent the day jet lagged, but as a family, on Sunday, then had an incredibly busy Monday running from Addie’s physical therapy, the OB and chiropractor for me, and fielding calls from 4 different doctors (have I mentioned that when an actual doctor calls, it’s usually not good?). On Tuesday morning I said goodbye to Dave as he headed to work, and he kissed me extra hard. The look in his eye told me what I needed to know; it pained him that I would be going through a surgery without him and he had no words. Neither did I. He carried our still-sleeping girl to the car for me and kissed her face and head as he hesitantly closed the car door.

I didn’t even cry. After she was under sedation, I calmly left the room, my head spinning as I attempted to control my breathing. I gathered our belongings for our overnight stay and meandered around the corner to the waiting room where, after spending  a solid 15 minutes staring at the surgical board, called my mom. Then I tried on one long-sleeve shirt, but then I was wearing too much gray, so I took it off and put on the blue one- it was from the 5k I did a few weeks ago. You’re strong enough for this, Chelley. I sat down and got out my work. I use 3 different spreadsheets to track my work, sponsored posts, links, blog posts and the like. I took out a pen and started to cross things off and move things around. I planned for a few days of recovery where I could do some work, but not a lot. I took out my highlighter and crossed off everything I’d done. I felt grateful that I have the option to push work aside when I need to because Dave takes care of us.

#aisforadelaide #specialneedsparenting #motherhood #specialneeds

So back to the article. It’s a few days post-tubes (second set) and adenoidectomy and Addie was on top of me, where she’s been a lot since her surgery. Perched on my chest, or curled up around my belly inciting kicks from her baby sister, inside. She was running about 100º and shaking, her little body clad in nothing but a Bumgenius diaper, snoring and sweating through my own tank top. Every now and again, she would stir and cry in her slumber. So I read, and I softly cried, too. If you follow along with the article, I cried because:

1. Sometimes lonely doesn’t describe it. Even when I have a moment to connect with friends and family I cannot express the fear I feel. The fact that everyone in the world could be there to hold my hand, and I would still feel like I was standing alone- especially when I am there without Dave. Because when we do have time to talk, I want to talk about Addie every moment and not at all, and not knowing how to process your own emotions is a lonely place to be.

2. Dave and I are a power couple. We aren’t changing the world, but we’re shaping our own. And we have to work at it everyday. We discuss a lot of medical things, we sleep very little large chunks… but we do it all together. Sometimes we snap and bite, but the lines of communication don’t close. Sleep, fancy cars, and, yes, even intimacy can wait… but not forever. We fight for that. For this. For us.

3. Enough said. I can go mama bear in 1.4 seconds flat, however.

4. All the time. This is also due to my losing a brother, young cousin and father before I was 13. But even more so, as we look deeper into Addie’s spine and decompression and blackouts and sleep… I feel relief when she wakes up. I hate that feeling. I just want to wake up and not have my heart leap and stop until I see her ribs expand and contract with the sweet sound of her breath. I hope this fear won’t last forever.

She is #aisforadelaide #strength #courage #laughter

5. Sometimes I know that my voice means less than my body. The length of my reach engulfing her body as she cringes in pain or fear at an appointment. The way she melts into my shoulder or tucks into my chest as they try to take another set of vitals, insert an IV, measure another limb. The way she won’t wear a mask unless I gently place it over her face. There are no words… just the touch of mom. Recently I learned skin-to-skin is important past infancy, as Addie craves feeling my heart beat and holding my necklace. She reaches into my shirt just to feel my skin, and I crave comforting her. Touch is so healing and speaks louder than words. When I ask her if she’s ok and she grabs my face into her own kisses me and settles into my arms. Words seemingly, in that moment, mean nothing.

6. While Addie doesn’t have speech issues, hearing your child come out of sedation like a lion screaming for you or waking in an apnea episode startled wanting only you… those are the times I cherish her communication most.

So, in light of her adenoids being removed, which gives off the most horrible breath, and my heightened sense of smell, her small shaking body, feverish and gripping, the hours we’ve spent in the same position (painful for me)… this is just what we do. And after the hours. The physical ache and mental exhaustion… the moments left in between. There’s still a light inside.

#aisforadelaide #sarifices #parenthood #specialneedsparenting

…been laying here for hours. Wouldn’t trade a minute.

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Marvelous Monday

Oh. Em. Geeeee!!!!!

There’s so much to say and so little time to type! I just want to let everyone know- we made it safely to the LPA National Conference- and I survived another public speaking engagement! We miss our sweet Carter Jay, but he’s having fun with his grandparents and ruling the roost.

If you are here at the conference, please let me know! I would love to meet as many new people as possible! Just leave a comment, or email me through the Contact tab! I will be posting way less this week and appreciate your understanding!

Lots of love and a beautiful Monday to you, Reader!

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Marvelous Monday, Indeed!

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Filled with Thanks

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I’m leaning towards…

In this 4th installment (of 10) regarding the LPA National Convention we attended this summer in DC, I am writing about 504′s (vs. IEP), and why I think it will be enough for us.

A 504 is part of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities from any institution that receives federal funding. In our case, this would be schools. Children considered for a 504 are often not eligible for many accommodations regarding emotional and cognitive considerations, but have a condition that may affect their ability to function in school- physically. This is in comparison with an IEP , which is an Individual Education Plan, and goes beyond what children need physically. Many times, these services include occupational therapy (OT) and speech, as well as reading, further assistance in learning techniques, etc. There is a lot of testing before this document is created, and it is legally binding. An IEP can follow you wherever you go, and act as the plan for your child’s needs.

For us, I think the 504 plan is enough. Addie’s cognitive skills are at or above her age range, and her ability to push through a crowd is uncanny (is she living through me and my punk rock years?). However, things that can be addressed in the 504 are much needed and will make Addie’s life easier and safer when she is enrolled in school. An IEP can also address these issues in the “Accommodations and Modifications” portion, and thus you don’t need a 504 with one. However, if there are no cognitive issues or further therapies needed in school, perhaps the way to go is to just research all adaptations needed and have them all in a 504 that you discuss with your chosen school well in advance of your child’s start… there are always things that need modification to their modifications!

For a 504, you will have to talk to your school the year before your child attends. Because there is no extra funding for 504 plans, you might have to be a bit of a squeaky wheel… a well-liked squeaky wheel, at that! Keeping that in mind, if you have any tools that would be helpful (hooks, stools, screws, plans, etc.) in aiding any modifications, they will most likely be much appreciated.

… I think my point may be understood. With an LD (learning disability), you are certainly eligible for an IEP, but with Addie’s current track, we are more worried about her physical limitations. For us these are inclusive of everyday things, but also, the things I hope I never have to know, like in a fire, are all doors able to open for her?

Considerations for your child should be made with them. Visiting the school with your child and a tape measure will better arm you, as a parent or caretaker, to know what is needed or lacking. The process can take a while, and to be inclusive, your child, yourself, teachers, other staff, the principal, counselors, therapists, service providers and (if available) the director of special education should all participate.

There is so much to think about, and it call all be overwhelming, so I will leave you with this…

Consider:

  • Walking, or riding in the car?
  • Procedure for riding the bus, not just to go to school but for field trips- is there a booster, car seat? Are there belts at all? An aide?
  •  Is the parking lot easy to cross? Are there blind spots?
  • Are all walkways paved?
  • Are doors accessible with handicapped buttons at a reachable level?- all doors need to open easily for your child, especially in an emergency.
  • Are there lower lockers or cubbies?
  • Is the playground safe? Are there people to monitor climbing and falls?
  •  Is there a stool or chair for your child’s feet so they aren’t hanging in the air? Being comfortable is important to learning, and the health of your child’s hips, back, knees, etc. Check out the Tripp Trapp Chair!
  • Are classroom materials within reach?
  • Is gym class safe and is your child being included?
  • Are all bathrooms accessible- doors, toilets, sinks, soap dispensers (NOT just hand sanitizer), paper towels, lights, mirrors, sinks, faucets?
  • Is the water fountain accessible?
  • Can your child reach the cafeteria line? Trays? Food bar? Utensils, napkins, condiments? Are they comfortable at their lunch table?
  • Safety drills… are they safe for your child?
  • Is there a school nurse there at all times? What times is s/he there?
  • Does your child need more time to get to and from class?
  • Can your child carry the required texts through the halls? Can there be a home set and school set of texts?
  • Lastly: Was your child involved in this planning?

There are so many things to think about, it is hard as an AH parent to think of all the things our child would need. And an LP parent may forget those schooling days and what was hardest for them. When choosing your plan, and executing its initiation, know that things will always need revision and compromises will need to be made. Sure, compromising safety isn’t in the equation, but perhaps donating some of your own items will help make your child’s learning experience all they deserve.

With just a few years before Addie heads out the door and into the capable hands of our public school system, my mind is firing away at all the holes that will need filling upon (and before) her arrival. I am so thankful that I was able to attend the workshop that described all of the necessary items to me and taught me how to make her educational experience both comfortable for her, and retain my sanity (aka Addie’s safety).

Please- share your experiences!

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