Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease...

So apparently, someone who went to a playgroup a week and a half ago had hand, foot and mouth disease and shared it with everyone there, and then a lot of those people came to Brogan's birthday party last Saturday, and then we all went to church the next day and took our children to nursery and primary so they could share it with everyone else. And all this with nobody even knowing they were sick until they'd already shared it with someone else. Good times. I'll tell you, this is one sneaky and mean virus!!!


Brogan was the first in our houe to come down with it. He woke up in the middle of the night on Tuesday with a fever, and for the next 18 hours or so had a fever of up to 104.7F. By about lunch time on Wednesday his eyes were swollen and watering, his nose was streaming, his mouth and lips were puffy and he was one very unhappy little boy. He needed love, hugs and sleep all day. (By the way, this spot on the couch is where I've been sleeping for several weeks, surrounded by about 12 pillows and cushions, because I can't lie down anymore without dibilitating agony) By the next morning however, his fever had disappeared and the only symptoms he had were a patch of red bumpy rash on the top of his right foot, and some irritability.
Avery seemed to have escaped the virus.
Until last night...

It was her turn to wake up with a fever of 103.6F. We gave her some motrin so that she had a chance of sleeping, and moved her through to our room to sleep in the big bed with Gabe so that he could comfort her as she tossed and turned. This morning at 7:30am she woke up and threw up, and since then has probably thrown up about 5 more times. She's always had a sensitive stomach - it's not uncommon for her to throw up even if she only has a cold. So she is now downstairs sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the family room. Her fever hasn't reached as high as Brogan's (thank heavens!), and she seems to be sleeping quite peacefully right now, so hopefully this horrible phase will pass quickly for her too.
I was really hoping that she wasn't going to get it. It is generally an uncomplicated sickness which just has to run its course, but, in the rare cases where there are complications, they tend to manifest themselves in things like viral meningitis or encephalitis. Certainly two things we would prefer to avoid with Avery. Also, if I go into labour while this virus is in our house and possibly in my system, it could be passed to my baby. Which could be just a small problem, since most of the time, if newborns get this disease, it is mild, but is can cause serious, even life-threatening problems for brand new babies. So the timing is pretty bad. Yup. So we're praying that this whole thing passes very quickly, and that we'll be able to avoid any complications.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brogan is Two!!

It was Brogan's 2nd birthday on Sunday, so we celebrated with a party on Saturday!
A lot of good friends were able to come, although this isn't everybody because I know at least 2 or 3 people were hiding when we took this picture...! We were going to have a slip-n-slide, and set up the grill on the back patio, but it was overcast and gray that day, and they thought it was going to be stormy, so we set up in the car port and forgot about the slip-n-slide! But it was still super fun, and it was actually quite nice to have a little bit of slightly cooler weather :)
We enjoyed lots of yummy hotdogs, burgers and yellow squash, all grilled on our new grill :) Avery is saying "Cheese!"
Brogan saying "Cheese!" Avery has obviously taught him her own preferred camera "smile"....
The Harris's probably thought that they'd managed to avoid the camera when they all hid during the group photo, but I still found them :)
The sand pit looks a lot smaller with 4 children in it :)
Men at the grill and women with the babies! Hahaha!
Everybody enjoyed the cream puffs, but maybe nobody quite as much as Daisy :)
Present time!! Brogan was completely spoiled by presents! Especially considering the fact that we'd told everyone not to worry about bringing presents :) But he loved all of them :) Avery was very excited about all of them too, and enjoyed watching him unwrap them all :) The car toys he got were probably the biggest instant hits with Brogan (he refused to let go of them to unwrap the next gifts), but he has also been loving all the other presents as he's had time to play with them since the party :)
Blowing out the candles!
I don't think Brogan really grasped the fact that it was his party! He absolutely loved having all those friends to play with, and was so happy the whole time everyone was there! But when I brought the cake out and everyone was singing, he joined in with the singing (in his own language of course!), and clapped and cheered at the end with everyone else! But he did enjoy blowing out the candles, and although he was excited to eat the muffin, he only managed one little bite before the distractions of people and toys took his attention away from the cake :) Avery got very excited about the song and the cake, and cheered and clapped so enthusiastically at the end of the song, shouting "Yaaaaay! Happy Birthday Brogan!!!!"

I had three fun crafts planned for the children to make, but we just ran out of time! Everyone was so busy having fun on the trampoline and stuff that there was never a need for us to go inside and start painting and gluing the fun things in there! But the Doroughs were able to stick around for a little bit longer after everyone else left, so I pulled out the paper mache face masks I had made the day before, and the girls sat down to decorate them :) After a few minutes the boys decided it looked like fun too, so they all sat happily around the table painting their face masks :)
Over all it was a super successful party! Thank you to everyone who came and made it such a fun time for Brogan (and for the rest of us too!)
(We'll have to throw a separate crafting party at some point to use up all the toilet paper rolls I collected to make sheep and butterflies!)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Therapy


We are experiencing some fun times with our health insurance right now. And by "fun" I really mean "frustrating and aggravating". Without going into all the details, what's basically been happening is that we're having a hard time getting our insurance to cover any of the cost of the ABM therapy. Avery's PCP did a peer to peer review for us, but that didn't change their decision to not cover it, so now I am waiting on some appeals forms that have supposedly been mailed to me so that I can file an appeal myself. *sigh* So we're probably not going to be able to take Avery back up to see Carla until at least October.
In the meantime, after several weeks of discussion with Avery's wonderful PT Lisa, we have decided to stop taking her to physical therapy alltogether. At least for now. It's a little scary. But we really feel that we need to give ABM therapy a proper chance, and after Lisa and Carla spoke for about 45 minutes on the phone, it just seems as though the traditional PT isn't really compatible with ABM at this point, since all of Avery's goals in regular PT focus on getting her walking, and ABM takes a few steps back and works on pre-walking stuff. It also means that Avery will not be able to participate in hippotherapy, which she was supposed to be starting in a couple of weeks.
We have been approved to start back up with the occupational therapy, which we feel will be helpful since it seems to work a lot on the confidence building which seems to be so helpful for Avery. However, there is a waiting list for OT, so we don't know when we'll be able to start back up with that.
Also, we still don't want to send Avery back to school in September. At least, not the way they want her to go. They want her there 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and there is no way we are agreeing to that, and they know we're not happy about it, but are still hoping that we'll agree to try it, but we won't. Avery does not have the energy or stamina of other 4 yr olds, and 6 hours of school every day would mean that she would not be able to do anything else besides school. No PT, no OT, no pool time, no nothing - just school. And her in-school physical therapy is being cut back to 30 minutes every 2 weeks. And since we're certainly not sending her for the academic aspect (most of her reading/writing/math learning is being done at home anyway - as I've mentioned before, most of her classmates are in the special class for cognitive/verbal/behavioural delays), what we know as her parents is that full-time preschool is not in her best interest at this time.
So to summarise so far - NO Anat Baniel Method therapy, NO physical therapy, NO hippotherapy, NO occupational therapy and NO school.
Here's what we're aiming for:
  • Get the ABM therapy approved by our insurance. If we can achieve this, then we will aim to take Avery up to Sterling, VA once a month for several sessions over the course of a couple or days.
  • Have a meeting with Avery's school team to change her IEP to reflect the new goals we have for her. Put her in school for one, maybe, MAYBE two days a week, and hopefully at a different school.
  • Get a wheelchair through Avery's school therapist. We spoke to Lisa about this, because of course right now, Avery is still wanting to walk a lot, but she is doing it with her walker, which is just awful for her. Definitely does more harm than good. So while we don't want to take it away, we don't want her using it for distances, but we would still like for her to be able to enjoy some independence. So a wheelchair which she could propel by herself would allow her the independence she loves without the problems the posterior walker presents. Of course, she would need training to learn how to use it properly, etc.
It seems odd to be where we are right now. And I know it seems like taking several steps backwards to be cutting back on the walking front. We aren't making Avery wear AFOs, and we don't make her use her quad cane anymore, and we encourage her to sit in the stroller when we go out instead of pushing her to walk. But, it seems to me that we need to pursue the ABM therapy because the whole philosophy of it makes absolute sense to me. And with all the "in between" milestones we've seen in her since starting ABM, I just feel that it's important for us to at least give it a serious trial for several months. It's just frustrating that right now that means that we have to stop everything while we try to get our insurance on board.
I'll leave you with a little video of yet another of Avery's accomplishments! She's been doing this for about 2 weeks.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Safari Park

The Animals
Some of them anyway...apparently I didn't get any pictures of the wildebeest or the big cow type things with the GIANT horns, among others I'm sure!

Close Encounters!
We were amazed by how close all the animals really did get to the vehicle! They were not even a little bit nervous or shy! Within seconds of getting through the gates, Jess and I were squealing and in hysterics because a bunch of llamas and eland and emus came straight over and stuck their heads through our windows! It was so funny to turn around and find yourself nose to nose with a llama or an elk or something! Quite the experience!

Feeding the Animals
We fed most of the animals we saw, with the exception of the bison (for obvious reasons!) and the giraffe (because it was too hot to do the walk-through part...I'm pregnant okay??). We did however lose a bucket of feed to a couple of opportunistic camels, and we also fed a couple of animals we found out later we weren't supposed to feed...like the zebra. Ooops!

Reactions: Claire and Avery
The older girls were very excited about all the animals, especially Claire who was absolutely fearless and wanted to feed all the animals herself! Avery was happy to watch the animals, but didn't feel up to actually touching or feeding them.

Reactions: Brogan and Lilly
Lilly was a little overwhelmed by the close proximity of the animals at first, and insisted on having her window closed. Brogan found it all very exciting, but both of them were happiest once they were sitting on our laps up front :) Lilly felt a little more secure there I think, and Brogan felt closer to the action :) One of the llamas tried to spit at Lilly at the beginning when she was still sitting in the back, and Brogan got licked by a camel when he was sitting on my lap, but he didn't mind :)

Lunch at the Pink Cadillac Diner
After driving through the park once, we decided it was time for some lunch, so we went to the Pink Cadillac Diner which is just across the road from the park. Avery and I ate there once before on our way home from an appointment up in Charlottesville, and it's a fun little place, so we decided to eat there again. We had bought the children a little 25c colouring book, a 4-pack of crayons and an animal stamp each at the safari park gift shop, so that helped them sit still while we waited for our food. Well, it didn't help Brogan for very long.... it was past his nap time and he was over-excited, so we were lucky to survive!!! It should be noted that Avery also chose to order the fish nuggets meal! Fish! She has always insisted that people don't eat fish, but she chose it over all the other selections, and she actually ate both the big fish nuggets that came with her meal!
After lunch (and a very complicated payment!!), we headed back to the park for one more drive through. We had half a bucket of feed left, which Claire was excited to feed to the animals! Lilly even got adventurous and actually fed one of the animals too!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Touch-A-Truck

On Saturday we went to a fun "Touch-a-Truck" event at Green Hill Park in Salem. They had lots and lots of different types of vehicles there for everyone to see and touch! We parked over near the city bus and trolley, so started there, but they had all sorts!
Brogan probably would have been happy to climb into each truck, tractor and dump truck, honking every horn and pretending to drive every vehicle, but that would have taken all day! Avery did very well considering how much noise there was at times with everybody honking different horns at the same time - she didn't even complain about it I don't think, but she certainly wasn't interested in climbing into any of the driver's seats herself :)

Avery didn't want to go on the hayride either, but then I told her how much Brogan wanted to do it, and asked her if she could go with him to help look after him, and she agreed to that with no hesitation!! What a sweet big sister :) Of course, Brogan would have wanted to do it whether any of us went with him or not, but it was lovely of Avery to go just because she thought he needed her to look after him :)

There was a giant cow. Avery is saying "Mooooo!" Brogan is sucking on his lollipop...

There was a cute little mini petting zoo which both of the children loved. Brogan loved pointing out the ducks (one of his favourite words right now), and we had to take his lollipop away after he shared it with one of the goats... While we were looking at the animals, we also ran into Avery's occupational therapist Tiffany with her little boys, so that was fun.

The highlight of the morning for both of the children had to be the bubbles! We had seen it earlier as we drove past it on the hayride, and we just knew it would be a big hit with Brogan! We weren't so sure about what Avery would think. It was done by the fire department, so we were guessing that it's some sort of foam making machine that they would usually use for putting out fires, but for that morning they were just using regular bubbles or something. What ever it was, it was super fun :)
Brogan loved the bubbles he found outside the fence as we approached it, and once he realised there was a lot more of the stuff inside, he didn't even hesitate and walked straight in :)

After a couple of minutes, they turned on some big blower machine that blew all the bubbles up into the air and big clumps of the stuff went floating off to who-knows-where. Then they turned on the foam machine!
I started to record this video because it was pretty cool to see the sheer volume of foam being spewed out by this thing, but then I realised that Brogan was being buried so I turned it off!! Luckily Gabe saw it happening too, and gave me Avery's hands so that he could run off and rescue Brogan, who apparently looked a little nervous as he was being engulfed, but he was just fine!!

We were happy to find that Avery loved the bubbles too!! She was standing just inside the fence holding onto my hands as she watched the tidal wave of foam heading towards us, and she got maybe a little bit nervous, but mostly found the whole thing pretty exciting!! I finally picked her up and pulled her back over to my side of the fence when the foam was threatening to go over her head! But we walked straight around to the front of the little enclosure so that she could go and play in the bubbles again! By this point Gabe had rescued Brogan, who was running around playing in the foam again, so Avery had a great time holding onto Gabe's hands and running around getting covered in bubbles too!
Neither of them wanted to leave when we told them time was up, but luckily there were other exciting things to see which soon took their minds off the bubbles!

We were going to go straight to the helicopter before heading home, but Brogan spotted the old fire truck, and just had to see it, so we stopped there first! Brogan waited impatiently for his turn to drive, and was as happy as a clam as soon as he got to sit up behind the wheel! But there was another little boy waiting for a turn, so we couldn't let him sit there forever, and you would have thought his heart was breaking when Gabe picked him up! So sad!

Avery likes helicopters, but, as in the past when she's had the opportunity to see one up close and actually get inside, she wanted to have nothing to do with it! So once again we asked her if she would go in with Brogan to look after him, and once again that did the trick!!

Then we tortured Brogan by insisting it was time to go home. Once again, his poor little heart broke, but after driving for a couple of minutes he started to make his tired noise and I think he realised that a nap might be a nice idea :)