Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

For Halloween 2001, I dressed Alyssa as a BYU cheerleader to coordinate with her Cosmo-wearing brother.

Fifteen years later, she chose the same Halloween costume. We had seen an online BYU costume contest and I suggested going retro with my old cheer gear.  Alyssa wore my old uniform while Linsey donned my old warm-ups.  Cute girls!

Natalie has an affinity for scarier costumes, so she decided to be a creepy version of Red Riding Hood.

Lys headed off to a party with friends, while Natalie gathered candy for hours with her favorite buddies.

BYU fans: Alyssa, Max and Linsey

Natalie, Camryn, Ava and Emma

The corner house down the street did their traditional over-the-top Halloween display. Every October, we watch their progress as they build the most elaborate scenes.  It's fun to drive by every day and speculate on what it will be.  This year they went for a Western theme.  (The pictures don't do it justice.) Plus, they're known for giving out full-size candy bars.

Hours of fun and more candy than we could possibly eat.  Another successful Halloween.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Elbow Surgery 2.0

We had been busy getting Caleb packed up for college and were planning to leave the following day. The previous Sunday, Caleb had been ordained an elder in the Melchizedek priesthood.  That night, on the eve of his departure from home, he would have the opportunity to give his first priesthood blessing.

Earlier that evening, Alyssa and I had shared some text messages:

Emotions were already running at high levels in our house and the addition of Alyssa's physical and emotional pain only added to the weight of it all.  She and Natalie were both planning to stay behind with friends while Jon and I took Caleb to school. That night holds memories of many tears, uncertainty, anxiousness and dread. After receiving a blessing, we counseled Alyssa to not worry about gymnastics while we were gone. We would face this beast as soon as we hurdled the massive life milestone of moving our oldest child out of our home.

The beast that awaited us upon our return was far more fierce than I could've expected. Nearly a full week of breakdowns with sobs so heavy that breathing was difficult. The elbow pain was far too familiar as it mimicked what had been experienced in the other arm. Even writing was painful for Alyssa, but it was the emotional strain that at times seemed unbearable. She couldn't bring herself to go to the gym, but neither could she officially report to coaches that she was done.

One afternoon I found her in her bed, wearing a leotard, curled in a ball and quietly crying. She explained that she had planned to finally return to the gym that day, but had looked at her phone and the BYU gymnastics Instagram account popped up. It seemed a cruel reminder that her dreams were now out of reach, so she crawled in bed and stayed there.

Alyssa had spent over six months rehabilitating from her left elbow surgery.  The return to gymnastics had been even harder than she imagined and regaining skills that at one time were easy had been a discouraging uphill climb.  The thought of beginning the whole process again was incredibly disheartening.  I've never seen her hurt so deeply.

She was adamant that she did not want another surgery. While Jon and I were not going to force her to stay in gymnastics, we felt strongly that she have her arm checked out. Living the rest of her life with pain in her dominant arm was not an option. We were able to get an MRI ordered without even seeing a doctor.  (I guess there are some perks to having had the same injury just a few months prior.) I simply emailed the sports medicine physician and her surgeon and within a few days we were back at the Children's radiology department.

A few days later, the doctor confirmed what we already knew: OCD in the right elbow.  A near identical injury to the one she had on the left.  Though Alyssa still resisted the idea of another surgery, when the surgeon's office called and offered me a spot that had opened due to cancellation, I knew we had to take it. She'd already met her insurance deductible and it was imperative that the second surgery be done before the calendar year was over.  As it turns out, the October 21st surgery spot was the only one left for the year, so I had them put Alyssa's name on it.  I told her I would give her the option to cancel if she didn't feel like she could go through with it, but she never did.  Alyssa positively did NOT want to have another surgery, but she put on her usual brave face and went through with it.

The IV went in easily and Dr. Gee came in to initial her elbow

Making goofy faces helps distract from the nervousness:

Lys had mentioned that going under anesthesia last time had felt like she'd only been asleep for 15 minutes. As we said goodbye to her I said, "See you on the other side."  To which she replied, "In 15 minutes."

As they wheeled her away, Jon grabbed my hand to walk me toward the waiting room. I remarked that watching them take her away evoked similar emotions as watching Caleb walk away from our car to his college apartment. 

Ugh.  I didn't like the feeling.

We watched the patient screen for the next two hours.

Another perk to having done this before: the anesthesiologist was able to adjust her medications to make waking up a much smoother and more pleasant experience.

The recovery was nearly identical and this tough little cookie was able to avoid all pain medications, never taking anything more than ibuprofen.  She spread out on Caleb's big bed and slept quite peacefully.

The doorbell rang frequently with gifts of get-well wishes.  Flowers from Grandma and Grandpa Seely and the Johnson family:

Cookie bouquet from her coaches.  Not gluten-free, but still a nice gesture:

And a figurine from Aunt Sarah:

Elder Rasband was scheduled to speak to the youth of our area the following day and Alyssa really wanted to be well enough to attend. We removed the bandages and she slipped into her dress just in time to hear him speak.

We also checked her range of motion, which seemed significantly better than the other arm was a day after surgery.

Her gymnastics future is still uncertain. There will be many more hours of therapy and rehabilitation to come, but this girl continues to be an inspiration. She is strong, she is brave, she is determined.