Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One Step at a Time

Above - we see Chalupa during her final Physical Therapy session. She had to demonstrate that she could handle the steps, and she did. Now (below) ... she's HOME SWEET HOME!

Gonna Get Discharged

Just got word... Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Chalupa will be discharged later today. She still has a lot of recovery to get through, but at least it will be in the comfort of her own home. Here we see her getting ready to order breakfast. That's Liz, one of the many, attending nurses we had over the days, weekend and evenings.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One More Day of Progress

A bunch of Chalupa's friends had this T-Shirt made and they all wore them at school the day before she left for surgery. This (above) is the front.
This is the back (of the t-shirt)
And here is Chalupa with her "first meal" back. Mac and Cheese. It was not critically acclaimed, but a very welcome treat. They say she'll lose 4 - 6 lbs when she gets home. She, like the rest of this scrawny Taylor tribe, does not have 4 - 6 lbs to lose. Chocolate Sundays, mashed potatoes with whipping cream, and lobster thermidor may all make it onto her menu.
Today we had visits from Pastor Kyle and the BASIC Youth Group Leaders (above: Sara, Ross and Donald-call-me-Eric), from St. Andrews Presbyterian. She also had a visit from our State Representative Dave Jacoby. Marpy and Mama Arpy showed up in time to see Chalupa taking her evening stroll, and the night was capped off by a visit from her siblings and mom.

Doc says tonight might be her last night, depending on her pain and stairs. It will be good to get her home. So one more walk tonight and all sights set on another day of work tomorrow.

Day 4 on the Recovery Train

Chalupa started walking again yesterday and the one trip journey was tough and painful. Today (above) she managed to make three trips around the ward circle, and two of those were "unassisted". Her pain is dropping and she's weening off of morphine. The goal is to pass her solids, and once this happens... she can take solid food.

Pastor Kyle stopped by from St. Andrews. It was good to speak with him. The support she has had from this church is really quite amazing. Thank you to all of the St. Andrews family. Many of the cards (below) are from her youth group and confirmation group, and friends from all over the city. We may need a small moving truck to get all this stuff out of here.

Therapy this afternoon, MAY include stairs! Maybe. If not today, then definitely tomorrow. Very exciting stuff.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different

Homecoming was last night. Peanut and Beaner went. Peanut may never go again, and Beaner is all over it like fly on stink. Below we see her and Hannah. One of our Taylor Family Favs.
And here is the entourage before they left our house. From the left, Zach, Beaner, Alyssa, and Parker. It's all good. Afterwards they went to church with the rest of the youth group folks who attended. Peanut spent the night at a girlfriend's house.
Today, Peanut's team got smashed in soccer, but Big Dawg's team crushed their opponents. Chalupa's team also lost... probably 'cause she wasn't there ... but then again... maybe not.

Losses and Gains

Today Chalupa lost her bladder tube and she lost Bob the Button (morphine). She gained greater mobility and walked up and down the hall, and she gained non-water liquids (Sprite and Apple Juice). Day-by-day her muscles and nerves are adapting to their new positions, and her muscle memory is helping her regain her strength and mobility. Tomorrow... soft foods (pudding, apple sauce? etc...)
Here we see a posse of girls. I probably won't get all of their names right but I'll try. In no particular order... Emmy, Emily, KFC, Abby-Normal, Vanessa and Miriam (I don't know Vanessa and Miriam but they're there).
And here we see Marpy and Molly. Molly has graciously asked for a Taylor Family Nick Name, so I'm on a mission.

Tonight Laura stays at the hospital and I'll make sure the kids get off to school tomorrow morning before I come in and take the morning shift.

Moving Towards 72 Hours Post Op

Above we see Dr. Judd changing Chalupa's dressings. Here's what's on the agenda today. Chalupa will do some walking, and once she has mastered that, they will remove the tube from her bladder. Once that's gone, she'll be graduated to something more substantial than ice chips (jello or more?). But, unfortunately, she'll loose one more thing today... "Bob" the Button. This is the button she uses to have an instant delivery of morphine when pain comes a callin'

If all goes well, and progress continues, there is a chance for Chalupa to go home on Tuesday. We shall see. Today will be another big day. But when she goes home, she'll bring home this scar.
What you can't see in the lower right side of this picture is a little bit of tape that leads to another small scar on her hip. This is where Dr. Weinstein took a bone graft from her hip to place over the new rods in her back. During the next six months these tiny bone grafts will grow over the rods encasing them into her vertebrae. And there you have the origins for the name of this procedure, "spinal fusion".

Side Track arrives soon to relieve me this morning, so I can take Big Dawg to his soccer this afternoon in Cedar Rapids. J.A. Mandy will take Peanut to her soccer across town in IC. Well, onward and upward, big day ahead!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Work and Pleasure

Yep, that's the Chalupa, STANDING!!! WOW!! It's all part of her rehab plan. Once she got back into bed, she slept for a solid hour. A good chance for me to grab a bite to eat.
Then came a small parade of friends starting with Crazy Pete, his wife Judy and daughter Kari. No holdin' him back. One week from today, he and I will tromp through 26.2 miles in and around Minneapolis/St. Paul. But Chalupa is so tough, her bravery makes our little effort look weak.
Next came Abby Normal (The Bruiser). This is the one and same young lady who crushed Chalupa (unintentionally) on the basketball court. A darling young lady and friend of the family.
And her last visitor of the day was The Reason. This comical child showed up and put a smile on the face of a very tired young Chalup. It turns out The Reason's mom, did her Pediatric Residency here at Iowa, and knows my God Mother, J.A.Mandy, and many of the physicians who worked with my father. Small world, huh?

So Chalupa is in the chair again, and is demanding to be put back in bed after a 35 minute pull. She'll sleep well tonight.

The Wheel Chair

So first the ice chips, now the chair! Here we see Chalupa getting situated into the wheel chair. This is HUGE. It's a painful process to shift all that weight, stand, shift, then sit. Now we let the muscles relax and adjust for 30 minutes, then it's back into the bed for a while.
Later this afternoon, she'll return to the chair for 45 minutes, then again for 60 minutes. Each time it stretches muscles and builds strength. Once she sat up straight she had to cough up phlem. This too is very difficult because of the lack of re-developed strength and lung power. But this too, is all part of rehab for her. It is tough work, and she makes us all look whimpy.
We had a surprise visit from "sister" Molly. This was the first time Chalupa has smiled since surgery. I confess, it brought tears to my eyes to see he smile. Then she smiled again when Ike called in his soccer score. I told her that he was worthless talking on the phone, but he wanted to speak with her. She asked him 2 or 3 times when his next games were, and she just smiled, shook her head, because it was clear... she agreed with me, he was worthless on the phone, and not getting the answers she wanted.

Special thanks to Joe, Delma, Emmy (and family), Ms. Keech (teacher), Randy Housler and the crew from BASIC for the flowers and cards. Oh, and the Lipman's for the wonderful muffins from JAVA House.

Sponge Bath and ICE CHIPS! Horray!!

This picture gives you some idea of how Chalupa has been laying for the better part of the last two days when she was not propped on her side by pillows, or slightly tilted up. She's obviously getting her hair washed (despite my suggestion to just shave it off), and then a sponge bath. You can't tell from this picture, but just tilting her neck ever so slightly was very painful for her.

After the sponge bath, she was approved for ice chips. This is the first step on her way to maybe some food by tomorrow! ALLLLRIIIGHT!

48 Hours After Surgery

We'll it may not look like she's making progress, but she is. Every two or three hours the roll her into a different position which allows her nerves and muscles to adjust to their new (and correct) positions. But, as you can imagine, these are very incremental moves and come with a great deal of pain. The picture above was taken last night before I left to go home. You can see that the bed is at a reasonable angle compared to the picture below. That's what I mean by incremental... we're talking inches translating into miles of progress.

So today she will get into an almost complete sitting position three times. At least that's the goal. This will put some weight and pressure on the spine and all attached nerves and muscles, so the pain will not be fun. Chalupa also practices her breathing into a tube that measures and improves the strength of her lungs.

We also hope she can start chewing on ice. She's not had anything to eat since Wednesday night (before surgery). Her digestive system in not fully "on line" so they have to ease her into liquids and foods to prevent aspiration. Plus, (I would think) a bowel movement would be pass-out painful at this point. We hope today she can graduate from rinsing her mouth with water to actually consuming it! We'll see.
Still very groggy and dosing in and out of consciousness. Her voice is weak primarily because she still can't take huge breaths of air. The Intellectual Giant (IG) stopped by to say hello. He brought some great trashy reaching material (People, Enquirer etc...). She will be a much more engaging person by later Sunday afternoon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

24 Hours After Surgery

Chalupa is making great progress. She is attached to one less thing. They removed the Pulse and Blood Oxygen monitor line. Still in and out today. Even with her sisters (Peanut, Beaner and Marpy) in attendance, she could barely muster a conversation.

They are slowly rotating her, and getting her some mobility. They say tomorrow she will stand!!! Wow.

Still no food, no water. Her digestion is not quite ready... "still waking up" according to the nurse, Andrea.

Good Morning Chalupa!

First, to those of you anxious to visit Chalupa, she'll probably need another day or two of rest and recovery. At this point, she is in and out, and still in a great deal of pain. So we respectfully ask folks to wait until Sunday, before you stop by. She's in room 86 in JCP2 (John Colloton Pavillion).

All went well last night with only a few hiccups. The bed she is in is calibrated to measure her weight. Unfortunately, when she was weighed at 4:00, she seemed to have mysteriously gained 10 lbs! Naturally I was overjoyed that any member of our family could put on that kind of weight, but the nurse(s) did not agree.
So here (above) we see a team of nurses carefully lifting Chalupa at 4:30 this morning to re-set the scale on the bed. And must to my consternation and amazement, the 10 lbs she magically gained... magically disappeared. POOF... just like that. What was I thinking? I mean Weinstein is good at spinal fusions, but not a miracle working in helping the kid put on some needed pounds.
Oh, and here is a picture of her "Sponge Pop". Not much to look at really, but Chalupa really seems to like it. I soak it in the sink and she'll chew and suck through three of them every two hours or so.

2:30 a.m.

Well, it's been just over 14 hours since Chalupa got out of surgery. We've had three visits since 10:30. Each with a different purpose. They've been checking her vitals and doing some minor re=positionings. And replacing fluids.

It's important to "roll" her onto different positions, in this case her "side", and have her in that slightly different position for 2-4 hours. This allows the blood to circulate a bit more (not pool), it also subtly strengthens and re-normalizes muscles and nerves, which in-turn helps the body adjust to the re-aligned spine. Of course any movement at this point is horribly uncomfortable, I'm certain words can do justice for the pain Chalupa must feel. But she continues to be a trooper. The bandage goes from the base of her neck all the way down to the base of her spike (just below her waist), wow and yeow!

Because she is not fully processing fluids quite yet, she still can't drink water. But all the breathing makes her mouth dry. So what they have are little sponges on a stick (think lolly pops - Dumdums), and we soak the sponge in water, and she chews on in, and moves it around her mouth. It's probably less than a 1/2 a teaspoon of water, but enough to keep her mouth moist.

And so it goes. Next call will be about 4:00 a.m.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The First Night

Chalupa is resting quietly right now, but we're braced for a long night or two. Sidetrack is at home for the night, and the schedule calls for a 10:30 check in and a 1:00 a.m. check in and I believe another at 4:00 a.m. They've allowed Chalupa to access the morphine every ten minutes, which is up from every 15 minutes. She is also taking Tylenol.

She won't be hungry for a few days, so she is "fed" through an IV. When she is awake, she's been asked to wiggle her toes. And she likes to have a wet swap (small sponge) run through her mouth to moisten things a bit. The towel on her head is like a cool compress. In the brief time I was away at class, she seems to have regained some color.

Tomorrow (Friday) Sidetrack will relieve me early in the morning, and I'll swing into work for a few quick hours. Then when I return, I'll pick up Beaner from school so she can swing by and visit for just a bit. Tomorrow night is Homecoming (Game) so she won't have a chance to visit then. More on homecoming later. Right now... I might grab a minute or two of shut eye.

Shift Change

Sidetrack went home for a few hours to make sure things were squared away with the rest of the tribe. J.A. Mandy (my Godmother) is also helping out during our various activities.

Since then, Sidetrack as relieved me of my duties so I can teach my class tonight. I'll return at 9:30 to relieve her for the night, and then she'll relieve me in the morning. We're still trying to work out logistics for the rest of tomorrow and the weekend.

Chalupa is doing much better. She's in her "permanent" room, and will be in severe pain for a few more days. She reports that the pain is between 6 - 8 on a scale of 10. Not fun. Her sisters and brother will visit tomorrow, and she'll begin entertaining guests on Sunday. More news later.


I can say Chalupa is resting, but not necessarily comfortably. We're still in post op waiting to move to her room. Her bladder has not completely woken up yet. All other vitals are good. From the top we see her pulse (64), breathing rate (18 breaths per minutes), then we see her oxygen saturation rate for her blood (98 - I can't really explain this but can tell you that over 90 in minimal, they like to see over 92), and in the lower right you see her blood pressure (123/51).

In an effort to keep my daughter on speaking terms with me, I won't post pictures of her just yet. Maybe when she gets a bit more color (she's still a bit palled), and after she loses a few tubes. But trust me when I tell you, she's fine.

12:00 p.m. - Surgery is complete!

This is a look of relief you see on the faces of Sidetrack, Dr. Weinstein, and Buzz. Maggie is out and we'll see her in about 10 minutes. She is "waking" up right now, and NOW the work begins. At least the scariest part is over.

And NO, that's NOT a pack of Marlborro's in Dr. Weinstein's pocket. Now off to see a recovering Chalupa. More news later.

11:30 a.m. Wake-up TEST

Dr. Weinstein just called up to our "lounge" to report that at 11:20 a.m. they performed the "wake-up test", and Maggie responded positively!

The wake-up test is performed by the surgeon as they pull Chalupa out of deep, deep anesthesia. They ask her to move her toes and fingers etc... No nerve damage and she is coming out of it. Of course, she won't remember a thing.

The fact that they are performing this test means the most critical portion of the surgery is complete, (drilling of holes, placement of pins, attaching the rods etc...). There is still a ways to go, but at least she is more than half way through.

Dr. Weinstein is THE BOMB!

We just got the 10:00 a.m. report from the OR (operating room for us non-physician types). Everything is going very well.

I asked the attending receptionist if it's standard protocol to report surgical progress, and she said no. It's Dr. Weinstein. He insists on providing hourly updates when he operates.

HERE is a link that will validate his street cred:

It's safe to say... Chalupa's in good hands.

Scoliosis - BE GONE!

Well today is the day that Chalupa's back will be straightened. A year ago (July) she was diagnosed with Scoliosis. At the time, her spine had a 32 degree curve. She opted to participate in a longitudinal study conducted by Dr. Stuart Wienstein to determine if back braces are an effective treatment for Scoliosis. She was in the control group (no brace), and when she was measured yesterday... her curve was 56 degrees. In the last two months the curve in her back grew three degrees. Makes me wonder what she'd look like at 90 degrees?

Anyway, Sidetrack brought her to the hospital at 5:15 this morning. Maggie was prepped and off to surgery by 7:15, and they actually began the procedure at 8:15 a.m. Surgery is expected to be five - six hours. And so we sit in the Dr. Lois Boulware Day of Surgery Lounge, get hourly updates, and try to think of a better name for this holding pen.

Our last update came about 15 minutes ago (9:05 a.m.). "She's doing very well." But of course she is... she's out cold. I want to know how the surgical team is doing? Oh well, as the girls might say... "Dad! That's TMI!" And so we wait.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Childhood Chums Unite in Neenah-Menesha, WI.

From left, Binsey, The Mick, Peanut, Big Dawg and Beaner. Reunited at the Fox Cities Marathon to cheer Mr. Beep Beep and Buzz along. (see earlier post). The only delinquent missing was Chalupa, who remained behind to play some Futbol. All's good on Sheffield Lane and Sheffield Court. Probably a bit quieter with us no longer there. Thanks for coming out to cheer us on.... every little bit helps.

Another 26.2 Mile Experience

When Mr. Beep Beep and I set out on Sunday morning's run around the Fox Cities area... we had one goal in mind, cover the 26.2 mile course in under 4:00 hours. Staying on task meant sticking to the plan... be last over the start line and hold an easy jog for about 6 miles. We did just that, and then picked up our pace ever so slightly to pass and stay of the 3:50 pack (group running to cross the finish line in 3 hours and 50 minutes.

We held this position until about 18 miles and started when we started to loose steam. The 3:50 pack caught us at about mile 19, and we continued to lose steam. Despite losing 7 minutes in the final 5 miles, we still managed to meet the goal setting a new PR for Mr. Beep Beep. Congratulations Chris!

Next up The Twin Cities Marathon on October 3. Crazy Pete and I may try to run sub 3:30:59 to re-qualify for Boston. Based on the Fox Cities run, I believe I've got a 3:40 in me, but those last 10 minutes will be the painful part. Not sure I have it in me, and (quite frankly) I'm not sure I really care. We'll see.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Long Run

This will be Chalupa's (far left) first and last cross country race for the season. A week from today, Thursday, she goes in for surgery to correct a bad case of Scoliosis. It will be an approximate 6 hour procedure to include pins and rods to straighten things out. This will be followed by 7 - 10 days of hospitalization, another week (or so) at home, then on the disabled list (DL) for 6 months of inactivity.

It'll be a rough go, but she's a tough kid. More news to follow. Oh, and the NWJH girls came in 2nd. Chalupa and Katie P. ran stride for stride from start to finish. One of the joys of running is having a good friend to run with. And there we have it.

More Friends

Chalupa and Miss Molly are off to school... Whacky Day. Miss Molly is another surrogate daughter. She's a delight, and a lot of fun... not to mention a snappy dresser! Fo Sho.
Here we see Miss Molly, Chalupa, Dorf and Big Dawg. We just finished breakfast at Breugger's. A real croud-pleaser.
And last but not least, Sidetrack and Lorraine are chatting about this and that. These two wonderful women always have plenty to share with one another. It's great when we can get together.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"I Got It!"

Playing catch with Big Dawg in our back yard. His concentration is palpable.
INSTANT REPLAY - Clearly we see his hand below the ball and he clearly caught it. The play on the field stands. The ball was caught and the touchdown counts! Nice work BD. And thank you for not celebrating in the end zone!

Ceci, KFC and Chalupa OH MY!

Ceci (left) is not sure what to think of KFC, who seems to be holding court or singing The Star Spangled Banner. Chalupa is just standing there, frozen in disbelief. Before the day was out, we were joined by Alissa, Julia, Marpy, Adrianna and Abby Normal II. It was typical afternoon mayhem 'round the hood to be sure.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Selling a house - the hard way

I'm going to try to explain our dilemma. We put the Monkeedoo house (above) on the market almost 30 months ago. Since then, we had one really offending low-ball offer (about 50% the appraised value) by a reputably gravy sucking sleaze ball. And so we waited. When we finally got a reasonably close offer, it was still 27% off the original price we paid, and it was contingent on the sale of their house. Just as we were about to accept the offer another offer came in for the same amount, but was restricted to that amount by divorce decree which means no negotiating, but also, no contingency... we accepted the offer.

So we informed our boarders who were good sports about it and within a week a HUGE hail storm blew through. No body thought anything about it. The boarders said the house was fine and we proceeded with paperwork to sell. The inspection came and went and all systems were go. Boarders were out and I went up to make one final pass the day before closing.

And so, just hours before closing they buyer did one final walk-through and they noticed a little water stain on one of the walls. One thing led to another and the roof was re-inspected. Low and behold there was major hail damage which now requires a new roof. UGH!

The buyer is on the curb with kids and a moving van full of furniture. The sellers (us) have to stop payment on the mortgage on the house... get an insurance adjuster to come make an estimate, and somehow figure out how to get all this closing crap resolved within a 15 day window (before our mortgage payment lapses).

So here is where it stands this Labor Day Weekend. the adjuster came and calculated $15K in damages, less $1000 deductible, and a reimbursable depreciation of $2,600. A check arrives to Sidetrack and me on Tuesday. It must be endorsed by us and the bank. Then, once it clears (3 - 5 days), a check is sent to the roofers who then contact the title company about closing details (this can take 3 -5 days). All closing costs get recalculated and financing must be secured by both the buyer and the seller (remember, we are under water here), and a closing date can be set. This will put us right up to the 15th. YIKES!!

Once the roof is complete, then the roofing company sends documentation to the Insurer who in-turn writes a check to the Sellers for the reimbursable depreciation. The sellers then pass this additional money back over to the roofer to complete our dept. with them. Somewhere else in this mix is the deductible.

So, by the time it's all said and done, this little roofing oversight (mistake) by the inspector cost interest and other costs in excess of $2,000 additional dollars to our selling costs. It is very painful, but we should close soon, and put this chapter behind us. What a crappy, crappy, crappy way to end a rough go of it in Monkeydoo. But soon, this chapter will be closed and better days will be ahead.

To better days ahead! CHEERS!