I have been implored to update my blog, if only to keep a few friends from having to field questions all the time. So I am about to do what I said I was never going to do again...write a super-quick update, filled with pictures, to catch any readers who are still around up with the latest. And then, my goal is one, well-written post a week. I am ready to tell a lot of our story that I haven't been willing to live into until now. But for today, here's your update!
Virginia is doing incredibly well!! She went home from the hospital on August 21, after just 2 nights, which happens to be a spine team record for the hospital. It takes a year for the bones to fuse, and there will always be a 1-2% chance of infection or rod breakage, but we are most certainly out of the woods and are beyond thrilled with how she did.
One of the places we went for a second opinion before surgery was Dallas Scottish Rite. The surgeon there said, "If you elect to have surgery, you won't think you made the right decision for at least six months. That is how hard and painful the recovery is going to be." Well, Findley looked at me about ten days post-op and said, "Good call." I thought he was talking about the take-out dinner that had just arrived, but when I realized what he meant, I had to laugh. Yep, it was obvious that soon that things had gone way better than we ever dreamed.
We are so thankful to Dr. Warner for his wisdom and obviously skilled hands, and to the ICU team at LeBonheur who essentially left a scared and scarred mother alone to tend to her daughter. We are thankful to my parents & my siblings who kept Wills and Eliza for two weeks so Findley and I could just focus on Virginia. We are thankful to the best set of friends in the world who kept us covered in prayer and well fed for several months.
Looking back on that year before surgery, it was an incredibly rough time. I am a little disappointed in myself that I didn't do a better job of documenting it, but honestly, there was no time. While dealing with the physical ramifications of Virginia's worsening curve was tough, the even tougher part was my guilt over not being able to solve the scoliosis issue without surgery. For so long I felt like if we could find the right wheelchair, invent the right brace, find the right therapist, etc, then we could avoid surgery, which for numerous reasons, I really didn't think Virginia would survive. I didn't think we'd lose her that day, but I did think the possibility of her not surviving more than a few months post-op was high. Then once we realized there was no other option but surgery, the fear I had about the impending arrival of August 19 almost rivaled the hell of Virginia's first year of life. And on top of those emotions, she was so uncomfortable that I was holding her (either in the pool or on the couch) pretty much half the time she was awake. Feeling like my hands were full (which they were....with my 65 pound girl) started to take its toll on me too. And then poor Findley was dealing with all those same emotions, plus going to work, and even more than that, he was talking me back from the edge of the emotional cliff multiple times a day.
I think the relief of clearing the scoliosis hurdle is one that has had a resounding affect on our family. Findley is now self-employed, which is awesome. He has wanted to do this since Wills was born, but you can only handle so much uncertainty. Now that Virginia is in such great health, he felt free to take the leap, and so far, so good. We have tried to simplify our lives in every way possible, and I'm not convinced that a year from now we won't be living on the edge of a river, fly fishing for our dinner and homeschooling the kids! Sometimes you just have to hit the brakes, and take time to be thankful.
(I somehow added all the following figures in a gallery, and therefore can't add captions. Here is the story line though...these are chronological from the hours before surgery until last weekend. They are mainly of V, because I know you want to see how she's doing. A few that might need explaining...we couldn't get her incision (20"!!) wet for about ten days so I washed her hair on the massage table and put a metal bucket underneath to catch the water. It obviously felt so great to have clean hair! -I love both the pics of Eliza and Virginia on the couch. In the one where Eliza is asleep, V is laughing because she stayed awake the longest! -The camel picture and the one following were taken at the zoo less than four weeks after surgery. I have no words for this except gratitude for how well she did. I seriously thought we might not get off the couch for months. Ha! -In the grainy pic, she's getting snowed on at Frozen on Ice. -The feather in her hair is her actual 12th birthday, October 3rd, as is the one of the three kids in front of the fire. That was still just 6 weeks post-op. -We took the little kids to DC for fall break to see friends because we thought they needed a little parental attention. Can't believe we could do that so soon after surgery. -Then we all went on a little vacation at the end of October to celebrate how well she did. -The rest are just normal life...playing Clue, playing guitar, riding in the golf cart, holding the baby cousin...but I have to say, all of those mundane tasks still feel extra special because Virginia is back in the middle of them, where she belongs.