Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who invented it???

Little boy's underwear that is... Who designs it? Is it intentionally designed to torture little toddlers? Jack has a perma-wedgie from wearing his underwear backwards for the last 4 days. Ridiculous. Why in the world are all the characters on little boy's underwear on the butt???? Elmo, Thomas, Spiderman, all on the butt... Poor kid.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Two Years Together

Well, I have been thinking about this post for a few days. It is almost unbelievable that on 11/21/08, Jack had been with us for two years!

For the first two years of his life, he had nearly the exact same routine every day, in the same place, with the same people. Weeks went by, and one by one, his little mates left with their forever families. For two years, no one came for little Hou Dong Guo. Then, two years ago we met a very scared little boy in an orphanage a half a world away. To him, we surely looked funny, smelled funny, ate strange food and took him away from the only place he ever really knew. He trembled with fear and cried his little eyes out until he fell asleep in my arms in the cab on the way to the hotel. He woke up and we were still there and he was still scared. He clung to me day and night for a few days and then began to open up.

He came home and was embraced lovingly by his new siblings. After being home for a month, he enjoyed the miracle of hearing with the aid of his BAHA. His speech blossomed with his personality and he meshed so well with our family it was clear he was always meant to be with us. He gained 10 pounds the first year home as the night terrors dissipated and he came to realize that we are here for him no matter what. He has brought our whole family great joy as he was baptized and experienced Christmas, Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween and other American traditions for the very first time.

His second year with us has been filled with surgeries, recoveries and healing. His language skills have progressed to above average (which has been amazing to witness) as he learned his colors, shapes, ABC's and essentially caught up to be a typically developing 4 year old. He loves his brother and sisters and is full of boyish mischief. He loves camping, swimming, reading books, Thomas the Tank Engine and Lightning McQueen. Together, we scared away monsters under the bed, learned to jump off the diving board and finally, finally (as of this week) pee in the toilet (HOOORAHHH!). He has a fabulous smile, an infectious laugh and heart warming hug. And, maybe most importantly, because of two very talented surgeons, Jack no longer needs his BAHA and has two ears that can hold up a pair of sunglasses and allow him to listen to music through headphones. We are forever grateful to everyone who has helped Jack on his journey, from the nannies in the orphanage, to his speech therapists, to his surgeons and their incredible and caring staff, to our friends and family. It truly takes a village!

Jack has been so very brave and has brought us much joy and a our fair share of tears. We didn't really know what we were in for two years ago when all this began. It seemed simple enough, the little boy in the picture tugged at our hearts. Who knew what the Lord had in store for us? An amazing journey that has barely just begun....

Little Jack, we love you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stage 2 surgery decisions

Some good news to post...

Jack has been wearing his plug in his left ear pretty much all the time. We take it out about twice a week to clean it. It usually has a bit of wax and gunk in it, but has been doing its job very nicely. It does not bother Jack and we have been able to move up to the largest plug with no problems.

This week we went to see Dr. Roberson and have a hearing test. Dr. Roberson cleaned Jack's ears first and said that his ears look great. Even his left ear, the middle ear bones are touching the ear drum just as they are supposed to and the canal is looking great.

Other good news is that just in time for this hearing test, Jack's allergy problems have diminished significantly. His nose was clear, he seemed to be hearing well and his speech has been great. This was really great as we expected to use this hearing test to determine whether Jack's left ear needed a revision to improve his hearing.

As far as the hearing test, Jack's left ear tested slightly lower than his first hearing test in March. He is about 40-50 dB across frequencies, which is good, but not quite as good as the March test. His right ear is about the same, in the 40-50 dB range. This is good, given that his ear drum is using only the stapes. The great news is that given his hearing and how everything looks, Dr. Roberson feels that there is no need for a revision for his hearing or his ear canal. He also feels hopeful that his hearing will improve over time. I asked Dr. Roberson if he would recommend aiding Jack's hearing if it doesn't improve and he said it was borderline. So, we will pray for improvement and wait and see.

So, this all means that we will have Jack's third and hopefully final surgery with Dr. Reinisch on Dec. 10 at Cedar's Sinai in Los Angeles. We have not started to talk to Jack about the next surgery. I am wondering if he will remember all this, hoevever, it should be much easier this time around. In trading emails with Dr. Reinisch and observing Jack's ear, I think Jack will need some additional skin grafts. Jack has unfortunately had a lot of shrinkage of the split thickness skin grafts (from the scalp) and I think Dr. Reinisch may use a full thickness skin graft from Jack's tummy to replace the wrinkled spots that are scarring. Jack will also have the scar spots on his scalp removed and closed, hair removed from his ears and his right earlobe adjusted. I also think Dr. Reinisch will improve the projection of the left ear, which is very close to Jack's head.

Though I am anxious to have another surgery, I will be relieved to have this one behind us. I will post regularly again post surgery (as much as I can).

Please keep Mr. Jack in your prayers.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Jack turns 4 and gets a new plug...

After MUCH anticipation, Jack turned 4 last week. He kept telling us, "MY birthday is coming up, MY birthday!" He had seen Jaden and Carter have their celebrations and he was very ready for his turn to be the center of attention. We talked about what would be his favorite thing to go do and settled on staying home. Jack's favorite thing is really not any place or thing to GO do. He loves very much for us to just spend time with him - the venue is not importatnt. So, we stayed home and just had a little party for him with everyone just spending time playing with him and his new toys. He was in heaven. Sometimes it is hard to believe that he is 4. He is still our little guy, his hands still seem so small and he still loves to snuggle. Here is a picture and a little video clip:


Halloween was great fun. Jack had a Thomas costume, which I think he refused to wear at school and suddenly decided was an okay idea just before we went trick-or-treating. I simply can't explain the logic of a four year old, but in the end, all was fine. Here is the cutie all dressed up and ready to go:

So, Mr. Allergy (aka Jack) is doing better. We are using Zyrtec daily with Rhinocort spray and frequent saline spray to keep his nose clear. All of this seems to be helping his sinuses and allergies. That helps his hearing, which in turn helps his behavior. So, good news there. His right ear canal is looking much better and the plug is doing its job.

I traded emails with Dr. Roberson this morning and we decided to put the next larger plug in Jack's right ear. Hopefully this will keep the canal open and enlarge it before the next surgery, which is scheduled in December. Then, if some scar tissue still needs to be removed, it can be done at that time.