Friday, 27 February 2015

Simple Pleasures

There have been mornings when I wake up overtired, to the sound of two boys needing my attention with the realization that the house is a disaster and there will be a worker coming at 9:30.  As I start breakfast, my two year old will dismantle the living room and dump out bins of toys on the floor.  Bottles need to be made, dishes need to be washed and don't get me started on the mountains of laundry that have piled up next to the machine.  In my head I question if I can keep on doing this.  For some reason these daily toils of life can overtake me as the chaos of doctors visits and weekend trips to visit my father-in-law weaken  and trouble my soul.  Peace like a River is last praise I want to sing from my lips.

One of the easiest ways for me to break out of a mood slump is to remember to enjoy the simple pleasures/blessings in life. 

Here is a top ten list for today:

Hot Coffee - Do you know how hard it is to drink a cup of hot coffee these days?  It seems that every time I pour myself a cup, someone or something needs my attention and the darn thing turns lukewarm or cold by the time I actually get to drink it.

Warm Sunlight through my Living Room Window - Cold windy days of winter and the lack of vitamin D make the pleasure of sunlight all that more tantalizing.  I love laying out on the couch and just soaking it in.

My Kids Smiles - Nothing melts the heart more than seeing Alex and Gideon smile.  Because of Gideon's vision issues, it took him much longer to learn how to smile and seeing them makes it that much more special. Alex will try and make you smile like it's some kind of game.  He is such a Ham.

Kisses from my Husband - Again, these leave me breathless and heart melted.  Do I need to say more?

The Smell of the Wood Stove - I grew up with a wood stove in the house and the smell is just so nostalgic.  It reminds me of my great grandmother and waking up early to visit her when I was just a little older than Alex.  It floats me back to a time of ease, when life was so full of wonder and awe.

Showers - Nothing relaxes tense stressed out muscles like a hot shower.  I'm sure I'd be a hunchback curled up in an unmovable cannonball position if it wasn't for my therapeutic showers.  Great for the pool... but not so much for daily living.  

Knitting in the Evening- The click clack of my needles and the repetitive motion mixed with the need to pay attention to changes in the pattern and the anticipation of completion make this activity both relaxing and rewarding.  

Fresh Cut Flowers - There is something about having fresh flowers in your house that just makes you smile; maybe even more so in the winter.  The smells, the colours, the arrangements; it's pure happiness.

Listening to Music - Recently I pulled out some of the old CDs I listened to when I was in university.  Again, these tunes bring back a simple pleasure, full of nostalgia that makes me sing out loud in the car.  Yes... I'm the one you all watch and laugh at while sitting in traffic.     

Reading - Taking time to read things that do not rhyme, involve plots without curious little monkeys and have more words than pictures helps my brain solidify from the jelly-mold ramblings of children's literature.  Yes they can be fun.  Yes they can be entertaining. No they are not the only thing I want to be reading.   

What simple pleasures are making you happy these days?

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Puppy Love


Nothing like a little puppy dog love to brighten up your day!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Albert - Tears and Prayers for My Father-In-Law


Yesterday we visited with my father-in-law.  He has Multiple Myeloma, a rare cancer that affects your bones and is really quite painful.  He was admitted to the hospital over a month ago because of pain.  It was determined that the cancer had spread into his neck, resulting in a fracture.  The doctors had given him some radiation to shrink some tumors and reduce his pain.  They also started him on daily chemo.  After a couple of weeks the fracture got worse.  Now he is in more pain and is bedridden.  He is seeing the bone specialist tomorrow and we will see if there is any hope in these fractures healing.  At this point, things are not looking very good.

This situation had been heavy on our hearts.  The pain medication and the cancer has made it hard for Albert to talk and occasionally his thoughts are muddled or incoherent.  For my husband, this situation is a complete deja vu.  Over ten years ago, his mother passed away from the exact same cancer and went through a very similar process.  His father is staying in the same hospital unit were his mother passed away and as John walks the same halls that he did 10 years ago, I can see the sadness well up in his eyes.  Its so painful for me to watch helplessly as my father-in-laws condition decreases.  It hurts to see my husband re-live all the pain he has already gone through and fight this new devastation, realization that he will now most likely lose his father.  I morn over this loss for my children at the possibility of missing out on a Godly role model and a grandfather's love and affection.  I feel lost and I don't really know how to comfort the people I love.    

While digging through some books on my father-in-laws shelf, picking out a few that I brought for him to read, I came across a book called "Holding on to Hope" by Nancy Guthrie.   She goes through the story of Job while bringing in some of her own personal struggles, which includes losing two children, and how to deal with grief and devastation.  So far it has been insightful and I would recommend it to other Christians who feel like they are going through a difficult struggle.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Gideon VS The Cataracts

Gideon getting ready for surgery
Happy little doddle bug
When we brought Gideon home after he was born, our midwife noticed that he didn't have a red eye reflex.  This reflex is the same red eye you would see in a photograph.  We didn't know what was causing this until we saw our eye specialist when he was just over 6 weeks old. She declared cataracts.  When congenital cataracts are thick and opaque, the sooner you get rid of them the better because, with infants, the brain needs the stimuli from the eyes in order to create a connection to the brain. Permanent damage to this connection can occur if this surgery is delayed for too long.  The surgeon said we were getting him in just in time and normally she would have seen him sooner.  (Long story short, the cataracts were missed before he was discharged from the hospital and the family doctor wanted the pediatrician to make the referral to see the eye specialist and I had to live with the unknown of what was going on with my sons eyes for over 6 weeks until the midwives pressured my family doctor to make the referral.... agonizing!!!) Anyway, the surgeon did the right eye on her very next surgery day and did the left eye a week later.  After the second surgery we had to take a training session on how to put contact lenses in and out of Gideon's eyes. 

Post-op eye bandages
Things looked like they were settling down until at one of our follow-up sessions, the eye surgeon noticed that the cataracts were starting to come back.  Just little specks at first and then as the weeks went by they got thicker and more opaque.  Our surgeon said she has not seen a case like this in over 10 years.  It's a very rare thing to happen.  We are not really sure why either.  Gideon could have some underlining condition making it more likely that this would happen or it could just be some random event.

Last Wednesday Gideon had surgery on both his eyes to remove the secondary cataracts and correct a pupil that had pulled towards the original incision, leaving it off centered and misshapen. The surgery went really well and although his appetite seems a little down, overall I think he is seeing better and I can't wait until I can put his contact lenses back in so he can start to focus on the world again.

Gideon is now sporting some wicked eye guards that he will have to wear for weeks - Or at least until the sweet new glasses I bought for him come.  He is not  allowed to get anything in his eyes, including water, for two whole months.  I really hate these guards.  They make it difficult to get the eye drops in as the tape pulls on his hair, they get dirty and gross and he can even rip them off if he works at it.  Hopefully the new glasses will make both our lives happier.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


I knew I was pregnant before I even took the test.  I felt sick.  My appetite was down. Overall my body just felt off - If I wasn’t pregnant than I definitely had to see a doctor.   Right from the get go, this pregnancy felt different.  It didn’t take long before the ultrasounds would confirm that something strange was going on.  The second ultrasound we had showed ChoroidPlexus Cysts in the brain, a thickened focal nuchal fold and what they thought was hydronephrosis on the right kidney.  If it was just one of these markers it wouldn't have been so bad but because there were multiple markers, these signs pointed to the possibility of some kind of genetic condition.  I was scared.  Did my child have something seriously wrong with him?  Was he going to be able to survive the pregnancy?  I stopped sleeping and took up the hobby of internet researching.  I think that is one of the ways I deal with the unknown… by trying to overcome the unknown through wrapping my mind around things.  This habit can be helpful when you have to talk with health care professionals but it also can add a whole lot more "What Ifs" into the picture.  We had to go down to London for another ultrasound and a consult with Genetics.  In London they found that the nuchal fold was not thickened and was within normal limits, that the cysts would disappear on their own and that the kidney was actually a multicystic dysplastic kidney and it would eventually just up and disapear.  At this point we did a blood test to rule out the trisomy syndromes.  (Down Syndrome, Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13).  We were overjoyed when the test came back negative and we thought that any gentic issues were off the table.  I told myself that I could deal with a child that had only one functioning kidney.  Lots of people live long happy lives with just one kidney.  My next ultrasound showed that Gideon was not growing symmetrically.  He had intrauterine growth restriction.  Then while away visiting my father-in-law in Toronto after he had surgery on his arm for bone cancer, I woke up, went to the washroom and found myself bleeding.   I was sent to London and Hospitalized for 48hours.  I took 2 weeks off from work.  On the first day back to work I had another ultrasound. I work at a hospital so all I had to do was pop down to Ultrasound, have them wave their wand and then pop back into work.  Unfortunately, the ultrasound showed that there was a lot of restriction in my umbilical cord.  This means that there was not a lot of blood getting to the baby.  Again I was sent down to London and hospitalized for a couple of weeks under observation until they induced me at 37 weeks.  Labour and delivery were a breeze and Gideon was born a beautiful baby boy at 5 pounds and 2 ounces.  That’s when the surprises started to greet us.

Not only did Gideon have one bum kidney but there was a plethora of other things going on.  Gideon was born with what they thought was a hypospadias.  This is when the hole in the penis is in the wrong place.  (After a urology consult months down the road, it ends up just being a natural circumcision and nothing needs to be done at this point.)  He had a variety of dysmorphic features that made genetics interested: Low set ears, a high pallet, an ear pit, and a small jaw.   After being discharged, Gideon was found to have cataracts in both his eyes and microphthalmia.  Cataracts are when there is a clouding over the eyes and his were so bad that they had to be removed.  With adults they will put in permanent lenses to replace the ones that were taken out but with infants they have to wear contact lenses that need to be taken out and put back in every day.  Mircophthalmia is when the whole eye system is smaller than it should be.  This means that less information can get from the eye to the brain and his eye sight can be greatly affected.  Gideon also failed his infant hearing screening test.  We are still undergoing investigations as to what is going on with his ears.  Right now we know that he has a moderate to severe hearing loss in his left ear and a moderate loss in his right.  More updates on this are sure to come.    

Gideon has been slowly making progress.  There are multiple workers that come to the house regularly and he has about six different doctors he sees periodically.  Tomorrow Gideon will be having surgery on his eyes again.  Bizarrely, his cataracts have come back.  The eye surgeon says she has not seen a case like this in over 10 years.  Please wish us luck as we continue on our complicated journey. 

Family Day

"Family Day is observed in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan on the third Monday of February. In British Columbia, Family Day falls on the second Monday of February. This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities." -

Yesterday I brought Alex and Gideon to my parents’ house for family day.  This space can often feel quite awkward since my parents are going through a separation; My Dad is living at the Homestead and my Mom will often come over on weekends.  Luckily my brothers were there as well, making the tension levels a little less obvious.  It was a beautiful cold day and I really enjoyed getting outside for some fresh air.  I feel so cooped up during this frigid time of year.  It can be so challenging to get a two year old and an infant bundled up to go outside that I often decide to opt out of the open-air play time and end up bringing in bowls of snow to play with.  It seems that the only time I’m really outside is when I’m running between the house, the car or the store.  At my parents’ house, there is a small river in the backyard and my brother was flooding the ice to make a smooth rink to skate on.  He had a small pump hooked up to my dad’s generator that made for a very smooth job.  We had bought Alex some bobsled skates for Christmas and I can’t wait until he can use them in on the river.  The evening ended with a big family meal and an unexpected power outage.  With the house plunged in darkness, our cue to leave was never more obvious.     

Family and family life has always been important to me.  Now that I have a family of my own, this has become even more evident.  Gideon is the newest addition to our family.  When my husband and I started trying for our second child, I was nervous but nothing could have prepared me for the journey I was going to take.  


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Welcome to my little blog.

Life these days seems rather complicated.  After 35 years together my parents have decided to separate, my father-in-law’s health is decreasing due to a very painful type of cancer and although my husband and I were overjoyed to be blessed with a beautiful baby boy in August, this new addition to our family has turned our life upside down; He was born with multiple medical conditions and a variety of unknowns.  Stress and strain has taken over our life and my hope is that this blog will help to sort out and simplify the chaos of our complicated life.