Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Avoiding Surgery

We've been spending a fair amount of time at Arkansas Children's Hospital since we moved here. With almost monthly visits, we've become familiar with the ENT clinic, the Ophthalmology clinic, and the Cardiology clinic. Bella's favorite part of the hospital is watching the waterfalls (both inside and out).

Bella climbing up for a better view of the waterfall

We always stop by the indoor waterfall near the main entrance, and Gabi reminds me to be careful to step on the stepping stones, as the floor tiles make a mural of a rocky river. Bella then points out the pretend ducks "flying" overhead. Fortunately, I can redirect the kids' attention towards the cool multi-story mobile by the elevators so we can move past the hospital entrance.

Gabi thinks the hospital is a place to go eat lunch, see Daddy in the middle of the work day, get fun stickers, and play. Oh, and there's that boring part where she has to "just sit" while we the doctors check out Annabelle. And for the last two visits, Daddy's been busy and couldn't get out of work to join us for Annabelle's appointments.

Bella reflecting on the reflecting pool

Look! Water!

Ah! So relaxing.

While Bella is enamored by water, Gabi is intrigued by the cave with skeletons on the walls, stalactites hanging from the ceiling, and especially stalagmites on the floor. Gabi thinks the stalagmites look like piles of worms, but she has learned the name stalagmite now. Oh, and she also knows the word cardiology. Her echo ("picture of her heart") is still on the refrigerator.

Gabi atop a stalagmite

Fun climbing adventures in the cave

Bella running straight through the cave

Last week, Bella had an ENT appointment. Her doctor says that she does not qualify for surgery based on ENT criteria at this point (yay!) but he would like to take a better look at her throat if she goes into the OR (for her eye surgery). When he scoped her (put a camera down her throat) before, he couldn't even see the larynx (vocal chords) due to the tightness of her aryepiglottic folds. But, really, all her symptoms are controlled by the Prevacid, so there's no reason to "fix" what isn't causing problems. If she were in the OR anyway, he'd take a look and maybe make some minor incisions, but we'd just see. Oh, and her vocabulary is incredible now, so we have no more worries about needing tubes in her ears!

Bella peeking through the dock rails

Watching Gabi climb the hill

Stop to smell the flowers

This afternoon, we went to Bella's surgery consult with the oculoplastic surgeon. Back in January, her ophthalmologist had told us that she would need to have a procedure to open her nasolacrimal ducts, as her eyes were still too watery even though I thought they were improving. A week or two later, her eyes started gooping up excessively and her pediatrician started her on antibiotic eye drops. After a month of Vigamox, I asked for a less expensive medicine, and we switched to gentamicin. Bella's eyes gradually stopped collecting goop and were just watery as usual.

Two weeks ago, about the time we returned from our trip to Stephanie's wedding, Annabelle's eyes cleared up completely. Hooray! Yesterday the girls both woke up with a cold (Gabi's was severe enough that I kept her home from school), and Bella's eyes started tearing again. But I assured the eye doctor that her eyes were clear for the last two weeks, so he's going to let us watch her and go back for another consult in a month or so.

Gabi wanted to touch the water

It's a bit too far to reach, though

Dr. Westfall was encouraged by the story of Bella's eyes being clear for two weeks. If a membrane was blocking the tear drainage, then it would be obstructed all the time. If her eyes are only watery when she is sick, that suggests that her nasolacrimal ducts are just too narrow. When she gets a cold, the ducts swell and constrict to prevent the tears from draining, just like nasal inflammation can clog your sinuses. As she grows, they will eventually get bigger such that the narrow ducts won't be a problem, so the doctors won't need to do any intervention. He did want me to stop using the eye drops because long-term antibiotics can cause problems. So we'll see how she does without the drops, wait for her to recover from this cold, and keep an eye on her eyes. But at this point, we do not anticipate surgery!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stephanie's Wedding

Two weeks ago, we headed to San Antonio, TX for Stephanie's wedding. On Friday (the day before the wedding), I hosted a Bridal Luncheon for the women of the two families and Steph's good friends. We ate at Los Patios, which had beautiful courtyards and landscaping for pictures. Unfortunately, the weather was cold and wet, but we ventured outside anyway.

Stephanie (center) and her bridesmaids

Stephanie was in my bridal party almost 6 years ago

Gabi and Daddy playing in our hotel room

Gabi (the flowergirl) and Matthew (the ring bearer)
met at the rehearsal dinner

A brief moment at the rehearsal dinner with Bella sitting sweetly

Gabi being shy and sticking with Daddy

Bella laughing at dinner

Michael did just as he was told and dressed Gabi and had her at the wedding location when the women of the bridal party were supposed to arrive. However, we bridesmaids arrived not yet dressed, so Michael had extra time that he had to entertain Gabi around the muddy grounds and keep her clean. He did a great job. (It helps that Gabi is our proper child who dislikes getting dirty.)

Painting my toenails to match my bouquet

Gabi walking on each stepping stone

Gramma Jane made Gabi's flowergirl dress and basket

Flowergirl in the garden

Basket pose

Gabi walking down the aisle

The ceremony
(Gabi wandered between me, the junior bridesmaid, and Daddy's chair.)

The bridal party (plus ushers)

I was disappointed that the photographer
sent Gabi away before this bridesmaid shot.

The wedding was beautiful despite the weather. We enjoyed a wonderful evening of dancing and chatting and celebrating. The girls stayed up late and behaved very well. It was fun to see them all dressed up.

Gabi joined us for the couples' dance

High school friends: Sydney, Melissa, and Lori

Bella and Grampa eating fruit

Gramma Jane and Grampa with a tired Annabelle

Bella's demure pose

Princess Annabelle

Pondering Gabi's stickers

Gabi became instant friends with Mackensie, the junior bridesmaid.

Mackensie and Gabi dancing

Bella dancing with the big girls

Bella so proud of being able to dance with the big kids

Bella resting by the window

Bella dancing with Daddy

Bella asking to dance more using her dance sign

Sydney, Stephanie, Melissa, and Lori

Jason and Stephanie's midnight exit through a tunnel of sparklers

Gramma Jane and Grampa drove the girls back to Dallas that night so they wouldn't have to ride so long in the car the next day. They met up with us for lunch to return our daughters on our way through Dallas.

Gabi blowing a dandilion

Uncle Brian helping Bella blow a dandilion

Goodbye hug for Grampa

Friday, March 27, 2009

On the Highway

On our drive back from Texas, an accident (reportedly between a semi-truck and a mobile home) a couple miles ahead of us brought all traffic to a stop for a few hours. With everyone else out of their vehicles and all the trucks off, I decided to let the girls out to run around. No need to add extra hours of sitting strapped in the car to an already five-hour drive.

Bella walking the yellow line

Exploring the field on the side of the highway

Bella running so I will chase her

Exercise on the highway

Gabi sitting in the grass

Gabi making up a pretend game

Note the difference in my children's chosen activities. This case is typical, with Gabi engaging in sedentary, imaginative play while Bella runs wild and encourages our participation. Gabi pointed out all the trees and told me we were in a forest. I agreed, since I had recently defined "forest" as being many trees together. We arrived in Little Rock for the very end of Lolo's birthday celebration at Chi's Chinese -- just in time for dessert.

Gabi watching Julienne play a handheld computer game

Michael, Edward, and Sylvia
aka "Daddy, Ninong (Godfather), and Ninang (Godmother)"

Bella excited to have a fortune cookie

Lolo's birthday kiss from Bella

Cousin Steven and Lolo

In conclusion, we survived the road trip and began preparations for Gabi's birthday, which you've already seen in pictures. Gabi was excitedly anticipating her Princess Tea Party, so she would prepare play tea parties for Bella and herself with her tea sets.

Sisters sharing a tea party