Saturday, August 4, 2018

It's broken!

Our Upwards soccer season started April 14th. It was Ben's last season to play. He really enjoys playing.

He worked hard getting in shape. 

He ran daily.

He began weight lifting.

He was ready!

Then two minutes into week two something happened. 

I was not there. 

Mariah had a birthday party and I was going to be a few minutes late for his game. I stopped to get her a lunch at Wendy's and had ordered the meal at the drive through. My phone rang as I waited. I saw it was Jeremy. I thought it was strange he was calling me then. After all, he was coaching Ben's game. 

I answered the phone and I heard Jeremy's voice saying, "Hold on, Jeanine!"

I was a bit confused. Why was Jeremy, one of Ben's coaches, calling me after the game started?

Then I heard, "We need to get him stabilized!"

Can you imagine what was going through my head? I completely jumped out of the drive through waving as I drove past the window in apology. 

Jeremy finally came back on the phone and told me that Ben broke his arm and they were trying to get his arm stabilized.

The 3 mile drive to the field is a blur.

Once I got there I immediately followed Jeremy and kids to the local ER. 

Then I saw my boy as he stumbled out of the van. Oh my goodness!!!! My heart was a mess.  My boy was clearly in shock and pain was obvious.
We got him checked in and the day seemed to get worse, if that was possible.

We saw a few nurses, a physician assistant, and radiology techs.
There seemed to be a bit of confusion. We never saw a doctor.

The IV line for pain meds was started but the meds barely lasted 30 minutes. He was miserable. Then his O2 sat dropped. He tends to do that with any sedation.
They came in and took him to radiology. They showed me these x-rays...
...and then this
After a few hours there, Jeremy left to go home and check on the five kids at home and gather stuff to spend the night. While he was home the Physicians Assistent came in and told me they were discharging him to go home. Telling us we could find an orthopedic surgeon the next week. There was absolutely no way I was going to allow that!

I am not afraid to advocate for my kids. I demanded a transfer. 

We drove Ben to Morgantown's Ruby Memorial Hospital.....2 hours away.

A couple of boys stayed home and we took the girls with us and met my parents in the parking lot of Ruby at 11pm. They took the girls back to PA with them for the night.

The orthopedic surgeon and team were waiting for us. They could not believe our hospital was sending us home. We definitely made the right choice.
Ben was taken into surgery by 9:00 the next morning, Sunday. They also had trouble with his O2 in the OR.
Jeremy and I have been through our share of surgeries with our kids. I am pretty sure we have close to 20 surgeries we have waited through. So when we had been up/awake for well over 30 hours.....I was happy to see Jeremy finally get a few minutes of rest while we waited during surgery.
It was very short-lived. Next thing I know, I saw him pacing.
After six previous surgeries for Ben, I knew that bedside manner does not determine the quality of a surgeon. So imagine my surprise when Dr. Tager looked at Jeremy and me before surgery and told us that his oldest son is just a tad younger than Ben. And since his kids are not at the hospital that he would treat Ben as "his boy" as long as he was back in surgery. He assured us Ben would be safe. And with his history of coding once under sedation...they were on their toes!
Two plates, 13 screws and no cast!
There were the doctor's initials on his arm! DST
We were discharged a few hours later. Mom and Dad made that trip back with our girls and I know they were exhausted. With no sleep and struggling with utter exhaustion.....we drove back home with Ben and our girls.
Six weeks of lifting nothing at all......NOT A THING!

Need I remind you that he is a 14 year old boy?

Oh my! 

A few days post-op we took the dressing off. That may have been more traumatic than prep for surgery! He was so afraid to lift his arm.
Ben and Rebecca go to church early every week with Jeremy.
  
Seven days after a his surgery, Ben insisted on serving the coffee at our church, using one arm.
Ben spent the remainder of the soccer season as an assistant coach (Dark brown shorts standing to the right of his dad). He was such a good sport about it but it killed him to just watch. 
After six weeks we had another x-ray. It was healing but still quite broken. That meant six more weeks of severe restrictions. He could now lift a coffee cup. (I forgot to ask if the cup was allowed to be full.)
Three long months, many miles walked in the neighborhood and many, many books later Ben was finally released to do anything! He could finally earn money cutting grass....not just feeding the neighbor's cat while she was on vacation.

Ben's surgeon was one of the kindest men we have met. He is caring and sweet. That was such a bonus for us!
Ben really is not a tall kid. His growth plates are closed so he is done growing (a little early but expected for him). Ben is 5' 8".

We are happy he is such an easy kid. He takes it all as it comes. Honestly, Ben is probably the easiest kid for this to happen. 

Throughout this experience I learned:
*Jeremy and I are an excellent team
*Each experience brings us closer together 
*Our extended families are an excellent support
*I am stronger than I thought 
*I do not ever care to experience this again

I wonder if this could this possibly be the resurrection of my blog? 
















Sunday, July 29, 2018

It's been how long? Yikes! A very special birthday!

After such a long hiatus from writing it is really hard to start again. Journaling is one of my passions. It certainly pales in comparison to loving and serving my Lord. It also pales in comparison to loving and serving my husband and family but here I am.
Writing these days is hard. I struggle with time! I still homeschool several kids. Our oldest completed his first year of college and maintained a 3.8 GPA! 

Due to the sheer size of our family we typically do not have large birthday celebrations. Each of the kids have had one birthday party as a child where they invited friends. Then we do something special for their 16th birthday. 

Jeremy and I always enjoy the planning.

Kyle's 16th birthday included tickets to go see comedian, Tim Hawkins. Since his birthday is in January, the trek to some obscure location in the middle of nowhere through a snow storm was almost as fun as the event itself!

Selah's 16th birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving Day. She celebrated her birthday in Pennsylvania with both sides of our family! There were over 50 there to help her celebrate! 

Micah's 16th birthday included a laser tag/pizza party with the teens at our church. As we remember well, all of our kids ended up with influenza. Ahhhh......the memories!

At the end of June we celebrated Rebecca's 16th birthday with a family party here at home.
Jeremy and I were so excited for her! She opened a few gifts but was completely shocked to read this.....
Happy Sweet 16!!!
Rebecca,
For your birthday we are planning a trip to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh! They have many birds there, including a "keel-billed toucan"! We have to wait until the exhibit opens up again in July! Olivia and Gabby will be enjoying the visit with us. We love you! 

She has had a great love for toucans for years! Yes, years. I have no idea where or how but it has been there for as long as I remember. It only seemed fitting to make these arrangements! She was utterly shocked! It was so fun to watch!
But then we had to wait.

........and wait. 

Somehow we had to arrange our visit to fit the schedules of 10 people. Several of which have jobs! But we did it!
Whose kid is in the front row? She is a bit animated.

We drove two vehicles to get there since Kyle had to work late on Friday. I am stunned he (and Ben) drove through the 200 miles and navigated the horrible, confusing, traffic and Pittsburgh streets to arrive safely at my parent's home in Leechburg, PA!

We visited Jeremy's mom and dad for a little bit. Olivia and Gabby were introduced to Jeremy's dad...who hilariously, purposefully pronounces words incorrectly. They secretly thought, "That poor old man!" until I saw them struggle to maintain composure. We are so used to it but I realized this was a first for them. We all died laughing!
 
We then went on to my parents' for supper. Olivia and Gabby were enjoying the country life and food! My mom is an excellent cook! They ate all of her yummy pleasures. 
Saturday morning my dad put Kyle's car in the garage and ran his computer on it to read codes. (Don't be too impressed. I don't actually understand mechanic talk. I've just heard it for my entire life!) He discovered that the mechanic here in WV that "fixed" the exhaust lead did not actually fix the leak at all. My dad was quite upset. Dad said the welding done was not nearly enough to fix the problem and there was a second hole even bigger that was not ever touched. 

I wish you all could know my dad. My dad is one of the hardest working men I know. He turned 68 this past week and has not slowed down one bit. He is a retired steel worker but works from 8am until 10pm in his garage. He undercharges his customers. He is an excellent mechanic. He is taken advantage of by so many. There is one thing my dad hates.....is a dishonest mechanic. And, especially hates it when they take advantage of his children or grandchildren. 
Just an hour in his shop......
And a little bit of quality welding....we are good to go! No more check engine light! We kind of miss it. Kyle got so used to it.

After lunch we drove to downtown Pittsburgh's North Side to the National Aviary. Our plan was to buy a ticket for Rebecca to feed the toucan! Unfortunately those limited tickets sold out. I could have cried for her.

This is Bob. Pittsburgh's keel-billed toucan.
Instead we bought a ticket for her to feed the lorikeets. I could see Becca's disappointment. But it was fun to feed these beautiful birds. Gabby is such a funny teen! None of the birds were coming to her. Not one! Finally this happened......
And Olivia.....she looks pretty even when she isn't trying.
We went into the theater to watch those with tickets feed the toucans. Again, I saw her disappointment. Then the Lord did his thing

Two people who bought tickets did not show up. 

They were paged.

They still did not show.

So I did what I dreaded. I sat silent for a few moments then finally asked if just one in our party could take the place of the two who were missing. 

The National Aviary staff called Rebecca up and she ended up having a mini-private session with the toucan of her choice! She had tears in her eyes!
This is an aracari toucan. One of the smallest toucans. She is a star. She has been on Good Morning America, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and a few other shows.



Huge shout out to the National Aviary staff for unexpectedly making this visit so special.

Olivia was also thrilled at this creature. Jeremy.....not so much. He believes they are one of the ugliest things created.
We hung around (pun intended) to see "Ferdinand" climb right over our heads! He was a tad faster than we anticipated.

It was certainly a fun trip. I'm not used to all the giggling, talking, and laughing in the car! Boys are much different to travel with! We had so much fun! 

Thank you again, National Aviary, for such a fantastic day!





Saturday, March 4, 2017

Holidays and Birthdays

We did it! We got a Christmas family photo taken this year. We waited till Christmas Eve, but it happened! Yeah!
Our Family room is traditionally where our Christmas stockings are hung and then opened Christmas night. It is our cozy room. We spend a lot of our evenings in this room. This photo was taken before half of my lights decided to go out.
Five days after Christmas we celebrate Jeremy's birthday. This year I made him a lemon cake. It was not my favorite, but no one complained.
We have been quite busy for several months here. Between November 24th and February 17th we celebrated: Thanksgiving, 7 birthdays, our 21st wedding anniversary, Christmas, Selah's Family Day, New Years, Chinese New Year,
...and countless Christmas concerts with our church and the Smoot choirs.


Bear with me as I share just a photo or two from each!

I had a birthday, too. Just another day but Jeremy and the kids really made me feel special. Little did I know that this birthday (I was sick) would be so different.
Kyle turned 18 this January. It is special because his birthday is just three days after mine. He really was the best birthday gift I could have ever wished for that year. He is such a great young man! He makes us so proud as we watch him mature and grow in his walk with the Lord.
 

Just a couple days after Kyle's birthday, Jeremy left for work one morning. It was icy. His car slid off the road. He walked home to get tools and our boys but when they returned they discovered two other cars slid off the road and hit his. 

Before it was all said and done the police came. The officer fell. A fourth vehicle was involved and hit the other three. 

The car was a complete loss. Jeremy was not at fault. Mostly, I am thankful no one was hurt.
My mom had a birthday in February and Jeremy decided to get tickets for my mom and me to attend a Sandi Patty concert held right here in the town next door...Marietta, OH.
I think she enjoyed it! I will say that the man sitting next to me was not happy that my coughing was interfering with his illegal videography. 

I used a lot of cough drops.
Kyle, Mariah, Micah and I drove my mom home because Dad had Kyle's car all ready. Mariah sure eats up all the special time with Grandma and Pap.
Kyle bought a car on Black Friday but my dad needed to be sure it ran well and met his standards for the grandkids! Now Kyle needs to take his test!
Then the kids were getting sick. The lack of cold weather has had quite the affect on the viruses that are circulating. It began with Rebecca, then Mariah.
Any illness with her puts us on high alert. I believe her shirt is on backwards. 
My poor girl was so sick. 



Then we had another birthday. This was Micah's 16th! We had a laser tag part for him in the church's gym. It seemed like the kids loved it. He had a great turn out.
The next morning all three of my boys woke up sick...fevers, coughs, aches, general fatigue. Again, Becca and Mariah got sick.

We finally ended up at the doctor several days later and it was decided four kids had the flu. 

Life still went on. Smoot Choir practices continued...
School... Daddy makes a great and far more fun teacher than Mommy.
He always marches to the beat of his own drum. Good thing we homeschool He would never be allowed in school with all of his weapons.
I have been struggling with some vocal cord issues. On more than one occasion my vocal cords have had spasms and cut off my airway. Jeremy was lucky enough to witness one of these events a few weeks ago. It is scary. Those 20-30 seconds seem to last forever. My doctor sent me to my ENT who scoped me. After a difficult scope, my ENT noticed some damage to my vocal cords. There is no cure. It may be caused by reflux. But, I also am fighting a terrible sinus infection. This all has flared my asthma like never before. I am tired. I have not slept well. 


With several more appointments to a few more specialists we will try to get to the bottom of what exactly is happening. It is not life-threatening. For that I am thankful. 

Mariah is my sidekick and goes everywhere with me.  She keeps me young!
We are so grateful that all of our kids seem to be on the mend. Jeremy has been under the weather this past week, but as usual, he tells no one and refuses to admit he is not feeling well.

Maybe this is it for the kids being sick. 

Now that holidays and birthdays are wrapped up (until June), maybe we can establish normal again!