Monday, June 18, 2007

Our Exciting Life...

Lucas went back to UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center on Friday for a check up and the doctors all agreed that he is doing quite well. Many of the burns have healed to the point that I only need to keep a constant coat of moisturizer applied. All of those burns seem to be flat scars that are still quite pink, but will probably just be white. Which isn't so bad since he is Caucasian. Seriously, I've seen some very young brown-skinned kids in the burn center with white scars which are much obvious than the white scars that my white kid has. My heart has broken for some of the kids we've met. The only burn that is still problematic is one that covers his upper right arm, shoulder, and part of his back. At one point, the entire wound had become closed. But then he started experiencing some secondary blistering, as his new skin in that area isn't strong enough yet to keep all of the normal body fluids inside. As a result, the fluids are pushing their way up through the skin, causing blisters to form, which eventually rupture and leave more open wounds. Usually a ruptured blister isn't a big deal, but on a burn patient, it leaves raw skin exposed. The doctor gave him sort of tight brace that he has to wear over the burn and I have to keep it tightly wrapped with an ace bandage in order to lend pressure to the skin which aids in keeping the body fluids underneath where they belong. Since Friday, he has had no new blisters. The great news for Lucas is that once the current blisters heal over, he is allowed to go swimming!!!!! Talk about a happy kid!

On a different note, I had the revelation last week that as you increase your number of children, you also increase your chances that something bad will happen with them. Additionally, I believe that if you double the number of BOYS that you have, that you at least quadruple the chances that something bad will happen with them! Lucas and Yosef decided that it would be a good idea to catch bees with a fishing net, then put them inside a soda bottle. Mind you, they have been warned before that this isn't a good idea. I was in the bathroom last Thursday when Yosef came inside yelling, "Mom!!! A bee BITE my finger!" As I was applying caladryl, I noticed that his voice was very hoarse. He too had noticed, but was rather amused by his voice. So I thought that he was playing games with me....until I noticed the rash breaking out on his neck and spreading down his back and arms. I piled all four kids into the van immediately and rushed to the emergency room. By the time we got there, Yosef was no longer amused and was very scared. His entire body had begun to swell, the hives covered his body now and had become quite itchy, and he was having difficulty in breathing. Thank God, we live in a country where all it takes to stop an allergic reaction like this is a dose of steroids and a little bit of time. He told me that he had been stung by bees in Ethiopia, but nothing like that had ever happened before. Evidently, we have a different kind of bee here in America! Needless to say, I think that my boys will no longer catch bees. Avery made my job as a mom easier by promising $5 to the kid who can catch a rabbit first. Now, when they're going crazy in the house, I just remind them of the $5 and off the run out the door to catch a rabbit. Honestly, I expect that somebody will catch a rabbit before the summer is over!

I realized that I didn't post on my blog that I got that teaching job that I interviewed for! I found out the day that Lucas got burned and somehow (I can't imagine how!) it slipped my mind to post about it! I start in the middle of July and all four kids will be going to the same school with me starting the first week in August. It's a year-round school, which I wasn't too keep on at first, but I'm seeing the benefits of that schedule. The only thing I am not looking forward to is that I will have to be out the door with all four kids by 6:15AM. YIKES!!!!! Aside from that, it seems like a very good fit for our family.

The transition is going very good with adding two kids to the family. It's been 3 months since they've been home and I can honestly say that each week gets better than the previous one. It's funny, but in the first month, I felt like things were going pretty good. But now that we're 3 months in, I look back and wonder how we survived that first month! That makes me think that in another three months, I'll look back on this time period and wonder the same thing. Which is good! It means that things are improving!

Yosef and Mihret's English is developing very well. They both understand just about everything I say to them. They do not understand a heavy southern accent though. Which is sort of a problem since we live in the south! They are good with a mild accent at least. :) It's funny because sometimes a person with a heavy accent will ask them a question that I know they comprehend, but they look like they're completely confused. So I "translate" by re-asking the exact same question with my northern accent. Then they give a response with their Amharic accent. I LOVE diversity!

My dear friend Rosa visited us last week and was here for a special celebration at our church. We had a little ceremony where we dedicated all of our children to God, as they are truly gifts from him. We cooked Ethiopian food together all day on Saturday and served it after church. I was surprised at how many people liked the food! Then again, it is really really yummy, so why shouldn't they love it?!

Rosa speaks Amharic, as she was born and raised in Ethiopia. So the kids enjoyed being able to talk with her some, but mostly, they just spoke in English to her. Kaitlyn decided as soon as Rosa got off the airplane that she really liked her and quietly took her hand. Kaitlyn is so quiet and sweet like that. But not with everybody. She has her favorite people that she picks out and decides to befriend. She's very sweet. Anyway, Rosa was kind enough to share her observations of some of the unfairness that has been happening in our family. Mostly, things that we allow Yosef and Mihret to get away with that Kaitlyn and Lucas definitely aren't allowed to do. I really appreciated her honest, humble observations. So, starting last Monday, I declared that everybody would be treated equally. I had some very happy American kids and some not-so-happy Ethiopians for a few days. But everybody quickly understood the rule-changes and complied and the house ran much smoother last week. Poor Kaitlyn had the hardest time of anybody with adjusting to new kids. But she is doing much better with it all now.

Thank you to everybody who sent cards, gifts, and emails while Lucas was in the hospital. I can't even begin to explain how much it brightened our days. His hospital wall was covered with cards. He thought he was the coolest thing ever! And one family was so nice that they sent a sun-proof outfit for Lucas. It's a very light-weight long-sleeved shirt and shorts that can unbutton at the legs to become pants. It adds a layer of spf to protect his new skin. He wears it almost everyday. This outfit has been such a blessing. He had it on at the burn center last Friday and all of the doctors and patients thought he was so cool and wanted to know where it came from so they could get one too. I also found out via a tip on my blog that you can buy Sun Guard, a laundry soap that adds spf protection to your clothing. Anyway, THANK YOU!!!!!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lucas- Friday, June 1

Lucas had his doctor appointment yesterday and the doctor was very pleased with how well the wound is healing and with how clean it is. There is no sign of infection. He will need to wear a brace on his foot to help stimulate circulation where he was burned. He doesn't need one on his arm just yet, but they'll keep an eye on it. His lower back no longer has open burns on it and is no longer painful to the touch. His shoulder and upper arm are where the deepest burns occurred, and even they are looking very good. Tonight when I changed his bandages, his upper arm had actually completely closed up so that it is no longer open. The shoulder still has open wounds on it, but it is healing very well. The doctor was still not ready to completely rule out surgery. I think that he is just playing it safe and doesn't want to give me a definite answer until he's completely healed. Lucas returns in two weeks for another check up. So, the news is very good!!!!

I can't believe how many cards, gifts, emails, phonecalls, etc. this little guy and our family have received since this whole ordeal started! Today I got a package from some of the families that have adopted kids from our agency. I was especially touched by this, as we haven't really had contact with the families since we were removed from the agency's yahoo list. When I got the box in the mail, it was so nice. Yosef and Mihret were so happy to see that some of their friends' families had sent packages. I think it helped them to feel connected in knowing that people from Ethiopia and their American families cared about their little brother. A family (not from our adoption agency) even sent Lucas a special lightweight outfit that will cover all of his burns (minus the foot) with a special SPF fabric that acts as a barrier against the sun's UV rays. This is really important, as a deep burn takes an entire year to completely heal. As the body is re-creating the skin, if it is tanned or burned at all, it will permanently alter the color of the skin. If we can keep him protected from the sun, and take very good care of that new skin, then there is a good chance that the skin will eventually be the same color as his not-burned skin. I haven't had to cook a meal since we got home from the hospital, as our church has completely taken care of our meals for us. It's really been a refreshing time for our family to be able to spend more time bonding as we settle back into a routine.

As far as bonding is concerned, I had been very concerned about what effect it might have that Avery and I had to leave for such a long time, so soon after bringing Yosef and Mihret home from Ethiopia. A friend and I spent quite a bit of time praying together about that very thing. We asked God to protect the bonding that had already occurred. I was so happy to get home last week and find that God had answered that prayer. In fact, things are now even better than they were before the accident happened. Yosef is becoming so affectionate toward me. He truly loves me and is feeling more free to express that. Mihret is obeying very well, a concept that wasn't easy for her to grasp in the first couple of weeks! Lucas truly missed his brother and sisters, and was therefore quite happy to be with them again. Kaitlyn had struggled quite a bit with finding her place after we all got home from Ethiopia. I had a lot of time in the hospital to think, pray, and reflect on that situation. And I have a better idea now of how I can help her to adjust. Since I've been employing some of these new strategies, things have been so much better for her. She's finally finding her place again. So, all of this, just to say that things are really good!

As far as taking care of Lucas is concerned, the only really hard part is his daily bath. It must be excruciatingly painful for the poor little guy. It takes one person to hold him down while I focus on washing his wounds. I can't really blame him for trying to get away from me- I think I'd try to escape a bath of open wounds too! His physical therapy exercises were very painful for him at first, but he's doing a lot better with that now. And the bandage changes twice a day aren't as traumatic as they used to be either. As the wounds are starting to heal over, they're not requiring a bandage any more, so there is less area to cover. Therefore, less pain to endure!

Though I'm taking a 40 day break from my blog, I will keep it updated as we find out more about Lucas's condition so that people can know specifically how to pray. Thank you all so much!