The Leg Appointment

Sorry I left you hanging for longer than I hoped!

Saturday, we attended our first Chinese New Year's Celebration with the local chapter of Families with Children from China. Four hours of wiggly, tired Lily left this Mama too pooped to type! Then Sunday & Monday were devoted to preparing for the Orphan Care Info Meeting that we and fellow-adoptive friends spearheaded. (Check out Jenny's blog if you haven't already...www.ourplansmultiplied.blogspot.com) What a night that was! Praying the Lord will use our humble offering to do mighty things for orphans and for His glory! That's still another post, for yet another day...

In an effort to not leave you hanging any longer, I will simply post the text (actually I typed it days ago) and hold off on the excruciating process of uploading pictures until...well, soon...hopefully!

Sooooo....the leg appointment!

What a day!

When we left home it was snowing...again! The weather seemed to indicate that it would stop and be inconsequential, so we trudged on. After we stopped to get gas. After we were already running late. But, running out of gas only makes you later, right? Right, I told myself.

So, after we get gas as fast as we can, we head out...behind the sloooowest drivers on the east coast (at least it seemed that way). Something about the 's' word just makes people drive differently...even when the road is perfectly fine. After rehearsing several verses about patience and God's perfect timing and imagining all of the wonderful ways in which the very slow driver in front of us was saving us from dangers unknown by the leading of the Holy Spirit, I settled into knitting for the rest of the drive. And guess what? When we got there we were only 10 minutes behind! A major praise for all that seemed to be delaying us.

As you probably know by now, Lily is not the biggest fan of those who have been building her leg. They are the sweetest and gentlest of people...not to mention exceedingly knowledgeable in their field...but she just wants nothing to do with them.

We had been wondering how long it would take for her to start crying when we walked in the office door, and we found out Friday the time is close. Although she didn't cry when we walked in, the moment she saw sweet Mary, she started vehemently shaking her head "no" at her and crawling over my shoulder to get away. And that was with Mary carrying the gift of a baby doll wearing a matching socket! Just look at this sweet doll! Not only that, but Mary had made Lily's doll a matching blanket!

After, receiving her gifts Lily settled down a bit and was willing to play. For the rest of us, excitement was building as we knew it was just a matter of minutes before we saw her leg.

And what a sight it was! It is the cutest little thing! We were just so excited! The completed leg socket was made with a pink fabric that has butterflies, flowers, and caterpillars on it. Just too cute!

Lily was quite interested in it, too! I think she recognized her shoe and wanted to play with it.

Following her initial exploration and our "oohs" and "aahs," it was time to try the completed leg on for the first time. Mama paid close attention...as this is my job from here on out! First we roll on the silicone liner (a rubbery, tight fitting sock) that provides cushion between her leg and the very hard carbon socket (same stuff jets are made out of apparently!). Next, we attach a y-shaped piece of velcro to the liner and feed it through an opening on the socket. The piece of velcro is then fed through a buckle of sorts and velcro-ed to itself. All of this hold the leg on snug.

Next, it was time to get her up and standing on her leg. This we did on the exam table where they could check the fit.

What a moment! We all cheered! Lily cried!

We gave Lily a few minutes break to recoup before we tried doing a little assisted walking on her leg. After the break, we put the leg back on and headed into the adjoining room. Once there, we tried her out in her Cadillac of a walker (haven't posted on this little contraption yet, but will eventually). She kind of looked at us like...now what? She wasn't nearly as anxious to roll around in it there as she is at home, but that will come. We talked through some modifications and adjustments that we can do with the walker and then moved on to the main attraction...walking!

Once she was out of the walker, I stood her up again. With Mary behind me guiding Lily's legs and Daddy photographing like mad, Lily took her first steps! Granted they were anything but independent...but they were steps, none the less, and I'm counting them!

This she enjoyed much more!

Lily needed another break after all of this, but when Mary & Mr. Don returned, they had another gift. A bag painted especially for her that held her liners, socks, doll, blanket, and leg.

While Lily enjoyed her latest gift, Mama received instructions for the care of everything and how to proceed for the next several days. We will work up to longer periods of wear, beginning with about 45 minutes at a time this weekend. We need to watch her skin carefully for degrees of redness and how long they last as well as obvious areas of rubbing.

Our Physical Therapist returned Monday afternoon. We decided that the leg is actually too long, so Wednesday we go back to have the leg "reduced."

Keep praying that she will accept her leg and adjust to it well. Thank you so much for praying for Lily and us as we go where He leads!

In Him,


Lily has her LEG!

I couldn't wait to recap the whole appointment...I just had to post these pictures! I know that's what you really want to see anyway, isn't it!

I'll give the whole run-down with more pictures later or tomorrow. But for now...rejoice with us!

In Him,


Socket...Take 2!

Today we had Lily’s appointment to try on the socket again. If all went well today, they would move onto building her prosthetic leg.

And…IT DID!!!

The socket fit to their satisfaction and our next appointment…which is only one week from today… will be the one where she gets to wear the whole leg! Not only that, but we will try to convince her to stand on it! Oh, happy day!

The prosthetists had a little treat waiting for us, too! When we walked into the examine/fitting room, lo and behold, what was sitting on the table? A little foot tucked inside Lily’s shoe that we had left with them last week! What a treat!

And, here it is!

Lily quickly reached out to grab her left foot…

Not only can she touch her toes (without bending over at this point!)…but she can put her fingers inside her ankle!

I’d like to see you try to do that!

My little smartie knows where a foot goes…in a shoe, of course!

The other great thing about the little foot is that (as you may have guessed from the pictures) she didn’t cry…at first! She was waaayy too interested to cry.

Below, Emma caught Lily’s reaction to seeing the medical gloves go on Mr.Don. She was like…wait a minute here! I thought we were just playing with my foot…what are you going to do next?!?

Well, next…they tried on the socket (which, as I mentioned, fit fine), took some more measurements and discussed the upcoming appointment and the other non-prosthetic appointments Lily had had this week (ortho check-up and a well-baby with her pediatrician…thankfully, not a typical week!).

One last look at the adorable foot…oh, what color nail polish to put on it first? Most definitely pink…to match the color fabric they will put on the socket! Gotta go girly!

PS…we got a new piece of PT equipment this week. If you thought “The Stander” was something, wait till you see this!

Rejoicing in Him,

Physical Therapy: The Stander

It took some convincing, but we did it. We've accepted "The Stander" as a helpful piece of PT equipment and not some throw-back to medieval torture devices.

Lily was slower to warm up.

At first it was just that it was...different. Then, I think she felt unstable. Finally, it was the loud ripping sound the massive strips of velcro make when you are adjusting them across her back.

You know what they say about 3 strikes? Lily definitely wanted just that...OUT.

I don't blame her. I'd never seen anything like "The Stander" either. But once our sweet PT explained the purpose, I was all on board.

The purpose? To get Lily used to standing and bearing weight on her right leg and foot, because...quite obviously...this will be what she does when she has her prosthesis. We want her to get used to the weight bearing sensation and longer durations of standing than the Mommy-stander can do. You know what I mean...Mom bends over and holds her in that position by the hands/arms (about 2 minutes like that and my back says, "No more!"). "The Stander" also builds up the leg, core, and glute muscles she'll need for all the standing our little one will be doing. In addition, "The Stander" can hold her left leg down so it does double duty as "The Stretcher!"

Of all the PT things we've done, this was the first Lily hated...initially. Poor thing was in tears reaching for me to get her out the first 2 times we put her in it.

Then the tide changed. What changed them? Mommy leaving. Okay maybe it wasn't that...maybe it was that when cautious Mommy went shopping one evening a more adventurous twosome decided to turn "The Stander" into "The Racecar." Two unnamed members of our family (Kevin & Emma) decided to push her around the house in it...and she fell in love. Now, she army crawls over to it and points and whimpers to get it. Sometimes overprotective...I mean loving...moms just have to get out of the way!

So, now Lily not only goes for rides in "The Racecar" but also stands and plays at the couch in "The Stander." Our initial goal was for her to use "The Stander" for 5 minutes several times a day. She has, of course, exceeded that and gets a bit upset with us when we take her out after 20 minutes.

Consider her convinced!

Looking at a book...

Hey, where'd my book go?

Oh well, my light-up, spinny thing-a-ma-jig will have to do!

In Him,


Socket...Take 1

Excuse #1: Homeschooling...started up again a week ago. Enough said.
Excuse #2: Crazy ballet performance weekend. Plus 2 hour meeting at my house and later a birthday party (was that 3 excuses in one?).
Excuse#3: Still waiting for it to come to me....nope, only 2 excuses.

What was all that about? Why I am behind on the promised blog entries...final Physical Therapy installment (The Stander...can I get an ooh and an ahh?), the second half of our trip to DC, and the one I will actually give you tonight...the Socket! I promise to try to post the others...soon. Really. I mean it. I hope.

But, tonight...drumroll please...I will tell you about the Socket.

Dictionary.com defines the noun socket as "a hollow part or piece for receiving and holding some part or thing." In this case, the "part or thing" that the socket is receiving and holding is Lily's leg! And this socket is exactly what we tried on last Friday afternoon.

You may remember that the week before Lily put up quite a fight for her measuring and molding. I was pretty sure that we were going to be in for a repeat performance, but held out hope that she might do better as a result of the nap she took on the drive to the appointment.

No such luck.

Looks promising...right?"

That orange string in front of Lily held 2 balloons that they presented her with upon arrival in the hopes that they would amaze and distract her.

Take a look at her face in the pictures below and you'll see how amazed and distracted she actually was!

Anyway, almost immediately after bringing her back to the room, they brought in the tee-niny clear, plastic socket. Wow! Was it ever small! They said it is the smallest they've ever made. Even the 9-month old boy they made one for was bigger than Lily!

Lily takes one look at them coming toward her, sees her pants off and puts 2 and 2 together. Even before they touched her she started wailing. She didn't know exactly what was coming, but knew she didn't like the looks of it. I think we all are just going to have to get used to the crying until she gets a little older and can understand what's going on. Poor girl! If only she knew...but soon she will!

The first thing they did was pull a sock-like material over her little leg and then pull the excess out of the hole in the base of the socket.

The socket goes all the way up to her hip and was actually a little
longer in this area than they liked.

Next, they brought out this rubbery, thick lining material and rolled it onto her leg to see where to cut it to match her leg length. This material will line the socket (if I am understanding correctly!) and also be the place where the velcro will attach to hold the leg on. It sounds like the leg will attach via velcro to something resembling a belt.
Mama trying to hold her hands up so she doesn't hit the nice lady!

Below...a perfect fit!

Once the lining material was cut to size, they tried the socket on again with the lining and assessed the fit. They decided that it was not only a little too long in the hip area, but also too tight on her leg. So they will make the necessary adjustments and we will return this coming Friday to check the fit again. If it fits correctly on Friday, they will build her leg and the next appointment will be the *gasp* leg appointment!!! I can hardly wait!

We ended the appointment by measuring her little foot (she's a perfect 10...centimeters that is!) and handing over the shoe. Oh! That was Excuse #3...driving from shoe store to shoe store trying to find a rubber soled shoe with good traction in a baby size 3! Not easy, let me tell you. The gal at Penney's said they don't even stock them that small...the closest she had was a size 5. Eventually, I did find a $50 option and a $25 option (yes, the first one was $50 stinking dollars...I almost never pay that much for my shoes...there was that one pair...umhmmm, I digress). Thankfully, the prosthetists picked the cheaper cuter pair.

Finally, it was time for some mommy-lovin' (check out the tears and snot!) and a happier ride home.

One small step at a time...

In Him,


Look What We Did Last Monday!

One of the fringe benefits of homeschooling is getting to take field trips with your kids (and only your kids!), to where you want to go, for as long as you want (or can afford), and in this case off-season (read: no crowds!).

That's exactly what we did last Monday. Took a field trip not just to the Washington Monument, but up into the Washington Monument...without standing in line at o-dark-thirty in the morning like you do at other times of the year. Matter of fact I reserved the tickets online for a wonderful 11am in the morning tour. Why? We've been studying Egypt and recently learned about obelisks...and the Washington Monument is one huge obelisk!

Anyway, after getting into the nation's capital and getting the very best free parking spot I've ever gotten, we headed over to the monument and quickly realized that the weather report's prediction of upper 40s with 5-10 mph winds was oh-so-typically-off.

Try low 30s with a bitter wind chill and something like 25mph winds.

Just look at those flags! Does that look like 5-10mph to you?

All of our exposed skin took issue with the prediction.
Thankfully, we were winter-weather prepared.
Say, "Brr!"

Do you see those 2 tiny windows at the top (above the girls' heads)? We'll be looking out of them in a minute!

So after posing for way too many pictures outside of the Monument named for our nation's first president, we got in our tour's line, passed through the metal detectors and waited for the super-speedy, 90-seconds-to-the-555ft.-top elevator.

After the quick ride, we reached the top...which, incidentally, moves with the wind leaving this woman feeling just a tad dizzy (remember the flags?).

Each face of the Washington Monument has two rectangular windows out of which you can see many if not most of the well-known sights of the city.

The girls looking at the Lincoln Memorial.

The White House as seen from the Washington Monument.

We made one other stop on our Field Trip, about which I'll post another day...

In Him,


More U-Seat Pictures

Hey! I'm missing something!

There it is! How about you help a sister out?

Fine, I'll just get it myself.

In Him,


Physical Therapy: Stretching

Okay, so these pictures have nothing to do with stretching, but they're just cute. And, as you will see...I have no pictures to share of stretching. So, these will have to do!

Onto physical therapy....in addition to strengthening Lily's core, we have been simultaneously working on stretching her hip muscles. After all, if her leg will not point toward the ground, she can't walk! So, truly, that has been the foremost goal.

We'd been working on this ourselves even before seeing the physical therapist. Thankfully, what we'd felt led to do was on the right track!

Here's how we've been getting her a good stretch:

During diaper changes we have been pulling her leg down to its fullest stretch and holding it for about a minute. I do my best to try to distract her by blowing raspberries (or zerberts as I grew up calling them) on her belly, giving her kisses, or singing her a song. Sometimes just the presence of her sisters in the room is enough to distract her long enough to get a good stretch. I wish I could say that I remember to do this every diaper change, but I don't. Seems like it's been okay to forget once and a while without it negatively impacting the results.

Secondly, we stretch her leg downward as she plays. While she sits in her U-seat, on the ball, in our laps, or as she crawls we have been pushing her leg downward (or pulling it backward in the crawling position). Most of the time she doesn't even know we are doing this so she tolerates it quite well. Now, after a couple of months of doing this, she holds her leg at a 90 degree angle from her body while sitting which is a major improvement from when we first got her! We don't have to hold her leg down anymore when she sits because her leg now stays down on its own.

Thirdly...and I honestly wonder if most powerfully...is the Ace bandage (without the metal prongs!).
Our PT believes that we need to be stretching for as long and as often as possible. Before we even got home from China, I was wondering if she would need a night brace of some sort that would hold her leg down while she slept (similar to a club foot brace), thus making that sleeping time productive...and eliminating the obstacle of trying to solicit the cooperation of a one-year-old! The orthopedist didn't like the idea of a hard brace. Our PT came up with the idea of wrapping her pelvis and upper thighs in an Ace bandage while she sleeps, so this is what we've been doing. She has occasionally wiggled out of it when I get her up, but rarely. And it does give her a good stretch.

Finally, our PT has a nifty way of measuring progress...which is what I need because it is so hard for me to discern those slight, yet progressive changes children go through (like: when did Lily's hair get so long? when did Emma get so tall? etc, etc.). It is called a Goniometer and it measures the angle of the joint. It works by placing one end along Lily's torso, the other along her leg, and the pivot at her hip joint and then stretching her leg as far as it will go. The pivot has an arrow that shows the extension measured in degrees. Our initial goal is to get to 180 degrees (a straight line for those of you who haven't been in Geometry in a while!), but eventually we would love to see it go beyond that because her leg will have to be able to extend behind her body in order for her to walk.

And the results of all of this so far? Well, when we began the maximum extension we could get was around 150 to 155 degrees in mid-November. As of the last time we measured in December? 173 degrees! And it only took us 4 weeks to get there!

I had been wondering if we won't see an improvement in her hip's extension after she has the prosthetic because it seemed to me that the weight of the prosthetic combined with wearing it for long stretches during the day would increase her stretch time, thus encouraging even more muscle lengthening in the joint. Her PT and prosthetist both think that this will be the case. As the prosthetist said before Christmas...there just isn't enough weight in that little leg to hold it down and there won't be without the prosthetic.

So, that is the stretching we've been doing in a nutshell.

One thing I feel I should mention is that our PT seems very pleased with her progress which is encouraging to me because there have been many days where I have put my head on my pillow and felt like I should have/could have done way more therapy than we did. There were naps when I forgot to put the Ace bandage on, days where I forgot the Ball, times when busyness crowded out opportunities. But, God has been gracious and has used what we did do to stretch those muscles...I picture Him working in those nights, touching her muscles and causing them to grow as we have so often petitioned Him to do. God is good...all the time.

So...let's go stretch!

The results of all this PT...headstands and independent sitting!

In Him,