Sunday, February 26, 2012

Caring for My Sweet Daughter

On February 15th 2012 my sweet 11 year-old daughter Ilene had spinal fusion surgery to correct a condition called spondylolisthesis. One of her lowest vertebrae was 65% slipped over the one below it. We may never know what caused it but we think it was brought on by a fall 6 months ago. She slipped on a pile of sheet protectors on the floor while helping her Aunt get her classroom ready and landed on her back. She was sore for a few days but we didn’t think much of it, after all, kids fall all the time. But in January 2012 she started complaining that her hamstring muscle hurt on one of her legs. And then she started walking funny—like a duck. Her torso was way forward and her lower half was a couple inches behind her. She said it hurt her leg to try and walk straight. So we took her to the doctor, had x-rays, were referred to an orthopedic  surgeon at Primary Children’s Hospital where we were told she need surgery to correct her spine. What? Our healthy little girl needed major surgery? They would make room for her the next day to be operated on.

After that initial appointment on Feb 14th with orthopedics, an MRI was ordered for later that afternoon. We asked Ilene what she wanted to do to pass the time until her MRI. She asked if we could go to Temple Square. You bet! Here’s Ilene on that cold but sunny Valentine’s day:

ilene 2

This is how Ilene normally is:

ilene playing sports

She’s a runner, a soccer player, a very active girl who is always happy and the kindest person. She’s a true joy to our family. We went home and cried out of fear and sadness for our little girl. I think this has been the hardest trial we’ve ever been through. It was so hard to hold back the tears in front of Ilene (Paul failed miserably—crying in front of Ilene lots) but we prayed for her and she received a Priesthood blessing from Paul and my Dad. We felt at peace and grateful that Ilene would be made whole again.

Ilene’s surgery lasted three hours. This is how the days were spent in Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City—attached to oxygen, morphine drips, and eventually working with physical therapists to start to sit up and walk again. (February 15-19, 2012) Sometimes her pain management was literally taken minute by minute—a cloth on her forehead, vomiting, wiping her tears, ice chips in her mouth, and eventually a change from Morphine which was making her nauseous. I held her hand and told her I loved her. What else could I do? (Ilene gave me special permission to post hospital gown photos of her.)

ilene in hospital

Her dad and I were heartbroken to find out Ilene would need such major surgery and then would need to recover for 6 months. For six months there will be no bending, twisting, running, lifting, or soccer playing. Her bones need time to heal with those new titanium screws in her back. That sounds tough, but we’re just so grateful that she’s going to be okay that we’ll do whatever we have to do to protect her—wrap her in bubble wrap if we have to.

I still have to help her get out bed, use the bathroom, walk, pretty much everything. I read to her, play games with her and watch Doris Day movies together. But she can roll over in bed now and is starting to walk just a little faster these days—still with me or Paul attached to her arm. The road is long, but with God, nothing is impossible.


Candy said...

Oh poor sweet Ilene! And so hard for you and Paul! wow!
She is seriously one of the kindest and sweetest girls I know, and I hope she continues to improve and gain strength and mobility every day. You are a good mom, and hopefully that 6 months will fly by! :)
She still is completely gorgeous even right after major surgery in a hospital gown!

Best wishes to you all!!! Keep us updated and we'll pray for her!!

Jess said...

Hang in there guys! Thanks for sharing your struggles and emotions with all of us. I've been thinking about you guys a lot and just hope for things to get better and better! Ilene is a truly wonderful girl - strong and kind and brave!

Winnie said...

Wow, no idea that it occurred in my classroom??? Don't even remember her falling. That makes me sick, literally.

Was so glad to see her doing so well and moving around so much yesterday! She was in such great spirits! Love that little girl!

Cally said...

Get well soon Ilene! It must be so hard at your age but try to enjoy your recovery time and think how lovely it'll be later this summer when you can be your usual active self again!

Unknown said...

I will pray for your sweet girl! A speedy recovery. A time for healing & amazing family times during this. Enjoy all of these slower more intimate moments with your baby girl! <3

carolet said...

Hoping Ilene is feeling healthy and strong soon! Children are so resilient. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Ilene said...

Ilene looks so TINY in those pictures. If it weren't for the skinnier cheeks, I would think she was like 3 years old. Those hospital pix just make her look so vulnerable.

I remember when Jackson had surgery to remove a cyst on his thyroid and just crumbling up when we had to walk away from him and leave him in the hands of the doctors and nurses as they went to the O.R. I felt like telling each of them, "Do you realize how special this little boy is?! This is MY son. You better take care of him."

We are praying for her recovery!

Mary said...

Kelly had mentioned that you and Ilene were at Primary Children's for unexpected back surgery. I've been sending prayers your way ever since. It's amazing that modern medicine can heal what would have been a life-crippling injury less than 100 years ago. I'm glad you caught it, and more glad that she is on the road to recovery.

Nandini said...

Cynthia, hope you find the courage and positivity you need at this testing time. Love reading your cheerful blog. You seem like such a caring mother. Ilene is a lucky little girl. Wishing her a speedy and complete recovery.

QuiltingCyclist said...

Dear Cynthia and family, have been off the air a bit lately and missed this until today. My prayers and love are with you. We are so blessed to be living in these times when medicine is so miraculous. Ilene has a wonderful family as well. All the best for you.

Lulu's Misadventtures said...

Ilene is one tough cookie! I have never ever seen her without a smile! Last year when I had my Brain Surgery, she was such a great strength to me! I love her! My prayers continue to be with all of you!

Casey said...

I can't imagine how hard that was on your family. What a trial. You guys are awesome and I am sure Ilene will always remember how good you were to her. I love that you watched Dorris Day movies - my girls and I love those. Also, when I read you wanted to wrap her in bubble wrap I had to send you this link. It's my sister's blog. She had fallen on her steps at home and for her birthday her friends made her a little present. Anyway the link is of that present - she may be able to loan it to you if you need.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know I came her looking for a great Honey Chicken recipe, and I've been checking back every week. I noticed your post about your daughter's surgery.

My prayers are with you for her speedy recovery. I have a son with epilepsy and understand what a stressful experience severe medical issues can be.

Warmly, Rebecca


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