Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cold Comfort (Snowy Day Contemplations)

Snow makes me happy. I was born in January, so the majority of my birthdays have taken place in snow. When I tell people I prefer winter to summer, I actually mean that I prefer the cold to the heat. It’s inefficient to be a fan of snow unless you live someplace it’s certain to fall constantly, and that ain’t Tulsa. But here it is, at the end of March, and it’s pretty magnificent.

Snow makes me contemplative. I assumed when Melissa started this blog, I’d take the opportunity to indulge my contemplative side. As it turns out, my contemplations in regard to Elijah tend to be a little too... terrestrial. Rather than get all emotional, I talk about doctor’s appointments, surgical details, travel schedules. All that organization brings sharp focus to the reality of the situation, and so sometimes, I think dark thoughts. Which is why, when good things happen, I’m plesantly surprised. It’s like enjoying snow but never seeing snow; to make the best of summer days makes sense operationally. And speaking operationally, it makes more sense to deal with Elijah's challenges with the most positive attitude possible, free from dark thoughts. It’s also easier emotionally. But how to do it?

Bet you didn’t think we had dark thoughts anymore, did you? After that “Tulsa World” story, everyone was so impressed with how positive Melissa and I were about Elijah’s situation. And the truth is, we are positive, we really are. It helps that everyone who meets him immediately falls in love. There’s no way our promotions and blogs and articles could convey how adorable he is. It’s all on him. Today, with the snow falling, we spent the whole day playing and playing and playing. He’s discovered Sophia’s collection of Little People – the houses, the figurines, the cars – and he’s smitten. His favorite was opening the little front door to the house, hiding his pacifier inside, and closing the door. He saves his big laughs for when he’s proud of himself.

But if there’s reason to be happy, why indulge in dark thoughts? Where do they come from? I’ll tell you where. They are the result of logical conclusions. Academics won’t tell you this, but the scientific method is poor comfort in the face of adversity. Which is unfortunate for me, because I rely on logic quite heavily. That’s why I’ve recently been reading “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis. I wanted to know what a Christian author had to say about the reason God allows us to feel pain, both physical and emotional. He makes a compelling and very scripturally supported case, but as I read searching for comfort, I found a cold treatise in its place. Lewis tells me why pain is necessary in our universe, and why it’s essential to salvation, but when the pain cannot be explained, what coping mechanism will suffice?

Lewis takes his responsibility to representing Christianity seriously, and so he does the right thing and admits that we can’t think our way out of pain. He says that only faith in God’s love can support us through times of adversity and oppression, and if we find our intellectualism bringing us some portion of comfort, then it’s God’s love that is required to push us the rest of the way, to that level we call “peace of mind.”

God knows that having all the answers, even if that were possible, would not give us comfort from our pain. Why must it be this way? Hey look at that, it’s a bit of circular reasoning. I just asked, “Would someone please give me enough information to explain why information doesn’t bring comfort? I won’t feel comfortable until you do.”

Some people wonder why God would allow Elijah to suffer, and why we would praise him after he’s responsible for such a thing. I’ll be happy to talk to any of you about this – just e-mail me, seriously – but in the meantime, please know that I’ve given the matter a lot of thought, and prayer which is more helpful than thought, and I’m certain that God loves Elijah and deseves my thanks and my worship. Chew on that until we talk again.


Back to the routine

Eli is back in his normal routine now that daddy has returned from his R&R. We've selected a new primary pediatrician for Eli and had our first appointment yesterday. Eli screamed the whole way through knowing he was in a doctor's office. When the doctor said "bye bye," Eli smiled and returned a wave and emphatic bye.

Spring break ends for Eli on Wednesday. We will be glad to get him back into his school routine. He really thrives there.

We are shut in the house today watching gobs and gobs of snow fall.

Love to all,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eli duty

David got to take a quick trip up to see his parents and brother this week. I had my first night duty with Elijah and he slept all night. I, on the other hand, stayed awake all night waiting for him to wake up. Crazy! I am better now, but only because someone else came in to handle night duty for me.

Elijah is doing really well right now. We head back to Shreveport late April to have his cast removed. The rod will remain for another 6 weeks after that though.

When my mom is leaving the house, Elijah says "bye Grammie." Just makes my day. Of course, you have to speak "Eli" to understand, but those who love him speak "Eli" just fine.

Love you all,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pics of Eli and Sophia

Check out some pics of Eli and Sophia that my dear friend Emily took. Love them.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

VIDEO! Those Amazing Ramirez Kids

The last time Elijah went to Shreveport, I posted a poignant film of his return to the hospital room directly after the surgery. He was crying and sleepy and in real pain. We took video of the same thing this time, and I've decided to skip it. You will have to take my word for it -- he's a superhero who knows how to endure medical procedures that I'll never have to face. That same afternoon, he was already laughing and playing and making due with the cast, but we were too busy being entertained to film it.

Instead, Melissa and I thought you'd like to see something truly amazing, some footage of Elijah scooting across the room. This was also taken in Shreveport, the day before surgery in the hospital's big playroom filled with toys. Watch for the moment when his Grammie and Grandpa Ayers arrive at the hospital to surprise Eli. He still isn't talking, but just watch how much he understands. Elijah is a minute-by-minute miracle. (Yes, I know it's a Barbie car, but with Clifford behind the wheel, it comes across as tough. You should have seen it when Elijah put the tyrannasaurus rex in there. Way to go, little dude.)

And speaking of miracles... My family members are still amazed I "allowed" Sophia to join a cheerleading squad this spring. As though anyone could say no to Sophia. She's inhereted her mother's gift of making me do things I otherwise wouldn't do. As for the gift of kicking her leg almost over her head and doing the splits, she didn't get it from me.

Pics from Shreveport

Elijah enjoying the fun new toys in the playroom at Shriner's Shreveport hospital. Note that Clifford made his way into Barbie's car. Elijah scooted right behind. He'd catch up, send Clifford on his way again and then scoot to catch up. What fun!

Friday, March 6, 2009

We're HOME

We are happy to be home. Elijah's arm is causing him pain, but his pain med does the trick. Hopefully we can get him off of pain medication soon. He's done really well. He was REALLY ready to leave the hospital yesterday. He slept most of the way home.

We return in six weeks to have the cast removed and the arm x-ray done. The rod is expected to stay put for three months. Please pray during the next three months that Elijah's arm stays infection free!

Sophia was happy to have us home, but she had tons of fun with her cousins.

With love and extreme gratitude,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Doing well

Elijah has come through this surgery with the best post-op yet. He was actually ready to play far sooner than I expected. He was still connected to an IV so he couldn't go to the play room. He is treating his surgically repaired arm, which is in a cast from hand to arm pit, just like his regular arm. I think he's become so accustomed to splints at home that this is nothing. He was one of three in his room who had surgery today and he did the absolute best of the group. I am very pleased. Thank you for your special prayers for Eli today. We will travel home tomorrow so remember us then too. We are becoming pros at this.

With love,

Eli's out of surgery

The surgery is over and Eli is sleeping soundly for now. Everything went fine. Thanks for your prayers.

With love,

Eli in surgery

Eli is in surgery. So far, so good. He received his "I don't care" cocktail before going up and was just smiling and laughing at me and my mom. David got little sleep last night being in a room with two other kids and two other moms. He's napping now waiting for me to bring him any news.

Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Checked In

Elijah has been admitted to the In Patient unit at the Shriner's Hospital in Shreveport. He is being checked out by everyone today to prepare for surgery tomorrow. His other wrist will be straightened. His surgery time is 10 a.m. because he isn't the youngest one this time having surgery. He's the smallest...but not the youngest. So our morning won't start as early. I guess that's okay except that Eli will be on the NO FOOD diet before the procedure.

Our drive in was going great. We were about 15 minutes from our hotel and the highway became a parking lot for an hour. We decided to try to out smart all of the locals who remained patiently in line on the highway and exited...only to find that the locals knew what we didn't...that was the only way across the water. So, we found a local Chinese restaurant to eat where the employees kept asking in broken English "He all right?" To which I always answer without thinking "YES, he's great!" But they kept coming around to get a good look at him. David and I likely see the event very differently, but my perspective is I wanted to eat in peace and I hate it when people look at my kid like he's "weird." Mind your own business!

Next, we tried again to get to our hotel. We made find that we didn't have reservations. They let us in anyway. Then, Sophia called in tears saying "I beg you to come get me." She's fine, of course. She just skinned her knee and for Sophia that is a BIG deal. Auntie had taken Makayla to dance and Uncle David and Daniel weren't cutting it for her at that minute. Needless to say, I am hoping for smoother going from here on out. I told David, I sure hope they have Elijah on the list for surgery and that I didn't get us here the wrong week. He assured me, we were here at the right time. He was right.

Today, we are in a room with five baby beds with an occupant in one so far. The little Alabama gal has a thumb skin fused to her pointer finger and Elijah's surgeon will be removing the skin and moving her index finger down to be her thumb. She's first tomorrow. It will be good to see her tomorrow after surgery. This procedure will be similar to Eli's next procedure.

Love the Shriner's Hospital. No one looks at us like Elijah is unusual...he's just an extraordinarily great kid. We are good. Elijah is enjoying the new sights. He cringes at the sight of people in scrubs, but that just cannot be helped. Thanks for your prayers!

Love you all,

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Stay tuned

We head to Shreveport tomorrow for Elijah's second wrist surgery (other wrist) on Wednesday morning. He will be checked into the hospital on Tuesday morning and hopefully discharged on Thursday. The docs at Shreveport probably call this routine, but my fears of infection are raw. Elijah's last arm rod made him very, very sick after two months. Please pray Elijah will make it through this straightening without any complications and complete success.

Pray for Sophia as she is again left behind. She will be well cared for by Auntie Lori and Uncle David and well played with by cousins Daniel and Makayla. She will be fine, but it is still hard on her.

Pray for our safe drive and smooth transactions along the way. We still don't know where we are staying while we are there.

Watch the blog, we'll update as we go.

Blessings to all.