Lots of good news this evening, but I'm also feeling a tad introspective after the events of the last two weeks, so I'll get that part out of the way.
You would think I'd be better prepared for those long stretches where Elijah is dealing with severe discomfort, but the mind sees what it wants to see, and when Eli's in a good mood I like to tell myself we're finally past all the trial and hardship, at least for a little while. But ever since the feet amputation this year, I've spent a lot of time dwelling on all the hard work Elijah has ahead of him. It's true that all these surgeries have been gruelling on him, but as an infant he at least had the benefit of knowing he could just lay back and relax while Mommy and Daddy managed his pain and tried their best to make him comfortable. (Forget for a moment about how unfair it is to be bedridden.) Now, however, we are interweaving the surgeries and myriad evaluations with a concerted program to get Elijah back on his legs and moving. If he doesn't work as hard as possible, he won't build up the strength he needs in his muscles and bones. So those days of weathering the storm are behind him.
I can't tell you how many rewards there are to arriving at age 3 with him. He has more personality and animation than ever before, his vocabulary and context are deeper, and he knows not only how to ask for what he wants but also how to get them for himself. But I confess, I miss the times when we had to perform painful tasks (i.e. changing his diaper when his legs are still in great pain) without hearing him plead, "Don't hurt me, daddy, don't hurt me, don't hurt me." I honestly didn't see that coming. Those words haunt me at the oddest moments, like when I was pumping gas today. "Don't hurt me," I kept thinking to myself, as the number on the pump ratcheted upward. (Insert long pause while I struggle to compose myself...)
Today was a really good day for Super Eli. First we saw Dr. Scott Cyrus, who is a superhero himself. Cyrus spoke with Dr. Gates at the Shreveport Shriners and saved us the trouble of another emergency trip to Louisiana this week. Cyrus put Eli's legs back into the fiberglass splints, and he was so gentle that Eli was actually laughing and talking while the doctor finished the second leg. We've been very worried about these splints ever since they slipped off the day I returned from Shreveport, but both Cyrus and Gates have given us the confidence and the instruction we needed to keep Eli's legs safe until our return trip next month. The new splint setup will also be much more comfortable around the clock; we previously had to deal with the fiberglass cutting into Eli's flesh, but Cyrus smoothed out the rough edges.
As soon as we were finished with Cyrus, we headed for the Little Light House and our first day of school in the Pink class. Our new teacher Mrs. Brooke and our returning friend Ms. Lindsay were waiting to greet us in the gym, and Elijah jumped right into the fray with his new classmates. We miss the Orange class already, but it's so good to be surrounded by other kids who are a bit more advanced in their communication skills. Also: We completed a swallow study recently that confirmed Elijah is risk-free when he eats and drinks by mouth, so we'll step up our eating therapy every week at TLLH as well. At the end of the day today, I asked Elijah if he had a good time, and he said, "Yeah! I like my new class, Daddy!"
Finally, some business: Please consider making a donation to The Little Light House during the Mini-Laps fundraising season. Elijah will make an appearance again this year, working his way around a track while throngs of admires cheer him on. Click here for details on how to donate: http://littlelighthouse.donordepot.com/civicrm/contribute/pcp/info?reset=1&id=52
Thanks to our LIFE Group at FBC Tulsa for being such mighty prayer warriors during all our struggles. And thank you, big sister Sophia, for loving Eli so much and playing with him every chance you get. I can honestly say that, no matter how tough Elijah's tribulations seem, there is always enough love and kindness in our lives to set the ship to rights. Keep it up!