Sunday, January 31, 2010

In Shreveport

David and Eli are in Shreveport this evening. I'm sure hanging out at the hotel trying to get sleep. Sleep has become a strange thing for Eli. He sleeps when he is at the end of his very long rope, but restlessly and for short stints. I am hoping the removal of his leg splints will help him regain his confidance and comfort.

Please pray for David and Eli. None of us have seen Eli's new legs. David will be the first. It will be dramatic, I am certain. I know we have a whole host of angels who are with us at all times. David's angels will be on overtime tomorrow. Pray that Eli will experience minimal pain as the splints are removed. We are told it will hurt. Why does everything have to hurt?

We will post pics tomorrow evening after they return home.

I love you all.
Melissa

To Shreveport We Go

Eli and David are on their way to Shreveport on the Shriner's Van with a volunteer driver. What a lifesaver! They left out this morning from the house at 7:15 to meet the driver at 8 a.m. Eli's appointment is in the morning at 8 a.m.

Please pray for safe travel, headache relief for David, restful travel for Elijah and overwhelming peace as Eli's new legs are revealed tomorrow.

Love you all,
Melissa

Saturday, January 30, 2010

To Shreveport We Go...Hopefully

Today, we are snowed in. Tomorrow is the day that David and Eli are supposed to ride the van to Shreveport. I feel like we need to get the splints off of Eljah's legs. He still isn't sleeping well, which means David isn't sleeping well. It's really tough on all of us, but especially Elijah. I'm not sure if the Shriner van will be cancelled or delayed due to the roads. Pray we get to go as planned without any problems.

We've certainly had more than our fair share of snow and ice this winter in Oklahoma.

Love you all,
Melissa            

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sleep, Eli, Sleep

Eli is anxious. He cannot rest comfortably and has been keeping his dad up long hours every night. I am certain he knows what has happened and he's none too excited to let something like that happen again. Eli and David go to Shreveport a week from today for a Feb. 1 appointment to have his splints removed, sutures removed and new legs revealed. I hope after that Eli can start to feel like himself even more.

I saw the movie Extraordinary Measures yesterday. It's about two kids with Pompe MD and their amazing parents who work tirelessly to find a cure and succeed. The movie showed some of the hardship, but not all. I'll reflect on it later. I recommend the movie.

Love you all,
Melissa

Monday, January 18, 2010


Eli Scoots

Yesterday, Eli wanted to get where Sophia was. I told him to scoot to her. He did. He is MUCH slower than his former scoot, but he was able to go. He was proud of himself.

He still cannot go from sitting to laying or vice versa, but mainly because his legs are too big around from the bandages and wrap for him to sneak them from in front of him to behind. That's a bummer, but he just might get it to happen before he's relieved of the bandages and wrap on Feb. 1.

Eli will return to the Little Light House tomorrow. This will be his first day since before Christmas. He's been gone a long time and gotten really used to having mom or dad around, so I'm sure there will be an adjustment in the morning. I have no doubt he will get right back into the swing of things though.

We go to the ENT this afternoon.

Tomorrow is my sweet husband's birthday.36. Be sure to wish him a happy birthday if you see him. I, unfortunately, will be working from morning to night. We'll celebrate, of course, just not tomorrow.

Love you all,
Melissa

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Elijah doing well

I know, I know, you love the new blog look and feel. I have to say that I wanted a "happier" feel to Elijah's journey...and now we have it, but this blog isn't about the look and feel, it's about Elijah Ramirez who is doing great. He's still sitting still, but that's okay for now as long as that great big smile stays on his face.

We love you all and will post pics of Eli this weekend.

Please keep praying for Grandma Edna. She remains in the hospital.

Melissa

New Site Design!

Come on, people, let Melissa know how impressed you are with the new layout for our blog. She spent a lot of time making this place easy on the eyes. I, for one, think it's downright cool.

Dave

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Famous Elijah

Sophia describes her baby boy, "He's one of those special kids who everyone knows. He's lucky."

I suppose her description is pretty accurate. She is always amazed at how everyone she knows asks her about Elijah. She has no idea how all of these people know about her baby brother.

Elijah is doing so much better. He is sitting up. He won't scoot or lay himself down or get up from a laying position, but I know that will come as his wounds heal. His plumbing is in order, his ear is healing and his mood is happier. And, he's still super cute!

Remember, Eli's not-as-famous sister is your favorite Girl Scout and cookie sales start Saturday.

Love you all,
Melissa

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Better Tonight

Elijah's pediatrician diagnosed him with a raging ear infection today. The good thing about Eli's ear infections...one dose of antibiotic and he is much better, which is the case this evening. His anxiety and touching his face in distress was because he couldn't figure out how to tell us his ear hurt. Now, he is sound asleep in the living room floor -- that peaceful, good sleep.

Thank you all for caring and for your comments.

He still has his legs straight up in the air, which like one comment, could be because it keeps them from throbbing -- whatever works. He remains on his narcotic pain killer and prunes to keep the plumbing moving.

Better days ahead.
Love you all,
Melissa

Monday, January 11, 2010

Elijah's Cranky

Dearest friends and family,

I'm Eli's mom. So, I suppose it's my place to be concerned (I don't want to call it "worry"). Eli is cranky. He isn't himself. Of course, I know he just had major surgery. I'm really hoping it is just that he hasn't slept well in the last 24 hours. I'm concerned that we are keeping a fever down with Motrin and Tylenol. A fever could indicate infection...it isn't a good sign.

Anyway, I post to request special prayers for him. I want him to feel good again. I want him to have fun and play. This evening he was holding his little feet straight up in the air and fussing....I mean his footless legs....gosh.

David would side on not alarming the blog world with this little worry...concern...of mine, but I'm just not that private when it comes to Eli. I have big plans for him and YOU are all involved in that. Pray for his comfort and health.

His next surgery is already scheduled for March 3. Wow. That will be to adjust muscles in his left (more dominant) hand.

Also, please pray for my grandmother Edna. She is in the hospital this evening with water on her lungs. This is her second hospitalization for this condition in four weeks.

Love you all,
Melissa

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eli Smiles

I am thrilled to report that Elijah's smile is back!

Today, I tried to help him sit up. That didn't go so well. He had a look of terror on his face as his usual balance is off. His former feet were part of his balance. I have no doubt he will figure that out quickly, but for now, he is either being held or laying around. Pray that his advancements -- getting himself up and down and walking on his knees -- will not be set back by this surgery.

He still has a ways to go, but each day I can see progress toward the active little boy he is.

Currently, he is watching Cars in the living room floor and laughing at his daddy.

Thank you for praying for our Rock Star Eli.

With love,
Melissa

An Inspirational Essay by Perl Kingsley

Well intentioned friends share this inspirational essay with each other as newcomers land in Holland, but it takes several years to actually accept that Holland is the final destination. Some will keep fighting for a seat on the plan to Italy...some will eventually make it, but most will not.

I'm posting this essay this morning because it gives great insight into the life of parents of extraordinary kids. Enjoy.

Love,
Melissa

P.S. Eli's awake this morning and watching Dora. I found him and Daddy asleep in the living room floor this morning...that's a sign of a less-than-fabulous night, but night is always the hardest when you don't feel great.


Welcome to Holland By Emily Perl Kingsley, 1987

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.


Welcome to Holland (Part 2) by Anonymous

I have been in Holland for over a decade now. It has become home. I have had time to catch my breath, to settle and adjust, to accept something different than I'd planned.

I reflect back on those years of past when I had first landed in Holland. I remember clearly my shock, my fear, my anger—the pain and uncertainty. In those first few years, I tried to get back to Italy as planned, but Holland was where I was to stay.

Today, I can say how far I have come on this unexpected journey. I have learned so much more. But, this too has been a journey of time. I worked hard. I bought new guidebooks. I learned a new language and I slowly found my way around this new land.

I have met others whose plans had changed like mine, and who could share my experience. We supported one another and some have become very special friends. Some of these fellow travelers had been in Holland longer than I and were seasoned guides, assisting me along the way. Many have encouraged me. Many have taught me to open my eyes to the wonder and gifts to behold in this new land. I have discovered a community of caring. Holland wasn't so bad.

I think that Holland is used to wayward travelers like me and grew to become a land of hospitality, reaching out to welcome, to assist and to support newcomers like me in this new land. Over the years, I've wondered what life would have been like if I'd landed in Italy as planned. Would life have been easier? Would it have been as rewarding? Would I have learned some of the important lessons I hold today?

Sure, this journey has been more challenging and at times I would (and still do) stomp my feet and cry out in frustration and protest. And, yes, Holland is slower paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift.

I have learned to slow down in ways too and look closer at things, with a new appreciation for the remarkable beauty of Holland with its' tulips, windmills and Rembrandts.

I have come to love Holland and call it Home.

I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn't matter where you land. What's more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.

Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadn't planned. Yet I am thankful, for this destination has been richer than I could have imagined!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Elijah Sleeps


I worked today. When I arrived home, this is what I found. It is a very nice sight to see Elijah sleeping soundly....surrounded by his best pal Clifford and a bunch of his favorite cars. He's in the middle of the living room floor.

The report for the day is that he is still really fussy. I asked Nurse Melody how she thinks he is considering he had major surgery 3.5 days ago and she assured me he is doing well. He will remain on narcotic pain reliever for a while.

This morning he just wanted to stay in his bed. He has a fear of being picked up. He knows it will hurt--breaks my heart.

You maybe cannot tell it from the picture above, but that is one tough dude. Elijah Ramirez is a real rock star. I think this is surgery number 10...let's count.

1. g-tube at 4 weeks -- Tulsa
2. cleft palate & tubes in ears at 9 months -- Oklahoma City
3. skull at 18 months -- Oklahoma City
4. broviac line placement for dehydration because of c-diff infection after head surgery -- Tulsa
5. one wrist centralized -- Shreveport
6. pin removal from wrist due to infection -- Tulsa
7. tubes placed in ears -- Tulsa
8. one wrist centralized -- Shreveport
9. pin removal due to broken arm/broken arm set -- Shreveport
10. pinkie muscle moved to thumb at 2 yrs 8 months -- Shreveport
11. double feet removal at 3 years -- Shreveport

Okay, so that was surgery number 11. I admit that I might have forgotten one or two.

12 will likely be the other pinkie muscles moved to the thumb and 13 will be the leg straightening. Folks, we see the end of this long road of surgical intervention...we might have another surgery on his palate...we'll know in June after an evaluation. Still, three more surgeries would be great. Now, I know that we'll have the small ones like more tubes in ears (something that less experienced parents would not consider "small," but for us...piece of cake), but three more majors would be a great relief.

From my heart, thank you for praying for Elijah, Sophia, David and me. We saw the fruits of your petitions. Elijah's physicians and nurses cared for him with extraordinary skill and kindness. I believe his surgery will prove a giant step toward his ability to walk.

He still hurts. That makes me hurt. I just don't think a little 3 year old should have to experience pain in the magnitude my guy has had to.

I'll keep you updated throughout the weekend.

Love and gratitude,
Melissa
P.S. Aren't you loving my new blog layout? I am the first to admit that I have no spare time right now, but I wanted something fresh for the blog, so I indulged myself.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

HOME

Six hours on the road folk, six hours minimum, one way to Shreveport from Tulsa, every time. But we are home at last, and the house is warming up, and Eli is ready to go back to sleep even after having slept three hours in the car. He is taking Lortab every four hours, and I don't think he'll be the designated driver anytime soon.

Words cannot express how grateful Melissa and I are for all your prayers. They have been answered in extraordinary fashion. Eli has been gabbing and playing non-stop for hours, and we certainly hadn't expected that.

I'm beat! Good night.
David

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The most precious sight


I'm sitting at the computer in the clinic area working. The most precious sound came from behind....Elijah Ramirez. David walked up holding Elijah...IV and wire FREE!!! He's still super sleepy, but so happy to be UP and ABOUT this evening. Praising God.

Love and Gratitude,
Melissa

Day two, prayers obvious

This photo is of Elijah just after surgery yesterday. Today, he looks the same, except he's awake more and not as grumpy.

The prayer for peace and comfort for Elijah has been answered today. He's not thrilled to have wires and an IV coming out of his body. He's not totally cool with the crazy band keeping his knees together. But, I cannot tell that he's upset at all about his footless legs. So far, he doesn't miss his feet and, for me, that is a huge answer to prayer.

Soon, the wires and IV will be removed and I expect Eli to be back to happy. Though I haven't seen any smiles today, I have seen glimpses of his great personality showing through. Clifford, of course, has been here for the long haul.

Add to your list of our prayer requests that upon Elijah's discharge, the roads are dry so we can make it home easily and in record time. The car ride after these surgeries is pretty hard on Eli.

Love and gratitude,
Melissa

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy is not the word of the day

Generally, Eli can be described as happy. Today, not so much. He wakes for a few minutes and cries. I'm sure he isn't very comfortable...the docs have a wide band holding his knees together. His natural position is sprawled, which is mostly to blame on gravity. He also has his new feetless feet propped up on a pillow to reduce swelling at the surgical sites. He also has an IV in his neck...imagine that discomfort. Plus, he seems to be hurting. It's up to me and David to ask for pain med, which we have done as often as we're allowed.

This has been a really tough day. Granna, Grandpa John, Grammie, Grandpa Ken, big sister Sophia and Miss Kate from Little Light House have all been here today. Eli has been surrounded with people who love him. It hasn't made the ordeal any easier, but without them it would have been harder, I am sure.

Please keep praying for Eli! Pray he doesn't miss his feet, his pain is relieved, he can get comfortable and rest well. Pray he has no complications and no infections. Pray for surgical success and the best possible results as he heals. Pray he won't bump his incisions (that's a concern going forward). Pray for peace for Eli...peace that he cannot comprehend, but that penetrates his entire being.

Pray for Sophia as she deals with the new Eli. Pray as she works to understand why her mommy and daddy would let this happen to her baby boy. Pray for David to rest tonight.

Thank you for caring for Eli. He knows you care.

Love and gratitude,
Melissa

Surgery is complete

We just spoke with Dr. Gates who said Elijah's surgery went very well. It is over. We can sigh with relief, but I really still want to cry.

Elijah was able to keep his heel pad...that will be his stump...I'm not sure I like the word stump, but for now, I will use it.

Thank you for continuing to pray. Please pray Elijah doesn't miss his feet and that he has NO pain. Pray that he can rest and have peace. He's been anxious since we arrived. The minute we pulled up to the hospital he started crying. He knew...not that his feet would be taken...but that he would not have a fun time at this great hospital.

The child life specialist made a mold of Eli's precious feet for me. I should have known that this great place would be a step ahead of me.

We love you,
Melissa

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is God Listening? I Believe He Is...

Elijah's feet will be amputated tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. Central. Tonight, both sets of grandparents are at their hotels, and so is Melissa and my sweet daughter Sophia. It's just me and Eli in the hospital room, watching TV and trying to settle down after a long day of blood draws, x-rays, measurements and several dozen forms to read and sign. Everybody keeps asking me how I'm doing tonight, because they can see something dark in my eyes. I'm trying to stay positive, but I'm somewhere between moderately jovial and barely coherent. And let's face it -- I've made it my personal mission in life to be the one who reassures everyone else, who always sees the silver lining and the ultimate goal. So when you hear me admit that I'm making the people around me sad, it's doubly upsetting, because I'm usually the person you go to when you feel sad.

About ten minutes ago, I finished pouring some food into Elijah's tummy via his G-tube. After I removed the tube, I turned off his little TV. He fussed, and I said, "I just want to talk to you for a minute." He looked at me with those trusting eyes and said, "Okay, Daddy." I began, "We're going to have another surgery tomorrow morning." He said, "Yeah," muffled by his pacifier. Then I asked, "Elijah, where are your feet?" He lifted his legs and touched his feet. "Where are your toes?" He did the same again. Then I said, "Elijah, tomorrow we're going to--"

A knock came at the door. "Come in," I said, exasperated and on the verge of screaming. A nurse I'd never seen before said, "I thought you'd like a snack." She had a tray filled with frozen ice cream bars and cups of applesauce, because they really do think of everything at the Shriners. Eli whined when he saw the nurse, but I said, "She's just giving us some yum yum." Eli perked up and said, "Yum Yum!" So of course, I had to get the applesauce.

The nurse closed the door and I started again, this time as Eli examined his individual cup of applesauce, still with the lid on it. "Elijah..."

The phone rang.

"Phone," Eli said, but I assumed we were both hearing the phone at the nurses' station right outside our door, because no one would possibly call the phone in our room; everyone has my cellphone. I started talking again. "Elijah, tomorrow, we're going to take away your feet." I rubbed his toes, his chubby arches, his soft heels. Meanwhile, it slowly dawned on me that the phone I heard actually WAS our phone. "For crying out loud..."

I picked up the phone. "Hello, this is David." The voice belonged to a man who said, "Is Stephanie there?" He was hard to understand, and I'm a glutton for punishment, so I said, "Could you repeat that?" This time when he spoke, he made no sense at all. I said, "I believe you've called the wrong room." I could still hear noises on the phone, but the man was no longer responding to my voice. I said, "Okay, good night," and hung up the phone.

And believe it or not, I still had no clue what was going on. But when I walked back around to continue my conversation with my 3-year-old son, I stopped to wonder if perhaps I wasn't supposed to continue. I wondered if maybe it wasn't my job to have the perfect explanation for every situation, nor to make everyone feel better when I wasn't capable of making myself feel better. More importantly, I wondered what my motive was for trying to give Eli a heads-up. As if Eli's severe communication setbacks aren't a good enough reason to avoid this particular talk, there remains the fact that making him aware of what's happening won't help him decide this is the right thing to do, or that it's fair, anymore than it will comfort him after the fact. So why do it? Could it be that I'm feeling guilty, and this little heart-to-heart was meant to make me feel better, not him?

What my job IS is to comfort him after the fact, and not with facts. I hold him, I play with him, I attend to his needs, and I somehow make myself feel better in the process. It's not just a good process; it's a good life. Elijah may be dealing some truly terrible medical problems, but his circumstance demands that he and I spend a lot of time together having fun and loving each other, and I'm really happy to spend my day like that.

I'm stopping just short of saying that I'm okay with all of this. What I'll say instead is that I trust my wife, I trust that we've made the right decision, I trust the doctors and nurses who will operate on him tomorrow, and I trust that Eli will make the best of this situation, just like he has every situation that's come before.

And I trust Jesus. That's hard to type, because he and I both know that my brain isn't completely trusting him. But my heart never stopped, and he knows that, too. I'd like to think I wouldn't have needed an interrupting nurse and an intelligible phone call to hear him speaking to me, but I suppose he knows what I need better than I do. And the same must hold true for Elijah. Part of me really wishes my son could have a chance to say goodbye to his own feet, but if the alternative is that he won't remember losing them, I'll make that trade any day.

Please join me and my family as we pray for Eljah tomorrow morning, January 5 at 7:00 a.m. I know some of you will gather together to pray for him, and a few of the finest prayer warriors I've ever known will even be fasting. If there was any doubt that something good could come from what has happened, that doubt is gone. Say a special prayer for Dr. Gates, Eli's surgeon and Godly man who really does love little Elijah.

Good night.
Dave

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dear Elijah,


Please forgive us.

Know that we struggled with the decision to let the doctors remove your feet for years before the time arrived for the surgery. The weeks before, we mourned the loss. Your dad and I have cried together. We prayed for another answer. We begged. We received clear guidance that this course is the one for you.

I will miss your feet, Eli.

I love to squeeze the fatty area on top of your foot. I love to hold your toes and feel them wiggle within my hand. I love to watch you use your precious feet to grasp your best pal, Clifford the dog. I love to see you use your feet to maneuver yourself wherever you want to go. I love to kiss your feet.

I will miss them with the depth of my being, Eli. I am sorry they must go.

Tomorrow, we will begin this journey. My prayer for you immediately is that it won't hurt and that you won't miss your feet. I pray you don't remember Jan. 5 when your feet disappeared.

I want you to know that thousands of people will be praying for you in this coming week, Eli. They too will pray that you won't remember, that you won't miss your feet and that you will feel no pain, my precious son.

I promise I will be there by your side, hiding my tears from you. I will wait for your emphatic answer to "are you okay" to once again be "yay."

You will survive this, Eli, and you will come out on the other side thriving. You will run through our back yard playing and it will be worth it.

This is the first time in your life that we've been forced to take something from you. As wrong as it feels, your dad and I know it is the best option for your bright future.

We love you, Eli. Everyone reading this blog loves you.

Here's to your future...a future of walking...and running.

Your loving momma,
Melissa