Saturday, January 7, 2012

Post-op Mayhem

I haven't really had any time to blog lately because things have been nutty. We're about 1 1/2 weeks post-op and Geri is recovering nicely. Her one week follow-up went really well. First awesome thing to report is that her doc says that right eye looks great - in fact, he said that it looked better than he ever would have expected before the surgery. He also verified that her left eye does have vision. I knew he didn't believe me when I said it before, but this time he managed to see her in a good enough mood that she cooperated when he checked it. He agreed that she can see, and said that he will definitely be performing the surgery on the left eye in February! yay!

In other news, the post-op has been a tough time. We expected Geri to have setbacks, but we had no idea what to expect. Her biggest set-back has been related to food. For the first 36 hours after we got home, she refused to eat anything. Finally, we got her to have some eggs but after that, she shut down again. She finally started eating these Gerber yogurt snacks for toddlers. I had bought them because she has always been a fan of yogurt and they are shelf-stable, so it made for a convenient snack to carry in the diaper bag. Well, for about the past week four days that has been all she will eat. Period. We've gotten a couple of other items into her from time to time - spaghetti, eggs, sausage bake - but the yogurt snacks have been her mainstay. We're talking 6 at a meal, too.

She's also stopped eating when she's out of the home. She won't eat anywhere but here, sitting at the dining room table. She won't eat at restaurants (except for one - Billy's Old World Pizza) and last night we went to a friend's house for the K-State game and she refused to eat there. Apparently that little outing upset her a great deal, because this morning she refused to eat again. A couple bites of eggs, a couple bites of yogurt, and then she shut down entirely. I hate to admit it, but at lunch I resorted to forcing the issue. She ate a good amount, at times seeming happy and other times very angry. I could tell that she was happy to be eating, unhappy to be admitting she needs the food.

The real issue here is not the food, but rather the sense of control. She's had control over no aspects of her life, ever, and it's entirely normal for a 4-year-old to want control of some sort. At 4, TJ was picking out his clothes, his toys, his snacks and his friends. Even the things we insisted on controlling still had an element of choice in them. We chose how many books to read at bedtime, but he chose which books. We chose whether he wore pants or shorts, t-shirt or coat, jacket or sweatshirt, but he chose which pants, sweatshirt and jacket to wear. We chose the meal at dinner, and he chose whether to eat it or have a piece of fruit. Structured choices gave him the ability to feel a sense of control, explore consequences and responsibilities, and still be safe and cared for.

Geri is totally incapable of all these choices. She can't choose her clothing, she can't pick out her toys, more to the point she didn't get to choose her new family or her new home or her surgery... but she can shut her mouth and refuse to eat.

Oddly enough, at the same time that she is being crazy about food, she's also behaving in a way that indicates a closer connection with us is developing. She cuddles with us more, she comes looking for us, she wants to be near us. The fact that she shuts down in other places but comes to life at home indicates the this is her safety zone. The fact that she gets unnerved by visitors shows that she knows who is her family and is more comfortable with us.

She seems to be torn between loving and trusting us, and her fear of vulnerability.

So what can we do? It seems our only options are consistency and patience. We have to keep being here, keep loving and caring for her, keep demonstrating that she can trust us. We also have to keep the social schedule to an absolute minimum. Last night's outing was too much for her, that much is apparent. The most stimulation she can handle right now is running errands, other than that she needs to be at home. It's tough, because the rest of us are social creatures, but she needs to have a contained and predictable environment until the stress of the surgery (and then the stress of the next surgery) are behind her.

On a related note, we miss you all and if we blow you off in the near future please don't take it personally.

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