Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Diet Debacle

We're going on a diet! *grinds face into corner of table for an hour* No, really, I'm so excited.

Mera and Geri have both been suffering from (TMI warning) terrible constipation for so long I honestly am not sure when it started. I've been dosing them with Miralax recently, just to make them comfortable, but I know this treatment ought not to be done forever. Something has to change, and it has to happen in their diets.

I'm French, so this one hurts. 
Geri, I already kinda knew her diet needed tweaking. She would live on nothing but carbs if I let her. Mac and cheese, spaghetti, bread, graham crackers... I could keep her fed for a year without ever making anything that grows touch her lips. I know that isn't a good plan, but with her feeding problems I have felt that my hands were tied. I was also concerned because, aside from the obvious potty problem, there is also an issue with normal weight obesity. What's that? Apparently, when a child has been nutritionally deprived and malnourished for a long period of time (oh, say, about 4 years) their body behaves as if it is obese at a normal weight. The heart, liver, kidneys, etc. all get affected at what would be, on any other child, a pretty average weight. Right now, Geri is in about the 75th percentile for weight and height. On any other kid, that would be just fine and dandy, but on her it's possibly dangerous. Her doctor also specifically warned us about carbs for her, simply because her metabolism is so messed up at this point.

Don't try to look all innocent, Cow. You know what you did.
Mera is another fun study. When she was born, she was severely dairy sensitive. Not just lactose, but all dairy. I was nursing her, and I couldn't even eat bread because of the whey used in it. I could not have a glass of cow's milk, but I could have goat's milk. Which, by the way, is not really the "gimme" it might sound like. Stuff tastes weird. The cheese from it is great, but the actual milk tastes a little like feet smell. Just saying, is all.

So here we are, two members of our family have specific food exclusions. Mera has to be "no dairy" and Geri needs to be "low carb," but she is also "doesn't enjoy chewing solid foods." Nick is "please don't make me change my diet" and TJ is "wanna ride bikes?" I'm trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to feed them all.

For now, I'm cutting the milk and milk products for Mera. I'm not yet making her totally give up anything with whey in it, because I think her system is stronger now and I want to see if just taking out the milk will do it. However, I'm trying to make sure Geri doesn't get all those carbs and the girls are always together at meal times and I can't give one girl one thing and another girl another because that would start all sorts of hell breaking loose. Here's where I am so far.

Pick me! Pick me!
1. Vanilla Almond Milk. I tried giving both girls fruit and applesauce for breakfast. Geri hardly ate anything and I hate to send her to school so hungry. She loves cereal, which has carbs but if I make the rest of the day carb-free I feel like it's ok, but if Mera sees her eating some then she'll want it too and that. mean. milk. Now I can give them both cereal, mera with almond milk and Geri with cow's milk, and no one is the wiser.

2. Goat's Milk and Soy Yogurt. The girls also love yogurt. If I give Geri the dairy version and Mera the non-dairy, it should be ok. Or I could just give them both non-dairy, but it's real expensive.

3. Chicken Nuggets. No, not a health food. I get that. But it's very low carb, no dairy (I'm not counting whey, remember) and easy to eat. It also gets Geri in a chewing frame of mind, so she'll attempt he fruit and veggies I give her.

4. Applesauce. I buy the Buddy Fruits, which have no sugar or preservatives. Just apples and other fruit. A serving of fruit, something in the tummy, no chewing. Works for everyone.

5. Fish. Geri loves fish, so I'm praying that will bring us through a lot of mealtimes.

Today was the first day, and I'm not sure how long it will take for their "systems" to improve if I'm on the right track. Anyone have any educated guesses? Any tips or advice for a changed diet? Recipes? Want to come and cook for us while I go have a good cry? Seriously, this is such a huge change and it feels like I have SO MANY hurdles to deal with in all of it. Money (have you SEEN how much quinoa costs?!?!), time, feeding difficulties, taste buds that have a lot of programming in their history... This is a lot. The things we do because we love our kids and want them to be able to poop. Hallmark should put that on a card. Your welcome.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beautiful Eyes

Today we were driving and Geri looked at me (I wasn't operating the vehicle, don't worry) and the light hit her just so and I could see the outline of her new cornea. There was this amazing circle of white light in the middle of her right eye. It was sort of breathtaking, really. So clear and vibrant, lit so it appeared to almost be glowing. I wonder if that outline will persist after the cornea heals in place and the stitches are removed.

Her right eye will be rather remarkable in the end. Before the cornea transplant, the stretching in her cornea gave it a milky, blue-white color. There was a wide area of this coloring around the edge of her iris, and it streaked across the middle. Now, there is this clear field in the middle with a ring of milky blue-white around it.

I've often wondered what exactly is her eye color. It's hard to be certain, because it's a real trick getting her to make good eye contact with you for any amount of time, but it appears they are an incredible dark blue. It feels like there is something important to be learned from this - the "defective" part of her is utterly gorgeous. So much beauty is found in our flaws, if we only know how to look and see them differently.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Cornea Transplant

Yesterday Geri got he new cornea. I honestly still don't truly believe it happened, because she's recovering so well that you can't hardly tell it happened. If she weren't wearing a clear eye shield, you'd never know that she had her eye cut up just yesterday.

The morning of the surgery started with a 4:45am departure for Denver. Our pastor met us as the surgical center, and we got her paperwork completed and brought her back for prep. Pastor waited in the lounge area until she was prepped and ready to go back.

It's sort of sad how good we've gotten at anesthesia. We know every in and out of Geri's surgical prep. At this point, I can tell the nurses exactly when and where they can check her vitals and how in order to keep her calm. Blood pressure on the leg, not the arm. Pulse ox on the toe, not the finger. Change her into the hospital gown as late as possible. I'll do the eye drops myself, thanks. And it's sad when you can tell the anesthesiologist that she does really well with propofol, the Midazolam seems to really screw her up in recovery, skip the laughing gas because it really doesn't help, and you know exactly how to hold your child so that when they go totally limp you are ready. We are pros at anesthesia at this point, and sometimes that makes my heart hurt a bit.

The staff at Harvard Park Surgery Center were really great.  They were very nice, very cooperative, very reassuring. They made Geri's prep as easy as possible, and I really appreciated that. Closer to surgery time, Pastor came back and we prayed over her. Then Dr. R showed up and talked to us a bit before the main event. He told us that we were really lucky, the "tissue" was very good, very healthy. He said that it came from a 2 year old, which sort of floored me for a moment. He double-checked a few things, we put on our bunny suits, and we headed back to the OR. There was a funny moment when we walked in the OR and there was no bed in the room because the nurse was bringing it in and I looked at the anesthesiologist and said "So, are you just gonna hold her the whole time?" The bed was right behind us, and soon Geri was on it getting the gas and being super brave and then she was out. We kissed her, prayed over her, and on the way out I prayed over Dr. R.

An aside, I do this EVERY TIME she has an operation. Dr. B is getting used to it, I think, but it seems to surprise docs when the mom says "May I pray over you?" on the way out to the waiting room. So far, everyone is really cool about it. I have not had any doctor or nurse refuse my offer, I think because they realize that they don't have to be a Christian for me to be one and it matters to me so they let it fly. Which I appreciate, because if a doctor ever said no I think I'd just do it anyway. I really only ask first because I put my hand on them when I do it, and I try to announce myself before touching strangers. Just a policy I have.

We headed out to the waiting room and Pastor was still there. He hung out with us, watching TV and discussing comic books (we have a really cool pastor) until Dr. R came out about an hour later to talk to us. Of course, he comes out while I'm in the bathroom but he was still there when I got back and there really wasn't much to discuss anyway. We would be seeing him in his office at 1230, so he was going to give us the after-care details there. He said that the surgery went fantastic, that everything was in place and it looked great. We thanked him and he left. Pastor said his goodbyes and we prayed with him and then he left, too, and we went back to see Geri in post-op.

Wow, this is turning into a loooooong post. Oh well, if you're still here then I guess you're in it for the long haul so I'll keep trucking. Perhaps all this detail is boring for most people (it's ok, I understand) but I suppose if anyone ever has to go through a cornea transplant for their kid and they want to know about how it all works, this could be useful.

Anyway, when we got back Geri was still mostly out but starting to become more awake. Her eye was thoroughly bandaged and covered with a clear plastic shield. Another benefit of being very used to anesthesia - I know exactly how to handle her when she wakes up! I told the nurses to remove all the stickies from her chest while she was still groggy, that was it pisses her off only briefly. Same thing for the IV, although some nurses don't like that idea. They want to keep the IV in just in case the kid won't take fluid orally. They need to make sure the child stays hydrated. However, I've done this enough times to know that she will take the oral liquids more readily if there isn't an IV in her hand or arm pissing her off. This nurse was awesome and took out the IV when I told her that. I also got them to take off her blood pressure cuff and bring over a comfy chair so I could sit in the chair and hold her in my lap. At this point, Geri was rousing and starting to be pretty pissed, but as soon as we got into the chair she laid her head on me and fell asleep again. She slept for another hour or so. The nurse was great about checking her blood pressure on her leg, to avoid ticking her off again. It worked like a charm.

When Geri woke up she was hungry, so we gave her some vanilla pudding and a BUTTLOAD of graham crackers. Here's another point of interest. When Geri comes out of anesthesia, she gets something I like to call "Drunk Face." Ever get drunk and your nose and mouth area seems to feel numb? Yeah, when Geri is coming off the anesthesia she rubs her nose a lot and won't drink from a cup or a straw. I think it's because her nose and lips feel numb and awkward. She drank apple juice off a spoon, but wouldn't touch it from a straw or cup. Poor thing. But she was loving those graham crackers.

She was in surprisingly high spirits, so when she finished her crackers we changed her and packed up and left. On the way out we knew it was lunch time so we mentioned pizza and she got all sorts of excited. We hit Anthony's Pizza and she ate a huge slice of cheese pizza. She was in an unbelievably good mood. After that, we headed to Dr. R's office.

Another piece of useful post-op info... it's totally normal for your child to run a low-grade fever after surgery. We didn't know this, and it hadn't happened before, so we freaked. Oddly enough, Dr. R's office did not have a single thermometer. I guess with his specialty, it just doesn't come into play. She felt warm, and we were nervous, but he reassured us and recommended we get with her primary care doc to be sure. He was certain, however, that this was not a danger to her eye and the new cornea. He removed the padding, and from what he was able to get a look at he said the eye looked "perfect." He sounded super confident and was very pleased with the results. He said again that the tissue was just unbelievably good and healthy, so he had total confidence that the transplant would be a success and bring a huge improvement to Geri's vision in that right eye.

We headed home, with a pit-stop at her pediatrician's office to find out her temp was 99.2 and she was fine, and then I ran out to fill her prescriptions. The post-op care for this procedure is not terribly complicated, but there's SO MUCH of it. In addition to her normal medications, she now is getting steroid eye drops 6 times daily (works out to every two hours while she's awake) and antibiotic eye drops 3 times. This is the regimen for the first two weeks, until we see Dr. R again and he revises the schedule based on how well she's doing. The eye shield stays on 24/7 for probably a month or so, then she'll wear it when she sleeps for another 3-4 months. She can't be permitted to rub or press on the eye at all. She will have EUAs every 6 weeks until about the 9 months mark, depending on how everything is healing. The stitches stay in for about 6 months, I think. Again, it depends.

What is most amazing about this surgery is how well she is doing. She's had far less of a developmental setback than we had feared. She's being rather clingy with Nick, and she's no eating as well as normal, but otherwise she is doing great. She's still using her words as much as before, so no verbal setback. She's walking around just fine, no gross motor setback. With the clear eye shield we are not seeing a huge setback visually, but she can't wear her glasses right now because they don't fit over the shield, so she seems to be seeing less clearly as a result. Still, she's playing and laughing and there are moments when I look at her and say "Did I imagine that whole surgery thing?" It's really surprising, and I know this is a blessing from God. He has smiled on this process and made it smooth for her, and I'm so grateful.

If you actually read this entire post, thanks. I appreciate it. I hope it gave you some insight into this type of surgery, what all it entails, and perhaps that info might be useful to you or someone you know. Honestly, that's the only reason I do this blog. I hope that our experiences might be helpful for someone else, in the form of info or encouragement, and that's why I overshare so much. Thanks for listening, I hope it was of use to you. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Year Home... Belated

I feel rather bad about this, but the 19th was the anniversary of Geri's homecoming and it was completely overtaken by events.

I know most people get really excited about "Gotcha Day!", the day you took your little one out of the orphanage, but I'm way more excited about "Homecoming Day", the day Geri entered the U.S. and came home for the first time. Why? Because when we took Geri out of the orphanage and returned to the apartment in Sofia to wait out the final paperwork before we could leave, it didn't really feel final. That time spent in Sofia felt very much in-between. It still does, in my memory. It felt like a really tough babysitting job, immersed in a culture we didn't know and cut off from our loved ones. We could barely call anyone to gloat over our awesome new daughter, or cry over her massive needs. We couldn't truly start caring for her in the way we wanted to, because we couldn't get the things we wanted for her or give her the medical attention we knew she so desperately needed. All we could do was hang out in the apartment, go to appointments, walk to the Jumbo or the grocery store, and generally wait it out. We were missing our other two kids and generally feeling adrift. It almost felt like someone would turn up at the end and say "Well, thanks for watching her. Have a nice life. Give her here."

But when we landed on U.S. soil she was truly ours. No one could come and get her. She was a citizen of the United States, a member of our nation. And when we came home she was enfolded in her family for the first time, we were united as the full unit we would be for the rest of our lives. It was for reals when we brought her home and she slept in her own bed.

So, although I have a pretty awesome excuse, I still feel like a bit of a doucher to have not made more of that day. That morning, while I was out running errands to get ready for a Thanksgiving trip, I got a call from Dr. R (cornea specialist.) I had called him early that morning and left a message to let him know that we were leaving town and to give us a good amount of return time if a cornea became available. So, when they called back, I thought I was just getting a HUA out of them. When the nurse told me that a cornea was available and the surgery would have to be Wednesday morning at 7 am, I honestly didn't catch it the first time. I had to have her repeat it. Twice.

Thus launched a flurry of preparations and a massive switching of gears as we went from "leaving tomorrow to drive to Wichita" to "going to Denver on Wednesday for a new cornea." It wasn't until about 5 pm that I called my husband and said "You know what day it is right? What are we doing for it??"

We ended up going to My Big Fat Greek Restaurant (closest thing to Bulgarian food in Colorado Springs) and going around the table, telling each member of the family our favorite thing about them.

It was less of a production than I had hoped, but I actually liked it. It was fun, and the kids had a good time. As for the surgery, please forgive me if I leave you hanging until tomorrow for the details on that one. I'm frickin' wiped. G'night.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

One Year Ago: Part 3

Sorry, I'm late. Oh well, I think you all survived the wait. :)

Yesterday, Geri had a dentist appointment. Honestly, I'm sort of stumped for how to present what happened yesterday and what it all means. I'll start with what that was like one year ago, I guess.

When Geri came home, no one had ever brushed her teeth. Never ever. She was orally defensive, to say the least. We could not touch her lips, tongue or teeth with anything other than a metal spoon or a cup. I'm aware it sounds a bit odd to talk about trying to put your hands in your child's mouth, but when you really think about it, that's an important thing. You can't brush their teeth if they clamp shut when you come near. You can't check for loose teeth, or see if they chipped anything when they fall. You can't even put chapstick on them. And you sure as shootin' can't get them into a dentist's office for any useful purpose. Riding the chair, by the way, doesn't count as useful in my book.

So, when Geri had her first visit, about 9 months ago, we were proud of her for letting the dentist pry open her mouth for about 50 seconds to peek inside. No instruments, no brushing, no x-rays. She had to be knocked out for all of that.

Yesterday, she got x-rays of her teeth. No, she wasn't exactly pleased but it happened. She opened wide for the dentist and gladly let her brush all of her teeth and look at them. She let the dentist look with the mirror and even scrape a tiny bit with the probing instrument. It was awesome.

It was also the result of hard work on everyone's part. I never pictured parenting her as involving 5-minute sessions of mommy exploring her mouth with a finger, just to get her to allow tooth-brushing some day. It was one of those surreal moments in parenting that paid off. Even if it was really weird at the time and I still think it sounds crazy written out. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Year Ago: Part 2

A year ago, today, we took Geri to a doctor in Bulgaria to be cleared for entry to the U.S. It was something of a dog and pony show. He never took her height or weight, but he filled in those blanks. That sort of sums it up, right there.

Today, Geri saw Dr. Kim and he was amazed at her progress. He checked her thoroughly and declared her healthy and blooming. There are just too many health improvements to list. She was undernourished and stick skinny, today she's getting on the chunky side. She was ghostly pale, today she is pretty tanned. She was scared, withdrawn, unemotional, disengaged. Today, she was playing and laughing and climbing and interacting with everyone. Then, she was silent. Today, she was all chatter. She makes requests, comments, jokes. She pretends to be animals. She names her body parts and the sounds animals make. She counts to ten, although she tends to skip over some of the numbers here and there. She doesn't rock anymore. She's animated, lively, funny and sweet. He couldn't stop raving about how far she has come. Then he looked at me and said, "You look really beautiful, you are glowing. You seem full of joy." We all are. A year ago, I was overwhelmed and scared. I was jet-lagged and Nick and I both were surviving on Milka bars from the convenience store a couple of blocks over. We both felt like we had been run over by a bus and we were having a hard time seeing a future. We wondered, at times, what we had gotten ourselves into and felt totally inadequate for the task at hand. Today, I can safely say that we are all thriving and enjoying life again.

Another big difference - I gave the kids baths tonight. A year ago I tried to bathe her and found that Geri was terrified of the water. She screamed and cried in terror when we tried to put her in the tub. Showering her was no more successful. Hell, she was scared to death when we undressed her to change her clothes. Getting her naked and into the water was not happening. I recall being thrilled when we got her to sit in the water in her diaper and shirt. It only lasted about 20 seconds, and she ended up nigh hysterical afterwards, but I was proud of us all. Tonight, she kept saying "Bath! Bath!" and was excited about it. She cooperated with hair washing and played in the water, splashing up a storm and squealing joyfully. She played with cups and poured water and had a blast. Hell, she climbed into the tub on her own as soon as I turned the water on, before it really started to fill up. She sort of sat in it and looked around as if to say "Well? Get a move on!!!"

Funny, how this week has been mirroring that week one year ago. It's been totally unintentional, how things seem to be happening on the same days, in the same pattern. Perhaps God wanted to make sure I could make these comparisons and see just how far we've come. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One Year Later: Part 1

If I did this all in one post, it would be way too much to tackle, so here's the plan. Each day, I want to compare what happened today to what was happening one year ago today. I'd like to do this every night this week, culminating in "homecoming day" on the 19th.

Here are some things that stand out to me about today versus this date, one year ago.

This morning, Geri woke up in the top bunk and climbed down the ladder, out of bed. A year ago, the idea of her tackling a ladder would have been laughable. She was happy and excited and talking, right out the gate. A year ago, her morning routine was to wake abruptly, immediately become agitated and demand to walk around the apartment, nonstop, holding our hands. When she woke up, she was clearly freaked out every morning for several weeks. Now, she's happy to see us and talking to us and bouncing in her bed with excitement. Pretty much every morning. She also helps dress herself, and can put her dirty clothes in the hamper.

Straight out of bed and walking around... this was our whole day.
Nick got the kids ready while I dragged my feet a bit (still not 100% feeling better yet) and then it was out the door, into the carseat, for the long ride up to Denver. One year ago, today, we drove to an appointment across town and she literally screamed and cried the entire time, without stop. It was about 45 minutes each way (felt like 100 years, though). She was hysterical the entire ride. Today she sat in her carseat and munched on dry cereal and bounced and made excited noises when I talked about where we were going.

We arrived at the Anchor Center. Her drop-off routine involves stopping off at the potty, where she pulls her pants up and down with minimal assistance and can wash and dry her hands independently. At the door of her classroom, she gave me a kiss bye bye and joined her class happily. A year ago I could barely leave her presence to go to the bathroom. She was indifferent to me as a person, but terrified of being alone. One of us had to be with her constantly, walking her around, holding both her hands because she lacked the strength and balance to stand on her own two feet without assistance. Today she kissed me, turned and walked off to join her class.

When we got home, she sat at the table and had some apple slices and yogurt. She fed herself, which is a minor miracle in itself. A year ago she would not touch the silverware at all. She reacted as if she was scared of touching it. She would not have been able to touch the apple slices to pick them up - she would not touch any of her food. She would not have tolerated the apple slices in her mouth, period, because she could not chew or tolerate contact with solid food. I distinctly recall being in the little apartment in Sofia and cooking and mashing apples and pears for her. That was as much texture as she could handle.

We went together to her brother's karate class and, while he was in class, I took the girls exploring the building. Geri went up several flights of stairs and down one, with no assistance from me. She walked independently with her LWC, exploring everything around her. Exploration, itself, is so different for her. A year ago, she was completely closed off. She had no curiosity in her, or at least no means of expressing it. Now, she is into everything!

Tonight, she took her medicines willingly. She helped with getting her PJs on. She asked me to read her "The Poky Little Puppy" and sat in my lap, with her sister, for two stories. This child was totally nonverbal one year ago. Today she asked for apples, yogurt, stories, to sit in my lap. She pretended to be a duck. She identified her knee, nose, mouth, eyes and the eyes and mouth on a doll. She played with toys, something she couldn't do one year ago. All she could do was walk, with assistance, and compulsively rock. That was it.

Tonight, at bedtime, she climbed the ladder to her top bunk without assistance. She cuddled up under the blankets and held her cuddly and Glow Worm and drank some milk. She talked to me while I aid goodnight to her, gave me a kiss, told me she loved me too. When I said goodnight and left the room, she simply hugged her lovies and closed her eyes. One year ago, tonight, Nick and I took turns holding her while she cried and screamed for three hours. She was inconsolable. She was despondent, scared, alone in a world turned upside down. She didn't know who we were, didn't trust us, and fought sleep with everything she had. I remember being grateful that we weren't in the U.S. because if we had been, someone would have called the cops on us. What on Earth would we say to a Bulgarian polizia if he showed up in the middle of the night to tell us to quiet her or to ask what the hell we were doing to the poor kid? I was jet-lagged, exhausted, emotionally drained, confused, sad and doubting. Tonight I went through a normal bedtime routine and my well-adjusted child said goodnight and simply went to sleep.

Mnogo hoobava big sister! Our Bulgarian princess!!!!
It's easy to forget how far we have come. Sometimes I look at her and I think "it's been a year, shouldn't her _________ be further along now?" But tonight, I take stock of how different everything is between this day and the same date one year previous and I can't believe how much our lives have changed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wow, Where Have I Been?

Sorry, I did it again. Here's the catchup and you can tell me if I sound busy enough to have an excuse for my disappearance.

1. Geri's Spine. We finally had that MRI to determine the reason behind her unexplained sacral scar. Survey says... she is fine. Her spine is perfectly normal and the scar is very surface level, so it was probably a cyst or something that they removed because it was in the diaper area and getting irritated or infected. Really wish they had just told us about it, so we could have skipped the anesthesia and MRI... but who cares? My kid is healthy (in this area, at least) and that's cause to celebrate.

2. Geri's Corneas. I can't remember if I mentioned this in the past, but Geri's corneas are severely scarred from high pressures in her eyes. This sort of thing happens when glaucoma goes untreated so long that the eyes stretch to an abnormal size, I guess. Her right eye pressures are very stable and the scar is right smack in the middle of her already narrow field of vision, so we saw a cornea specialist and he recommended we go ahead with a transplant. Is it risky? Yeah, in a sense, but many of the risks can be mitigated with careful monitoring. Will there be a benefit? Yes, definitely. Probably a huge increase in visual acuity in her right eye. In the past, every tiny jump in vision has brought on a huge jump in development, so there is reason to believe this could be a big deal for her. We are on the waiting list for a cornea, but since the tissue has to be the same age as hers, the time frame is hard to predict. Five-year-old's don't die as regularly as us old farts. I'm pretty okay with the waiting because of that simple fact, that Geri's new cornea means someone else's child died. I'm going to stop thinking about it now, because it invariably makes me cry.

3. TJ's School Stuff. It's improving, but his dr. and his teacher and his principal all seem to think he has AD/HD in some form or another. However, his teacher also has him pegged as gifted and talented. He's reading at a 5th grade level, and his math and science and such are solidly grade level. I suspect his math is about to jump, as we have finally found a good way to work with him on it and that's helped a bundle. At any rate, he seems to be sleeping marginally better and his vitamin and mineral levels have been deemed normal. I still want him tested for a sensory disorder. I think he's auditory, smell and taste defensive.

4. Geri Started at CSDB. A spot finally opened up in the preschool program at the School for the Deaf and Blind, so she started this week. She's doing great, transitioning nicely. I'm looking forward to not having to drive to Denver 3+ times per week. We will save about $400/month on gas money, I kid you not. Plus eating out in Denver... It was totally worth it to have her in the program at Anchor Center, and I'm going to miss Anchor soooooo much, but this is the start of a new phase and it came at a great time, since our Out Of Pocket (OOP) expenses reset on 1 January and we will have to start paying for medical stuff again. Our savings are almost depleted after the last year, so this will give us new financial reserves for the new medical expenses. Especially with the cornea transplant coming, since it will require a bunch of new meds and EUAs every six weeks for about nine months. Each EUA has, typically, cost us $200 OOP. Oh, and that little thing called Christmas is coming. Don't know if you heard the music on the radio yet.

5. Random Thoughts. ~ For pete's sake, can we get through Thanksgiving before the lights and music come out?!?! ~ I wonder if voter turnout was unusually high in states where legalizing marijuana was on the ballot. "I'm normally too stoned to remember to vote, but this is important!" ~ I'm thoroughly addicted to this VH1 reality show called "Couple's Therapy" and it makes me feel like I'm going to have to turn over a few of my IQ points. ~ I hope hypochondriacs are not aware of that show "Mystery Diagnosis" on the Oprah network. ~ My kids seem to be having a hilarity growth spurt. They have been saying the funniest stuff lately, and I don't remember them being this hilarious before. ~ Leaving your Christmas lights up all year is sort of lazy... but leaving your Halloween decorations up all year is just plain creepy. ~

Ok, I'm spent. Have a great night, all!!