Archive for November, 2008

Recovering From Surgery

November 19, 2008

I used some of my frequent flyer points to fly back to Cincinnati for Boun Lod’s first two surgeries, and for the first few days of her recovery. 

Boun Lod’s first surgery was on Monday, November the 10th. The operation released the skin under each arm. On Tuesday, the surgeons grafted skin from her back onto the newly–released areas.

Boun Lod did very well. She was very brave, and gave a “thumbs up” with her big toe as they wheeled her through the operating room doors. She was also remarkably good-natured after returning from the recovery room.

Boun Lod had some pain, and nausea and vomiting after her first operation, but the medical team found a more optimal combination of medications for her second surgery. After her second operation, the only thing she complained about was being hungry, and having an itch on her nose that she couldn’t scratch. She was even able to smile and laugh a bit, which was pretty remarkable given what she’d been through, and given the fact that her arms were splinted out at a 90° angle to her body and tightly wrapped in elastic bandages.

On Wednesday, we were able to get Boun Lod onto a gurney and then take her down to the playroom for some fun. She really liked the walking Spiderman, and enjoyed playing the electric keyboard with her feet. (It’s also quite amazing to watch her play a “Nintendo DS”. She particularly likes the “Mario Kart Race” game, and uses her big toes to control the cart as it races around the track. She can open and close the game, turn it on and off, and even pop the stylus out from the side of the case and then write with it. )

 

Noy and Boun Lod.

Noy and Boun Lod.

 

Via and Noy are also doing well. It’s tough for anyone to see a child in pain, but it’s got to be so much harder for the parents. Even though a few tears were shed, Via and Noy are coping admirably.

The Shriners hospital is great, and the staff is wonderful. Everyone has been very kind, concerned, and helpful, and the medical care seems to be of the highest standard. Everyone from the nurses to the orderlies to the cleaners do their best to make the atmosphere as friendly and pleasant as possible.

Boun Lod will likely be in hospital until sometime during the week of November 24, when the family will move back to the Parent’s House for a couple of weeks. If everything goes according to plan, they’ll travel to Philadelphia on December 6 for a couple of months of recovery before the next round of surgery.

There is a Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia as well, and its specialty is orthopaedics. We’re hopeful that Boun Lod will be able to get her prosthetic arms designed, made, and fitted there while she recovers from her surgery.

Boun Lod is also most anxious to start school, and we’re trying to get her into kindergarten or some other type of school program in Philadelphia.

Boun Lod is picking up English quite quickly. She likes to watch the children’s shows on TV, especially the ones that teach the alphabet and numbers. She happily follows along with programs, learning as she goes.

Via and Noy are also doing their best to improve their English. They constantly refer to their Lao–English dictionary, and we had numerous discussions, complete with plenty of arm waving and hand gestures, to explore the meanings of different words and expressions. I’m pleased to say that I even improved my (very limited) Lao. 

Via and Noy said to say hello to everyone, and to thank everyone again for all their concern, help, and kindness.

 

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Boun Lod’s First Two Surgeries

November 11, 2008

Boun Lod had her first surgery yesterday (November 10), and her second today.

Yesterday’s surgery was to release skin under each arm, while today’s surgery was to graft skin from her back onto the newly-released areas.

All things considered, Boun Lod has done very well. She didn’t cry or make a fuss going to the operating room either day, and she has been remarkably good-natured after returning from surgery.

Boun Lod had some pain, and nausea and vomiting yesterday, but the medical team seems to have found the perfect combination of medications for today’s surgery. The only thing she complained about after returning from surgery today was being hungry, and having an itch on her nose that she couldn’t scratch. She was even able to smile and laugh a bit, which is pretty remarkable given what she’s been through, and given the fact that her arms are splinted out at a 90° angle to her body and tightly wrapped in elastic bandages. (She’ll be like that for at least five days.)

Tomorrow the therapist is planning to get Boun Lod onto some type of wheeled stretcher so she can take her to the playroom to have some fun.

Via and Noy are also doing well. It’s tough for any of us to see a child in pain, but it’s got to be so much harder for the parents. Even though there have been a few tears shed, Via and Noy have been coping admirably.

The Shriners hospital is great, and the staff is wonderful. Everyone has been very kind, concerned, and helpful, and the medical care seems to be of the highest standard. Thanks Shriners!

More soon…

Arriving in Cincinnati

November 7, 2008

Cathy and I were delighted to see Boun Lod and her parents walk through the gate at the Cincinnati airport about mid-afternoon on Tuesday the 28th of October. At that point, they’d been travelling for almost three days. Via and Noy were tired, but Boun Lod was bright as a bee. Via’s brother Pat, and Pat’s niece Cindy were also on hand to great them when they arrived.

We were immediately struck by how much Boun Lod had grown since we last saw her in July 2007.

From the airport, we took Boun Lod and her parents to a hotel near the Shriners Hospital. After a quick bite, they crashed in their room looking forward to twelve hours of sleep. Or at least that was the plan. Perhaps predictably, Boun Lod was excited and not terribly tired, and kept her parents up for a good part of the night.

The next day we all went to the hospital for a tour, and then went over to the Parent’s House and started to get them settled in.

Group Photo

Group Photo

Parent House

Parent House

 

Over the next several days, we got to know the family even better than before. Boun Lod is a terrifically happy kid, and was excited with everything she saw. She liked elevators and escalators and WALK signs and kiddie slides and doors that open with the push of a “handicapped” button and, well, everything… When we took her to the hospital she was interested to see that there were other burned kids. She jumped right in, as kids do, and started playing with them. And she was particularly interested in the hospital school. She wanted to get in there and start reading the books, and colouring, and using the computers.

Boun Lod even liked going to the grocery store and to Target. She laughed and giggled as we wheeled her around the store at high speed. She was amazed with all the books and toys, and wanted to turn every electronic toy ON by pushing the buttons with her stumps. And she couldn’t get enough of the snow globes. She impressed the staff at Circuit City by how quickly she learned to play the display video games using just her stumps—”Hmm, that’s pretty cool”, as the young store clerk said.

Noy and Via are happy to be in Cincinnati but, understandably, they’re worried about what’s to come.

They’re also a little overwhelmed by everything. They have to deal not only with the surgery and therapy, but also with a totally different culture where they don’t speak the language. Even things we take for granted like using an electric stove or an automatic washing machine are new to them. Still, they’re taking things in stride, and are doing their best to “go with the flow”.

Boun Lod had her first visit with the surgeon, anaesthetist, and medical team on the Friday. The medical team already had a plan worked out, and the examination confirmed that the plan is appropriate. They’ll start by releasing the skin webbing under her arms and then, in subsequent surgeries, work on her face, neck, and scalp.

The Shriners Hospital is great. It’s a very kid-friendly place, and the staff seems first rate. We feel confident that Boun Lod will receive exemplary care. Perhaps the feeling at the hospital was best expressed by one of the therapists who said, “Thank you for finding Boun Lod and bringing her to us.”

 

Boun Lod, Noy, and Via mugging with a cutout at the Shriners Hospital.

Boun Lod, Noy, and Via mugging with a cutout at the Shriners Hospital.

 

Via and Noy are happy, pleased, and grateful for all the assistance they’ve received. To everyone who’s made a donation, organized a fundraising event, sent things, or otherwise helped with the effort to send Boun Lod to Cincinnati they say, “Kop chai du”, or “Thank you very, very much”. They also wanted to let everyone know that they’re respectful of all the help, and that they’ll do their best to make the most of this opportunity.

Boun Lod’s first surgery is scheduled for Nov 10. I’ll take some of my frequent flyer points and fly back to Cincinnati to be there for the surgery, and for her first few days of recovery.