Thursday, September 10, 2015

More Steps Forward . . .

In the past ten days, along with a school schedule, a college course, visiting with family, a holiday, etc., we've also fit in two trips to Lancaster and two trips to Hershey for appointments.  Whew!  It's been a bit hectic with a lot of travel time (and time off work for me and school for Anna), but it's been good, as well.  As of last Friday (not quite four weeks from surgery, at that point), Anna lost seven pounds---and that's with drinking milkshakes at least every other day, plus finding other foods to puree into liquid.  Most of her swelling has receded, although she occasionally has some that comes and goes---I've been told that it's quite normal after surgery.

One appointment was with the ophthalmologist---the first check of Anna's eyes since before her surgery.  We are so thankful and relieved that both eyes are clear of inflammation, and that is with a brief hiatus (before and after surgery) from her systemic medications.  Her pressures were good, too!  We are decreasing the frequency of the Pred Forte eye drops, and if the inflammation does not recur in a few weeks, we will try to stop that drop altogether.  After that . . . . well, let's just say that there are plans and possibilities after that, but I've learned over the years that sometimes it's best not to look too far into the future, but take one appointment at a time.  (Yet, it's fun and hopeful to think of decreasing meds in the future!)

Today, Anna had the heavy bands removed.  The removal (and subsequent freedom for her jaw) has meant a bit of pressure, but little pain.  She does need to use elastics in a different part of her mouth, but these are thinner and allow for movement, and she can take them out when she's eating.  Which means the liquid diet is officially over!  We stopped at Panera Bread on the way home, and Anna ate some chicken noodle soup (with chicken & veggies for the first time in weeks!) and a dinner roll, and a soft chocolate chip muffin!  Tonight for supper she had spaghetti and soft brownies. This is a huge step for her, after being on a liquid diet for over four weeks!  (She often commented these past few weeks that she would never take eating for granted again.)

She still cannot open her jaw really wide.  That will come in time.  Her lips and teeth and gums are still numb, and so it's a learning process to be able to chew again (a different experience when you can't feel some parts that used to have feeling).  It is most likely that feeling WILL return in her teeth, lips, and gums---it will just take time.  She still has quite a lot of metal in her mouth.  But we will return to Lancaster in three weeks, and they will take out all the wires with the hooks needed for surgery, and put different wires in.

Our time at the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic was different today.  The orthodontist is out for three weeks, so they only have select patients coming in (rather than a roomful).  The orthodontist left specific instructions for the patients who are coming in during his absence (so the assistants knew exactly what needed to be done for Anna this morning).  It was unusually quiet in the office, but provided a chance for some conversation with the assistant---with her sharing a little bit about how she came to be there, and talking about how the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic being in existence by miracles, really.  (This exchange was one of those God-moment conversations---for those of you have also experienced conversations where the Lord is speaking directly to you through other people, and at least one of you is aware of the significance of the words being said.)  The Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic is a non-profit organization, providing hope for so many children and youth who have major jaw and teeth issues, all the while existing on donations and what insurances pay them and on a little bit of state funding and fundraising.  As she shared some specifics, I was reminded of how God works---and He has truly been instrumental in providing people and equipment, etc. to this wonderful organization that does so much good.

As we travel this journey (and some of the other journeys in the life of our family), I am constantly praying, asking not only for guidance, direction, and peace, but also for God to reveal Himself---to see glimpses of His presence as we walk along. (He WANTS us to see and know and experience Him and His love for us.)  I've experienced this a lot in my life, and I continually want to know that He is present and that we are following Him.  In this very brief conversation with the LCPC assistant (probably less than five minutes), I did see a glimpse of His presence today---and affirmation that He has been working to provide for the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic, not only for Anna, but for all of those other patients who need them.  I try to adhere to Henry Blackaby's advice:  "Find out where God is working, and join Him in that work."  Well, I  am not at a point where I can join the LCPC in their work (I don't have funds to donate, and I'm not looking for a new job), but Jesus seemed to be smiling down today and saying, "I am definitely at work with this place.  I am here."

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