Saturday, January 30, 2010

Falling fruit

A couple of months ago, we discovered that Will thought the sound of things hitting the floor was hilarious. Until recently, the best laugh occurred when Luke's ankle braces hit the wood floor (of course, they were not on Luke at the time). We're always on the lookout for new ways to laugh as a family.

For Christmas, Will received the most wonderful gift - a set of wooden "cuttable" fruit from Rena and Steve. The fruit are held together by small circles of velcro and the set comes with a wooden knife with which to cut apart the velcro.

The set is great for occupational therapy, speech therapy, learning colors and shapes... but who knew that it could be the start of hours of fun at our house just by hitting the floor? Of course the video below isn't the manufacturer's recommended usage for the cuttable fruit. But just checkout how much fun falling fruit can be!

If you get the blog update via email, you have to download the video to see it. If you don't want to do that, but still want to see the video (I highly recommend it!), view the blog on the web at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting messy - a success story

For Luke's first year and a half of life, he really only had one therapist - a physical therapist - to help with some of his preemie-isms. Through discussions with therapists and social workers, we learned that Luke had some delays in his fine motor skills, and was even showing some sensory aversions (he didn't like walking barefoot in grass, cried when he touched sand, wouldn't touch paint, etc). None of these things are uncommon for a preemie, and it was something that we wanted to get ahead of.

So Luke started seeing an occupational therapist once per week. She was so good at making him have fun and laugh that he didn't realize that he was slowly overcoming these aversions. He truly looked forward to seeing his "Mar-get" each week.

As the boys near their 3rd birthday, we have to start transitioning them from the County Early Intervention Program (through which we have all our therapy services) to the County School System. Part of this transition is a full evaluation of how the child is doing in all areas of development. If the evaluation reveals areas of developmental delay, then the child will be accepted into the public school system's special needs preschool and will continue to receive therapy there.

We know that Will is going to be accepted into the school system's special needs preschool, but its always been sort of up in the air as to whether Luke will continue to need services or if he's grown out of most of his preemie-isms.

I just got he most lovely note from Margaret, Luke's occupational therapist, today. I've pasted it below. It just goes to show you that if you can catch these things early, progress can be made! Continue to fight your state and local governments when they threaten to limit funding to Early Intervention programs! THEY WORK!

I think Luke has made such nice gains with fine motor and sensory processing skills. He is doing wonderful in therapy. Fine motor skills are within normal limits now. He is able to tolerate playing in a variety of textures putting whole hand in paint, shaving cream, sand, playdough, moonsand and wet sand with no to minimal aversion. Luke can now swing for more than 5 minutes. Spin on merry go round. Jump on mini trampoline with hands held. Climb up steps and slide down slide independently with only verbal encouragement needed. His teachers reports to me he is independent in feeding skills and toilet training is going well. I do not think he will qualify for OT through the County nor do I feel he really needs it once he turns 3. He is really functioning well with typically developing peers which is a beautiful thing! I am so proud of how far he has come in a short time!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"And where were you at 2:30am on Saturday March 13, 2010?"

"Why, Detective, I was at the Cary Tennis Park, taking a tennis lesson from Jake Lester!"

Our friends Wendi and Jake Lester have set up an event in honor of Wendi's brother, Jody Brooks, who passed away suddenly in 2008 after suffering an asthma attack. Jody would have turned 36 on Saturday March 13, 2010.

Starting at 7am on Friday March 12, Jake - a tennis instructor at the Cary Tennis Park - will attempt to break the world record for "longest tennis coaching marathon" in Jody's honor and to raise money for the American Asthma Association. The record currently stands at 60 30-minute tennis lessons (30 straight hours) - Jake's hoping to teach 72 30-minute lessons (36 straight hours)!

If you live in the Triangle area, please consider signing up for a lesson or to volunteer! If you live outside of the area, please consider making a donation. Here is a website that Wendi has set up for the event:

Please check it out and spread the word!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Not as planned

Otis came home on Wednesday... not at all himself. Not hungry, not perky, didn't even bat an eyelash when I opened the cheese drawer in the refrigerator. He stayed home on Thursday and barely moved off his bed except to drink water. We were very concerned, so the vet had us bring him back in on Friday.

He spent all day Friday and most of today at the vet. Otis had some blood in his urine since the surgery, so they explored that. They also looked into all the drugs that he was on, and switched out all of the nausea-inducing ones to more mild versions. While he was there, he developed a love of cat food (just like Uncle Drew!). but hey, at least he was eating something! Sadly, at 2 weeks since his initial injury, Otis has dropped roughly 10 pounds. He had some weight to lose, I'll admit, but now he is downright skinny.

The shaved butt and leg don't help, either. We joked earlier that if we're going to spend any time outside in the next couple of days, Otis' butt is going to get slathered with SPF 50.

So one night and two car payments later, he is back home and much more like himself. He's eating soft cat/dog food, and came hopping quickly around the corner when I opened the cheese drawer earlier this evening. He still has a lot of swelling around the surgery site, but we're putting cold compresses on it three times a day to help. Also, since he isn't nearly as sedentary like he was earlier in the week, the swelling should start to ease just because he's moving around.

Phew! So, one boy on the mend... just in time for 2 boys to take their turn being sick!

Will has yet another sinus infection! And Nate seems to have some type of flu. All those days and nights of being super-dad-and-husband have taken their toll on his immune system. Pray that everyone is on the mend soon!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Otis' Surgery Day

Otis' surgery was moved up from Wednesday to today because of a cancellation at the vet's office. We were all sad to say goodbye to him this morning, but took comfort in the fact that our happy energetic companion could return to his old self once he recovered from this surgery.

Nate dropped him off early and we anxiously awaited news from the surgeon. She called around noon, saying that things had gone well. Surgery revealed that not only did Otis have a cruciate ligament tear, but also some significant damage to his meniscus (probably from the same injury last Saturday). She was able to successfully repair both the ligament and the meniscus.

She mentioned that the angle of Otis' tibial plateau is very high (38 degrees). She was able to get it down to 6 degrees with the surgery. The higher the plateau angle, the more predisposed a dog is to this type of injury. She indicated that she had not seen many dogs with as high of a tibial plateau degree as Otis has. Unfortunately this means that it is more likely that he will have this injury in his other rear leg at some point in the future. We won't think about that right now though!

Nate stopped in to see Otis early this evening. Otis was still very out of sorts from his anesthesia, but the vets and techs all said that he was doing well. We were surprised to see how much fur they shaved off of him! That white area around his butt that looks like a pair of shorts... thats actually his skin! He's got a large bandage down his leg to keep everything together.

Otis will be at the vet until sometime on Wednesday. We can't wait to get our pup home and dote on him, but he's truly in the best place for healing right now. They've got him on IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain medicine. They told us not to be surprised if he's testing out the leg by the time he comes home though!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Putting a Name on the Pain that Plagues the Pup

So Otis has something called "acute cranial cruciate ligament rupture." It isn't all that uncommon in young, active, energetic breeds and seems especially prevalent in labrador retrievers. As I explain to you his prognosis, please enjoy some cute pics of Otis through the years.

Otis saw the surgeon today and we spoke with her at length this evening. The recommended surgical procedure for a dog like Otis is called TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. If you are interested in reading about it, this is a good website: Its a pretty invasive surgery, but ensures that Otis will never have this problem again in his rear left leg. Unfortunately, it is entirely possible that we could see something like this again in any of his other three legs.

More than likey, he'll get his bionic knee next Wednesday. He'll stay at the vet all day to recover, and then will come home on serious pain medication. They have indicated to us that he'll probably be up on his feet again within 24 hours after surgery, and should be walking around on all 4 legs without any limp within 7 days of surgery. He will still have an 8-10 week recovery time after surgery, though, which means no stairs, limited walks, and physical therapy.

Yes, I said physical therapy. Nate and I are hoping to do this on our own, rather than procuring a canine physical therapist! We certainly have experience with pediatric physical therapy...

If anyone has an old weight lifting belt, could you send it our way? Nate is going to have to assist (read: carry) Otis down and up the outside steps to do his thing until mid-March. He's going to look like old school Arnold in no time. Just in time to trade out dog-lifting for 3-son-lifting!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Otis and his doctors

Otis' vet follow up yesterday wasn't the greatest. Apparently if his injury was a simple sprain, he would be attempting to bear weight on his injured leg by now. He isn't trying to bear weight at all, though he is desperately trying to be involved in family stuff, hopping around on his three good legs. We have to keep reminding him to sit down so he doesn't injure any other appendages, and Nate is still continuing his 87-lb weight lifting regime when Otis needs to go outside.

Otis has an appointment tomorrow with the veterinary orthopedic surgeon. I wish I was kidding about that - but there really is such a profession. Hopefully after that appointment, we'll know if/when Otis will need surgery. In the mean time, he's in good spirits and happy to gobble down a piece of wheat bread whenever we have to give him his liquid anti-inflammatory medication.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Poor hobbled pup

Otis had an accident today. He was going down the steps from the back deck, seemed to miss a couple of steps, and landed with a painful yelp at the bottom. He couldn't bear any weight on his back left leg. Nate took him to the vet immediately. The x-ray was negative for a fracture, so all we know right now is that it is either a sprain or a ligament tear.

Otis came home on morphine and an anti-inflammatory. He's very sad and uncomfortable and whiny. We have limited him to his bed in the living room, where he can see everything that is going on without needing to get up. He's not allowed to go up or down stairs, which means that any time he needs to go outside, Nate carries him.

The vet told us to come back in on Monday, at which time they will be able to determine if it is a sprain or a tear. If it is a tear, then Otis will be scheduled for surgery some time next week to repair the damage. If it is a sprain, then we will need to continue to limit his activity until it is completely healed.

The boys don't quite understand what is going on. While Nate was at the vet with Otis, they did help me make a welcome home sign for Otis, though. Anyway, just wanted to post a short update to let you know what was going on. I'd better get back to assisting with the patient. Nate is downstairs hand feeding Otis his dinner. Now that's true love.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I heart Marla Dorrel

Let it be known that I don't actually know someone named Marla Dorrel (though I hear she's a great person!). What I do know is that there is a park in Cary, North Carolina that has the most awesome, inclusive, accessible playground ever and it happens to be located inside Marla Dorrel Park. The playground area is called Kids Together Park, and you can read about it here: Its a heartwarming story.

I happened to hear about Kids Together through a local parents of children with special needs listserv. We have tried going to local parks with the boys, and have found ways to adapt our fun so that Will can enjoy himself as much as Luke does. Its a challenge, though not impossible... but we thought we'd give this new park a try.
So last Saturday, when the high temperature was 32 degrees, we loaded everyone in the van(including our friends Jenn and Chris) and trekked to Cary. We could not be deterred from our fun. Even if it was frickin' cold. New York cold... waaaaay past North Carolina cold. Needless to say, we had the place to ourselves.
Everyone loved the park! There were special paths that made wheelchair accessibility incredibly easy, special supportive swings, and lots of places for everyone to play. We stayed as long as we possibly could before we all shivered back into the van. I think we warmed up by the time we got back to Raleigh.
So here are some pictures of our freezer fun. We can't wait to go back! Maybe we'll wait until this Arctic cold spell is over though...