Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Back to the Blog

Hello, there.

I bet you were wondering if I'd ever post to this blog again.

I was, too.

In fact, if I'm being totally honest, I wrote those first few lines a few weeks ago. Hmph. December needs one more week.

I do know that a lot of people -- for some reason -- really enjoyed my blog posts while Natalie was in the hospital. I've always wanted to take better care of this blog, and start posting about our lives raising Natalie, but it's easy to get distracted and push this to the bottom of the to-do list. Maybe this will be my New Year's resolution.

So -- where to begin? The last post was from the day we left Sanford Hospital in Fargo. Since then, Natalie has done fairly well. She has put on a good amount of weight now that she has her g-tube. She has three feedings during the day -- and a long feeding overnight. It's taken us a while to really get used to this change, but it's so much more convenient, and so much easier for Natalie.

Right now, we still have the temporary tube hooked up. In January, her doctor will replace it with a button that lies flat on her stomach. Here she is tonight, eating while watching Wheel of Fortune. She has good taste in television shows.
Calvin actually hooked her up for this feeding and was so proud of himself. (I was proud of him, too.)

Not only do feedings go through this tube, but Natalie no longer needs to choke down all of her medicine. It goes through a little port on the side, which means we can even give her meds while she's sleeping. I hear angels singing.

Also this month, the amazing staff at Edison Elementary somehow found the time in their schedules to put together a benefit event in Natalie's name. It was the most amazing night -- not for how much money was raised, but to witness how much love is present for our little girl. Her ability to speak to people's hearts without saying a word is breathtaking. Thank you to all who came, who donated money or products to the silent auction, who said such kind words, and who worked so hard to put this together.
All of Natalie's paras over the past five and a half years in one room! Four very special women, for sure.

Natalie's Night at Edison was amazing!

I'm not sure what I said, all I remember was crying. Natalie smiled, though.

Two of the event coordinators: Jen Crisp & Principal Joy Walker

It doesn't end there.

It was back in August when I really started considering what the future would hold for us as far as transportation goes. We leased a van nearly three years ago, with the thought that after those three years were up, we would probably need a handicap-accessible van. I just wasn't sure how we were going to make it happen. Natalie was getting bigger, and putting her in her car seat (a special car seat which worked well for her size) was getting more difficult by the day.

So I spent a lot of time in prayer, considering what we would do. Would we buy our van and take out a loan to convert it? Would we try to find a van that had already been converted? Or would we just stick it out with the car seat for as long as possible and pretend that we would be fine without it?

Then, a few weeks later -- out of the blue -- we were contacted by someone on behalf of another person/people. The anonymous person(s) was looking to donate a handicap-accessible van to us. But not just any van...a new van of our choice, to be converted by a company called Rollx in Minneapolis. It was simply unbelievable. We weren't quite sure what to think about this. But it was all very real.

We picked out a new van and scheduled a conversion date with Rollx. It was at this time that Natalie got sick--and was later hospitalized. I have to admit that in the darkest of hours with Natalie, I thought about how, if she didn't make it, she would never get to ride in her new van. There were so many positive things happening with her, and this illness came along and derailed a lot of our hopes and dreams for her. We all know how that ended, though. No one could keep Natalie down for the count.

So we sent the van off to Minneapolis and waited until just yesterday to see it again. I flew out to Minneapolis early yesterday morning and went to meet our new transportation and to bring it back home.
It looks pretty much like a normal minivan...

...until out pops a ramp.

Natalie's new wheelchair fits perfectly inside!

It's really interesting how they convert a minivan into a handicap-accessible minivan. The whole bottom is taken out of the car and replaced. With the touch of a button, the door opens, the van lowers, and the ramp rolls out. I would show you on video, but that would mean I would have to take the van out in this frigid weather and get a video. Not gonna happen. I will later, though!

The nice thing about this company is that they are able to keep one of the captain's chairs in the middle row, so we still have that extra seating. There are some things we have to compromise on -- like the loss of some storage space -- but it's nothing compared to what we gain. In the past, I've always tried to find ways to keep Natalie at home in the winter while I do shopping or run errands, or just go visit someone. Loading her up in the cold weather and dealing with a heavy wheelchair was just more work than I wanted to handle. Now, I can quickly get her in and out and we can all enjoy some time away from home together.

To this day, we don't know who donated the money for this incredible gift. Sometimes I wish we did -- but it's also nice to just know that a kind soul or two is out there. What this person(s) did was beyond generous. By doing this, the donor has changed our lives in such a profound way. It's easy to see the bad in this world, but there are a lot of really good people who simply want to help others. I only hope that we can pay it forward in our own way some day.

So that's all for now, but I'm hoping there will be more in the days, weeks, and months to come.