Mad about the boy …

A wee update on Son No1’s surgery.

An early morning alarm call woke Son No1 (and Mr GG & I) for breakfast before fasting began. If I’m honest, I think I was more apprehensive about dealing with the fasting than the surgery itself! It’s no mean feat keeping an ever-hungry, ever-growing teenager out of the kitchen.


hungry chicken GIF by Endemol Beyond
Grandpa and Grandma GG arrived at 10 to take Son Nos 2&3 off out for a day at the zoo (the joys of home education meant that this was a ‘day off’ for everyone!) and we set off for the hospital.

Hospital was mobbed! The waiting area was packed out and noisy which immediately cranked the anxiety up another notch or two … what if we don’t hear our name being called? It’s irrational I know, but I’ll always be a bit of a worrier!

img_4184Eventually we heard Son No1 being called … phew … and off we toddled to a wee room where he had to put his pjs on, get temperature, weight & blood pressure checked. Lastly some numbing cream was applied to his hands … apparently that was the worst part … so far!

Due to the busy-ness of the hospital Son No1 couldn’t get a bed on the ward until after surgery so we were back in the waiting room to wait … list began at 1pm and was done in age order so we were expecting a long wait.

Over the next couple of hours we saw the anaesthetist who talked Son No1 through the difference between using a drip or gas for going to sleep. We also saw the surgeon once again who reassured us he would definitely operate on both legs and, thankfully, gave us an idea of the time we could expect surgery to begin.

Eventually we were called for theatre … I was able to stay with Son No1 until he was asleep which was great. He opted for the drip (with a little encouragement from me!) but two attempts to insert the img_4183cannula failed so he had to have gas. There is something eerie about watching your child clutching a mask to his face and slowly drifting off to sleep … I can’t say I liked it!

Once my lad was asleep my nerves left me (although still kicking about as since then I tried to spell ‘failed’ with a ‘ph’, ‘cannula’ with one ‘n’ and ‘eerie’ with a ‘y’) and I felt incredibly calm until we neared the time to expect Son No1 back from theatre, then the time seemed to drag … so … terribly … slowly.

Finally we got word that Son No1 was in recovery and we went to wait in the room he’d been allocated. A very quiet, woozy boy was wheeled in, struggling to keep his eyes open and shivering in that horrible uncontrollable way that seems to happen after general anaesthesia. He rallied enough to give a couple of hugs then drifted off into a deep sleep so I took the opportunity to leave my boy and Mr GG and go home to relieve the GG grandparents from their duties.

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When I got back to the hospital the next morning a bright, sparkly, hungry boy met me with two new casts on his legs … he opted for the brightest yellow I’d ever seen which, given the weather warnings we’ve had lately is probably a good idea … he will never get lost!

Shortly after I arrived Son No1’s transport for the next six weeks was delivered and he practised transferring from bed to chair and back again.  All went well and, just like that, he was discharged!

There aren’t words for how proud I am of my lad.  I am completely in awe of him.  In the, little over, 48 hours since surgery he’s not complained once.  He’s mentioned a couple of times that he’s sore which is to be expected but no complaints at all.  It’s no mean feat for a teenager who’s been relatively independent to suddenly be dependent upon his parents for pretty much everything once again.  He has to bear Mr GG lifting him and out of our car as it’s too high for him to shimmy across using his arms.  He has to put up with my somewhat clumsy attempts at wheelchair pushing and I’m sorry to admit that, already, I’ve bumped him into a wall and squashed his foot in a door … I’m hoping practice makes perfect!

The next six weeks are going to be tough.  A real lesson in patience.  There is to be absolutely no weight-bearing until the casts are removed in early March and then the real hard work begins as my boy learns to walk properly for the first time.  We’re all adapting to this temporarily different way of life.  Our plans to have Son No1 pretty much living downstairs fell to pieces when his chair wouldn’t fit into our downstairs bathroom so he’s confined to living upstairs most of the time for just now and seems to be relishing the opportunity of having me, Mr GG and Son Nos 2&3 at his beck and call. 

For anyone, let alone a young person who has a diagnosis of autism and ADHD, Son No1 has coped brilliantly … so brilliantly that I’m tentatively scouting around the internet trying to find something to add to his collection of retro games consoles … he’s getting suspicious because of all my questions about them though … I’ve no idea where to look.

So, that’s us for now.  Academic work has been limited to just two days this week to give Mr GG and I time to recover and get our heads around everything as well as allowing Son No1 time to adjust.  The next two days won’t be taxing workwise but enough to get him into a bit of a routine again and let him see just how well he can adapt.  

Lastly, if you see a luminous-yellow-legged boy in a wheelchair being pushed erratically along a pavement by a wild haired crazy woman then give us a wave before you jump out of the way … we’d love to say hello!

Courageous

 

And just like that, it’s Saturday again!

img_4177This week has passed by in a whirl in GGHQ … a phone call at 8am on Monday morning changed the course of our week and, potentially, the course of the next several weeks.

For several months now Son No1 has been waiting for surgery to fix an equinus deformity which has a pretty big impact on his right leg.  For more than three quarters of his life Son No1 has endured physio, splints, orthopaedic boots, casts and Botox in an effort to improve his walking and balance.  Now, at 15, he can no longer put his heel down at all on his right foot although he still can, with effort, on his left.  Surgery will, we trust, improve that for him although it sounds awfully invasive and painful.

So, after speaking with the hospital the previous week and being told it was likely to be March before surgery we got a call asking if Son No1 could attend on Monday (21st).  Obviously we grabbed the chance of a quick surgery date and the week passed in a flurry of pre-op assessments and preparing for our trip to hospital.  The surgery will be done in a nearby city and not in our local hospital so we’ve been busy organising childcare for Son Nos 2 & 3 whilst we are with our lad.  Mr GG will stay overnight with Son No1 in hospital and I’ll stay at home with our younger boys but during the day, especially on Monday, we’ll both be in hospital.

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We don’t know the extent of the surgery and probably won’t know until after it’s over.  I find that hard!  The consultant will definitely operate on the right leg but will examine movement in the left leg once Son No1 is under anaesthetic before making a decision whether to operate on that one too.  I’d value prayer that the right decision will be made … I don’t want my lad to end up having to face this surgery twice if once will do!

There are so many mixed emotions flying around our house at the moment.  Son No1 is incredibly brave but, although he doesn’t often admit it, he’s nervous (Mums can always tell!), Son No2 is anxious and worried for his brother and has been heard shouting that all surgeons should be sacked and Son No3 is keen to know what PS4 games will be available on the ward for his brother to play.  Mr GG and I alternate between being calm, anxious, pleased to have a date, wishing it was Tuesday and concerned for our son.  It’s been awful watching him struggling at times, even falling over randomly because he lost his balance.  No parent wants their child to have a tough time.  However, Son No1 is amazing, he’s brave, accepting and ready to deal with the next few weeks.

However, hospitals aside, our week has been pretty normal.  The boys have worked well as usual and are settling well into the new term.  Mr GG has continued working away creating or upcycling pieces of furniture.  Recently he stumbled upon a metal table frame which he is working on … there have been lots of ideas flying around for how he can make it into something practical, quirky and interesting.  I’ll keep you posted!

img_4176On the other hand, I’ve been distracted this week.  I’ve found it hard to settle and have been completely uncreative.  I’ve done no beadwork and haven’t even baked at all – things got so bad that Mr GG dug out the recipe books for inspiration and made some amazing chocolate & raspberry brownies.  However, I’m planning to redeem myself and make some soap this afternoon so all may be forgiven!

I began today’s post with a song by Casting Crowns called Courageous.  I love this song.  It’s challenging and relevant.  It’s here for my sons.  They are three of the most courageous and amazing people I know.  I’m grateful for every day that I get to be their mum.  I’m privileged for all the ways that they express their love for me (although I’d love it if they sometimes expressed it by tidying their rooms), I delight in the way they randomly come and hug me throughout the day, by the trust they have in me despite all the times that I let them down by being crabby or unreasonable.  Yes, I am blessed indeed.

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Sorry, so sorry

I have to begin today with an apology.

Son No2 read my last post and had some constructive criticism that I need to address.  I am so very sorry for my errors!

Firstly, I told you that Son No2 likes to sit and chat to the chooks … he would like me to add that he also enjoys watching the chickens being put to bed at night and finds it hilarious when they flap about and run away … especially Minnie the Minx who hates bedtime so she runs and hides under the coop with her back to us.

img_1832Secondly, I omitted to tell you that Ivy the Terrible likes to yell. She loves to yell. She yells when we’re all indoors and she would like a cuddle (I kid you not). She yells when she is considering laying an egg although she’s quiet after the actual event. She yells when Beryl the Peril or Minnie the Minx are (in her opinion) faffing about and taking too long when egg laying. She particularly likes to yell at Minnie and has been known to screech in her face and frighten her out of the nest box. Ivy likes to yell.

Now that my conscience is clear I can tell you all about this week … hopefully this post will meet with approval after the scrutiny of Son No2 … but I’ll let you know!

This week has seen the return to work after the Christmas holidays. Although there were some rumbles of discontent at the thought of having to get up ‘too’ early, all three boys were up and working with little complaint when the time came.  They’ve all worked well this week and settled back into the routine ever so well.

(Old photos, but I’ll not tell if you don’t)

Son No3 recently started swimming lessons so on a Thursday morning he is extra motivated to get all his work done before he goes to the pool. He loves the water and is really enjoying his lessons.  Lessons started again this week after the Christmas break and he was super excited about being back in the water.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that this week also saw my annual ‘dark day’, the day I remember the pain of losing our babies. I generally write something about my babies that day, not because I’m wanting sympathy but just as my wee memorial for them. I found this year harder than usual which puzzled me but I think maybe the fact that the Junior GGs are getting so grown up makes me realise that my babies would now no longer be ‘babies’ but turning into young adults.  Also, I think seventeen is a key age, especially here in the UK, as it’s the age when young folks can learn to drive and take on a little more independence from their parents.  I remember seventeen so well myself, I was incredibly excited about the freedom of being able to drive and, if my aging memory is correct, I had my first driving lesson the day after my birthday.
 

Earlier this week I saw this quote on Facebook from my favourite author, Sally Clarkson:

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I love it.  This is something that Mr GG and I have held onto at times of heartache and, not least, through his bouts of depression and anxiety.  I can testify to the truth of this.  Over the years I have been given many opportunities to listen to, pray with, cry alongside folks who are grieving the loss of babies … I would never have had this compassion if I had not walked the devastating path of baby-loss myself.  I am thankful, not necessarily for the physical pain, but for the ways that my experience changed me and I am thankful too that my babies are safe in the arms of Jesus where, one day, I will meet them.

Alongside the ‘dark day’, there were many highlights to our week, not least the visit of a dear aunt and uncle who we have not seen for several years.  It was a delight to spend time with them, laughing, chatting, reminiscing and drinking tea together.  I have a wonderful family.

I had my first attempt at making face cream using essential oils this week.  I only made it on Friday so haven’t had much time to try it out but it looks OK and smells amazing.  I’d been wanting to try it for ages but I’m also trying to be measured in introducing DIY recipes to our family life rather than go diving in.  I’ve been using my own recipe of facial oil for the last couple of months which I’m really liking.  

Crafty-wise Mr GG and I have both had a couple of projects on the go.  I tried out a new bracelet pattern which I had found … once I’m used to it I’ll start adapting it and experimenting with different beads, patterns etc.  Mr GG also finished off a table he’d been working on restoring (now sold) and finalised an order he’d got to make a guitar pedal board (delivered and in use already).  We have a dream of one day living somewhere with room for a proper workshop as well as more land for growing fruit and veg … and more chickens … oh, and maybe a pig … and, well, some sheep would be nice … and ducks … and … and …

As a reward for a week’s work well done the Junior GGs had a trip to the local trampoline park.  Anyone who knows our family knows that Son No3 is a magnet for disaster. 

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Yes, as you can imagine our trip ended up with us dusting off our A&E loyalty card and paying a visit to the hospital.  I hold myself partly to blame for saying, just the day before, that we hadn’t been to A&E since beginning our home ed adventure. 

I’m thankful to say that Son No3 hasn’t broken any bones, he’s pulled a ligament and is ‘supposed’ to be resting for a few days.  Any tips on how to encourage a 10 year old boy to rest his foot would be greatly appreciated …

 

 

 

I’m still standing …

Did you miss me?

This blog post has been started, scrapped and re-started (and re-scrapped) dozens of times since I last posted.  Life has taken over, we’ve been wrapped up in learning and working and it seems as though the weeks have passed without me realising!

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In the past months (I can’t really justify saying ‘weeks’ really) we’ve celebrated birthdays (there are now two teenagers in GGHQ, gasp), wedding anniversaries (well, just one actually, 17 years with Mr GG!), Christmas and New Year.  We have delighted in academic achievements and rejoiced in how well all three junior GGs have adapted to the new routine in our home ed life.  We have had at least two ‘holidays’ – one spent glamping in Aviemore (stunning) and an incredibly lazy week in the beautiful Isle of Skye.  In the past months there have also been tears over the deaths of two much loved pets … sadly Pringle, Son No2’s guinea pig and Steve, Son No3’s hamster have reached the end of their wee lives with us.  There were many tears over the deaths, many discussions over what (if anything) would replace them and, no, we’re not replacing Pringle with a snake nor Steve with a budgie … my suggestion that a ‘useful’ pet like another chicken or some sheep, however, was not well received by Mr GG!

December marked the first anniversary of our home education adventure.  There has been much reflection, many chats and discussion and the over-riding opinion is that the past year has been a great success.  We are all loving the freedom and flexibility that home ed brings to our lives.  There is something so incredibly special about being able to have guilt-free days off as a reward for working hard.  There is also something satisfying about watching children going to school when my own don’t have to!  I’m proud of how well the boys are learning, all three of them.  They are working hard, reaching and exceeding targets we set for them and one in particular, is well on the way to completing a full year’s work in two terms.

Becoming a home ed family hasn’t been completely straight-forward.  Workwise we are pretty much where I expected and, if anything, the workload on me is not as heavy as I expected but there are times when it’s overwhelming!  There are times when one of our lads misses the social aspect of school, he enjoyed the bustle of school but, workwise, he has done far more in the past terms at home than he achieved in over two years of school, something he recognises himself.   

I recently read a post on Facebook about the best and worst aspects of home education.  Many, many parents commented that the best part of home education was being with their children all the time and that the worst aspect was being with their children ALL the time.  I’d agree with this.  I love the company of my sons and I don’t get tired of them being around but I’ve found it much harder to achieve things at certain times.  It used to be that, on birthdays, I’d spend the time the birthday boy was at school to decorate his birthday cake … I can’t do that now as there isn’t school.  I also found preparation for Christmas much more difficult this year.  I didn’t have so many opportunities to nip out and do present shopping and wrapping was done sitting in my bedroom with my back against the door so that they couldn’t come into the room accidentally and ruin surprises!  These are such minor niggles though and compared to all the incredible benefits of taking ownership of the education of my children pale into insignificance.  I am also incredibly grateful to Grandma GG and Grandpa GG who take the boys for a few hours each week and I’m learning to use this time for ‘me’ not spend it rushing about doing housework!

Mr GG and I still yearn to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle although our garden has been sadly neglected over recent weeks … I have to hold my hands up and say I’m more of a fair-weather garden girl than anything, I don’t like being wet and cold!  However, I’ve started dabbling in essential oils and for the past wee while have been making my own cleaning products, including washing powder and fabric conditioner.  I’ve also been making hand soap as well, mainly in the hope of relieving some of the damage continual handwashing does to the skin of my lad’s hands … OCD is such a horrible illness, it breaks me to see the pain he is in, both physically and mentally.

Ivy, Minnie and Beryl still delight us every day.  They are amazing wee characters and provide great therapy … Son No2, whilst too nervous to venture too close to the chooks, spends time every day sitting beside the chicken run chatting away to the girls.  When we go out anywhere he goes straight out to see them when we get home.  Son No1 is a dab hand at catching the chooks to put them in the coop at night although he’s not so keen at getting up early to let them out in the mornings!

The past months have, sadly, seen a decline once more in Mr GG’s mental health and he has had to take some time away from work.  In times like this, manual labour really helps Mr GG mentally and he’s been using the time to be creative … he made some beautiful wooden Christmas trees which were really popular in the lead up to Christmas.  As I write he’s outside making a wooden compost bin for the garden and he also has several other projects in mind for the next wee while.

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Watching Mr GG making and crafting has encouraged me to begin making jewellery once again.  I’d stopped making jewellery when Mr GG was first ill nearly five years ago and it’s been lovely to be creative again … so much so that I’m tentatively contemplating selling at craft fairs once more.

So, that’s where the Life of Five is now … we’re trundling along well, enjoying our new life, battling the gremlins that attack mental health and striving towards the dream of a more independent. 

Until next time folks …