That Time of Year Again

It’s that time of year again – Badger football season!  And Badger football season means we get to break out our giant lawn Bucky!  Last year I showed all of the annual photos we’ve taken.  Well, here are this year’s!

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Their own version of Jump Around

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The kiss was entirely unprompted, I swear.

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School has been going really well.  Wes was pretty nervous about 4K, but he’s doing great.  And Dawson loves kindergarten.  It’s pretty tiring for him, though, so nights have been pretty tricky.  Still trying to find a good balance of getting out his energy before bed and what time exactly he should be going to bed, but we are getting there.

Health-wise, Dawson is doing pretty well.  The sore that I mentioned at the end of my last blog post (almost two months ago…I know, I know) ended up getting a staph infection that luckily went away very quickly with antibiotics.  Unfortunately, D has yet another sore, this time on his left leg, that is also infected.  He is on antibiotics, and hopefully we’ll see that heal up VERY soon.

Dawson is currently in the process of getting fitted for his new prostheses!  He’s pretty excited.  This pair that he is in still works ok, but we have been making a lot of adjustments to them in recent months, which is a sign he’s ready for a new pair.  Dawson goes in next Friday for another fitting (including trying out new feet, which will be a little more dynamic and allow for more “bounce” in his step), and if all goes well, they will be sent out sometime the following week to be made into his definitive legs.  Stay tuned to see the design that go on this pair! (Hopefully that will keep me honest and force me to post!)

Next weekend is again Green County Fall Nationals.  We went last year and had a blast, and we knew we’d have to go back this year.  If you are around Monroe next weekend, I highly recommend you stop by.  It’s a lot of great people, and GCFN supports a lot of people in the area that really need it.

Happy September!

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Oh, Hi There!

Where have you been the last few months?  Just kidding, I realize I have been completely MIA.  It’s been intentional.

I struggle on a regular basis with this blog and it’s content.  I put a LOT out there last year.  Dawson knows the blog exists – to an extent.  But some of the things I’ve shared?  In the heat of things last year, I shared what I considered “our” story.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that it is Dawson’s story: as told by me.  And I no longer feel all that comfortable with it.  I think to 3, 4, 5, 6 years from now, and him or his friends searching “Dawson Henry” online (because come on, we’ve all searched ourselves at one point or another!), and coming up with this blog.  I’m not ok with doing that to Dawson.  I already HAVE done that to him.

So, I go back and forth.  Do I just delete the blog?  Probably not.  I’m glad that I documented what we went through.  Do I scrub it some, make it less over-share?  Maybe.  But then I lose some of that raw feeling.  Do I make it private, password-protected?  That seems likely.  I’m not there yet, but I’m getting close.

In the mean time, we have really had an awesome summer.  We’ve done almost everything I wanted to do last year, with a few of those things that we hadn’t done yet still to come.  I could share hundreds of pictures, but I’ll just pick out a few.

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T-ball was fun, but I think we are ALL pretty glad it’s over!DSC04295

With my little sister Maria and my big brother Bob.DSC04318

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Pontoon rides at the Lake House!DSC04350

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Remember that awesome Mother’s Day package I won? The above photo comes from our shoot with Kate Bentley Photography out of Eau Claire.  This is probably my favorite photo of the whole summer.

The next two photos were taken at my company picnic.  The boys probably spent 30 minutes in the bounce house – good thing no one really joined them, they were wild and having a LOT of fun!  The second one is another of my favorite photos of the summer!

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Health-wise, Dawson is doing well.  He had a weird day yesterday (a couple of random bloody noses, a nasty headache that kept going away and coming back, and he finally topped it off with a 101 fever last night), but otherwise both Dawson and Wes have been pretty healthy, thank goodness!!

Dawson has been dealing with some issues with his right leg.  He has had a sore near the end of his leg for a month now.  He has been taking a break from wearing his legs for the most part, with the exception of the last week, when he’s been asking to wear them more and more again.  We are easing back into them, but the sore isn’t completely gone, mainly because even when he’s not wearing his feet, he’s moving around constantly and banging the sore.  Thankfully, we’ve adjusted the fit of his legs and that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Back to school in just over a month.  And we are taking an exciting trip in October that I can’t wait to share…but I will wait for another day.

Summer Vacation!

Summer vacation is officially here!  Today was Dawson’s last day of school.  I honestly don’t think he realizes just how exciting that is for a kid quite yet!

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He looks so grown up!  I just can’t believe it.

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It is virtually impossible for me to get a decent photo of those two these days!

Even though summer vacation officially started this afternoon, we’ve been pretending it’s summer for weeks.  Camp fires.  Outside almost every day after school.  Playing in the sprinkler.  Playing with the neighbors.  Playing with Parker.  Playing.  A lot.

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Dawson had a busy Monday earlier this week.  He initially had FIVE different appointments scheduled.  I cancelled one of them (PT) late last week.  The morning of his appointments, they called as we were getting ready to walk out the door to cancel his first scheduled appointment, which was actually a huge relief.

So Dawson “only” had 3 appointments on Monday.  He had another ultrasound.

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No change in his kidneys.  That’s great news! 

He had another Urology appointment.  They decided to try upping his dosage one more time on his pill for his bladder.  We honestly haven’t seen a ton of improvement at the dosage he’s at.  We will go another month on this dosage, and have a follow-up appointment for July 7th, when we have to decide where we go from here…what surgical procedure we want to try.

Our last appointment was with Dawson’s burn surgeon.  I wanted one last appointment to check everything over – skin on his legs, his back, ask questions about meds.  We got really, really good news from him.  Dawson’s skin on his legs is AMAZING.  It will always look like graft skin, and it’s going to be sensitive and easily hurt for a long time, but from a healing standpoint, Dawson’s body has over-achieved.  His skin is soft and pliable.  If I put my fingers on his legs and move them around, the skin moves WITH me.  That didn’t happen before January really.

We also got the ok to wean Dawson off of the pill that he currently takes 3x per day.  That’s awesome.  If we can easily wean that one, he’ll be down to 2 pills in the morning, and just 1 at night. 

We are just so grateful for this time as a family.  The boys are going to bed later than they should because I want them to enjoy as much of this summer as possible.  Is it possible to make up for last summer in this summer alone?  We’ll see.  :)

Throw Back Thursday

One of my favorite videos of the kiddos, taken in September 2010 (Wes was 6 months old, Dawson was 22 months old). Dawson is making Wes laugh just by looking at him, and I love the way Wes stares at D, just waiting for D to pay attention to him.

PS – Sorry for the shaky quality. :)

Catching Up: A quick article in today’s Wisconsin State Journal

David is off to the store to pick up a couple of copies of today’s Wisconsin State Journal.  They have done a follow-up on Dawson!  Read it here:  Catching Up: Belleville boy active with prosthetic feet.  David Wahlberg wrote Dawson’s initial story, and he did an awesome job on this follow-up, too!

I think there is a photo associated with the story, but I can’t see it on the computer. Instead, here are the photos that I sent him to choose from…that’s right, these were all so awesome that I couldn’t make the decision myself!  :)

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Doing the rock wall on our play set at home.

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Dawson and Wesley getting ready to race down the slides

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Hope you are all having a great Memorial Weekend!

Edit – Just got the paper – second page!  No photo, so good thing I posted these 4 awesome ones!  :)

Mother’s Day

I’d have to say, this was probably my best Mother’s Day ever.  It started on Friday when I got a call from a radio station in Eau Claire.  My mom had nominated me for a contest (“Mom with the Most!”) with a very sweet email, and her entry for me won!  Besides winning a VERY cool prize pack (lots of pampering!), it was very touching to hear the wonderful words my mom said about me.

This year our big Mother’s Day celebration happened on Saturday.  We had my mom, David’s parents, and Bob, Nikki, and Parker over to grill out Saturday night.  The boys played outside for a good 5 hours straight that evening.  Go, go, go! 

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My favorite photo from the weekend.

The weather Saturday was perfect.  Sunny and warm, but not too hot.  Not too windy.  It was pretty much the kind of day that I spent all last summer dreaming about.

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On Sunday, we did our annual Mother’s Day brunch with David’s parents.  The boys were in really good moods for the first part of the car ride, but by the time we got there, they were both tired and cranky.  Dawson was saying that his legs hurt, and refused to walk, and Wes was saying that his side hurt, and refused to walk.  A nice gentleman walking by saw us with our camera and offered to take our photo.  I knew it wouldn’t go well, but I figured a picture with cranky boys was better than no picture at.  :)

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The boys perked up once we got into the restaurant.  Here’s the thing: both Dawson and Wesley have never (ever) had soda before.  When D was the hospital and we were doing ANYTHING we could to get him to eat, I offered it to him and he refused.  On Sunday, David and I talked about Root Beer and told the boys they could try soda for the first time.

Dawson took the first drink.  It didn’t go well.  He look so shocked, and then he spit to back out, so I ended up wearing some soda on my pants.  We couldn’t help but laugh – it was not at all the reaction I was expecting!  I just assumed he’d try it and love it and constantly ask for it, but nope.  I don’t know if it was the flavor, or the carbonation, or the combo, but D was not a fan.  Needless to say, when we offered Wes his taste, he said no.

As quickly as D had gained his energy, he lost it though.  I ended up the meal with a half-sleeping boy on my lap.  I was ok with that – I don’t get snuggles like this very often any more.

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Meanwhile, Wes sat on Grandma’s lap for a story, and David caught this super-sweet exchange.

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My Mother’s Day was capped off with a lonnnggg nap by the entire family.  I sure dread the day when the kids don’t nap!  :)

One Year

One year ago today, Dawson went into the hospital for 84 days.

But more than that, all I can think is that one year ago today, Dawson took his last steps on his own feet when he walked, so gingerly down the stairs the early morning hours of May 15, 2013. His legs, feet, and groin hurt, so badly that he couldn’t lay comfortably in bed. He wanted to walk though, because it hurt too much for me to carry him. Dawson walked himself down the stairs, hoping to get some form of relief.

There is a lot of it that I remember vividly…loading D up in the car to take him to the ER for the 3rd night in the row, but first having to stop to pick up Wesley from daycare. One of Dawson’s teachers asking me if Dawson was doing any better, and me beginning to cry because I knew he wasn’t ok. Wesley chatting happily for the first part of the car ride, and then realizing that David and I just weren’t putting heart into our answers, and so he slowly closed up.

There are a lot of things that I remember as an outsider. I see it happening in my head, but I can’t hear what is being said. Me standing outside Dawson’s room right after he got to the PICU, answering questions. The nurse sitting in the room with her computer those first few nights, when he was most critical. There was a nurse in there at all times – sometimes two nurses those initial nights. Never mind the revolving door of residents, fellows, and attendings from pretty much every specialty team there.

During Dawson’s time in the PICU, a gown was required by all visitors. And the first couple weeks, it was full isolation – gown, gloves, and mask. The morning of the 16th, we had no idea what was going on, but an impossibly tall doctor told me, as I stood next to D’s bed, holding Dawson’s hand, that it was likely my son would lose his legs. What do you do with that information? How can you possibly process that at first? They sedated Dawson so they could get his PICC line in and get him ready for plasmapheresis, but before they did, I crawled into bed with him and held him for the last time in what would be weeks.

I spent most of the day today looking at the clock and thinking “At this time last year, Dawson was (fill in the blank).” I wish I wasn’t torturing myself like this, but how do you stop? I imagine that a few years from now, this day will be just another day, but it’s amazing how raw it still is for David and me.

Of course, that’s OUR problem. Because Dawson doesn’t know the day. And Dawson doesn’t dwell on it like we do. We were told over and over (and over…) that this would be harder for us than it would be for Dawson. It was one of the more annoying things we heard (included: “How are you doing?” as I stood there crying, and “Kids are so resilient.”).

The reality is that Dawson remembers none of his hospital stay. Nothing of his 84 days, that we can tell. He understands he was there, of course, and knows all of the things that happened from what we tell him, but otherwise, he doesn’t remember it, thankfully. Wesley on the other hand…that kid has the mind of a steel trap. I was talking about someone the other day, and he said “Yeah, she came to see Dawson when he was at the Children’s Hospital. Remember? And Daddy stayed in the room with Dawson and we saw her in the kitchen. Don’t you remember?” Barely. How the heck does he?!

I left work a little early today, and when I picked up the boys, I told them we were doing something special tonight – family movie night. Wes looked at me like I was crazy. “On Thursday?” like I needed to be reminded the day of the week. I needed to be with the boys. Really, really needed to.

It’s hard to believe that D has gone from this:

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To this:

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(Yes, those are hockey sticks. Nope, not playing hockey. They are both pretending to be Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  OBVIOUSLY.)

In one year.