Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Now With Moving Pictures

I got a HTC Hero (Google Android phone) that has video capabilities, so I will be able to add home videos to the blog now! I'm really excited about my new phone too, although I'm still figuring all of the features out.

We discussed buying a video camera, but now that phones have digital cameras and video cameras built in, there's not really a need for anything separate. There was an NPR story a few days ago about how all of our technology needs (email, phone, camera, etc.) are being met by one component and people are buying fewer cameras and camcorders because of it.

Ben is moving, playing and taking charge of his own environment. I keep baskets of toys on the bottom shelf of his bookshelf and on the bottom of the coffee table and he can pull out the basket, take out the toys, and disperse toys around the house with ease.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Roaring River State Park

Last weekend's scenic drive was fantastic, so we decided to take off again. This time we drove through Reeds Spring and Kimberling City along the Missouri - Arkansas state line, to Roaring River State Park.

My parents are avid trout fishermen and we visited Roaring River, and most of the other state parks in southwest Missouri, quite often. I hadn't been there in what seems like forever, and it hasn't changed much.

We brought Ben (8 months today!) and we walked around the hatchery, to the big spring, and hiked one of the shorter trails with beautiful views of the park. It seemed like the leaves were just starting to change and in another week or so, the park would be at its peak of color.

Although terribly windy, the road there is beautiful as well. We took the shorter route back, through Aurora. Next time we will be sure to bring a cooler, food for the day, and the baby backpack so we can make a day of it. There are all levels of hiking trails, cabins and campgrounds, and plenty to see apart from the fishing.

Ben absolutely loves being outside and wasn't thrilled about getting back in the car when we had to return home.

*Click on any picture to make it full-screen.*

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Glade Top Trail

Yesterday afternoon we took a scenic road trip to Ava, then returned home in a loop through one of Missouri's few National Scenic Byways - Glade Top Trail. This beautiful gravel road isn't far from us, and I can't believe we've never driven it before. The 23 mile road takes about an hour to drive including making a few stops. There are plenty of places to pull over and take pictures including pavilions, restrooms, and even a place to have a wedding with a beautiful view in the distance. Below are a few pictures from our drive. In the next week or two, as the leaves change even more, the views will become even more spectacular.

Map of Glade Top Trail
Directions to Glade Top Trail

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Second CT Scan

Ben had his CT scan this morning and it went so much better than I had anticipated. Ben had to fast to be ready for anesthesiology, so he was a little cranky. As the nurse came into the room to start the IV, I was reminded of the hours it took during the day of surgery to get Ben's IVs started. He had bruises on his wrists, ankles, arms and knees after the whole thing was said and done. I hated for him to go through that again, for a five minute scan.

We discussed our options with the doctor, and we were told we had three. 1) Start and IV and medication to put Ben to sleep and quickly wake Ben up after. This was the doctor's favored option. 2) Give Ben something to drink that will knock him out. It may take several hours for him to wake up and we can't leave until he's awake and eating. 3) Try to get Ben to sleep or lay still through the five minute scan. The biggest risk is radiation. A CT scan is as much radiation as 300 chest x-rays. If Ben were to wake up, then he would have double the radiation as they had to do the scan again.

While all of this was explained, I wrapped Ben in a blanket and began rocking him, and hoping. I handed him off to Josh, and just as the nurse came into the room, Josh's magic touch put Ben to sleep. She called downstairs and told everyone we are coming right now to scan because the baby fell asleep. We rushed downstairs, they put warm blankets down to keep Ben from waking up, and scanned him in total silence. He stayed sleeping and still through the entire scan. It was amazing.

Later that day, we had our appointment with the plastic surgeon, Dr. Shah. He seemed incredibly confident, friendly, and we feel very positive about he and Dr. Sami performing Ben's surgery. Dr. Shah showed us some video footage about their procedure. He discussed what a positive working relationship he and Dr. Sami have, and because they have performed this surgery so many times together, they have a definite routine down in the operating room. Dr. Shah also mentioned the hospital stay would only be about 72 hours most of the time. I thought that was pretty unbelievable.

We scheduled Ben's surgery for November 12th (a Thursday), and we'll have to be there at 5:30 in the morning. That would put us going home Sunday evening or possibly Monday, depending on how things go. Dr. Shah re-emphasized the importance of a helmet and seemed very put-out upon hearing that our insurance company refuses to pay for it due to it's "experimental" nature. However, we will be getting a helmet within the two weeks following surgery and he concurred that the sooner the better not only for head shaping, but for Ben's protection considering his mobility.

After our appointments going so well that day, we dropped Ben off at the grandparents and went downtown for a dinner and a movie. We ate at South Avenue Pizza Company (not their best night), and saw The Invention of Lying (we thought it was hilarious, but it's not for everyone).

It was an exhausting day, and in the middle of it, we both got our flu shots. So we feel a little puny this morning, but much more positive overall, now that we have a surgery date in place. Our next appointment is with Dr. Sami on Monday.

*The photos today are of my dad and Ben, and my grandpa (on dad's side) and Ben.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Baby Games and More Insurance Problems

Ben has games and routines now. Josh or I will make a stack of blocks and he loves to knock them over and laugh. Sometimes he likes pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo, he always loves to be read to, and he's got a new circuit he likes to make around the house. He will start in the living room and crawl to the front door, where he can see the chickens in the yard. He will then pull on some of the houseplants in the entry, then crawl to the sliding glass doors in the dining room. If he sits there long enough or starts hitting the doors, the dogs come up to "play" and he thinks this is hilarious. He will then go into the kitchen and open drawers. He found the sippy cups last time. Ben will then return to the living room to pull the DVDs off the shelves, and then start over. It's a pretty safe routine, but I can see that Josh is getting worn out from chasing Ben around all day. I came home yesterday with the gift of a baby gate to try to help contain the baby. Josh wants a baby corral thing, but we have yet to find a good deal on one.

On the medical front, we received more bad news from the insurance companies. This time, related to Ben's first surgery. At that time, Josh and I each had insurance through our employers and Ben was covered under each of us. Josh's company used Coventry Insurance, and they had been withdrawing from each paycheck to cover Ben's medical insurance coverage. However, after the surgery, they refused to pay for any of their portion of the bills and said that Ben was never covered by their insurance company. We appealed this, but received a letter recently stating that the board of trustees voted and denied our claim and refuses to pay any of the outstanding expenses of Ben's surgery. They aren't even reimbursing us for what was taken out of Josh's paychecks! So now we have several thousand dollars owed to the hospital for Ben's first surgery, and haven't even started on the second. The letter from Coventry also noted that if we wish to take any further action, then the circuit court needs to become involved. At this point, our legal costs would exceed the medical bills, so further action is pointless and the insurance companies win again.

Fortunately, Anthem Blue Cross did pay for the majority of the first surgery, or we would have much, much more than several thousand still owed. Theoretically, we should only have the expense of the helmet with the upcoming procedure, because we have met all of our out of pocket expenses for the year. I truly hope that is the case.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beginning of Fall Photo Story

Ben is now able to go from crawling to sitting, back to crawling, and pulling himself up to standing on the furniture. He has also started crawling with his tummy completely off the floor, which makes him much quicker. So I only had a few seconds to take these before he was mouthing the camera lens. We are not ready for this!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Day Of Loss

What a sad day. Today we attended the funeral of a baby. Gabriel was born into our practically extended, but not by blood, family, very close to our own. The unbelievably strong mother carried the baby for almost 36 weeks. He had passed a few days prior to being born, due to a chromosomal problem called Trisomy 18. He was buried in the family cemetery started by my in-laws at the family farm.

We began discussions about green burials, the industry behind funerals, and our desire to not contribute to environmental degradation in our passing about a year ago. My in-laws began the legal research needed to start a family plot, but we had no idea it would be needed so soon.

As we are preparing for Ben's second surgery, this has truly put things into perspective. We are devastated, scared, and angry about Ben needing surgery yet again. At the same time, we feel so fortunate to have Ben, and so grateful for the technology to solve Ben's problems, when not all parents can say the same.

Our heart goes out to the family in their time of loss. We can't even begin to imagine what they are going through.