For the past few weeks, we have been looking forward to Friday. It was Take Your Kids to Work Day at my husband’s company. When we got the agenda for the day, the excitement started brewing. I guess I should mention that my husband works at a company that makes toys!
They had set up five different workshops for the kids, focusing on different aspect of product marketing, development and testing. We got to start with CapableDad’s presentation on toy safety. He took us to his toy torturing lab to show us what he does. Each toy has to survive being stomped on, pulled, thrown, having its hair pulled, and even placed in the heating and cooling chamber!
This is your eye! If a toy can make a hole in the aluminum foil, it fails the test.
Can you twist the toy in two?
Will Pikachu survive?
Are this superhero’s hands strong enough to withstand the test? (Poor Barbie already lost hers.)
Poor, Barbie. This takes hair pulling to a hole new level!
She made it! Her hair didn’t come out!
How hard can you pull? This gauge will test if you are as strong as the pulling machine.
One of the other favorite activities of the day was getting to play a live version of Angry Birds. The kids got to launch a wet ball at this poor guy who had to stand still and get hit!
Finally, the kids got to design their own Happy Meal boxes.
Finally, they got to learn about how developers use science to create toys. It was an awesome day!
After such a difficult year for Kent trying to recover from his shoulder injury, we had a lot to be thankful for this Father’s Day. It was great to see him looking healthy and back to his old self when we took this photo with the kids. I’m so thankful for what an amazing father Kent is to our children. He’s such a wonderful example to them of a godly man, a loving husband and a caring father.
I haven’t moved these photos over yet! You can view them on my old photo page.
Kent’s parents came for the weekend to watch Matthew in one of his last baseball games of the season. The men were all dressed in support of the Nationals!
I haven’t moved these photos over yet! You can view them on my old photo page.
… my husband’s would be in the Super Bowl.
I guess that’s the best way to sum up what we have learned the past four weeks about Capable Dad’s amazing superpower. His body works harder than the average person at trying to heal itself. His body forms scar tissue at an incredibly fast pace.
Now, this sounds like a great problem, right? In many cases, it probably would be. But when it comes to CD’s recovery from shoulder surgery, the goal is to break through the scar tissue as it forms so he can regain movement in his arm. Even a team of physical therapists, a very strong doctor, and a big stretching apparatus haven’t been powerful enough to conquer his scar tissue.
Capable Dad went in for his 10-week follow-up visit on Tuesday. It seems that each of his follow-up visits is a little more discouraging than the one before. At this one, we learned that he is part of a very small percentage of people who build up scar tissue thicker and faster than most. As a result, he has one motion that — even after faithfully stretching and pulling his arm three times a day and even after going to 2.5 hour PT sessions four times a week — is not coming back.
The doctor gave him three more cortisone shots and a warning that if he can’t regain his motion in four weeks, he will need a second surgery to go back in and cut out the scar tissue. We are closing in on the three-month mark since surgery day. Once he gets to the fourth month, the doctor says patients aren’t able to regain any more movement. At that point, the scar tissue has won. It forms a bond that is as strong as bone.
I’m going to be completely honest and tell you that the thought of a second surgery caused me to temporarily sink into a mini depression. OK, I know what’s true:
I know that God can intervene and help CD rip right through the blanket of scar tissue that is encapsulating the back of his shoulder.
I know that the doctor said this big, white, $2,000 contraption that CD straps on his body three times a day has had amazing results in other patients.
I know that the cortisone shots could help. I know the physical therapists can try new torture treatments.
I KNOW it’s possible to avoid a second surgery. And we’re praying like crazy that will happen.
But for about 12 hours, I felt like I was suffocating. It was the first time I felt hopeless about the situation. It was the first time I allowed myself to even consider he might not fully regain the motion he once had.
My mind started racing back through the sequence of events.
There was the initial surgery when the doctor said he was shocked to see how much scar tissue was already formed around my husband’s shoulder, basically creating a “frozen shoulder.” At the next visit, the doctor showed us the photos from inside my husband’s arm. He explained how he “aggressively” scraped out scar tissue, filed away the bone and “released the capsule” that surrounds his shoulder.
At the last visit, the doctor wasn’t happy about CD’s limited range of motion when it comes to pushing his arm downward. While he is doing great with lifting his arm up and backward, he hasn’t been able to push it all the way down. Imagine the motion you make when you throw a ball. It’s the follow-through motion at the end that he can’t complete.
Four weeks ago, the doctor increased his therapy sessions from three a week to four. He also prescribed the big white contraption in the photo that we lovingly refer to as a modern-day version of “the rack.” He slowly turns the cranks on the device to stretch his tendons and then hold them in that position for 30 minutes at a time.
During therapy, two and sometimes three therapists work together to try to push his arm down. One holds his shoulder in place to keep it from dislocating while the other two basically lay on his arm to try to push it to the table. It won’t move.
I think our whole family has accepted the “inconvenience” of Capable Dad’s inability to use his right arm. It’s been good for the kids to take on the duties of mowing the lawn, carrying out garbage and helping with lots of other chores. My husband would tell you that even his pain tolerance is so high now that what seemed unbearable a few months ago has now become an acceptable level of discomfort.
It’s become more personal for me.
I long for him to be able to help our son work on his pitching skills.
I am suddenly desperate to go on one of our family bike rides.
I can’t wait for him to be able to sweep up the toddler with both arms and spin her around in a big bear hug.
The doctor says a second surgery won’t be a major set back if it comes to that. He will resume therapy the same day and restart the race to regain movement before the scar tissue forms. But for me, it seems like we would be starting over. And that is not something my mind is ready to accept.
So, that’s the news. Thanks again for reading these updates. We truly appreciate everyone who has asked us how it’s going. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers!
There are so many other things I could write about that happened during the next two years. We would go to extremes to see each other. At least once a month, he would call me on a Friday and tell me he was headed my way. He could drive the 590 miles in about 10 hours.
(This photo was taken in Kent’s apartment in Mississippi. You can almost see that he is wearing The Ugly Shoes. Now I’m noticing that my shoes weren’t exactly pretty!)
I would visit him as often as I could. I would convince my dad to give me a plane ticket. Or I would pack up my red Sunfire and make the long trek myself. It took me about 12 hours to drive all that way, past St. Louis, through the tip of Missouri and part of Arkansas, through Memphis and finally across Mississippi.
I bought a CD player “boom box,” and I would check out audio books from the library. The books only came on cassette tape at the time, so I couldn’t play them in the CD player in my car. I filled the front seat with D batteries so I could keep my boom box going as I listened to book after book on that long drive.
I have always loved to ride my bike. Once we started dating we started riding mountain bike trails. Kent would leave Mississippi around 4 p.m. on Friday and get to Springfield around 2 a.m. Somehow, we had enough energy to ride the mountain bike trails on Saturday.
(Here we are after a ride in Springfield. Our bikes were always covered with mud. This photo was taken in front of the garage to my apartment, “The Berkeley.”)
We would enjoy every second of that day together, but the whole time we had this sense of impending doom that Sunday was on its way. Usually around noon, he would say good-bye and begin that long drive down south.
We also liked to play tennis. Several times, I would leave Springfield on a chilly day in early spring and we would play tennis all weekend in shorts in Mississippi.
We loved the warm weather in the south. But neither of us ever adjusted to the culture in Mississippi or the heat and humidity in the summer. The first time I went to visit him, we walked into a restaurant for lunch and saw his co-workers sitting together at a table.
“Look at that!” one of the guys announced. “Kent’s got himself a woman.”
I was so embarrassed.
(This photo was taken in Jackson, Mississippi. I thought it would be hilarious to take a photo in front of that big monument to “The Confederate Dead of Mississippi.”)
After about a year making the Mississippi commute, he had the opportunity to take a job in the Chicago area. While we would still be about four hours apart, it seemed like next-door neighbors compared to Mississippi.
From that very first weekend when he made the unexpected trip to Springfield, we both knew we were meant to be together. We just knew. We had barely started dating, and yet we had known each other nearly all of our lives. I knew his family and he knew mine, so that alone gave us a jumpstart in our relationship.
He moved to the suburbs in October and that next June we got engaged. On Nov. 15, 1997, we were married. We had dated just over two years and had lived in separate towns the entire time.
I can’t imagine my life without my husband. He is my rock.
I’m the one who is always out there, pushing the limits and trying new things. I’m not afraid to learn something or try something new. But I always seem to doubt myself or need reassurance.
He always puts me at peace. When he’s out of town for a long period of time, I start to go crazy without his calming presence. He keeps me grounded. He helps me see the good in me. Sometimes, he seems to understand me in a way that I don’t even understand myself.
We’ve been married and been parents for long enough that sometimes it’s hard to remember that life was ever different. But once in a while, I glance at him and remember seeing him ride his BMX bike in sixth grade or walking across the field in high school in his football uniform.
I remember sitting in the back of his dad’s car shouting out directions or The Ugly Shoes or the drive to Mississippi. I think about the Thai restaurant or The Berkeley or riding our mountain bikes around Springfield.
It’s hard to believe that those two people are parents with four children. It’s hard to believe we’re even responsible enough to keep things going sometimes.
It’s fun to remember those days.
It’s good to remember when life was so much less.
I’m so thankful for today that life is so much more.