For the past six months Esther has been growing a “bubble” on her head. It’s not actually a bubble but it sure looks like one and to some I’m sure it appears as fragile as a bubble. She actually has a tissue expander just under the surface of her skin.
I share more about tissue expanders in this post but for the most part think of it like a plastic bag under the skin on her forehead and for the past six months we have done injection after injection AT HOME helping the “bubble” to grow and in return stretch her skin. Much like a pregnant woman’s tummy.
Injections are done at home. You know, just your typical American family letting their two girls watch shows on the laptop while the parents inject the oldest daughter’s head with saline. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
As strange as it sounds both girls actually beg for us to do injections. Why? Because they get to watch special episodes off of Amazon or YouTube. It’s a treat for them and because Esther gets Lidocaine on her port about 30 minutes before each injection she actually doesn’t feel a thing.
Michael Luke does each injection. We’ve done so many now that we can get them done in about 10 minutes. Just consider us pros. My job, the most important job, is to hold Esther’s hand for emotional support.
She doesn’t realize she doesn’t need it but I enjoy the opportunity to be needed and to sit with the girls for a few minutes. Plus, let’s face it. I just wasn’t cut out for the medical field and would probably pass out if I was the one giving the injection!
Last night was hopefully our last injection we will ever do. In a way it was bitter sweet. Strange, right? This coming Monday Esther will have the tissue expander removed and her doctor will use all the skin that we have stretched out to replace her scarred tissue and match her hairline on the other side of her face.
As in your face as the “bubble” is to most people we honestly hardly notice it.
God blesses you with the ability to see the person for who they truly are. To see beauty in her face… even with a lump the size of an orange on her forehead. He makes everything beautiful. I’m excited for her surgery though and look forward to seeing her face transform even more as we get one step closer to the finished masterpiece.
Please join us in praying for Esther over the next several days. She is an extremely brave little girl but even the bravest get scared. Right now her stress level is extremely high and the smallest thing can send her into a panic attack. To help support her we are back to applying Tranquil several times a day and talking about the good things like ice cream and Disney movies after surgery.
I’ve struggled with what and how much of the following to share with you, but to not share would be to not include part of our journey with Esther. Esther was considered a special needs adoption but often times Michael Luke and I don’t consider her special needs at all. We have even joked that God must have considered us special needs parents because she had such an easy transition into our family and because her actual special need seems so minor in our eyes.
In reality though she does have a special need. Her caregivers in Hong Kong used to tell her that she had a “special eye”. When I first heard Esther refer to it as that I immediately loved it and decided that is what we would also call it. Little did I know how special this eye was. After bringing her home back in February we took Esther to the International Adoption Clinic here in town where they accessed her and recommended different doctors for her. One of them was a ocular plastic craniofacial plastic surgeon here in town, Dr. Ray at Children’s Hospital of Alabama. We scheduled our appointment for early this fall and went on with our life because in reality we felt that the doctors would probably wait until she got older to do anything. One day Dr. Ray’s office called to let us know there had been a cancellation of one of their appointments and they could see us that week if we wanted. So we took the appointment and looked forward to meeting Dr. Ray.
I’ll spare you all the details of the appointment but during this time we fell in love with her doctor and his team. Dr. Ray agreed that Esther’s eye was special. It was so special that this may be the only case like her’s that he sees in his career! I just looked at Esther and smiled. It was at this visit that we were given a medical name to go with her special need, facial cleft of the eye. The name didn’t change anything for us but it was nice to know what it actually was.
You want to know how amazing God is and how his plans are bigger than we could ever imagine? He brought a little girl from Hong Kong all the way to Birmingham, Alabama to a doctor that specializes in ASIAN EYE RECONSTRUCTION!!! Who even knew there was such a thing but it completely makes sense when you think of the reconstruction of the eye as an art. It’s like sculpting or molding. And after staring at Esther’s beautiful face for hours there is a huge difference between asian eyes and caucasian eyes. Dr. Ray trained under one of the other doctors in his practice who also specializes in asian eye reconstruction and he trained in Seattle where the asian population is larger. I’m just blown away how God has provided such amazing doctors for Esther. The doctor’s are pretty excited too because this is a pretty big opportunity for them since it may be the only one like it that they ever see.
At the appointment that day Dr. Ray began to lay out his plans for Esther’s eye and the steps he would like to take. These steps involve a series of surgeries over the next two years or so. The first of which was last week.
Last Thursday she had two tissue expanders placed under the skin on her face. I think I struggled with this more than she did… I mean what mother wants their child to have to go through surgery. I’m not going to go into details about the expanders but the goal is to use them to grow new skin so they can replace some scarred skin on her face.
Esther and I talked about everything that was going to happen in the weeks leading up to the surgery. I showed her pictures of other children with tissue expanders and we gave them the nickname “bubbles” I played it up by telling her that Dr. Ray wanted to “give” her bubbles and that she could “keep” them until around Christmas time. We then talked about how sometimes when we don’t know what something is that we ask questions. So some people may not know what her bubbles are but that’s ok because we can help them to learn. She did want to make sure that her “bubbles” wouldn’t wash off in the bathtub!
Next, we began talking about going to the hospital. We talked about how Dr. Ray wanted her to “camp out’ at the hospital. She would get a big bed and Mommy and Daddy would sleep in a chair/sofa. There would be juice there and a nurse would bring it to her whenever she needed. She would also get a television with Princess Sofia and Doc McStuffins that she could watch the whole time she was there. That pretty much did it. She was sold on the idea of going to the hospital and spent the next few weeks looking forward to it.
As we got closer to the day we talked about how she would take a big nap and then when she woke up Mommy and Daddy would be there. She may not feel very good but that’s ok because sometimes people don’t feel good after surgery. Esther was prepped. She may be only three but she’s a smart little three year old would much rather know what is going to happen than be surprised. Her main concern was that Michael Luke and I would both be there after surgery. I made sure that she knew we weren’t going to leave her.
(This was the beautiful view at the end of the day from her hotel hospital room.)
The day came and she couldn’t have been more excited. There was a little nervousness but we talked about how that was ok. Since this was such a special day for her I let her pick out any outfit that she wanted to wear.
Our little star chose this… because everyone gets dressed in their finest to go to the hospital for surgery. (The above picture was actually taken the day after surgery.) That day I applied a few extra applications of Tranquil to ease for her nervesoness. We arrived at the hospital and she was calm. She vegged out watching television during the triage part. Finally, they took her back and we had to kiss her good-bye. I’ll admit I got a little teary-eyed but she did great. The nurse said she never once cried… except for post surgery when some little boy started screaming his guts out next to her… but who wouldn’t cry then. Three hours after she went back we got to see her again. Once we were settled in her room for the night one of the first things she said to me was, “Can I have some Tranquil?” I smiled and hugged her and then immediately went and got her essential oil blend, Tranquil. The pain medicine made her sick that night so around midnight we switched from codeine to morphine and after that we only used Lavender applied to her face to ease discomfort, swelling, and maintain normal body temperature. I was thankful to have something as simple and familiar as Lavender to use on her.
The next day she was still pretty void of energy and she pretty much milked the whole “everyone is waiting you” thing for what it was worth. We let her for the most part because we were enjoying getting a little one on one time with her since Noah was at my parent’s house getting spoiled. We discharged around lunch last Friday and then went home and all napped that afternoon. That night we decided to make the most of our time alone with her took and her out to Mugshots at Uptown in Birmingham. She loved it!
The tissue expanders will start expanding in a couple of weeks and will continue all the way up until they are removed in December. I’ll let you know how it goes but in the meantime I more than likely won’t bring attention to them.
P.S. If you are interested in the adoption process from Hong Kong never hesitate to e-mail me or to send me a message on Facebook.
Also, if you would like more information on Young Living Essential Oils (why and how we use them) then click the Essential Oils tab at the top of the page.