Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer Recap: Part One

Wow, will I ever be a regular blogger?  I seem to start every post with "It's been a long time..."  There are so many things I want to share, but so far I remain too bogged down in the LIVING of life to spend any time WRITING about it.  I hope to change that one day soon, but for now another recap of the last couple of months will have to do. 

So back in June, I wrote about Bella's hip surgery.   While her recovery went well overall, and she was discharged from the hospital a week later, the ordeal definitely took a physical and emotional toll. 

I've touched on the condition of her hips in earlier posts, but just want to elaborate a little about what they were like pre-surgery.  Years of living in a laying room, never bearing any weight, never being stretched or moved around, surviving on a very poor diet - all of these factors worked together to nearly destroy her hips and legs.  When she broke her hip in January, her surgeon was so surprised by how soft her bones were, by how "transparent" they looked on x-ray.  The fracture couldn't even be repaired in the conventional way.  Speaking of x-rays, they also showed that her left femur actually curved to the right as it grew, due to the fact that it was always draped over her right leg.  Her muscles were so tight that I could barely get clothing to fit between her knees when I dressed her - her legs literally would not abduct (open) at all.  You can imagine the problems this caused with regard to toileting and hygiene.  She was permanently rotated to the right, as you can see in the photos below:

This is the only way she was able to sit in a chair - with the entire lower half of her body rotated to the right. 
So now imagine the night she came out of surgery looking like this.  After six months of scissored-tight legs it was shocking (in a good way) to see.  And this is evidence that Bella does not ALWAYS smile, as so many people have asked me!  She was clearly unhappy here, and rightly so!
After hospital discharge, the next four weeks were spent at home in the spica cast.  It was June and a house with no air a half inch thick waist-to-toe fiberglass contraption.  She sweated constantly.  She couldn't have showers...or use the toilet...or sit upright.  She lost every bit of strength she'd gained and every new physical skill she'd acquired during the previous months of therapy.  But she took it all in stride - she was such a trooper. 
We spent most of our summer at home because it was hard to take her places in the car with the cast.  We made the best of it though.  We did celebrate Bella's first Independence Day by going to our town's parade, which she really enjoyed. 

We actually expected the spica cast to remain on for six weeks, so imagine our surprise when we went in for the four-week follow-up and her surgeon decided to go ahead and remove it!  That was a happy day.  Here she is with her sister, moments before they cut it off.
That afternoon Bella came home and slept probably more soundly than she had in five weeks (she was still unable to use the potty right away, so we had to go with diapers for a little longer).  Her little body poured all it's energy into wound healing in the weeks following surgery, so she also lost a lot of the weight she'd gained since being adopted.  But oh, how wonderful her legs looked!  Remember those first two photos above - the knees that could not spread more than an inch?  Look at them now!
I doubt that Bella has EVER been held like this.  Even back when it would have been possible - before all the damage was done to her legs - no one would have carried and cradled her.  Not in the orphanages.
Look how aligned, how anatomically correct, and how HEALTHY her legs are compared to the wheelchair photo at the top!
On August 5th, a few weeks after the cast came off, Bella was able to begin attending school for the first time IN HER LIFE :).  She absolutely loved it and couldn't wait to go back the next day.  She only attends half-days for now, but that is a wonderful start. 
So this was a quick rundown, and it is overwhelmingly positive.  We are happy with the surgery and thrilled that Bella is loving school.  But it hasn't all been rosy.  In fact, there have been some hard, hard parts and I would not be presenting a true picture of our summer if I didn't touch on that too - more to follow in Part Two of the Summer Recap. 


  1. The expression on her face with you holding her is PRICELESS!! (And I love your baby bump toooooo!!!!!)
    Thanks for continuing to share Bella with all of us who are too far away to see her growing and thriving in person.

  2. She looks so much better now! I'm so happy for you all. :)

  3. This is an incredible difference! So happy to see it!

  4. That last picture is amazing. I wonder if she is feeling better. Does she look down like she is amazed at her straight legs? In the picture of you holding her it looks like her hair is trying to curl. It is fun to see how hair turns out once the kids get home and fed well. I am happy that she is doing well. Thanks so much for updating.

  5. Glad to read you.. her legs look amazing!

  6. Rosedel, I left out the most important part in my update - YES, she feels so much better!! She was never able to sit comfortably before and now she can. As for her hair, it does get wavy I think mostly from getting hot and sweaty :). We will see as it grows longer.

  7. What a wonderful family you have--all of your children are so beautiful. The pictures of incredible Bella have brought me to tears! What a truly shining soul....and what an inspiration! Thank you for sharing...

  8. You and your entire family are amazing! I've been following your life's blessings and struggles, and in one way or the other, you have taught me how to face my own. You see, I was searching about ceramic hips online and all I got are stryker hip lawsuit and the not so pleasant and often scary stories. My father is scheduled to have a surgery next week and ceramic hip was suggested. Do you have any thoughts on this?