Thursday, February 16, 2012

Four Weeks Post-Op

Went back to UofM this morning to see my surgeon for the 1 month post-op visit. His assessment is that everything is progressing well, with my knee starting to regain full motion and the incision healing up nicely. The 200+ knee bends I've done each day are certainly paying off.

While I need to keep my leg brace fully locked when walking (no bending the knee with weight on), I have been cleared to unlock the brace when getting into a car or going on an airplane. As such, I can begin driving again and will start traveling for business, which is certainly a massive improvement.

Following the doctor visit, we picked Jack up from school. Upon seeing my unlocked leg bent at the knee while I sat in the front seat, he exclaimed "Daddy! You should be keeping your leg straight!" Oh, Jack...ever the stickler.

Next week I begin my formal physical therapy at the hospital, going 2-3 times a week. Very much looking forward to that.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Slow Recovery From Knee Surgery

We are on Day 4 of my recovery from knee surgery and everything has gone well so far.

For the most part, I am on 23-hour lockdown - splitting time between the makeshift bed that Kelly organized for the living room, and the sofa next door. I've laid, and slept, with my leg elevated above my heart, and continue to take a variety of pain-killers.

Moving around is very hard. I cannot physically get up and down without assistance - which Kelly and Tom have amply provided - and am tied to an ice machine, which pumps a continuous flow of cold water to my knee. Otherwise, I am not in a great deal of pain. It will come as no surprise that Kelly has been an extremely patient nurse, bringing me refreshments and helping with my every move. Tom (my father-in-law) has been great as well; twice driving the 3 hours from his home in Big Rapids to support us.

I am looking forward to my doctor's appointment this week to see what my next steps will be.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jack's Comedy Hour

Had to share the exploits of Jack yesterday morning. As usual, he woke up around 6am and came into our bedroom - this despite Kelly putting a bowl of dry cereal in his room to hopefully keep him occupied for a while. From there, the following sequence of events unfolds:

Kelly: "Jack, why dont you get my laptop from the office and bring it in here, so that you can watch Pingu?"

Jack walks down the corridor and into my office.

BUDUMP - the sound of Jack dropping Kelly's laptop onto the office carpet.

Jack returns to our bedroom with the laptop and approaches the bed.

BUDUMP - While reaching for the bed, Jack drops the laptop onto bedroom floor.

Kelly: "Jack, can you close our door, so that Kate doesnt hear us and then wake up?"

Jack walks over to the door and loudly slams it shut.

Kelly: "Jack...that was too loud, can you be quieter next time?"

Jack: "I'm sooooooorrrrrrrry, Mommy"

BUDUMP: Again, Jack drops the laptop onto the bedroom floor.

Re-opening the bedroom door, Jack then returns to his own room to get Hip-Hip, his stuffed elephant. Upon arriving back in our bedroom, he notices that Shergar (who had slept overnight in my office) has since walked in and is lying on her bed.

Jack: "Oh...look...Sheeeeerrrghhhhhar's here".

Kelly and Mick start crying with laughter as, finally, Jack makes it onto the bed, with the laptop, and watches Pingu.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mick Knee(ds) To Go Under the Knife

Two weeks ago, Mick injured his knee while playing soccer with his indoor team. He was running for the ball ("hauling ass" as one of his teammates recalled) when he heard a crack in his left knee and pretty immediately felt pain. Somehow, he was able to drive home & operate the clutch in the car but then was pretty immobile. Ice and elevation helped a bit but putting any weight on his leg while bending it was excruciating.

One week later, following x-rays, a giant brace that immobilizes his knee at a locked extension (zero bend), and an MRI, we saw the orthopaedic specialist and discovered that Mick has a torn patellar tendon and a fractured kneecap. Today, he is in for surgery to have everything repaired and then we'll look to about a 4 - 6 month complete recovery period. He told me that, over the last 10 years, this is the part of his body that has given him the most trouble, so he's not surprised it has finally failed him. I had forgotten that he had a similar injury (though not as severe) in 2005 that was treated through physical therapy.

The injury has put a bit of a kink in our plans as we've had to cancel our February trip to England and he's been grounded (no travel for work) until early March. We are all learning to live with each other full-time and are immensely appreciative for all of the help we are getting from family & friends. My dad is with the kids today while Mick has his operation, Ed (Mick's dad) is coming across to stay with us for a week on Sunday, and Mick's mum is likely to visit in February to lend a hand.

Mick's objectives are pretty simple: he wants to be able to walk and to bend his leg without pain. The doctor has informed us that Mick will probably be able to bend his knee to about 90 degrees in about 2 months, an otherwise unimpressive feat but one for which Mick will be grateful. He has sworn off soccer (well, for now, at least... though he has suggested he may play in goal from time to time) and just wants to be able to run around with the kids and not worry about another injury.

Just before he went into surgery, I asked him if he was nervous at all about anything. (He did make a point of providing me with account numbers & passwords to all of our financial accounts, "just in case..."). He responded in classic understated & sensible Mick fashion: "No, I'm just excited that the doctor is going to get in there to have a look around and tidy things up a bit." What a guy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kate's First Haircut

Over the Christmas holiday, Kelly and Mary took Kate for her first haircut. Not unlike Jack, Kate's hair grows rapidly and was beginning to cover her eyes. So, off they went to a children's hairdresser in Canton and, by all accounts, Kate was extremely well-behaved throughout.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Fantastic 2011....Looking Forward to 2012

In lieu of sending out hard-copy cards, or posting an update to Facebook or similar social networking site, here is my recap of the year for inclusion in an ecard.

Most notably, 2011 welcomed a new addition to the family. Kate Clara Collins was born on February 22, in the midst of deep winter snow. With a middle name chosen to honor Kelly's maternal grandmother, Clara Drouillard, Kate's arrival was perfectly timed, with the mothers of both Kelly and I in Ann Arbor, and, except for Kelly, was the first daughter born to either immediate family in more than 40 years.

She is an incredibly vibrant baby, quick to smile, and has rapidly developed - she was eager to crawl and stand up. Thankfully, Kate enjoys sleeping and eating and has grown dramatically, to the 95th percentile in height! As I write, she is crawling freely and propping herself up on sofas; she is not far from being able to walk.

Jack has reached an age - 3.5 - where he is (mostly) a delight to behold. Naturally inquisitive, with a keen memory, his frequent questions make perfect sense and he loves to receive, and retell, stories (especially Tiddles the Naughty Cat). In the last 12 months, he has engaged in pursuits ranging from soccer and music time to gymnastics, and golf.

Milestones have included starting pre-school (two mornings a week), giving up the pacifier for nighttime sleeping, and generally wanting to do everything himself. Of course, he can shout, scream, and slap like a roller-derby queen, but those occurences are relatively few and far between! He has certainly taken to Kate, playing on the floor with her, kissing her goodnight, and soothing her with songs ("Open them, shut them, give a little clap").

Through all of this, Kelly continues to be an incredibly patient, diligent, and creative mother, providing both kids with endless opportunities to interact with other children, participate in learning activities, and assume new responsibilities. She also manages the household with a commitment to detail that would make an accountant blush.

Our family was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in England this summer, making for a more relaxed trip than the typical 7-day sojourn can offer. Even the British weather cooperated, offering relatively few days of rain. Next year, our goal is to take more family vacations with just the four of us, something that we didnt accomplish this year.

Life in Ann Arbor is really good. We added a deck to the back of the house - a process that seemed endless, given the extensive late summer rain, which, coincidentally, caused our basement to be flooded. That nightmare required new walls and carpet. At times, we had 2-3 groups of construction people wandering around our house, with no process for checking IDs or stamping time cards! Generally, though, all of the contracters were excellent and we are very happy both with the renovated basement and the expanded deck.

When not working on house projects, we went to Art Fair in the summer, have watched the USA National Junior ice hockey at the Cube, been to Hudson Mills park for fireworks, hayrides, and crafts, enjoyed breakfasts at Barry Bagels, and swims at the YMCA. A hectic life indeed.

We will spend the holidays here in Michigan, hopefully take a trip to Arlington/Richmond in January to see friends, and be in England in February.

All the best to everyone for a happy holiday and exciting new year!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Being Thankful

Jack was stalling tonight at bedtime and, after Mick had already told him a story, he asked me for one. I said no, but acquiesced that I would explain to him the meaning of Thanksgiving. (Always good to provide a teaching moment, especially when he doesn't know that's what it is.)

I struggled a bit with explaining exactly what was going on with the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. I basically said that some people from England got on a few boats and came to this country and discovered that only the Native Americans lived here; then the Pilgrims asked the Native Americans if they would share their country. I know that's not exactly how it went down, but I figured I could use this as a learning opportunity and reinforce the importance of sharing -- while leaving out all the nasty parts about how the Pilgrims and their buddies then ended up pretty much taking over the country and not treating the Native Americans in a particularly friendly way.

Then I got to the easy part where I told him all about how they had a wonderful feast together and we discussed all the different foods that were eaten (leaving out things that would give him nightmares - like deer/venison). He seems particularly excited about having turkey and pie.

After the story of Thanksgiving, I suggested that we name a few things that we are thankful for and I explained what "thankful" means. He asked that I go first so I said I was thankful for Jack and Kate and for their health. It was his turn next but he asked me to go again. So I said I was thankful for Daddy for being so good to us. Then his eyes lit up and he said he understood. So here, in order, are three things Jack is thankful for:

1. His "big, warm, cozy bed."
2. Being able to snuggle up with Hip-Hip (his stuffed elephant).
3. That Kate is such a "happy baby".

Pretty impressive list - the one about Kate really got me. I love when he is such a sweet boy.