It’s been a while since my last post. Again, busyness, illness and laziness were the culprits antagonizing my will to write. Unfortunately, they claimed victory for the past six months over my blogging brain. But today, I am back…at least for now.
There are other reasons for my blogging hiatus but I will reflect on those in forthcoming posts. For now, I wanted to share an update on Eden since she came to be a part of our family nearly nine months ago. Yes, it’s already been nine months!
China requires a 1-month, 6-month, 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, and 5-year follow up. Each visit requires us to produce a report with recent photos and fill out a 6-page questionnaire. While this can be tedious, it can also be quite helpful. Sometimes it’s so hard to recognize significant change when you’re so deep in the grips of everyday life. In other words, when you’re in the thick of daily details, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest of progress.
Take for example, Eden’s sleep patterns. Ever since she arrived, Eden has been sleeping a lot. I mean…a lot! She can sleep 12-13 hours at night and still take a 2 hour nap in the afternoon if we allow her to. She said this was not her typical routine in China so we weren’t sure if she had a new medical condition, if her disabilities were demanding more of her body or she was overwhelmed by all of the recent life-changing transitions.
We didn’t want to overwhelm Eden with all of the medical appointments so we started with the most urgent ones first. There was no doubt dental care would be first on the list. Seven visits in the first four months involving endless X-rays, seven tooth extractions, two fillings, a temporary bridge and only a few tears on the first visit. We were there so often, the dentist could have charged us rent. Fortunately, he is my former college roommate and good buddy. Thanks Dr. Bui!
In addition to the dental exams were trips to the pediatrician (also excellent and dear friends, thanks Endos). Eden was given a full physical exam with all the necessary blood tests. I was wondering if she was anemic, but all the various tests revealed that she is healthy. Eden weighed only 44 lbs. upon arrival but is now up to a whopping 50. In my heyday, I used to curl 50! OK, maybe not, but I digress.
After the initial appointments were completed, we moved on to the specialists. Eden was assessed by a speech therapist and an occupational therapist and both had encouraging reports. There are obvious physical limitations that cannot be corrected but there is also quite a bit of hope for strengthening, training and growth. With consistent therapy, both specialists were confident that Eden would be doing more. How much more? We will have to wait and see.
Next on our medical tour was the pediatric neurologist. After an initial assessment, an MRI and a seizure test, he confirmed what we were told in the past. Eden has schizencephaly, a very rare brain disorder that has no corrective measures. He also said that every schizencephaly patient he has ever assessed has always had seizures. When we were in China, we asked every caretaker if they ever witnessed Eden having seizures and they all said, “no.”
The neurologist also said with the exception of probable seizures, Eden’s condition and its symptoms would not get worse. He said, “If you showed me her MRI scans, I would never picture a girl with Eden’s ability.” I said, “What would you expect to see?” He said, “The worse.” He told us that she is the highest functioning patient he has ever seen with schizencephaly. Basically, Eden should not be doing the things she can in light of how much of her brain is missing. The doctor attributed this to the adaptability of a young person’s brain. But, I know it’s a miracle from the hand of the Father who gave her life and continues to sustain it.
So, while the medical tests didn’t reveal any reasons for Eden’s Rip Van Winkle impersonation, they were quite informative and encouraging. All this made me wonder if maybe all of the excitement and stress of the changes were wearing on Eden’s stamina. After all, she has experienced an endless series of “firsts.” First trip to Disneyland, to Legoland, to Sea World, to a dog park, to Yosemite, etc. First Halloween, first Thanksgiving, Ground Hog’s Day, first time to Costco, first time in the snow, first In-N-Out burger, flying a kite, etc. Considering all the new experiences, Eden has adjusted remarkably well. She is very flexible and joyously adapts.
So why has she needed so much sleep since she arrived? It’s because Eden has grown. After comparing the one-month and the six-month follow up reports for the social worker, we were shocked to discover that Eden grew two and a half inches in the first six months she was here! No wonder she’s been so tired! Her body has grown but so has her personhood. Her awareness has grown. Her perspective has broadened. Her life has expanded. Any and every type of growth requires a lot of energy and a lot of rest. It’s gradual so it’s subtle. It’s subtle so it’s indistinguishable. It’s indistinguishable so it’s unappreciated. When the slow growing trees of daily challenge are in your face continually, it’s easy to lose sight of the overall growth of the forest. It’s nice to know that she is growing and we are growing after all.