2014 was a year we will never forget. we experienced some really good times and some really challenging times. when we look back, we are so amazed and thankful for God’s goodness and mercy. for how He carried us through the storms. even when we doubted and were full of fear, He was our strength. His love gave us comfort.
in January, Troy went to Uganda. his trip was life-changing and refreshing for him. my heart longs to go back, but i know that this is not the season for international travel for our family, so i am working on being content right where i am.
in February, Gracelyn turned 1. we feel so incredibly lucky to be her parents. she is truly a gift from God. we love watching her grow! she has so much personality and such a strong will! we know that this will serve her well later in life. (we just need lots of prayer [and wine] to help us get through these early years!)
in March, Mikisa learned to do the hula hoop! this may not seem noteworthy, but she worked at it for 2 months and showed her determined spirit by not giving up when we all thought it was an impossible goal! go Miki go!!
in April, Gracelyn learned to walk. she’s been on the move ever since! she keeps us young.
in June, we had our first appointment with our new neurologist, who immediately suggested brain surgery for Mikisa. so began the roller coaster that lasted the rest of the year.
in July, we took a family vacation to the beach. it was not quite as relaxing as we had hoped with two children who needed to be very closely supervised, but we made the most of our time together, and the girls LOVED the water!
in August, we spent 5 days in the hospital doing a whole slew of testing to determine whether or not Mikisa was a candidate for a hemispherectomy. we learned that she was in fact a perfect surgical candidate. we were relieved and terrified at the same time. it was the first time someone had given us hope that perhaps her epilepsy could be cured. [two things about this picture: 1. that hair!! 2. we’re thinking about getting her a therapy dog]
in September, i went on a retreat for adoptive moms. i loved being around other moms who are also in the trenches. adoption isn’t easy, but it sure is beautiful. and that weekend reminded me that it’s important to have a soft heart and open hands so that God can work in us and teach us to be vessels of His love.
in November, Mikisa had brain surgery. we were so so scared but we felt sure that this was the right decision for her. we still think it was. she has made a remarkable recovery, and continues to amaze us with her progress. after two weeks in the hospital, she relearned how to walk and now she is back to running, jumping, and twirling almost with the same energy as before they cut her brain in half. we are astounded and so grateful.
December has been a month of staying home with the girls and helping Mikisa in her recovery. she has had many many doctors appointments and intensive therapy to get her back to where she was before. it was an exhausting month, but also a good one. we had a low-key birthday party for Mikisa’s 9th birthday, and of course, the highlight of the month was celebrating Christmas at the grandparents’ house!
for those wanting an update on Mikisa’s health: the past 6 weeks we have been in recovery mode…Mikisa is back to baseline mostly, although her balance is still not what it was prior to the surgery. but she is back 100% with her personality, speech, and cognition. and we are already seeing evidence of improvement. she is talking more, and able to focus for longer periods. she also seems more alert and can process directions better. we have had many follow up appointments with specialists and we’ve been in intensive therapy mode, but starting in a few days, she will be going back to school (for 1/2 days at first). the followup with the neurosurgeon went well, the CT showed that her ventricles look good and the incision is healing nicely. she is right on track with her recovery, and he is happy with her progress. the epileptologist was also pleased with how she is doing. we still have not seen any clinical seizures (thank God!), but we are waiting until the end of February to do a sleep-deprived EEG to determine if the subclinical seizures have stopped. we are cautiously optimistic that she will have a clear EEG on the healthy hemisphere. then we will start weaning her off her meds in may or june.
while we have seen many positive changes since the surgery, it also affected her physically, so we are still helping her adjust to her new limitations. she now has increased left side weakness, which we expected. she has lost muscle tone in her (already paralyzed) left hand, and she walks with more of a limp. the surgery also impacted the hearing in her right ear significantly, which was disappointing to us. the audiologist said that even with hearing aids, she will not hear well on that side. we are going to see an ENT and discuss whether or not we can do anything to help her with this. we also met with her opthamologist who said that she needs to be wearing glasses as much as possible. it seems as if her left eye is drifting out more, especially when she is tired, so we are going to try patching for an hour a day to see if that helps. we feel so lucky to have our girl back! thank you all for your prayers and support through this challenging time. looking forward to all that the new year brings!