Tag Archives: Orange Beach

October 21, 2019 Cactus Cantina

Tonight is one I will never forget.

A few weeks ago, we rode by a local Mexican restaurant called Cactus Cantina on our way home one night. As Annadelle looked out the window, she said, “Mommy?”

“Yeah?” I said.

“The next time we go to Cactus Cantina, I want to walk in there,” she replied.

Chris and I looked at each other, smiling. “Okay,” I said, “The next time we go there you can walk in.”

Immediately, I started planning a time to go and decided to invite a bunch of friends and family to join us. I thought we could do it as a surprise and have her friends encouraging her to walk in. You see, she’s been a bit of a turd about walking lately. She tells us it is easier to use her chair so there are times she will whine and cry when we try to get her to use her walker. “It’s hard!” she says.

When we realized she could probably use her walker a lot better than she made it out, we started adding more walker time to our at-home therapy. We learned that if she is distracted, she can make it over 2 hours at a time in the walker. That’s when we decided to start trialing wearing her KAFO all day in preparation for transitioning to the walker most of the time (instead of the chair).

When it came time to leave for Cactus Cantina tonight, a huge rain storm approached and made it difficult to see to drive. Lightening and thunder struck as we made our way to the restaurant. The devil sure was trying to ruin the night, but as usual he did not succeed. We pulled up and Annadelle noticed a blue Jeep pulling in just like the Watson‘s Jeep. “Is that Barrett and Sims?!” she exclaimed.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “It could just be a blue Jeep.” I was trying hard not to ruin the surprise.

Then she noticed Uncle Keith sitting outside under the awning. I thought surely she would figure out the surprise, but she didn’t. Even when she saw Barrett and Sims walking up, she thought they were just randomly coming to eat at the same restaurant we were. “We sure are seeing a lot of people we know!” she said as we made our way to the door. 🤪

Once she turned the corner and saw the crowd of people looking at her, she knew what was happening and tried her hardest not to show her embarrassment. Her friends all stood at the front door and said hello, and Grayce even gave her a hug. Soon after the crowd began to clap for her and we made our way to our seats. All in all, I counted 32 people who showed up for her surprise and to encourage her, some of whom we didn’t even know.

Annadelle with her friends Evie, Oakley, Laekin, and Grayce at Cactus Cantina

I wish I could explain the feeling I felt as I watched her interact with her friends, and how wonderful it was to see the kids treating her as if she didn’t even have a walker. She fit right in with them as if nothing was wrong, and it warmed my heart to know that although kids can be cruel, they can also be very loving. I am beyond thankful for these kids and for their parents who I am sure have talked to them about Annadelle, kids like Annadelle, and the concept of inclusion.

Grayce and Annadelle catching raindrops with their tongues on the way out

I know there was a time when I was praying and wishing for this day.

My friends, it has arrived. God answered my prayers and is continuing to heal Annadelle. I knew that if we stayed faithful to His promises that he would give us what we asked for in prayer. I have no doubt she will continue to recover.

And when that happens, what on earth will I write about then? 🤓

October 6, 2019

I had to take a break from reality today, a little time to just stand at the shore as the waves crashed over and over. It was a time to talk to God and listen for an answer as I closed my eyes and took in all the sounds and movement around me.

How peaceful it was to just be in His presence and soak in the feelings of comfort and warmth. It wasn’t until today I realized I needed that.

We have finally begun to settle into life as we know it. Things are a little rocky now and again, but overall we’re getting our groove back. The days are a lot happier now that our grief has progressed and a good bit of time has passed.

I didn’t even update the blog after the yearly anniversary of AFM had reached us. I thought I would dread that day, but it was just like any other. It’s almost as if I had convinced myself that we were racing time, like if we reached one year and Annadelle wasn’t walking independently that meant she would never walk again. But after all this time I realized that was just a lie of the enemy and there is no cap on recovery. She continues to make progress every day and will continue to do so for many years to come.

I wish I could give you a description of her recovery thus far, but it is really just little things we notice. For example, she can transfer from her walker to her wheelchair by herself, or be in the walker and pull the seat down, then sit by herself. It just continues to amaze me how God is answering our prayers. And although it may be much slower than we have prayed for, God fulfills his promises. Always.

Last week Chris was able to convince a physical therapist locally to take on Annadelle as a patient which will be a huge blessing for us since it is so much closer to home than Fairhope (literally 5 minutes from our house). I have to call and check tomorrow to make sure all of the paperwork is squared away before she can get in for an evaluation, then hopefully get on a schedule several times a week. We will miss her therapists in Fairhope, but the drive there just was not worth it with her busy school schedule.

I’m quite tired so I’ll keep it short tonight. I think there are probably a lot of updates I have forgotten to write about so I’ll write again tomorrow. For now, please continue to pray that our sweet girl will walk independently again. Be blessed.

March 14, 2019 Annadelle Turns 6

Although we didn’t do much today, Annadelle said she had a great birthday. We slept in a little bit and spent most of the day hanging out.

My mother-in-law, Dorothy, drove in from Alexandria and will be spending two nights with us. Annadelle was excited to see her Granna but asked where Eli and Asher (her cousins) were. Granna explained that they couldn’t come because they had school. Annadelle has no idea that they are going to surprise her next weekend when they show up at her birthday party. A few other members of our family including Maddie and Woods, two more of Annadelle’s cousins, are coming in from Calhoun county (5 hours away) for her party on the 23rd.

She had a lot of friends send her video messages wishing her a happy birthday. She’s about like I am when it comes to getting attention or receiving compliments. When told, “Happy birthday!” she usually replies with, “I heard you.” 😂😂😂

Annadelle was super excited to see this beautiful yard sign display outside of our house this morning! A friend of mine has a friend who runs Sign Gypsies, and that friend had contacted me about putting up the display. Apparently she had been following Annadelle’s story and wanted to do something special for her. Things like this are so thoughtful so I hope some of my readers will check out her services. Please give her a call if you want an adorable display like this for your kiddo or special event!

Annadelle has asked that I make her a birthday cake, not buy one. Of course I couldn’t turn down her request. She was able to help decorate with the sprinkles.

She also received many packages today from friends far away. She spent a lot of the day playing with all her new toys and riding her Barbie camper that she got for Christmas.

For dinner Annadelle requested that we eat at Desoto’s because she said they “have good chicken and fries.” It is about a block from the beach so we walked over to the handicap access mat in Gulf Shores and let Annadelle put her feet in the sand. Since being in the hospital for 5 months, it had been quite a while since she had visited the beach. When she put her feet on the sand, she told her dad, “I want to walk.”

On the ride home, we drove by Annadelle’s school since Dorothy had never seen it. When we passed the fire station, Annadelle told Dorothy, “We went on a field trip to the fire station. That was when I was walking.”

I had to hold back tears as I listened to her say it very matter-of-fact. It almost felt like she didn’t think she would walk again, like stories of before the hospital are “when she was walking” and the present day is “now that she can’t walk”. I am still praying every night that God touch her, heal her, and let her walk again. It is to hard to have patience when you are waiting on God’s time. Meanwhile, she’s missing out on so much.

I told her we wouldn’t do therapy today since it is her birthday, but I thought having her sit on a peanut ball wouldn’t be too much work once we got home. She wasn’t able to sit on the smaller ball we have a few days ago but she did well on the larger blue one. I put cushioning around her to make sure she didn’t hit her head if she fell, but she was able to hold herself up relatively well. Eventually we turned her around and put the coffee table in front of her and she did even better. I am hoping time on the peanut ball will help to increase her core strength through balancing and also her legs from keeping her stable.

Tomorrow she has a doctor’s appointment in the morning and her first pool therapy at 1:45.

Please continue to pray for our precious girl that she may strengthen her core muscles and her leg muscles so that she may walk. It is my constant prayer.

March 10, 2019

Life isn’t fair.

I’ve heard that too many times to count. I know that, indeed, life is not fair. I will never understand why some people face more struggles than others, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be angry about it.

To be blunt, I’m at the point in my stages of grief that I’m angry about what has happened to my family.

A few days ago, we went to the Orange Beach Arts Festival at the Coastal Art Center that sits right on the bay. There were many vendors, craft stations, and performances to enjoy, but I didn’t enjoy a second of it. Instead, I thought about this beach. Before AFM, Annadelle would have begged to take her shoes off and wade in this water. The sad thing is that I probably wouldn’t have let her.

But now? I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes if she could walk. I would give anything- literally anything- for her to be able to walk and enjoy life as she once did.

As we walked to the end of the pier, I was overwhelmed with sadness. It was a beautiful day with gorgeous weather, but all I could think about was that beach and how much I wished she could walk along and play in it.

It breaks my heart to know that the only way she can truly experience so many things is for one of us to hold her or carry her to it. She no longer has independence. She can’t brush her teeth by herself or brush her hair. She can’t get herself dressed or use the restroom on her own. Getting her dressed or giving a bath is a huge effort in itself. I try to focus on the things she can do, but it is quickly overshadowed.

We are exhausted. Mentally and physically, Chris and I both are worn down. We have spent so much time living in hospitals that it’s almost like we don’t know how to function outside of one anymore. Living our lives is now more a chore than a joy. We have lost ourselves. We don’t have many friends here and are both very lonely.

Of course I recognize this. I know there is a problem, but it does not feel like there is a solution. The solution would be for Annadelle to walk again, and I feel like we have been trying everything we know to get her to walk again, but God has not answered that prayer.

Every. Single. Night. I beg Him for her to walk. I don’t feel like he hears me. I see so many stories on the parent group from parents whose kids were affected like Annadelle was. Many of these kids are walking, playing, enjoying their daily lives. While I am truly overjoyed for them, a big part of me is so jealous. Why isn’t Annadelle able to do those things? Why doesn’t God fix it? Does he see all of these tears and hear these cries for help, for healing? It doesn’t feel like it.

I am so worried this is all of the recovery that she will get. I can’t help but battle this feeling that I have failed her already. I am not strong enough, mentally and physically, to do this for the rest of her life. I know that there are kids who recover with time, but I don’t feel like I am strong enough to do this for another year, two years, three years or more. Surely God knows this.

I am truly carrying more than I can handle.

Even still, we are continuing to try to get in enough therapy at home every day, praying that this therapy helps to strengthen her arms and legs. She is not tolerating the stander for very long at all and cries after about 30-45 minutes. We try to keep her motivated or distracted, but it isn’t working well.

We were finally able to order her SPIO vest, but I have no idea when it will be in. Hopefully we will get it soon because her posture is struggling and she has already developed scoliosis. The rep from NuMotion is meeting us tomorrow to measure her for her new wheelchair. I am praying that it comes in quickly and that insurance approves it.

Most of all I am praying for healing for Annadelle. I know that God has worked miracles in our lives while we were in the hospital. I saw it with my own eyes on several occasions. I am praying for another miracle, and that is for Annadelle to walk again.

Please pray for us. We need it.

January 15, 2018 Uncertainty

We had another busy day of therapies today, including acupuncture. Annadelle was much more cooperative today than she was yesterday. I think she may not have slept very well the night before and that may have contributed to her unwillingness to complete tasks assigned by her therapists toward the end of the day.

Today she was able to stay on task for the most part. She’s five, so of course she is easily distracted, but she does a lot better than I would imagine a lot of kids her age would.

Nothing remarkable happened in therapy unless you count our OT telling us that Annadelle’s right shoulder is extremely weak. Initially she thought it could be her core muscles that were keeping her from lifting her arm, but she asked another therapist to watch her and give her opinion. That therapist said Annadelle was definitely having difficulty with her shoulder, meaning we have to continue to work to increase strength in that arm. Our roomies suggested we ask for a consult from the brachial plexus injury clinic at Johns Hopkins so they can “score” her. I don’t really know what that means but I am going to ask about it tomorrow morning in rounds.

I have been speaking with our therapists about the best equipment to keep at home for home therapy so our PT provided us with a list of recommended items. Everything on the list is something that is used at KKI and can be used for sessions at home, something that will definitely help us since our outpatient clinic is over an hour away from where we live. Because of the cost and time of travel, we may have to consider cutting her outpatient therapies down to only a few days a week instead of every day like we had been doing, I had called Encore physical therapy on Canal Road in Orange Beach inquiring about transferring there, but the therapist cut me short and told me I needed to find a “developmental rehab” which I have been told is completely inaccurate. The therapist claimed she was very familiar with AFM, but I think she was confusing AFM with a different disorder. Anyway, hence the reason we are working so hard to have our own home gym.

The Amazon wish list can be found by clicking in the menu of this blog, then click “medical wish list”. I would share the link here, but for some reason the links do not transfer to the site when I am updating a post from my iPad.

Dr. Pardo, a pediatric neurologist at Johns Hopkins, is going to come and visit Annadelle on Thursday. He has treated and followed many AFM patients so I am curious to see what he says. His team has been hounding me about getting Annadelle’s MRI scans to him, but I wasn’t able to easily get them sent from USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile where we were treated originally. Eventually his team was able to get them sent over.

Annadelle was scheduled to have her first school session today, but the teacher had written down the appointment time wrong so it began about half an hour late. I was not happy with the session because I clearly explained to the teacher what Annadelle needed to work on. Instead of doing what I asked, the teacher began to teach her about Martin Luther King, Jr. and asked her to read a small book about him. Like, she can’t read, so…not sure what she was thinking there. She was trying to get her to read words like “brotherhood” and “equality.” I eventually interrupted her and explained again that Annadelle could not read yet, that she only had a month of school prior to AFM and it had been hard for us to fit in much school time between medical care and therapies. The teacher then started rushing through the lesson and didn’t give Annadelle a chance to respond when she asked her questions. I ended up asking the nurse to take off education from our schedule which prompted her to call the supervisor. I wasn’t trying to cause trouble by any means, but I didn’t want to pack her schedule full with more stuff that wasn’t beneficial to her. I can do more with her on my own (which I have been doing as I get the chance), like having her practice letter sheets, writing her name, learning her sight words, and counting. I brought some school supplies with us to KKI so we are working with her as we get breaks. It isn’t much right now, but at least it is something. I think we will be able to catch her up before the end of the summer, God willing.

The stickies are placed on each leg above the knee. They are hard to see in this photo, but they are there.

Acupuncture therapy went about as well as I expected it to. Jeff, the acupuncturist, was great with her. He explained that we would be placing the “stickies” (we don’t use the word “needle”) on her spine because that is where the injury is. She doesn’t have complaints of pain much, otherwise he would place the stickies at the site of the pain. But because it was her first session, he didn’t want to begin on her back and instead placed one sticky on each leg. She jumped a little bit at the first one and started to cry, not because of pain but because of anticipation that it was going to hurt. She dried her tears quickly and let Jeff put another sticky on the other leg. She still jumped a little but laughed about it. He kept the stickies in for about 10 minutes before he removed them. He asked if he could come back on Saturday to put some more stickies on and she agreed, so I’d say it was successful even if the stickies weren’t placed here it would be more beneficial.

My boo bear is now snoozing soundly with her doll she made in therapy. I am so thankful to be able to kiss her goodnight, something I was terrified I would never be able to do again.

Thank you for all of the continued support. Without the love and encouragement of friends and family, I don’t know how well we would have coped over the last few months. Your support means more than you know.