Friday, December 30, 2016

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

October Concussion Update

It has been awhile since I posted about Josh's Post Concussion Syndrome. I actually have written numerous updates about it and then decided not to share because they always come off sounding like I'm complaining.

So this is my attempt to write about how Josh is doing, without negativity.

Josh is doing okay. His days aren't miserable like they once were, although there are still hard/painful moments throughout most of  his days. Lots of good moments too. Walking to a nearby park with the kids, playing legos with Colby, sharing a naptime with Hailey, and making Noah giggle tons to name a few.

He had a regression in July. He went from walking about 6,400 steps per day (according to Fitbit) to less than 2,000 each day. My trip to Thailand was really stressful for his brain (for mine too!). Also he had a couple on the stairs and one where he walked into a chandelier.

He is still doing neurofeedback, cranio-sacral therapy and some of his vision therapy in addition to seeing a chiropractor/homepathic doctor. We have been unimpressed with the neurology department at Barnes Jewish in St. Louis...

Next week he goes back to Peoria to hopefully get a new action plan from his vision therapy doctor as we think the old plan isn't right for him anymore.

The week after that Josh and I will fly to Pittsburgh (kids will stay with Mimi) for one day and two nights where he will see 4 doctors who specialize in treating concussion. This clinic sees 17,000 concussions a year and we are very hopeful that they might have some new insight for us particularly the vestibular therapy doctor as we have yet to see one. Dr. Micky Collins is one of the leading experts in concussion and he will be the primary doctor assessing Josh.

There is still a lot of hope that Josh could make a full or nearly full recovery, but it still feels like a distant dream at the moment.

We have so much to be thankful for. Our trip to Pittsburgh has been covered in full by ministry partners who specifically wanted to help with this need. Even part of the likely follow-up trip is already covered as well.

We are so thankful for everyone who has helped us. Josh's parents and my parents have done the most but even people from church who are voluntarily mowing our lawn for us every week. When we moved into our own place, I envisioned myself having to push mow the lawn with Noah in the ergo on my back. Or having to hire a babysitter to come over while I mow (babysitters are cheaper than lawn-mowing services!) But I haven't had to do either of those things! It's neat to see God provide even these small things despite the fact that I did not directly make the need known to anyone.

The place all 3 kids are going to school has also been very generous through tuition assistance programs which is what's made it possible for me to work. There is a ton to be thankful for and a lot to feel hopeful about.

Thanks for continuing to root for us.


P.S. This weekend we'll be in Princeville where the kids will be helping my dad harvest and driving this truck around. We're excited.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Henceforth we shall call this, the year that nearly killed Josh

That post title might seem a little dramatic but I suppose I have the right to be a little bit dramatic about this whole thing. Since getting back to Thailand, Josh has been to the emergency room multiple times. Once because he gave himself an electrical shock from a mosquito zapper in the kid's bedroom, and once because he sliced the top of his head open on corrugated metal which led to some majorly debilitating anemia. Oh yeah and a few weeks after Noah was born he threw out his back which took him out of commission for a few days.

Then came "the concussion" aka a mild traumatic brain injury. Such a freak thing but ultimately he would not have gotten a concussion if his day hadn't been insanely busy- so busy that drinking water was apparently not a priority that day. Dehydration followed by trampoline jumping with our kids equals concussion. Then while he was still recovering from the concussion, we had to spend an entire day at immigration, leading him to get really tired and hit his head hard on the car while trying to get the kids out. Then while he was still recovering from both previous concussions, work pressures led him to what was probably a poor decision (I blame myself as well) to travel to Myanmar for some disaster relief efforts, where he gave himself the third concussion. The fourth (and hopefully final) concussion was when he was playing hide n seek with the kids. This one was maybe partially my fault for leaving him alone with the kids for awhile one day. It might be the only one we can't totally blame on our life and work overseas.

We have been talking a little bit lately....honestly not a lot because for the past 3 (almost 4) months, most of the times I have tried to talk to my husband, he has said something like "honey I can't talk right now, it hurts my head." Except he didn't always say it that nicely. In fact I have had my feelings hurt by my husband's lack of desire to talk to his wife more than a few times over the course of this. The logical part of my brain says, "hey, he has a brain injury, this isn't really him talking", but the emotional, illogical and let's face it, often dominant part of my brain screams "this stinks, my husband hates me, what's the point of marriage if I don't even have a companion who will to me." That may be the hardest part of this whole thing, not trying to bear the weight of caring for three children, not chauffeuring him to all his appointments in addition to taking the kids everywhere, and running every single errand including the kind he used to do. But feeling the partial loss of my companion. He's been here, but not here. There were weeks he spent the majority of the day hiding from the world in his room trying to shut out light, sounds, and thoughts. There were days he was around the house, but so moody I think I wished he would go back and hide in his room again. And then there's now, he's feeling a little bit better, and finally willing to engage in non-essential conversation. In the past week specifically he even started to have a sense of humor again, yeah it was pretty much gone for three months.

Anyways, what was I saying before that long diatribe about how my husband wouldn't talk to me? Oh yes we have been talking about why he has had a very very long list of difficult medical issues this past year. He finally admitted that he may have been doing work life at an unsustainable pace. He currently has three jobs, in addition to studying Thai and being a dad to three young children and husband to me. Not all three jobs are full-time, and two of them he does NOT get paid for in any way. The third one is the one we have to raise support for because it only pays us if we have enough donated funds in a staff account. For awhile this past year we were not getting paid at all- talk about stressful!!

So apparently when you are very busy and very stressed, you are more likely to have accidents and a weakened immune system. And when you have many accidents and health problems while overseas, it makes you start to question being overseas and you begin to consider going home. Lately I have felt like I can't handle any more medical incidents for Josh. Like for reals, "if there is one more thing, I just might lose it..."

So hopefully this is the last one. But what can we do to help ensure it is the last one? Take it easy for starters. Josh is finally realizing he needs to let go of some of his responsibilities. I may have said something along the lines of "I told you so," wow, I'm a jerk. I mean....yes I was right, but I suppose rubbing it in while he had a brain injury isn't really being a helpful or considerate wife. I should probably work on that....

People tend to like to say things like "God always has a reason, what is God trying to teach you?" but really, I don't think brain injuries are caused by God. Allowed by him, yes, but caused, no. That would be that other guy, you know, Satan. And Satan would love to grab ahold of every opportunity to tear us down and send us back to the U.S. And that is what we are fighting against. It's a definite spiritual battle.

Now can God bring good out of this bad thing?! YES PLEASE! Romans 8:28 is a good one to hold onto. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." And that's what we are seeking, God what good do you have for us in this difficult time? Show us.  Work this thing together for good. I hope in a year we will look back on the positives that God brought out of this, but honestly we are a little bit too deep in the thick of it to see them clearly or talk about them right now.

In the meantime, we would love your continued prayer for a full recovery of Josh's brain. This mama is weary- both emotionally and physically. I feel anxious to have my husband be back to himself again. I know he is desirous of this too.

Because I know people will ask, I want to say I feel confident that we have an excellent medical team consulting and advising us on Josh's brain injury. He has a neurologist here in town, a Chinese medicine doctor consulting and treating him with acupuncture, and another neurologist based in Canada who he talks to over the phone and e-mail who actually specializes in concussions. He sees 200 concussion patients per week so he definitely knows what he is talking about. If Josh can manage to not hit his head again, we expect he will continue to make great progress towards full recovery.

Here are a few pictures from different stages in this journey.

Here we are at the airport, Josh is leaving for Myanmar. He must have been feeling pretty decent since he actually smiled for this selfie I forced upon him. He came back from this trip in much worse shape sadly.

Because sometimes if you have to take a walk, you might as well wear a baby. His brain is hurt, but his body is fine. :-)

We had 70 degree temps for a couple days and took advantage of the opportunity to hoodie up and venture outside. This was in the "I don't smile for photos" stage of concussion recovery.

Life has started to breathe back into him, smiling a little bit and going on a walk with both of the noisy kids. :-)

Getting prescription sunglasses to increase his tolerance for outings. He is more sensitive to light since the brain injury so this will reduce the amount he is exposed to. He thinks he looks "kind of special" in this picture. "Well honey, you do have a brain injury." 

That's all for now. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Keepin it Real- Life With Three

So just in case anyone thinks life with three kids in Thailand is just easy peasy for us, I would like to say it's not. But I'm still trying to figure out what "normal" is with three. Since we added Noah, Josh had a bad head injury which left him severely anemic for the first month, then he had a month of being relatively healthy before he got a concussion from jumping on a trampoline with the kids. That was over a month ago. He has had to take some medical leave from work because concussion recovery takes a long time and using your brain doesn't really help. So two out of three of Noah's first months, Josh has had a fairly major health issue that has slowed him down. Honestly I am ready to have my husband back.....or really just his brain since the rest of him didn't go anywhere. But the brain is pretty important.

Colby is back in school which is awesome. He is a very high maintenance kid at home partially on account of some sensory integration problems that he has, but does wonderfully at preschool because he is so social. He also loves the structure and diversity that I can't provide him here with a baby and toddler around. He also does occupational therapy twice each week to help him overcome some of his sensory integration and motor skills obstacles. He is a really smart kid, but a bit demanding and hard to keep up with. It's actually quite, embarrassing to play the Memory game with him as he is SOOOO much better at it than I am.

Hailey is definitely going through the "terrible twos". She can tantrum with the best of them and her favorite things to do when she is feely rambunctious is to take all the baskets of toys and books and knock them off their shelf and dump them all over her room. Then she climbs up the wooden toy shelf to sit on the top tier- it's both dangerous and naughty! She also loves climbing other shelves, cabinets, onto the kitchen countertops, and basically whatever she can. She does not seem to have ANY fear of heights.

Noah is.....Noah. He is our chill boy. He will occasionally fuss if he is tired or hungry but he's pretty easy to soothe and so stinkin' cute! He is the kind of baby who makes you want to have 5 more.

And then there's me. Many days I feel like I'm totally failing at doing this motherhood thing well. My kids are fed, but never as healthily as I intend. They're dressed sometimes....usually in mismatched backwards clothes since they often dress themselves since I tend to be holding a baby or trying to put food on the table. I myself feel like I look like a mess too. My hair is air-dried every day and often not washed. Some people have hair that looks nice air-dried, but mine does weird wavy things. Seriously though, who has time to blow dry (or shower?!) with 3 kids!? None of my clothes fit right. I stopped wearing maternity clothes because that seemed silly but all my shorts are tight....your hips do expand when you're pregnant, but I believe I also have some "too much Chic-fil-A on furlough" fat hanging around additionally. I'm determined to exercise but there is no time, and in the rare moments that there technically is time, there's no energy left. I know that having three kids is not a new thing. I have numerous friends with three kids or more! They might just be better at the whole mom thing than me though.

I am studying Thai twice a week now and feel like little bits of it might actually be sticking in my brain. But I still have a LONG way to go before I feel like I will be truly conversational in Thai.

So yeah that's life with three in a nutshell. I'm a hot mess. For anyone else who didn't really know what that means, I googled it and a hot mess is "a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered." Sounds like the perfect way to describe how I feel lately.

And yes this post has nothing to do with our work over here. Josh is supposed to be writing that update currently, so hopefully I'll have more to share about that soon too. :-)

I also discovered that I can link my instagram to this blog too. To see any of the photos, you can click the "photos" link on the right.

Here's a few more from my camera lately.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Birth of Noah Elliot

After Colby and Hailey's birth I wrote up their birth stories. When you have a planned c-section, a birth story hardly feels necessary but I am going to write it up anyways so that Noah will be able to read/hear about his birth. I am sure details from the experience are already beginning to slip from my mind.

Backstory- the week before the scheduled c-section Josh picked Colby up from school one day. On their way home, he stopped for gas and to fill up the tires with air. He let Colby get out so he could teach him how to put air in the tires. When they were almost done Josh stood up from one of the tires and rammed the top of his head into a corrugated metal overhang. His head immediately started gushing tons of blood. He knew he was losing too much blood to drive himself and had forgotten his phone that day so he ran into the gas station and asked for help. Three gas station workers drove him and Colby to the nearest hospital and he got stitched up.

Because he lost so much blood he became quite anemic to the point that just being up and walking around completely drained him of all energy. It took him weeks to feel like he could be up and around like normal again. Okay back story over.

On May 6th, Josh went and picked up his parents- Mimi and Papa from the airport at night. The kids were in bed already and wouldn't see them until the next morning. Since his parents were arriving so late at night, we had scheduled the c-section to be in the afternoon instead of the morning. So that morning I went to get a blow-out. For those that don't know, a blow out is just when you go to a hair salon, have your hair washed and then dried. It's great because they do a much better job of drying your hair than I ever could and it looks really nice and straight afterwards. This was actually the first time I went to just get a blow-out. It's only $5 here in Thailand and I wanted to go into the c-section with clean nice hair since I knew I wouldn't feel up to styling my own hair for probably at least a week after the surgery. Just standing up is hard enough after a cesarean.

Anyways I headed to Meechok Plaza but the salon wasn't opening until 10:00 and that would be way too late so I walked around and found another small hole in the wall hair salon. I asked if they could do a blowout and they said yes. They did not have the A/C on, it was 95 degrees and I was 9 months pregnant. Apparently I really wanted that blowout. Thankfull after I sat down they did turn the A/C on and it started to cool off a little bit. Even so I was sweating by the time it was over.

Then I headed home to finish packing our hospital bag and Josh and I headed for the hospital around 11:00. The c-section was scheduled for 2:00 but it's a long drive, there's no nearby parking, and we were supposed to be there two hours early. On our way there we made the final decision about naming him Noah Elliot. I had always liked the name Noah and was seeking a name that meant peace and rest. Noah means "rest and comfort" which is pretty darn close. We liked the name Elliot because the famous Jim Elliot was an inspiration to us when we were in college and trying to decide on God's calling. We want our son to be willing to follow God's call wherever it may take him. Noah Elliot it was.

Because Josh was feeling weak and we had my hospital bag we decided to take a song-taew (back of a truck taxi) from the parking garage to the hospital. It was 40 baht ($1.25) for us to both take the taxi to the hospital. We got checked in, filled out papers, and got an IV started. Josh signed a form which allowed him to be present in the operating room during the c-section. In order to gain permission we had to write a letter to the director of the hospital expressing our desire and threatening to switch hospitals if he wasn't allowed. They conceded and even told Josh on the phone that they would be happy to have him in the room again for Baby #4. 555! (hahaha).

Finally around 1:30 they took me to prepare me for surgery. I was terrified about the spinal block they were going to do. The time before I had been unconscious and didn't know what it felt like. It ended up being not so bad at all. I hardly felt the needle, but I did feel like a warmth rolled through my entire body as I went numb. Then I suddenly felt extremely sick like I was going to puke except I couldn't move anything except my head and arms. I kept trying to tell the anesthesiologist how sick I felt but felt like I couldn't talk very loud and was afraid he didn't understand me. I think I was actually having a slight panic attack. When I said "I think I'm going to puke" and that I was having trouble breathing they started to take me seriously and put something magical into my I.V. which made me feel very calm and happy. Some sort of sedative I suppose. After that it was smooth sailing. Josh came in and was allowed to sit by my head. I didn't feel any pain and at 2:15 p.m. Noah was pulled out. The doctor and nurse looked him over for just about two minutes before they wrapped him up, brought him over to me and let me give him a kiss and then they handed him to Josh and let him carry him out to the nursery while the surgery finished. It did seem to take a LONG time for them to finish and the 2 hours they made me lay in the recovery room with absolutely nothing to do but stare at the ceiling and test out my toes was a bit torturous.

Finally they wheeled me to the elevator and up to my room where Josh was waiting. He gave me the details on Noah's stats and they soon brought him to me. Eight pounds five ounces, 20.75 inches. He was doing great and nursed like a champ.

We spent 3 nights in the hospital and then were more than ready to get home.

Friday, May 1, 2015

What's Up With the Inmans

We haven't posted much that's really very informative about what we are up to lately.

If you are wondering, I can assure you, we are busy! Josh is currently juggling work responsibilities for three different very worthwhile organizations in addition to trying to get our long-term visas squared away, and recently resuming his Thai language study. He's traveled a few times since we got back to Chiang Mai but for now is staying put until after this baby comes.

For Josh's work permit he has to submit pictures of the work he is doing. It's sort of funny but actually a nice excuse to get some pictures of Josh with his teammates doing what he does as he usually is pretty bad about taking pictures. I will include some of these photos at the bottom.

Medical Stuff
What else is going on? It seems like we are spending all our time at doctor's offices and hospitals. Of course I am in that stage of frequent prenatal visits. Five days from now I'll be having a cesarean section at a hospital here. We thought we had settled on which hospital it would be but are re-thinking that decision as we found out they no longer allow the father to be present in the operating room. We are writing a letter requesting an exception to this rule, but it's unlikely to be granted as I don't think they want to set a precedent. While other hospitals don't allow it either, some are nicer overall. 

Also Josh has been in the E.R. twice since we got back to Chiang Mai. First because he gave himself a stiff electrical shock and needed to be checked out, he's fine by the way. And next because he, being a very tall person in a small person's world, sliced his head open on a sharp corrugated metal overhang at a gas station. Actually I suppose he and Bella have this injury in common. Josh had a lot of gushing blood, but just a few stitches fixed him up. Bella, our dog needed more than 50 stitches and 3 surgeries to put herself back together after her run-in with corrugated metal during our furlough.....I think Thailand might be a dangerous place to be!

We have also been catching the kids up on their immunizations before Little Baby Boy arrives. (At this rate Little Baby Boy is what his birth certificate is going to say as we are 5 days from delivery and still undecided) There are several things we have to vaccinate against here that are not standard in the U.S. like Japanese Encephalitis and Tuberculosis. Three out of four of the last days we have been at doctors offices and hospitals getting this taken care of. If I'm being honest, nothing makes me think about packing it up and moving back to the U.S. more than children's medical stuff in Thailand. Holding my kids down and watching them get painful shots (that will literally scar them for life) that they wouldn't need in the U.S. really is hard. Plus the medical system here is highly unorganized and I'm constantly questioning the level of care my kids are getting.

Around the Homestead
As for me, I am trying somewhat unsuccessfully to NOT be busy. I know that life is going to get a lot harder next week when Baby #3 arrives so I am laying off of Thai language study and other major responsibilities. I also have a history of swelling and blood pressure spikes towards the end of pregnancy. It makes my doctors and husband get all worried so I am trying to spend a decent amount of time with my feet up sipping lemon-water. :-) Of course this is only during those brief time periods where my kids do not need me for something.

Project Restore
So one of Josh's newest responsibilities involves partnering with another organization/team here called Project Restore. So far he is learning about some of their sustainable agricultural projects in the hopes that Global Hope Network can come alongside them and do some work together in impoverished villages in northern Thailand. That's the short version of what he's been doing. Hopefully soon he will write up a better explanation. Here are some pictures from his trips and work.

 This is Bala, the village where Project Restore has helped Witoon in starting some sustainable agricultural projects. When Josh visited he slept in the house on the right front. Definitely rustic and 8 months pregnant me was glad to not be sleeping there! He wants to take Colby back next time. 

Cutting some hands of bananas with Witoon. One of the perks of getting involved with sustainable agricultural work- free bananas! :-) 

Witoon showing Josh his plantation.

Meeting with Jonathan, one of his new friends and co-workers. Changing the world over a cup of coffee. 

Josh and Witoon at the banana market after unloading bananas. 

And that's a lot of bananas. 

Working with Tim on a new video project. 

Cows that regularly commute through our neighborhood unattended to get to their pasture. 

And just for good measure here is some cuteness to round out this blog post. 

On an Easter egg hunt

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Back in Chiang Mai

So an update is definitely overdue. We made it back to Chiang Mai two weeks ago. It was honestly one of the smoothest international journeys with kids we have made. We had great seats, well-behaved kids who slept a lot and didn't fuss, and no delays. Plus all of our bags made it! And we had a lot of bags.....

Leaving was hard. Our kids had gotten very attached to their grandparents on this trip. We know that it is a great sacrifice for them and for our parents to be separated. Thankfully, Josh's parents will be here in Thailand in less than 3 months! Our baby is scheduled to be born May 9th and they are hoping to be here for the birth and a few weeks afterwards to help us adjust.

I'm sure my parents will come not long after that. Nothing gets our parents on a plane like the birth of a new grandbaby! Knowing they would be coming so soon makes the goodbye a little easier.

Right before we said goodbye at the O'hare Airport. 

Watching airplanes out the window. That's our plane in the background. We love Korean Air.

Look at all that legroom. Thank you Korean Air for letting families with small children sit in the bulkhead! 

We didn't buy a seat for Hailey but there were extra seats in our row so she didn't have to sit on our lap at all. 

My feet could barely touch the wall. 

It's definitely good to be home. Our house was clean and ready for us thanks to our wonderful house helper. We had subletters while we were gone and we were relieved to see they didn't totally destroy any of our stuff- although the oven door is broken and our toaster and a few other small things are missing. Annoying but not a big deal....we got our new (used) car the day after arriving. One of our friends runs a business helping expats to buy and sell vehicles and he had sold our truck while we were on furlough. It wasn't going to have space for a third kid in a car seat so we have upgraded to a 7-seater MPV.
Here's a picture of the car parked in our carport. It's no minivan (what I would really love to have) but it is the most practical and affordable 7-seater available in Thailand so a lot of familes have them. Minivan equivalents can cost around $30,000 used so we will settle for an MPV. 

What the seat configuration looks like. Not a lot of cargo space and it's going to be tricky to get into the back row with 3 car seats installed, but we'll make it work. 

I love getting pictures of the kids napping while jet-lagged. :-) 

Our first weekend in Chiang Mai was Valentine's Day. Our kids were in no shape to handle having a babysitter so we went out for a family breakfast to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Less than a week after getting back, Colby started preschool at an English-speaking international school in Chiang Mai. He's only going part-time for now. 

Here is a picture of a common sight in our neighborhood. Our neighbor is giving food (alms) to a local monk in exchange for a sort of blessing. Local monks walk the street receiving alms from people every morning. Alms giving is one of the most common practices in Thai Buddhism for making merit. 

The monk smiling at Josh and the kids on their bikes. 

Just a little girl and her daddy.

Colby on his new strider bike that he got for Christmas. We put it in our checked luggage to bring to Thailand. 

Hailey on the local playground. 

Josh has been busy at the office with Media stuff and getting oriented to another new role he will be taking on for visa purposes. Honestly his new role with GHNI hasn't really gotten rolling yet, but next month he will be traveling to Indonesia for meetings about both media stuff and GHNI. A lot of people asked how much Josh would be traveling with his new role. Well it's going to look different every month, but for the month of March he will be gone 10 out of 31 days. And then in April and May he might not travel at all....partially because we are having our baby on May 9th and have requested to not travel close to the birth on either end.

Josh is working on a newsletter which will have a lot more details about the work he has been doing. Hopefully we will get that out soon.