Monday, April 23, 2012

New Belly Button

I forgot to add that if you want to send Ella a card while she's in the hospital (she'll be there at least 3 days) shoot an email to Ella's email address on the left, and I'll get the address to you, or you can send it to our house and she'll get it when she gets home.  Thanks.


When Ella was in the NICU and just a week or so old, the doctor who had been working with her pulled Joe and I aside.  He told us what little he knew about EB, how she had already beaten many odds that he knew, and he first mentioned a word that we would come to know all too well…g-tube.  I had never heard of a g-tube before then, nor had I ever known anyone who had one (or if I did they never told me they had it).  He explained that it’s very common for kids with RDEB to need a g-tube, and that while Ella was eating fine at that moment, just be aware that it might be something down the road.  As Ella grew, the more and more kids we knew who had g-tubes.  It became clear that within the RDEB community, it was almost more surprising for a kid NOT to have a g-tube than it was for a kid to have one.

Fast forward to last summer…we knew a g-tube was in our near future.  Ella hadn’t gained any weight in over a year, and her height growth had slowed down.  We were doing all I knew to do to get calories in her, but it just wasn’t enough.  In February Joe and I took Ella back to Cincinnati for an EB clinic visit, and that’s when we decided that it was time to get her a g-tube.  Our plan was to wait until this summer when school was out and she (and we) would have plenty of time to adjust to this new lifestyle.

That’s when the dreaded stomach virus hit.  After months of encouragement, nagging and Ensure, Ella had finally gained 3 pounds.  Within a week of the stomach virus it was all gone.  She was back down to 26 pounds, wouldn’t touch an Ensure with a 10 ft pole, and Joe and I knew that it was time for action.  We felt like we were watching our precious girl dwindle away.  I called the next week and scheduled Ella’s g-tube surgery.

Here are some answers to several questions that may be running through your head:

  • This surgery is not a surprise to us.  Like I said, we’ve known since Ella was a baby that this was most likely in our future.  We’re not upset that she has to get this surgery.  In fact, we’re all relieved.  Joe and I are relieved that her body is finally going to have all the nourishment it needs to do all that it needs to do.  Ella is more than relieved that she’s not going to have to take yucky medicine ever again! (She says that this is the best news!)  This is going to be GOOD for her!  Joe and I were talking yesterday about Ella’s life verse, John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it to the full!”  This g-tube, in a lot of ways, is going to give Ella LIFE TO THE FULL!  She’ll have more energy, gain weight, and likely her wounds will heal faster.
  • Ella does eat…the g-tube isn’t because she’s not eating.  Fortunately Ella doesn’t face the eating issues that a lot of EB kids have.  Yes, she had throat surgery last summer, but that was the first step to getting a g-tube.  We wanted to see if that would help her gain weight before we went the g-tube route.  Ella eats, on average, between 1000-1200 calories a day, but her body needs 1600 to do all that it needs to do (heal, function, grow, learn, etc.)  She just can’t eat that much in a day.
  • Ella will still eat “normal” during the day.  Since eating isn’t the problem, Ella will continue to function normally during the day.  She loves food and there is no way we’re going to take the joy of eating away from her!  She will eat lunch at school with her friends, and will eat breakfast and dinner with us as a family.  She will just receive additional supplements overnight to ensure that her body has all of the calories it needs.
  • If at some point there is a cure, or Ella starts eating enough to sustain her weight, she could get rid of the g-tube.  I know many teenagers and young adults with EB who still have their g-tubes, but I also know several who have had them removed.
  • Our hope is that Ella will start to gain weight immediately.  I talked to a mom recently and her son gained 5 pounds in 5 weeks.  Within 6 months he had gained 10 pounds.  I can hardly imagine Ella with that kind of weight on her body!  I haven’t had to buy her new clothes in almost 2 years, so I guess I’m going to have to start hitting up consignment stores (I'll accept hand me downs too)!  Currently Ella is in the 3rd percentile.  We’re optimistic that by the time she starts kindergarten in August she’ll at least be on the percentile chart.
  • We aren’t exactly sure how her recovery will be.  I’ve talked to parents who have reported that in as little as 3 days their kids were back to “normal” and seemed to be completely fine.  Most parents I talked to said their kids were back in school within a week.  Obviously we hope to have Ella back to her old self as soon as possible, but we’re not going to push her.
  • At this point, Ella knows what she needs to know.  We have told her that she’s getting a very fancy new belly button and that with this belly button her yucky medicine will go straight into her tummy and she won’t have to taste it.  As the surgery gets closer we’ll explain more to her.  And after the surgery we’ll take great effort to explain how important this is for her body.  We don’t want Ella to feel like something is wrong with her because she has this, and we don’t want her to feel “weird” because of it.  Please choose your words carefully when asking about it and we’ll all work hard to keep this as positive as possible.
I hope that answers at least some of your questions.  If you have more please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Ella’s surgery is just around the corner and we are asking that you all lift her up to her heavenly Father who loves her even more than we do.  Pray for an uneventful surgery and an incredible recovery.  Pray for Joe and me for comfort.  We know that this is the right decision, but it’s never easy to watch our precious girl have surgery.  Please also pray that we get good rest at the hospital (I know it’s a long shot) and that we’re able to take in all of the information given to us.  Pray for our insurance and that there are no hiccups with coverage.  Pray for the doctors and nurses who care for her.  Pray for patience for Ella during her recovery.

Thank you so much for loving Ella.


nancy jo garbutt said...

Dearest KT and Joe,
You are such good parents! Praise God for your faith and trust! Those things will become second nature to Ella as she grows up because she has seen them in you all of her life!
Caleb had a G-tube, oh so long ago, and though things have changed somewhat, I know those parent feelings that hit right in the pit of your stomach. Jim and I will be praying for you all!
Love you guys!
Nancy Jo

Scott H said...

You know we will, Katie! God bless you, Joe and Ella! We love and miss you!
-Scott and Jen Hamilton

Anonymous said...

My girls pray for Joella EVERY night - we'll be especially diligent in prayer as she faces this upcoming surgery. Love you all!

Rebekah & family

Anonymous said...

I will gladly pray for Ella and you and Joe. Pray that God guides the surgeon, nurses, etc., and that she heals quickly. Sister in Christ, Jan Chadwick

P.S. When in Cinti, if I can ever be of help, please don't hesitate to contact me -

Joanne Cembrook said...

Hi Guys, This sounds awesome! We will be praying for the three of you to get through this as peacefully as possible. How nice is that going to be for the three of you not to have "food" and "calories" being such a huge part of your daily worries. You can discuss other things with Ella like getting some new clothes:)

Gordon Wood said...

Ella --- Come back soon for "ART DAY" at the Wood house. Katie and Joe --- Stay strong and know we are praying for you all.

Gordon and the girls

KroonFamily said...

Dear Katie,

Never in a million years would I have imagined that the spunky girl, who made me laugh every minute I was with her, would have to face such difficult decisions in life. So many people crumble under the weight of fear, uncertainty and the judgement of others but I am always amazed at how bold you and Joe are as you make your way through Ella's journey. Your life is just a constant reminder to me of the Grace our God has poured out on us and how awesome it is to have the Holy Spirit to guide us! Be encouraged... Jesus is at work in you and Joe and Ella and it is so evident. xoxoxo Amy