Journey to China

This blog documents the Spitlers' progress towards the adoption of Xia Ping He (Noah Spitler) from the PR China. It also documents Noah's medical process in pursuit of a total repair to his CHD (congenital heart defect).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Noah's Doctors Visits

Hello Everybody,

I'd like to give you an update on Noah's health, but before I do - I'd just like to thank everybody (again) for all the prayers and well-wishes. As we go to work, to the girls' school, to church, even to Wal-Mart; we run into people who are reading the blog and praying for Noah. "Thanks" is an insufficient word for our gratitude. In return, all I can wish and pray for you is that God will bless you for your grace towards us.

James 1:27 says: "Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

Thanks again for helping us follow this instruction.

Okay - the doctors visits. Noah did well at both doctors offices. First, Robin took Noah to our pediatrician, who examined him and referred him to a pediatric cardiologist (as planned). Noah had to get 3 shots in the leg, but Robin said he was very brave. We also learned that his weight had decreased yet another 3 lbs from that in China - so we offer him food all day long. He has a scar on his left arm which is the result of a kitchen water burn he sustained around 3 years old. We aren't sure if he'll need treatment for that - but if so, it's certainly secondary to his heart.

Speaking of heart; we took him the following week to Dr. Blake Long, a pediatric cardiologist in Savannah. As we entered the office, Noah quickly asked me (in Chinese) if he were going to get another shot! His demeanor quickly calmed when I reassured him he would not get a shot today. Instead, he got an EKG, his blood pressure taken at all four extremities, then an echocardiogram - using an ultrasound machine. The nurse/technician running the ultrasound was very efficient at getting the pictures she wanted, but then began to pause and say, "Mmmmh" and "Wow". Robin and I nervously said, "Is that a 'good wow' or a 'bad wow'?" and even Noah started repeating "wow". "Well," she said, "I can't seem to find this little boy's pulmonary artery!" Then after a few more minutes and a few more "oh wow's", she said, "That's it - we're all done!".

Doctor Long then met with us and listened to Noah's heart for a long while. He showed us a pamphlet depicting a normal heart as well as"typical heart problems." Then he said, "What Noah has is really an extreme form of this one (tetralogy of Fallot)- and I don't really have a picture of what he has." So - what Noah has is very close to what the Chinese doctors guessed he had:

1) VSD (ventricular septal defect) - hole in the middle of his heart between the left and right sides. "Red blood" and "Blue blood" mix together and the heart is not as efficient.

2) PA (pulmonary atresia) - he was born with NO pulmonary artery. Quite amazing...

3) MAPCAs (major aortopulmonary collateral arteries) - these are small blood vessels that fetus' and newborns have to assist with blood flow. But - normally, shortly after birth, they go away. Since Noah is missing his pulmonary arteries, these have continued to provide blood flow from the heart to his lungs. So - yes, it's quite a miracle that Noah is alive - and even until this age. My search on the web reports that many with this condition do not live past 10 yrs old.

I don't have time to spell out the options that Doctor Long described. (He did a wonderful job explaining it - wow - and I didn't even pass out...a miracle in itself!) The next step, he said, was to get a heart catheterization - which will mean a 2 day trip to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) - better known as Emory University/Egleston. This "heart cath" will allow the doctors to "map" Noah's blood flow and determine what (if any) surgery can be done to correct his defect.

We hope to hear from CHOA this week, to set up Noah's appointment. Please pray that we'll get an appointment quickly, as it sounds like the older Noah gets, the more limited his options are.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Noah's dancing

I just wanted to add this video to today's post. Olivia introduced Noah to dancing on the Wii. Enjoy!

Better times

Happy day!!! Mom got some sleep last night! I am feeling so much better. Thanks you so much everyone for the prayers. God is good and I was able to sleep for most of the night last night. Everyone seems to be adjusting despite little setbacks here and there.
Recap of yesterday and today (so far): Yesterday I finally decided I really need to get out of the house. I knew that was one of the reasons it was taking me so long to adjust back to USA time. We went for a walk ( I pulled Noah in a wagon-Thank you to my friend Kim for letting us borrow it), to Wal Mart, to play at the school play ground, played with the train & legos, and played a video game with Dad after he got home from work.
Today: We went for another walk, worked on word flashcards, played at the museum, and are getting ready to play with toys.
Funny things Noah has done in the last two days: We assembled his wooden train ( that was in a figure eight) and he said "eight". I was shocked that he recognized the number eight. We were getting ready for dinner last night and he saw there was nothing to eat with on the table. He walked over to the silverware drawer, pulled out five forks, and then put one at everyone place at the table. He did that without being asked to do it. Today while working on flash cards he made sure that each pile of cards were perfectly lined up and totally neat. I guess that mean I have a neat freak on my hands. There is nothing wrong with that. Today I told one of my girls to put a new plastic bag in the trash can. She put it in the can and then left it there without putting it back under the counter and he walked over, picked it up, put it under the counter and the closed the cabinet door. He loves to help do things and he is very good about sharing with others.
Overall, things are going well. Hopefully next time I blog I will have some pictures. I forgot to take my camera to the museum today. Sorry everyone. Thanks again for all you guys have done for us. We really appreciate it.
Oh, if we didn't say it before, we appreciate all of our family members that met us at the airport when we arrived home----Scott (Adam's brother/family), Cynthia, Mary Beth, Christy, Michael, Scotty, My Mom-Grandma/Venita, My sister-Renee, her boys-Jonah & Caleb, Clay (Adam's brother/family), Stacey, Zach & Nick. You guys are so great for traveling so far. Thanks so much!!!
Most of all thank you to the Lord, who has sustains us and will continue to through this process!!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

This Past Week

Hello everyone,
Sorry for the long delay in posting. This by far has been the most difficult week of my life. I think I have hit every emotion under the sun. I am sure most of it stems from the awful jet lag I have been experiencing. Everyone in the house has slowly adjusted to life back in the states except me. I have only slept one night all the way through and it has taken a toll on me emotionally and physically. I hate to dump the bad stuff right off but it helps me to get rid of some of my frustrations. I must say I have the BEST husband in the world. He has taken up a lot of slack for me. He has been the one to get up very early every morning with the kids when they have woken up at 2:30, 3, and 4 o'clock. There were times I just couldn't seem to function. I was great in China but once I hit the states it threw me for a loop. To all of you who have been praying, it has been much needed and felt. I don't think I would feel as good as I do right now if there weren't people praying. I think if I can get one more good night sleep it will make a world of difference.
Now, onto what you all really want to know and see. Noah is doing pretty well. He seems to be fine during all times of the day except nap time and time to sleep for the night. We have discovered if our dog Annie sleeps with him he doesn't cry at all. If Annie leaves the room and he wakes up he then begins to cry out for either the foster family or me. I still think that is something we will be dealing with for a while. He is eating well and likes most of the food we have been giving him. He especially gobbled up the Creamy Chicken Casserole that the Gawthrop family provided for us. Thanks Jen and Greg!!! I also want to say a big thanks to the many families in our neighborhood that have provided some very yummy food: The Riner family, the McCracken family, The Mitchell family, The Forbes family and also the Liggett family for the yogurt drinks. Noah loves those yogurt drinks! I also want to say thanks to all of these families for the gifts they have provided which include The Kauber family. Last, but not least, my Mother-in-Law Rita, who stocked the fridge and made lots of food for us so we would be prepared when we arrived home. All of you have made a difference in our coming home. I definitely was not ready to do any cooking when I got home. I am sure I have probably missed someone. If I have please accept my apology. My brain is not working so great these days.
On Wed. I took Noah to the Pediatrician. He had to have three shots and a general check up. It went well and he did fine. I also took him to have a chest xray that is required by the Ped. Cardiologist. That went well also. I was able to take my friend Ting, who is from China, to help interpret to Noah what was happening. I then took Noah and Ting out to lunch at Chic-fil-a. It was his first trip to one our favorite restaurants. He loved it of course.
Yesterday, Friday, Adam took Noah flying. He really likes to fly and is very excited to talk about airplanes. It must be in his blood too :) This, I am sure, makes his Dad proud.
Again, we go to the Ped. Cardiologist next Wed. I will let you all know afterward what happens there. So much of his heart stuff is unknown so it will be news to all of us. Please continue to keep us in your prayers for his health and continued adjustment with our family. I know that the Lord is watching over us and He will get us through all that is going on in our lives. Thanks to everyone. We couldn't go through all of this without you all. God's blessings, Robin

Monday, August 2, 2010

Long Night

Everything is going well today. Unfortunately the night did not go so well. Adam and I were up all night with Noah. He went to sleep very easily but was fussy and crying most of the night. I am so tired I can barely think. He is doing fine today so far. He has watched some movies, played with matchbox cars, little Army men, and looked at some books. He also went with us to get our dog Annie from the kennel. He seems a little skittish about her but he also wants to be around her. Annie hasn't even given Noah the time of day. I think she is so happy to be home all she wants to do is lye around and catch up on some sleep. When we were on our way to pick up Annie he was playing with his new Build-A-Bear, compliments of Aunt Renee and her crew. The bear came with a mini fishing pole and some fish. Olivia said, "it's a fishing pole", and Noah repeated the same words and then started laughing. He just kept saying it over and over again and continued to laugh. We got a big kick out of it too. I'm note so sure that those words don't just mean something funny in Chinese. Who knows but it is progress in him learning English.
We thank you all for the prayers. We still are in great need of them. We have a long road ahead of us in many ways but I know the Lord will be with us all the way. I am going to include some random pictures from our trip that we haven't included before. One will be a picture of the infamous squatty potty. The girls loved this part of the trip (NOT). It definitely stretched our ability to conform to some of the gross things in life. We are very happy to be home and sleeping in our own beds. Thanks for the prayers!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

We made it home this evening around 5:30pm. There are a few last funny anecdotes to tell, but since we're all exhausted, allow us a day or two; then we'll follow up.
Thanks again for your prayers and well-wishes. When we got home, Noah was like a kid on Christmas Day - running through the house, exploring everything. He wanted to see his room and was wide-eyed at all the toys and clothes that many of you gifted to him. We ate a light supper and everyone headed to bed. Noah cried for about a minute, then took 2 minutes to fall asleep...

Adam & Robin