Friday, July 23, 2010

bella's little body...

so many of you have been asking about how bella is doing physically. she looks darling, can sure pull off the purple tutu thing and has a smile which lights up the room...but we know there is more to this picture. i thought i'd write a short note to fill you in on what we know right now.

a little history...
when we first found out about bella last july we knew from her referral she had been diagnosed with congenital heart defect. bella has pulmonary stenosis with transposition of the great arteries. in addition, she has a vascular septal defect (VSD) or a hole in her heart.

while we were going through the initial adoption process last year, we found out she was rushed in for an emergency heart surgery. she spent the entire month of july in a hospital here in guangzhou city. it made us only want to pursue her that much more.

this was a hard time though. we started to talk with more and more doctors and specialists...some of which were very discouraging. we had more than one doctor tell us she was not a good candidate for adoption. one very sweet doctor cried on the phone with me...she said she could not encourage us to pursue this child...she might only live to see age 5 or 6. we had a couple of doctors warn us that her oxygen levels could have been compromised during her illness. therefore her cognitive aiblities could have been affected. the numbers and readings and figures weren't adding up to a positive result. i didn't know what 95% of any of it meant. i really believe that was a blessing. we seriously didn't know enough to be scared off. we just kept agreeing to take one more step. that is how all this happened friends. one little step at a time. that was all God was asking of us. just the next step.

so...after her one month stay in the hospital we finally received some scant information about her surgery. i mean like a few sentences...that was it. we found some doctors to translate the information about the surgery and discovered what had been done had been excellent work and very sophisticated. we had no idea who performed the surgery or where it was done. her pulmonary stenosis wasn't treated, but the hole in her heart was repaired.

from that point forward we have only received a couple of reports and all they really have stated was, "she is doing well." so here we were with our little girl on the other side of the world and we really didn't know much about her present medical condition. this is when you fall at the feet of Jesus and just ask for His protection and His provision. we could do nothing. we asked to visit her last fall...and were denied. we asked question after question...the answers were pitiful. but we were sticking to the one step at a time theory.

that is all we knew heading to china. so....
now that we have her in our arms we know she looks like she is doing great. clearly all her cognitive abilities are just fine. she is incredibly sharp. definitely not at a 2 1/2 year old level yet, but she will be. we have no doubt. they told us to expect an institutionalized child to be about 12 months behind developmentally. she is teeny tiny physically, only weighing 22 pounds, but she isn't that far behind developmentally. she'll catch up quickly. her little arms and legs are quite thin, and she has absolutely zero junk in the trunk. but...she eats nonstop. i mean it is quite impressive what she can eat at one sitting. i know this is quite normal for children in orphanages, they are not familiar with the feeling of "full." when we met her on monday she had a cold and cough. that worried me because the upper respiratory thing is connected to her heart issues. when she was given to us the nanny also handed over a bag of medicines. all of it in chinese. i will never take for granted my publix pharmacy again. our guide helped us figure out the instructions, but it was quite involved and she was resistant to taking any of it. so, we chose to see an american/canadian doctor on wednesday to figure out more about what was going on with her "cold." i wasn't sure what to expect when we walked her into the clinic. this was a child that had been through two years of treatment and intense medical care. keep in mind she spent an entire month alone in a hospital at age 18 months. keep in mind she has been through surgery in a country where pain medication isn't readily used. i was a bit anxious walking into this clinic. but... bella was delightful. she smiled brightly at the nurses and seemed comfortable with the doctor. we had a glimpse into bella's past though when the doctor pulled out his stethoscope. as he pulled it out of his pocket, bella, on her own, pulled up her shirt. she knew the drill. we all stood there speechless. the doctor, rick, our guide and the nurse...we all just kind of stared at her. she did this two different times in two different clinics yesterday. it kind of made us proud and it kind of broke our heart.

so sitting there in this first clinic we were able to figure out what we needed to do to get rid of this cough/cold thing she has. the doctor prescribed new medications for which we were so thankful. we also were told by the doctor that he didn't hear a murmur. this means that the surgery from last july had been successful. they had patched the hole in her heart and it seemed to be doing well. we knew they only addressed one of the three issues. but we were glad for that info.

leaving that clinic yesterday we had to meet our group and head out to the u.s. consulate medical clinic where they would also evaluate bella and give her the necessary vaccinations for her to enter the u.s. a visa could not be issued until she was cleared of infectious diseases and vaccinated. we went. this clinic was crazy. much more a public healthcare kind of thing....cold, sterile, jammed with people. she did excellent here as well, but i was really struck by the doctor evaluating her. he listened to her heart and kept making awful faces. he said there was no murmur but "she did not sound like other children." that's because she has transposition of the arteries doctor! i wanted to yell at him...of course she doesn't sound like other children. he kept looking at me, clicking his tongue and shaking his head...i am telling you he was one broken english sentence away from asking us if we were sure we wanted her. i could not get her out of that room fast enough. he told us she would need to get the TB test and 6 additional shots. oh poor thing. it was a pitiful moment. we'll head back to the clinic on saturday and have her TB test read.

on another note, we have noticed bella's little left foot goes out to the side when she walks. she is walking and running pretty well. but this little foot kind of turns out. not a big deal at all in our minds. we'll get it addressed when the time comes. we didn't know anything about it before meeting her...but we've been finding out all kinds of treasures since monday. she also has dimple on her left cheek (like her mom) and she is left handed (like her mom)...oh, and she likes to shop (like her mom)! each day another little treasure is unveiled. it is sort of like that little advent calendar where each day you pop open a new door and find a surprise or a treat...we love it!

when we get home there will be plenty of time to get more answers. bella will have a full work up at our pedicatrician's office the first week home. on august 6th she will see a cardiologist at sibley heart center. we have prayed for this appointment. we know it will be a long day and it will be the first time we will really have a sense of what to expect for bella's future. but here's the deal...the doctors and all their reports are good. we are grateful to live in a city and a country where we have such excellent medical care...BUT none of it compares to the work we know God can do in her life. her heart is in HIS hands. we have trusted that from the beginning. He designed her this way...she is His creation and somehow all of this will bring Him glory.

when we heard about her sick little heart we were overwhelmed. but we quickly held on to the verse from psalm 147:3..."He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." we really don't know exactly what is ahead of us. we don't know what the future holds, but we do know Who Holds her future and for now that is enough.


Aus said...

Morning Jody - I'll just share a thought - our oldest adopted daughter (Korea) shared some of Bella's cardio issues - and today she is a happy and healthy almost 8 year old who will undoubtedly out live both her mom and dad....God provides - after all - He made a westeren MD available to you half a world away!

So happy for you guys - hugs -

aus and co.

andrea said...

psalms 147:3 is the perfect verse for our precious girls...God will take care of bella grace & emma lael's precious hearts... He made them in His perfect image...Praise God for bella grace and the wonderful family.

praying God's blessing on y'all,