WAY Better Than Surgery

We’re still in Yellowstone, remember?

Still Camping

Still Camping

When we arrived in Mammoth, we saw elk, everywhere.

Just Lounging Around

Just Lounging Around

We hiked the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.

Just Keep Hiking

Just Keep Hiking

The terraces look like ice and snow. Very Superman, don’t you think?

Fortress of Solitude

Fortress of Solitude

We decorated our pancakes.

Pancakes Made with Feeling

Pancakes Made with Feeling


We watched Old Faithful and other geysers erupt.
Old Faithful

Old Faithful


Leah and Lucy became Junior Rangers, with Yellowstone patches and all.

The trip was a complete success! We packed up on Saturday morning to head home… head home for surgery.

Lucy would be admitted on Monday in preparation for surgery on Tuesday. We had it all planned out, remember?

Maybe it was scheduled too tightly. Lucy had to start a clear liquid diet the day we drove home from Yellowstone. Not so yummy. Chicken broth, sprite, juices, Jell-o and that’s about it. She would have a second day of clear liquids and then she would go into the hospital. Well, that didn’t go so well. She got sick. Really sick. I would prefer any one of us get sick, anyone other than Lucy.

Late Saturday night, I was asleep, and I heard Lucy cough. I sat up in bed, “Luce, you ok?” And then I heard it “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
This is not good. Lucy can’t roll over. She can’t sit up. She could choke… aspirate… When Lucy is sick, we are all on high alert, until the threat has passed.

I sprung from bed (truly I sprung, you should have seen it!) I hollered, “AARON!” as I ran. Then he sprung, because you spring when your wife screams your name as she tears down the hallway to your child’s room.

Then we spent the following 24 hours either right by Lucy’s side, or not far from it. It wasn’t pretty. Trust me. (This is the part where you are SO glad that blogs are not scratch and sniff.) Lucy, with the flu is a 4 man job. Someone to hold the bowl. Someone to hold her up. Someone to hold her head up as her little body is wracked. She burst blood vessels in her eyes, from retching so violently.

Poor Lucy. Was it the liquid diet? Stress over the upcoming surgery? Maybe she was just sick with the flu. I know the clear liquid diet was on her mind, because after she would hurl, she would look up at me, smile and announce, “Chicken Sliders! From The Cheesecake Factory!” She was having me make a list of things she wanted to eat once she had recovered from surgery. It was kind of pitiful, really. “RAAAAAAAAAH!…. Peanut Butter Cup Shake!”

She was so tiny, weak and pale… or seemed to be, until she hollered out her next dream food. “Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream!”

Monday morning I called the hospital to let them know she had been sick. They asked me to bring her in for an evaluation to determine whether or not surgery should be canceled. We packed like we were going in for surgery and a week of recovery.

Very Sick Girl

Very Sick Girl

I told the doctor everything that had happened in the past 48 hours. Then he announced that it would be best to wait and reschedule the surgery.

Lucy had just completed 48 hours of eating nothing but clear liquids and ralphing them up again… and we would have to do it all over again in a few weeks, hopefully without the ralphing.

The doctor left the room. Lucy and I were both tired. She looked at me and said sadly, “But… mom, I’m ready. I’m ready to have surgery.” (Proof that reverse psychology actually works)

We hugged, and then, two very exhausted girls had a little cry.

Then we got our things and went home.

But wait, it can’t end there! That would never do!
(Kei, put away your Kleenex!!!)
As soon as Lucy felt well enough to eat Chicken Sliders from The Cheesecake Factory, which was within a few short hours of canceling her surgery, I booked flights to San Diego!

Early Wednesday morning Lucy, her cousin Clara, and I flew to California and went straight to Sea World for three days!

We Love California

We Love California

Lucy and Shamu

Lucy and Clara giggled non-stop… for three days! On the flight home, Lucy smiled and said, “Hey mom! That was WAY better than surgery!” Once again, Lucy is right.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
P.S. Lucy will start her liquid diet this Saturday. Aaron, Leah and I will join her on the liquid diet for support. The plan is that Lucy will be admitted to the hospital this Monday…

Plans are overrated.

We might just no-show and go to Sea World again!

This entry was posted in Crazy Little Thing Called Life, Strong Enough and tagged , , , , , , , , , by Rachel Coleman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. www.deafchildren.org Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at www.mydeafchild.org. For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on www.SignItASL.com. Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old.

35 thoughts on “WAY Better Than Surgery

  1. I love cherry cheesecake ice cream, too! Here’s hoping for the best in the surgery- tell Lucy we’re going to do the jello thing here, too, for moral support and well wishes!

  2. I agree with Lucy, that was much better than surgery! I am glad she was able to enjoy her last week of summer vacation. I am pretty sure she won’t be heartbroken to miss school next week. I hope everything goes smoothly next week!

  3. Sounds like she had fun! Except for the flu part. 🙁 Glad to see she had fun afterward (and has a list of stuff she can eat after recovery from surgery)! Good luck with the rescheduled surgery! I guess I’ll jump on this liquid diet bandwagon as well!

    And yeah, I think SeaWorld is better than surgery, too! 🙂

  4. Can we have Cheesecake ice cream delivered to the hospital after surgery? How awesome would that be? I bet she’d go home EARLY if she got a treat like that!

    -Renee

  5. Rachel, you are such an awesome Mom and a great inspiration. What an awesome way to spend some time with Lucy before her operation. You are all in our prayers and we hope everything goes quickly and smoothly for Lucy.

  6. Lucy and Rachel,

    You always touch my heart. I hope that you are able to have the surgery this time. If not the Grand Canon might be nice to visit.

    I too will join the liquid diet.

  7. Love all the photos! Lucy you are going to do great this week! Rachel what a great way to roll with the punches 🙂
    You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers this week

  8. Bless her heart! My Addy is struggling with feeding issues right now so we are on high alert too. So glad Lucy got better and got to have fun Sea World is one of my favorites! Good luck with the surgery!

  9. Thanks for sharing….you guys are in our thoughts and prayers….I will also partake in the liquid diet, but probably will not be eating the jello…or wait, does that include jello shots? LOL…I feel for you guys, especially Lucy, and pray things go quickly and smoothly….

  10. Rachel and Lucy (and Aaron and Leah, who also bear the brunt of it),

    My thoughts and prayers are with you guys. As we watch “BST” and “ST” (as we call it at our house) we will be praying for little Lucy. And the next time I’m cleaning vomit up, I will say a prayer of thanksgiving that I didn’t have to help him throw up. Thanks for the reminder to look on the sunny side.

    Please let us all know the outcome of the surgery. You must be nervous, but you’re handling it really well!

  11. Joeymom: suddenly Jell-o has an unexplained increase in sales LOL. I’ll be tweeting. It might look like this. Breakfast: Jell-o. Snack: Sprite. Lunch: Chicken Bouillon. Dinner: Hawaiian Punch. Dessert: Jolly Ranchers (GAH! this is your chance to bow out!)

    Steve aka Dadgineer: We are going ahead with the plan. I’ll keep you posted.

    Cathy: Yeah right! Heartbroken. I really did try to make it work so she wouldn’t miss school, but Lucy had other plans.

    Susan Jumonville: Thank you. That is sweet!

    Jaclyn: Yes, it was a great way to end the summer.

    purplewowies: The flu was pretty terrible. Sea World was pretty fun.

    Gabrielle: Oh we will. I was given a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory today! It will be used.

    Kei: Love you back. If we end up in NYC in November will you come play?

    Renee: Good idea. I will see if I can sneak some in when she is recovered enough to eat.

    Sheri: It was so spur of the moment. We had a big empty week in front of us and I pulled together my airline miles and voila! Thanks for the good wishes.

    Summer: Now I just need to figure out a light at the end of the surgery tunnel. Slim chance she’s getting out of it this coming week.

    Lisa: That’s the good news, it’s a big, beautiful country we live in, isn’t it? Thanks for the support. Lucy is really touched by all of you.

    Ronai: So many punches, so little time. Nothing left to do but roll:)

    Cammie Heflin: High alert is taxing, isn’t it. I think we were on high alert for Lucy’s first few years. We forgot what normal even felt like.

    mum2brady: Thanks!

    Carol Palmer: Who eats Jell-o? I just picked up 4 different flavors, pre-made. It might be more interesting for her if we boil and mix it up and let it set though.

    Elizabeth: You are right, every member of the family worries. Big sister loves little sister. Mom and Dad really hate handing their kid off and watching her go through those swinging hospital doors. (sigh) It’s not fun. The surgeries will take about 5 hours. (double sigh)

  12. Rachel,
    Sending you and your family lots of prayers for Lucy’s upcoming surgery. What a great way to spend Pre-Surgery time giving Lucy and Leah some fantastic family memories. My husband is going to have brain surgery (yep, I said brain) two weeks from today, we just spent a week at the shore, i’m so thankful we’ve had that time to just “chill”. I have read your blog “strong enough to be your mom, part 2” over and over again, what an inspiration you are. I need to be strong enough to not only be his wife, but also be the “go to” parent for my 2 1/2 yr old, emma for anywhere from 4 week to six months, thanks for making me even stronger!! Good luck with everything, I pray it all goes smoothly for you.

  13. Rachel,

    You and your family have been with our daughter in 6-inch mini-DVD form for every surgery and hospitalization she’s had since turning 1. Colors of the Rainbow calmed her right down after an outpatient procedure, and got us home sooner. Nurses said they had never seen a child calm so quickly after surgery.

    Lucy and your whole family will be in our thoughts and prayers. Just as you have encouraged and supported so many, may you feel uplifted and comforted by families who understand the leaps out of bed and admire you all for your grace, bravery, and ability to share The Good. Please give Lucy our best.

  14. Bummer about the all liquid diet!! How long will she be in recovery for? Hoping she can have those Cheesecake Factory treats soon!!

    Lots of hugs and positive thoughts —> your way!

  15. What a trooper Lucy is! Will be praying for her as she goes through the liquid diet and for surgery. But have to tell you that only a child and a special one can think of all the things she wants to eat while throwing up. What a sweet girl she is!

  16. There is so much to love about this story…
    However, I am still in shock…did Leah grow like 6 inches over the summer?! She looks so tall! That’s the rough part about the tween years…they grow overnight! Tell Lucy that I am going to tell all my patients on clear liquid diets about how awesome she is on her clear liquids so they don’t whine tomorrow!
    Prayers for you all…extra ones too!

  17. I just love this story…I acknowledge your “what is IS” attitude…taking it and running with it….or hiking or whatever, leaving the hospital and booking Sea World….you don’t sit around and do the “Blame Game”! What is a disappointment in someone else’s day is a new Opportunity for you! Thanks, Rachel and Lucy for living life in a way that inspires!

  18. I’m glad Lucy got to enjoy her last week of summer! She cracks me up to be announcing foods she would enjoy going down as she is hurling the yucky liquid diet up. Tell her she had our interest with the peanut butter cup shake! 😉

    All positive thoughts and prayers will be sent for all of you (over the weekend and especially for the surgery)!

  19. Amy: I’m just shaking my head. I don’t even know what to say. We don’t get to choose our circumstances, we just choose to do the best we can. You can do it and do it gracefully.

    Diane: I am glad we were able to be of help! We just picked up a mini DVD player for Lucy’s visit. I doubt it will be playing Signing Time though 🙂 If Lucy wants that, she’ll get the Live version.

    Jennifer Rodriguez: They said to plan on staying in the hospital for a week. I don’t know when her eating will be back to normal though.

    Angela: It was pitiful and slightly comical at the same time. I think THIS weekend will go more smoothly, we all know what we are in for. It has to be easier, especially if no one is barfing.

    Kei: It’s not solid yet. But, there is a chance of Leah as well!

    Heather: Yes I think she grew a foot. She is about to pass me by in height… not anything to brag about, I’m a whopping 5’2″. This morning I was flat-ironing her hair (picture day) and I kept thinking, “I need her to sit down! She’s too tall for this.” PLUS, Lucy is a tall, gangly thing too! We call her Lucy Long Legs. I think she’ll be taller than Leah.

    Linda Jan: It just seemed like the right thing to do:) Take-off, eat cotton candy and watch whales propel themselves into the air. Amazing. Lucy is already asking to go back.

    Leanna: Thanks. We will work it out. I’ll keep you all posted on twitter.
    www.twitter.com/ST_Rachel

    Marie Smith: That high alert is so stressful. It was nice to counter it with a hotel stay. Clean linens, room service and housekeeping.

  20. Since Lucy is ready to go back, make sure you invite me to Sea World the next time….I’m dying to see Shamu! And I’d love to run around with you, Lucy, and Clara!

  21. Brave little Lucy makes my heart swell! Best wishes to all of you for a successful and very uneventful surgery. Will be watching for updates and praying for a smooth recovery filled with lots of Lucy’s favorite yummy foods.

  22. As I am reading this you are on day #2 of your supportive liquid diet – I hope that is going as well as it can! I think the alternate plan to surgery was brilliant, especially because I think now you will all remember the Sea World trip and not the surgery!
    I loved the chocolate ribbon in her hair too, and I believe in the healing powers of chocolate. I will be anxiously awaiting a good report post-surgery; our prayers are with you and your family and the surgeons.

  23. Rachel… you are Superman!
    Lucy is so lucky to have you. And I take it, school hadn’t started yet? 🙂
    Thinking of you guys as the next leg of your journey begins…

    (and if you do come to NYC in Nov, you can meet my new little one… we’d LOVE to see you again!!!)

  24. What a humbling story, you and your entire family are all hero’s in my eyes! The amount of love, caring, honesty, and selflessness is all something any person should aspire to have, even just a percentage of. I admire you all, hope to see you soon!

  25. Linda Jan: I’l let Lucy know. I can’t imagine it’s going to be too soon though.

    Vickie: Thank you Vickie. We started another list, she added “fudge” to it LOL, don’t tell LeeAnn 😉

    Anita: So far so good. None of us get excited about eating, because there is nothing exciting to eat. We’ve completed the second day of broth, Sprite, Jello, Herbal Tea, Honey, Juice etc. Tomorrow, Monday, we check Lucy in. Tuesday she has surgery. She won’t be able to eat on Monday either…

    JenML: School has started, but the flu knocked out our summer surgery. Oh well!
    I’d love to meet your new little one. Maybe I will need A LOT of help in NYC.

    Dustin Schrecengost: Thank you so much Dustin. You will be seeing us soon! We can’t wait to get back in to Fit Forever.

  26. My 21 month old and I are avid watchers of your Signing Time DVDs. I knew from the videos that you were amazing, and when I came upon your blog I was beyond amazed. Thank you for sharing all that you have with us, and bringing two beautiful girls up in a world that will shine from their presence in it.

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