Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sad day for the Bradner Family

Hello All:  This is our cat Lucky who has been with us for almost 10 years.  We are sad to share that yesterday we had to have her put to sleep.  We had taken her to vet earlier this month and she was diagnosed with kidney failure.  We changed her diet and gave her meds. to try and help.  She perked up for awhile and seemed to improve. But over the last few days she stopped eating and drinking and would howl pitifully.  Unfortunately, we knew it was time and did not want her to suffer.  

Lucky adopted us in Feb. of '99.  I had just had gallbladder surgery and was laid up. Allison was a little baby and John and Mitch noticed her outside around the house.  I told them, "Do not feed her or she will stay!" (not really wanting a cat right then) Well, they fed her and by the time I was up and around she was ours.  Lucky was a great hunter and always kept the mice at bay.  She was self-sufficient and would be happy roaming outside and then coming inside to snuggle.  As Allison became a toddler she would call Lucky, "My Kee-Kee Baby." Which was a nickname that stuck with her. Lucky easily moved with us from our house on Laura Lane to our present house and quickly established her authority in the neighborhood with all the other cats.  Even though she was a petite  she was strong and the other cats did not mess with her.  

She will be greatly missed for her hunting abilities, cuddling and love she shared with us for so long. 

*** Above is a favorite picture of her cuddling in a basket.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Photos of Allison lookin' better

Here are pictures of Allison when she is looking better.  One is from September and the other from December when we had snow.  She missed the snow last year because she was in bed and sick so it was especially special to her.  

Here is Allison in December just before Christmas.  She is off the prednisone and has lost some of her puffiness.  So nice to see color in her cheeks.  
Here is Allison in September on the first day of school. She was on Predisone at this time. You might notice how she has filled out from some of the other pictures. 

Photos of Allison last spring.

Allison in late May when she received the quilt made by fifth graders at her elementary school. She was pretty thin and not eating much at this time.   

This is Allison's 10th Birthday cake on May 19th.  She felt so badly this day she barely got up of the couch and only had a bite or cake and opened gifts quickly.  She wouldn't let us take her picture so this is the only one we have of just her cake.  :(

Here is Allison at Easter visiting her Grandma & Grandpa Lane.  She was determined to go for Grandpa's Easter Egg hunt.  She made it through but was very tired and spent most of the day on the couch watching movies.  

This is Allison in early March lookin' pretty pale and eating popcorn.  We went through a week or two where popcorn was about the only thing we could get her to eat.  
Here is Allison just before Easter coloring eggs while she felt good enough to be up. 

** You can see how pale and thin she looked in some of these pictures.  

It has been 1 Year!!!!

Today is the one year anniversary of when Allison started running the fever and getting ill with Systemic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA).  Seems crazy that a year has already past by but then I think back to when she was first sick and it seems like so many things have happened since then.  One year ago it was a beautiful sunny winter weekend too.  We all remember working out in the yard and Allison not feeling well on Saturday so she stayed inside and rested on the couch.  This Saturday we found ourselves outside working in the yard and Allison was inside doing something.  John quickly stopped and went in and brought her outside.  We didn't want to create the same situation as a year ago.  :) (funny aren't we)  Well, we all worked outside and enjoyed the sunshine this year and no issues.  

Allison looks and feels great.  We are all glad the past year is behind us and ready to move forward.  I do have to say among all the stress, anxiety, fear and emotional upheaval there were so many rays of sunshine that people brought into Allison and into all of our lives, things we will all treasure for a life time.  It is these things that made our lives happier even on the worst and scariest days.  
 *Friends and family sending countless cards, emails, gifts, prayers and well wishes. 
 *People dropping by to visit after being stuck in the house for days on end.  
 *Our Valentine's Day to remember thanks to our family at the fire department.  
   (No other Valentine's Day could ever compare to the all day visits and constant gifts. ) 
 *So many meals brought to us by our church family and friends.
 *Allison's introduction to the world of Webkins: Thanks Andersons & Wootens!! 
 *Allison's Sunday School class visiting with gifts, well wishes and prayers.  
 *Discovery the world of blogging!  :)
 *Oh, and the Wooten family introduced Allison to the book Peter and the Starcatchers and she became hooked. I read it to her daily especially when she was in pain.  We ended up reading      the other two because she liked them so much.  Go read them if you haven't.  They are Great!
 *My discovery of the online support board for moms whose kids have jra.  I couldn't have made it through especially those initial months without there support and guidance.  
  * The wonderful quilt that Mrs. Bailey's fifth graders last year made for Allison with such love and caring.  What a treasure. 
  * The fire department surprising Allison just before her birthday with a Wii, so many games, and accessories.  What a surprise and great idea to get her up and moving her muscles.   Boxing made her arms sore but she says it was so much fun.
  *Being able to go to the family JRA camp in Washington.  
  *Taking the trip to Disneyland and the national jra convention.  What a great opportunity for our whole family.  An adventure we will always remember and treasure. 

Again, we want to thank all of you who have come around our family in this past year to support and care for us.  We are hoping and praying the worst is behind Allison.  We will continue to update as things happen or don't. :)

Blessings to all of you,
The Bradner Family 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Visiting Dr. Kingsbury today!!

Whoo-Hoo!!! We are all excited to report Dr. Kingsbury could find no evidence of arthritis, swelling or..... anything.  He did throw us a bit of a curve ball in that he said he wanted to start to wean her off the methotrexate (mtx.) !!! We couldn't believe it.  He had previously told us ( I think I have shared this) that he wanted her to be off the prednisone a year and symptom free before considering weaning.  She is doing so well he wants to go ahead and start lowering her dosage even though she has only been off the prednisone since November 5th.  The other curve ball is he said if we wanted, we could try taking her completely off the mtx and see what happens.  (Yikes) After some discussion we decided we did not wish to push it and would try weaning her down and see how that goes.  No reason to jump into anything.  So, on Friday she will go down from 20 mg. to 15 mg. weekly.  We will see how she does and then at her next appt. in April we will decide what the next step will be.  

We asked him about side effects of taking mtx long term and there are none.  This drug has been used for over 20 years treating jra and he didn't know of any long term concerns so that was a relief to us.  

So, as she is weaning we will be watching her for breakthrough symptoms and if she catches a cold or virus to see if she has a flare up of arthritis with it on the lower dose of mtx.  If she should flare that will tell us the mtx. is controlling the jra not that she has out grown it.  Dr. Kingsbury was quick to point out even if we find it is the mtx. that is controlling the jra that is still a good thing and no reason to be discouraged.  So, we continue the wait and see.  Allison is excited at the possibility she might have out grown this disease that at first seemed like it would be something she would have to deal with life long.  

 Systemic jra is so scary at the beginning ( not that the other types aren't) with the rashes and high fevers but then it also is the one where after a year some kids just out grown it.  I find that interesting.  

As we drove to Portland we looked over the huge notebook of info we had documented on Allison over the last year and it was emotional to look at where we started, what we have gone through and were we are today.  We recognize we were so blessed to have wonderful, wise doctors here in Albany that reacted quickly to her symptoms and started thinking jra early so that Allison could get to a specialist in Portland quickly.  We had wonderful angels that were put into our path that intercepted and reached out to us to guide us to the Pediatric Rheumy. Doctor in Portland that we need to get Allison to so she could get symptom relief.  Looking back I can see clearly how God placed people along our journey to lead and guide us through this forest called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. We also know that with out our family and friends and especially church family who so many have spent hours praying for Allison we would not be in this good place we are today. I only hope we can return the favor to others whose kids are effected by this disease. 

Jump for Joy for Allison tonight!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Laundry Mishap

I just have to take a minute and post this.  Allison being the responsible child she is decided to do her laundry last night on her own.  This morning when she pulled the clothes (darks, jeans, pants and favorite dark shirts) they had white on them.  Upon first inspection of a pair of pant I thought she just put in too much detergent and it didn't all dissolve.  When I looked closer and realized the whole load had white I questioned her made the discovery.  Instead of putting detergent she put in Clorax Bleach!!!!!!!!!! Yikes!!!!!  All her favorites are completely ruined.  Only one pair of jeans capris escaped the bleaching.  Poor thing.  She has no dark clothes that are not completely dyed with bleach.  I see a shopping trip in her near future and maybe some extra laundry duty.  

Hope you have a great day.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Year

Wow, I can't believe it has been so long since we have update Allison's blog.  We have had lots of people ask about it and yes, no news is good news.  Life turned very hectic in November and December.  So, without turning this into a book I will try and update you on our activites in November.  

Allison: First and foremost, we are so thankful that Allison is doing so well.  Unfortunately we missed her pediatric rheumatologist appt. December 23rd because of all the snow and ice in Portland.  She is rescheduled to go January 15th.  That will be just a few days before the one year anniversary of Allison's illness beginning.  It is amazing and a true blessing that she is doing so well.  When she was first diagnosed we had little hope that she would be symptom free and never in our dreams would it happen so quickly.  God continues to work miracles.  After her appt. we will update  on what the doctor says.  

*Allison's Lego robotics team won the teamwork award at the regional competition in Salem.  We were all thrilled but none more than the girls on the team.  They worked so hard and it is their first time participating so it was extra special to be able to take a trophy home for their school.   

Sad News: John's mom, Evie Bradner passed away November 19th.  We miss her, but also rejoice that she is now in Heaven and free from pain and illness.  Thanks so much to all of you who sent cards and reached out to us during this time.  

Thanksgiving: We had my family come and celebrate with us and then the next day John's Dad, sister and brother came down to celebrate.  Lots of good food to eat.  

Christmas:  Leading up to Christmas we had the great surprise of snow (not as much as Portland or some other places in Oregon) but the kids did miss 3 days of school the week before vacation.  We had a relaxing, quiet Christmas day at home.  It was wonderful.  We then visited with family and friends over the holiday.  

Weight loss over the holidays? Hard to imagine isn't it? Well, on Christmas Eve I was eating a caramel and out popped a crown off a tooth.  I was left with a gaping hole.  My dentist unfortunately was gone until January 5th.  John tried without success to find a dentist to take me after Christmas but no luck.  So, I was left to chew on one side and eat soft foods until I could get in and have it repaired today.  The good news, I lost weight.  A tough way to do it, but I don't think I have ever lost weight over the holidays. I wouldn't recommend it as a New Years weight loss program.  

John and I escape:  We took a much needed break for ourselves.  My sister Steph and her family kindly took the three kids for a night and we spent the night in Portland at a boutique hotel down town.  We saw the musical group Pink Martini at the Crystal Ballroom, saw the movie Frost/Nixon(it is a real treat to see a movie that is not a cartoon), shopped, ate and enjoyed some time without the kids.  It had been over a year since we had been away from them for a night.  It was definitely time.  :)

Big News: We learned just before Christmas that my sister, Steph and her husband Chris are expecting a baby.  We are all excited and thrilled.  Mitch and Jacob are, of course, pulling for a boy and Allison wants another girl cousin.  Mitch is really hoping this is his chance to finally get a boy cousin on the Lane's side of the family.  We will have to wait and see.  

New Years Eve: We toasted in the New Year (with sparkling cider) with our good friends the Smiths.  We had a great dinner Kristi prepared and just hung out all evening.  Before we knew it mid-night had arrived and we all raced to see the ball drop in Time's Square.  
Back to School: So the kids are back to school and now we have to adjust to the early rising and early to bed which is tough in our household.  Jacob and I are enjoying some quiet during the day.  I will soon be back to working and doing my Tree Talks in the schools.  

We hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season and were able to enjoy some time with family and friends. We will try to keep the blog updated more regularly, but with Allison doing so well (thankfully) I am sometimes at a loss to what to write or if people will want to read this.  Enjoy 2009 and thanks again to all of you who check in and support us with your love and prayers. 

The Bradners