Jack’s Big Break

Among the list of medical issues that Jack has, one is scoliosis. Unfortunately, this is an issue that regularly follows CDH and Jack is no exception. We knew of his curve at an early age due to all the x-rays he was given. But, there were many other medical issues that needed to be addressed first. Tracheal reconstruction, bowel resection and coarctation – not to mention the repair of the hernia itself. It took a while to get to the non-life threatening repairs. One of the most recent being his hip surgery and subsequent spica cast. But before we went to see his doctor for his hip, we had to see his doctor about his spine. This is when we heard that Jack’s curve was severe enough for a Mehta cast. This is a cast similar to his hip cast in that it is a plaster cast used to immobilize him as he heals and grows. There would be no cutting involved in the surgery, but they would have to put Jack to sleep and straighten his back before casting him. He would then get a new cast every couple of months as he grows.  But since the hip surgery was more pressing, that would happen first.

Following his hip cast, Jack was given the physical ability to learn to walk – which he did in record time considering his set-backs. Since this past summer, he has been walking as his primary method of mobility and is slowing defining muscles which he had never properly used before.

We all went back to the orthopedic surgeon’s office this past Friday to discuss the next steps in Jack’s great body make-over. More x-rays were taken and we sat in the waiting room and the exam room waiting to see the doctor and trying to keep Jack’s mind off the fact that we were back at the hospital.  And I do have to say that the first appointment of the day is by far the best. There really was little waiting.

The doctor came in and only took a quick look at Jack. He seemed to already know what he was going to say. Jack’s top curve had not changed overall from the x-rays taken nearly a year devious. This was good. The bottom curve, however had IMPROVED by nearly 10 degrees. Evidently, the use of his back muscles to walk had strengthened enough to straighten his back a little. Not only will Jack not get his cast, the doctor wants to give it another 6 months. If the curve continues to improve, he won’t be getting a brace either!

Preschool – First Week Update

Jack has officially finished his first week of preschool and I am happy to report that he is loving it! He is now only giving a whimper as he enters the classroom and the teacher has told us that it only lasts until he sees the first kid in class. Then he is all smiles until he is picked up.

This week, they are learning about boxes – what they can be used for and where they are found. He is also enjoying to paint, color and has also started using safety scissors. I was horrified at first that he was an appropriate age to be using scissors, but I guess he is my grown up boy now.

He also had his first picture day on Thursday of last week so I can’t wait to see what gremlin of a smile he will be wearing. They’re going on the photo wall either way.

But Jack will have to wait a whole week before he is able to return back to school… this little boy has pink eye!

Jack’s First Day of School

Today fulfilled a dream which Jack has been talking about for weeks – the first day of school. A chance for him to play with other kids and learn in a group environment with his peers.

Though we were originally trying to get Jack enrolled in a medically sensitive preschool program, he was too healthy and developmentally caught up to be accepted. Rather, he was accepted into a mixed class with both typical kids and kids with developmental delays.

All his doctors agreed that he was healthy enough to be in a class with other kids during the flu season. Though there is risk of him getting sick and possibly spending time on oxygen, it will be valuable for him to be introduced into a group of his peers.


The first day of school went just as I expected, he ran into the front doors with excitement. We checked out his cubbie and put his new backpack and raincoat inside.


All the kids start the day with a bathroom break and washing their hands and Jack would be not be an exception on his first day. As he turned to follow the teacher to the bathrooms he realized that we were not hot on his trail and he turned to instruct us to follow. When he realized we were actually trying to sneak off, the flood gates opened and he was beside himself. In an attempt to keep the progress and divert Jack’s attention, the teacher turned Jack and guided him down the hall; Jack protesting the whole way.


I was really upset by the time we reached the car and wanted to go back And rescue him, but I knew that by the end of his two and a half hour class, he would be loving it, he just needed a little time to adjust.

Luckily for me and my nerves, Jack has a cousin who works at the school as a teacher. He checked in on Jack during snack time and let us know the update…Jack was eating his snack and loving it. Jack reported that he was having fun and the teacher confirmed that Jack had quickly made himself at home and was having fun with the other kids. Thank goodness for cousins!

When I went to pick him up from school, He was eager to see me at the door but immediately told me about the fun he had playing with the kids. He had a” great time”.  The teacher let me know that he was a happy boy and played well and even stayed in his chair for the majority of circle time.

I think tomorrow may be a little more smooth…or so I pray.

Jack is on the CCHMC Blog!

Check out my first post on the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Blog! It’s about Jack overcoming CDH and how we are becoming a “normal” family. Enjoy!


Taking Life By The Short Hairs

I am currently reading a book titled What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam. I first picked up the book looking for a little pep talk about getting up earlier in the morning before work and allowing myself to be more prepared and less rushed before my morning commute. What I am receiving however, is a book full of small changes that I can make in my life to get more value out of my time.

One suggestion is to take the weekends as a time to live life rather than a time to recover from the long and busy work week. Sure, recovering is great, but you are missing a small piece of your life which is set aside for living and recharging.

The author breaks the book into sections of the week; before breakfast, on the weekends and at work. In the section entitled, “What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: All There Is” She recalls a story idea about “Simplifying Christmas” in which the narrative shares that you don’t have to bake, throw parties and curl ribbon during the holidays. You can simplify this festive time to allow for relaxation. And though she agrees that there is no reason to fill this time with tasks that won’t bring joy or buying expensive gifts that nobody really wants, there is a value to all the holiday hoopla.

“But if you’ve got young kids, it doesn’t take long to realize that there won’t be many Christmas seasons when the little ones will race downstairs in the morning to see what Santa brought. They won’t always be eager to bake with you, spilling flour on the counter in their excitement. Eventually they won’t care if you don’t put up a giant tree or go caroling or make hot chocolate. They’ll allow you to beg off making a snowman because you’re tired. But there are only a few winters – and only a few days each winter when it’s snowy and you all are home together – that you children will ask to make snowmen with you. Someday, perhaps you will be staring at the snow from a too-simple hospital or nursing home, dreaming of the days when making snowmen with your children was an option. This realization leads to a different question than that suggested by all these tips on simplifying the holidays. Namely, what are you saving your energy for? This is all there is. Anything could happen and you are not guaranteed another snowman. So make a fuss. Make a show. Spend your energy now.”

Matt and I are making great progress on the house and are spending most if not all of our weekends to make head-way. I feel like Jack is growing up and I’m only watching it in the photos I look back on during the week while I am trying to stay focused at work.

We need to find at least one activity a weekend which we can spend together, having fun, relaxing and growing together. Even if it’s just a relaxing movie on a Saturday night, or a Friday evening in the park watching Jack act like a baseball prodigy. We will still get the backyard cleaned up and then we will be able to relax in our safe backyard oasis in the evenings – even during the week when a little time spent sitting and just talking is the most beneficial.

“You can make more money, but the mightiest among us is granted no more than 168 hours per week, and it is physically impossible to work for all of them.” Laura Vanderkam, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

Swimming Jack


A Jack Update

A little update on the happenings in the Roettgers house.

Jack has been healing nicely since his three-day stay in Children’s in late March/early April. It turned out he had a bronchial virus and just needed a couple of days to rest. A lot of sleep and some oxygen supplementation did the trick. We have only have one other time where his oxygen saturation dropped but it was only for an hour and he was back up and running with no other symptoms.

In May, I started traveling a lot for work. I like it for the most part so it’s okay. I hate the part where I’m away from my family, but I guess you can’t have one without the other. I would use that as an excuse for my lack of posting, but we all know that’s not my issue… We also took a family trip to Orlando for a week. Jack had a blast running around the condo pool, we took a one day trip to Clearwater Beach, took a winery tour (which really made the food scientist in me happy), and spent one day at Sea World. Jack was beside himself at Sea World; exploring all the new and amazing animals and walking in the masses of kids on their family vacations.

On June 10th, Jack had a three-part surgery at Cincinnati Children’s. He had the screws in his left hip removed, had an inguinal hernia repaired and a routine ML&B. He did so well, Jack was released from the hospital later that day. All three of us were so happy that we didn’t have to spend another night in the hospital. Cincinnati Children’s, you do amazing work in saving children but your furniture could be an effective form of torture. Your seats in the same day surgery waiting room are no better. I feel that we have clocked enough hours for a Temperpedic.

July has brought a bunch of parties which Jack was more than willing to attend. Jack is coming into his own as a lover of his child peers and is even showing an interest in sharing, as long as that means the other kids want to share in a game that requires a ball.

Since Jack’s hip screw removal (about 6 weeks), Jack has becoming a great walker. He has taken a great interest in golf and baseball and is improving both swings.

Until next time, here is a little video of Jack perfecting his gold swing with his deluxe plastic golf set from Wal-Mart.

Event Changes – Third Annual CDH Awareness Blood Drive

Many of you may be wondering why there hasn’t been any information circulating about the Third Annual CDH Awareness Blood Drive. After all, the Holy Trinity Festival is on August 1-3, 2014. Well, unfortunately Hoxworth Blood Centers has changed their criteria for blood drives scheduled on the weekends and the CDH Awareness Blood Drive no longer meets their criteria for units collected. I do want to add that though I am saddened with their decisions, I will continue to donate blood and encourage you all who are willing and capable to do the same. What this means, however is that Matt, Jack and I will be at the Holy Trinity Festival for pure recreation. We wouldn’t miss it and are looking forward to seeing your smiling faces there.

I apologize for the late notice, I was trying to negotiate with my donor coordinator to no avail. Team Jack will take a break this summer to regroup and find other ways to raise awareness for this deadly defect while helping to give back to our community in medical need.

I am thinking a re-do of sorts on Matt and Kaytee’s wedding. Complete with a reggae band and cook out… or another beer Olympics; all to raise money for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Thoughts, Suggestions, Volunteers?