Welcome to the Scharrer family's real life story! Most of our story is written for, and about, our four kids and the spice they add to our lives. It's our story of happiness, craziness, and sometimes ridiculousness. We've journaled through childbirth, the terrible two's, private school (and our public school experience), an autism diagnosis, medical school, residency, and long-term mission work in Africa.

Now we're following a new adventure, which involves a 45 foot motorcoach, homeschool, and as many ski slopes as we can go down in one year.

For posts from while we were living in Zimbabwe and updates about our future plans in Zimbabwe, please see our mission blog...


30 March 2012

Skogen's First Bike

Skogen got a bike for his birthday, but since his birthday was in the middle of January, we just kept it in the box until the 80 degree weather hit.  Yes, it is only March and it has been in the 70's and 80's for almost three weeks now!  We are loving the warm weather.  The kids play outside most of the day and now that Daddy built Skogen's new bike (one handed!), Skogen has been on his bike for most of the day.  He rides up and down, up and down, up and down the sidewalk.  When he gets bored with that, I'll teach him how to draw roads for his bike with sidewalk chalk on the driveway like I used to do when I was little.

28 March 2012

The Puking Never Ended

After our last two-day stomach flu that made it's way around the family, we had five days of being healthy before we were hit with another stomach flu. This one was by far the worst of the year and lasted a good five days for each person.  Klaasen got it first, then Skogen, then Maida, and then me.  It was a challenge to keep the kids hydrated when they puked for five straight days.  We discovered that we could give them Zofran, an anti-nausea medication, and this helped keep enough liquid down so that we did not need to go to the Emergency Department to get IV fluids.  I was so thankful when this virus left out house and really hope that we didn't spread it to anyone else.  It was h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e.  I have never seen someone puke so much or puked so hard myself.  The piles of bedsheets and towels that were puked on flooded the laundry room and hallway.  It was a nightmare!

Skogen sleeping over the puke bowl.

Maida fell asleep in the bath because it was the only place that felt comfortable to her achy body.

Erik was out of town, so I had to take three puking kids to Target to get some more Zofran and some 7-up.  Luckily no one puked in Target.  We were prepared with the puke bucket, just in case!

27 March 2012

Maida's Spring Haircut

I have been a bit behind on the blog front.  It seems like with Erik home all the time, I am a bit busier and never find the time to sit down at the computer.  Luckily I do most of my emailing and blog reading on my phone, so I can stay updated with everyone.  I transferred some pictures over to the computer the other day, so I'm going to try to play catch up over the next week or so.  Lots has happened...

One morning before preschool, I decided that Maida's hair was getting a little long and hard to manage.  She hated getting her hair combed because it always got so snarled.  So, she got out of the bath and we played beauty shop.

We sat on the bathroom floor and this is how much we cut off:

It didn't look like much when it was on the floor, but here is the finished look:

She loved it!  And it has made my life so much easier.  Combing it hasn't been as much as a problem and luckily we can still pull it back in a ponytail if she wants.

The only heart-breaker was that when I cut it, all those beautiful ringlets came off, too.  Here is a picture of her hair last spring:
I cried for two days after cutting it because I was for sure that her hair was ruined, but as soon as we washed it a few times and it got a little more humid outside, those curls have started coming back.

20 March 2012

Update on Erik's shoulder - SECOND blog post ever!!!

Again, I have to start by expressing my sincerest gratitude for the incredible amount of support we’ve received.  Friends from work continuously offer help in whatever way they can, Kara’s friends from her Bible study group (Side by Side) have provided some fabulous meals, and my residency program has been tremendously accommodating during the past two months.  I only wish I could adequately express how much the support, prayers, and words of encouragement have meant to us.

Now onto an update…
(Here's the background in case you missed it the first time.)

Over the six weeks after my injury I had been looking forward to the EMG, which is a much easier way to say electromyogram.  An EMG measures the electrical conduction through the nerves.  They do this by sending electrical shocks through the skin and measuring the velocity and also by inserting needles into the muscles to measure the electrical activity directly in the muscle.  If you are thinking this does not sound terribly comfortable, you have just confirmed your understanding of this tortuous exam.  In saying that, you might wonder why I would be anticipating it for a month and a half, but it is certainly difficult to sit around without any idea of the prognosis and not being able to do anything to help the situation.  There are no therapies, no exercises, and no foods or pills that I can do to be actively participating in my own welfare.  Just waiting and praying.

Well, that day finally came last week when I would be brought down to the dungeon and tied up like Westley in the secret tree near Prince Humperdinck’s castle.  Leading up to the EMG, I had hopes that even though I couldn’t will my arm to move with a mere thought, perhaps the needle would pick up some electrical activity in the muscle that was present, but too weak to contract the muscle and maybe just needed more time to heal.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any great news after the EMG.  The simplest way to say it (and actually what the neurologist wrote in my official medical record) is “there was no activation of the left triceps, deltoid, and infraspinatus muscles.”  On a lighter note, however, I didn’t feel anything when the needle was inserted into my deltoid.

After the EMG, I had an appointment with “The Brachial Plexus Guys”.  That’s what I call them.  The brachial plexus clinic is made up of two orthopedic hand surgeons and a neurosurgeon who are truly experts in this field – traumatic brachial plexus injuries.  In fact, after the appointment, one of their several minions (a hand surgery fellow) wrote down the title of THE hand surgery text (Green’s) and several chapters that they wrote on traumatic brachial plexus injuries.  I went online to find it and discovered there are well over 1,000 publications between the three of them!  I cannot take for granted the mere fact that I have access to the world experts!

OK, getting back to the appointment.  I met with the neurosurgeon first and the rest of the team followed.  We had a discussion about my career and how it is extremely frustrating to work so hard and for so long toward a goal that is now more of an uncertainty.  I still have one good arm and a brain, and I’m optimistic that I will still practice emergency medicine despite the potential need for adjustments in practice style, though I am also praying that I won’t have to make any adjustments at all and that I’ll eventually heal.  On that note, we also talked about how this injury will probably not heal completely on its own based on the EMG results.  While my career absolutely is important to me, my active lifestyle is even more so.  Most of you reading this know me and know that I was the guy on every intramural sports team, in addition to several city and church leagues, simultaneously (sometimes to my wife’s chagrin);  I was the guy willing to try anything, especially if it pushed the limits of physical toughness (also to my wife’s chagrin, which is why I purposely did not using the term “dangerous” here J);  I was the guy who would temporarily forget he was a dad and often behaved as the trouble-making cousin with his kids, constantly throwing, flipping, and wrestling with them.  So as I pray for a complete recovery, I try to keep the potentially realistic perspective that I won’t be able to do everything that I could do prior to January 22, 2012.  (I realize the previous sentence might contradict Mark 11:24, but I can’t pretend to know the will of God and I find that I need to prepare for all possible outcomes and that I cannot ignore the undesirable possibilities.)

(Click on any of the pics for better viewing.)

(Click on any of the pics for better viewing.

(Click on any of the pics for better viewing.

(Click on any of the pics for better viewing.

(Click on any of the pics for better viewing.

As I was sitting in that office, there was a picture on the wall of a cliff out over the sea and as we were having these discussions I pointed at the picture and I said, “I want to be able to climb that.”
That’s what every little boy thinks when they see a mountain or a cliff.  The reply was something like, “Unfortunately, there’s a very good chance you won’t be able to hang from that cliff like you could before.”  I had just undergone the EMG a few hours earlier with somewhat depressing results.  So did I feel like crying when that sort of long-term prognosis was mentioned?  Yes.  Did I?  No.  But I did start thinking about what I might and might not be able to do.  Things like riding carelessly on aggressive mountain bike trails, adventure races and high ropes obstacle courses in the Army, play softball on the church softball team, throw my kids in the pool, and the list goes on.  After my internalized pity party was over, I realized that there has to be a way to continue doing some of these things – just look at Jim Abbott.


(Ignore the words -
this is the general concept)

Despite trying to stay optimistic and trusting that God has a plan in all of this, it sure is difficult to think about what the future might hold when it has yet to be written.  A common phrase I kept hearing at the appointment was, “It’s still early.”  This was good to hear as a reminder that there is still the possibility for some nerve regeneration – nerves grow about 1 mm per day – but it was still mildly annoying since there had been no improvement in function yet and it sure didn’t seem like it was “early” to me!  I have another appointment on April 18th and then another EMG about a month later and this journey will very likely lead to nerve grafting surgery where they will essentially transplant a nerve from somewhere else near my left shoulder or my leg and bypass the injured section.  Then the journey starts again with rehab and the long road toward getting ready for next ski season.  ;-)   Stay tuned.  (Season passes are cheaper if you get them before March 31st.)

I wrote everything above this paragraph about a week ago, closer to the appointment, and you might have noticed that the theme so far in this post has been disappointment and uncertainty, and maybe a little fear secondary to that uncertainty.  If I broke my arm, it would heal and I’d go back to my normal life, but the difference in this injury is that there is no crystal ball and even if I do need surgery, would that lead to 80% of the strength and range of motion that I had before?  Only 20%?  I don’t know.  I think it is appropriate to be disappointed with the EMG results, afraid of not knowing the extent of recovery and not having any control over it, and even sad that this has happened to me, but I also believe that I have a choice about how to respond to those emotions.  I try to stay positive as much as I can and right now I am choosing just to take it one day at a time and take it as it comes.

It’s not always easy to see the rainbow through the storm, but I am surprised at how many things I have to be thankful about!  For one, I could be dead - literally - or much more severely injured if I was only a few more inches toward my head and neck.  I have pretty good function of my wrist and hand.  We still have our minivan (“man van”) that we tried to sell last summer, which is good because my car has a manual transmission.  Kara will tell you it’s a blessing that my chances of ever having a motorcycle in the garage have dramatically decreased.  I have disability insurance, which is huge!  Another positive note is that I also had an MRI two weeks ago to evaluate the rotator cuff, and while it seems the report showed many problem areas and didn’t comment on anything being “normal,” there is nothing that requires surgical repair.

I truly am in the best place to have an injury like this and couldn’t ask for better friends and colleagues!  Please keep praying for a full recovery!

(If it loads slowly, make sure HD is off)

(Just watch the last minute, starting at 2:30)

01 March 2012

Bye-Bye Bugs

Holy cow.  We just got over a week long stomach bug.  It went through our entire family.  If it wasn't for my mom and her coming to help us out for a few days, I have no idea how we would have made it.  We also had very helpful friends who provided us meals and also got us a house cleaner to come in and kill off all the germs.  Hopefully we are done with the stomach bugs for the year.  
We had one go through the whole family on Halloween, 
on Thanksgiving, 
on Christmas, 
and on 
Valentines Day.  
I'm really afraid for the next holiday to approach!  We don't have a very good track record for the year.

Now that everyone is back to feeling better and Erik has his big exam out of the way (he took it yesterday), I've been trying to come up with a little mini vacation that we could go on.  It's hard to all be cooped up in the house all day long, especially for Erik.  I really feel like getting him out and doing something fun and stress-free would be great for his health.  Any ideas?   It would have to be something that Erik could do one-armed.  
Today Erik got out of the house a little bit to go to a doctor appointment and right before that he was able to join Maida's class on their field trip to the grocery store.  Maida was SO excited that Daddy could go with.

We write to taste life twice, once in the moment and in retrospection.”
~Anais Nin