As most of you know, we hold the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) charity very close to our hearts. It’s a home a way from home for families like us who have experienced a child’s serious illness or injury.
The walk is scheduled for August, 7th, but will be virtual again this year. Although Team Sam Strong can’t walk together, it doesn’t mean families do not have a child with a serious illness or injury and are stuck “living” in a hospital.
Eating and sleeping are not on your mind when you are watching your child fight for their life. RMH offers these essential things to families so they can focus their time and energy on their child.
Please consider making a donation today. Every little bit helps!
“This is the house that opens its arms, that feels like home, that embraces the children, that comforts the parents. This is the house where families meet, to eat and sleep, to find their strengths and dry their tears, to look forward with hope to better years.”
After seven days, Sam was able to come home! We are very thankful he is feeling better and it was a short stay, in our world.
If I added correctly, Sam has spent ten plus months of his life in the hospital and he’s only four. That also means he’s spent much more of his life at home. I’m not discounting the time in the hospital. I’m also not saying tears aren’t shed from exhaustion and other things on my part and pain and exhaustion on his. I’m not saying this isn’t REALLY, REALLY hard. I’m not saying to ignore the bad, but in my experience when we focus on the good instead of the bad, it’s harder for the negative to steal your joy.
FaceTime allowed me to stay on the phone with my daughter, off and on, for over three hours to “help” her bake a cake. She had some bumps along the way, but she didn’t give up. It was still pretty good four days later, when I was home to try it. I was a proud mama.
Every time we’re here, most of my family adapts with ease.
Every time we’re here, we meet more great nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, etc.
Every time we’re here, I learn new tricks to help Sam and I adapt to living in a hospital.
Every time we’re here, Sam steals more hearts.
With an IV in, Sam can only use one hand. I get mesmerized by how he uses his one hand to play when he starts feeling better. The smarty pants even uses his mouth to push toys and objects in place.
This is the life of Sam. We didn’t choose it, but we have learned to adapt, be flexible, and make lemonade out of lemons. And this guy is SO worth it all.
This poor kid! We’ve landed ourselves in the hospital again. His pulmonologist said to bring him in if his symptoms didn’t get better. We brought him in on Tuesday morning. You would think by now, I would pack a “just in case” bag, but I really didn’t think we would be staying. Wrong.
On day two, after all the lab work ups, x-rays, and an ultrasound, Sam has two different tracheitis’ and rotavirus. His medical team and I were actually happy for the rotavirus diagnosis and not something more serious. It’s always nice to have an answer and not continue, what feels like, the guessing game.
He’s being treated for the tracheitis’ and they want to rest his tummy for a few days with IV fluids. He’s still miserable, but I am confident it won’t last too long. Hopefully, we can bust this joint in the next day or two. Hospital stays do not get easier the more you have.
On a side note, his dilation went well last week. He did need to be dilated, BUT his surgeon said we could start planning Cincinnati!!!
Thanks for praying for our sweet little boy and the rest of our family.
April was not so fun in this house, but thankfully we have all recovered. Most importantly to us, Sam is okay and we kept him out of the hospital.
It started with me not feeling too great. I already tested negative for Covid earlier in the week because we knew we had been exposed. When I started feeling cruddy, I tested again. Negative. Whew.
I had several rough days. Thank you Lord for home care nursing! On a normal day with Sam, we are incredibly thankful for our home care nurses. When he gets sick, even more grateful. Add me getting sick on top of all that. Home care nurses. No words.
Sam tested negative too, but then started getting sick a few days after I was feeling cruddy. Oh shoot. He was really sick for a good six days. He was on oxygen for four days and all the home therapies we could do that aren’t legal in most homes. We did get very close to having to bring him to the hospital, but we were able to keep him home. Again, home care nurses. Priceless.
About a week later, after I had started feeling better, I couldn’t smell or taste anything. Wait a minute!?!? I went and tested again. As I suspected…positive for Covid. What?! Those of you who have experienced these symptoms of Covid can understand how annoying it is! I’m happy to say it didn’t last too long.
Sam’s pulmonologist sent a nurse to the house to test Sam. Positive. Bummer. There was a lot of praying on my part, that he would be okay and we would be able to keep him out of the hospital.
Sean tested positive. The next day he started feeling cruddy. He was all excited to be able to get some things done around the house, but he was down for the count for almost ten days.
Will and Abby both tested negative, but had to do distance learning until their quarantine was up. Have I ever mentioned how much I love distance learning? Oh yeah, cause I don’t, not even a little. Because Abby ended up testing positive, she was able to go back to school a few days before Will. I’ve stopped trying to make sense of all the Covid rules.
During all this hoopla, I found out my grandma passed away. She was ninety-five, went peacefully, and although she was dealt a hard hand of cards in life, she lived a good life. Her legacy? She loved Jesus, taught us to pray, read our Bible, and have a relationship with Jesus.
Towards the end of her life, she could barely speak. I know she recognized us when my sister and I saw her for the first time in a long time. She clearly said two of my four children’s names. It wasn’t by chance she squeezed the two names out I have fought for on my knees in prayer countless times the past four plus years. I believe it was her heart that said those two names that day.
We didn’t get to go to her funeral, but this is where technology is a blessing. Thank you to my brother-in-law who held his phone up the entire funeral service so I could “be there”.
While Sam was sick, he was scheduled to have an upper endoscopy to check on his esophagus. As we suspected, surgery needed to be rescheduled.
To recap, Sam’s last dilation was in January. His surgeon told us, when Sam can go for six months without a dilation, he’ll give us the “a-okay” to go to Cincinnati.
Tomorrow, Sam will have his rescheduled procedure. It’s been almost exactly four months since Sam’s last dilation. We are hoping and praying, he will not need to be dilated.
Today is World Down Syndrome Day. With Sam’s complex medical needs, this has only been another day to us.
Sam has an extra chromosome.
Sam can’t eat anything by mouth. One hundred percent of his nutrition is via a feeding tube. He breathes through his neck. His current list of diagnoses is longer than I thought could be possible.
If I could take away all the pain and suffering he has gone through, I would.
There aren’t any easy days with Sam, but the beauty of his captivating personality and infectious smile make every day worth it.
I know without a shadow of a doubt, the part I would keep is the extra chromosome.
If you were to take away Sam’s extremely high medical needs, he is the most happy-go-lucky little guy. He smiles with his entire body, from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, and lights up any room he enters.
There are no, “buts” on my love for Sam. I love him unconditionally. Period. End of sentence.
I would give anything to have a healthy little boy with an extra chromosome. Given the chance, I would not take that part away from him.
He makes me better.
I believe people who have an extra chromosome give us the tiniest glimpse of God’s love for us. The love in my little boy’s heart makes my heart want to explode simply thinking about it.
Sam has an extra chromosome and I am grateful for it.
Today, like any other day, I celebrate Sam’s extra chromosome.
I suppose no news is good news, right? For the most part, yes.
Sam’s dilation went very well. His esophagus was very narrow, but not as narrow as the last time he got dilated. Good news!
Again, we wait. If symptoms begin, we call surgery and they get Sam on the schedule. Generally, his symptoms consist of retching (throwing up), which start to become more frequent and violent as time goes on. Eventually, he’s not able to control his secretions, so he spits a lot too. Basically, he still creates secretions (spit), but if his esophagus is narrow enough or closed, there is no other place for the secretions to go except out his mouth. This makes for a very nauseous little boy. Poor guy.
After Sam’s dilation, his surgeon discussed WHEN Sam is able to go three months without a dilation, then he’ll plan to get Sam on the schedule to look at his esophagus. If things look good and open, we wait again. When Sam can go for at least six months without a dilation then his surgeon will feel good about us planning another trip to Cincinnati to hopefully get his airway fixed.
Sam also had a granuloma cauterized or how I like to make it more visual for you, the extra skin on the hole in his throat, sizzled off by a fire pen. This went well too. Although, it was a lot to look at after. For the next week or so, we cleaned gross puss and what looked like black soot around his trach site. Yuck and again, poor guy! Thankfully, it all healed very nicely.
The day after Sam’s dilation he seemed like he was recovering well. When he woke up the next morning, things went south very quickly. He ended up with a tracheitis. He had a couple of very rough days. We were able to catch this right away and treat the nasty, airway bacterial infection. Along with our hard work and the antibiotic nebs, like magic, Sam was back to his lively self in no time. Thank you for home care nurses!
Except for the spitting. No, not another thing, little buddy. His demeanor was back to his norm, but he wouldn’t swallow his secretions. Per Surgery we should bring him in to be evaluated in the next couple of days, unless things got worse, which for Sam means going to the ED (Emergency Department). Not the dreaded ED.Besides him not swallowing his secretions, he seems totally fine. Sometimes I wish they had another place for complex kids to go in these situations.
The next day, after talking with Sam’s Pulmonologist, she too thought he should be evaluated. Bummer.
We had planned to take him in early the next morning, knowing the less busy times of the ED. Sam had different plans. Good plans! When he woke up, the spitting had stopped!!! Thank you Lord!!!
Sam has been back to his spunky self, continuing to teach us what life is all about.
Sam will have another dilation tomorrow. Yes, he’s had WAY more than five dilations, but I started the count over after his last major surgery. We are hoping and praying he won’t need as many as the first time around.
In the four plus years, Sam’s had a trach (breathing tube) and feeding tube, he hasn’t had to have a granuloma cauterized (burned off), which is pretty good. This is basically skin starting to grow where it shouldn’t. Before the dilation, he’ll have a tracheal granuloma cauterized. Typically, this can be done in the clinic, but Sam’s ENT thought it would be better for Sam under anesthesia, also knowing he could do it alongside one of Sam’s dilations. We were very thankful for this. Sam’s nurse and I were not looking forward to having to hold him down for that procedure!!
We are also thankful, Sam will get his feeding tube changed in surgery tomorrow. As I’ve said before, this is a procedure he gets done routinely every two to three months. It now takes three, sometimes four of us to hold Sam down. As soon as he sees an x-ray table now, his little body clenches me with fear. We have to literally peel him off of me, to get him on to the table. It’s a fairly quick procedure, but I’m sweating by the time it’s over. Sam’s one tough cookie, so when he’s sobbing hysterically throughout the procedure, we know it must be painful.
We are thankful to be able to knock out three procedures in one tomorrow!
We’ll take some extra prayers tomorrow for Sam’s Surgeon, ENT, and anesthesia team. Pray for a smooth and quick recovery.
Sam’s dilation went well. His esophagus was VERY strictured (narrow), almost shut again. The dilation was definitely needed.
As in the past, as soon as Sam gets dilated, his spitting and retching almost instantaneously stop. These are usually the tell tale signs he needs a dilation. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything else that can be done, except put him under anesthesia, and stretch his esophagus.
As of now, surgery will wait to hear from us. IF Sam gets symptoms, they will put him on the schedule as needed. With Sam’s thirty-five plus esophageal dilations, we’ve only been wrong once. There are many, but one great thing about Sam’s care team, is they trust our judgment. They listen, really listen to us. I call the surgery scheduler, who I’m on a first name basis with, and they get him on the surgery schedule ASAP.
We are going to believe Sam won’t need as many dilations as the first time, and even better, he won’t need anymore.
I’ll leave you with a moment from a day in the life of Superman Sam. You just can’t make this stuff up!
We were sitting in “school” with Sam. When Sam does distance learning, we prop his iPad on the kitchen island and he sits on one of the bar stools. I usually stand next to him. His nurse will stand or sit on the stool on the other side of him. All of the sudden, I thought I noticed something about Sam’s mouth. Does he have a missing tooth?!?! With Sam’s camera on, I didn’t want to disrupt school.
As soon as school was over, Sam’s nurse and I pried open his mouth. Yes, we had to do this. It’s the only way to be able to see inside his mouth. Yep, I saw it right the first time, a bottom, front, tooth, MIA! What?!?! Where did it go?!?! Did he swallow it?!?! Was it in his bedroom somewhere?!?!How did I not know he had a loose tooth?!?!
Mom guilt, setting in. And then, that good ole self talk. Stop it!! You have a lot more things to keep track of in the world of Sam, then a loose tooth!!! It’s not a big deal!! He’s clearly okay!!
Mom guilt. Raise your hand if you’re a mom and have had mom guilt recently. Okay, I’m feeling better already. It’s so silly. Why do we do this to ourselves? Because, we’re human.
Give yourself grace mama. To me, giving yourself grace is acknowledging the situation, doing what you can to rectify it, then moving on, and letting it go. It’s knowing, we are not perfect.
From the mama with typical children, to the mama with special needs children, to the mama of a prodigal, and everything in between, give yourself grace, because we all need it, every single day.