MN Neonatal Foundation

Today, the MN Neonatal Foundation featured us on their Facebook page! Check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/NeonatalFoundation

This all started with an idea/dream to help normalize something that is not for families and caregivers who will take a child home from the hospital with a life saving breathing tube (tracheostomy). This dream is now a reality. I am so excited for the next phase of Superman Sam’s Survival Kit and share hope with many more families and caregivers now and in the future.

Starting Feeds

Besides his meds and water, Sam has not had anything in his stomach for over two months. I think it’s safe to say, his gut has had rest. We are going to introduce feeds into his g-tube (feeding tube) very soon. It will be a very, very small amount, and we will slowly add more as he tolerates it. We are nervous and excited.

Sam has otherwise been doing great! “Eating” through his bloodstream doesn’t seem to phase him much. He’s not in school yet, but he’s been able to go to occupational therapy and speech comes to our house once a week. He keeps himself busy organizing and being on his IPad more than he probably should be.

PICC line dressing changes are getting easier each week. He seems to fight less and knows the worst part is when his infusion nurse has to take off the old dressing. Getting his TPN (nutrition) started has become a part of our evening routine and it feels normal. I will be happy though when the PICC line is gone. It’s not the fastest process in the world and let’s face it, not normal.

Please pray Sam tolerates his feeds and he will not need the surgery his surgeon talked about before Christmas.

I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I know I got my Christmas wish and very thankful for it.

Sam Strong

Faith Over Fear

PICC Update

Sam has three cases managers. True story. He has one through our insurance, the state, and our home care nursing company. His insurance case manager gave me a couple of tips on how to prime (get ready) his TPN (nutrition). I’m sure it’s a combination of what I’ve been taught the past month and her tips, but I can can tell you I am having more success with no air in the line (tubing). I am comfortable with all things PICC line, but have a healthy fear of the sterile process.

What is a PICC line? Everyone knows what a PICC line is, right?! Now that we’ve been home for a bit, and have people asking more questions, I realize not everyone knows. News flash. I didn’t know what a PICC line was six years ago either.

Essentially, a PICC line is a small tube placed in a view on an upper arm close to the heart. This is a way for Sam to be able to get his minimum nutrition requirements without tube feeding. TPN is basically nutrition through your blood stream. One hundred percent of Sam’s nutrition is usually given through his feeding tube in his stomach. Because that was not going well for as long as it was, and we learned his little tummy was so irritated, a PICC line with TPN was the last resort.

We had his surgery consult. I wasn’t surprised by anything I heard. I’ve lived in this medical world long enough. The plan will be to try tube feedings after Christmas. If he’s not tolerating his feeds, they will do ANOTHER surgery in February or March. How many surgeries can one little boy’s body go through?!?!

Sam’s surgeon assured me the surgery would not be as invasive as many of his other surgeries. When I asked how long the hospital stay would be, he replied, “Usually three to five days.” He followed that with a slight chuckle. We both know Sam follows his own rules. I backed that up with, “We are going to shoot for three days, okay, maybe five.” And then I told him, “It’s not going to matter. Sam won’t need the surgery because he’s going to tolerate his feeds.”

All I want for Christmas is to be home with my family. The PICC line is going well. I suggested we don’t rock the boat and try feeds after Christmas. Sam’s surgeon agreed this was a ‘very reasonable’ plan. Spending another holiday, especially another Christmas, in the hospital is not on my bucket list. Although, Christmas is only a day. As long as we’re all together, the day we celebrate doesn’t matter so much, but being in the hospital on Christmas in no fun for anyone.

Sam is doing great. PICC line dressing changes are back to once a week and his little arm is no longer a mess. He definitely knows the infusion nurse’s voice when she walks in the door on Monday mornings. We all laughed when he gave her the side eye as she walked up the stairs this week. You can’t blame him for giving a side eye when he’s well aware I will have to sit on him and his home care nurse will have to hold his PICC line arm still while the infusion nurse changes his dressing for about fifteen to twenty minutes. He does a great job overall. His infusion nurse is always so impressed with how well he does. He’s a trooper and incredibly forgiving.

Sam’s not in school still, but being bored does seem to be a part of his personality. He loves to “organize”. Him and I have very different views on how to organize.

Time to organize.

I was pretty proud of him when he set up the little table situation all on his own with some stools pushed together and the the blanket over them.

Time to eat.

Silly Sam. The wrap around his head is suppose to be around his arm to protect his PICC line, but he likes it better as a hat.

Sam’s biopsy results came back all good! As I suspected, no news was good news.

Praying you don’t hear from me until after the holidays and when you do it will be because Sam’s tube feedings are going well!

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Procedures Update

The excitement of breaking out of jail made me forget to update on the procedures Sam had while he was still in the hospital. Obviously, from the last post, he recovered very well.

His GI doctor dilated two different areas of his esophagus. Because Sam’s esophagus is not attached to his stomach, it’s been hard to scope the inside of his tummy. She was able to take his feeding tube out, and although it wasn’t easy, she got the scope through, and was able to take a look. Not surprisingly, his tummy looked rough. She took biopsies. We are still waiting on the results, but generally, no news is good news. Probably too much information, but she also scoped his rectum and everything looked good down under.

His ENT gave the GOOD NEWS that his laryngeal cleft is still repaired and his airway looks good. Or best news. We are on track to work on decanulation (getting his trach out) in the the Spring!!!!!

We are settling at home with a PICC line. Sam is doing great, but his poor skin is a mess. We discovered he’s allergic to the dressing. They are now doing dressing changes every two to three days, instead of weekly, and prescribed him a topical steroid.

The more frequent dressing changes are a drag because three of us have to pin him down for a good ten to fifteen minutes to keep his arm still and sterile. Sam might be a little guy, but he is very strong and flexible. I think the scariest part of a PICC is the the importance of keeping it sterile. The risk of infection is low, if you’re doing all the right things, but a bloodstream infection is serious.

Thankfully, I am much more comfortable with all things PICC line, except for the major frustration of getting air out of his TPN (nutrition) infusion before I hook him up at night. Air in the bloodstream, not good. I’m not one to use curse words very often, but they’ve been slipping out this past week more than I would like to admit. The infusion nurse told me, in time, I will get it. Hopefully by that time, he won’t need the PICC anymore!

The plan is to give his gut another week of rest and then talk to his GI doctor about possibility trying feedings again.

Continued prayers for no PICC line complications and patience for me with starting Sam’s infusions.

Faith Over Fear

Sam Strong

Thankful

I know where we are! This is the street that leads to my house!

We are home. Sam is doing great. I hooked up his TPN (nutrition) by myself for the first time, with the guidance of a nurse specialized with pediatric home infusion. Sean was super overwhelmed with the whole process, as I was after my first teaching.

When everyone kept telling me at the hospital, if I could do a trach, I could do a PICC line, I thought, very try true, at first. The more I processed it all, it wasn’t about the ‘if’, it was about the ‘and’. I realized I was overwhelmed with the ‘and’…a trach AND a PICC line. They were right though, I can do it. With time, it will get easier.

Depending on the day or even moment, we are likely thankful for different things. A friend once told me, her mom taught her to say three things she is thankful for everyday. Yesterday I was thankful for the playful bickering between my family, PICC lines, and my home. I could go on and on about many more things I am thankful for, but I think that summed up the things at that time.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude this Thanksgiving. I hope no matter was you are going through, you can find something to be thankful for.

Today I am thankful for home care night nursing, my faith, and a good cup of coffee in a glass mug. What are your three things today or right now?

From my family to yours, I hope you have a happy, healthy, and thankful Thanksgiving.

Faith Over Fear

Sam Strong

Procedure Today

Sam will have an endoscopy and bronchoscopy this afternoon. This procedure was planned to be outpatient at another location before Sam was hospitalized. The only fact we know right now, is that his ENT (ear, nose, and throat) will be there to do the bronchoscopy. We don’t know yet if another pediatric GI (tummy) doctor will do the endoscopy or his GI doctor. I’m hoping and praying his GI doctor will be able to be in on the procedure and his surgeon, as this was the original plan. There isn’t a GI doctor we don’t know here, and I’m confident in all of their abilities, and there’s comfort in having the one who knows him best in the OR (operating room) with him.

Sam is doing really well and I’m trying to keep him as occupied as possible. We are very thankful for Child Life services. He has way too much iPad time when we are here, but I have to let that go and am very thankful for it. We just might have to do some iPad weaning when we get home.

I had my second PICC line training and am feeling much better about that. When the trainer told me the pump and his TPN (nutrition) will all go into a backpack Sam will wear, she…made…my…year. I was envisioning we would have to follow Sam around the house with an IV pole. Imagine my concern with that and the combination of the Energizer Bunny and the Tasmanian devil. We don’t get that luxury while we’re in the hospital, but boy am I thankful for it when we go home!

It sounds like they are working on getting his TPN down to twelve hours a day. Once he’s stable on the twelve hours for a couple of days, we can break out of jail! I’m hoping and praying this will be before Thanksgiving. High hopes, low expectations.

Prayers for a miracle that all of Sam’s doctors will be able to be at the procedure today. Prayers for wisdom and discernment for whoever is in the OR with him. Prayers we will make it out of here before Thanksgiving!

Faith Over Fear

Sam Strong

The Plan

Ready for surgery!

Sam’s PICC line procedure went well, as we expected it would. He recovered great.

He’s been doing really well, but these four white walls get very boring, very fast for a curious, busy little boy. When the doctors ask what Sam is like when he’s healthy, I tell them he’s a combination of the Energizer Bunny and the Tasmanian devil. They always think that’s funny, but I’m actually not kidding. He’s not quite there yet, but we’re getting really close.

We love when Music Therapy comes and when Child Life brings new toys or other things to try keep Sam busy. We also improvise a lot, like playing in the sink for a while, coloring with crayons on the crib sheet, making a fort with the crib, ‘taping’ the walls with med tape, etc.

We’ll be stuck here until I’m done with the PICC line teaching and they get his TPN (nutrition) figured out. I had my first teaching today and will have another one on Sunday. We’ll be out on Monday, but have to go to St. Paul for his procedure that was scheduled a while ago. Then hopefully home Monday night!

That was the plan until it got changed again. Ugg. After that plan changed and my PICC line teaching this morning, I had a moment. Sometimes you just need a good cry. The bad news of having to stay longer and being overwhelmed with going home with a PICC line came crashing on my heart all at once.

In between the moments a friend sent me this.

AS YOU LOOK at the day before you, you see a twisted, complicated path, with branches going off in all directions. You wonder how you can possibly find your way through that maze. Then you remember the One who is with you always, holding you by your right hand. You recall My promise to guide you with My counsel, and you begin to relax. As you look again at the path ahead, you notice that a peaceful fog has settled over it, obscuring your view. You can see only a few steps in front of you, so you turn your attention more fully to Me and begin to enjoy My Presence.

The fog is a protection for you, calling you back into the present moment. Although I inhabit all of space and time, you can communicate with Me only here and now. Someday the fog will no longer be necessary, for you will have learned to keep your focus on Me and on the path just ahead of you.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. —PSALM 73:23–24

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. —PSALM 25:4–5

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. —1 CORINTHIANS 13:12

Text From a Friend


The floodgates of tears came crashing after reading that. It was exactly what I needed in that exact moment. God continues to sustain me. It’s hard for me not to bring up my faith in these moments, because that is where all of my strength comes from.

The PICC line teaching felt like a lot. The nurses keep telling me if you can do a trach, you can do a PICC line. Very true. I still have another teaching and am incredibly thankful for home care nursing. I’m hoping, and guessing, I’ll feel better after another teaching. I got this!

The new plan is to go from here to the St. Paul campus for Sam’s endoscopy with his GI doctor and surgeon, then a bronchoscopy with his ENT. We have to stay a few nights in St. Paul until the pharmacy gets his TPN (nutrition) figured out for at home. Bummer. They tried to switch the procedure on Monday to Minneapolis, but couldn’t find any open OR (operating room) times.

Every time I have a minute to write, the plan changes! And now another new plan. They were able to get an OR time here so we will not have to transfer to St.Paul!!! Although we will need to be here for four to six more days for them to figure out his TPN (nutrition), not having to transfer to another hospital was the best news!!!

Prayers the plan will not change unless it involves us going home sooner. Prayers they can get his TPN figured out soon. Prayers for continued wisdom and discernment for Sam’s doctors. Prayers for healing for Sam’s gut. Continued prayers for peace, comfort, and strength for us.

Faith Over Fear

Sam Strong

PICC Line

Unfortunately, Sam’s feeds were unsuccessful so he will be getting a PICC line this morning for nutrition. We are going on almost two weeks without good nutrition. This is the next best step. Although we’ll be going home with the PICC, it will help us get home a lot sooner.

He had a test (small bowel follow through) a few days ago and it showed reflux into his esophagus, which shouldn’t be happening with the surgery (Esophagogastric Disconnection) he had back in 2020.

The hope is that his little belly just needs a little more rest. If that’s not the case, then he’ll need surgery. He just needs more gut rest.

Prayers for the PICC line procedure to go well. Prayers for the anesthesiologist and others in the operating room. Prayers Sam’s belly only needs more time to rest. Continued prayers for Sam’s doctors to have wisdom and discernment in the decisions they make for him. Prayers for peace and comfort for me in the hospital and my family at home, who are absolute rock stars.

Sam woke up ‘talking’ for the first time in almost two weeks. It was the medicine this mama needed!

Faith Over Fear

Sam Strong

Guessing Game

This poor kid. He continues to completely amaze me. He is the toughest little boy I have ever known.

On top of his esophagus being narrow, RSV, and tracheitis, the last three days, he’s had two infiltrated IV’s and intussusception again.

We played a guessing game for a few days with the intussusception. I had a light bulb moment on Thursday morning he was having intussusception again, but you can only catch it when it’s happening. To recap, we know Sam had intussusception in April and again when we were in Cincinnati in May. Needless to say, when we finally caught it on the ultrasound a few days later, I was bummed and felt validated at the same time. Because the intussusception is resolving on its own, there’s not much to do besides gut rest, which Sam’s been doing for the past week.

Thankfully, the first infiltrated IV healed on its own. The second was not as fortunate. His hand puffed up like a balloon to his elbow and because it didn’t heal on its own, they had to treat it. Oh no. This has only happened once in his life when he was a baby. I say ‘only’ because for how many times Sam has had an IV placed, that’s pretty good. I told the nurse, “I don’t want to be in the room when you do it.” I knew what treatment meant. Five needles poked in his little arm at the same time. I didn’t have it in me at that point to help hold him down. Thank you to the nurses who reassured me, it was more than okay for me to step out. We have barely and thankfully avoided another IV since then.

During all the guessing, the hospitalist said, “I always have at least one on the unit. The one who keeps me up at night when I go to bed and the one I think about when I wake up in the morning and that is you this time Sam.” If I had a dollar for every doctor I’ve heard say something like that…

It’s reassuring though. There’s comfort in knowing someone is losing sleep over figuring out your child.

Now we need Sam to start tolerating his feeds. He tolerated the Pedialyte great, but as soon as we introduce formula, he seems to go downhill. In order for us to break out of jail, he needs to be tolerating formula. You’ve got this buddy!

He’s had some pretty rough days, but today was overall good. Praying it’s all uphill from here. Prayers for continued wisdom and discernment for his doctors. Prayers for the intussusception to not come back. Prayers he will tolerate his feeds. Prayers for a restful night tonight.

Sam Strong

Faith Over Fear

The Procedure

Everything went well with the procedure yesterday. Sam’s esophagus was dilated (stretched) and this time, the doctor was able to pass the scope farther down. The last time, they were not able to get the scope through. Progress.

Generally, when Sam wakes up from anesthesia, he’s a champ. Not this time. Thankfully, he has been fever free and breathing on his own, but is pretty miserable and lethargic. We are hoping this is a combination of the RSV and being put under. It also doesn’t help he his culture showed he has a tracheitis on top of everything, which is not surprising for Sam.

He seems to be tolerating the Pedialyte we started yesterday. We are holding onto that!

Prayers he will tolerate his formula when we start it today. Prayers he will stop spitting and start swallowing. Prayers he will turn the corner today and we can go home!

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!