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.
On Monday night we strolled Sam down to surgery again. They discovered his esophagus had narrowed down quite a bit since the last dilation done, only about a week prior. It wasn’t as strictured as the the first time, but enough to have it difficult for things to pass through. They dilated again.
He rested overnight and started feeds the next day. He’s on day two of feeds. The feeds were going well, up until later this evening. We decided not go up on his feeds at the designated time, and try keep them running at the slow rate they are. He’s sleeping well now, without any symptoms. Let’s hope, pray, and believe he can continue to go up on feeds without having to stop them.
Sam’s Surgeon has decided to schedule another endoscopy for early next week. He will take a look and dilate his esophagus again if needed. For whatever reason, Sam’s esophagus thinks it needs to close up post surgeries. We may have to continue this process, which is not new to Sam, but not fun for him either. Pray his esophagus stays open and will need minimal dilations.
Home. I’ve decided not to bring it up anymore. Sam has a great team, who has his best interest at heart. Home will happen when it’s best for Sam.
For most part, we’ve been able to manage Sam’s pain. When the morphine wears off, he’s not a happy camper. The Intensivist went up a little on his morphine today, but he’s not quite to the full dose. Pray we can go down, not up.
He had another good night until they had to put a permanent cath in him because he went for a second time without peeing. Bummer, but not the end of the world. The rest of his night was good.
We tried yesterday and today to wean him off the oxygen, but that didn’t go so well. We’ll try again tomorrow. Because of Sam’s pain, he’s been on scheduled morphine, which can mess with oxygen levels and the bladder.
Sam had a very major surgery on Wednesday. All of what’s happening is not out of the norm. Although, it’s not fun to watch, all of the docs are happy with what they are seeing so far.
We are not out of the water for leaking. Keep praying for no leaking.
Overall, Sam is doing good. We are both happy to be home. There was a day when the hospital felt like home to Sam and almost for me, but that feels like a very long time ago. Thankfully we were only there for one night.
One thing I’ve learned living in this small world of a mentally complex child for the past four years is, when there’s more than one type of doctor in your child‘s room giving you news, it’s probably not going to be good.
And it wasn’t.
The hospitalist, a pulmonologist, Sam’s gastroenterologist, and his main surgeon were in the room. Let’s just say the hospitalist was not a young buck. She had clearly been practicing medicine for a very long time. When the conversation was over, and she said, “Wow, I’ve learned A LOT today!”, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I laughed, of course.
Sam did not need a dilation. There was a much bigger problem found. Basically, Sam’s stomach is in his esophagus and the rest of his gastrointestinal organs are pushing up into his chest. Sam’s gastroenterologist was able to fix the problem temporarily using the scope.
He won’t be able to have his airway surgery in Cincinnati yet. We have A LOT to figure out between Sam’s doctors here and Cincinnati.
We are hoping the temporary fix will stay until we decide what the next best steps for Sam will be.
Don’t worry, as always, Sam will knock this curve ball out of the park! Making it to first base will just fine too.
Her: Oh my gosh!!!! We were out on a boat today and I literally was thinking about Sam! I honestly CAN NOT believe it was 4 years ago!
Her: He changed my life!
Her: That post made me bawl 😭😭😭 so perfectly said! You have all been through SO much.
Me: I don’t even realize it until I write about it!
Her: And that is truly the abbreviated version. Insane.
That hit me hard. The abbreviated version. Wow. So true. Crazy.
Here’s the thing.
I don’t want discount Sam’s story and I know it’s significant. I know it’s a big one.
I also know so many have been through so much more and it could be so much worse.
Side note, never tell anyone else when they’re going through a rough patch, it could be worse. That’s a whole other topic.
It’s completely different when it’s coming from the person experiencing the tough time. I believe when your having a “poor me” moment, because we all have them at times, acknowledging others are going through or have been through worse, is not a bad thing.
Sometimes it’s not even a “poor me” moment. It’s truly a crisis situation.
Either way, it’s important we don’t stay at the pity party for too long. Pity turns into wallow and self loathing. Then we’re in trouble. When we’re here, it’s a lot harder to be there for the other people in our lives because we’re focused solely on our self.
Having a moment is okay, but staying there isn’t good for anyone.
For me, acknowledging “it could be worse“ helps me see the bigger picture and focus on the things I am grateful for. It quickly gets me out of the party no one wants to be at for very long.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared the latest on Sam. No news is good news, right? Pretty much.
It may also have something to do with distance learning, which kicked my behind. I am very glad school is out for the summer in our house. There may have been more yelling matches and apologies needed than I am proud to admit.
Sam was also able to do distance learning, which was the highlight of our days to watch. His face would light up as soon as the camera started. He thinks it’s pretty great to watch himself, and loved seeing his teacher, paras, and classmates. Our hearts melted every time.
Sam’s teacher, therapists, and paras had an end of the year virtual graduation for each child individually. His teacher dropped off a package about a week prior and had asked us to wait to open it until the graduation. Everyone talked about all the things they loved about Sam, he opened his gift and it ended with a video of pictures of Sam throughout the school year. The tears were literally streaming down my face.
This kid who isn’t suppose to be here…absolutely thriving.
Besides a few bumps, Sam has been very healthy and continues to put smiles on everyone’s faces.
As you know, I like to pull the perks in crummy situations. Most of us could agree being stuck at home wasn’t what we would choose, but there was good that came of it for us.
When Sam has just one appointment, it’s usually at least a four hour ordeal if not more. We try our best to group some appointments together in one day for less trips overall.
While quarantined, we were able to schedule Sam’s appointments virtually, which has been a huge blessing for us. An hour versus four or more out of your day is much better if you ask me and Sam is a very busy guy when it comes to doctor appointments.
One virtual appointment did lead Sam to needing an ultrasound in the near future. Unfortunately, it’s looking likely there was a complication of the surgery he had last fall, which may lead him to another surgery. Praying against yet another surgery for this guy.
Sam’s ophthalmologist wanted to see him in the clinic before his normal six month check up. Since January, he’s been closing his right eye when he is focusing on something. We thought maybe his nearsightedness had gotten worse. We were wrong. I’m not gonna lie, the thought of Sam having glasses made me a little excited. You can’t tell me, he wouldn’t be adorable. Am I right?!
The reason Sam has been closing his right eye is because his lazy eye has gotten worse. For right now, he has to wear a patch alternating eyes for an hour a day. Sam’s nurse and I practically laughed when we walked out of the clinic. There no way he’s going to tolerate that! Wrong again!
He’s been a rock star at wearing his patch. Coincidentally, his buddy next door has to wear a patch too. This definitely helps! And they couldn’t be any cuter.
Sam was finally able to get a haircut! We are always amazed at how fast his hair grows. I’ve lost track of how many haircuts he’s had. We are thankful we have someone who comes to our house to cut his hair.
I need a haircut.
Yeah, I look pretty cute.
Right now, Sam’s focus are his GI issues, which have always been a work in progress for him. The latest thing we’ve tried has been working successfully for almost a week. We’re praying this stays that way.
Obviously with Covid, we had to put the brakes on our trips, which is not such a bad thing. Yes, we want to get rid of Sam’s trach and it holds us back from things, but overall he has a good quality of life so pumping the brakes is okay. More importantly, Sam has been healthy the past few months and we are grateful for that.
We received a phone call about three weeks ago from Cincinnati, they will be calling in June or July to schedule Sam’s next surgery. My guess is our next big trip will be in the fall.
That’s all for now folks!
Thanks for staying Sam Strong even in the midst of all the chaos in our world.
With all the craziness happening in the world, I thought it would be a good idea to bring out the perks because that is what I do when things get tough and let me tell you, we know tough times. Any parent who’s had to watch their child fight for their life knows tough times.
Thinking back, there are countless times I begged God to keep our son alive, promising Him, no matter the outcome I would still serve Him. I’ve witnessed my son go into cardiac arrest four times needing more than ten minutes of chest compressions on one occasion. In his short life he’s had several major surgeries and has been sedated well over fifty times. His life depends on a breathing tube and one hundred percent of his nutrition is through a feeding tube. We’ve gone from a two income family to one. And that’s only piece of the story.
While everyone seems to be panicking, I can honestly say, besides seeing empty shelves at the grocery store, and we’re hunkering down more than normal, our lives have not changed all that much. We are use to being “stuck” at home. When it comes to Sam, we don’t go into crowded areas very often and when we do, we are vigorously washing hands and using hand sanitizer. I go to bed at night praying God will protect Sam from any germs he came in contact with.
In our normal, everyday life, we don’t ignore what’s tough, but we don’t dwell on it either. We do our best and know there is so much we don’t have control over.
We know one tiny germ can be life threatening for Sam. Everyday we get with our sweet little boy is a blessing we know cannot be taken for granted.
Sam falls in the high risk category for COVID-19, just like he does the flu. Before everything was shutting down, he had been pulled from school because influenza had been going around. After so many confirmed cases of influenza, Sam’s doctors know the risks outweigh the benefits of school for him.
The Coronavirus has changed life for almost everyone in some way shape or form. If you have anyone in your life who is over the age of sixty-five, they fall into the high risk category for COVID-19.
That being said, for those of you who might be letting fear creep in, with what’s going on, here are some ways we keep normalcy in our lives.
Pull out the perks. Yeah, we were pretty bummed to find out Sam’s trach will not be coming out anytime soon, if ever, but that trach is what has given him life. Sometimes it’s hard to pull out the perks, but everyday, try to pull out at least one perk.
Be responsible and do your part by following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where you will find the most accurate information, but don’t let it consume you. If you watch the news a lot and your feeling anxious about what’s happening, take a break from it for a few days. You can follow what’s happening without watching the news by going to the CDC website. I’m not on social media, but from what I’ve heard, you might think about taking a break from that for a bit too.
Laugh even when it’s hard.
Take one day at a time. I’ve lost track of how many times our days have taken a completely different path than what we had planned since Sam. We make our plans, knowing they could be altered. Keeping this mindset has helped us be adaptable and flexible with whatever changes need to be made.
Call someone you know will lift your spirits. It’s important to note, I didn’t say text.
Let go of what and who you cannot control, which is pretty much everything, and for sure everyone, except for you and your actions. I’ve learned as soon as I start to worry about something, I try control the situation, which I generally regret doing, and it often seems to make things worse.
Sing in the storm. For those of you who have followed Sam’s story, you have probably learned my faith has played a vital role in keeping a smile on my face. Along with my faith, comes the music I listen to that sometimes bring on heavy tears that needed to fall and then a hope that gets restored. Sing in the storm, knowing the storm might bring wreckage, but the sun will eventually come out.
I pray God will give you His peace that passes all understanding as you navigate through the unknown. I pray you can focus on what’s good, and be mindful of, but not dwell on the bad. I pray you are doing your part to slow the spread without panicking and letting go of what and who you can’t control.
You’ve got this!
To those of you who believe, I leave you with a profound statement I heard about two years ago.
Those of you following Sam’s story, may get a little bored with this post. I’ve joked several times throughout the process of figuring out how we will get Sam to Cincinnati, who travels with acomplex child for fun?! I’m glad, in a sense, we’ve been “forced” to travel with Sam. Honestly, if we hadn’t, I don’t know if I would have otherwise pushed myself to navigate this uncharted territory. It’s my hope I can ease some anxiety of a mama or caregiver who will be traveling with a trached kiddo for the first time. Here it goes!
Start planning WAY in advance. The earlier you start planning, the better. I started planning over six months prior.
Ask lots of questions.
It’s okay to cry throughout the process.
Rely on your child’s home care nurses and respiratory therapist.
Connect with and talk to a few mamas/caregivers who have “been there, done that”.
Decide what supplies you will have shipped to where you are staying and what supplies you will pack. Sam’s home care nurses and I tracked his supplies for the same number of days we will be traveling a few months before our trip. This gave me general idea on how many supplies we would need for the trip. Keep in mind, your insurance will only cover your normal maximums. If you’re still reading and don’t have a complex child, we get ten to twelve boxes of medical supplies each month for Sam. Yes, we go though most of the supplies each month. That makes for a lot more extra packing when traveling with a complex child.
Connect with a general manager of where you will be we staying. Make sure they are aware you will be having medical supplies shipped there. Get a contact name you can address who the supplies will be shipped to. This will likely be foreign to them. Be very transparent. You will want the supplies to ship a day or two before you arrive.
Get a file folder to keep all of your child’s paperwork. I combined a lot, but the basics are…
Cincinnati – I put all the paperwork I received from Cincinnati or will need for our hospital visits. This includes Sam’s itinerary and pre-op (Pre-Procedure Physical Exam) form
Plan of Care/Orders – Portable Oxygen Concentrator Approval, Statement of Medical Necessity, Plan of Care, Any other orders that may apply
Medications/Supplies – List of all of Sam’s medications, List of supplies which includes the supplies we will pack and the supplies that will be shipped to the hotel
History/Scope Pics – Copy of Sam’s in patient history, Cincinnati requested I bring the copies of all of Sam’s scopes
Care Team Contacts – List of contact information of anyone on Sam’s Care Team
If you are flying…
See if your airport has a program for traveling with children who have special needs. Sign up and go to this before you travel. In Minnesota, we have the Navigating MSP Program. The most useful part for me was going through security with all of Sam’s medical supplies he needs with him at all times. Keep in mind, security will open and test every liquid.
Take all of your child’s medications with you as a carry on. We bought a backpack cooler so the meds will be easier to transport. All medications need to have their prescription labels attached.
Does your child eat by mouth? If not, ask what others have done to ease ear pain. We’re going to try EarPlanes. I’ll let you know if they worked or not for Sam.
OXYGEN…start this process very early in your trip planning! You cannot take oxygen tanks on an airplane so you will need to get a portable oxygen concentrator (POC) that is FAA approved. Depending on your child’s oxygen needs, the FAA requires 150% battery life for every one hour of flight time. For example, based on our one and a half hour flight, Sam will need three charged batteries. The POC will need to be approved forty-eight hours before you fly. Unfortunately, your insurance will likely not cover a POC, but if you’re child is on a waiver, that will. You will have to go though the process of getting the concentrator denied by your insurance before the waiver will cover it. You will not be able to fly if you do not get approval for the POC.
Call TSA Cares 72 hours before your flight to get assistance at the airport with security.
There is A LOT more I could add to this post, but these were the things that have taken up most of my time and energy. Acknowledge it’s a very overwhelming process, but don’t dwell on it. On the days you become too overwhelmed, quit for the day and try not to think about it.
If you fall upon this site and need to talk another mama/caregiver who’s “been there, done that”, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I would be happy to answer your questions or just encourage you along the way.
We haven’t traveled with Sam yet, so stay tuned for part two of “Tips for Traveling with a Complex Child”.