Going Home

We had one more full day with our family.

Our flight was not scheduled to leave until 8:00 p.m. the next day. Since we had to check out of our rental by 10:00 a.m., we spent the day at the Tampa Zoo. We had a great day at the zoo and celebrated Will’s fifteenth birthday. How is he fifteen already?!

We returned our rental vehicle at the airport early in the evening. Not only did the rental company not charge us for the upgrade, they took a good chunk of money off of our total bill for the inconveniences. We took the tram to check our luggage.

As we were waiting in line, a staff member from the airlines called everyone who was flying to Minnesota up to the check in desk. She informed us, “I’m so sorry everyone, but this flight has been cancelled.” Are you serious?!?! All fifteen of our family members made it home today! Not that I didn’t want them to make it home. Why us?!?! I’d be lying if I said these thoughts didn’t come into my mind. Now, pull yourself together, Jamie, and never mind the “why’s”. Do I have enough medical supplies for Sam?! You can’t buy suction catheters at Target!

After four hours of waiting in the airport, the airline booked everyone on the flight a room at a nearby hotel. We waited at least another hour for the shuttle to come get us. Thankfully, I had already drawn up Sam’s nighttime meds that morning. His nighttime nebs would have to wait. To say we were all getting cranky at this point would also be another lie.

The airline was very accommodating to Sam and his medical needs. We were the first to get on the shuttle to the hotel. We were getting some major dirty looks, which made me feel sad and a little annoyed. Most people take one look at Sam, us, and all that comes with us and give us looks of sympathy. If they only knew.

It was pretty late (for us) when we finally made it into the hotel room. We were very grateful, the airline booked us two adjoining rooms. As we came into the first room, we discovered if we didn’t get two rooms, we would have had a very difficult time getting all of our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies in one room! After we got Sam’s nighttime nebs (thankfully I had packed a few extra neb cups) done, we sandwiched him in between Sean and I, and tried to go to sleep. He still sleeps in a crib so he thought this sleeping arrangement was very funny. After about forty-five minutes of me grabbing his ankle to slide him back onto the bed, he finally fell asleep.

The next morning, we got ready and packed up our obnoxious amount of stuff for the airport again. We realized we wouldn’t have enough diapers to last us through the day. Sean tried the gas station across the street from the hotel. No such luck, and the attendant told him unless you have a car, there’s nowhere close to get diapers. Great. The hotel had them, but they were going to cost us a pretty penny. Fourteen dollars for four diapers! For real?! It’s important to note for the last mishap, the diapers were a size too small.

The shuttle took us back to the airport and we checked our bags. The airline gave us meal vouchers so we ate very well for lunch.

We headed for security. We were without a TSA agent to help us this time. Going through security with Sam’s oxygen, emergency bag, suction machine, med bag, diaper bag, feeding bag, and our things is quite the ordeal. They have to check every med and test every liquid, which includes his sterile water for suctioning and all of his formula. If people stare, I wouldn’t know because my focus is on Sam and getting us through as quick as possible.

We were almost through security when a woman walked up to us. She said, ”You guys are amazing. You must do this often.” I laughed and told her, ”No, it’s only our second time traveling with him, but thank you so much for the encouragement.” She responded, ”Well you make it look flawless.” With much sincerity, I thanked her, she smiled with all her heart and walked away. It felt like an angel was sent from God in that moment. After the last twenty-four hours, she had no idea what that did for my soul. I call these little moments in life, God winks.

Sam and I had wandered off. Sam is a very busy little boy. Although he’s five, I would say he functions more at the level of an eighteen month old. That being said, we tried to let him be as busy as possible before the plane ride. We wandered back towards our boarding gate.

Sean and Will were walking towards us on a mission with somber looks on their faces. Oh no, what now?! “The flight is cancelled.”, they informed me. You have got to be kidding me!?!? No!!!!! They instantly started laughing. Hahaha, real funny you two. I think I might have cried at this point. Actually, with the lump in my throat that built up instantly, I know I would have cried. Although the flight was not cancelled, they did tell me it would be delayed another hour. Now that doesn’t seem so bad.

We were all extremely happy to board the plane and get situated in our seats about an hour later.

To be continued…

The Wedding

The next day was my niece’s wedding. This mishap is not ours, but I couldn’t leave it out of the story.

The wedding was suppose to start at 5:00. My sister-in-law had ordered flowers that were suppose to be delivered at 2:00. At 3:00, the flowers had still not arrived. After failed attempts of trying to get a hold of someone at the flower shop, it was time to figure something else out.

By looking at the beautiful flowers, that matched perfectly, you would never know this mishap even happened. The original flowers showed up during the wedding ceremony. They made for some more pretty décor and thankfully my sister-in-law did not have to pay for them.

The weather was perfect, as was the wedding.

The Grant Family

To be continued…

Our Car At Home

The next morning Sean had a voicemail left from the middle of the night. Hmmmm, that’s weird.

As he listened to the voicemail, his facial expressions told me something was not right. Oh boy, now what?!

The call was from the sheriffs department at home. The officer explained Sean’s car was in the impound. Say what?! Overnight, the police found it crashed and deserted in a snow bank on the side of the road. They had to impound our car because it was blocking traffic. Is this really happening?!

Yep, it was really happening. We were in Florida, what could we do?! We did what we could by calling the police and our insurance company explaining we were in Florida. We tried not to think about it after that. We’ll deal with it when we get home. And, we still are. Thank you Lord for insurance!

We weren’t going to let that stop us from enjoying this beautiful day.

To be continued…

The Medical Emergency

Okay, the suspense is finally over, partially anyway. I decided to tell each mishap separately. I thought it would be much more fun this way. Like I said, you seriously can’t make this stuff up and it makes for a good story…later anyway!

Don’t worry, the medical emergency was not Sam.

We set off to Florida very early in the morning. TSA Cares is a wonderful program and definitely makes going through security with a complex child a much more smooth process. I would highly recommend taking advantage of this service if you are traveling with a medically complex child.

All was going well. We had just got into the air. All of the sudden, I hear screams coming from the back of the plane. My instant thought, looking at Sam’s nurse, ”You’re a nurse, you should go back there!”

Come to find out an older man had passed out. They were about to lay him on the floor and start chest compressions, but thankfully he came to. Sam’s pulse oximeter came in handy. We took it off Sam for a few minutes and Sam’s nurse was able to use it to check the ”patient’s” oxygen level and heart rate. His numbers showed he would hopefully be okay.

They turned the plane around to go back to Minneapolis. After we landed, the ambulance got the passenger, and who I assume was his wife, off the plane, we sat on the runway for a very long time. During all of this, we were not allowed to “move about the cabin”.

Sam did great on the almost six and a half hour flight we were not planning for. Like when we went to Cincinnati, he needed a little oxygen in the air. This VERY busy little boy surprised us for how well behaved he was. Thank you Lord for IPads!

Once we finally got there, got all of our luggage, and the rental car, we were all pretty hungry at this point, except for Sam, of course. After searching for a bit, we found a great place right on the ocean. We had some time, or so we thought. It was around 3:00 and check-in wasn’t until 4:00. We got our food and I began to get text messages from two different people about checking into our condo.

The message that took me by surprise, and the only message I remember is, ”The office closes at 5:00.” Say what?!?!

I knew we couldn’t check in until 4:00, but I had no idea we only had a one hour window! Uh oh! Everyone, eat fast because we have to go! Sam’s activeness didn’t leave much food in the bellies of Sean and I. Oh well, we gotta go!

We made to it our condo and that’s another story in and of itself. There was A LOT of confusion and a language barrier. We rented two different condo’s with different owners. Thinking this had something to do with the confusion.

After things had mostly been figured out, I asked the about the packages I had delivered and where we could get them. The security officer, responded, “Sorry, the office closes at 5:00, you’ll have to get them tomorrow.” Um….yeah, that’s not going to work. This isn’t extra clothes I sent. My son needs the things in those boxes to live. I politely explained the packages were for my son who is medically complex and needs the supplies in the boxes in order to live. For real. Their eyebrows went up and all of the sudden, we were able to get the packages. Whew.

Once we finally got all of our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies to our condo, we were all pretty tired and hungry, but weren’t going to let that ocean wait another day for us! It might have been dark, but it was still beautiful!

To be continued…

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!!!

We it made home from Florida, Sam stayed healthy and out of the hospitals there. Overall, we had an amazing time and awesome weather.

We’re off!

It’s seriously insane the events that took place from the beginning of our trip to the end, but I wasn’t sure how to title this post so I figured I’d keep you in suspense for a few days and throw out each title I thought applicable.

To be continued…

Procedures

Overall, Sam’s procedures went well. When we checked in, there was gal training, the receptionist told her, ”Sam is a frequent flyer here.” He put on the charm for the gal training and she was, of course, taken, ”That smile,” she said. “He just made my day.” Yeah, he does that.

The PTSD unfortunately kicked in way before we saw the purple pj’s. As soon as we walked through the second set of automatic double doors, he knew exactly where we were. Poor buddy, became instantly stressed, but made sure he brought on the charm for a few minutes to show off how, he knew without being told, to step on the scale and then pointed to the place on the wall where he would get measured. He bounced off the scale and stood under the wall chart to be measured. Many familiar faces said, ”Hi Sam!” in the process.

The purple pj’s came into play now. The stress level was pretty high at this point. So thankful for the nurse who thought of and agreed to wait for the Versed to kick in until we put on the dreaded purple pj’s. Later, the anesthesiologist said, ”Just leave him in his diaper!” That’s exactly what we did, even after the Versed kicked in.

“I know what’s about to happen to me and I don’t like it.”

Oh boy do I love and hate Versed all in one. It takes Sam’s stress away almost instantaneously, but also makes him really loopy, which can be a little creepy to watch your baby experience.

The MRI results we don’t know yet and the ENT portion went well. Sam’s ENT is a bit new to us. He was very excited to look inside Sam’s airway as he hasn’t yet seen it. He confirmed Sam has a Type II Laryngeal Cleft. Shoot, it’s still there. Sam’s previous ENT is getting close to retirement and moved to Arizona to help start a new program. Although we were very sad to loose him, the transition has gone very well. His new ENT trained closely, and is on a first name basis with the Sam’s doctors in Cincinnati. Bonus.

We felt like a deer in headlights with the GI portion, but for the most part, we got it all sorted out the next day. Unfortunately, they placed a gj-tube in Sam again, which is a more complicated type of feeding tube then Sam’s had for a while. Sam did not need to be dilated and there weren’t any clear anatomical answers for his GI concerns. We will wait for the biopsy results.

“Glad that’s over.” He didn’t even seem to notice how they snuck on the the purple p.j.’s during surgery.

Now let’s hold onto our seatbelts, and pray nothing holds us back from getting on that airplane next week! The planning and preparation for traveling with a kid like Sam is insane, but what a privilege. Thanks to our friend who nominated us in 2019, the MN Vikings, and the Best Christmas Ever, we’re spending Christmas on the beach!

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Upcoming Procedures

This week Sam will have an endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, MRI, and ENT will check to see if his trach needs to be upsized (bigger trach tube). I love when we can get lots of docs in on one sedation!

As I mentioned previously, Sam has had some GI (tummy) issues that we are hoping can get figured out, hence the endoscopy and sigmoidoscopy.

The MRI is a precaution for the seizures he’s had to rule out anything serious.

Sam has not been put out in over six months!! It’s the longest he’s ever gone in his life, by far!!! Maybe since it’s been so long his PTSD won’t kick in when he sees the purple surgery p.j.’s. Fingers crossed.

Prayers for no PTST with Sam, all the docs involved, some GI answers, nothing serious on the MRI, the anesthesia team, and a smooth, quick recovery so he can get back to this kind of crazy stuff.

Boxes are the best toys.

Sam Strong and Faith Over Fear!

HOME!

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.

Still Here

Again, I wish I could tell you we are on the path to going home.

I wish I could tell you Sam’s feeds went well when we restarted them.

His feeds are stopped again and another plan will be made tomorrow.

Our answer with an easy fix, didn’t turn out so well. The stricture (narrowing) of his esophagus is not the only issue. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

I can tell you, Sam is otherwise doing really well. As soon as we stopped the feeds, he seemed to feel better quickly.

He’s like a caged animal right now. We do our best to keep him entertained. Thankfully, we can take wagon and stroller rides up and down the halls and we switch out the toys every couple of days. Bottom line, we, need, to, go, home. It’s feels crazy to think we did this for over seven months.

I’ve mentally prepared myself, the PICC line will be coming home. I can still hope it won’t. More than anything, I hope they/we can figure out why he’s not tolerating his feeds.

While I know you are keeping Sam in your prayers, please pray for our other three kids too. Our love for them is no different than our love for Sam.

Faith Over Fear!

Sam Strong!