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

An Answer

Sam’s esophagus was barely open (esophageal stricture). This is nothing new for Sam, but it’s been a very long time since he’s needed a dilation. This is the best fixable answer we could ask for. His GI doctor dilated him and wants to dilate again in two to four weeks. Poor buddy.

Praying now he will tolerate Pedialyte. Generally, when Sam is hospitalized, the doctors want him to be successful on his home feeding regimen before we go home. We move very slow to get there. I was able to convince the docs to let him be successful on Pedialyte and let us work on the formula at home. Anything to give us a few less days in the hospital.

Now Sam just needs to turn the corner so we can get the heck out of dodge!

Thank you for all your prayers! Continued prayers Sam will turn the corner, his blood pressure will come down, and that he will not surprise us with anything else.

Faith Over Fear

Sam Strong

Looking Up

As of right now, Sam will not need surgery. Thank you Lord!

The surgeons were pretty convinced yesterday morning Sam would need surgery based off the six ultrasounds he had throughout the night on Sunday. As they came and pressed on his tummy throughout the day yesterday and rested his belly, they became less convinced Sam would need surgery.

Today we started some Pedialyte at a very slow rate in his g-tube. Those of you who know Sam, you read right, I said his g-tube, not his j-tube. After the misery of the getting the j-tube inserted in radiology (not surgery here), surgery pulled his j-tube that evening possibly thinking it was instigating the intussusception. For a few reasons, this could be a disaster or a blessing in disguise.

One reason is the j-tube has often kept us out of the hospital when he gets sick and is not tolerating Pedialyte or formula in his g-tube (stomach). Another reason is that he is currently dependent on his j-tube for half of his daily feedings. The blessing would be, he will tolerate ALL his feedings in his g-tube and not need the j-tube. We would absolutely love only a g-tube.

The surgeon and nurse laughed at me in the middle of the night when the j-tube was pulled and the g-tube was put in when I said, ”Oh it’s so beautiful.” If you know anything about feeding tubes, you can understand my excitement. If you know Sam medically, you can understand my apprehension. It’s going to be a blessing in disguise.

The best news is Sam woke up this morning clearly feeling much better. He’s sitting up and even giving quite a few smiles. He hasn’t made any sounds yet, but I don’t think we’re far from that.

The hotel we were staying at did not have anymore availability, but we were able to get a room at the Ronald McDonald House here and we able to cancel our flight with no fees.

I’d be lying if I told this is easy, but you know me, I like to stay focussed on the perks. It’s much better for the soul. I also believe we are in the best place possible. Cincinnati Children’s is internationally known for caring for kids with airway and esophageal disorders. It doesn’t take long having a kid like Sam to see that.

Pray Sam will tolerate his feeds, the intussusception has fixed itself, it will not recur, and for NO MORE SURPRISES!

Thank you for walking alongside us in this journey, the continued prayers, and the encouragement. They both go a long way.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

No Clear Answers, But…

…we have a good plan in place. Here is an extremely summarized version of the latest.

They didn’t find anything on the endoscopy. Based off Sam’s symptoms, and stopping and starting his feeds, they have narrowed down the problem to his feeds. I’ll spare you all of the medical jargon and Sam’s anatomy talk.

They will rest his bowels for the next day or so and very slowly introduce feeds. If the feeds go south again, they will do another endoscopy through his j-tube (feeding tube).

Otherwise, it may be Sam’s little gut needs more time, which means, we would be able to go home, but with a PICC line to make up for lost nutrition. Sigh. Okay, time for that good olé self talk.

The PICC line would only be temporary and we would be able to go home, where both Sam and I need to be.

On a good note, Sam had an overall good day. His strength and determination never ceases to amaze me.

Faith Over Fear!

Sam Strong!

What Will You Remember?

To my sweet Sam. Each year when your birthday rolls around, off and on, I become numb. The moments where my world completely stopped, become vivid in my mind more often at this time of the year.

This day four years ago our lives forever changed. The days with you can be hard, scary, long, overwhelming, and a lot of work, BUT I wouldn’t change a single thing.

You’ve made me realize even more, you never know what the stranger standing next to you has endured during this life, whether there is a smile on their face or not.

Because of you I’ve been able to meet some of the most amazing people and even though there seems to be so much chaos in the world, you continue to make me see all the good in people.

Today, and every year on this day to come, I will forever wonder what you will remember.

What will you remember?

Will you remember the day you were born when they immediately took you from me because you were turning blue?

I don’t think so.

Will you remember when you and Dad left in the ambulance without me?

No, but I will.

Will you remember I didn’t see you and Dad until over twenty-four hours later?

No, but I will.

Will you remember at the beginning when they said you would have surgery and then go home in a few weeks?

No, but I will. 

Will you remember when you were four days old? Dad and I were waving goodbye to you, tears in our eyes, as they rolled you away for your first of many surgeries?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when you were scheduled for surgery, but it got canceled because you went into cardiac arrest?

I don’t know.

Will you remember when I was going home for the first time after you had been in the hospital for almost three months to take your brothers and sister to their first day of school, but couldn’t because you went into cardiac arrest again?

I wonder.

Will you remember when less than twenty-four hours later, you turned blue AGAIN, needing more than ten minutes of chest compressions this time?

Maybe.

Will you remember when the doctor would give us more bad news? He told us in order for you to have a chance at life you would need a tracheostomy?  They would need to cut a hole in your throat to insert a breathing tube?!?!

No, but I will.

Will you remember the first time Dad and I had to change your trach (breathing tube)?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the surgery we had been waiting for since you were born that everyone thought would be successful, wasn’t?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when they told us they would be moving you to to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) because NI (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) doesn’t know how to sedate kids like PI does?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when you came back from surgery on your tummy with more chords coming from you than I could count, on a huge bed that wasn’t meant for babies?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when they stretched your lower esophagus out of your upper back and your upper esophagus out your lower back?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the balloons on your back that couldn’t move and if you would even flinch, they would quickly give you more sedation meds?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when I was weak, Dad was strong and when Dad was weak, I was strong?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when I read and sang to you everyday during your thirty-four day medically induced coma?

No, but I will.

Will you remember one day while I was reading to you and your shoulder slightly twitched as if you knew it’s what I needed that day?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when they they took you down to surgery to try connect your esophagus to your stomach again, but couldn’t?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the chest tubes?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when they told us a chunk of your lower esophagus had torn off so they threw that piece of you away, resutured, and stretched again?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the brokenness I felt being torn between staying with you in the hospital and going home to be with your brothers, sister, and dad?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when they tried to do a trach change, but you went into cardiac arrest AGAIN and needed to be reintubated?

I wonder.

Will you remember when your ENT left his clinic that day just to check on you, told me we had been through so much, hugged me, and left to return to his clinic?

No, but I will.

Will you remember all the complications?

No, and honestly, I already don’t. There were so many.

Will you remember the first time you opened your eyes after your thirty-four day medically induced coma?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when a part of me wanted you to close them again because they creepily raced back and forth?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when your nurse told me I would get to hold my baby after almost two months of not being able to?

No, but I will.

Will you remember, although you were tiny, it took four people to carefully and slowly put you into my arms?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the tears immediately streaming down my face as I held you in my arms again?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when they told me we needed nurses in our home for up to twenty hours of the day to help take care of you?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when you were you six months old and I took you on your first stroller ride, up and down the hospital halls?

No, but I will.

Will you remember how excited, yet terrified I was the day they told me we could finally bring you home?

No, but I will.

Will you remember when they put your car seat on the ambulance stretcher, all the hugs, people staring, doctors and nursing crying?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the first day you were home after spending over seven months in the hospital?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the many who thought you’d never make it out of that hospital?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the first time we went back to the hospital two weeks after you were home to get your esophagus stretched?

No, but I will.

Will you remember all the surgeries? You’ve now had over fifty and you’re not even four.

No, but I will.

Will you remember all the times we spent in the ER because the regular clinic, urgent care, or hospitals closer to us don’t know what to do with a kid like you?

No, but I will.

Will you remember for over nine months  people brought meals to our house?

No, but I will.

Will you remember the MANY cards, gift cards, and gifts we received?

No, but I will.

There is so much more I will remember, but you won’t and that’s how it should be.

There are times I wonder if you will remember the four times in your life you met Jesus. I wonder if you’ll be able to speak someday and tell me all about it. Until then, I will love you like every mother loves their children.

Happy 4th birthday my sweet boy!!!! Keep on being super!!!!

Sam is 4!!
Happy 4th birthday Superman Sam!

Sam Update

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 and Declan
We are the patch buddies.

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.

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. 

Cincinnati…

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.

 

 

 

COVID-19 AKA Coronavirus

About two weeks ago, I did my usual run to the pharmacy to pick up Sam’s meds. We had been running low on hand sanitizer, which is a staple in our house so I figured I would pick some up.

I ventured over to the aisle where I knew I would find the hand sanitizer. As I turned the corner, I noticed empty shelves. You guessed it. There was absolutely no hand sanitizer. That’s silly, I thought to myself, I guess I’ll get it at Walmart. The shelves were completely empty there too. For real?! This can’t be a result of people freaking out about the Coronavirus?! I’ll try Amazon. Nope. I’m not paying that kind of money for a six fluid ounce bottle!! 

This is a true story. It’s hard for me to understand. As you are probably aware, there are many other things flying off the shelves besides hand sanitizer. Being precautionary is one thing, but wiping out stores tells me fear and panic are involved.

We are now on our last bottle of hand sanitizer and I still haven’t been able to find any. I’m not going to bend over backwards to find it and I’m not going to pay a pretty penny for it. We have kind people in our life who know how important hand sanitizer is in our house and have bought some for us.

People are living in fear. Fear of what might or could or might not happen. Being precautionary is one thing, panic is another.

We have a medically fragile son. How many are feeling and reacting to the Coronavirus, we could feel and react the same way each and every day. This is the reality of anyone who has a medically complex child. Every single day, germs are very BIG deal in our house.

We choose not to live in fear.  We do our best, but that’s all we have. We take precautions, but don’t let the weight of what the germs “could” do to Sam consume our minds. We continue to wash our hands and say our prayers, because Jesus and germs are everywhere. I try focus more on the Jesus side of things, because I believe His plan is bigger. 

Worry is a thief of joy. The more you dwell on your worry, the more and more tangible it becomes. A worry can’t change anything. It is just that, a worry. It’s our mind dwelling on the maybe. I have two things in my life right now that are legit things I could worry about. If I sat, thought about, continually talked about, read about, and listen to all the terrible things that “could” happen, I would likely drive myself nuts. We have to choose to make technology a blessing and not a cursing, because, unfortunately, if we aren’t careful, fear and panic can easily set in.

Try not to let the fear of the Coronavirus consume you. Keep living the life you are hopefully already doing by good hand washing and staying home if you are sick.

Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.
– Francis Chan

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Why Target?

Target.

I don’t know what it is about Target.

Every time I go to Target alone, I get super emotional. There are moments my body seems to freeze up and time feels as though it is standing still. I walk by the sweet mamas talking to their sweet babies while their cute little legs are dangling out of the cart. My heart is happy for them and hurts at the same time. I think about how grateful I am I was able to take my first three sweet babies to Target. Sam has never been to Target or in any store for that matter. Or I go to the baby food section and the only thing I buy is green beans. I don’t buy anything else because the only thing, besides formula, we pump into Sam’s gj-tube (feeding tube) is green beans. For a moment, I envy the other mamas who are buying other baby food flavors. Stupid, I know. Then I tell myself to buck up and feel grateful for nurses and feeding tubes and life.

Suddenly, it hits me.

I figured it out.

PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yep, kind of weird, I know, but it’s a thing and it can happen to anyone who’s been through a trauma.

When Sam was “living” in the hospital, I basically lived there too. On the rare occasion I did leave, it was to be with my family or quickly pick-up some toiletries. We lived in twelve different rooms in the seven months Sam was there so I learned to live very sparingly. Guess what store I went to on my rare trips out of the hospital? Yep…you guessed it…Target.

I vividly remember standing in the checkout line at the Target closest to the hospital during an extremely grim time for Sam. I felt like I was the scene in a movie. I looked at the person in front of me, behind me, and everywhere around me wondering what their story was. An overarching question constantly on my mind still to this day…“What’s their story?” I remember failing to fight back tears as I stood in line. I quickly wiped away the small tears as I came closer to the checkout. It didn’t help there was a proud daddy with his little boy who couldn’t have been more than a year old in front of me.

It’s crazy how sounds, smells, and/or certain places can bring back vivid moments in your life. Whether they were moments of peace or fear, they were real to you. It’s those moments of fear that seem to hit us the hardest. Fear can wrap around you so tightly, it can almost feel hard to breath. It can happen even if you haven’t experienced a trauma. I’m guessing we have all had moments like this. When you can stand in faith and know fear is a liar, your happiness can’t be taken. That grip of fear slowly releases and a peace that passes all understanding sets in.

Still almost three years later, I have to fight with myself anytime I step foot in a Target alone. Some days there is more fighting than others, but every time I walk out those sliding glass doors, I choose to smile, remind myself, it could be so much worse, and ponder the MANY things I am grateful for.

Next Steps

Where do I begin?! Ya know that whole mentally preparing myself thing I’ve talk about? I don’t think I did enough of that this time. Or maybe we just got a lot of overwhelming information. Or maybe it gets harder and harder to send Sam off to surgery as he gets older and more aware of what’s going on. Or maybe it’s a combination of both. Or maybe sometimes I have my moments.

Sam is definitely starting to figure things out. He does just fine until everyone starts coming in to go over things. This time his anesthesiologist said he was pretty feisty when they brought him back to the operating room. Poor buddy. After looking at Sam’s history, the anesthesiologist said “Wow, he’s got quite the history. It’s v.e.r.y rare a kid makes it to three pages.” We all joked saying Sam should get a medal or trophy or something. I could have laughed or cried. I laughed. Laughing is much better for the soul.

Sam after dilation
He was super upset after surgery until he saw his mama. He fell asleep instantly, cuddled in her arms.

Trying to explain everything and making it make sense to the general public is tough. I’ll do my best.

ENT…

Because of the GI findings, Sam’s ENT has decided to stay in the background for quite a while. He wanted us to talk to Sam’s pulmonologist as he said Sam’s airway is really red and inflamed. This is likely due to Sam’s most recent illness, which is a whole other story. Thankfully, after looking at the pics, Sam’s pulmonologist wasn’t worried. The good news…the small part of Sam’s airway he fixed last month was successful!

GI…

We got answers, but not the greatest news. It’s a lot of info, but in short, his GI surgeon is going to talk to docs from Boston as they are stumped and not sure what to do next. After looking, they discovered his tummy surgery came undone or unwrapped. The surgery, last done in November of 2017, that’s failed three times now. It’s likely, the unsuccessful surgery is due to Sam’s violent retching episodes, which in turn wreak havoc on his already stressed esophagus. Either way he’ll have another open surgery sometime this summer. Open surgery…yuck. They will do some more tests and dilate his esophagus again in four weeks. The good news…he once again recovered beautifully!

Once again, we wait…patiently.

We are use to getting bad news and the unknown. Hope is hope, just that, and it’s a phenomenal thing. We cling to hope.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
(2 Corinthians 4:8‭-‬9 NIV)

Here We Go Again

Sam will go to surgery again tomorrow (Monday). His GI surgeon and a GI doctor will stretch his esophagus again for the twenti somethingth time. His ENT will look to see if the sutures stayed intact on the bottom part of his Laryngeal Cleft, or the hole in his airway. His ENT has decided only to look and see if the surgery he did last month worked or not. Both Sam’s ENT and GI surgeons are going into this, hoping to formulate a plan based on their findings.

There are SO MANY things I could worry about with Sam. Of course, I travel down that path sometimes, but it gets me nowhere except stressed and fearful. There is SO little we can control. I know we are doing everything in our control, the rest is out of our hands. We choose to let go, and let God. When that truly happens, I can tell you from experience, the stress and fear factor quickly go away.

Pray the surgery done last month on Sam’s airway was successful. Pray for Sam’s surgeons, anesthesiologist, and anyone else caring for him. Pray Sam will recover quickly, his docs will be able to formulate a good plan, and we will get some answers. Pray for the rest of us too. I joke, Sam recovers faster than I do when he has surgery. As you can imagine, surgery days are pretty mentally and emotionally exhausting. As always, thank you for keeping us and our Superman Sam in your prayers.