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!

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.

Dilation #5

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 Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

We Out!

We are bustin’ this joint today!!!!! Forty-five unexpected days later and we get to go home!!!! I am overwhelmed with excitement. I cannot wait to see Sam’s reaction when we walk though the door.

A friend shared this with me today. God didn’t promise a storm free life, but he promises the storms won’t destroy us. I cannot agree more.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support and prayers!

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

I’m ready to bust this joint!

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!

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!

One Hurdle Cleared

THANK YOU for all your prayers! After over a SEVEN hour long operation, everything went a-okay.

Exhausting. It’s like you hold your breath for seven hours. Exhale.

And now for the next hurdle…recovery. The next few days will be an even bigger hurdle to jump.

Remember to breathe.

Please pray for no post-operation complications, specifically, no leaking.

Faith Over Fear!

Sam Strong!

Next Steps

All the stars have aligned or in my opinion, God had a plan.

Overall, Sam’s been doing well. The temporary fix seems to be holding up for the most part.

I can’t help but think there was a reason we had to cancel the first trip to Cincinnati. If we would have gone and Sam would have had his airway surgery, the likelihood of the surgery being successful would be slim to none with Sam’s new diagnosis.

Again, as we suspected, the second trip was canceled as well.

If I go into the details, I’ll have to write a novel.

Our surgeon here consulted with the main surgeon in Cincinnati.

Sam is scheduled to have surgery here on September 30th. It’s a big one, with a six hour OR time slotted and a five to seven day stay in the hospital. That’s without complications.

Minor surgeries, which have been the bulk of Sam’s now fifty plus surgeries, have always gone really well for Sam. Major surgeries, on the other hand, haven’t always gone as well.

This surgery will go well, without complications.

Are we nervous? No doubt! We choose not to worry about the things we cannot control.

He will be in the best hands and we believe this will be a final fix to Sam’s GI issues.

We believe Cincinnati will follow.

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.