Quick Sam Update

We decided to reschedule Cincinnati. After realizing Abby had soccer tryouts while we would be gone, we thought we didn’t want to not be here for her. We also would have had less than a week and a half to plan. That would be a tall building to leap with Sam!

Now we are waiting to get another phone call to reschedule. We thought we’d here back from them this week, but we didn’t. Hopefully we’ll get a call next week knowing they want to reschedule for August.

When it comes to Sam, we’re always waiting for the next thing. When you are in a constant Waiting Place under circumstances at no fault of your own, it’s much healthier to live in the moment than to dwell on the waiting.
Dr. Seuss
We choose not to stay in the Waiting Place.Dr. Seuss
Will (13), Abby (12), Sam (4)

The Abbreviated Version

It isn’t until I see Sam’s story on paper or I’m asked to share it at a volunteer event, I think, Holy Smokes!!

I shared my “What Will You Remember” post with one of Sam’s nurses he had while “living” in the hospital.

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 that self talk that says…

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Cincinnati Called Today

I was thrown very off guard this morning when Cincinnati called to schedule Sam’s next surgery.

“Does July 23rd work for you?” she asked. I was thrown even more off guard! Does she know we live in MN? Does she know my son is trached?

“Yes I think it will work. We will make it work.” I responded.

Right now we’re processing. There’s a lot to think about and do in a very short amount of time. It’s exciting and nerve racking all in one.

We’ll figure it out.

We’ll get it done.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

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 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeschool, What?!

MANY of us are parents or caregivers who have turned into teachers overnight. Who would have thunk?! 

Change is not easy, but with a little elbow grease and most importantly an overall good attitude, you can do it.

Yes, at the beginning, we have to work out the kinks and navigate through the unknowns, but the more we focus on what we are going to do with the change and not dwell on what has changed, the more successful and happy we will be.

Like I’ve said before, technology can be a blessing and a cursing. Right now, in the world of education and beyond, it has been an absolute blessing, no doubt.

I don’t know about where you live, but the teachers and educational staff in our community have really pulled together and made the best of a tough situation. And we are the largest school district in our state.

Many teachers are working hard if not harder then they did before to do their best to keep up with our children’s education. Let this time remind you of how hard teachers work to educate our children. This situation in not ideal and they would rather be in the classroom with our kids.

Hopefully you have settled into somewhat of a routine. Is it going to be the same as if kids were in school? No.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve caught myself having yelling matches with my kids and their schoolwork. It’s funny, because I was a teacher, so you would think I have more in my tool belt when guiding them with their schoolwork, but all that education and patience seems to go out the door when it comes to your own kids. Hahaha!

I’m so grateful I don’t have to plan the curriculum!

This is tough, but let me tell you, there are much tougher things.

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We can fight the change or we can embrace it. Knowing what it’s like to live in a new normal, if you can embrace the change, you will stay mentally strong.

While we are quarantined at home, and things are out of the norm, someone else is grieving the loss of their daughter/son to Suicide, or just found out they had cancer, or have been waiting in the hospital for over a year with their child for a bone marrow transplant, or the list goes on and on and on and on. It can always be worse.

Let’s not forget there are many out there who have been through or are currently going through far harder things than suddenly becoming their child’s teacher.

Teachers are working very hard to keep things as normal as possible for our kids. Many have kids of their own at home, while also working full-time.

I’m not saying we can’t have a bad day, here and there, but let’s refuse to let COVID-19 steal our joy and be thankful for what do have!

Let’s be grateful for our educators who are working hard to make the best of the cards they’ve been dealt.

Hang in there.

This too shall pass. 

Tips for Traveling with a Complex Child

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 a complex 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!

Have patience.

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”.

Click here to download this SUPER helpful travel checklist from Pediatric Home Service. The first page took a lot more patience than I expected it to. I had a tough time figuring out who the pediatric medical supply company in the area was, but it was worth the diligence because they have been a HUGE help. Give yourself lots of time to slowly fill out the checklist.

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…

Hotel/Car Info.

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.

Navigating MSP Program
Kids will get a chance to go in the cockpit.
Navigating MSP Program
Sam thought it was pretty great in the cockpit.

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”.

Our Little Boy is Back

The culture came back and as we suspected, Sam had tracheitis…again. There were two different organisms growing. It would honestly take a microbiology lesson to truly understand some of Sam’s sickness’. Unfortunately, I’ve had a crash course in a lot of subjects I’d rather not and wasn’t planning to the last three years.

For those of you who care, I found a website that gives a good explanation of tracheitis. Keep in mind, this explanation is considering a child without a tracheostomy. It sounds pretty scary and it is, but because we already know Sam is susceptible, we can treat it quickly.

Tracheitis is an infection of the trachea (breathing tube or windpipe) that is caused by bacteria. Tracheitis most frequently occurs in small children and can make it very difficult to breathe.

Tracheitis is rare, only occurring in about 1 in 1,000,000 cases and is suspected to be more prevalent in boys than girls.

Aggressive treatment early on is important in properly managing tracheitis.

Initial treatments will usually require admission into an intensive care unit where your child can be observed and intubated (breathing tube placed) if necessary. Having a breathing tube will also allow the ICU nurses to perform aggressive airway suctioning to keep your child breathing as comfortably as possible. [1]

It’s virtually impossible for a child without a tracheostomy to get tracheitis. Why is Sam so susceptible to tracheitis? Because he has a direct access to his airway, his tracheostomy or breathing tube. We have our noses, sinuses, and the rest of our anatomy leading to our trachea to filter out the bad bacteria. When it tries to get stuck, we sneeze it back out. We have lots of natural mechanisms to fight this stuff off. Sam does not.

Sam was a pretty sick little boy this past week. Tracheitis is what Sam was hospitalized for back in September. If we would have brought him in this past week, chances are very high, he would have been admitted. We did everything possible to keep him out of the hospital, because we know he can catch far greater illnesses or what we call super bugs there than at home. We also didn’t want to disrupt any of our travel plans coming up. That would have been a big bummer. In our last stay, Sam’s Pediatric Intensivist explained how, often the parents of complex kids have a very different view of a sick kid. What a generally healthy child would be hospitalized for, a complex child is cared for at home so when they do end up in the hospital, they are very sick kiddos.

Boy, oh boy, are we thankful for our home care nurses and the other people who help out when Sam gets sick. Our home care nurses and support system are what help keep us sane.

We are so happy Sam kicked this and we were able to keep him out of the hospital. Thank you for praying for our sweet little boy.

We leave in less than a week for Cincinnati! Sam’s pulmonologist has put him on “lock down” until after we get back. This means no going school and no going to therapy. Thankfully, he’s a very easily entertained little boy.

We are praying for answers in Cincinnati so we can hopefully get rid of Sam’s tracheostomy, aka trach!

Sam

Sources:

  1. Hayes, Kristin. “Do You Know the Differences Between Croup and Tracheitis?” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, 15 Nov. 2019, http://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-tracheitis-1192023.

Let’s Get This Over With

We leave in exactly two weeks for Cincinnati and we now have a pretty sick little boy on our hands. Even though yesterday his symptoms weren’t so bad, his pulmonologist decided to go up on all his nebs, start his antibiotic neb and have us do a trach culture. I was hoping we could wait till Monday to do the culture, mostly for selfish reasons because I have to drive the specimen to Minneapolis. Yesterday, his symptoms didn’t seem to merit a two hour trip there and back, so I thought…

The little boy who was running around yesterday morning, barfing here and there, but happy as could be, has barely moved off the couch today and is currently on oxygen to help keep him comfortable.Poor buddy.

Poor buddy.

I’m so glad we didn’t wait to do a trach culture. The results take seventy-two hours so we are hoping to stay out of the hospital and come up with a plan on Monday. Or even better, Sam kicks this thing before then.

Okay, so let’s pray he kicks whatever this is! He needs to be healthy before we go to Cincinnati. He will be put under two of the days we are there and if he doesn’t clear his pre-op appointment, our trip to Cincinnati will be postponed. Nope, not happening.

Sam went for almost two whole months symptom free! That’s pretty good for Sam in the winter! Let’s get this over with, little buddy. You’ve got this!

I believe in the power of prayer. Even if you don’t, if you would throw one out there for my sweet, little boy, we would greatly appreciate it.

As always…

…Sam Strong

and…

…Faith Over Fear!

We want this guy back!
We want this guy back!

This guy.

Cincinnati Bound

It’s official.

We will be going to Cincinnati Children’s in February. The first trip will be a series of back to back appointments and scopes. The team of doctors have gathered what they know about Sam’s history from his doctors here. Once they gather the information from our first trip, the doctors will meet again and formulate a plan for Sam. We are hoping and praying some of the plan will be able to be carried out by our doctors here. Bottom line, let’s hope they can figure out a way to get rid of Sam’s trach (breathing tube), which would be a definite game changer for Sam and our family.

Since the referral process started back in August, I have been doing my homework figuring out how we will get Sam to Cincinnati. FAA has SO many regulations. And flying with a complex child gets you no free passes. If anything, it’s the opposite. It’s been an interesting and sometimes frustrating process with a few tears shed. Okay, more than a few. I was surprised by one particular phone call I made to the airline we are flying. It was a specific number to call if you are flying with a person who has disabilities. Seems like the right number to call, right? Let’s just say, the person on the other end was not helpful and insinuated we fly first class. Yes, that was a call that ended in tears. Half the time, when I call places to ask questions, they have no idea what I’m talking about, which is not abnormal when it comes to Sam. The other day the gal who handles Sam from our insurance company told me, most of the things that have come up with Sam, we’ve never seen before so we’ve had to make it up as we go. Side note. Thank you Lord for insurance!

I’ve dived into ALL of the resources I can. I was able to connect with another mom whose daughter was trached and they traveled with her. She reassured me, there will be hiccups along the way and I will probably be sweating profusely by the time we board, but it sounds like I’m on the right track and asking the right questions. It felt good to talk to someone who’s been there. The trach mama world can be an isolating feeling. Although I have some pretty amazing friends who might not “get it” and really don’t try to, but are really good listeners.

The plane tickets are bought, the hotel is booked, and the car is rented!

The rest will get figured out with a lot of help from Sam’s respiratory therapist, nurses, and many others. So thankful for all the help!

Sam has been very healthy for the past month. Sean (my husband) would tell that’s because he hadn’t been in school. Maybe, but he LOVES school and until his docs tell us to pull him, I’ll keep sending him. Praying Sam will stay healthy until Cincinnati and will get to stay in school.

Overwhelmed

This past week was incredibly overwhelming and it wasn’t because things were bad. It was the exact opposite.

Our family and friends have had two benefits to raise money for our travel expenses to and from Cincinnati. People we don’t even know donated silent auction items or gave money to our family. Wow. I didn’t know that many people liked us. Lol.

I knew these events were happening, but I kept pretending they wouldn’t come to pass. They did. I even tried to say, “Thank you, but no thank you.” All I could think is, we don’t deserve this. There might be a lot of crud going on in our world, but I continue to be amazed at the good in people, not only now, but the past three years. I still don’t feel like we deserve any of this, but can tell you, a heavy financial weight has been definitely lifted off of our shoulders. Now, we can focus on how we will get Sam to Cincinnati logistically, not financially.

The other day, I made a huge deposit into an account I set up in Sam’s name. I stood there while the bank teller counted the money and fought back tears. I bit my bottom lip, a subconscious thing I do when I am trying to get my mind on something else. When the teller got to the checks, I did my best to wipe the tears away without anyone noticing. This is silly, I told myself, pull yourself together. Per policy, another bank teller came over to double check the checks. It was all over after that. The floodgates came. I literally sobbed like a baby. So embarrassing. My heart was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t control the tears no matter how much I tried. The teller was so sweet, sincerely asking if I was okay. I reassured her, my tears were happy tears.

If you had any part of any of these events, thank you. Our hearts are so overwhelmed with gratitude, we can barely contain it.

Sean and I came home and both agreed, the two days felt like a surgery day, which means complete exhaustion. It felt like the thoughts that linger after your wedding day. Did we acknowledge and thank everyone who came? Oh, no I didn’t even know that person was there?! Off and on, I keep having to stop the tears from coming, but again, they are happy tears.

Especially now, in a world where we are always “busy”, giving your time is a gift that doesn’t go unnoticed by the receiver. In my opinion, time is the greatest gift you can give someone. I know the time and planning that went into each of the two events on behalf of Sam was a lot. Something like that doesn’t just happen. The monetary gifts given to our family the past couple of weeks would not have been made if people did not give their time. At the end of the day, people gave their gift of time and that is worth just as much.

THANK YOU to anyone who helped in any way whether with your time or your financial contribution. Words truly cannot express our gratitude.

We found out our first travel dates to Cincinnati! We will be going at the end of February!

Sam Strong!

Cincinnati here we come!