Home

Six days later, we are home. Sam is doing great and back to his happy self. He’s not back to his normal feeds, but we’ll get there. As always, we’re on Sam time.

He, of course, won more hearts during our short stay. The hospitalist said, even when Sam was miserable, he brought a smile to his face every day. “There’s just something about him.” Yeah, he does that to people.

Both Sam and I have developed our own PTSD on this journey. For me, when it hits, it hits hard. It’s a funny thing too. Sometimes I know it’s going to happen and sometimes it comes out of nowhere.

If you’ve ever been to the Minneapolis Children’s campus, there is a skyway from the clinic side to the hospital side. Sometimes there’s music playing and sometimes there isn’t. The music is always the same. I’ve walked across this skyway hundreds of times during hospital stays, going to appointments, going to surgeries, or for volunteering.

It was fairly early in the morning. I walked down to get some coffee. I don’t know if it was the time of day, or that the music playing, or both, but as I walked through, the traffic I was watching seemed to move in slow motion as the sun was coming up and their lights beamed in my eyes. A lump suddenly formed in my throat and tears started to slowly roll down my cheeks. Why am I crying?! Many of the terrifying moments of Sam’s life in the hospital flashed vividly through my mind. Stupid PTSD. I didn’t get any coffee because the coffee shop was closed, but I got a something better after I got back.

Every single hospital room at Children’s Minnesota has a Welcome Book both in Minneapolis and St. Paul. If I’m being honest, in all my time at this hospital, I have rarely looked in this book. Sam was watching Blue’s Clues on my phone. I wanted to know what the Geek Squad hours were so I could rent him an IPad. I knew the Welcome Book would have this information. As I paged through the book, I came to a screeching halt on the resource page.

There he was!!! My sweet, little miracle baby!!! I couldn’t believe it. Now mind you, a few years ago, before Covid, with all my volunteering I had done at Children’s, I was asked if Sam would do a photo shoot for their marketing purposes. Why not. We knew when he did the photo shoot, they could use the pictures for any of their marketing purposes. We signed a waiver saying so. Since then, we’ve had people text us with pictures of Sam on different Children’s ads. But, the Welcome Book?!?! That was was a shocker for me! And it filled my mama heart at the perfect time.

Superman Sam

Rotavirus Again

Sam’s lab results came back positive for Rotavirus. This is the same little tummy bug, along with a Tracheitis, that put Sam in the hospital for a little over a week last May. It’s nice to have an answer. More often than not, we are playing a guessing game with him. One of the hospitalists, who knows Sam, even jokingly commented on it.

Today was a better day. He’s tolerating a very small amount of Pedialyte. When I say small, I’m talking fifteen milliliters an hour. You know the tiny cups you get when you buy children’s pain meds like Ibuprofen and Tylenol? Picture one of those small med cups only half full. That being said, he still has a ways to go before he can be off the IV fluids and we can get the heck out of Dodge!

Prayers Sam will continue to tolerate his feeds, for his blood pressure to come down, for my other three kids, my hubby, and me.

Napping in true male fashion. 🤣

Faith Over Fear!

Sam Strong!

Update

I’ve been working on this update for a while, and now Sam’s landed himself in the hospital. It would have been a year in May without any unplanned hospital stays. It’s a bummer he didn’t make it to a year, but ten months is a lot to celebrate!

As of now, we know he has a Tracheitis and what looks like a stomach bug. We are still waiting on some labs and a culture. We came in yesterday morning and he was quickly admitted. He’s already made a drastic improvement since he’s been on the IV fluids.

Now for the update I’ve been working on…

We obviously had an eventful December. Who am I kidding, it’s always eventful around here. Sam is generally busy with doctor appointments, but sometimes his many specialties seem to lump together.

We were very happy to hear although his uric acid is still high, since he’s started the new med, it’s significantly lower. We will continue to see nephrology more often to draw labs and get urine samples to stay on top of his chronic kidney disease.

He’s, of course, is a champ at blood draws and it’s been a comical experience each time trying to collect a urine sample. Each nurse who has been with us for these appointments has their own humorous story of collecting a urine sample with Sam and I.

His orthopedic doctor confirmed he still has developmental hip dysplasia. Once a year, he gets x-rays to check on his hips and she gives us the results right after. I’m always amazed at how she remembers specific details about Sam and our family. It makes my mama heart full. It’s a waiting game on when this surgery will happen. The longer Sam can wait, the better it will be for him.

It usually takes at least three or four of us to hold Sam down when he gets x-rays, but I was able to do it myself. I’m always very honest with him on what’s going to happen. He has A LOT of PTSD when it comes to x-rays. I tell him over and over again, “No owies, no owies, no owies…” For some reason, he actually believed me this time and I was able to hold him myself. Success.

We learned before we went to Florida, Sam’s MRI did show some heterotopias spots, and they might or might not be related to his seizures. The bottom line is that there is no big concern for the seizures. Thankfully, he has not had one since November.

His EEG was much more successful than we gave him credit for. Sam’s nurse and I thought there was no way this was happening when we walked in and saw the amount of cords that needed to get glued to his head. Not only did it happen, he did fabulous. We concluded, the tech who did the EEG, did not fully understand the small miracle that took place in the room that day.

Sam’s other specialties were uneventful. Always a bonus.

I’m excited to announce, we will be going to Cincinnati Children’s in May for Sam’s laryngeal cleft repair!!!!! If you’ve been following, this is three plus years in the making. We’ve had to reschedule twice due to Sam getting sick and having GI (tummy) complications.

Prayers for peace, comfort, easy answers, and a short stay for Sam!

Sam strong!

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.

Can’t Catch a Break!

This poor kid! We’ve landed ourselves in the hospital again. His pulmonologist said to bring him in if his symptoms didn’t get better. We brought him in on Tuesday morning. You would think by now, I would pack a “just in case” bag, but I really didn’t think we would be staying. Wrong.

On day two, after all the lab work ups, x-rays, and an ultrasound, Sam has two different tracheitis’ and rotavirus. His medical team and I were actually happy for the rotavirus diagnosis and not something more serious. It’s always nice to have an answer and not continue, what feels like, the guessing game.

He’s being treated for the tracheitis’ and they want to rest his tummy for a few days with IV fluids. He’s still miserable, but I am confident it won’t last too long. Hopefully, we can bust this joint in the next day or two. Hospital stays do not get easier the more you have.

On a side note, his dilation went well last week. He did need to be dilated, BUT his surgeon said we could start planning Cincinnati!!!

Thanks for praying for our sweet little boy and the rest of our family.

Sam Strong!

Dilation #5 Update

I suppose no news is good news, right? For the most part, yes.

Sam’s dilation went very well. His esophagus was very narrow, but not as narrow as the last time he got dilated. Good news!

Again, we wait. If symptoms begin, we call surgery and they get Sam on the schedule. Generally, his symptoms consist of retching (throwing up), which start to become more frequent and violent as time goes on. Eventually, he’s not able to control his secretions, so he spits a lot too. Basically, he still creates secretions (spit), but if his esophagus is narrow enough or closed, there is no other place for the secretions to go except out his mouth. This makes for a very nauseous little boy. Poor guy.

After Sam’s dilation, his surgeon discussed WHEN Sam is able to go three months without a dilation, then he’ll plan to get Sam on the schedule to look at his esophagus. If things look good and open, we wait again. When Sam can go for at least six months without a dilation then his surgeon will feel good about us planning another trip to Cincinnati to hopefully get his airway fixed.

Sam also had a granuloma cauterized or how I like to make it more visual for you, the extra skin on the hole in his throat, sizzled off by a fire pen. This went well too. Although, it was a lot to look at after. For the next week or so, we cleaned gross puss and what looked like black soot around his trach site. Yuck and again, poor guy! Thankfully, it all healed very nicely.

The day after Sam’s dilation he seemed like he was recovering well. When he woke up the next morning, things went south very quickly. He ended up with a tracheitis. He had a couple of very rough days. We were able to catch this right away and treat the nasty, airway bacterial infection. Along with our hard work and the antibiotic nebs, like magic, Sam was back to his lively self in no time. Thank you for home care nurses!

Except for the spitting. No, not another thing, little buddy. His demeanor was back to his norm, but he wouldn’t swallow his secretions. Per Surgery we should bring him in to be evaluated in the next couple of days, unless things got worse, which for Sam means going to the ED (Emergency Department). Not the dreaded ED. Besides him not swallowing his secretions, he seems totally fine. Sometimes I wish they had another place for complex kids to go in these situations.

The next day, after talking with Sam’s Pulmonologist, she too thought he should be evaluated. Bummer.

We had planned to take him in early the next morning, knowing the less busy times of the ED. Sam had different plans. Good plans! When he woke up, the spitting had stopped!!! Thank you Lord!!!

Sam has been back to his spunky self, continuing to teach us what life is all about.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

Second by Second

Sam’s day has been quite rough. Man, what a roller coaster. Just when we all think he’s turning the corner, things take a sharp turn in the wrong direction.

Some symptoms are new and others have been off and on since he’s been here. This is nothing. It’s just a fluke. He will get through this.

Please pray for my little fighter. Pray his blood pressure can be controlled. Pray for no more red blood coming from his trach (breathing tube). Pray for less secretions. Pray his lungs are clear on the x-ray results. Pray for no more throwing up. Pray for his heart rate to come down. Pray for his medical team. Pray for his momma, daddy, sister, and brothers too. Pray they can get things figured out and we can go home. Pray for no more sharp turns.

Classic Sam

I wish I could tell you the last few days have been better, not worse.

I wish I could tell you his recovery is going smoothly.

I wish I could tell you we’ve been able to manage Sam’s pain.

I wish I could tell you we went down on the oxygen, not up.

I wish I could tell you Pseudomonas was not growing on the trach culture we decided to do the other day.

I wish I could tell you Sam’s turning the corner and he’s not been miserable the last few days.

I wish I could tell you we’ve gotten a good nights sleep the last few days.

I wish I could tell you Sam is using all of his signs (language) he knows and not just “help”.

I wish I could tell you he’s on less pain meds and has less IV poles, not more.

I wish I didn’t have tell you, he will be getting a PICC line later today.

I wish I could tell you we’re getting ready to go home.

I can tell you, we were able to take out his NG tube this morning, which has been hard to keep in the last few days.

I can tell you, clinically, leaking doesn’t look like what’s going on.

I can you, all of the appropriate measures are being taken to figure out the problem.

I can tell you, Pain and Palliative is now on board. They have been a game changer for Sam in the past.

I can tell you, although he’s on a lot more meds and pretty much sedated right now, he’s finally been comfortable for the last hour.

I can you, my little boy is a fighter and he will come out on top.

Please don’t stop praying for my sweet little boy.

Faith Over Fear!

Sam Strong!

Sam is Back!

Sam was pretty much back to himself on Monday. When he gets sick, he falls hard,  very fast, but he comes back just as fast. Darn tracheitis.

One of Sam’s nurses who was new to us in March has never seen Sam sick. She was here the day he started to get sick. He fell hard, fast. We had a very rough day. She’s heard me forewarn her how fast it happens with him, but when she experienced it, she couldn’t believe the actuality of it. She said she went home and cried. Enough said.

He’s better. That’s all that matters.

We are all set! Surgery is already rescheduled for September!

I am bummed we will be gone during the first week of school. If we were living in normal times with school, it would be good timing, but we’re not.

Distance learning was not a super great experience in our house, but we made the best of it. It makes me a little nervous to have the “teacher” gone the first week of school, but it will be fine. According to my daughter, the teacher (aka, me) isn’t top notch anyway. 😂

The flights, hotel, and car rental are booked again and the oxygen is approved. Thankfully, all of the medical supplies that were already shipped to the hotel can just wait a little longer. The hotel general manager had no problem keeping the extra boxes for us. Whew. This traveling thing with Sam is no cake walk, but it does get easier every time.

One day at a time.

One foot in front of the other.

 

Cincinnati Cancelled

Well, after talking to the docs at Cincinnati they thought it would be best to cancel Sam’s surgery and reschedule.

Bummer.

It is for the best though.

I can’t imagine getting on a plane with him tomorrow morning. He’s a little better today, and off the oxygen so that’s good, but still very lethargic. He’s definitely starting to turn the corner though.

If he were a typical kid, he would have been in the hospital a few days ago and likely intubated.

As we suspected, Sam has tracheitis which is an infection in the trachea. For a typical kid, tracheitis is super rare. It’s the cursing of a having a direct access to your airway. Thankfully, for Sam, it’s always been easily treated. This means fourteen different nebulizer treatments, four times a day, an oral steroid, a little oxygen support, and mama, daddy, and/or a nurses lap.

Are we thankful for home care nurses? You have no idea.

Except for figuring out how we’ll handle the medical supplies already shipped to the hotel, we were able to cancel everything hassle and fee free. That was a huge relief.

This is a perfect example of truly living one day  at a time. Yes, it’s a bummer, but it is okay and it will be okay.

We are thankful Sam didn’t end up in the hospital and he’s on the mend.

Sam Strong.

Faith Over Fear.