MN Neonatal Foundation

Today, the MN Neonatal Foundation featured us on their Facebook page! Check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/NeonatalFoundation

This all started with an idea/dream to help normalize something that is not for families and caregivers who will take a child home from the hospital with a life saving breathing tube (tracheostomy). This dream is now a reality. I am so excited for the next phase of Superman Sam’s Survival Kit and share hope with many more families and caregivers now and in the future.

Starting Feeds

Besides his meds and water, Sam has not had anything in his stomach for over two months. I think it’s safe to say, his gut has had rest. We are going to introduce feeds into his g-tube (feeding tube) very soon. It will be a very, very small amount, and we will slowly add more as he tolerates it. We are nervous and excited.

Sam has otherwise been doing great! “Eating” through his bloodstream doesn’t seem to phase him much. He’s not in school yet, but he’s been able to go to occupational therapy and speech comes to our house once a week. He keeps himself busy organizing and being on his IPad more than he probably should be.

PICC line dressing changes are getting easier each week. He seems to fight less and knows the worst part is when his infusion nurse has to take off the old dressing. Getting his TPN (nutrition) started has become a part of our evening routine and it feels normal. I will be happy though when the PICC line is gone. It’s not the fastest process in the world and let’s face it, not normal.

Please pray Sam tolerates his feeds and he will not need the surgery his surgeon talked about before Christmas.

I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I know I got my Christmas wish and very thankful for it.

Sam Strong

Faith Over Fear

Good News

Sam isn’t doing great, but he’s been off the oxygen most of the day and has no fever. As long as he behaves himself, they will do the procedure (esophageal dilation) tomorrow!

These kind of things are a balancing act when it comes to medically complex kids. It often comes down to a risk benefit analysis. And there are so many factors involved. We are incredibly blessed with the care team Sam has when we are here. It is evident they care so much about our sweet little boy, want to get him better and back home where he belongs.

The smiles are few and far between, but he did sit up a few times today and even played for a couple of minutes. We’ll take it! So far, it’s looking like everyone is wrong about the getting worse before getting better. They are going to be wrong.

Prayers for an uneventful evening for Sam. Pray he can continue to breath on his own and stay fever free. Prayers for the procedure tomorrow and all who will care for him.

Thank you for all the love and continued support for our family. We are truly blessed.

Faith Over Fear

Sam Strong

We Stayed Home

A few weeks ago, we were very close to a hospital stay. Our normally, very busy little boy was laid up on the couch, miserable for a week. He was blasted with all the hardcore stuff we can give at home and needed some oxygen support at night for a few days.

What was the illness that almost landed him a hospital stay you ask? It was likely a cold. That’s right, an illness I wouldn’t blink an eye for with my other kids. We are so thankful we didn’t land ourselves in the hospital. It’s no fun Sam or any of us.

Sam going to school or not, has been an on going discussion in our house. If it were up to Sean, Sam wouldn’t go to school at all. He thinks every time Sam goes to school, he ends up in the hospital. There is some truth to that, but there have been plenty of times we’ve been able to keep him home. Mind you, keeping him home and out of the hospital, is not an easy feat. I see Sean’s point, and also don’t want to keep him in a bubble.

I have to admit, during this last illness, keeping Sam out school crossed my mind a few times. When a common cold debilitates your child for a week, and keeps him out of school for two weeks, contemplating sending him to school or not becomes a thing. Faith over fear.

Until Sam’s doctors tell us to keep him out of school, we will continue to send him. I believe we were designed for human contact. Keeping Sam out of school might mean I am stealing from him what he can give to others. And Sam makes people better.

Miracles Still Happen

We went into Sam’s procedure with high hopes and low expectations. After what happened in Cincinnati, the odds of the surgery working were not in Sam’s favor. Here’s my analogy. Let’s say you get five sutures (stitches) in your airway. Within minutes of waking up after surgery, you start throwing up every fifteen minutes. The pressure from throwing up is most likely going break open all of the fresh sutures that were just placed. It makes sense that everyone had very low expectations, that few, if any sutures would stick.

When Sam’s ENT came to talk to us before the procedure, he told us he spoke with the ENT who did the surgery in Cincinnati and heard what happened. I told him, my hope and dream is that at least two sutures stuck. High hopes, low expectations. He responded, ”We’ll see.”

We’re getting close to seventy times I’ve had to watch my little boy get put under sedation. At this point, we have a pretty solid routine. We see all the staff who need to meet with Sam and I before surgery, they get vitals, we go over ALL his meds and records with the nurse for the umpteenth time, I make sure the right labs will be drawn so Sam doesn’t have to get poked more, sign all the paperwork, make sure Sam gets Versed, keep snuggling my poor, very stressed out little boy, and then give him one last kiss before they roll him back to the OR. I take a deep breath, say a short prayer, and the nurse (or Sean, depending on who’s with me) and I walk to the cafeteria to get something to eat.

We go back to the waiting room, eat, and depending the the procedure, wait. This time, I look at Sam’s nurse and start praying. Let’s note, I am not always good about praying before meals. “Lord, bless our food and I pray two of the sutures will stick. It would be really great if three of them stick. And if your having a really good day, please make all five of them stick.” Sam’s nurse responded, “Amen.” We started eating our food.

I think I forgot Sam’s previous procedures usually have two to three doctors doing something or a surgery that takes longer, because I had only two bites and Sam’s doctor came into the room. He said, “Well…two of the sutures stuck. And actually, three of the sutures stuck. And actually, all five sutures are still in tact.” Instant tears from me and Sam’s nurse. I had the same feeling in my heart, mind, and soul on the day the doctors told me they were able to attach Sam’s esophagus. Pure shock. An absolute true miracle. Thank you Jesus. Sam’s ENT had already called the ENT in Cincinnati to let him know, and his response was, “Wow.” Enough said.

He has no idea the greatest news we just got!!!!!

Sam always has to throw a curve ball somehow. We were cleared to leave at about 12:30pm. This would have been record timing for a procedure with Sam. We started packing things up and the nurse came into the room. “Sorry, I can’t let you leave, his potassium is 8.3.” What does that mean?! Apparently, that is heart attack level. If I’m being honest, I had zero worry. Sam. They checked it again right away. It did go down to 7.4, but that is still very high. Lab came to draw blood from his other arm. Even after being put under, it still took three of us to hold him still. Poor buddy. The nurse laughed at me when I put the call light on to show her the new results on my phone. “4.1”, I told her, “We can leave, right!?” “Yes, let’s get you guys out of here!”, she said.

We have been waiting for this since Sam was two months old. He had the surgery done twice here and it failed, likely because of his retching.

We really needed a big win. Thank you Lord.

Now what?

This is the first MAJOR step in being able to remove Sam’s trach (breathing tube). LIFE CHANGING. Sam still has A LOT to overcome, but this surgery is a HUGE win. He will have a swallow study and see his GI (gastroenterology), ENT, and pulmonology. And then hopefully, he can start feeding therapy!!!!!!

Thank you for your continued prayers. I truly believe they have brought Sam to where he is today.

SAM STRONG

FAITH OVER FEAR

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” I find so much peace in this. When I wait on Him, it’s not a waste of time. It might be incredibly hard, but it’s not a waste of time. The more I wait on Him and not me or others, the more He seems strengthen my heart.

More on Cincinnati and Update

King Sean and Prince Sam

Before Sam’s surgery, we had some fun at the Cincinnati Zoo again. Sean was nervous about Sam and being around all the people, but it was nice to be able to do something “normal” with Sam since we had to have him in a bubble the month prior. Doing normal things with Sam always tugs on my mamma heart. Sam was more interested in trying to pull leaves off trees, and snatching my sunglasses off my face to throw in the ostrich cages. And, of course, his nose (filter for his trach) went flying too. So, if you go to the Cincinnati Zoo anytime soon and see the ostriches wearing sunglasses…

Our hotel didn’t have a bathtub so we had to improvise. Sam thought taking a bath in the kitchen sink was great. It was a lot less stressful for Sean and I too, because Sam LOVES the water. If he was able, I think he would have his head under the water all the time. He has no idea what would happed if he completely submerged himself in water. He is very brave around water and is constantly trying to put in head under, which makes bath time and water in general, pretty stressful for us. My heart skips a beat when I think of Sam without a trach and the day he can completely submerge himself in water. I think he will be a fish. Oh happy day.

When we knew we had to cancel our flight home because Sam was misbehaving, I instantly started looking for one way flights. It was not looking good.

We found out on a Wednesday evening, Sam would be discharged the next morning. The soonest flight out I could find was on Friday morning at $835 a piece! Not happening. The flights for the following week weren’t much better and we did not want to be stuck in Cincinnati any longer. Will and Abby were perfectly fine at home with my niece holding down the fort. I think they would have been happy if we were gone longer.

We decided to keep the rental car and drive home. We quickly packed Sean’s things at Ronald McDonald House (RMH) after Sam discharged, but couldn’t pass up the free toy from RMH for Sam. Of all the toys, he picked the doctor set.

Sean and I had to play a little Tetris to make everything fit in the SUV, but we did it. We were definitely homesick.

Sam does not travel lightly. And there were still six boxes waiting at the hotel for him!

Two days later, we made it home. Sam did surprisingly well with two full days of driving in a car. Sean and I were exhausted and very happy to be home. Sam was happy to see his siblings.

It has been almost six weeks since Sam’s surgery. We wait one more week to find out if the surgery worked or not. When I asked the doctor in Cincinnati if he thought it was a zero percent chance the surgery worked because of what happened, his response was, “The only person who knows that, is not in the room right now. We just have to wait and see.” Hmmmmm. Faith over fear, Jamie.

Sam’s ENT trained under the ENT who did the surgery in Cincinnati. Thankfully, we don’t have to travel back to Cincinnati for Sam’s bronchoscopy to get the news. Our expectations are low and our hopes are high for the news. It’s yet another sedation for Sam. Prayers everything goes smoothly next Friday.

Like my friend said, ”I figure no news is good news.” Yes, since we’ve been home, Sam has been doing great. We’re still moving slowly on his feedings, but he started at twenty-four hours a day six weeks ago, and is now down to eleven hours a day! And barely any retching! Progress!

He has had zero signs of intussusception. We’ve all questioned if the intussusception was happening longer than we think. It’s a hard thing to catch because they can only see it on ultrasound or x-ray when it’s happening. It’s likely the other feeding tube (j-tube) is what was causing it, which then makes its less likely to happen again. Continued prayers Sam will not get intussusception again.

And BIG Happy Birthday to my sweet boy today!!!!! We’ve kept you alive for six years now! Everyday we get with you is a blessing we didn’t think we would get from day one. I’m incredibly thankful we live where we do, knowing in many other places, you would not have made it past the first day. Keep doing what you do best, by making other hearts a little bigger.

Faith Over Fear!

Sam Strong!

No More Surprises

Thankfully we did not have anymore big surprises and we are home!!!!!

More to come, but wanted to let everyone know Sam is out of the hospital, doing well, and we made it home.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

Another Complication

Sam has intussusception again. I don’t have the energy to go into details of his day yesterday, but if you could guess, it wasn’t great.

We had some hope during the day yesterday we wouldn’t have to change our flight, but by the evening, we knew we would be staying longer. Hopefully not too much longer.

We’ll find out soon if he’ll need surgery or not.

I’m not really sure what to ask prayer for. Whatever will make Sam feel better the quickest and get us home the soonest. And so much more.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

We Have an Answer!!!!!

X-rays showed Sam’s j-tube (the part of his feeding tube that is threaded into his small intestines) is retracted and coiled up into his stomach. As you might imagine, this is very painful. Poor buddy. No wonder why he’s in so much pain and throws up every fifteen to thirty minutes.

At home, radiology does the feeding tube procedure, but it sounds like surgery is the specialty who will do it here. Pray for a quick and smooth procedure tomorrow morning. He gets his feeding tube changed every two to three months and it’s a pretty painful experience for him. This procedure is why he has so much PTSD when he sees an x-ray table. He just had it changed two weeks ago. Poor guy. Hopefully the little bit of morphine he’s on will help.

I feel terrible for him, but this is literally the best possible, fixable answer. This poor guy can barely catch a break. He is the strongest, toughest little boy.

Pray both Sam and I will get some restful sleep tonight and this will be the only complication. We want to hopefully get out of here tomorrow and be able to catch our flight home on Tuesday!

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

Rough Go

He had a few moments of slight smiles yesterday, but overall, Sam has been pretty miserable. He threw up and retched about every half hour throughout the night, if not more. It will be a miracle if this surgery works. And it WON’T be Sam’s first miracle!!!!!

The doctors said if he can get the nausea and vomiting under control, we can leave later today. This hospital is awful nice and they do things very well, but it’s not home. I don’t like hospital stays, but when we’re home, I know the system and almost everyone knows Sam. There’s a lot of comfort in that.

Please pray Sam will not have anymore nausea, vomiting, and for no other complications. Let’s get this sweet boy out of here!

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!