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!

Eye Surgery Update

Except for his PTSD when we walked through the second set of double doors, Sam’s eye surgery went well. The genuine kindness and enthusiasm from the many who know him in surgery is definitely helpful. The tummy portion didn’t yield any answers, but we were able to get his feeding tube changed, which is always a bonus to get this done under anesthesia.

After Sam came out of recovery, the anesthesiologist stopped by to check on him. She commented Sam was doing much better than most kids do after this surgery. Yeah, he’s one tough little boy.

He was really miserable the first night, but has been doing really well since. The medical world never ceases to amaze me. It’s so crazy what they can do. We noticed right away, Sam’s right eye is straight!

We got a good laugh the next day when he hopped off the couch after his morning nebs and meds routine, pointed to his eye, shouting “Eye!”, in the funny way he says it, and started running. He often runs circles around our center island in our kitchen. He started his run and kept bouncing off the cupboards. Again, he noticed something was different. We couldn’t help laughing at what looked like a ball in a pinball machine.

One of Sam’s home care nurses said, he’s a reminder that things could be so much worse. He goes through so much and stays so happy all the time. Well said.

Sam Strong

Eye Surgery Tomorrow

Sam will have his first eye surgery tomorrow. The hope is this will fix both eyes and he will only need the one surgery. He will also have a scope to look at his esophagus (endoscopy).

The ophthalmologist doing the surgery explained, “Often there are kids who have one lazy eye that needs surgery to be corrected, sometimes there are kids who have two lazy eyes that need surgery to be corrected, and rarely, are there kids who have two lazy eyes and nystagmus that need to be corrected with surgery.” Yep, that sounds like Sam.

As always, pray for his doctors, nurses, anesthesia team, and anyone else involved. Pray for a smooth and quick recovery for Sam. Pray for a successful eye surgery and answers to our seemingly never ending digestive issue questions. Pray peace for our hearts.

Sam Strong!

The Icing on the Cake

Getting all of Sam’s medical equipment and supplies situated on an airplane takes quite a bit of patience. One of the bummers when flying with someone who has oxygen, is they have to sit at a window seat. This makes things a bit more difficult for us, but thankfully Sam has done really well flying.

We got all of our stuff situated and sighed a big sigh of relief. Right away, I smelled a familiar smell. No, not now Sam. Remember when I told you our only option for diapers was a size too small? Yeah. When I turned to look, “it” was already coming out the back of his diaper. Oh great. What do you do with a five year old who’s pooped on an airplane?!

We were still on the ground so I unbuckled Sam and carefully picked him up. Sean followed me to the front of the plane with the diaper bag.

I explained the situation to the fight attendants. “Can we just lay him down right here?”, I asked. It was the only place I didn’t see carpet and knew this was going to be a messy situation. They politely obliged.

A messy situation might have been an understatement. As we started to change him, there was poop EVERYWHERE. We ran out of wipes. Of course we did. At this point, there was one flight attendant holding open a garbage bag, another one wetting and handing me paper towels from the bathroom, and another giving us moral support. Sean was helping wipe the poop off Sam and that, was everywhere. Bless all their hearts.

After we wiped the poop off the floor and were about to pull Sam up to put new pants on him, Sean stopped me. “Jamie, look at your arm.” For real?!?! There was literally poop from my wrist to my shoulder, on ALL sides of my arm! You cannot make this stuff up!!! You know your husband loves you when he’s holding your hand and wiping poop off your entire arm.

We remedied the situation as much as we could, obnoxiously thanked the flight attendants, and trudged back to our seats. I’m pretty sure we held the plane up a bit longer. Okay Lord, I’m done with the mishaps. Get us home safely and smoothly.

We hooked Sam up to his oxygen once we got into the air and he fell asleep shortly after. My sweet little boy was clearly exhausted. He slept for almost the entire flight. Thank you Lord. I needed that.

All tuckered out.

We were all very happy to be home, even if it was below freezing.

Like I said, we made lemonade, out of quite a few lemons on this trip. Would I do it again to not miss out on the good parts I had with my family? Absolutely.

THE END.

Going Home

We had one more full day with our family.

Our flight was not scheduled to leave until 8:00 p.m. the next day. Since we had to check out of our rental by 10:00 a.m., we spent the day at the Tampa Zoo. We had a great day at the zoo and celebrated Will’s fifteenth birthday. How is he fifteen already?!

We returned our rental vehicle at the airport early in the evening. Not only did the rental company not charge us for the upgrade, they took a good chunk of money off of our total bill for the inconveniences. We took the tram to check our luggage.

As we were waiting in line, a staff member from the airlines called everyone who was flying to Minnesota up to the check in desk. She informed us, “I’m so sorry everyone, but this flight has been cancelled.” Are you serious?!?! All fifteen of our family members made it home today! Not that I didn’t want them to make it home. Why us?!?! I’d be lying if I said these thoughts didn’t come into my mind. Now, pull yourself together, Jamie, and never mind the “why’s”. Do I have enough medical supplies for Sam?! You can’t buy suction catheters at Target!

After four hours of waiting in the airport, the airline booked everyone on the flight a room at a nearby hotel. We waited at least another hour for the shuttle to come get us. Thankfully, I had already drawn up Sam’s nighttime meds that morning. His nighttime nebs would have to wait. To say we were all getting cranky at this point would also be another lie.

The airline was very accommodating to Sam and his medical needs. We were the first to get on the shuttle to the hotel. We were getting some major dirty looks, which made me feel sad and a little annoyed. Most people take one look at Sam, us, and all that comes with us and give us looks of sympathy. If they only knew.

It was pretty late (for us) when we finally made it into the hotel room. We were very grateful, the airline booked us two adjoining rooms. As we came into the first room, we discovered if we didn’t get two rooms, we would have had a very difficult time getting all of our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies in one room! After we got Sam’s nighttime nebs (thankfully I had packed a few extra neb cups) done, we sandwiched him in between Sean and I, and tried to go to sleep. He still sleeps in a crib so he thought this sleeping arrangement was very funny. After about forty-five minutes of me grabbing his ankle to slide him back onto the bed, he finally fell asleep.

The next morning, we got ready and packed up our obnoxious amount of stuff for the airport again. We realized we wouldn’t have enough diapers to last us through the day. Sean tried the gas station across the street from the hotel. No such luck, and the attendant told him unless you have a car, there’s nowhere close to get diapers. Great. The hotel had them, but they were going to cost us a pretty penny. Fourteen dollars for four diapers! For real?! It’s important to note for the last mishap, the diapers were a size too small.

The shuttle took us back to the airport and we checked our bags. The airline gave us meal vouchers so we ate very well for lunch.

We headed for security. We were without a TSA agent to help us this time. Going through security with Sam’s oxygen, emergency bag, suction machine, med bag, diaper bag, feeding bag, and our things is quite the ordeal. They have to check every med and test every liquid, which includes his sterile water for suctioning and all of his formula. If people stare, I wouldn’t know because my focus is on Sam and getting us through as quick as possible.

We were almost through security when a woman walked up to us. She said, ”You guys are amazing. You must do this often.” I laughed and told her, ”No, it’s only our second time traveling with him, but thank you so much for the encouragement.” She responded, ”Well you make it look flawless.” With much sincerity, I thanked her, she smiled with all her heart and walked away. It felt like an angel was sent from God in that moment. After the last twenty-four hours, she had no idea what that did for my soul. I call these little moments in life, God winks.

Sam and I had wandered off. Sam is a very busy little boy. Although he’s five, I would say he functions more at the level of an eighteen month old. That being said, we tried to let him be as busy as possible before the plane ride. We wandered back towards our boarding gate.

Sean and Will were walking towards us on a mission with somber looks on their faces. Oh no, what now?! “The flight is cancelled.”, they informed me. You have got to be kidding me!?!? No!!!!! They instantly started laughing. Hahaha, real funny you two. I think I might have cried at this point. Actually, with the lump in my throat that built up instantly, I know I would have cried. Although the flight was not cancelled, they did tell me it would be delayed another hour. Now that doesn’t seem so bad.

We were all extremely happy to board the plane and get situated in our seats about an hour later.

To be continued…

The Wedding

The next day was my niece’s wedding. This mishap is not ours, but I couldn’t leave it out of the story.

The wedding was suppose to start at 5:00. My sister-in-law had ordered flowers that were suppose to be delivered at 2:00. At 3:00, the flowers had still not arrived. After failed attempts of trying to get a hold of someone at the flower shop, it was time to figure something else out.

By looking at the beautiful flowers, that matched perfectly, you would never know this mishap even happened. The original flowers showed up during the wedding ceremony. They made for some more pretty décor and thankfully my sister-in-law did not have to pay for them.

The weather was perfect, as was the wedding.

The Grant Family

To be continued…

Our Car At Home

The next morning Sean had a voicemail left from the middle of the night. Hmmmm, that’s weird.

As he listened to the voicemail, his facial expressions told me something was not right. Oh boy, now what?!

The call was from the sheriffs department at home. The officer explained Sean’s car was in the impound. Say what?! Overnight, the police found it crashed and deserted in a snow bank on the side of the road. They had to impound our car because it was blocking traffic. Is this really happening?!

Yep, it was really happening. We were in Florida, what could we do?! We did what we could by calling the police and our insurance company explaining we were in Florida. We tried not to think about it after that. We’ll deal with it when we get home. And, we still are. Thank you Lord for insurance!

We weren’t going to let that stop us from enjoying this beautiful day.

To be continued…

The Rental Car

We had a fantastic week at our first destination. We were able to spend a few days with my mom and my sister’s family. The weather was close to perfect. We mostly hung out at the ocean and went on long walks.

The little boy with a hole in his neck loves the sand and the ocean, of course. Sand and water might be a pulmonologists worst nightmare for a trached kid, but look at this guy! How can you not?!

On Day 6, we were headed to a different destination to spend the rest of our trip with Sean’s side of the family. We packed some stuff the night before. We wanted to try and make a somewhat early start the next day. There was about a four hour drive ahead of us.

We had to play quite a bit of Tetris to get all of our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies in the rental minivan. We were all packed and ready to leave by nine-thirty in the morning.

I pressed the start button. Nothing. It’s not like back in the day when you put the key in the ignition and turned it to start your car. I tried again. Nothing, not even a sound. Sean, Will, Abby, and I looked at each other and instantly started laughing. Is this for real!?

Sean and Will got out of the van and popped the hood. Abby and I thought this was pretty funny stuff. Um, what are you guys gonna do?! Neither of you know anything about cars. Gotta give them credit for trying. Hehehe. All four of us had another good laugh about that.

I called the rental car company and after we tried a few tricks they gave us, they decided it was time to send us a tow truck. Bummer. We had to wait for the tow truck to come, which of course, was going to take at least an hour. We decided to get something to eat. The place we wanted to go to was closed. Fitting. We went to the little café in our condo which also had lots of convenient store items right at Sam’s eye level. Oh boy. Not the best place to bring a very busy little boy with special needs. Sorry to everyone else in the café, I’m doing my best.

About an hour and a half later, we walked back to the parking lot where the rental van was. Because we had so much stuff, the rental car company was going to send us two Ubers to bring us to get a new rental vehicle. The more we thought about it, we figured two probably wouldn’t even be enough. We decided I would go to the rental car place myself, get the new vehicle and come back to pick everyone up. This way, we wouldn’t have to unload, load, unload, and load again.

On the way to the rental car place, I got a call from Will telling me the tow truck driver jumped the van and it started. We contemplated keeping the van. The tow truck driver told them, ”It will get you to wherever you need to go, but don’t shut it off.” Hmmmm, probably not a good idea to keep it.

Shorty after, I got to the rental car company. I waited my turn in line and explained our situation. The manager looked at me with a bummed look on his face and said, ”I’m sorry, I already told them on the phone, I don’t have anything big enough here for you. The biggest vehicle I have is that.” He pointed to a very small blue SUV. Ummm, yeah, that’s not going to work. I kindly explained, how unfortunately, it wouldn’t work. Now what?!

The manager told me the airport is the only place that will have a vehicle big enough to accommodate us. Oh no, how far is that?! Thankfully, the airport was only twenty plus minutes away. Thank you Lord!

Soon after, the fam arrived in the van. I could see them laughing when I came out. Apparently, Sean and Will quit playing Tetris. They quickly jammed everything back into the van, which meant Abby and I had to share one seat. Hopefully we can make it to the airport without getting pulled over! Don’t worry, we did. Whew.

We got to the airport and jumped through a few hoops to finally get to the company we rented a vehicle through. A sweet pregnant gal told me to walk through the lot and pick any car I wanted. She said after I picked one, I should grab the keys out of the console and bring them to her. I searched for the biggest vehicle I could find on that lot and quickly grabbed the keys! There was no playing Tetris in this vehicle. We quickly loaded our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies easily into the new vehicle. Five hours later, we were finally on the road to our next beach destination.

We made it there after dark. Our family happily greeted us and helped unload our obnoxious amount of stuff. My sister-in-law and mother-in-law rented a beautiful mansion on the water. No lie, it was literally a mansion, with an elevator and all! It easily accommodated all twenty of us.

We got somewhat settled, did all the Sam stuff, and went to bed.

To be continued…