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!

Airway Surgery

Sam is out of surgery and doing well. Pray for a smooth recovery and NO retching. No one knows for sure, but it’s highly likely Sam’s retching was what caused the previous surgeries to fail.

They told us surgery would be an hour, to an hour and a half. We waited for two. This kind of extra waiting is always hard. A half hour can feel like it does to a toddler, which feels really, really long. Breathe.

We weren’t planning on it, but we will be staying overnight so they can keep a close eye on him. Pray Sam will behave himself so we can go back to the hotel tomorrow.

Now we wait some more. Typically, patients come back six to eight weeks later to find out if the surgery worked or not. Sam’s new ENT in Minnesota trained directly under the ENT who did Sam’s surgery in Ohio. Thankfully, we will get to do the follow-up at home. Traveling with Sam is an experience we don’t want to do often.

We will wait patiently until July eighth to find out the good news.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

Less Than One Week!

We are less than one week away from surgery!!!! Sam is doing great! He can’t be school, but we are doing our best to keep him busy. With the help of his teacher, his nurses are doing a great job of bringing some aspects of school home. Have I ever mentioned how thankful we are for our home care nurses? Incredibly. And, of course, the beautiful weather helps. Sam LOVES to be outside.

I am so excited and nervous all in one for this surgery. It’s THE surgery that’s been in the making for over five years. It’s been done twice unsuccessfully here, but never at the place we were referred to a few years ago. We’ve had it planned in Cincinnati twice, but didn’t make it due to Sam being Sam. He was sick the first time then needed a major surgery the second time, because essentially, his organs were moving up into his chest which ended up being an over two month stay in the hospital for him. We are ready for this surgery!!!!!

If the surgery works, it would mean eventually, Sam could be decanulated (get rid of trach/breathing tube). Game changer. It makes sense why all of Sam’s doctors wanted to keep him in a bubble until this surgery. If you know me, staying in a bubble is not something I do not do very well, but I have been a good girl.

Of course, Sam had to ruffle everyone’s feathers a little bit. Long story short, Sam’s pediatrician was concerned about a medicine (steroid) he has been on for the intussusception. There is a low risk it will be a problem, but steroids can hinder the healing process. The surgeon from Cincinnati called me to discuss the situation and still feels because of Sam’s complicated history, already having to cancel the surgery twice, and the low risk factor, we should still proceed with surgery, but wanted us to be aware and not have this conversation the day of surgery. Your the expert! What would you do if it was your child?!?! I don’t like to ask doctors this question, but in these situations, I usually do. Everyone agreed, we have Sam in a healthy spot so let’s do it!

So far, Sam has stayed healthy. Prayers for continued health, flawless travel, and a successful surgery for Sam.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

Home Again

This time, seven days later, we were able to come home. Home sweet home. I was really surprised when the docs rounded that morning and said if things went well during the day, we could go home that evening. Generally, when Sam is inpatient, they make him be successful on formula for at least a day or two before we can go home. He was only on a mixture of half Pedialyte, half formula at this point. They were planning to start full formula later that morning. What?! Do I feel comfortable going home?! Absolutely! Isn’t this why we have home care nursing?!?! Before I knew going home was even on the table, I talked to Sam’s hospital nurse at shift change that morning to let her know I was hoping to leave for a bit to go have an early dinner with my husband and celebrate our anniversary. She assured me they would have someone available to sit with Sam later. We didn’t get to have dinner, but our gift of coming home was far better.

Again, Sam is not back to his normal feeds, but we’ll get there. Poor kid has lost over five pounds in the last month and he doesn’t have any fat to spare!

The prayer now is that the intussusception does not recur. It’s unlikely. We will focus on that. I asked the hospitalist what the threshold to bringing Sam in if he has similar symptoms again. He said, ”very, very low. Intussusception can be very scary…” I’m not sure what he said after that, I only know we better not hesitate if he shows any symptoms. It’s not going to be an issue, so it doesn’t matter.

Because of this second recent hospitalization, more than one of Sam’s docs highly recommended he stay out of school until after his surgery in Cincinnati. Bummer, but I get it. His pulmonologist was planning to have him quarantine two weeks before the surgery, so what’s two more weeks?

As we keep Sam in somewhat of bubble for the next month, pray he doesn’t catch anything. Like his gastroenterologist said, ”Let’s just get him to Cincinnati so he can finally have this surgery!” Agreed!

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers for Sam and our family.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

Prayers for Today

Sam is doing great. He hasn’t had a painful episode in two full days. After resting his belly and a heavy dose of steroids, we get to start a very small amount (30 mls an hour) of Pedialyte today! Please pray his intestines will tolerate the Pedialyte.

Living in the hospital is not fun, but we make the best of it.

Easter is one of the only holidays Sam has not spent in the hospital. Sean was in charge of all things Easter this year and he nailed it with the meal and Easter baskets.

As the family was leaving yesterday, Sam started tugging on his IV to try take it off. He knows when the IV comes out, he gets to leave the hospital. Not yet buddy. I’m sorry. If that doesn’t tug at your heart strings, I don’t know what will.

Easter reminds me of hope and new life. I’m incredibly thankful for both.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

I’m Still Not There

and at this point, I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be.

A long time ago, I wrote how I didn’t care about Sam’s Down Syndrome diagnosis. I didn’t care then, and I don’t care now. Every story is different. I have read many stories about the devastating feelings upon receiving an initial Down Syndrome diagnosis. I can’t relate to those stories.

Let’s roll back five years. My baby is born, placed on my chest, starts coughing, and then not breathing. He’s immediately ripped from my arms and within an hour of his life, in an ambulance with my husband, going to another hospital. I don’t know what’s happening and don’t get see my baby or my husband until over twenty-four hours later. I wasn’t thinking about the possible Down Syndrome diagnosis then. I only wanted my baby to be alive. And this is only the first chapter in Sam’s lengthy novel.

I would give anything for a little boy with Down Syndrome who didn’t have a list of medical diagnoses longer than I thought could be possible.

If you’ve never read this poem, it’s a beautiful description of the process one goes through when they have a child with special needs.

Even as I spend yet another night in a hospital, I am happy to be in Holland. I was happy as soon as I landed there and realized I wouldn’t get to go to Italy. Yes, once in a while I wonder about Italy, but I can’t say I’m bummed about not being able to go there.

This is my story and no one else’s. It’s only my hope when someone gets the news their child will not be like most other children, they will realize quickly, although incredibly hard and exhausting, Holland is an a wonderful place to be.

To me this article applies to anyone who’s ever had a life changing event beyond their control. Or even anyone who makes plans and has expectations around those plans that don’t happen. Sometimes when we have too much to be thankful for, I think we can lose sight of the beauty around us. If you’re able to read this, my guess is, although it might be hard in the moment, you have something to be thankful for.

If you’re still sulking that you’ve landed in Holland, it’s my hope you won’t mourn over not going to Italy for too long. I’m NOT telling you Holland is easy. I’m only saying from experience, if you can focus on its beauty, and let go of the fact you won’t ever get to go to Italy, I think it will be easier to enjoy “the very special, the very lovely things… about Holland.”

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

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