Category Archives: Aunts Uncles & Cousins

Transplant Day 29 and some gut rest

Well last night was frustrating. The nursing staff was spread thin because of the holiday and it took a lot longer than usual for them to respond to the non-critical things. From 10-11 p.m. one of Patrick’s antibiotics ended and the pump alarm rang and there was no one to shut it off. I silenced it for a while, but Patrick insisted that it was the nurse’s job and my job was just to cuddle and talk to him. How can you argue with that?

Unfortunately, the nurses were trying not to bother him while he slept, so every time Patrick woke, they’d try to come in and do vitals. Problem is, that mean they were in the room half an hour each of those times and we were awake at midnight and 5 and 5:30. (Not complaining about nursing… just stating trouble with sleep that comes with not doing well.) Then, at 6 Patrick’s nurse came to deliver the news that the resident didn’t want to come drain his gut again “unless he’s really uncomfortable.” Well – 10 minutes later, Patrick woke up crying. He said “bucket” and, before I could react, he threw up all over everything.

Yes – uncomfortable. Apparently, with nothing moving out of his gut and feeds still moving in, Patrick’s gut and belly had finally had enough.

So we got him up and changed the bed and gave him a bath and turned on some Blues Clues. And we waited for the doctors to come for rounds.

Rounds were actually kind of a relief today. They talked about different causes for this new problem and tests that could look for those problems. They aren’t thinking rejection at this point.. perhaps some inflammation or something called an ileus where the gut just temporarily stops moving or a mechanical issue with the muscle wall around Patrick’s stoma or a type of irritation called pneumatosis.

Then, Dr. Mercer came into the room to try out draining Patrick’s belly himself. When he saw how little a catheter needed to go in to immediately drain, he was actually really relieved. He said that ruled out a lot of possible problems. It also eliminated the perceived huge risk of draining. He showed Brian then and there and wrote orders that the nursing staff or parents could do that as often as needed.

They also stopped feeds, restarted TPN, put Patrick’s g-tube to suction so he wouldn’t have to throw up any more, switched as many medication as possible to their IV forms, and ordered some tests. The rest of the morning was very busy. Patrick had an x-ray of his abdomen and then later a CT scan to look specifically for pneumatosis or any other narrowings or problems. I guess we did a good job selling the idea of how fun a CT can be because Patrick had already been asking if he’d get to go in the “donut” again. We got comments from the radiology staff and nurse about how comfortable he was doing something that terrifies most other children.

Patrick and daddy in a wheelchair headed to CT

Patrick and daddy in a wheelchair headed to CT

Later today, they’ll come do an ileoscopy (scope through the stoma) and biopsy again.

Hopefully, one of these tests will show us what is going on. It is possible that Patrick’s belly just needs to rest and reset after all of the trauma of last week.

Regardless, with symptoms alleviated, the rest of yesterday was a good day. Without pain, Patrick was feeling up to sitting up and playing more. (In fact, he was more than a little afraid of his bed after all the scary things that had happened there this past few days, so he was doing all he could to get me to let him be in other places.) This means that his lungs have opened up and he was able to wean off of oxygen. His lungs are still recovering and they are trying to get the fluid all the way out of them and the lungs totally reinflating. His oxygen saturation is a little bit low and he sets off alarms when he sleeps, but he quickly rebounds and no one comes running at this point.

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Having family here definitely lifted his spirits, too. He and I were both worn out and frustrated and mad yesterday. It would have been a hard day had just the two of us been trying to be together. But Patrick’s family made him feel like a million bucks. Really, seeing the pride in his eyes when I came back from doing laundry (it was a big laundry day) at having his uncle all to himself was impressive. And seeing him happy and laughing as he played with his cousins was a big treat, too. This little boy needs people and fun.

Brian went with Mark’s family to the zoo in the afternoon and Patrick and I took a much needed nap and some quiet individual play time.. But then they came back and we played in the playroom and went out to a break room to eat dinner.. and then back into the room for another priesthood blessing. (Patrick asked if Mark could help daddy give him one.) Then they gave him some gifts, including a ball that was then used to play monkey in the middle. He laughed and laughed.

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When they left, I let him stay up and watch some of his new Dora DVD while we finished up his care and I got ready for bed.

I’m finishing this blog post up in the morning. Patrick has slept soundly all night. X-ray snuck in at 5:30. (Patrick’s nurse is fairly mad they did because she guards to be sure they don’t wake patients who don’t need it.) Patrick was really upset about it, but then tucked up his arms under my side and went back to sleep. A little later they came to draw labs, saw his bed needed cleaned up, and the same happened.

After such a long and hard week, it is so good to see him comfortable and sleeping peacefully. Hoping that goes a long way towards a better day today.

Patrick’s days are busy right now. He starts the day with labs at 5:30 and a chest x-ray at the latest moment that the nurses will allow to get him sleep but still get the results on time for rounds. He has meds at 7 and at 9, and because he doesn’t feel well, that means running zofram for nausea first. He has 2 antibiotics each given 3 times a day with a benadryl pretreatment before. He has respiratory therapy 3 times a day. He has vitals every 6 hours. And diapers. And stoma care. And a bath. And pain management. And getting up to walk. And trying not to go stir crazy.

It’s been 4 weeks since transplant. One thing we know from this journey.. So much can change in a day, or week, or month. We really appreciate all of the ongoing support and love that you offer Patrick, near or far.

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Transplant Day 27 and Baby Steps

Well, since I blogged this morning, I don’t have a lot of updates. Patrick’s made steady progress all day. He still needs some oxygen support, but not as much. He slept till noon. He played in his wagon.

It was a good mail day. We got cards from Patrick’s kindergarten, a picture of the Salt Lake Temple from a friend, and a package from Patrick’s therapist and social skills group. Those things came on just on time to lift our spirits. Patrick was confused and sad to wake up in the ICU when he’d expected to go back to his room last night. Brian and I were just tired.

In addition to that, Brian went to Village Inn to pick up a couple of pies I ordered yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner. When I placed the order, they noticed my out of state phone number and asked what brought us to town. Well, when Brian got there to pick up the pies, she came out and explained that she had bought our pies for us. Just the kind of gesture to make the morning after a bad night better.

Patrick had a CT scan this afternoon to look at the current state of his lungs. That scared him and brought some tears… but they let Brian and me hold his hands and we even got some smiles during the test.

It’s been great to see his smiles. I hadn’t noticed how much they had been missing till I saw them come back. He is sore and afraid of being more sore so he hasn’t wanted to walk much. His neck is kinked and he doesn’t want to turn his head. But overall, he’s still feeling and moving better.

After it hurting to talk yesterday, Patrick has stayed with his default method of communication from yesterday. He is waiting for yes/no questions and then answering with sign language. This is better than not talking at all… but I hope his words come back soon.

We were transferred back to the pediatric floor today to a room that is a touch smaller but otherwise a mirror image of our previous room. Since his lungs are still kind of at risk, we are packing smarter this week… keeping things a little more put away and hanging fewer decorations on the walls.  But it is nice to have more space and more quiet at least.

Brian’s brother and his family arrived tonight. They are making Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. It was really fun to see them. Patrick was so content that he fell asleep in his wagon holding Mark’s hand. I don’t quite have the heart to move him back to bed yet.

Transplant Day 7 and the tooth fairy

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This picture kind of tells most of the big news of the day. Look closely and you’ll see a few things.

1) Patrick was able to wean off of oxygen to room air during the night last night. That means no more nasal cannula.

2) They decided that his g-tube was providing sufficient drainage for his belly. He’s still having bleeding, but no apparent side effects. They have been trying to clamp his belly periodically throughout the day. If things continue going well, they’ll start feeds through his belly soon.

3) Patrick lost his first tooth. We noticed a loose tooth a week ago as Patrick was leaving his class Halloween party. When he went to the OR, the anethesiologist said he’d pull it so it wasn’t a choking risk. Then the report came back that it wasn’t loose enough yet. Well, today it was quite wiggly. And tonight, as I was putting Patrick to bed I noticed it was missing.

He was terrified. He thought something really bad had happened and insisted we needed to press the nurse call to take care of this big emergency. It took a while to calm him down. Then his nurse came in and helped me make a big deal about it. We called some other family so he could tell them and after a little bit of celebration, was proud and not scared. We’ve told him the tooth fairy will take care of finding it in his bed and he’s excited about finding some coins there.

Other big moments of the day: Patrick had his first scope. This is the entire reason that Patrick has an ostomy right now.. so they can easily look inside and check his intestine for rejection. They brought the scope right to the bedside. Patrick was pretty worried, especially as this happened first thing in the morning. But the doctors did a great job of putting him at ease, showing off the equipment, etc. Because there aren’t pain nerves in the intestine, they can just do the scope right at the bedside… Just slip in the scope, look around, take a biopsy and done. The longest amount of time was spent taking off Patrick’s ostomy bag so they could easily reach where they needed to.

He was downright adorable the whole time.. and when they sent a puff of air in to open the intestine (they said this might be uncomfortable), Patrick just giggled and said it tickled. Whew! We are doing those at least weekly for the next month and then very regularly for up to a year.. and so it was a huge relief that he wasn’t scared by it.

Really, our only scary moment today was walking. Physical therapy came and because we’d had all the excitement of a scope, a bath, two tubes and lots of adhesive removed all in the wee hours of the morning, Patrick was just plain tired. Also, with all of that going on, I don’t think they had been very consistent with pain medicine. Anyway, he made it out to the goal they’d set and was doing so well, they decided to push for a few more feet. Only, he was hurting and didn’t want to go 2 more feet. He just sat down on the floor and cried. (This is a problem on so many levels when it comes to protecting an incision and protecting an immune system.) It took a good 10 minutes to coax him into walking back to the room and then, only with me hugging him the whole way.

We’ll try again tomorrow.

Really, it was a pretty good day overall. He napped for almost 3 hours on my lap after his walk.. then I took a break and went back to my room for my own nap. We’ve played all evening and are just getting ready for bed.

One more thought, though.. Mail time is quickly becoming our best time of day. Patrick loves opening all of his birthday cards.. Some of the messages and other gifts leave me in tears. We should be moving out of the ICU soon and plan to plaster the walls with them. I’m not sure there will be even an inch of spare space.

I can’t believe that a week ago at this time, Patrick’s team was getting a call that Patrick had been matched with a donor for a long-anticipated transplant. It breaks my heart to consider what the donor family was going through at that moment while we, completely unaware, were putting the finishing touches on Patrick’s birthday present and plans. How quickly life can change.

I’ve shared it before, but this song and video have been in my thoughts often this week as I consider the selfless sacrifice in the midst of devastating loss. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J44vAOp1BmM&feature=share

Mom’s Wish Trip Recap

I loved reading Brian’s retelling of the events of our wish trip. I’m so glad he was able to capture those memories and share them with you.

It is very strange to come home and be right back to normal life. Life where things are too busy to spend time telling the stories of the Wish Trip that I wish I had time to tell. I’m looking forward to our star-raising party for just that opportunity. But for now, I’m gonna grab a moment and tell you what I wish I could tell you face-to-face.

I wish I could tell you how different it was to travel with everything planned out and taken care of for us. We travel a lot. But this time, someone else made sure that we had what we needed, that we knew were we were going, that we always had a chance to be fed. Give Kids the World does exactly what it’s name says. But what the name doesn’t say is that they wrap up tired, worn-down parents in their arms and do all they can to lighten their load and make them feel special, too.

And they give you the best gift in the world in giving you a chance to witness joy on the face of your child over and over again. That gift is so precious, especially to parents who have seen their children’s faces filled with pain and worry and fear many more times than is fair to any child.

Every night, after giving Patrick his melatonin and tucking him into bed, I’d lay next to him while he fell asleep. Every day, he’d relive the excitement of the day. We’d relive rides and retell the conversations had with the characters we met. One very special evening, after meeting Spiderman, Patrick and I had a good 20 minute heart-to-heart about what superpowers are and what amazing thing each superhero can do. Describing “web-slinging” to Patrick and seeing him overflowing with excitement at the idea… Yes, that is one of the precious moments I hope I never forget.

I could tell you how amazing it was to receive the same magic treatment at each theme park, too.  We didn’t go in assuming anything was owed to us. A quick jump to the front of the lines seemed like more than enough special treatment. But most places we went, they went above and beyond that. We were told not to expect to skip lines for characters, and yet when Patrick wanted nothing more than to meet Donald our first day in the Magic Kingdom, there were the Disney Castmembers showing us through the back entrance right to Patrick’s favorite character. Or the morning we decided to pop in and see if there were any cancelled reservations at the month-long-wait-list Beast’s Castle restaurant and they handed us a piece of paper and told us to go right in.. At SeaWorld we were told we’d need to buy a tray of fish for me, but when we tried to do so we were informed that we were their “guests” today and not only did we get that extra tray of fish, but a trainer who commanded the dolphin to jump right up so Patrick could touch it. And in Universal Studios they were determined to add to our experience. Not only did we get to turn around and ride the same ride again when Patrick wanted more, and were given special meet and greet opportunities after the animal show… But if someone met us and didn’t know anything more they could do for us, they’d make sure to give us a hint about some way to sneak in a little more.. like where to sit on the parade route for an uncrowded extra-long show by the cast of Dora.

And speaking of Dora the Explorer… in order to meet both Captain America and Dora and Boots, we virtually ran in our parkhopping and, if the Fitbit was right, covered a couple of miles in that hour. But it was well worth it to see the look on Patrick’s face when Boots walked out in front of him. And to see him flexing his muscles with his favorite superhero, too?  Yeah, sometimes we parents do crazy things for our kids.

Like spending every day for a week out walking miles (about 10 a day) in the crazy mix of hot humidity and afternoon thunderstorms that is Florida’s daily weather. I don’t think a Utahn can properly prepare themselves for that kind of humidity. But, why didn’t anyone warn me that we’d need ponchos? And a game plan for when lightning closed everything. I don’t see myself moving to Florida anytime soon.

We were amazed that Patrick stayed healthy. Our second day, we were afraid that wasn’t going to hold. He had a cold when we left our house and as we went to lunch at Universal Studios, he got really grumpy and started rubbing his ears. We were contemplating which nurses we could call back home and whether or not the first aid station would be able to help him. Thankfully, after his nap, his ear seemed better. He stayed healthy. I caught his cold, instead.

Brian didn’t tell you much about the last days of our trip.

We left Give Kids the World on Saturday morning. Brian drove to the airport to trade in our rental car. (Make a Wish only rented our car for the length of our wish trip, so we needed a different car for the days that we extended to visit family.) Meanwhile, Patrick and I stayed behind to pack up the room and give Patrick one last chance to play on the Candyland playground.

Leaving the village was bittersweet. We visited to see Patrick’s star on the ceiling of the castle and snuck into the Amberville station (train station/arcade) to play with the remote control boats before leaving. (When Brian first saw them, he said it’d always been a dream to play with something like them. Moms and dads can have wishes granted too, right?) Give Kids the World will always hold a special spot in my heart. I think we’ll spend our lives looking for ways to give back.

It was so nice to go spend some time with Brian’s aunt and uncle. We were exhausted after a week in amusements parks. So to go and just sit, visit, play with toys, watch Women’s Conference on TV (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint’s boasts the largest women’s organization and the largest conference for women in the world), and just rest for a few days …that was heaven.

Sunday, we slept in, wore our pajamas till well past breakfast, and watched Dora the Explorer. Then we took a nap, went to church, and in the evening all of Brian’s cousins from the Florida area came for dinner.

Dinner was wonderful chaos with kids everywhere and food overflowing. Brian’s cousin taught Patrick to play duck-duck-goose.  He thought this was hilarious, except that instead of running for his spot in the circle, he’d just yell “Goose!” and run away! I couldn’t help wishing that this family didn’t live so far away. He was just so at home with them.

Monday morning, we packed up once more. Patrick’s gift haul filled an entire large duffle bag by itself. We put on our matching Minion t-shirts and then went to Silver Springs for a glass-bottomed boat tour. It was a lot of fun, even if we didn’t see any gators or monkeys. Patrick, however, didn’t know what to do when that was the only ride planned for the day.

We drove back to Orlando and grabbed lunch at Giordano’s Pizza.. a favorite restaurant of mine from my days in Chicago and not found anywhere outside Illinois.. except in Orlando. Mmm. Deep dish pizza!

It was starting to rain again as we arrived at the airport. We thought we were in the clear when they let us board the plane, but then lightning started again. We waited an hour before finally being able to take off. Amazingly, Patrick handled this pretty well. Thank goodness for the tablet.

It was late when we made it home. The air had that perfect Utah fall chill in it. Thank goodness for that. It helped ease the transition back home. Because face it, as good as home is.. nothing compares to a wish trip. We were glad to be back to normal, but very, very sorry to see it go. This is the kind of experience that just changes you. You want to tell everyone about it.. but there just isn’t time to put it all in words.

Patrick talked about nothing but his trip for most of the next week. At least, until his favorite friend at school fell and had to get stitches in her head. His head’s now full of friends and school, which is also wonderful. But we talk about his trip still a little every day.

Here are some pictures taken of us by Give Kids the World and Disney.

 

Granting a wish.

Patrick has been learning about Disney World.  For a time when asked where he lived he said Disney World.  Patricks wish granters would send a package every once in a while to let him know that it was still happening.

A few months ago we got the dates for the trip.  There was a lot that needed to happen between then and the trip, so it got put off in our minds.  We had a trip to Omaha, I had a business trip, Patrick started Kindergarten, and we had an attempt at camping (gee most of those should be blog posts, I’ll see what I can do about that).  A few weeks ago we got a call from one of Patricks wish granters Beth, she told us that they were working on planning a wish granting party.  Something to tell Patrick that his wish had been granted, and he was on his way.

About a week ago we got details of his wish granting party.  And started inviting family, and close friends (sorry to those that didn’t get invited, the group was fairly large and we didn’t think it would be right to go larger, we still love and appreciate you).

We had coordinated the details with Beth.  We would send Patrick to the neighbors, the guests would come, and then we would surprise him, and then an ice cream truck would come as the cherry on top.

As with all things in our life, things change.  Emily started exploring some new therapy for Patrick yesterday.  They said great would it be possible to come tomorrow afternoon.  This caused our plans to change a bit.  The new plan was that I would come home early and meet everyone, help Beth and Natasha setup and then Emily and Patrick would arrive home from therapy to a group of friends.  With the contingency that if they got back too early they would play at the neighbors.

I got home from work early thinking I needed to help clean the house.  Cleaning the house with Patrick around is sometimes an effort in insanity.  When I arrived home Emily had the house in great shape.  I sat down and read for a while.  Then I decided to grab some chairs.

As I got outside Beth pulled up with balloons.  We tied balloons around our front yard.  Guests started arriving.  Natasha arrived with more balloons, which made things look all the more festive.

The majority of the guests arrived, and I texted Emily to let her know we were ready.

Patrick was taking in all his guests at his surprise wish granting party.

Patrick was taking in all his guests at his surprise wish granting party.

A few minutes later Emily pulled into the drive way.  Patrick looking out his window noticed we were all there, and started grinning.  Emily reports that Patrick saw everyone and yelled, “Hey! Why everyone here?” Then, grinning ear to ear and climbing out of his seat before we were even parked, “I want talk to them!”

Patrick got out of the car as fast as Emily could get his door open.  Ran to the driveway and just grinned.

He saw the present that was waiting for him on the porch and ran to it.  Beth cut him off, and presented him with a certificate stating that his wish was granted.  Then he resumed his quest for the gift.

He pulled all the things out of the gift bag, and around the corner comes music from and ice cream truck.  It stops at

"You are officially granted your wish"

“You are officially granted your wish”

our house and Beth leads him over to the truck.  Emily got there just in time with Patrick safe (soy) ice cream.  Patrick was more fascinated with the van than the ice cream, but none the less it was a hit.

The rest of the evening was spent with everyone getting ice cream, and Patrick running from person to person hugging and saying hi to them.

Then Beth let him play with her car (big points from him).  And she led him up and down the street naming all the car makes, which is one of Patricks favorite games.

I pulled Patrick aside and told him we were going on a trip on Sunday, and that we were going to go to Mickey’s

Presents!

Presents!

other house (he’s been to Disney Land a few times).

The night was great.  Big thanks to those who came.  Even bigger thanks to our wish granters Beth (and her husband Tim who accompanied her tonight), and Natasha.

We are super excited to go on our adventure.

The ice cream truck came just for Patrick.

The ice cream truck came just for Patrick.

 

The left overs of the balloons.  Each child took one home as well.

The left overs of the balloons. Each child took one home as well.

Summer vacation

Tomorrow marks 3 weeks since Patrick’s last day of school. For most people, summer vacation is in full swing. For us, we’re finally starting to get our bearings. It’s been an unusual start to summer.

Things seemed smooth enough. I spent that first weekend after school ended gathering myself to start a tradition Patrick and I are calling “Mommy School.” Between therapies, Patrick has a LOT of “homework”. He’s supposed to spend 10 minutes every day doing eye exercises. He’s supposed to be practicing writing and cutting and and gluing and using a keyboard. We’re supposed to be strengthening his core, working on activities that use both sides of his body evenly, and encouraging him to cross midline. He’s supposed to be practicing telling me stories in various verb tenses, using articles, and correcting his use of pronouns. Plus working on vocabulary building, sorting skills, categorization skills, social skills, attention skills and on and on. All of this to help keep him progressing on his current trajectory which, discouraging as I may find it, is approximately two years behind most of his peers.

Except, it seems, when it comes to the alphabet. Patrick has the alphabet down pat and tested in the top 25% of his preschool class.

Our first day of Mommy School. Learning the shapes of letters by building them from playdough.

Our first day of Mommy School. Learning the shapes of letters by building them from playdough.

A practical life mommy school lesson on how to sweep.

A practical life mommy school lesson on how to sweep.

And so, this summer we introduced “Mommy School.” We’re doing an abbreviated letter of the day curriculum, since letters are what Patrick loves. Every week is assigned two letters and every day a word that starts with that letter. Then I go out and scrounge up books, worksheets, crafts, activities and field trips on that theme.

Teddy Bears

B is for Bears, and a teddy bear picnic.

The first day of Mommy School went GREAT! Until, that is, Patrick developed a fever. The next day of summer break was spent cuddling a sick, feverish kid in a chair. He had a cold and we were grateful to be able to stay home sick like other children. By Thursday, Patrick had mustered the energy to play on his own again. But, by then, I was sick.

Patrick sees 3 therapists on a regular basis in the summer. It's hard work, but fun too. Patrick's reward for a good hour of work in physical therapy is the chance to climb the rock wall.

Patrick sees 3 therapists on a regular basis in the summer. It’s hard work, but fun too. Patrick’s reward for a good hour of work in physical therapy is the chance to climb the rock wall.

In occupational therapy, Patrick gets to take sensory breaks in the gym. Diving in the ball pool is a favorite exercise.

In occupational therapy, Patrick gets to take sensory breaks in the gym. Diving in the ball pool is a favorite exercise.

Our second week of summer break, Patrick and I were finally starting to be healthy again. But Brian wasn’t. And it didn’t matter if we were healthy or not because on Saturday of that week, my little sister was getting married in my backyard. So, I declared “C is for Camping” and we pitched a tent in the living room. Amazingly, this both occupied Patrick and kept the room clean while he binged on movies and we scrambled to finish last minute details on the house and yard.

I meant to pitch a tent outdoors, but it rained all that day, so we brought it inside. It worked so well we kept it a second day, too.

I meant to pitch a tent outdoors, but it rained all that day, so we brought it inside. It worked so well we kept it a second day, too.

We also sneaked in a couple of outings.. a family night at Red Butte Garden and a field trip with friends to the Natural History Museum. (I picked up a free month-long museum pass at the local library just so we wouldn’t have excuses to just stay home and work.) Besides, in order to get Patrick to let us work, we let him watch his birthday movies on endless loop, which left us all craving some family adventures.

Patrick loved the children's garden best, especially hopping on stepping stones across the fish pond.

Patrick loved the children’s garden best, especially hopping on stepping stones across the fish pond.

The best part of our trip to the Natural History Museum was not the dinosaur bones. It was the chance to be there with other friends who know exactly what living with Short Gut is like.

The best part of our trip to the Natural History Museum was not the dinosaur bones. It was the chance to be there with other friends who know exactly what living with Short Gut is like.

The wedding went smoother than expected, though playing hostess and trying to keep Patrick from completely melting down about how his house was filled with children who were not sharing his toys with him kept me busy enough that I didn’t manage to take a single picture.

I was too busy to take pictures, but there were lots of cameras there. I snagged this one off my mom's Facebook page.

I was too busy to take pictures, but there were lots of cameras there. I snagged this one off my mom’s Facebook page.

My sister was a beautiful bride and the happy couple truly looked happy and in love. Patrick eventually settled down with Grandma who let him fetch endless cups of water from the refreshment table and pour them all over himself and her and all went well enough.

Except that it turns out that maybe the bug that had Brian sick isn’t the one that had Patrick sick as I ran a fever all night.

So, Sunday we took a sick day and we stayed and home and did absolutely nothing except that Brian cooked us a delicious roast. The day was delightful and refreshing. Perfect after two frantic weeks.

Yesterday, I put together a week’s worth of Mommy School worksheets, made a chore chart, got Patrick’s TPN labs drawn and kind of regrouped. Then, in the late afternoon, I changed Patrick’s central line dressing and discovered that, much to my dismay, what had once been a tiny little hole in the clotted side of the line had grown big enough that I was worried it would pull off. But it was after hours and I wanted the head of the IV team to be involved in choices about the repair.

So today, we spent our kind of restart to summer day exactly as summer days seem to go for us.

Over breakfast, I made a bunch of phone calls to people at the hospital trying to find the best way to get the line repaired. Eventually, I sat down and had a little cry because I wasn’t getting in touch with the people I wanted and I knew we’d have to go to the E.R.

Then, Howie gave me a pep talk and a hug and a kiss. Then he talked to Patrick and helped him to gather the courage to get his line repaired. (He was terrified that it was going to hurt when they cut the broken part off of his line.) We headed up to the E.R. where our timing really was perfect. We didn’t wait at all for them to start working. Patrick’s line is a different brand than our hospital stocks because it was placed in Nebraska, so that complicated things and the repair took about an hour and looks a bit sloppy. But it will do for a clotted line.

And then, when all was done, we headed off to the Children’s Museum for a couple of hours. We managed to get there at a nice slow time on a nice slow day. Patrick actually got to enjoy exploring the museum and would have happily stayed there all day. His favorite spots were the Bob the Builder exhibit, the gas station, and the pretend E.R.

Builder Patrick

I didn't know they'd built on a pretend E.R. with the life flight display. Patrick found a little girl willing to play the patient and had a great time

I didn’t know they’d built on a pretend E.R. with the life flight display. Patrick found a little girl willing to play the patient and had a great time

Eventually, we had to go because I was parked in a 2 hour parking space and, honestly, we both needed a rest. So we stopped in at daddy’s office to pick up the leftovers from a lunch he’d cooked for them today. And then we came home and convinced Patrick to nap by 4.

Which brings us to right now. Brian just walked in the door to a quiet, clean house and me blogging and said, “Now that’s a sight I don’t see very often.”  Here’s to maybe a little bit more of this? Perhaps a few prayers for this line to hold out through the summer and grant us a little bit of peace ..and maybe even health?

Mission Impossible

I probably have this idea in my head because we watched a Mission Impossible movie a couple of nights ago. But I swear that today, as I ran from one major problem to another and felt myself being powered by pure adrenaline, that my life is no less demanding than a Mission Impossible mission. Maybe a little more dull and much more sedentary.

Here’s why today had me thinking that. I stayed up till a little after 11 last night finishing off Patrick’s care notebooks, a 30 page medical history and emergency plan for Patrick’s school staff. I was woken 4 times during the night, twice by IV pumps alarming. Twice by Patrick’s mylar balloon drifting into the ceiling fan in the kitchen.

At 7:30, Patrick woke up and I tried really hard to explain that we had a busy morning and needed to get ready quickly. After a summer of lazy, he did his best but we were definitely out of practice.

We finally made it downstairs and I scrambled to put finishing touches on school supplies. That doesn’t mean pencils and papers for Patrick. It means putting together a medical supply emergency kits, diaper changing kits (with instructive labels on each bottle of cream), care notebooks, first aid response cards (miniature and laminated to fit in Patrick’s backpack), and allergy safe labels on boxes and bags of snacks.

Patrick’s school open house started at 9:30 and we got there a little after 10. I felt really bad for coming so late.

BUT we had a chance to meet some other parents and kids and explore the classroom a bit. As we were nearing the end of the open house, I had a chance to meet the speech therapist and special education teacher who’ll be working with Patrick this year. I kind of tried to make a mad scramble in my tired brain to remember the relevant information I wanted to discuss with them about his goals. I think we covered the main points and I was impressed that they seemed to be on the same page as me. Then I went over with the teacher and classroom aides a refresher course on his medical care and diaper care and what ADHD and sensory processing disorder mean for him. And, of course, how and who to reach in an emergency.

I left the classroom half an hour after the open house was due to end. We walked Patrick’s medical supplies down to the school nurses’ office, along with a copy of the emergency plan, and briefly went over their questions.

Then I pulled out my phone and noticed that I had missed phone calls. Lots and lots of phone calls.

On the drive to the school, I’d called Patrick’s dietitian to tell her that we can’t get blood to draw off of his new line right now and ask if she really needed any labwork done today. (A nurse visit popped up in the schedule yesterday.)

That call prompted her to call Patrick’s GI, Dr. Jackson, who’d spent the morning bringing himself up to speed on Patrick’s new line and being put on hold for transplant. And he was quite concerned.

Oh, and I’d missed the call back from the transplant nurse in Nebraska.

So, when I got in the car, I called back Dr. Jackson. He apparently spent the morning going over operative notes and talking to the radiologists and other surgeons. And he’d learned something about Patrick’s new line that was alarming.

We had misunderstood what we’d been told about the placement of the line. The azygus vein is not a central vein. That means, it doesn’t directly connect to the heart. The tip of the new line is in a dilated part of that vein. But, after the tip there are some collateral (spiderlike veins that grow around a clot to reroute bloodflow like the little streams that form around the sides of a river if it is partially blocked.) And it is those that are connecting to the main veins and to the heart.

And since those veins are small and could infiltrate just like a peripheral IV vein, (or swell and close off that access, too) Dr. Jackson wanted Patrick off of his TPN ASAP.

Because of Patrick’s low lipid protocol, there is a lot of sugar in his TPN. It’s a very high osmolarity formula that kind of rips up small veins. So tonight we got a shipment of a lower osmolarity, lower sugar formula to run until we get a resolution.

Dr. Jackson also contacted the nurses and doctors in Nebraska on our behalf.

Anyway, I spent the drive home talking to him, then brought Brian up to speed, grabbed a quick lunch then called back the Nebraska Medical Center. They asked me to fedex them a CD of all of the imaging done of Patrick’s vein in the recent past and e-mail them all the radiology reports I had.

By then, Patrick was pretty tired and pretty tired of me on the phone, so I tried to rock him to sleep for his nap. But the phone rang. A homecare nurse seeing if I needed my TPN pump reprogrammed. Then it rang again. The homecare pharmacist setting up a shipment of the new formula fluid.

By this point, I texted my sister. I could tell I was in over my head and needed more time than I had.

She drove over while I got Patrick down for a nap, then stayed with him while he slept. Meanwhile, I scanned all my radiology reports. Then I drove to the hospital to pick up the CD of radiology images that Dr. Jackson had requested on my behalf, stop in medical records for accompanying reports, and then down to the pharmacy for a prescription for ranitidine to replace the IV form Patrick usually gets in his TPN. Of course, on the drive up talking to the homecare pharmacy to order tubing and other supplies to go with the IV fluid. And, in the waiting room, e-mailing the nurse in Nebraska to decide that they wanted their own venogram done anyway and that they could schedule Patrick’s procedure without me sending a CD after all.

By now it was 3 p.m. and I was feeling a bit like my mind was doing stunts Tom Cruise could only dream of. I was exhausted with trying to change gears and think of entirely new life-critical details. Fortunately, 3 p.m. is 4 p.m. in Nebraska and close of business for the intestinal transplant office.

So, when I got home, I just had to make dinner and clean up a little bit until evening.

Dr. Jackson called this evening and we had a good conversation about where Patrick is and where things are going. The best phrase of the conversation was when he told me that he thought that the doctors in Nebraska are just smart and daring enough to be able to “Macgyver something” to keep Patrick listed if possible.

But we also had a good talk about where else central lines can go and how to reduce and treat clotting in veins and genetic predispositions and a whole bunch of other crazy things, kind of like Dr. Jackson and I like to do. Is it strange that he and I kind of enjoy talking over medical problems together?

The encouraging thing to me is that, although he called our situation “sobering”, I could hear in his voice that he has a lot of hope still.

And that he’s pushing to get things done, and quickly. I think he said he’d e-mailed the surgeon twice and had sent a copy of all of the radiology reports that he was able to send by e-mail to his nurse.

This evening, we received the delivery of new fluid and got it started. (The sad thing about this change is that, with fewer calories, Patrick can’t afford a tubes-free time every day. The good thing is, the bags are split into two per day so they weigh less and he’ll be able to wear his pack.).. After connecting his fluids for the night, we picked out clothes for school, put on PJ’s, and tucked Patrick into bed.

I’m hoping for a little more calm tomorrow. I’m happy Patrick doesn’t miss the first day back at preschool. And that, amazingly, we pulled that all together in the midst of all of the rest of this madness.

And maybe I can get phone calls done while he’s at school. Maybe even a plan for how to get out to Omaha. Maybe.

Or maybe, if they’re not ready for me yet, I’ll just go sit on the lawn at the park next door and read a book and delight in the knowledge that at 10:15 every Monday-Thursday, Patrick gets to go visit the sensory room. And all his favorite aides from his old class get to come into his new class for morning circle time. And some of his familiar friends are still there.

I think I had enough adrenaline for one day today. Heck, I’ve had enough this month to get me by for a year.