Category Archives: Priesthood

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 25 and a Bad Day

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Well again, I posted last night and then went to be with Patrick and things got worse. I’m kind of afraid to hit post early tonight.. But try hard not to believe in medical jinxes.

Yesterday evening, Patrick’s fevers started to show up even with Tylenol in his system. He also started to have coughs that he couldn’t suppress. He was so miserable, he just curled up on my lap and didn’t want to move. His nurse called the resident and more cultures were ordered as well as a chest x-ray. They also started antibiotics and an antifungal. Daddy gave him a priesthood blessing, too.

And then, we just tried to let him sleep. Sometime between 3 and 5, his fever broke. By morning, he was feeling better.. but certainly was not back to himself. His cough is still bad. He’s breathing heavy. And every time the tylenol wears off, his fever comes back.

I was frustrated during the night because I just kept hearing that everything was coming back negative. However, today when the doctors rounded, they said that they’d seen a pleural effusion in the x-ray. That means that there is fluid around the outside of his lungs. That is why it is hard to breathe.

Rounds were kind of refreshing. It’s nice that our input is both welcome and helpful. I told them about what had happened overnight, Patrick’s typical infection history and medication allergies, and my own thoughts and worries.

The current working theory is that he has some kind of respiratory bug, maybe a pneumonia. But his lungs sound good and he’s on the right IV antibiotics to help. So today’s orders were wait and watch. If things get worse, they’ll do a CT scan. Welcome to the world of immune suppression.

He napped all day and woke up with lower temps but more trouble breathing. He’s spent the day in bed watching Blues Clues. Good thing kids like watching the same DVD’s 1000 times. These TV’s are too old for our chromecast to work so we are limited to just what we own physically. We have enough for about a day’s worth of Blues Clues viewing and Patrick doesn’t mind rewatching the same thing over and over again.

I have tried to keep other things moving forward. Got him officially enrolled in school. His teacher should come tomorrow if Patrick is still doing ok. Got word that the insurance company has responded to the appeal and decided to cover the Valcyte after all. Ordered some more ostomy bag samples. Convinced the team that they still want to do our discharge training early this week in case Patrick gets better over the holiday weekend.

Alas, the evening has been hard again. His fevers have reached 104 when his tylenol wears off. His heart rate is high. His oxygenation is low, but holding. And he’s having a hard time keeping his medications down.

Darn holidays.  We need a better kind of holiday tradition.

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Losing the line we were told never to lose

Or perhaps I should title this post “A date with the devil.” We are being forced to get to know the devil we don’t know.

Believe it or not, we finished a course of antibiotics and we went on vacation. Brian went on a business trip to the Ukraine. Patrick and I went to visit our good friends, the Laylands, in Seattle.

But writing about those things will end up waiting for another day. Because I’m writing tonight from a hospital room. Again. And there are things on my mind that, for me, have been the subject of nightmares for many months now.

Patrick has lost his central line. Not entirely yet. But it will have to be replaced.

It all started Saturday night right after I put Patrick to bed after our first day home from Washington and went to clean up before Brian returned from Ukraine. Patrick had been in bed about half an hour when I heard a plaintive “Mommy”, and then that unmistakable, heart stopping sound of him throwing up in bed.

I ran up the stairs but was too late. The poor little guy threw up half a liter of nasty green stuff. He must have felt awful all day. It took an hour to settle him enough to sleep.

Saturday morning, a homecare nurse had come to draw some labwork and follow up blood cultures. All seemed well at that point.. But i was very glad for those cultures when Sunday morning, Patrick was having low grade fevers. We went to church just to be able to take the Sacrament and see how long we could make it. We had a backup plan for our assignments at church.

And it wasn’t long before it was obvious Patrick didn’t feel well enough to sit quietly. So I took him to the foyer to let him move and I got on the phone with his doctor to see if we could come get more bloodwork done. And I pulled out a thermometer, and there was the number we had waited all morning for. 100.4 degrees farenheit. And official fever.

So, we made a bit of a scene leaving church, packed bags, and came to the hospital.

It took several hours to restart Patrick’s antibiotics. 8 for the one I thought he needed most, which just about made me crazy waiting for as he got feeling sicker and sicker. But as soon as they were given (along with a Priesthood blessing), Patrick started to feel a little better. We even slept through that first night.

All seemed to be going smoothly by the end of the 2nd day. I was a rockstar advocate mommy and got Patrick therapy, a picture schedule, integrative medicine & aromatherapy, and even talked to the palliative care team about signing him up for their services. I even managed to get his GI, surgeon, and a radiologist to have a care conference to discuss replacing Patrick’s positional line. They came back in favor of a change and suggested a plan of action to decide if and how to proceed.

And then, at 4 p.m., we came back to the room to draw cultures and start his antibiotics and his line wouldn’t draw. Or flush.

We ordered TPA and we worked it, and we worked it… and, well, after 4 hours of effort, he was exhausted, I was heartsick, and the line was still not working. And the plan from the care conference was upgraded from a hypothetical, optional plan to a necessity.

I did not sleep as well last night. (And not just because the nurse was slow about keeping the pumps from alarming and banged the door.)

Today we put the plan into action. Patrick went to radiology for a sedated ultrasound of the veins in his upper body. The order was for light sedation.

We learned today that Patrick is very capable of fighting light sedation. Made him silly and sleepy, but he was still perfectly able to fight the test. Moderate sedation didn’t fix things either. In fact, with sedation all of his inhibition control was gone and none of my usual distraction tricks were even an option. The ultrasound was wiggly, to say the least.. but the technician was patient and kept trying to get the information the doctors wanted.

Listening to her review her images with the radiologist, though, made my heartsick. As usual, Patrick’s right side vessels are fairly scarred. (Though perhaps a little better looking than the last I’d known.) But, they worked enough to give a better answer about the left side than before. Instead of just saying “Inconclusive”, what they said was that the left subclavian vein (the one in his shoulder) has lots of little collateral vessels around it too and shows evidence of being swollen at least, if not scarred, and also probably has a clot in it.

I asked the radiologist if that would explain the tricky behavior of this line for the past year and he said absolutely, that the vessel may have been pressing on the line. He also said that changing out the line over a wire was a risky move, given the clot in the line. But that I’d need to discuss that plan with our surgeons.

Other vessels were open, but most of them looked to have some kind of narrowing.

The rest of the afternoon was a little crazy. I got permission to change out Patrick’s button while he was still sedated and that went quickly and smoothly and he doesn’t seem to understand it even happened. That’s what we hoped for.

And that meant that Brian came up for the ultrasound and stayed the afternoon.

But it was a rough afternoon. Patrick didn’t sleep under sedation and he didn’t sleep after, either. He fought REALLY hard all afternoon to stay awake. We could tell when it started to wear off because he finally stopped fighting.

But because of low heart rates, he still had to stay in bed till 5:30. We got out for a short walk, but when we came back for TPN at 6, and I asked the nurse if all was done so we could leave, she told me no. She didn’t want to use the automatic settings to taper Patrick’s TPN levels up (to protect his blood sugar levels)… and so, we couldn’t leave the room.

The idea of making Patrick stay any longer in the room with the same old toys and bed and short IV tubing kind of broke my heart. So I had a very short little cry about it. Then I went and helped myself to several fitted sheets and used the extra safety pins around the room to build us a fort.

That tided us over for the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow will not be an easier day. As of tonight, they plan to take Patrick to surgery tomorrow. The surgeon will probably attempt first to put a line back into the same vein. That means that he’ll put a wire into the catheter, remove the old line leaving the wire, and then use the wire to guide a new line in.

That is the best case scenario.

The worst case scenario is that that won’t work. In that case, they want to repeat a venogram.. which is a contrast study of the Patrick’s veins. And they will use that to pick a new vein to put a line into.

It is entirely possible that the surgeon will come in in the morning and decide that he wants to have that done before Patrick goes to the OR. And then we’ll just do that tomorrow and the surgery the next day.

And the worst of worse case scenario is that the wire over doesn’t work, none of the other vessels are still wide enough to get a central line into, and then we’ll start discussing desperate measure that I don’t really want to get into in a blog post unless they happen.

Needless to say, this is scary. I am still terrified of the idea of Patrick no longer having veins to give nutrition through. I do not want to imagine that happening.

We are not to that point yet. There are veins in other places in the body that can be used. But there is still a lot of pressure to make one of these sites work because in order to have a transplant, Patrick has a have a central line in his upper body.

I’m scared and I’m sad.. and I’m really, really lonely for some reason this stay. But I’m calm. We have been praying and fasting about this line for a while now. I can’t help but think that this is an answer to those prayers.

So, if you’re the praying type, please join us in praying for the surgeon and his team and the radiologists tomorrow. We’d love to save this access site. We’d love to get another year and a half or more out of another. And I have this faint little hope that maybe the next line won’t scare me every time someone else flushes it, (and sometimes when I do, too.)

Our Seattle Adventure

As many of you know, Patrick had an appointment for a check-up at Seattle Children’s this week. He was scheduled in clinic for about two hours Tuesday afternoon. We decided to try to make a family vacation out of this trip (since we haven’t had a vacation since adopting Patrick.) I think we need to stop saying the word vacation in our household. It seems that Patrick thinks that vacations are taken in the hospital – this trip did not go as planned.

We flew to Seattle on Sunday. We rented a mini van and drove to visit our good friends, the Laylands who live half an hour north of the city. We had a good dinner and visit with them and then spent the night at their house.

As soon as the plane touched down in Seattle, my nose started to run. At first I was sure it was allergies, but by the next morning there was no question that it was a cold. But, we were determined to have a vacation, so after a quick stop at K-Mart for some cold medicine and other things, we set off for the city.

After picking up some much touted Mighty-O donuts and checking into our hotel, we headed to the Seattle Aquarium. We were in the first exhibit, a sort of aquatic petting zoo, letting Patrick play in the water and touch sea creatures when I looked down and noticed blood on his PICC line. Closer examination revealed that there was something wrong … there was definitely a leak.

So I made a quick call to our transplant coordinator and we headed back to the ER, leaving a very patient Lindy and her daughter stranded in downtown Seattle to avoid exposing them to hospital ER germs.

We were checked in quickly in the ER and sent to an isolation room at the back because of Patrick’s and my cold symptoms. Soon the IV team came to look and confirmed that Patrick did, indeed, have a cracked PICC line. And it could not be repaired.

As a result, Patrick needed to have a peripheral IV put in until he could get another central (goes to the heart) line. And he needed to be admitted to the hospital because you can’t get as good of nutrition through just a hand or foot.

Wednesday afternoon, there was finally room in the schedule to take Patrick to “Interventional Radiology” where they could place a new PICC line with X-ray imaging to guide them. They took Patrick down at about 3 p.m. At 5:30, a doctor came to the room to talk to us.

He explained that they had tried to pass the wire through Patrick’s vein to put in the PICC line and had run into resistence. So, they injected contrast into his veins and saw that there had been a clot. In response to the clot, Patrick’s body created a branch of smaller vessels to route the blood where it needed to go. This meets the body’s need, but doesn’t leave enough room to put a catheter into the vein to the heart. Because of this, Patrick can no longer have PICC lines in his arms.

They put a little bit more stable of a line in his arm then that wouldn’t go bad as quickly as an IV in his hand or foot and then gave us two options: stay here and have a broviac line put in, or fly to Salt Lake, be admitted there, and have a broviac put in.

We decided that it was best to just stay and have it done here in Seattle. The surgeons here had gone into the PICC placement procedure and had seen the problem first hand. Having Seattle Children’s put in the line also meant that he’d have it done sooner, since he could be put on the next day’s list.

Beyond that, in order to place the line, they needed to do an ultrasound study to see what Patrick’s remaining central blood vessels looked like. Since not having many available blood vessels moves you up the transplant list, we thought it was wise to have the transplant hospital have a record of what options remained.

So – yesterday Patrick had a new broviac line put in. He went to surgery about 3 p.m. and they were able to put the new line right where they wanted it. When I talked to the surgeon at 5 he sounded pretty good about how the procedure had gone.

There had, however, been one slight problem. Patrick’s stomach still doesn’t easily drain all the way. Even though he hadn’t eaten anything, and his stomach had been suctioned, it still wasn’t empty. As a result, he aspirated during the procedure. The surgeon said that they’d been able to clean out his lungs, though, and didn’t seem overly concerned. With any aspiration, there is a risk of pneumonia. He asked to keep Patrick 24 hours for observation, and then said he’d be able to go home.

I went to Patrick’s room to wait for him. When he finally made it upstairs, he was very upset. He’d curled himself into a little ball and was crying miserably. The nurse immediately set to work getting pain medications for him. And we decided to put him on monitors.

Things just seemed to get worse. The monitors showed that the oxygen levels in his blood were dropping, so we put an oxygen mask near his mouth to help keep them up. His heart rate was rising. He was breathing very heavily.

The nurse called in other nurses to help her and started taking vitals… And discovered Patrick was running a fever. They called down his doctors. While I explained the scarier things in Patrick’s medical history, his nurse wandered around the room making space to work if things got worse.

They ordered blood cultures to look for infection, gave Patrick some Tylenol, and got an X-ray of his chest.

Finally, they called the “Rapid Response Team”, which is a team from the PICU who come to the bedside. They watched him, took some tests bedside, and promised to come back to check on him within the hour.

Once all of the tests were done, I picked Patrick up again and he finally started to calm down. They started antibiotics while I rocked him to sleep. His heart rate was still high, and the antibiotics were making his blood pressure low, but he seemed to be starting to feel better.

As things started to settle down, I asked the nurse to help me reach elders from my church. One of the doctors in the room had mentioned earlier in the week that he had gone to school at BYU and we’d talked about how we’d been there the same year both studying Spanish. He spoke up and said “I can take care of that for you.” It was subtle, but we both understood that he was telling me that he was an elder and could help me with what he knew I was going to ask for.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we believe in the gift of healing by the laying on of hands by those who have authority from God. Brian is an elder in our church and had given Patrick one of these special blessings before he left. And this kind doctor subtly waited around until the nurses had left the room and then layed his hands on Patrick’s head and gave him another blessing, confirming the promises of health and comfort and strength.

Patrick slowly began turning around. His fever dropped and he started to sleep comfortably. A respiratory therapist came and tried to get Patrick to cough by pounding on his chest and back. Finally, she suctioned deep down into his chest and helped to get a lot of what was in his lungs out.

By midnight, Patrick was sound asleep. I stayed up to help the nurse get a few more things settled and went to bed. We slept till 7 a.m., when the doctors came in to check on him.

This morning, Patrick woke up with a smile. He was a bit weak and groggy at first, but has just gotten better and better all day long. Just an hour ago, he was climbing all over me on the couch in the room playing with toys and jumping. You would never know anything had been wrong.

The doctors are pleased enough with his improvement that they gave me the go ahead to book a flight back home for tomorrow. We’ll leave the hospital a little after noon to catch a 3:45 p.m. flight.  We should be home by 6 p.m.

I almost hate to write this because any time I’ve said that we were doing something this week, things have changed. But this time it feels like we really are going home. And I’ll be happy to be there.

I do have to share one example of the goodness of people in this world. While Patrick was in surgery, I put some of our clothes in the laundry room here. I got it as far as the dryer, but then when Patrick came back in such bad shape from surgery, didn’t make it back to it. I expected, when I headed back at midnight, to find my clothes piled in a basket somewhere. Instead, someone had taken the time to neatly fold them for me. This touched me because any parent using the laundry room here is doing it because their child is sick enough that they’re expecting to stay here for some time. The person who folded my clothes was certainly going through their own difficult time and would have been totally justified in being upset and offended at someone leaving clothes in a dryer. Instead, they took the time to make my day a little better.

This is just one example of the kindnesses that make raising a child with health problem so very rewarding.

Adoption Reflections: Getting to know you

I left off my story the night before Brian & I flew to Michigan.

Saturday morning, Brian and I got up before the sun. We went shopping for a few more baby things and for some presents for Patrick’s birth family. Then we went to the airport.

It was so strange waiting in line with a carseat, but no baby. In fact, the sight of us juggling so much luggage and an empty carseat drew some attention. A very kind man ended up helping me in line while Brian was off getting some money at the ATM. We were talking about our reasons for flying. He was taking equipment to Africa where he was going to teach people in 3rd world areas to build and maintain wells. When I explained why we were flying, he was in awe. It was very strange to meet this great humanitarian and have him be impressed with what I was doing.

We were flying standby, so Brian ended up about 10 rows behind me. I remember hearing him telling other passengers why we were flying and thinking “This is all so surreal.”

The amazing thing was, for all I was nervous, it was also all so peaceful. I’ll always remember how beautiful the fall leaves were on the trees as we landed.. and how right everything felt.

It was evening before we got to our hotel room, and then to the hospital.

We arrived and explained why we were there and were shown to a family waiting room. Where we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, we met Patrick’s birth family… his mother, grandmother and aunt. Our timing couldn’t have been worse. We ended up arriving in the middle of a family crisis. But they amazed us with the grace and kindness they showed us.

We talked to the head of the NICU and to Patrick’s family for a while…learned more about his medical needs, and then finally got to meet Patrick.

I remember thinking that he was SO tiny! Just this fragile little ball of baby, with a head full of black hair. I got to hold him that night and was just amazed by him. We also got to know his birthmother and her family a little bit.

Soothed by my paci

We went back to our hotel a bit overwhelmed and not sure what to do. We were overwhelmed by how much of his medical status we hadn’t known… and by the whole situation in general.

But, we’d made a committment to give Patrick a day, and so the next day we went back to the hospital. We explained to the nurse that we’d like to learn all we could about caring for Patrick, and she was wonderful about giving us that chance. She taught us to change his diapers (around tubes). And she let us hold him.

Brian and I each got some time alone with him that day. I remember holding and rocking him and singing to him the words of a children’s song:

“I am a child of God,
and He has sent me here,
has given me an earthly home
with parents kind and dear.”

And my heart broke at the idea that Patrick didn’t yet know where his earthly home and parents were. And I didn’t know if I was able to provide that for him or not.

As the evening wore on, the head of the adoption agency finally came. She’d gotten word that no one from the agency had really acknowledged our arrival. She explained to us Michigan’s adoption laws, and what she knew of Patrick, his medical needs, and his birth family.

While she was there, two elders from our church arrived… courtesy Patrick’s grandma. (I’ll forever be indebted to her for sending them). They came to bring us the sacrament, and while they were there gave us priesthood blessings of comfort.

We visited with the adoption supervisor for hours, and then went back and spent a bit more time with Patrick. Then we went back to our hotel.

That night, as we were sorting through the dozens of pictures we’d taken that day, one jumped out at me. I looked at it and just KNEW that I loved this baby! And that I wanted him to be my son.

First days

Monday morning, we went back to the hospital. Finally people were there! We met more doctors, the hospital social worker, and the care manager who’d help us to get Patrick home. Calls were made to Primary Children’s to see if the doctors in Utah could take care of Patrick. His surgeons came and talked to us about Short Gut and transplantation. Finally we felt like we were getting a grasp on this situation, and amazingly, we felt like it might be something we could do.

Then we had the big decision to make. The night before, the woman from the adoption agency had explained that the papers we’d signed in Utah would expire if they weren’t filed on Monday. Besides, Brian had to fly back to Utah that afternoon for a conference at work. We had to make a decision before he left for the airport about whether or not we were adopting Patrick.

We held a “family conference” that morning… Just Brian, Patrick and I. We talked about the decision we were facing… and the fact that we felt ready to move forward. Then Brian turned to Patrick and asked him if he’d like to join our family.

He had been sleeping, but he opened his eyes and kind of looked at Brian, as if sizing him up. Then settled back down to sleep in his arms, as if totally content. We took that as a yes.

We asked our nurse to take our first family picture.

At 1, Patrick’s social worker from the adoption agency and the hospital social worker met with us. We didn’t have much time, so we signed papers in a hurry. Then we left to take Brian to the airport.

And that was it… Brian kissed me goodbye at the curb and said “Take care of our son.” We had a son! One with far more troubles ahead that we could imagine… but one who also just filled every room he was in with the feeling of peace and joy.

We’ve never looked back. Patrick is our little boy and we love him with all our hearts!

How everything changed in a moment

WARNING: THIS POST INCLUDES DETAILS OF PATRICK’S CARDIAC ARREST AND SUBSEQUENT PROBLEMS IN THE ICU, INCLUDING PICTURES.

I’ve been asked to explain several times the events of this week. I’ve decided it’s probably easiest if I just take some time to sit down and write this in a blog. It will save frequent emotional repetitions for me… preserve some of the last week while it’s still fresh in my mind… and hopefully give some answers for those who are wondering how things got to where they are. These are things that are still hard for me to remember and talk about so please don’t be hurt if I don’t want to talk more about what I’m posting in this entry.

In my last post, I wrote about a yeast infection called candida that Patrick had in his central line and in his blood. He was hospitalized for 11 days in June for that infection and then went home on antifungal medications. On July 5th his fever returned and we came back to the hospital to learn that the infection had grown back again.

In order to treat the persistent infection, they decided to return to giving him a very dangerous medication called amphotericin (a.k.a. “ampho-terrible”). He was on a very high dose but seemed to be doing ok. He always got chills while it was being given and wanted to be held and held very still, but all other signs pointed towards it doing it’s job without too much problem.

On the 15th, we were making plans to go home. We would give 3 more weeks of treatment at home to make sure the infection didn’t come back. However, before we went home, we decided to try giving the medication the same way he’d get it there. This meant shutting off his TPN (IV nutrition) for a few hours while the medicine was being administered.

He’d been doing so well that I ran home to shower and take care of a few things right before they were supposed to start the ampho. I got back an hour into it and he just didn’t seem to be tolerating it well. His hands were as cold as ice, despite several blankets and heatpacks. He was pretty restless. We tried to feed him to comfort him, but that just make him sicker.

About 3:30 p.m. he got really agitated and started to squirm and pull at his ears and cry. Then he just went limp. I called his nurse in and she called in one of the charge nurses. They took him from me and started administering CPR.

They also hit a button on the wall that pages for a “Code Blue” on the PA system. In under a minute the room was filled with people. A PCT who had cared for Patrick before came immediately to my side, as did a social worker and they stayed with me until we were delivered into the hands of another social worker in the PICU.

One doctor took charge of calling out orders while another kept track of everything that had been done. There were at least 10 people bedside helping with CPR, medications, watching vitals and I don’t know what else.

After about 15 minutes (a.k.a. an eternity) they finally revived him and they took Patrick straight to the Pediatric ICU. I followed with the social workers and his nurses in another elevator.

On the way up I finally got a hold of Brian and told him to come up and where to find us.

Normally parents are taken to a waiting room, but they knew us and how involved we are with Patrick’s care so they let us stay and watch as they placed an arterial line to monitor his blood pressure and worked to find out what happened.

The best guess is that his weakened little body was hit with a few things at once. Being off his TPN caused his blood sugar to drop. At the same time, his weakened kidneys weren’t processing potassium in the right way. When those two things hit at the same time, it created a sort of perfect storm that caused him to seize and caused his heart to stop.The next day they worked madly to stabilize him. His organs had been starved for oxygen for long enough that they’d forgotten how to work. His blood sugar was all over the charts. His potassium levels were out of control. He was anemic and his platelet count just kept dropping. His nurse that day didn’t sit down for the entire 12 hour shift.

Over the next few days things started to stabilize but there were a lot of things out of whack still. His spleen, which had already been in bad shape because of his cholestasis (liver damage) and prolonged infection, decided to protect itself by sequestering all the platelets that went through it. As a result, although they were giving multiple transfusions, his platelet count was still low and he was bleeding easily from anywhere that could bleed. His kidneys also had kind of shut down and so all of the extra fluids being poured in to give transfusions and electolytes and medicines weren’t being cleared by his body. Instead they were soaking through the veins and collecting in the other tissues of his body.

To top it all off, he had some bacteria “leak” from his gut and get into his bloodstream causing a bacterial blood infection.

Saturday they tried to extubate him, but by Sunday morning it was pretty obvious that he was having trouble breathing. X-rays showed that the fluid in his tissues had made it’s way into his lungs. And so they had to put him back on the ventilator and started to give him medicines to make his body shed the extra fluid.

We watched and prayed and waited and tried to get ready to say goodbye until Wednesday when something amazing happened. Patrick peeked at me through heavy eyelids and seemed to know that I was there… He started reaching with his hands and so I gave him a rattle… and he shook it! The next day I was actually able to get him to laugh!

As the day went on, he woke up little by little and started to play peek-a-boo and smile and hold toys. His X-rays and labwork improved. As he woke up, they started to wean him slowly off the ventilator and off the sedatives.

His throat was very swollen and we weren’t sure if the airway would stay open without the tube in. But Friday evening they decided the only way to know would be to try. So they took him off the ventilator and put him on high flow oxygen. And he was the happiest kid you could imagine.

Without the breathing tube to bother him, they were able to turn off his sedatives and we became aware of what might be another problem. We noticed as Patrick started waking up that he wasn’t focusing his eyes well… staring off into space and not always following what’s going on in the room. He’s also been holding his head and arms very still. When these issues didn’t go away when the sedatives started wearing off, we became more concerned.

Neuro came to see him and said that they think there is reason to evaluate him. He will have an MRI on Monday as well as a neurodevelopmental workup. There is a possibility, especially considering how long he was down, that Patrick’s brain was damaged. Neuro will be able to help us see if that is true… and if it is, they’ll help us do all we can to help him do the best that he can.

Regardless of how weak his body is, though… the spirit inside of it is still Patrick’s. His eyes still sparkles and he loves to play and laugh with us. It has been a gift to be able to hold him and play with him again… to know he knows us and loves us still. It breaks our hearts to see that magnificent spirit confined by such a weak little body and we hope that those limitations will be brief.

As far as long term planning- Patrick will need to stay in the ICU until he is better able to breathe on his own. He is doing it right now, but he is working very hard at it. He’s on hold for transplant until he can go back to Seattle for another evaluation. At the very least, he will probably now need a liver transplant along with the small bowel transplant. We won’t know if he’s still healthy enough for transplant, though, until he is evaluated again. We’ll continue working with the doctors and therapists and nurses here to help Patrick regain as much as he can. And the rest we’ll leave in the Lord’s hands.

We’ve always known that there was a plan for Patrick’s life. We’re just humbled to get to be the parents in that plan. We trust Heavenly Father to take care of the rest.

Sealing and blessing

As of 4:10 p.m. on February 13th, Patrick is officially a member of our eternal family!

We started out the weekend’s events with a little bit of humbling. Howie took the day off to help get the house ready and I was going nuts trying to take care of every little detail from ironing temple clothes to prepping food for the open house. But, a flat tire on the freeway ay 10:30 the night before we went to the temple was a good pull back into reality. Changing the tire was easy, but it revealed other bigger problems and we made it home on a prayer and half a rotor on the front passenger side. Boy did my priorities realign quickly, especially as I watched our car be taken away on a tow truck, just trusting that we’d get through the weekend all right anyway.

Howie’s family helped get the church set up for us to go the temple, and then his mom made it here just on time to watch Patrick while we got dressed to go. She drove us to the temple and we tried took a few pictures. Although it was sunny, the wind was bitter cold and Patrick was NOT happy so we didn’t stay too long.
My mom and dad met us at the temple. Mom was there to take care of Patrick in the nursery. (Including dressing him and reconnecting his IV’s). We left him there in capable hands and then went off to get dressed in white.

We met the sealer (this is the official title for the man who performs a sealing ceremony in the temple). Turns out he had been the community doctor in the town where my family grew up, so he knew my grandparents and dad, and some of my mom’s family, too.

They kept trying to start early… But my grandpa and some of my friends hadn’t made it there yet.. So we just made everyone wait. Our friend Tifanie was so excited that she couldn’t contain herself and ran over and gave me a hug… making everyone cry.

Finally everyone all of the guests had arrived and they went and got the man of the hour. My mom brought him in, dressed in a white tuxedo and wrapped in a white afghan she made just for the occasion. Brian and I knelt across the altar from each other, holding hands, and Brian’s mom brought Patrick and laid his little hand on ours. At first, he was a bit fussy, but we turned him around so his right hand would be on ours, and he caught my eye, and he settled down immediately. We watched each other’s eyes the whole time.

A sealing for a child is quite short… just a few lines said by the sealer that bind the child to his or her parents (in the eternal record) and then promise special blessings. Patrick seemed to soak up the entire experience, and then, completely content, went right to sleep as soon as it was over and I had him in my arms.

We celebrated and welcomed him into the family that evening with an open house at the church. I went smoothly (thanks in part to awesome family who helped with the food prep, set up, and clean up). There were enough people there that I couldn’t quite make it to talk to them all. Finally we wrapped up, cleaned up, and got home COMPLETELY exhausted! And with way, way, WAY too many leftovers. I think next open house I’m going with punch and cookies.

Saturday we got to recoup a bit as we visited with family, which was nice because we knew Sunday would be another big day. Patrick got to know his cousins and aunts and uncles a bit better.

Sunday morning Patrick could barely sleep. After his morning feeding, I sat in his room holding him and he just kept waking up and grinning at me. I swear he knew what was going on that day.

Because he had us up early, we were able to take our time getting ready. He spent a little time cuddled with his Daddy in the bed, and then we got him dressed and ready for church. Our ward has classes first, followed by sacrament meeting, so I went off to Primary with the children and Patrick went with Brian to his classes.

We snuck out a bit early to change Patrick into his white tux… and luck of all luck… found that his ostomy bag had started to leak. Luckily, by now Howie and I are a pretty smooth team and we were able to pull of a pretty amazing quick change in one of the classrooms and still make it to the chapel on time.

When the time came, Brian took Patrick to the front of the chapel. Brian is an Elder in our church, and his brothers, some of my brothers, our fathers, and my grandfather are also priesthood holders, and therefore could help with the ordinance. They surrounded Patrick, each with one hand holding him, and then Brian performed the blessing.

In a baby blessing, the child is given a name and then given personalized blessings. Among other things I remember from the blessing, Patrick was reminded of the love that brought him into our family – both our love and the love of his birthfamily. He blessed him with strength to face the difficult medical journey ahead. He reminded him that he was a child of miracles.

When they came back to sit beside me, Patrick was just glowing. His daddy held him and I could see the love that they had for each other. I also knew, as I looked at Patrick, that he understood all that had gone over the weekend and was happy about it. I really believe that, although he was adopted, the Lord promised He would waste no time in making sure that Patrick received these two very important ordinances.

Since then, well, I can’t quite get enough of my son. I don’t know what the future hold, though I’m sure there are rough times ahead. But I do know that I was blessed with a very special gift and a very important calling in this life when I was given the opportunity to be Patrick’s mom. And I will never forget the day he was sealed a part of our family forever.