Category Archives: TPN

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.

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.)

Watch out for waterlemons

A week ago Saturday, we decided to go out for breakfast at Paradise Bakery. Because of nut and egg allergies, we brought his breakfast along, but when he asked to play with my fruit cup (practicing his fork skills) I agreed.

He picked up a piece of pineapple, dropped it, and gave a very big scowl. I looked to see what was wrong and discovered a long, thin cut in his finger. I thought maybe one of the finger pricks from the previous weeks’ hospital stay hadn’t healed and was infected.

So, when we got home, I put some neosporin on it, and a bandaid. That night, when I changed the bandaid, Brian pointed out that the rest of that fingertip and the one next to it looked like they were burned. We asked Patrick how he got hurt. He said the “waterlemon” poked him.

We kept doing bandaids and neosporin. And then a couple of days later, I bumped Patrick’s other hand and got the same reaction. He jumped, pulled back, scowled, then started to cry. I looked and, lo and behold, the other hand was dry and cracking too. All of his fingers looked calloused, dry, flaking and cracking.

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I panicked a little bit. TPN dependence means risks of nutritional deficiencies. Zinc deficiency causes horrible flaking skin ulcers. Fatty acid deficiency can cause dry skin, but only once it’s severe enough that you also start wondering about brain development.

I called his dietitian and made her check his labs. They were ok, except a note about low Omega-6 fatty acids. The doctor had just said he thought it was ok. She suggested I rub Patrick in safflower oil.

This created quite a quandary for me. Last time I tried safflower oil in Patrick’s diet he had an allergic reaction because all culinary oils are processed on the same equipment so safflower oil can have peanut oil and almond oil in it.

So I decided to start using his regular eczema cream and keep asking.

I got a good picture of the problem and sent it to, well, everyone. His nurse suggested an allergy to the bandaids or neosporin. His GI and I had a long talk where we discussed ways to get him more fatty acids from increasing the lipids in his TPN to feeding him microlipids through the g-tube, to rubbing him in it. (Which I put more effort into. We stopped at Sprouts market that night and read every label until I found a lotion that had safflower oil, but nothing else he might be allergic to.) Finally, the University of Nebraska called back and said that Patrick’s labs had looked good in February and could not have possibly tanked that quickly and to stop worrying about deficiency.

So then I turned to Dr. Google. I try not to research symptoms on the internet. However, Google Images is a wonderful took for looking up skin conditions. I looked up pictures of zinc and fatty acid deficiency and they didn’t match. Then I looked up pictures of cracking fingertips and I found it…

Fingertip eczema. Caused by… a systemic allergic reaction due to prolonged exposure to an allergen.

I ditched the bandaids. Switched to hydrocortisone cream and aquaphor… kept rubbing Patrick in the safflower lotion for good measure because of the other deficiency anyway. And I stopped cheating Patrick on his benadryl pretreatment.

Because Patrick is allergic to vancomycin, the antibiotic they started him on 3 weeks ago, he is supposed to get a very high dose of benadryl before every dose of antibiotic. But that high dose does a number on his gut, not to mention his concentration and his mood. So when we came home from the hospital, I started backing off the dose.

So we upped the dose.. and then we got hospitalized and they took him back up to the full prescription strength. And they made him stay on vanco a few extra days in case that was the cause of the fevers, and then finally let it be discontinued.

Patrick’s fingers almost immediately started to get better. They are still dry and we are still doing a good lotion regimen a few times a day. Patrick voted down a few brands, but is really in love with Aquaphor (“Apa-poh”) and several times a day will ask permission to just dip his fingers in it. This is helping a lot.

Poor little kid.. as if there weren’t already enough other things to worry about this month. And I still can’t convince him to lay hands on another “waterlemon.”

Adoption memories

We had Patrick’s g-tube study done. (Great results! Nothing wrong. Just a slightly upward angle that makes positioning the tube tricky.) As part of the history, they asked when the gastrostomy (g-tube hole) was created and I realized last night that I could have answered “exactly two years ago.”

Why do I remember that? Well, because exactly two years ago yesterday, the court officially named us as Patrick’s legal guardians. It was the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten.

A friend of mine has been doing something special this month on her blog. Because it’s national adoption awareness month, she’s been posting daily adoption related posts. She invited me to be a guest blogger and, by coincidence, will be running my post today… a very significant 2 year adoption anniversary for us.

So, I thought I’d share with you what I wrote for her. Here goes:

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Ours is not a typical adoption story, because Patrick is not a typical little boy. His life was meant to be something different, something miraculous, and so it required that it start in a very different and miraculous way.

But my part of the story starts the way a lot of others do. We wanted to have children. When that didn’t happen easily, we involved doctors. For years, we went through the ups and downs of charting and temperature taking, tests and medications. Finally, after several years and a minor surgery, our doctor sat us down for “the talk.” He explained that there were several causes of my infertility. The cards were, essentially, stacked against us. He still felt it very possible that we could have children, but only with major medical intervention. We had some big choices to make.

We talked about it and we prayed about it. And then, that Sunday, as we sat in church, we received a clear answer that it was time for us to stop medical treatments. Our child would come to us through adoption.

With a path finally before us, we moved forward quickly. I’ve never felt so driven to do anything before in my life. In under a month, we completed the application process, training classes, and were mostly done with our home study.

During our home visit, we had a conversation with our case worker that would play a major part in bringing Patrick into our family. She’d looked at our “preferences checklist” and noted that we seemed more open than most to adopting a child with special needs. We explained that we felt that adoption was a faith process. We believe that Heavenly Father puts families together. We knew we’d never turn away a child born to us with medical problems. So, if God was in charge of adoptions, too, then why would we limit His options? We knew Heavenly Father would help us find our child and that, if the child really belonged in our family, race and health wouldn’t stand in the way.

We decided to adopt in June. Our application was approved in September and we hunkered down for a nice long wait. We figured two years, at the least, was the average we’d heard. And still, by the end of October it felt like far too long. My heart ached for a child it knew was missing.

Then, on a very snowy morning the first week of November, my phone rang. It was my case worker. She started out by saying, “There was a little boy born on Halloween in Michigan.” My heart skipped a beat. I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and started scribbling notes. She told me he was Korean. And then, she went on to tell me that he’d had a birth defect. His intestines had developed on the outside of his abdomen. The doctors were saying he had a life expectancy of 1 to 2 years. They needed to find an adoptive home quickly because doctors wanted to discharge him from the hospital. All she could tell me about his family that his birth mother wanted him to be able to go to the temple to be sealed to a family.

She said she’d send an e-mail with more information and a picture. She encouraged me to talk to Brian and decide if we’d like to be among those families considered to adopt this little boy, and then to call her and let her know.

As soon as I gathered myself, I called Brian. But he wasn’t at his desk. Meanwhile, two e-mails arrived. One was a short paragraph from the baby’s caseworker in Michigan explaining his medical needs and the unconventional and hurried search for parents. In the other were two photographs of a sweet little Korean boy with great big eyes and an IV in his head.

Since Brian wasn’t at his desk, I called the insurance company to find out if this we even had coverage to pay for this kind of medical problem.

That’s how Brian first found out about the offer. While I was on hold with the insurance company, he called back on my cell phone, so he heard me finish the conversation about “preexisting conditions” and “adoption”.

I gave Brian the information and, after a quick moment of thought, he said he’d come right home.

We had a prayer together, then went to the temple – the perfect setting to make decisions about life and death and eternity.

I knew that families are eternal. I knew that mortality is not the end of life. And yet, I was filled with grief. It was as if I’d just been told I was carrying a child with a terminal illness, but he wasn’t even mine yet. And I was scared. I didn’t know if I was ready to leave the life I knew then.. abandon it all, and become mom to a child who would need so much help, and who had such an uncertain future.

Still, when Brian turned to me and said, “I think we should pursue this,” my heart leapt with joy.

So, we called our caseworker and gave her a list of questions we had. And then we went to visit our parents. We felt we should tell them about the offer, because we knew that whatever happened, we were never going to be the same. And we both wanted father’s blessings. We showed them the little boy with the angel eyes and explained that we didn’t know if he was ours.. But from that moment, all of our families were praying for a little boy whom the e-mail called “Patrick.”

That was Wednesday. Thursday, I sent a copy of our profile. Friday afternoon, as I on my lunch break with Brian, our case worker called my cell phone. The birth family had seen our profile and had chosen us to adopt their baby.

Now, we had a choice to make. Because we’d been selected, we could finally start filling in the gaps in the medical information we were getting. And boy, where there gaps! We called the baby’s caseworker, who referred us to the hospital social worker. Finally, we decided we needed to talk to doctors, and we needed to do it face to face.

I called my mom and told her to take my credit card and buy airplane tickets. Then, I went back to work, explained what had happened, and asked for a leave of absence. After that, we went to the adoption agency where we signed pre-placement paperwork required for us see the baby in the hospital.

Friday night, we tried to get ready. We booked a long-term stay hotel room. We faxed legal documents to Michigan. We make a shopping list of nursery items. And we tried to pack.

I packed my bags that night not knowing what exactly I was packing for. We still didn’t know enough to say if we could take care of this baby. We didn’t know if or when he’d be discharged. We didn’t know how long it would take before we’d be given permission to leave the state again.

And yet, Saturday morning as I sat on a plane to Detroit, 10 rows ahead of my husband, I felt a quiet, happy calm. If nothing else, I knew it would be ok.

We met Patrick, his family, and his doctor Saturday night. It wasn’t what we expected. Due to unforeseen problems, things were tense at the hospital when we arrived. We felt like we knew nothing at all about his condition when we heard the doctor’s account. His case was much more severe than we’d understood, but the immediate prognosis was better.

At last, they led us to his room. My first impression was of how small he was. He was SO tiny! Just a little ball with wires and tubes attached. Without them, you’d have never guessed there was anything wrong.

They let me hold him while we talked. He felt so small and fragile.

I thought that the moment I met my baby, or the moment I held him, that I’d know he was mine. But that isn’t what happened for me. There were too many questions, still and I’d have to wait for that confirmation.

Sunday, we arranged to spend the day with Patrick. The nurses were so kind to let us change his diapers and help with other aspects of his care. I sat for hours singing him lullabies and watching monitors and letting him sleep.

When we arrived, the nurses warned us that he had a reputation as a very irritable little boy. There was even a sign on his door warning not to wake him. He was famous for screaming hysterically if his sleep was interrupted. But that’s not the baby I met. He was just a sweet, tiny little boy who wanted to be held.

I remember singing to him: “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 voice choked on the words because I knew that right at that moment, Patrick didn’t have that. I couldn’t imagine how any little boy could go through all he’d need to go through alone.

That night, as we looked at pictures from the day, I came across one that showed just his face with a white background. I knew, when I saw that picture, that I loved him.. and I wanted to keep him.

Monday morning, we held a “family conference.” It was a business day so we finally had been able to confirm that there were doctors to take care of him at our hospital at home. Our insurance confirmed that he’d be covered. Brian needed to hop on a plane to go back to work. (He was running a conference that week.) So, knowing we had the resources to provide for his physical needs, we asked Patrick if he’d like to be a part of our family. I swear, he looked up at Brian and smiled.

The case worker rushed to the hospital and by 1, we’d signed paperwork, and I was on my way to the airport with my husband. I was staying behind to start a whole new life.

The next few weeks in Michigan are among the sweetest of my life. With nothing else to do but hold my new baby and learn to care for him, I virtually lived in the NICU. My mom came for a week and shared with me in Patrick’s first feeding, first bath, and first time wearing real clothes. This time was also some of the hardest I’d experienced as I received a trial by fire as a mom of a child with major health problems. Patrick had his second surgery the day Brian flew back to be with us.

Two weeks after we signed papers, on my birthday, the birth parents appeared in court, and we were named as Patrick’s legal guardians. A week later, we had permission to bring him home. At 4 a.m. Thanksgiving day, Patrick and I arrived at Primary Children’s Hospital by air ambulance. He’d spend the next few weeks there as the doctors here got to know him and made arrangements for us to take care of him at home.

Because of his medical needs, the courts granted an early finalization of his adoption and we were able to take Patrick to the temple to be sealed as a forever family in February when he was just 4 months old.

Patrick just turned 2. He is an active, happy toddler who loves cars and music and Elmo. He is a living miracle! Patrick’s birth defect came with a rare complication. As a result, at birth he was missing over 95% of his small intestine. Without intestine, he doesn’t get nutrition by eating. In fact, eating large amounts puts him at risk for dehydration and bowel obstruction. Instead, he is entirely dependent on a form of IV nutrition called TPN. He has a permanent IV tunneled through his chest, into a vein in his chest or neck that runs to his heart.

The TPN leads to complications like infection and liver disease. In his short 2 years of life he has already struggled with both. Patrick’s doctors warned us before we adopted him that we’d become such regulars in the E.R. that we’d be on a first name basis with the staff. We soon found that to be true not just for the E.R. staff, but also the IV team, the infectious disease team, the PICU team, most of the residents, several of the medical students, and the entire gastroenterology department.

At 9 months old, as a result of infection, Patrick’s heart stopped. The fact that he is alive now is nothing short of a miracle. No doctor who hears his story and then meets him can help but confess that he has beaten the odds in countless ways.

Patrick will eventually need an intestinal transplant. He is already running out of places to put new IV’s and each new infection makes him a little more fragile.

Since they don’t do intestinal transplants where we live, we have chosen to have Patrick listed at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Patrick has been on the waiting list since April of 2009. He is status 1A and will have his transplant is soon as a donor match is found.

People try to tell us sometimes what a tremendous thing we did in adopting Patrick. We don’t really feel it’s something we can take credit for. As we told our caseworker when this all started, Heavenly Father puts families together. He knew Patrick needed us. And what’s more, He knew we needed Patrick.

Raising Patrick has taught us more about life than any other experience. We have learned to rely entirely on the Lord. We have learned to live each moment to it’s fullest. We have learned to lean on one another when things are hard and we to trust in hands of friends and strangers when we felt too weak to stand on our own. And we have learned to love like we didn’t know it was possible to love.

Little Heroes

You’ve gotta see this story!

http://www.abc4.com/content/news/top_stories/story/Donor-transplant-brings-two-Utah-families-together/_A0j2PcCfEOkr4N_XWaMmw.cspx.

As you know, Patrick attends a weekly play and music group for children with a variety of health problems. One of my heroes from this group is a little girl named London, or as those who know her call her, Lulu.

Lulu had a liver transplant a year ago. When she first came to our play group, her mom immediately recognized Patrick’s TPN, having been on it herself when she was at her sickest. Lulu is one of the most vibrant, outgoing little girls that I’ve ever met. She and Patrick seemed to have an instant draw to each other.

One other thing they have in common is that Lulu’s family, like ours, is trying to raise awareness of the need for organ donors. Both of us have been active in working with Yes Utah, our local organ donation awareness organization, and in sharing our stories to help encourage people to sign up as donors.

Last night, Lulu’s story was featured on the evening news. A transcript of the story has been published here. (Just in case you didn’t click on the link at the top of this page.)

Please read it, and share it. And if you aren’t already registered, please consider registering as an organ donor.. and make sure your family knows of your desire to be an organ donor.

On another note, we never got a call yesterday inviting us to come up to X-ray, so that test will probably happen sometime next week. I’ll admit, I didn’t mind much. Patrick and I were both burned out from the previous two days and it was a rare treat to get to spend the day at home. Chris, his developmental specialist came to play. Patrick adores this man and LOVES their visits. Then his cousins stopped by for a short play time. And then, after dinner, we curled up on the beanbag movie and watched Cars.

I suppose that that’s only a partially true statement. Patrick was all over the room, but he returned regularly to cuddle with me or to tickle or to blow zrbbts on my tummy. This is the first time Patrick’s seen the movie Cars and, as I had predicted, he loved it. He’d return often to just sit with me and watch a scene or two. He got especially excited whenever Mater appeared on the screen.

And then, after Patrick was in bed, Brian finally made it home from Chicago. There is so much comfort just in having him here. And it was so nice to have extra hands when Patrick pulled his usual trick of picking his central line dressing off during the night so we had to change it first thing in the morning.

Today I’m proudly sporting a new Giordano’s t-shirt that Brian brought back for me. In case you don’t know, Giordano’s is the best Chicago-style pizza chain on the planet. And if I can’t have the food (Howie’s trying not to rub in the fact that he had Chicago-style pizza not just once, but twice this week), at least I can wear the schwag.

When the cat’s away, the mice will….

…Well, the idea was to play. This is the 2nd and last night that Brian will be away on business and I thought that, other than a Wednesday full of appointments, I had a pretty laid back schedule. So far, this past few days have been anything but laid back.

Wednesday morning, right after kissing Brian goodbye, I went to set out Patrick’s morning fluids. They weren’t cold. This was especially concerning as I’d been setting the fridge to colder and colder settings all week and there was snow on the ground outside.

So, as Brian was finishing up his last work before heading the airport, I was scrambling to shop for a new fridge. Thankfully, Patrick’s morning therapy appointment was cancelled which gave me just enough time to hit a few stores before his nap.

After his nap, we went to his monthly appointment with his GI at the hospital. All the news is good. Patrick is growing at a good rate right now… he’s still 50th percentile for weight… just above the target weight for his height. His liver is healthy. He’s about as stable as can be.

The only change we discussed was a change to his antibiotic regimen. Patrick takes oral antibiotics to help keep bacteria from accumulating in his stomach and gut. Only lately, it seems that he’s had more and more problems that lead to stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. So we switched around the medicines a little bit in the hopes that a new plan would make a difference, and then headed out.

We stopped at Sears on the way home to pick up the fridge that I’d picked out. You should have seen the look on the man’s face when I told him I wanted to put it in my car with my baby. Patrick wasn’t too excited about the idea either.

Still, we made it home and got the fridge up to his room and furniture and Patrick ready for bed.

We’d almost made it.. and then, as we were saying goodnight to Brian by video chat, Patrick stepped on the tube that was draining from his stomach and I heard a “pop”… and looked down to see that his button on the floor, the balloon that was supposed to hold it in still inflated.

Thankfully, my neighbor answered when I called and came quickly. It wasn’t easy, but we managed to get the button back in and Patrick comforted and into bed.

Thankfully, today was easier. Patrick and I managed to stay home the whole day with time to help my sister with a paper for school. But I got to talk to the GI clinic several times.

I started it. I called them to talk about how very difficult and painful placing buttons has been recently for Patrick. So first the nurse called back to find out more. Then Patrick’s dietitician called to talk to me about his TPN orders.

Apparently, as Patrick has had more and more stomach upset, and we’ve had to give more and more replacement fluids, his labs have been showing increased dehydration. They decided to try to make some changes to help him be more comfortable. They’re adding another half a liter of fluid to his TPN, plus some electrolytes so that we won’t have to give as much to catch up for what he loses.

Then, this evening, Patrick’s doctor called to talk. We reviewed the plan for hydration, and then he asked about the g-tube.

In the end of the conversation, we decided it was best to check to make sure that there isn’t a space between Patrick’s abdominal wall and his stomach making it hard to get a g-tube in. They’ll do that by taking out the tube, and then putting it back in filled with some contrast. This will let them see if there are any spaces or leaks to be concerned about.

We talked about doing this tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then sometime next week. The good news in the plan is that they’ve offered to give him a little bit of sedative to help him calm down and not remember the discomfort.

That’s a lot of changes in just a couple of days. Thankfully, I’ve had all the right help come at all the right times. Thank goodness for good friends, visiting teachers and family who’ve been there to help. And I’m sorry for those who may have called and gotten a frazzled forgetful me who couldn’t even think through all the details of this, let alone speak them.

Most of all, thank goodness for a good-natured, patient, loving little boy who has been incredibly cooperative and given hugs at all the right moments.

Brian may rethink his next business trip.

In the midst of miracles

This morning as I was laying in bed trying to convince my tired body to get out of bed to greet a happy 7 a.m. Patrick, I was contemplating on just how far my  munchkin has come. And all of a sudden I realized that I am living in the midst of miracles right now.

I am a VERY tired mother right now. By about 5 p.m. every day I just want to call it quits and go to bed because the work of taking care of a TPN-dependent, developmentally delayed toddler is exhausting! Patrick is a very active little boy right now. He’s on the brink of walking. He’s finally mastered the skills of carrying things from one room to another, of opening drawers and doors and emptying the contents found therein, and of putting things in places where I sometimes never find them again.

He’s bordering on two with the fully independent attitude that comes with that age – while simultaneously he’s finally getting the strength in his body to explore his world in ways he never has before. My good-natured patient boy has discovered tantrums. And he’s not afraid to use them to tell me when he doesn’t approve of me stopping some unintentionally self-destructive activity.

And, if the exploration weren’t dangerous enough, try attaching IV tubing to this strong-willed child! Even with a 10-foot extension, he manages to get himself wrapped in and around furniture. He knows no limits! If I leave a baby gate open for even a few minutes, you’ll find him at the top of the stairs grinning, waiting to run from me the second I come to catch him before he reaches the end of his line and gets yanked back down.

And this morning as I lay procrastinating getting out of bed I realized just what a miracle my total exhaustion is! This time last year, we’d just come home from the hospital. Patrick was thin and frail, not even able to roll over. Our current battles in physical therapy show that there should have been much more major consequences of his illness and arrest last summer. No one who hears his history ever expects to find normal looking boy smiling up at them.

But right now Patrick has been blessed with exactly what I’ve always wished for him… The strength of both body and spirit to not know boundaries. He may still be limited, but he doesn’t feel limited.

I take it for granted sometimes because they’ve been so common in our lives. But Patrick, Brian and I live in the midst of miracles each and every day. And we do so with full expectation that more miracles lie ahead.

“For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today and forever” 2 Nephi 27