Monday, August 30, 2010

Breckenridge Stables (aka The Closest to Heaven Lou Can Imagine)

I know we've been back from vacation for a while, but I wanted to go ahead and post about the fun horseback riding adventure we had. All the fun we had kind of got lost in the aftermath of Bub's ordeal! So, I'm going to focus on the fun stuff we did!

We went Wednesday morning for a ride. Doc and I had to check in and the kids headed straight to the main event!

Everyone was assigned a horse and Tara was our wrangler! She was awesome and gave us a little history lesson on that area of Colorado as we rode.

Bub's horse was named Dewdrop. Lou's was named Eclipse. Doc and SG were on Captain and Ladybug and I brought up the rear on Pie.

The scenery was breathtaking!

I was thrilled for Lou Lou to live out her dream of riding a horse! She was SOOO excited!

When the ride was over, the kids went to visit the other horses.

SG surprised me with his bravery! He wasn't intimidated at all by the huge animals!

Of course Lou had the hardest time saying goodbye!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The New Normal. Again.

Life changes constantly. Schedules change. Kids grow. Hobbies develop. Tastes change.

And after each shift, there becomes a period of "normal". The normal routine. The normal facts of life.

I cannot stand the shifting part. I am not necessarily a person who must have routines but I don't like to feel insecure. If I could jump from one normal to the next without the figuring out part, I would be really happy.

We are smack dab in the middle of a figuring out part:

School started for Lou. Nothing new there, but a change none the less. We are still home schooling this year. But she is signed up for an outside class that meets 2 times a week starting next week.

School started for Bub. He's going to public Kindergarten. School starts at 8:30 and doesn't end until 3:57. Really?! They need THAT much time with my 5 year old. Ug. We had him going only a half day for the first couple of days (to make sure he didn't get worn out after last week). Today he pleaded with me to let him stay until after snack, which is practically at the end of the day anyway. I called his Dad and asked his opinion. We decided that we would let him stay the whole day. But I can't bear to let him ride the bus yet.

Next week he will start to ride. That means he will be gone from our house from around 8 until around 4:30. That is 8 and a half hours. For a kindergartener. Seriously. I told Doc last night that it seems like school is just for occupying our kids' time. I don't need someone to occupy him for that long. I don't mean occupy in the sense of keeping them busy and learning. I mean occupy as in "do something with my kid so I don't need to mess with him or worry about him." I like my son. I enjoy spending time with him. I miss him. It doesn't sit well with me.

Anyway, I totally digress.

The schedule shifting point is, we won't have all the pieces to our schedule in place til Bub starts riding the bus next week and Lou starts her class.

I also am dealing with the post traumatic bubble burst. My make believe bubble of "nothing bad has ever happened to my kids so it probably won't ever happen" has definitely burst. It is requiring a lot of trust on my part in the goodness of my Heavenly Father. Good thing He's trustworthy. I just have to constantly remind myself of that.

My brain feels all wonky. I feel discombobulated. And my house is a mess.

I seriously need some order in my life and another cup of coffee.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The What Ifs...

With Bub's hospitalization, I have had moments where I was haunted by the "What ifs"...

What if this had happened when we were on a mountain Monday or Tuesday?

What if it had been when we were horseback riding and he was on a horse by himself?

What if it had happened when I went for a jog and left my phone in the car and Doc was alone with the kids?

What if I had decided to get a massage that afternoon instead of stay and take a nap in their room?

What if Mom and Dad hadn't met Rebecca's husband while they were on vacation?

What if those people who helped us didn't take the time to do so?

The resounding answer to all of these "what ifs" is this...IT DIDN'T HAPPEN THAT WAY.

God had it under control from the beginning. He prepared our way and walked it before us. He was not caught off guard or shocked when Bub stopped breathing well and started turning blue on that living room floor. He knew how things would go down. He always knows. How freeing to know that whatever life brings, there are some constants. His love and provision for us is always there. Even when things don't go as planned. (Even if things hadn't turned out as well as they did.)

He is always there.

I know that He will be there today, with Bub, as he starts Kindergarten but my Mommy heart wishes I could stay there with him and sit next to him and make sure everything is alright.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh, How He Loves You and Me Part 2

This post has photos of Bub in the hospital. They are difficult to see and if it may bother you, you might not want to read this one. However, I want to remember every detail and this blog is my place to our store memories. So it is your choice to read or not...

If you didn't read part one, you can catch up here...

I told Rebecca goodbye and hopped in the SUV and headed to Denver. I called my Mom and thanked her for calling Rebecca. She had called my Aunt Susan who lives an hour and a half away and asked her to meet me at the hospital to help with the kids until Doc's parents got there. They had left Wichita that afternoon and drove straight to Denver.

I busied myself with making and receiving phone calls as I drove to Denver, I talked to my Dad, Birdie, our pastor's wife, my sister in law, and a friend through Birdie who lives in the area (who was sitting in her car when she called, ready to come to my side if needed.) I was overwhelmed with support and love. And convinced that God had our situation under control.
Doc called me and told me that the helicopter had landed safely and he was at the hospital with Bub in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (the PICU). They were hooking him up to an EEG which is a test where they put little electrodes on his head to monitor brain activity in order to make sure he wasn't having any more seizures.

I got to the hospital and met Doc outside the PICU. My Aunt and Uncle arrived about 5 minutes later. Doc and the crew went downstairs to get a bite to eat. I went into the PICU to see Bub. Nothing can prepare a Mommy's heart to see this...

He was sedated but periodically woke up and tried to get to the tubes in his mouth. His arms were in restraints so that he couldn't pull them out.

That was hands down the hardest part...when he woke up. The nurse would give him a bolus of one of the sedatives and he would fall back asleep. Our only consolation was that we knew he wouldn't remember any of it.

After Doc and the crew grabbed a bite, we left and went to a hotel where Doc had rented a room for the kids. We got the kids tucked in and my Aunt and Uncle stayed with them while I ran and got diapers and wipes at Walgreens.

It was so surreal. Doc and I had no idea why this had happened. And let me tell you, when Doc doesn't understand something like this, it makes me panic. He is a virtual dictionary of medicine. Through out the whole thing, even in the panicky moments, I had an inexplicable peace over all.

I hurried back to the hotel and soon after my Aunt and Uncle left to go home and my In-Laws arrived. I headed back to the hospital. I had packed a bag for Doc and me and had packed Bub's little Spiderman backpack full of the stuff he would need. I got out of the SUV and grabbed the bags and headed into the hospital. As I crossed the street, I thought to myself, "I should have grabbed my bag with my hair stuff in it. My hair feels gross and I really need a hair band." I took two steps and looked down. There was a blue hair band right there. I stooped and picked it up and it hit me like a ton of bricks...

God had this thing. Every. Little. Detail. Down to my stupid hair band. He would provide all our needs according to his riches in glory. He had been faithful up to that point and it took something so silly as a hair band to make me realize that God was in the DETAILS. His hand was over all this. Not that he made it happen or wanted it to happen but he provided what we needed to get through it. I made it to Bub's room and told Doc about the hair band. He smiled and teared up, shaking his head.

We made up the extra bed in the hospital room. I took the first 4 hour shift by Bub's bed and Doc took the second. I held his little hand and prayed and dozed off and on. We always made sure to hold his hand because as he would come out of sedation, his little fingers would twitch first. We knew it was coming and we would motion for the nurse to give him more sedation. Then we would calm him and help him keep his head on his pillow until the sedation kicked in. He would gag and look at us and tears would run out of the corners of his eyes and our hearts would break in a million pieces. But, we knew a couple, it had to be done for the EEG. And two, he was indicating he was having normal responses to the situation which was a very good thing. I would tell him to lay back down and he would shake his head "No". His nurse said, "He's feisty. Even under sedation. That's good." He even mouthed to Doc at one time, "I want Mommy." All we could do was comfort him in those moments and assure him we were there and he was safe.

The next morning around 5 am they came in and took off the EEG stuff. The test was completely normal. Another good sign.

The last test would be an MRI. We had to keep him sedated for another 5 and a half hours because the test wouldn't be done until 10:30. That did not please Doc. Especially when we found out that the patient before him in the MRI was there for an ankle injury. The MRI would check for masses or abnormalities. I went down with him while Doc returned the rental car. Bub's nurse Chip was such a comfort. He was seasoned, calm and funny. Just what we needed. Chip gave Bub a bolus of his medicine and they put him in the MRI machine. I sat in the room for 30 minutes pushing in my ear plugs to try to block more of the noisy test and watching back and forth between my little boy's legs (making sure he wasn't flinching and waking up) and the radiological tech and Chip's faces for any little sign of concern.

By the time the test was over, I was pretty confident that things were ok. They were joking and smiling. But I didn't ask them the results. They couldn't have told me anyway.

Doc met us back in the room after the MRI. They let him come out of sedation and he did quickly. And he wanted those tubes OUT. We were so relieved. All of us. He asked his Daddy, "Where am I?" Doc let him know that he had gotten sick and he was now at the hospital. He asked if he could go back to the cabin now. He also wanted to know why his throat was scratchy. And we explained that he had, had those tubes down there to help him breathe and that his voice would be back soon. Especially if he ate some popcicles.

He had oxygen on for a short while and he didn't even really need it. The neurologist, Dr. Parsons, was amazing. She came in and told us that the MRI was normal. She talked to us about what she thought had happened. She surmised that he had a perfect storm of Altitude Sickness, a bit of dehydration, over exertion, and maybe even a shortage of sleep caused some brain swelling that triggered the seizure. He had no signs of Epilepsy or any other problem that would indicate more seizures.

They kept Bub and monitored him over the next night. They also gave him an anti-seizure medicine called Keppra. Which we kept him on until we made it back to Wichita (we didn't want him to have another seizure on I-70 in the middle of nowhere). Then promptly tapered him off of quickly because he acted completely drunk when on it.

Chip was truly wonderful. He picked up on the things that were important to Bub. He got Bub a Star Wars character, coloring book, crayons, and a Lego kit to put together. What a guy! He was also the most amazing patient advocate!

Here's some shots of the hospital. It was an amazing place and Doc and I felt confident that if things had taken a turn for the worst, we were at the very best place possible!

One of our nurses even found a pillowcase that was bright and cheerful for Bub. It was his favorite colors (orange and green) and had monkeys on it. He kept saying he was a "monkey lemur" while he was climbing the mountains. So it was perfect. See what I mean. There was nothing random about our experience. It was just what he needed.

When it was time to be released, Bub was goofy from the Keppra but completely happy to go home. He had been crying for his siblings that morning.

We escorted him out of the hospital in a wagon.

I rode with him in the back seat all the way home. His memory was all there but everything was a tick s-l-o-w. By Saturday, we were convinced that we needed to get him off the medicine. Even with a half dose, he couldn't walk a straight line and was completely goofy. By Saturday evening, he was MUCH better. And by Sunday morning he was asking to go to church and wanted to go swimming that afternoon.

He is sleeping in our room, not that we expect him to seize again, but it makes both Doc and I feel a little better. And he's supposed to start all day kindergarten tomorrow. Both of us are nervous about that. We are going to pick him up early this week and have him only go half a day for the first week. I don't like the idea of sending my kid to school with a "seizure action plan" but if God walked with us this far, he will be faithful from here on out. No reason not to trust him.

God is good. If you don't know him, please ask me, phone me, text me, email me, message me, facebook me or talk to someone else that knows Him. Seriously. He loves you and wants you to know him intimately. He's awesome. And life with Him will not magically become perfect but you won't have to do it alone. He is always there.

If you are already in "the family," please make yourself available to be God's hands and feet in this world, like so many people did for us. We can love each other and be His love to those who don't know him. What a privilege to give and receive that love.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oh, How He Loves You and Me

As some of you know, our vacation to Colorado did not end as planned. Our sweet boy, Bub, ended up really sick and in the hospital in Denver. But let me start at the beginning...

We left Kansas on Saturday morning and made it to Denver that evening. We stayed a night in Denver (to help us flat landers get acclimated to the altitude) and then went on the next day to ride the Georgetown Loop train...

and then on to Breckenridge, Colorado where we had rented a cabin. It was a beautiful place to stay with rocks for climbing, paths for hiking down to a creek. It was close to town but felt secluded. We couldn't have asked for more.

Monday, during the morning, I went for a LONG run. Hoping to relax and let go of some of the tension that comes with a 12 hour car ride with 4 kids. Doc graciously took care of the kids!

Then, that afternoon, we went hiking. We intended to go to Boreas Pass but missed the turn and ended up hiking at the Hoosier Pass at the Continental Divide.

Bub was in his element. He ran ahead, never getting out of breath.

The next morning we got up and headed here...

We climbed this mountain. See the tallest rock peak...

this would be Bub on the top of that rock peak. He was a wild man! Just completely in his element!

Here he is resting on a rock waiting for the rest of us to catch up!

We were so proud of him! High fives flew and it felt good to reach a goal of making it to the top of the mountain as a family!

The next morning, on Wednesday, we went horseback riding. It was Lou's dream come true!

It was Bub's first time riding and spent half the trail ride being led. Then he told the wrangler that he wanted to do it himself. He could not have been happier!

When we got finished with the trail ride, we went home, changed into some shorts as the day had gotten warmer and I made some lunch. We ate and Bub begged his Dad to go to Wal-Mart and buy some camping equipment so they could spend, "just one night camping and hiking". We laughed and told him not right now and marveled at his stamina. The rest of us were exhausted! He sat down on the couch and played Sonic Rush on his Nintendo DS for a few minutes until I told him it was time to go upstairs and take a nap.

Doc asked me if I wanted to go get a massage in Breckenridge. Now normally, I would have jumped at that opportunity! But for some reason, I told him, "I think I want to take a nap. That sounds more decadent to me today!" I gathered the kids and ushered them upstairs. The boys had gone through their clothes and made a huge mess. I picked up and folded all the clothes and put them back in their suitcases and only left out their pj's for that night. Then I tucked them in and decided that I would lay down and nap in the boys' room which is totally out of character for me. If I'm going to take a nap, I'm going to go AWAY from the kids! But for whatever reason, I felt kind of compelled to lay down in there and make sure they took a good nap! Doc even came up and offered to rest in there and I told him that I would stay in there and I sent him downstairs.

The boys and I drifted off and a while later, Bub stirred on the top bunk and woke me up. He said, "Mom, I need to go to the bathroom." I said, "Ok, Bub" and he came towards me at the end of the bed. He said, "Get out of the way, SG." Who was soundly sleeping in bed and I said, "Bub, come here. SG's not in your way." Then he kind of leaned off the end of the bed and into my arms not even attempting to climb down the stairs. I stood him up and got him headed down the hall towards the bathroom. He saw the plant in the hall and jumped up against the wall like he saw a ghost. Then his eyes diverted to the right and I thought to myself, "He's sleepwalking!" So I helped him move into the bathroom and his eyes stayed focused out of the right corner of his eye. He started to kind of choke and gag a little and I said, "Bub, are you going to throw up?" He told me, "Just a minute, Mom, the bugs, the bugs are coming." I thought he meant he was having tickles in his throat, so I sat him down on the bathroom floor and called up Doc who was at the bottom of the stairs on the couch. When Doc made it up the stairs, we turned our attention back to Bub whose tongue was going wildly around his mouth.

Doc tried to talk to him and he didn't respond. So we (still thinking he was asleep) brought him back into the bedroom and Doc tried to rouse him awake. At this point we knew something was wrong. Doc picked him up and brought him downstairs and I started to look for the address of an acute care center. Then Doc said, "Go load up the other kids, we've got to get him seen." So I ran upstairs and got Lou and told her to get Ladybug up and ready to go. Then I heard Doc yell that Bub was throwing up. So I ran downstairs and Doc said, "He's seizing and he's not breathing well. We need to call 911." His breathing was irratic and I watched my husband check my son's pulse and try to rouse him by rubbing his knuckles on his breast bone. There was no response.

I had 911 on the phone and sat down and put Bub's head in my lap. Doc thought maybe he was hypoglycemic and put some sugar in the side of his mouth. For just a moment, he came to, looked at me in the eyes and I asked him if he saw me. He said, "uh huh". Then his eyes rolled back to the side and he was gone again.

The ambulance and fire truck got there quickly. I happened to remember the address because there was a carved sign with the house number outside. 225. The street was "Protector Place." I don't have to point out the irony there.

We stripped his clothes off because they were covered in vomit. The paramedics and firemen came down the stairs and one of them said, "It looks like altitude sickness." They put oxygen on him and scooped him up and carried him up the stairs and put him in the ambulance. I handed Doc the pj's I had laid out for Bub before nap and he hopped into the front of the ambulance. There were 3 guys in the back working on Bub. He ended up seizing in the ambulance. Then they gave him some valium to stopped the seizing but it didn't work to bring him out of it.

Meanwhile, at the cabin, a fireman gave me a map to the hospital where Bub was headed. I called to Lou who had witnessed the whole thing from the top of the stairs. We started gathering things we needed and getting the littles dressed to go to the hospital in Frisco. I called my father in law and told him what was going on and asked him to pray. Then I called Pop. He was in Chicago getting ready to board a plane. I asked him to pray, too. We loaded the littles in the SUV and took off down the mountain towards the hospital.

I got a hold of my Mom and filled her in. She said that when they were on vacation the month before in Breckenridge, there was a pastor who lived in Frisco that they met. She asked if she could call him and see if he and his wife could help us at the hospital. I agreed. Then Doc called. He told me that they were going to fly Bub to Denver to the Children's Hospital there in a Life Flight Helicopter.

We rolled into the parking lot and I went into the ER area. The receptionists were amazing. They got my kids stickers and got them settled into the waiting room and found them some cartoons to watch. And then I saw Doc. He came out of the back and told me that they were getting ready to intubate Bub and he couldn't stand to be back there. Bub was sedated by this time, thank the Lord. I went and held his little hand and watched the ER doc put a tube down my little boy's throat and hook him up to a machine that breathed for him. Doc came back in. He had already arranged to rent a car to drive to Denver. We couldn't go with Bub in the helicopter. The staff at the Frisco Hospital was awesome. There was an employee who was going to Denver that offered to drive Doc all the way to the Children's Hospital but he asked her to drop him at the car rental place...I don't think she could have driven fast enough. The ER doc ordered a CT scan and doc left before the results came back because he knew it was an hour and a half drive. And only a 45 minute flight.

I stood in the hall waiting for the CT scan to get done. A chaplain came and asked me if we were people of faith. I nodded and she asked if she could pray with me. I nodded again. She was finishing up her prayer when my cell phone rang. I answered it and the sweet voice on the line said, "DW, this is Rebecca. Your mom called me and told me you were here in Frisco at the hospital. I have a word for you, I don't know why but I'm supposed to tell you that everything is going to be ok and our Father has walked this before you. I'm at work but I can leave. What do you need?" I asked her to meet me at the hospital and help me with the kids and then help me pack up the cabin so we could go to Denver. She said, "I'm your girl. I'll meet you there."

Bub came out of the CT scan and the scan was completely normal. I stood by his head and stroked his hair and prayed and prayed and prayed. The flight crew said it was time to go to Denver. I kissed his head and headed out to the waiting room to gather the kids. I came around the corner and saw Rebecca sitting with my kids. She met me with a big hug!

We jumped back in our cars and headed to the cabin. I was overwhelmed walking back into the cabin. Rebecca and Lou headed upstairs to pack the kids' stuff. (Remember, I had just packed up the boys' suitcases before all this happened so she literally had to zip up the suitcases in there and get their stuff that they sleep with off the beds. What a blessing!) I cleaned up the mess from earlier as best as I could and called the property manager to tell her what had happened. I told her to have the carpet cleaned and send us the bill. She was gracious and told me to do what I needed to do! So Rebecca, Lou, and I packed everything up and loaded the SUV.

Rebecca gave me a hug and encouraged me. She said, "Family is family." See, we were sisters even though we didn't know each other before that day. We have the same Father God. I told her, "Thank you for being my sister!" The thing is, I know that she was obedient to Him that day. My Mom called her and caught her off guard. She could have said, "Sorry, I'm working." She could have written it off and gone on about her day. But she didn't. She loved me with the love of Jesus. And allowed herself to be the tool that God used to provide me what I needed that day.

Let me tell you something... God loves me and he loves you. Not in that far off, impersonal way but in a VERY personal and relational way. He wants to hang with you, talk to you, provide you with what you need and most of all the God of the Universe wants to LOVE ON YOU and wants to be LOVED BY YOU. I have never been more convinced that he has a plan and a direction for my life than I am right now. And the same is true for you.

Because blogger doesn't like my huge post, I'm going to make this story into a couple posts. But trust will see what I'm talking about. He walked before us in all of this and provided us exactly what we needed to get us through.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who Am I And What Have I Done With Myself?

In the last 48 hours, I...
1. went running. In the rain. And enjoyed it. Even though it felt like I had asthma because the elevation is so much higher than Kansas. I did not use the rain as an excuse not to go. Doc even asked me why I wasn't relaxed and the words that fell out of my mouth were, "I think I just need to go for a run."

2. mountain hiked on the Continental Divide at Hoosier Pass. I carried one of my two littlest children off and on, on my shoulders part of the way and I actually enjoyed the adventure.

3. mountain hiked, a second time, this we reached the peak of one of the mountains at Boreas Pass. Again, I carried one of my two smallest children on my shoulders part of the way up. And had fun doing it!

P.S. It's really windy at the top of mountains.

4. peed in the woods.

5. ate waaaaaay too much home made butter pecan ice cream to reward myself for 1, 2, and 3.

(The butter pecan was good but Bub made the choice of the day of Funfetti Birthday Cake Ice Cream. I have found a new culinary challenge. How do I make this wonderous stuff at home?)

Anyway, as I thought about our last couple of days, all I could think was, "What in the heck happened to me?" I don't even know who I am anymore...but I think the old me is proud.

Except that peeing in the woods thing. I'm not proud of that. But there was no. other. option.

Colorado is breath taking and feeling strong enough to tackle it is awesome!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Story Telling Blocks

We are going on vacation to Colorado next week and in anticipation of the LLOOOOONNNGGG drive, I have been trying to come up with fun activities for the kids to do in the car. I came across this post and decided to make my own. (PLEASE don't compare her's to mine. I didn't want to spend days on this, so I did my best to draw pictures that my children would at least recognize. I did not go for artistic points!)

The other easy way to make these is to cut out pictures from magazines and decoupage them on the blocks. (Family Fun is a good magazine to try!)

I'm going to toss them in a couple little bags and we'll be ready to play!

It is a really easy game... you pull a block out of a bag, roll the cube and begin a story that includes the subject that landed face up. Stick the block back in the bag and pass it to the next person who does the same thing only adds onto the story that was already begun by the first storyteller.

The story possibilities should be as endless as your child's imagination! Not only that, it is super inexpensive. The 1" blocks came in a package of 13 at Michael's and it only cost $2.99!