Friday, February 4, 2011


Justin and Lane ~ a few days
before the hospital.

Justin and his true blue friend, elephant.

The cut and drain tubes.

Post op, in Moses Lake and on morphine the weekend before Spokane.


As the evening settled in, we were jolted into a few realizations.
Spokane is a lot farther away from our home, family and friends.
Having a private room in a hospital is a blessing. Sharing a room with a whiny, spoiled, not really sick (basic tonsillectomy early in the morning) four year old and his needy, inconvenienced parents made me seriously question if I had the strength to do this. (By do this, I mean NOT jerk the red headed brat bald headed). This may not be my most flattering post; the truth hurts, as they say. I was not happy, Justin was not happy; we cried.
The hospital staff was great in helping us get set up in a motel room; Darin had gone for the night. The sofa in the hospital made down into a pretty ok bed. Justin and I gave it our best shot to try and get sleep. Even the nurses, who I have never met a more patient group of people, were starting to have their fill of "Eric, our neighbor". They seriously called the nurses station more times than our monitors beeped. They even called when Justin's i.v. ran out and was beeping! One nurse, bless her heart, finally asked that they take the balloons out of the room so "Eric" would stop beating them on the ceiling. At about eleven, the staff asked "Eric's" dad if they wanted to go home; dad didn't think they had enough pain medicine to get through the night and he was really too tired to drive home; I thought to myself ***you can add your own part here***. The night ended, morning came, "Eric" and family were released and peace on Earth was felt throughout the halls.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Monday, Monday

Monday in the hospital starts off as busy as any other. Dr. Murray is in first, same speech. Dr. Hourigan is in a while later, he leaves with a " I will talk to you soon." I am too tired to read between the lines. Same routine with Justin, they bring in a tray for breakfast, we try to be excited but he wants nothing. They make him stand up and walk to the scale to weigh, no weight gain yet. A nurse comes in and asks if I can take a phone call at the desk, I am already confused, now what? Dr. Hourigan is on the line, he is apologizing for doing this over the phone but he has already consulted with Dr. Murray and with a pediatric surgeon in Spokane and wants us to prepare right away....
I am trying to focus on what he is saying but at the same time, I can hear Justin in the room, now he is getting louder, I put down the phone and tell the nurse to explain to Dr. Hourigan....
Back on the phone, he continues, we are not going home, Justin has to go to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Spokane, the ambulance is on the way. He asked when Darin will be here, he asks if I am ok, he then promises that this is the best thing for Justin. He will be with doctors and staff that have a lot of experience with this. He will be able to have a pic line put in for medication and nutrition. He has to get stronger, he is slipping by staying here.
I go back to the room and start making the phone calls, I hate to have to tell Darin. The next forty-five minutes are a whirlwind, I was packing, filling out papers for the hospital, answering calls. It seemed like all at the same time, the paramedics, Darin and my mom show up in the room. We are trying to sort things to go back to Royal, things for Darin to bring to Spokane for us and prepare Justin for the ambulance ride. I can't stop flying around the room, my mom gave me a hug, she was crying, I was numb. I couldn't start to cry, I knew it would be a complete melt-down, there wasn't time for that and Justin couldn't see that.
Justin is being strapped on to the gurney, he has blue elephant and my hand. Amazingly the ride went by quickly, not comfortable though. By the way, if you are ever bored, try holding the pee cup for a six year old boy strapped to a gurney in a moving ambulance going seventy + down the interstate.
We arrive in Spokane and try to find our way through the maze of halls and elevators and find Darin. Once in our room, it is another round of new i.v.'s, new bed, new hospital gown, new people. But best of all was our nurse, Tawnee. She made the difference in the chaos for Justin. She was tiny, quiet and spoke to Justin with pure love. He trusted her immediately.
It would be a long day of waiting. We felt like everyone was bustling around with something to do and someone to tend to and we were sitting in the corner watching. The staff was very helpful in talking to us about where we could stay, eating arrangements, parking; all the not-important stuff that makes the whole experience easier. We got to finally meet the doctor; she was very supportive in assuring us that Justin was on the right track, it was just going to be a long road. She stressed that looking at his information he was very lucky to be in the condition he was in now, everything had gone according to plan. Now, he needed a little help in fighting any infection that may be left and getting the criticial nutrition that he needed. Tomorrow would be a big day for Justin, he would get his pic line and another phase of this journey would start.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The First Week Comes to an End

The weekend is here, no signs we will be going home but no one is saying we won't be going home either. Justin's drain tubes will need to come out; he will be taken to surgery, put under anesthesia and those annoying 18" of tubing will be taken out. No wonder he hates to move and there can't be any room for food with all of that stuffed in him. Time is vague in a hospital, of course when it is time for Justin to go downstairs for surgery, Darin is not here yet. I know I can do this but I sure wish he was here. As we are wheeling Justin's bed into the elevator he begins to get agitated, he knows something big is about to happen. We hold hands all the time, I know it doesn't hurt him for me to squeeze his little paw. An anesthesiologist, a nurse, Justin, me, and a very long, empty hall. Justin has had a stuffed, blue elephant for years; he is here with us too. I don't know how much Justin understands when they are talking to us, but I know he can feel things. We squeeze harder, please let him be asleep before I leave......they say "this won't take very long, we will bring him back up to his room, you can wait there." How can I wait there if I am holding his hand here? They are pushing the bed away, Justin is reaching for me, my heart hurts, the doors swing close. I try to focus on the maze to get back to his room. Oh, thank you God, Darin is here.
They bring Justin back, he is still sedated and on morphine so the rest of the day is spent sleeping. I think he already looks better. Finally, progress!

The kids and family have made it through the week. Everyone has made it to school, homework done, practices made, food keeps appearing at our house and everyone seems to be doing ok. It is not easy for Justin's siblings to come visit; he is not himself, it is unsettling for all of us. The weekend is here, we are all waiting for good news from the doctors.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Long Week

Justin was starting to stay awake for longer periods of time. He was obviously uncomfortable. The incision was left open, a gauze pad covered it. The drain tubes were taped to his stomach. Everything hurt, the surgery had involved moving all his internal organs and flushing out as much infection as they could. The inflammation was everywhere. He had no appetite. He cried when the lab techs would come into the room, he yelled for me when the x-ray machine loomed in the doorway. He could not get up to use the bathroom. He was scared. He would ask for the pain medicine himself. He would turn his head to the side when people were in the room. He would stare blankly at the tv when the doctors would come in to talk to us. His mom or dad was always in the room with him, he was not getting better.
Dr. Murray, boots and all, came in to check the incision. It would be the first time we had seen it. We failed Justin in preparing him for the sight, we were not prepared ourselves. We cried as they were pulling the tape off, Justin was trying to push them away. At first we see the drain tubes coming out of his stomach, three 10"-12" tubes with clear, plastic bulbs on the end. A thick yellow/pink fluid filled the tubes. They would need to take out the gauze that was in the opening; I had pictured in my mind the small roll the dentist has you bite on when you get a tooth pulled, I was wrong. The gauze that was stuffed inside Justin looked like two pairs of rolled up tube socks. Dr. Murray is touching, peering and says "It looks really good." I do not believe the gaping slash in his stomach looks good. Justin looks down. Horrified, he yells at the doctor, "that's not good, YOU CUT ME!"
*Note to parents: six year olds do not know what the word "incision" means*
They would leave the wounds open to heal from the inside out, letting the infection escape. Through all of this, Justin would only have one stitch. After seeing this and without the gauze, Justin was more timid in his movements. The tubes were still in, three tubes 6"-8" each wrapped up inside of him, irritated and tugged with his every movement.
Dr. Murray, was directing us from the surgeon's standpoint. "Try to get Justin up more, have him sit in a chair, have him walk, get him to eat." Dr. Hourigan, was cautious from the family doctor standpoint. "Don't get your hopes up, we are not out of the woods, I am concerned about his weight loss, hang in there." We were still hoping to go home Sunday. Justin still did not have a fever; his white blood count was elevated but not spiking, he still showed signs of inflammation, he was still on morphine and he had no appetite.
Each day of that week was also filled with many visitors, calls, texts and scheduling shifts to go home for a shower, a few moments of quiet, and some much needed time with our kids. Lane continued to sleep with one of his sisters, Dani was keeping things running, and the grandma's were at our call for anything we needed. We would see the sadness on people's faces when they would visit Justin; I would listen to the beeping of the machines so I wouldn't break down during those times. Darin had to witness the saddest littlest visitor of all. Justin's buddy, Jett and his mom came to visit. Hospitals are intimidating to a lot of people, for wild, rambunctious boys they are haunting. Jett came in and like so many others was overcome by sadness, words escaped him. He held on to his mama, tears filled the room.