"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's Been a Rough One...

Life has been... hard... the last couple of weeks. Tiring. Stressful. Frustrating. Hectic. Busy. Not fun. I have been waiting to jot any of it down into a blog post because if I would have tried to write this at any point in the last two weeks, I wouldn't have had a positive way to wrap up the entry. Now... I feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel again.

I'm going to put our life in a timeline -- daily bullet points. Be prepared... this is rather lengthy. But I write this blog not only for the outside readers, but also as a diary for myself. A keepsake to read years down the road. So here goes...

It all started with...

*Wednesday July 6 -- Jaden has finished one round of antibiotics and is still coughing horribly. His fever continues to come and go. He is always cranky, often crying, refusing to eat even his favorite foods and not sleeping well. We take him into his pediatrician for a 3:30 appointment. In one hour in her office his temperature goes from 99 to 100, and his chest doesn't sound good. After sending us on our way with a nebulizer machine and instructions to do breathing treatments every four hours for a week -- we are also instructed to head to the hospital and get a chest x-ray. We are told we will be waiting no longer than 30 minutes for the results as it has been listed as top priority. They do the x-ray at 5:30, and at 6:30 we still don't have results, and the doctor on call to read us the results has not responded to three attempts at contacting him. At this point Jaden has been sitting in doctor's waiting rooms for three hours with a fever, not feeling good and no food to eat. Torture. I finally left -- telling the nurse at the desk that I couldn't make my sick son wait any longer and that the doctor could call me with the results. Three hours later we got a phone call from the doctor apologizing that he didn't have his pager charged (comforting) -- and that Jaden does indeed have pneumonia.

*Thursday July 7 -- Cody calls me at work in the afternoon telling me he took himself to the doctor. (He had not been feeling "right" for a couple of weeks and it was definitely getting worse). They did blood tests, and the results that they gave Cody right away was that something was definitely wrong with his pancreas. They told him to come back the next day to meet with his regular doctor and to do more tests. I of course immediately start researching the pancreas and problems that can occur and start freaking myself out. (At this point my dad tries to tell me "do not put the cart in front of the horse.")

*Friday July 8 -- I attend Cody's scheduled doctor's appointment with him. The doctor asks him all of his symptoms, draws us a very sketchy diagram and explains to us how the gallbladder, kidney, pancreas, liver, etc. all function and how a problem in one can cause problems in others. He rules out some things based on Cody's blood work, orders a repeat to the blood tests already performed -- and a CT scan. At this point the doctor tells me that as Cody's wife I will not be going back to work that day and that I need to inform my boss. Comforting. Especially when my research the day before spoke a lot about pancreatic cancer, and our doctor has just ordered a CT scan because he wants to check for tumors/masses. We head to Sartrori Hospital and wait for the CT scan when Cody receives a call from the doctor that his second round of blood work shows horrible enzyme levels from his pancreas. One number that is supposed to read at around 400 was at 4,000. Yikes. I don't have a clue what that means, but I know it can't be good. He also tells us that regardless of what the CT scan shows, Cody will immediately be admitted to the hospital. Cody does the CT scan, and before we can hear the results we have to take him to Covenant to be admitted. While in the car, his doctor calls and gives us the first piece of good news -- no masses/tumors showed up on the CT scan. At this point they are diagnosing Cody with pancreatitis. A fixable illness, but something that can become incredibly serious if not dealt with in a timely manner. Cody gets admitted Friday night with the orders that he is not allowed to eat or drink anything for a couple of days to give his pancreas time to settle down. We also are told that we will get to see a GI specialist. They did an ultrasound Friday night to check for stones in that area. They put him on an IV filled with fluids, and there he sat. (Or laid).

*Saturday July 9 -- Results of the ultrasound show no stones at all. It is now a complete mystery as to why Cody has pancreatitis. He is not an alcoholic, his cholesterol levels are good, there are no masses and no stones. The doctors continue to ask us if he drinks a lot and we continually tell them that is not an issue. At all. So they decide to start Cody on a soft diet Saturday afternoon and by Saturday night are giving him complete meals. We questioned this, but they insisted. And being as how they are the doctors... I trusted them.

*Sunday July 10 (they day we were supposed to leave on a mini family vacation) -- Deanne (Cody's mom) has spoken to her cousin who had pancreatitis and was hospitalized for a couple of months since it was not taken care of the first time he had it checked. We speak with the doctor about this, and we ask again to see a specialist (that they have not let us see yet). The doctor on Sunday assures us that a specialist is not needed, there's nothing he would do that the doctor hadn't already done, that he will make us an out patient appointment with the specialist in a couple of weeks -- and discharges Cody. At this point Cody's enzyme levels are better (he hadn't really been eating so things had settled down) -- but they still aren't normal.

*Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday -- Cody continue to feels horrible, and it's getting worse.

*Tuesday July 12 -- That evening after putting the boys to bed, Cody's pain is so bad that it is radiating from the pancreatic area up to his chest and down his left arm. He is short of breath and can barely function. He drives himself to the ER at 9:30 that night, and I arrive shortly after once my mom got to our house to stay with the boys. They immediately do an EKG to check his heart, which was good thank goodness. They start him on an IV again, check his blood and once again find that his pancreas is not doing well. At 1:00 in the morning he is once again admitted to the hospital.

*Wednesday July 13 -- A new doctor comes to visit him, tells Cody that he is back on a no foods/no liquids diet, and that they need to take things much slower this time. He tells him to expect at least two-three days in the hospital on an IV. By this point, we are incredibly frustrated and want answers.

*Thursday July 14 -- Another new doctor shows up, apologizes to Cody that things weren't handled correctly the first time around and promises to get the ball rolling. She schedules a gallbladder function test for him later that day. This test is to show them if the gallbladder is actually doing what it's supposed to do or not. They do the test, get the results and find out that Cody's gallbladder is only functioning at 9%. We are told the surgeon and specialist will be in later that evening to meet with us and that Cody's gallbladder will most likely be taken out on Friday. The surgeon and specialist (finally we get to meet an actual specialist) show up Thursday evening and inform us that there's one more test they want to run before committing to take the gallbladder out. This test requires them to put Cody slightly under and insert a scope down his throat to make sure there aren't other problems that an ultrasound/CT scan can't see. Again we are frustrated as to why all of these tests weren't done in the first place.

*Friday July 15 -- I leave work early to arrive in time for the scope test that was scheduled to begin at 5:00 in the evening. While we are sitting there waiting I get a phone call from daycare that Brandon is wheezing really badly. I call my mom who picks him up from daycare and immediately takes him to convenient care. Jaden was finally back to his normal self, and now I have another child needing a chest x-ray. I was tired, frustrated and asking... "what next?" The scope test reveals nothing except what we already knew -- everything inside Cody is badly inflamed and the gall bladder needs to come out. We are told we will be meeting with the surgeon Friday night/Saturday morning. Brandon's chest x-rays don't show pneumonia but he is put on antibiotics for bronchitis.

*Saturday July 16 -- The surgeon shows up very early in the morning and tells Cody that they won't be performing the surgery until Monday or Tuesday because things are so bad inside of him that doing the surgery over the weekend could cause horrible infection. They want to give it more time to settle down and continue checking his pancreatic enzyme levels. Hearing that we had to wait another three/four days for surgery broke our spirit... especially Cody's.

*Sunday July 17 -- Nothing new except an improvement in his enzyme levels. Sunday night the surgeon shows up and tells Cody he is on the surgical schedule for noon on Monday and that if all goes well he will get released on Tuesday.

*Monday July 18 -- Finally surgery day. It's weird to be excited about surgery, but we were so ready to do this because we had believed all along based on family history that this is what needed to happen to make him feel better. The surgery was scheduled for noon, but we sat in the pre-op room from 11:30 to 1:30 before they finally came to take him in. The surgery was a success, and they did not find anything surprising -- just a really bad gallbladder. Cody woke up in some pain, but can immediately tell the difference after having the surgery. The areas inside him that had been uncomfortable and painful for so long... don't hurt anymore. This was wonderful news to hear from him. We are assured that discharge should be Tuesday.

*Tuesday July 19 -- Cody still continues to feel better than he has in a long time. His biggest problem now is that they haven't been giving him the right allergy medicine that he is use to taking at home so he can barely breathe because he is so stuffed up! The doctor and surgeon have come in and given him the okay to go home. It has been a long journey, and it will continue to take a while for everything to return to normal. They have warned Cody that pancreatitis is something that takes a while to recover from, and Cody has hardly eaten for a week and a half so he will need some time to recover... but at least we're on our way up instead of down. He has been told he can go back to work in a supervisor role on Thursday and return to landscaping duties on Monday. He is able to lift the boys, as his incisions are so small that there is no real weight restriction.

We could not have gotten through the last couple of weeks without our family. I was pulled in so many different directions, and I might have buckled under the circumstances if our parents and friends hadn't been there to provide daycare, meals, grass cutting, conversations of reassurance and overall support. I was always on the go -- back and forth between daycare, work, home, the hospital and anywhere else I needed to be. But our family was just as busy as I was -- busy taking care of us, and we are lucky we have them. There have been a lot of hours spent sitting within white walls of a very small hospital room waiting for doctors to show up who can never say when they're actually going to show up. We have come out of this with our sanity intact and have already found some silver linings. I truly believe we are put through times like this to teach us something. It was an extreme way to teach us some valuable lessons, but sometimes God has to beat our heads against brick walls to make us wake up, open our eyes and see things the right way. We have already had discussions about some lifestyle changes that if they weren't being made now, could have caused even worse circumstances down the road. I have a brand new appreciation and compassion for single moms. I am more patient with my kids than I was two weeks ago. The curtain and curtain rod in my bedroom falling in a pile on my bedroom floor because the boys were getting too rowdy just didn't seem like that much of an inconvenience. We have learned to be proactive when dealing with doctors -- to push for what we know is right and to demand answers. Hopefully it will be a long time before I have to advocate for my family in a hospital setting again, but it will undoubtedly happen at some point. Now I know what I need to do when that time comes. I have gained more confidence in my mothering skills than I ever used to have. And my faith is stronger now -- not because He healed Cody -- but because he sustained us through this. It seemed only fitting that this song was on the radio this morning when I drove to work this morning...

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things...

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe...

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You're near
And what if the trials of this life...
Are Your mercies in disguise?

And what if trials of this life -
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Thanks to all who prayed, left comments on Facebook, approached me at church to ask how we were holding up, sent texts and emails... and offered any kind of help you thought you could provide. We have an awesome family, and we live in a pretty kick-butt community, too. :)