Monday, January 21, 2013

Carter's Tale

I am so enjoying a quiet Sunday here in my lab. Remarkable how much more peaceful and reverent being at work can be than at church at times--though of course each has their place. Reading the lessons over I felt inspired to record the spiritual side to what happened with my little Carter almost 2 months ago now. If you aren't a facebook friend, you may not know the rest of the story, so I will tell that here as well.

It was a Tuesday afternoon and Carter was home from school because he was raspy and couldn't speak loudly at all. We went to Costco that morning and he reached a point where he was annoying me again so I felt he was getting better. He had had a fever over the weekend and had the same larynigitis symptoms for a few days. The fever had broken he was getting energy back so I thought the worst was over. But the laryngitis and dry cough persisted. That afternoon I was steaming him and taking him out in the cold air to relieve some of the symptoms and in trying to get the cough moving, he even rode his bike. I felt like he sounded croupy, but I looked it up that day and it was unusual for a 7 year old and the WebMD link even said he shouldn't need to be seen by a doctor. Yet his breathing was sounding more labored and when I noticed he was retracting, I called and made an appointment for him. A little while later he had a panic moment when he couldn't breathe well and I freaked out and was ready to take him to the InstaCare which was closer. Lowell got home just then and said he did that the night before as well and he could get him to calm down and breathe. He did so and then I needed to leave for a dentist appt I had already cancelled once. Lowell said he was fine and I could take him when I got back. I left and by the time I left the dentist Lowell was calling to say to meet him at the ER.

That moment my heart dropped, but I still did not expect the seriousness of the situation. Lowell said nothing more than to meet him there and an ambulance had Carter. There wasn't even time to say a prayer I just raced to the ER which was only about 5 minutes from where I was. I beat the ambulance there and spent a couple anxious minutes alone and worried. The registration gal asked if he was the one Life Flight was coming for and I said no, and she said Not that you know of. That was the first indication things were worse than I thought. The next is a memory I won't be able to ever shake--the ambulance pulled up and I could just see that it was my Carter coming out on a bed, floppy and being bagged for ventilation. What had happened in the 30 minutes since I had seen him last!? Lowell filled me in later that they were just watching TV Lowell staying close by (thank goodness, Carter couldn't speak at all when he went into respiratory distress so if he had been alone he would have passed out, stopped breathing, and died. That's the harsh reality of it. Reason #1 why my sick kids get to stay close to me forever after). Carter started to panic again that he couldn't breathe and Lowell took him to the bathroom to steam him. He said shortly after he saw Carter's color changing, first his gums went gray and then his face blue. He wasn't getting enough air. Then c went floppy and passed out. Lowell picked him up and he had stopped breathing entirely. His airway had just closed off. Lowell said he could still feel a heartbeat but it was slowing. (So many blessings on my sweet honey's head--it's scary for me to even write now, how tough this must have been to experience. He will tell you as I will though, that we were not alone through any of this. He said he felt support from the moment Carter's breathing decreased). That is the moment Lowell said was scariest for him, carrying his not breathing 7 year old son. He grabbed his cell phone and called 911 carrying Carter to our living room. He put him on the floor and felt to smack him on the chest. He doesn't know why, but it worked to get Carter breathing shallowly again. With direction from the 911 operator Lowell gave Carter a few rescue breaths. The emergency response was very quick. A police officer arrived within a couple minutes, having been just a couple blocks away. He walked into the house and saw Lowell immediately and brought in a few medical implements he had, mask I think, etc. Just a couple minutes later the ambulance arrived and the officer just picked Carter up and rushed him out the door. They asked Lowell if he was coming and in the few seconds it took to tell them Claire was napping and them to say they would find her a sitter--the ambulance just left. Carter was in such a critical state they couldn't wait even a couple seconds and left with sirens blaring, something also unusual. A few neighbors mentioned that was what made them worry as they usually turn the sirens on after they leave the street. One neighbor saw them running Carter out, gray-blue and completely limp. That's a memory I am glad I don't have. Carter was born blue as well--he had to be intubated at birth being 6 weeks early--but behind my C-section curtain I didn't see that either. 2 memories Lowell has that thankfully I do not. I still have the one from the ER though.
   After they took him into the ER I could see what else must have happened in the ambulance. They intubated him and put in an IO (like an IV but drilled (!) into the bone). The IO scared me more than the intubation--I knew of them from the ER at my hospital and that they are put in only in extreme circumstances when they must get fluids or medications into the body and don't want to wait to get an IV placed. It is an extreme measure used when it is life or death. But this was my son on the edge of life or death. I had a moment of frozen panic looking at that IO, at Carter limp on the bed, while probably 7-8 people rushed around doing this or that. I had my quiet panic moment, and then it was gone.
   After that moment I was not alone. Lowell wouldn't arrive for 5-10 minutes yet but I could feel the physical and emotional support. It was a palpable feeling. Even in the rush of the moment, I knew the Lord was with me. Not in person you know, but through other means I have no question that I was not alone. I keep hearing that idea presented in music and I can testify that it is true. The Lord will not leave us alone in our darkest hour. When we need Him, he is there. I didn't even have time for a prayer. It was early enough that not many people knew enough to also pray (although so many did as they knew). I felt of those prayers but in this moment I knew that the Lord loves me personally for He did not leave me there helpless. I had a few people ask if I needed something or wanted to sit down but I didn't need to. I had the support I needed already. I was given the things I needed to say--when his fever hit and broke, what medications he had had, doses and timing (specifics I am sure my frazzled mind would not have been able to recall). I was able to listen to the things they were discussing, how hypoxic he was when the picked him up, that they were able to intubate okay (otherwise they would have had to trach him!), the discussion on if he had choked on a jelly bean--he had some in his pocket but hadn't been eating them, if he had choked on a hot dog--he vomited some in the ambulance but ate it hours earlier. This was such a strange and unusual case of croup, it was hard for them to wrap their heads around it.
One of the greatest blessings I had in that moment and the ones to come, was in knowing what to say to Carter and how to comfort him. To anticipate his needs. With a tube in his throat he could not speak at all, not make a sound but I was given to know what to say to him, how to explain procedures so he wouldn't be scared and how I could help him. As a frazzled mess I would be no use to him so I am so grateful for that help. Another blessing is that Carter does not recall this day at all. He has no memory from "falling asleep" to waking up on the ventilator in the hospital the next morning. Small miracles. I was able to help them find a vein and get an IV running. They taped the ventilator tube in place, got him cleaned up and drugged up. He was fighting and gagging on the vent tube. They gave him more and more sedatives as that tube was the only way he could breathe. He is quite the fighter, I can tell you that. His father and grandfather also require a lot of sedation to take down. And then the LifeFlight crew took him, just as the registration gal had warned. Even in the ER I did not suspect this would be the case. I didn't realize he was headed to the ICU at Primary's. They were very kind to me though, let me walk out with him and kiss him before they left. I wish Carter remembered just that part--a cool (expensive) trip.

The next part was the second hardest part of the day for me. I could not see him so I did not know for sure what was happening. I felt so much comfort and a calm reassurance that everything was ok. My mind raced places like that his heart stopped beating in the helicopter and they were doing CPR right then, but then I would feel calm that it was going to be ok. I wondered about how long he went without oxygen and if he would have any permanent neurological defects but again, peace. Don't get me wrong, I was still anxious. I just wanted to run into the hospital and see my boy not go through security and the maze it took to find him. Then I had to wait while they took xrays and saw that he was awake and somewhat aware. I just needed him to know I was there. It didn't take too long and I was with him again. Again (and again) I was given what I needed to tell the doctors and nurses so they could do their job. There were a lot of questions, most repeated many times. But I was holding his hand and able to know what he needed. Before long he was being silly in his own drugged out way. He lifted his eyebrows to flirt with my sister and tease his dad. Within a few hours he was playing Skylanders on the Ipad, still on a venitlator and heavily drugged. Again thankful for small miracles because in those moments, I knew that what I had felt was true. Carter was going to be ok. His mind was completely intact and he would make a full recovery.
We had a few more rough moments that night--the vent tube was very uncomfortable for Carter. He already had a sore throat from the illness (confirmed to be Parainfluenza, the most common cause of croup), and then they had to force the tube in past his swollen closed trachea. All the fluid they pulled from his lungs was blood streaked. There was a moment when he became really agitated with the tube and that was hard, but then they gave him morphine for the pain and versed to keep him calm and he slept pretty restfully the rest of the night. I caught a few hours but the little chair bed in the ICU wasn't the most comfortable nor the environment the most conducive for rest. Plus I didn't want to be too asleep that if Carter needed something I wouldn't realize it, keeping in mind he couldn't even make a noise. We were up early the next morning but Carter seemed ok under the circumstances. Still in pain but fairly content to watch TV and play the iPad. He was kind of glazed over not responding much to all the hospital staff but I think it was a combination of drugs and a coping mechanism. He lost himself in the cartoons instead of being aware of his discomfort. Not too long into the morning, he was able to have the ventilator removed.
There was a moment of concern that he wouldn't be able to breathe without it, but he did great. They were listening to his throat until they heard sounds of air going around the vent tube-before that it was completely tight to it and so the tube was the only way he could breathe at all. Steroids by IV is what helped the swelling go down by the by. He was much happier with the tube out but could still barely talk. The nurses were convinced he was just the sweetest soft spoken well behaved fellow. I just laughed and said you certainly don't know him well then. I mean he is absolutely a sweetheart, the other things are pretty questionable. His night nurse did say he was a 1 in a million patient, so helpful and nice. I guess other kids, even as old as he is aren't always as easy. He charmed his way through several sweet nurses. The next trouble was he was hungry and couldn't eat until later that afternoon. He did okay with that though (reminds me that during the night all the poor boy wanted was some water--he tried to write it down for me and sign it. He couldn't have much unfortunately but they did clean his mouth at least and pulled out chunks of vomit--eww poor kiddo). Anyway, the doctors came by and said he was progressing great but wanted to observe him 1 more night on the regular floor. He played bingo (won a cute dinosaur toy) and slept most of the day away. I don't think he got much rest on the vent and he was still working out all the drugs and fighting the infection. Oh he had some visitors in there too--brother, sister, dad, grandma, other grandparents, Hillary, etc. Our families really went all out visiting and helping us. A big thanks to them and to my sisters who dropped everything to sit with me through the hours (8 am and 8 pm) that I had to leave Carter. I couldn't be alone at that time.

They finally got C a bed on the regular floor later in the afternoon and he got a bigger, less busy room with room service and a playstation. We had more visitors and then I got to bathe him which was really good--he reeked of medication.
After he was asleep I even got a shower which was lovely since I hadn't had one in 3 days and had limited clothing in that time. You don't exactly pack a bag when your child is life flighted away. The rest of our time was pretty mellow. Carter slept all night and even got good at taking off his pulse/ox by himself so he could go to the bathroom. I didn't even realize he did it a few times while I was sleeping. We played Legos in the morning and he got a nice breakfast. He could choose whatever (including steak and chicken cordon bleu) but he picked spaghettios, macaroni and cheese, and the like. Whatever he wanted. We were discharged and that was that. I did have a nice attending sit down with me and ease some of my guilt saying I did what any mom would have done and this wasn't my fault or bad parenting. She said it was a weird strain of parainfluenza going around this year and it was just bad luck that my son got it and had such an extreme response to it. It was a very stressful time, but the ending was great. Carter continued to recover quickly, he was raspy for a few more days but with dr. approval we went ahead and went to Disneyland that weekend--a trip that had been planned for months. I brought an extra stroller for him in case he tired, but he didn't, well no more than the rest of us. His voice took a while to come back, his vocal cords were damaged by the vent tube but nearly 2 months later he is pretty much all back to normal. 

He is a little traumatized by it--he has a cough right now and was worried it would make him not breathe, but once he realized it wasn't croup he calmed down. Lowell and I had a bit of a harder time. We had some post-traumatic stress issues causing lost sleep and the like but we are improving all the time. I can't even imagine what this must be like for someone without the great outcome.

So this ended up being more of a retelling of the whole incident, which is good to have recorded for the future, but it doesn't tell as much of the spiritual help Lowell and I both received. I really want to testify that we are not alone. I know without a doubt that our Heavenly Father loves us and is there for us when we need him. I thought a lot about how the help was for Carter, which is true, but it was also for me. There was support received when it had nothing to do with C, when it just a help for me. I know He knows us and our needs and loves us. I know this is true for me and my family and for everyone else who seeks that help and is open to receiving it. I also know prayers are answered and am so thankful for all the prayers given in mine and Carter's behalf. Thanks to so many friends and loved ones.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pictures from the other camera . . .

I was right, I did have more pictures, yay!
Claire's bday morning, woke up to balloons and a cookie breakfast. Yes, she is a mess in the morning.
Then off to the zoo!

Claire's bday cake and decorations

More of the rolled tutu I made

2 years old! Fun and full of it!

BYU home game
The boys' bday cake and other lego shaped treats from the family party (ice cubes and jello)
I'll do Halloween here soon, just wanted to add these to the last birthday post.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Year I Post More (Maybe)

2013 is upon us and with it hopefully some resolutions I keep, including keeping up the blog much better. At least once a month is my goal. We just are so busy and do so much but I am afraid I will forget it all if I don't record it. And even now I am looking at these pictures and not remembering all the details because they are from months ago. Oh well, gotta start somewhere.
At the end of last summer we finally got out to do some camping (after the failed Moab adventure Claire and I just had a late night while Daddy and the boys stayed over in the trailer). I sure love campfires and Lowell said it wasn't a perfect night but they had a good time.

Claire rocking out with a campfire eclaire
Hi Bubba!
The boys doing a dance for us
Sorry it's sideways because it is a really nice photo. Note the bare feet!
The boys tried flag football this year. They enjoyed it and had fun but it was a little hard for them to understand all the concepts. I think Carter is better now at his kindle football game than he was playing in real life, so maybe he'll get it better next time. It was also 1st and 2nd graders so they were on the young end and it was also more competitive than first year football needed to be in my opinion. We'll see what the boys want to play next year, last I asked it was soccer.
This year with the boys in school ALL DAY LONG (how long do those teachers really need them for crying out loud) I changed my schedule around so I work Friday days and can go out on a date night those Fridays (every other) with the bubbas. This one was of our dates, Krispie Kremes and Toys R Us. We go to the cheap theater fairly often or out to ice cream or last week we exchanged Christmas gifts. All so exciting, but it is time the 3 of us get that I miss now. Summer is only 5 months away . . .
Meanwhile I have enjoyed my time with this little miss. She came on her own because she wants all the attention to herself always, haha. We do have a good time and I am happy to have my one little girl all to myself each morning. This was her 2nd birthday, we finally got to turn the carseat around, hooray! and then went to Jungle Jim's on her actual bday to play as a family.

We had a Bubble Guppies birthday as it was her current obsession (she still likes it, but not like Nemo).
This skirt was really fun but was tons of work and she didn't even take a decent picture in it before trashing it. Actually I think I do have some somewhere--need to find that card.
Missy got a bounce house for her bday
Cake! Not my best work (almost got thrown off the deck for real) but it turned out ok. Tasted great!
Bday presents!
Hike in the colors--we hiked as long into the season as we could. Mourning my hiking time this week a lot, I wonder when the snow will melt enough to hit the western hikes . . .
Love this one of the bubbas
So shortly after Claire's bday (and just 1 week before Lowell's) my big boys turned 7. I just typed 6 and had to change it, I still can't believe they are 7 and will be 8 this year! They had a lego themed birthday. These are marshmallow lego heads that I was actually very pleased with. Gotta love royal icing. They even tasted ok.
We brought these treats to the boys' classes and did fairy tale Fridays at the same time (it was Tortoise and the Hare, that was a busy day--one was at 10 the other 1 and I was re-hot gluing these little guys in the middle. I made them at work and they didn't travel well). They went over really big in the classes.
Sorry the pics are really struggling today. I did the balloon with $ and crepe papered doors again this year, the boys love it so I'll just keep doing it. Above were the cupcakes we served at the friend party--the legos are molded chocolate. And I was really happy with my frosting swirl.

Here was the contents of the gift boxes.

We had a couple guys from Bricks4kidz (living social deal) come and entertain the kids for the party. They were really fun, definitely recommend. They played a number of lego themed games and then built racecars that really drove.

Then they made zipline guys and we sent them from the 2nd to the 1st floor (hooray for Lowell's principal letting us use his school for the party, it was perfect). It's hard to see but there is a guy on that line somewhere.

Lunch was mac and cheese, chips, lego juice boxes, cupcakes, and ice cream cups.

7! They popped the balloon so we hurried and took a picture!

And some shots with the backdrop and our buddies

As with most of the last few years (this yr their bday is a Sunday so that will be a bummer) we went and enjoyed the free bday pass at Boondocks. I guess we'll go Saturday this year and pay (boo!). It really is a blast for them, games, laser tag, go karts, golf--it was fun. Lowell was at priesthood session of conference so my mom helped me. Davis decided to take a chunk of his hair out hence the short do.
Cakes for the family party--didn't love these either, not my year for cakes.

Carter is such a stinker with his eyes for photos.
This girl is a stinker too but also so darn cute. Man I love that girl. We went to the gardens with grandma a lot in the fall--well after they closed to the public.
I joined the boys (and friend) on their school zoo field trip.

I even rode the bus!
The boys got their free meal at Texas Roadhouse to finish off their birthday. If blogspot will let me post pics, I will add more soon. Hope you are all well--I still read a lot of blogs even though I haven't been blogging--so I am thinking of you! :)