The life of George…an update

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated on George’s story. And for those that have been following along, you’ll be happy to know that kindergarten has been going great! We’ve only missed 9 days so far, which in George’s world is pretty remarkable. And only once was it a pretty serious illness…but no hospital stays.

We had a check up at Mayo in October. The pediatric neurologist is amazed with our progress. She cannot believe how far he has come. We had a repeat MRI and the gaps in his brain that they have been concerned about have not grown any. Some serious miracles here, folks. Science and God…together.

Every day at Mayo, George would stop and say the Pledge of Allegiance to this flag. He's one amazing little kid.

Every day at Mayo, George would stop and say the Pledge of Allegiance to this flag. He’s one amazing little kid.

The last two weeks have been a bit more difficult. George has had some tummy issues that we can’t quite figure out. We’ve had an ER trip, a few docs visits…and it seems to be getting worse, not better. But we were able to get in to see a doctor this afternoon and we have a plan – and for some reason I always feel a little better when we have a plan. And if things aren’t looking better by Friday, well, then we are looking at another plan.

On day 2 at Mayo, George wore his Ninja Turtle sweatshirt. One doctor came up to him and shook his hand, and told him it was a pleasure to meet a real super hero. George is definitely MY super hero!

On day 2 at Mayo, George wore his Ninja Turtle sweatshirt. One doctor came up to him and shook his hand, and told him it was a pleasure to meet a real super hero. George is definitely MY super hero!

But with everything that has been going on, I’ve become a bit difficult. A little sensitive. Sleeping less. Needing more. Just not myself. I’ve lost a bit of my focus.

And then tonight, it all came sharply back into focus.

George was sitting behind me in the suburban on the way home. Today I had woke up late, managed to get the kids ready, worked, had rearranged schedules so I could squeeze in a doctor’s appointment for George, drove 45 minutes to the appointment, then back for two parent-teacher’s conferences, listen to my 10-year-old explain how a schoolmate had told him that he’s growing too fast that he’s going to die, talk to him about bullying and coping techniques, went to a book fair, gave my son some meds…and we were finally on the way home.

In the two minutes of silence that we were blessed with, George asked, “Is heaven fun?”

I didn’t know how…or if…I should respond. Why was he asking? Was he having dreams? Had he been hearing me talking to his doctors at Mayo? Had someone else been talking near him?

So I carefully said, “Yes, I am sure it is. But why do you ask?”

He said, “I just want to be sure I can play there when I die.”

Silence.

I couldn’t say a word.

My 5-year-old made me speechless.

I sometimes get so wrapped up in the minutia of life…and I forget the big picture. And then George will say something and it will be like God tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me that in the grand scheme of things, the destination is much more important than the scenery along the way.

I do not know how many more tomorrows George has ahead of him…nobody knows how many tomorrows they may have. Yet I know that George faces a few more obstacles than the average person. But he faces those obstacles with more bravery and courage than I could ever muster.

 

There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home

There’s no place like home.

Dang. Said it three times and it still didn’t work. I’m still sitting here, at my impromptu desk on third floor of the hospital. I remember not-so-long ago when this seemed like home. But it’s been a long time since then, almost two years, I think.

For those new to the blog, my youngest son (he’s referred to as “George” on here) has a metabolic disorder. It’s called ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, and if you want to read up about it, and George, knock yourself out. There’s a whole tab up on the top there. (And yes, spell check, I have spelled it right. Trust me.)

George’s condition makes him more susceptible to illness. But we have had a long run of good luck, and his immune system has bounced back amazingly. We haven’t had to deal with a hospital-stay-inducing illness in quite some time.

That was, until about midnight last night.

It started with a cough, followed by a sound that would wake the most sound sleeper from the deepest of sleeps…the sound of a child projectile vomiting down a flight of stairs.

George after getting settled in for what was supposed to be a simple bolus of fluids. Someday I'll learn. ;)

George after getting settled in for what was supposed to be a simple bolus of fluids. Someday I’ll learn. ;)

Needless to say, my night was short, and I ended up bringing George down to his pediatrician after the other boys got on the bus. We stopped up at the hospital for a round of fluids, and were about to disconnect the IV to head home when I noticed a change.

George’s cheeks were flush, he was no longer talking or playing and he started to get “that” look. He was now running a fever.

When he gives me this face, he could ask for the world and I would readily give it to him. (As if I wouldn't anyway.)

When he gives me this face, he could ask for the world and I would readily give it to him. (As if I wouldn’t anyway.)

I was given the option to stick around for the evening, or take him home and see how the night went. I thought about it for a few minutes, and then when George asked to go to the bathroom, he had a dizzy spell coming back to bed. My mind was decided for me, we were sticking it out.

And so, here I am, after midnight. I’ve been awake about 24 hours, give or take a few minutes here or there…and yet, I cannot sleep. I watch him like a hawk, listen for his IV pump, hold my breath when he coughs, all those things that a parent does for their child.

Yet, as tired as I am, I know one thing: I am blessed.

And that’s all I need to know.

This is the George that I can't wait to get back.

This is the George that I can’t wait to get back.

I’ll update in the morning about George’s progress and our (hopeful) discharge home. Fingers crossed for a peaceful night…well, what’s left of it.

3:46 p.m. – Heading home! YAY!

Thankful for Change

As I mentioned earlier this week, we leave next week for another round of appointments at Mayo. As I was thinking about what I needed to get done to be ready for the trip, I started to think back about how much our lives have changed in these few years. And I am so very, very thankful.

I used to preface every appointment, every meeting, every date with a friend with the statement, “Well, if George isn’t sick…” or “Barring any unexpected hospital trips…”

I haven’t done that…in a very long while. In fact, George hasn’t been to visit his friends on the Peds floor since the beginning of March. And I need to thank all of you for helping us get to where we are today. You have all helped with your kind thoughts, your prayers and your offers to help – and your understanding that sometimes I just need a place to vent.

It’s been a long road, and I know we’re no where near at the end of our journey, but at the lull in the storm, I thought I would just give you all a simple, “Thanks.”

George and his favorite “big sister,” Miss A.

And I owe the Big Guy upstairs the biggest thanks of all, but He already knows…we’re close like that! ;)

An anniversary of sorts

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 years. Three long, crazy years that I was never sure we’d make it through.

George, summer 2010, before we started his low-protein diet. With his skinny little chicken arms, tiny legs and minus any fat.

The beginning of October is the anniversary mark of our trips to Mayo in Rochester with George. Sometimes I find myself staring in those big, beautiful eyes of his, and I am amazed at where we were and how far we’ve come.

How will we celebrate such an anniversary? Well, with a trip to Rochester, of course! Actually, we’re pretty lucky because our trips are now down to twice a year (barring any bumps in the road).

So, as we prepare for another series of doctor’s appointments, please keep George in your prayers. Things have gone so well the last several months, I’m just hoping and praying for continued good health and no hiccups in his blood work.

George, summer 2012 – all sass and attitude! Full of life, love and a true blessing through and through!

It’s been a long road, but you frequently find the best trips are the ones that take awhile to get there. Right?

It’s Creeping Closer

Whooping Cough. I never used to think much about it. Along with chicken pox, influenza, measles, etc. It was all just stuff that I didn’t worry about. My children were vaccinated, and if they still managed to catch something, well, they’d recover and be no worse for wear.

That’s no longer my way of thinking.

Ever since George has blessed our home, I’ve become terrified of outbreaks, even of the simplest of illnesses. Because with George, nothing is simple.

So what made this all come up now? I saw an article in a Montana paper about the whooping cough outbreak there. Montana. It makes my stomach hit my throat.

For those that aren’t aware of geography, or aren’t familiar with the Upper Midwest, Montana borders North Dakota on the west side. Yes, we’re on the east side, but so many people (even local people) are traveling from western North Dakota to eastern North Dakota that I don’t believe it will take long at all for the epidemic to hit our state. And that is cause for concern.

During our last trip to Mayo, our team decided that with the circumstances in our area being what they are, that we should go ahead and have George fully immunized. (Up to this point, he was only immunized with those vaccines that were not derived from a live virus.) This is both a blessing and a worry at the same time.

I feel blessed, because this will mean no longer having to wonder whether or not we should venture out. Well, at least it alleviates the concern quite a bit. I’m worried because the days following the vaccinations will be stressful at best.

It wasn’t a hasty decision to fully vaccinate. There are concerns and risks involved…but the risks can be carefully monitored and better controlled when you know what could be coming, instead of being blindsided. For example, if George were to be exposed to chicken pox, it would take up to two weeks before we would even know that something was truly amiss. The “pox” do not show up until the disease has already been in your liver, and George’s liver is already an organ we don’t want messed with. So what do you do? You take the known risks and have a plan.

Must we, with the photos Mom? All the time?

But before we can get to that point, we have to get George over his cold and make sure he’s as healthy as can be. And in a house full of boys, that’s not always an easy task!

Good Friday post replay

I wrote this post last year about Good Friday falling on Earth Day…and how my son mistakenly thought that was the reason he didn’t have school. Although today isn’t Earth Day, when you have a rough week, it’s a comfort to know that there are days such as Good Friday to give you hope and remind you of the sacrifices made:

 

I was all prepared to write a post today about all the things we do on the farm that celebrates the Earth, such as using our manure, using no-till whenever possible, using the water from our well to heat our home…then heat our shop…then to water our cows, etc. (That’s right, all the same water, I’ll explain it sometime.)

But as I was sitting down to type last night, I decided to check out George’s lab work that was done at Mayo. (They have a really cool set-up, where you can register to log-in and receive the lab results yourself. No more waiting for that stinkin’ doctor’s call!) Anyway, I logged-in and for the first time ever, and I truly mean EVER, all of George’s lab work came back within normal ranges! (Well, minus the Vit. D and iron levels, but those are diet/sunshine related, not illness/disorder, so they don’t really count.)

I’ll admit it, I cried a bit. For the last just-about 2 years, I’ve dealt with continuously feeling like something wasn’t right, that we weren’t on the right track, bloodwork continuously showed something off here or there, nothing fit together, etc. It was a whirlpool of nightmares. Since George was born, he has seen: three pediatricians, two pediatric geneticists, two pediatric gastroenterologists, pediatric cardiologist, two pediatric endocrinologists, two pediatric neurologists, two dieticians, pediatric oncologist, pediatric neurosurgeon and several other various ER docs, nurses and staff. He has had: two colonoscopies, an upper GI series, multiple x-rays and ultrasounds, a liver biopsy, three MRI’s, an echocardiogram and two CT scans. He has given more blood for bloodwork that some people donate to the blood bank. He’ll be 2, and he’s been through so much, but is still such a wonderful little boy.

One of the things that I hear the most, when people hear about George, is that he doesn’t LOOK like anything is wrong with him. That’s always the problem. I wonder how many of those doctors blew us off because they felt he didn’t “look” sick enough. I know for sure one did, I overheard him tell the students that were following him those exact words. It went something like this, “And in this room is a 6-month-old male patient, case seems somewhat unremarkable. Mother has sought care at Mayo. Came in with fever, slight dehydration, etc. There’s no clear diagnosis, and I’m not real sure why they’re here. Their local hospital probably overreacted. We’ll keep him through tomorrow to satisfy the Mother.” (Needless to say, I requested a discharge immediately and we never returned to that set of physicians.)

We have so much to be thankful for.

This morning, Big Bro told me that they didn’t have school today because it was Earth Day. That sealed the deal for me. I’m not writing about our farm today. I’m not writing about how to recycle, or how to reduce your carbon footprint, or how to reuse your milk carton to make a mailbox. We should all know these things, and we should all be doing them. Every day. Period.

But today is Good Friday first. It’s a day that we celebrate all that has been given for us. The Blessing that was bestowed upon us so many years ago. And for me, today is a day of thankfulness.

Yes, I won’t be brushing my teeth with the water on, I’ll turn off lights where I don’t need them, our bulbs are already energy efficient. Those are things we do everyday. But today, I’ll spend extra time thanking God for those gifts that He has given. Including the ultimate sacrifice of His only Son.

Today is definitely a Good Friday.

The blessings of social media

I regularly hear people talking about the amount of time that is wasted on social media. When people ask what I do, and I tell them that I blog about our farm and our family, it’s almost as if I just told them I’m a stay-at-home mom…oh, wait…

"George" and I...towards the beginning of this journey. It's amazing the changes that have been made, to both of us.

My point is, that neither my chosen profession nor my hobby gets much respect in the real world. (You can decided which is which.) That doesn’t bother me, and for the most part, I ignore it…but last night it became very clear to me that all of my work and time “wasted” has not been in vain.

For those that have been following along a little while, you know that our youngest son, “George” on the blog, has been diagnosed with OTC. (You can read more about it on the OTC tab above.) It’s been a very crazy ride, but we’re feeling our way through, and have seen some amazing results in the last year.

But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t had problems, or that there were times when I wasn’t really sure who to turn to for answers, venting, etc.

And then I received an email. And not just any email, an email from the Executive Director of the National Urea Cycle Disorder Foundation, which just so happens to be the link I use in my blog posts describing OTC. Yeah, that’s big.

I think back to that meeting in August, almost two years ago, where I finally met JP in person. There was a round-table session where you could just sit and ask different people questions relating to social media. I sat at her table and asked if she thought that my story was worth telling (we had been “connected” through Twitter). I thought that my connections through Twitter and facebook were probably enough, maybe a blog would be too much, and maybe I didn’t have anything to really share.

With her encouragement, I started Wag’n Tales in September of 2010…and the rest, as they say, is history.

And I’m not the only one that Janice has positively influenced through social media. Just check out her latest blog post and see.

Yes, social media can take away time. It can be used for evil and wrong-doing. But when it’s used in a positive way, it can truly be life-changing…

In fact, it can be life saving.