Monday at Mayo

Today was our first day here in Rochester for our fall checkup. We have met with the dietitian and got some really great new ideas for George’s diet.

For example, she gave me the idea of grilling a portabello mushroom (the great big cap) and topping it with a bit of salsa and a little bit of shredded cheese, to make it resemble a burger. What a GREAT idea! (I just hope George goes for it!)

We’re also going to be in contact with a chef that has a daughter that follows a low-protein diet…can’t wait to get some more ideas and recipes!

But I would like to give a big shout out to those people that have been so amazing and have made me feel like I was at Scooter’s coronation activity today. Scooter was named Little Mr. Ellendale last fall, and that meant that him and Little Miss Ellendale would be part of the high school Homecoming ceremony.

Unfortunately, this is Homecoming week…and I couldn’t reschedule this appointment again. So I missed it, but not really. Not one, not two, but at least THREE different people took photos for me. And truthfully, it probably went better than if I would have been there.

Scooter, escorting some beautiful women!


Little Miss and Little Mr. Ellendale - future Homecoming royalty???


The beautiful thing about living in a small town is that you can ask someone for help, and know that all is taken care of…and I can’t believe how lucky I am.

A Mother’s Love

I saw this on Facebook tonight…and couldn’t get it out of my head.

A Mother's Love

This was the caption under the photo:

This is a true story of Mother’s Sacrifice during the Japan Earthquake.
After the Earthquake had subsided, when the rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house, they saw her dead body through the cracks. But her pose was somehow strange that she knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supporting by an object. The collapsed house had crashed her back and her head.

With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescuer team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.
He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. For some reasons, the team leader was driven by a compelling force to go back to the ruin house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and used his had through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement,” A child! There is a child! “
The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3 months old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. Obviously, the woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to make a cover to protect her son. The little boy was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.
The medical doctor came quickly to exam the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said,” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” This cell phone was passing around from one hand to another. Every body that read the message wept. ” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” Such is the mother’s love for her child!!

Why did this strike a chord? Aside from just being a mother? (By the way, snopes clarifies that the picture and the story don’t go together…I’m fine with that, but whether or not the two go together, they both hit my heart.)

Well, to put it simply, I’m somewhat in the same position.

After researching and researching and researching some more…I’ve learned quite a bit about George’s OTC. And if he truly has OTC (which has been pretty well proven through testing and improvement with the diet), then we’re dealing with a disease that does a lot of taking.

For example…in OTC, males are hit harder than females. In fact, 50% of males born with OTC do not live 72 hours. And of the 50% surviving, another 50% will die by the age of 5.

Those are the facts.

So, on Sunday we head back to Rochester. And this time, the questions will be a little more pointed and a little more clear. I need to know exactly what the doctor is thinking, and what we need to do. I’ve read on some new research showing hopeful uses of gene therapy…something we may look into.

Whatever it is, we will do…I will stand over my son and let the roof crash on me, so that some day he can stand tall and read, “If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.”

Just another Manic Monday

School starts here tomorrow. And as bad as I feel for saying it…I can’t wait. I need some routine, some down time, some “regular” stuff. You know?

Just when I thought a week of plane crashes, hospital stays and sick little boys was looking up, fate stepped in. Big Bro was bit by a dog at the local park. Said dog had no vaccinations. It all adds up to Big Bro having to be on a round of antibiotics for the sore, and the dog being quarantined for 10 days to watch for signs of rabies. Even indoor pets need vaccinations. (Let’s not even get to why an “indoor” pet was at the park.)

For those that don’t know…let me explain to you what rabies all entails.

  • Rabies attacks the brain and spinal cord. If it is not prevented, it WILL cause death.
  • This year, more than 55,000 people will die from rabies. That’s one person every 10 minutes.
  • Rabies is 100% preventable. There are vaccinations for animals and treatment for humans that are in contact with infected animals.
  • It can only be passed through saliva, not blood.
  • More than 40% of the people bitten and affected are children under the age of 15.
  • Dogs are the source of 99% of human rabies death.
  • There are no tests available to diagnose rabies infection in human prior to the onset of clinical disease.

Well, enough of that, I think you get the point. Rabies is serious, rabies is deadly, and it’s simple to prevent. This is all a situation that didn’t need to occur. So please, have your pets properly vaccinated and cared for by veterinarians. If you can’t afford to do that, then do your animal a favor, and find them a new home.

I will know within 10 days if we have to go through the rabies series with Big Bro. Sooner if the animal dies between now and then. Is it likely that the dog has rabies? No, but even “indoor” pets can have contact with disease-carrying animals. Is it likely that the animal will get sick? No, but with a 100% fatality record, it’s not worth the risk.

What a way to start the week…and the school year!

Home Away from Home

Well, George has had a bad week. Yesterday (Friday) we came in for IV fluids. Unfortunately, George was making his Mama nervous. He kept falling asleep. By noon, he had taken three naps, and by the time we were in Aberdeen getting fluids, he was on nap number seven.

Now, I know that after the week he’s had (tonsils and adenoids out, tubes in ears, staying in the hospital for three days, etc.), he deserved some rest…but for a 2-year-old, well, we were dwelling in a dangerous area.

George’s OTC has “episodes,” which are periods of seizures, brain swelling, high ammonia levels, etc. These are medical emergencies and need to be treated with IV therapy ASAP. In fact, I carry a letter from Mayo and a letter from his pediatrician, instructing any ER we may end up visiting that if George comes in with fever, lethargy, or other unexplainable symptoms, he needs to be treated immediately. No waiting for triage, no waiting for doctors orders, blood draw and IV first, questions second.

So, my question when we came in Friday afternoon was, “Is his lethargy caused from regular post-op blahs? Or are we dealing with something else?” Doc couldn’t answer that, so we drew some blood. And quickly received our answer. George was dehydrated.

Now, I received a thorough grilling from our pediatrician. You see, he was behind in information. He knew that George had surgery on Tuesday, but he didn’t realize that he wasn’t taking anything orally and had only been released the night before with the saline-lock in his hand, with orders to come back each day for fluids until he was drinking 20-30 ounces per day. So we had gone a little over 12 hours without fluid, and George’s stats weren’t good.

The doc explained it to me like this: George’s body thought it was starving. So, it started the process of breaking down it’s own tissue to get enough protein, etc. that it needed. He called it acidosis.

So, we are back in the hospital. We have learned a valuable lesson. George can’t go very long without fluids. He dehydrates in RECORD time…and I mean fast! And although he was producing tears, had a runny nose, moist mouth (all signs that he’s hydrated enough), the blood work showed a way different story.

And now we know.

It is Sunday…and I will give thanks to God for allowing us to have the technology and the means to be able to figure these things out, and correct the deficiencies that are there. I will thank Him for the wisdom of the doctors, the compassion of the nurses and the love and care of all our friends and family. I will thank Him for mother’s intuition.

But most of all, I will thank Him for George.

A WINNING Farmer Friday

Before I get to a farm update (need one of those!), I need to announce the winners of the two “Levi’s Lost Calf” books by Amanda Radke, illustrated by Michelle Weber. And drum roll please…

Congratulations to…

Renae G. and Robyn!!! Woohoo!

You will both receive a copy of Amanda’s book, complete with autograph from the wonderful author…lucky ducks! Thank you to all who entered!

And now, a farm update:

Last night, as we were finally rolling home for a bit, Boss Man suddenly looked at the south-bound lane of Hwy. 281 and said, “Hey, there goes my hay!” (Yeah, he’s poetic like that.)

The story goes something like this…a friend of Mark’s in LaMoure had a contact in Oklahoma that was in need of hay. As you’ve read in the news (or perhaps even experienced first hand), some areas in the south are going through catastrophic droughts right now. And this particular ranch was also hit.

In our area, the reverse has been true. Continuous badly-timed rains has made haying season difficult. Hay that is continuously rained on has a lower feed value (less nutrition to it) than hay that is put up with the right amount of wind, sun and magic pixie dust. (Just kidding on the pixie thing, no pixie’s are harmed in the production of our hay crop…at least, not that I know of.) Our hay this year is not of the quality that we usually strive for, but we have no control over that.

But good hay (instead of great hay), is better than no hay at all. And livestock need something to eat. Even if you live in Oklahoma and have to truck it from North Dakota.

You see, cattlemen are a lot like parents. It’s inconvenient and costly to travel that far for feed, just the same as its inconvenient and costly to drive a couple hours each day for medical care. But we both do it without batting an eye. It’s our responsibility and we will do what needs to be done, at whatever cost to ensure the health and well-being of those that we care for…even if they’re bovine.

Thankful Thursday: Nurses

Today I have a special message of thankfulness to give, and this one is to our nurses.

With our frequent flier miles at the hospital, we get a chance to meet and test out most of the nurses here on the pediatric ward. I know a majority of them…mostly by first name.

But today, this blog post is about them. I am thankful for them everyday…especially this week.

I am thankful for:

  • Not making me feel like a bad mother for wanting to not be in the room when medicine is given. When a little kid’s throat is sore, taking medicine is a form of medieval torture, no matter how necessary it is. I can be the bad guy when I have to be, but appreciate the breaks occasionally.
  • Talking to me like a mother, not a child or a doctor. When the doctor says, “We’ll talk about going home once he starts drinking.” And the nurse letting me know that with 2-year-olds, we could be here a bit.
  • Letting me know what’s normal. The above mentioned issue of not drinking? Guess what? Completely normal.
  • Taking care of one of my most prized possessions. That includes: reading his history, understanding my concerns prior to coming in the room and going above and beyond to do what is right for George.

No matter how you look at it, all of the nurses here are pretty much amazing. And one day, when George is big and strong and a no longer eligible for the pediatric ward, I hope to come back and personally thank each one of you, for your crucial part in our journey.

But for now, a simple “Thank you” will have to do.

What gets George through a hospital stay? His puppy, his blankie and his tractor magazines!


Wordless Wednesday – Siding project

Quick hospital update: George’s surgery went smoothly. Tonsils and adenoids were definitely a problem. But so was waking up. Things didn’t go as smoothly as planned, with one seizure-like episode, but nurses were SUPERB and right on top of things. The evening went better, and we’ll see where the day takes us.

The doctor is extremely helpful, and is in no hurry for George to leave. He said it’s most important that he’s taking fluids and that I feel comfortable with him at home. I love it when doctors get that!

Anyway…on to my Wordless Wednesday, cool pics of our siding project!

Saturday's project step: front porch.


The rain on Sunday delayed us...once the window was out. Not exactly ideal.


Notice the finished front porch? And the window is in!

We were three sheets of siding short of finishing before George’s surgery and my parents’ quick vacation to Wisconsin. We’ll finish next week…just in time for more pics and a post! 🙂

How NOT to spend a birthday

As I mentioned yesterday, George spent the night in the hospital. Now, with his OTC, that’s not that unusual, but his method of gaining a bed was a tad unorthodox, to say the least.

You see, Tuesday was my birthday, and as I pointed out earlier, it always rains on my birthday. Well, that tradition is safe for another year, because yet again, it rained on Tuesday. And since rain makes everyone sleepy, I didn’t think much of George wanted to climb in my lap a little before 11 and falling asleep. I had second thoughts when he woke up shortly after lunch, screaming bloody murder.

As I tried to settle him down, I realized he was feeling warm. So I took his temp, and low and behold, it was 103.2. I know we need to be careful, so I did a tylenol suppository (he’s at the age that he refuses to take medicine, as in spitting it back in my face).  A little bit later, his temp was down to 101.5, but he was very lethargic and not acting quite right, so I called the pediatrician. Although his office is an hour drive from here, they said they would see us as soon as we could get there, so I got everyone ready and headed out.

I suspected we were dealing with an ear infection, or something along those lines, so I didn’t think much of it. I figured we would be back home shortly after the boys got home from school, so I made sure Boss Man didn’t plan to leave the yard. I dropped EJ off at Grandma’s house and we were off to the clinic.

We got to the clinic, the nurse weighed George and took his temp (101.4) and we sat down in one of those cozy little rooms. And then it hit.

George had another full-blown seizure. Thanks be to God that it was in the clinic, and not while I was driving down! The nurse called the doctor in immediately, the place was buzzing with action, we had suction, oxygen and plenty of support staff. It was terrifying and a relief at the same time. Terrifying because it was my son, and he was in trouble, relieving because it was at the clinic, and the doctor knew what to do.

It was seven minutes from when things started until things were “OK” again. We were admitted to the hospital for observation, mainly because George is a “special case” when it comes to these things.

You see, febrile seizures (seizures caused by a fever), are common. Very common. As common as they are, they are still scarier than all get-out. But high ammonia levels can also cause seizures. And illness can cause high ammonia levels with OTC. So which is the culprit, the ammonia or the fever? Chicken or the egg?

So we got a cool wheel-chair ride in an underground tunnel from the clinic to the hospital, had a room full of nurses starting IV’s, trying to draw blood and making sure that everything was taken care of. And then we spent the rest of my birthday, and half of his, waiting, and waiting and waiting.

He did not have any other seizures. His temperature only went up once during the night. And by morning he was well on his way to back to normal.

So what was the cause? No clue, really. His ears were clear, his lungs were clear, so the doctor went with the stand-by of “viral illness.” All that matters to me is that we are back home.

And the next time he starts to run a temp, we’ll be on high alert. I won’t necessarily have to take him in, as long as I feel comfortable and nothing to extraordinary happens. But we’ll see. I’m not sure I want to trust my judgment on what may be wrong…especially if a seizure is involved. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with this territory, we’ve been down it before with Big Bro, but this is a whole new level.

I will say, though, George knows how to kick off a new year. I may be in big trouble if this is just the warm-up to the Terrible Two’s.

Good Friday trumps Earth Day

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.

Safe at home

We made it home last night. It was a relief to finally pull in, see the lights of home, hear the cows mooing to their calves, see our lab sitting at the front gate and to hear George raising a ruckus, because he knew where we were…home.

Our last appointment went about as well as our first. She did order another test to check his ferritin level, since I told her that he was waking up during the night a lot. (Apparently it’s a measure of iron, and a lack of it can cause your legs to feel restless.) Normal levels are between 25 and 336. George’s were 11. So we start a multivitamin to combat the low Vit. D and the low iron.

I asked about getting a prescription for a trip to Florida for a week or two. Dr. L said that the sun would work, but Boss Man piped up that the vitamins were cheaper. He’s no fun.

When I sat at my desk last night, I was going to write up a new blog post, but then I read a few of my friends’ posts and decided to wait until today.

Apparently a group, called Mercy for Animals, released hidden video footage of animals being abused on a dairy farm in Texas. Again, this group is attempting to undermine all of animal agriculture, because of one sick, twisted situation.

Here’s my take on the situation: If you are on a farm, and someone is abusing an animal, they should be IMMEDIATELY reported to the proper authorities. If they are a hired hand, they should be fired and turned in. If they are the owner, they should be turned in. Simple as that. The animal deserves better. Yes, I raise animals that I know are being consumed by someone. I know that our cows will someday be processed into something that will feed others. But we treat our cattle with respect.

There is no excuse for the action taken by the perpetrators in the video. That’s not what raising cattle is about. I don’t know of one single cattle producer that would condone such behavior…and it’s definitely the exception, not the norm.

We just spent three days away from our farm. We were on a medical trip with our youngest child. Although our focus was definitely on George’s appointments, part of Mark’s mind was back here. He was constantly on the phone, making sure that there weren’t any problems, the cattle were being fed, none had become ill, the mud wasn’t becoming unmanageable, planning for what to do when we got home, etc. It was non-stop. He spent hours upon hours before our trip, preparing the lots, so that things were easier when we were gone. Making sure that there was enough feed ready to go. Moving panels so that the mud was a little easier to manage, for both the tractor AND the cattle. That’s just what ranchers do. That’s what ANY animal caregiver would do.

I didn’t watch the latest abuse video. I don’t need to. Hearing about it is enough. It disgusts me. It angers me. And it frustrates me when groups try to tell the rest of the world that those types of actions are normal in our industry. It’s not. No way. No how. And if you don’t believe me, come to my farm and I’ll show you.

And I know of many others who would do the same.