Sunday, August 9, 2009

Annaliese and I returned home last night from another visit at the hospital. She started struggling to breathe again Friday, and by afternoon, it was apparent that she needed to be seen. The inhaler we have wasn't working for longer than 15 minutes and she was in rough shape. We went to our pediatrician's office, where we found that her O2 level was only abotu 82-84%. She was given a nebulizer treatment, but she continued with her rapid, shallow breathing, so we were sent to the ER. They did a couple more neb. treatments, then decided to admit her. It as a long night, and at one point I was so wired, I went for a walk on the labor and delivery unit, where two of my friends were working. As I walked that floor, I heard the cry of a very new baby (as in a couple of minutes new!)...what a reminder of how precious life is!
After talking to the doctors, we think Annaliese has Reactive Airway Disease, not necessarily asthma. Something (usually a change in the weather) triggers it, and bam!, she can't breathe. We were sent home with 4 prescriptions, plus the Miralax she's on for her belly issues. I finally had to make a chart today to manage all's confusing! We'll follow up with her pediatrician Tuesday or Wednesday and see where we go from here. Most likely, she'll be on an inhaler daily, long-term. We had hoped to avoid that, but if she continues to have these episodes, she'll end up with lungs that look like a patient with emphysema by the time she's a young adult...very scary.
Thanks for continuing to pray for's been a rough year for her!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Where has this month gone???

We've stayed busy this past month with lots of playdates, trips to the park, Vacation Bible Schools (yes, that's plural!), and just hanging out at home. The weather here has been much cooler than normal, so it seems weird that it's already almost the end of July!

Annaliese had her follow up appointment with the surgeon on Friday. The current xray shows some improvement in the swelling of the large intestine, which is wonderful news. There is still, however, an area of enlargement that we will need to re-evaluate in 3 months. We're increasing the dosage of her medication, and hopefully that will help!

My 15 year High School Reunion is this coming weekend! It's crazy to think we've been out of school that long already! I've reconnected with a lot of my classmates over Facebook, so it will be nice to see them in person again. My parents have agreed to keep Tessa and Sam for us for a few days after we leave, so we'll only have 3 kids from Saturday - Tuesday night...I'm SO excited! :)

I hope to get some more pics up here that our computer is fixed, it shouldn't be too hard! :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

What a week!

This past week has been crazy! We had some major thunderstorms come through here last week, and lightning hit something and caused a power surge in our house. The surge protector that the computer was connected to didn't exactly protect against the surge, and our computer is toast. Thankfully, Jared had bought a used one at work a few weeks ago, so we're not totally without internet. However, EVERYTHING was on that computer, so I've lost my favorites list, pictures, etc. until we can get our info recovered...eventually.

Last weekend, we headed to my parents' house for Father's Day. We went Saturday and had a picnic with my extended family, and Annaliese and I had planned on singing during the 3 services at my dad's church. That was not meant to be. By 9:30pm on Saturday, Annaliese was on her way to the ER at the local hospital in Coldwater. Her asthma (which we'd hoped/thought she'd outgrown) was flaring again, and she was in rough shape. She was admitted and watched overnight. Poor girl...she felt so horrible and apologized to Jared for being in the hospital on both his birthday (June 1) and Father's Day. He spent the night with her, I sang at church in the morning, and she was discharged later that day. This week has been full of antibiotics, steroids, and inhalers. Yuck.

Sunday afternoon, we also received the news that Jared's paternal grandmother had passed away in Alabama. The last time we saw Granny was at Jared's older brother's wedding 12 years ago. We had sent pictures over the years, but her health declined and we've not had much contact with her since then. Jared's mom and dad had been in Oregon on business, so his dad flew to Alabama for the funeral and Jared decided to join him there on Wednesday. It sure surprised his dad when he walked into the church and saw Jared there! They had a good day/evening together, then each flew home/back to Oregon yesterday.

This week was also full of fun for the kids, as they attended a local church's VBS program each evening. They loved it! This is the second week of a kids' program that they've attended this summer, and I've got them registered for another one next month. Such fun (for them AND mommy!!) :)

As I type this, the house is completely silent. The kids are gone for the weekend and Jared and I are heading to a wedding back near Coldwater. My friend Sarah M. took the girls, and my friend Sara S. took the boys. I'm just waiting for Jared to get home so we can pack up and head out of town...can't wait for a good stretch of time alone!! Tomorrow will be a great day of celebration and catching up with old family friends...I'm so excited!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mighty Molly

I have been listening to Family Life Today online this week. It's a daily radio program produced by Family Life ministries. They always have great topics relating to, well, Family Life.

This week's broadcasts have been amazing. Jacob and Rebecca Mutz (daughter and son-in-law of Family Life founder Dennis Rainey), along with both sets of their parents, tell the story of the brief life of their firstborn baby, Molly. I encourage you all to listen to this amazing story. Each day's broadcast is about 25 minutes long. Click HERE to be directed to the website, and click on 'listen here'. Have Kleenex nearby!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pics finally!

If you look on the sidebar of the blog, there is a pic of each member of our family, along with a little description of them. I hope this helps you get to know us a little better!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer vacation

Today marks our first official day of summer break! I figured the kids would be up and at 'em at the normal time (between 7-715), but they pleasantly suprised me by sleeping until 8! :)
I've decided that this summer cannot be a free-for-all. The kids need to help out around here a bit more than they have been, and they will not be allowed free access to TV and the Wii. I had them earn their Wii time already this morning. Luke offered to pick up the basement and Annaliese needed to clean her room. Adam put books away in their room (they were all over). Luke decided to keep going, so he picked up the living room, front room AND re-organized the shoe closet. Annaliese unloaded the dishwasher. That earned them 45 minutes (started out at 30, but I added 15 more because of the extra work they did). That time came and went and now they're playing together (surprisingly well!) down here while I bl0g. Ok, scratch that...Sam's crying. :(

Friday, June 5, 2009

Annaliese's Story

I posted this on Facebook the other day, so this may be repeated information for some of you. For those of you who don't know about Annaliese's medical issues, this will give you the background.

I've had several people ask me to explain what happened to Annaliese, so I figured I'll just write one note and whomever is interested can read it. :) *disclaimer - this will reference bodily functions a lot, so if you don't want to read about that, click away from here!*

When she was born in 2002, Annaliese appeared to be a perfectly normal newborn. The only problem was that she had some difficulty with nursing. She just wouldn't eat. And she wouldn't poop. The pediatrician from the practice our kids are patients at was doing rounds and discovered that she had a meconium plug at that time. He got it out (don't try to envision's not pretty) and we thought that would be the end of it. She immediately started nursing better. There was nothing making her feel 'full', so she was hungry again. We were discharged and went home to enjoy life with our new little girl and her almost-2-year-old-brother Luke.

Within the next week, the eating problems popped up again and she started vomiting after every feeding. And not just spitting up. I mean projectile, across the room, waiting for her head to start spinning around vomit. I took her to the doctor and they said it was probably just a stomach bug (it was March, after all) and to see how she did through the weekend. We went out for dinner with some friends that night and brought her along with us. While we were there, she started vomiting again, only this time it was green...bile. I wasn't about to call the pediatrician's office again, so we headed straight to the ER. We waited there for several hours and were finally admitted. That began a 2 week hospitalization for Annaliese. Several tests were done, and she was unable to eat. She had a tube down her nose and into her stomach, and received all her nutrition through an IV. The first IV site went bad, so a new one was placed in her scalp...not pretty. Many tests were done and they ruled out Cystic Fibrosis, cancer, etc. Finally, a biopsy was done near her rectum, and we received the diagnosis: Hirschsprung's Disease. And yes, it took us a LONG time to be able to spell it.

Hirschsprung's Disease is a congenital disease that occurs when nerve cells are absent from a portion of the baby's intestines. When there are no nerve cells, stool cannot pass through the intestine. Surgery was performed to remove the affected segment of her colon. Thankfully, it was done in one stage, so a colostomy bag was avoided.

The day after surgery, Jared decided to head to work for a few hours, leaving me at the hospital to visit with our friend Miriam. We were just chatting away when Annaliese's monitors started going off. We had been used to a few beeps and buzzes when she would shift positions, but this felt different right away. Her O2 level dropped drastically from 100 down to the 30's. Immediately our room filled with nurses and residents. I remember thinking "She's going to die". Miriam stood next to me with her arm around my shoulder as I frantically called Jared (who was only just leaving the parking garage) and told him something bad was happening. Within what I'm sure was only a few minutes, but felt like an hour, she was stabilized and most of the team left the room. They discovered that the morphine they had been giving her to control her pain had built up to a level so high it caused her to relax to the point of not breathing. It was immediately discontinued and she was fine. We were able to go home within a couple of days.

Life was pretty normal for a long time. We had routine follow-up appointments with the pediatric surgeons and they always said she looked good. We made a few visits for some constipation issues, but they usually resolved themselves to a point that was comfortable for her and us.

Two and a half years ago, she got very ill. I remembered the surgeon telling us that a normal intestinal bug would hit her harder than it would a 'normal' child (meaning one without Hirschsprung's) and that she was at a greater risk of dehydration. They told us to expect a need for IV fluids at some point. This was that point. She had not been able to keep anything down and was so 'backed up' that she started to vomit *THAT* up too. She was admitted to the hospital and we were there for 10 days. At that time, her lungs had been so constricted from the buildup of stool that she developed borderline pneumonia. Those 10 days were filled with breathing treatments, enemas, and a very angry 4 year old girl who refused to poop. It was exhausting for all of us, but she finally got cleaned out and came home.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Annaliese was at a girlfriend's house on Friday night for a sleepover. We received a call from her friend's mom at midnight saying that Annaliese had a tummyache. She came home and went to bed and seemed fine Saturday morning. We went out for some family time and while we were at the park, she fell asleep on a blanket. On the way home, she cried when we made a few stops because she was too uncomfortable sitting up. She started vomiting in the car. We got home and she spent the next 8 hours vomiting. She was able to keep some liquid down Sunday morning, but was vomiting again by that night.

Monday morning, I took her to the pediatrician and within one minute, the nurse pracitioner went to get one of the docs, knowing she'd need to be sent to the ER. The poor girl couldn't even sit on the table...she lay there bundled up in a blanket, cringing every time someone touched her. Her belly was very distended and was getting hard and more swollen higher up. We headed to the ER and by the time we got there she was vomiting blood. An abdominal xray showed a ton of air and stool mixed in her large intestine. She was given an IV for dehydration and admitted. That night, things started 'moving' a little and the swelling in her belly decreased. She was kept an additional day for observation, and was released today (Wednesday).

One of the docs from the surgeon's office came to speak with us yesterday (Tuesday). He explained to us that Annaliese's large intestine is very enlarged. He compared it to her xrays from 2 years ago and said that they both look very much the same. What he wants to know is, what does it look like when she's healthy and not in an acute situation? Does the swelling go down? If yes, that's good. If no, that's bad. The intestine is a muscle...when it's stretched to that capacity, it does not retain it's strength and loses its ability to contract (hmmm...kind of like my stomach after 5 babies!). It cannot move waste through it when it's that damaged.

Since Annaliese's belly is always somewhat distended, our guess is that the lg. intestine is always enlarged. We are going to wait a couple of months, then get an xray of her while she's healthy. If it is enlarged, those sections will need to be removed surgically. We have many questions about that, but will cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now, we have to focus on getting her back to normal...whatever that is!

So that's Annaliese's story. While we go through things like this with her, it's easy to get scared and worry about things. But, we cling to the knowledge that she is "fearfully and wonderfully made" by God, and that He always knows what is going on with her, even when we and the doctors are scratching our heads and wondering. Thank you all SO much for your concern and prayers over the past several days. The phone calls, visits, and notes of encouragement were very much appreciated. We are so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends surrounding us. We love you all!


New beginning

I've decided that I've taken a long enough hiatus from blogging. I got very bored with Xanga so I just stopped updating. Facebook became a much quicker way to communicate. But I miss blogging. I miss documenting the life of my family. So I'm back. :)

Today is Luke's 9th birthday. It's hard to believe that it's been nine years since we first became parents. It still amazes me that you can give birth to this little creature, spend a couple of days getting to know him/her in the hospital, then they kick you out and say 'Go figure it out!'. :)

Luke is such a great kid. He's thoughtful, tender-hearted, funny, cuddly (still!), smart, curious, responsible, and a great big brother. We are so blessed to have him in our family. Today is his last day of 3rd grade, and he's looking forward to having me show up with cupcakes later this morning.

Annaliese (7 now) returned home from the hospital on Wednesday morning. For those of you who aren't on Facebook and didn't read her story, she was hopitalized from Monday to Wednesday due to a flare up of her intestinal problems. I'll post the note I put on Facebook has the whole story of her illness. Today is her last day of 1st grade and she's very excited for summer vacation!

Adam is five and has been done with preschool for a couple of weeks. He's in a very mischievous stage right now and is frequently in time out. He's still a good kid, just doesn't always make the best choices. :)

Samuel is...well, he's two and a half. :) He's hilarious to have around, but also has a stubborn streak. He and Adam are the current reason for my gray hairs. :) He's a very helpful little guy, and loves his baby sister.

Tessa is 9 months old next week! I think this girl has grown faster than any of the other ones...we seem to have sped through these months! She's rolling all over to get where she wants (no interest in crawling yet) and she's such a happy girl. We love having her around and she makes us all smile every day. She loves her siblings...especially Adam.

Well, I'm off to get things ready to head over to the school. I promise (you and myself!) that I will be better at keeping up with this blog. Hopefully now that school is done, I'll be able to carve out a few minutes each week to update. If I start slacking, call me out on it! :)
**Pictures to come...once I figure out this new layout!**