When what you prepared for isn’t what’s happened

I know it seems like forever since I’ve posted. Life has been busy with Patrick quite ill. He is on his 2nd admission since January and we are now heading into week 7 of this one. He is not looking at being able to go home till some time after the end of May.

Last year, after Patrick’s Wish Trip and before Christmas, I finally did something I should have done years ago. I created a ‘fan page’ for Patrick on Facebook. It was an easier solution for people who follow him and see what he’s up to and how he’s doing.

I just wanted to post this quick update that we are still here and hanging in. Patrick has been quite seriously ill. All the updates have been posted on his page if anyone would like to follow along.

https://www.facebook.com/notbythebooks

Watch for more…thanks everyone for your support!

Have an awesome weekend!!

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Minimize admissions – maximize quality of life

A quick update.  I’m sorry I won’t be going into it all right now, but I am just too tired and need to get to bed.  Patrick’s respite workers are finding it tiring when here as well.

Patrick is being admitted tomorrow morning to hospital.  A Shunt-o-gram is being done and the idea is that during this admission, the G-Tube and possibly the 24hr EEG will be done as well.  This admission will likely be approx 2 weeks, give or take a few days depending on how everything co-ordinates.

Trying to do as much as possible in an admission to prevent the back and forth between hospital and home.

A lot has gone on and been talked about and discussed yesterday and today and I will try to update when I have time while in hospital with Patrick.  I really need to go to bed now.  I still don’t have everything ready for tomorrow!

We welcome all thoughts, prayers, support and hugs and thank you for them as well.  Visitors are especially welcome to come see us.  Message/text/bbm or call to find out what room we are in.

Goodnight my friends, tomorrow is a long day, be in touch soon!

 

Are you ready to talk about it?

The talk.

The talk no one likes to discuss or have.

The talk no one ever seems to be ready for.

How can you prepare for something that makes so many people uncomfortable?

Let me again say, no one is expecting Patrick to not make it through surgery.  We’ve been told it’s rare that children die on the table.  This is still a conversation many people must have at some point or another.  It’s particularly difficult when it’s your own child.

Patrick’s father was up for the weekend to see him (for those who don’t know, we are divorced, he sees him fairly often) and we had a couple conversations regarding what the other thought regarding resuscitation.  Not an easy conversation.

What do you do?  What do you say?  Many thoughts and questions come to mind.

Some will say he has been through enough.  Some will say he’s always come through.  Some will want the chance to say good bye.  Some will ask would he still be Patrick after?

Some family members have shared their thoughts with us already.

How many of you would be able to make that choice for your child? Do you think you would be able to tell if your child is suffering or not?

Could you make the decision selflessly?  It’s difficult as a parent, because that’s not the way it’s supposed to be!  Your child is going to outlive YOU right!?

We haven’t come to a decision yet.  I don’t think either of us are ready yet to do so.  I want to speak to the Doctors once they have the plan and get their thoughts on everything.  I want to have as much information as possible about this before making that decision.

What we do know is that since Patrick’s last cranial vault expansion, his health has not gone back to was it was prior to that.

We are NOT looking at this and expecting a negative outcome!  We are NOT planning on saying goodbye!

We DO have to be prepared and accept the reality of the situation and make decisions in the best interest of Patrick.

How do you think you would/will cope?  What things would/will come to your mind?  How difficult do you think it would/will be?

We’d love to hear your thoughts/experiences.

 

 

 

 

Impressive Disney Planning – Cont’d

For all the changes that we’ve had to make in the past week, our travel agent has been wonderful!  She has been quick with information, bookings, reservations and insurance stuff and more.  The girls are excited and Patrick is waiting for me to make up a countdown calendar to put on his wall.

4 of our sit down meals are reserved, one for each park, including two character lunches!  One with Winnie the Pooh Gang (whoever of them can make it) and another with one or more of Mickey’s Gang!   The other two reserved meals are suppers, one being a Chinese cuisine and the other Italian.  With the Dining Plan we have, (we have the dining plus plan for free), we get one table seated meal, one quick serve meal and one snack each day we are there.  Heather, our travel agent, called me today with some great news!!  All the restaurants we have our reserved meals with, will accommodate Patrick’s diet as well!  How awesome is that!! 🙂  They will chop/puree up Patrick’s meal for him/us! How great is that?!  That will make some of our meal-times easier! 🙂  We’ve been informed to inquire at any others we attend for meals, as they may accommodate him, but those are not guaranteed!  Regardless, those 4 meals still help.

We’ve been given information about accessing many of the attractions at the parks with regards to accessibility and their alternate entrances for persons using mobility devices.  These entrances also allow a maximum of 6 people from the party including Patrick to stay together.  Since we are now 5 again, we can stay together and enjoy the attractions together!

A couple of the attractions we are looking at, are Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Jungle Cruise, both I know Patrick will love as it will give him opportunities to see many different types of animals.  He is also excited about going on any attractions that are train rides.

Today, we went for passport photos.  I had already called Passport Canada and inquired about what would happen or need to be done if we couldn’t get a photo of Patrick not smiling and without his teeth showing.  They said I would need to get a letter from a Doctor explaining why.  So in the meantime, I’ve put a call in to the Ped. Dentist for a letter with an explanation and why I’m requesting one.

Everything about the trip is booked now.  Plane tickets, Insurance, Resort, Transportation to and from the airport, Park tickets and some of our meals…everything is booked and paid for.  The reality of it is starting to hit me!  All the little pieces of information that we’ve been given and all the answers to all the questions we’ve asked have been answered and answered quickly as well.

I’m a little extra tired tonight, so I’m going to end here for now.  I will post more updates soon.

Thanks for stopping by and keeping up to date with us.  We love to hear from you too!

Have a wonderful evening! 🙂

 

Heroes in the home

What is your definition of a Hero?  Do you know any Heroes?  Do you consider anyone a Hero?

Have YOU ever been called a hero?

What a way to start off this post asking so many questions.  Wait, I have more!

Are you a caregiver?  A Mom?  Do you look after a family member or friend?  If so, YOU are a Hero!

There are different definitions of a Caregiver.  Wikipedia has an interesting definition of Caregiver:

Carer (UK, NZ, Australian usage) and caregiver (US, Canadian usage) are words normally used to refer to unpaid relatives or friends of a disabled individual who help that individual with his or her activities of daily living.

The words may be prefixed with “family” “spousal”, “child” to distinguish between different care situations, and also to distinguish them definitively from the paid version of a caregiver, a Personal Care Assistant or Personal Care Attendant (PCA). Around half of all carers are effectively excluded from other, paid employment through the heavy demands and responsibilities of caring for a vulnerable relative or friend. The term “carer” may also be used to refer to a paid, employed, contracted PCA.

The general term dependant care (i.e., care of a dependant) is also used for the provided help.[1] Terms such as “voluntary caregiver” and “informal carer” are also used occasionally, but these terms have been criticized by carers as misnomers because they are perceived as belittling the huge impact that caring may have on an individual’s life, the lack of realistic alternatives, and the degree of perceived duty of care felt by many relatives.

More recently, Carers UK has defined carers as people who “provide unpaid care by looking after an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner”. Adults who act as carers for both their children and their parents are frequently called the Sandwich generation.

A general definition of a carer/caregiver is someone who is responsible for the care of someone who is mentally ill, mentally handicapped, physically disabled or whose health is impaired by sickness or old age. To help caregivers understand the role they have taken on, “Next Step in Care”[2] outlines the following:

You are a caregiver if you:

  • Take care of someone who has a chronic illness or disease.
  • Manage medications or talk to doctors and nurses on someone’s behalf.
  • Help bathe or dress someone who is frail or disabled.
  • Take care of household chores, meals, or bills for someone who cannot do these things alone.[3]
It’s my Duty Isn’t it?

With an increasingly aging population in all developed societies, the role of carer has been increasingly recognized as an important one, both functionally and economically. Many organizations which provide support for persons with disabilities have developed various forms of support for carers as well.

What is YOUR description of a Caregiver?

As caregivers, I don’t think we give much thought to what we do.  We just do it.  It’s natural, it’s what we do.  We become masters of multi-tasking, juggling appointments, preparing lunches and making meals, transportation, cleaning, laundry and more.  We are teachers, doctors, nurses, chefs, handyperson’s, therapists, advocates/speakers, to name a few, all wrapped into one.

When was the last time someone complimented you on everything you do?  When was the last time someone thanked you for all you do?

When was the last time someone called YOU a Hero?

It’s not always easy or comfortable to hear those words, because to us it’s what we do all the time.  It’s our life!   It’s still feels good to hear them though, when we do.

Often people ask me; ‘How do you do it?’  My response of course is, ‘Do what?’  They reply;  ‘Do everything you do with/for your son, and all the things you are involved in.’  What is our usual reply to a scenario like this?  This is my life, I just do it.  Just like you do everything you do in your life and for those around you.

Being Mom to a child with disabilities, we face challenges that many others don’t have.  We all have different challenges in life we go through, but some are more specific, I’m sure you understandwhat I mean.  I hope you do.  We don’t look for pity.  We don’t want you feeling sorry for us and all we go through.  We are proud, just like you!   It’s difficult for many of us to ask for help and/or support for whatever it is we might need.  Although there are days we think we must be superman, we know we aren’t.  It’s tough for us to take time for ourselves, but we learn, slowly and it’s something I don’t think any of us perfect.

A week or two ago, one of my son’s workers asked my permission to nominate me for an award through CCAC (Community Care Access Centre).  I wasn’t sure what it was about or for, but she needed my permission to submit my name.  Since things have been so busy with Patrick the past month, all I got was that it had something to do with being a caregiver.  I gave my permission and honestly didn’t think about it again, till this past Friday when I received a letter in the mail from CCAC.

An initiative of South West CCAC and the healthline.ca

Congratultions!

We are pleased to inform you that Michelle S. has nominated you for a

HEROES IN THE HOME Caregiver Recognition Award!

There is a special celebration  on October 20th to receive this award.

WOW!  How sweet of Michelle to think so much about me to feel I would give justice to and deserve this recognition.   I really am blessed!  The girls who come work here, love working for/with Patrick and I.  We become like family and care for and about each other.

How amazing someone thinks of me as a Hero!  It’s an indescribeable feeling.  I’m just me after all, always am, have been and always will be.

I am very grateful for everyone in our life who loves and supports us.  I am grateful for all the things, whether big or small that anyone does with and for us. I often wonder how I could ever repay everyone for all the kindness, love, support etc that they have shown us.  It truly is overwhelming some days and I don’t think I could find enough words to express it.

For tonight though, I will say thank you!  Thank you to all of you!  May you know you are loved and thought of fondly often.

For tonight, I will check on Patrick before I crawl into my bed, and fall asleep knowing that someone thinks I’m a Hero.  And I will let myself have warm fuzzy feelings, even if it’s for a short time because tomorrow I will wake up and do it all over again.

Let me leave you with one more thought…

YOU are a Hero too!! 

Update 6 – one of those appointments

It’s been a few days since I’ve done an  update.  I’m so tired when I get home in the evening and getting up so early in the morning.  I’ve been setting my alarm for 530am so I can get used to being up when he goes back to school.  I’m at the hospital just after 730am and I try to be back home around 8pm as long as nothing is going on.

At the last update, we were waiting for the new valves to come in so they could get into surgery and fix them.  We did go home for the long weekend.  Patrick did alright, nothing major to warrant an earlier return to the hospital and thankfully didn’t need to give him any codeine over the weekend either. 🙂

Tuesday afternoon we went back to the hospital to get admitted again.  The valves arrived Tuesday and surgery was Wednesday, first one in the morning.

I’m going to try not to go into too much details, I know for some it is over-whelming and difficult to understand.  If there are ever any questions about anything I have written, please feel free to email/comment and ask.  I will happily answer.

Surgery Wednesday morning went well.  They took the full 3hrs and a tad more.  Both valves were replaced as well as the upper end of both shunts.  Testing during the surgery indicated no issues with the bottom ends.  At the upper end, the left was blocked/plugged and the right was likely partially plugged as it was quite slow, hence both got replaced.

Both shunts are set at 60, where they had been set for the past 6-7 years.  For those interested, the settings range from around 30 – 300.  The lower the number, the more it allows the shunts to drain the ventricles.

Patrick came out of sedation and recovery quickly.  They were actually paging us throughout the hospital to get us to go back to post-op.  We didn’t hear the page even though we were just in the hallway talking to Dr. Ranger.  We went in and were able to get him calmed down.  The nurses were amazed apparently at how well we communicated and got him settled.  They said they were getting alot of ‘no’s’ and didn’t know what he was saying.  Understandable.

The days following surgery have been up and down.  A CT was done Friday morning.  Results were that the ventricles were a ‘little’ smaller, but still generous in size.  They were heading in the right direction.

Friday afternoon, Patrick started to become symptomatic again.  Lethargic, uncomfortable, fidgety, head pain, slow responding and there was ‘swelling’ at the shunt sites.  The swelling is actually fluid, not swelling.  He was having times of alertness, smiling and such, but then would go down and have the aforementioned symptoms.  He had slight elevated temps on Friday, but none since.  His vitals have been good, blood pressure, temps etc…  Saturday he began having longer periods of lethargicness and periodically breaking out in rashes.  His chest was sounding crackly and a bit rough with a phlegmy cough.

Too make a long story short, as a result of how he’s been this weekend, another CT has been ordered for today.  We’ll see what the CT shows, pharmacy is looking into how his meds are made up and what’s in them to see if that might be the cause for the rashes (they don’t think so), we’ll see what Dr. Ranger says tomorrow (she’s going to scratch her head again and sigh wondering why this is happening when he has 2 new, great working shunts).

It’s frustrating when people (Dr’s/Residents etc.) come to see your child who have never seen them before and think that because what’s happening isn’t “typical” or “by the books”, that it’s probably nothing serious and to ‘give it time’.

It’s frustrating when explaining to them about your child and they look at you as if you are reaching for ideas and/or looking for something to be wrong, when in fact you are trying to tell them what IS typical/normal for your child!

It’s frustrating when they talk to you as if you know nothing and can’t understand what they are saying/explaining!

Thankfully, this afternoon the adult Neurosurgery Team Resident that came, remembered Patrick from last fall and all that happened there.  He remembered seeing Patrick a couple times and hearing about his case.  I think Southwestern ON heard about him!  He said it was quite the interesting case.  I’m thankful he listened to us and understood what we were saying and explaining and didn’t try to brush things off or us off.

I’m glad that I am a great advocate for my son.  I ask questions until I get answers I’m satisfied with and understand.  I work with the Dr’s/Nurses to decide what the best plan of action should be.  I keep them informed and help out as much as possible.

I know things will get sorted with Patrick this week.  Until last fall, he had gone 6yrs or so with no pressure issues, and now if this is what’s happening again, we aren’t even a year yet since the last.  I’m hoping this isn’t a sign of things to come.

I’m going to post a Poll asking your thoughts on Doctor/Nurse – Patient/Family Communication and how you feel about it based on personal experience.  I’m quite curious.  I hope you will take a quick minute to answer it.

Thanks to everyone for their continued thoughts and prayers for Patrick.  Again, it is truly appreciated.

Patrick asked for Bruiser to come visit him tomorrow.  I have given Bruiser a bath tonight and will confirm with the Nurses it’s ok to bring his dog up to see him again tomorrow.

Patrick didn’t want me to leave tonight.  I told him I had to pack up some things for him and to bathe Bruiser if he wanted to see him tomorrow.  He seemed ok with that.  Dave, Patrick’s father has been staying the night at the hospital so I can go home and sleep.  He has been up since the week of his Shunt-o-gram and likely will not leave until Patrick is ok and able to come home.  If Dave wasn’t up here, I’d be at the hospital 24/7.  Someone needs to be there all the time.  It’s mandatory in most cases.

I appologize if I seem all over the place here, I’m tired and heading to bed.

More to come…

 

Update 5 – one of those appointments

Change of plans…

The past couple days have been fairly quiet.  Not much really can be done until the new valves for the Shunts come in.  Can’t really do much else either until there is O.R. time available.  Should he deteriorate quickly, he would be taken into the O.R. of course and given another type of Shunt, if his aren’t in.

Patrick is still getting heachaches, but none like the other day thankfully.  He has been going down to the Child Life Playroom and doing some crafts for about 20-30min depending on how he feels, which is good and gets him out of his room for a bit.

Today a Ventriliquist was visiting on the floor, her name was Sue and she brought Boomer the Mouse with her.  She came and saw Patrick twice today, he liked that and thought she/they were pretty funny.  Boomer told some jokes, made some funny comments, asked Patrick questions and sang a few songs ranging from The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars, The Black Eyed Peas to Kesha.  He liked the singing.  Patrick likes Jeff Dunham, so it was no surprise he liked Sue & Boomer.  Thankfully she caught him feeling not too bad to enjoy it.

This morning at 7:30am was Patrick’s CT Scan.  Dr. Ranger and Dr. Pinkoski were by afterward to see how he was doing and discuss the results.  It was nice and surprising to hear Patrick’s ventricles have come down a little.  They still are large for him, but down from previous, which was good news.  What does that mean?

It means, regardless what the scan says/shows, the programmable valves on his current Shunts are not working properly and still need to be replaced.  The valves will arrive Tuesday and surgery will be Wednesday.  Again, if he has issues and deteriorates in the mean time, he will go in to the O.R. and have different shunts put in.  We are all hoping he can hold off till his come in, as they are specific for/to him for a reason and have been working great for him the past 6-7 years till now.

The change in plan is the following:

They were going to allow Patrick and LOA (Leave of Absence) for a night, to go home and get out and away from the hospital for a little bit.  My concern was if he had another headache like the other day, I have nothing here to deal with that kind of pain for him.  They said they would send a script home for codeine just in case.  At that point I felt ok with that and being away for one night.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought perhaps going home for the weekend would be a good idea.  It would mean having to be dishcharged instead of having an LOA.  The LOA’s are only 8-10 hrs typically, but one overnight was agreed for Patrick.  Anything longer requires discharge.  At first, I didn’t want to go through the whole admitting thing again, or sit in emerge if something happened while at home.

I decided it would be ok and good for everyone to go home, sleep in our own beds, no interruptions, comforts of home, cooked meals etc…and I had the script to fill if he got another bad headache.  Of course there were stipulations, obvious as well, he was to be watched, if he deteriorated get him in, if he had bad pain again give him codeine and bring him in if necessary…AND…we had to be back Tuesday after lunch to be admitted again and prepped for surgery and see anesthesiology.  We can sit around at home and be more comfortable.

I am ok with him home and having the script, just in case.  I know him and what he’s like and what happens with him well enough and Dr. Ranger knows I am good that way, that if i have concerns, I will take him in.  If he goes into emerge with pain that bad in his head,…we won’t be waiting long!!

So…we are home, although temporarily, we are home!  Script filled and relaxing.  Sleeping interruption free and being comfortable.  🙂