Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Family Get-a-way: Minnesota/Wisconsin

Before we had the whole Blake surgery thing, we took a trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin.  It was the weekend before the surgery.  We really wanted to getaway and spend some quality time with the family.  It was a really nice three days up there!

On Thursday afternoon we headed north and Aaron ended up getting a migraine so I had to drive.  We ended up never switching, so I drove through rush hour.  And construction.  And was sweating pretty much the whole entire time.  UGH!  Why would anybody want to do that on a daily basis?!  The good news is that Aaron said he never felt like his life was in danger - ha!

We stayed with my cousin Shanda and her husband, Matt, along with their girls, Arabella and Ivy in Hudson, Wisconsin.  They were kind enough to put up with our chaos for three nights!
 Friday morning we went to Hastings and met my grandma and grandpa for brunch at the Legion.  I love the view!  Right on the good old Mississippi River!  It was nice to have a few hours to catch-up and see them. 

We headed to a Minnesota Twins game Friday night.  It was the kids' first trip to Target Field.  Outside they had a statue of Tony Oliva.  The twins think these are real people!!  They were holding a conversation with him.
 And yes, Bowen, was attacking his backside. 

 We got there for batting practice by the Cleveland Indians.  Our seats were in the shade in left center.  When Aaron and I went a couple of years ago we sat down the first base line and I definitely liked our seats better this time.  I like to watch the ball come off the bat from there. 
 We were there to watch #7.  AKA...Joe Mauer!  Jenna was pretty excited about that, especially when Aaron told her he was in the bullpen, which was right next to us. 
 Our usher was AWESOME.  Seriously, that guy made our experience so good!  He got us a bag for our bobbleheads, got the kids "First Game at Target Field" certificates and offered to take a family photo for us. 
 Brody was quite certain he was going to die of thirst and hunger from the get-go. 
 It was double-bobble head night!  A bobble head with both Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.  Photo courtesy: Brody.
 Joe, getting ready to warm-up the starting pitcher.
 We made it five innings, which wasn't terrible.  Brody drank an entire Gatorade, so that was troublesome for his bladder and trips to the bathroom!  Otherwise, it was a success. :)
 On Saturday, we played in the park, Shanda and I went for a run, Aaron and Matt took the kids swimming, we went to a state park and hiked to the falls and we ended our day with the most yummy milkshakes EVER.  It was a good day. 
 I could not believe the people that were hiking to the falls.  Strollers, coolers and loads of people on the trail.  We kept track and it was 3.9 miles roundtrip.  That's a lot for little legs!
 So, so pretty. 

On the Thursday we headed up to Minnesota/Wisconsin, my brother and his wife, Mandy, had baby #2!  So, naturally, we had to make a trip through Mankato on our way back through.  McCoy Jay Hunecke is a definite keeper!  This Aunt was in love. :)
He weighed 8 lbs. 4 oz. at birth, but Mandy said he had lost a pound.  He seemed so little, until I realized he was the same size as the twins!  When I held him by my stomach and realized I had that times two, he suddenly seemed very big. :)
Cousins are the BEST!  The best pic we could get.  Bowen looks bored. :)
I was so grateful for the time away.  The time with family. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Home. Sweet. Home.

Saturday morning, I got a text from Aaron saying he had talked to Dr. Jetton and we for sure got to come home today.  Woo-Hoo!  I loaded up the other three kiddos and we headed back down to Iowa City. 

Aaron and I both feel like it's good for the three kiddos to come and see the hospital.  See where Blake has to stay.  See what he has to go through, at least a little bit. 

The plan is to slowly work Blake up at home to his 500 mL fill volume.  We will be in daily contact with Dr. Jetton about Blake's numbers (dialysis and vitals).  We also have to go down weekly so Jen, our nurse, can change Blake's dressings (the gauze/bandage type stuff) that are over his exit site (where the catheter comes out of his body). 

We are so incredibly blessed to have such an awesome nephrology team down there.  They like us.  We like them.  They trust us.  We trust them.  They welcome our questions and concerns.  They ask our opinions.  I will never forget in the NICU after Blake had started dialysis and they said, "We will end up being like your family."  And they are.

I also have to say a big thank you to all of YOU!  Thank you for the prayers, comments, meals for our family and everything else.  You may not think it's a big deal, but it's a BIG DEAL to us.  We couldn't get through this without our amazing support system! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dialysis, Day 2

 Friday.  Dialysis with the new catheter day two.  Things went well!  They upped Blake's fill volume to 200 mL and hooked him back up to his cycler.  It's amazing how fast he drains with the new catheter!  Seven hours of dialysis today.  Seven hours of keeping this munchkin occupied.  I have to say, he is such a trooper and did great!
When Blake isn't hooked-up to his feeding machine or dialysis, we like to walk.  Or go for rides.  A lot.   We all go a little stir crazy if we don't.  They had these cute little cars for me to push him around.  Below is the massive construction project of the new children's hospital that is set to open in 2016.  Exciting stuff.  Off to the right you can see Kinnick Stadium.  Blake LOVES all the dirt, bulldozers, etc.
 On our floor he found this cool John Deere trike.  Up and down the halls.  Up and down the halls. 
And today, we had special visitors!  Two players from the Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball team (an affiliate of the MN Twins) and a coach stopped by our room to say hi.  They were super nice!  They even signed a little baseball for Blake that he kept throwing over and over and over again...
One of the best pics ever?!  Yes, I think so!!!

Happy news:  I got a text from our nurse, Jen, tonite and she said if Blake's labs look good tomorrow we get to come home! Technically, I am already home.  I got home about 5:30 PM tonite, but Aaron and Blake are still in Iowa City.  Please think happy thoughts, cross your fingers (and toes!) and pray that all looks good tomorrow morning!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dialysis Day One

Blake started dialysis today with his new catheter.  They did five cycles, manually.  What this means is that instead of using his machine to fill him up with solution and the machine to drain him, our dialysis nurse was there to do it. 

They have to start slowly to make sure he is draining well and to not push the new catheter too much so that it could spring a leak or something terrible like that.  Just to compare, pre-surgery his fills were 500 mL and today we started at 130 mL, so we have a ways to go to get him back where he needs to be. 

The good news is that he drained like a little champ!  Dr. Jetton and Jen, our nurse, were very happy with how today went.  Tomorrow, they will start him back on his machine (the cycler) and up his fill volumes to 200 mL.  We continue to pray that the catheter does it's job!

Can I just also say that even though this hospital stuff is not my favorite, there are always good things that come out of it?  For example, we had visitors to keep us company and I got to see two of my high school classmates! 

It's always nice to talk to other parents and see what other kids have to go through.  I love the perspective you get in this place.  It keeps you in check about the trivial things in life and for that...I'm grateful.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Surgery Day

Disclaimer: These photos have ZERO to do with this post.  I just took them right before Blake's surgery at home because the boys had never showered together.  They had so much fun!  I love these "twin" moments. :)
 Anyway, surgery day.  Blake was supposed to have surgery at 9 AM.  At 9:45 AM they still hadn't come to get him yet and the nurse came in and said it would be another 45 minutes.  At 10:30 AM the anesthesiologist took a crying Blake back for surgery.  
 I will say I was very grateful how they communicated with us for surgery.  At 11:10 AM, we were told they had started the procedure.  The room was scheduled for Blake's surgery for 2.5 hours.  Imagine our surprise when they came and told us at noon that he was already in recovery!
 We headed up to recovery where we found a not-so-happy little boy who was crying, screaming and fighting with the nurse.  I immediately took him and tried to console him, although it was challenging. 
 Shortly thereafter, we were taken to our room.  They gave Blake Tylenol for the pain and he was pretty happy going in and out of sleep on our laps, which was fine with us. 
 Dr. Jetton ordered an x-ray done to check and see what his catheter looked like.  She showed us the x-ray of the old one and the new one.  The catheter looks great.  And, like she said, let's hope it works as good as it looks!
 The surgeon suggested giving Blake 24 hours to heal a little.  So, no dialysis until Thursday morning.
 His normal fill volumes for each of his cycles is 500 mL, but they will start him at 100 mL and work him up slowly to make sure the catheter isn't leaking and also make sure it's draining well.
 We still have no idea how long we'll be here.  I just depends on how things go with the dialysis.  Prayers for an awesomely working catheter!!
The best part of the day was when we got to Face Time with Jenna, Brody and Bowen.  Grandma Linda said Jenna cried today because she misses us.  Breaks my heart.  It was great to hear their voices and see their smiles and hear their laughter. :) 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Surgery Wednesday

Aaron, Blake and I left for Iowa City early this morning.  Even though Blake's surgery is set for Wednesday, we still had three other appointments today.  This was a tough one.  It's the first time that Aaron and I will both be gone from Jenna, Brody and Bowen for such a long period of time.  I held it together until we pulled out of the driveway and then I cried. 
 They did some transplant labs along with regular labs and the gal got the vein on the first try.  YAY!
 We then headed over to the new Iowa River Landing for an ultrasound and a consult with the urologist, Dr. Kieran.  We waited for one hour and 15 minutes in that tiny room waiting for the doctor to come.  With a two year old.  Note to hospital staff: please don't make us go back in the room if the doctor is behind schedule.  I'd rather be in the waiting room.  I'm just saying...
 Anyway, we waited all that time for her to ask if we have a donor yet and then said to call her when we do and we can get surgery set-up for his bladder augmentation.  She also said that Blake still holds the bar the highest for the most messed-up bladder due to posterior urtheral valves she's ever seen. So, that's something... :)
 We then had our six month check with neonatology for the infant follow-up program.  Blake did AWESOME.  So awesome in fact that physically, socially, etc. he is right on track or ahead of where he should be that she said we didn't need to see her anymore.  Woo-hoo!
 Our clinic in dialysis was uneventful, which is always the best kind.  We heard from the dietician, doctor and nurse about how good Blake looks and how they are so impressed with how he is thriving. 
 No changes to meds.  That almost never happens.  We then talked about surgery for tomorrow.
 Blake's surgery to replace his dialysis catheter is scheduled for 9 AM on Wednesday.  We have to report at 7:30 AM.  It is supposed to take around two and a half hours plus another one and a half in recovery. 
 I don't want to say I'm nervous, but I'm nervous.  It's surgery.  Any type of surgery is scary. 
 I will keep you all up-to-date through facebook and will also do a blog post tomorrow nite. 
We would sure appreciate any prayers that you could send our way tomorrow.  I hope everything goes well so we can get back to this kind of stuff.  Outside play, trampoline fun and bike riding.  Prayers for a speedy recovery so we can be all together again really soon!