Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Everything and Nothing

It’s been a long time since my last blog post, I have two very cute reasons why that is the case. The past month felt exceptionally long for me. It was a period of time where I am living as “the hunter’s widow.” Basically, between hunting and work I think I saw Levi maybe four or five days from the beginning of October-November 8th. He had training, then shift work, followed by deer season, back on shift, back to hunt for deer, back on shift, elk season, etc.
(Levi hunting)
You get the idea. When I thought about doing a blog update with what’s going on, I stopped and thought, and really had no idea. I can’t remember anything these days. Everything is a fog. Nothing seems worth writing about, we just go through the same routine day in and out with outings here and there but as a stay at home mom nothing seems that exciting for people to read about. I mean at the end of the day, there’s this strange phenomenon where I’m exhausted and yet if I were to put down on paper what I “accomplished” for the day it looks like nothing. How is it I feel so busy throughout the day and yet it doesn’t seem like I get much done? The kitchen could still use some more cleaning, there are still little toys strewn about, I still have laundry to fold, and wash, and fold…when was the last time I cleaned the bathrooms? Washed the sheets? The list goes on and on.
                And here is a perfect example of why I am busy and tired at the end of the day when it looks like nothing happened. Today the girls ran into my room at 7:30am. Eve comes to my bed and asks to come up. I pick her up for a snuggle only to soon realize her diaper had a major pee leak over the night and she is soaked, and now I am damp. I take her and change her, then strip her bed and get to washing her mattress protector, as that will be needed for nap later. After starting the laundry, I make them oatmeal with blueberries and as an extra fun treat today, sprinkles! The girls are itching to do some painting after breakfast. I clean up the kitchen and happily set out some paper for them to “finger paint.” I say “finger paint” because it soon turned into so much more than that. It started on their fingers and for Lily became a whole-body painting experience. I tried to stop her early on but she was too quick and once she was a mess I figured a little more wouldn’t hurt so let her enjoy herself.  Eve followed suit with painting her feet but was relatively clean by comparison. When they finished it took somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour to get everything cleaned and the kids bathed. I went downstairs to continue cleaning the paint in the kitchen.

        The girls were playing together nicely upstairs while I finished cleaning. Eve took off her diaper, put her potty seat on the big toilet, and went pee. I went upstairs to help her wipe and reward her with two chocolate chips. Lily gets two as well for being a good cheerleader. Eve screams, “I want to be naked!” I figure she’s been doing a good job with going in the potty and since she just went she shouldn’t have any accidents. Then the laundry chimes and I head downstairs to switch it out. After switching the laundry, I head upstairs and go in Eve’s room to put some things away. Suddenly Eve comes running out of Lily’s room and stops and stares at me. I know that look. That is the look of a kid who had an accident. “Did you have an accident?” I ask. She looks at me and runs away to hide. I go into Lily’s room and gasp. She didn’t have a pee accident. She had a huge poop accident. I grab some toilet paper to pick up the huge logs and call Eve back to be wiped. Finally, I am able to convince her to come out of hiding and get wiped. I head downstairs for the carpet cleaner vacuum (boy has that been a useful purchase) and get to work. When that’s finished the kids are telling me they are starving. I tell them to play a little bit while I empty the vacuum.
                While downstairs, I go to the deep freeze, grab a frozen pizza, and start the oven. That’s going to be lunch. Which gave me 18 minutes to get this written. I just heard the oven beep. And that’s what’s been happening up until noon. So, it took over 4 hours of work to get the house looking like it did when we woke up. And that’s why at the end of the day everything and nothing has been accomplished.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Crash That Keeps on Giving

(Fire Department at our door)

                I wanted to give an update on how Levi’s recovery is going after his mountain bike wreck a few weeks ago (see previous blogs here and here). Things were a bit rough the first two weeks with good days followed by really bad days. The first week he dealt with some paralysis of his digestive system probably due to the impact of the wreck and a little with the pain meds (though once he got home he really wasn’t taking anything heavier than Tylenol). Once things got moving there he started having severe headaches. It was about 6 days post wreck on a Friday, when he had his first. He was lying in bed in extreme pain. He felt sick. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t have even the slightest amount of light or noise. He was in a lot of pain. The next few days the headache subsided though it was still there, just not as severe. Then on Wednesday we decided to venture out to Snoqualmie Falls as we thought a short easy walk would be fine. His pain was getting better every day. After the Falls, we stopped at a park and let the kids play. When we got home another extreme headache hit. That’s when I began googling and got a little worried. I know you should never “google” symptoms as you’ll get the worst-case scenario.

                After reading that people can have slight brain bleeds after injuries that don’t show up for about a week I called my sister who is a nurse for her advice. She thought he may have had a minor concussion from the wreck, or there could be a hematoma pressing in his brain, or unlikely but still a small chance of a brain bleed. I mean if he hit hard enough to lacerate his kidney, his head could’ve been injured as well even though he didn’t hit it hard. She thought it would be best to get him checked out since his head was never checked in the ER as he wasn’t showing any signs then of a head injury. I called Levi’s coworker, Jason, who was biking with him and spent time at the hospital after the wreck to see if they ever checked his head for injury. I told Jason Levi’s symptoms and being a trained first responder he also thought we should take him in to be seen. He said it was probably nothing but with his symptoms there was a small chance it could be something serious and he didn’t think we should mess around so long as there was a chance. It’s an understatement to say Levi was not thrilled with the idea of going in to the ER. He wanted to wait until morning but with this headache he was clutching his head in pain and was not looking good. Behind the scenes, Jason called a captain with the Puget Sound Fire Authority at the station near our house and told him the situation. I also called the number on Levi’s discharge instructions for Harborview to talk to the nurse there. I was waiting to get a call back and was relaying information back and forth to Jason. Jason told me to call 911 so the crew could be dispatched. He also talked to Levi several times to make sure he would go in, even joking (though I don’t think he was joking) that he knew all the right things to say to get him “invol’d” (involuntarily brought in which involves police and soft restraints). Levi obliged.
I got a call back from the nurse’s line at the same time as I heard a knock on my door. I opened the door and saw the fire department. Now that’s the quickest response time ever! I technically hadn’t called yet. While I was on the phone the Captain told me to hang up so I could call 911 and dispatch them. Then when he heard I was on the phone with Harborview he told me to stay on the line with them so I could see where they wanted us to take Levi and they would dispatch themselves. The nurse told me that they typically want to see you back at the hospital you were treated at, however, they also recommend going to the closest hospital. Harborview is great for traumatic injuries but in this case the closest hospital seemed like the quicker and more appropriate response so the Fire Fighters decided to take him to Valley. They called their Aid car to transport him and asked him when he wanted to go. He said he wanted to try to eat something as he knew he wouldn’t be getting any food at the hospital. He ate a few bites of food that had been so graciously made for us through a meal train started by people at Faith church in Kent. He got into the Aid car and they took him to the hospital.
Jason called and told me he was going to the hospital to stay with Levi and drive him home afterwords. Eve was sleeping and Lily was supposed to be in bed, though the excitement of having the Fire Department at her house was keeping her awake. She talks about how fun it was to have them over at our house. I’m hoping we don’t have to have them over here anymore. No more emergency visits. We can visit them at the station. We watched as the trucks drove away then went inside to wait. About midnight Jason called to tell me they did a CT scan and everything came back fine. He was having bad migraines. We aren’t sure why he started getting them but so far, he’s been migraine free for 11 days.
During this time, he also had a hard sneeze one day and felt immediate pain in his lower abdomen and a bulge. He immediately thought he had a hernia. He has had two inguinal hernias so knew what it felt like. Since he was off work for his kidney recovery he wanted to get this checked out as soon as possible so he wouldn’t have to take more time off work. He opted to go to an urgent care center since his Doctor couldn’t see him for a few weeks. At the urgent care, they diagnosed him with a hernia then scheduled him for an ultrasound a couple days later. The radiologist called after the ultra sound to say he didn’t have a hernia. It didn’t show up via imaging. Now he was in a predicament. Should he wait and see if things resolved? Was it a pulled muscle and not a hernia? What if he waited and it was a hernia and he just delayed his recovery? He decided to set up an appointment with the surgeon who did my hernia repair 5 weeks earlier for a second opinion.
After seeing him, the surgeon confirmed he had a hernia and said that sometimes, especially if it’s early on, they don’t always show up on imaging. When he was laying down for imaging Levi felt like it went back in and that he didn’t bear down hard enough to make it bulge. The technician told him he was bearing down plenty hard so he assumed it was showing up on the imaging. He is now scheduled for hernia surgery tomorrow (June 7th). Hopefully this will be the last surprise we get related to his crash that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Leaving Harborview With Two Kidneys

(Mother's Day in Harborview ICU)

                Over the weekend, Levi was in a mountain bike accident while riding on Duthie Hill near Issaquah, WA. See my previous blog. When I wrote last, the Doctors were unsure if Levi would keep his kidney. I was told they would either do surgery to fix the laceration or surgery to remove it. I wasn’t able to go to him the day the accident happened as I was at home taking care of the kids and the ICU isn’t really the most child friendly place. I kept myself busy and Jason, a Firefighter captain with Tukwila (who was biking with Levi at the time of the accident) stayed by his side, giving me constant updates. This was awesome and put my mind at ease to know someone was with Levi, someone who knows a lot more than I do in areas of trauma and EMT care. I kept the kids in their routine and tried to go about our day as usual. While in the ER they gave him more pain meds and another CT scan. The Doctors decided he didn’t need immediate surgery. They were going to monitor him and moved him to the ICU.
(Eve and the boys enjoying their books and fishy crackers in the nursery)
                The next day was Mother’s Day and I decided to go to church. It didn’t seem like a bad idea. I dropped the kids at the nursery and headed in to worship. During the very first song, tears started to flow. I’m not much of a crier, well I used to not be at least, but I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. A woman came and stood next to me, which was kind but I couldn’t seem to make those darn tears stop! It’s like the more I thought about stopping the worse it got. I ducked out of the service and headed for the mother’s room. It was empty so I decided to watch the sermon there. Four fellow Moms came in to comfort me and pray for Levi. I wasn’t crying out of fear, I knew Levi would be ok. They weren’t doing surgery yet and were still monitoring him. In my heart, I knew things were going to be alright. So why the tears? Honestly, I don’t really know. Maybe it was something deeper inside I was feeling. Maybe it was the straw that broke the camel’s back after a rough couple of weeks (we dealt with 9 days of a vomiting baby that the Doctors couldn’t figure out, then surgery to repair two hernias for me, and then Levi’s trip to Harborview ICU). I think it was just an overall feeling of being overwhelmed. My friend told me once you're almost to your quota of what you can handle it doesn’t take much to send you over the top.
                So, there I sat in church crying. It’s a good place to be I guess. Personally, I’d rather cry in the privacy of my home but at church I was surrounded by such kind people and everyone stopped and prayed for Levi. I believe in the power of prayer. When I left, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was planning on going in to see Levi that day and was working to get a baby sitter squared away for my kids but at least now I could go see Levi and not have an emotional breakdown. 
                Jason came by our house after I got home from church, to drop off Levi’s truck and bike as well as some flowers from Levi, for Mother’s Day. His bringing the truck was just one more thing that made everything so much easier. After going back and forth trying to find someone who could watch my kids (I had several offers of hour blocks where people were available) my sister in law, Jane called. She suggested just coming down to my house and watching the kids. Then I wouldn’t have to pack a bunch of baby stuff and it would just be one less thing to worry about. I took her up on the offer and felt even lighter. I couldn’t wait for her to come so began organizing the house. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet (it was after 1pm) but for some reason it seemed more logical to frantically go about the house cleaning to pass the time. I talked to Levi on the phone and they were still monitoring his hematocrit levels so he was unable to eat or drink. Chief Wittwwer came to visit earlier in the day and I know the visit helped pass the time and kept him somewhat distracted from his hunger. The poor guy hadn’t eaten since breakfast since 8:30am the day before. He could only wet his lips with a little sponge on a stick. Talk about torture. I had to deal with this years ago for a surgery and I would say that was almost worse than the surgery itself! He told me if his levels stayed the same he would be allowed to eat around 4pm. He was counting down the hours. I felt silly so downed some yogurt and granola before Jane arrived.
(Feeling a little groggy)
                Once Jane arrived I headed to downtown Seattle. Levi was sleeping when I got there. I didn’t want to wake him but upon pulling up a chair he opened his eyes. He looked tired but really good considering. He had a couple scratches on his side and they were minor. That’s a scary thing about internal injuries, he looked fine, he didn’t even have a bruise! They are deceiving. The nurses drew blood roughly every 6 hours and sometime after 3pm the nurse came in for his last blood draw before he would be allowed to eat. Another coworker and his wife (Chuck and Kristi) came to visit and during that time Levi was given the ok to eat. It had been 32 hours since he last ate. After ordering it takes an hour to get your food so in the meantime the nurse brought him peanut butter, crackers, pudding, and juice. He was in heaven. His friends' visit made the time go by quickly and soon enough he had a burger in hand and was eating his first real meal. We had another visit, this time from my sister in law’s parents (Bill and Shar) and they brought me something to eat. I cannot say thank you enough to everyone for coming to visit and helping us.
(After 32 hours without food it felt good to eat)
The rest of the time Levi and I just hung out in his room. He joked that he was out of place there. He was given the ok to walk after he was cleared to eat and he was definitely the only person walking around at that time. Later in the evening, I saw one young woman “walking” she had on a neck brace, something on her leg, and was being assisted by three people. The man in the room next to Levi never woke up the entire time I was there. He was on a ventilator. Harborview is a great place to be to receive care but I was quite thankful to be able to go on a little walk around the floor with Levi. Though he was in some pain he was jovial as ever and we were cracking jokes back and forth. It’s a good thing he’s funnier than me because laughing for him was quite painful.
(View of downtown Seattle)
At one point Levi apologized and said something about this not being the Mother’s Day I had hoped for. The day before I talked about us going to Snoqualmie Falls with the kids but we decided to do it another day and he went for a bike ride. We know how that ended. I joked that seeing the Falls probably was sounding pretty good now. Even though I didn’t go the falls, I told him how my friend, Rebecca from down the street brought me over cinnamon rolls in the morning, Jason brought flowers when he dropped off the truck, Jane came down to watch the kids, and her parents brought me dinner at the hospital. I was relaxing and talking with Levi without any distractions from my kids, so I’d say that was one of my better Mother’s Days, lol. A few people said they were sorry I couldn’t be with my kids but I joked that since my kids are 1.5 and 3.5 years old getting away for a brief period of time is a gift. It was actually really nice to just sit in the hospital room and connect with Levi. There’s so many distractions in life that oftentimes we lose sight of this. I wanted to stay until they moved him from the ICU to the main floor as the initial plan of him being discharged that night was off the table. He ended up never getting moved since the main floor was full and the ICU had open beds. I left just before 9pm and was sad to go, I was enjoying my time there. Levi and I have been together 11.5 years (8.5 married) and I can say I still love just hanging out with him, even in a cold hospital room in the ICU. Looking out the window we had a great view of the city. I looked at all the buildings and told Levi people pay big bucks to be in rooms with a view like this, he responded, “I’m pretty sure our insurance is paying big bucks for this room.”
(Downtown Seattle)
(At the park with Auntie Jane)
 When I got home, the kids were sleeping. Jane had taken such great care of them. They went to the park, ate dinner, and she even gave both of them baths. I feel incredibly lucky to have this woman as my friend and sister in law. She’s amazing. After she left I watched a little TV and ate some ice cream and didn’t even think too much about the next day’s plans. There were two options; Levi would be discharged or he would have to stay longer, so until I knew what it was I wouldn’t stress about setting up anything.
The next morning, I decided to go grocery shopping as I had been needing to go days ago. I took the kids and during the trip got a call from Jason. He told me Levi was being discharged. I hadn’t heard my text alert a few minutes earlier from Levi telling me he was able to come home. Jason offered to pick Levi up and I took him up on it. I was half way through my shopping trip with Eve throwing every article of clothing she could get off and food she could reach out of the cart, onto the ground. Let’s just say this shopping trip took a lot longer than usual. They had cookie samples at the bakery and I definitely gave my kids huge cookies before lunch to make the trip a little easier.
(Levi and Jason)
I got the kids down for a nap at 2pm and around 2:30pm Jason brought Levi home. Jason took a lot of time out of his days and weekend plans to help us and I am so grateful! When the kids woke up they were pretty excited to see Levi. We had a lot of people call us and stop by to check in on Levi and we thank all of you for your prayers and support. From my neighbor, Jessica bringing us meals to Trisha at Faith Church sharing the news which led to a meal train being created, to words of encouragement, phone calls, and more, I am shocked by all the support. I have a hard time accepting help and especially because I am physically able to cook, I didn’t think we were in great need. I am so thankful others know more about what I need than I do. Not having to go shopping or prepare meals these last couple of days while we get settled has been such a huge stress relief. Since Levi is unable to do much right now that does add a little more to my daily routines and taking off meal prep for dinner from my to do list has made things incredibly better. Levi has four weeks of rest ahead of him after which he will see a Doctor for some tests and then be cleared for work. Things were busy prior to his accident and I was hoping for more time to spend with him and it looks like I got that now, with this lacerated kidney. Next time, I’ll be more specific when I tell him I want to spend more time together!
(Happy to be with Daddy)