Thursday, November 29, 2007

California, HERE WE COME!!!

It's all in the title! Yup, we are coming home, tomorrow to be exact! But don't tell Sierra and Josh...we are going to surprise them by picking them up from school :) (granted there are no delays!) This has been a wild journey. If you had told us a few months ago that we would be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hanging out with Mark's brother(Nathan) and wife(Danielle) I would have laughed my head off, let alone Mark having surgery that would change our lives, Mark drowning in a river and that we would spend 7 weeks without seeing our kids, I would call you absolutely crazy and that you need to see a shrink.

But here we are after 5 months and well...HERE WE ARE! We got to end our trip with a treat. Marks brother and wife drove out here, Nathan is doing interviews for his Residency. He set up an interview with the Childrens Hospital here in Pittsburgh(one of many interviews). When we found out, we honestly didn't think we would still be here! They arrived Saturday night and left Tuesday. During that time, we took a little trip to Kirtland Ohio where we toured some church historical sites. It was awesome. We were so happy to have them and be able to end our "visit" here on a good note. It was *almost* like a little vacation at the end...ALMOST! :) Today we spent our last few hours quickly running around saying goodbye to everyone we've met. We are so sad to depart in a sense...we have made a family here. We will miss them also. But we are SOOO EXCITED to see our kids and my dear mom!!! So, till next time.....(see some of you soon!)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Oh yah, about Mark...

After posting that last post, I forgot to mention the man I spend 24 hours, 7 days a week with. He's doing well actually! The best he's done in quite some time. He's managed to eat 2-3 meals each day now and is just barely starting to get some energy. Wednesday we had clinic which tends to take 4-5 hours but hey, do we have anyplace to be? They took him off of medications that Mark and I, by process of elimination, found were making Mark sick (the opposite of what they are supposed to do!) So he's REALLY starting to feel good. Every hour or so Mark would exclaim out of nowhere "Gosh! I feel so good...I'm not even naucious! Now, if it would just stay this way!" And he has! So another small triumph. Thursday we did go to Family House, it was one of the MOST MEMORALBE Thanksgivings Mark and I have ever had. When you are amongst others who are so sick, they can barely enjoy their turkey and are far away from their children and/or husbands, you get a whole bunch of mixed emotions. You feel you've developed a temporary family who shares the same stuggles, but joy that you have them there. There's sorrow for those who know they have many more Holidays to be spent there but yet there was an OVERWHELMING feeling of gratefullness that we could all be together and enjoy being ALIVE. And we had a wonderful apple pie at a doctors house that we met through the ward we have been attending here. It was wonderful to be with their family as well. There are many more thoughts I have jumbled in my head but I think I've been WAY too serious in my last 2 posts!:) So I'll share a few pics of recent and be done. OH! I forgot to mention that we will for sure be here another week or so, Mark has another test on Wednesday. Till next time...

Above: A boy hid around the corner while playing beautiful music during our feast. Next, a family that we have become close with(the women in pink had a small bowel transplant 2 days before Marks surgery) she has missed her daughters baby shower, and her dog giving birth to puppies but she will be around a lot longer to enjoy them when she returns home! The one is of the two dining rooms and everyone enjoying the feast, and the last is a pic taken from our hotel room of the SNOW! :) (I love snow!!!)

You think they missed us? I don't know!

So I haven't been blogging about my kids. Maybe because being 3000 miles away I'm not in the middle of what they are doing so there isn't much to write, or maybe writing about them gets me all choked up because I miss them like crazy, or MAYBE writing about them will make them seem like they are fine without me and I don't want them to be! ORrr it's all three! So to face my missing void, here's the first several weeks of my kids lives without us, all in Utah, staying at my sisters house. (I'm not going to cry!) :) The first one though is our last family photo the night before the kids flew to Utah...I still have a hard time looking at it. We were afraid that if anything went wrong, this might have been our last.

This is Sierra and Josh about to fly BY THEMSELVES to Utah (yes, I am a paranoid parent). I didn't cry until they got on the plane though. They left Wed, Oct.10th. My kids aren't old enough to grow up yet...

The pic above is my wonderful sis in Utah picking them up. She sent me a pic right away so I could actually "see" that they arrived in one piece! Now all the pics to follow are ones my sister sent to show us all the fun they were having. After getting the first few, Mark and I wondered if our kids would ever want to return home!

Above, they went rock climbing at Thanksgiving point, hung out with cousins and more cousins, and made marshmellow guns and had a big marshmellow war! Below is Sierra and Josh's pumpkin carving creations, the program of a play they got to see, and Josh sporting a haircut that he got to give to HIMSELF! (old invention called the flobee, anyone remember that thing?!)

That's it for now, I need to stop sniffling :) It's been 6 1/2 weeks, hopefully it won't be too much longer! They are back in California with my mom driving her crazy I'm sure (as they would if I were there!) I know they are happy to be back in school with friends and familiar faces. It will all be worth it in the end, right? :) WE MISS THEM LIKE CRAZY THOUGH!!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A few pics from Gettysburg(update below)

Feeling well, not feeling well, feeling well, not feeling well...

Ok, so I haven't updated for a bit again. Things change day to day. For instance, Mark was suppossed to have his endoscopy on Friday. They ended up not doing it because Mark's blood was too thin(he's on blood thinners). So we rescheduled for Monday. Mark has also been feeling naucious off and on everyday. It's hard for him to function when we feels like that. But Saturday, even though he didn't feel good, he really wanted to go to Gettysburgh. So, we did! He slept all 3 hours on the way there and back to help with his energy. It was awesome! What we didn't know was that it was the 144th anniversary of the Gettysburgh Address. They had a parade with everyone dressed in clothing from the time period and we ended the day listening to a brass band play Battle Hymn of the Republic on top of Little Round Top. It was an amazing short visit. It tired Mark out but he said it was well worth it. Sunday he slept the whole day feeling pretty badly. On Monday he went in for his endoscopy. They went down his throat, into his intestines with a scope. It was still a little swollen where they reconnected his intestine from the surgery. So they took a balloon and expanded it a little. Amazingly right after, Mark felt the best he had ever felt since the surgery. He hadn't had an appetite at all since the surgery until yesterday. We went out for a little bit afterwards grabbing a bite to eat together. Then this morning Mark woke up and threw up was short lived. BUT! We think it may be one of the medications he is on. So he didn't take it this afternoon and now he is feeling good again. We were able to go and see a movie! We are crossing our fingers that it lasts!

We have clinic tomorrow morning, we are hoping that should give us a better timeline of when we get to go home, we are hoping for next week. We have been invited to have Thanksgiving at a place called "Family House". It's housing for patients/families who have to stay long term near the hospital. They have nurses on staff through the night too, it's an amazing place. We have met so many amazing people throughout our stay, several of them staying at Family House. Even though we are having a hard time with the thought of not being with our own children and family on Thanksgiving, we feel humbled and blessed to spend it with those who are far away from their families as well. Down the line, we hope to share some of the AMAZING stories/journies of those we have met here.

And lastly, if I don't get to write before Thursday, We are TRULY grateful for each of you and feel blessed to have such wonderful family and friends. Again, Mark and I both said that you start realizing who your true friends are when you go through such trials as these...thank you, thank you, thank you. We wouldn't be able to make it through without your support and prayers, we've been carried. May each of you be able to enjoy your Thanksgiving and be sure to let those you love know you are grateful for them! I guess that means I need to say... "WE LOVE YOU!" HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!! Till next time...

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Ok, so I came to do another post and saw that my Sunday nights post didn't POST! I trust the internet too much I think :)

So the latest which is now late! Mark got out of the hospital Sunday night! He had his first meal, cream o' wheat(???) But that's what he wanted! He was so excited that he came home and slept! :) He was just glad to do it in his "own" bed, well, anywhere out of a hospital is all he cared about. Monday we slept in a little but then we went and got haircuts, walked a little in downtown and then went back to the hotel. Tuesday Mark was tired...and so was I so we slept in. It's weird to be able to sleep at any time...or when Mark takes a nap, I might as well too! What will we do without all these naps when we get back?! I guess have a life! :) Wednesday wasn't so good. We went to clinic (which is where you spend a LOT of time when you aren't in the hospital) While talking with our nurse coordinator Mark ran out and threw up. Poor guy. He has been nausious the last two days and sleeping through most of it. So tomorrow morning he will have an endoscopy and they will take a balloon and push open his intestine a little more to help food to go through easier. This evening though Mark is starting to feel better. He was able to eat dinner tonight. This stuff is normal for the most part, just means Mark's body is taking a little longer to adjust after the surgery. As they keep reminding us, Mark had major invasive surgery and it will take time to get back to normal, sometimes with hiccups. So we are doing well considering. Today it's been 5 weeks since we arrived here! Hopefully it'll only be another week or so till we go home! As Sierra and Josh said "We are crossing our fingers!" Till next time...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

De-tubed, Un-tubed...whatever, HE'S HAPPY!

Mark got his tube out of his nose!!! This momentus occation took place on Thursday evening but my internet doesn't always work (and may not again after this, I'm currently at the hotel). He whooped and hollered and was heard throughout the 12th north floor. And as we took a walk afterwardrs, you would of that he was Fonzy(sp?) from Happy Days or something. He was strutting his new look of no tubes and the nurses were saying "Hey! You got your tube out, YA!" and "OH, you look so happy!". He was famous for the night. Mark later remarked in his jokingly boy talk "See, if I hadn't whined and complained while it was in, then no one would have noticed me and congratulated me. I'm sure people get their tubes out and don't get reactions like that!" I'm sure they don't.... :)

But there is a short funny thing that led up to this moment of being de-tubed, which I'm sure those who know Mark won't be surprised. At 12:00 that day, the doctors came in and decided to do this little test by clamping the tube till 4:00pm(normally it continuously drains), and then drain it at 4:00 pm to see how much his stomach produced(and didn't go down into the intestines. In order for the tube to be finally removed, Marks body had to produce less than 200cc's of bile, at this point it should be going down into his intestines and passing through. So, Mark being desperate and thinking his body wouldn't pass this test (but REALLY wanted the tube out) went into his room at 3:45 and started to drain a little. He only got out 60cc's but didn't get out anymore...this was a problem because when the doctor would come in and get "nothing out" it would obviously look HIGHLY suspicious. The doctors had joked before hand that they would dust for prints to make sure Mark didn't alter the test any (haha). Obviously they know him well. So, just as Mark is cleaning up his evidence, he lucked out when his (laughing her head off) nurse stopped the doc before coming in and told him she had already drained it. The doc started laughing and thought she may be in on it too, but as he drained, he got a little (lucky Mark) and conceded that the tube could come out. He felt bad for Mark too so it worked out for all.

Well, now it's on to bigger tasks like drinking lots of fluids, eating solids and pooping! I know, graphic, but these are our little goals and triumphs that get us through the days and OUT OF THE HOSPITAL! :) Maybe I'll reward Mark with a little peice of candy when he does, haha. Until I get internet service again....Ta-ta for now!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Small steps, better outcomes

When someone says take small steps or be patient I know it is a virtue I have definatly not aquired! :) But through this experience I realized if I don't know the ending or future, I don't experience impatience. And maybe it's more because we've come this far that I'm wanting things to go correctly, that every precaution is taken so that the best ultimate outcome happens. But for Mark, this is not so! :) He wants the best, but boy is he impatient! And I can't blame him one bit, heck, it's not me sitting tethered to a bed because a large tube is in my nose...

I didn't write yesterday because it was a rough day. It wasn't that we got an bad news or bad test results, it was acually a good day for those things. But emotionally I think things started to set in. Yesterday marks two weeks since the surgery, and technically the recovery was supposed to be 7-10 days. And today it's been a month since we've seen the kids, and it's wearing on them as well. So we talked with the kids a lot last night and then Mark and I sat in a gazebo with the snow falling quietly on the glass ceiling, it was really calming. I know, how cheesy. But when you sit in a hospital bed, breathing hospital air, smelling hospital smells, etc. it's nice to step out and have a change of scenery.

Ok, enough of the mumbo jumbo. So they did another scan of his leg today to make sure the clot isn't moving or getting bigger. When Mark tried to ask the tech about the clot, all he offered up was "it's an unusual clot, not your normal leg clot."....and this is different from our previous encounters because? Marks body is anything but normal :) Mark is admitting a little bit that he is getting used to the tube in his nose...but he still tried to bed the doc to take it out! The doctor said it has to stay in at least a few more days. If we take small steps, the outcome will be better. So, we stopped asking when he thinks we will get out of the hospital. He also had another test done (2nd time) where Mark drank barium and they followed it to see how far it got going through his bowels. It went all the way through this time but it did show that the swelling hasn't completly gone away, so it's a day by day thing, but it's progress! And Mark's spirits are up today which is good. He's getting ancy to get out! That's a good thing, it means he's recovering! :) Well, that's about it. Till next time!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Different Day, almost the same story...

So today was a roller coaster. Still have the same factors as before just added in a few. This morning Mark's throat was horribly sore from the tube and having a hard time swallowing. He was trying really hard to not let it bother him but when you start choking on your own saliva because there isn't enough room for both, that's a little scary. But he kept saying "Mind over matter, mind over matter..." :) Talking is now VERY limited, saved mostly for the docs (how nice of him!) Some of the docs came in early and said the tube had to stay in his nose, Mark figured as much but still wasn't happy, he tried bargaining as usual. This morning Mark also had extreme pain in his calf. He had had pain on and off for the past few weeks and even though we had expressed concern to the nurses, they said it couldn't be a blood clot because it would be red, swollen and untouchable. Today it still wasn't red or swollen, but sure enough after an ultrasound of his leg, it was confirmed he has a blood clot there. My guess is that it's an old one and that was the docs guess as well.

So a few hours ago, the head honcho doctor came in and started rattling people's cages. He said Mark "was on too much of this med" and "Can someone give me one good reason he is getting this med?" and "NO MORE OF THIS MED!". It was really funny to watch. He made a plan, one that both Mark and I had been hoping for. Mark is having another test tomorrow (drinking barium and following it through with a CT scan). It will show if his intestine has started opening up yet. Then on Wed. or Thurs. the doc will take a scope and go down his throat and try and push through the swollen part. Hopefully this will help things along and Mark can start eating! Here's hoping! His fever is still sticking around, but today it went up a tad, but they still don't seemed alarmed. I think that's all the news, well, I hope it is! :) Sierra and Josh went back to school today and seemed to be happy to be back home. We are missing them terribly, it's been hard to be away but we know they are being taken good care of. Well, that's all...till next time....

Pics from 3 weeks ago

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Still tubed

So, I started this blog...well, it doesn't take a genius to see how long ago. And things got unbelievably busy after that. Sad excuse I know. But, now that I am hanging out in a hospital room these days I thought of giving it another go. Why not?! It helps me journal AND I can update my WHOLE family without sending 20 text messages to say one paragraph. This is all thanks to my dad and my brother Mike for sending me a laptop. They offer free wireless here at the hospital but you have to have your own computer :)

So I'll get to the point of why I started this again! Mark is doing ok, yes, just ok. I would say great but that would indicate he's getting out tomorrow...and he's still trying to convince doctors of it anyway. Unfortunatly Mark had a tube put back down his throat, into his stomach, because he started throwing up the other day. It seems his bowels are still not working. He also has a fever that is somewhat hanging on as well even though he's been on antibiotics. To some of you this seems like old news but it's happening again. Of course Mark is bugged but he is trying to sleep his way through it. This is supposed to keep him from throwing up but he threw up around the tube anyway, that was scary. He also got a unit of blood today as well. The docs said he isn't loosing any, his bone marrow is just suppressed from the surgery so it isn't producing all the way yet. He is also on an IV suppliment called TPN. This is given when you are becoming malnutritioned and/or haven't eaten for a long period (or can't eat at all). He has lost a lot of weight so this is hopefully going to help him keep up some of his nutrition and muscle mass.
Today I set out in the VERY cold 45 degree's (can you tell I'm a wimpy Californian?)to 3 pharmacies hoping to find the exact throat lozenges that would help Mark's throat. That was my big outting for the day. But other than that, it amazes me how I keep busy with just him all day. Sierra and Josh are back in California with my mom. They are starting school tomorrow. They are excited to see all of their friends! Well, that's it for now. Sorry it's so long! Hopefully it'll be shorter :) That's it for now! Till next time...