Monthly Archives: June 2015

Our Transplant Journey

Last weekend was such a wonderful one. I never want to forget the events that transpired that led to our son getting his second chance at life. I woke up the morning of Friday the 12th in the best mood I’ve been in for a long time. I just felt so good. Life was wonderful. I was seriously bouncing off the walls. It was our anniversary so I thought that could be the reason why I felt so happy. I said my morning prayers and spoke to my Father about how today would be an amazing day for a new liver since it was our 7th anniversary. The girls woke up and we started on our day together. Periodically throughout the day, Shawn, who was at the hospital with Becks, would text or call. I kept telling him how happy I was and he kept telling me to calm down. I couldn’t. It was pretty funny. Partway through the morning, I felt like I needed to go to the hospital on Saturday and spend the day. Usually I take the weekend at home so that I can be at the hospital during the week to allow Shawn to go to work. I’m never at the hospital on Saturday. But I felt strongly like I wanted to spend the day with my boys. I arranged to have the girls stay with their Aunt and cousins Friday night for a sleepover and then stay and play all day Saturday. Around 6 pm I dropped them off and grabbed a bite to eat. I kept texting Shawn how happy I was and excited about life. Life is beautiful. He seriously thought I was crazy for being so happy when our son was so seriously sick in the hospital. I told him I would be up to the hospital really early in the morning. After I ate I didn’t know what to do and I was still so excited and hyper. Shawn suggested that I do some service for others. And immediately the thought came to mind to make cookies and write some notes to a couple neighbors and friends who have made a difference in my life lately. I dropped them all off and everywhere I went they would ask how we were doing. I just kept saying, “I’m amazing! I feel so good about life. I’m so happy!” I probably looked a little crazy. I spent time talking with a friend and then went home to bed. I went to bed at midnight, looked at the clock, sighed with a little smile on my face and then said my evening prayers. I said to my Father that even though we didn’t get a new liver, the day had been amazing and I was so grateful for the peace and joy that I had felt. I told Him that I wanted to keep that feeling as we continued to wait.

Saturday morning rolls around and I was up pretty early. I felt so sick to my stomach. I was nervous and anxious to get to the hospital. Shawn sent me a picture of him and Becks saying they were excited to see me. I got my belongings together and headed up. I walked into the ICU and over to Beckett’s room. Shawn was standing at Becks bed and looked at me. “It’s going to be a great day, ” he said with a grin and tears in his eyes. I immediately started crying. “Are you kidding me? Are you serious?” He grabbed me and pulled me into a huge hug. “I guess that’s why I felt so happy yesterday,” I said.

*Side note. How we got “the call” is actually pretty humorous. Because it’s so us. They called the hospital room where Shawn was staying with Beckett. The call came in at 3 am. Now those who know Shawn know that he can sleep through anything. It’s one reason why he does better here than I do. He can sleep through the beeping and the nurses coming in and out. Ask any of our nurses; they’ll tell you just how deep he sleeps. So the phone rings at 3 am. Shawn sleeps through it all. The resident got our call but didn’t wake him up. Morning comes and our nurse told Shawn that the resident wants to talk to him. Now we had been pretty worried about some labs the day before so it made Shawn nervous that she wanted to speak to him first thing in the morning. Shawn starts getting ready, completely oblivious to what was actually happening. He walks out of the room to go to the bathroom and a doctor was sitting right outside our room. He says to Shawn. “It’s going to be a good day.” Shawn was thinking, “Uh, ok.” After he got back from the bathroom, the resident walked in and informed him that we had the offer.

The rest of the day is a blur. We had so many doctors and nurses in and out of his room. They ran a full panel on him checking his urine, stool, and blood. They drew so much blood from him to check just about everything you can imagine. He had a chest x-ray, and numerous consults from cardiology, nephrology (kidney), hepatology (liver), anesthesiology, and of course the surgeons. We also had someone come by to ask for our consent to take a piece of the old liver to study it. Of course, we said yes! We hope that something good comes from that bad liver. It was such a busy day and yet went by so slowly. When we spoke with the surgeon he told us that his colleague was flying out to check the liver. He said that they could cancel the transplant at any time especially once they see the liver in person. But they all felt very good about it. We also found out the liver was O+ and was the perfect size for Beckett. What a miracle!! All the scary talks of cleaning his blood to be able to accept a different blood type now didn’t matter because we wouldn’t have to do that with a perfect match blood type. Around 3 pm we were told that they were on the way back and they had the liver with them. At that point we started telling our families. The OR time was originally set for 5:00 but got bumped back until 5:45. We didn’t end up taking him in until just after 6.

The hardest moment is kissing him good bye and watching the doctors and anesthesiologist wheel him away to the OR. That’s when I lose it every time. I trust them. I know they will take good care of him. But so much could potentially go wrong. It’s terrifying. Shawn and I cried and then walked outside to be alone and process. We sat outside the hospital. I texted a friend to come up and keep us company while we anxiously awaited for updates.

Through the past 8 months of near constant hospital stays, we have made a lot of friends at the hospital. Nurses, residents, attendings, ultrasound techs, interventional radiologists and other staff. As we waited outside of the hospital we saw so many people that we knew. And it was SO good to hear them ask about Beckett and be able to tell them that he was in surgery right now receiving his new liver. Once it got dark we headed inside to wait. We ordered pizza and settled in for the long haul. Thankfully our friends helped keep things light so that we could talk and laugh and it didn’t seem too stressful. After about an hour of waiting we received our first update. Beckett was prepped, sedated and they were about to start the actual surgery. The next call came two hours later. Still working on getting the old liver out, the new liver was cleaned and ready to go. Another two hours. Old liver out, new liver is being worked on. After that we got our last update. New liver is in, blood circulating, making sure there were no leaks and that everything is taken care of. And then the call that he would be going to the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit). Our surgeon called a little while after that to tell us that he did great and was stable through the whole thing. Everything looked good and we could go see him in just a little while. By this time it was just after 1 am. Our friends left. We walked up to the PICU waiting room and FINALLY at 2:45 am they said we could come see him.

I was nervous. We knew what to expect but I was a little afraid to see him. We walked to his room and there were so many people settling him in, preparing all his pumps of meds and fluids, cleaning him up etc. We were hesitant but walked over to him. We were shocked. In the 8 hours since we had seen him, he was already pink. I didn’t see anything else in that first moment. Just his skin that was already changing. After that wore off, I started to take in a mental image of what I was seeing. He was limp and still very sedated. He had a breathing tube, 3 drains coming directly from his abdomen, bandages over his huge incision, a bloody bandage on the right side of his neck and an IJ line (inserted into his jugular vein) on the left side of his neck. He was a mess. But he was so beautiful!!

Photo Jun 14, 3 08 10 AMWe stayed with him and got him situated and cleaned up. I stroked his head and arms. I was in awe of this perfect little creature. Around 3:30 I decided to get some sleep. Shawn stayed with him and slept by his side. I wish I could describe the feelings that we felt that night. I think I experienced every emotion you can imagine. Fear, worry, joy and utter relief. Oh the relief. It was as if a gigantic weight had been lifted from off our shoulders. Our little man would be ok. We are blessed.

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Faith of a Child

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One evening 3 months ago we had just got the girls and our man cub settled into bed. Kim and I nestled in on the couch and started our nightly routine of, “what do you want to watch?” As we were scrolling through our Netflix list trying to make a decision Kim heard the unique sounds that only a child knows how to make coming from the stairs. She turned around from the couch to face the stairs to discover which of the two mobile children it could be. It was Addie. She had tears in her eyes. Kim noticed the tears immediately.

“Addie, what’s wrong?” she asked.

“I just want Jesus to come to our house.”

“You want Jesus to come to our house?”

“I just want Jesus to come to our house.”

I chimed in, “Addie, come down and talk to me sweetheart.”

Version 2She came quickly running down the stairs as if trying to escape a fire. I pulled her onto my lap and asked why she wanted Jesus to come to our house. She replied,  “I just really love Beckett. I want Jesus to come to help Beckett and Mommy feel better. I just want him to come to our house. “As the realization struck Kim and I of what Adalyn was saying and what she had been internalizing in her little mind, our eyes welled up with tears.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was speechless and felt stumped by my 4 year old. How do you tell your child that Jesus isn’t going to come to your house? He is not going to knock on our door and we are not going to get to see him. How do I explain this to her?

I wrapped my arms around her and I thought about it for a minute. I decided a prayer would be our best course of action. I asked her if we could say a prayer and she agreed. In that prayer I asked that Mommy and Beckett would be watched over by Jesus. That seemed to do the trick and Addie went back to bed.

I have pondered this experience countless times since it has happened. I have played it back in my mind over and over again. I think sometimes as adults we over complicate the simple and easy things. We poke fun of those who are innocent. We grown ups “know” too much when in reality we forget that the beauty is in the innocence of not knowing. We over analyze rather than seeing the situation or truth for what it is. We anticipate and make plans for the outcome or future without really having a knowledge of what the future has in store. At least I do. We (big people) draw a line in the sand between faith/hope and reality of life. To children this line does not exist.

IMG_1270As much as I prayed for a miracle that Beckett would get his transplant I did not exactly feel confident that he would get one. For a while the plan that God had for Beckett seemed unclear, uncertain, and often times completely non existent. My hope was diminishing quickly. I could honestly compare myself with the father in the New Testament who took his child to Jesus and said, “Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief.”  After watching Beckett’s miracle gift come together and looking back at all the moving pieces there is no doubt in my mind that God was at the helm the whole time. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was a true miracle and nothing short of a miracle. I feel ashamed for doubting. I am embarrassed by my lack of faith. I was trying so hard to be a father, protector and a provider that I completely overlooked the fact that I needed more than ever to become as a little child.

This afternoon Adalyn and Raemee are coming to visit their brother in hospital for the first time since his liver transplant. I can’t wait to squeeze them both and tell my oldest princess, “Guess what Addie? Jesus came and Beckett’s getting better!”

 

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The Timing Will Be Perfect

For the past several days, Shawn and I have been sick to our stomachs. We don’t know what’s coming. We don’t know what we will have to endure. We don’t know when relief will come. I began feeling impatient and I knelt to pray. I prayed so hard that his liver would come now. That he wouldn’t have to wait anymore and that we could move on with our lives and stop feeling so scared, anxious and stressed. I then had one of the most powerful teaching moments that I can remember. I had a distinct thought come into my mind. It was so clear and it was nothing I had been praying about or thought about before. It was as if someone was counseling with me.

“You are being selfish. In your impatience wanting a liver now for Beckett, there may be another family who needs time to say good-bye. Time to grieve. Or one more happy day with their child.” My heart felt struck and I started to cry. I have tried really hard to be ok with the Lord’s timing. Most of the time I do fine. I accept that things will happen when they are supposed to. But I never gave much thought to the fact that the Lord’s timing is perfect on ALL sides. Now I’m not saying because I had this thought that he will receive a transplant in the next day or so and there is literally a family grieving right now. But I believe I had this thought for a reason. So I can greater grasp the magnitude of the Lord’s love for all his children. That when a family is grieving their loss, they will have adequate time to do so. He sees all sides of the picture where my view is limited.

We have always prayed for our donor family. But our prayers were so focused on the peace for them after their loss. My prayers have changed. Of course, I want Beckett to receive his second chance at life soon. I want him to be ok. I want him to be safe. I want him to live. But I now see there truly is a much bigger side to this. And I pray the timing will be perfect. That his donor family will have time. Time to enjoy, to love, to say good-bye. I will never be able to thank them adequately enough for the way they will change my family’s lives. The least I can do is be patient and give them the time they need. I now pray for them in a much deeper way than I have before.

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