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Showing posts from April, 2012

Goodbye to Memorial Hermann Hospital

The hospital staff was sad to see Millie leave today, but we have never been happier to say goodbye to a group of kindhearted, sweet people. Traffic was never lighter and the drive was never easier than it was coming back from the hospital. Millie keeps progressing like the six million dollar man and just continues getting better, stronger, and faster. Her doctors reminded her upon her release today that she'll feel like doing things in the coming days/weeks/months, but she has to discipline herself to be a sloth. She can't really go anywhere, or do much of anything other than stay in bed and occasionally get up for carefully supervised grooming activities. It sounds kind of like being in prison. Millie asked me how I thought I would be able to handle bed rest and I said I thought I would be well suited to it. I've always been naturally inclined to sloth-like activities. That's one of the beauties of our marriage, where one is weak the other is strong. I'll…

Saturday is a Special Day

Millie's brother and sister-in-law presented her with the most wonderful shock the other morning. They surprised her by flying her dad down to be with her for the weekend. When he came into her room she just started crying. As difficult as this process has been, it has been tempered by the presence of caring and attentive friends and family. We're grateful that while we're so busy at the hospital our son and dear daughters are in such good hands. I can only hope that our pet turtle is faring as well in our absence.

Everything is progressing exceptionally well. Our fetal surgery team has gone to Austin for a conference, but Millie is on track for discharge on Sunday. Her pain is sill omnipresent, but every day it gets a little better. She'll be sent to her brother's house tomorrow where she'll be on strict bed rest. She returns for a followup appointment on Friday. Her folks will head home Sunday night, then Davey and I will fly out Monday morning. Mill…

Millie

All of Millie's IV stuff has been removed from her left hand. She thankfully didn't punch anyone during the process (ask her sometime about getting her wisdom teeth out). She'll be so happy not to have to look at the image posted above anymore. She covers up the six holes on her right hand with a bandaid. Apparently they tried to place one of her IV's in that hand after the surgery but didn't have any luck. It's a good thing they didn't, otherwise she would have been completely immobilized.

I know why everyone who meets her loves Millie (and her family as well). She's one of those people that makes you feel good to be around. She helps you find good in others and yourself. I read this in a book and think it describes her perfectly:

 There is something in Millie. There is a fire. Life can be cold and dark at times. Millie gives off light and warmth. You want to stand close to her. To warm your hands, and melt the ice from your shoes. To banish t…

Day Three

Millie had a difficult night. It's been tough getting on top of the pain that she's feeling. She tries to keep a brave front, but one of the surgeons came to check on her and she just broke down. He was so kind. The head nurse came in and kept asking Millie if she could make her some hot tea, or cold tea to calm her stomach. Millie was so touched but had to say, "I don't drink hot tea," then "I don't drink cold tea." The sweet nurse said, "I've got to make you something!" and came back with hot apple juice. The medical staff has been so amazing. We keep expressing our gratitude to them. They (like so many of you) will never truly know just how touched we are by their actions.







Finally this morning Mill's body has started responded well to the oral pain medications and she has been able to rest more peacefully. Her mom helped her put on some makeup and do her hair. Millie was so happy to feel somewhat normal after a few days …

Baby Steps

The physical therapist came by to help Millie get out of bed. It's been a difficult afternoon as Millie's body transitions from the epidural pain medication to the meds she's taking orally. She's finally feeling like the pain is somewhat under control but I know she's being really tough. The doctors told her not to be a martyr but to make sure to stay on top of the pain by taking her medication every four hours. As bad as she's felt the past few hours I don't think that will be a challenge for her. She was a champ with the walker, Davey was especially impressed. He may have felt like she was stealing some of his thunder though as he began to really step up his game on his wheelchair whenever the nurses or therapists came in. He really is the expert on those devices in our family. Davey and I will be heading back to Millie's brother's house soon and her mom will stay with her for the rest of the night.


Day Two

Millie's been out of surgery now for about 47 hours. She had a good night last night and has seen all three of the pediatric surgeons this morning. They all say she's doing just great. Today's a big day. They've already removed her epidural and she's started taking pain medication by mouth. She's experiencing a lot of pain and occasional mild contractions but she keeps enduring. Every contraction scares us, but the doctors reassure us that it's normal at this point because the uterus has been through so much. Millie had solid foods for breakfast and will need to get up later today for a shower. She faces every new challenge with her characteristic humor and courage.



Day One Post Surgery

Millie's doing so much better. They've taken her off the magnesium sulfate (the anti-contraction med) and now she'll take pills to prevent contractions. Her vision is no longer blurry and she can open her eyes. She's starting to move her legs on her own now and she's got more strength and stamina. She can start taking clear liquids and is enjoying her gourmet meal of apple juice, cranberry juice, chicken broth, and cherry jello. I'm excited to get the leftovers, YUM! Her surgeons keep coming in to check on her and are pleased with her progress. One of her IV lines was removed and she didn't even bat an eye (that may have been because she couldn't open them). She remains my hero. Hopefully she can have a restful night.

Long Night

Millie's night was long and uncomfortable. Her wonderful mother stayed with her while I went to her brother's house to be with Davey. I'm so grateful for Davey's aunt and uncle and cousins who are so attentive to him. He's been pretty grouchy, I think these past few days have been a bit trying for him. During the night amidst the frequent medication administrations, position changes, and vital signs monitoring Millie started experiencing some mild contractions. Her blood pressure was also dropping too low. The doctors didn't seem too concerned and were able to regulate things with some medication adjustments. Now her vitals all look good and Maggie's are all stable as well. Because of the combination of all the meds she has to be on she feels hot and itchy and generally in a haze. She can't open her eyes without great effort and it's difficult for her to talk. Channel 2 did one last interview with her before heading back to Salt Lake and sh…

Mother & Daughter

Before I was myself you made me me

With love and patience, discipline and tears,

Then bit by bit stepped back to set me free,

Allowing me to sail upon my sea,

Though well within the headlands of your fears.

Before I was myself you made me me.

This poem expresses what Millie would tell her mom right now if she could, and what Maggie will someday feel towards Millie. How thankful I am for my dear mother, the mother of my wife, and Millie the mother of my children.



Recovery

We were brought to Millie as she was being wheeled up to her recovery room. She looked beautiful. She's sort of been coming around but they have her on a medication through her IV that will prevent contractions that makes her very groggy. Her pain has been high, but they just adjusted her epidural and it seems to be a bit better. When she first heard my voice she tried to smile. She kept saying a word that we couldn't understand until one of the doctors realized she was saying, "Maggie, Maggie." We reassured her that Maggie was just fine. The next few hours/days/weeks are important as everything done is aimed at keeping Millie and Maggie stable and preventing preterm labor. I'm so proud of my dear wife. In her groggy state she still shows some of her spunk and sass. Her mom went and got a cookie and when she came back to tell me we heard a voice say, "whaa whaa, rub it in." That's our girl. The epidural is working better now, she's rest…

All Done

We just got done talking to the doctors. Surgery is complete. Millie and Maggie responded perfectly to the procedure,no blips in heart rate or temperature. We're waiting for her to come out of anesthesia then we'll accompany her back to the hospital room. She may not remember much from today or even tomorrow the doctors were telling us, but I'll never forget her courage. Thank you to everyone for your prayers, support, and love.

Surgery

Surgery began at 8:27 Texas time. We get updates from the nurse coordinator every so often. They said everything is going wonderfully to this point. They have opened the uterus, the neurosurgeon repaired the lesion on Maggie's back, and now they are closing everything back up. No complications or challenges.

Brave Millie (by Matt)

The doctors were right on time this morning. Millie was so brave as they placed her epidural (it will be used for pain management following the surgery). All of the doctors comment on Millie's beauty as it pertains to their specialties. They'll tell her that her spine is lovely, or her veins are wonderful. She has a firm and well shaped trachea, and her birth canal is long and shapely. I always knew Millie's beauty was more than just skin deep, now it's been medically confirmed that she's gorgeous at an internal anatomical level as well. Millie's mom showed us a sign a friend had made. It says, "20, 37" over the picture of some boxing gloves with the name "Maggie" written on them. It represents Millie's goal to be one of the 20% of the moms undergoing fetal surgery to deliver at 37 weeks.

At 7:30 the doctors wheeled Millie down to the operating room. Her mom and I said goodbye to her in the hall. She was scared but incredibly cour…

The Night Before

We're here. Houston seems a little smaller this time around, maybe we just don't feel quite so out of place. Channel 2 came to Texas with us on the same flight. We turn quite a few heads walking through airports considering we have Davey in his wheelchair, and a cameraman and reporter documenting our every move. After getting up so early that even the feral peacocks in our neighborhood weren't awake, we had stops in Phoenix, and El Paso, and were then met at the Houston airport by some close friends who took us straight to the hospital. We were welcomed there by our wonderful team. After more ultrasounds, paperwork, consults, and doctor visits we're ready for bed. I'm scared, getting the IV was awful--nurses never believe me until they see me in action. Matt reassures me that I did beautifully, I wasn't even close to passing out according to him, but I'm not so sure. Seeing my mom, nieces, and nephews helped to ease the pain. Davey is the best care…

Approved!

Yesterday, Friday, Educators Mutual called us at 12:30 to tell us that we'd been denied once more.  Sad, mad.  Then at 4:30 on Friday we got another call saying we'd been approved.  Finally, an independent reviewer determined that the surgery was NOT experimental.  What a genius!  The insurance went over all the details to make sure we understood that it was "not in network" and that they would only cover 80% of the allowed amounts.  The 20% and anything over the allowed amount was ours to pay.  We didn't care.  This news meant we could do the surgery!  Thank you Educators Mutual.

I immediately called Childrens Memorial Hermann Hospital, so they wouldn't cancel the operating room for Tuesday.  They too had faith that it would work out and hadn't cancelled the surgery yet.  Then I called the news to give them the latest for their 5:00 story.  Then I called my mom.  That was a sweet phone call.  I know this has been  hard for her, and she longs to live clos…