Thursday, December 12, 2013

Biopsy

Today we sit here at the hospital again. But thankfully it's our last time!! Today is Anthony's one month check-up and his biopsy on the new kidney. It's a routine check up procedure performed on every transplanted kidney patient. Just checking to make sure the kidney is working properly and is showing no signs of dying tissue or rejection. 
We were admitted around 8:30 this morning and sat doing practically nothing until they came to get him at 11:40. The procedure is quite easy: they use ultrasound to see exactly where they want the needle to puncture. Using a spring-loading needle they insert the needle into the kidney and take a small sample. The whole procedure lasted only about 2 1/2 hours from when they took him away from me and brought him back to his room. He's only got a bandaid to show he had anything done. He's not in any pain, the nurses still have him hopped on some good pain meds. 
He has to lay still for 2 hours and then have another blood panel drawn. Once those results come back and are good we're free to go. Hopefully it won't be too late before we get home. I hate leaving the babies for so long so often. They love spending time with Grammy and Dadaw, and the grandparents love to have them, but I hate that we're not spending the time together. If I was going to spend this much time away from them I'd sure rather be doing something fun, not just sitting at the hospital all day. But we'll all make it through.
Since he's a month post-transplant I guess it would be nice to just give a general update. Last week he had his PD catheter, stint, and staples removed. He left the hospital a free man! That was our last overnight stay here...and we're glad of that! 
Overall Anthony is doing well. He's had a lot more good days than bad. Sometimes he still has pain and it really gets him down, physically and emotionally. One of his biggest problems has been that his hemoglobin is running low. This makes him tired and exhausts him easily. He's been trying to work up his endurance by walking with the kids up and down the development. He is definitely able to do more around the house like helping to cook, or helping do the dishes. He's playing with the babies more and even changing diapers again!! He still can't pick up anything more than 10 pounds. That makes it difficult on me because it means I have to lift everything, especially Aspen. I have to put her to bed, get her out of bed, put her on the changing table, get her in and out of the high chair. I won't let him carry two gallons of milk, and he's only allowed to take out the trash if it's light enough. 
He's only taking Tylenol for pain now, and that's really more discomfort than anything. He's not sleeping well..having trouble getting comfortable still. We still go back to the doctor twice a week...but since today is his one month mark he's now going to once a week. What a difference that will make! Less time away from the kids, less time driving, less gas. Hooray!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Home Life & Clinic

Well here we are....right where he wanted to be. Home. It truly is where the heart is, and where our babies are. That is the best medicine. Sleeping in your own bed can never be equaled. Neither can the simple act of sleeping all night without someone coming it to check your blood pressure or draw 4 vials of blood at 3am. We're enjoying sleeping together again.
Tuesday, 11/18/13, was our first clinic visit. We will go twice a week for at least a month. He had 4 vials of blood drawn, all his vitals were taken, and we talked a lot. A nurse came in to discuss all his meds and how much he's taking. We also reported his urine output, his liquid intake, and the amount of fluid still coming from his drain. Appetizing, I know. I told you I was going to over share! A doctor who is part of the transplant team talked to us about how he's doing and does he have any questions. The pharmacist came to talk to us about meds as well. To make sure we understood what they were all for and that some of them will be in constant flux. Prograf is the anti-rejection medicine he takes. Every time they draw blood they're testing for the level of Prograf in his system. If it's high they lower the dosage, if it's low they raise it. Simple enough. Thankfully they lowered his prednisone dosage today. He's been complaining of being hot, hot, hot and itchy. He can't wait to be finished with that for good. Hopefully only a few weeks more. 
We have to stay close by until his lab results come back. We don't have to stay in the clinic but we have to be close enough to return should they need to do something else or if he should need to be readmitted to the hospital. We went to Hanes Mall and walked around. I had my first Chick-fil-A peppermint milkshake of the season....Mmmmmmm! It was nice to just be out and about after being cooped up in the hospital for so long. Once we got the call that his labs were good we were free to come home. We met Anna for lunch at Hero House and then were on our way. Because we dilly dallied we didn't get home until about 3, but we could've been home way sooner. Hoping that's the case here on out. I don't want to be stuck in the clinic for longer than we have to be. Plus, when I'm not here someone else is taking my kids to preschool and library story time. Someone else is putting them down for naps and playing ball outside. I know it's their grandmother...but it's not me. I'm so thankful that Anthony's insurance allowed us to go to Baptist hospital. If we had to return to Duke for all these appointments it would probably be two overnight visits a week. That's a LONG drive for one day. That is entirely too much time away from my babies.
We left our clinic visit with about 15 other appointments. Several that take ALL day, and one more overnight stay in the hospital. Yuck. But he has to have his PD catheter removed Dec 3-4. That one he will be admitted on the 3rd and have to stay overnight. Observation I guess, he will be anesthetized only with "sleepy juice" but aware during the procedure. He also has to have a stint removed from his new kidney. Where it's connected to the new entrance to the bladder has to be held open. They have to go in and get that. I won't tell you how that's done. Let's just say he's NOT looking forward to it. At All! He feels like he's in a constant state of recovery. He gets several weeks to recover from the huge ordeal of the transplant then he has another procedure. He recovers from that procedure just long enough to be ready for the next one. More and more down time...on the road to recovery. 
However, we continue to be forever grateful and thankful that he has been given this opportunity. To be able to live his life without dialysis and spend more time with his family is amazing. To know he will be around to see his babies graduate and get married is humbling and amazing. Please continue to pray for Amy. She is recovering well but still also has a long road to go before she's completely well again. She was supposed to return to work today but wrote us to let us know she just couldn't. She had tried to push the envelope and go back quickly, but God had other plans and slowed her down. We are praying for you Amy!! Hope you're back on your feet in no time.
A HUGE thank you to our fabulous friends who have been treating us soo good! Jenn Rice brought dinner on Tuesday night, yummy penne pasta with sauce, garlic bread, salad, and cookies. It was so good Anthony went back for seconds. So did Aspen! Tonight we were blessed by Ellee Wallace. She fixed us ground turkey and black bean tacos. Amazing! Seriously, the best taco filling I've ever eaten! Not only did she bring dinner but she brought lunch and breakfast fixings too. I'm so thankful we have people who are willing to take time out of their busy lives to prepare a meal for my family, to show us they love us, and to support us. It's such a good feeling knowing I don't have to fix dinner at the end of a long day battling the kids and all there still has to be done around here. It truly gives me a sense of peace and allows me to spend more time on what matters most: our family.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day One

We made it. We survived the first day at home. Together. Our night was pretty good. Anthony got up several times to pee and at one point his drain site leaked and got him messy. He had to get up and change his shirt and clean up a little. I woke up every time he got up and it felt almost like having a new baby in the house again. Fun. But thankfully Anthony did get sleep and we were together for the first time in several nights. Anthony always says he doesn't sleep if we're not together. 
The day went pretty well. We spent a long time lounging in our pajamas with the Disney Channel this morning. Quality family time. Lincoln's doing really well with Anthony's wounds and drain. He is being very easy and isn't hugging him tightly or running into him. Aspen on the other hand just wants to roll all over him. There has to be a lot of supervision with her. It was so beautiful today that he even managed to come outside with us for a little while. Sunshine makes everything feel a little better.
He has to measure his urine output, take his blood pressure, record how much his would drains for a while. Tomorrow is our first clinic day where they will do blood work to see how his kidney is doing and how his body is reacting to the anti-rejection meds he's taking. I'm hoping we'll get more information tomorrow. It seems like everyone in the hospital had different opinions of what he can and cannot do now that he's a transplant patient. We're hoping for clarification and somewhat "official" word on some dos and don'ts. 
It's really hard to be Mom and Dad at the same time. And to have to take care of Anthony and the kids is tiring. Anthony can't pick up more than 10 pounds for at least 6 weeks. He can't drive while he has staples. That means he's dependent on me and I'm the one who has to do nearly everything. I'm sure I'll be leaning heavily on our parents for help with the kids. A big big thank you to Michelle Smith for delivering a yummy dinner tonight! Lincoln was starving and she rescued us just in the nick of time!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Home

Well today has been like a roller coaster. And not one of the good ones that you want to ride over and over...but one that you NEVER want to ride again. Ever. Our day started out fabulous with wonderful reports from the surgical team. All his blood work looked good, his creatanine was continuing to drop, his urine was a nice color of yellow, the doctor removed his foley this morning, and his central line very soon after that. He got to take a shower!!! A real shower! He was feeling mighty fine. The word discharge had already been thrown around and he was sitting pretty. 
Then the big drop...he couldn't pee. At least not enough. He had to pee three times followed by a bladder scan to measure how much urine was left in his bladder. The acceptable number is 100 mL. The first time he went Nurse Debbie measured 173mL. Ok, not too bad. The second time he peed 500 mL and we expected his bladder to be empty. It showed 123 mL. Also, not a bad reading and coming down. The third time he went and the scan was done his number was up to the 200's. Then into the 400's and the 300's. By 4:00 pm Anthony was sure he was going to be stuck in the hospital again. He faded very quickly and began another pity party. He didn't want to eat, didn't want to drink, didn't want to talk. He just wanted to pout, he was so disappointed. Debbie was fabulous and gave us enough information to know what was going on, and encouragement to keep our heads up. She tried paging the doctor several times but no answer or call back. At 6 Anthony tried to get me to come home to the babies. He was sure he was spending another night in Winston. The docs were on shift change and his numbers for his bladder scan were way too high. Even Debbie was resigned to the fact that she thought he was going to need to spend another night there, probably having another catheter of some kind to empty his bladder.
And then.....he peed. 500 mL. It made Debbie happy and she called the docs back to report that his numbers looked good, his output was voluminous, and the color was appropriate. She got the discharge papers ready. Earlier today she went over his meds with me and we put them into his pill container. I'll take a picture of that beautiful thing tomorrow. We were set. Finally, around 6:30pm, good and wonderful news. The doctor on call agreed with Debbie and we were released!! Hooray!!! Within 15 minutes he was wheeled to the parking lot and deposited into my car!
Phew...get me off this ride! I'm ready for a break. I have a feeling that's not going to happen. For quite some time. The babies finally got to see him tonight for the first time in nearly a week...oh how sweet they were. Lincoln is very astute and knows just what was happening and that daddy was getting a new "part." He demanded to see his boo-boo tonight. I told Anthony he might as well. It's not scary or gross and Lincoln sincerely wants to know what's going on. He's also been asking about Amy. Last night when I talked to him on the phone he wanted to know how she was doing, where she was, and how her "part" was. Was she resting? Did she feel OK? Could he see her? That precious boy...God sure has something fabulous in store for him. Great things.
We shall see how the next few days go. I'm assuming Anthony is going to be overly tired and want to rest. He's not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds so he can't really help with the kids, or at least he can't pick them up or change Aspen's diaper, or put her to bed. Lincoln wants to be very close and Aspen is saying nothing but "Daddy!" I think they're going to have to spend lots of time at Grammy and Nana's house as Anthony gets his strength back so he will be able to rest, and I will too. 

Kidney!!

Just saw this picture posted on Amy's facebook page!! I'm SOOOO glad we found it! It may not sound like your idea of fun but I'm so glad to see this! I wanted to know what it looked like and how big it was. I think the writing on the side just shows the personality of the guys and girls in the operating room. Love it!!


Oh happy day!

9:00 am
One of the doctors from the transplant team just came to talk to us. Great news!! She removed his Foley catheter...ouch. He's a little sad about that still. Now he has to pee on his own. He's not looking forward to it. They're going to do another ultrasound on his bladder to make sure he's emptying it on his own. The last thing to go now is his central line. He's been begging to lose that since he left the ICU. Well, since he got to the ICU! The doctor went to put in an order for the central to be removed. He's completely untethered right now. Nothing hooked to anything. He just walked across the room...only holding his hospital gown together in the back so as not to flash anyone! :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ups & Downs

We had a rough start to the day. Anthony didn't rest well and had developed a fever. His blood pressure also went up. He was hurting a lot more and using his pain pump more often. I got here around 8 but the doctors hadn't been around yet. He hit his emotional rock bottom. He was tired. He was hungry. He was hurting and couldn't get comfortable. He was freaking out that his kidney was being rejected. Everything that could go wrong had already gone wrong in his head. He just knew he was in trouble. He didn't even want to see the kids. If you know anything about Anthony you know that is not his personality. He is NOT at "Debbie downer." He's always looking for the good in things and helping to lift you up. So today it was my turn. After I called my mom, and had a good cry, we both buckled down. Thankfully, Dr. Rogers came around quite soon after the emotional drop out. He was just what we both needed. Kidneys don't reject this quickly...it's ok to feel bad...days 2 and 3 suck...you will feel better with different pain meds. All these things were music to our ears. 
So the nurse took away his pain pump and he was put on an oral pain medicine, Norco. He also finished up his last bag of IV fluids and got to be set free. Now the only thing he's tethered to is his Foley catheter. Hopefully that comes out first thing tomorrow morning. He hates the hospital bed and refuses to get back in it. He actually had a heat rash from being in it last night. It makes him too hot. Interesting. He's quite happy in the nice cushy recliner. He's already declared that's where he's sleeping tonight. As the day progressed he steadily improved. The good thing about rock bottom is that there's no way to go but up. Thank goodness he's a quick rebounder. He got some color back, stopped feeling sorry for himself and, with a little help from his supportive but ever so tough-loving wife, he crawled back into himself. The rest of the day has gone well. 
He was put on solid food this morning but felt so poorly that he din't want to eat anyway. Tonight he had chicken fingers and fries with green beans and ice cream. I helped clean him up again and help him feel like a real person. We washed his hair and he got to shave. He still has his IV line in and his central line so he can't shower for real. I got to see his incisions today and his stitches and staples. It's amazing! It looks so good! I honestly thought it would be gross or goopy or yucky. But it's NONE of those things and looks beautiful, clean, smooth, and is a nice crescent moon shape. Not sure how long before he can get the stitches and staples wet so he can take a real shower to clean off the rest of the orange that is around his middle section. Betadine from the surgery I suppose. 
We've spent the evening together just watching movies on Prime and hanging out. We had several visitors today but all came this morning. His parents stopped by early around 10 then Pastor David came by. Our friend, Tori came and took me for a drive and to get some lunch outside of the hospital. It was nice to get out for a while. Thanks, Tori.
Now he's begging to go home. He said he'll get better faster when he's home. He wants to be left alone and to sleep in his own bed. He's also ready...we're also ready, to see the babies. We haven't seen them since Wednesday morning. Well, we saw Lincoln on Wednesday morning but Aspen was still sleeping so we haven't seen her since Tuesday. If we don't get to go home tomorrow Mom will bring them to visit. I'm missing them terribly and can't wait to squeeze them. I think that was my hardest thing last night, missing the babes. Soon. Very soon.
Amy went home today. She came to see us before she left and she looked really good. She was standing nice and tall, not hunched over and shuffling like yesterday. She has been nothing short of amazing. She's been so humble and gracious...I boo-hooed this morning when she hugged me. I told her I'd write her a letter filled with all the thoughts I have in my head. She gave Anthony a hug and a kiss and said she'd be in touch. She has already invited us over for dinner once he's back to normal. I sure hope we stay in touch. She's planning on returning to work on Wednesday and Thursday. We wish her the best of luck!
So tonight we just wait. He's continuing to gain strength, he's eating more, his color looks much better and all his vitals have returned to normal. His creatanine levels have dropped to 1.8!! When he was admitted on Wednesday it was 8! What an amazing kidney!! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Settled

He's free!!! At 2 this afternoon Anthony was released from the ICU. This is his nurse, Sara. She took great care of him...us really. 


He was more than ready to get out and be in a regular room. I was very much looking forward to having some room to settle and spread out. 
We have landed on the 11th floor of Ardmore tower. We seriously got the penthouse!! It's the largest room in the whole hospital! It's amazing. Windows on both sides with a beautiful view of downtown Winston-Salem. The lights tonight are beautiful. 
Anthony is doing OK. Right now he's reached his emotional limit. He's overwhelmed. It's been a very emotional and tiring two days and he's just on overload. He doesn't quite feel like himself. The nurse has shared tons of information he's not so happy about. The pharmacy team came to talk to us about the meds he's going to be on forever. Then pharmacy delivered our first month's supply.
He got up again tonight and walked in the room. He made one and half passes through the room before settling back into the bed. He stayed up in the chair for several hours. Anna came to take me to lunch and dinner today which was great. It's nice to have someone here for me, too. It's nice to have someone to eat with and talk to and walk around the hospital with. 
He's hungry. Or as Sara said this morning, he's "hangry." He's on a clear liquid diet and is very unhappy about it. He's had chicken broth, jello, Italian Ice pops, apple juice, and some pink lemonade. Since Wednesday at 5pm. He's also not slept well. ICU is not for sleeping and they took his blood pressure automatically every hour. The nurse also came in to check on him every hour...between the blood pressure checks. He slept about none. Right now he's trying to rest enough to close his eyes and sleep. He can't find a comfortable position. He's also quite upset. The new nurse after shift change doesn't know his story and she's treating him like he doesn't know what she's talking about and that he doesn't understand. He asked if they could do something to get his bowels moving since he hasn't passed gas or gone poo yet. He's frustrated they won't let him have anything to eat until he does. Hopefully they'll bring him some laxative so he can get his insides moving enough to eat. Man needs some food!
Please continue to pray for him. He needs rest and peace right now. He's frustrated and quite unhappy. He's emotionally drained and at the end of his rope. Pray that he sleeps well tonight and gets rest.

Morning check in

Anthony texted me at 7:15 this morning to tell me the labs they took last night were great! His creatinine levels are like a normal person!!!
His kidney appears to be doing great and he's still outputting tons of urine. It's beginning to clear more and look a little more like strawberry lemonade than cherry limeade. 
He had his ultrasound this morning to check his kidney and look at blood flow and such. The sonographer was awesome and talked to us the whole time. He showed us the "money shot" with all the red and blue lit up on the screen. That's exactly what we want to see. 
The surgical team came in with Dr Rogers a while ago and said everything looks good. His levels are coming down and all we have to think about now is his hemoglobin. But since he lost some blood during surgery they said he's fine. 
His sweet nurse Sara gave him a bath and he feels a lot more like a real person. He's currently sitting in the chair! Hooray!! 

We're just waiting on results from the ultrasound and another round of labs. Then were headed to the 11th floor!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Recovery

I'm always amazed at who the Lord puts in our path. And how a few simple words can make such an impact on someone. Tonight as we met the new nurses after shift change in the ICU Anthony and I started talking to our charge nurse, Josh. Simple small talk lead to asking where we lived and we discovered that Josh is almost our neighbor!! He lives in a home only a few houses down from Anthony's grandmother's old home. He lives only a mile from our house. Amazing. Crazy. One of his first questions was, "What church do you go to?" We answered that we loved our Whitnel Penticostal Holiness Church family. He said he didn't get the opportunity to go to church because he works a bailor position and works every weekend. Josh only mentioned that he wished he had the time and a church of his own. He was completely amazed by Anthony's kidney journey and has been nothing short of fantastic.  Anthony shared his blog with him and hoped he will read it. I certainly hope that if Josh is wanting a relationship with God he reads Anthony's story and is touched.

Anthony has still been asking, nay, begging for water! Josh also told him no initially. Little did we know he made the effort to call Dr. Rogers to see if he could be allowed some fluids for Anthony's parched throat. Not only did Josh go out of his way to request his liquid diet he walked himself down to the cafeteria and got Anthony a big glass of sweet tea! Such a small act....but SO huge to someone in Anthony's position. It was truly precious. 

Before shift change Anna came back by and took Mom and me to dinner. We headed upstairs to see Amy first. She's doing great! She's sitting on the top floor just resting. She's finally got her ice pack that evidently took an act of congress. Not unlike it took 3 hours to get Anthony a pillow! She's using her own pain pump and doing well. They'll get her out of bed tomorrow as well so she can start moving around. They've estimated that she will get to leave on Saturday. That's amazing to me. She just gave a way a part of her body and now she's about to go home.

There are so many things I want to say to her. I haven't had the strength yet. I'm going to write them all down in a nice long letter and send it to her. I can't get through it in person...if you know me then you know how easily I cry. There's no way she would understand what I was saying. What a selfless gift. What an amazing selfless act.

Dr. Rogers came to check on Anthony a few hours ago. He said he was looking great and was glad all went well. He was also pleased that Anthony is making so much urine. They're pumping him full of fluids...what comes out must go back in. It's the color of a dark strawberry lemonade still. The nurses say the more he goes, the less red it will be. He also has a drain bulb on his side coming from his incision site. Stephanie, our nurse tonight, drained it a while ago. Yum.

Anthony's pain pump is full of Delodid and he is enjoying it. Though he's being a big stubborn about using it. He doesn't want to over use it and then regret it tomorrow when they take it away. He said his current pain level is Pi. His throat seems to hurt more than his side for now. When Josh got his liquid diet approved they showed up with a tray full of beef broth, sweet tea, and a lemon Italian Ice. That certainly made his day better and he thoroughly enjoyed his ice. (Picture to come tomorrow!)

The plan for tomorrow is to have an ultrasound on the abdomen to check the kidney and surrounding area to make sure all is well. They'll look for excess fluid or bleeding. As long as his night goes well and his ultrasound is good he will be released from ICU to be put into a regular room up on the 11th floor with Amy. Those rooms are SOOO nice and I'm looking forward to have a place to settle. They will also send PT for him tomorrow to get him up and moving. He's already looking forward to that. He wants to make sure all is well with himself and get everything working again. 

It's 10 pm and I'm back at the hotel...being up so early and having so many emotions mixed with adrenaline means I am exhausted. He's in very capable hands for the evening and he needs to rest too. I'll make my way back over to him in the morning for another fun day at the hospital. Maybe our friend, Tori, will even come visit!! (hint, hint) I also have a super funny video of Anthony begging for water and making deals with the nurses Anna and Melissa when he first got to the ICU. I'll work on posting that here as well!!





ICU

2:20 pm

We were called from the waiting room to go see him in ICU. We walked like half a mile (this hospital is huge!!) and finally came to North Tower 4B ICU. Thankfully he's a little more separated and private than your typical ICU patient. They try to isolate transplant patients since they're immunocompromised. 

3:40 pm
For now were just hanging out reminding him to breathe. He wants to go to sleep but needs to take deep breaths. His monitor keeps beeping because he's not breathing enough. The nurse got his pain pump set up and he just pushed it for the first time. 

He wants water. That's all he can say. He wants water! He was intubated for hours. His nurse said its like the Sahara in there when it comes out. He's already trying to make deals with them to give him water. They keep saying no. :) he asked if he got up and danced a jig if they would let him have a sip!

The nurses looked at me and said "You must be Kyla. That's all he's said since the moment he woke up." *tears*

He wanted to feel my cheek against his cheek. "That feels better," he whispered. 

Now we just wait for him to rest, sleep, and recover from all the anesthesia. 

Keep up the prayers as we still need healing. 

Love to all. I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I've been much more relaxed today than yesterday. I've still been crazy emotional today but really all for good reasons. 

He's done!!!

1:25pm

Dr. Rogers just called to say that Anthony was finished! He was all closed up and doing great. The kidney is making lots of urine and is working perfectly. He said they're getting ready to wake him up and extibate him. In about an hour he should be settled into ICU so we can see him!

Urine!!!

1:00 pm

Success!!! Just got the call that his new kidney is in!! Nurse said that its doing great and is already making urine!!!

God is sooooo good!! 


Preacher

12:30

So sweet!! Rick Hudson, the pastor who married us, stopped by just now to say hello and check on Anthony. 

He lives near Winston and I'm so glad he was thinking of us!

Branching

11:00 am
Just got another call from the OR. They successfully removed Amy's kidney and are branching it. That means they're cleaning up the arteries and veins to prepare them for Anthony. He's doing well. The nurse even commented it was a really good sized kidney. 

They have already begun stitching Amy up and have come to talk to her family. They will get to see her in about an hour. 

More updates as they come. 

Incision

I got a call at 9:10 am that they had officially made the first incision on Anthony. We're sitting in the HUGE surgical waiting room with tons of other people who are waiting patiently for news of their loved one. 

I am surrounded by love and prayers. My company: Anna, Mom, Anthony's parents: Carroll & Toni, one of our pastors: Gray Williams. 

I kissed him goodbye from the anesthesia holding room at about 8:00. I requested they give him the "loopy" medicine so I could make fun of him before he left....it didn't work out that way. :)

They said the entire process should take until about 1 or 2 pm. That sure is a long time to wait. 

The hardest part is not having a "home." There's nowhere for us to leave our stuff or Anthony's stuff. We have to just keep it here with us. Thankfully we're all here together and can take turns going to the restroom or grabbing food. 

The OR will call us again around 10:30 to give another update. They make an announcement on a loud speaker for Anthony Vance's family and all we have to do is pick up a phone to talk to them. I think that's really awesome. They called Amy's family up at the same time they called us at 9:10 to say they were about to remove her kidney for him. 

What an amazing act of kindness. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Almost K-Day


Well here we are...we checked into the hospital this morning. We reported to Baptist Hospital around 9 this morning and Anthony was admitted to the day hospital for a full body work up. 



Pretty much as soon as we got here the vampires came to visit! Beth & Jackie took 17 vials of blood this morning...at least they were lots of fun to hang out with! 



About an hour later he had a EKG to check on his heart. Gotta make sure it's kicking strong!


Shortly after that he had a chest X-Ray. I guess to make sure there was no infection or anything.

I really think that part of Anthony's reason for having a kidney transplant was revealed to me today. He is touching everyone he comes in contact with. In a positive way. No one comes into our room or takes him somewhere for testing that he doesn't make smile. He truly has a personality that everyone loves and he makes a point to talk to everyone and treat them well. Everyone who helped us today kept telling us they wanted to come back and check on us, to make sure he was doing OK. They said they would miss him if they didn't see him tomorrow. I know there are tons of patients who aren't very easy to be around but Anthony is not one of them. He's so charming and such a blessing in everyone's lives. You can truly see God's love through him as he reaches out to everyone.

We also met with his surgical team today. Dr. Rogers is his name and we really like him. He just has a likable personality and he's really easy to talk to. He's saying that Anthony should have a super easy surgery and a relatively quick and easy recovery. He's feeding Anthony's unhealthy desire to leave the hospital early. He's already asking when he can leave...and when he can ride his bike. Ugh. Dr. Rogers said it's not unusual for healthy people to leave the hospital within 3-4 days. We shall see. I won't let him leave until I know I can take care of him at home...and his pain meds are working well!

We talked to anesthesiology today too. He signed several waivers...the usual stuff. 

Anna came over to say hi at lunch and hung out with us for a while. She just left, actually. Thankfully we have a friendly face nearby who knows her way around here so she can show us where we need to go. She's coming back tomorrow morning to be with us, too.

I checked in at the Holiday Inn that's literally across the street from the hospital so I have a comfy place to stay. My mom is coming in tonight so she doesn't have to be here super early. 

Tomorrow's plan is early. They are going to take Amy down for surgery prep at 7 am. Anthony will follow shortly after that around 7:45 or 8. They're hooking him up with some great meds in the morning so hopefully some funny videos will be captured! :)

The whole surgical process will take roughly 6-7 hours. The surgery itself only lasts about 3-4 of those hours. The rest of the time accounts for anesthesiology, putting in a central line, a catheter, and all the closing up and waking up process. I'll be sure to post updates as it goes. 

I love knowing they're going to be in side-by-side operating rooms..Amy in 12 and An

thony in 13. Dr. Rogers said they will actually take it out of Amy, walk through the door and hand it off to him to insert into Anthony. 13 is Anthony's favorite number so it's only fitting! They're taking Amy's left kidney and putting it in Anthony's left side. It will be inserted "backwards" or facing the opposite way from usual so it will be more protected from any impacts or falls. They both have marks written on them to show the side where the kidney will be removed or inserted. 

We met Amy today. I cried. How do I say thank you to someone for willingly donating a part of her body to save my husband? To save my family? To keep us together forever? To let Anthony walk Aspen down the aisle? To be there when our children graduate college...or when our grandchildren are born?

Amazing. God is so good. We are so blessed. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Am I Pregnant?!

I'm crazy emotional..I mean crying at the drop of a hat here.

I'm nesting...like have a sudden unexplained desire to clean my fridge.

I feel anxious...like something's coming...something big.

Oh, wait. I'm not pregnant. My husband's about to get a kidney. HUGE deal. GIANT! I'm trying to wrap my head around it and I just can't seem to. I have to stay away from the Hallmark channel right now because even commercials are making me cry! Every time someone asks me how I'm doing or if I need anything I cry. If I can't get something done that I thought should be done already, I cry.

I know someone else will be at my house and sleeping in my bed so I feel the need to clean my shower, change my sheets, vacuum, do the laundry. I want to stockpile diapers, medicine, food, milk, etc, since I won't be here to buy it for them.

I still haven't packed my hospital bag..I can't even decide what I want to take. Selling Thirty-One does not help in this instance since I have just about everything in the catalog. Super...now how do I choose?! And what do I want to take to the hotel v/s the hospital? I want to take my computer to do some photo editing while I'm there. I'll also want to have Facebook and the internet for updates. So that's a no-brainer. But what else? My Kindle Fire for reading. A real book I'm not finished with yet. (I'm rereading Catching Fire since the movie's about to come out!) Snacks? Drinks? My phone of course. Which camera do I take? The little one that's easy to handle and carry, or the big one that takes better pictures. We do blog...I record everything. I plan on over-sharing. Get ready.

I have organized my medical files and papers. I got a Timeless Beauty Bag and embroidered it with "Life Saver." I'm going to keep up with all our mileage, meals, hotel receipts, thank yous and everything. Hopefully I'll actually keep up with it all. We'll get reimbursed for my hotel stay and my food while we're in the hospital. What a welcome relief and burden lifted.

I'm so overwhelmed with things I feel like I need to do right now that it's crazy. I'm a big ball of nerves. Anthony is as cool as a cucumber. Figures.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

18 Months & Updates

  


I can't believe it's here...my baby is officially one and a half. It just doesn't seem possible. Here are her 18 month check up stats:

Weight: 24 lbs, 14 ozs (60th percentile)
Height: 32.5 inches (80th percentile)
They measured her head but didn't write it down for me...bummer. 

She is doing everything just fine, Kate says she looks great. 
She has 14 teeth and is about to cut the top two canines. She's chewing on everything! I hope her amber teething necklace really works and gets us though this!

What she's wearing:
12-18 month clothes fit perfectly
We're buying 18-24 month for the fall/winter but they're a little big still
Size 4 disposable diapers, but we do cloth most of the time
Size 6 1/2 shoe!!
We went into Our Hearts and Sole, a kid's shoe store in Hickory, with Aspen wearing a size 5 in Stride Rite. We walked out in a 6 1/2. What a moment of mommy failure! I had no idea her shoes were so small! Mom of the Year. Right here.

What she's "saying"
Aspen can sign
help
outside
more
cup
water
milk
eat
all done
bear
dog
bird
duck
sleep
music
hat
yogurt
daddy
bath
diaper
airplane

She can actually say
mommy
daddy
baby
Every once in a while she tries to say
nana
dadaw
buhbuh (brother)

Overall she's still pretty quiet. She makes jibberish noises and acts like she's talking to herself alot. Kate said she scored a 25 on communication skills and she had to score a minimum of 15. They don't refer for speech until 2 1/2, but she said Aspen doesn't have a problem with speech. She has a problem with verbalizing, she can communicate fine. We're working with her to get her to speak more, but she just doesn't seem interested. She will not try to repeat what you say like Lincoln did. Lincoln made every sound you made, like a parrot. She doesn't have any desire to do that. So I hear mommy and baby about a million times every day!!

She LOVES music and makes the sign every time she hears it and starts dancing with a big smile on her face. She plants her feet apart and swings her hips. Precious! Her current favorite toy is her Cabbage Patch Aspen doll. Anna Fitzwater got it for her when she was born. It's a specially made doll named Aspen Ensley, so we call her Little Aspen! Aspen carries her everywhere she goes and always needs a baby. She also likes Lincoln's cars, trucks, and trains. The little house/door play center that Anna also gave to us is one of her favorite things to do in the house. She loves pushing the buttons and listening to the music. If I'm working on Thirty-One business at the table she wants to sit with me and draw. She loves making doodles on the paper. She's also the only one at the table when we eat out that colors. Lincoln only has eyes for his trucks! She can blow her nose, and tells us when her diaper is stinky. She's very interested in the potty and likes to sit on it. Let's hope potty training goes quickly!

What Lincoln is wearing
2T-3T shorts (3T only if they have adjustable waist, some are even 24 months!!)
3T-4T pants (adjustable waist, needs 4T for length this fall)
3T-4T shirts - we are buying 4T for fall/winter
Size 10 shoes

Lincoln is still very much in love with the Cars movies. He has all the cars at home and plays with them every day. He still loves music and dances all the time. You'll often hear him singing or humming to himself while he plays. He sings songs from Cars movies, Sunday School, Mickey's Sing Along, and the Disney Movies we watch all the time. Right now it appears that The Little Mermaid is his favorite. With Tarzan or The Little Engine that Could being very close runners up. We got him his very first "big boy bike" with training wheels last month. He LOVES it!! He would ride it all day, every day if we would let him!! It's a Schwinn, and very nice! I hope Aspen likes it, she'll probably be riding it too!


Lincoln started Pre-School this month!! He is on Bust'r Bus, a free mobile pre-k program for Burke County. He goes Tuesday and Thursday from 10:15-12. The first day he went he screamed the ENTIRE ride there, "I don't want to go to Bust'r Bus! I don't want to get on the bus!!" He screamed the entire way up the stairs of the bus and was still crying when I walked away. Aspen and I went to the Food Lion just around the corner so we'd be close if they  had to call us to come get him. Fortunately, he made it through with no problems! His teachers said he didn't cry for more than 5 minutes and then was just fine and played with everyone. Phew. We've been back twice now and he's seemed to enjoy it. No more crying or tears. Here is our first day...soo sad! Notice the tears on his shirt!




We visited with mamaw a few weeks ago, a BIG surprise for her as Mom didn't tell her we were coming! We played in the creek and everyone got deliciously dirty!






Anthony was in the Soldier's Reunion parade in Newton for Carolina Orthopaedic Sepcialists. I had the joy of wrangling both kids while we watched the LONGEST PARADE OF MY LIFE! 


On the kidney front there is no news. Just continuing to do dialysis manually 4 times a day, sucking away 2 hours of our lives. No one else has been tested as a living donor, all the others who turned in paperwork were refused for one reason or another. We don't know why, and wouldn't know they were refused without them telling us. Unfortunately, the living donor coordinator at Baptist has left and there is a new girl in her place. That means that poor girl is trying to catch up, figure things out, and take over. When Anthony called a few weeks ago to check up on his possible donors she seemed very frazzled and not entire sure she knew what she was doing. There is one woman from Anthony's mom's church who was a potential donor and was called in to be tested, the week before Thanksgiving. She declined that appointment because of the holiday. They took that as dismissal entirely and shelved her info and didn't call her for a repeat appointment. So she is now filling out paperwork again and hopefully she will be allowed to be tested this time. Everything just feels like "hurry up and wait."

As of August Anthony has officially been on the transplant list for a year. The average for Baptist's wait list is 2-3 years. Hopefully we're getting close. I'm not sure how ready I am to take care of a patient recovering from a kidney transplant, but I'm ready for Anthony to be back to his old self again without dialysis sucking away his time.

On a sadder note, my grandmother, Moppy, is at Hospice. She's been home with hospice care for several months now and she continues to go downhill. She is in congestive heart failure and every single breath is a struggle. She is swelling from the fluids and needs constant oxygen.  I went to visit her at Hospice House yesterday and it made me very sad. She was heavily drugged and couldn't even make it through a sentence without falling asleep. I took her SweetFrog yogurt as a treat, but she could only eat a few bites. After talking with Mom last night she told me they had given her a new antibiotic for her kidney infection and had reacted poorly, that's why she was so swollen and out of it when I visited yesterday. Hopefully she will be well enough to come home again, but I fear she won't be around to see another Christmas. 


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

4th of July

We celebrated the 4th of July in ALL American style! We went to Sonic for a bacon cheddar pretzel dog....and might I say it was incredibly yummy!! 

Look at our family picture! Aren't we so patriotic?! I LOVE this picture!


After our pretzel dogs we went up to the "Pupcake place" in Morganton. Lincoln LOVES it up there! It's actually called My Local Bakery and the pupcakes are to die for! Lincoln had a strawberry cream cheese cupcake, Anthony had a double vanilla cupcake, and mine was peach mango. Yummy. Sad I didn't take some pictures of our goodness!

Aren't they beautiful?! *Sigh*

To top off our All American day we bought some of our own fireworks. With the HUGE amounts of rain we've had there wasn't really a great option for fireworks. So we bought our own! Of course in North Carolina there are SOOO many restrictions on fireworks and it leaves very little in the way of choice. But there were some super fun fountains that Lincoln really liked. Aspen, not so much!
 He loved his sparklers!




Sissy wasn't so sure about this stuff. She managed with the sparkler, but really didn't like the firework fountains at all! We timed this just perfectly too...immediately after we were finished there came a HUGE rain storm! But, that's the norm around here these days!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

San Diego & Disneyland

 What a beautiful zoo!
 Oh the Mickey Mouse!!
 These cars were amazing! Lincoln adored Mater.
 Show your muscles!
 Our whole group visiting the pandas!
The happy campers!

These are simply a FEW of the hundreds of pictures Erin and I took on our amazing trip to San Diego and Anaheim. It was simply amazing! I'll try very hard to work on several other posts highlighting what we did and all the fun that was had.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Things I don't want to forget....


Lincoln says:

pupcake - cupcake
hellipopter - hellicopter
puhsketti - spaghetti
His L's still sound like W's. So he calls himself Winkin. 
He knows his birthday is in April. 


Here is a list of questions I asked him around his 3rd birthday! 


1.       What is your favorite color? red
2.       What is your favorite toy? Mack (from Cars)
3.       What is your favorite fruit? peaches (really? He hasn’t eaten peaches in ages!)
4.       What is your favorite TV show? Wall-E (it should be Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!)
5.        What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Macaroni
6.       What is your favorite outfit? a tree shirt (he doesn’t have a tree shirt?! maybe a tee shirt?)
7.       What is your favorite game? Angry Birds
8.       What is your favorite snack? vitamins (they’re gummies)
9.       What is your favorite animal? a lion
10.   What is your favorite song? Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
11.    What is your favorite book? Moo, Baa, La La La, by Sandra Boynton
12.   Who is your best friend? Nemo (???? Sorry Carter!)
13.   What is your favorite sport? basketball
14.   What is your favorite thing to do outside? play basketball (I thought it would be riding his truck)
15.   What is your favorite drink? apple juice
16.    What is your favorite holiday? Easter (probably because that was the most recent!)
17.    What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Lightning McQueen pillow pet (but he never goes without his blue blankey)
18.   What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? pancakes
19.    What do you want for dinner on your birthday? tacos
20.   What do you want to be when you grow up? 3 J

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?


 Well...it has come and gone. Our first big together birthday bash was a fabulous success! They came, they played, they ate...and they didn't want to leave!! 


Check out my tissue puffs! Erin made them for me. There's even a goldfish hanging on the left. They were beautiful and better than I even expected!  They are actually still hanging in my kitchen because I don't want to take them down!!


We decorated with bright colors that matched the Eric Carle book Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you see? I added pink owls for Aspen's theme. There are no owls in Brown Bear...but I wanted owls, so owls we did! The circles hanging in the background, the buckets, and the tablecloth were all borrowed from our sweet friend, Jenn Rice. I made the cupcake toppers and food tents all by myself! And the invitations, I think I posted those here already. 

Isn't this pretty? Brown bear, goldfish, pink owl, blue horse, purple cat, green frog, red bird. The cupcakes and two smash cakes were from Alex Bell, of course. You can see her website here. I must say her cakes are fabulously delicious!!  We ordered 36 cupcakes and two smash cakes so each of the kids could have their own. We only ended up with 6 cupcakes left over! 


Lincoln's Brown Bear cake...I think it's fabulous!


Aspen had her pink owl cake with chevron on top! Love it!


I must say they both LOVED their cakes. Lincoln didn't want a fork and had already leaned in and taken his first bite before we had even finished singing Happy Birthday! He really enjoyed eating the bear piece by piece. 


Aspen was very happy to put handful after handful of delicious cake in her mouth!!


She shoved her mouth so full she couldn't even chew! She had cake boogies, too! We actually had to cut her off. I think she would've eaten the whole thing!


Cheesing it up! He loved his cake. 


I used an idea from Pinterest and made a bubble station out of an old detergent bottle. It worked like magic! Jeromy actually sat down there and filled up the tiny bubble bottles. The kids had fun and took their bubbles home as part of their favors.


The birthday boy getting some bubble action.


Our happy family, post cake. They were both covered and we didn't really want to touch them! Aspen had cake in her ears, her nose, her hair...a whole wardrobe change was necessary! 

We had a great time. We don't actually know how many people came. All we know is we went through 3 gallons of lemonade, 30 cupcakes, 21 hamburgers, and 30 hotdogs. The party was scheduled to be from 11-1 but we put both the tuckered out birthday babies to nap and still had people here around 4. My mother in law says that's the sign of a good party, when people don't want to leave. We noted that gifts were not necessary but of course they got WAY more than they needed. Fortunately, several friends and family members blessed them with a monetary gift so we will put that in their college funds for later. I must say that I could not have pulled this party off without the help of some fabulous friends. Erin and Anna were so incredibly helpful. EE made the tissue puffs and hung them. She and Anna helped with anything and everything that was needed. From tying up balloons, to cleaning the kitchen they were instrumental in the success of the party. 

This is who I remember for sure:
Erin Leonard
Jeromy, Anna, & Ian Fitzwater
Kelly, David, Will, Elise & Benjamin Wortman
Betty Bostain & Faith
Collin, Faith & Corbin Delp
Gina & Joey Lindsey
Jenn & Carter Rice
Kaleb, Leslie, Zane & Zoey Taylor
Marci & Rocky Taylor (Nana & Papaw)
Toni & Carroll Vance (Grammy & Dadaw)
Carol Hamby (Mamaw Carol)
Molly & Micah Rice
Carmen, Doug, & Landon Suttles
James, Jan, Daniel & Jace Barnhill
Stephanie Pelliccione

If I missed someone it was inadvertent! We were so busy and the kids played outside the whole time. Everyone had a fabulous time and we can't wait to do it again! The double deck worked out perfectly and people could sit upstairs or downstairs. There was a place for everyone to sit and eat and Nana got Aspen and Lincoln a sweet picnic table with umbrella and the kids loved it. 

We can't wait to have another cookout. Anthony said that was the whole reason he built the decks and the play set. So we'd be the place to hang out. It will definitely be a regular thing. :) Just don't always expect such pretty decorations!

I must say that my babies had a fabulous time and really seemed to enjoy themselves. They sure were tuckered out at the end of the day. It's incredible to think that I have a one and three year old. Every day they amaze me.

At their doctor's appointments on April 4 here were their birthday stats:

Lincoln
 31 pounds - 25%ile
38 inches - 50-75%ile
He got two shots...so sad.
Wearing 2T & 3T shirts, 3T pants with adjustable waist, 2T shorts with adjustable waist, size 9 shoes.

Aspen
20 pounds 3 ozs - 30%ile
20 1/2 inches - 60%ile
Head 44.5 cms - 60%ile
She got 4 shots...even more sad.
Wearing 12-18 month clothes, size 4 shoes (Stride Rite)




Thursday, April 4, 2013

I can't believe he's THREE!

Just a few fun pictures from Lincoln's birthday. More fun pics to come later...

The morning started with french toast for breakfast.


We visited My Local Bakery in Morganton and let him pick his very own cupcake. 

Needless to say..his lips, teeth, mouth, fingers....were all blue! :)

And no "BIG BOY" birthday would be complete without getting a big boy bed!