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Monday, May 25, 2015

Heaven Sent SIL

I'm really grateful Kev's sister is in town with us. She has taken Lincoln in the wee hours of the morning and allowed me to go back to bed each day she's been here. Sunday we had a BBQ with Kev's brother and his family so we could celebrate Kev's health and spend time together for the first time since the hospital stay. It was so great to be together under better circumstances!

The cousins all had so much fun together, and it's so great to see them playing and loving on each other. I can't believe how big Linc is in comparison to his SIX YEAR OLD COUSIN. He dwarfed her when she held him .

Tiff has also been a huge help with Aspen, taking her on walks, playing with her in her room while I nap Linc (BUT NOT TOUCHING ANYTHING PLEASE AND THANK YOU) and just basically being my back up.

Kev went back to work today, and I feel spoiled beyond belief to have so much help right now. I mean, I felt like I could conquer anything while I was dealing with Kev in the hospital. I had to be a super-hero and get through all the stress and fear and uncertainty. But when the adrenaline wore off and I basically had three kids at home depending on me for survival, I ran out of steam. Three babies is too many babies for me.

I am just so relieved for the outcome we received this month, and I'm trying to be better about handling the frustration I feel because Kev can't pick up Lincoln for five more weeks. In the days before Tiff arrived, I was so pissed I couldn't hand off that baby boy to anyone else EVER. And while Linc may not immediately appreciate the loving arms of his Auntie, if I leave his line of sight he calms down and accepts her ;). I'm so lucky to have a sister-in-law like her, who was willing to make the sacrifice to fly across the country at the last minute and rearrange her life to give us a week of help. Additionally, I'm lucky my parents were planning to do the same.

Kev is doing so much better and it's so good to have him back. I can't wait until his wounds fully heal and I can see him carrying around his babies again.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Day 5 in the Hospital // Discharge Orders

By Sunday morning, I was so overwhelmed at the thought of arranging childcare for Linc yet again that I just decided to take him to the hospital with me. On Saturday Kev had mentioned he'd like to see Aspen, but since she was clear out at her cousins' I decided to settle on the next closest kid. And I figured bringing Linc after his morning nap would be best and he could actually spread cheer to people on the unit.

We got to St. Mark's a little after 11 and found Darin still there. I thought he was going to head out early for church, but thankfully he stayed. He helped Kev take his walks around the unit, and he took notes when Dr. Cavin came to check in with Kev. It was understood that as long as Kev tolerated the solid foods and had some digestive progress, he could be discharged that night on the nurse's orders. We were excited!

I spent a couple of hours at the hospital, and Seth showed up as well (of course!). I left Kev in his care while I took Linc home for a nap. I also had to drive to Sandy and feed the dogs before returning to St. Mark's in the early evening. Seth said he'd stay Sunday night with Kev if he ended up staying until Monday, so we were really hopeful Kev would decide to leave. Seth had missed a lot of work on our behalf, and I wanted to give him some of his life back if at all possible.

Kev wasn't feeling awesome later Sunday evening, but when he was napping Seth and I both left the hospital. I was going to take Linc home for bed, and Seth was going to bring the dogs to my house for the night so he could stay with Kev.

By 830, Kev called Seth (who'd just arrived at my house with the dogs). His night nurse had started her shift and he didn't like her one bit. When she came to check vitals, he said he needed assistance sitting up. She was not mindful of his three abdominal incisions and she jerked him up in his bed. So Kev called to ask Seth to pick him up and bring him home. We were thrilled. So I rushed around the house to get pillows for our bed and get things ready for Kev's arrival.

By 10 Kev was home. Seth helped him into the house and we got him all settled in bed. Additionally, Seth filled all of Kev's prescriptions for me and said he'd sleep over for a couple of nights to make sure we were all settled and had some extra help. I slept in Aspen's bed the first night because I was terrified I'd accidentally kick Kev in the stomach in the middle of the night. I ended up plugging the baby monitor in our room so he could call out if needed and I'd hear him.

My sister-in-law Anna brought Aspen home the next morning while Kev and Linc were taking their naps. It was good to have her home, but overwhelming all the same. She has little understanding of just how stressful the week had been. She isn't any less demanding or frustrating or strong-willed than before, and my reserves have been lacking right now. Linc slept through the night while Kev was hospitalized, but that didn't last forever. So I found myself getting up at least once with Linc, and sometimes two times with Kev in the night, as well as once with Aspen.

I thought I'd be okay to have him home and put the worst behind us, but when I took the kids to the store by myself Kev's first full day back, I realized how exhausted I was. It was so difficult to tolerate their fussiness and the stress of getting everything on my list and getting it home and put away... all normal things I regularly do!

My mom called and said she and Marc were planning to come out and help me for a few days. They wanted to do groceries and yard work and chauffeur Aspen around for me so I could recoup. But Kev's sister also offered to help, so we told my parents to hold off and let Tiffany come instead (my sister and her husband had just flown to Maine to spend the summer at my parents' so it seemed like a bad time for them to leave). I didn't realize how much this whole ordeal had taken out of me, and the thought of some extra help with Aspen was something I looked forward to so much. Even just having my brother come over and put Aspen to bed for me after work was such a relief.

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Day 4 in the Hospital // Post-op

Saturday morning I was able to leave Linc with Katrina and get to the hospital before noon. Matt was still there, thankfully, and he had given me periodic updates regarding Kev while I was home. When I arrived, he looked so much better. I was also able to be there when the head of the unit arrived, Dr. Sebet, as well as Drs. Krishnamurthy and Cavin. Everyone was elated. Meckel's is so rare that none of the doctors had seen a case unfold like this before. For Dr. K, her only experience with it was as a question on her exams in med school. Kev was basically famous.

Post-op, it was recommended that Kev get off his IV asap, as well as off oxygen. He was instructed to walk as often as he could (at least once every two hours) to promote digestion. He'd not only had the diverticulum removed, but a small portion of intestines on either side, which were then sewn back together. Because of this, his recovery is expected to require six weeks of no heavy lifting so as not to disrupt the healing. Thankfully, Kev's boss visited him twice in the hospital and they discussed his work options for after the surgery. He was very supportive, and the company even sent him flowers. It's so nice to know they're rooting for him, and invested in doing all they can to ensure he has appropriate work when he's ready to return.

By Saturday night we were all getting antsy to be at the end of Kev's hospital stay. His room was so tiny, we couldn't do anything or make any movements without having to rearrange everything. It was like being inside a jigsaw puzzle. The closet door couldn't open without hitting Kev's bed. His IV wouldn't roll around the bed enough for Kev to reach the bathroom. Nothing could be put on the floor because then his bed tray couldn't roll to and from his side. Two people couldn't comfortably sit in the room because when a nurse entered and tried to access the computer, the second visitor was in the way. It was getting miserable after four days. So miserable. I felt like I was suffocating. I can't even imagine how Kev must have felt, hooked up to machines and stuck in bed most of the time.

We started doing laps around the unit on Saturday and his digestive tract slowly starting kicking into gear. I was able to stay until about 730 that night (after having Katrina shuffle Linc to another neighbor's house) since I didn't feel comfortable leaving Kev alone for long while on his pain killers. The morphine made his intense and weird. He was behaving like a teenager who was high, but didn't want his parents to know. I wish I'd recorded it, but Kev was talking to the Bishop at the time and I didn't think it prudent.

Darin stayed with Kev Saturday night and I once again raced home to try getting to Linc before he exploded from fatigue. He definitely punished me at the end of each day he was left in the care of others. It would take me a couple of hours each night to get him to calm down and go to sleep. He was really well-behaved for his sitters, but as soon as he saw me walk in the room to get him, he'd start crying and get so upset if I didn't constantly hold him. So it was pretty exhausting after a long day at the hospital.

But Linc was sleeping well every night Kev was hospitalized, so when I was home with him I got about 7-8 ours of sleep every night. It was so wonderful to feel so much more rested than usual, although it's possible the elevated stress levels counteracted the additional sleep I was getting.

But we were so optimistic that Sunday night Kev would be discharged, so Seth and I hung on to that hope to get us through.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day 3 in the Hospital // Surgery

We were disappointed the angiogram had to be cancelled, but Kev's brother Darin and a social worker administered a priesthood blessing in the late morning. There had been a lot of miscommunication all morning about this and someone finally arrived just as Darin was leaving. He spoke of Kev being made whole, and of a successful recovery, but I still worried. Sometimes we interpret things differently than is intended... and I worried that Kev being "made whole" might mean he would die and that this would be fulfilled in another life. I was a wreck. By now I was convinced I was going to raise my kids alone, and that Lincoln would never know his dad. I imagined having to tell Aspen her dad had died. I imagined having to move out of my house and figure out a way to survive a life without Kevin.

Around 2p, a nuclear technician came into Kev's room. He said he would be administering a test that only has a 60% rate of sensitivity. It can sometimes determine the existence of a Meckel's Diverticulum, but it cannot actually rule it out. The test is not always conclusive... However, the CT had indicated there could be a small pocket off the small intestine that was the cause of all this trouble.

While we waited for Kev's Meckel test to conclude, we did some research on the potential diagnosis. Turns out, if you Google what a person could be suffering from when they think they have appendicitis, but don't, MD shows up as one of the top responses. Oh how I wish I'd thought to look this up beforehand!

But the thing with Meckel's Diverticulum is that only a small percent of the population actually suffers from this congenital birth defect. It's estimated only 2% have a Meckel's Diverticulum, and most of those who have symptoms get it detected and taken care of in early childhood. It's very rare for someone to go beyond 10-12 years of age without having it removed due to symptoms emerging. Often times a surgeon goes in to remove an appendix, and he finds the meckel instead (which is the case for Dr. Cavin, who as performed the surgery before thinking he was going to remove an appendix). Basically, it's rare to have it. It's rare to have symptoms. It's rare to have symptoms as an adult.

The Meckel allows for gastrointestinal juices/acid/mucous to get into the small intestines. They aren't designed to handle the mucous, and it can cause upset stomachs, vomiting, GI bleeding and abdominal pain. It's not hereditary, thankfully, but it is more common in males vs females.

During the test, I drove about a block away from the hospital to shower at a friend's house and to pick up some food for Seth and myself. I had let family and friends know we were on the cusp of either ruling in or out another diagnosis, so everyone was anxious for answers.

Waiting for the results was so painful. Seth and I practically jumped out of our seats any time Kev's door was opened. Finally, Dr. Krishnamurthy came in with a big smile on her face. She blurted out that they'd found the cause, and it was definitely Meckel's Diverticulum. We were overjoyed.

Next step was another blood transfusion since Kev was still fading fast. He'd lost a lot of blood and was beginning to be unresponsive. At one point, he was taking a nap and I had difficulty waking him. He napped while Seth was in his room with him and he said it was like watching our Grandpa Vito sleep (at 94 years old). He wasn't sure if Kev was going to take another breath.

There must have been miscommunication after the surgical consult, because no transfusion was administered prior to surgery. We kept being told it would just be a short wait until surgery, so we didn't press it. Additionally, the lab levels we were given were not the most-recent, and therefore everyone was operating under the assumption Kev was at a 21 for his crit, when he was really at 17. SEVENTEEN. It's infuriating how little communication there seems to be in a hospital. And if you can actually talk to someone, they usually respond that the question isn't in their scope of responsibilities.

I had to get back to the kids Friday evening to nurse Linc and take a break (having been at the hospital almost 24-straight hours) for myself. Matt graciously offered to take another night shift with Kev, and Seth stayed through the surgery, as well. I felt awful leaving, but I had just reached a limit. I needed some time to regroup. I knew he was finally in good hands with Dr. Cavin, and I felt good about Seth and then Matt being there. And with Aspen gone at her cousins', I could be at the hospital in just 15 minutes or so with Lincoln in tow.

It wasn't until about 7pm that Dr. Cavin and the anesthesiologist met with Kev. Seth said they were both very surprised Kev hadn't yet received a transfusion. It was expected he'd receive some blood during surgery, but he should not have started the procedure at such a low count. I think he received two additional units of blood before and during surgery.

I waited up for Seth at home after surgery and it was so refreshing to be able to discuss a successful surgery instead of just wondering what was wrong. We were in such a high spirits, finally! Going to bed that night was so much easier than the night before. Seth stayed at my place again since he was also exhausted after a long day at the hospital.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Days 2 and 3 in the Hospital

My friend Ashley came over at 8am Thursday, and Seth left my house for work. While Ash was with the kids, I ran up to the hospital to get a couple of hours' visiting time in before Ash needed to leave and I needed to try to nap Linc.

With no results from the endoscopy or the colonoscopy that had been performed the day before, there was talk of the capsule (what they called the camera pill they wanted Kev to take as an outpatient). Throughout Thursday, the bleeding ceased and Kev showed a lot of improvement. We were optimistic a clot had formed and stopped the bleeding from a biopsy site (which is where we all assumed the bleeding must have been coming from).

Thursday, Kev was moved from CCU to a regular room. After Linc's morning nap, I left the kids with another sitter at my house and drove back to the hospital. Seth had been with Kev most of the day after Matt left, and we were trying to keep someone with him at all times.

With so little blood circulating in his body, Kev's lactic acid buildup had reached a slightly elevated level. It had stabilized to a more normal count with the transfusion, and the GI bleeding had subsided overnight (on its own). There didn't appear to be any reason for him to stay in CCU, so while I was home with the kids for lunch and naps, Kev was moved to a bed on the 5th floor (the GI floor was full, so he was moved to orthopedics).

It was that afternoon I spoke with Seth about the possibility this could be a cancer, or a tumor that had yet to be undetected since no one seemed to have access to the biopsy results from the previous Friday's colonoscopy. We also discussed how important it was to be kind but aggressive regarding Kev's care. Although he appeared to be doing really well on Thursday, and there was talk of discharging him Friday, Seth and I decided we would push for Kev to stay in the hospital until a diagnosis was reached. We feared Kev would come home and then start  bleeding again. It was this day when Seth and I started to come out of just plain survival mode and really get proactive. We worried about malpractice and being assertive and in constant communication with the staff. I kept reminding myself that a complacent patient is a dead patient.

I returned to the hospital Thursday afternoon while I had a babysitter at my house. I was planning to spend the night after first returning back home for the bedtime routine. My sister and her husband Jose were going to be at my house around 6 or 630 Thursday night so I could head to St. Mark's for the third time that day. It was exhausting, although we were optimistic about Kev feeling better. Unfortunately, him feeling better actually presented more problems- the doctors no longer felt a pressing need to explore other options. They were counting on the outpatient capsule to provide answers for the GI bleed. Seth and I still felt really uncomfortable about that.

When I returned for my night in the hospital, I had an extremely hard time turning my mind off and going to sleep. I liked his night nurse, Brian, and CNA, Lorrin, but I still felt like not enough was being done. As the night went on, it seemed Kev was losing color again and not feeling consistently better. By midnight he was asleep, but I was awake when someone mistakenly came in to check Kev's vitals. We had been told he'd get to sleep uninterrupted until 4am, so it was bothersome that orders weren't being checked and followed closely.

By 4am Friday, we were up for blood labs (hemoglobin and hematocrit). Kev said he was nauseous, dizzy and had a headache. His fever had spiked to 101.3 and he started bleeding again. His crit had once again dropped and was reading at 21.3. Brian contacted the on-call Dr regarding Kev's symptoms, and to get permission to administer Tylenol for fever. They also ordered a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. However, even though things went downhill so early, nothing seemed able to happen until business hours. HOSPITALS SHOULDN'T HAVE BUSINESS HOURS. If someone starts losing blood at 5am, then do something about it at FIVE FREAKIN AM.

It was 730 by the time the x-rays were performed. We'd still seen no sign of a Dr. Kev started complaining of chest pain around 830, but an EKG order was cancelled until the x-ray results were produced. The nurses had a shift change in the midst of all the drama and we were blessed with Julie, who seemed genuinely concerned about Kev's well-being. Throughout this traumatic day, she continued to be very respectful and responsive to me.

During all of this, I had called Seth to ask him to come back to the hospital. I was trying to keep it together in Kev's room, so I went to the lobby to cry. I also waited for Sophia to bring Lincoln to me to nurse around 6am. It may seem ridiculous that I insisted on nursing him instead of forcing him to wean in all this... but when I had the chance to sit quietly with my baby and nurse him, it gave me some comfort and helped me feel in control of something. I know it also helped him relax and feel better about me being away from him so often. Sophia and Jose did a wonderful job keeping him alive in my absence, though! I also made arrangements for Aspen to play at Maren's in Sandy, from which point her Aunt Anna would take her for the weekend

By 945, we were informed Kev would have another CT, as well as an angiogram. It would hopefully show some active bleeding and allow the GIs to pinpoint the source so they could go in a cauterize. They'd taken numerous blood samples for cultures, but we wouldn't get any results for 24 hours, then 48 and so forth. Seth and I were hopeful the scans would finally provide the GIs some answers.

Unfortunately, since Kev had already lost the accumulated blood in his GI, there was no active bleed seen in the CT. They cancelled the angiogram and we waited to find out what would be next.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day 1 in the Hospital

I finally got to the ER and found Kev. Dr. Munson was much more helpful than the first Dr. Kev had seen in the ER and I was so relieved. We found out that normal hematocrit levels are 45 for males and Kev was at 15 at that time. He was operating on 1/3 of the blood the body needs to be functioning. He received three units of blood throughout the course of the day. His hemoglobin was a 5, with the normal being 13-17. Dr. Munson had talked with Kev about another CT, but when Kev said his abdominal pain had subsided somewhat, that scan was canceled. Who knows if that CT could have provided answers sooner... or at least ruled out things they ended up scoping for in the critical care unit?

Upon his arrival at the ER two hours prior to mine, he'd been unconscious. EMTs had a very hard time placing any lines in him during the ambulance ride, and he eventually had four IVs, one of which was a 16 gauge IN HIS BICEP. It provided endless amazement to all staff who encountered Kev during his hospital stay.

His first blood transfusion was started in the ER, and unfortunately there still wasn't access to the biopsies taken the week prior during his first colonoscopy. It was difficult to determine what direction his care should take without first being able to eliminate some probable causes of GI distress.

He was moved from ER to critical care about mid-day Wednesday the 13th, and was prepped for an endoscopy to see if the source of his internal bleeding could be determined. We met with a new GI, Dr. Trowbridge, and he put us at ease. We were really hopeful the endo would provide an answer. It didn't. About 7 hours later Kev had another colonoscopy (his third since Dr. Munson had also performed an exam in the ER) to see if the first one (the week prior) had created the bleeding (from a biopsy site).

That was inconclusive, and there was a lot of blood obstructing the GI's view. They talked of having Kev do an outpatient camera capsule to get 8 hours of video transmitted from his entire digestive tract. But that didn't sit well with us because they talked of discharging him without any answers. He received his third unit of blood in the CCU.

It was also while Kev was in the CCU that Seth arrived at the hospital. It was such a relief to have him with me in the waiting room since everything was all so overwhelming and I was relying heavily on nurses and doctors to keep me informed. I wasn't very proactive about Kevin's care at this time just because I was so blown away. Before going to the hospital, I'd done a little research online the night before about possible causes for Kev's discomfort. But we were looking at illnesses like Celiac's, Crohn's or even an infection like E. Coli. We just didn't have enough information. I had made him an appointment with a general practitioner for later in May so the GP could potentially get a thorough look at Kev's current medical state and offer suggestions for treatment from there. Bouncing around from one specialist to another didn't appeal to us since when one is done doing what they can, they don't really offer much more support. But other than that, we didn't have any leads for what landed him in the ER via ambulance.

He spent his first night in the CCU with our dear friend Matt by his side. That first day I was so wiped out. I had driven to Sandy in the afternoon to nurse Linc at Amanda's (after which he slept on a dog bed on the floor (HAHAHAHAHA)), then to my own house to finally shower and change out of my PJs. Seth was with Kevin at that time, which put me at ease. And it was so beyond helpful for Matt to spend the first night with Kev. Linc and Aspen both slept through the night at home with me, and I had a friend set up to babysit first thing in the morning so I could visit Kev again. So although we had no answers, we at least felt Kev was in good care in CCU. The nurse-to-patient ratio is excellent on that floor and they did more than just check Kev's vitals every four hours.

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Getting to the hospital

After Bishop and his wife left, I got Aspen situated with some breakfast and went to Linc's room to finally nurse him. I just felt so overwhelmed and didn't know who to call to help with the kids. That morning I had actually coordinated a Pink Princess Party for my weekly play group and all my friends were going to celebrate a birthday and one of the girls moving to a new city. As I mentally scanned through all my friends, no one jumped out as available. I kept going back to Amanda, though, who lives about 20 minutes from me. I pushed the thought out of my mind because that didn't seem convenient enough. Additionally, she works a couple of hours in the morning and again in the afternoon, and I didn't want her to worry about my kids in addition to her own.

But as I sat to nurse Linc, I decided to just go for it and I texted Amanda. Miraculously, her husband was taking the day off work and he was available to receive my kids while Amanda worked for a couple of hours that morning. I couldn't believe it. So I packed up the kids and drove them all the way to Amanda's before heading to the hospital in my PJ top and a pair of jeans off my closet floor.

The drive to the hospital was the LONGEST OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. By that time, rush hour was easing up a bit (almost 9am) but the exits I needed to get from Amanda's to the hospital are always clogged up. It was miserable and I may have illegally crossed the double white lines and driven in the carpool lane for the first time ever. It just seemed unreal that there were so many accidents and various obstructions on the city streets, too. I couldn't believe how many obstacles kept me from getting to the hospital.

I was frazzled because I had left my phone in my car when dropping my kids off, and had missed a call from Kev in the ER. His voice was faint and hard to hear on the message, but he was calling primarily to ensure I knew he was at St. Mark's, not the hospital by our house (IMC). I knew where he was, and I desperately wanted him to know I was on my way, but I couldn't get through to him. I called the ER and begged someone to walk to his room and just tell him I was coming. They wouldn't. They patched me through to his phone and I thought that was ridiculous because he was in such bad shape. When he didn't answer my call to his room, I called the ER again and pestered them, once again begging them to just take a few steps to his room and reassure him he wouldn't be alone. No one probably did that, but at least I tried.

Kev called me back when I was just a couple of blocks away from St. Mark's and I could barely hear him. He said he was getting a blood transfusion in the ER and I couldn't believe it. Since we had no idea what was wrong with him at that time, it suddenly seemed like things were getting so serious. Right before he called me, a car swerved in front of me from the turning lane on 4500 S and I layed on the horn, cursing the driver and her Lexus to high heaven. I tried to be optimistic though, and figured if I got in a wreck at least I'd be taken right to the ER, and could maybe share a room with Kev! I was all hopped up on adrenaline and when I finally got to the hospital I was running full-speed.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The start of real trouble

I've always known Kev is one in a million. He's an exceptional guy. But after the last week of events, there are actual statistics to prove just what a rare kind of person he is.

His whole life, Kev has endured painful stomach aches. As a child he remembers having them frequently. Nothing was ever diagnosed. And you know how kids are; they say they have a stomach ache, but what they mean is they don't want to go to school, or that they want to eat a cookie instead of dinner. So sometimes it can be hard to take stomach aches seriously in little ones.

Continuing into adulthood, Kev has still had the stomach aches. In the ten years I've known him, he has often said he's going to skip dinner, or just eat some bread, because his stomach was bothering him. He's taken tums and Rolaids and other pH balancers to help with the upset. It's just been a normal occurrence for him a few times a month.

But near the end of April, the stomach pains turned into severe abdominal pain. He texted me from work, saying he thought he had appendicitis. He drove himself to an InstaCare in Murray (from freakin Park City) and was given a tentative diagnosis there (80% sure it was appendicitis) so we went to the ER that night.

After a CT scan, it was determined that Kev did not actually have an inflamed appendix, nor had it burst. But the ER doctor (with whom I was not impressed) noticed irritation in a part of Kev's colon near the appendix. He recommended a follow up with a GI specialist the following day. Unfortunately, he couldn't see the GI for five days. Even after I explained the urgency on Friday the 24th, the earliest they would get Kev in was Tuesday the 28th. He had his consult then and went over the labs from the ER. It was determined they'd do a colonoscopy to investigate the Colitis diagnosis given in the ER.

Due to Kev's work schedule, the colonoscopy wasn't scheduled until May 8th. And the week of the procedure, Kev experienced some nausea, dizziness, vomiting and bloody stool. He passed out on the kitchen floor one morning, unbeknownst to me.

It was difficult to get in touch with the GI specialist at that point. He was trying to determine if the colonoscopy should still go on, or if he should meet with the GI to evaluate the new symptoms. It was determined the test would still occur as scheduled.

After the scope, the GI said nothing was found. Biopsies were taken and we expected the results to come the following week. It was frustrating to leave with no answers regarding Kev's bloody stool, upset stomach, and other symptoms.

The weekend after his scope, Kev had to work swing shift. He didn't tell me, but he had stomach pains the whole weekend. Monday he had the day off and he mowed the lawn and we all went to the farm together in the afternoon. As soon as we got home he said he didn't feel well. I fed the kids and when I went to check on Kev, he was sick in the bathroom. He was burning up and sweating and his body was trying to expel everything he'd ever eaten in his entire life.

Tuesday the 12th he went to work as usual since he'd rested so much Monday and slept well through the night. But he admitted to me he wasn't feeling well in the middle of the day. I asked if he wanted me to come get him since I knew by that point that when he admits to feeling badly, he means he's nauseous and dizzy and vomiting. I didn't want him driving like that. Of course, he insisted he could just rest and get home in a little while.

Two hours later, he finally arrived home from work. I was putting Linc down for a nap so I didn't see him come in. He was in bad shape. I didn't find out until later that he had to lie down on the floor at work, and he rushed into an empty room at the resort and got sick in the bathroom. I don't know how he made it home.

He went to bed immediately and didn't get up again. In the middle of the night I got up with Lincoln and when I was done, I found Kev sick in the bathroom. He could barely move, but we got him back into our bedroom and he slept on the floor. He'd started the antibiotics the GI had prescribed for after his colonoscopy (to be taken if he didn't feel well afterward) and we thought he was having a bad reaction to them.

By 5am, we were up for the day. He was so sick and pale. I couldn't get him off the bathroom floor. He had nothing left in his body, but he was losing a lot of blood. He kept saying he should have gone to the hospital the night before, and that's when I called my Bishop, who's conveniently my next-door neighbor. By then it was almost 6am. Bishop and his wife came over and reassured me I should call 911. They stayed with me while we wiated what felt like an eternity for the ambulance to arrive. I think they actually got lost finding our house, which is terrible because we're only a mile from the hospital (not the one they took him too, though, because of COURSE the hospital by our house isn't in our insurance network).

A huge team of paramedics arrived and attended to Kev on the floor. He'd lost so much blood he was completely white. There wasn't any pink in his lips and he passed out when they tried to help him walk out of the bathroom. They ended up strapping him to a chair to take him down the stairs and out the front door to the stretcher. And then I had to watch the ambulance take my husband away. Both kids were still in bed at this time (about 7am) although Linc had begun to stir. I desperately needed to nurse him (for my sake and his) so I felt I had no choice but to stay behind and make the necessary arrangements for the kids before I could get to the hospital.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Family trip to the farm

Kev had another Monday off, so this week I took us all to Wheeler Farm. I'm hoping to continue to be really proactive so we can make the most of our afternoons when Kev is home. He was able to spend the morning doing yard work with Aspen so it was a productive day all around.

There weren't many people at the farm since we went so late in the afternoon. It was nice to have the place to ourselves.

I don't remember the last time Kev came to the farm; maybe when we had Mary take our gorgeous family photos at the beginning of my pregnancy with Lincoln...?? One of these days I want to set up a tour of this yellow farmhouse. It only costs a few dollars, but in all my visits I still haven't been through.

This week the weather has been so nice- we've had a break from the rain and it has yet to be too hot to live (now that Kev has our swamp cooler hooked up and it's not 80* in our house).

We indulged Aspen a bit and bought tickets for her to ride the new animal train with Kev. They took it around the farm while Linc and I snacked on animal crackers by the barn. I hope she enjoys doing these things without Linc while we can still get away with excluding him ;).

As always, I'm so glad we have such awesome areas to visit so close to home. And I'm glad we're getting Kev in on the action when he has a day off. Later this week he'll have a 7-day stretch of work without a break and we're dreading it. Additionally, he still hasn't been feeling awesome. So getting this outing on the schedule really means a lot to me.

Here's to making the most of it! Even though I feel like I'm deep in the trenches of childcare and there isn't a way out. KIDDING IT'S AWESOME ALL THE TIME OVER HERE.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day Weekend

On Saturday I was able to take the kids over to my brother Seth's house so we could visit for the later-afternoon/evening. Sophia and Jose were also there (painting the trim, weee!) so we all had pizza and entertained the kids the best we could.

When I first arrived, Seth took Linc from me and then proceeded to scold his dog for running through the house with muddy paws. Linc did not appreciate Seth's tone and he burst into tears. He could not be consoled. No matter what Seth tried, Linc looked at him like he'd kicked a puppy. I finally had to take him back and he immediately calmed down. Hashtag MotherBoy.

Despite the various meltdowns, I'm really glad I was able to spend time at Seth's. Kev had to work swing over the weekend, so it was good to have some company and some help with the kids. I was even able to leave them both at Seth's while I did a quick run to the grocery store. It was heavenly.

On Sunday Aspen and I got off to a rough start and she told me she hates me for the first time. Kev asked her to apologize but I told her not to say she was sorry unless she really was. I took both the kids to church (Kev had to work) and it became apparent Aspen was very repentant. She kept climbing all over me and saying "Happy Mother's Day" and drawing me pictures on her magnadoodle. Hopefully she'll learn the power of her words sooner rather than later.

When I got home from Sacrament with the kids, my neighbor came over and said she was working on her backyard garden. She invited Aspen over to help out and play while I napped Linc. And, miraculously, I was able to put Linc in the swing so I could have some time to myself kid-free for the afternoon! I probably had a good 1.5 hours to have a snack and get some work done. It was glorious. When Linc woke up I took him over to my neighbor's to check on Aspen. They'd fed her and given her lots to do! It was awesome. She gathered bugs and flowers in their yard, she made me another Mother's Day card, and she even had an ice cream cone.

They told me to go home and give them some time to finish up a project they were working on, so I fed Linc dinner until they came back over together. When my neighbor brought Aspen home, they brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowering chives that Aspen had created for me.

When I had Linc in the bath later that evening, my neighbor sent me the following text:

"Thank you so much for letting Aspen spend the afternoon with me. Since Ashley [her daughter] died, I can honestly say this is the first Mother's Day that has been a complete joy. Her [Aspen's] personality is just entertaining... between bug hunting, flower picking and rock collecting... the most fascinating thing to her was my paper cutter. She thought that was pretty cool. Thanks for sharing her with me on Mother's Day."

I am so glad that even though we didn't do anything super-special in our family for Mother's Day, that we were inadvertently able to do something for someone else. We are so lucky to have such wonderful neighbors.

And so I don't forget, I just have to say that Aspen did amazing during the little Mother's Day program in Sacrament. She stood up there and looked right at me while doing all the signs and singing all the words. Linc was mesmerized and even quit whining for a few minutes to watch his sister sing on the stand with all the other primary kids.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Letters to Lincoln, month 11

Hey dude!

You got your jumper this month and you've loved it. I've loved it, too. You bounce and bounce and have so much fun in it. Aspen also likes to play with you in it, and I'm just waiting for her to break you. I'll try to keep my eye on you guys, k? I'm just so glad one of my friends found this jumper for me because I wasn't having much luck weeding through results to find something that would hold your weight. All the inexpensive jumpers only go up to 24 pounds, and since you're 23 I didn't want to purchase something that would be obsolete in a short time. This cost an arm and a leg but you're totally worth it. Okay, really? It's worth it for me to have my arms free, and not be forced to bounce you on my lap.

This month you've also started some army crawling. It's more worm-like than anything, but whatever! It's kind of a step up from just rolling everywhere.

One of your favorite things is to mimic your sister. If she makes a noise, you copy it. If she laughs, you copy it. Another favorite of yours is tennis balls. Or raquet balls. Or big bouncy balls. You love chasing them all over the house and you love throwing them. We play catch and it's so cute how you lift both arms up to throw the ball from just one hand. You also like watching Signing Time, and as of now you kind of have just one sign- arm waving. You try to imitate the signs I do, but mostly it's just you waving your arm. I like it. I sign "bird," you wave at me. I sign "more," you wave at me. I sign "please," you wave at me. I sign "mom," you wave at me. Seth says you're pretty confident you're rocking the communication and it's hilarious.

We all went to the zoo in April for your like, second time ever. Needless to say, I won't be renewing our zoo pass again this year since I can barely leave the house for essentials. So I hope you enjoyed it!

You have your four front teeth and they were BEASTLY to you. Your sleep was further disrupted by those little monsters barreling through your gums and I'm really sorry about the discomfort. I'm also really sorry I only get three hours of sleep every night. By the end of your 10th month, two more teeth were plowing through your gums, but you were sleeping a teensy bit better than before.

Wherever we go, you get complimented on your fantastic, fluffy hair. It sticks straight out of your head and we can't get enough of it. I do try to comb it down, or form a mo-hawk so it has a semblance of style, but it has a mind of its own. It's your trademark, and I'll try not to mess with it too much.

You are probably your sister's number-one fan, and she makes you smile and giggle all the time. You love to roll/scoot-crawl yourself into her room, shut the door and touch all her stuff. It's a little distressing to her. She's already learning to shut her door when she leaves to keep you out. Mischief managed!

You're very much a doer, little man. More-so than I ever remember Aspen being. She kinda stayed in one place, but you're EVERYWHERE. You love to move move move and pull things out of boxes and put things into drawers and throw things and get into the dog's water and exhaust me. You could probably play pass with a tennis ball for an hour. You love balls so much.

We're still nursing at least five times in a 24-hour period, and you're still eating a lot of pureed baby food in addition to finger-sized bites of real food. But you are super-lazy and prefer to have me feed you everything. Occasionally I can get you to feed yourself, but it doesn't last long. I think you're still unaware that you and I are separate people and you need to learn to do things yourself.

But, whatever, it's cool. We'll just be BFF. FOREVER. Aspen says she never wants to move out so I guess you can stay in my house forever too. I'm really excited that you're almost one!! Even if that won't change your MotherBoy status. I just kind of have this hope that once you turn one you'll magically sleep better or need me a teensy weensy bit less or y'know, just, something. I'm also really excited to have an Arrested Development-inspired party for you.

Love you,

See Aspen's monthly letter HERE.

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Friday, May 08, 2015

Dream a little dream

Since I was 12, I've harbored the dream to write a book.

Kev has always encouraged me to just do it, to just start.

But over the years, I have always felt too overwhelmed. I didn't know how I could possibly figure out what to say, how to organize it,  how to publish it, etc.

In the last month, however, I just started writing. I would take five or ten minutes at a time and just go. It's like this story suddenly started bubbling over and I could no longer keep it in.

I still don't know how it's going to turn out or where to put everything or what exactly to include... but at least I'm working on it. And to keep myself from feeling too discouraged, I looked up the average word-count for a book, and realized I'm 1/5 of the way there. Still, at the rate I'm going I probably won't be done for years. The kids aren't exactly supportive of my desire to sit at the computer and write every day.

So that's what I've been up to. Researching and writing. It's exciting. And for the first time ever, it doesn't feel like something I can't do.

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Every day Photos Guide - Lindsay's eBook

I had a lot of fun intentionally taking photos of my life over the last few weeks. I made an conscious effort to sneak around the house and capture moments of my kids being themselves. Not posing for the camera. 
I captured them just hanging out. Eating. Playing. Y'know, the things we spend most of our time doing. 

I left our natural habitat untouched because really... there is always a pile of dirty clothes on Aspen's floor. She always leaves out her play scenes for days on end. She only rarely started making her own bed. So I documented it. These are the things Lindsay encourages us to photograph so we'll have memories of them.

It's also important to photograph the things in our daily lives. Our vehicles, the places we visit. Favorite toys, books, lovies, etc. The books above are some of my favorites, and the second set are two of Aspen's old favorites. She used to have one of the Berenstain Bear stories memorized, and she'd "read" it to me at night when she was about 2 years old. It was so cute.

I caught Linc trying to put on his own shoe. I love that I had the camera on hand for that. It's so fun to catch little milestones like this. And look at how proud he is of himself.

And instead of being just super annoyed Linc was hindering my workout, I grabbed the camera off the shelf and photographed him checking in with me. He was just making sure I'm lifting an appropriate weight!

And isn't it more fun to photograph kids getting into mischief before stopping them? I knew it was only a matter of time before Linc crawled out the doggy door. He had pushed a toy out, and when I caught him he did pull his head back in. I love how Maddie is outside. As you can see, she eventually shoved her way back in.

For me, it's really hard to let my kids cry. I just want to immediately fix the situation so the crying stops (it makes me crazy). But I had to leave Linc in his crib to set up the sump pump during a flash storm. He was bawling. When I came back in, Aspen had shut Linc's door, but not before filling his crib with her hippo and some extra blankets. This is REAL LIFE.

There are still more things I need to photograph, but I'll get there eventually. This project is making me wish I had more photos of my childhood. I'm grateful for the ones that survived our house fire, and that my parents have a lot of albums from my grandpa's house now that they're cleaning it out. It'll be nice to see what he and my grandma had, and to hear stories about them.

If you're interested in taking more intentional photos, and getting some tips for doing so, I suggest purchasing Lindsay's eBook. It's only $17, and it's simple, straight-forward and fun to follow. You don't have to use a fancy camera; she actually gives tips for photographing your every day with your phone, too. Additionally, she has some advice for archiving and printing your photos so they don't just sit on a hard drive forever.

It doesn't have to be hard to snap these photos... you could even just try taking one each week. The point is to capture more than just how things looked. The point is to capture a real memory and take a photo that will later elicit a feeling.

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Monday, May 04, 2015

Merry Muscles Jumper

Linc's a big boy. So big, in fact, that when I finally got serious about getting him a Johnny Jumper, I realized he was too big for them. SAAAAAD.

Thankfully one of my friends started poking around online and she came across a jumper with a higher weight limit (30lbs). I would've done more research myself at the time, but I was locked in Linc's room with him trying to nap him so I wasn't able to be so productive.

She came across this Canadian-made jumper that's designed by an occupational therapist. It's awesome because it doesn't have accessories jingling around on it, and it's designed more for exercise than just for letting a kid hang out. I don't know if you realize how much Linc likes to bounce, but it's pretty intense. If you try to hold his hands while he's standing (encouraging him to walk) he'll actually just try to bounce instead. I sometimes spend far too long holding him on my lap, bouncing him until my legs ache.

So I'm really happy to have this jumper. Linc can bounce and twirl and be content by himself for 30 minutes or so while I have my hands free. I actually like that it screws directly into a ceiling joist, too. We have the perfect spot for it that allows for Linc to still be in the midst of all the action.

Yes, it cost a small fortune (shipping alone was insane) but my sanity is totally worth it.

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Saturday, May 02, 2015

Chatbooks code

Have you heard of Chatbooks? When I first read about it, I was bummed because it was only an app available to iPhone users. Then they made an android app and I kept my hopes up that someday it'd be available for Windows Phone.

Chatbooks is a service that will automatically generate 60-photo books that contain your Instagram feed. When you hit 60 in your feed, Chatbooks sends a notification regarding your book so you can choose to make edits or not. Once the wait period has concluded, the book goes to print and ships free. Each 60-photo book is only $6. YES SIX DOLLARS.

In my opinion, having the service available online is an even better option. I feel like I can be more organized when I'm sitting at the computer, sorting through photos and deciding exactly which ones will be printed. I actually sat down and went through hundreds of photos at once to be sure my queued books are ready to go.

Books measure 6"x6", so they're easy to put on a bookshelf or side table for viewing often. I love having my photos finally printed and contained somewhere. I blog with the intention of printing books, but I haven't done that in years. When I told Kev I'd signed up for this service, he was not very interested... he doesn't have an Instagram account so he was like, "meh." But when the books started arriving and he was able to sit down and see all these photos he didn't know I'd taken, he was sold. It was so rewarding to see him smile as he went through the photos.

If you haven't tried Chatbooks yet, feel free to use the above code to get your first book free. There are different options for creating books and having them delivered, so check it out and enjoy all those photos!

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Friday, May 01, 2015

It's a Zoo Day, a Zooooooo Day

A couple of weeks ago we actually went out and did something together as an entire family. As we drove to the zoo, I commented that we hadn't had an outing (except visiting a neighborhood park) together since January when we visited the resort where Kev works. It was starting to get really depressing.

So, spur of the moment, I decided we'd finally use our zoo pass again and go after Linc's afternoon nap. It was so awesome. The zoo was almost empty, and since it had been years since Kev's last visit he got to see all the new stuff.

I'm really glad Aspen decided she's not too scared of gorillas to go in their viewing building. The baby orangutan is SO CUTE. I wish the lighting was better so I could have taken some better photos of her interacting with the older orangutan. They just kept giving kisses back and forth.

Linc hasn't been to the zoo since he was mini, so Aspen enjoyed being able to show him all her favorite things. Last time Linc came, Aspen got to ride the carousel all by herself while I nursed him in the shade.

This trip Aspen got some one-on-one time with Kev while I fed Linc his baby dinner. They ventured to the Asian cats exhibits and watched the snow leopards put on a show. Apparently they were chasing each other around and being very playful.

Aspen had a tiger on her checklist (seriously, she made a checklist of the animals she wanted to see) but it was hiding and they couldn't find it. At least the other cats made up for it.

I'm not sure when our pass expires, but I'm glad I finally used it again. I feared it would just keep collecting dust in my wallet... but now that I've used it twice since Linc was born, it's kind of paid for itself... right? Needless to say, I can't justify renewing it after I became a hermit-who-doesn't-sleep.

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