Thursday, June 25, 2009

just when I thought it couldn't get any crazier....

My brother said today, "Well Dad's bypass surgery was one week ago today but it feels like its been five years." To that I said, "Try fifteen."

For those who may be counting, since we bid farewell to my dad at the "kissing corner" last Thursday morning at 6:55 AM, he has had quadruple bypass surgery, three cardiac arrests, a procedure to put in a pacemaker (the "Rolls Royce" of pacemakers evidently), and a stroke. He also has had two ambulance rides. One to UCLA very late Tuesday night, sirens blaring, 50 mph on Wilshire Blvd. And one much calmer one back from UCLA. He also has probably taken 10-15 years of each of our life spans in the process.

Thank God, he seems to be recovering from the stroke very well and the neurologist today said he may have no lasting effects whatsoever.

In the interest of documenting our experience Tuesday night, the night of the stroke, I am writing it here. I also want to sing the praises of the Lord. His hand has been in the little details throughout the whole thing, and His praise is constantly on our lips for my dad's extended life.

So Tuesday evening my mom called from the hospital to say my dad was acting really strange and the nurse thought he was maybe on a bad drug trip because he had gotten quite a bit of painkillers that day. His heart was also in atrial fibrillation, which is an abnormal rhythm that isn't super dangerous temporarily but can't go on for long. So at shift change, they told my mom to go home and get some rest and said, "We really think he's going to be fine." So Dan and I headed up after shift change to check on him and make sure all was well. When we walked towards his room, there were probably four people gathered at his door- never a good sign. The nurse looked up and said, "Ok, he is having problems moving his left side and Dr. Robertson is on his way to assess him, along with a neurologist." His face was totally drooped on the left side and it was obvious to me he was having a stroke. I called my mom, and tried to keep her calm, since the word stroke hadn't yet been used by the nurse, I didn't use it either. As we were talking, Dr. Robertson (my dad's surgeon) came rushing in, took one look at him, and said, "He's having a stroke! Where's the neurologist? Get me Dr. Starkman at UCLA on the phone!!" Oh, it was so scary. Dan called my mom to tell her to get back to the hospital while I called my brothers. Things after that just kind of exploded. Dr. Robertson was shouting at all sorts of people while my dad's anesthesiologist stood and kept him talking and monitored his condition. Every once in awhile, Dr. Robertson would shout a question atme and I would try to answer. They then rushed him down for a CT scan and Dan and I followed. We sat and waited in the same room we had been in for his surgery, which was so weird. But it was late at night so everything was dark and quiet. Dr. Robertson came and got us and said he was for sure having a stroke but we might be out of the window of opportunity to do anything (there's a drug they give stroke patients that my dad wasn't eligilble for because he just had surgery and would bleed out). On the way back to the ICU we were met by our pastor, which just felt miraculous (he got there SO fast). We got back up to the ICU and Tim and Lilly (my mom and dad's best friends and practically family) arrived. The other pastor from our church also arrived. Dr. Robertson resumed yelling at people on the phone (he may sound crazy but we LOVE this man. he is IN CHARGE, let's just say that). Soon after my mom (with our friends Bill and Karen) and Matthew arrived. Then two of the elders from our church arrived. So literally within like 30 minutes we had almost 15 people in the hall of the ICU praying for my dad. My mom, Matthew, Dan, and I kept talking to my dad. He was coherent but definitely a little out of it. Dr. Robertson called the ambulance service, who said it would be 25 minutes. He yelled at them that he didn't have that much time and promptly called 911. Santa Monica Fire Department arrived and whisked my dad to UCLA. Dr. Starkman at UCLA is the world's leading expert in stroke reversal. They do a procedure where they go up through an artery in the leg all the way to the brain and literally pull the clot out ("high tech crap" in the words of Dr. Robertson). So we all raced to UCLA, praying and praying and praying. They rushed him into a CT scan and contrast dye study of his brain while we sat and waited. We all prayed for a long time together and it was incredible. Jim, one of the elders from the church and an old friend, prayed that God would do "what the doctors can't" and Wes prayed for peace for all of us. And after we prayed, we were all so calm and just talked and waited. After about an hour or so, a guy from the stroke team came and found us and told us that the clot had broken up on its own! Praise the Lord!! The blood was flowing well through his brain already. After seeing how debilitated he was when we got to the hospital earlier that night and hearing Dr. Robertson yell, "We have to get him to UCLA to save his brain!!" this felt so miraculous. So we went in and saw him briefly. He was pretty groggy. we headed home and collapsed into bed, praising God, at 2 AM. By the next morning he was already moving his left arm and leg and his face was so much better!

As of now, he is back at his original hospital, he's been up and moving around, and has been moved to a regular room. God is just so good.

Ways I've seen God's goodness through this:
*that my mom was not there for the first part of my dad having the stroke. the whole event was really scary and I'm glad that Dan and I were there to deal with it
*the way God got all those people there so fast to pray. truly the body of Christ at work!
*the obvious: the clot dissolving on its own
*the peace He so clearly gave us as we waited
*having Dr. Robertson as my dad's surgeon. he's the chief of staff at the hospital and just gets things freaking done!! I love love love that man
*Dr. Robertson was out for ice cream with his daughter when the nurse called so she came along. she was so sweet and encouraging and stood there and prayed for my dad
*Dan's parents were home and rushed right over to sit in our house since the boys were asleep and were fully ready to spend the night and get up with the boys in the morning if we were at UCLA all night
*they were talking about moving my dad to a regular room that night, where he would not have had a nurse by his side. but Judy, Dr. Robertson's nurse manager, went down, saw the room, and said it was too far from the nurse's station for my dad. love love love her as well.

Those are just a few!! And a random one, we are thankful my dad's was transferred back to St. John's and away from UCLA before the Michael Jackson pandemonium began. We probably would have been stuck there forever!! A random fact: the hospital my dad is at now is where Farrah Fawcett died and UCLA is where Michael Jackson was taken. Ah, the joys of living in L.A.!!

Another side note: my mom spoke with Dr. Robertson's daughter at some point and she told my mom Dr. Robertson has a painting in his office of a surgeon operating on a patient's heart and Jesus standing behind the surgeon guiding his hands. That is very cool on its own. What made it cooler, though, was that when my mom was praying for my dad's surgery with her prayer group she got a vision of Dr. Robertson in the operating room, with Jesus with him guiding his hand. Anyway, just a cool story.

One more fun thought: Although Dr. Robertson yelling about needing to save my dad's brain was a bit terrifying in the moment, he also said/yelled, "This man is a 73 year old physicist and he is BRILLIANT. We HAVE to save his brain!" Like I said, we love this doctor. He really is 100% invested in his patients and sees them as individual people.

Thanks for reading this long, pictureless post.

And thank YOU Jesus for keeping my dad alive! :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

a crazy week

I struggle to even know where to start with this post. We have had a crazy couple weeks around here. For those of you who may or may not follow me on Twitter, you may or may not know that my dad underwent quadruple bypass surgery last Thursday. Last Thursday, by now, feels like a lifetime ago!!! So we checked him in Thursday morning and kissed him goodbye at 6:55. At around 9 the nurse came out to tell us that while they were prepping him, he flatlined on the table. They had to resuscitate him but they decided to continue with the surgery. So what felt like routine surgery suddenly became horribly scary. The day dragged on and on. Finally, he was out of the surgery. But when the surgeon met with us he let us know they didn't know how long his brain had gone without oxygen and there was a significant chance of neurological damage and he could possibly be brain dead. We got to see him briefly (he was still unconscious from the surgery) and then we headed home for a break. 30 minutes after we got home the nurse called to say he had woken up and was moving and coherent and answering her questions with nods and shakes of his head! PRAISE THE LORD!!! Even though in the grand scheme of things the whole event was relatively short, to us it felt like a lifetime.

My brother, sister-in-law and their three kids came down for the whole event, which we are so thankful for. They left to head back to Oregon today (so sad) so things are calming down slightly. Also, today my dad is having a pacemaker put in his heart to ensure it won't do any more flatlining.

Even though things have been crazy we did manage to get all the kids to the beach for a couple hours. Enjoy the photos!! And please continue to pray for my dad's recovery.

Jayden being silly

Eli trying to eat sand

Everett doing his best Baywatch impersonation

Eleni being...well, Eleni..100% cute!
Owen was very serious about playing in the sand!
I thought this shot of Jayden and Eleni was awesome!
All four "big" kids in the hole Owen and Everett dug
Everett

And I've been playing with all sorts of photoshop-type things and I liked how this one turned out (that's my sister-in-law in the background, also snapping pictures like a madwoman!)

Friday, June 12, 2009

family picture

So, you astute blog readers will notice this picture of the four of us is the same picture in the Shawn and Lisa post two posts below this one. yes, I heartlessly cropped Shawn and Lisa out in an attempt to get a nice family picture. This is absolutely the best one taken of the four of us...well, since Eli was 11 days old and we had our family portraits done (to see that pic, click here). So there you have it. Our little family of four, plus half of Shawn's arm. But, if you know Shawn, or if you knew him, you would know that any little piece of him is a really good thing. :)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

11 months

Eli is 11 months old today. Holy smokes, he will be 1 in just one month. Time really does fly! Especially when you're chasing two kids under two years old around.

What's Eli up to?
*crawling around like a crazy man
*pulling up on everything and cruising quite well too
*eating all sorts of stuff and loving most of it. he chowed down on broccoli tonight.
*still breastfeeding. yipppee!
*taking two good naps a day. he normally sleeps two hours in the morning and then an hour and a half in the afternoon
*sleeping 11-12 hours a night.
*he still only has two teeth, as he has since he was 8 months old. but a top one is about to cut.
*he now says, "Kkkkkeeeeyyy" for kitties and "mama" and "dada" but we're not sure if he really means us, you know? :)
*wearing mostly 12 month clothing but still some 9 month.
*he is not interested in walking at all. he will stand by himself for a few seconds but that's all.

All in all, he is doing great and we love him more every day.

Some cute shots from today...


Shawn and Lisa

Our dear friends Shawn and Lisa were here to visit this past weekend. They live in Texas, way too far away, and it is always so wonderful to see them. We love you guys!

Jayden and Shawn were fast friends!


And one of all of us!

bath time

Eli loves loves loves bath time. We have started bathing him separately from Jayden as Jayden is needing a later bedtime these days. Eli loves having the tub all to himself, and the one on one time with Mommy.



oh could he BE any sweeter?

swimming

We headed out to my Aunt and Uncle's house on Sunday for a family together. My cousin, Paul, is in the Air Force and spent the last year in Turkey while his wife, daughter, and son stayed in Arizona. He is back now (hallelujah for them surviving his time away!) and they were all in town before heading off to Wichita Falls, TX, his new assignment. My aunt and uncle have a pool and jacuzzi and the jacuzzi was warm enough for the boys.

Eli LOVED it!
Dan went in with the boys. So fun!

Here's me with Paul and my other cousin Corey.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

letter to Jayden

I have started and stopped, started and erased, and then started and stopped this letter many times. This letter to my firstborn, my sweet sweet Jayden boy. But tonight I was reading my friend Andrea's blog and her letter to her "twinks" who turned 2 today (happy birthday, sweet ones!) and I was inspired to finish it.

Jayden, it is so hard to believe that two years have passed since you came into the world. I remember how wide your eyes were, how you stayed awake for a full hour after being born, taking everything in. Not much has changed since then. You have such a zeal for life, for people, for the things around you. You are enthusiastic about the seemingly smallest things. But, to you, they are big deals. The "man" who trims the trees in our neighborhood, the trash trucks on Friday morning, Eli, playing on the floor with Mommy Daddy or Stephanie. All of these you love with wild abandon.

You also love people. I chuckled at your 2 year check-up. On the list of milestones you may have accomplished is "can name 3 or 4 friends." Jayden boy, you know the name of every single one of Daddy's co-workers, all the kids at church, our next door neighbors, Mommy's friends, Daddy's friends. You are social, and want to love everyone. One of our biggest challenges has been getting to express your love less...uummm...lovingly. Hee hee. Your daddy and I love watching you engage people already. You are charming, loving, and full of antics for everyone you encounter.

There are so many things I want to remember about this time. You pat the floor next to you and say, "Play, play" and we know you want us to sit with you and play, with anything and everything. When I go to get you from your nap you say, "Eli, Eli, play, play, bed." I put Eli in the crib with you and you both just burst into hysterical laughter. We sing "God We Thank You" before dinner and then you bow your head and whisper and then say "amen." I love that you pray already. Just this morning you said, "Dear Jesus, please help. amen. hannah." You were trying to pray for our friend Hannah who was having a rough day. My heart melted at your tender spirit. You jabber a mile a minute about everything. When we go anywhere in the car, I hear "Mommy, mommy" from the back and I say, "What, Jayden?" and you tell me something. Then I hear, "Mommy, mommy" again and this repeats over and over the whole drive. You now will say to me, "Mommy, hold me." Oh how i love those words. You still love to snuggle, and will wrap your arms around me and lay your head on my shoulder and sigh, "Mommy...."

My sweet wonderful miracle boy, you are loved beyond what you can imagine. Your daddy and I delight in you. In your sweet spirit, in your passionate heart, in your toddler antics. We fall more in love with you everyday. We are so thankful Jesus gave you to us to raise, and that we have the privilege of being your parents. These past two years have been so filled with joy because of your life. We love you sweet boy.

Monday, June 01, 2009

boys on the go

We went to Douglas Park this last weekend. At this park there is a great play area and a pond where you can feed ducks. Plus lots of room to run. Jayden was in heaven. Here are my three boys, on the go, Jayden in the lead.

On this same trip we had a celebrity sighting. For L.A, this isn't a huge deal. The weird thing, though, was that we saw paparazzi photographing them (and their children) from the bushes and then chasing them down the street when they left. In all my years of living in L.A., I have never seen paparazzi following anyone like that. Craziness! I would NOT want to be famous, that's for sure.

the sweetness that is Eli

I just cannot take enough pictures of our sweet little Eli boy! He is so precious and just makes my heart so happy.




And yes he has his finger in his mouth in all three shots. Poor sweet boy is teething. :(

Jayden's Big Day

On Jayden's actual birthday, we took the boys to Traveltown, a train museum nearby. It has old historic "choo-choos" to check out plus a mini train that you can ride around the park/museum twice for only 2.50 a person! Jayden loved it.

On one of the historic trains

Riding the train. So beautiful.

A cute picture Dan took while the birthday boy ate lunch

Playing with the toy "choo-choo'' in the gift shop


Later that night, he enjoyed one of the leftover cupcakes from his party, complete with birthday singing.



We had a great day celebrating our boy!

big boy car seat!

We recently moved Eli from his infant seat to a convertible seat (still facing backwards, of course). He LOVES it and has fallen asleep in it twice, after not sleeping in his infant seat since February! :)

Check it out!


And one of both the boys in their new seats (we recently got Jayden a bigger seat, too)


Oh and yes I know that the AAP just recently released a thing about keeping kids backwards as long as possible but after talking with our pediatrician we are comfortable leaving Jayden forward facing. But Eli will remain backwards for quite awhile after his 1st birthday! :)

2 year check up

This last Friday, we headed down to the OC for Jayden's 2 year check up with Dr. Ball.

Here are the stats:

26 pounds (46th percentile)
34.5 inches tall (74th percentile)

So, again, tall and skinny!

We had a great visit with our absolute favorite pediatrician EVER. He was so so so good with Jayden, who has recently developed quite a fear of the doctor's office. It made us realize once again why we are so willing to make the drive to see Dr. Ball. He has such a good way about him, and really makes us feel cared for and important. Anyway...here are some pics we snapped.

Jayden in the waiting room with my mom, who came down with us because she had never met Dr. Ball.

Normally Jayden screams through every part of his exam at the office. This time, though, Dr. Ball gave him his own stethoscope and he was quite enthralled.

Dr. Ball trying to make Jayden's ear check sound fun. Hee hee. :)

And one of the three boys. Jayden wasn't too excited about the pic.

Thanks, Dr. Ball, for a great visit with you and for all your help the last two years in caring for this little one. You are a blessing to us! :)