Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pictures from yesterday's kidney stone adventure!

Right after receiving a dose of the good stuff:

The IV site... the anesthesiologist was his hero for putting in this access:

At times the pain was so unbearable:

The IV that kept him hydrated:

At last, the cap that signified it was his turn:

Last kisses before heading off to surgery:

Kidney Stones – Part II

When we last left off, we had just come home from the hospital and Mike had found a comfortable position on the couch. I went to bed. I had set my alarm to ring every two hours so that I could get up and get him his pain medication. It was too painful for him to get up on his own. We knew the urologist office would be open at 0830 and we were praying for a miracle. Our miracle finally came!

Prior to going to bed, I had left a message at Dr. Anderson’s office voicemail, explaining our desperation and the lack of care we had received at the hospital. We talked to his nurse Tracy yesterday morning and she was appalled that we still had yet to be seen and cared for. She had us go down to an imaging center in Auburn where Mike got a CT/KUB done and he was given a disc to take back to Dr. Anderson’s office. Everyone at the imaging center was wonderful and worked quickly to get him in and scanned in a timely manner. As we were going through the motions of getting this done, the pain was getting worse and worse. I continued to give him doses of dilauded every couple of hours.

When we got to Dr. Anderson’s office, they got us checked in and obtained a urine sample from Mike. It would be the last time he would be able to urinate on his own for 12 hours. After that, he got completely blocked and could no longer empty his bladder. Dr. Anderson was very displeased with our course of treatment. He just didn’t understand why he wasn’t called by the ER when we were there – he had been on call. And he didn’t understand why were transferred to Swedish and not Auburn, where he has privileges. He also did not understand at all why no one at Swedish addressed the problem at all. All they did was put a band aid over the symptoms. They showed us a copy of the CT scan and although we aren’t radiologists, it didn’t take a brain surgeon to see the many pebbles illuminated on the film. Dr. Anderson agreed that the problem needed to be dealt with… immediately. Finally… an end in sight!

We were taken downstairs to the Rainier Surgical Center where we received the royal treatment! We were well aware that we would likely be the last case of the day and that would be several hours away. Still, we were so grateful just to have the opportunity to have the problem fixed. And they were willing to have Mike go into the back and get an IV and some pain medication while he waited. What a blessing that was. He wound up needing to be medicated every 40-60 minutes just to keep him somewhat comfortable. The staff was amazing. Darinda, Larry, and Dr. Frerichs took such loving care of us. They constantly checked in on us and made sure Mike was comfortable. Finally, at 7pm, they took him back. While he was in surgery, I took off to eat. I hadn’t eaten anything but a granola bar and a bit of chocolate all day long. When I came back, they were still working on him. During these few days at Mike’s side, I read the second half of Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. Then I started reading Animal Farm by George Orwell. For some reason, I had never read that book in school and was really interested in it. What a great read!!

Finally, they called me back. Poor Mike… he was so drugged and groggy. He refused to keep the oxygen mask on and kept pulling at other wires and things. He wanted to stand up and urinate so badly but he was just too sleepy. Finally we stood him up and helped him and then sat him in a chair. Just before 11pm, they put him in the car and off we went! What an ordeal!

Dr. Anderson told me that they blasted several stones in both kidneys. The largest was firmly wedged in his left ureter. He attempted to blast it completely but there is no guarantee that it is completely dissolved. He did place a stent in that ureter and we will reevaluate in three weeks to see if it can come out. I sure hope so! But for now, the stent will keep that duct open and hopefully allow the free and easy passage of urine and stone fragments.

On the way home, I stopped at Rite-Aid to fill his antibiotic prescription and to pick up a couple of things. He slept in the car while I did that. When we got home, I medicated him and sent him to bed! He is SO much better this morning! The kids are so happy to see him and have been snuggling with him on the couch this morning.

And bless grandma… she has been our savior these last several days. Because of her, I have been able to remain at Mike’s side through it all. Were it not for her, he would have had to go through this alone. I am so deeply grateful. And we are also grateful for Aunt Beka Booter who came and brought dinner over last night. What a sweetie!

I think we are finally on the mend here! Now it’s mainly about pain control. And our new best friend is WATER! Water, water, water! No more diet soda!!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kidney Stones - OUCH!

Poor Mike... when it rains it pours. On Friday, he called me from work to let me know he had blood in his urine. Not good. Since he didn't really have any other symptoms, I didn't think too much of it. I figured it was maybe a small kidney stone that was working its way through. I had no idea what lay ahead.

We got through Ted's rehearsal on Friday night and wedding on Saturday. I went to work as usual. The bloody urine continued, off and on. Then some flank pain was added to the mix. Hmmm... I also went to work on Sunday night. While at work, he called me. I know that when he calls me at 2:30 in the morning, it's not usually good. He was in a LOT of pain. I made the decision to go home and pick him up and bring him back to the ER. Actually, my charge nurse and fellow coworkers suggested that! I was so thankful to work only a few minutes away from home. I picked him, dropped him off in an empty ER and headed back up to work.

When my shift was over, I went down to meet him. He had received some good pain medication. A CT scan showed multiple stones in both kidneys. One was 6mm x 10mm! They told us a "large" stone is around 3mm! One stone was in the ureter and was the culprit in the cause of the pain. We were discharged with orders to follow up with a urologist. We went home and I made that appointment for the following afternoon. I had no idea we would miss that appointment.

Having worked all night and being quite exhausted, I dropped into bed and slept for three and a half hours. When I woke up, I did not recognize Mike. He was in more pain than I'd ever seen him in. He was doubled over and crying. I felt so bad and my heart just broke watching him but not being able to do anything. Hot towels and a hot shower helped, but only temporarily. So we headed back to the ER for what would be another 7 hours! Unlike the previous visit, it was jam packed. We waited a time and then were given a bed in "hallway G". We were smack dab in the middle of the hall and the action. I saw little babies, old men, and everything in between. Mike got some really good medication that knocked him out. I was grateful that he could sleep some. He slept right through the bright lights, bells, whistles, alarms, crying, phones, dinging, and yelling. My seat was a little stool on wheels that provided no back support but I was grateful nonetheless for a place to sit.

Eventually (at 0130am) he was transported to Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. It was decided that he would go there instead of St. Clare's in Lakewood so that he would have access to a urologist. As much as it broke my heart, I could not follow him there. I hadn't slept in so many hours. My eyes were stinging and I just wanted to collapse. I knew it would not be safe for me to drive the distance. So I went home and went to bed. I woke up this morning and headed out there. Thank goodness Grandma has been here with us. She stayed the weekend and went home for a brief shower yesterday before returning. I am so grateful for her presence. I could not have stayed with Mike if she wasn't willing to be here to help with the boys.

Mike had a good night. He was able to sleep and he did pass a stone. Shortly after I arrived, they turned off his IV pain medications to see how he would do. I sat with him all day. We ate together, played some Uno, watched TV together, and he slept while I read a book. He did just fine all afternoon and the doctor decided to discharge him. But then he got up to urinate and the pain started all over again. We were frustrated because the whole reason we had transferred there was to be able to see a urologist and that didn't happen. Eventually, Mike was frustrated enough that we just got our things and left. They were done with us and we felt it. They didn't seem to think we needed to see the urologist.

So we left. We are home tonight and he is uncomfortable. He is taking dilaudid and it's helping. He finally found a comfortable position on the couch and is sleeping there now. I am worried because he has not urinated since we left the hospital. I think he is afraid. And he is not drinking his water either. I hope we do not have a repeat of the past couple of days. I am hoping to get him in to see the urologist soon. Poor Mike... I feel so bad!! At least he had a good view from his hospital room...

A Wedding!

We had the pleasure of celebrating Ted and Michiru's wedding this past weekend. Mike was honored to be asked to be a groomsman in the wedding. On Friday night, he attended the rehearsal and then I accompanied him to the post rehearsal dinner which took place at Rock Salt in Seattle. We had some amazingly good prime rib, followed by a decadent chocolate fudge brownie a la mode as well as some luscious creme brulee! It was a really nice dinner for those in the wedding party and I was lucky to be able to attend!

On Saturday morning, we headed for the wedding site. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day in February in Washington. The sky was crystal clear, the sun shone brightly and the temperature was in the mid 50s... very un-Seattle-like! The wedding was held at the Stimson-Green Mansion on Minor Avenue in Seattle. The mansion is a hundred-year-old home that is now on the city's registry of historical sites. All the original architechture remains in place as does much of the furniture and art. During the ceremony, I could hear a distant bus rumbling down the road. In that moment I imagined that if the wedding were being held a century previous, I might hear the "clop clop" of horses hooves going by instead. It's really a gorgeous home and I enjoyed every moment inside! The ceremony was beautiful and it was fun to mingle with people from ITTI. The food was really delicious and we just had a great time. Congratulations to Ted & Michiru!

Friday, February 22, 2008

I am a mother of boys...

Whilst traipsing through the brand new Trader Joe's today, attempting to take in all the sights and sounds and smells while at the same time peeling children out of freezers and emptying forbidden and misplaced items out of my cart, Ethan announced (very loudly so that all TJ customers might have the joy of knowing):

"Mom, my butt is about to explode and my nose is full of boogers!!!"

Thank you my special for sharing that sentiment with us all! Don't we all feel a little more complete knowing that? ;-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Belated Valentines post

I wanted to include something about Valentines day. I realize I'm a week late, but hey, better late than never, right? We had a lot of fun making cards for Valentines day! Ethan signed up to do a Valentines card exchange with some other WAVA families. For those students, he decided to make his own cards. So he and I sat down and made 8 cards for the other students. He made a heart on the front out of glue and then covered it in glitter. Inside I wrote "Happy Valentines Day" and then he signed his name on each one. We sent one to his teacher as well.

While we were making these cards, Evan got started on the other ones. We had chosen some Disney cards. We made those for all of our friends and cousins. Evan had so much fun putting stickers on them. Both the boys signed each one and we sent them off in the mail! It was fun!

New friends and a day at the park

We had a date this morning to meet some new friends. I met another mother on a WAVA discussion board. She had mentioned that she lives in Federal Way and was interested in getting together with other families to play. So I took a chance and emailed her. Sheila is very nice. She has three children: Allison (9), Ryan (7), and Emily (4-1/2). We made arrangements to meet up at Steel Lake park this morning at 10:30am.

I was skeptical of the day when I left the house. It was COLD and foggy... very foggy. But we took a chance and headed out. We got there a bit early and about five minutes later, they pulled in. We were the only people playing at the park today. Can't imagine why no one else would want to play outside in the foggy, 39-degree freeze! But we actually had fun on the play structure there. When we were done with that, we walked out onto the boardwalk and watched the ducks. Too bad we didn't take any bread to feed them!

We had a great time and I think maybe we have some new playmates! We both agreed that we would like to get together again and play sometime!

Here are some pictures from the day. (Wouldn't you know as I look out the window now that it's clear skies, sunny and gorgeous! You'd never know by looking out there now that these pictures were taken a mere three hours ago! Ya gotta love the unpredictability of Washington weather!)

Lego Creations

This is the life... making Lego creations! Evan made this fort all by himself!

Evan cooks!

Evan is our little chef. He absolutely LOVES to cook and whenver I'm in the kitchen, he'll drop whatever he's doing (yes, even video games!) in order to be a part of things. Two nights ago, Evan made us spaghetti! I got out the heavy pot. I dumped in the ground beef and he began to chunk it and stir it up. I measured out some salt and he threw it in and stirred. He sprinkled the garlic powder in and then added the sauce. He tended his pot well and was very proud of his efforts! I made some fettucine noodles for this and he was in 7th heaven at dinner! Here are some pictures... can you tell he had a great time? Check out the pose of him smelling his creation... all he's missing is the tall, white chef's hat and a French accent!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Love is...

Love is this... when I've had a long, long night at work and I've been up all day the day before... and I come home and can't keep my eyes open... and I crash out on the couch... only to be aroused by the sensation of 4-year-old fingers running through my hair while at the same time hearing this sweet, soft voice singing, "Rock-a, rock-a baby... rock-a, rock-a baby... I love you so much mommy!" The smell of his hair and his skin next to my face is pure joy. I love my Bubby Bear!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Life

For his birthday, Ethan asked for a cherry tree. He'd seen the plantings for sale at Costco and really wanted one. To say that Ethan loves cherries would be an understatement! Some people might think it strange to get your kid a tree for his birthday, but it made him so happy and it was probably among the best $10 we've spent! Aside from that, Mike also picked up a couple of blueberry plantings as well as a two lilac plantings. About four days ago, the guys all put on their gloves, grabbed their shovels and started digging!
Today Ethan and I went outside to water the plants. Evan refused to participate so it was a private moment for the two of us. Ethan really does feel responsible for his cherry tree and was all too happy to go out and care for it. I caught some beautiful pictures of him out there, having fun!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Home anniversary?

Well, today is President's Day. On this holiday, 7 years ago, we found our home!! Well, to be more accurate, MIKE found our home! Remember our realtor back then... "Robyn Strobeck, your friendly realtor with a friendly smile" or something like that. Hey, she did her job well enough that I still remember her name.

Anyway... we had looked at a myriad of homes all over the place... Kent and Auburn mostly. We didn't want to leave the Auburn ward we were in. Federal Way was OUT. I was convinced that Federal Way was a ghetto and there was no way I was living there! Period. (In all fairness, I had judged the entire city on just a few places I'd seen. Bad me.) So when Mike told me he'd found a house online, I was a little more than skeptical. (Our realtor had been continually showing us terrible homes. They were either ugly or in bad neighborhoods or had bad pet odors.) We made an appointment to have Robyn show us the house. That happened to be on President's Day, 2001.

As we began driving out towards the house, through the Twin Lakes area, past the lush, green golf courses, around the windy road amidst the tall and beautiful tress, I could feel myself opening up about the idea. Perhaps Twin Lakes wasn't so bad after all. Maybe I could like this place.

When we pulled up to the house, I took one look at it and thought, "Okay, it's nice. I'll at least get out and have a look." So we walked up the walkway and Robyn opened the door for us. We walked in and the first thing I noticed was how bright it was. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room let in a massive amount of light. I think Mike was sold at that very moment. He sort of had that Brigham Young moment... "This is the place"...

We looked around. I was surprised at how large the bedrooms were. I was surprised that there were FOUR bedrooms. We had only been looking at 3-bedroom homes. We didn't think a 4- bedroom home was in our price range. So far, so good. Then we knocked on the walls. I know that sounds silly, but we had been living in a condo with VERY thin and poorly constructed walls. I expected to hear the all-familiar hollow echo come back to me when I knocked. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I got a hard thud! Ahhh... solid walls!

The backyard and back deck were dreamy. I can still remember the daffodils had just bloomed and they were everywhere. There was a beautifully manicured space back there, complete with koi pond. I have to admit, it worked its magic on me. There are condos behind the house. I was worried about that. But those fears were put to rest when I realized that they were mostly condos and not apartments. And then we talkd to Teresa, who was living next door at the time. She assured us that in her 20+ years of living there, she'd never had a problem. (And for the record, in our 7 years here, we haven't either!)

But then there is the matter of the kitchen. Admittedly, I hated it. There is no way to sugar coat that one. I even said so. Anyone "in the know" will tell you that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. This house had two bathrooms and a kitchen that were NOTHING to write home about. The kitchen screamed "I love the '70s!" Chocolate brown cabinets with yellow swirly formica countertops. Ooo la la! Mike assured me that we could change it in the future. The whole house was 1970's actually. Chocolate brown doors... chocolate brown, thin-strip moulding, the original water heater and the original furnace... all original appliances actually... single-pane, aluminum windows, etc. The home was built in 1979. The spirit must've put blinders on my eyes because somehow, I agreed to put an offer down on the home.

Fast forward... we did buy the house for the unbelievable price of $179,000!! (It was an average home price 7 years ago, but you couldn't buy anything for that money today!)

Our lives and our home have changed a lot since 2001. We've changed pretty much everything in the house. All new appliances, new floors (at least three times over now!), new doors and moulding, a whole new kitchen, all new bathrooms, and many other things. The house we live in today is hardly reminiscent of the home we lived in 7 years ago.

And let's not forget the two beautiful boys who've come to share this home with us. The memories we've created have made me fall in love with my home all over again. I look forward to many, many more fun and exciting adventures in this house. And for the record... I love Federal Way!

Silly Bubby

Here's Bubby, age 4-1/2, impersonating a clock and a DVD player. Is this just the cutest or what???