Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday-December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We met!!

     It is hard to believe that December 17th has rolled around once again.  This day 12 years ago, someone entered my life and changed it forever!

     Rewind to the moment my doctor told me that I was pregnant.  I remember being in a state of wonder.  Me?  Someone's mom?  Can I do this? That soon changed to, "what is this little person going to look like?"  What kind of personality will the little one have?   Seeing the sonogram..."It's a girl!!!" I knew that I had to be the best mom possible to this little girl growing inside of me.

Definitely a girl named Kerstin, making her way to change my world!
     Now knowing that "the little person" was a girl, I grew anxious to meet her and see her face.  I wanted to let her know just how much mommy loves her.  So a few months after the sonogram, I got to meet, Kerstin!
     December 17, 2001 was a cold and rainy day in Alabama.  3:38 p.m. Kerstin entered my world!

 We met!!! I completely fell in love with this little girl!  She changed my life in ways that I never imagined.
We and I never knew that I would be on an unexpected journey.
We met and I have come out of a shell of shyness. 
When I met Kerstin, my beautiful child, I never knew I needed her to turn my life around for the better.  I never knew I needed her to be the reason I look at the things so many people look past, or never give a second thought. 
We met and Kerstin has bought so much love to my heart and to most of the people around us.
I never knew I needed someone so loving in my life.  Kerstin is my angel, my strength and my life!
We met and my life will never be the same!!

Happy Birthday to my love!!

Just a glimpse into our life over the past 12 years. It seems as if Kerstin's birthday is synonymous with Christmas, since they are a week apart, so most of her birthday pictures are Christmas pictures. 

When I first heard the lyrics to this song are so befitting to me and out lives.  When I first heard them, I was in love with it and it just so happens to be one of Kerstins's favorite songs as well!

"For the way you changed my plans
For being the perfect distraction
For the way you took the idea that I have
Of everything that I wanted to have
And made me see there was something missing, oh yeah..."

Here's the video....enjoy!!


More to come...

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Thoughts of Others.

     Last month, Kerstin and I were entered in a contest hosted by a local photographer.  She wanted to feature people that have faced challenges in life.  Kerstin and I were nominated because of the year we have had, and at the time her surgery that was right around the corner.

     Well friends and family secretly nominated us and we were treated to a beautiful photo session.  Felecia and I talked on the phone in order to make arrangements for the photo session and she continuously told me that she could not wait to meet me in person because she really enjoyed reading the nominations.  I was curious and told her that I could not wait to read them myself.

    Well, the blog posted and once I read the things family and friends submitted bought me to tears!  It is such a blessing to see that so many people notice the things I do everyday.  I don't do them for the attention and nominations, I do them because I have to.  Kerstin and I were placed in each others lives for a reason.  I know that I have to take care of the blessing God has place in my life!!

     I hope that you will read Felicia's blog post, Felecia's Spot "November", be sure to scroll down to our story, "Beautiful in My Eyes".  I know you will enjoy it!  Here are some of the beautiful photos we took that day.  It was an outing for us, it was the Saturday before her surgery, we were on our way to the movies to see "Free Birds".  Enjoy the photos and be sure to check out Felecia's blog and website.

We are a team!  In it to win it, whatever life hands us!!!

*All photos are courtesy of Felecia's Photography*

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Thanksgiving to remember!

     Twenty-six days after arriving in Birmingham, Alabama for Kerstin's spinal fusion, it is Thanksgiving Day 2013.  We wake up to possible snow flurries and 21 degrees of bone chilling cold!

     Today is the day that I have been waiting on.  I know with every fiber of my being that this is the last morning we will wake up in room 1046 at the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children at Children's of Alabama!

 The nurses are changing shifts and not one doctor has come around like they had been coming on previous days.  Around 5:30 and 6 a.m.  I knew to be sitting up or at least awake becasue they would make their rounds and I didn't want another one of her doctors to scare me by rocking me to wake me.  Yes, that happened!!

     Finally, around 8 a.m. we got word that all of the doctors that had been following Kerstin's treatment and caring for her were in fact communicating and about to make their rounds.  First, my friend, the doctor that rocked me constantly saying "mom, mom...", came in with his team to say that Kerstin's levels were continuing to improve and since she had tolerated smaller boluses of her Pedisure the day before and even smaller of the Pedialyte the day before that, it would be safe and okay for her to go home, as long as her admitting doctor agreed.  I knew that we would be going home because her nurses had previously told us that we could go home if her amylase and lipase levels were in a safe range.'s time for a HAPPY DANCE & HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Kerstin is headed home.
Our time in our "apartment" has come to an end! Truly Thankful.

     We are now home, Kerstin is healing and making great strides on her road to recovery!  I'm including some pictures of our stay at Children's and Kerstin's before and after surgery pictures.  Even her pouting Thanksgiving night.  I think she misses the attention and the "friends" she made in the hospital.

Kerstin with her the Justins!
Kerstin with "Mr. Kerstin"-Justin.

Sleeping comfortably!

One of our many evening strolls!

In the Rehab Gym-standing!!
Sitting in her chair watching stories online.
Finally in the rearview!

Thanksgiving night, first night home!
Hiding from the daylight!

More to come...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Long overdue, and much to be said!

     Sorry it has taken so long for me to update.  November has been extremely busy!  I don't even know where to begin!  Thinking back over the past three, I will start at Sunday, November 3, 2013.

It is a beautiful Sunday, we get up and get the day started.  I'm double checking to make sure everything is packed, and the vehicle is loaded.  The time is passing so quickly, we have to check in to our room and I wanted us to get there before nightfall.  All of that fell into place.
In the hotel room the night before surgery, sleepy but, not wanting to give in to the nap!

     We arrived at the hotel that's just blocks from the hospital by 4:15 p.m.  We are all checked in!  The night proved to be very restless for me, I think I may have gotten 2 hours of sleep.  4 a.m. came really fast, Kerstin had to be in the hospital by 5:30 a.m.  We had tons of support from our family and friends.  I got a lot of well wishes via Facebook, text, and email throughout the day.  The support means so much.  I often tell myself; "If they care, they will show it, one way or another, they will reach out.  If they don't, don't stress it!"

Day of!  She knows "something" is about to take place. 

     Arriving at the hospital on a dark, chilly, November morning.  It seems so quiet and kind of scary at the same time.  I'm trying to be brave and bold for my daughter, she keeps looking in my eyes.  I've talked to her about what is going to take place on this Monday, 11-04-13.  We sign in, get our visitor passes then up to surgery we go.  There we register, she gets her ID bracelet...we wait!  The wait doesn't last long before the buzzer is telling us, it's time for her to go to the back.  She has to get into her gown, we have to meet with the nurses, techs, anesthesiologists, respiratory, even someone with neuropathology.  A large surgery team to make sure that my daughter was comfortable and safe during a procedure that was going to last for a fair amount of time.  Once all of the caretakers came in and introduced themselves, our family could come back and say their "I love you" to Kerstin.  It's all real!  It finally came daughter is about to go back into surgery, be put to sleep and will stay that way for more than 5 hours.  I was given fair warning that once she came out, she would be significantly swollen.  Her face would be really swollen, her eyes would be and her mouth.  Her arms and legs would also be swollen.  I was also told to not be alarmed because she would have oxygen and what is called a Central Venous Line (CVL) in her neck.

     Seeing Kerstin for the first time 9 hours later was rough!  My daughter was still out of it but, coming around a bit.  She was almost swollen beyond recognition.  I kept telling myself, "You have to keep it together!"  At this point, I have no idea what the night or the next hour will hold, I do know that I'm here for Kerstin!  She's out of surgery, we are headed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for at least 24 hours.  What a night?!?  I had no idea how loud it would be nor how much in and out.  Well into the night, the ICU doctor wanted to see how she would be without the oxygen, not good, her blood pressure dropped.  They watched my daughter so closely that night and next day because her heart rate was so high.  Her blood pressure even got high at one point.  Eventually, late the next day, she was able to go into a regular hospital room.  10th floor here she comes...

View from the 10th floor of the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, Birmingham, AL

     Now, to not make this very long, let's fast forward to today, 3 weeks post surgery, we still see this 10th floor view every evening.  Even got to see a double rainbow the other day!

Beautiful view of downtown Birmingham.  It's gets boring after 3 weeks!

     So much has taken place since November 4, most notable, Kerstin is still in the hospital.  
Week one:  Post surgery.  Doctors wanted to start Kerstin back on her boluses later in the week.  Her stomach started to distend, she became very swollen (belly), she was uncomfortable and her stomach was tight to the touch.  The decision was made to try her boluses at half and half the next day, that still did not work.  Now she will have to go through a multitude of tests, ultrasounds, x-rays and blood work to try and figure out what is going on with my little princess.  All to come up with the diagnosis of pancreatitis.  What is that?  I had heard of it, never in children!  Her doctors and surgeons were just as dumbfounded as I.   What caused her to come down with this?  There were no gallstones on the ultrasound, no visible spots on the pancreas, so what is causing her enzymes (amylase and lipase) to be so elevated?  One doctor even called her their "little mystery".

     According to her doctors and nurses, normal ranges for amylase is from 30-100, Kerstin's has been as high as 355 and today ( 11-18-13) she was 244; normal ranges for lipase is 13-150.  Believe it or not, Kerstin's highest was 2526 and today it was 1797.  Now, neurology and GI doctor's have been called back in!  Seizure meds will be changed, she will have and intravenous med, Keppra via IV, while she's still in the hospital.  They are making sure her stomach and bowel are completely empty, giving the pancreas a rest and hopefully get the enzymes down. 

     In the midst of all of this, she is recovering nicely from the original reason we were here, the spinal fusion.  She has had some physical therapy, she has begun to tolerate sitting in her wheelchair for  2 or more hours.  This was no easy task at first.  (See pictures)

     What went from at least a one week stay has turned in to our third Monday night, 2 hours from our home.  I'm missing my bed and bathtub.  Through all of this I'm praying for my daughter's recovery and strength.  

     Definitely more to come from Children's Hospital-Birmingham, AL...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Last day of school...

So, here we are!  Kerstin's last day of school until after surgery, which is probably January.  The plan was to go around to all of her teachers and classmates to tell them to have a safe Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Didn't work out!  I did not want to get too emotional and she notices, she senses my emotions and would have cried all the way home.  One of her friends since Pre-K overheard a conversation I was having with one of the teachers and looked at me like she wanted to cry.  She is such a sweet girl, and has always been so sweet to Kerstin and me.

What we did instead was said our "see you later's" to her teachers in the hall.  They all wished her well and speedy recovery.  Even exchanged numbers to check in on her!  It is truly a blessing to have TEACHERS that really care for their students' well-being, wish their supervisors and administrators were as caring but, that's a post for another day!  Wouldn't you know that Kerstin did NOT leave school empty handed either!  Her school's nurse gave her night gowns to be warm and comfy, her teacher and speech pathologist gave us a goodie bag with pajamas, slippers, glove and ear muff set, socks for Kerstin and had a magazine, hot cocoa, Cokes, snacks, lotion, hand sanitizer.  Must say that we have been truly blessed  with so many supportive people.  The blessings have come in mail, via UPS and from church.  Comfort items and monetary support.  It all means so much, more than the supporters will ever know!!

So, we are here, no more school until January.  Eleven days before surgery!  Please continue to pray with us for Kerstin's strength, safety and healing.

More to come...