After all…

I’m feeling a bit of rage coursing through me.

I’m afraid for the next person who says to me “I’m just a little concerned about his breathing.”. They may or may not end up with a broken nose.

Here’s the thing. I know you are concerned, but your statement implies that I am ignoring a serous problem; that I am not concerned.

Here’s what you should know. He was seen by 3 PICU doctors who did not offer any help or advice about this ‘breathing problem’ when he was hospitalized this summer. He was seen by his pediatrician, who was “concerned” and sent us to a pulmonologist. The pulmonologist was “concerned” but said it wasn’t her problem and sent us to an ENT. The ENT said there wasn’t a problem and put him on Nasonex. And then the problem continued to grow.

His nurse was “concerned”. The home-health nursing supervisor was “concerned” and curious about what we were ‘doing about it.’  The nurses that draw his weekly labs mentioned every single week that they were “concerned”. His three therapists were “concerned”

We tried to get back in to see the ENT earlier than planned and couldn’t. His geneticist tried to get us in earlier and couldn’t. His hematologist was “concerned” and wanted to admit us to the hospital so that we could get seen sooner. I didn’t want this so, we saw the pediatrician again, who was “Very Concerned” and sent us to the hospital, where he spent 4 days in the PICU. While there, he saw more ENTs and was scoped to get a clear picture of his sinuses and throat. He also saw several PICU doctors. They tried mixing helium and oxygen as well as various flow rates of oxygen. Nothing helped. The ENT once again said it wasn’t their problem. It’s neurological. The on call neuro agreed that we needed to have an MRI and see his neurologist.

Today we saw neurology. I’ll give you one chance to guess what she said.

Yep. She’s concerned about his breathing and wants to know when he’s going back to the ENT. She’s agreed to schedule an MRI but doesn’t think we’ll find anything helpful. After all, he does have a severe brain injury.

I mentioned his sudden loss of strength in his neck and legs. But… he does have a severe brain injury. Now, I’m no neurologist. Or doctor of any kind, for that matter. But, it just doesn’t seem right that an overnight loss of muscle control can be blamed on an old injury and that there is nothing to be done for him.

It’s a common problem when it comes to Matthew. Everything is “Well, he does have a brain injury.” or “We know what to do for kids with this problem who are older, but we have no idea what to do with a kid as young as Matthew.” (To which I would like to scream, “Then Google it!”)

Most people want to stop there, as if that excuse is enough. I won’t. I can’t.

I need a punching bag.



Prayers and Reality

Me With You

Recently Erynn and Ruth have been having trouble sleeping. I’m pretty sure that it’s the manifestation of their anxiety after Matthew’s three weeks in the hospital this summer. We’ve been praying with them, but a couple of weeks ago, we switched from praying with them to getting them to try to voice their prayers on…
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The Unexpected


Recently, the time came for Matthew’s physical therapy plan of care to be updated. We were very excited about this, because he has been making a lot of progress and showing interest in working hard. We just knew that the therapist would have her socks knocked off by his general awesomeness. Evaluation day came. We…
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When we lived in Raleigh, I was part of a close-knit group of  amazing ladies. We have shared many laughs and tears together. Thankfully, when we moved to Virginia, those friendships were not left behind. They have inspired me and lifted my spirits countless times over the last several years. I love them and I…
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Matthew being happy

As many of you know, Matthew has two older sisters. Many people don’t  realize, however, how narrowly Matthew escaped sharing his birthday with one of them. Yesterday, May 28th, we celebrated big sister Ruth’s fourth birthday. Today we celebrate Matthew’s second birthday. For a moment, though, I would like to take a break from our…
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Back and Forth




This weekend Rusty took the kids to a local park for a few minutes while waiting for me to finish at an appointment. He decided to put Matthew into one of the baby swings. Matthew’s body immediately stiffened in reaction to the new sensation of sitting in a swing, but his arms relaxed some. He even held on to the swing. The big news though, was his concentration on holding his head up. He kept his head up high and enjoyed the swing.

When Rusty showed me the picture of him in the swing, I cried. It’s not something that I imagined he would ever be able to enjoy. Well, some days I imagine Matthew overcoming everything and playing football like a champ but, a lot of days I try to be realistic with myself and accept that he most likely will never play football or  even sit in a chair that doesn’t offer trunk support.

I swear that boy can read my thoughts. It’s like he waits for me to have a few days of feeling like things are never going to change and then he goes and does something amazing. “Take that, Mom”, he says. After transplant Matthew took several big steps backwards in his physical therapy. But, he has taken several huge steps forward in his speech therapy. He’s drinking 2-6 ounces by bottle and eating 1-4 ounces of baby food (when he wants to, of course). He’s enjoying little baby food snacks and eating things like bagels and doughnuts and french toast. Of course, I have to hold those things and put them in his mouth for him, but it’s HUGE that he opens his mouth for it and chews it and swallows it. Huge.

Pre-transplant sitting up

Pre-transplant sitting up

His ability to sit unassisted is far behind where he used to be, but he’s starting to make tiny steps forward in areas where he wasn’t moving forward at all before. He’s starting to try to roll over from both his belly and his back. He’s trying to bring his hand to his mouth. He’s digging his feet in to try to crawl. He’s reaching for toys more than before (with his right hand. That left hand is extremely difficult for him to get to do what he wants it to). He’s following things more. Comprehending story lines. Laughing at shows. Smiling in anticipation of his favorite part of a movie. He’s jabbering away. He’s using Dada more often and using the occasional Mama. He gets a big grin when I say “I love you, Matthew.” and moves his tongue to form ‘love’ although he’s just getting the “/l/” sound out right now. I swear he’s told me “No” too.

I sometimes feel like I’m on a swing of my own and Matthew is sitting beside me waiting for me to be discouraged on the back swing, waiting to remind me that he doesn’t care what people think, he’s going to do whatever he wants to do and he’s going to do it on his own schedule.

He reminds me of someone I know.




Healing Matthew


A photo-diary of Matthew’s journey from birth to transplant   June 6, 2013 Matthew, at 8 days old, has undergone 2 rounds of hemodialysis and 1 3-day round of prisma dialysis, or continuous dialysis. His body is puffy after having his blood filtered.     June 19, 2013 Finally, near the end of June, Matthew…
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One of the bad times

Ruth and I had a very fun, busy day today. We started out taking the long way home from the bus stop and went by our favorite spot in the neighborhood where we can look out over the river and count the boats. After that we went to the library for story time and then went on a shopping hunt for cheap fall clothes for Matthew. She was being such a great little companion, and we had had a fair amount of success finding good deals on clothing, so Ruth and I decided to stop for some lunch.

She played for several minutes while we waited for our food. Then we had some fun playing with the toy that came in her meal while eating our food. I looked around and noticed all the other moms. Moms with kids about the ages of mine. Moms nursing their babies and lugging a child around on a hip while corralling another. It made me smile to see such a familiar sight. I know I often wondered if I was the only one who did these things. I smiled at the memories of doing those things with Erynn and Ruth, and I was happy. We finished our lunch and continued to laugh and play her new game all the way to the car.

But as soon as I sat down in the driver’s seat, I was hit with a sudden and uncontrollable flood of tears. There was no reason for it really. Nothing new at least. It’s just this thing that happens when I least expect it; usually when things are going well and I’m feeling happiest. It’s a stab to the gut that reminds me that the future is a very muddy place. It’s an evil little voice in my head that says “sure he’s making progress, but will he continue to make progress? So what if he learns to take a bottle! That doesn’t mean that he will ever be able to have his g-tube removed. He may learn to move food to the back of his throat, but that doesn’t mean he will ever learn to control his hands enough to get the food there himself.” It compares the baby that we saw in the grocery store, a baby that was probably half his age, to Matthew, pointing out how much more that baby moved and talked; that that  baby was able to grab at things.

That’s the hardest part of all of this: seeing children younger than Matthew. I know that he has overcome a lot. I know that he is behind for his age. But, when I see another baby, when I watch friends have babies and then watch those babies grow, it is then that I am slapped with the reality of exactly how far behind he is. I’m used to the way he his. I just don’t realize how quiet and still he is until I see a younger child wiggling and jabbering. It is then that my mind says “WOW! How can he possibly ever get to that point?”

I sat there in the car with those unwanted tears streaming down my face until they were done. I wiped them off, smiled at Ruth in the mirror,  hid behind some sunglasses and continued on with my day. I hate those moments. I hate that they come without warning. I hate crying, and I hate crying for no reason even more.

He’s already an extraordinary kid. Matthew may never reach the point of ‘normal’. I am okay with that. I am thankful just to have my Matthew with me. I don’t care about the rest.

I guess that is why those bad moments upset me. They make me feel, though only for a moment, like there is more bad than good in his little life. That simply is not true! That kind of thinking doesn’t deserve the light of day. Yet, it stole a few minutes of my day today. Tomorrow I make them up with extra hugs and extra kisses for my little super hero.