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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Operation Tommy

Being a parent of multiple children, it's always important to get in that one on one time with each child. As a single parent, this can be extremely difficult. However, my kids can't wait for their day. It's their time to pick what we do, where we eat, and where we go. Casie loves to sing, so it was only appropriate that when her day comes, she runs around and sings "It's Casie and Mommy day today!". It wasn't long before the other two picked it up. We do everything together all the time, so it's really special to have that one on one time!

With going back to work and school, it was hard to plan. And that one on one time, kind of got pushed to the back burner. This bothered me, more so than them. They were having fun, happy, healthy, and that's all that counted. But, I knew I needed to make sure we got back in that routine.

The work/school week started and we finally were able to make our plans. Friday was the Father/Daughter Dance and that's when Tommy and I were going to head out. Casie and Marissa were excited because their Grandpa and Uncle were taking them and they couldn't wait to show off their new dress and accessories. It would be a special night for all of us.

However, things took a dramatic turn. Tommy started throwing up, the next day it was followed by a fever. This child is normally full of energy, so we knew he must have really been sick because he was just laying around not being his self. The next afternoon, I was at work and got a call.

"CC, Tommy is acting really strange. He's hunched over complaining of his stomach." It was my mom. At first, I thought it was the stomach flu that had been going around his school, but something inside knew it was much more than that. Before I could say anything, she said, "I'm going to pick Casie up, I can meet you at the hospital with him."

I left work immediately and started making my way towards the hospital. The phone rang, it was her again. "I'm at the school - the battery is dead in the van and I'm stuck in this carpool line. Just come here."

By the time I got there, the lot was clear and AAA was replacing the battery. I picked up my little man, gave the girls a kiss, and headed to the hospital. My dad came there to help my mom, so it wasn't like I left her all alone.

Marissa stood inside the van crying, "I want to go with you, Mommy!"
"Not now baby, I'll be home real soon. We have to get our little Ty Ty better." and off I went.

We arrived at the hospital about 4pm. They immediately took him back and got a urine sample and took blood. The doctor came in and expressed concern regarding his appendix. He ordered an x-ray. When the results from that came in, he immediately walked in the room and said "We are going to go ahead and start the morphine. I've spoke to the surgeon at our downtown location and an ambulance will transport your son there for further testing."

He's only 4 years old, how can this be happening? His big blue eyes looked up and said "Am I going by myself?"

"No way, baby. I'll be here every step of the way. You can count on that!"
"I wish I had Super Bear!" he sadly said.

Super Bear came as a gift one year at Valentine's Day. It holds significant value to him and has been through everything with him. It's been washed so many times, and probably only has one eye, but none of that mattered, Tommy loves that bear. The nurse overheard the conversation and quickly stepped out of the room.

At that point, my mom, brother, sister, sister-in-law, niece, and my dear friend Gretchen were all right there at our side. They knew a million things were going through my head, so they were able to ask the questions I didn't think of. The nurse came back in and handed Tommy a bear. "Here you go sweetie, it's not Super Bear, but I'm sure he will help you out!"

My family made the arrangements to get my car home and everything in order, so that I could get in that ambulance and only worry about what was really important - my sweet baby boy. The EMT's were so sweet and promised him as soon as we arrived downtown, they would turn on the lights so he could see how cool their truck really was.

When we stepped out, one of the ladies said "Get your camera ready, Mom. If he has surgery, this will be one to put in the scrapbook." My hands were shaky and I felt comfort in their confidence that everything was going to be ok. So, I snapped the first shot ... my sweet baby with a big smile on his face. The lady said, "Here, scoot back here and get one with the ambulance in it." I'm glad she was thinking of these things, because I sure wasn't! As we walked in the door, I heard Tommy say something to the driver. He leaned down and said "What's that buddy?" And Tommy sheepishly said it again, "Thank you!"

We went inside the ER and Tommy was quickly approached my nurses doing their stuff and another one getting information from me. Soon, one of the surgeon's came in and started his exam. As he was telling me my child would be taken immediately into surgery, my brother opened the door and walked in. "They will only let one of us in at a time. Mom and Suzie are in the waiting room. Run out there - we grabbed you some food on the way down here. I'll sit with Tommy." Hesitantly, I knew he was right, so I literally ran out there and ate the food in probably less than 5 seconds and ran right back to the room."

The surgeon came in and said "Gather your belongings and follow us upstairs." This was all happening so quickly. My sweet baby laid in a fetal position crying, and I was terrified of what was to come. We were taken to a room where we met the medical staff that was going to work on my child. His temperature spiked to 103.8(F) The lead surgeon pulled me aside and inquired about a Pediatrician.

"We don't have one right now, there's a problem with the insurance, and she refuses to see us until that's cleared up."

"What's the problem with the insurance?"

"My son's father canceled it. It's in the courts now and should be taken care of very soon."

"Well, don't worry about that right now. There's plenty of options out there that can assist. Now, is there a custody agreement? Is this the father?" (She glanced up at my brother.)

"No, that's my brother. His father lost his visitation rights over a year ago because of illegal drug use. He hasn't talked to them or seen them in this time. It's not my choice, it's a court order."

For a split second, I considered calling Brent. To some, this may have been an easy call, but it wasn't. I weighed out the pro's and con's, and felt the decision I was making was with my feelings towards the man put aside and based solely on my child's well being.  Tommy hasn't seen his father in so long, nor talked to him. I didn't have time to call my attorney and get advise, so I did what I thought was in the best interest of Tommy and did not notify Brent. Despite being the father, he's still a crack addict and mentally unstable. If the court's ruled he would be a danger to the children, this situation is no different.

"We will make note of that for his records, however, we will need a copy of that order in his file. Go ahead and give your hugs and kisses. The procedure will take about an hour and a half." She turned towards Tommy and picked up the bear, "Does your bear have a name?" His voice was weak, but he was able to respond "Fuzzy". A staff member quickly made note of that.

A nurse approached while the other's were saying their good lucks and said "I will be with him the entire time. I will call and keep you posted during the procedure. Before he goes to sleep, he will remember seeing you. When he comes to, the first person he will see is you - so it will be like you were there all along. This is one of best surgeon's and your child is in good hands."

I leaned over and kissed his head, "I love you so much buddy! You'll feel better really soon!" The poor thing couldn't talk, but looked up at me puckered his lips and blew me a kiss. As they started to wheel him out, I asked "Should I take his bear with me?"

The nurse smiled and said "No, Fuzzy is going to surgery with him."

Off we were taken to a waiting room. The tears were flowing like crazy and I was terrified of what was taking place. Thank God I had my family there. About a half hour later, the phone rang. I picked up and it was the nurse, "Ms. Lyons, this is Betty. The incision has been made and everything is going as planned. I will call you back when we are nearing the end." Her voice was friendly, but that was weird to hear. My baby was just cut open. It gave me the creeps. Time passed so slowly, but I was extremely grateful for the support I had surrounding me, not only in person, but through emails, phone calls, text, and Facebook messages. Everyone was praying and I knew the man upstairs was listening. About an hour later, the phone rang again ... I ran to it. "Ms. Lyons, this is Betty again. The doctor wanted me to let you know that Tommy's appendix did rupture and you need to make arrangements for him to stay with us for awhile."

My heart dropped. What did that mean? Is he ok? Is he out of surgery? So, many questions were going through my head, but nothing was coming out. And to be honest, I have no idea what she said after that, if I were to stay there or go to his room. I was terrified. I didn't know. The phone call was disconnected. So, I tried calling back. It seemed like these moments were moving so slow, yet so quickly. I glanced behind me and saw the surgeon and another doctor heading my way holding some papers. I quickly hung up the phone and gave them my undivided attention. In her hands, she handed me pictures of what took place in the operating room. She explained in great detail that his appendix ruptured and caused damage to his intestine/bowel. They believe that they were able to suck out all the bacteria and he would need to be on intravenous antibiotics every 6 hours. Depending on his progress, he could be here 7-10 days. However, if he moves along as expected possibly 3-5 days. She gave us his room number and told us to get settled in and he would be up shortly. However, their is a possibility of the pieces that weren't extracted from the rupture, could form abscesses.

I can't explain the sense of relief I got when I saw that stretcher round the corner into the room. All I wanted to do was hold him and tell him how much I love him! His eyes briefly opened and muttered with all his might, "hi mommy". My heart literally hurt for him. I would have did anything to take away his pain. He shouldn't suffer like this, he's just a baby. But, laying next to him was Fuzzy - he had a hospital bracelet on, just like Tommy, as well as a band aide on it's belly.

That night he slept and was pretty much out of it. He was hooked to a morphine pump and received Benedryl every time he received the antibiotics due to a rash that would appear. My mom spent the night at the hospital with us. I know it was hard on her, but she wanted to be there and knew she needed to be. Bless her heart, I hope she knows what a rock she is for me and the kids! I called my work and notified them of what was going on. They were super cool about it. My co-workers, even though we've only known each other a short while, have become so close and they were so supportive. Gretchen helped out with the girls in every way possible.

The next morning, breakfast arrived. Tommy ate a pancake, but quickly fell ill. You could see his stomach blowing up like a balloon before your eyes. Immediately, his food privileges were quickly taken and turned to clear liquids. Later in the day, they removed his catheter. My dad brought Marissa from school to visit. And it seemed like the perfect medicine, Tommy perked up and wanted to play with her. But, it quickly wore him out.

The staff at this place is unbelievable, absolutely amazing people, who clearly love what they do. They treated my son as if it was their own family, and I took much comfort in knowing and seeing that. That night the nurse that was on duty walked in, "Mom, I'm on lunch. Would you like for me to sit with him so you can go take a break?" I smiled, and I'm sure I started crying, but all I wanted to do was stay with Tommy. So, I declined her offer. I was warmed by how a complete stranger was so kind hearted and willing to help. And at the same time, my phone was filling up with my loved one's messages of good wishes, hope, and encouragement. I read every email and text message to him and expressed how important he is to not just me, but to all of these people. Although, I didn't get that big, bright smile I dearly missed - I did get a half-cocked corner smile and knew it had to be on it's way. Throughout the night, things took a turn. He was in extreme pain and unable to sleep.

However, the next morning, the doctors thought it was the best idea to get him off the morphine pump. Personally, I agreed. I hated seeing my child on all of these narcotics. Granny and Poppy (that's what my kids call my parents) came and encouraged him to walk down to the play room. And he willingly accepted, yet did not have a desire to play. We rested most of the day.

My oldest sister and part of her family came in later that evening. Tommy loves his cousins and when he wasn't motivated to move around, I really started to fear something was more serious. That night my brother and sister-in-law brought Casie down to see him. At that point, Tommy was very irritable and just wasn't quite in the mood Casie was in, but she understood he's sick and didn't take it personal. It was so good to see my girls, I miss them so much!

Pedro, from work called and stopped in for a visit as well. He rang the doorbell to get in to see us and the nurses scurried to me to find out what Dad's name is. I giggled and said "That's not him at the door, it's my friend." This guy is freaking hilarious and I knew we needed the laugh and he would be the one to do it! He has a million different voices and one of his best impersonations is Puss from Puss in Boots.

As most anyone can relate, it's almost impossible to get good rest at the hospital. We were located in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and between hearing children crying and alarms going off, it made it that much more difficult. Tommy was more or less in a zombie state. He stared off and still didn't talk very much. The surgeon arrived and told us his white cell count is back in the normal range and that was very encouraging. However, she was concerned because of the bowel damage that there wasn't movement. He would hardly walk, and when he did he didn't straighten his back in fear of the pain in his tummy. At this point, I turned into a ball of emotions and cried, what seemed like, every second.

My parents were greeted by teachers, parents, students, and faculty members when picking up the girls with well wishes for our little man! And friends and family were pouring in their support as well. Suddenly, there was a loud knock and the door swung open. A lady holding a bouquet of balloons asked "Is this Tommy Lyons?" I know she probably thought I was nuts, I was bawling crying with a smile on my face as I shook my head yes. I turned towards him and he looked so peaceful resting. I set the arrangement on his bed and couldn't wait for him to wake up. I opened the card and it read "Get well and back to school soon! We miss you!" It was from his friends and teachers.

One of my sisters called, "CC, you haven't left the hospital since this happened. I will come and sit with Tommy tonight so you can come see the girls off for their dance and get some personal belongings." As much as I appreciated that, I couldn't. He didn't have a good day and honestly I was uncomfortable leaving him. I know my sister would do everything I would have, but I felt I needed to be there. So, instead she promised she would get the girls ready and send me lots of pictures. I talked to both Casie and Marissa and they thought it was a good idea too, they understand everything happening. When the pictures started coming in, my heart melted. They did silly shots, glamorous ones, posed, unposed, and just simply looked so beautiful. I'm so proud of each of them. The twinkle in their eyes and the smiles on their faces really added such an amazing touch. Tommy and I waited anxiously for the next ones to come through. It was definitely a good distraction from our surroundings.

As time went by, I tried everything in my power to encourage Tommy to move around, but nothing was working. It suddenly dawned on me, I was starving. I had no idea when the last time I ate and used that to my advantage.

"Tommy, come on, you have to get up. We have to walk to the nurse's station. I'm so hungry and I want to see if they have any places around that delivers!"

I walked over to help him get out of bed. He didn't have much time to contemplate and willingly obliged. "Ok, Mommy." Quickly tears streamed down his face and fear was evidently taking over. I bent down on one knee. "I know it hurts, buddy. But, the doctor says it will help. Can you do it for me? I'm really, really hungry." And there it was, his brave face took over and one step at a time we made our way out of the room and down the hall. Our nurse saw us and jumped out of her chair cheering him on. I told her we were on a mission for food. She laughed, guided me towards a binder full of menus of nearby places that deliver and took Tommy's hand. "I'll take him to the playroom while you order something."

Of course, I quickly selected something and ran to the room to get my phone and money to place my order, then ran back to the playroom. There they were, sitting at a table playing. I was overjoyed at that point. He did it!!!! I started snapping pictures and immediately posting them for our friends and family to share in this progress. He kind of made me nervous though, he was moving in and out of those tables and I was so scared he would fall, but he didn't. The poor baby inherited the clumsy gene's from me. We found a little bike and he slowly climbed aboard and shouted "Come on, Mommy!" I opened the door and down the hall he went. We made way back to our room and when the food arrived, Tommy ate the most he has since we arrived there. Things were looking up and the pain med times were being spread out and Benedryl was no longer needed with the antibiotics.

Bright and early the following morning, one of the surgeon's arrived and expressed concern of a possible abscess. We were warned of this in the beginning. A scan would need to be ordered to determine if there is, and if so another surgery would be scheduled to remove it.  However, he wanted to check with the lead surgeon because he wasn't able to conduct a good exam due to Tommy not allowing him anywhere near his belly. Luckily, when the lead surgeon arrived she said it felt softer than yesterday and with blood counts in the normal range and no fever, she was confident that an abscess was not present. However, since he's still very weak, it would not be the day to go home.

He was finally released on a Sunday afternoon after five days of being there. When we arrived home, Tommy did not eat or drink and did not veer far from the couch or his bed. As concerns grew, I called the surgeon the following day, who immediately re-admitted him. Over the course of the next five days, he remained in the PICU and had a CT scan of his abdomen that showed several abscesses formed around the colon. He continued getting the antibiotics through his IV. Luckily, that was a success and no further surgeries were performed. I was surprised when he was released on a Saturday and able to return to school on Monday. However, he did it and bounced back rather quickly.

With the support and prayers are family and friends offered, they pulled us through a very trying time. And since we came through it, it made us stronger as a family and made me realize that life is too short. So, those Mommy and Me days will no longer be pushed to the back burner!!!! Live every day to the fullest!!!

God Bless and Much Love!!!



Monday, February 4, 2013

Plans for my Funeral, What?!?

I had a blast over the weekend. It was the 3rd Annual Girls Weekend Away. It's just a nice time for friends to get away and relax. We are all mothers', so this time is very important. Only one time a year to have just to ourselves, and we take full advantage!!

When I arrived home, my babies were so excited to see me and I couldn't wait to put my arms around all of them for a big group hug. Although I had a great time, nothing is as special as seeing those sweet little faces!

Reality took it's toll ... school work started to stress me out, I was exhausted, and started to get thing ready to return to work the following day. I tried to catch parts of the Super Bowl, but apparently other things were in store for me. Like checking the back of my eyelids. I was out cold! Apparently, my kids felt the same way, because they were asleep before me. But, I did wake up long enough to see Beyonce do the half time show. I just love her! There were a few commercials I caught that were funny, and then back to sleep I went.

Today, I guess everything caught up with me. I was in a bad mood to begin with. The kids were off school for a Professional Development Day, so they got to sleep in. I would have given anything to have curled up back in bed, but some one has to bring home the bacon, so up I went. After I got ready, my Mom was sitting at the table and handed me a little stack of mail "Here's what came while you were gone." I started to skim through it and one piece caught my eye, a letter from a company that I didn't recognize. Glancing up at the clock, I saw I had a little time to spare, so I opened it up to see what it was.

There it was, in front of me, was a detailed letter of how this company would help me plan my funeral. Obviously, this was Brent's work. I started to laugh and threw it on the table.

"What is it?" my mom asked me.
"A letter from some place wanting to help me plan my funeral! Cute, huh?" I responded.
"Well, that's scary! Should you call that detective you've been working with?"
"What's the point? I can't prove its him!"
"Regardless, that's crazy! You need to tell someone."
"You'll find me in a body bag before anything happens to that nut! Besides that, he'll be declared incompetent and get out of all of it. I gotta go. Call me later!" And off I headed to work.

I'm tired of living this way and refuse to. All I know is that dude has some serious issues and I wish he would leave them in his own little cracked out world and leave mine alone! It's not only insane, but it's annoying. Get a life dude! I mean, seriously!

Anyway, bedtime was 30 minutes ago and I hear the little pitter patter of feet roaming around. When they hear me getting up, they jump back in bed giggling. (lol) I used to do the same thing, so I pretend I don't hear it. Not sure if that's sending the wrong message or not ... I can see how this will play out in 10 years or so. ha ha ha

God Bless and Much Love.