Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ticking Time Bomb.

My life is a ticking time bomb.  You can almost hear it ticking away.  When it gets really good, you know it's about to explode and shatter everything good you ever had.  I felt it, we felt it.  Something was coming, what, I had no idea, but I tried to ready myself as best as I could for what ever it was.

Sunday July 15 started out being the perfect day.  We had all FINALLY gotten over a summer stomach bug  and we were all just starting to feel ourselves.  We had spent the night in a hotel the night before because Jesse had early ball games over an hour away from where we live.  With this many kids to get ready, it's so much easier to stay where the games are, and in a place with free breakfast at that!

We went and sew the new Ice Age the night before, and then went for a swim in the hotel pool.  Slept like rocks, and woke up ready to face the day.  Jesse had a double header, they lost the first, but won the second.

  (Liam at the ball park Sunday July 15 around 11 am)

Everyone was in amazing moods.  We made the trip home and the girls and I decided to rearrange their room.  We got to work on that and the boys were playing pretty hard down stairs.  Ryan came up stairs for a second just to see how us girls were getting along...

Then the bomb goes off.

Rewind four years ago when Liam was born.  For those that are new to this blog might not know... Liam was injured from a very bad birth.  He suffered a grade 3 (4 being the worst... brain dead) brain bleed and we were told he would never be able to do anything.  Because of the bleed he had mild hydrocephalus.  He had to have ultrasounds on his head every month for the first year to make sure there was no massive amount of swelling.  He was keeping up with his milestones and functioning way better than anyone ever expected, so they put off doing a shunt because he didn't seem to need one.  He has a big head, but no one seemed to think doing surgery that is that risky and fails so often was worth it, just yet.  We were told he could one day just need one, or he might even fall and trigger needing it.  We had been watching him so closely. If Liam so much as got a cold first, we worried it was because of his brain.  4 years of that would put anyone on the edge.

Back to Sunday.

Jesse starts screaming.  Not his "this is fun" or even his "I stubbed my toe"... No, this scream sounded so frightening, something was very very wrong.  Ryan goes running down the stairs and I hear Jesse screaming "Liam, wake up!!! Please, I am sooo sorry!".  I tell the girls to stay in their room and go after Ryan.  Jesse meets me about half way and grabs me tight. "I am so sorry, we were playing, I didn't mean to, we were playing, I didn't mean to kill him, I am so sorry".  I tried to calm him down and ask what happened, him and Liam were rough housing, Liam lost his balance and fell backwards hitting his head on the carpet.  He went out like a light instantly.  I grab my phone and asked Ryan if I needed to call 911, and about that time he runs past me with Liam, he's taking him himself.

I calm the kids as best as I can.  It takes about an hour to get them in the van to go see Ryan.  Liam was waking up at first, to answer questions, but he would fall back to sleep.  They said this was just a concussion, but given Liam's history, they sent him to UK where they are better at dealing with things if something really is wrong.  They thought he was fine, would even get to go home the next morning.

There was no swelling on his brain, he would respond when they woke him up every hour, but he would also throw up.  Poor kid puked on the hour all night long.

                                                       (Liam about 10 pm Sunday July 15)
I went home around 11 pm, the other kids were so tired.  I wanted to stay with Ryan and Liam, but the other kids needed someone with him and no way could we keep them in a hospital all night.  They voted and they wanted me to go with them.

Ryan and I sent text messages all night, checking on each other.  Liam was doing okay, the other kids were sleeping.  We still held onto him coming home in the morning.

8 am on Monday, July 16th the second bomb goes off...

Liam stops responding.  His eyes are rolling around in his little head.  He stops breathing for up to 15 seconds out of every minute.  He's going down fast.  He needed that shunt now.

I tried my hardest to get these kids out the door.  They were scared, grumpy, and just not moving.  I get to the hospital just in time to see a team of doctors RUNNING my beautiful baby boy to OR.  He has a tube down his throat, and they are bagging him just to keep him alive.  I run as fast as I could just to catch up and kiss his little hand before he goes into surgery.  I thought his birth, him being born lifeless into my hands was the worst thing that COULD ever happen to me, no, it wasn't.  This was far worse.  I know this Liam.  I've spent 4 years loving him, watching him grow, helping him beat the odds every single day.  I saw him slipping away, and there was nothing I could do for him.

I broke down.  I tried to hold it together for the kids, but I couldn't anymore.  Kathryn and I just held on to each other and sobbed.  My brother (Jacob's back in KY for good! happy blog post coming soon) came to get the kids, just as they had finished Liam's surgery.  The doctors met us in the hall saying everything went great, they got him just in time, he will make a full recovery.  The kids were in pieces though.  Jesse, blaming himself, saying this was all his fault (it wasn't, never will be!), Kathryn, feeling the weight of being a big sister, always being the one to help a sibling when they need it, but being powerless this time.  We loaded them into Jacob's van and we were able to see Liam in PICU right after that.  He was off the vent and slowly starting to come to, somewhat.  He was very drugged.  Because of the rush to get him in surgery, they gave him a double dose of morphine.  I grabbed his hands and he opened his eyes and said "Hi Mommy!" and then went right back into amazing drugged twilight sleep. His PICU doctor sat there and held his hand the whole time till I was able to go in.  It's true God puts people on this earth for a reason, Dr Z was born to be a children's doctor.  He is able to love each and every child, for the time they are in his care, probably as much as his own.

  We sit with Liam for about 2 hours (it's around 2 pm at this time).  He's still resting off the morphine, probably will be out of it till about 6pm.  The nurse bounds into the room, cheerful as they come asking us when our last meal was... Seriously.  I think it was around 11 am the day before, but who really thinks of food in a time like this?  Honestly, a good nurse.  She shoos us out of the room, free meal tickets and everything, insisting this was time to eat.  He's asleep, he needs to be asleep, when he wakes up he's going to need us.  We went to eat.  Picked at our food.  UK's food is great, we were just still in some sort of shell shock.  I had my melt down eariler, but Ryan was still holding it together.  As men do. :)  We make ourselves eat some and then go back to Liam.  He's wide awake, scared, and even tried to get out of bed. :)  He talks my ear off about iron man and war machine fighting, you've heard strange stories from people that have been in PICU and ICU... Liam actually believed they were fighting in front of him.  Then he tells me he can't sleep now because he has wings and he wants to go fly.  Yes, then there were bugs climbing all over the walls.  I send Ryan home for a shower and some alone time.  He was at the breaking point and just needed to let it go.  Around 8 pm Liam gets discharged from PICU and put in a real room.  This was a shock to us all, we were told he would probably need at least 24 hours there.  We were there only 9.

His room nurse was so sweet.  She hated having to wake him up every single hour, but after brain surgery, they have to, to make sure things are working.  Had to shine a light every hour in his eyes too, making sure they were responding.  Other than being woke up, he had a pretty good night.  3 am came and he had to pee so badly.  He had a diaper on (shush! he still thinks it was a pull up!) and we told him to just go in that.  He said no, he was not a baby.  They didn't want him up till morning, so they brought in one of those bed pee bottles.  The nurse and I left the room and Ryan tried to get him to go in that... No luck.  Sweet nurse unhooked him and let us carry him to the potty.  Poor boy peed 3 minutes straight.  This was a huge surprise to her, I guess most kids regress in the hospital.

Morning finally comes and Liam is sitting in bed playing with his truck and his Sully watching Monsters.  In walks a great friend of mine bringing a truck and a card for Liam.  This made his day!  He had so much fun playing with his trucks.n

Around 10:30 am in walks the doctors making rounds, word of going home.  It is Tuesday, July 17, Ryan's birthday.  Shocked, because we were told MAYBE Thursday, if things looked good.  The day after, wow, no, even I didn't see that coming.

I go and get the kids from my parents house, Grandma even took them to homeschool  gymnastics, so they all were having a blast.  They were ready to see Liam though.  He was asleep when we got there, so the nurse offered to sit with him so Ryan could help me unload the kids.  We were met by the doctor in the hallway on the way in, papers were being drawn up now, we would be out of there in an hour!!!

It's been a full week now.  It was rough for Liam at first.  He hated having his hair all chopped off, hated the scar. He was sent home with no restrictions, and the doctor insisted he needed life to go back to normal as quickly as possible. We tried getting him out 4 days after surgery and he was so upset about not having a hat and someone seeing his head.  I am pleased to say that just a week later, he is 100% fine about it.

I got my boy back!!  He is even better than before.  His hands shake less when he eats, his legs seem more steady when he runs.  His laughter rings through the whole house again.  He's made better than a full recovery.

                                                   (Liam on July 18, two days after surgery!)

  Having a shunt can be a huge deal or not so much of a big deal at all.  The only rules, no football and no hockey.  Which is lucky, those were MY rules for ALL my children since day 1.  He is at risk for infection pretty much for the rest of his life (which isn't cut short at all, he has a normal life expectancy!) because he does have a non body part in him now.  It will stay there probably forever, it's very rare a shunt gets removed.  It is also very likely the shunt will stop working, for what ever reason.  Blockage, scar tissue, or just him growing could break it, it could drain too much, or not drain enough.  He will need checkups fairly often now too.  Otherwise, he's a perfect, happy, 4 year old miracle.

  Don't take your children for granted.  Them trashing your house, being loud, getting sticky stuff everywhere, stomping in mud puddles, keeping you up all night, dirtying clean clothes in seconds after being washed, and even tantrums... It's a blessing to just have the privilege of watching them grow.  Love them with everything in you and just enjoy the ride.  It only takes 1 second for everything to change. You don't want to be the one living with regret that you didn't make each second count.


  1. Praise the Lord!! What a miracle boy!

  2. Oh My Sarah! What a story! I know just the feeling! Ours was not the same as yours but I know that feeling! Praising God!:)

  3. Bless his heart, I finely got some internet and was checking in on you~ What a miracle baby boy you have there, I can only imagine how hard this was for all you , praying for a full recovery and that he continues to grow strong~ Keep strong Sarah, I know you are a great mama to have!!! (((HUGS)))KIM

  4. SO scary!!
    I'm so glad that Liam is doing well now.
    I love your last paragraph there - a good reminder to everyone.

  5. Oh Sarah! You don't know me. Somehow I connected to your posts when you were still on xanga. I hadn't been on xanga in ages but decided to go on today and I wondered what you were up to, so I clicked on here.
    I am praising God Liam is home, alive and well. I had to fight back tears. I remember reading your posts when he was born. My family just lived through a hospital nightmare- it's called NICU where we are in NY.
    Our baby Isaac was born with his liver and intestines on the outside of his body. We knew this when I was pregnant but we weren't prepared for all that in entailed. Isaac had 2 surgeries; 1 to put a protective bag around the organs and another to put a biological patch on it.
    Poor little guy fought hard. We were told 3 times he would die, but each time he fought back. But then he got a nasty infection. From what we can tell, it destroyed one of his lungs. My sweet baby passed away on July 22nd; 6 1/2 weeks after he was born.
    i don't share to depress you, I just thank you for encouraging others to enjoy their children. We never know when Jesus will call us or them home.
    I will pray that Liam will continue to grow and grow and enjoy many many years and that he will outlive you. Outliving a child is almost unbearable.
    God bless you and yours.
    -Carrie Diehl