This is our's crazy, it's hectic, but most of all it's fun!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Part eleven: Wrapping it up

Being back home was so good. Ryan was weak, but having him back at home, resting on the couch, eating normal food was great. Our kids were happy. I was happy. Ryan was happy.
We knew that we Ryan would have to have surgery, but first a PET/CT scan of the adrenal mass would have to be done.  We went in the following Monday to get the scan done and waiting for the results a few days later.

We had just finished the scan here and you can just see how much better Ryan looked! Now we just needed to wait.
On the way home from the scan I let Ryan drive the last few miles. I loved being able to help him feel normal, but I can honestly say that now I know what all you parents feel like when you let your 14 year old with a permit drive. Yikes. He did fine, but I was a nervous wreck.

We continued on with normal life. Our kids started back to their little school a few days a week and Ryan got a special surprise from the Atlanta Braves. The autograph baseball was everything to him! It was pretty cool. The lesson here? Wake up and firmly believe you are somewhere else.

The scan came back Thursday and the only thing that lit up was the mass. If it happened to be cancer, which would only be known once it came out, it at least hadn't spread. There was nothing else in the full body scan that would be a cause for concern. This is when they began to seriously think that the adrenal mass had caused everything. The surgeon's nurse called the same day we got the scan results to set up an appointment. We automatically assumed that it would be a few weeks for the mass to come out, but when she said we needed to come in that next day for our pre-surgery appointment because surgery was set for next Tuesday. To say we were a little surprised was an understatement. Nonetheless we were ready! We headed down there Friday and did the pre-op stuff. We both left feeling comfortable about the surgery. Their biggest concern was Ryan being on a blood thinner and bleeding becoming an issue. They plan was for it to be a laparoscopic surgery, but if for some reason bleeding became an issue he would have to cut him open and quickly get the mass out. They switched him from a blood thinner pill to a shot which I was fortunate enough to get to do. Now, we just sat back and waited for surgery day to arrive. We passed time swimming at my parents, hanging at the house and going to church!

Tuesday arrived and I was extremely nervous. Ryan was as cool as a cucumber. He just kept saying that God had brought him through all that, why wouldn't He carry him through this. Yes, I agreed. But geez, someone needed to be at least a bit concerned! Let's just say I was less than pleasant that morning on the way. I bit Ryan's head off I don't know how many times, but finally confessed that I was just stressed out.
Ryan's friend made these. I loved it. There were lots of prayers going up for Ryan on this day.
We arrived and were taken back into a family room. I think they were scared we would take over the entire waiting room again. Ha! We all got to hang out until about an hour before Ryan was to be back in pre-op. Once they called us back, Ryan and I went back and I sat with him for nearly an hour before they were minutes from wheeling him back. I was nervous, still, but prayed constantly. Ryan, still, was just as chill as he could be and this was before they gave him any medicine. They were to start surgery at 1, but they actually didn't start until 2.
I knew that surgery was to last an hour, but I was knew that Dr. Kim was extremely thorough and would likely take a little longer. I was fine that first hour, but then I noticed myself watching the clock. About 3:30 Dr. Jones text me and asked if he was out yet? I said we hadn't heard anything and he said he was go check and them come see us. By 3:40 the man at the front desk said they were finished and that a couple of us could come to the room so they could meet with us. Me and my MIL went to the little consultation room. I'm not sure who was more nervous. I know both of our hearts were pounding and we felt like we couldn't breath. What felt like an hour, but more like 10 minutes, Dr. Kim popped around and smiled a big smile saying that everything was perfect and that he had done so well. Ryan's heartrate and blood pressure never missed a beat and his lost maybe a teaspoon of blood. Praise God! The mass was a little bigger than what they thought, but it can out so cleanly. They would be bringing him to recovery soon and as soon as they did I would be able to go back and see him.
I got to see him a short while later and he was so out of it. I stayed a short time and they said once they had a room ready they would let me know.
At 6 they moved Ryan to his room where we would stay just one night. He was in a lot of pain that night and definitely put his nurse to work. He realized the goodness of morphine, but the horridness of being on a liquid diet!
The next morning we were waiting for discharge and I caught him snoozing sitting straight up. See, morphine. Ha.

We knew that the mass would be sent to pathology to determine whether or not it was cancer. We got home and Ryan recovered there. He was still in some pain, but it wasn't anything that his pain meds couldn't take care of.
We received word on the mass.
An extremely rare adrenal tumor that wasn't cancer! We were so relieved! Now, Ryan just needed to fully recover. 

He quickly got back in the saddle at work. I think it was a week and a half and he was in the office for a few hours. 

We are truly getting our lives back on track. It seems crazy that two months have already passed. We are certainly blessed. We've loved having Ryan back home and feeling like ourselves. Our sweet kiddos are growing so quickly. 

We were fortunate enough to have a follow up echo, which was perfectly normal, and then dinner with Dr. Jones and his wife. It was so nice to get to have conversations outside of the hospital walls with the man I feel like we owe Ryan's life to. He will forever hold a very special place in our hearts. Pun intended. 

So here we are... Happy and healthy. 

Claire's got big shoes to fill. Her daddy has touched so many lives of those around us. Her daddy is loved by lots of people and someday I hope her and Wyatt are able to fully appreciate the kind, loving man that Ryan is. 
On the last note, I hope you will all join us for a fun run on October 11th!!! If you could only imagine the pure joy it will give me to see all of you amazing people in one place at one time!!

Part ten: Rehab, cardboard testimonies, and home bound

Rehab was such a good time. It was time to really work on going home. They told us that we should expect to be there 7-10 days. Ryan had his mind set that it would be 7. I continued to remind him that he needed to be realistic and just take it a day at a time.

They worked him pretty good. He had therapy for 3 hours a day split between morning and afternoon sessions. When he needed dialysis he would miss his afternoon session. He only needed 2 sessions while he was in rehab. His kidney's continue to constantly improve and it was such an answer to our prayer. His creatinine levels were steadily coming down.

The kids enjoyed another visit with their daddy that Saturday. That was our routine to visit on Saturdays. They just became more and more comfortable around their daddy and Ryan felt so much better getting to hold them.

We just waited for the days to pass really. I joined Ryan in therapy watching his improvement. The days were long and boring, but we knew with each passing one we were that much closer to being back in our own beds!
Our church did cardboard testimonies during this time. They are powerful. If you have never seen this, I suggest you youtube them immediately. They are so moving and those are from complete strangers. I was asked if we could do ours. Normally, the person walks on stage and holds their sign showing the front and back. It is their testimony. The way God worked in their lives. Of course we wouldn't be able to do that, so we took pictures. Here is ours:

I was hoping that it would work out that I would be home to attend church that day. I had been spending my Sunday morning at Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, but I desperately wanted to be back at our home. I headed home late that Saturday night so that I could make it. I am so happy that I did. 10,000 Reasons is the one song I played on repeat while in the hospital. As soon as it starts the tears come. We sang it this past Sunday in church and the tears were there. They played this song during the testimonies. That, along with everyone showing the way God worked in their lives was so overwhelming. My heart hurt, but was so happy. These people had gone through the toughest times of their lives. From the loss of children, addictions, to crumbling marriages it was all there. People you would never expect it from, but people brave enough to share their deepest struggles and how they trusted God and he led them back. He took care of them just as he did Ryan. Ours was the very last testimony. It was so hard to see, but also so right. God had carried. He was still healing Ryan's body. Never leaving us. I know that He held Ryan's hand throughout this entire ordeal. There is no way that Ryan would have made it if we didn't have the faith that the good Lord would pull him through and heal him.
That was truly one of the most incredible days I have witnessed. The love was flowing for all of us that day.
Here are our sweet blessings napping before heading out again. Our neighbors took such good care of us during this time. I think everyone and their grandma wanted to mow our yard. We are so blessed to live in such a great little neighborhood!

Back at rehab, Ryan was continuing to kick butt and take names. He was done with the Friday we arrived. They checked in on Monday and Tuesday and they were still coming down so on Tuesday they removed the line where they did dialysis. Mind you, I was terrified because we all know what happened the last time they pulled a line. Luckily, the Abbotts were visiting while they were doing this so they kept my mind occupied out in the hallway. Everything went perfectly fine and we just knew that the next step was discharge!
August 13, 32 days after being admitted to the hospital Ryan received his Freedom Flag. Yes, they seriously give you a Freedom Flag when you leave. It was hilarious.
Ryan was in rehab for only 7 days. Just as he said he would be. We gathered up our stuff first thing Wednesday morning because we knew today was the day. I am pretty sure we were sitting there waiting for discharge papers by 7:00. We. Were. Ready.

Can you tell he was pretty happy to be leaving?

Seeing him walk out those doors was awesome. I didn't even cry either! It was such a happy moment knowing that a month ago if you told me he would be doing this I would have looked at you with complete skepticism. But, here we were. GOING HOME!

It was so nice being on that road headed back to Dardanelle. Ryan hated my driving, but I told him I was capable. H was just paranoid. Granted, he hadn't been in a car in a month.
We arrived home safe and sound and just let them babies love on their daddy back in their normal environment. It was glorious and we continued to sing praises to God for reuniting our family!

We knew that we had two final hurdles to complete- the adrenal mass and our kidney function continuing to return to normal. After all we had been through we felt like those two were going to be a piece of cake.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Part nine: While on the floor

We welcomed our new "home" with open arms. I guess we were so relieved to be out of the CCU because it only meant that we were getting better and were one step closer to going home. I was so happy that now I would be able to sleep in the same room as Ryan. I had a pretty sweet setup involving a 5'4" couch/cushion to sleep on. Thank goodness I'm 5'3".

As I was settling in our new room I slipped into the bathroom and did my thing. When I came out, Ryan had a grin and said, I haven't heard that in a long time. A toilet flush. One thing most of us take for granted. I guess I never thought of all those little necessities that Ryan missed out on. Wait. Yes, I did. Ryan had the typical hospital smell. I hated it. I still do. I would constantly tell him I couldn't wait until we were home and we could wash all of that off of him. It was a painful reminder of all those days I spent next to him while he lay there lifeless. It was the reminder that my husband, while right next to me, was still so far away. I even confessed to him that every time I left him I kissed him, but it wasn't without holding my breath.
Nonetheless, while on the floor Ryan was expected to be very independent. He was to do things on his own and he would occasionally see a nurse, mostly to give medicine. Otherwise we would see LPNs, aides, and housekeepers. I will spare you the details of the floor nurses, but lets just say that there is a vast difference in CCU nurses and floor nurses.
Independence for Ryan meant work for me. When you are 32 and 28 you never expect to be a "caretaker" for your significant other. Ryan and I took our relationship to an entirely new level. Simply put, I took care of my husband.
When we said I do, I vowed before God, my family, and friends to be there in sickness and health  and for better or worse. I did the unthinkable of cleaning up after my husband when he used the bathroom and bathed him from head to toe in the shower. He often apologized for not being able to do anything for himself and requiring so much assistance. I told him, this is my job Ryan. This is what I signed up for. And it was. Granted, you don't expect to do these things so young. When we are elderly sure. At our age now you have so much pride. You don't want to be helpless and have your spouse doing the unthinkable. What we did learn is that I could never be a dental hygienist. Ryan asked me one night to floss his teeth. No big deal, I mean I had already done all the potty business with him, how bad could helping with his dental stuff be. I nearly threw up. I finished, but it wasn't before asking Ryan to never, ever, under any circumstance to ask me to do that for him again. And I don't think he ever will. He say how much it physically hurt me. The point here is I could have turned away from my husband. Had the nurses who are paid to do this stuff help him, but I didn't. Ryan is my responsibility. I want him to always trust me and to know that I am always there for him, yucky teeth and all.
Nothing major happened while on the floor. We were there for one week and one day and all we saw Ryan do was get better. Two new doctors were brought in, the surgeon and the endocrinologist. They would be the ones handling the removal of the mass.
I was more comfortable going and seeing the kids every few days so it was nice feeling so "able".

Our kids came back to visit that Saturday again and they were much more comfortable being around Ryan. The loved on him and enjoyed playing with his bed. They only folded him up a couple times!

Ryan quickly began to look like his old self. His voice was slowly getting back to normal. He had dialysis every other day because they were still waiting for his kidney function to improve. His creatinine level were improving, but dialysis was still needed that often. We just prayed and prayed for his kidneys to pick up. He was producing urine, but the filtering just wasn't happening.

Before we knew it, they said that we would be moving to rehab. Our time in room 920 quickly came to an end.
In the early morning of August 6, we were up and ready to be moved to BRI (Baptist Rehabilitation Institute) by 6:00am. We were so ready. We knew that our next step after this was home and it was looking better every day.
Ryan was ready. We had been told that they were definitely going to push Ryan over there. Makes sense considering their main goal is to get you out of there.

On our way to the last chapter of our hospital stay!

We got to BRI and were welcomed by a big, private room. We were lucky enough to get a private room where I would be able to have my own hospital bed to stay in.
I know this part of our story is what you could call uneventful. Ryan's body was healing. We had nothing but good days. Ryan had a lot of visitors to pass the time and we are so thankful  for everyone who came and spent time with him and brought him food.
It's wild to me that we are so close to the end of the story already. Well, the end of  "the story". Ryan's story and the impact he had on people is what's still his story today. That's the fun part I can't wait to share.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Part eight: Leaving CCU

Ryan did so well coming off the vent. He still had a cannula that supplied him with a tiny bit of oxygen and I considered it a safety blanket. It was so good having Ryan back with me and talking to me. I spent a lot of Monday evening explaining what happened. We had a lot of deep talks about our faith, God's plan, our babies, etc.
We had so much catching up to do, but first and foremost I really had to tell Ryan what happened. The last thing that he remembered was going to the chocolate festival fundraiser with Haley and Payton, Trey and Emma, and the kids. After that, nothing. I went through the entire scenario up until this point. Some times were harder than others to get through. The hardest part was when Ryan realized he may have never gotten the chance to tell our kids goodbye. It was a physical pain I felt when he said that because it was true. You go to bed each evening expecting to wake each morning. You never expect to leave this world abruptly, but it happens. It happens to all walks of life. Rich, poor, in a good place in life, in a bad place. You just never know. You can only lead your life in the most Godly way possible. Let people see your light. It was hard hearing Ryan tell me he was sorry. Sorry for what he put me through, sorry that he nearly left me a widow and a single mom. That's Ryan's nature. Always apologetic and always thinking about others before himself.
We got through the story and he went off to bed for the evening. I thanked God over and over again for his blessings and turned in myself.
Tuesday was a good day up until that evening. They were going to pull the line out where Ryan had been receiving dialysis. It wasn't anything unusual. They do it all the time in fact. Ask any nurse. Ryan's nurse Ashley pulled the line, held pressure, and everything was fine. She asked a respiratory therapist who was walking by to give her a hand and as she came in to put gloves on Ashley looked towards her and heard Ryan say "help me". A second later when she looked down at him he immediately went blue. Ashley started giving him oxygen as quickly as she could. Ryan was 100% awake and aware during this ordeal. He had thrown a clot that went directly to his lungs cutting off his air. Ryan was ultimately fine, but it was so scary especially to him and his nurse. I was so thankful that I had walked away for a little while during all of this. When I returned I immediately felt something was off and as I pulled back the curtain I caught eyes with Ashley and she said, Sarah, Ryan is fine. I have to talk to this doctor, but he is fine now. They ended up calling the doctor when it happened and he helped via the monitors in Ryan's room. They then told Ryan's pulmonologist  and she was there immediately. They said it happened maybe 10% of the time when the pull lines. She assured us that it wouldn't happen again, but still it was so scary knowing that Ryan had another Quinton on the other side of his neck that would have to be removed someday.
Ryan was fine. It scared him pretty good, but all in all the best place for that to have happened was right where he was.
We spent lots of time together hand in hand. Whenever Ryan would fall asleep, I would occasionally slip my hand away to do something. When Ryan would wake slightly and realize he wasn't holding my hand he would go searching for it. It was the sweetest thing and still makes my heart flutter thinking about it.

Ryan was pretty confused those first few days. He was convinved his was in Atlanta, Georgia. It was comical. Ryan knew that he was there because we were watching the Braves play baseball. I loved it. Dr. Pevahouse asked him lots of questions. His birthday, my birthday, the kids, etc. He asked who the governor was once and Ryan sat up so confidently and said Mike Huckabee. He just knew. I giggled and said, not who you want it to be, but who it actually is. Then he replied with Beebe. It was funny. It took him a few days to realize that he wasn't in ATL, but he wasn't too devastated.

They checked on the blood clots in his body and learned that he didn't have any in his legs, which was what they feared and learned that the ones in his arms were slowly dissolving. The doctors felt like he was strong enough to get a MRI so they did that. This is when they found a mass on his adrenal gland. There were lots of questions that were still unanswered, but we hoped that maybe this mass could give us an answer.

The next couple of days were just filled with hanging out with Ryan bedside. Answering any questions that he had and clearing up any confusion. Now that Ryan was awake I didn't want to miss one second with him. I missed the babies terribly, but I knew that Mimi and Nana were taking care of them. They even got a special treat when Mrs. Brooke got to keep them for a day. Wyatt doing laundry and Claire's life being complete getting to spend it with her beloved.

Ryan started physical therapy 4 days after the pulled everything off. It was brutal to watch. I knew that they were pushing Ryan to get him strong but it was so stressful to watch. He hadn't been out of bed for nearly 2 weeks. His body lost all muscle mass. He was nothing but bones. It wore him out to lift himself up and turn over, but they had him getting up and out of bed. After that first session I decided PT wasn't something I was really into watching. Nonetheless Ryan did so amazing. He had the will to excel. He wanted to show them what he had and he definitely delivered.
Dr. Jones and Dr. Pevahouse were so thoughtful when it came to our children. They really wanted Ryan to be able to see them because it had been 2 weeks since Ryan had.
 Saturday, July 26 the doctors and nurse said we could bring them into CCU. You have to be 14 to be in the waiting room for the critical care unit, much less back there where the actual unit was. I had mom and dad bring them up that day. Once they arrived I held Claire in my arms and Wyatt's hand and we ran through CCU into Ryan's room and shut the sliding glass door. They were finally reunited with their daddy! If you think they went rushing into his arms you are very wrong. They were intimidated. They were holding a little bit of a grudge towards him. They were overwhelmed by everything that was going on. I had told Ryan before hand not to be upset if they didn't want anything to do with him. It's their age and there was just a lot going place, new things, etc. They finally warmed up a little bit. Wyatt just had a million questions, mostly "Are you still siiiick?"
When I told Wyatt to give daddy a hug he walked down to Ryan's feet, laid his head down on them, and said this is good for right now. His wasn't completely comfortable, as is evident in the pictures.
Their little Run for Ryan shirts slayed me! This was exactly what they needed and Ryan too. He fought long and hard for this two precious babies and I think it did him a world of good to get his hands on them.
Monday, I braved going home and staying the night with Wyatt and Claire. It was the first time I would be staying the night away from Ryan and while I was nervous I knew it had to happen. The kids were so tired of being away from home. They longed for their own beds as much as I did.
On any typical night, Ryan and I actually bicker over whose night it is to give the kids a bath. Point blank, it's just something neither of us enjoy. Yet, this night I welcomed it. I had missed giving those nugget's their bath so much. Longed for our normalcy. I let them stay in that bath tub and play as long as they wanted. I took my sweet time brushing their teeth and tucking them into bed. It was so wonderful loving on my babies and my head being there with them rather than being clouded by wondering whether or not their daddy needed me.
This did my heart good.
Monday when I got back to Ryan I decided to do something different for us. We were going to have some fun. Well, as much fun as you can have in a Coronary Care Unit. I rented us a movie and we were going to have date night! Nothing like keeping the spice, right?
Earlier in the week they had mentioned moving us to another floor because there was no real reason as to why Ryan needed to stay in CCU. We were nervous, but knew that it had to be done. Dr. Jones said we wouldn't be moving until they had a room open that was no more than 2 doors down from the nurses station. On Friday they told us we would be staying in CCU over the weekend just as a precaution. That, and I don't think they were quite ready to say goodbye to Ryan.
During our date, nurse Steve came and told us that we were getting kicked out. We had a room and would be moving tonight.
After 16 days we were going to say goodbye to this room. The room that had seen so many tears. The room that heard so many prayers and the room that had watched those prayers being answered. CCU 14 is the room that I saw my husband completely lifeless, but it was also a room that a true miracle was performed in. By the grace of God we were moving on to better things together.

Part seven: Saying goodbye to the machines

As the heart pump did its work we just sat back and patiently waited. Waited for more answers and for Ryan to just steadily improve. He did.

The ventilator that had been assisting Ryan the entire time was slowly being lowered. Friday, it was the lowest it had been and he was actually off all blood pressure medicines. His heart was actually pumping twice as much as it had the day before. They decided to check brain activity so they brought him off his sedative. During this time I was able to communicate with him by hand squeezes and subtle nods. I showed him videos of the kids and he would laugh at the videos.

This was the day I put up pictures of us and of the kids. His nurses and doctors were so wonderful and caring and I just wanted them to see the "real" Ryan. Not the Ryan that they had grown to know...the lifeless Ryan who was surviving by way of machines, but the Ryan that was full of life, shining that brilliant smile, and the result of our love.

That Saturday I went home to spend time with the children. The times I spent with the kids were always so welcome. Getting out of the hospital realizing that life was still going on for everyone else was a little hard. I think when something so tragic strikes, you instantly think that the world stops and it seems cold and brutal when it doesn't for everyone else only you. However, when I was home with those babies it all felt right again.
We spent time playing outside breathing that beautiful fresh air that I so desperately needed. I loved on them hard. We prayed for daddy and I tried as best as I could to explain what was going on. Wyatt was taking it so very hard. It crushed me to see how clingy he was, how desperately he wanted his daddy, and how he just couldn't quite understand why he hadn't seen his daddy or even heard his voice in over a week. I asked for everyone to pray for them. They needed them so badly at this point. I didn't know how much longer it would be until they got to hear from their daddy, but I prayed that it wouldn't be much longer.
The next two days were slow. We just let the machines give his body rest and let it heal. There were no blips or bumps in the road, just steady progression on his part. I always said, as long as we aren't moving backwards I've got nothing but time to wait for Ryan to get better. That's exactly what it was. A waiting game. The days became long and monotonous. I spent a lot of time just sitting beside Ryan.
Monday I was at home with the kids again. I had came home that morning and planned to spend the day and come back that evening because there wasn't supposed to be anything exciting going on.
I. Was. Wrong.
Dr. Jones called me mid-morning and told me that over the next few days they were going to start pulling machines. Initially, I was terrified. They seriously wanted to pull the machines that had been keeping my husband alive for more than a week. Just like that?! Yet, I had to trust them. They knew what they were doing. They knew the consequences of what could happen. Even more than I did.
In the end I was okay with it. I knew it would be over the next few days so I had time to mentally prepare. Then, I got a text from my mother in law saying they were pulling the heart pump and then later the vent was coming out. I kind of sort of went into a panic and called my mom telling her she needed to come get the kids because I needed to be there. After we hung up, I realized how close it was to nap time and how wonderful it would be to catch a couple of zzz's with my babies so I told my mom to come around 2:30 and I would sneak off then because it was always easier to sneak off from the kids versus sit there and see their tears.
I got back to the hospital right around 4 and immediately went back to see him. His room seemed empty. The only thing left was an IV tree with nothing but blood thinner and the vent. I arrived at the perfect time. They had turned the vent off and were allowing him to breathe on his own. He had to successfully breathe on his own for an hour and then get a breathing test. If he passed, he was coming off for good.
I sat there watching him breath, waiting for the hour to pass, hoping that he passed the test. When it was finally time and he did pass I was a big ball of excitement knowing that his voice was to be heard very soon.
I was asked to step outside while they pulled the vent. When I heard them say it was out and they asked Ryan to say Hi  and I heard him my eyes filled with tears. I finally heard the voice I so longed to hear. They told me I could come in and they told him to say hi. Say hi to me. When you go nearly 10 days without hearing a simple hello from your husband it's so reassuring the moment that they do. Ryan's voice, though whispered, cracked, and weak was so beautiful in that moment. God wanted Ryan back with me and the kids. He wanted him to be alive. Wanted him to be here. Wanted him to be a shining light. 

Ryan was back with me. Though still fuzzy from the sedative still wearing off, he was there. We were united once again. The rest of the day I just sat next to him. I'm not sure how I didn't get a UTI during the critical times at the hospital because I was so scared to leave his side. But now, I truly felt like I could breathe. It was one of the best feelings I had felt in a really long time.

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