In case you had not seen the pictures on my or Kendall’s facebook pages – she has been extubated! Considering that I was not even in the mindset that she would need intubation this time, the weight that has been lifted by her breathing on her own and off of the presser support (no longer in septic shock) is huge. We as her family are SO very thankful for all of the prayers on our behalf and for the mercy of a loving God who has seen fit to allow us more time with our warrior princess.
This path of Kendall’s – the constant up/down swing of the pendulum of “health” – it is hard to explain unless you have lived it yourself. I have received many questions from some amazing new supporters (Kendall Krew we like to call you!) regarding why this or what does that mean and how does this affect that….it is hard to jump into the middle. And even for some of you who have been on this crazy ride with us since day one it is hard to keep up.
I titled today’s post recovery because it seems fitting. She is recovering from a horrific illness, but she is not “better”. She is recovering from the effects of the fungemic septic shock, which are many, but she is not back to 100%. And truthfully, she may not be for a long time. I am sitting here right now listening to the beep beep beep of her heartrate as it is monitored via the electrodes all over her body, and it is soooooo sloooooowwww. Her heart is very tired. Even though she was ready for extubation and it was the right call – her body is still struggling to maintain enough energy for all of the demands on it. She is the compensation queen though – struggling here to compensate there and doing her best to just keep everything between the navigational beacons. None of her doctors really have a good explanation for me about this – it’s just one of those conversations that’s hard to have because the answers either aren’t there, or they aren’t easy to explain. Even though there is a very commonly held belief that Kendall’s main underlying diagnosis is mitochondrial disease, and because of that we know that her body does not make or sustain enough energy to operate all body systems efficiently – we do not have much more evidence past that. Because at the end of the day it really wouldn’t change anything. We cannot MAKE kendall’s gut work any more effectively than it does right now (which is really near nothing!) and we cannot MAKE her immune system function more properly.
I don’t really talk about Kendall having mito a whole lot – or at least – I don’t blame her day to day issues on mito. I accept that it is likely the reason we see what we see, but I spend much more time focusing on how to help her have the best day, week, month possible. I do not think in terms of years really. That is too much information to digest. most of the time I think in terms of chunks of hours. how can i make sure she is comfortable at school? how can i make sure she does well at therapy? if we want to go somewhere as a family on saturday that will tax her body, how can i start boosting it up on thursday to be able to handle that energy demand? Dwelling on the progressive nature of something like mito – it is overwhelming. It is too much. I don’t need to be reminded of the facts about this disease because we live it every day.
one of her doctors, the one who perhaps shoots straightest with me during these really rough times, told me the other day that kendall has had progression of her underlying disease, and that that is why her body went quicker into shock this time, and handled it much less efficiently in spite of the relatively good run of healthy months we have had. It wasn’t stated in any other way than just simple observed fact. But it was hard to swallow that. Because I know there is some truth to his words.
So we press on.
Kendall is doing well enough to talk about our plans toward home. Like I said – she is not “better” – but she will be out of the woods of needing life support, so we can handle things at home. If you have not ever taken a chronically ill child home from the hospital before – let me enlighten you a bit.
It is good, this going home. It means you are out of scary woods. you are still wandering around the edges of the woods – but you kind of know where you’re at. You will leave the “comfort” of the machines that beep out the vitals, the pharmacy down the hall with any and every med your child might need right there at your nurses fingertips, the teams of doctors who make hard decisions so you don’t have to carry the weight of everything on your own shoulders, and you leave the amazing nurses who are at your child’s bedside 24/7 doing the overwhelming amount of medical care they need and dealing with the beeping pumps and the timing of meds round the clock. These things will now rest solely on your shoulders. If you are lucky, you have a nurse or two that can help once you get home, but they are not hospital nurses and they need to be updated on all the new conditions/symptoms/meds. This is not a quick five minute conversation. It wears you out to have to transfer information from doctors and nurses who work at a much faster pace than you to the nurses who work in the slower nicer pace of your home. But sometimes you don’t even have the nurses at home because they have all had to find other jobs while your child has been in the hospital. So you go home to do all the unpacking of medical supplies, and inventory the things that need to be ordered in your absence. You set up the chart of meds that will hang in multiple places around your house so you don’t forget an important medication in the flow of regular medications. You set the alarms on your phone as a second reminder, including the brutally painful 2am and 4 am ones. And unlike the hospital where everything has it’s own pump and requires only a quick change of syringe and pressing run – you have to set up new med lines and reprogram pumps and find a place for them to go because your home IV pole doesn’t have enough places for extra pumps.
You will now be the one sitting bedside watching the numbers on the monitor and hoping your home equipment isn’t lying to you about numbers and have to make your own decisions about what is “ok” and what might mean that things still aren’t hunky-dory and you will have to weigh in your mind if this is ok to leave overnight or do you need to wake up the other three kids and take them to someone’s house at 2 am so you can take the sick one back to the ER and await transport again to the hospital three hours away? you have to juggle all of the balls of this decision and play a really fun game called “risk/benefit ratio”. Is the risk of ignoring this greater than the benefit of addressing it and dealing with all of the other logistics required to address it?
You will be in your own house – able to do your laundry without being worried that someone else will steal something or will stop your load mid-cycle and set your wet clothes in a random place in the family waiting room. You will be able to sleep in your own bed that isn’t made up of vinyl covered boxes, but you will still need to give so much medical attention that you will hardly get to see it. You will get to shower in your own glorious shower with a shower head that sprays from above your head and with enough pressure to actually wash your body vs the elbow height dribbling of the family room shower. But this shower will need to be timed well between meds on the chart and alarms on your phone.
You will be home, with a child who has survived another life-threatening septic episode, and you will be grateful. So very grateful. You will perhaps grumble a litle to yourself under your breath as you are picking up the 38 milion polly pockets she had left laying around the day before she got sick, but you will catch yourself because you realize that soon enough she will be making that mess again and for that you are SO thankful. You will try not to think about “next time”, and you will try not to think about what this time has taken out of her. you will focus on the here and now and getting through the next couple hours. That is all you can do. So you do it as well as you can. Knowing all too well that “next time” will likely hit you out of the blue on a random sunny tuesday morning and you will start the cycle all over again.
This is what it is like this week.
You will see the pictures of Kendall tucked into the car. You will rejoice with us that she is making it HOME. home being such a beautiful word.
And you will rest easy that she has made it. She has survived.
I will be doing the same.
But please don’t stop the prayers then. I will need them more than ever once we get home. I will be going home this week (we hope!) with less than ideal central access for Kendall (we have to place a picc which rarely works for more than a week or so), with no nursing, and no husband (he left for his business trip today after postponing it last week). I have done it before and I will do it again – but I cannot do it alone. I can do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING through the supernatural strength that can only come from God taking pity on my soul and boosting my spirit when I need it the most.
So this is how recovery will be. We will do our best to get miss kendall all tanked back up, get her legs working again, get her strong enough to go back to school if we ever get a nurse staffed at our house/school.
She will recover, and we will go back to living life. For this – we cannot thank you enough for your prayers and love and support.
We will keep on keepin on, because that’s how we roll around here.