That word looks a lot weirder when its typed out than when I say it in my head.

But that sums up how I feel today, where I’m at. i can’t believe its actually been over 2 weeks since IAugustwk1 (2 of 35) last wrote, but apparently it has. Today we are recuperating from the summer, recuperating from yet another illness (Karissa), recuperating from a quick 2-day family get-away vacation, recuperating from this humidity and the ensuing bone-weary tiredness I feel at the chaos of the last two weeks.

We (my sister and I) shot a wedding last Saturday, and I think that was really when my downward spiral started to happen. It was 12 hours of being on my feet, being up, being on, climbing on things and getting on the ground to get THE SHOT. It’s part of being a photographer, I get that, but MAN I was not ready for how very sore I would be by the end of the day! I could hardly crawl out of my car at the end of the day to make it back into the house! So then I spent that next week (which was last week) being up till midnight almost every nite trying to get all those images edited and posted for the website. 650 images we ended up with out of almost 1600 taken. Craziness! I think my wedding proof book has maybe one fourth of that! But hopefully they are a true representation of all that the day was for the happy couple. I still have to blog it for the 2sis blog. Our small group was in Kidstown AGAIN that Sunday, so again it was having to be Augustwk1 (16 of 35) up and on in front of the kids. And AGAIN it was a 2 hour long service. So that meant crying kids who were sure their parents had left them at church who were starving and all had to go to the bathroom NOW. We had a birthday party cookout that afternoon, which quickly ended up with a medical diagnosis that led to us being back in Edwards ER for Karissa. She came home from church crying that she hadn’t made it to the bathroom in time, and then it comes out that it hurts to go pee-pee. This continued at the party where in talking with a mom friend of mine, it was determined that she at the very least had a UTI and we needed to call her ped. During one trip to the bathroom there at the party there was a lot of blood in the urine and in wiping so then I started to get worried. We called all the area urgent cares and they were all closed (because it was Sunday and apparently you cannot have medical emergencies after 5 pm on a Sunday). Emily’s mom, who thank the good Lord above is a pediatric nurse, asked karissa some questions, thumped on her back and said she thought a trip to the ER was definitely in order as it would seem that it was progressing to her kidneys, which typically means a night in the hospital getting IV fluids and antibiotics.


So off we go for that. Wait a half hour for Karissa to have to pee again, and another three hours for a culture determination. Get sent home with the word that “yeah she has quite the infection, but we aren’t sure what it is, so try this antibiotic and re-check with her ped in a few days”. My poor kiddo. such a trooper. We drove home watching a fireworks show somewhere in Joliet or Crest Hill. It made her happy. She thought it was all just for her being such a good girl at the hospital.

And then to top off a week of shopping for back to school and staying up too late, Ben had to make a last minute trip out of town, which wouldn’t normally have thrown me off schedule so bad, but I was just kind of already in the groove of not being the single parent, and I had to pick up my game mid-stride. I think it just wore me out more than I realized. 2SS_0629

So by the time Friday morning rolled around, i was just in NO mental state to deal with what happened. It was already going to be a crazy day with picking up the babysitter, going to work for an hour, going back home to get Kealey and drop her off at a birthday party, go back to work, go back home to get babysitter and take her home, pick up kealey and drive back home. That morning though, in a conversation with a friend, i realized that Karissa was really feeling no relief from her painful UTI symptoms. Then I panicked when i realized that the call i had deleted from the ER nurse was NOT just a friendly courtesy follow up call (which, in my defense, they have done after every single hospital visit there we have had), but it was her probably calling with Karissa’s follow up culture report so that I could go to her pediatrican with updated info. I could’nt find the papers anywhere, and when I finally DID find the papers with her info, I got shuffled to three different people before finally getting someone who  knows what I am talking about. “Oh yes, Mrs. Atkinson, we’ve been trying to get a hold of you for a few days. It looks like Karissa’s infection is completely resistant to the antibiotic she’s on. She actually has a really high level e. coli infection.” a WHAT?!?!?!?!

At this very moment, Kealey comes in through the backdoor carrying a screaming karissa, who had somehow stepped on a bumblebee and was stung on the bottom of her foot which was quickly swelling to about twice its normal size. So I am trying to remain calm while the dr. dude discusses antibiotics and resistancy and horrible words like e.coli, all while trying to calm karissa down, look for a stinger and hold an ice pack on her poor little foot and make sure her airways aren’t swelling. In my mind I just kept repeating – “I will not lose my mind right now, I will not lose my mind right now”. The hospital calls in a scrip for Omnicef to our pharmacy, Karissa calms down from the bee sting, and off we go to get the babysitter and start the craziness of our real day! In my mind and heart I am trying not to panic at the thought of e.coli taking over our house, because I am logical. I know that e.coli is naturally found in your system and that it is a leading cause of UTI’s and that there are a million and one reasons why its plausible that Karissa has an e.coli UTI: she just OFF of antibiotics so her stomach is weaker, the pool filter was clogged for a few days and there were horrible things growing in the pool they swim in every day, she is four and has some, umm, questionable hygiene habits not fully formed yet, etc. etc etc. None of this really makes me feel better though in my internal conversation I am having with myself and I am able to hold it all together for the ride home with the babysitter, get in the car and make it around the corner before the tears flow. Many many tears come fast and hard and out of nowhere and I decide to just go in and get a cup of coffee to try to relax a little first before attempting to get my ever growing to-do list accomplished at work.  The coffee helps, a little. The crying helps, a lot. I guess sometimes you just need to let the tears flow, to clear everything out. I hate crying. I truly do. But it was cathartic on that day, in that time. So I let the tears flow. and then Augustwk1 (6 of 35) realized that in the big scheme of life, a UTI was really not worth sobbing over.

So I got kealey to her party, made it back to the office, cleared a LOT of stuff off the list (thanks erin for being so willing to jump in and assure me that its ok to not have everything PERFECT and that sometimes just being DONE is good enough!), and made an appointment with her pediatrician for that afternoon just to reassure myself that ANOTHER round of omnicef in less than 30 days was going to be an appropriate course of treatment. You may remember from a previous post that Karissa just got over a horrible infection in her ears from her tubes coming out, and was on omnicef at that time as well. In the 7-10 days that she was off this super-strong antibiotic, she managed to contract this e.coli UTI. I think this was where my panic was coming from. I am not normallly an antibiotic pusher. i think the body is usually equipped to do what it needs to do to fight off infections. So two courses of this stuff in one month just really seems off and exorbitant to me. Augustwk1 (21 of 35) However, you can take one look at Karissa and realize she needs SOMETHING. She is in TERRIBLE pain most of the day, in spite of round the clock tylenol and ibuprofen. So after another whirlwind tour around town (thank GOD that Ben was able to come home early and alleviate some of the run around), we made it to her appointment with a doctor we have never seen before. I was nervous. I hate having to pull out the whole momma bear act, but I hate even worse when I am dismissed by medical personnel as not knowing a THING about the child who I have borne and nursed through every illness of their short little lives without THEIR help thankyouverymuch. So I was prepared to do serious battle if this dude decided that Friday afternoon was just NOT the time he was going to do work. But God’s hand was with us and we had a VERY sympathetic and awesome nurse, and dr. Brinkman ended up being above and beyond my expectations of a listening,  sensitive, take-charge kind of doctor. He listened to my theory about Karissa’s spina bifida/ear infection/UTI symptom connection, agreed with me and said we definitely needed to look into things further before serious damage gets done. He had the actual report faxed over from the hospital and went through it line by line with me. It was heartbreaking to see this long list of things they used in the lab to try to kill her infection and have it listed RES (for resistant) next to just about every single one. So in the end, the omnicef is our last resort. If this doesn’t kick it, she is in the hospital on IV antibiotics till it goes away. There are only 3 IV meds that look like they might kill it. They have no idea why her e.coli count is so very high, they only know it needs to be killed. So pray pray pray that this omnicef round works. Thank God that insurance covered another round of this expensive antibiotic. I was worried that they wouldn’t, considering we just got off a hefty dose of it. But they did.  Augustwk1 (13 of 35)

In the best case scenario, her culture we take in at the end of this week comes back clear or clearer, meaning its working. If that’s the case, we get to move forward with a VCUG procedure to see how much damage is being done to karissa’s urinary tract, given the fact that its highly plausible that due to her spina bifida she truly doesn’t feel the urge or the pain associated with a normally functioning UT system. In this procedure she will be sedated and fluids will be flushed backwards up the tract and then flushed back out in a normal emptying manner. I cannot imagine the pain this procedure will cause, which is why I am glad for the sedation, and yet scared a little also. Its always a scary thing. In this test we are looking for the stage of damage. Stage 1-3 means she will be starting preventive antibiotics (weekly courses to keep her system clear of anything that may start to grow). Stage 4 or 5 – she will need a surgery to re-implant her ureters from her kidneys to her bladder. This will be happening sometime at the end of this month – IF this current infection is actually clearing from the omnicef.

Add to this the fact that it is hard to deny that she is becoming more and more unintelligible in her speech and is responding less and less to hearing us call her name, and you have a recipe for surefire surgery at some point in the next two months. We go in for her hearing re-check on the 28th (the day before her planned VCUG procedure), and I honestly am not optimistic that she will pass. In which case her ENT will want to re-implant her tubes AND take out her adenoids. Resulting in again a longer sedation, and more tricky surgery.

I do’nt Augustwk1 (1 of 35)know why its always Karissa. Kealey will go the whole year and have one nasty cold or strep virus at some point in the winter, and it seems like Karissa is always battling something or other. And she’s SUCH a little trooper through it all. I wish I could describe her strength for you. She has such an amazing heart and spirit – she teaches me so much.

I cannot believe how long this post is – but its good to have this out. It helps process it more in my own mind to get it all written down. so if you’ve endured this far, thank you. Thank you for your prayers, for your concern. I will keep you all updated as I find out more info.

I havne’t even gotten to our fun family get away this weekend! i will have to blog that tomorrow. It was a lot of fun, and I definitely recommend it for any family who just needs a quick break from reality. It really helped me “reset” in a mental way, feel more ready to take on this week, and the start of school, the start of losing my baby all day every day to the school system. Ok i am going to start crying all over again and three breakdowns in one week isPLENTY for me.

Hope you enjoy more of the random pictures.

May this be a blessed relaxing week for all of you.

Go hug your kids and tell them you love them.




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  1. That was a super long post. I think the whole getting it out there thing is definitely good for you. As an anestesia professional, two surgeries in two weeks is totally do-able. It is much easier if you get a good anestesiologist who talks you through it step by step. Often at first you will get a resident and they are very rushed, acting all super businessy and matter of fact. Take to heart they are being supervised by someone who specializes in pediatrics. Also the VCUG is a twilight sedation, so probably just loopy medication. My sister had it when she was arround Karissa’s age and never even mentioned it. Ok, I am not that big of an anestesia professional, because I do realize I still can’t spell it. Oh well, you know what I am talking about.