Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sunday, August 27, the adventure begins:

We waited until after Grant's football game to head out on our trip. We left Cincinnati shortly after 3 PM and after a short delay at Toys R Us (I was looking for a toy for Will but couldn't find it) we were on our way. The drive out to Long's Retreat was fairly uneventful. 50 miles out Rt. 32, make a left onto 41, go another 11 miles, hang a right on 124.....4 miles later you pull into Long's Retreat on the left. The cabin we rented was cute and clean and the kids were eager to explore. Because storms had blown through, the power was off in the park, but the sun was shining so we took in the beach and the splash area and came back and grilled out hamburgers, hotdogs, brats and metts.

It is strange, but neither mine or Deanne's cell phones seem to work. No signal, we both have different services and can't believe neither of us get big deal, right? Why would we need a phone?????

The bed was HORRIBLY hard and also tended to squeak when you moved on it. I think I only slept a couple of hours total....too bad, because I really would have handled Monday better with a few more hours of shut eye.......

Monday, August 28:

I came out into the kitchen shortly before 7 AM. Brett, Hannah and Sarah were sleeping in the living room. I heard Brett, he tends to get nauseated at times and makes this raspy, gagging noise. I yelled in to him to take a deep breath. About 5 minutes later I hear a loud thud (like something falling) and Hannah the time I take the 10 steps to the living room, Brett is convulsing on the floor. I scream for Deanne and Sarah and I try to flip Brett over (not easy when dealing with an almost 200 lb teenager) as he had landed head first on the floor. Hannah RUNS out the door and tries to see if anyone in the nearby cabin has a radio or phone that such luck.....Deanne takes off for the front office (which is closed and not scheduled to open until 8 AM) but fortunately the owner is pulling up at the same time she gets there. The is no such thing as 911 in this neck of the woods....she it told it will take 35 to 45 minutes for the lifesquad to get to us. I have NEVER been so scared in all my life. Brett was retracting horrible the whole time and I wasn't sure he was getting oxygen...all I could think was that my baby was going to die and there was nothing I could do to make it better. The seizure lasted somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes...I thought to send Sarah into the kitchen once Brett had stopped convulsing because I remembered from the hospital knowing the time/length was critical. He spent another few minutes unresponsive to verbal commands, but would moan and push my hand off his face. About ten minutes later he was talking to me, annoyed with my questions, but answering them. By the time the paramedics finally arrived, he was actually in the bathroom putting on clean clothes and going to the bathroom. The paramedics assessed him and say he is stable but that they can transport him to Pike County Hospital, but that there is no neurologist on staff. Upon further questioning, I learn they will actually have to call and "wake up" the doctor so he can meet us there. Scary thought! I opt to contact Children's and see what they think. Over the next 90 minutes, I confer with a neurosurgical resident, a neurologist and 3 different nurses and they agree that calling in a seizure med to the closest pharmacy, which is 30 miles away. We are given the critical care direct number (for the paramedics to call if they have to come back) and are told that if he seizes again to get him stablized and to come directly to Children's hospital (about 75 miles away). And, yes, I did take a picture of the ambulance for the scrapbook.....16 plus years of parenting, and my first ambulance call!

So Brett and I head to the pharmacy in Hillsboro. The directions are simple, go the 4 miles back down 124 and hang a right onto 41, follow it 20 miles into the center of town, turn right and the pharmacy will be on your left about 3 blocks up the road. During the drive, Brett and I came up with our own set of directions........go the 4 miles back down 124, hang a right onto will pass a dead skunk in the road, hold your breath...then you will pass American Flyers Gymnastics, in an old run down barn on your left hand side....when you see the dead cow lying on its side in the pasture, slow down to go into the hairpin will now see a sign for slow farm machinery, which will impede your speed. The horse and buggy sign will make you laugh and thank God that the buggy doesn't pull off the dirt road in front of you. When you finally see a painted sign for KFC, you will know you are getting close!

Luckily there are 2 pharmacies in Hillsboro, because the first one didn't have both meds we needed.....thankfully Jay had just deposited money into the checking account, because the almost $700 the meds set me back wasn't something I had on hand!

Oh, I forgot to mention...when Deanne drove down to call for help, her van while I was off dealing with Brett, her van had to be towed the 45 minutes to the Toyota dealership in Portsmouth! Stranded in the middle of NOWHERE!

It rained...the kids played in the lake despite the rain and had a blast! It cleared up later in the afternoon.

Brett rested and hung out.

We had homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner and made s'mores for dessert! One of the stray kittens that hung out around the cabin singed its tail in the fire. Stupid cat!

The boys played wiffle ball in the yard.

We took the kids up to do the go carts and they had a BLAST!

I passed out with exhaustion around 10 PM! Prayed Tuesday would be a better day!

Tuesday, August 29:

Tuesday started out smoothly! Thank God, I don't think I could have handled any more drama!

We decided to spend the day hanging out....playing on the playground, going to the beach, playing putt-putt, doing the slides. Only bad thing was that Grant got stung by a bee!

The kids played on the playground across from the cabin.

Deanne and I both did laundry...we hadn't counted on it raining and the clothes being soaked, so we both needed to wash clothes so the boys had clean and dry things to wear! The laundry was clean but it was so funny....there were 5 washers and 3 of them had things written/scratched onto them......ALL THIS MACHINE DOES IS SPIN, WATER RUNS OUT THE BOTTOM OF MACHINE, THIS MACHINE DOESN'T FILL UP....luckily we only needed 2 machines!

We had chicken lasagna, garlic bread and salad for dinner! We made s'mores again.....have to love marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers!

Wednesday, August 30:

We decided to take in Serpent Mound (the world's largest earthenworks) since it was mentioned in the "KIDS LOVE OHIO" book. We piled everyone into my passenger van and headed out. I had mapquested the directions before we went to Long's Retreat and tossed them in the car to follow......We decided that the directions should have come with disclaimers......

*Start out going SOUTHWEST on OH-124 (OK, this part is fine....)

*Turn LEFT onto OH-41 (again, this is OK)

*Turn RIGHT onto DUTCH THOMAS RD (now this is where it gets tricky...first it should mention that Dutch Thomas will sneak up on you and that the only other car of the road will be right on your bumper, forcing you to turn around in a small parking lot.....second it should mention that Dutch Thomas MIGHT be impassable for a large 15 passenger van and that you will need to pray that NOTHING comes the other way while you follow this road for 1/2 mile).

*Turn RIGHT onto PURCELL RD (#1 since when does mapquest take you on a GRAVEL ROAD...which, um, isn't even GRAVEL because all the gravel apparently washed out during the recent rains, leaving only a dirt rut to drive in and is barely wide enough for any vehicle and #2 BEWARE OF FLOCKS OF WILD TURKEY CROSSING THE ROAD and #3 for added thrill, reach hand out window and sharp bend in road, as the cattle are grazing so close to the road you can touch them)

*Turn RIGHT onto OH-73. End at 3850 State Route 73.

Once we got to Serpent Mound, we though we would be in store for a grand adventure, but there was a rinky dink museum, 2 extremely unfriendly employees and a paved trail around the earthenworks. The mound was cool in appearance, but not something I would ever bother to visit again!

We left Serpent Mound, retraced our path and headed back to Long's. We ate lunch and then headed to the beach. Sophie swam all the way out to the pier (with her life jacket on, of course) and actually JUMPED off the diving board into the 15 foot deep lake! She had an absolute ball!

Will got stung by a bee on his hand while at the beach...I wish I could figure out a way to keep the kids from getting stung!

At 3 PM, Deanne and I headed to Portsmouth to pick up her van. It took about 2 hours total, but it was WONDERFUL to see her van running again (we were worried about having to pack everyone into one van to get home and then having to drive over 2 hours to come and pick up her van). I was so tired driving back to Long's that I had to crack up the radio and jam to the static ridden songs on the radio...thankfully, I found a rock station after 2 Christian stations or I may have ended up in a ditch!

We had tacos for dinner and then took the kids down to the go-carts! After the go-carts, we explored the property off the side of the lake. The kids then picked out a treat from the camp store and we headed back to the cabin.

We hung out...the boys played baseball in the yard and the rest of us watched TV! We started packing up the van and settled in for our last night of our mini vacation!

Thursday, August 31:

Woke the kids at 7:10 AM and quickly finished packing up the 7:30 AM we were on the road! Managed to get Emily to the dance studio by 9:15 AM for her ballet solo practice! Exhausted but full of fun, fond memories the boys, Sophie and I headed 10 AM the van was unpacked and the first load of laundry tossed in the 11:30 AM I was off to pick up the girls from dance and to get my dad from dialysis and take him to rest for the weary!

Poor Chris got stung on the back twice as we were packing up to leave. When I talked to Deanne it turns out the stinger was stuck in one of the stings all the way home. We have to figure out something to do about those bees! Hopefully they won't be as bad next time.

We plan to go again next year! Maybe even plan it as a "not back to school" retreat for our homeschool group. The prices were GREAT and the place was desserted, we had everything to would be such great fun to have more of our friends join us!
We are back!

We are back from our grand adventure, and oh what an adventure it was! I can't wait until I have time to sit down and type up everything that whet your appetite and to peak your curiosity, here is a link to the photo album...

And a link to the place we stayed:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Off on retreat.....

The kids and I and our friends are heading away for a few days....we will return on Thursday, hopefully rested and rejuvenated...or at least full of exciting stories of our grand adventures......just what will 2 moms and 10 kids manage to do with themselves? Tune in late this week to find out!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?

Have to love a quiz that gets it right...some of the questions are rather funny...and um, my dining room table is clean, because I cleaned it before I sat down on the computer and moved the 4 boxes of vintage pictures we "inherited" from my mother-in-law, the pile of mail, remanents of last night's dinner, the crayons, magnets, video of my in-laws wedding and bottle of cleaner....

My results: Salvador Dali Melting clocks are not a problem in your reality. You are an unschooler. You will tolerate a textbook, but only as a last resort. Mud is your friend. You prefer hands-on everything. If your school had an anthem, it would be Dont Worry, Be Happy.

2706 other people got this result!This quiz has been taken 29843 times.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Overdue update!

Brett had his shunt reinternalized last Monday. They released him from the hospital late Wednesday night. We have a follow up appointment tomorrow! Things seem to be going well, he is slowly building his energy and even went and played golf yesterday afternoon with his Dad and brothers....not even a week after having brain surgery!

Jay's mom passed away last Sunday (Aug 13) and her funeral was Friday. They delayed the funeral until Friday so that Brett would be home. His grandmother had wanted him to read the same reading at her funeral that he read 5 years ago at his grandfather's funeral. The service was absolutely beautiful.

Jay's sisters were going to pitch all the old family photos, so I took them. Emily and I have had so much fun looking through them and finding old newspaper clippings Mary (my MIL) saved. It will be great for the genealogy project that Emily is working on. I am thinking I might frame some of them and hang them up...Emily is going to make a scrapbook with a lot of them.

My dad is having a rough time with his chemo...he has broken out in a rash all over his torso and is also only producing about 2 tbsp of urine each day...haven't heard exactly what the means, but I suspect it isn't good! If you could remember him in your prayers, it would be appreciated!

Emily conned me into letting her foster a puppy from the animal rescue organization that she and Hannah volunteer with. He is an absolute cutie, but one forgets how much work a puppy is! He is only 9 weeks old and already a WHOOPING 20 lbs......he is supposedly a lab/boxer mix. but given the size of the boy's paws I have to wonder if there might not be mastif in him. Louie is very protective of him and it is so cute to watch them interact with each other. We take him back next Saturday and hopefully he will be adopted!

To add to our excitement, Sophie (4) swallowed a penny, so we are on poop patrol, waiting for her to pass it!

Thinking I will have good news to post in the near future...after all things have to get better right?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Someone shoot me....

The next time I ask a stupid question like "what else can go wrong?".

We woke up this morning to water FLOWING into the basement...apparently there was a hole right near where the line came into the house! Luckily we caught it before it flooded the basement and we were fortunate enough to have a drain within about 3 feet of the about 12 hours without water and the headache of waiting on a plumber when there were so many other things to attend to!

Would someone else like to volunteer to be God's comic relief for a while? I could sure use the break!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dare I ask, what else can go wrong?

It has been one of those month's so far....and we are only on day what??? 10 I think......I will be so happy to never see a repeat of August 2006...

So far this month:

1) Brett is sitting in the hospital with his spinal fluid draining into a bag next to his head. He is having surgery again next Monday. He has been there since August 1st and will be there through next week....

2) Jay's mom (my MIL) is in the hospital dying. They don't expect her to make it another week. She has been battling non Hodgkins Lymphomia for the past 7 or so years and her body has finally given out. She is in organ failure.

3) The chemo is making dad very sick and he is losing weight. All his counts are low. But his spirits are good!

4) I have picked up some kind of sinus/throat/chest/head ache thing. It's it enough that I have to deal with my kid sick in the hospital, my MIL at death's door and tranporting my dad to dialysis and chemo.....apparently NOT.....I have to be sick too!

5) Today at the dance studio the acro instructor that Emily loves QUIT! Emily is hysterical calls me on the cell phone when I am out getting my dad from dialysis and just sobs into the phone. I couldn't even be here to comfort her. It will probably mean that she won't have an acro team to compete with this year. Like it isn't enough that her brother is in the hospital, her grandma is dying, and her grandpa is sick...she has to lose the one thing that gives her solace from all the rotten crap that is going on right now.

I know better than to wallow in self pity. I know it could be worse. My son will leave the hospital, while others we pass each day in the hallway, will not. My mother in law has lived a wonderful, full, long life (her 83rd birthday is next week) and has raised 10 great kids, has 31 grandkids, 2 grand daughter-in-laws and 4 great grandkids. Dad is still with us, over a year after his diagnosis with multiple myeloma and kidney failure. Losing acro will mean Emily can focus more energy on ballet.....but for right this minute I want to just feel sorry for myself, to scream from the rooftops "WHY????".


Have I mentioned how RICH our lives are? With Brett being sick we have seen the best in so many of our friends, and even strangers. I realize that there are so many people that care about us. We have been blessed to have families bring us dinner each night, cards and gifts come into the hospital daily to lift Brett's spirits, our dearest friends have kept assorted children and made sure that they feel safe and loved during this trying time.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Monday, August 7, 2006 11 AM: We will be heading to the OR as soon as they has space ready for us. They did an ultrasound this morning and the pseudocyst has gotten larger over the weekend. They is also slightly more fluid in the ventricles. So we are heading to the OR. The plan is to externalize the shunt (where it will drain into a bag outside the body), get the cyst to reasorb, treat him with antibiotics and then go in and replace the shunt.

Monday, August 7, 2006 3PM: Brett is out of surgery. Amazingly, he is already saying that his abdomenial pain is down to a six (it was an eight prior to surgery), now how much of that is that the anesthesia is still in his system and how much of it is real pain relief is still left to be seen. Now we get to play the waiting game. The shunt is draining externally so he is pretty much stuck in the hospital bed for the next week (he can get up for about 30-45 minutes at a time and then needs to be in bed for awhile so the fluid doesn't build up in his head. Once they are certain the infection has cleared, they will go in and replace the shunt (we suspect next Monday). Continued prayers are appreciated.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Prayer for Protection

A fellow homeschooling mom send this my way. I found it very comforting and plan to print it off and take it to Brett at the hospital. This is what she said:

This is a prayer that our congregation says at the end of every church service each week. It's called The Prayer for Protection. I find it to be very comforting, especially in times of stress. It may resonate with you also, and help to reassure you or Brett during these challenging days.Here it is:

The Light of God surrounds us.
The Love of God enfolds us.
The Power of God protects us.
The Presence of God watches over us.
Wherever we are, God is and all is well.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Brett update for Saturday, Aug 5, 2006:

They have found a combination of 3 drugs that have Brett feeling some pain relief! When I left the hospital tonight (around 8 PM) he was saying his head was only about a 5, although his stomach/abdomen was still a 7. BUT, he feels like being up and walking around and is sick of being in bed! He ate lunch and dinner plus some junkie snacks! Jay called around 10 PM and Brett was still awake and watching TV, a huge improvement over yesterday (Firday) when he slept probably 22 hours out of the day! I think it really helped his spirits today that one of his friends came down and spend some time hanging out with him! I don't think she realizes how much it meant to him to have her come down and spent part of her day at the hospital. She even brought him his favorite sandwich from Izzy's (a local deli).

Not sure if there will be an update tomorrow since the weekend docs are still on duty. I have a feeling we will be waiting to hear about surgery Monday when they do rounds around 9 AM (although the nurse did say something about her notes saying he was having surgery Monday). I am toying with taking the little guys to the zoo for a couple hours tomorrow (the zoo is 2 blocks from the hospital) and then taking them to visit Brett, I think some family time might just be what we all need, I just wonder if the hospital can handle the chaos!

Thanks for the prayers, I know they are helping!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Brett is in the hospital....

It all started Tuesday afternoon when my call to the neurosurgeon prompted them to tell us to go directly to the emergency room...we still have no are some of the details, pasted from emails I have been sending to friends....

Wednesday, August 2nd noon:
Brett was admitted through the ER last night to Cincinnati's Children's Hospital. He is undergoing tests right now that will determine if they need to do surgery. Brett has a VP shunt and they suspect that it may be malfunctioning. If they decide that it is malfunctioning, they will go in and revise it.....never a pleasant thought when they have to drill into your child's brain.Prayers are much appreciated.

Thursday, August 3rd 9 AM:
We are still in a holding pattern. There is no spinal fluid in the ventricles so they have to believe that the shunt is at least working to some degree. They are having an infectious disease guy come in to see why the lymph nodes in his abdomen are so tender (for those unfamiliar with shunts, Brett's shunt drains into his abdominal cavity). They are also supposed to be sending him to opthamalogy to see why there is atrophy in his optic nerve. They are trying new drugs for the head pain (Brett is saying it is an 8 out of 10) and the abdominal pain (7 out of 10) because the meds they have been giving him aren't working at all. Maybe we will have some answers by the end of the day, but I am not holding my breath. No surgery today unless something emerges rapidly and they feel it is life or death.

Continued prayers are appreciated.

Thursday, August 3rd 4 PM:
I am home right now...doing child care, laundry. etc while Jay does the "sit at the hospital and wait" thing.....Will senses the stress and wants to nurse nonstop, he just sits here and cries..."mama, boob, boob, mama" when I am not here! They have done more tests today but still haven't gotten back to Jay with anything definitive. The billing/financial aid lady came in and laughed when Jay told her there were 10 in our family....her charts only go up to a family of 8! Just another headache to sort out!

Waiting for consults with neurosurgery, general surgery, neurology, and typical they are moving at a snails pace. The new meds don't seem to be helping, but they only started them this morning so I don't want to say they definitely aren't right.

Thursday, August 3rd 4:15 PM: While typing this entry Jay called from the hospital. They are suspecting that Brett may have a pseudocyst (sp) in his abdominal cavity and that this pseudocyst is infected (causing the swollen lymph nodes and abdomenial pain) and that the infection is traveling up the shunt and causing the headaches (OK, I thought shunts were one way systems, but anywho...). If this is the case, they will do surgery, remove the shunt, drain the cyst, let the infection clear and then do surgery again to place a new shunt (at least this is how Jay understands what they told him). Sounds like we might be in store for a long hospital stay!

Still waiting on more tests and more doctors. Maybe we will get an answer today!
When I had to take Brett to the emergency room, I asked my friend Deanne to keep my little ones so I didn't have to take them with me. Nothing is worse than taking healthy, active kids to the ER and exposing them to every germ under the sun and then having to deal with them for hours on end while you wait. She took this pictures of the kids with her son Chris. I just thought the look on their faces was so sweet!