Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brianna's Birth Story

Monday morning Travis and I left for the Simi Valley Hospital. We arrived at the Hospital at about 5:30 AM and then went to the labor room. I put on a maternity gowns and climbed in bed to relax. The room was the same one we were in when we arrived at the hospital with Blake. This time it seemed bigger and much colder. The nurse said there was nothing that could be done about the arctic temperatures and gave me a pre-heated blanket, which gave the nurse a lot of brownie points.

My parents arrived to help and comfort as we waited for the cesarean. Things were so hectic for Blake’s birth that there was very little time to get nervous. This time we had over an hour of waiting in the labor room and it gave my mind time to wander and to get nervous of the surgery I was about to have. I was also concerned about Blake and how he was doing, so we called him.
Blake was so excited to talk to his mama on the phone. He babbled on and on and in the background I could here the pitter patter of his fleet as he ran over the tile. Blake must have run a dozen laps around the house as he talked to me on the phone. Talking to Blake was the perfect medicine. But he kept making me laugh that I had to say goodbye and recover from all the laugher.

Shortly after talking to Blake the nurse came in and I walked to the surgery room. Travis put on a surgery suit and waited until the nurse came to get him. By the time Travis arrived in the surgery room everything was ready to go. He came up next to me and we looked into each other’s eyes and held my hand as the Brianna's birth began.

As it turned out, I was in the early stages of labor and Brianna was already on her way. This made it more difficult to get her out and Dr. Sun needed to use a suction cup to help pull her out. A few minutes later Brianna was born. It was 8:06 AM and we got to hear her for the first time. It was so different to be awake and alert when Brianna was born as compared to the 39 hour marathon we had with Blake.

After Brianna was born, Travis went with her as she was quickly cleaned and checked. He cut the rest of the umbilical cord and then we came by and gave me a little love before going to the nursery.

I recovered in the operating room for about an hour. The rolled me into the same room we were in when Blake was born.our room and I was able to hold Brianna for the first time and nursed her within hours of being born   Brianna picked up nursing very quickly and let us know that she preferred to be held rather than lay in the bassinet

Later that afternoon Beth brought Blake for a visit. He was excited to see us and when we showed him baby Brianna he had to take a closer look. Travis helped him up and held him over so he could get closer. Blake’s face lit up with a huge smile when he saw Brianna. He said "baby" several times and then wanted to touch her. It was a magical moment as Travis helped him reached out and touch Brianna.

Everything went very smoothly and we were able to leave the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. I am grateful for the services the hospital provided but it’s so much better having my family together in our own home.

Now our baby girl is 8 years old!! We love her so much and are in awe at what an amazing person she is becoming! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Life Changer

Walk for a Cure with JDRF

It was the Memorial Day weekend. Our house was full of family visiting for the holiday weekend, but Blake just wasn’t himself. He didn’t want to go out to play with his cousins and complained that his throat was hurting. We decided to make an appointment to see his pediatrician as soon as possible. She did a throat swab and told us he had Strep throat. So we started him right away with the antibiotics and believed he would be fine in a few days. 
 A week later we went camping with some friends at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. We were surprised by how lazy he was acting. Not wanting to hike and walking very slowly. We figured it was from the antibiotics and the strep lingering on. So we took it easy before spending a week in the Redwood National Forest. Again, he lagged behind on our walks and didn’t really want to do anything but sit in the RV. We were really surprised that he had an accident while he was sleeping. Something he hasn’t done since he was 3. At this point, my Mommy alarms were quietly going off. Something isn’t right. He doesn’t seem himself and the strep should have worked itself out of his body by now. 
As soon as we returned home I jumped on the computer; straight to Google with his symptoms. I found Celiac and Cancer. I was concerned, but remembered Google usually will lead you to Cancer when looking for medical advice. 
We went back to our Pediatrician the Monday after we returned home, only to be told that it was still strep throat. But she wanted us to up the antibiotics with trace elements of penicillin in it.  Blake is allergic to penicillin, and I told her that. But she said it was what he needed. I also told her that he has lost a lot of weight, complained of stomach aches and was drinking all the time. I wanted her to test for Celiac. But she told me they were all symptoms of strep and that I was just being paranoid.
I started Blake on the penicillin that night. The next day he complained of his stomach ache and had no appetite. I thought it was the penicillin and stopped giving it him. That evening he ate dinner, so I figured, problem solved, right? 
Four days later we drove down to Southern California (a 6 hour drive) for Travis’s Grandfather’s funeral. Thirteen of us drove down together. We rented a beach house for everyone to stay in. During the drive, we had to stop every hour so Blake could pee and he complained of his stomach hurting. We lived in Southern California when the kids were born, so I called the Pediatrician he had when we lived there. We made an appointment for the following morning, a few hours before the funeral. That night, Blake just stayed on the couch; he didn’t even want to go down to the beach. 
Saturday morning, Travis drove us to the doctor’s office and returned to the beach house to get ready for the funeral. As soon as I told the pediatrician his symptoms, she knew to right away to check his blood sugar and it was 563. I didn’t know what this number meant. So she explained that a healthy child’s blood sugar should be between 80 and 100. So 563 was not good. She concluded in 5 minutes that he had diabetes. She told us to go straight to the ER.
I called Travis to let him know what the Dr. said. Then I called my parents who lived nearby to pick us up. Travis had to give the eulogy at his grandfather’s funeral, so he could not meet us at the ER. He also had to stay to take care of our daughter and his entire family.
We stopped by my parent’s house for lunch then headed to the Hospital. We checked into the ER and before I had a chance to even start filling out the forms, they called us into the back. They checked his blood glucose (blood sugar) and it was over 700. They couldn’t get an exact number because their device doesn’t go over 700. The doctors immediately hooked him up to an insulin drip as well as saline and sugar water drips because he was severely dehydrated. The nurses and pediatric doctors were all really great with Blake. The hospital Chaplin just happened to be walking by when Blake asked to get a blanket. He got him a blanket and stayed to talk to him for a little while. He also prayed over him with my father, who happens to be a Catholic Deacon. My sister arrived for support and my brother drove 2 hours to be there for us. Blake lit up when he saw his Uncle Tom. He was anxious to show him some of the drawings he made for a game his was creating. 
 About an hour later they moved him up to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) so they could keep a close eye on him. The Chaplin came up with a gift for Blake: books, coloring pages, crayons, a doll and a hot wheel. He told us he was drawn to Blake and will continue to pray for him. 
 When Blake found out that he had to stay at the hospital, he lost it. He was so mad and wanted to go back to the beach house to hang out with his cousins. I did too! But we knew that the hospital was the best place for him at that time. Upon hearing Blake's upset, the Pediatrician came in and told us how lucky we were that we came in when we did. The state his body was in was really bad and if we left now he would probably not survive the night. Talk about having your heart drop! She told us that the Endocrinologist would be in the next day to check in on Blake. As she was telling us this, the Endo walked in. It was his day off, but as soon as he heard he had a patient in the PICU, he came right over. He explained to us that Blake had what is called Ketoacidosis. 
  Ketoacidosis (key-toe-ass-i-DOE-sis) is a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma or even death. When your cells don't get the glucose they need for energy, your body begins to burn fat for energy, which produces ketones. Ketones are acids that build up in the blood and appear in the urine when your body doesn't have enough insulin. High levels of ketones can poison the body. 
 For the remainder of the night, the nurses checked his blood glucose (BG) levels and made adjustments to his IV of insulin. 
Blake’s Dad, Travis was able to make it to see us around 11p.m. that night. Blake was sleeping off and on. We were both happy to have a change of clothes and our own pillows! He also brought the iPad for Blake to play with when he woke up. But neither of us got much sleep that first night. 
 The next day was Sunday, Blake’s BG numbers were much better when he woke up. He was allowed to have some breakfast. He ordered French toast, cereal, yogurt and sugar free orange juice. He inhaled it all!! The doctor said that he probably hadn’t absorbed food for weeks. So he was literally starving! Blake was so happy to have food in his belly again. Blake was also taken off all his IVs. They kept the stint in his arm, just in case they needed to administer something else. He wasn’t happy about keeping the stint in his arm, but he was thrilled to be disconnected to the IVs. He could get up and walk around! 
 My parents and sister came back in the late morning with regular food for me and videos for Blake to watch. The day was so much better. 
We were also visited by a Diabetic educator. She went over most of what we were going to need to know for the rest of our lives. How to count carbs, what a good BG range is, how to give insulin shot. What to do when the BG numbers a high, what to do when they are low. As well as what to do when he passes out. Scary stuff! It was very overwhelming! 
 There are a few other names for Blake’s condition: Insulin-dependent diabetes; Juvenile onset diabetes; and Diabetes - type 1. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can occur at any age. Insulin is a hormone produced by special cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas. The pancreas is found behind your stomach. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Most likely it is an autoimmune. An infection or some other trigger causes the body to mistakenly attack the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. The body is unable to use this glucose for energy. Everyone with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day. 
 Travis stayed with his family for most of the day. They needed to pack up from staying at the beach house and find another place for everyone to stay while we were in the hospital. My parents offered their small two bedroom mobile home. Once everyone was settled in, he and our daughter, Brianna came to visit us in the hospital. They were able to be there for some of the diabetes education and ask the educator some questions. We had a good visit before they went back to my parent’s house.
 I texted some friends for prayers and support. One friend, Jeniece, offered to do whatever she could to help. I asked if she could do some research on local Endocrinologists 
 My parents and sister, Beth stayed and we all had dinner together while watching The Princess Bride on T.V. That night, Blake and I were able to get much more sleep, since the nurses no longer needed to come in every hour to check on him. They still did BG checks and began training me to give him insulin shots.

 Monday morning, the Endo came by and was very impressed with Blake’s improvement. He told us we could go home the next day. The diabetic educator came back and we had more diabetes lessons. After my parents and Beth showed up, I was able to leave the hospital for a quick shower. It felt really good! We came back and had lunch together. More diabetes lessons in the afternoon. Travis and all 11 relatives surprised Blake with a visit in the hospital.

He was so excited to see everyone!  They stayed for about 2 hours and each family member was able to come into the room (one at a time) to spend some time with him. We had dinner with my parents and Beth again and settled down for the final night in the hospital. The whole day and night the nurses had me checking his BG and giving him the insulin after counting the carbs he was eating. I was feeling like I was getting the hang of taking care of Blake.
 Travis arrived shortly after breakfast on Tuesday morning. We began packing up the hospital room and loading up the van. The Endo came by and gave us the okay to leave. Than the Ped and nurses began giving us all the supplies we would need when we got home: syringes, insulin, alcohol swabs, pages and pages of information on diabetes, a book on diabetes, a dvd and two children’s books about diabetes and a few other diabetic related supplies in a nice blue backpack donated by JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).
 We checked is BG before lunch and gave him the correct amount of insulin to cover the carbs under the watch of the nurses for the last time. After lunch, we checked out and headed back to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. 
 20 minutes later, we walked into their trailer to find the front room decorated with artwork made by Blake’s Aunt, Uncles, Cousins and Sister. They threw up homemade confetti and screamed, “Welcome Home” as soon as we walked in the door. Blake was surprised, excited and overwhelmed! It was good to be out of the hospital! 
 We made a follow up appointment with Blake’s Pediatrician for that afternoon. Travis’s family had also made an appointment to visit a friend who recently had a baby. So my parents drove us to the doctor’s office and Travis and family drove to the friend’s house. His Pediatrician was so happy to see Blake doing so well. We drove through In-N-Out after our doctor visit; Blake had been craving a grilled cheese and fries for days, and went back to my parent’s house to enjoy a little quiet while everyone was out. 
 The next day we packed up and drove home. It was a long trip, but it felt so good to know we were going to be home! But there was a lot weight on me. I now had to take care of Blake on my own. I hoped that I had retained all the information they gave me at the hospital until we met with our local Endo. 
 The week between getting home and meeting our local Endocrinologist was crazy. I felt like the world was spinning out of control. I couldn’t get his numbers in range. I couldn’t sleep and felt lost and alone. My friend Jeniece put me in contact with a friend of hers, Jeannine, that has a son Blake’s age that also has T1D. So I sent her an email with some of my concerns. One hour later, at 10p.m, she gave me a call. We spoke for almost 2 hours. She was really able to put my mind at ease. She also told me about all the different resources and groups that I could contact for support. I will forever be grateful for her reaching out to me. Jeannine is my angel!! 
I signed up with a Yahoo group: BraveBuddies and a Facebook group: PepSquad. They are both amazing support groups. I learned that high numbers for the first week is extremely normal. It will take some time to get his insulin dosage balanced with his body, how to check his BGs at night while he is sleeping without waking him up, the best ways to bring his BGs up from a low, and most importantly, how to breathe again.

Finally, we made it to our first appointment with our local Endocrinologist, Dr. Wong. She works with Dr. Adi out of UCSF Medical Center. Dr. Adi is the Director of Pediatric Diabetes Outpatient Services at UCSF Children's Hospital and the UCSF Diabetes Center as well as a Board Member for JDRF. Their office is set up for kids of all ages with a Wii, art table, books, WiFi, and little kid toys. They answered all our questions. Set us up for more educational classes, signed us up to receive a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and an Insulin Pump right away. We adjusted Blake’s insulin ratios and they gave us email addresses and phone numbers to call at any time. There will always be someone on staff available to take a call or respond to a message no matter how small the issue seems. I feel like we are with the best for our family! 
Life's routine included checking Blake’s blood sugars, counting carbs, doing math to figure out how much insulin to give for the carbs, and waking up every night around 2a.m. to check his BGs. Now we have a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) which is tiny sensor that is inserted under the skin to check glucose levels in tissue fluid. A transmitter sends glucose measurements to a wireless monitor every 5 minutes. It helps watch his blood sugar trends so we know what his blood sugar level is without having to do a finger prick.
Blake is also now on an insulin pump. An insulin pump is a small device about the size of a small cell phone. It delivers a constant stream of rapid-acting insulin through a tiny, flexible catheter called a cannula. The insulin goes into the fatty tissue below his skin and his body absorbs it naturally. It also delivers precise doses of rapid-acting insulin to closely match the food he is going to eat or to correct a high blood sugar. Insulin pumps have bolus calculators that help you calculate the amount of insulin needed. It makes taking care of Blake so much easier. Blake is even capable of taking care of his needs himself now.

Our life has changed so much since that day. We are blessed to have so much support from our family and friends. But our biggest blessing is having Blake still with us; a courageous, healthy, charming, fun, and loving young man.

We will be Walking for a Cure for Type 1 Diabetes with JDRF on Sept 25, 2016 at Bishop Ranch in Sam Ramon CA. We would love to have you join us, either physically, financially, or with your prayers and support.
Use the link below to find out more information:

Walk for a Cure with JDRF

Monday, July 29, 2013


Ryan stumbled as he ran across the playfield, through the snow, to where his friends Grant and Dylan were waiting. Today was the big day. The day everyone had been so excited about all week. Today was the Snowman Building Contest, and they were going to win! Ryan just knew it! Dylan and Grant were already working hard at making the three big snowballs they would need to make the snowman. Their faces were red from the cold, and their breath came in quick bouts of little white clouds. “Took you long enough to get here,” Dylan said to Ryan as he dusted the white powder off his new red gloves. “Sorry, but I had to get these, and I think they will be perfect.” Ryan pulled a carrot and a small pile of dark stones from his pockets. “I couldn’t find any charcoal, but I think these rocks will make a really good eyes and mouth and the carrot is for his nose.” “Coal would have been better,” Grant said, eyeing the rocks with doubt. “I don’t know where to get any,” Ryan answered. “Do you?” “Not really,” Grant replied. “Me neither,” said Dylan, kicking over a little pile of snow near his feet. “These will do fine,” Ryan said. “Now let’s get back to work so we can win.” Ryan, Dylan, and Grant found that it was a lot of work building their snowman, but also a lot of fun. Soon Ryan, Dylan and Grant were laughing together as they stacked the three great snowballs on top of each other. They stuck two sticks where the arms should be, and with a little boost from Dylan and Grant, Ryan put the stones where the eyes should be and made a smiley face for his mouth. Finally, they stuck the carrot out for a long pointy nose. Their snowman was finished. They stepped back to get a good look at him and felt like something was missing; but none of the boys could say what it was. They sat on the ground in the snow and stared at their snowman, trying to think of what it was. Finally it hit them. “He needs a hat!” Ryan said and pulled off his own hat and placed it on top of the snowman. Even though Ryan felt silly, knowing his red hair was probably sticking out in all directions, and he might get in trouble with his mom for not wearing his hat; the snowman was finally perfect. It greatest snowman ever made. There was a yell from behind them. Ryan, Dylan, and Grant spun to see what it was. Two fifth graders were running right for them, not looking where they were going. “Look out!” Ryan cried, but it was too late. The boys looked on in horror as one of the boys plowed headlong into their snowman, knocking him over. The body was smashed to powder, leaving only the intact head rolling on the snow. Ryan’s hat fell off the snowman’s head, and the carrot came out and stuck in the ground. The two fifth graders laughed with each other. “That snowman looked like a loser anyways. There’s no room on this playground for loser snowmen.” With that, the older boys ran off. “That makes me so mad,” Dylan said, glaring at the bullies as they left. “Me, too,” Grant said, “Those fifth graders are so mean!” “Oh no,” Ryan said, looking at the ruin of their creation. “Now what are we going to do? We don’t have enough time to rebuild our snowman before the contest is over.” The boys stood there staring at their crumbled snowman for several minutes, trying to figure out what to do. Ryan wanted to go find the older boy’s snowman and smash it too, but he knew that would be wrong, and it wouldn't help them win the contest. Meanwhile, Grant had picked up the snowman’s head and replaced Ryan’s hat and the carrot. Even without his body, he still looked like a great snowman. Looking at the still-intact head, Ryan came up with a plan. “Okay, I know what to do, but we have to work fast if we’re going to get it done in time.” Following Ryan’s plan, the boys dug a big hole in the snow where the snowman had been, all the way to the ground below. They then put the head of the snowman in the middle of the hole and stuck the sticks they had used for his arms in the ground on either side of the head. They then took a few steps back and looked at their new creation. “That’s an interesting snowman, boys,” said a voice behind them. It was their teacher, Miss Beth. “What do you call him?” “The Greatest Snowman Ever Built,” Ryan said proudly. “after he fell in a hole.” “So he is a snowman who fell in a hole?” Miss Beth asked. The boys nodded enthusiastically. “I think that’s clever. Even though Katie and Susan won the contest, I say you should win an honorable mention for ‘Most Creative’ snowman.” “So he’s not a loser?” Ryan asked. “Not at all,” Miss Beth answered. “He’s a winner!” she said, pinning a red ribbon to the snowman’s hat. “And boys, I saw what happened earlier in the contest when your snowman got knocked down. I’m proud of each of you for how you handled yourselves and coming up with a creative solution. Each of you are winners!” THE END