Sunday, August 16, 2015

Surgery Vacation

Only Sara would ask, "Mom when is our next vacation for surgery?"

The time has arrived. It has been a whirlwind of craziness over the past 2 1/2 weeks. It took us a few days to decide what combination of people were going on the trip for Sara's surgery. We decided to get the kids' input individually. Sara wanted Adam to go with. When I asked her why she responded, "Because I love him." How can we turn that down? Unfortunately, Adam said he didn't want to go on the trip and would prefer to stay home with the neighbor. He was concerned about missing the first day of school, being behind on homework, and not being able to meet new friends. As Shannon and I talked thru it we remembered Adam's influence during our Boston trip for Sara's first surgery. He was the only person who could make Sara smile when she was in so much pain. He made things normal for her. Even though they are not identical twins, we can't deny the bond that they have together. We sat Adam down and talked to him about sacrifice and sometimes we need to do something because it will benefit another person.

The final decision was that we were all going as a family together to support one another and we were going to fly there and back. At one point we considered driving to Minnesota and then someone flying home with Sara. Any way we looked at it, a long drive home with Evan when we were tired didn't sound appealing no matter who would have had that task.

The school was fabulous in working with us. Both Adam and Sara's teacher agreed to a private supply drop off and meet the teacher time because we would miss that. The kids were very excited to see their rooms, put their supplies away, sit in their desk, and chat with their teachers. I think it will really help them transition when we get back after missing the whole first week.

So many decisions to make--hotel (where we stayed last time was booked), how much to pack, are we taking car seats or renting them, are we taking the stroller or renting it...on and on and on. It was exhausting. As if that wasn't enough, Mayo Clinic called a week ago and said the prepayment for services they needed was $20,000. We do not have family insurance but instead participate in Samaritan Ministries, which is a Christian health cost sharing group. Therefore, we are considered self pay and it is Mayo Clinic's policy that we pay an estimate for services up front. Anyway, 2 days after that phone call I received a follow-up phone call that the amount was incorrect and instead it would be $58,000. Sure. After we figured out the details, I was ready to just give my debit card number but the bank refused to allow us to run that much thru our debit card even though the money was in our checking account. After a few hours of phone calls we had to just get a certified check.

Let's see...what other craziness happened? Sara was supposed to have a 24 hour urine test the week prior to her surgery. The end of Wednesday came and we still had no supplies for the test. I kept thinking the box would arrive on my back door but it didn't. I called Mayo Thursday morning and there was a mistake in the shipping department so they were overnighting the kit to arrive Friday. We would do the collection Saturday morning-Sunday morning and then have to fly with our biohazard sample. We checked with my friend who works for the TSA and she assured us it would be fine if we stowed it in our checked luggage. All was fine until Sara got up at 10:00pm Saturday night and urgently had to go to the bathroom but the little "hat" wasn't on the toilet. I went upstairs to see what the noise was and discovered she had a partial accident. Plus she had forgot and put toilet paper into the hat, then realized her mistake and pulled it out and put it in the toilet. So we have now contaminated the sample and absorbed some of the liquid, as well as lost some on the floor when all is supposed to be accounted for in a 24-hour period. I just sat on the side of the tub looking at the mess and wondering if we were going to have to do it over. Guess we will find out.

The next "you have got to be kidding me moment" was that I took our new kitten to the vet for a routine check up Saturday morning only to find out that she had parasites which required medication. I had to completely clean the litter box with bleach and check with the Palm Family whether they were still willing to watch her considering this new information. Thankfully they still took her in and I crossed another detail off the list.

*whew* that takes me up to this morning. The alarm went off at 5am after only 5 hours of sleep. We rolled, or maybe fell, out of bed and packed the last few things. I woke the big kids at 5:30 and Evan at 5:45 to nurse him before we left the house. Thankfully Adam and Sara got right up and weren't crabby at all as they put the clothes on we had laid out 2 days before. We left home 25 minutes later than we wanted to for breakfast at McDonald's but made up all that time because everyone ate so quickly. And, of course, Evan loved the pancakes! What a great start to the day.

Shannon dropped us at the front door with all the luggage.


Checking our bags was a breeze for our 8:45am flight. Until we made one crucial mistake. The one red bag. Why did we want to pay $25 to check that one? It clearly fits in the bin to gate check it so let's save the money! Then we go thru security and he opens the suitcase. It came back to us why we wanted to check it--it had our toiletry bag and Sara's urine sample inside. After having all our bags inspected, we waited for Shannon to walk back to the counter in his socks to pay the $25 so we didn't have all our liquids confiscated. Then he experienced his 2nd pat down. I guess he has an area on the side of his thigh that shows up on the scanner like he could be hiding something. Twice they discovered it was only his muscle! Weird.

The big kids loved the flight. Evan did great even though he was exhausted. We arrived in Minneapolis after the hour flight and I strapped him in the carrier in the back, thinking he would fall asleep resting on me as we walked thru the airport. No such luck. One tram to baggage claim. Another tram to car rental. Then we hit our next nightmare. Car seat rental. The woman brought us out a baby seat with a base for Evan because she said it was the only one she had that would go rear facing. That really is too small for him. Then she brought the next car seat for Adam. After Shannon read the label he realized that one would go rear facing and returned Evan's for one like that. He strapped one in the back and Sara sat in it. The shoulder straps weren't in the highest notch so he had to take it out to adjust it. That was the first time I decided to take the kids and go for a walk. After nearly an hour Evan finally fell asleep and Shannon finished getting the seats strapped in. The big kids really are too tall for theirs and they should have had boosters but we weren't sure if they had high back boosters and he wasn't about to take them out for a third time. Of course after only sleeping 10 minutes Evan woke up when we loaded him in the car and we decided we would stop for lunch before heading out of town. I think we finally left for Rochester around 1. Evan fussed for quite a while because he was so tired after giving up and napping for 40 minutes.

One positive--the stroller rental. Shannon found a place that rents all things you could possibly need for kids. The guy met him at the airport with the stroller, it was in great shape, very clean, and only $62 for the week. Money well spent. Next time we will get the car seats from him, too.

Adam, Evan, and I inspected the hotel while Shannon unloaded all the luggage and got it up to our room. Another nightmare. The room was quite nice. If it was just Shannon and I and one child. It didn't have a full size refrigerator, the living room was nice but way too crowded to have the couch pulled into a sleeper all week. We both agreed the hotel we stayed in a few weeks ago was so much nicer. But it was booked and he had called twice. There was one hotel across the street from the hospital Sara would be at. We called there and booked a room. We hung up the phone and decided to try one last time to see if the hotel we stayed at on our previous trip had a cancellation. They did! We couldn't believe it! It was something familiar, had better amenities, and we would pay $99 per night instead of $150 where we just made our second booking. It was just around the corner so Sara, Evan, and I walked there while Adam and Shannon brought the mini van with the luggage. On the way Sara and I took a moment to say "thank you, God!" Even with all the craziness of the day, we stayed patient with each other and God was going before us working out even the smallest of details.

We had to wait in the lobby a bit for the room to get cleaned. Once in the room, we took some time to get set up for bedtime later and unpack our things. At 4:15 we walked to a nearby restaurant knowing all the kids would need an early bedtime. Evan was so exhausted that I ended up walking him around the parking lot while Shannon and the kids ordered. It didn't take long for him to pass out for a 20 minute cat nap.


We got back to the hotel and got all the kids ready for bed. Of course Evan was so wired from exhaustion he wanted no part of sleeping at 6:30. Shannon left to return to the restaurant for the leftovers we forgot and head to WalMart for supplies. It took me an hour to get Evan relaxed enough to even lay down in the pack and play.

Here's to an uneventful day tomorrow. Sara has a bone density test in the afternoon and we are going to meet with the Child Life Department for a tour of the hospital area.



I pass up moments like this all too often but in the craziness of the day, I didn't miss it. I have been married to this man for 18 years. We have been thru so many defining moments in our marriage that many would not have survived one--from building our own home to unemployment to infertility to NICU to financial struggles to years of medical issues with our children. Our every day life right now is a rollercoaster ride of white-knuckling it to hang on for dear life. We argue. We don't believe the best in each other. We don't forgive easily. We seem to fight to have to be right. But here we are. Hand in hand and walking the journey together. Still. Thru it all he has still been there to love us, protect us, provide for us. He is a wonderful father. I never treat him as he deserves. But I pray that this memory stays with me and I can start a new journey of treating him as the man God has made him to be.

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