Tuesday, May 1, 2018

God, are you sure this isn't more than we can handle?!

It's unbelievable that Tristan's surgery was only a week ago.  At times, it has seemed like weeks have gone by and by that I mean, each hour of recovery seemed long and drawn out.  I have determined that watching your child recover after a major surgery takes a significant toll on a parent as well.  You are on hyper alert every moment of the day and night, studying each grimace, tear, sigh and even snore. 

Thankfully, those hyper vigilant days seemed to have passed us by now.  On Friday afternoon, last week, Tristan finally made a considerable turn for the better.  He began to get up on his own and wanted to walk around.  The joy that filled this mama's heart as he stepped out into the sunshine is difficult to put into words. 

By Sunday night, Tristan was asking if he could go to youth group!  Both Kevin and I were hesitant but eventually decided this might be a good trial run before attempting a half day of school on Monday.

On Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves back at Helen DeVos, this time in the ER with Wyatt who had taken a hard soccer ball shot to the eye on Saturday.  (I joked with the staff asking if they had a punch card for regular guests.)  Wyatt's eye had looked irritated on Saturday but by Sunday morning there was blood running through his iris which concerned both the Urgent Care and ER doctors.  Their concern was iridodialysis. (Don't google it.  The pics are gross and his wasn't anything as severe as those pictured.)

Monday morning we went back to Grand Rapids again to see a pediatric opthalmologist who allayed our fears, assuring us the iris was not pulling away from the eye and all should heal up on its own.

Sigh of Relief.)

The Monday half day went very smoothly.  It was just enough time for him to catch up with friends and touch base with his teachers.  Thanks to his youth pastor, Jason, Tristan was picked up and dropped off at home before Wyatt and I even returned from his appointment in GR.

In addition to Jason, we send our thanks out to SO many of you: 

  • Those who visited Tristan in the hospital
  • Those who sat with Kevin and I and "just waited" in the hospital
  • Those who sent sweet gifts and cards
  • Those who took care of Tristan (and us) in the hospital (Dr. Schlatter, Gina, Grace, Mary, Holly...)
  • Those who took care of food and meals for our family
  • Those who transported our other kiddos (since our second car "puked" right before Tristan's surgery.  I know, great timing!)
  • Those who extended us such grace as we had to manipulate and rearrange our schedules to miss some events and attend others
  • To Noah, Gideon, Wyatt, Tehya, Shelby and Johnson, who had the patience of Job through all this craziness.  We love ALL of you SO much!!
Last, but most importantly, an ENORMOUS THANKS for all your prayers!  Tristan and Wyatt are healing well and for that we are unceasingly grateful.

We serve an AMAZING God who sustained us throughout each step of this journey, giving everything we needed at just the right time!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Before, During and After...

(Caution: the images below are graphic in nature and may not be suitable for all audiences.😅)


I know we have quite a few family and friends that LOVE medical details.  So this is the post they've probably been waiting for.  We were gifted with some incredible photos of Tristan's procedure.
I will try to describe the pictures as best I can but please, forgive me if my description of what you are seeing is just a little bit off.  I am definitely NOT a pediatric surgeon. :)

Pre Op - Head is to the left, Waist is to the right
Notice how deep the dip in Tristan's chest.  He could almost fit his fist in it.

Measuring the pectus bar

"Dry fitting" the pectus bar

Inserting the air and camera to facilitate the surgery

Tristan's rib cage bowing down into his chest cavity

A long clamp being woven through Tristan's muscle wall to lift his rib cage

Look at the large gap created just the clamp,
between the Tristan's rib cage (top of pic) and his heart (bottom of pic)!

The long clamp being attached to the pectus bar. 
The clamp is then pulled back, feeding the pectus bar through Tristan's chest.

The pectus bar before it is flipped over

Ta-Dah!  Three small incisions and a little bruising is all you can see on the outside.
Now comes the tough part...healing on the inside.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sleep, the Doctor's Best Medicine

I actually have a few minutes to write a bit more than two sentences so I'll try to summarize today:

Since Tristan is fourteen, his surgery was scheduled for 12:30 p.m., allowing younger patients to have their procedures done earlier in the day.  We didn't need to arrive at the hospital until 11:00 a.m., so being the cruel parents we are, we had Tristan head to school for the first 2 1/2 hours.  While this might just seem a bit mean and nasty, it actually helped keep Tristan a bit distracted and more relaxed about what was coming up.

Check in at the hospital went seamlessly.  Tristan has his father's sense of humor and had the nurses chuckling at check in already, when he remarked how good he looked in his check in photo. ;)
After check in, it was off to pre-op where we caught up with Tristan's Uncle Doug and Aunt Kristy as well as two of his youth group leaders.  Jokes about possible surgical techniques such as leeches, had not only all of us laughing, but also the medical staff.  Never a dull moment when the Salls are in a hospital room!  Tristan said the best part was getting his IV in because he got to play a Dude Perfect game on an iPad to distract him from the IV poke.

I think the most difficult part of our day so far, was watching our child be wheeled away from us and headed toward a procedure that will undoubtedly bring him pain, in addition to healing.  It's the pain that leaves a lump in this mama's throat.

It was about 1 3/4 hours from the time Tristan was wheeled back to the O.R. until we were called to meet with his doctor.  Thankfully, the time passed quite quickly as we chatted and ate lunch with Doug and Kris and even were surprised by a quick visit from one of Kevin's cousins and his wife.  Dr. Schlatter gave us the best news we could here as parents, "It went perfectly." (Huge sigh of relief!)

Thirty minutes later we were lead to the most beautiful sight a parent can see...our sleeping child!  He awoke to our voices and smiled and our hearts were filled with peace once again.  It's amazing how different his chest looks! (I will try to post a couple pics tomorrow.)  If you know anything about Tristan, he loves learning.  His brain just never seems to shut down.  Even in his drug induced state, he kept asking questions and trying to rehash exactly what he had just experienced, what he remembered and what was happening now.  All we kept telling him was, "Just sleep".  He would doze off for a couple minutes and the questions would begin again. It made us smile. :)

It wasn't long before Tristan was issued a hospital room and we were on the move up to the pediatric floor.  As an aside, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is fantastic!  We've had nothing but fantastic nurses, staff and Tristan has a beautiful, huge room that has plenty of space for both Kevin and I to stay comfortably with him.

After about a half and hour of settling in, Tristan finally fell into a deep sleep.  Never have I been so happy to hear a deep, resounding snore! ;)  Our hearts are so full!

For those of you who would like to know, our current prayer requests are:

  • to be able to get Tristan into a good rhythm of pain management
  • that he is able to get the healing sleep his body needs
  • that our other kiddos would also be comforted and sleep well tonight even without Mom and Dad at home. (Thankfully, Noah is holding down the fort!)
Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers, texts and food! ;)