Amundsen House of Chaos

Let's face it, when you have a kid who survived a stroke, life is always going to be a little chaotic.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

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2009 Christmas Letter

I'm behind. Again. So I figure I better at least put up a Christmas letter on my blog since they aren't getting mailed out before tomorrow. If I had done a Christmas card here is what it would have said.

Dear Family and Friends,

Another year has gone by so fast. It doesn't seem like it's possible. But Jahnna and Riley insist that Santa is coming tonight so it must be true. We've had another eventful year. Thankfully no where near as eventful as last year or even the year before. It seems we're gradually settling into our new way of life. And that is a good thing. The fact that it seems more normal to live our life this way than it seems strange is a sign of healing. Well, I think it is anyway.

John had a crazy year. We thought he was going to be transferred down to Sandy, Ut for awhile. Then some people higher up the chain of command found out we had family up here and a great support system and the talk of moving stopped. Thankfully. We could have done it, we would have done it if orders had come through, but it never felt like we were going to go. So I decided since I didn't feel like moving we weren't going to. And look, we didn't! John received his recruiting ring this year. He also received the Morrell award. It's the highest award you can receive in recruiting. It is a big honor even if he doesn't want to make a big deal out of it. He had another surgery. His L4, L5 and S1 vertebrae were fused together with titanium rods. He just went back to work two weeks ago after being off work for two months to recover from that surgery. He also made the E7 promotion list and will start BNOC online in January. As soon as that is done he will be promoted.

I had another year. I've learned to look on the positive side of things. I've studied the law of attraction and decided I wanted to manifest some better times in our lives. I think I'm doing a pretty awesome job so far! I made the switch to night nursing. I finally had to admit defeat in that area. I'm glad I did. I was getting pretty run down there for awhile. So now we have a nurse who  comes and takes care of Colby 5 nights a week so I get to sleep. My persistent mono is finally under control. The doctor said it can now be considered Epstein barr virus. That means I'll pretty much always be tired when I have an active infection going on. It comes and goes. I started getting b12 shots from the doctor and that helped my energy levels alot. I finally got brave and started giving myself the shots at home and it hasn't been to bad. See I'm one step closer on my self taught course to a nursing degree. I can give shots now. Not that I would give them to anyone else I'm just saying I can do it. I also lost 49 pounds this year! I feel great! I'm hoping to lose another 20 in the coming year but for now I am more than impressed with myself!

Jahnna graduated from kindegarten and is in first grade. She is 6 years old. She is still as artistic as ever. She likes to think she is the parent and the boss of her sister. She grew a foot it seems like. Lost a bunch of teeth. She had her tonsils and addenoids removed in November. She earned enough money this summer to pay for half of her new big bike. Jahnna loves to learn and she makes her mom and dad very proud of her.

Colby had another eventful year. He continued to make progress after his Hyperbarics last year. We decided to go ahead and have a baclofen pump put in to help with his spasticity. The first surgery went well. He came home and we started making the trips back down to the hospital every week to turn up the pump volume. You have to do it gradually. They up the pump and then I would come down on his oral medication. Then we'd go back a week later and they'd up the pump and I'd come down on the oral medication. We did that for 4 weeks and then his incision came loose and the pump rotated in his stomach pulling the catheter out of his spinal column. We had emergency surgery the next day. 4 days later he was home again. 24 hours later he was back in the hospital with staph meningitis. He had to have the pump completely removed to get rid of the infection. I think we were there for another week after that. It was tough to clear up. He came home with a picc line in his arm and we continued IV antibiotics for another ten days. In the process of these three surgeries we found out his blood pressure was completely out of control and within stroke range every six hours. Not cool. I think the whole purpose of putting in the pump and going through all of that was to find out that it was out of control. I wish we could have done it an easier way but it is now thankfully under control due to two new blood pressure medications. He is one tough little cookie. After all of that the nuerosurgeon said we could put another pump in a month later and we said thanks but no thanks. I think we'll stick with oral meds for now.

In his August appointment for Botox and Phenol shots his doctor got excited. There was a new neurologist in town and she was doing deep brain stimulation. Medically it is Colby's last medical intervention that is in practice today. It involves implanting 8 electrodes into his brain and putting a radio wave emmiter into his stomach. It will take approximately a year and a half to know if it will work for him after the surgery happens. Crazy long time. John and I didn't want to consider it but we felt that we needed to go hear what the doctor had to say about it. So we went down and had an evaluation. She thinks he is a perfect candidate for it. The only problem is it's not FDA approved for kids under 7. So now we are waiting for an ethics committee to approve the procedure and then a study will be set up before we can proceed. Colby will be highly documented in the hopes that his data can help other children. We came away from the meeting feeling peaceful and that this is the next step we need to take with him. A scary step but a step in the right direction. I finally realized that he does need his different medications and stopped trying to wean him off of them. We increased a lot of his doses and he is a much happier boy now. Not to mention an insanely outrageous flirt!

Riley has gotten so big. She is 2 now. She wants to go to school with Colby and Jahnna every day. She has no fears in life and makes our lives wonderfully chaotic. I wouldn't trade her! She is on the verge of potty training and she finally got rid of her bottles when I told her they ran away. She wouldn't accept me throwing them away or geting lost but the day I said they ran away she was fine with it. She talks up a storm and gives Jahnna a run for her money both with getting into her things and with her imagination. She is one creative little story teller.

That sums up our year in as few words as possible. We are grateful for all that we have. We are thankful for the improvements Colby has made and for the challenges we have faced. They have taught all of us many important life lessons and for that we wouldn't change any of it. As always we are grateful for our Heavenly Father and for Jesus Christ. The trials we have faced would have seemed so much bigger and insurmountable without the faith and testimonies we have developed. We hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!

The Amundsens
John, Erin, Jahnna, Colby and Riley.


At December 26, 2009 at 9:31 PM , Blogger Helga said...

What a great letter. I wish I was like you and made the time to write something like that. Thanks for sharing :o) I hope you guys had a great Christmas!!

At December 28, 2009 at 9:50 PM , Blogger Amanda said...

Well, you're definitely ahead of me! I haven't done any sort of Christmas letter, so I guess that means I'm not doing one this year...Although your year was more calm, it was still crazy busy! I hope 2010 brings more peace and quiet for you!

At January 2, 2010 at 7:17 PM , Blogger Confessions From A Working Mom said...

I'm so glad you left your link on my blog. I love it when visitors do that! I'm also glad I got to read this letter, it "caught me up" on a lot. You really DO deserve a vacation... your story makes me wish I got to pick the winner instead of a random number generator. What an amazingly strong woman you are, and what a fighter you have for a son.



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