Chest Tubes, Procedures, & a Diagnosis (Wyatt’s Last Days Pt.3)

Wyatt’s chest tube was put in in his room on Sunday, our first full day at the hospital. A red haired, fireball of a surgeon would do the procedure. She was confident and I felt good about her. She assured me that she would get it done and get him feeling better.

The procedure was done and Wyatt was put on pain meds. I can’t imagine the discomfort of having a chest tube. But Wyatt was a trooper.

We spent the day talking to doctors, worrying, keeping Wyatt comfortable, reassuring him and keeping him occupied with Star Wars movies.

Then the worst news. Today they would tell us that it was likely that Wyatt had Leukemia. We would be introduced to the Oncology doctor. And eventually the Oncology Team. 

The Oncology doctor had a fairly thick Asian accent. He came into the room to see Wyatt, said a few words to him, and then asked us to step outside. I bent down to kiss Wyatt and told him we would be just outside the door talking to the doctor. Wyatt looks at me and says, “What’s with the Japanese guy???” I was a bit embarrassed, but relieved to see that he still had a little spunk. Wyatt was never one to hold back what he was thinking.

The Oncology doctor told us he was fairly certain Wyatt had Leukemia though they were not sure what form. He told us that most childhood Leukemia is curable and I held onto that thought with every ounce of my being. Tomorrow Wyatt would have a bone marrow biopsy, a spinal tap, a pic line put in and his first dose of chemotherapy. Holy crap…

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In Honor of Wyatt

Many have asked if or how we are honoring Wyatt this week. Wednesday, May 24th will be a year since he left us.  


We’ve given this a lot of thought. I’ve pondered many ideas from elaborate to simple. I’ve asked myself, “What would Wyatt want? What would mean the most to him?”


In our hearts, the best thing that we can all do to honor Wyatt is to be KIND. Kindness was Wyatt’s Way. It is how Wyatt was and how he would want us to continue in this life.  


So, very simply, we ask you to be KIND. In whatever way you see fit. Help a neighbor. Do something to brighten someone’s day. Say hello to a stranger. Bring flowers from your garden to brighten the office. Buy the guy behind you in line a coffee. Play with your kids. Take a friend out for ice cream. Pay someone a compliment.


This is what Wyatt would want. And he would be happy to know that the people who love him, are loving each other. 

Let your kindness be random. Let it be planned or spontaneous. Let it be private or let it be public. Whatever feels right. If you’d like to share it, we welcome you to. You can share it on Wyatt’s Facebook page. You can post it anywhere on social media with the hashtag #WyattsWay.


Thank you for loving our boy and for loving us. We have been blessed with kindness beyond what we could have ever imagined from all of you, from friends and strangers. From unimaginable pain has come unimaginable beauty in the kindness that we have been shown. Kindness that is a reflection of our sweet Wyatt and the kindness he showed others. A kindness that we can only hope will carry his memory forward to continue to touch the lives of others.

The First Sleepless Night (Wyatt’s Last Days Pt.2)

The ambulance drive felt like an eternity.  

Wyatt was on oxygen and the mask was making him a little crazy. The sweet EMT somehow rigged the mask to make him more comfortable. Then his nose kept running, so we were rummaging around for tissues. I finally found some in my purse.  

I so wanted to talk to Wyatt and hold his hand, but I was in the front, he was in the back. And there was a lot of equipment between us.  

The driver was sweet and did her best to stir up conversation to make the drive go by a little faster.  

As we approached the hospital, I didn’t know what to expect. It was late, now past midnight. The streets were deserted. And it wasn’t exactly easy to get into the hospital. We had to find someone to unlock a door for us. Luckily that only took a minute or two.  

I knew Brooks was there, he just had to find us. He ended up meeting us at the room. The room where we would spend the next few days, our last precious days with Wyatt. The room where Wyatt would die. 

We would be taken into the room and be greeted by a doctor. He had been waiting for us.  A CT scan would be ordered (I think). I went with Wyatt where they slid him into the machine. He was still so good. He felt so bad, but he did what he was told. And he didn’t seem scared. Though I’m sure he was.

As the images came up on the screen, it looked like something had completely filled Wyatt’s right lung. It looked worse than the X-ray at the ER. We would find out that his chest cavity was filled with fluid and had collapsed his right lung. He would need a chest tube the next day to drain the fluid.  


I took this picture once we were able to settle Wyatt for the night. We would be waiting for the surgeon in the morning to put in a chest tube. I still couldn’t really fathom what that was or what that meant.  

I was happy that he was sleeping, seemingly peacefully. But inside, the monster was still raging against his little body.  A monster that we still didn’t know was there. 

It was a long night, watching him sleep.  Holding his hand, touching him, watching him breathe.

It broke my heart to see him like this… oxygen mask, heart monitor, hospital bed… And not a thing I could do to fix any of it. 

Hell Begins (Wyatt’s Last Days Pt.1)

Hell started today. A year ago. The worst thing to ever happen to me started unfolding quickly a year ago today.  

We all got up on a Saturday morning. Brooks and Shane went to look at a truck because Brooks had just sold his and he needed a new one. Wyatt was still not feeling good. Brooks and I knew one of us was heading to Prompt Care with him today. Even though the doctor had said to give it through the weekend, we knew we couldn’t. He was surely dehydrated by now.  And we really needed to just get him better. 

While Brooks and Shane were gone, Wyatt laid on the couch. I was trying to get him to drink and eat some toast. I buzzed around the house, tidying up. And subconsciously I think I was praying Wyatt’s condition would suddenly change and he would start feeling better.  

At about 10:00, Brooks and Shane were not back yet, but I decided I needed to do something and told Wyatt we were going to Prompt Care. He didn’t want to go. He tried to cry, but he was so weak I don’t think he really could. I vividly remember slipping his slides on his feet for him and shuffling him out to the car. And then shuffling him from the car in to Prompt Care. 

We waited a little bit to be seen. Once we got into the room, and the nurses and doctors started to look at him, I started to get scared. I could tell one, they didn’t know what was wrong, and two, whatever it was, was serious.  

They took his oxygen and it was 83. That’s not a good number for your oxygen. I didn’t know that at the moment, but I quickly learned an awful lot that day. The nurse seemed a little confused and said she thought maybe they weren’t getting a good reading because he was dehydrated. I would later find out, that wasn’t the case. That number was correct.

After some further examination of Wyatt, one of the doctors finally said, “Your little boy is very sick.  He needs to have blood drawn and we can’t do that here.  He needs to go to the Emergency Room.” They were going to send us by ambulance, but were honest that it would take some time. I signed a release saying I was transporting him against their recommendation and took him myself.  

Within this span of time, Brooks had come to Prompt Care, stayed for a bit and then left. Wyatt’s team had another playoff game and I sent Brooks to take care of the team before I knew we had to go to the ER. We really didn’t know what was going on and obviously didn’t really grasp the seriousness. I don’t think anyone really knew. And I kept reassuring Wyatt and myself that everything would be ok.  All along, no one had any clue that Wyatt would die or that he had leukemia.  

At the Emergency Room, we would be brought in and Wyatt checked over again. He was so good through the whole thing even though he felt horrible. They took bloodwork and chest X-rays. They initially told me he had pneumonia and that he would probably have to stay a few nights. I was ready to hang out with him for the few days and get him better. Not great news, but I felt as though everything would be ok. I had answers and we were developing a plan. I let Brooks know, hoping to put him at ease.

Then the pediatrician on-call came in to talk to me. He was concerned. He showed me Wyatt’s chest X-ray. He showed me the area of fluid in his right lung. The problem was that he couldn’t tell if the fluid was in his lung or around his lung.

He then went on to tell me that Wyatt’s platelet count was really low and he didn’t know why. All of his other numbers were fine. It didn’t make sense. I remember forcing the question to come out of my mouth…”Is this Leukemia?” He said it wasn’t likely because all of his other numbers were fine. His white blood cells looked ok.

With those two concerns he was sending Wyatt to Sutter. They were better equipped to handle things beyond pneumonia with children. If Wyatt needed a chest tube eventually, Sutter was better prepared to do that.  

My mind raced. A chest tube? I didn’t even know what that was. But the bottom line was that I wanted Wyatt to be wherever the best care was.

I quickly agreed, paperwork was signed and preparations began. 

While all of this was happening, Brooks’ parents had come to the hospital. And then went to the ball field to get Brooks and Shane. I can’t remember exactly when Brooks got to the hospital or the conversations we had. Once we knew Wyatt was going to Sutter, Brooks left to go to the house and get some things for Wyatt and me and himself. Shane would stay with Brooks’ parents. Brooks would drive to Sutter. I was going in the ambulance with Wyatt.  

My mind continued to race. What did this all mean? What was really wrong? How long would we be in the hospital? How quickly could they get Wyatt back to himself? And still, I never even considered that he was dying before my eyes.

So many other things flash through my memories of that day. Blurred conversations. Fear. Strained glances exchanged with Brooks. Wanting to cry, but holding strong for Wyatt. The IV that they couldn’t get in Wyatt’s arm and that was initially put in wrong. How patient he was even though I’m sure it hurt like crazy. The different hospital staff who tried to make Wyatt smile, tried to help him be less scared. How I kept telling him it would all be ok. How I held his hand.  Watching him sleep and being glad he could at least rest.  Thinking how we were going to figure out what was wrong and we were going to fix it so he could get back to school and baseball. 

It wasn’t until about 10:00 or so that the ambulance was finally ready to take us. Wyatt was loaded in. One of the scariest sights in my life – watching my child loaded on a gurny and loaded into the back of an ambulance. I was instructed to get into the front passenger seat (though I wanted to be in the back with Wyatt). And the next leg of our journey began.  

I never would have imagined that as I left the house with my sweet boy that morning or as we drove the long drive to Sacramento that night, that I would not be bringing him back home.  

Exhaustion

*This is a piece I wrote quite a while ago, in January or February.  In the few months since then I’ve cycled through this exhaustion a few times in different ways.*

I’ve grappled for the words that truly describe how I feel. Day in and day out. Sometimes it’s sad. Sometimes angry. Sometimes ….. Today the word that came to me is exhaustion.

As I was walking in the park, I was watching the creek flowing, swollen with the recent rains. Spilling over its banks, rushing downstream. And I was taken by this branch in this video. The one in the distance that is being overcome by the rushing water, over and over. It seems it is constantly fighting to stay afloat, to keep above the rising water.

That is how I feel. Like my grief and sorrow just continually overwhelm me. Constantly trying to pull me under. And it is a constant fight to stay above water. Constant. And it is exhausting.

At the next bridge crossing this morning, I came across this branch. It bobs up and down. It is continuously pulled under and then bounces back out. Only to be pulled under again. Sometimes it is pulled under a little deeper and held a little longer. Sometimes it bounces back a little higher and seems to be able to stay above the water just a bit longer. There is somewhat of a rhythm, but not totally. And again, it is constant. With no real end in sight.

This is what life feels like right now. A constant struggle to stay above. To fight past the grief. To make the choice to see the happy, choose joy, remember the good memories, just keep going. And I’m just tired. No, I am exhausted.

I guess that the creek will not stay at this stage. The waters will recede and the branches will dry out. No longer overcome by the high waters. But who can truly predict the coming storms? And you can’t stop Mother Nature.

What happens when exhaustion overtakes you?

Ready for Play Offs

A year ago today I thought Wyatt had gotten a good night sleep after a long week of baseball and school and fun.  We got up and got dressed.  And we headed out to Eastside where I dropped him off for some batting practice before the first play off game.  


That night Wyatt woke up vomiting.  We had heard there was a stomach bug going around.  We hoped it would be quick, so he would be better by Monday.  We had no idea what we were in for. This would not be the short lived stomach flu we thought we were up against.

Surviving Mother’s Day

I never imagined I would have to navigate this. Never imagined I would have to figure out how to move through life without one of my children. Yet here I am. And so with Mother’s Day here, I find myself wondering how does one survive this?

You brace yourself. You get ready as best you can. Maybe you plan a busy day to avoid the downtime that is sure to be filled with anguish. Maybe you plan nothing and ignore the day. Maybe you plan something special in honor of your child. Or maybe you just don’t know what to plan.

You buffer yourself from all the reminders. The commercials, the signs in the stores, the cards on display. You avoid the questions about what you will do on Mother’s Day. You build the wall to protect your heart while everyone else makes their happy plans.

You prepare your soft landing. Where will you land? And who will be there? Who can catch you? Maybe it’s your husband, your surviving children, a friend. Maybe it’s a quiet place to be alone.

You work hard to smile when they say, “Happy Mother’s Day”. You choke back the tears while you listen to plans that others are making.  
You miss the voice that says, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom” to you. You yearn for the card you won’t receive. The project brought home from school with fingerprints, or handprints, or a picture. You ache for the hug and kiss that isn’t here this year. You ache for what should have been this year.

How do you survive? You hold on. Anyway you can. You have survived to this day. And you will survive through this day. You just do. 

My Sweet Sleeping Boy


This picture was the start. A year ago today on a Friday afternoon Wyatt came home from school and he was exhausted. I didn’t think too much of it because little league had been in full swing, he was practicing during the week, and school was exciting with all the spring events. I thought this was just my exhausted little boy showing signs of a very busy and hectic, but fun life.

Looking back now I realize how wrong I was. He wasn’t exhausted, his body was fighting a monster.

I look back now and think about what I thought was a sweet picture of a tired little boy and I can’t believe what the meaning of this picture really is. It’s really the beginning of the end. Wyatt fell asleep on the couch that night really early. I can’t recall if he ate dinner or not. I remember shuffling him to bed thinking he just really needed a really good night’s sleep. The next morning we got up and got ready for practice at Eastside. I was relieved to see that he felt better in the morning and he was his usual chipper self. He couldn’t wait to get to practice, couldn’t wait to get into the batting cages.

Later that night is when I thought the stomach flu had hit him.

Over the years, I took a lot of pictures of Wyatt sleeping. From the time he was teeny tiny all the way up until this last picture of him sleeping. He always looked so sweet sleeping. And I always just wanted to crawl up next to him and cuddle him and love on him. What I wouldn’t give for one more cuddle with my sleeping boy.


Sleeping in my bed next to me… a common occurrence on a Saturday morning after Brooks and Shane were already up.


Out cold in Trinidad after a full day of serious fishing and tide pool exploring.


Asleep on my mom’s couch after a full day of visiting and fun in Philadelphia.

Sweet Memories to Chase the Pain

These photos popped up in my Facebook memories today. They are sweet memories of a baseball season 3 years ago. My sweet and talented friend, Melanie, took most of these photos. And I am ever grateful. They are by far some of my favorites.  

With all the years of baseball we’ve played, spring, summer, fall, little league, travel, and now high school, I can honestly say I have enjoyed all of the boys’ baseball seasons. But this one seemed to be a little extra fun. Brooks coached and was affectionately dubbed “Buttermaker”.  


Shane helped with the coaching and herding the little players.  And always had a bit of advice for his brother.  


I spent a lot of time herding in the dugout and cheering from the sidelines.  


This team was made up of sweet friends for both the kids and the parents. Lots of fun and lots of laughter.  And some serious baseball.


On Little League Day at the Chico State Stadium, Brooks got to take this team out on the field for the pledge of allegiance. And Brooks got to throw out the first pitch.  


Wyatt, of course, got to hang out with his favorite player.


It was a good time had by all.



I have such fond memories of this team and this season.  




Things are getting harder at the moment. Today marks 11 months without Wyatt. And the year mark is coming. I’m trying to brace myself, but not really sure just how to do that.  

The waves are getting higher and rougher. The undertow is strong.  I feel like I’ve been thrown into a countdown I didn’t know was happening at this time last year, only now it’s real and I’m very aware.


It is getting harder to hang onto the shiny memories. The hard hurtful memories of Wyatt’s last days are lodging themselves in my brain. They’re pretty hard to shake right now, sneaking up on me when I’m really not ready. Memories like these photos and this baseball season are what I’m trying to cling to to chase the painful memories away. 

Reflecting on Love & Kindness

I’ve been thinking and reflecting a lot on the love and kindness that we have been shown. When Wyatt died, the army emerged. Friends, family, acquaintances, total strangers came out and showed up to love us, support us, and lift us. We were shown so much love. And we needed it.

And that love and kindness has continued. People in our lives, both those who we have known for a lifetime and those who have become new friends, have continued to stand by us. Thoughtful texts, a random hug, a sweet note in the mail, an invitation to get out and do something fun. The ear to just listen, the comfortable silence to just sit in. It hasn’t stopped. And I am so grateful. I am so grateful for the aid it has given me as well as Brooks and Shane. It has helped me hold them, even when I felt like I couldn’t.  

I am so grateful that the love and kindness are still there. The waters are rising again. The tide is swelling. We just passed ten months since Wyatt left us. And the year mark is looming. We’ve moved into a season where we are being constantly reminded of many “lasts” that we had with Wyatt. And it hurts. Some of the wounds have been reopened. The scars are aching.

  

Yet, the soldiers are rising up and the troops are rallying. I can feel it already. And I am ever grateful.