Saturday, June 12, 2010

Going to the Fire Station

Our friend Faye Dawn is a firefighter here in Utah. She let us come visit one the stations she works at last fall. My kids LOVED it and having been waiting to go back ever since. Chloe, in fact, was brave enough to go down the fire pole with Faye Dawn last time and has since been practicing on the pole on her kindergarten playground. She took us to a different station that had a firetruck with the ladder and bucket for my kids to ride in. First things first, we had to check out the fire truck.

Then, we had to climb inside and check out all the gear.

This was Jack's favorite toy. One of the firefighters even showed Jack how to make the
lights and sirens go! Somehow, his little toy cars just aren't as exciting anymore. :-)
Taking sister for a spin!
Next, they pulled the truck out of the station so we could go for a ride. Jack was excited! The girls...not so much. Cassie took Jack up for me so I could coax the girls (and myself) to go up. Heights are definitely NOT my thing.

Here we go! We climbed up the back of the truck and up the ladder,
into the bucket,
got strapped in,
and UP, UP, UP we went!!!!
We went up only half the length the ladder can go, which was 55 feet! The girls thought that was high enough. Then we did a full circle around the truck... what an awesome view!
That is the top of the fire station!
There was a baseball field next to the station.
Can you see our silver SUV? Looks pretty small!

Chloe was over her fear pretty fast. She figured out that she could use her belt as a swing.
This was the view with the ladder facing the back of the truck. If this were a real emergency, that is what I would be climbing down! WOW!

After the ladder came down, and we climbed out, Faye Dawn drove the truck back into the bay.

We climbed in too and Jayleih put on the radio to talk to her.

Jack, of course, wanted to as well.Chloe just enjoyed the ride!
Faye Dawn and the other firemen were awesome! Thanks guys!
We had to go to the original station she took us to last year for the full experience. What's a fire station without a pole? Faye Dawn took each of my kids down the three story pole. Jayleih was brave enough to try it this time!
Chloe showed Faye Dawn her new skills she had been practicing.
Jack, just like last time, couldn't get enough. Who knows, maybe I have some little firefighters in the making!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Joe's Open Heart Surgery

May 26th came all too soon. We arrived at University of Utah Hospital at 7am with his parents and his brother, Ben and his wife, Sonja. Cassie, one of my closest friends, watched my kids. Joe was all jokes as the Dr.'s (2 heart surgeons, 4 anesthesiologists) each came in to talk with and examine Joe. Pretty soon he was on happy medicine and was wheeled away. The surgery was supposed to start at 8:30, but they had trouble starting an arterial line in his wrist. After many tries in his right wrist, they moved to his left wrist and eventually pulled out the ultrasound machine to get the line into the artery to monitor his bp. The surgery went smoothly, the nurse called me on a phone in the waiting room about every hour and a half and gave me the updates. I dreaded that time of sitting and waiting. I was so thankful for those calls and the support of Joe's family. The relief finally came at 2:15pm when Dr. Bull came out to give us the good news that all went well and that he did well. Now for the next hurdle, seeing Joe after surgery. This was the other moment I dreaded.
Ben and I went back to see Joe first. It was hard seeing him like this. The nurse was amazed at how strong he was. Just before we came in , the nurse said he opened his eyes and sat straight up (this was a big feat, seeing he was strapped down and his chest was just ripped open, so he shouldn't even sit up yet!) He had taken his first breath while the ventilator was trying to breathe for him and it woke him up for a brief second. After about a half an hour they had us leave so they could remove the intubation tube.
Joe was pretty out of it when he was intubated. He doesn't remember any of this, thank heavens. The nurse told me to talk to him to help him wake up enough so they could remove the tube. I was so overwhelmed all I could do was cry. Ben was amazing he jumped right in and calmly started talking to him.
Here is a pic of that arterial line they struggled with, the wrist restraints, and an IV line in his hand.
Ben was a huge strength through this. This is exactly how Ben was every minute he was there. What an amazing bond these brothers have. Ben was scheduled to leave the next day after his surgery, but it was obvious how much Joe needed him through this that Ben canceled his flight and stayed until Joe was well enough to go home. I look back on those 6 days and don't know how I would've survived without Ben. I am so grateful for him. I have always thought of him as an amazing guy, but now I know him as my brother and my friend. I now understand why Joe looks up to his little brother so much.
After they removed his tube, the rotations began. In the ICU only 2 visitors are allowed. I took a couple of pics when his parents each came in. It was a sweet moment to watch them with their son. David was smiling and so upbeat as he sweetly spoke to his son.
Gwen instinctively looked over her son. Checked every monitor, every line attached to him and quietly held his hand. I can't even imagine what she, as the mother, has gone through today. I am amazed at her strength.
I didn't get a pic of Sonja when she came in. The nausea had kicked in by the time she made it in. I also had been posting on facebook updates from the day and Joe's mission companion that lives in the area heard and tracked us down. Both were there when Joe was sick, not fun. Pretty painful to throw up after having your chest cracked!
Ben was all smiles and jokes. I loved the balloons he made. Never a dull moment with him!
One of Joe's first smiles. This was a few days later after he was out of ICU.
This was Joe's enemy. Every hour he was awake he had to suck in as much air into his lungs as he could to inflate the aveoli. Really uncomfortable, but much better than the alternative of catching pneumonia!!!
This was the kids first time seeing dad. This was day 3 since the surgery and just after he was off the ICU floor. When the girls first saw him they "moo"ed . They figured seeing he was part cow now, he must understand cow. Pretty funny. To anyone who hadn't heard, he went with a tissue valve. The Dr. chose to put in a valve that was made from the pericardium of a heart of a cow.

Dad got up for a walk and the girls climbed into dad's bed. Jack, of course had to follow.

New room and Joe awake means entertainment is needed. Here is the pic of the men hooking up the playstation for Joe.
Of course, gotta have the pic of what really was happening while Joe was recovering in the hospital. Got quite a bit of magazine reading in during this time!
Sonja spent the majority of her time watching my kids and keeping the house running with David. We of course, enjoyed it when she came to visit. Man, I don't know what I would have done without her either. She, too canceled her flight just to stay and help out an extra week. We are so blessed to have such an amazing family. Sonja and I are already close, but still, every time I am around her I am in awe at what an amazing person she is. She is definitely my idol!

Here is a pic of the war wounds. We don't know how many stitches, but the incision is about 8 inches long and the two horizontal incisions are from the chest tubes he had.
This was the last line to be removed. It was the central line to his heart that was stitched into his neck. All in all, he had a central line, an IV line, an arterial line, two wires stitched into his heart that the nurses called his " jumper cables" (you can see the two vials that have the wires inside in one of the first pics after surgery) and 2 chest tubes.
The nurse removed the central line and then laid it on Joe to show me how far it went into him. Earlier they had removed a monitor that was also in this line that actually went through all the chambers of his heart!
Our family pic. We LOVE you daddy!
The cabinet doors were whiteboards. The nurse gave the kids markers and they left daddy some notes.
Joe came home Monday, May 31st. 6 days after his surgery. What an emotional roller coaster. Glad that is over. Thank you everyone for all the thoughts and prayers, flowers, balloons, gifts, and phone calls. They all lifted us up and helped us through. I am so grateful for the support our family has had through all of this!...... Till the next time!

Dodge Family Photo's

We came to Utah for Joe's surgery. Before he went into the hospital we had family pics done with Joe's family. There is this beautiful park right next to the Timpanogos Temple and a friend of Gwen's took these photos for us.

Grandparents picture. So adorable!!!
Love my hubby!
The girls pic.
So fun!

What angels!Can't forget Aunt Sonja and Uncle Ben and baby Will. The cutest family ever!!! Love you guys!