Thank you all for being so patient and the many prayers that have been felt these past fews days!
Travis and Laura will be receiving family and friends Wednesday night starting at 5:00pm at the Floyd Presbyterian Church.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday night at 7:00pm at Floyd County High School's gymnasium.
Then, a private service will be held Friday for Joshua's family and friends.
February 26, 2007 Joshua's Homecoming!
Although our hearts are heavy, the past few days have been filled with an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness as restrictions were removed from Joshua's little body. For the first time in a while, Joshua was able to lie in bed with Travis and Laura, completely tube and IV free from 7:00pm Sunday until God called him home on Monday. He rested very comfortably and looked better than ever.
Several family members were blessed to be with Joshua and witness the bravery and inpiring moments with him and his family. Grandaddy (Alan), Mimi (Gayle), Pa (Joel), Nana (Saundra), Aunt Bem (Brenda), Sissy (melissa), Aunt Heidi and Uncle Jason, Uncle Jason and Aunt Carrie, Coach Wiggs, and Coach (Steph) Glance were able to be with Joshua for several hours Sunday evening and into the night.
Travis and Laura's wish was for the day to be "extra-special", as it was very important for Joshua. And that it was! It was filled with his favorite songs, his favorite books, his favorite smiles, and everyone's sweetest memories of this little angel. We know Joshua felt the warmth and love that surrounded him as Pa and Nana led us in some of Joshua's favorite songs, such as "Catch a Little Raindrop", "Doxology", "Unclouded Day", "To Canaan's Land", and "O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem." Grandaddy Alan even read a special love you book to Joshua and Aunt Heidi read a special cowboy book to Joshua.
After a peaceful nights' sleep snuggled in the arms of Daddy and Mommy, Joshua's morning was filled with those who love him. There was an indescribable peace that seemed to permeate throughout the room. It was as if God's tenderest angels were there to sing him off to sleep. Joshua arrived in his heavenly home late this afternoon.
Although our hearts are beyond any heaviness we could ever imagine, may we find comfort in knowing that heaven is rejoicing and the choirs of angels are singing as this precious little angel was welcomed home with open arms.
I will leave you with something Aunt Bem read to Joshua this afternoon.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk throught the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; they rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Words of the family written by Carrie
We hope to keep you updated on all arrangements.
Thanks to you ALL for everything you have done and continue to do!
February 25, 2007 Miracles
I GUESS IT IS VERY OBVIOUS TO ALL OF YOU THAT ARE READING THIS THAT THIS IS NOT TRAVIS OR LAURA WRITING THIS UPDATE. THIS IS GRANDADDY (ALAN). I AM WRITING THIS TO SAY THAT THROUGHOUT ALL OF THESE TRAGIC DAYS WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR MIRACLES TO HELP JOSHUA THRU THIS ILLNESS, BUT LAST NIGHT I FINALLY REALIZED THAT THE MIRACLES ARE RIGHT IN FRONT OF US AND ALL AROUND US. A CHILD BEING BORN IS A MIRACLE, HAVING A WONDERFUL GRANDCHILD IS A MIRACLE, HAVING A FAMILY THAT IS THERE FOR YOU THRU THICK AND THIN, GOOD AND BAD IS A MIRACLE, HAVING A WIFE, DAUGHTER, SON AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW THAT REALLY KNOW ME AND STILL LOVE ME IS A MIRACLE, HAVING THE SUPPORT THAT WE HAVE FROM FAMILY, FRIENDS, FLOYD COUNTY,SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES, AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY IS A MIRACLE HAPPENING BEFORE MY EYES. AND THE MOST AMAZING MIRACLE THAT I SEE AS I STAND BESIDE JOSHUA'S BED IS TO SEE AND LISTEN TO THE THINGS THAT THIS CHILDS BODY AND MIND HAS GONE THROUGH AND HE STILL TRIES TO OPEN HIS EYES, HE CONTINUES TO FIGHT TO STAY ALIVE, CAN SURVIVE THE EFFECTS OF STAPH INFECTION, A STROKE, SEIZURES, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, LOW HEART RATE AND COUNTLESS OTHER COMPLICATIONS IS A MIRACLE HAPPENING IN FRONT OF ME. ALL THESE ARE ONLY A FEW THAT I CAN WRITE DOWN AT THIS MOMENT, BUT I AM SURE THERE ARE MANY, MANY MORE THAT WILL BE LINKED TO THESE TRAGIC EVENTS THAT HAVE HIT US. I ALSO WANT TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SAY THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT HAS SUPPORTED US THROUGHOUT. IT HAS MADE THIS JOURNEY EASIER. OUR HEARTS ARE BREAKING BUT MIRACLES AND BLESSINGS ARE ALL AROUND US. I NEED AND WE ALL NEED TO LOOK A LITTLE CLOSER , I KNOW THEY ARE THERE. I SEE THEM AND YOU WILL TOO.
ALAN (JOSHUA'S GRANDADDY)
February 24, 2007 Knowing What Time
Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-
This is the verse that Travis and Laura are desperately hanging onto during this difficult time. Even in their darkest hour they reach out to God for answers and comfort. And they continue to be an inspiration to us all.
Joshua has continued to be stable today. His heartrate has stayed lower than it should be and his blood pressure has been a little on the high side however, they want his blood pressure to be high because it helps the flow of blood to his brain. He has been a little more alert today by opening his eyes and pushing or squeezing with one of his hands.
Travis and Laura have enjoyed a quieter day with Joshua without a lot of interruptions from doctors, procedures, tests and normal PICU events. They were allowed to hold and bathe Joshua today which was a blessing. To feel their little man in their arms must have been one of the best feelings in the world. Laura also brought over several of Joshua's things to make him more comfortable. He is now resting on his sheep's skin, covered with his Thomas blanket, holding his special horse and keeping his #1 Floyd jersey close.
Laura and Travis ask for continued prayers for peace for Joshua as well as them. They also need prayers to have the wisdom to know what time it is, in reference to Ecclesiastes 3, and the wisdom to make prayerful decisions.
Johsua also had several special visitors today. Nana, Pa, Mimi, Grandaddy, Sissy, Jason, Auntie Heidi, Brenda, Sherry, and Lara Webb. I know Joshua felt you all there.
On a sidenote from "Sissy." I know everyone is inspired by the strength Laura and Travis have shown and I am no different. It can't be said enough. Most people only know their strength and faith through their updates and/or journals but I have witnessed it. I have never met two more caring, gracious, faithful, loving, understanding, strong.... people in my life. I am constantly amazed by them. I always knew that Travis was special and when he married Laura I thought, wow that is what we all want. I feel blessed to know them and walk beside them during this difficult time.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime; moreover, that every man that eats and drinks sees good in all his labor - it is the gift of God.
Melissa Cantrell (Joshua's Sissy and Travis & Laura's Sis)
February 23, 2007 One Step at a Time
Dr. G met w/ us this morning about one of the MRI scans that he just received results on. This was the MRA scan that showed them the arteries and the flow of blood and fluid. According to him there were not "mini" strokes like we had thought but one stroke that caused damage to areas around the cerrebellum, which controls things like our breathing, speech, and movement of our legs (these are some of the areas that could have been damaged). Dr. G believes that radiation and chemo caused Joshua's body to react negatively and cause swelling around the cerrebellum. The swelling caused the blood vessels leading to that area to narrow, which caused decreased amounts of blood to the brain and hence the stroke.
The treatment for this is no different than what we have been doing for the past day and a half. They will continue to give him the high doses of steriods and also give him medication to help pull fluid away from his brain. This will hopefully take away the pressure and swelling around his brain, which were the original problems. The biggest thing is that Joshua's body will be working hard to correct this as well and he has been doing a great job - as always. He opened his eyes for the first time in about 2 days and also squeezed my hand earlier tonight. Other signs of improvement will be his heartrate going up and his blood pressure going down. Once that begins to happen we can do a follow up scan and see how much we have improved.
As I stated, Dr. G believes that the radiation & chemo were the initial causes to what's going on right now. Therefore, it will be too dangerous to Joshua's body for him to go back to that kind of treatment. Once Joshua's body fixes this problem we will be looking at alternative methods to fight what's left of his tumor. We will be listening and looking for signs from God on how best to do that and we will also be working w/ Dr. G throughout this whole process.
We all know that Joshua is a fighter and we believe he will continue to fight to get better. I am continually amazed at how strong he is and I am constantly reminded about how much love I have for him and my entire family. As Laura stated, the healing process has been turned over to God and he will continue to guide us through.
We continue to thank you for all your support and I apologize for being late w/ this - I actually had it all typed out and my time expired because I was doing a few things w/ Joshua, so this one might not make as much sense but I tried.
God bless and congrats to the Lady Buffs for capturing the Regional Championship - Joshua had his jersey on his bed and I'm currently wearing my playing and praying for 2 shirt - we love you all!!
Travis, Laura, Joshua, & AJ
February 23, 2007 Waiting
There are some situations in life that seem "so big and so deep and so tall" (in the words of Dr. Seuss) that we just cannot imagine how they will be cleaned up. We have suffered our lowest moments since the initial diagnosis of Joshua's brain tumor over the past 24 hours. Essentially, all we can do now is wait.
Joshua has become less (not more) responsive over the past few days, and the doctors still don't know specifically why this swelling has occurred around his cerebellum. All we know is that the Chief Physician in heaven is now 100% in control of what happens from this moment forward. It should be so easy to trust that He will take care of everything, but I have to shamefully admit to all of you who have assumed that we are so strong that it is not that easy. We can hope that we are in "miracle territory." In the meantime, it is just the most painful thing I have ever experienced to flash back two months to the perfectly healthy little boy who now has volumes of medical records.
Please pray for our endurance as we catch the sympathetic glances of every doctor and nurse in the PICU who know how critical Joshua’s situation is.Most of all, please, please pray for peace for our little one.He is not a quitter, and he is not “losing” any battle… but he does need peace from all that he has gone through in such a short amount of time.
We are currently waiting on results of the CT scan and an ultrasound to the brain. If we do not post today we will ask someone else to update for us.
Laura & Travis
February 22, 2007 MRI results
I know this update is a little later than promised and you all have been waiting to hear some good news. I wish I could report some good news but we are unable to do so at this time. His MRI showed us that he has suffered some "mini" strokes w/in the back part of his brain. These mini strokes were caused by the swelling, which made it difficult for blood and fluids to flow freely throughout his brain. The doctors showed us the results and pointed out where the areas were that had suffered these strokes and also showed us where the fluids had gotten held up.
This, of course, was not the news that we were looking for but it does not change the treatment that he is currently on. They are already giving him steriods to reduce the swelling and they began giving him another drug that will help pull the fluids away from his brain, which should help prevent them from getting held up again. We will be getting a CT scan tomorrow to see if things have gotten better, stayed the same, or gotten worse. I think they can compare the scan tomorrow w/ the scan they did today and somehow look at the 4th ventricle to see how things are going. As you can imagine some of the information was difficult to comprehend but that is a rough cut at what they told us.
We don't know what effects, if any, the strokes had on his brain because he has not really been awake at all today. He has moved his arms around in a semi-deliberate manor several times and Melissa thought that he squeezed her hand deliberately earlier this evening, which would be a great sign.
From here we will wait for his body to correct itself w/ the help of the medication and breathing tube. We are hopeful that these things will work and prevent any further problems and then we could discuss starting his other treatments again.
These things are difficult to understand but Laura and I realize now more than ever that God truly is in control. We've always believed that but it seems easier to understand when you are in these types of situations. We know that Joshua is in His hands and we pray that they are healing hands.
We'll try to update in the morning on how his night went and then again on the results of the CT.
Travis & Laura
February 22, 2007 Swelling has come back
Laura last wrote that things were looking good and that Joshua had his second peaceful night in a row, which we were thankful for. However, as I was getting ready to come over this morning, I received a phone call informing me that Joshua would need a CT scan because his heartrate was trending down and blood pressure was up. This is familiar territory because these were the same signs as 3 weeks ago when Joshua was last admitted into the PICU. That basically meant that there was either swelling around his head or EVD was not working properly. Thankfully, the EVD is doing its job but the CT scan tells us that there is some localized swelling around the back of Joshua's head. This is probably caused by the radiation treatment and the swelling is around the area where his initial tumor was located. As a result, Dr. G put Joshua back on large doses of his steriod to try and decrease the swelling. They are also giving him medication to help his fluids drain more efficiently.
We are currently waiting on transport to take us down to have an MRI, MRA, & MRV. This is basically studies that show the arteries & ventricle flow, and then they will also scan his spine checking the fluid flow in that area as well. Dr. G is confident that this is not going to tell him anything he doesn't already know but they are going to make sure and also have a scan to compare things to in the near future when his heartrate and blood pressure normalize.
This is a lot for everyone to take in but I think the big thing to know and understand is that he has some small amount of swelling, which his body told us w/ the pressure level and heartrate. They have him on the medication that he needs to be on to treat this and, as of right now, nothing else will need to be done. Joshua has been here before and his body knows hows how to correct this problem. Dr. G and others will check out the MRIs and get back to us later. This is about a 2 hour or more process, so we probably won't have results until 5 or so but we will give another update at that time.
Like Laura said we are praying for comfort and peace for Joshua right now, which he is very peaceful and comfortable. God will take care of the rest!
Travis & Laura
February 22, 2007 peaceful night
You have all been so kind and thoughtful in your messages. We take in each and every one and are constantly encouraged by you. So we thought we'd take the time to give you a quick update...
Joshua slept well last night and was slightly more responsive than he was yesterday. Because he was resting so peacefully, the vent had not yet been removed as of 7:00 this morning when they ask all parents to leave the PICU for rounds.
Yesterday, I spent a great deal of energy (or should I say wasted a great deal of energy) grieving over the situation that Joshua is now in where his cancer treatments are concerned. After a talk with Travis and a few hours of meditation sitting by Joshua's bedside, we reached the conclusion that it is time to turn faith into trust. It is in our nature to pray for these specific things, but now we are trying so hard to just lay our worries and despair at the cross and put Joshua in Jesus' hands. The time for daily goals will come again, but he just needs restoration and renewal for the time being.
We'll never be able to thank you enough. This is one of those times when we see only one set of footprints, but are so comforted to be reminded that you are all helping Him carry us.
Laura & Travis
February 21, 2007 Surgery Successful
We thank you all so so much for your prayers for the surgery. Everything went fine-- the procedure took little more than 20 minutes or so from beginning to end, although it did get started a little later than we expected. Joshua now has what's called an EVD (External Ventricular Drain). It is a tube that comes out of the top of his head with a drain attached. It doesn't look that scary, but I guess it's a concern that he has limited mobility as long as this is in.
According to our neurosurgeon, it will be at least a week before they will consider replacing the shunt-- this process is determined by how quickly the infection clears up. All signs indicate that the infection is clearing, but Joshua will be on antibiotics for about two weeks.
Of course, the issue that weighs heavily on us now is that this recovery process delays radiation and other treatments of the actual cancer. Nevertheless, we are reminded by you all and each other that God works in mysterious ways. He knows what he's doing, although we-- and sometimes even the doctors-- do not.
For right now, Joshua is steadily improving. We are hoping that he can come off of the ventilator tonight. We can also expect some of the antibiotics to cut back since they have identified the specific type of infection. We'll keep updating frequently, as we have plenty of down time!
Love and many thanks,
Laura & Travis
February 21, 2007 Thanks for the messages and prayers
It's a little late but I just wanted to say a quick thank you for all the well wishes this evening and special prayers. I believe that the prayers are working because Joshua is resting right now (something he didn't do at all yesterday or last night) and he's vitals seem to be doing well. His counts are still low but they are compensating for that w/ blood and platlettes and all that stuff.
We'll write more after surgery tomorrow, which is now scheduled for 12:45 p.m. (I just found this out at 12:30 a.m.) - I've enjoyed each one of the well wishes tonight - thanks again.
Travis & Laura
February 20, 2007 Tenative Plan
We have a tenative plan for the next day or so. Joshua is stable -- blood pressure and heartrate are getting back to their normal levels. The Doctors tell us that an infection had gotten on his skin and in his blood flow and that's what has caused him to get sick. They say that it is a staph infection but don't know what caused the infection; however, they now know what kind of medication to treat it w/ and are confident that this will take care of it in a couple of days (he'll get antibiotics for 2 weeks). He's received quite a bit of blood, fluids, and different kinds of medication the past 24 hours, so his body is a little swollen and he's not very responsive. However, he is making "purposeful" movement, which means that he is scratching his eye and trying to take some of his leads off (good signs) and other similar movements.
Since the infection is in his blood they are going to remove his shunt and place an external ventricle tube (EVT - I think) in its place. This is basically exactly what it sounds like - the tube will be visible from the outside and drain any excess fluids from around his brain. This will be a temporary tube that will be replaced by another shunt at a later date, if needed (we are hopeful that he may not need a shunt after the tube does its job).
He will not be undergoing radiation treatment until he recovers from surgery and they make sure everything is stable. Dr. G told us today that he would not continue the chemo w/ the radiation because it would be too difficult for his body to handle and the infection could come back. They also tell us that this break from radiation does not set us back because of all the radiation and chemo that he has had at this point. The way it was explained to us is that the radiation continues to work in your body even after the final treatment, so the previous treatments are still working even though we aren't currently getting any new treatments. We expect to start back at the end of the week or possibly Monday if all things go well.
I think that's about everything -- it has been a trying couple of days and we aren't in the clear yet but the right steps are being taken to get us there. It's a good sign that his vitals are getting back to normal and his temperature is at a normal level. There might have been some confusion that we had started to call in the family - that wasn't the case but we are thankful to have a lot of our family w/ us for support. Many of them will be returning tomorrow after the surgery, which will take place around 8:45.
I continue to thank you for your prayers and support - there are several things that we need to correct and we pray that the Lord will take care of them one or hopefully even two or three at a time.
We will continue to update as frequently as possible.
Travis & Laura
February 20, 2007 Surgery scheduled tomorrow
While I have a moment, I thought I would give you a short update on where we are at right now. Right now we have surgery scheduled for first thing in the morning, so they placed a breathing tube to prepare for surgery and help him w/ his breathing. The night was a difficult one for him -- he stayed awake most of the night and had a siezure around 4 this morning - this is the first time that he has had one of those. His shunt also got real red - from his head all the way to his stomach, which reaffirms what the Docs were thinking that the infection must be coming from that area. Currently he is stable - he is under some sedation because of the breathing tube, but they say he may be coming out of that soon. Good news is that the CAT scan went well and his ventricles had not changed since the last scan. They are planning on an ultrasound on his heart later today, so we pray that those results are good.
I hope to give you a couple more updates throughout the day and report back w/ some positive news.
Travis & Laura
February 19, 2007 Back in the Hospital
Today has been a battle for Joshua. We started the day off finding that his feeding tube had come all the way out of his nose. That meant we needed to get him to the hospital early to get that fixed before his regularly scheduled events could take plasce. However, shortly after getting to the hospital they discovered that Joshua was starting to spike a fever, which means that he has an infection. As many of you are probably aware, infections are dangerous for people whose counts are not normal because their bodies are not able to fight off the infection as easily. Joshua's heartrate also went up and his blood pressure went down. The infection is most likely coming from his shunt, which will need to be replaced.
Currently Joshua is back in the PICU and they are treating his infection and high heartrate while waiting for CAT scan results to be read by the neurosurgeon. Once the neurosureon reads the results, we should have an idea of how the shunt is working and hopefully where the infection is. They are probably going to wait a couple of days to replace the shunt so his vitals can improve and stabilize. The details are still a little fuzzy but we should be able to give more specific details tomorrow. Basically, Joshua is very sick and he will need some help to get better. Radiation and chemo have been placed on hold until this is taken care of. Obviously there's a number of things that need to get better before we can proceed and we pray that his body stabilizes enough to start this process. The biggest area that I think needs help is Joshua's overall state of mind. This has to be a very confusing time for him and I'm sure his spirit is down a little. I pray that God will bring him some peace of mind and know that we are all here for him and that he has nothing to be afraid of. This setback is not a small one but I'm confident that Joshua will come back stronger than ever, just as he has each time he's had a procedure. I have faith that he is going through this tough times now and will eventually be able to enjoy some good times - I just hope those good times can come soon.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!!
Travis & Laura
February 18, 2007 Busy morning - restful afternoon
We spent most of the morning at the hospital taking care of Joshua's feeding tube and although this process was not an enjoyable one for him it was necessary and we are glad that it is over. He was then able to get back to his "feeds" and continue an attempt to maintain or hopefully gain some weight. Unfortunately, Joshua's weight continues to decrease but we are hopeful that his stomach is getting more settled and he will be able to finally gain some.
While at the hospital we did have some good news. Both the nurse and the nurse practitioner agreed that Joshua's "counts" looked very good. As you may remember, he received platelets on Friday and those numbers were very good, so that transfusion must have done the job. Other counts that were positive were his electrolytes, phosphorous, calcium, and hemoglobin - these should also please our Dr. and hopefully we will be able to stop giving some of the supplements that we have been giving to him through his feeding tube.(Note on the platelets: Thanks to Vicky G. for donating and for informing others about how to donate-- this helped Joshua tremendously!)
As far as Joshua's overall mood goes - he has been a little more quiet today than he has for the past few days but it is hard to tell what the reason for that is. Like Joshua, we are feeling pretty helpless against the nasty side-effects of these treatments. He has given up asking for food, and seems pretty indifferent to most things we try to get him to do. We continue to tell him stories about possums in case it will bring smiles. We welcome the possum stories of others too!
Tomorrow brings more of the same schedule - we will have our clinic visit followed by radiation and one more speech therapy session. The swallow test has been moved to Tues and we pray that he will be strong enough to pass. Thanks for your prayers. Despite what we know are not the brightest updates on Joshua, we are very certain that better days are ahead. We are not scared anymore about outcomes, but know that God will make this right. We don't know how, but we know He will.
February 17, 2007 District Champs and the Big Oops
So, I obviously had a hard time coming up with a title for tonight's update, but this sums it up. I'll explain...
The Big Oops refers to an incident that caused us to have to take Joshua back to the day hospital (not overnight). As I (clumsy Laura, of course) was picking Joshua up to take him to the couch today, I accidentally pulled his feeding tube partially out. It was too far out to push back, so we had to go back to DUMC where he got a temporary NG-tube until they can replace the whole thing tomorrow morning. It was a very frustrating experience which I felt could have been avoided and it upset me greatly, but Nana and Pa were thankfully there to put a smile on Joshua's face with another story about an opossum (or as we say in Floyd County, "a possum"). Apparently, because stories about possums are mysteriously one of the few things that do make Joshua smile, his Pa cannot bring himself to kill any lately!
Meanwhile, Travis drove all the way back to VA tonight to watch our own Lady Buffs in the District Finals. He was very reluctant to leave Durham, but I could tell by the excitement in his voice when he called after the game that it was very much worth it. Apparently, he came in at the end of the 1st quarter and had an emotional reunion with the team he never got a chance to say goodbye to when we left for Duke. He was genuinely heartwarmed by having gotten to see many of the beloved friends and neighbors who have supported us from home since we began this journey. I'm sorry I couldn't be there, but hearing about the Lady Buffs and what is hopefully just their first tournament champion title of the season brings a happy end to this day! Congrats, girls!!
February 16, 2007 Test Didn't Happen!
Well, folks, the news you've all been waiting for: The swallowing test didn't happen. :( Yes, we are disappointed about this but it will be rescheduled for Tuesday.
Everything happened in a timely fashion today for a change until we reported to radiation where they informed us that the labs that had been drawn for Joshua just before we left the clinic showed that his platelets were low. This meant that he would have to get a transfusion (fairly routine), which would conflict with the long-awaited SWALLOW STUDY!
We are trying to keep on the sunny side by assuming that this means Joshua will have a few more days to get stronger and do well for this little "test," but we have learned that there is even more at stake here. Last night, we put Joshua back on 1/2 strength of the feeds that had been temporarily discontinued because of the diarrhea, but he got it again. When we reported this to Dr. G he expressed concern that if the feeds are not tolerated, we will have to resort to something called TPN, which is fat that is injected through IV. Not only would this method not allow his stomach or gut to remain "in use" but it would also require hospitalization again. So we continue to be so prayerful that Joshua can tolerate his feeds and pass the swallow study because we are now getting to a point where defeating the tumor involves damaging or weakening his remaining functions to some extent.
We also continue to pray for Joshua's spirit. He will do most anything the nurses and doctors or his mom and dad ask him to do, including smile, though I am not sure what has made him spontaneously smile for quite some time. Still, he fights with a silent strength that is hard to explain. With everyday that passes, I am somehow more confident that all that he is enduring will not be for naught.
Our good friend, Alan Puckett flew all the way from Houston, TX to come and visit. He has faithfully gone with us to every appointment that Joshua has had, and I think that while he thought Joshua was pretty tough before, he has a new respect for what this child is doing now. Likewise, we salute him for getting on the "frontline" with us. We do not take any of your gestures-- gifts, visits, messages-- anything-- for granted. We know very well that you could all be spending your time and efforts any number of ways, but have chosen to share compassion with these children, who rely very heavily on your prayers. We hope you all have a wonderful weekend and that you enjoy your time spent with family and friends as much as we intend to.
Laura & Travis
February 15, 2007 Does Joshua understand?
We told Joshua tonight, "Just one more day of running around, and then you can have a break for the weekend..." It can't come soon enough!
Our new development for the week is his blood counts dropping, which presents some new challenges. Joshua wears a mask wherever he goes now; we will be visiting clinic over the weekend to get him booster shots of G-CSF to improve his counts; and of course, we worry about very ordinary things that we wouldn't otherwise notice like A.J. making one random cough or Joshua's tobogan falling in the floor. It is difficult for Joshua to understand why we are flipping out if he bites his lip or picks his nose-- but even these seemingly harmless activities now pose a major threat of infection, which could put Joshua back in the hospital. :( Another little side-effect of the blood counts in addition to the radiation is some mild congestion, which kept him up a little last night. We are still very lucky to have Joshua at "home" with us and pray everyday that nothing will happen to jeopardize our out-patient status.
As you know, the big swallow test happens tomorrow too. We are hoping and praying for the best so that Joshua can eat. His coughing and voice are definitely stronger, but there is no way to know what to expect with the swallow study until it happens, so we'll see.
We don't mean to paint an ugly picture everyday of Joshua's state right now-- it's just that he is in the middle of the really cruddy side-effects that we all hear about concerning radiation and chemo. He feels yucky much of the time and doesn't understand. I asked him today if he remembered how he used to feel. He said "yes." Then I reminded him that it's okay to be sad or mad about what is happening, but that we are doing it so that he will feel better after all of his treatments are over. We know that it must not make any sense to him, but I tried to remind him (and myself) that Joshua in the Bible must have not understood either when God told him to march around Jericho-- but he did it anyway just like my Joshua is doing what is expected of him! And, though my little one would not understand this saying that I found in a book by Anne Graham Lotz, I sure think about it often:
"If God were small enough for us to understand, He wouldn't be big enough to save us."
We'll try to report early tomorrow to let everyone know the verdict of the swallow-study! Love,
Laura & Travis
February 14, 2007 Good Day
In the overall scheme of things - today was a good day. Of course it was a very busy day as usual and we had several things come up that caused us to stay at the hospital a lot longer than we had originally planned but we are getting used to that and will start preparing for it each day because it seems to happen each day. One of Joshua's pheresis lines has been "acting" up, so we had to stay at our original appointment longer than we expected. When I say acted up, I basically mean that they couldn't draw any blood from it - not a big deal. We left our appointment and went to radiation, which they were a little backed up again today, so when we finished we realized we better run to the apartment real quick to get our things ready for speech and food time. We had to go back to the clinic so they could work on his line some more -- they ended up putting some special medicine in the line to help unclog it and it will hopefully work tomorrow. Another unexpected was that Joshua had to receive some "Vitamin" G - you may remember that he received this in preparation for his pheresis process. He is receiving it now because, as expected, his blood counts are beginning to fall to a level where we need to be even more careful when we are out and about. They told us that we will probably need to get these through the weekend, which is also not a big deal because it only takes about 30-60 mins and it will help his blood count levels. From there we went to speech and ended up getting out of the hospital round 6:30 (1830 for you military type).
Anyway, a long day at the hospital but a productive one. His counts are low but every nurse and doctor that sees him tells us about how much better he looks now than he did a couple of weeks ago and they are correct. Even though he is more fatigued, as a result of the radiation mostly, he still continues to improve in other areas. His neck, arms, and core continue to get slightly stronger but the big improvement that we were most excited about was his speech. While he was eating and hooked up to the e-stem, we heard glimpses of his "real" voice, which we haven't heard for about 3 weeks or longer. Another good thing about today was that we are now at the halfway point w/ the radiation.
I almost forgot the biggest improvement and that is the fact that Joshua actually slept through the night w/o diarrhea - he has not been able to do that for over a week, so we are truly thankful for that blessing. That should help him keep his weight and electrolytes up.
Thank you for your prayers. Our goals tomorrow are for him to have a little more energy during the day and to continue his improvements - he is fighting hard and we know he is going to beat this w/ God's help!
Travis & Laura
P.S. The big swallow test is going to happen on Friday... We are praying hard for that too!!
February 13, 2007 Busy Days
I'd like to begin tonight by telling you all that I am very sorry if I have been slacking in the correspondence area lately. I hope that you all accept my sincere thanks every night on the updates and are not offended if I have not called you or written to you individually... Here is my excuse as to why we have spent so little time even on email correspondence recently:
Joshua continues to sleep poorly from about 2:00 AM on through the night because of his diarrhea (we changed to a pedalyte-only diet for the next couple of days). This makes him (and us) pretty exhausted throughout the day to meet the appointments that I wrote about yesterday. During these appointments, we try to pack lightly, as we now have a wheelchair and sometimes feeding tube equipment.
Today Joshua did not get to rest in a bed all day due to schedules in the clinic being backed up. He was so pooped that when we brought him home after 6:00 PM, he crashed in the bed and has been down since....
Picking up where Laura left off...
However, he just woke up at about 9:45 and is in the process of getting a bath and getting into his new Thomas pajamas - he seems to be in good spirits. Hopefully he will feel refreshed after his bath and ready to go back to sleep feeling nice and clean.
As Laura stated, the past few days have been busy but we think that this routine will benefit Joshua eventually. One of the perks, besides the obvious one that we are all under the same roof, is that we have most of the morning here at the apartment to do whatever we want until about 11:00. This will hopefully be a good time for us to work on Joshua's strength and physical therapy.
Joshua is in the middle of his radiation and chemo treatment (we've had 14 out of 30ish treatments) and his stamina has been affected but hopefully he will regain some of that strength in the coming days and weeks. Each day is another opportunity to see improvements but we know that it's a long process and it will take time, so we try to be as patient as we can (that's not always easy).
As always, thanks for your prayers and all the cards and packages - we continue to be touched by how special each of you are.
Travis & Laura
February 12, 2007 New Routine
Today was the first day of our new routine: 10:00 AM, report to the clinic for chemotherapy; 1:45 PM, radiation; go to the apartment for a rest, then back to the clinic for Speech therapy at 4:30. Joshua also had a CT scan in between time today, which showed little change from last week's (good that his ventricle size had not grown).
This sounds hectic-- and it is-- but it still seemed more restful than being in the hospital. We are trying our best to make sure that Joshua gets an appropriate amount of rest in this schedule. Hopefully if he is able to pass the swallow study at the end of this week we will no longer have to continue with the Speech therapy for now. We continue to need many prayers for this though, as he has not done quite as well during Friday's and Monday's sessions.
The other prayer request that we currently have is for Joshua's tummy. The radiation is beginning to break down cells as we knew that it would-- his hair, and now, probably the cells in his intestines, as he doesn't seem to be digesting the feeds he's getting very well. His weight is stable, but he needs to gain as you can imagine. Plus, it is so discouraging for him to have sleep and activity interrupted by these major episodes of diarrhea.
Despite all that is going on in his body right now, it is truly amazing at how well his strength is coming along. I am always so encouraged to see Chance walking around, and I know that Joshua will be there soon. There was a time when I wondered, but he is making so much progress everyday, and I praise God for the resilience that children have.
Since we always end with a praise, I have to tell you all that Joshua, A.J., Travis, and I are tremendously grateful for the means through which we were able to rent the apartment in Durham. This is the only way that it would have been possible for us to do this crazy out-patient schedule (which is totally worth it), and we are so appreciative of all of your kind gifts.
Till tomorrow when we'll have a better report still.... :)
February 11, 2007 Ready for another week
Sorry about the previous posting... I made a mistake apparently. Anyway, what I was going to write is that we knew things would be up and down, but it is hard to remind ourselves that this is often the case in the course of one day-- let alone one week, one month, or longer.
Today, for example, Joshua woke up feeling good and wanting to go for a walk in the jogger. He even went to Target with his dad and granddaddy. He did not nap as well today, however, and continued to have headaches. By late afternoon, we were once again concerned and wondering if we should go back to the hospital, but yet another call to Dr. G. put our minds at ease. Joshua also felt a little better after his dad and I bathed him.
It's funny how we have looked forward to the weekends since Joshua's treatments began as a little "break" and hopeful opportunity to see him feeling a little better. Yet, by Sunday night, it seems that I am ready for treatment to resume. We retold Joshua the story of David and Goliath during his bath today, and we assured him that many, many people think that he is like David and that he is going to beat the great big old giant in his little body.
Now might be an appropriate time to thank you for reassuring Joshua's mommy and daddy of this. I'm sure you could all guess that there are times when the enemy creeps in and suggests to me that things just aren't getting better. But I have learned to remind myself that those are Satan's influences-- not my own thoughts. I see Joshua fighting everyday and I feel in my heart that the prayers that we all lift everyday will be answered-- if not today, then in one of the many tomorrows that lie ahead.
Love in Christ,
February 10, 2007 At home in Durham
Joshua spent his first hospital-free day in weeks at our Durham apartment today. I'll have to admit that the night was a little shaky-- nobody got much sleep, but after a good nap today, Joshua seemed a little more comfortable and at ease.
He has been complaining of headaches, which hasn't occurred in awhile, but I was assured by three doctors that this is only to be expected to some extent. Thus, if it can be controlled by Tylenol, it can wait until we visit clinic on Monday. It is so hard to make even small decisions like this. We have to be very careful to be optimistic but wise; determined to give our child the best possible evironment for wellness, but cautious about what hazards are involved. It can be nerve-wrecking to not have a dr. or nurse at hand to put my mind at ease, but I have a trigger-happy finger to dial the pager numbers at my leisure!
The chemo and radiation clearly worked on Joshua's little body this week. He is often tired and we are finally finding little blonde hairs everywhere. The steroids still cause him to have an appetite, and he gets frustrated that getting to come home doesn't mean that he gets to eat or drink yet. (Joshua's Ma [my grandma] and his Aunt Joan were quite disgusted today when we had to refuse his requests for milk.) Still, despite all of this, if you ask him to, he'll smile. I have to remind him and myself constantly that this is our best shot at destroying the boo-boo in his head.
I don't have to tell any of you that it is very painful to watch my child having to endure these terrible things that may eventually be his earliest memories. There are times when I feel completely powerless when faced with the knowledge of these elaborate treatments that Joshua is going through. Then I am reminded that all the knowledge in the world cannot surpass the power of prayer-- and that happens to be the business that I am in these days, along with many friends who have blessed the efforts of samefight.org. Thank you all in advance for keeping our children on your church's prayer list, or just on your personal list.
February 9, 2007 Out of the Hospital
We did not want to write this update until it was official, but Joshua is sitting in front of me in the living room of our apartment in Durham, so it's safe for me to report that he got released from the hospital today!!
He is still on the feeding tube and unfortunately may not have anything to eat or drink until the swallow study is passed (please keep praying), but he is sitting with his daddy and has been playing with brother, A.J. in the comfort of an actual home! Joshua has been pretty weak for the last couple of days and we are finally seeing visible little patches of blonde hair on his navy bathrobe, but it is so comforting to know that he can be with us at home. I hope that it is a break for his spirit from all of the harshness that takes place in his physical body.
We have many praises considering that at this time two weeks ago, we were told that Joshua would probably spend two weeks in the PICU-- they weren't even speaking of moving him to a regular room at that time, let alone being dismissed. Also, as the chemo continues to make Joshua's blood counts go down, and as we continue to be very cautious about wounds due to high doses of steroids with the radiation, we are prepared for the possibility that he will have to go back to the hospital at some point. But for now, we are very grateful to have our family together and stable!
Sorry for not updating last night-- we had a late one, but we promise to keep everyone in the loop as often as possible! God bless...
February 7, 2007 Mid Week Progress
Only two days left of radiation and chemo this week and I think Joshua and his body are going to welcome the weekend. He's had a pretty good day but he is definitely a little more fatigued today than yesterday. His little stomach has been a upset and it has caused him to need to go to the bathroom frequently and spit up (not as much as vomit). We've got some amodium on order and he had some zophran, so hopefully that will help. It's hard to say what the causes are -it could be radiation or his chemo or it could be the fact that they had to give him a great deal of medicine to get him to go to the bathroom last week and now he's finally getting all of that out of his system. However, he is a real trooper and seldom complains about anything.
Part of the reason that he could be a little more tired today could be because he didn't really take a nap and he also had 2 chemo treatments instead of just one. Basically that means that he got 2 types of medicine instead of just one. For those that don't know (I never did), they give him his chemo through an IV that hooks up to his central line (that thing that they placed on his and Chance's chest). The actual process is painless and only takes about 15 minutes but I guess you really never know what the side effects are going to be. Obviously they have told us what the side effects could be but you never know how each child or person will react. I think Joshua has been doing a great job to date -- he's already had 10 radiation/chemo treatments and his body is handling them well so far. He has 20 -22 more to go.
Positives -- although Joshua has been a little less active today we have still had several praises.
1. He loves seeing Chance, Brian, and Desirae and it tickles me so to see him interact w/ them - he smiles every time and he has been lighting up peoples world w/ his smile the last couple of days (we'll post pictures soon, I promise).
2. He was able to eat again today and he asked for pudding, yogurt, Cap'n Crunch, and chicken nuggets (thank you Brian and Desirae for taking Laura to Chickn Fillet to get nuggets at 9:30 a.m.) - he's doing great w/ his eating.
3. We were able to get some PT in today - we practiced our walking and he and I played "hockey" w/ the therapists. This consists of the two of us rolling a ball back and forth while he worked on standing up (he did well). He also began making his mommy a card w/ softballs on it but got a little too tired to finish it.
4. Although Joshua's stomach has been upset his head seems to be doing well. Dr. Grant (great neurosugeon) took time out to show us the results of Joshua's most recent CT scan and it showed that there has been improvement in the fluid region. He stated that it wasn't perfect yet but that it was better than it was, which is all we ask for each day.
4. Family and friends - we had several visitors today and we are always so thankful for that gesture. Dr. Arbogast, Mr. Hollandsworth, and Coach Moran all came by this morning and witnessed us lying out Joshua's smorgasbord of food for therapy - I think they were impressed and I'm sure it probably made them hungry or either made them lose their appetite (it is a weird combination)-- we are so thankful for you guys and appreciate everything that you have done for us! Joan, Ma, and Coach Wes and our special AJ also came down today. They came to stay for a couple of days and bring our AJ to us. We are so greatful to have such loving friends and family - we know that we are truly blessed.
As you can see it has been an up and down day but I believe the ups far outweigh the downs and that's what we need. He is improving and getting a little stronger each day, inspite of what his body is going through w/ his treatments. We know that can only be God's healing hand at work. Thanks as always for your prayers and we also ask that you say a special prayer for Ms Nina, who is a special person here at the hospital that has been supper nice and very helpful and loving to us and the Harmans. Her husband had a stroke earlier this week and will be having brain surgery later this week. Our prayers go out to her and her family.
Travis and Laura
February 6, 2007 Going Well
Today was fairly eventful, but I'll try to give you a condensed version:
First thing this morning, we saw Chance and fam in Radiation as usual. Joshua enjoys these visits and asked to see Chance on two other occasions today. Joshua has been doing well during and after anesthesia for the past 2-3 times such that the anesthesiologists are no longer concerned about his heart rate, etc. However, the radiation-oncologist is not so optimistic. This has lead us to consider trying to let Joshua get his treatment without sedation, which is a pretty big deal for a 3-year-old. However, we have reason to believe that he would do fine, as he has gotten each of his CT-scans without sedation, and is very cooperative for nearly every "procedure" that we ask of him. We will do radiation therapy tomorrow morning as usual, but tomorrow afternoon we plan to practice with him and perhaps attempt the new way on Monday or Friday.
Joshua gets to eat when the speech therapist comes, which he looks very forward to. Today he ate a few bites of pizza, some pudding, a few bites of Cap'n Crunch, and almost a whole container of yogurt-- all in an hour. WOW! Our greatest prayer right now is that his swallowing and speech muscles would strengthen because this would mean 1. that he could eat anytime he wanted-- not just during the hour of speech, and 2. that the radiation must be working in the right places. We know that the radiation is working, but of course there is still progress to be made.
He was also not as lethargic today. He is trying so hard during OT, PT, exams, and the like because he is determined to prove to someone that he can go home. I have reminded Joshua that some of the folks in the Bible like Jonah were once in places where they didn't want to be either, but God worked it out for them and He will for us too.
Joshua has also enjoyed visitors over the past couple of days including "the Janets" and Vicky, Kirby, Gary, and Al from Floyd, Becky from Roanoke, and of course, Aunt Bem tonight, who took an evening stroll with Joshua who looked sooo handsome in his new denim jacket with a picture of Sugar the horse on the back! Everyone agrees that he is the most handsome little patient they've ever seen.
Can't wait to give you more good reports tomorrow!
P.S. Note to the Harmans: I am at the hospital tonight. Won't need you to let me into my apartment. Ha!
February 5, 2007 Another one down
We are happy to report that Joshua is no longer on the heart monitor, as his heart rate has come back up to a normal level for persons his age. We are hopeful this means that the therapies are working.
On the downside, the side-effects of radiation seem to be settling in. He was very tired for most of the day. He managed to get up to the PT gym this afternoon and worked hard despite his obvious exhaustion. He made it through 45 minutes of speech therapy, during which he ate very slowly while receiving little "shocks" from electrodes placed on his throat for the purpose of improving his swallowing. He had almost an entire container of pudding, and is promised the opportunity to eat pizza and/ or yogurt tomorrow.
I have lots of prayer requests tonight... We are beginning to get into the thick of things, and I am a little scared. For one thing, his blood counts are beginning to drop. This means that we will need to begin doing special things to reduce his risk of infection like wearing surgical masks. Also, we are told that the radiation along with the steroids that Joshua takes will eventually cause wounds on his skin, which we are taking great measures to prevent. We lather him with thick lotion 3-4 times daily; he sleeps on a special air mattress (and we are seeking out a lamb's wool blanket for him to lie on when and if we go home).
And speaking of home... what can I say? We all miss it greatly. When we arrived here a month ago, we did not anticipate that we would not see home for so very long. There is still the possibility of Joshua being released from the hospital, but it is a decision we will need to pray a lot about, as we would certainly be confined to the Durham area. Being treated as out-patient will still mean long days at the hospital; we just need to figure out if it will be more exhausting to Joshua than just staying in.
If he should stay, I am happy to report that his room is completely covered with all of your lovely cards and greetings. Visitors can hardly believe that one little boy has so many loved ones. Thank you for your reminders of love and faith. We knew that it would be a long eight months. We continue to take one day at a time and are ALWAYS KEEPING THE FAITH!!
Laura and Travis
February 5, 2007 Short Update
Just a quick update before it gets late and I'll let Laura give you a more detailed update later tonight. Joshua has had another busy day - we started radiation/chemo back today and you can tell that his body is a little more tired today than it was during the weekend. However, the weekend was still great because it hopefully gave him the rest and strength he will need for the rest of this week. As we stated over the weekend, we are in the hospital for a while but you never know when that may change. We are trying to work out the details of whether or not it would be possible for us to be treated as an outpatient - we'll keep you updated.
As for progress - I still see progress in his strength even though I know he is a little more tired today than yesterday. He wanted to wear his new Sugar jean jacket to radiation, which willingness to do things is always great, and that was a big hit w/ everyone that we saw. He also worked on his walking a lot today and we played baseball during PT (he enjoyed striking out his Nana and Pa). All in all it has been a productive day.
I better get back to the room because speech therapy is coming by to help work on his swallowing. He's excited because he might get to eat some chocolate pudding.
I'll let Laura fill you in on our special visitors today, which Joshua enjoyed greatly.
Take care and God Bless!
Travis & Laura
February 4, 2007 Ready for another week
Sunday evening finds us fairly relaxed and ready to begin another week of treatments. Joshua is resting peacefully, as he has had a busy day doing things we'd like him to be doing like exercising (no tests, etc.). Not that those things are unwelcome-- it's just nice to focus our efforts toward doing things that can directly help how soon he's back on his feet.
Joshua continues to be pretty motivated. He is holding his head up and moving so much more comfortably than he has ever since the first surgery. He and I did a few movement songs together and I noticed that his awareness of his left side is improving tremendously. One little maneuver he made proved to me that he might be lacking a little muscle mass, but not anything upstairs: I had already worked his left arm out pretty well during our mid-day session, such that it was tired by the time the PT asked him to do some things. When she told him to use the left arm to pop bubbles, he did a few, but then decided to pick his left hand up with the right. He never missed a beat, and was popping them quickly and accurately! :) He is getting stronger, though.
He also spoke a little more today, which is a great praise. The area where the tumor lies in his brain is right around the part that controls swallowing, speech, etc., so it is very scary when he does not do these things. Of course, he is also still hoarse from the ventilator last week and not being properly rehydrated in his throat since he can't have food or drink because of the risk of getting too much moisture on his lungs. Catch 22. Plus, he flat out does not want to speak as much as he did before everything happened, and who could blame him? There are so many reasons why he might not talk as much, and it can really drive us crazy to guess.
So, I have my first end-of-week goal (because as you know, it's been day-to-day until now). Now that Joshua is more willingly moving his body around, I will pray for him this week to be verbally communicating with us more by the end of the week.
Hope you all have a great Monday and that I have encouraging news to give you tomorrow.
February 4, 2007 Late entry
We're pleased to report that today has been a good day for us and Joshua. I think we are making some good strides and getting stronger each day. I stayed at the Apt last night w/ AJ and Laura and Saundra stayed w/ Joshua. He was able to get some much needed rest and had today off from Radiation and Chemo, which we were very thankful for because his little body needed a day off from both and I was able to spend some time w/ AJ, which is always a treat. Even though Joshua had the day off from Radiation and Chemo, he still had a very active day, in a good way. He was able to practice sitting up, walking, gripping, throwing ball (he threw w/ Grandaddy), and many other things. We tried to push him a little harder today and he responded very well. I've seen small improvements in a lot of areas, especially w/ the strength in his neck and stomach and the mobility in his left arm and hand. Also, his heartrate is creeping up, which hopefully means that his new shunt valve is workin properly. We pray that these things will continue to improve.
Joshua also had some special visitors today to include: Grandaddy, Pa, Auntie Heidi, Stephanie, Elise, Jason, TJ and his very special cousin Tori. Since Joshua was having such a good day Jason and TJ convinced me to go to the NC State vs UNC game - sorry Carolina fans (not really). It was hard to leave during the day for such a long time but he truly was in great hands. I am told that Pa even got a laugh out of him while telling him a story about a opossum. Hopefully I can see and hear a laugh tomorrow, my heart would enjoy nothing more. As you can imagine Jason, TJ, and I had a great time at the game - well, TJ and I had a great time. Although deep down I think Jason was happy to see the Pack win:)
After the game we returned to the hospital and I worked w/ Joshua some more on his walking and sitting up and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get his leads (monitor thingies) to stick on his chest because his Mommy and Nana did a great job of putting lotion on him today.
Other updates from yesterday are that we will probably be staying in the hospital for a little longer - the anesthesioligists are not comfortable w/ Joshua going home after sedation because his heart rate lowers some and his breathing sometimes becomes a little irregular (he gets sedated for radiation every day). Also, Joshua took part in a swallow test, which consisted of him eating pudding, applejuice, and chocolate milk (all w/ barium added to it) and the Docs watching it go down his body. Unfortunately they were not satisfied w/ the results because the fluid went into his lungs at times. We were told that this isn't a big deal and can be corrected w/ some practice, which we did today and will continue to do throughout the week.
Wow, that's a lot of information -- main thing is that Joshua had a good day and we are looking forward to another day of rest, relaxation, and strength building tomorrow.
God bless and we love you all!
Travis & Laura
p.s. You should see Joshua's room - his Nana and Mimi decorated today and there are cards, bears, blankets and many other things hung neatly on every wall. We are taking pictures and will get them on the website soon - Joshua truly enjoys hearing from you all and we appreciate your words of encouragement!!
February 2, 2007 Going Well!
So sorry to have not updated last night. We have been transitioning to yet another temporary home this week. Staying with Aunt Brenda is GREAT, but we found the need to be as close to the hospital as possible while Joshua was in the PICU. Thanks to the generous support of everyone, we had no qualms with deciding to rent a short-term apartment right next door to the Harmans! They are now a knock of the wall away!
I am so happy to report that everything is going very smoothly. Radiation and chemo are back on schedule. Joshua seems to be tolerating both very well. He has not eaten anything yet, but we are hoping to get him cleared to do so soon. He will probably have the feeding tube for awhile, but I am grateful for this-- it is our insurance that he is getting nourishment, and is no big deal, so for now, it's fine. His heartrate has steadily improved and all other vitals remain stable. Dr. G. even mentioned the possibility of continuing treatments out-patient if all continues to improve at this rate. Wow!
The best news is that yesterday I saw some improvements in Joshua that I have waited on for weeks, but had just not occurred after the resection, shunt surgery, or the recovery times between those events. I saw signs of myJoshua in little things like the willingness to get out of bed and take a ride in the wagon, or to look at a sticker book. He also enjoys us reading his email messages to him from the website now, so keep 'em coming if you can make time!
Joshua and Chance are now scheduled back-to-back for their radiation-- Chance at 8:00 and Joshua at 8:30. Isn't it amazing how divine intervention can even exist in something that seems so trivial in the big picture as apartment availability or the scheduling at DUMC? (I am not joking.) Especially for radiation-- an experience that tore my heart out the first time we had to take Joshua-- is now made okay with good friends by our side. Brian directed us to 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, and we kind of feel that this is these verses can partially explain our uncanny situation.
I will conclude by saying it is also clear that these treatments have made a huge difference in Joshua, and we are praying hard that they do the same for Chance. Love to you all, Laura and Travis
P.S. We'll try to post some great pics we got yesterday of Joshua. He still has a mess of crazy blonde hair (the longest it's ever been!), but he knows that it may come out ...like his Daddy's :) Many thanks to Granddaddy and the Romeos in Roanoke for their special support of that particular side effect!
Desirae asked me tonight, "Do you ever have those moments when you just know that everything is gonna be fine?"
Yes, Desirae, I do. The funny thing is, it is often in the eye of the storm when I get these sensations that it is going to be okay.
Yesterday I had to race back to the apartment to get Joshua's medication (since our plans to have a break between appointments kind of fell through), and as I was searching for a parking space in the madness that is DUMC's parking garage, I got this kind of calm feeling. If you don't know me well, many of my friends can tell you that on a normal day, driving in traffic can get me out of sorts. But I was listening to my favorite station, K-LOVE, and one of my favorite songs came on. As I listened to the lyrics: "When I call on Jesus, all things are possible..." I started thinking about how scary our situation was two weeks ago, and then about how well Joshua is doing now. Then I just got the urge to get out of my car and shout "Praise God"! I didn't, but I probably should have.
Even when I allow myself to think about the fact that two months ago my child was an active, healthy three-year-old, I find peace. Joshua has gone through a lot, and he'll go through more still, but I find it easier to go through this regimen assuming that God will provide results for us. I have seen miracles already when I think of how painful the first week or two after Joshua's first surgery were-- for him physically and for all of us emotionally. There is no reason for me not to believe that such miracles would not continue. (Reed family, you were right about "miracle territory" :)
I have often thought about the meaning of the lyrics of the old hymn, "Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well; it is well with my soul." I have determined that is not the complacent acceptance of the ups and downs of this life that I once thought, but rather a way to say to God, "I take what you've given me and what has happened in my life-- both the joys and the disappointments-- and I praise you for all of it because You made it right before and You will make it right in the end."
In the meantime, I am amazed at how He turns my sorrow into peace like a river even in the midst of those rolling waves.