Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hospital Stir Crazy

So, there is always a light-hearted and humorous side of me that surfaces in practically every situation. Don't get me wrong...I can be a complete brat when I don't have coffee, and the day starts off bad, and I get stuck in one of those moods...but when I snap out of it I like to be jovial.

If we were crying one moment, we could be cracking jokes the next moment. If we were getting a little tired and bored, we would try to entertain ourselves. I basically want to let you know that despite the situation we in, we were still able to take a break from the depressive side of things and smile and laugh. My advice to anyone in this situation would be to take a moment to side-step the crap and enjoy the small things that you can.

Here are some of the small things that added to the positive side of things:

You know you've had too much coffee when you begin to lactate the coffee!

Always have to keep it fresh...even when in a hospital wearing a mask.

O yeah, it was the premium stuff too! Forgot to mention that.

I loved the Wish Tree at the Ryan Seacrest Foundation studio...No more sick kids...No More Cancer...and Chocolate for all the children at CHOP.

Survival Meal: it's how you make it when you live in the hospital.

I mean come on...this needs no caption...Logan's butt crack (this is what how we found him at mom and dad's)

Pretty much my motto life motto at this point!

When you get bored you facebook and do things on facebook that bored people do.

Love the mandatory CPR class...I must have saved Cecile about 5 times in was a good day for me.
You've gotta love tall doors with low handles.

Even more-so when you are a tall person.

And we'll end with Oops! No more "oops" with Oops! disposable panties.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Convenientes - Touched by Those Who Care

What's up with that title? I never have used Latin a day in my life. Well, honestly I did not really know how else to title this entry. Convenientes is Latin for "coming together" and that is what this blog post is all about. It's about how people came together to support us in a hard time. It's about how people gave what they had when we had nothing left to give.

I’m not the kind of guy to really ask for help. I am not saying that I am cocky or completely self-sufficient, I just feel like I’ll be a bother when I ask for something. A pipe bursts on our sink. No problem, I’ll run to Home Depot and learn how to re-plumb the line. My car breaks down. I’d rather wait for the tow truck then inconvenience someone to come and pick me up or tote me around.  Honest, it really is just because I feel like I am going to be bothering someone by asking for help. 

Naturally, when people were sending their prayers and best wishes for Noah they would also include the following question, “Is there anything you need?” or some form of it at least, like maybe a, “is there anything we can do for you guys?” or, “how can we help?”

At first everything was a whirlwind, and quite overwhelming, so we did not know what to say.

Young life guys coming to hang and pray for Noah at CHOP
I remember sitting in the hospital by Noah’s bed looking at Renae on Monday morning. We had just found out that we could be in the hospital anywhere from 7 to 21 days. Knowing that our days were going to be very long and extremely hectic, we began to realize that we were in over or heads and that we were IN NEED of HELP. 

Renae and I typed up a post for Facebook since that was tending to be the best way to communicate Noah’s information to all of our friends and family, but I really struggled to actually POST it. Part of me was afraid that no one would respond (a lie that I wrestled with) and that we would put burdens on others to help us out. 

We figured we needed meals, coffee, quick grab-and-go items, and most importantly prayer for healing and recovery. 
Grandpa, Mom-Mom, Megan and Jim babysitting.

It was like diving into a pool that you knew was filled with cold water. But I pressed enter to post the call for help. Within minutes we started getting a few responses. One huge one was from my cousin Deb who text messaged me asking if it was alright for her to set up a Facebook page to help bring people that were willing to help together in one virtual location. After that was set up we were amazed at how everyone cam e together. 

Our first night that we came home after people started responding we walked in to see a few meals already placed in our fridge. The next morning Renae stayed home with Logan, while I tended to work, and people unexpectedly stopped by to bring meals and gift cards. We left for the hospital only to come back home to flowers, a basket filled with easy to take snacks, a fridge with limited space, a few more gift cards, and a call that some friends were coming over with casseroles.
The wonderful blessings that we came home to.

The world, and all of its craziness, stopped around Renae and for a moment. We were honestly speechless and our hearts were overwhelmed. Reading cards, notes or encouragement and prayers, in conjunction with all the things that people provided for us, sent us instantaneously into tears. In such a short time we went from feeling like we were battling this alone to that we were facing this giant obstacle with an army behind us. 

Going to bed that night I could not help to think about Acts 2 in the New Testament and I began reading it, and some verses stuck out to me (which I read repeatedly). I know that not everyone that has been thinking of us, supporting us, and praying for us share in the same faith as Renae and I. But I think that this scripture fits this situation so perfectly that I have to share.
Logan at the Harper's house.

Acts 2: 42-47    The Believers Form a Community
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[i]), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[j]47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Grandpa teaching Logan to change batteries and fix toys.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April Showers...Hoping for May Flowers

The past two weeks have brought with it all kinds of stresses and unknowns. Here is just a small glimpse of the ugly beast that has been staring at me face to face since this month began.

My  Month old Son Being Hospitalized

The most obvious stress that it going on in my life right now has been the hospitalization of my younger son Noah. Sat March 30, after we had a birthday party for Logan who turned 2, we took Noah to the local ER and next thing we know we are at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. At first we dealt with the stresses of the unknown, the lack of sleep, the innate sense to want to see your child well and trade places with them just to save them from the pain and troubles. And who knew that we would be there 10+ days???

The  routine has been up at 5:30 am, off to work, come back to get the Renae and Logan. Drop off Logan at my parents on the way to CHOP. Arrive at CHOP and meet with doctors and nurses. Continue to work from my laptop at the hospital. Spend time with Noah. Head to my parents to pick up Logan. Try to be home by 8:00 pm to put Logan down. Run whatever errands, we have or prep everything for the next day. Read for Grad School. Take quizzes or write papers. In bed between 11:00 and 12:00. Then do it all again the next day.

My Brother Being Deployed

As if having my son in the hospital is not enough I am having to mentally and emotionally deal with the fact that my brother is bring deployed this week. I've known for some time, but with all things it does not become real until you actually see it beginning to happen. This Friday he will be leaving for Texas, then after a short stay there he will be “wheels up” (as he says) to Afghanistan. I know how hard this has been hitting me, but just have not really been able to show it or get it out.

I cannot imagine the range of feelings and emotions that his wife is going through. I have been thinking and praying about them and their family with every spare moment I get in the day.

My Sister Undergoing Medical Tests

My little sister holds a special spot in my heart. As an older brother of a sister, you feel like you need to watch out for her and to help her when needed. She has had her fair share of ups and downs to say the least over the better part of her life. Most recently she has been having some physical health issues that have been really dragging her down, and no one  seems to know what is going on. She finally has had some success with some top notch doctors in Philadelphia, but at times it seems that they do not even know the direction to take with her. She has been tested, poked and prodded to the point that she is getting tanked out.
To see her hurt and frustrated eats away at me. If I could just snap my fingers and let her know what normal health is like I would do it in an instant. When doctors call and leave a message that sends her into a dark abyss of battling her own thoughts until she can reach the doctor to discuss results makes me uneasy. I wish I had words to offer to her, but I simply find myself speechless…and can only offer a hugs, my unconditional support and prayers.

Work vs. Family

Work has not really helped one bit. I have people that I work with that have been very compassionate and understanding, and even people that have really spurred me on and energized me. However, the actual company has given me such a complicated time (twice now) about getting things situated for Noah. I got a complete run around the first time I needed to schedule for leave during his birth, which resulted in me taking personal time off to run around and gather paperwork for them. Now it has taken them a week to figure out what papers I need to have completed for Noah’s hospitalization and they will not give me back all the personal time off that I have had to use in the mean time.

Then there is just the internal struggle that with everything going on, that I cannot be the best possible me as a teacher right now. I am busting my butt to stay afloat, but I am so used to be doing way more than just getting by.

On top of that, I was told that I had to report to work. Then later was told, no it's OK work from the hospital. Then late last night I was told that I had to report to work as normal. Then this morning I was told, oh no you should not be here you were approved to work from home. How is this happening? And why are they creating this stress when they know that my son is not well, and they are making me chose work over my family?

The Pressures from Grad Schooling

Back in January when I signed back up for grad schooling I knew that there would be two weeks that overlap with my accelerated courses. I was well aware that those two weeks would be very tough, but luckily one of them was over spring break.

What I did not realize was the amount of work that would be due during finals week, in addition to the amount of course work due for my other class in its second week. On top of all that, it was not even a thought in my mind that my 3 week old would be needing to be placed in a hospital an hour away from the home during that time.

The Busy Season
To put the icing on the cake, these last two weeks (although I knew I’d have some grad schooling) were supposed to be reserved for me spending as much time with my family (together) as possible before I start working weekends for the busy season. I did not imagine having to juggle all of this leading right into me working 7 days a week for 2 months straight. I was to recharge before hitting that wall head on. Instead, it feels like I am being completely stripped before going into this craziness.

Being the Strong Husband and Father

Given all of the things mentioned previously, number one I am a husband and number two I am a father. These duties supersede everything else. I feel that I need to be strong for Renae, Logan and Noah. When Renae is crying and being told news that neither of us want to hear, I need to be her rock. When Logan is excited to see us when we get home, I need to return the excitement and play with him. When doctors are telling us about everything that could be wrong, I need to process and analyze the information. When a parent chews me out, I need to leave it at the table and not bring it to my family.
Through all of this, I am amazed and how much I have been able to handle. I chalk it up to three things (because it is not all me).  First, it is a testament to human nature, and how resilient people can be during times of stress.  Second, more importantly it has been doable because of the amazingly wonderful support system that we have of friends, family, and even people that we have no ever met (they are simply friends of friends). Third, most importantly, God has given us the strength to face this challenge. Without Him I think I would not have made it far at all into April.