Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happily Ever After

In my book I have been writing in my head, the final chapter, the conclusion, the happily ever after has always been planned to be Max's transplant. Definitely far from the last chapter in the story of Max and Addie's lives but for the specific story of their kidney condition, it seems as neat of a conclusion as you can get. I was all excited about our happily ever after 3 days after surgery when I was talking to the media director from the hospital and daydreaming about what I would wear when I appeared on Ellen. Max was going to be home for their birthday and I had grand plans for this perfect final scene of the twins reunion at the 2nd birthday party. We were looking into having the news come and cover it. Happily ever after seemed just around the corner. And then Max got sick. Not like normal kid sick. Not like oh some throwing up or a sore throat sick. Bad, bad sick. Like would not have survived if a machine had not taken over and breathed for him for a week sick. Like got so upset by the life saving machine that he would clamp on it and nearly not let the machine continue saving his life sick. Like his brand new kidney stopped peeing and his tummy stopped digesting sick. Like had to be on so many sedative and narcotics that he developed dependency and went through the most awful withdrawal I have ever imagined sick. Bad, bad sick. And happily ever after started to seem very very far away. I stopped thinking about Ellen and my book tour and just started praying day and night that Max would survive, that his new kidney would survive and that Al and I would stay strong enough to hang in there while dealing with some really heartbreaking and terrifying stuff. And God heard all our prayers and Max did survive, again and again, he survived scary life threatening situations. And his kidney did great and is working amazingly well again. And even though leaving Max and coming back to Texas to work was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, Al and I both made it through to this day without completely losing our sanity or sense of humor. And Friday night, happily ever after arrived. Max got to go 'home'  (to the apartment in California) from the hospital after 46 nights there. He is going home off dialysis, off oxygen and smiling and happy. I will admit that the true closure and deep happiness of that milestone will be a bit delayed for me because I am not there and I think it won't be until I go to California in a couple of weeks and see for myself how good Max looks that I will really truly embrace the happy ending. But my delayed gratification aside, we are thrilled to have made it to this point and so happy that this story is getting its happily ever after.

Most of you who read this already know the background but we found out just over 2 years ago that Max and Addie would both need kidney transplants. We also found out it would be a while before they could have them. And so this happily ever after of them both being transplanted has been in our plans and on our hearts for two years. And it felt so far away so many days. When Addie first went onto dialysis and went almost immediately into heart failure and stopped breathing, we did not know if she would get to transplant because her heart was suffering so much. And then miraculously she got better, quite quickly and very completely. Then a few months later when she lost her peritoneal dialysis ability and had to go on Hemo, we wondered if her body could handle that and if the months of Hemo would compromise her ability to transplant. But last May, Addie got my kidney and her life turned around in an instant. The sick complicated baby girl who created medical complications that the doctors did not even know existed is a happy healthy 2 year old. Meanwhile as we prepared for Addie's transplant, we faced the very real possibility that Max would never be transplanted due to what seemed to be a progressive neurological condition. We feared he would not survive long enough to transplant or that if he did, his case would just be too complicated. But Addie was an amazing sister and led him to the perfect team who embraced his case with open arms. And suddenly our dream, our goal of them both being transplanted was back to being our reality. God moved mountains for us to arrange a second long California trip in a year and Max got his dad's kidney. And within about 8 days of the transplant, he was so sick he was on a ventilator and the head kidney doctor came to tell me that they were looking at starting Max back on dialysis the next morning because his kidney had stopped working. It was a terrifying night and I worried and cried and doubted Max would make it through this without at least losing the kidney. But the next morning came and he started peeing again. And the next month pretty much went like that- 2 steps forward, one back. He got within an hour of being released a couple of weeks ago and then spiked a high fever and the next day they found a staph infection and he was very sick again and ended up spending another week in the hospital. But through it all, he stayed strong and kept smiling and he is now very well and he did finally get his happily ever after.

We are so thankful to be at this point. For the journey to transplant to be complete. We thank God for protecting Max and Addie's lives time after time. For leading us to doctors who knew how to take care of them. And I am thankful that at every crisis and every turn, God took care of Al and I. I never walked through a terrible day alone. He always provided someone to hold my hand and provide the support and love I needed. Even as we faced long difficult days in California with my Addie and my parents so far away, he provided very special friends for me in California who took amazing care of me. Our parents have given everything to help us and to get Max and Addie transplanted, our extended families have given us money, love, and neverending support. We walk away from this 2 year journey victorious but with a lot of battlescars, all of us. We carry physical scars and we carry emotional scars, but we also walk away stronger and filled with great gratitude to God for the lives of our precious children, for every wet diaper we change and for the people in our lives who have shown us unconditional selfless love and carried us through to this point.  We are so thankful for this happily ever after (but stay tuned as this is far from the end of this blog or the end of the miracles God has in store for Max and Addie!)

Some photos of Max's last day in the hospital...

With Addie and I back in Texas, Max had the Australia crew with him...

One of my favorite Max pictures ever, courtesy and Aunty Em

He certainly does not suffer from lack of love does he?!