Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pictures from Primary Children's

The pictures aren't in any particular order - just some random shots while we were there.

Cassidy had lots of visitors. Her Dad and Jamaica came all the way from Texas. Gma and Gpa Rice from Canada! The Utah Hockey Team came to0 as well as several therapy dogs. The first few days Cass wasn't really up to much visiting and doesn't have much memory even of the first few days. Dr. Hopkin and Candy came up for a visit. I know I was always glad to see a new face come in the door. I am so glad that I was able to be at the hospital with her for the duration of her stay.
As you can see it took a whole group of people to get her down the hallway at first. She did so well though. I was (and still am) so impressed with her willingness to do what was required of her - she is one tough little lady!

Waiting to go home - we could hardly wait!
She had many fantastic nurses. I decided it must be a requirement to work there - they were all so great and I was grateful for all that they let me do for her.

This is Cassidy's surgeon Dr. Rebekah Meyers. She is so awesome. We are so grateful to her for all her help.
This is Cassidy on December 2nd the day of surgery. It was so so hard to see her in so much pain and look so vulnerable. Things like this are sure hard for Momma's.
This is Cassidy the night before we left the hospital - after she had her chest tubes removed. Wow what a difference that made! So good to see her up!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What a Difference a few Days Make

Last night I actually slept - it was so nice to wake up and realize it was almost morning. And Cassidy has slept also. They have come in and given her her meds but other then that she has slept and reported her pain at a 6 or even a 5. How wonderful to have it be something besides a 9 or a shouted 10, 10, 10. This little girl has been so amazing. She really is so so strong. This has been a hard thing. Sunday night they took her PCA - meaning she no longer had her little button that gave her morphine each time she needed it. They told me that if would be a hard night - boy was that about the biggest understatement of the year. I'm pretty sure that Sunday night made it on my chart of top ten hardest days of my life. They said they were transitioning her onto oral meds and they wanted to go with Oxycodone. Ok. So about 8pm they gave her the first dose and let her keep her PCA which she able to use some but was mostly sleeping. Keep in mind that I am not supposed to push that button for her and I didn't. Around 11 they came back in and gave her the next dose of Oxy. She took it and was asleep again - I don't think she used the PCA at all. A half hour later they took the PCA - while she was asleep. She got up maybe 30 or 45 minutes later and wanted her button. She was hurting. That was the last sleep we got until after 10am the next day. It seemed that not matter what they did she was hurting and hurting alot. She yelled and cried and screamed. She asked them to let her die. She wished that she had died. She yelled ow, ow, ow over and over again. I'm hurting she would say please give me something. They did of course all that they could. And I could do nothing. Finally about 5 they had given her all that they could for quite a while. I could hardly stand it - she was hurting and I couldn't help I began to cry. I had tried very hard to control my emotions around her because they had told us in the beginning that our anxieties transfer and worry them. I didn't want that but I couldn't help it anymore. She looked at me and said, Mommy are you crying? I told her no but she said "yes you are, I made you cry". I assured her that she was ok I was just having a hard time and I asked her if I could go for a walk. She told me no, and said please please don't leave me. In the saddest little voice you have ever heard. I assured her that I would not leave her and she asked again for something for the pain. I told her there was nothing else they could give her. She opened her eyes, looked at me and said "then I need a blessing". It only took about 10 minutes for the nurse to round up to male nurses with the priesthood. They laid their hands on her head and gave her a blessing. She was calm after that even thru all the pain and I was so grateful. So grateful for her faith in the priesthood and for two strangers who helped us in our time of need. So glad to be able to ask and have that request granted in such a short amount of time. Later that day her nurse apologized and said I should have been better prepared. She said the first 12 hours of oral pain meds are always like that - but I honestly can't describe to you how awful it was. It still makes my eyes well up with tears to think about it. Yesterday was our best day yet. For about 2 or 3 hours Cassidy was awake and talking - she even smiled and joked a little. It was so great to see her. We have had the most amazing nurses and I am so grateful for their patience and kindness to both Cassidy and I. I am so grateful for their trust in my and allowance of my help with her care. It has helped me so much to be able to participate and be included in this. I am so glad I am a nurse and can understand at least a part of what they are talking about. I hope we get to go home soon - and I hope things go well after we get there. So glad that Sunday night is over and things are starting to look up. They said that her chest tubes will most likely come out today - yeah we've heard that before but I am hoping that it is true. They said maybe even her little drains that they told us before might be up to two weeks. How awesome it would be to go home with no tubes. I sure miss my husband and will be so glad to be back in our own bed. I hope Cassidy has more of an appetite today. She can't go home untill she is eating and drinking better - keep praying for her.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December - Fast Sunday

Today is Sunday the 5th of December the first Sunday of the month of December. One of my favorite months of the year - even though it comes in winter. I love Christmas. I love the feeling and spirit that surrounds this time of year with the thought of the birth of my Savior. Since becoming a mother my thoughts often turn to Mary and the amazing woman that she became. Last spring I had the privilege of portraying Mary for a Young Women's activity. There were several of us representing a great woman from history who was chosen to represent one of the young womens values - (Divine Nature) I had the blessing of bearing my testimony through Mary - the Mother of Jesus. I was at a point in my life that was very difficult for me and this experience - writing Mary's story -from my point of view was very therapeutic and very healing. Not sure why but I feel like sharing it today.
(I first started writing this at the hospital but it wouldn't let me copy and paste my talk - today it did!)

Divine Nature

Mary – Mother of Jesus

Good Evening, my name is Mary and I am the mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I lived over 2000 years ago and yet it seems like only yesterday that my father and mother told me that I would be privileged to marry Joseph. I was just about the same age as some of you - somewhere between 14 and 16. Joseph was quite a bit older - a carpenter - we had several pieces of furniture that he made in our home. I had been in his shop with my father on several occasions and I had always thought of him as handsome. I was so happy - I knew Joseph was a righteous man and that he would be a wonderful husband.

One evening as I was sitting outside imagining what my life as Joseph’s wife and if we were blessed with children what being a mother might be like - a light suddenly appeared before me. In the light was a man - an angel - he called me by name and told me his name was Gabriel. He said he had been sent from God. He told me that I “had found favor with God and that I was blest among women.” As you can imagine nothing like this had ever happened to me or any one else that I knew. I was troubled and a little afraid. The angel saw my worry and told me to “fear not” He then told me that I had been chosen to be the Mother of God’s only begotten Son and that I should name him Jesus.

I thought of my engagement to Joseph and our approaching wedding day. My parents had taught me the importance of remaining clean and pure before marriage and I knew that it was impossible for me to have conceived such a child. The angel went on speaking telling me how my son would be called great, wonderful, mighty, the Son of the Highest. Wait I said - my head was spinning - it was so much to take in. I looked into his eyes and saw only kindness and understanding there so I asked him how it would be possible for this to happen when I was not yet married. He simply told me that it would happen through the power of the Holy Ghost. He then went on to tell me that my cousin Elizabeth had also conceived a son and that he would be born in about 3 months. This was big news - although Elizabeth was older then my own mother she and I had always been close and I knew that she had always dreamed of being a mother. The angel smiled then and told me that “with God nothing is impossible.” I felt a peace then that I would remember for the rest of my life and I said - “be it unto me according to thy word.”

The angel left me then and within a few days I was on my way to visit my cousin Elisabeth to help her prepare for the birth of her child. It was so wonderful to be in her home. When I arrived the she said the spirit had whispered to her what was happening to me and that even the little one in her womb had recognized the spirit that was even now growing inside of me. Elizabeth and I talked for hours on end of the miracles that were happening to us. I had many concerns and my cousin was like balm to my soul. I was able to express my concerns, fears, and feelings of inadequacy to her. How could I, I was so young- as yet unmarried and quite shy, - how could I be worthy of raising such a child - the Son of God? Elizabeth reminded me that I too was a child of God, His daughter and that I had come to this earth with the divine nature of my Father in Heaven ingrained the very fiber of my being. She reminded me that the promise of the birth of the Savior had been promised in the scriptures and that of all the women in the world that God had chosen me to bring this child into the world. She said that God didn’t expect me to do this on my own – that He would send people – like her, my parents, Joseph, and many others to help me through any and all of life’s trials. She said she too often felt inadequate and she thought that was simply part of being a human, especially a woman.

She reminded me that God was, is, and always will be my loving Father in Heaven and that He would always guide me and protect me. We talked of the person that my little son would become. How not only would He be the Savior of the world, He would be my Savior and that He would suffer for even these trials that I was experiencing now.

You all know how my story unfolds – of the miracles I was privileged to be a part of. I have led an amazing life – one full of marvelous miracles and also excruciating pain. Watching my son, my baby, my Savior suffer and die on the cross was one of the most difficult things any mother could be asked to bear and yet even in this moment of pain and anguish for my Son, He was still looking out for me and thinking of me – reminding His loving Apostle to care for me. He will do the same for you. I have looked into your Saviors eyes, I have felt of His love for each of you and I know how much joy it brings when we not only believe in Him but believe Him. I have seen His joy as He went about healing the sick and afflicted. I have seen Him care about small things like whether or not there was enough wine at a friends wedding and I have seen Him care enough about others that He would forgive them even as they took His life. I cannot imagine growing up today – with all the trials and challenges the world is facing but I do know this, you too are God’s daughter and you have been born with a divine nature inside of you – call upon this power as you go about your life. My son and His Father have not forgotten you, they will not forsake you. Every thing you are asked to bear in this life – whether it be wonderful or agonizing they will provide someone to help you through. They will be there for you in your times of trial and pain – get down on your knees ask for help as often as you need it, and it will come – every single time, even multiple times in one day if needed. I bear testimony of this and leave you my witness of our Savior – that He lives. In the name of Jesus Christ- Amen.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


On December 11 1997 one of my hearts desires became reality. I have always wanted to be a mom. I remember as a little girl wish with all my heart that I could hurry and grow up so I could be a mom. I played with dolls far longer then most of my friends simply because I loved babies so much. I loved going babysitting, loved (most of the time) helping with my mom's daycare in high school. I even took babysitting kids on dates with me more then once - I have just always wanted to be a mother. And finally with the birth of my sweet daughter I was a mom. As any who have given birth can attest it is not an easy feat and my labor with Cass was long and silly me I was too afraid of a needle in my back to get a epidural so she was basically natural - yeah silly me. I remember in the delivery room being so tired that I didn't think I could even lift my arm. I actually remember looking at my own arm and thinking that it was too heavy too lift and thinking I won't be able to hold my own child if she ever arrived. When she finally got there after almost 2 long hours of pushing however it was as if all that went out the door. I have a picture of before her cord has even been cut and my arms are already reaching for her - I wanted that baby! That is a picture by the way that most will never see do to the graphic details shown! I was so happy to see her. She was tiny and so perfect with long fingers and toes and little itty bitty finger nails and absoultely no hair at all. No eyelashes or eyebrows even. She was due on the 21st and born on the 11th but they decided after that her due date must have been wrong because she had other signs of being a little more early then that. She got to stay with me in the room though and I just wanted to look at her all the time. She was such a good baby. Hardly ever fussy and just a sweet almost sober little child. She was named Cassidy Lucille Rice. Lucille is also my middle name and we are both named after my Grandma Brown. Cassidy was my dream come true and she still is. While she is indeed a teenage girl (well almost) with all the emotional attachments that come with growing up she is indeed a very good girl. I love her so much. I like to think that we are pretty good friends and I hope that continues as she grows up. I can't even begin to explain how difficult this has been as her mom. I have for the most part been able to control my emotions but have had moments when I break into tears. The first time was in recovery when they were having such a hard time with her pain. She wasn't angry or irritable at all just hurting so much and you could see it in her eyes, facial expression, and body language. I honestly can't imagine a more painful surgery. If you break your leg, arm, hip, head even they immobilize it and you don't get to use it. She had no choice. Her sternum has literally been cut and broken and she has to use it with each and every breath she takes. Her nurse tonight said that of all the surgery patients she has cared for that this is the one surgery that she would never ever want to have. - not that she would want any I'm sure. And yet Cassidy has been so great. Another breaking moment for me was telling Cass that her cousin Jeff fasted for her on Thursday. Jeffery is the same age as Cass and they are in the same grade at school. They are pretty good pals and apparently without telling anyone Jeff opted to fast for his friend and cousin. Like most kids his age Jeffery does not enjoy fasting and yet he made this sacrifice for her - thank you Jeffery - I'm not sure you will ever know how much that meant to her mom. As I was reading the email his mom, my sister, Bonnie sent me to tell me about it I felt hot tears of emotion well up in my eyes but the next morning as I told Cass about it they just ran down my cheeks - they are welling up again just writing about it. What an amazing act of faith and I as her mother am very very grateful - thank you Jeffery.
It is amazing how well she is doing. Yesterday less then 24 hours after surgery she got out of bed and walked down the hall - it takes quite a group to carry all her drains and drag the oxygen tank and IV pole but she was so great and walked 4 times yesterday - meeting the goal set by her amazing nurse Sarah. She was our nurse again tonight and I won't tell Cass that although she set a goal of 4 times she didn't expect her to do it more then 2 - even once would have been great. The last 2 times were even initiated by Cass so she could mark her boxes off the chart in her room. It really wore her out though - but it is so so good for her recovery. As you can imagine coughing and such are really painful right now and without walking and use of her incentive spirometor pneumonia can easily set it - not a good idea! I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for His help in this. I am grateful for Cassidy's faith in the power of the Priesthood. She has asked for a blessing each night and both times as been able to sleep for quite a while after. I love the power, blessing, and strength of the Priesthood and I am so deep down grateful that it has been restored to the earth. How blessed I am to live in a time where the true gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. How blessed to be born into a family where I was taught the gospel and blessed with the a father who was always lived worthy to give me a blessing. I have always had faith in this power - whether it be for illness, or emotional pain and I am grateful that my daughter seems to have this same faith. Oh how I've prayed for her and know that many others are doing the same - what a blessing. I have been so grateful to see Barry's hands laid on her head - I am so blessed to have him for my husband. He is so good to me and my children. I pray that I am as good a mother to the children he has brought to our marriage as he is a father to mine. I truly love Barry's children but don't always know how to let them know that I do. It seems so easy for him to show love to mine. He and Cass have such a good relationship. He teases her mercilessly and she gives it right back. He told her to hurry and get well so he could pick on her again - he says its no fun to tease when she doesn't even respond. I have no idea what I did to deserve the man that he is. He is so good to me and I feel blessed everyday to be his wife. I am so proud to be the woman that he has chosen to spend eternity with - and hope that when eternity comes that he still wants me. He has been my rock through so many things since we began and this has been no exception. He has stayed late, gotten here early, helped Cass walk, fed her, helped adjust her, teased her into eating, encouraged her to breathe, given her multiple priesthood blessings, and simply shown both of us his love. Thanks Barry - I love you too.
Cassidy has been indeed blessed with lots of love. Her dad and his wife flew in from Texas and she said in her prayer the night before surgery how glad she was that they came. Her Grandparents from Canada have driven all this way to love and support her. Her Holman Grandparents are gone to Tennessee but Grandpa helped with a blessing before we came and loaned us this laptop to help with stress and boredom - truly a blessing. They have also called and prayed for her. My parents have been watching Rachel and Kerri - no small sacrifice - so that I could be here with her. I have the most amazing parents in the world and I hope I can always be as close with my children as I am with my own mother. She is truly a great lady and such a great example. Thank you thank you mom for all your love prayers and support. There have been many times in my life that I would have been so lost without you. Cass has had visitors from Idaho and here in Utah. Even Dr. Hopkin is coming to see her today. Seriously my amazing Dr. is coming here to see her. I honestly have such a great job and it really is more like a family then a job. I am so blessed to have been hired to work there. I feel so loved by my Heavenly Father for the many many blessings I am blessed with. Life is certainly not without challenge and there are days when I wonder who in the world my Father in Heaven thinks I am to be able to deal with certain challenges but I have learned that the Atonement is for every single day of my life and I know that even this pain that my Cassidy is suffering has been suffered by her Savior and so He truly understands how she feels. What a blessing to have someone who actually knows how you feel. There have been so many times in my life where I have simple been grateful to be able to talk to and poor out my heart to someone who honestly and truly understands my heart. I have learned the last few years to truly rely on my Savior and it seems that I often have to relearn it but it is getting easier to accept His plan for me and my life even when it doesn't go exactly like I think it should. I am so grateful to be here with Cassidy and be a part of her team. This has been hard but I think good for us I think we will be even closer because of it. I love it when she asks me for help - even when it is to scratch her toe, armpit, or even her bum!
This has become a long sort of rambling post - simply my thoughts as I type as I sit here at her bedside and listen to her breath. She is still my baby girl.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Primary Children's Room 3059

So yesterday was one of the longest days of my entire life. Well lets start with Wednesday. We had heard there were storms coming through that morning so we headed down late Tuesday and saw the eye doctor Wednesday morning. His conclusion with her eye was that she has "late onset severe lazy eye". He let us know that we do not have to chose surgery but there are not other options to correct her vision. He said that with time her eye will only worsen and that she eventually will not have much control over where it looks at all. He said she would have no peripheral vision or depth perception in that eye at all. He went on to say that it would affect her education, her ability to get a job or promotions, her social life, her ability to find a spouse.... So yeah we opted for surgery. We have scheduled that for April 8th - that sounded good since Sugar's spring break is the 8th - the 12th. We talked about doing it while she was here but decided it would be too much for her. He said we could do it as soon as the first of January and that he did not suggest waiting till school was out. With as much school as she is missing already January seemed too soon so April it is.
So then we just had to wait till Thursday for the real reason we are here. We arrived for registration at 8:15 am and she was taken to surgery at 10. We had the option of a little versed before hand for anxiety issues. They said that because she is older then 6 she did not have to have it - anyone who knows Cass and medical stuff knows why I said um yeah lets let her have that. It was funny to watch her get a little silly before they took her back and I was grateful the medicine made it easier for her to say good-bye. Then the wait began. The surgery waiting room is pretty good-sized but it was also pretty full of parents all anxiously waiting for news of their children. We were told they would keep us updated and they did. It could have been alot more awkward waiting then it was. There were six of us. Barry and I, Jerry and Jamaica (Her dad and his wife) and Jerry's parents. Divorce seems to add a little complication to most of life and so this was no different. It wasn't bad though and we all played UNO for quite a while which was a good time passer. We heard something about once an hour. Always the news was that Cassidy was handling things well and they would check in again. The last call we got they said they were "putting her back together". The surgery ended up lasting 5 long - very long hours. When Dr. Meyers came to see us she let us know how things went. They ended up taking all of the cartilage from her 2 upper ribs on both sides (that's 4) and part of the cartilage from 7 or 8 others. She said they completely removed the end of her sternum and cut 3 triangle shaped pieces out of her sternum. She said they then "cracked" it and she made a motion with her hands like you would when breaking a stick. They then wired everything back together. It was over an hour from the time the Dr. came before they came to get me. They had said only 1 person could go to recovery and I sure wanted to be that person. When we went back they said that it had been hard to get her pain controlled and that is why it had taken so long. There had been a miscommunication and no pain meds at all had been ordered for her. That was quickly remedied although it took quite some time to get on top of things. She ended up staying in recovery for about 31/2 hours. She made it to her room about 6:30 which was a long long time from our 8:15 arrival. She has lots of wires and tubes - 2 chest tubes, 2 JP drain tubes, IV, Foley Catheter, a ON Q which is two epidural catheters going directly into her wounds this applies locating (numbing meds) directly on her wounds. She also has a PCA which allows her to have continuous morphine and she can dose herself every ten minutes with a little extra. She is also taking additional IV anxiety, pain, and nausea meds. It was so hard to watch her struggle - especially in the recovery room. I wanted to cry with her and wish so much that I could take some of the pain and make this easier for her. I have been working on this post for over two hours - stopping to help her and try to adjust her so she will be more comfortable. This morning she thought a banana milkshake sounded good but only took a few sips. I love this child so much - watching her struggle is so hard. I wish she would be grumpy but she just lays so quiet it is hard to get her to respond. Her eyes are so sad it breaks my heart.