Thursday, September 30, 2010

Playtime with The Boyds!

Our best friends who live in Spain are in America for a few weeks. They are in Bloomington and we were overjoyed to be able to spend an evening with them. We headed to the Children's Museum!

Olivia and Alaric make pizzas for us all.

The boys love the exhibits as much as the kiddos

Heather is a few months pregnant so we needed to see what her sweet belly looked like in the big pin thing
Justin and the girls
Me and my BF, Heather
My girl!
Mommy and Mara on stage
Alaric loves to make music with his Godparents

Brian wrote me a love note in the painting exhibit
Alaric and his Godparents
All of us!What a great evening together with friends.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apples Galore!

Today was the perfect weather day so we headed with our neighbor, Alyssa to the local Orchard!

We scoped out the roosters first
Then looked at the hundreds of beautiful apple trees weighed down by thousands of apples!
Into the barn we headed for apple tastings of more than 20 varieties of apples. The kids waited patiently and used their manners and they asked over and over and over to try a new type of apple.

We came home with more apples than we can eat but great memories! What fun! I love local produce, local farms and farmers- and exposing my kids to it all.

Today's update on Brian

Well...he had a good appointment with his GI today, which he was concerned about since the doc hasn't had the best bed side manner.

First and foremost, he looked at the CT from Kirby and said that the first problem was that his liver was not enlarged at all but rather his Spleen. HIS SPLEEN?????????????WHAT??????????????

The doc asked if the ER PA really said liver and Bri said "yes" and that we talked about it for awhile after the results. Sure enough, the paperwork from Radiology the other night says SPLEEN, NOT LIVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously...this is why people don't go to Kirby Hospital unless they absolutely have to ( this was the PA who, 3 years ago, saw Alaric because he was having terrible pain in his ear and screaming and crying and said he was fine. We disagreed, went to Carle and found out he had a ruptured eardrum that was actually bleeding). Anyway- the GI did confirm that the lab results did say he had increased liver ensymzes and that while our organ was incorrect, the spleen is a concern, of course and actually, most problems in the spleen come from concerns with the liver.

So, first plan of action is to get labs done again and evaluate the liver enzyme again. Some people have an increased liver enzyme simply due to the ERCP proceedure. If that is the case, it would be normal by now. If it's a concern in the liver, the count would still be high. This test will give us the first glimse into the next path to take. Brian has already done his labs.

Second plan of action is to have Radiology at Carle do a frame by frame comparison and analysis of the CT scan at Carle two weeks ago and the CT from Kirby this past Saturday. This will allow us a better overall picture. GI doc does see that the spleen looks enlarged but thought perhaps it could just be on the large side of normal. The Radiologists will be able to measure both CT's and see if it's grown in a week's time or not and if it really is something for us to be concerned about. While it's on Radiology's docket today, it could be tomorrow or even the next day before we hear anything.

Brian asked about the Celiac's Disease biopsy they did while they were in his intestines- NEGATIVE ( Great news). GI did ask lab to test for a wheat allergy in his blood to rule that out as well.

Brian asked about Chrones Disease. GI indicated that it's a pretty obvious condition and they would have seen specific symptoms on his Endoscope, COlonoscopy, or ERCP.

Brian asked about Schinter of the Odi dysfunction ( something we had leared about because my cousin had alot of the same symptoms and ended up having SOD and because we've read about it on-line). He said they did not measure for that during the ERCP because it's even more invasive to go into that area and Carle does not have the machines necessary to do the measurement.

Lastly, brian asked for a referal and GI agreed. He would like to begin the process of referring to Barnes. He warned Brian that the process may be slow. Barnes may say yes and insurance fights it or asks for their to be a second opinion locally first. OR insurance may say yes but Barnes won't see him until their is a second local. So, the process has begun and we will see where that takes us.

For now, we wait for the labs and see what they say. We wait for the Radiology report.

We wait! Help us wait! Pray that he starts to feel better and that his spleen is OK and his liver is too.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Local Movie Premiere!

THis weekend was the local premiere of my sister-in-law's movie that was filmed exclusively in C-U and at Allerton. Yup, My sister in law, Jennifer Bechtel, co-wrote a movie four years ago and they actually made it! It's awesome. They have two big names too. Benji Schwimmer ( season 2 winner from So You Think You Can Dance) and Melanie Lapatin ( world- renowned choreographer for movies and So You THink You Can Dance)

This is the marquee outside of the ART Theater is Champaign
I took some pictures during the previews- what can I say- I'm a proud sister!
The movie was really wonderful and the quality was superb! After the show, the writers ( Erika in the flowered dress and Jennifer in the turquoise shirt), did a Q & A and then addresses their many fans. It was so fun to see them!
Check out the trailer.

THe Movie is called Leading Ladies and the website is Check there to see when it's showing. Since it's an independent film, it's only showing on small screens right now. It is coming to Normal, IL and Chicago this fall!
Jennifer- we are so proud of you and your accomplishments! We love you

Our Trip to the Great Pumpkin Patch

Even though Brian was not feeling well, we had been planning all week to skip church(gasp) and head to Arthur, IL to their Great Pumpkin Patch! We did it and it was great. Alaric thought it was so cool that the town was named after his middle name!
Pumpkins, gourds, and squash everywhere!
Mara was so excited to find her pumpkin ( we did NOT get this one)

They just look like trouble, don't they?

"THis is the one, Mommy!" ( we DID get this one)

Yup, that one too!
Could they be sweeter?
Lots of silliness too
Gorgeous plans to see and a beautiful day too.

The kids love the story of Noah's Ark so this display was extra special to them.
A squash rainbow
Cut outs were everywhere
Who doesn't love a corn maze?
Look at that sky!
Daddy and his sweeties!Who could say no to these cookies?
Mara loved the tractor and we even had to go back for her to drive it again
The Fultons
One more pumpkin to pickIt was a tiny bit overwhelming.

I'm so glad we went- what a great day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What a difference a few hours makes

Well, after a truly wonderful morning at Allerton, Brian and I each headed our seperate ways for the evening. Brian and a friend were bartending a wedding from noon-midnight and me the kids headed to campus for my church's Social Justice Banquet. At 2PM, Brian and I spoke and he was feeling great and in a good mood, having fun.

Dinner had just concluded for me at the banquet. The ceremony was about to begin. My kids were in the childcare room content with babysitters and other kids. My pastor, who often times kids around with me, hands me a piece of paper that says "Brian called. It's an emergency" I looked up at Pastor Keith assuming he must be kidding and he shook his head and told me to let him know. I quickly left the table and called Brian frantically from the hallway. He was having an attack and was being delivered to the ER in Monticello.

I raced to the table, excused myself, ran to the childcare room and threw all my kids stuff in bags and off we the car to get the kids in and home for the longest 30 minute trip in the pouring rain. I called my neighbor to watch the kids and go home for just a few minutes to drop the kids off with my heaven-sent neighbors, grab a sweatshirt to cover my banquet attire, and ran to the car to get to the hospital, only a block away.

As I ran into the entrance, Brian's friend, Jane was outside on the phone. She had been the one to take Bri to the hospital. I asked what happened and she quickly told me that she didn't know. He was Ok and then all of us sudden was bent over in pain and saying he needed to go to the hospital. She said, "Katie, it's bad. He's in alot of pain." I thanked her and ran inside just in time to see Bri being wheeled away in a wheelchair to get a CAT Scan. He said he just had a big dose of pain meds and was doing much better.

I waited for him to return and when he did, he told me he ate a small meal at the wedding, began sweating and feeling uncomfortable, got some rest, tried to get back to work, had to rest again and then all of a sudden, the pain hit him and he was unable to do anything. He went to his friends and asked for a ride to the ER. He was moaning and shaking and unsure how to deal with the pain. He described it as the worst pain of his life and said he would have prefered to have his fingernails ripped out that endure the pain again.

Pancreatitis was the biggest concern and while we waited for the CAT Scan and blood work to come back, I wondered what the next few hours or days would hold. Would he have pancreatitis? Would he be in the hospital for the next few days? Would something else be wrong with him? Could there have been a complication with the proceedure on Thursday? What the hell is going on? My husband has an extremely high threshold of pain so hearing that he's moaning in the backseat of a car racing to the ER was something I've never experienced and never wanted to.

The CAT Scan and blood work came back within an hour and the first thing the doctor said was "no more Tylonol and no alcohol" Well, shit! We'd already heard that on Thursday. His GI made a big fuss about how they both seperately were tough on the liver but together could be very damaging. What was this all about- why the lecture again? Well, the CAT Scan showed that his liver was enlarged and "congested" and his blood work showed that his liver enzymes were high. Huh? What? His liver? No Pancreatitis. That's good. Whats all this liver stuff about.

The ER doctor then said that what he assumed is that Brian has an acute condition call Bilar Colic ( As in Bile Ducts). The liver has "congested" and working overtime already because its being challenged. When the body then begins to work on a new food to digest ( the the two buffalo chicken wings Bri had), the liver begin to go into overdrive to create enough bile to compensate for the amount of fat in the system. The liver then overproduces and when the bile is in the bile duct on it's way to the small intestines, it spasms or kinda freaks out from overworking, causing very intense pain in the area.

Bri had just had a CT Last week and there was no talk about en enlarged liver. I asked if two days of drinking in New Orleans at a bachelor party last weekend could have caused this. Perhaps the doctor said. Binge drinking is defined at more than 5 drinks in a day and while most of us have had "binge" days and Brian has had many in his lifetime, his compromised body along with his constant use of Tylonol over a week long period could contribute to this enlarged liver and elevated enzymes.

He recommended a liver biopsy to see of the liver had been damaged but said that would be up to his GI and he needed to have a conversation with him on MOnday about it all.

So, off we went- home...with a copy of his CT and reports, some more pain meds and a new issue. NO TYLONOL. NO ALCOHOL WHAT SO EVER. And a very very low fat simple diet.

Brian had a terrible night's rest and had terrible indigestion and uncomfort but the tremendous pain was gone. Back to the fleeting moments of discomfort and the reality that once again, he's all messed up- only this time with new symptoms.

He rallied Sunday morning and we headed to the Pumpkin Patch as we had planned to do all week as a family but probably more out of obligation that anything. Brian has been suffereing for aove a month now with pain. THe kids know he's sick and he's been unable to do alot of the things he usually does with them because it's physically painful or too exhausting. He just wanted to be as normal as he could with the kids and we ended up having a really great time together.

He'll call his GI this morning and tell him everything. Perhaps he'll have to go in today or tomorrow for an appointment or furthur testing however he already has a scheduled visit on Wednesday so he may have to wait. We've talked at length about what our own plan will be. He will wait and see what his GI says however we may be to the point where a second opinion is necessary. It's been the toughest month of Brian's physical life. He's not doing better, he's getting worse and we must look at the entire picture. Perhaps it was never a Gallbladder issue in the first place. Perhaps this liver thing is due to two nights of drinking and a bunch of Tylonol or maybe there was something there before that no one saw on the first CT. Could it be something else entirely? We don't know.

While he has really good moments and hours of feeling pretty OK, he's not himself and he's not healthy. And the moments when he's in excruciating pain feel like an eternity and leave him, and all of us, feeling pretty helpless, frustrated, and concerned for what will happen next.

More to come soon. Pray for answers, please.

A Perfect Saturday Morning!

Sometimes, when you wake up and your husband is feeling better than he's felt in a month, you need to appreciate your family and your life and your community and get out as smell the flowers...literally!

This morning we headed to Allerton. It was tremendous. Since Brian has worked there, we really haven't been able to enjoy the place like everyone should because he would walk around and see things that needed to be done instead of the beauty of the place. Today we went and simply enjoyed. It was precious time for our family and also pretty special to get to enjoy Allerton, a truly magical place!
Stunning gardens and long spaces for the kids to run- priceless
THere are these amazing passageways INSIDE the 12 foot hedges that line the paths. We took the inside of the hedges instead of the path-way cooler!

A walk in the mazes
A family picture before the sunken gardensAmara got up close a personal with a fish!
Always bring a ball with you for moments just like this!
"Look at me!" She yelled!My love! We are praying that we are over the hump of his illness and I can have my husband back again
We took a very long hikeA daddy and his son- nothing sweeter
Brian showed the kids the creek that feeds into the Sangamon RiverWe took a snack break at the Snytar while Bri gave us all a history lesson on the Greek Mythology
The kids did NOT walk the whole way- thank God for shoulders
And sweet breaks in Daddy's arms
The kids walked hand in hand with us most of the way. We stopped to listen and to look at things, we talked alot about God's gifts he gave us and all the things he made. We chatted about history and Robert Allerton, we just walked.
In the meadow right before we headed home.
What an absolutely perfect morning! Thank God for Saturdays like this will my wonderful family!