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Jun 30, 2010

Extreme Home Makeover? What Do You Think?

From Brent

A blog friend wants to nominate and submit our family to "Extreme Makeover", the show that does house makeovers. I looked over the application form and it's all the basic stuff: information about our family, our story, photos, etc.

I think what might set us apart possibly, is YOU.

If we could get "testimonials" and nomination statements from dozens of our readers, perhaps it would draw attention to our application, and let the producers of the show see extra public interest. This may all seem to be a little self serving but they get thousands of applications a week. You have to have something that sets you apart.

Would you enter a response to each of the following two questions IF you honestly feel like "nominating" us?

Question One:
Why do you think the Riggs Family deserves to be on Extreme Makeover Home Edition?

Question Two:
What about the Riggs family inspires you, and will inspire America?

(Keri, once we get all the information, I'll get it to you so you can submit the nomination...)

Jun 29, 2010

Finally, Something to Keep Us Busy

From Michelle:

Because Abby’s fevers have been going on for almost 8 weeks, we've started suspect mold and fungus as possible reasons. Since Abby has so little immunity, she is not able to fight off the kind of stuff that the rest of us might not notice except for some “allergy” symptoms. Abby’s doctors has also begun to suspect fungus too and they are conducting a battery of tests.

Leukemia and fungal infections are a VERY bad combination. To treat the cancer, they need to suppress Abby's immune system to close to rock bottom. Their intention is to leave a little bit of her immune system functioning but there have been many times where they have missed and completely wiped out her white blood cell production. On a normal day that is scary. If you have an active infection, it is dangerous.

IF Abby has a fungal infection, it will take a long time to cure. So, we will most likely be walking the tightrope between the two diseases until she is finished taking chemo this November.

How is Abby doing? Well, her fevers have continued, buying us mandatory trips to ER/clinic every 24 hours. Abby spent today being poked with needles and having multiple samples of fluids taken. You can hear a lot of fluid moving around as she breaths. And she is wiped out.
She just wants someone to hold her and we are happy to oblige.

Please pray Abby doesn't have a fungal infection. In the meantime, we'll proceed as if she does because you can't mess around with this stuff. I have many cancer-mom friends who have lost their son or daughter to it. When the doctors talk about the possibility Abby has something fungal going on, it is the faces of their precious children whom I see.

From Brent:

A fungal sampling of our bathroom (the room with obvious signs) came back today and sure enough, there is “abundant quantities” of mold and fungus in the walls of our 40 year old powder room. The bad "junk" is isolated to the one bathroom and only stripping it down to the studs will get rid of it.

As if we needed some big project to give us something to do during all our free time, we are going to have to completely rip the main bathroom down to the bare wood and completely reinstall it. We’ve cut some holes in the main bath walls (around the tub, shower and sink) and looked back behind the plumbing. It’s obvious there have been some “water events” (leaks) over the decades. That bathroom is going to have to be completely torn out because the drywall, the shower tile, the cabinet backs and floor are all water stained and “dark” (code word for mold and fungus). Not exactly surprising or abnormal for a 40 year old bath.

I’ve done a lot of building but have not stripped out and remodeled a bathroom. There are so many smart and resourceful folks full of great advice and ideas. I wanted to toss out some questions for you:
  • Any tips, tricks, advice or experience for making sure the mold/fungus is really taken care of once we strip down the bathroom to the studs?
  • Any suggestions on saving money? We’ll have to buy a shower/bath unit, cabinets, sinks, flooring, green board, etc.

  • Anyone have any local connections (we live near Norman, Oklahoma) who could help us get the materials or labor (discounts, contractor pricing, materials left over from another job, etc) at better prices? Obviously it’s going to cost several thousand dollars and we want to plan well and keep the costs down as much as possible.

  • Any general advice or experience about this whole fungus/mold thing?
It’s really amazing timing because just today I was sitting around, bored, wishing I had some big project to keep me occupied… JACKPOT!*

- - - - - - -
*For the benefit of our new blog friends, the talk about needing something to do and being bored is HIGHLY tongue-n-cheek. After factoring in 7 kids, 70+ hospital trips, work and whatever else, the LAST thing I wanted right now was some big project.

Jun 28, 2010


From Michelle:

Longer update and pics on the post below.

Abby woke up with a fever of 101.4. We are off to Abby's oncology clinic. Please continue to pray for healing and answers.

Abby and Mia at the party. Abby followed Mia everywhere.

Jun 27, 2010

Thank You, Pictures and Update

From Michelle:

Thank you for praying for Abby and the rest of our family for the last few weeks. Three plus weeks of fevers have been very draining for Abby and the rest of us.

Since Abby has a port that feeds almost directly into her heart, her doctors are concerned anytime her fever reaches 101. Ports are made of materials that bacteria love to cling to. This can lead to a potentially deadly infection in her blood stream. Her doctors insist we take Abby to the ER (or clinic if they have an opening) every 24 hours until her temperature returns to normal.

All they usually do in the ER is draw blood cultures and check her white blood cell count. If symptoms warrant it they might culture her urine or do a chest x-ray. That routinely takes up to 6 hours which seems like a long time, even for E.R.

Abby's fever yesterday was 104 when she was sitting quietly in our air-conditioned home. The trip to ER meant taking her out in 100 plus degree weather. Not a great idea for a "healthy" child with a temp. It is more dangerous for Abby because she is on 3 anti-seizure medications to control her intrcranial hypertension. These medications make it hard for Abby's body to handle temperature changes. We have been warned often to watch Abby for any signs of heat stroke. When her temperature climbed to 107 as we were driving to the hospital I was very nervous, especially since we live an hour away. We were able to get her cooled down to the 104s by the time we arrived, thank goodness. Thank you for praying as we were driving.

So far they haven't figured out why Abby has been running a temperature. Her lungs are a little congested but that is not unusual for her. Fortunately, even though her white blood cell count is much lower that ours, it is high enough to let her fight this out at home instead of being admitted to the hospital. If her white blood cell count gets too low they will admit her and start IV antibiotics.

For now Abby's doctors are watching her close but not giving her any medication to help her fight it. Am I OK with that??? YES! While antibiotics might help, if the infection is fungal they would make it much worse. Anti-fungal meds can damage to your liver. Abby's liver has already been abused by 2 years of chemo.

There are tests they can do to rule out fungal infections but they mean exposing Abby's already "glow in the dark" body to more radiation or to anesthesia. Would I be willing to let them run the test? Yes, if they recommend them.

For now we are watching Abby for clues to what is going on with her. They are still giving her daily chemo and she is supposed to have the dose increased next week. I get a little nervous giving her her chemo at night because I know it will lower her ability to fight the infection. BUT, the reality is her cancer is aggressive so we can't take a break from fighting it just so mommy feels better.

So far today, Abby's temperature has stayed below 101. Praise God! The kids love being at home together. Please continue to pray for answers and healing.

Friday night a good friend's daughter invited us to attend her birthday party. Abby was thrilled to get to be there. Her temperature stayed okay until the end of the party but Abby truly felt awful. She wanted to be there. Insisted on staying. But, it took a lot of effort to handle normal kid fun. The moms and girls wonderful to Abby and the rest of our family. We are blessed to have such special people in our lives.

Abby loved the party's princess theme.

Landis, Kristen, Hannah and Anna. The girls are beautiful inside and outside. Abby's tears about leaving the party were met with promises of more nights of fun.
These are girls you hope your daughters will call friends forever.

When Two Hours Equals Twelve Hours

From Brent
  • (UPDATE (added after the first couple of comments): Abby came home from the hospital late last night. Her fever has been below 101 today so far. She is pretty weak and tired. Doesn't feel very good. Michelle is writing an update for later but I'll go ahead and post this short version now for obvious reasons.)
For me, traveling is usually just a varying degree of drudgery. I try to "will power" my attitude into joy when I travel but my natural tendency is to just hate it. Especially flying.

All the "hurry up and wait" is such a waste of time. I'm worn out by the time I get anywhere and it seems like a simple two hour flight more often than not ends up being an all day affair now with dinky little crowded planes and maddeningly STUPID security procedures that have them frisking 8 year old boys and old women all in the name of political correctness. My Friday trip home from Indy almost reached the status of comical. I did get one good photo though (below). Here's the story:

As is my habit, I got the airport a couple of hours early. The only thing worse than having to "wait" at the airport, is getting there without enough margin and finding yourself stuck in security or running through terminals. So I always get there early.

My original flight from Indianapolis to Dallas (about 2.5 hours, then a connection to OKC) had a reserved MIDDLE seat. Misery. I was told that some seats were held and released on the day of the flight (why? anyone know?) so if I got there early I could change seats. I did. And I did. All was well with a great seat up front in the aisle...

...until a rather large and abundant lady arrived to get the middle seat next to me. She was kind, even kind of apologetic but her THREE bags and oxygen machine would need a lot more than a kind disposition to overcome the subsequent 2 hours of fidgeting, shifting and ever increasing spreading out. She took up her seat and much of mine and the guy on the other side. Both he and I were very polite but obviously uncomfortable in the already inhumanely small airline seats.

I'm not exactly a runt and I found myself trying futilely to squeeze myself over into three quarters of the torturous accommodation, much of my own abundance sticking out into the aisle. Of course you fliers all know what that means. Every passing elbow, bag and beverage cart found its way into my ribs, shoulder or arm. Another lady, who was not so polite, needed to "walk" up and down the aisle most of the flight (back problems or something) and she made ZERO attempt not to rather rudely clip me every time she walked by. I think she was saying "get out of the aisle if you don't want me to run into you" because she didn't slow down, turn sideways or otherwise make any attempt to miss me. She did this four or five times without apology.

By the time that flight leg was over, I had a headache, backache and not even one last nerve for anyone to get on. The fun was just beginning...

The Captain informed us our flight plan was going to cause a 10 minute late arrival to Dallas. Lucky me. FYI, that flight plan took us directly over my house south of Oklahoma City. So I would fly over my house and go 200 miles south, then board a plane and fly BACK over my house an hour north (driving time) to the OKC airport. I would see my house TWICE before finally getting to drive an hour to get there. I would have JUMPED on the first fly-by but they wouldn’t let me. As it turned out, I would see my house 4 different times before the end of the day but I’m getting ahead of myself…

They had scheduled my connection with only a :20 minute layover. Ever been to DFW? Unless you get lucky with your gate location (almost never), you aren’t making any connection in 10 minutes. The stewardess (yes, I’m old and politically incorrect… I still say STEWARDESS) announced the gate locations and OKC was only 3 stops down from our arrival! Miracles DO still happen… 9 out of 10 times I come in at a gate geographically as far away from my connection as possible.

Only three doors away, no problem. You don’t think it was that easy do you? Nope.

We landed, and promptly STOPPED about 6,000,000 yards from the terminal. It’s a good thing Texas is big because the runways at DFW take up the space of a small country. We sat there for several minutes, each tick of the clock diminishing any chance I would have to make the next connection. Finally we start rolling… and rolling… and rolling… and rolling… and rolling… about :35 minutes to get to our terminal. I pushed, bullied and begged my way up a few seats hoping to get off quickly only to find myself stuck behind a kindly old gentlemen who evidently was stone deaf. He took his SWEET time getting off the plane and of course walked right up the middle of the jet way at .0000001 MPH, leaving no room to get around him nor hearing my pleas to get by. Eventually, I had to just wrestle by and smile apologetically indicating I was in a hurry.

I ran down three gates and another miracle happened… they were still boarding. Praise the Lord, the :15 minutes “late” would not cost me several hours of waiting in the airport. After all, the DFW to OKC flight was only thirty minutes. Smooth sailing. Blue skies. End of story? You wish. (Seriously, you might be wishing this story would end)

The flight from Dallas to OKC was pretty uneventful despite a boiling thunderstorm off our port side (the photo is still below). We arrived, I got my bags and I made it quickly to the parking garage relieved that I would finally be home following a comfortable :40 minute drive south of the city to our house; if not for the fact that…

… the battery in my van was stone dead. Dead, dead, dead. So here I am in a parking garage, dragging my bags, wondering who in the world I would call and seriously inconvenience to come help me. I had jumper cables in the back so I thought I would put the van in neutral, roll it out and wait for someone to drive by. This was long term parking, so it wasn’t like people were coming and going constantly. To make matters worse, I quickly realized I couldn’t back my car out because the guy next to my passenger side had parked about 6 inches from my car. Even though I could get the car in neutral, the steering wheel was locked and I couldn’t turn it enough to avoid hitting the car next to me.

What to do, what to do… I threw my bags in the van and started walking back to the terminal. Another miracle: I saw a guy walking across the lot who appeared to be some sort of airport employee. I approached him and sure enough, he attended the parking garage and had a portable battery charger. Five minutes later, I was on my way… sort of (I just checked; the photo is still down there at the bottom).

I get to the parking exit and they’ve got all but two lanes closed. The lane that took credit cards had about 15 people in line. It took another 10 minutes to pay, and THEN I was finally on my way home. Ahhh… I couldn’t wait to get there and collapse on my own pillow. Michelle and the kids were at a birthday party and wouldn’t be home for several hours. Like a cow headed to the barn, I had tunnel vision for nothing but hitting the sack when I walked in the door.

And I did. Bags not even unzipped, I was on my mattress ten seconds after walking through the door. That lasted about 10 seconds; just long enough for my eyes to close and the phone to ring. Abby’s fever was up again and I needed to go BACK TO OKC (another 40 minute drive even if you have a photo at the end of your blog post, which I do) to pick up Hannah and SpideyLandis while Michelle stayed in the E.R. with Abby.

Off I went to get the kids, stayed at the hospital for about an hour then came back home to put everyone to bed. The End. Really. By that time I was as tired as you are having to read about it (but hopefully not too tired to look at my photo which, by the way, is at the end of this post which you've probably figured out by now).

That was my “two hour flight” that ended up being 12 hours of frustrating fun. But… I did get some cool shots of a thunderstorm exploding outside my airplane window north of Dallas. I only had my AWFUL iPhone camera with me. Even a good camera wouldn’t do justice to the power and majesty of this brewing storm, but here’s what I got for whatever it’s worth.

I'm like a little kid when it comes to "cloud" pics. I think they are so beautiful....

This thermal draft was just exploding. A classic thunderhead full of power and beauty.

Jun 26, 2010

Abby 107

Abby's temperature just hit 107°. She is on her way to the emergency room as fast as we can get her there. Thank you for caring and praying.

- Posted from my iPhone... Brent

Abby - 106 This Morning

From Brent

I flew home last night from Indiana and as soon as I hit the door at home it was off to the Emergency Room with Abby. We got out of there last night only to wake up this morning to a ONE HUNDRED AND SIX degree fever.

We figured that would be a trip straight to the hospital but instead, they are having us give her Tylenol and try to get her temp down.

This is SO frustrating. ER trips 3-4 times a week; fevers every day. Never sure what to do or if the current fever will end up being something life threatening.

We are just really at our wits end but we know that God is watching over every step, and we choose to see the joy in life. Abby is home. We have a nice cool home to get us out of the 100 degree heat. We have friends and family who care about us. No one is going hungry. Life is good.

Please pray for Abby's comfort and healing. We are sad for her that she has to suffer so much and endure so much discomfort.

Jun 24, 2010

Abby Back to Hospital

Abby is going back to the emergency room and my poor wife is about to go out of her mind trying to juggle all this by herself. I get home tomorrow.

- Posted from my iPhone... Brent

Jun 23, 2010

Update on Abby

From Brent

Sorry so long with an update; I'm in Indiana doing software development a hundred hours a day, and Michelle has been back and forth to the ER with 3-4 times with a high fever.

Currently, Abby is not in the hospital, and the impaction is completely gone. Her fever keeps roller-coastering, something I had hoped would end after the impaction was taken care of.

Michelle will write a fuller update tonight when she can.

Jun 20, 2010


From Brent


I just landed in Indianapolis and my wife just called to say Abby's fever is high again and headed back to the hospital.

Happy Father's Day.

Jun 19, 2010

Abby Update - Parade of Poop

From Brent

And just like that it all turns around... Abby's been poopin' her brains out for several hours and now they are sending her home. X-rays of her intestines are clear.

Abby's immunity is WAY LOW and Michelle wants them to do a blood culture before she leaves. Why? Because if Abby spikes a predictable fever, Michelle will be right back in ER sitting around for 6 hours (and she's already exhausted as it is). But a new resident on the oncology floor doesn't see it that way. FYI Abby's temp was 100.8 when they made that decision (101 is the cut off for cultures).

We don't make waves with the docs because you want them on your side but new (or less experienced with oncology) doctors would do well to seriously consider the experience of parents who have been doing this process for months on end (especially R.N.'s like Michelle). Such is life...

So they are packing them up and sending them home some time tonight. I'll be up at 4am to leave on my trip, and we'll all be praying Abby doesn't get sick.

Sound good?

Update on Abby - Not Good

From Brent

They pumped Abby with 2 liters of GoLytely and it's done nothing. They are going to do another two liters.

If that doesn't work, they are talking surgery for Abby which would be a milestone setback for her at this point.

I'm trying to juggle house and other kids, and walking a tightrope with my job, trying to decide whether to cancel this VERY important trip.

[insert huge dizzying sigh here....]

God is good. He cares for us each step of the way no matter how hard it is. We count our blessings knowing there are people without jobs, with sicker kids, without freedom, without provision. We have a truly blessed and comparatively easy life when you consider the depths of suffering on this blue planet.

Thank you for your prayers and continued love for Abby and our family.

Jun 18, 2010

Abby in the Hospital Again - Serious

From Michelle:

Abby's last spinal tap on Tuesday showed Abby's intracranial pressure was still elevated. The increase in medication to control it did nothing to bring it down. Abby's pressure was 25, the goal is 8-12.

The spinal tap Tuesday did very little to relieve the pressure. The doctor hit a blood vessel as he was puncturing the membrane that encloses Abby's spinal column. Then the needle slipped out of place before he could remove enough extra fluid to help reduce Abby's pain.

Abby is still spiking temperatures at least once a day. Her doctors require that she go to ER and have blood cultures drawn every 24 hours when she is having fevers.

We are back in ER now for headaches, a fever and extreme constipation. Abby is grumpy, hurting and very hungry (they wont let her eat). Usually Abby handles the medical stuff gracefully. Today, she just wants to be home with her whole family.

I am not sure what the plan is or why we are having more trouble handling this last few weeks. It is ridiculous that this is so hard for me. I have a friend whose daughter is in the hospital waiting on her 5th surgery THIS year to "fix" her intercranial pressure. I think this will be her 9th brain surgery over all. Please pray for Avalon, her family and her medical team. They are not sure what to do to help her.

We have it easy compared to them. We feel guilty for feeling so weary when little Avalon has it so much worse than us.

From Brent

I'm writing several hours after Michelle drafted the above. Abby has been admitted with a serious impaction, her entire colon packed full. If you know anything about impactions, it's potentially very serious, more so for someone who has little immunity already. Lots of infections and junk can come from it. It's kind of amazing given all the mineral oil and Miralax we've been pumping down her.

Michelle and I didn't even want to post yet another "hospital again" blog post. It's getting to sound like a broken record that's been broken. But we know that so many people have been following Abby and praying for her over a couple of years, and we owe to you to keep you updated.

To make matters more pressing, I have a planned and extremely important business trip this week. One the one hand I would never leave a child in the hospital; on the other hand, when you've had a kid in the hospital almost 70 times in two years, you have to pick and choose your battles because I still have entire family to provide for.

Thank you for your prayers for wisdom, provision, health and peace.

Jun 17, 2010

Feel Good Today

From Brent

It's nice to see the good side of life in this day and age of cynicism and bad news. If this doesn't make you cry your eyes out, make an appointment with your cardiologist because your heart is missing.

I was deployed to Desert Storm for a year and half STATE-SIDE and it was hard being away from my family... much less being sent overseas. As part of my duties, I arranged dozens of homecoming arrivals for families. Each and EVERY TIME I was reduced to a mess of tears not only for the happiness but also for the sadness of those troops who had no family there to welcome them home:

Jun 15, 2010

ER, Spinal Taps and Cooties

From Michelle:

Update: The spinal tap is starting soon.

Last week Abby's intracranial pressure was twice as high as it was supposed to be. They increased the medication that treats it and drained off 40 mls. of spinal fluid. The poor baby had a monster headache before they drained the fluid.

Unfortunately, Abby has been complaining about headaches again for the last few days. What is causing them? Hard to say. They could mean her intracranial pressure is up again or they could be just migraines.

Because high pressures can damage Abby's brain, her neurologist wants them to do a spinal tap in ER to check her pressure.

The ER doctor doesn't want to do it here because of all of the cooties floating around in the ER. They feel Abby's immune system is just to weak to handle their germs. Abby's temp was 100.8 last night, so I appreciate their caution.

Abby's oncologist, who normally does her spinal taps, is busy.

So I am sitting in ER, with Abby, while they debate. Abby hasn't eaten since dinner last night, so she is hungry, thirsty and tired of the drill. She is playing sweetly but I feel bad for her.

Thanks for praying!

Jun 12, 2010

Fingers in My Ears & Singing Loudly, Off-Key

From Michelle:

Usually if it takes me 6 days to write an update after begging for prayers, things have gotten pretty bad and I don't have a clue how to tell the people who love Abby. This week is no exception. I have just buried my head in the sand, hoping it would all be better soon. Cowardly, I know but it is honestly what I have been doing.

My fear is always that if our blog is too dark, too sad, people won't want to read it any more. Do I care about blog traffic and stats? Not really other than whatever influence we may have to help people live a fuller, Godlier life. But... I do care that others are praying for Abby. She has been fighting cancer for 2 years and she is tired.

Abby's spinal tap on Monday showed what we feared. Her intracranial pressure is over twice what they want to to be, 4-5 times higher than a normal child. Pressure that high for long and it can permanently damage her eyes, ears and brain; not to mention cause a five year old unbelievable amounts of pain. I hate that Abby is going through this again.

Most likely, the medications being used to treat her respiratory problems (pneumonia and asthma) caused her pressure to go up again. Since she just finished a steroid pulse (for her cancer), her breathing is doing better than it had been. Hopefully, we will be able to figure out how to treat it better, if they get bad again.

Tonight, we are out of town. Away from her doctors. Her temperature is climbing. It is 100.4. If it rises to 101, her oncologist will make us bring her to the ER. My prayer is that if she needs medical help, her temperature will rise and if she doesn't it will return to normal so she can stay home with her family.

Please pray (again?) for what sounds like a broken record:
  • Abby to be healed
  • Her temp to stay down
  • Her pressures to stay down
  • Godly provision for Brent and I: strength, wisdom, finances and health
Abby is still a happy, feisty, princess who is loving life. Here is a photo of her on the last day of school running in race. Her legs were wobbly but she ran the whole way. She did beat the kid sitting on the ground though! :)

Jun 9, 2010

Winners Update from Last Auction

From Brent

Wow, sorry so long of a delay in finishing up the last auction. I was sick for several days, then we had some situations where our help, guidance and attention was needed to help someone who... needed help. I'll leave it at that.

So here we are trying to catch up now.

Here are the results of the last auction:
  • Auction 1: Blog Makeover - Nati (blog) - $50
  • Auction 2: Rainbow Roll - Amanda (blog) - $28
  • Auction 3: Handmade Baby Items - Jackie - $50
  • Auction 4: Jensen iDock Sound System - Ruth P. - $70
  • Auction 5: Memorex Nature Sound System - Julie @ Flitterbugs (blog) - $40
  • Auction 6: Autographed Books - Joni Sweet (blog) - $100
Each bidder can PayPal their donation here or contact me for other payment options if necessary. Please send me your mailing address so your items can be shipped to you.

Please visit their blogs when you get a chance. We appreciate their generous donations and joining us in our mission for orphans.

Also, big big thanks to those who donated items and the others who have continued to suggest donations.

We are a third of the way there in this campaign and are dedicated to seeing another orphan, maybe two, home this year.

Jun 6, 2010

Big Chemo Day

Abby, with her first crush, when she was first diagnosed with cancer.
It is hard to believe she has been fighting the beast for almost 2 years.

Just for you know, "your Abby" had the very
same expression when she saw
Logan last night.

From Michelle:

The dance recital went wonderfully. Hannah did a great job and loved being on stage. Landis and Abby now can't wait to start taking lessons. I love that they will all be enjoying doing something together.

Today, Monday, Abby has her big chemo day. She will have a spinal tap to check her intracranial pressure and then they will inject chemo into her spinal fluid. Abby has been complaining of headaches for a couple of weeks but we (her doctors and I) are hopeful they are from sinus pressure. I am a little nervous because there have been a few signs her pressure is climbing but they could also be symptoms of other, less tragic things. The cancer moms reading this know headaches can be a sign of relapse but I am going to that for now. They will be testing her spinal fluid for cancer cells tomorrow, so soon that question will be answered anyway.

Please pray that Abby will be comfortable and not scared during the procedure. For wisdom for the doctors/nurses and Brent and I as we discuss the headaches, breathing problems and her cancer treatment plan.

Abby is also loosing weight again. With her history of malnutrition, which lead to a feeding tube, I am concerned. She eats more calories than our 17 year old son but still can't gain weight.

Please also pray that Abby would be honest with the doctors. Every time she reports problems or pain to them, they schedule painful tests or procedures. She would rather stoically handle the pain than talk to them about what she is going through. Who can blame her.


From Brent

Sorry about the delay in taking care of the last auction and other things. I've been pretty sick for almost a week but I started to feel alot better today.

Between Abby's needs, family stuff, work and being sick, I've been running on fumes for a few days. Back in the saddle now... Yee-haw.

Jun 5, 2010

Abby Update

From Michelle:

Thank you for praying for Abby! Last night was a long, stressful night. Abby's lungs are filled with very thick mucus. It is ALWAYS present. During the day, she has a hard time coughing it up. When she is asleep, it collects in her upper airway, partially occluding it. It is a noisy, gurgling, wheezing mess. We tried for two hours last night to fix her breathing/airway at home but finally gave up (after consulting with her doctor).

We are at the beginning of a new learning curve, trying to learn new ways to care for Abby. Medications to thin secretions would increase her intracranial pressure. So they are out.

The ER doctor took time to brain storm to find ways to help Abby at home. Most of the things that might help her are tricks he has learned caring for kids with Cystic Fibrosis. Abby has not been diagnosed with that but it is a little unsettling to hear how closely her lungs sound like a CF-er.

Fortunately, we were able to go home (after spending the night in ER). Today is all about Hannah and her dance recital debut. I am unbelievably thankful that we are all going to be there for her.

I only got 2 hours of sleep today. Thankfully I feel pretty good. Please pray that tonight is a positive experience for Hannah, Abby's lungs will behave and I will have the energy to enjoy the experience.

Thanks for praying.


From Michelle:

Abby's breathing is getting worse and the inhalers aren't working. I am taking her to ER now. Praying they can help her and that we don't get admitted. Hannah has her dance recital Saturday night and we both want to be there for her.

Thanks for praying.

Jun 1, 2010

Abby Update, Photos, Auctions & Radio Show

From Brent

If you didn't get a chance to see the half dozen adoption-auction-donations we post over the weekend, check them out here. I'll leave them up for the rest of today.

Radio Show

Tonight on the radio show, I'm joined by Laurel Diacogiannis and we'll be talking about teens: how to raise them with a passion for faith and values, and how to parent them through times of trouble and difficulty.

We have seven kids, 4 of them teens or older; Laurel has a dozen kids with a truckload of them teen or old too. Should be some interesting stories and advice.

This would be a good time to call in with your questions if you have teens or are moving towards those teen years. We'll extend to multiple nights on this topic if there is enough interest. (

From Michelle - Abby Update

Thank you for praying for Abby yesterday. It was a long and tiring day followed by an nervous night. Our trip to ER took over 7 hours. Abby was a sweetheart but I know she would have rather been home swimming with Hannah and Landis.

Abby's self diagnosis before we got to ER was, "Mommy, I am very, very sick." That is a phrase she almost never, ever utters. Let me tell you, it got our attention. Her fever won her an automatic ER trip but I would have called to doctor even without the temp.

ER drew blood work, did a chest x-ray and a quick exam... all very standard for cancer kids when they run a fever. The chest x-ray showed an infection in Abby's lungs and she has an ear infection; not surprising when you can hear her gurgling, gravel-y cough clear across the house.

Because Abby's white blood cell count was so high, they let her go home on oral antibiotics. Do I think that will be enough to lick this??? Uhh, no.

Last night I slept with Abby. Not something I normally do but I wanted to be close if she needed me. Really "sleep" is something only one of us did. Sleeping with Abby is like sleeping in a gigantic bowl of Rice Krispies. Her lungs crackle and pop all night as they struggled to take in oxygen needed. Wheezing and junky I am sort of used to. The crackling stressed me out.

First thing this morning, I started making phone calls to the experts. I will be picking up the x-ray soon and taking Abby to see her pulmonologist, one of my favorite doctors on the planet. I trust him completely. I would dearly love to hear him say "the ER doctor is wrong, Abby's lungs are perfectly healthy, stop worrying".

Remember when I wrote about Abby's CO2 and how she stops breathing at night to try to correct it? At ER it was worse than it was last week. Not good. Her medications for her intracranial pressure make her CO2 dangerously low and respiratory problems can make it even lower as Abby breaths quickly because of airway anxiety. Bad combination. I have a call into the Neurologist about this one. He just adjusted the medications on Friday but it wasn't enough.

I will update you when we know more. Thanks for praying.

Photos From Brent

Thought you might enjoy some spring flower photos I snapped in our yard today. I love photos of plants and flowers but can't tell you the name of half of them. I just water them, pull weeds and enjoy them.

Auctions Today

From Brent

Since we just came off a holiday weekend, I re-opened the latest auctions for the rest of today.

Check them out here...