|A last look at Natalie's super cute hospital home|
Five weeks ago today, nearly to the hour, Natalie was admitted to the hospital in Minot. Today, she gets to return home.
What an amazing journey this has been, full of ups and downs, tears and laughs. There were times, I admit, that I envisioned what it would be like to go home without her, and how we would deal with our world without Natalie in it. Thankfully, it was all just a bad dream, and life will go on with her smiling face beside us.
Her path to the hospitalization wasn't a simple one. There are many reasons she ended up in intensive care. She has cerebral palsy and low muscle tone, as well as scoliosis, which means breathing isn't as easy for her as it is for you and me. She has smaller lungs than a girl her age has -- and clearing those lungs can be difficult.
Over the years, her ability to swallow has diminished, and without a g-tube, aspirating (getting food in her lungs) has been a concern, as has refluxing from her stomach right into her lungs...something we didn't even realize was happening.
All of this combined with a virus of some sort and a severe asthma attack landed her in the hospital. Of course, we later discovered that she had undiagnosed pancreatitis...surprise! How this little girl survived it all is really more than I can understand.
We arrived in Fargo on October 15th. The leaves on the trees were the most beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red: fall was in full swing. We leave today on a frigid day with snow on the ground and Christmas decorations lining Broadway in downtown Fargo.
The seasons have changed while we've occupied this hospital, and in many ways, it's a metaphor for Natalie's life. She came into this hospital a very sick child, and she'll leave here a relatively health girl, but with a whole new routine. A g-tube will be her source of feedings and medication administration.
Our new life will include a lot more of the preventative care, including vest treatments and a cough assist machine. I'm considering building a new wing of the house to store all of her new equipment and supplies. Ha!
In the end, it will be a much better life for Natalie...and for us! Feedings and medicine time will be so much easier, and now I will feel better about leaving her with others if I need to go on a little vacation. That doesn't happen very often! Also, going on vacation with her will be easier. No more mixing up smoothies and spending hours feeding her. Now, we can feed her at any time...even when we're driving somewhere. It's amazing!
Right now, we're busy coordinating medication with pharmacies and equipment with Healthcare Accessories, so I have to cut this post short. There will be more to come, though!
We're ON OUR WAY HOME!