Sheriff Sarah

Sheriff Sarah

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hitting the Wall

I’m certain most of you have heard that phrase sometime in your lives.  Often you can’t quite put your finger on what the wall actually is but other times it’s pretty easy to define. You’re burned out at your job. You’re not getting enough sleep. You’ve battled hard for a relationship only to see it crumble and begin to affect every aspect of your life. It could be struggling to move on in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one.

About a week and a half ago, I hit my own wall. I wish I could say it was only one thing but in reality there was a collection of things that created a “perfect storm” scenario. They’d all been building in their own way over time, some of them over the past few years. One of them in particular blew me completely out of the water.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD.

Originally associated with returning military combatants, PTSD can affect anyone who’s lived through a traumatic event or circumstance – such as a child’s liver transplant.

This bout of PTSD blindsided me, although I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by the timing. I’ve continually sought to bury my own pain and deal with life as best I can. But it’s fruitless to believe you can have a “normal” existence when you haven’t dealt with the issues burning your soul. So this is where I live today. It’s not fun, it’s not enjoyable but working through the pain is necessary to regaining a hold on my life. Until I can rid myself of the residual crud, PTSD will rear its ugly head at the most inopportune times.

The good news: I’m alive and I will survive this. My little Sarah battled and fought through biliary atresia, a major bleed and a liver transplant. And everything that goes with it. I can overcome because of her example. So can you, if you’re living through the pain of a child’s illness or anything else but you have to WANT to work for it. There is no overnight fix.

My advice to other liver families and anyone else struggling with PTSD: don’t go it alone. We weren’t made to live alone and we kid ourselves when we think this is “our” problem and we need to fix it. People exist for each other. Let others walk alongside you and aid in your recovery.

Someday the sun will rise and this difficult road will lay behind you. Maybe we’ll meet each other in that place. Hang on. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembering Our Heroes…and Their Pain

Today is one of the most revered days in our country’s year, Veterans Day. We honor those who have served and defended our nation from enemy forces; who’ve fought in far off lands, on the beaches of Normandy, the dense brush of Vietnam and in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

I stand with many others today who salute those warriors, those still with us from as far back as WWII, hoping they realize how much their sacrifice means to those of us who’ve been fortunate never to experience war of any kind firsthand. Yes, I’m a Navy veteran but I never served in harm’s way and to me that makes a great difference compared to those who’ve seen friends die before their eyes, lost their sight, arms, legs or use of their body at all.

The trauma of such loss finally found a diagnosis in the form of PTSD. Who knows how many veterans from WWI and WWII lived through their remaining days never realizing what caused their anger, withdrawal or suicidal thoughts. It’s imperative, in light of their service and of PTSD, that we take time as often as possible to let them know we value them, not only as veterans but as people.

Today is one opportunity for us to thank those men and women. But, please, make it more than an annual event. If you see someone with a ball cap signifying them as a veteran or you attend an American Legion or other military function, take time to shake their hand and express your gratitude. You’ll never know the impact of your brief message to them.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sheriff for a Day

These past few months have been filled with excitement for our little Sarah. We found out some time ago she was going to be this year's Snohomish County "Sheriff for a Day". The state legislature approves the "Chief for a Day" program that allows police jurisdictions to nominate children with chronie or life-threatening medical conditions to participate throughout the state.

We had the great pleasure of making a new friend with one of the deputies and his family, as well as with so many more people in the department.

First, Sarah was one of the stars of the show in the Everett 4th of July parade.

But things didn't end there. Last week was the culmination of her months of waiting. First, she was sworn in as Sheriff (and received a pile of goodies, I might add).

The pinnacle of it all was the opportunity to mingle with other families, law enforcement and even some mascots at the Showare Center and then in Burien. And did I mention she got to ride in a motorcade?

Truly another unforgettable experience for not only Sarah but our entire family. We look back at what brought us to this point - her diagnosis with biliary atresia and subsequent liver transplant - and we have seen God's hand in it all. Her second chance at life. The opportunity to do things we might never have done. The blessing of meeting other families walking similar journeys and the honor of encouraging others. 

This is a beautiful life. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sarah's Latest Adventure

I know not everyone is a friend of mine on Facebook where I've been posting regularly the past month about Sarah's current hospital stay at Seattle Children's Hospital, so I'm posting an update here for you.

Sarah's been in the hospital for 29 of the past 33 days. Things began simple enough: her liver numbers were elevated far beyond what they've been since her transplant 5 years ago. This led to our semi-regular visit to Children's for a liver biopsy. No problem, right? And it started that way. Acute rejection and a regimen of prednisone in-house for 4 days and then weaned off it for the next month.

Alas, some things just can't be that easy.

It turned out there was much more than just a minor acute rejection. There was an abscess and an infection. This created a lot of issues including a tremendous amount of fluid. Sarah needed a drain inserted in her abdomen and then a second one a few days later. As usual, she was a trooper. I wonder if God grants sick children a special dose of fortitude and perseverance because if it were me, I'd be a sobbing mess with all the poking and prodding the doctors and nurses do to Sarah.

Surgery became an option late last week when it seemed like the fluid would just not drain enough to clear the infection. The antibiotics were working as much as they could but not 100% due to all the fluid. No one wanted to talk about surgery because of the danger of further infection but it seemed like a very real possibility. Thankfully, the fluid has steadily been clearing out the past few days and Sarah had one drain removed Friday. There's the possibility the second drain may be removed Monday but have to wait and see.

Our warrior battles on! We're so grateful to God for carrying us through this time as there's been an (obvious) strain on our family with Patty mostly the one at the hospital, the other kids finishing up school and staying with some friends & family, and me home with our dog.

More lessons learned and to be reflected on following this latest adventure. We're humbled by the love and support we've received and by God's mercy on Sarah's life.