A Success!!

Brandon’s surgery went very well today.  He was at the hospital at 5:00 am for his surgery, which was scheduled for 7:00, but the actual cut time was 8:00.  He was in the OR until 12:00.  The removal of the tumor took three of those hours and the last hour was taking the bone graft from the hip and doing the fusion.  Dr. Carlstrom and Dr. Sherrill, both neurosurgeons, were quite confident that they got all of the tumor out.  They ended up only having to fuse one level of his vertebrae instead of three.  Their concerns with the surgery were how well his left arm was going to work because they had to leave the main nerve that runs down his arm "left out in the air for a while."  They also were concerned about his vision in his left eye because they were working very close to his vertebral artery, which feeds his visual cortex.  So far, his vision is fine, but he is having some "heaviness" in his left arm, so we will be watching that. He got up to his room around 2:00.  The move over from the cart to the bed was not a pleasant one.  We could hear him moaning from the hallway.  It took a good hour for his pain to get under control.  We then left for a while and went back this evening.  When we went back, he was sitting up in bed and looked better, although he said that looks can be deceiving.  He was able to stand up a couple times and walked to the bathroom and did very well.  He said that it felt good to walk.  So tomorrow we are hoping for more pain control and more activity and maybe home on Friday or Saturday.  Thank you to everyone for your continued thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement.  The doctors say that if all goes well, he can be back to light duty at work in two weeks, but NO horses for six months.  We’ll see how well that goes.

Brandon giving the thumbs up with his new best friend. . . Dilaudid.

Christmas Galore

WOW, what a wonderful and blessed Christmas we had.  The three of us had our own little Christmas on Christmas Eve Eve since we were heading out of town for several days.  Jaxson was thrilled to see that Ho Ho had brought him what he wanted. . . a choo choo.   He got a train table with the whole works.  It took Brad and I over two hours to put it all together, which was very good I thought.  It did come with blood, sweat, but no tears thank goodness.  On Christmas Eve afternoon, my mom, Tanya, and Heath came down to go to church with us at Hope.  It was a wonderful service and a great way to start off our Christmas celebrations.  After church we went to Hubbard to celebrate with Mom and Mike.  Brandon and Casey also came out after their church was out.  We had a great time and Jaxson loved all of his presents that he got, especially the Thomas the Train riding toy from Brandon and Casey.  On Christmas Day, we went to Eldora to have dinner with Grandma and Wendy and then we headed back to Hubbard to spend some time at Dad and Brenda’s.  We are so blessed that all of our family lives close by and that we are able to spend time with them on holidays.  On Christmas night we went to Gowrie to the Cathcarts.  We traveled in some pretty scary weather to get there.  Most of the way we had blowing and drifting snow and then about four miles from Gowrie was when we hit the ice.  Luckily it was only a few miles.  We celebrated Christmas with them that night and once again got so many nice things.  By this time Jaxson was a pro at handing out and opening the gifts.  On Friday, Karl, Lisa, and Laura came over for a prime rib dinner, which was excellent.  It was great seeing them and Jaxson enjoyed playing with Laura like always.  Then on Saturday, we braved the freezing rain again to get to Tanya and Heath’s house in Ankeny.  Luckily the weather wasn’t as bad as the news made it sound because we didn’t have any trouble getting there.  Dad, Brenda, Brandon and Dru came down for another Christmas.  Tanya and Heath made a couple soups and we got to play with their new Wii.  Jaxson got a huge kick out of that, especially the cow racing game.  Then from there, Jaxson went home with Dad and Brenda to spend a couple of days playing with them.  They took him to church, out to eat, and out to Brandon’s farm.  He had a blast. I worked Sat. and Sun. night so it worked out perfect for us and he didn’t have to go to daycare this morning.  I met them in Ames this afternoon to pick him up.  He was excited to be home after being on the road for five days.  So to sum it all up, we are tired and glad to be home, but we had a fabulous Christmas and feel so blessed to have been able to spend it with the ones we love the most.

“Yeah, a bath blizzard!”  I hope it works.
Yep, it works.
“AAHHHH, it’s a choo choo tent!”
. . . and a choo choo table.
Nana and Papa Hendricks’ Christmas tree

Another choo choo
Jaxson got a choo choo airbed from Papa and Nana Winter for when he has sleepovers at their house.
Andy is hogging Jaxson’s police car.
Brady’s snuggle time with Grandma
Of course the wrapping paper is more fun to play with.
Snuggle time with Papa.
Opening presents sure is tiring.
Another choo choo
“I wish Brady would quit crying.”
Jaxson’s buddy, Laura.
Our goofball headed to the next Christmas.
Cow racing with the Wii.
Working on a new puzzle.
It’s time to do a little fishing.
It’s not Christmas without a little snuggle by the fireplace.

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours, we wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Presurgical Consultation

Brandon had another appointment today with Dr. Carlstrom.  This was to go over the surgery and what to expect post-operatively.  Brandon, Brad, and my dad were all at the appointment, but do you think they would get the name of this?  No.  So I guess I can’t google it.  There probably wouldn’t be much on the computer anyways since there are only 20-30 documented cases of this in the world; however, Brandon is the first one to have this in his spine.  I guess it has been found elsewhere, like in the shoulders and knees.  Dr. Carlstrom said that if this goes well, he is going to write it up in a medical journal.  The surgery is now going to be next Wed. instead of Monday and he is expected to be in the hospital 3-4 days.  To start with, Dr. Carlstrom will only be making one incision in the back of the neck to remove the tumor, cyst, lesion, whatever you want to call it and to do the fusion.  The fusion is going to be a difficult one because this “thing” has been eating away at his cervical vertebrae, so there is going to be a lot of hardware put in and wired together. It is also important for them to get all of this out because if there is any left in, it will continue to grow and eat away at his bone.  The good news from the appointment is that Brandon might not have to wear a halo.  He won’t even wear a collar after surgery.  The bad news is that this is going to be a very painful recovery, but we all know that Brandon is tough and can handle pain, so maybe with a little . . . or a lot of help from narcotics, he’ll be OK.  About two weeks after his surgery he’ll come back for a follow-up appointment and for x-rays and if at that time the fusion looks like it has slipped or isn’t fusing like he wants it to, then he may have to have another surgery, an ACF (anterior cervical fusion), which is a fusion done from the front side of the neck and a halo might be placed.   So we will pray for a successful first surgery and for good pain control.

And The Fun Begins

Our Christmases started this weekend when we headed North to Eldora for my Buckley family Christmas.  The drive there was not that fun, as it was snowing and blowing.  We counted somewhere around 40 cars in the ditch along the way.  We got there safely and had a wonderful time.  It’s always great seeing the family and getting to spend some time with them.  Brad and Jaxson went to Gowrie from Eldora so that Brad could take care of Steve on Sunday while Kris was at work.  Steve is recovering well from his surgery.  I rode home with Heath and Tanya since I had to work and once again the roads were not the greatest.  We did quite a bit of drift busting on our way home.  Heath and I thought it was pretty fun, but Tanya, not so much.  I worked Sat. and Sun. and it was another good weekend.  We are gearing up for Christmas this week, more traveling, and trying to stay warm.

Making Christmas cookies.
What a good helper.
Snuggling with Grandma
Jaxson and cousin Lauren playing
What a nut!

Brandon’s Biopsy Results

Well, they’re back.  Dr. Carlstrom called Brandon today to let him know that the results are something that no one has ever seen before.  Brandon couldn’t remember what they were calling it, but he’s going to call and get the exact diagnosis tomorrow.  Leave it to Brandon to be the rarest of the rare.  So rare in fact, that Dr. Carlstrom already has several doctors that want to be in on the case.  We do know for sure that this is NOT cancer, so praise God for that.  Brandon is going to have an extensive surgery on Monday, Dec. 29th at Iowa Methodist.  The surgery is going to consist of an incision in both the front and back of his neck where they will remove the cyst and put in pins and screws to stabilize his neck.  He will have to wear a halo for several weeks to support his neck so that healing can occur.  Dr. is estimating a four day hospital stay.  Brandon just came out and asked Dr. Carlstrom if he feels comfortable doing this and he said “Yes.  The only thing different about this surgery is the type of cyst I am taking out.”  Dr. Carlstrom also said that he will need to be off of work for at least three months, and for those of you that know Brandon, this is going to be extremely difficult for him as he also has the farm to run.  At least we know that he will be in the best of hands at IMMC as he will be on Brad’s floor for most or all of his stay.  Brad will make sure that he has the best nurses around the clock.  Please continue to keep Brandon in your prayers as I’m sure this is not going to be a pain free journey.

Health Updates

Steve had his right hip replacement done yesterday and is doing very well. We went and saw him lastnight and this morning and he really didn’t have any complaints.  The little pain that he’s had is tolerable.  He is on a Dilaudid PCA (pain button) so he has been pretty sleepy with that.  He got up for the first time this morning and he said that it went OK.  The pain wasn’t too bad, but he did get pretty lightheaded, so they got him back to bed shortly after getting up.  We anticipate that he’ll be going home on Friday if all goes as planned; hopefully the Thursday ice/snowstorm that we’re supposed to get won’t keep him there longer.  Kris is now feeling better and made it down yesterday in the snowstorm.  Brad took Jaxson into the Dr. yesterday because it seemed that his bronchitis was back after being off of the antibiotics for a few days.  It turned out that he has one ear infection and is working on another, which I never would have guessed.  The Dr. also said that his lungs didn’t sound quite as bad as they did a couple weeks ago, but still put him back on the prednisone.  He’s feeling better already.  He only had one coughing spell during the night lastnight as opposed to the whole night like it was on Monday and his nose is no longer a continuously running faucet.

Papa’s last meal. . . ice cream.
Jaxson cheering up Papa.

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