Update 4/17/13

So asking for another prayer request please… Collin has been waking up a lot tonight and is telling us with hand and head signals that he is in pain. It is incredibly hard to see him suffer like this and we are praying that he can pee out the fluid in his intestines so that the swelling will go down and they can officially close him up. Tonight he woke up when they were changing his dressing and it was pretty scary. So please pray that he will not have too many more lucid moments until they are able to close him up. Thanks Amanda
 p.s. Will include one picture, but only one as its not the easiest thing to see…..

Update 4/16/13

The last two days have been such a gift from God. Yesterday Jack came over to play with us for a good part of the day and the boys were SO excited. When I went to pick him up both Collin and Coop wanted to go with. Coop went in his pajamas and boots and Collin begged to ride with. When we got home we decided to go to the park. Collin originally wanted to ride his bike and I was pretty nervous because I was going to the park by myself with the boys. I was going to push Coop and Jack in the stroller, but I was afraid that he’d be tired by the time we got to the park and I’d have to figure out a way to push his bike and the stroller with the three boys back. That worry was taken care of when we pulled his bike out and it had a flat tire. So all three boys rode in the stroller to the park. That park didn’t last long because it wasn’t the park he wanted to go to I guess. So we ended up going to the “library” park and that park has a ton of climbing stuff. There is a rock wall, a rope climb, a spiderweb climbing thing and a few others. He did everything even the fireman pole. I couldn’t believe it, I was terrified the whole time and stood by him because I thought he’d be too weak, but he did everything! It was so cool to see and so fun to watch all of the boys play together. Then we got lunch and all the boys laid down for naps. Last night Wendy and Jeremiah got here (my aunt and cousin from New Orleans) and Collin and JJ spent the whole night hanging out.
Today it was much the same. We made pancakes this morning, went to the library park again, played bat and ball outside tonight and he even rode his bike. You’d never know that he was sick at all aside from the nose tube and hairless head. He was smiling and laughing and being goofy and hitting balls clear across the yard. God has blessed us with two days of beautiful weather which allowed us to be outside together and allowed Collin to laugh and play like he always has. He’s eaten amazingly well the last week on top of having feeds at night. So this is the best place he could be in headed into surgery- great numbers, healthy, strong, and happy despite knowing that surgery is coming tomorrow.
I am so thankful for the last week and the many answers to prayers and I pray that tomorrow is another huge answer to prayer. I pray that they can SAFELY remove the tumor without any complications and that he would come through the surgery strong. I pray that he will feel God’s presence with him and that the surgeons would know His ultimate presence as well. I am scared and tomorrow will be the hardest day of my life, but there is a calm tonight in knowing that even though I will be letting him go into surgery tomorrow, that God will be with him before, during, and after and will not leave his side- and as Collin knows well- God loves him even more than mom and dad do and let me tell you- that’s a lot! Please keep him in your prayers tonight and tomorrow and the next few days as God hears every prayer. I will try and write short updates tomorrow, but we will see how it goes- no promises- but I will try. Thank you to all of you who will be keeping our precious son in your prayers.

Thankful for…
* So many great times with the boys the last week.
* Collin being in the best position possible entering into this surgery. 
* God- who loves Collin even more than we do and will be with him tomorrow every moment.
* The countless prayers of family and friends who are constantly praying on his behalf.
* Collin being able to be a “normal” kid the last week and play and laugh and smile.
Please pray…
* That the surgeons would know the presence of God in the operating room and would be guided accordingly. That complications would be minimized and the entire tumor would be able to be removed. That the surgeons will walk out of the operating room and not be able to deny the presence of God.
* That the surgery would go well enough to allow the surgeons to pull some of the tubes from Collin before he has a chance to see them and get frightened.
* For strength for Collin and the entire family as we approach surgery, during surgery, and after surgery. That we all may feel the love of God as well as the presence of God and that we may feel peace that passes all understanding.
* That Tom and I will be able to be strong tomorrow morning in pre-op and show Collin our confidence in God and not our many fears. That he will not be frightened of what lies ahead but will know the presence of God.
* That because of this trial in our lives, that there will be no one that will be able to doubt the absolute power of God in all of this.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Update 4/9/13

Not much to say today other than we got to go home which is great. I’m praying heavily that this time home will help Collin mentally and frankly help us all mentally as this last stay was really a challenge being apart. He asked all morning when Grandpa was coming because I had no car and dad had to pick us up. We didn’t end up getting out til around 3 so he asked most of the afternoon as well. This time leaving though wasn’t like the last times we’ve gotten out. In the past he has planted his face against the door just waiting to get out and suddenly became chatty upon leaving. Today it was a pretty quiet ride home. When we got in there was no running and screaming, just walking over to the couch and laying down. He did try to eat bits and pieces tonight so it’s clear he’s a bit more comfortable being here, but he’s just not Collin. He is very weak, frail, and doesn’t smile much. I did manage to catch him smiling at Coop tonight though when Coop was dancing so that was nice to see. Tonight he is sleeping in his own bed for the first time in almost 3 weeks, but it was a bit of a battle getting him in there because he now says he scared of the dark. Honestly, I don’t know that it’s the dark that scares him, I think this entire thing scares him. Today with the help of a doctor, we talked about his upcoming surgery. It was not at all an in depth conversation, but he did express his fear in the whole thing. He kept saying it would hurt- and regardless of what we said he still didn’t seem to believe us. Then we talked about how he needed it so they can get the “yucky” stuff out. I wish that meant that we were done after this because it would be easier to explain this, but it’s not the end of treatment. We then talked about how he would have stitches and I explained I had stitches and surgery on my thumb once and they put me to sleep and Grandma Rhatigan had surgery on her tummy as well. I even hinted at mom tonight that maybe she could show him her scar sometime this week and talk to him more about it. All in all I think it was a good starter conversation, but I think that we will need to talk a bit more about it. I did tell him that he shouldn’t be scared because he wouldn’t be alone and I asked him who would be there with him and he said “God”. He also knows from many conversations that God loves him even more than dad or I do.  I am so thankful that he knows this and I pray desperatly that this will help comfort him and make him not feel so scared. This is the same hope I cling to as well, that he is not alone. There is a picture that I was sent in the mail recently and my aunt also posted online that I now have in my purse as a constant reminder for the upcoming surgery and I’m going to include it on the website. I am going to be honest and say that my stomach is entirely in knots recently. It is scary to think that one week from tomorrow my son will go into the biggest operation of his life and I have no clue what God has in plan for him. I am comforted to know that whatever happens that God is there with him. Either God Himself will bring him through the surgery, of God will take him home. I am so comforted that no matter what happens that God is there, but I won’t lie, I am terrified at the prospect of losing my son. This isn’t a small surgery and we are so close now. I do NOT want him to see my fear because I know it will not help him, but I would be lying if I said that I’m not scared. It’s not that I’m scared of him dying, because if he does then he is in a far better place. But my heart would forever be broken. I don’t know how I will be able to send him into surgery next week, I want to cling onto him now…. but obviously me clinging to him will not make this better and will only frighten him. So I will continue to pray for strength and help and I ask that you all will pray the same for not only myself but for Tom and the rest of our families.
Thursday we have the final meeting with the surgeon, the first part he needs to examine Collin and I asked that Collin would be able to leave before we really get into things. I don’t think that it is beneficial for him to hear all of the details and risks and mentally we really need to protect him, so he will be hanging out with someone while Tom and I finish our meeting with the surgeon. Then he has to have labs drawn, be seen by the nutritionist and examined by the oncologist. I should also mention that he is now on full feeds through his tube 24 hrs a day until surgery. We are really trying to get him stronger before surgery. He can still eat whenever he wants to, and should have the urge because technically the feeds aren’t going into his stomach. I would love to see him eat full meals in the next week in addition to his feeds. Anyway, then on Tuesday we are in the clinic in the morning for his last CT scan before surgery. I guess they use this scan in the operating room as kind of a map. I pray that this scan shows even more shrinkage of the tumor. Wednesday is surgery and it is scheduled at 10 so we have to be there at 8:30 for pre-op and the surgery is expected to take anywhere from 8-10 hrs. So it will be an excruciatingly long day. Anyway, enough for tonight as I should get some sleep now that I finally can. Thank you again to everyone who is supporting us and praying for Collin- there are no words to express how much we appreciate it.

Thankful for…
* Being able to go home.
* The prayers of so many for Collin.
* The knowledge and comfort of knowing that God loves Collin even more than we do and he is never alone.
* The brief conversation we were able to have with him about surgery which will hopefully open the door to discuss this more.

Please pray…

* That the pre-op scan will show that the tumor has shrunk even more.
* That this visit home will help Collin to eat better, regain strength, and help him mentally.
* For the right words for us as parents to explain to Collin the surgery and help to relieve his fears. That he will know that God is with him and will not fear entering into this surgery because he knows he is not alone.
* That the surgeons would know the presence of God in the operating room and would be guided accordingly. That complications would be minimized and the entire tumor would be able to be removed. That the surgeons will walk out of the operating room and not be able to deny the presence of God. 
* For strength for the entire family as we approach surgery and during surgery. That will all may feel the love of God as well as the presence of God and that we may feel peace that passes all understanding.
* That because of this trial in our lives, that there will be no one that will be able to doubt the absolute power of God in all of this.

Update 4/6/13

So this morning I was at home with the boys and when we woke up we cuddled a bit and then made pancakes and brownies to take to the hospital. Coop thought this was wonderful because that meant that he got to put all of the ingredients in the pancakes instead of having to share this duty with his brother. We loaded up and came here and spend some time altogether and then Tom and I switched and he took the boys home. The day was pretty uneventful here and I was a bit saddened because Collin really didn’t eat anything. However, they have his feeds turned up to almost full force now after days of edging it up- so I guess we have to take one step at a time for his stomach. He is also now really scared to eat because yesterday he wanted to eat a tootsie roll that he got in his Easter basket from the hospital, but when he swallowed it, it got stuck on his tube which caused some major discomfort and also caused him to vomit. So today every time I asked him if he wanted something to eat, he told me he was scared it was going to get stuck on his tubie and hurt. So that is a new item for my prayer list tonight because I really would love it if he could eat as well as the tube feedings. He is now back into his normal weight range so that is good and tonight they officially took him off of TPN. They also switched out his pole so instead of him having a pole with three complicated branches, he now only has one pole with very minimal accessories. Today his counts were again marvelous- his WBC was 5.3 and his ANC was 3551. Again, I have not seen these kind of numbers at all since starting his treatments so I am again just in awe of God’s answers to our prayers. His hemoglobin and platelets are still in need of rising so that is the main focus of my prayers for his numbers. Tomorrow I think Tom and I are playing switcheroo so that I can be home with the other two again and he can spend time with Collin. Mom and Dad will also be back tomorrow night after our family leaves their house. Mom is still not cleared to work due to her injuries- so she’s coming here and will get no complaints from me. Looks like unless something drastic happens we are set to go home on Monday which will be SO wonderful!
The highlight of the day was the run/walk. Tom and I had originally hoped to at least have one of us attend, but with Collins current hospitalization it just didn’t work. However, I did get a few texts this morning saying people were on their way to the walk and I got to see some pictures that my mom had taken. I sat at the computer this afternoon and just cried tears of joy. I am humbled everyday at the support we have been given. Even if this walk had been completely free and hadn’t raised a since penny, just seeing everyone there to support us was SO amazing. I just couldn’t believe it! There was a ton of our family there (even extended family), friends, neighbors, past co-workers, and some of my past students and their parents. The more faces I looked at, the more tears streamed down my face. Not to mention how exciting it was to pick out the faces of some of my students and see how much they had grown! SO COOL! So anyway, I just want to say thank you again to everyone who attended or were there in thought. I cannot express how much this means to us. I even showed the pictures to Collin and he was truly looking at them all as I explained who different people were. I had to laugh though, because I told him to look at all of their shirts because they were wearing the shirts he picked… and his response was “well not everyone is wearing my shirt…” and I had to explain that they ran out and not everyone got one. But how cool for him to actually get to see so many people supporting him.
I will say it one last time, even though this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, I cannot express how much this has taught me about God and how truly blessed we are.

Thankful for….
* God’s promises and answers to prayers (again beyond what this mom could even imagine possible.)
* Collin’s amazing increase in numbers.
* The amazing support and prayers of so many people.
* All the people that were at OHS today for the run/walk and those who couldn’t be there but wanted to.

Please pray…

* That Collin would be able to eat food and that he would not be scared of eating with his tubie.
* That Collin’s platelets and hemoglobin would rise to normal levels soon so that all of his numbers are at the highest for surgery.
* That we would be able to go home on Monday as we all need a mental break before surgery.
* That Collin would be able to smile more with each day and that he would be able to smile at the doctors and nurses as well as they love him a lot but he has been pretty crabby lately (which is understandable).

* For the upcoming surgery- that the doctors would have the knowledge to know when it is a good time to operate and most optimal for his body- without giving the tumor time to increase.
* For the right words for us as parents to explain to Collin the surgery that is about to take place. That he will know that God is with him and will not fear entering into this surgery because he knows he is not alone.
* That the surgeons would know the presence of God in the operating room and would be guided accordingly. That complications would be minimized and the entire tumor would be able to be removed.
* That because of this trial in our lives, that there will be no one that will be able to doubt the absolute power of God in all of this.

Update 4/4/13

Today was a huge answer to prayers! We had the NJ tube placed this morning and it went well and when we got back to the room I found out that Collin’s numbers were beyond what I even thought they could be… his WBC was 1.7 and his ANC was 1071. He needed his ANC to be 1000 to head into surgery and it’s already passed that. I haven’t seen his ANC get this high in many rounds so I can only say that this was no small answer to prayer. His electrolytes are finally in normal range so he is back on a more normal regimen of IV fluids. They also decided to start to wean him from the morphine today which means we’re one step closer to going home (not for a few days yet though…). They also started him on pedialyte through is NJ to see if his stomach would tolerate it and then later on in the day they mixed it with a form of pediasure…. and he hasn’t had any diarrhea yet today! I have so many things to be thankful for today that I can’t even express to you how happy I am. I know that these may seem like small things to some- but these are huge- I was hoping for one or two of these things today, but I certainly wasn’t expecting all of these. He also did try and eat something tonight- a few french fries, a bite of mac and cheese, a bit of ice cream, and a piece of candy. Not healthy mind you, but he tried to eat something- again no small victory. He is even talking to us after getting his NJ- he’s not thrilled mind you, but he didn’t completely shut down like he did last time.
The thrill of the day was getting permission to take him off the floor. Tom called and said it was beautiful outside so I asked permission for him to go out- not at all expecting them to say yes. But they did on the condition that nurse Theresa (one of his favorite nurses) would go too as he is still in need of oxygen occasionally and he had a morphine pump on his pole! So we waited for Tom to get here, loaded Collin up in the wheelchair, and pushed him and his large pole onto the elevator and headed for the first floor. He could barely lift his head off the wheelchair but he did manage to point and talk to us and told us he wanted to go to the gift shop. Dad was a softy today and got Collin some candy, a flying helicopter toy to try outside and even a scooby doo which he now has sleeping with him. Then we went and looked at the fish tank and then went outside into the “healing garden”. It was indeed beautiful and we stood out there and tested out his new helicopter. You wind it and it shoots off of a gun high into the air. He even smiled a little bit. Then he asked to go back to the room, but first we had to go downstairs to find Tugg. I’d say we were out of the room for 45 minutes or so and boy was it nice just to take him out. He fell right back asleep when we got in the room but we thought it was a good thing to just get him out. I was hoping that tonight he would try walking but we didn’t quite get to that. Think we wore him out just leaving the floor. So that is my goal for tomorrow. He did wake up tonight though at about 7:30 and wanted to watch a movie and finally just went to bed around midnight. So he was up for a good stint.
So I would again just like to say thank you for praying. There is no way for me to express what a blessing today was and what a huge answer to prayer it was and I know that is due in no small part to the hundreds if not thousands of people who are reading the updates and praying specifically. Please keep them coming for healing in the next week or so and a safe and successful surgery.
This weekend is a really cool event back in my home town. It is a run/walk that was originally started to support two of my past teachers when they had cancer and this year they chose Collin- he even got to pick out the color of the t-shirts. I’m bummed we can’t be there, but so excited that our families and friends can be there! They are working on having a video camera there for people participating to say “hi” to Collin- and that will be so cool for him to see how many people are supporting him and praying for him! I’ll include the link below just in case you’re interested in knowing more about it. High School Link  – then click on McFlurry Run/Walk Information

Thankful for…
* A successful NJ placement with minimal issues- he’s talking to us and he even tried eating.
* The incredible rise in Collin’s numbers and stable electrolytes.
* A day without pain and diarrhea for Collin.
* A venture out of the room- it was mentally good for everyone!
* God giving us nurse Theresa today- she is so perfect for him and especially on days when he has a procedure.
* A God who gave us incredible answers to prayer today.
* The countless people who care and are praying specifically for Collin’s needs.

Please pray…
* That Collin’s numbers would continue to rise, that he would get completely weened from the morphine, and that he would tolerate his tube feedings.
* That Collin will keep working on eating and develop a healthy appetite soon so he can be that much healthier for surgery.
* That he will be able to get up tomorrow and walk for the first time in weeks.

* That we would be able to go home soon and be together as a family and that we could once again as parents see our boys play together.
* For the upcoming surgery- that the doctors would have the knowledge to know when it is a good time to operate and most optimal for his body- without giving the tumor time to increase.
* For the right words for us as parents to explain to Collin the surgery that is about to take place. That he will know that God is with him and will not fear entering into this surgery because he knows he is not alone.
* That the surgeons would know the presence of God in the operating room and would be guided accordingly. That complications would be minimized and the entire tumor would be able to be removed. 
* That because of this trial in our lives, that there will be no one that will be able to doubt the absolute power of God in all of this.

p.s. I’ve included a picture of his pole from today. Nurse Theresa compared it to a tree that was slowly losing it’s leaves, because as he regains health pumps and other attachments disappear. There is also a picture of his hand- because lately he is obsessed with band-aids and thinks they cure any pain… at one point this week I think I counted 6 on his hands. I have now developed a system where he has to take at least 1 or 2 off to put a new one on…

Update 3/28/13

So today was day I wasn’t planning that’s for sure. Was up most of the night balancing giving Collin meds and dealing with him throwing up. He also had a temp that kept coming and going all night. This morning at 8 he threw up so bad that he threw up his NJ tube and I had to frantically get it untaped from his face and pull it out. After that, we both slept some. I left his IV fluids running longer than I was told because I figured he needed them since his NJ was out. At about noon I took his temp again and it was 101.5. So I called the clinic and ended up bringing him in. I knew we were going to be admitted but I wasn’t expecting what happened next. We were brought upstairs and got checked in as usual- and then I started noticing that there were more people coming into the room than normal. What I ended up finding out was that they were giving him fluids because his feet and hands were cold. I don’t know exactly what that means but that was funky, his BP was funky, his heart rate was up and his potassium was really low. After they gave him an IV bolus they did another round of vitals and it was still not where they wanted it to be, so they did another one. They did 3 one after another and the last one they did by hand and his BP kept dropping and his heart rate was still up. They kept checking his feet which I hadn’t seen before so I knew something was up. They weren’t saying much and too many people were coming into the room. Then the fellow came in and told me that she was calling the ICU docs for precautionary reasons. Pretty much at that point I started crying. I felt so helpless. I had taken him in three times this week and I had given him IV’s and NJ feedings and still this was happening. So long story short, there ended up being 3 people in the room and then suddenly there were like 10 people in the room and they were hooking him up to stuff. He wasn’t too with it, but when he did say something it was to ask the ICU doc if they were putting his nose tubie back in… which is obviously a top concern for him. Anyway, so now we are in ICU because he is in septic shock. I don’t really know too much except that he is fairly stable from what I understand. They gave him platelets, plasma, and will be giving him blood tonight later. They are also giving him multiple antibiotics because this all stems from an infection somewhere. They said because they are giving him so much fluid to help him not be septic, he will also swell pretty bad in fact his fluid could leak into his lungs so they are monitoring that close. I’m just praying he holds steady and even shows improvement tonight. So not much sleep for mom and I am thankful that I know there are so many praying right now… will write more when I know more.
Thankful for…
* The quick response of doctors and nurses caring for my son.
* A God who is constantly by our side and holding Collin in His hand.
* Chrissy and Tom being able to be here as I was pretty much a wreck.
* Those of you who are praying for our baby.
 
Please pray…
* That Collin would improve and be able to go back to the Hot Unit.
* That Collin would no longer be toxic and they would get the infection under control.
* That Collin would be able to feel better and eat and drink well when he is able.