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It's all about me!

In 1993 I had just completed my foster parent training. Little did I know that just a few mintues from my home a sweet baby was being born. That baby would soon become my son.

Jophie was born April 9, 1993. I received my foster parent license in the mail on May the 8th and on May the 9th just one month after his birth I receieved that call.

At 26 I was very nervous to be going to "just peek" at this sweet but very ill baby boy. This would be my first foster child and a baby at that! The next 30 minutes driving towards the hospital seemed like an eternity.

Brain damaged

Vegetable

Medically Fragile

CT Scans show sporadic damage

Guarded Life Expectancy

That was just a few of the words I would hear that day.

Did I hear those words?

Yes.....Sort of

My eyes could not get past that beautiful baby lying there. His eyes and that hair....Oh my! There was so much more to him than all those big words and tests. He was small at just under 5 pounds. Small but mighty would soon outline the life of one baby boy who many thought had a grim future.

Yes! He was indeed about to show the world just how much more there was to him!

As we began our journey together, it became apparent to me that we were on no ordinary road to say the least. In the beginning the road was full of many bumps as we battled seizures, severe spasticity, feeding issues, many screaming sleepness nights and days as he battled drug and alcohol withdraws.

On February 11, 1997 just 2 months before his 5th birthday, I made this perfect little boy my son and so began our journey as mother and son with a much bumpier road full of its own share of curves, twists, and turns.

His health began to fail slowly but steadily as even more problems began to tumble into the mix. He began having numerous infections, pneumonias, and rashes of unknown origin. The severeity of his cerebral palsy and brain damage were becoming more evident with his age as he appeared to "stand still" in time cognitively. His motor skills were almost non-existant.

At this time it was determined he portrayed skills that of a newborn to 6 month old. Many tests and feeding studies were performed to check for reflux and aspiration as we felt he was doing both based on the chronic lung infections. The tests continued to prove non-conclusive.

By the age of 5 he became infected with varicella pneumonia from the chicken pox vaccine. YES it is unusual but it was what it was. I still thank God every day for my dear friend and sons pediatrician for listening to my heartfelt plea from his hospital room that early 3:00 a.m. morning. Even when the attending doctors felt I was wrong she believed me when I said, "He's dying before my very eyes". Sherries love for Jophie would prove to save his life that day. Thank you mu dear friend!

Less than 6 hours later he was being rushed to the PICU in DIC(Disseminating Intervascular Coagulation), shock as well as a severe case of chicken pox outside and within his lungs. Every breath would prove to rupture those blisters spreading it even more. His respirations were in excess of 80, his heart rate was zooming. My baby was slipping away fast.

Papers were being shoved in my face. Sign this

Sign that

"Do you want us to save him?

"Is he a full code?"

Extraordinary measures taken?

Can we give blood if we need to?

Those were the questions being tossed at me as they gently guided me from his room. One last kiss and one last "I love you" were what I thought would be my last.

Hours later by the grace of God AGAIN......Jophie was stable but very critical

He would remain critical for several days which led into weeks and then months. This was by far prove to be one of the worst emotional roller coaster rides we had been on thus far.

Over the course of time he would prove to not just me but to many doctors, nurses, and onlookers just how strong a fighter he was and indeed how powerful our God really is. God moved mountains for Jophie and changed many lives during that hospital stay including mine.

The next few months things settled down a bit. He continued to battle chronic pneumonias, infections, and sometimes rare/odd super bugs however, we made the best of it and were able to make some wonderful memories!

By the time he was nearing 6 the pneumonias and infections were pretty much constant. Feeding was becoming more of an issue. Don't get me wrong Jophie LOVED food! His favorites were cotton candy yogurt, pintos and cheese from taco bell....(TONS of sour cream please!) :O) In fact I had just introduced him to chicken nuggets, cheese burgers, chili, and sphagetti! I had found a way to grind up just about anything with a combination of bread and apple sauce making it possible for him to eat.

Just beyond 6 years he was literally bombarded again with not one but 2 superbugs. Staph E. and enterobactor....UGH! By this time in his life, infectious disease had become our closest friends. Jophie continued to be named in their medical books for oddities and super bugs.(I would have rather he been anonymous).

Regardless, this hospital stay lasted nearly 6 months and once again he would meet face to face with death. The super bugs that he had were not only found in his blood but also in the cultures from his lungs. The only way for those to be there would be from aspiration. It was determined that testing be done again for the reflux and aspiration. The testing did indeed prove he was and most likely had been since the age of 2 ("Silently aspirating and refluxing") It had went undetected until that moment.

My world so I thought stopped. The one and only thing that Jophie and I could do together that was "normal" was eating and they were about to take that from us. I fought and wrestled with God. NO! I did not want this to happen. Don't take away the only "normal" thing we can do together. He enjoys eating so much!.

Finally, after tons of praying, struggling, fighting and arguing with God literally, I realized it was either this or he was going to die. My focus switched very quickly to being thankful for his life. I also knew that even though we had been dealt another blow, with my help Jophie would learn to adapt and we both would come out better and stronger than before!

All food at that time was stopped forever, a central line was placed, TONS of steroids were put on board for healing his lungs, many big gun antibiotics to battle these 2 bugs were being used AND TPN and Lipids were started to sustain him until which time he could recover enough for surgery.

The plan was to perform a fundoplication(Wrap theesophogus around itself to stop the refluxing and aspirating), place a feeding tube and cut the muscle where the intestines meet the stomach to create quicker dumping.

Without all the food and liquid that his little lungs had grown so accustomed to, his body slowly began to heal. When he showed what we felt was the best improvement, his surgery was scheduled. That 2 hour surgery turned into 12 because of many complications. The surgeon was able to perform all but one of the procedures. She was unable to cut the muscle for quicker dumping due to time spent under anethesia, lack of access due to his mishapen back/chest, and scar tissue from damage sustained over the years.

Jophie healed slowly after surgery due to his puny state to begin with and by the first of the year we were able to return home. At home IV therapy was continued via his central line by me for the next 6 weeks. We had to continue for 6 more weeks after that because his blood was still testing positive for the staph E. Finally, all blood work came back negative and his central line was pulled.

During the summer/fall of 2004, Jophie would spend nearly 5 months hospitalized facing death toe to toe once again.

During this stay he would be infected with Proteus Morabilis TWICE, Pseudomonas, Stenotrophomonis Maltophilia, A pleural effusion and thank God it resolved itself, An AVM(Arterial Vascular Malformation) which caused a GI bleed and surgery was required to repair it, Paraflu(Which we both had for 2 weeks), Psueodomonis became active AGAIN, many allergic reactions to antibiotics, Tons of side effects, withdrawls, rashes, severe diarrhea, Neutropenia(Low white count), Pancytopenia(Low white count, red count, and platelets), blood transfusions, adrenal failure, AND finally home! Phew! What a Ride!

One year later he was still trying to recover. His body was battered, much weaker, and we continued to control break through seizures that at one time were mostly controlled and were unable to fully wean him from the very steroids that saved his life. We now fear his adrenals have failed because of it. We're hopeful the adrenals will begin working on their own again but, until that time the steroids that have caused this problem are once again saving his life.

Two years later in 2006 he would be hospitalized with Mycoplasma and C-Diff. Fortunately, I was able to bring him home after only a weeks stay. I along with Jophies nurses would continue a 6 week long treatment regimen to kill those nasty bugs. It was during this time that I finally accepted the fact that I just couldn't keep track of all his medications. The many medications he was taking multiple times during the day made that abundantly clear. I usually manage just fine however, when he is ill you have to add the "extras" on TOP of what he already is taking and thats when my eyes begin to cross. The solution. A dry erase board mounted on my living room wall.:0)

March 2008 would prove to be another life altering hospital stay. After nearly going into respiratory failure, Jophie was transported via ambulance to the hospital where he landed in the PICU for the next 3 weeks in very critical condition.

Over the years Jophies back/shape has gotten much worse making it next to impossible to treat him during a crisis. Fortunately, the wonderful PICU docs and staff were able to stabilize him on CPAP rather than placing him on the vent. He responded very well to this treatment and it would prove to save his life.

Tests would reveal an active Pseudomonas again. For those of you who haven't followed Jophie, he is colonized with Pseudomonas meaning it never goes away but rather goes into an inactive state. The plan is to keep those evil bug colonies down to a small number all the while trying to build up Jophies good army who are in a constant battle to keep those evil ones at bay! I like to think of it as dragon slaying. Now if I could just find me a knight to slay these dragons we might be in business ;)

Because of Jophies mishapen body and the poor state of his overall health it was determined that a trach was in order to prolong his life, give him a better quality as well as make it possible to effectively treat him during a crisis all of which I felt were very important if not life sustaining. What I didn't know was how long it was going to take to get to this point nor what he/we would have to endure along the way.

To say the last 7 months have been horrendous would be an understatement of great magnitude. If fact, 6 weeks into this new trach lifestyle I began questioning my decision to even allowing it.

The last 6 months Jophie has struggled with severe pain. He was coughing up blood on a regular basis. He was unable to sit up or to vocalize nor were we able to explain to him why. He's dealt with fear and frustration over that inability to vocalize. There has been lots of crying and nashing of teeth. We both have had many sleepess nights and days as well as many trips to the ENT who was overseeing his progress as well as troubleshooting the problems. My battles with his insurance over yet more medical supplies related to this new trach continue as they still are limiting or refusing to cover needed/life sustaining items. The battles are neverending. Like I said we need a knight to slay these dragons who seem to come in many shapes and forms ;)

During the course of all this mess we were able to determine that Jophie was unable to wear the size or brand of trach that was originally placed. In fact it caused a huge ulcer and nearly bore a hole through his windpipe thus the cause of all the bleeding/pain/infections which led to a 2nd trip via ambulance due to his airway nearly closing off while Jophies nurse and I watched helplessly. Ugh! A smaller pediatric trach was placed in the ER then he was admitted for surgery number 2 where the new pediatric trach would be evaluated as to whether or not to keep it and repair any damage sustained by the old trach as well as remove any granulation tissue that may have formed. To make matters worse, were having to boil/reuse these trachs which was causing the reoccuring infections not to mention warping the trachs which also caused more damage/injury and could have easily broken off in his airway.

Fast forward to now October 2008.

Jophie is a much happier little guy! After many trials and lots of tears, we've found the brand of trach Jophie can use. Of course its custom and pricier than the rest but, its working and I for one am NOT going to muck with it! Would you? :0) His anxiety/fear has lessoned considerably if not completely during daily trach cleaning as well as his weekly trach changes. He's been able to sit up for short periods of time and often for a couple hours. We've really seen improvements just in the last 3 to 4 weeks and have actually been able to do some "fun" things with him for the first time in sooooo long! I can't tell you how healing that has been for not only Jophie but me as well. He's still swollen quite a bit from the massive steroids but we are successfully weaning trying ever so hard to get him back to his maintenance dose. If all goes well barring any complications he should be back to maintenance by the second week of December! Phew! It's been a long road on this wean starting way back in march but so far so good!

Daily we continue to juggle steroid dosages by increasing and decreasing based on illness, stress, infections etc...Infections and superbugs continue to plague him. He now sees a pediatric endocronoligist at Columbus Childrens Hospital for his failing/failed adrenals. 5 years ago I changed his formula to Novasource pulmonary which is geared towards children with breathing and respiratory problems. This formula has absolutely been miraculous unfortunately we've just found out they will no longer be making it so the hunt is on for something comparable. I've also incorporated 3 different types of yogurt including an immunity booster as well as crystal light immunity which we add daily to his water infusions. Our hope is these things will help his compromised immune system as well as the candida that plagues him off and on. He now weighs around 100 pounds and daily we are slowly seeing the sparkle return to his eyes. I know without a doubt the new things we are trying are helping but the real credit goes to our heavenly father who continues to keep Jophie wrapped in his loving/healing arms.

The years have indeed been hard on Jophie. He has endured more than most do in an adult life thats for certain. He's faced death on more occasions than I can count. He's battled the ventilator on more than one occasion and he's had his share of surgeries and surgical procedures. He also has edured and continues to endure more tests, painful and unpleasent procedures, braces and corrective equipment, treatments, surgeries, rare and deadly super bugs and faces many monsters beyond what any of our imaginations could fathom. Jophie accepts all these daily routines that help him to survive and yes....he does this with a SMILE!

As you can see Jophie is MY LIFE. He is in every single breath I breathe. I love him so much sometimes it hurts which only fuels me further to fight for what he needs. He is indeed a special little guy who continues to touch lives everywhere he goes. I've been witness to miracles beyond measure and watched Doctors and Nurses stand with mouths gaping open as they try to comprehend what has just occurred. Time and Time again he survives, proclaiming loudly for all who see...

There is a God, I am loved, and above all he is in control. I am not a mistake nor am I damaged goods. I'm perfectly made and worthy of saving.

A masterpiece.

If he does nothing else in this world except for changing hearts and making others see beyond his disabilities and really SEE HIM as the masterpiece that he is, THEN he's accomplished everything.

It's been a long, scary road. We continue to travel this road together. Jophie and I with Jesus holding our hands.

A hero is said to be someone who is distinguished by exceptional courage and strength.

My life has forever been changed by such a person.

He's myhero

He's my son.

I LOVE you Sweet Jophie!