Carver was normal.

Carver hit every milestone early.

At 10 months we rotated through “bye bye” “so big” “blow kisses” “where’s your hair” “what’s a dinosaur say” and every other pet trick there was in rapid sequence.

Carver started walking on the day he turned 11 months.

Carver knew every farm animal sound, he was by all means “smart” and “above average.”

I was annoyed having to sit through and drag my wild boy to every well child check. What is the point of these things anyway? These questions are so dumb. Who’s kid can’t do these things?

Of course every kid his age could say “mama” and “dada” and “uh-oh” – Carver has been doing that for months.

Of course he can walk along furniture, he’s been walking for MONTHS.

Of course he knows all of his farm animals and what sounds they make!

Of course he can help get himself dressed and bang two toys together!

I’d always leave those appointments wondering what the point of all those questions are.

It wasn’t until I had my second son, Gannon, who had more “no’s” than “yes’s”

Can he walk? No

Can he name one object? No.

Does he have 3 words? No.

Can he identify “mom” or “dad”? No.

Does he know any animal sounds? No.

Does he help himself get dressed? No.

I recall thinking, “Who’s kid can’t do these things?”

My kid. My kid can’t do those things.

It isn’t until your child isn’t reaching those milestones that those questions become very important.

I was naive. It’s a life lesson I wish I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

Instead of leaving the doctor’s office proud and confident I leave feeling defeated and like someone knocked the wind out of me.

Why? What is wrong with my Gannon? What more can we do? Where can we go?

How much is “wait and see” and how much is “take action now.”

They say “the earlier you catch it, the better the outcome” and then say “our soonest available appointment is in 6 months.” Which is it?

Where’s the line of “pushing too hard” and “not pushing hard enough?”

All the late night online searches, all of the rabbit holes I’ve dove down, the scheduling and rescheduling of appointments, the second opinions, the specialists, referrals, none of that has lead to a diagnosis.

So, my fellow moms, if you’re annoyed with all the silly questions at those never ending well child checks, if you don’t have concerns, if you’re hitting every mile stone, be grateful.

Answer YES with confidence to every silly question because some of us can’t.

I’M BACK! (and job update!)

Finally! I’m back! It has been a crazy weekend and past two days.

I didn’t get time to prep blog post for the week so I went three days without posting on the blog which is the longest I’ve gone since I started the blog in October. If you’re reading today, I am not dead and thank you for coming back. I appreciate your loyal readership and I promise to fill you in on all of the fun.

First of all I am officially working as a nurse on the floor in the critical care unit. There was a ton of orientation to the hospital, to the nursing department, and then on top of that I spent a week with my unit based educator going over general orientation to the actual critical care unit. I’ve spent the last few days of work actually working on the floor and actually taking care of patients which is so fun and it’s so good to be back with patients and not in a classroom. I have learned so much in the past month since I started my new job and grown exponentially. I’m super happy with the choice to take a leap of faith and try something new. You can read more on my switch from ER to CCU in this blog post.

One thing I want to note – the skills that I need to learn in my new role. A lot of people may think ER and CCU have similar skill sets but they don’t. Here are a few things that are new to me (this is not a whole list):

  • Endotracheal suctioning (clearing the gunk out of patient’s lungs when they have a tube down their throat)
  • Titrating IV drips (like 8+ IV drips) to control heart rate, blood pressure, pain and sedation. If you adjust one, it changes the other.
  • Feeding tubes and giving meds through PEG tubes and OG/NG tubes (putting medications directly into the stomach of people who are unconscious)
  • Managing ART lines (IVs go in veins, art lines go in arteries and you can get blood pressure readings by the second)
  • Drawing blood off of central lines
  • Providing care every two hours (this would look like repositioning, assessing, brushing teeth, deep suctioning, etc.) It’s not “new” to me or a foreign concept but just not really on an ER nurse’s radar. (and yes, if you have a tube down your throat you are getting your mouth cleaned out every two hours!)
  • Preventing sores of all kinds (this is HUGE!)
  • Tracheostomy cares
  • Ventilator management

Now keep in mind I came from a critical access hospital. These are all skills other ER nurses may be familiar with but I need some help with and that are new concepts for me!

I’ve worked three of the past four days and as you’re reading this I’m probably on my way to work right now. After today, I have the next six days off and I am so excited to get caught up on relaxing, sleep, hanging out with my boys, and now that Craig is out of the field there’s a chance I would see him before 9 PM!

Another exciting happening is that I turn 25 on Saturday! I don’t have any big plans but I really hope Craig and I can get some alone time together this weekend. I’m not sure exactly how that will look with all the Covid restrictions still in place for most of Iowa. We did lessen some of the restrictions in Northeast Iowa for certain counties but the county that we live in still has a lot of restrictions and some of the businesses are choosing not to open regardless of the governor’s orders for the protection and safety of their customers.

May is usually a fun month for me because of my birthday, nurses week, hospital appreciation week, and Mother’s Day. I didn’t expect a single gift for any of those days and I still likely won’t receive a gift for any of those days so I’m not getting my hopes up. One of the joys of having a joint checking account is that there are very few surprises. LOL!

Speaking of money, something really cool happened this week and our credit score hit 800. When we started our debt free journey we started out at a 646 credit score which isn’t terrible but definitely not where I wanted to be. Dave has mixed feelings about credit scores and he calls it a “I love debt score.” Ideally our debt score would be absolutely zero which would mean we have no debt and no accounts open which is the eventual goal but for now, I think the increase in over 150 points in just over a year is something to celebrate.

This week especially I’ve noticed how different my money habits have been. I’ve been to target several times this week just to get some housekeeping items while I’m in town and Craig needed a new belt for work. I’m not even tempted to look in any other section at target. Target was my kryptonite and I could easily spend 400+ dollars there before I had a budget, goals, and financial plans. Amazon is no longer an issue. I feel like I finally found content in the items I have and I believe in investing in quality items when I do make a purchase. It feels so much better to purge and get rid of clutter and extra items than it does to bring new items home.

This has been a huge transition over the past 12 months and I can feel the mindset shift when I am no longer tempted at my favorite stores. One thing I do plan on splurging on is a haircut and a hair color to get highlights back to blonde once the salons can open up again. My hair is in desperate need of TLC and the boys are outgrowing their quarantine haircuts.

I can’t wait to catch you up this week on some new goals I’m setting, cousin day at my moms house, the bathroom remodel, and this awesome new book that I found. For now I’m off to bed with my alarm set for 4:50 AM! I so appreciate all of my loyal readers, thanks for hanging in there the past few days, and I can’t wait to reconnect with you tomorrow morning at 5:30 AM! See you soon!

Don’t freak – not a real nose ring – just as needed when I’m feeling EXTRA cool

A Jar of Spaghetti Sauce

Mom came over the other day and we were going through pictures. We laughed, we cried, and we couldn’t believe how many pictures there were!

Mom and I came across this picture and while it looks pretty traumatic, mom and I busted out laughing.

First of all, it isn’t blood. It’s spaghetti sauce.

I’ve always been a picker. I pick food while it’s cooking, bread dough, cookie dough, and I’m usually full by the time the meal is ready because I’ve been picking this whole time. I started this habit at a very young age.

We were all cooking in the kitchen and mom was making pizza. I was making the rounds eating some cheese, picking some sausage, a pepperoni, and mom was getting mad at me! I would dip my whole finger I the jar of pizza sauce/spaghetti sauce and then lick it and go about my picking. Mom kept yelling at me to cut it out!

Finally, she caught me sticking my finger in the spaghetti sauce AGAIN when it fell off the counter, landed on the bottom of the jar and flew up in my face and my hair.

Now while I was embarrassed, I was more upset that I thought I ruined my FAVORITE Angelica shirt you can see pictured here. The shirt says “So I’m beautiful! Sue me!” Which is just the cherry on top.

Short sweet and to the point blog post today. I’m exhausted. We spent all day running here and there. Carver’s stubbornness is shining through today and we all need a good night’s rest. I would have NO idea where he gets it from 😉

From ER Nurse to CCU Nurse!

Everyone has been asking about my new job as a critical care nurse! Well, here goes:

It’s kind of a sad nurse’s day for me. I’m not an ER nurse anymore and I’m barely considered a CCU nurse.

I’m in between two careers right now. I’m closing my 5 year chapter of being an ER nurse’s and only 3 weeks into my journey of being a critical care nurse. I held so much of my personal identity in my career as an ER nurse. While I’m so happy with my new job, I can’t help but recognize the stark differences between ER and CCU.

Patients turn around so quickly in the ER. Someone comes in sick, you make them better, they go home or move on to another unit or hospital. In contrast, in the CCU, I would be caring for 2 patients for a full 12 hour shifts sometimes days in a row. While the turnaround is still faster than most other inpatient units, it still isn’t as fast paced as the ER.

In the ER, I need to know a little about a lot. I need to know enough about nose bleeds to ask the right questions and collect the right instruments (there are certain suction tips, packing, techniques, medications etc) I need to know enough about STD testing, OB patients, heart attacks, traumas, casting, splints, poisonings, court committals, cancer, etc. to help whoever comes through the door. The variety is invigorating. I never know what skill set I’ll be using in that shift. However, I never spend too much time on much of any specific disease process before I move on to the next patient. Now in the CCU, I’ll need to shift my mindset to know a LOT about my patients specific disease process and treatment.

In the larger hospital, things aren’t my responsibility. It is SO strange. Not every phone call that comes to the unit is for me. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the entire hospital anymore. In fact, very little of the greater happenings in the hospital in my shift involve me. Where as at a smaller hospital I have a good idea of if OB is busy or closed, how many patients are on med surg, if the ambulance is out, if they have an eye day in same day services, etc. My world now revolves around one or two patients. That’s my entire responsibility. While I can help my neighbors out on the unit, I’m not responsible for taking phone calls, managing transfer crews, taking the house supervisor phone, starting an IV in CT, troubleshooting visitor issues, responding to a code, paging severe weather warning over head, or just generally keeping the hospital functioning. I’m just a nurse who shows up and takes care of patients! That’s a HUGE difference coming from a critical access hospital.

My heart hurts a little time every time the helicopter leaves or I hear the ambulance whizzing by. I want to be on the receiving end of the emergency. I want the rush again. That being said, I’m well aware that the CCU will brings its own kind of rush in due time.

However, there’s nothing like being that first responder, the cutting of the clothes, the dirt and the blood, getting that IV access, pushing the life saving meds, and then the feeling of accomplishment when the patient is stabilized and transferred to definitive care. That rush of knowing what to do and being a contributing part of the team, That feeling of truly being a NURSE and knowing I can show up and make the difference and see the results of my hard work and experience change patient outcomes. I love that kind of critical thinking.

But now I feel very new and very unsure of myself. I’m so far outside of my comfort zone and what I’m used to. I feel small. I feel capable, I’ve got an incredible team, but I miss my predictable-I can handle anything-comfort zone. I miss being the one who knew the answer. I miss being sure of myself.

It will all come with time. I don’t want you to think I don’t like my new job because I do love it. I know this move is the best decision I could have made. My ER heart is just hurting a little on this eve of International Nurse’s Day and I’m ready to feel confident and comfortable again.

I made a commitment to never get too comfortable. I firmly believe that you can’t grow or learn when you are too comfortable. I took this job to get out of my box, I wanted a challenge, I wanted something new, I needed a new environment and I am getting exactly what I asked for. I’m growing and learning leaps and bounds. I can’t stress how COOL the people I work with are. I feel so welcome to their team. The hospital is GREAT and I can tell people love their jobs. I’m well taken care of and I’m well on my way to finding my place again in the world so don’t worry too much about me friends, I’m in great hands!

The Weekend

As I’m sitting here typing this, Carver says to me: “Why do you type on your computer every night?” Can you imagine how difficult it is to explain what a blog is to a three year old? How can I explain that upwards of 2,000-3,000 people read about him and his life every day? I just tell him I like to write stories about life 🙂

I’m feeling better than I did last night. I felt bad, when Craig finally did come home and settle in bed I did what any immature and young wife would do and resent him for not being home more while he is home. The night ended with a sincere apology, recognition of how unfair I was being, and a promise to do better today.

We had an awesome weekend – it was GREAT. We’ve made a few new rules regarding if and when we can see family now that some of the restrictions of COVID 19 have been lifted in our area. We all miss each other so much and after some thought I don’t think I’ve been inside my mom’s house for almost 2 months – by far the longest in my almost 25 years on earth. So we’ve decided cousins can see each other and see Grandmas. We’ve also lessened the restrictions on Craig’s family as well and the boys will head over to see Grandma Debbie and Papa Kevin on Sunday (they are so so so excited!!!)

Here are just a few highlights from the weekend in no particular order:

Adventures are NOT cancelled! We went to one of our favorite spots in Decorah: Dunnings Springs. Mom wanted to see some new scenery on our daily walk and we have always frequented Dunnings Springs growing up. It is a beautiful park with a waterfall and hiking trails and you can walk on the stairs all the way to the mouth of the waterfall/the spring.

I have such fond memories of going there growing up, in high school, when I was dating Craig, and now with my own boys. I ran through Fareway and picked up a few snackies for a picnic. Mom and Carver were far more adventurous than Gannon and I. It’s tough hauling an extra 30 pounds around on hiking trails! (and then carrying Gannon! Haha just kidding)

Here are a few pics:

I dusted off the bike and the bike trailer! We rode this baby ALL over town when I was just newly pregnant with Gannon. We had so much fun with this bike trailer I found at a garage sale (mine and Craig’s bike too) and it has been too long since I’ve gotten it out!

It was SO HARD to ride on completely flat tires all the way over to mom’s house to get the part to fill up the tires (I didn’t know they were THAT flat until we had gotten halfway) and I thought I was THAT out of shape! Ha! Anyway, it’s back up and running and as you can tell it got a lot of use this weekend:

We spent even more time with my mom – she came over on Saturday and helped out with some yard work and we had a grand old time. We ordered Riverside after a long day of hard work after the burn ban was lifted, we raked and burned leaves, picked up sticks, and got the lawn ready to be mowed.

Carver was a VERY hard worker despite his ability to keep clothes on. He made sure to keep telling us “We are working so hard! I’m such a hard worker!” and he really was. He has a little tiny red wheelbarrow and he ran all over the yard doing whatever mom or I told him to do. He was very good around the fire and he was actually a huge help – so was my mom. Thanks mommy!

I’ve got a ton more to tell you all about the weekend but Craig just walked through the door! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

A Quick Check In…

I don’t have a blog post ready for the week – not even one. I work this week so I don’t even know that I’ll have one ready on Tuesday.

Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging bt it is just too hard to do before the boys are in bed. The last hour of my days are reserved for blogging, Craig, and showering. With the days getting longer, more play time outside, that time keeps getting crunched in on.

As I’m typing this Craig just called and said he’s on his way home at 8:40 pm. While I’m so excited to see him I am straight up exhausted, I haven’t showered, and I haven’t blogged, and I have to be up and on the road by 6:15 tomorrow morning.

These are just growing pains. I haven’t actually seen Craig before 8:30 at night in WEEKS even though it’s a Sunday which is usually our family day. There is an end in sight but man. These days are long and I have absolutely no time to myself in the past week except to mow my lawn today.

This is all fine, I’m just being whiny. I am fully aware there are worse things and I chose all of this but I’m just tired ya’ll. It’s been a long weekend full of fun and family but I’m just tired.

Carver has just been a monster to get to bed. He’s laying on me eating banana wafers right now. Craig is home so Carver for sure won’t sleep now. Even if he goes in his room to bed he will wander in about 5 times asking random questions, needing water, needing to pee, or kicking his wall. Gannon on the other hand is already asleep and will be until 8 am. Even when we have time alone it is never actually alone.

UGH! That’s all I know. Sorry I’m whiny. Maybe those blog readers who comment nasty things about how whiny I am are right 😉

See ya’ll tomorrow (maybe!)

Bathroom Remodel Update: We Ordered our Vanity!

If you’ve been a loyal reader, you know we are in the process of a remodel.

I posted about our vanity we were working on designing and a lot of people brought up some GREAT points that I took to heart.

And we have ORDERED our vanity! Here is the finished design:

We actually ended up working with Gossling’s Woodworking – literally within a stone throw of our house. Karla and Fred were so so helpful throughout the process. It helped that I had an idea in mind of what I was looking for based on thoughts and comments from the blog readers.

Here were some of the comments that were super helpful: anyone who actually had storage above their toilet, highly recommended it and said they did not hit their head on it. People who didn’t have storage above their toilet thought it looked too heavy and awkward. I love this over the toilet storage design much better that the first.

Someone suggested that if the two “towers” sat ON the vanity, they could get water damage, we would be losing counter space, and it looked crowded. This new design literally addresses ALL of those concerns. Here’s a look at the original design:

Original deisgn

On the right lower side of our NEW and improved design there are faux drawers and it is actually a spot for a hamper! That was Karla’s idea!

Karla also suggested making it a little closer to counter height but adding a step stool with the option to convert to a drawer later when the boys are older below the bottom cupboard.

When I went to the showroom to finalize the design with Fred, I got some serious laundry room envy! These are also the handles I picked for the vanity but will be in gold. Check this out:

The bathroom tile is still on hold until about mid-May. Which brings me to the bathtub debacle.

We have a whirlpool tub that we like. It will about $1,200 to replace just the tub with another whirlpool tub. Not including the labor costs to install it. Is that worth it? Or should we just get a regular tub? Either way it will end up around $750 for the actual tub replacement so maybe just spend the little more to get the nice tub?

The handles, knobs, shower head, and accessories were something I 1,000% under budgeted for. That was a bit of a sticker shock and I might be making some cuts/changes.

In the meantime, the bathroom is in limbo – it has no mirror, the cupboard doors are off, and is barely functional at this point so I’m excited that we are making progress at this point.

That’s the update! Oh and Carver was helping me choose a carpet sample for the upstairs – that might be getting pushed back as the budget for the bathroom is growing by the second.

For more remodel updates, check these posts out:

The Gannon Report

I haven’t reported on Gannon in a very long time so I thought I’d let you guys in on how he’s doing.

I’ve been meeting Gannon’s Keystone Early Access team through phone calls this week and they have been super helpful. We are getting things lined up again to get Gannon the help he needs as soon as everything is opened up.

Gannon is almost 15 months old. Gannon will say “ah” for up and “da” for Dad. He can tell us what an elephant says, he can wave bye bye, he can blow kisses, he does a lot of imitating but none of this is organically initiated and takes a lot of bribing and prompting. He has more sign language than words like “more” “please” and “ all done.”

We still don’t know if the tubes helped his moderate hearing loss. He was supposed to have a follow up hearing test that got cancelled because of COVID-1. So hopefully that will be rescheduled towards the end of May. He seems to hear things far away or in the distance. He flinched when Betsy barks which is promising.

We have an occupational therapist on Gannon‘s care team through Keystone and I worked with his coordinator yesterday and we all discussed some findings that are concerning.

Gannon has always been behind as far as his gross motor milestones go. Slow to roll, slow to sit up, now slow to walk. When Gannon stands his gait is a little off like his muscles are weak and his ankles seem to hold more pressure as you can see in the picture. He seems “knock kneed” which he could grow out of. Gannon seems to have overall low muscle tone. I am so happy to report though that Gannon took 7 STEPS IN A ROW tonight. He has been progressing the past few days and now he walked to my mom. They don’t call them baby steps for nothing!

While we are so proud and happy for Gannon, we still have walking concerns. Gannon will try to take a step and it’s like his legs give out. Gannon bear crawls everywhere and he has to go into a bear crawl position before he can stand up straight which is actually a concerning finding as well. I’m just overall not pleased with his gross motor development at this point. He has been standing for months with no real signs of walking or taking steps until today – THAT’S where my issue is – he hasn’t PROGRESSED – he has been standing long enough he should be walking by now.

When I help him sit up it’s like all of his joints are loose and I can feel them popping if I gently pull on his arm to help them come into a sitting position. Which isn’t super uncommon with low muscle tone.

Gannon still has the really big belly and weak abdominal muscles. Any hope that I thought his belly would go back to normal after his bilateral hernia repair is lost. He is back to his old self including extreme constipation and crying when defecating. We cannot transition him whatsoever off of formula to whole milk because he backs up so bad. He has an allergist appointment in August and I hope that they can do some kind of lactose testing to see if he is intolerant to something that is causing the severe constipation. I can’t emphasize how hard it is to watch him literally stop in his tracks in the middle of playing and just scream and scream because it hurts so bad for him to poop. It will go on for hours at a time until he can pass it.

In terms of his belly we are rescheduled in Milwaukee for June 1. We’re trying to decide if we should drive there or the Sunday before or the day of. Only one parent will be allowed to go.

You can read more on the testing that we are expecting when we are in Milwaukee here:

Right now we have a speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and our coordinator on our Keystone team with access to other professionals as needed such as dietitian. It’s hard because we can’t all meet in person and with these new recent developments and delays with his gross motor skills I’d really like to get all of us in the same room again soon.

I’ve been spending way too much time on the Internet researching what Gannon‘s leg and muscle weakness could mean and my keystone team recommends a consult with genetics and neurology which I would really love. However, I think we have to wait and see what the center for disabilities and developments recommends when we see them in June.

I have a tele health appointment with Gannon’s regular doctor tomorrow morning to chat more. I’m so fidgety and anxious because I feel like we’re just wasting time.

  • I want a diagnosis yesterday.
  • I want treatment yesterday.
  • I want therapy yesterday.
  • I don’t want to wait and see.
  • I want to drive somewhere and show them my sweet sweet Gannon and I want all of the testing that he needs right then and right there.

We have been fighting for a diagnosis for so long. It’s frustrating. COVID is frustrating. Rescheduling is frustrating. Waiting is frustrating. And I’m tired.

We love you Gannon Joe!

A Fatherless Daughter: April 30th, 2019

My father, Roger Kramer passed away from lung cancer on June 2nd, 2019 after his 129 day battle. His cancer progressed quickly after his diagnosis on January 24th 2019. The cancer spread to his C2, eating away at the bone and fracturing his neck. After finishing chemotherapy and radiation, a PET scan t revealed the cancer had spread throughout his body. I was honored to care for him in his final days and he passed away 4 days later. We not only lost a father but Craig and I lost a dear friend and community member. A Fatherless Daughter is a blog series that highlights his last few weeks and the struggles we have had to overcome as a family as my dad’s cancer battle came to an end.

April 30th, 2019

I thought I would update everyone while dad is getting his feeding tube placed.

I’m up here in Lacrosse here today with Mom, Dad, Gannon and Buck. Kelli is watching the childcare kids today back home.

The shirt orders have been placed. 30+ kids shirts and 160+ adult shirts. We are organizing a pick up time at the Waucoma Fire Station for everyone to come and pick up their shirts this weekend. If you don’t feel comfortable paying online, that’s totally fine. You can pay when you pick up the shirt! I’ll work on shipping them this weekend as well.

Dad’s cancer has been moved from curable to treatable. That was our “big news” we found out yesterday. Which sucks. When we found out the cancer spread to C2 we kind of thought that would be the case.

Dad is getting radiation on his neck now – that is moving his radiation end date from May 8th to May 10th. We are all planning to go to Lacrosse with dad for his last day. If you’d like to come let us know!

Dad has STOPPED chemotherapy for the time being because it isn’t treating the cancer in his neck. It will need to be adjusted and restarted at a later time.

Dad had a rough night with pain. Lots of pain.

I’ve included pictures of dad’s neck CT to help explain what is going on. You can see the bone has a black center in it – the cancer has essentially eaten the inside of the bone making it very fragile – it should be dense but it is black in the imaging – hollow. Dad’s neck is fractured in more than one place which you can also see on the scan. The hope is this will heal after the cancer has been “zapped” out of it.

Dad will be up here at least a few more days. Surgery is not a good option at this time so he will remain in the neck brace for awhile. We need to get his pain under control before he can come home and he needs to be able to get up and moving around easier. Right now dad is on a continuous infusion and a PCA pump with a button he pushes to get more meds.

My mom has literally thousands of people around the country who read her blog every day and have for years. They have all asked how they can help and if they can donate. People have offered to set up GoFund me accounts. Mom and Dad are very uncomfortable with that but Kelli stuck a PayPal donation button on today’s blog post. We’ve tossed around the idea of hosting a benefit as well but again Mom and Dad are very hesitant. So many people want to help and if we can think of what we need, we will let you know. There’s just not much to do right now.

My brother in law is working on coordinating a shower to be installed in my parents main floor bathroom – this was always the intention but Dad will have trouble with stairs for awhile when he is in his neck brace so it is getting installed this week instead which will be awesome.

That’s all I know for now. Despite this all, Dad is in good spirits. We are all doing okay – as well as can be expected. He looks forward to visitors who have been in and out yesterday and today. Dad will have trouble getting out and about with his neck brace on when he gets home so we would love visitors when we get discharged!

A Fatherless Daughter: April 29th, 2019

My father, Roger Kramer passed away from lung cancer on June 2nd, 2019 after his 129 day battle. His cancer progressed quickly after his diagnosis on January 24th 2019. The cancer spread to his C2, eating away at the bone and fracturing his neck. After finishing chemotherapy and radiation, a PET scan t revealed the cancer had spread throughout his body. I was honored to care for him in his final days and he passed away 4 days later. We not only lost a father but Craig and I lost a dear friend and community member. A Fatherless Daughter is a blog series that highlights his last few weeks and the struggles we have had to overcome as a family as my dad’s cancer battle came to an end.

April 29th, 2019

More bad news on the home front…

About 30 seconds after I posted last nights update on my Dad (literally, 30 seconds) we took dad’s brace off of his neck so he could scratch his beard. He went to lean back in the recliner and my dad broke his neck.

We didn’t know that at that second obviously- he said he needed to go in the ER and something was very wrong. He was in 10/10 pain the entire way. I sat in the back seat trying to keep his neck still on the way. The narcotics in the ER were hardly touching his pain.

So the bone that broke is again that C2 vertebrae where the cancer is eating the bone. Imagine a doughnut – the hole in the doughnut keeps getting larger from the cancer eating the bone making it so weak which is why his neck broke so easily.

Dad was taken by ambulance to Lacrosse so he will be up there for the next few days at least. A neuro surgeon will now be added to the team who will be reviewing his case today at the “cancer meeting” they have on Mondays.

In a normal person, they would likely have surgery and be placed in a halo but with the cancer component we just don’t know what’s going on yet.

Here’s my mom’s blog post on today’s events:

That was possibly the worst day. I’ll never forget that groan that he let out when he moved just so slightly. It wasn’t like he was trying to get up, he just honestly reached forward and then just groaned. Then he said, “I don’t know how you guys are going to get me in the truck.” We didn’t know what he meant. He meant to get to the ER even though they had just come home from there.

I held traction on his neck, Craig and mom held his hands to guide him. It was terrifying. Carver watched the whole thing. I sat in the back seat of the truck literally holding his neck in place for the longest 35 minute drive of our lives. Every bump, every curve – my arms ached by the time we pulled into town.

I said something on the way there that we were all thinking: “Do you think you broke it Dad?”

“Something isn’t right.”

I called ahead to the ER. We brought him in through the ambulance bay. My coworkers met us outside with a stretcher. Mom and I were relieved to have some help. He was so so uncomfortable. I was that annoying family member that kept asking for narcotics for him.

In hindsight, we should have called an ambulance.

This is one of the most traumatic experiences in Dad’s cancer journey for me and mom. We talk about it often.

Check back tomorrow for a continuation of the Fatherless Daughter series.