Saturday, December 18, 2010

3 weeks

Today is our 3 week count and I can't believe it. Three weeks doesn't sound that long but it feels as though it has been forever since that first day, while at the same time I can't believe it has been three weeks already. It is a weird feeling and Zach and I feel as if we have no idea what is going on in the outside world. It's almost like the hospital has it's own little hospital world where time is not measured by hours or days but by changes.

We are getting pretty good at finding decent sleeping positions on the hospital chairs and drowning out all the alarms and beeps. I know where to find most things that we need and how to do most things for Dakota now so it is really like our little home. We do try and venture out each day for a little bit to either sit in the sun (which has been really nice), go to the store or eat, and every once in awhile go take a nap on a real bed.  Before Doug and Vicki left last weekend his cute work (Hill Airforce Base) got us a hotel room for a few days near the hospital so we could take turns with them sleeping in a nice bed and showering. It was SO very sweet of them and we appreciated it so much. I just have to thank all the staff out there that work with Doug because they were so understanding with him taking off to be here for two weeks and did so much for us. So thank you all!
Thanks to my sweet parents for coming each day and being with him so we feel comfortable to leave. They have become the best little therapists.
Keeping him moving. He gets really stiff from being in bed and not moving so we have to move his legs, arms, and hands to keep the from getting too stiff. My dad has his own little sayings to help Dakota move. When he does his legs he talks to him about getting on the saddle and his hands by catching and throwing the ball. It is so sweet and he likes to do it for his Papa.

Before I go on with the updates I first have to clear up where we are at because I know it is a little confusing and I have heard some people have misunderstood what I have written. I am so sorry for that. It is REALLY hard to relay everything in a way that is understanding for people who have not actually seen Dakota. So to clarify a little more about his condition...he is actually considered to be in a light coma. When I said he wakes up it means he opens his eyes. He doesn't follow objects with his eyes though and respond to things like a normal person that is awake and alert would do. He is awake for most the day and sleeps most the night. The doctors can't say for sure whether or not he hears us or not but we believe that he can. We have noticed things that tell us he hears us and knows we are there. He does have slight responsees to touch but he doesn't really move much at all. I hope that makes a little more sense to you all.

We are still waiting patiently by his side for any little improvement that we can get.  The doctors are really wanting to get him out of here and into neuro rehab to give him a better chance of recovery. So we are in the process of working on this, when and where he will go, etc. Also getting him completely off of the ventilator and breathing on his own will help rehab be more beneficial. They are still weaning him off of the ventilator and so far he has done so well, which is so very exciting. A few days ago they took him off the vent for the first time and just gave him humidified air with a little oxygen. So this means he is taking all the breaths on his own without any help. It is not an overnight process though even though he is doing so well. They have to slowly do it to help build his strength and muscles up since he has been receiving help for so long. But so far so good!

This is the humidified air pump. It helps keep the trach moist and gives him a tiny bit of oxygen. He still needs to be weaned off of the little amount of oxygen that they have been giving him so he is not quite ready for just room air.

The best part about being on this instead of the ventilator is that we got to HOLD HIM for the very first time yesterday!!!! It felt so good and I couldn't believe that I hadn't held my baby (big boy) for three whole weeks! He felt so much bigger already I couldn't believe it.

I hope that he enjoyed it as much as we did and that he could feel our love while he was in our arms.

Today (Friday) he got his trach replaced with the more permaneant one. They had planned to do that Monday but he had a little leak around the first one so they decided to push it up and do it today. It was a quick procedure that wasn't hard on him at all. It looks the same as it did before but he no longer has the sutures (stitches) that was holding it in place. It just has the little band around his neck. It still looks pretty tender around the hole but is healing well. They had me help clean around it the other day and that was hard for me to do. I know it is good for him so it doesn't get infected but it does look painful for him. Good thing he is tougher then his mom. :)

Besides the progress of his breathing on his own (which is a huge blessing from the Lord) there has not been a whole lot of other changes. It is a slow process and each day we look into his eyes we feel he is getting better and fighting so hard. Every tiny movement, every yawn, every blink of his eyes, every breath he takes, even every poop he makes brings us SO much joy. It is hard to be patient as we want so bad for him to just jump out of the bed and run and play with us but we will continue to rejoice in what we have and every tiny improvement that we make until that day comes!

We continue to thank all of you for your encouraging words, your love, prayers, and support! We love and need them all! Thanks for all of the goodies that so many of you have sent. Dakota is getting so spoiled and his little Christmas tree is just surrounded even more by all of the sweet gifts and cards that have been sent. This is by far the best Christmas he will ever have and he doesn't even know it yet! :)

Please continue the prayers and faith! Miracles are happening every day because of them! We love you all so much, even those we don't even physically know that are reading this!

Here are just a few more pics of our precious boy!

The physical therapists sat him up on the bed and he looked so cute like my little boy sitting up like that! I can't wait until he can do it again all by himself!

A big Santa bear stopped by far a visit and brought him a stuffed Christmas bear. It was so sweet.

Holding his favorite blanket. (I put it in his little hands) For those of you who know Dakota he LOVES his blanket. He would normally be sucking on it if he could. He is so sweet...when other kids are sad or crying he tries to share his blanket with them and put it in their mouth. That's what makes him all better so why not everybody else!?
If he could only suck on it now...I'm sure that would make him all better! :)



  1. Thank you so much for updating! Since we've been out of town I felt so out of the loop and wondered everyday how Dakota was doing. We had a layover at the Phoenix airport and we were only about 10 minutes from you guys! I wanted so badly to come visit but, by the time we got through security and everything there wasn't any time! :( I think we'll just have to make a special trip down sometime soon! We love and miss you guys so much and pray each and every day for Kota!

  2. I cant even imagine how good it must have felt to hold Dakota. He is one tough little man just like his mommy and daddy! Its so good to hear he is making improvements even if they are small. We think of you and pray for you guys daily. Love you guys!

  3. I LOVE the picture of you holding him. He is still as cute as ever! I'm going to miss you all so much when you head back to Utah, but am so happy that you will be back home! Thanks for all the updates! I know I will need these much more when I can't just stop by for a little visit! Love you all!

  4. It makes me so happy to see you holding your baby (big boy:)!!! I know I am holding mine a little tighter. Thanks again for the updates!!!

  5. Hey Tessie, this is Allison (Abbey's friend) I just wanted to tell you that you guys are doing an amazing job and he's so lucky to have such wonderful parents!! I promise trach care gets easier everytime you do it and once he's all healed it won't be painful at all. Its funny because often times when I'm doing teach care on my patients they get a little annoyed because they love the way their mommies do it. You'll find your perfect technique and no nurse or RT will be as good as you in his eyes! I'm glad to see he's going to neuro rehab. He'll progress a ton there and I look forward to watching his progress on this blog!! God bless and he is in my prayers every night (even though I haven't even met him)!! Take care of yourselves as well!!

  6. francis goodman emailed us about what had happened and asked us to pray for your baby. my husband philip fenn grew up across the street from papa bert. we have been following your blog for a few weeks now. every post i read out loud and we all are happy to see how well you guys and dakota are doing. of course what happened is heartbreaking but your faith and grace has been so inspiring! we pray for dakota as a family and we will be traveling to az (we currently live in utah) for christmas and would love to come bring dakota a present. so if your accepting visitors the fenn's are coming and if not it's perfectly fine we will just leave it at the desk. you guys are amazing and just know we are totally cheering for your adorable little boy!

  7. I can't even imagine how wonderful it felt to get to hold him again! He is such a tough little guy who continues to show us his strength each and every day! I am so glad you've been so good to keep us updated on his recovery, it sure has helped us along the way!! We are always thinking and praying for your sweet family! Keep fighting Kota! We LOVE you guys so much!! Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you guys! You and Zach are such amazing parents! :)

  8. Hey Tessie,

    I just wanted you to know that you are in the Herr family prayers every night. We think about you guys all the time. Each night when Mckaley prays, she asks God to look after Dakota and then she gives Bixbie a shout out as she so remembers her time riding at your parents house :) Thanks for all the updates and I am so glad you got to hold your baby boy. What a wonderful feeling that must have been! Its a feeling that will never be taken for granted by me after reading all of your experiences. You and Zach are role models for all of us parents. Throughout this time you have been so empathetic, brave, and honest.

    All our best!

  9. Tessie it means so much to us to read these updates! We think about you guys so much and they really help us. We are so glad he is improving and we are so glad he is so tough! He is patiently waiting too, because I know he wants to hug you guys just as much as you do.

    We are strengthened by your strength and testimonies every time we read your posts! You and Zach are amazing parents, no wonder Dakota is so strong! We love you guys and think and pray for you daily!

  10. Zach and Tessie, we think of you and pray for all of you each day. I know Dakota is such a blessing to you and it's a great blessing to him that you are his parents. Your faith, hope and testimony are also a blessing to us.
    I printed a couple of picture from your blog of you and Dakota to put on our frig, I hope it's alright. Thank you for sharing updates on Dakota's progress and your experience. I hope that you are able to make the transition to Utah to soon (although I love our home state of AZ and if there is any other place you should be I think that is it).

  11. Thanks for the update. We love you all so much and continue to pray for your cute family. We love seeing and talking about "cute little Dakota". We miss you and love you all, stay strong. Love the Oversons.

  12. You guys are amazing! You are in our prayers every day and night, well all the time really. So so so happy that you guys were finally able to hold your handsome little guy! Dakota is one tough cookie--just like his parents. We love you guys and think about you all the time!

  13. He just looks so sweet sitting on your lap. Thanks again for the update we are still praying for that special miracle. We love and miss you guys. When you get home and things are going better we need to get together for our annual breakfast and visiting. Your family is constantly in our thoughts and prayers and we know God has something special planned for your sweet Dakota. Your strength is AMAZING and you continue to inspire us!!! We LOVE you guys so much!!!!

    The Lythgoe Family

  14. Zach and Tessie,
    I am Mandy Vance's mom. I just want you to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.Mandy keeps me updated and told me I could read your blog. You are all truly amazing! Dakota is very lucky to have such strong parents. You have so much strength, you are an inspiration to us all.Good Luck, hope all is back to normal soon!

  15. Zach and Tessie,

    Our whole extended family is praying for Dakota and putting his name on temple prayer rolls all over the country. I just want you guys to know how loved you are from all of us in South Dakota! I look forward to reading about more of his day-to-day improvements. He is such a sweet little man!

  16. You guys don't know me but Vicki was my oldest's preschool teacher two years ago and we live in their stake. She was always so excited to have her brand new grandbaby come to visit her after preschool! I saw your last name and blog link on a neighbor's Facebook post and came over to read about what's happened. I am so sorry you have to go through something like this! I can't even imagine!! :'o( Your little family is darling and I love Dakota's hair! We will keep you in our prayers!!!!

  17. Thank you for the update. When we were saying prayers the other day..this is what Sadie said "Please bless Dakota. Thank you for him. Thank you for making him safe and comfy. Thank you for him to breathe." It made me cry. It was very sweet..and she is very concerned about him. She says he looks so cute with his hair all done in his hospital bed:) He is really so precious, and we always keep him in our prayers.
    Love Pam

  18. Thank you for the updates. They get passed through the grapevine to everyone. There are so many people here praying for you. I am grateful for every step of progress he makes. We will keep up the praying :-)