Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More Updates on Dakota

Buzzmania!!! A friend of our family Debbie Haggard made him that cute blanket, Doug and Vicki got him those sweet pants, and we have three Buzz Light Year Toys for him to hold onto. He is in heaven! :)

I first just have to thank all of you for your sweet comments, love, prayers, and faith! I would love to comment back to each one of you but even though I’m sitting in a hospital 24 hours a day, I just can’t seem to find the time. So please know that we read and love them all. You give us so much strength and encouragement during this hard time.

It is official as of today that they are going to place a trach via a tracheostsomy in Dakota’s throat and a g-tube (can’t remember the official name) in his stomach Friday morning. Some of you are saying what is that???? Well, the tracheotomy tube that will go in his throat is our next step to help him make some more progress. It is a tube that is inserted into the airway in his neck so his breathing bypasses his mouth and allows him to breathe from his neck instead. (I’m sure lots of you have seen them before) He has been on the breathing ventilator since we got here and there is high risk for unnecessary infections and problems if that is in too long. He is able to breathe pretty much on his own now but the problem is that he is not swallowing. Because he is not swallowing, he has a lot of secretions that normally we swallow that he can’t get rid of. This makes it hard to breath and allows the secretions to go down to the lungs which obviously causes problems. So pretty much the only option is to do the trach which will allow him to get the breathing tube out (which has already caused an infection), help him begin breathing on his own, and allow him to get the rehab that he needs. The g-tube will replace the feeding tube that goes through his nose right now, so he will be fed directly into his stomach which will decrease the chance of that tube becoming infected.

I know all of this doesn’t sound like that great of news and believe me as his mom it still sounds very scary to me but it is the only option we have to be able to get him out of the PICU and begin getting him into rehab to help him relearn all those things that he needs to learn again like swallowing, eating walking, talking, etc. The good news is that if he begins swallowing and doing those things on his own again both the tracheotomy and the g-tube can come out. They are not permanent and so we hope they will not have to be in for long. He will have to stay in the PICU for ten days after the surgery so we are still looking at at least two weeks in this hospital. It is hard to imagine that it has only been a week and a half because it feels like forever, so two more weeks was hard to take in at first but we will just take it day by day. The nurses, doctors, and staff here have been great though and have made us feel very comfortable in our “home away from home.” The doctors are hoping that after those two weeks they will be able to transfer him back to Utah to a rehab facility there which will be nice to get back home again. (We will miss this great weather though and of course my amazing family here) We still need to work out all the kinks with insurance and things before it is a go ahead but that is what they are looking at right now.

It is all still really hard to take in and we understand it is going to be a slow process in helping our sweet Dakota get back up and running again, but it feels so good to know that it is possible. We know Dakota has chosen to stay with us as he has fought so hard to be here, so we will just keep fighting for him and staying strong.

My understanding of what faith is has grown so much throughout all of our trials and especially this one. I have truly come to understand and know that true faith is COMPLETE trust in our Heavenly Father, even when you don’t know what lies ahead. It is easy to say that but when you are faced with something like this you are definitely put to the test. It is hard not knowing what lies ahead but I have come to trust in my Heavenly Father that whatever it is we can do it. It has been amazing to feel the love of my Heavenly Father through all of this and the peace and comfort that He has provided me. As my heart has been poured out to my Heavenly Father all day every day for the last week and a half, I have felt his love and know that He is there, He hears me, and He loves me. As I have watched other mothers with their babies come into the PICU and seen their tears, it has opened my eyes. I realize that I’m not the only one that is going through tough times and that all of these other mothers I’m sure are pouring out their hearts to Him as well. But the amazing thing about it is…I know that He hears each and every prayer that I’m saying and not only does He hear it He is there comforting me and giving me strength to keep going…and doing the same for everyone else. I know that He loves each and every one of us and his heart aches even more than ours does for the pain that we are going through.

We were able to go to the temple last night and that was so neat. We have only physically left the hospital a handful of times and although it feels good to get out of that environment, I always get an anxious feeling about being gone too. Today at the temple we both felt so much peace and comfort and we know “all is well.” Like I said before, we don’t know exactly what lies ahead, how long it will be, and even how hard it is going to be, but we know that with the Lord’s help anything is possible and all things will eventually work for our good.

Keep up the prayers and faith please!!! We continue to feel your strength and we know that Dakota does too. He is still the cutest little guy ever and we love him SOOO much!! Keep fighting buddy!

I finally decided it’s time for pics of our little sweetie. So here you go!

Helping the nurse give him a bath.

 Does Dakota have the best mom or what? (This caption is from Ashley, not Tessie :))

 The ASU music therapy student singing and the occupational therapist working on him. See how dead asleep he is?

When he opened his eyes for Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam. So awake!!!

 Wearing his new Toy Story cowboy boots that Grandma and Grandpa Rhees sent him. The doctors want him to wear them every couple hours to help his feet stay in good position. I know he is loving it! :)

 Holding daddy's hand. Zach's favorite thing to do.


  1. I bawl every time I read your posts! I know that my faith has been strengthen because of this trial you've had to endure! It amazes me how strong you guys have been through all this and is a testimony strengthener to know that heavenly father is always mindful of us and what we are going through at all times and that we can truly feel of his love! We pray for you each day! I work with doug and our prayer was with dakota and your family today at our pk christmas party...doug's group also dedicated their their skit to dakota which was really sweet! There are so many people rooting for your little guy and we hope that the surgeries will be beneficial and that he will have a healthy and quick recovery. love you guys!

  2. I check your blog every morning and night to see the latest on your little stud. He is so darling. He is so lucky to have parents that love him so much. My body trembles with the thought of having my baby in the picu. All the things you post touch so close to my heart with just leaving the nicu with our little girl She was high risk of brain damage, physical set backs and everything else. But just like you have said, prayer is what gets your through something like this because you know that our LOVING Heavenly Father is there holding your hand as well as Zach's and little Dakotas. I found myself praying, or more lilac begging, to our Father in heaven to just let me be a mom to her ni matter her circumstances. And that Is what we were blessed with, being parents to her. She has defeated all odds, just like Dakota has and will continue to do. You and Zach are amazing parents. You can tell in so many different ways. We love you guys so much. Thanks for sharing yout testimony, it is so strong and it has taught me so much. Please let us know if we can do anything.

  3. We're friends of the Friedli's (Doug and Vicki) and we check your blog regularly for updates on your sweet Dakota. We've got 4 kids and the three that are old enough to talk ask Heavenly Father each night before bed and even during the dinner prayer to "please make Dakota better". We can feel your strong spirit through your posts and stand amazed at how much strength you've shown through all of this. Through your struggles you've strengthened our testimony of the saving power of our Heavenly Father. Our prayer is that the Lord will continue to pour out his blessings on your sweet family.

  4. Thank you for posting and keeping everyone updated. We're still praying for you and are so glad that things are improving! Stay strong; you guys are amazing!

  5. Hi Tessie & Zach,
    We are thinking of you guys and praying for your family daily, especially your sweet little guy Dakota. You have been great examples of trusting the Lord, and I know He'll bless you. Keep the faith! Love you guys.

    Calvin & Sanya Fenn family

  6. Thank you so much for the update we'll be sure and pass it on to our family. We continue to pray for you guys daily! We love you guys!!! Thanks again for the update we know how busy you guys are and we thank you for taking the time to keep us all informed. Again please let us know if there is absolutely anything you need or anything we can do for you guys. All our Love,
    The Lythgoe Family

  7. What a sweet little guy! Love the boots! I'm so glad he is improving! Just the other night Keith and I were talking about faith and what it really is and how you know if you have it. I always think I have faith, but how do I know. Your sweet testimony helps answer my question. Its the answer I was looking for. Thank you!
    Its been a great opportunity for us as a family to pray and fast for you, Zach, and Dakota. He is a tough little guy and you guys are so strong! If you guys need us to do anything for you guys let us know. We drive by your house to make sure everything looks good. Can't wait until we drive by and see a light on!! Keep up the faith, Heavenly Father knows all of you and what you need!

  8. I bawl every time I read your posts, but for some reason this post has hit me the hardest (I'm pretty sure it is the sweet pictures of Dakota :).. I sure miss seeing not only him, but you guys! I know my faith has been strengthen because of your guys faith and your amazing examples. I LOVE hearing about your testimony which is a huge testimony builder for me and it reminds me that just like you've said "everything will be ok". I have also had the feeling since the get go and love reading updates of how he is doing. Of course, we cannot wait to have you guys back home, but I know it's been so much help having your family with you through it all! We LOVE you guys so much and continue praying for you! If you guys need anything, please let us know.. we are here for you! Keep fighting buddy, we sure can't wait to give you hugs!!! Give him kisses for Hadlee girl.. She has learned to say "kota" and it is honestly the most heart melting thing she says! Love ya!

  9. Tessie. I am amazed at you stranth, I know you will have a time reading me miss spelled coments but wanted you to know of our love.
    You Zack&Dakota make a wonterfull team.
    I know that Heavenly Father and your heavenly family loves you so much.
    Your blogs are so good and thanks for your time in doing this.
    Looking forward to a forever family.
    Love Grandmother Marilyn and Gramp Bert

  10. My favorite part (OK so I do love the boots) is that you have started talking about coming home(because that means Dakota is doing better)!!!! Miss your whole cute family:) This very much has been a testimony building experiance for our whole family, so glad you are keeping us posted with updates!

  11. Tessie this is Brittney Sandall Hatch! When I first found out about ur sweet boy I was so heart broken for u guys! I am so glad u have updated ur blog about what is going on with him because I have been so worried for u guys!! I am so glad he has been such a fighter!! I do have to say that even with all those tubes he still is DANG cute:)!!! When I was his age I got E- coli and was in the hospital for 3 weeks I had to have blood transfusions and the Drs told my parents I probably wasn't going to make it! Well here I am still alive:) my mom said that's when she grew so close to our Heavenly Father and really knew he was and would always be there for her no matter what!! Her faith grew immensely!!! My mom said that was the hardest thing she had to go through and she has gone through hard things but she has never waivered from her beliefs no matter what!! I don't know why I am telling u all this but just know that things will work out!! U guys are amazing and I wish I knew u better because I have always thought u were amazing! If u don't mind me asking what part of Utah do u live in? Well good luck in everything and keep updating us!!:) u are still in my prayers!!!

  12. I'm a friend of the Friedli family... I want you to know our entire family is praying and fasting for you guys. I can't imagine going through such a scary thing, but it seems that God is hearing our prayers in your behalf. You are so strong, and I will continue to pray for your cute little family. God Bless

  13. Hi Tessie and Zach,
    This is Amber Hansen, although Zach will know me as Amber Dickmann. (we went to school together) I've been following your blog and I just wanted to let you know that we are also praying for a full recovery for your little Dakota! It is amazing the progress he has made so far. It seems you are witnessing miracles daily. I absolutely loved that he woke up to Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam! That was definitely a tender mercy for you, I'm sure. Good luck with the upcoming surgery and rehab!We're excited to see his progress :)

  14. I was so happy to be there to sing to Dakota. My sister-in-law's ward just had a fast for him, and she sent me this link. We will be praying for him! and keep singing to him:) Music works wonders.

  15. Hi you guys:
    Just wanted to let you know how special we think you and your whole family are. I am amazed at your strength and sweet thoughts in your blog. Your comments are so inspiring and uplifting. I hope things continue to get better for Dakota. What a sweetheart he is!! We think about him every day and he is always in our prayers. Thanks for updating and letting us know of his progress. You guys are truly amazing!! Lots and lots of love, the Hopkins family and Jodi Breese family

  16. Still the sweetest little miracle I have ever seen. He is handsome as usual and I love those sweet boots. We are keeping you all in our thoughts every day and continue to pray for the fast recovery of Dakota. Our faith in our Heavenly Father has been strengthened beyond belief and we are so blessed to be witnessing such miracles with your family. Zack and Tessie-you are both such wonderful examples of strength and the faith that we wish we all could carry with us. We love you!

    Love, The Morgan's

  17. Tessie and Zach,
    Thank you so much for the pictures and the story you have posted. I shared your blog and the cute pictures of Dakota with Ellie and Tate tonight. They pray and pray and pray for "little Dakota" to feel better and to "feel happy and calm". Your experience has taught our family so much about faith, trials, and most of all turning to our Heavenly Father in fervent prayer. We love you! We love that little Dakota! I am amazed by your strength and faith. You are such an example to me. Thank you for sharing with us. We are all growing closer to our heavenly father and closer together as a family because of Dakota. Know that our prayers and thoughts are with you daily. Love you!
    Overson Family.

  18. Hi Tessie and Zach,
    My name is April (Meyer) Vogt, and I went to high school with Zach. Like a lot of other people I heard about your story and have been checking up on your blog for updates. I pray for your whole family a lot and my thoughts are often with you guys. Your strength is so amazing, and I get teary-eyed every time I read your testimony and your thoughts on faith. Dakota's progress so far is such a miracle! Good luck with the upcoming surgery and rehabilitation. I will continue to check back and pray for you.

  19. Tessie-
    Thanks so much for sharing your testimony and updates on Dakota. Praying for you guys every day. Love you guys!

  20. Oh bring on the tears! You 3 are amazing! You and Zach are the best parents ever and Dakota is one lucky guy! You are 2 lucky parents to have him as well! I'm so proud of you and proud to call you one of my best friends! You are the perfect example in so many ways. I love you guys!

  21. Hey,
    My name is breann I am one of Zach's friends sisters. We were pretty close to them. I keep checking up on your blog for updates. My prayers are with you guys!Dakota has two amazing parents! He is so lucky!! My family will continue to pray for your little family. I have been putting your families names in the Temple. I know that everything is going to work out great. You have such a strong testimony of our Heavenly Father. It just amazes me how someone can have so much Faith when they are going through something like your family has had to go through with Zach and now Dakota. Keep hanging in there!!!

  22. Hi Tessie, this is Britney from bunco. I got news of your little guy yesterday as I was preparing for everyone to come over.
    I just finished reading your story and updates. I'm happy to hear of your little man's improvements and pray you can come home soon and that your road to recovery goes well. I love reading your testimony and the strength you have in our Heavenly Father. You will be in our prayers.

  23. I like others cry evertime I read your posts! You guys are in our thoughts and prayers everyday. Your testimony is such a testimony builder to me. Thanks for keeping us posted on how Dakota is doing, I check it daily!

  24. We love you and have been praying for you. My sister and her husband have been too! You are a woman of faith and I am so grateful for your example.

  25. We love you guys. Seeing those pics is hard cause i could not imagine seeing Ty like that. You guys are truly amazing and strong. You have helped us in more ways then you will ever know your faith and testimony has made us all better people and I know it is hard but the most wonderful miracle has happened. Our Heavenly Father is aware and is with you always. We cannot wait to get you back here so we can embrace you guys and our little Dakota. Keep fighting buddy!!! You will be our little super hero!! WE love you tons and are here for you.

  26. Zach and Tessie,
    This is Camie Nielsen, Zach will know me as Camie Craft. I came across your blog while reading Heidi Gorder's. I am so heartbroken for you for what you have been going through. I can't imagine seeing my child hurt, but reading your posts I can see you have amazingly strong testimonies and are loving and great parents. We will keep your family in our prayers and look forward to more positive updates!

  27. I love his boots!! I feel your sweet testimony coming through your posts and thank you for sharing it! It sure is a blessing to know Heavenly Father is watching over us and knows each of us and what we are going through. I pray he pours his spirit out on you all and you continue to be blessed with miracles!! I will for sure be holding my 3 boys tighter. I hope your little guy is back to his old self very, very, very soon!!!! *hugs*