Saturday, March 16, 2013

Playing catch-up: Part 1: WHAMMO!!

It's March 16, 2013.  

Where in the world has the time gone?  The last time I checked in was July.  It was still hotter than hell here in the RoK.  School had just begun and we were all getting used to working and going to school at Korea International.  Meeting friends, students, learning the ropes.  It was a whirlwind, to say the least.

Quade and Zane celebrating Q's birthday, finally, in October
Then, WHAMMO!!  The good Lord above decided we weren't on enough of an adventure!! 

I thought I'd go ahead and write about our experience, in case someone who didn't go through this with us, following our posts on Facebook, might take something from it. Like... South Korea has a great medical system!  

The second Wednesday after school began, Quade came down with a low grade fever.  Being only the second week of school, there was no way we were going to let him stay home.  Right?  Take some Tylenol, put on a happy face, suck it up, and stay in the game!  He went to school again Thursday and met me at my room to ride the bus home because he was just feeling too crummy to walk 10 minutes.  So, Friday, we let him stay home.  He's almost 14, so I instructed him to take his temperature, take Aleve, stay hydrated, and stay in bed.  We called him periodically to check on him, no change, still a fever and stomach pain. I got home to find him in the bathtub trying to cool down his 105 degree temp!  Tre's principal rushed us to the ER at Samsung Medical Center.  

Samsung Medical Center at sunset
That's where we'd stay for 3 more weeks.  Quade was diagnosed with a lymphangioma.  A large 21cm cyst growing from his spleen and having its own blood supply from his inferior vena cava.  It's a congenital condition that chose to show itself and rupture, causing infection (hence the fever) after our move to the RoK.  Fun, huh?  

Surgery #1 went well, initially.  After over a week of trying to get infection levels low enough for surgery, the plan was to take the portion of the cyst that was outside the spleen, drain and seal it off.  This surgery was done laparoscopically with 5 incisions.  Dr. Seo, the surgeon, was optimistic that he would be able to recover with his spleen in tact. 
Recovering from the first surgery
Oh, here's where I mention that we had TWO typhoons come through while Quade and I were in hospital!  

And, he turned 15.  And lost over 30 lbs. 

After a week recovery at home, Faculty Support staff and friend, Eunice, drove Quade and I back to Samsung for some tests to see how things were going.  He'd been running a low grade fever again for a few days, but was still on medication.  Eunice and I noticed as they did the ultrasound, that it looked like the cyst was back.  We only exchanged glances, and said nothing to Quade as she drove us back to the apartment.  We were to have another appointment later in the evening with Dr. Seo to go over the results.  As we pulled into the parking lot at home, her phone rang.  She told Quade to go on up to the apartment to rest because she needed to talk to me before she left.  It was the hospital calling to confirm our suspicions that the cyst was back and we were to be readmitted as soon as possible.  

So, Eunice left us to repack and wait for our other FST friend, Kwancho (you may remember Kwancho broke Zane out of his bedroom when the door stuck?) to come pick us up for the return trip to Samsung.  He stayed with us until late in the evening through more tests and translated for us.  Our FST friends certainly go above and beyond their job descriptions, for which we are forever grateful!

Quade had surgery a day and a half later to remove his spleen.  This surgery was complex because the cyst had it's own blood supply.  And, had a huge incision this time.  Another week and a half in the hospital for recovery and then home.  

I must say that the nurses and doctors at Samsung were wonderful.  The pediatric doctor who was on rotation in the ER the night he was admitted came frequently to check on him.  He had a touch of pneumonia initially, as well, so the infectious disease doctor came through.  This surgeon, Dr. Seo, was a professor who teaches here in Seoul and had a gaggle of residents that would follow him on rotation with one of them being Quade's primary resident.  The international clinic also had Dr. Young assigned to us.  She was involved with everything so she could answer any questions I had, or ask questions for me.

Who says hospital food has to be gross?
They provided a translator, Grace, for us on call Monday-Friday.  I only needed her a few times because all the staff and nurses did their best to communicate with me through Google Translate or just their best English.  Quade had such anxiety over needles and testing and a low pain threshold.  Everyone was very patient with him.  They allowed me to stay every night and the food was actually really good.  I even had a Western menu to choose from.  The nurses also took my cell number so I could go on some short walks to get some fresh air.  They'd keep an eye on him and call if he needed me.  I had a shower and a cot. 

We had friends we'd only known for a short time at KIS cooking for Tre and Zane. Friends let Zane stay the night and helped with homework, took him to the ballet...which he secretly told me he liked, but won't admit to any other male.   There were friends baking cookies, muffins, sending books, puzzles, movies, pillows, anything fun for Quade to keep him occupied.  People came to visit us, loaned Tre their cars.  We didn't have phones yet, so the director lent us a school cell phone.  Our director's wife even brought us Burger King (and homemade cookies)!  This list could go on and on!! 

Quade has recovered nicely!  He lost a lot of weight, not the way he wanted to, but did all the same.  His red blood cell count is still a bit higher than they'd like, so he sees a hematologist periodically to monitor that.  And, because he has no spleen, he is on amoxicillin twice daily until he's 18.  Other than that, he's as normal as any 15-year-old can possibly be!

Quade recovering at home in October 2012.

I am a firm believer in providence.  I believe that God has a plan for us.  There is a reason everything happens when and where it does.  So, I believe God was telling me that I needed to dig down deep and find the strength I had had all along, but somehow forgotten.  The strength He'd given me.  The strength to be in a foreign land in the first place.  The strength to face losing my son.  And, the strength to turn it all over to Him and know he was in control of it all.  I just had to trust him.  And, I know I'm stronger now than ever for it.  I know we'll all be stronger for it.