Tuesday, January 7, 2014


After 11 days in two hospitals, Chris got the 'ok' to come home. For the last little bit in Nashville he was down to just 1 (not too uncomfortable) fever a day, around 8:00pm. 

Since all the tests and cultures and scans were coming back negative the doctors wondered if the antibiotics were causing these last high temperatures. So Saturday they took him off the harshest antibiotic (vancomycin) and waited for 8:00 pm to come around.  No fever! (Highest temp was still 99 something but Chris didn't feel bad like he had around Christmas time with that kind of temperature) 

By Sunday morning he still hadn't ever gotten above the fever deadline of 100.4! Dixie and I took the kids to a nearby LDS chapel for church and ended up attending the Young Single Adult branch. Ha. Those are the quietest meetings on the face of the planet and bringing my 4 loud kids was sort of a nightmare. But after hearing the opening remarks I knew it was good for us to have come. The message given was just what I needed to hear because I was dangling at the end of my rope. Keeping the kids from destroying the hotel room and disturbing other guests, staying calm during Gwen's many, ferocious tantrums, driving back and forth from the hotel room to the hospital, finding parking, lugging things and kids back and forth, in between feeding a 2 week old baby every 2-3 hours was exhausting me...physically and  mentally. Things, for me, just seemed to be getting harder.  I thought being an 8-month pregnant care giver to a stem cell transplant patient was hard. Then I needed to take care of a newborn and Chris in the hospital and the kids at home being 1 and a half weeks post partum...and pass a kidney stone in the middle of all that...that was hard. But now I needed to do all that (well, except pass another Kidney stone! whew! Thank goodness for that) AND not have any of the conveniences of home or a flexible hospital visitation policy since Chris' new hospital wing didn't allow kids to ever visit (not even a 2 week old). That is hard. 

The message in the opening remarks at church was a football analogy of life.  In a game where the defense was hitting really hard, the receiver might be tempted to take his eyes off the ball to prepare for getting pummeled. But catch or no catch...the hits were coming. "You're going to get hit either way, you might as well catch the ball." Life can get pretty rough at times. We're going to be hit with things that are hard, things we think we can't handle. And they're going to happen to us no matter what. We may as well 'catch the ball' and keep our eye on the prize by enduring it well, relying on our Savior's Atonement for strength...by staying true and living the Gospel of Christ in our hard moments. 

The much older branch presidency member giving the opening remarks continued saying that he knew we all had hard moments coming up in our life and he also knew that getting through them would be challenging but also strengthening. He encouraged us to hang on and rely on Christ to get through them. God was mindful of us and doesn't give us more than we can handle. 

I had tears streaming down my face at this point.  I know the guy speaking had the concerns and worries of a room full of young single adults in mind when he said those words but they touched the heart of a weary mother of 4, wife of a good man battling cancer across 2.5 years.  I know The Lord was mindful of me and was lifting me up, keeping my head above the water, giving me the strength to make it through each day, just barely. He numbed my emotions so I didn't explode with impatience during the tough parenting moments, or sob uncontrollably in front of doctors when given disappointing news. He sent angels to back me up at the right moments during all of this...I'm mostly talking about my mom and mother in law. Who each flew in to help at JUST the right moment: my mom for the week when Frederick ended up being born, and Dixie coming the day Chris ended up starting his stay in the hospital. He blessed me with a generous and thoughtful family who provided the hotel accommodations for us.  Our (upgraded for free) suite had two bedrooms and a living space/kitchen and the hotel had an indoor pool and free breakfast. 

I'm so grateful for that gem of truth in those opening remarks and for my kids being quiet and still for however long it took me to hear the guy say those words. The rest of the meeting was tricky. Gwen was throwing more tantrums and I had to take her out a couple of times. On the way to the hospital right after sacrament meeting I prayed and wondered how much more I could take. 

(Charlie hijacked my phone and took this picture during one my trips out to the hall with Gwen) 

Even though Chris' hospital wing doesn't allow children there is a very small room just outside of it that Chris could meet us in for short buts of time. We were just getting settled in that room when Chris told me the doctors said we could go home the next day if Chris could remain fever free for another night. It was music to my ears and I broke down and cried again. Maybe only 1 more day? Yes! I could make it one more day. 

Many prayers and much fasting were offered up in our behalf that day.  I fed Frederick at the hotel around 7:00 put the kids to bed, left them all in Dixie's care and headed off to visit Chris for a bit before needing to be back at the hotel to feed Frederick again. No fever! I txted Chris during the night when I was up with Frederick. No fever!  Hurray! We could go home.

The doctors never could pinpoint exactly what was causing the fevers. It may have been a virus or a UTI or both causing the initial, very uncomfortable fevers during the first week or so and then as his body fought those off, perhaps the antibiotic medicine produced the later fevers that didn't seem to bother Chris much. 

Whatever. It's over. We're home, together. And Dixie extended her stay with us to help us for the rest of the week! Then my mom comes back again since she already had airplane tickets purchased for when we thought Frederick would be born. It will actually be really helpful since Chris is starting radiation therapy next week. 

Random picture: 
It was so cold this week. I loved seeing the icicles on Nashville's rock faces ... One of my favorite components of that city's charm and beauty. 


Lindsey said...

We are so happy that Chris is home. We fasted on Sunday for Chris and you and we will continue to keep praying! What a great sacrament meeting to attend!

Donna said...

So glad you are back home.

Ed Fretless said...

Brittaney and Chris -

I'm sorry to say I haven't looked at your blog since early December...it is amazing and humbling what you both have gone through this month. Congratulations on the birth of Frederick! He is beautiful. I'm sorry to hear that Chris has had so many fevers and so many complications and pain from that. And Brittaney I remember how hard it was when our kids were young and babies, but we didn't have anything like your challenges at that time. Please know that many here are also thinking and praying for you both. I hope I'm able to see Chris again at MSU as soon as that can be!

Best wishes and prayers,

-Ed Swan

Heather said...

The last verse of the Sacrament Hymn for us on Sunday ended with these timely words:

…And pray for strength, that we may say, As he,
"Thy will, O Lord, be done."

Tears came quickly as I reflected on how many times we have been praying for you to have strength to bear up under this tremendous burden.

Our prayers have surely been answered over & over…

Katie B. said...

That was a lovely story of the Sacrament Meeting talk. And I'm so glad you guys are home! You are just incredible. I'm getting worried and feeling burdened just contemplating having a second little baby in our home soon. I don't know what I would do with four kids, one of them newborn, and a sick husband! Thank you for your example and your inspiring message.

Shelly Beth said...

So happy he is home! And for the tender mercy in attending that ever-so-quiet YSA church meeting. Sometimes the Lord just puts you in the right place at the right time. I hope things continue to look up for you guys!

merilee said...

So glad that Chris is able to come home! I know you have been through so much and still have many challenges. I know you will have the strength to handle all that comes. You are amazing Brittney. Love you!

MandaMommy said...

Ugh Brittney! That sucks! I feel like you guys should be renamed the Job (Bible Job, not work job) family. Maybe NOW it will be all downhill?? I hope so!! Love you guys!

Amy said...

I'm glad Chris is finally home! I admire how you are able to find blessings in any situation, Brittney. You're amazing. Love you!