Friday, May 14, 2010

Good news, bad news, good news.

Again, it has been way too long since I have updated here.  I know that at some point it becomes not so cool to apologize for long delays in posting, but in this instance I am apologizing because we've had some really big things going on in our family.  I have wanted to post to update you, but have just not had the time nor the wherewithal to post.  My emotions have been on such a roller coaster, that I have not been able to put together a coherent post.

I have good news, and I have more good news - but there was a really tough time preceding the second good news.  Follow me?  :)

I'll start with the good news first:  We are expecting baby number 9!  I'm close to the halfway mark.  We don't know yet if it is a girl or a boy, we might find out in a couple of weeks.  I didn't intend to really keep it a secret this long, but, well...I'll tell you all about that in another post.

The really tough time started a couple of weeks ago.  Most of our family had gone through a difficult flu.  I was affected quite strongly.  I was FLAT on my face for two days solid.  Fever, nausea, joint pain.  My husband, Jeff, did not get the flu with the rest of us.  He usually doesn't.

One night about a week later, Jeff suddenly got ill at midnight.  He started shaking with chills and he had sharp pain in his left hip.  Soon after, he got a fever.  We attributed his fever and chills to the flu, and we thought his hip pain was due to a pulled muscle he obtained while working on a home he is remodeling on the side.  (He had hip resurfacing three years ago, and had never had any problems at all.)  We thought it just felt worse because of the fever and the flu.s

Jeff is a typical guy - fairly sure that he can tough out most situations.  If it was the flu, there wasn't anything the doctors could do anyway, we reasoned.  We waited thru the weekend, and his fever did not go down and the pain was getting worse.  We called our doctor, and she told us to go to the emergency room.

We did so.  I will condense for the sake of brevity here and just say that after a very painful day with many scans and a needle aspiration of the fluid in his hip joint, he was admitted to the hospital and surgery was set for the next day.  There was a LOT of fluid and a staph infection in his hip joint.

Our oldest children went into high gear and handled things very well at home.  I will say this, they do know how to run a home when they need to do so.  We were facing a lot of stress and turmoil, and yet, I had peace in knowing that the little ones were well taken care of by people who knew them and knew their routines.  It is a true blessing to have reached this point in parenting.  Just a few years ago we would have been scrambling and it would have felt horrible.  It's so different to have a son who can drive to the store to get milk and who can drive his siblings to the hospital to see their dad.  I'm still not used to it - but it is good.

I met with the surgeon right before the operation.  He was extremely kind and seemed overwhelmed that this sick guy he was working on had 8 children with one one the way.  He told me that he would be taking apart Jeff's hip prosthetic, doing his best to clean out the infection, putting it all back together again, and inserting a strand of cement beads which emit a very strong antibiotic over a two month period into the hip joint.  He told me that he would do his best to save the hip joint.

Jeff made it through the surgery okay, but we learned that the staph infection had invaded his bloodstream.  That is a very, very bad thing.  The bacteria had also begun to terrorize Jeff's hip bone, and that had to be cleaned out.  The surgeon had to modify his technique for pain control because of the infection in the blood.  Following surgery, he was just sweating, and he told me that this type of thing is his worst nightmare.  He said that he hates this bacteria and what it does to the human body.  He told me that he had done his best.  I told him that I had a very good friend who was widowed at the age of 29 due to a staph infection.  He turned his head, could not look at me, and shook his head and said, "Yeah."  The next day, the Infectious Disease doctor told us both that "one more day...and...there would not have been very much that we could do."  The surgeon told us that the cement beads in Jeff's hip carry a lethal amount of antibiotic - were they to be given by mouth they would kill a person.  They were very aggressive and very serious about this infection.

That'll take your breath away, for sure.  I'm getting old enough and I've seen enough, that I already knew this was reality.  It was very, very real.

(In another post I'd like to talk about faith and trust and what that was like this time around.  I struggled, to be honest.  There's so much to say about all of that, but I'll save that for another day.)

The next few days were a blur:  ivs, and antibiotics, fever and an inability to keep anything down, blood tests and lab results.  The kids maintained things at home, while local friends grabbed hands and caught us as we fell - bringing meals so the kids didn't have to cook.  I divided my time between home and the hospital, loving on the little ones and doing my best to help them feel secure while also keeping family up to date and making a lot of phone calls, and maintaining laundry.  All mothers will appreciate when I say that Mariam was almost completely potty trained when this happened.  She kept up the good work, with just a few accidents.  Laundry was not an option, shall we say.  :)

Once Jeff was fairly stable, I spent the nights at home.  I wanted the kids to have at least some sense of routine.  (Ha.)  The first night, I did not feel confident that he would make it.  I did not really sleep much at all.  Impossible, when the man you've loved since you were seventeen might breathe his last while you are away. He is not only a husband, he was first and is still my best friend, the person I am closest to on this earth.

I also developed a nasty, nasty cold.  I found myself offended by that cold.  It was the last thing I needed.  How dare it foist itself upon me?  :)  It was just one more thing.

The days blur together, but at one point we got the good news that the infection appeared to be gone from Jeff's bloodstream.  We will not know about the infection in his hip for a couple of months, until the cement beads are removed from his hip (another surgery.)  If the antibiotics did not do their job, then he would most likely need a total hip replacement.  (We really pray that this works.....)

Jeff has been home from the hospital for a week now.  The first several days were difficult for him.  He has to use a walker to get around, and he ran a low grade fever with very little appetite.  He is on a PICC line, and has to administer IV antibiotics 3x daily for six weeks.  He has to be out of work for six weeks, and his job place offers no short term disability.  The best they offer is the FMLA, which means he can't lose his job for up to 12 weeks.   Even without a paycheck, he must belly up his insurance costs - we would not want to lose his insurance at this point in the game.

But the good news is this:  Jeff is still with us.  Today he turned a corner.  His color has returned and he has simply felt better.  He has begun to administer his own meds and even though he is stiff and sore he is moving a little better.  His fever is gone.  Beyond that - God really IS providing.  He IS.  He has used friends both near and far - He is loving on us through PEOPLE.  We are so deeply grateful - it is difficult to communicate just how much.

If YOU have prayed for us, or have lent a helping hand, please know that our hearts are very humbled and touched - and we don't take it for granted.

The days are crazy, but I will try to update at least once a week.  Thanks for your prayers, thanks, in advance, for your comments.

Love, Holly


  1. Congratulations and God be praised for His goodness and mercy to your family.

    I pray for a continued and complete recovery.

  2. Oh boy!
    Praying for Jeff to be totally healed. I have to say what a blessing your children are to you and Jeff...and a huge congratulations on the news of number 9 - very exciting.. Take care - hugs Helen

  3. Oh, Holly! I was praying (and still am!) right there with you during those sleepless nights! Glory to God that Jeff is healing now! You are a trooper!!!

  4. Holly, God had lain you on my heart to pray yet again before knowing what's been going on. I am so sorry for all that you've been enduring! But Thank the LORD that Jeff is recovering, and congratulations on your pregnancy! I have been hoping for this news for a while! :) I will look forward to your eventual post about faith and trust, because I am facing the fear of widowhood myself: Scott deploys to Afghanistan in January. Not quite the same, but... I am SO thankful God has brought you through that dark time of struggle. I will continue to pray for your family. Much love to you AND Jeff, SaraA.

  5. Oh my Holly! What a frightening situation! I am glad that everything seems to be working itself out now- keep us updated! And Congrats on #9! Praying everything goes well with that, also! ~Cassandra

  6. I am thanking God with you and remembering to pray. : )


  7. I will continue praying for you and your family! Blessings to you:)

  8. Dear Holly,
    I came here from Connie (Smockity Frocks) blog. As I read your post, so many emotions and memories flooded my heart. I was surprised they still felt so raw. Two years ago, May 2008, I thought my husband and very best friend on earth and father to our (at the time) 11 children would not be with us much longer. We were given little to no hope after he got very sick also suddenly and we were told he had cancer.
    Oh, how the Lord carried us through those days. There is nothing worse than having your man so sick and weak as they are always the ones who are strong. I remember telling Daniel that if the Lord were to ever allow one of our children go home to heaven, as hard as it would be, I would still have him (Daniel) to hold on to. But if he were to go, I would have nobody. And that was one of the gentle works the Lord did in my heart that I so desparately needed then...I came to slowly but surely lean fully on the Lord. I came to realize that He is my all in all and the One who will never leave me nor forsake me. I came to realize how much I need Him like nobody else and oh the peace, comfort, hope and joy He gave as I clung to Him.
    I will pray for you and your family, am so thankful to hear your husband is feeling better, and so happy to hear God has blessed you with another baby!
    Remember how much God loves you! He is so faithful and good.

  9. Praying the fullness of Father God's grace and mercy for you and your family... and for the Peace of Christ thru this storm... and praise and thanksgiving for your growing baby... Susan T

  10. Now I understand the strong compelling to pray for you! Oh my goodness dear Holly, what you've been going through! My heart hurts for your fears and worries, and soars with your joy at the baby on the way. What a blessing!

    I will continue to pray for you and your family - for healing, for safety, for health. For all of you, and those to come. ;)

    Hugs and congratulations!

  11. Holly, it has been such a long time since I commented at your blog, and I think I have missed a lot of posts as well for some time... Anyway, I came here from Connie's blog (thinking, "Surely not THAT Holly??..." with my heart in my mouth - and it WAS you), and read with baited breath all your recent news. How thankful I am that Jeff is still with you, and doing better! How I rejoiced when I read that you are expecting your 9th little treasure! It sounds like such an incredibly scary journey with Jeff's infection, and I am praying for a CLEAN hip and a healthy body in Jesus' name, and no financial troubles whatsoever.

    I will be back, and will continue praying!

  12. I'm so moved by your story and praying for you! I did help a little, and so much wish it could be more! But, I know that the Almighty is working always to care for us all! Take comfort in knowing that complete strangers are praying good things for you, Holly!!
    God Bless!!!

  13. Still praying fervently, so glad to hear how He is providing. I could barely breathe as I read some of this just thinking of the what if's. Trusting is a life long lesson sometimes, but such an important and necessary one. ~Shelley

  14. So sorry to hear all that your family has been through. I will pray for a quick recovery for your husband. You have been missed Holly!

    Sarah Schmitz from Ohio

  15. Dear Holly,

    Your sweet spirit has touched me as I have read your blog and your comments at other blogs over the years. I can tell through your writing that you are such a humble and unassuming person but PLEASE tell us if there is any way that those blog readers who do not know you and who live far from you, can help you. I know that I am not the only one who would like to help in some tangible way. - Hope T.

  16. Holly, I am just getting caught up. I am so sorry you all have been through this. It's just so much. I know God has been right there the whole time and I still don't blame you for struggling. So glad your best friend has turned a corner and I will be praying for his recovery! Congratulations on #9 and tell those kids congrats for keepign the house going!

  17. Oh Holly! I'm so glad to hear that Jeff is okay. I wish I would have known so I could have been praying sooner, but there's no time like the present! And what amazing kids you've been blessed with. Also congratulations on baby #9!

  18. Wow! Congratulations and oh my all at the same time!

    Will be praying for you!

  19. Holly,

    congratulations on the baby. I am so glad I accidentally clicked today. How much more difficult since you have seen this same thing happen to a dear husband. I do hope everything continues well. I am sure you all feel blessed to have made it this far. Blessings

  20. Holly, I was on vacation last week but prayed for you while I was unable to check on you via computer. I am so relieved to hear that Jeff was able to come home. I'm still praying for his complete recovery as well as for your financial situation.

    Congrats on baby #9! That is wonderful news, and I'm excited for you. :)

  21. Holly, I'm so glad Jeff is improving. I was so scared for you. Just a month before Jeff's situation, I lost a colleague to MRSA. So, when I heard Jeff had it, I was so worried. I know there is a long road to healing, but am so glad to know he's recovering.

    And did I say congrats on the baby? So exciting!! Love, Didi

  22. Holly - I'm so glad to hear that Jeff is getting better. And I'm so tickled about the new little one! Y'all are still in my prayers.

  23. Hi everyone, PLEASE forgive my neglect on the comments. It has been SO crazy that I have not had an opportunity to comment. I have READ EVERY comment, though, and they touched my heart so much. (Some of you - I have prayed for YOU in the past through some of your struggles. Janey - I prayed for Daniel and for your littlest man through their struggles - it is amazing, truly AMAZING, how God connects us to lift each other up.) Thank you for praying for us - thank you for asking how you can be of help to us. I am praying for you all - that God would be close to you and that you would know His presence in your lives, too.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, to lift our spirits. We love you all!

  24. Congratulations, Holly! I am so happy for your new little one on the way!

  25. so glad to hear he has turned the corner! my husband had both hips replaced as well as his shoulder and i know how horrible this can be. we, too, have had to rely on the goodness of others. sometimes it is kind of hard to be in that receiving end of it all, but God does provide for ALL of us - including the ones that are usually the helpers ;o)

    please, when you can, keep us updated!