we made it through the first year.

Today is a bittersweet day for me.  It is the same Tuesday that we took Ian to the ER last January.  Although it was technically the 24th, this particular Tuesday remains on my mind for several reasons.  First of all, Emma had a fever the day before so she could not go to school that day.  Second, the boys did have school that day, which made it convenient to drive Ian to the ER right after we took them to school.

At 4 am that morning Ian had gone to the bathroom.  I was half awake and he told me that there was blood in his urine.  I asked if he wanted to go in to the ER since he had also been feeling sick the day before.  I thought we could call our neighbor Teri to stay with the kids until we came home.  He said no and we went back to bed.  Fast forward 3 hours and I got up to get everyone fed, dressed, and the boys ready for school.  Ian still didn’t feel well.  He was sooooo cold.  I distinctly remember that he was wearing an undershirt, a long sleeved shirt, and an A&M hoodie.  He was laying under our comforter and he still couldn’t get warm, so he asked me for yet another thick comforter on top.  I asked him to ride with me to take the boys to school so that we could go in to see the doctor right after we dropped them off at 9am.  He again said no, that he would just wait for me to get home and then we could go.  I didn’t really like that idea, but I didn’t want to argue about it.

As I was getting the kids in the car, my phone vibrated in my back pocket.  I pulled it out and it was a text from Ian… who was still in our bedroom.  “I just threw up pink” is what it read. At this point, I didn’t really care if I had to argue and make him mad.  I was determined to get him in the car and take him in.  I remember leaving the kids in the car and walking down to our room to get him.  He was back in bed and he didn’t want to get up mostly because he was so cold.  Somehow I forced him out and carried the thick comforter to cover him up in the car.

I took the boys in and left Ian and Emma in the car.  Then we drove to the Baptist Emergency Room on 281/Thousand Oaks.  We didn’t wait too long to get a room.  When asked why he was there we told them about the little cough that he had and that he felt sooooo incredibly cold.  The only real reason we were worried was the blood in his urine and vomit.  Then the lab tests began.

They took a urine sample and tried to draw blood.  Each time they tried to draw blood, none would come.  They tried different veins and different nurses but it didn’t help.  A chest x-ray revealed the culprit.  Pneumonia.  However, the pneumonia didn’t explain all the other symptoms.  By this time, Ian’s oxygen was in the 80s and I didn’t know enough about blood pressure to remember numbers, but we were told that it was very low.  They did another test that confirmed that he had blood in his stool, too.  With all these symptoms and no real answer, they wanted to do a scan of his abdomen to see what was going on in there.

If you know Ian, you know that he is against any unnecessary tests.  We called a dr friend, and when we described Ian’s symptoms, he agreed that we should go ahead with the scan.  So we went ahead and did it. (I made arrangements for Emma to go back to our house with our babysitter so that she would not be around in case there was something not appropriate for her little ears.)

I remember sitting alone in a little dark room watching as Ian was transferred from his rolling bed to the bed for the scan.  He still had our thick comforter covering him.  Everything after that is kind of a blur…


They said it was septic shock… that they weren’t equipped to treat him there…  that he would have to be transferred by ambulance to Methodist Stone Oak… that he would be there for 6-7 days… blah blah blah..  And, just like that, our journey began.

I could go on and on about how the day went, but I can tell you, it all went downhill from there.  The bad reports started coming one after another, until finally Ian was intubated and sedated with not much hope for life.  I’m so grateful that things turned out differently!  Thank God that HE saved Ian’s life!!!

Today and the rest of the week will be hard.  I’m surprised at how sentimental I am today thinking about what happened and what could have been.  I am also happy to realize that we made it through the first year!  So much has happened this year.  I could write a novel about all the struggles and blessings that our family has endured.  My friend Amy told me that the first year after Ian’s death would have been hard.  I’m thankful that I didn’t have to go through that.  Even having lived, this first year has been hard, but she reminded me that we are going through it together.

I’m so grateful for this life that God has gifted me with.  I’m so grateful for a wonderful Godly husband with an amazing attitude and sense of humor.  I’m grateful for three wonderful children to call my own.  There are no words to describe how thankful I am.  I’m sitting in tears as I write this, overwhelmed by God’s grace and promises.  HE is so good!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.   Ephesians 3:20-21

Please continue to pray for our family if you think of us.  Although it has been a year, our journey is not over.  Ian is still making great progress with his prosthetic legs.  The current ones are still temporary because his legs continue to change in size and shape.  We hope to have permanent legs around Spring Break.  Permanent prosthetic legs will be lighter weight and easier to put on/take off.  Ian will also begin the process of reconstruction on his hands soon.  His left hand will be done first since he has lost all of his fingers and basically has a “paddle” for a hand.  Any improvement in that hand will be better than what he has now.  Pray for Dr. Pederson to get creative and think of some wonderful ideas for Ian’s left hand.

Thank you to those of you who continue to follow our story.  We are so grateful for you.

Love, denisse


taking care of your spouse.

This month’s Real Simple magazine had a great, thought provoking article in it.  It was about a happily married older couple.  The husband happens to have MS (Multiple Sclerosis)  and his wife is his primary caregiver. It was written in an interview format, which gave each of them an opportunity to share their thoughts.   The husband has lost most of his strength and needs help with most things in his day.  The wife wakes up early to help him bathe, get dressed, give him medicines, eat breakfast, and then heads off to work for the day.  Then, after work she comes home to help him once again.  She often falls asleep on the couch and he then has to wake her up to get them both to bed.  Both of them live in fear everyday.  She is afraid that something will happen to her and she won’t be able to take care of him.  He is afraid that something might happen and they would be apart.  Wow.

I can relate to this woman having taken care of Ian this last year.  I had to help Ian with eating, bathing, dressing, etc.   I can tell you that it is HARD to take care of your spouse.  And she does this everyday.  Without complaining.  With no chance of improvement. I don’t think I have ever stopped to think about what life might be like for people going through something like this.

A few days ago, as I was driving the boys to school, I saw an elderly couple standing on a sidewalk.  I noticed that the man was holding a cane and waving it around.  It took me a second to realize what was going on.. He was trying to hit his wife with it!  I slowed down and looked again to make sure I was right.  As I watched them through my rearview mirror I saw him push her.  This sweet lady just backed away from him, but stayed close.  My heart started pounding and I wasn’t sure what to do, but I decided to stop and see if I could help her.

To make a very long story short, it turned out that the elderly man had Alzheimer’s Disease.  The man probably didn’t know who his wife was and was trying to protect himself from her.  The sweet wife just stayed close to protect her husband.  I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for her.  It must break her heart to look at the man she loves, the father of her children, and have him not know who she is.  And worse, trying to hurt her.

I ended up taking the boys to school as a couple of police officers showed up to help.  When I was driving home I couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I decided to see if I could find their home and introduce myself to see if there was anything that I could do to help.  It was easy to find the house since it had two police cars parked in front of it.

I sat in my car for a few minutes not knowing what to do.  I wanted to know more, and to see if I could help in any way.  I got brave and walked up to the door to ring the doorbell.  The sweet elderly lady came to the door and smiled.  I told her my name and that I had seen what happened and asked if there was anything that I could do for them.  I told her that I understood a little of what she was going through (taking care of Ian and three kids) and that I know it is hard.  She agreed that it was hard and I could see sadness in her eyes. The police officers were talking loudly to the man, telling him that he couldn’t leave the house.  I wasn’t sure if there was anything that I could do, but I wrote down my name and phone number for her.  I told her to let me know if I could ever pick up groceries or something for them.  I asked if it would be okay with her if I stop by to check on them.  Thankfully she said yes.

In two days I have learned about two situations where the wife is her husband’s caregiver.  I’ve experienced that myself and I know how hard it can be. The article in Real Simple talked about how the caregivers often fail to take care of themselves.  I can totally see that.  My heart goes out to these women and men who care for a family member who is sick or has a disability.  I can understand some, but not all of what they may be going through.  Ian is getting more and more independent each day, so I have less to do for him.   He actually doesn’t need my help much anymore.  I am so grateful for that.  It is great for me, and even greater for him!

I’m not sure why God has placed these situations in my life.  I’ve prayed for God to use me in whatever way he wants.  Maybe I’m supposed to help these people?  Maybe bring awareness to others?  At the very least, I can pray for them.  Will you pray, too?  Will you share examples of others that you know?  I’d love to hear about real life stories like this.  I plan to bake some cookies and stop by to check on the elderly couple this week.  I will share what happens..

follow this site. and an update on our family.

Let me begin by sharing that I had a great post written out last night.  I was on my phone using the Caringbridge app, and it had taken me quite a while to write this post.  Then BAM! all of a sudden it was gone.  Just like that.  Caringbridge crashed.  There are no words to express how upset/frustrated/mad I was.  This has happened before.  I have actually rewritten posts a few times when this has happened.  But NOT last night.  I just quit writing it altogether.  I showed Caringbridge a piece of me.

So, I have decided to write here.  If you would like to read about our progress, please sign up to receive alerts through this website. Thanks!  Maybe that will alleviate some of my frustration with writing.



Ian is doing great!  The spot in his left hand that has taken so long to heal has FINALLY healed.  The skin is closed and smooth.  We are so pleased.  Can you believe he had his fingers amputated in July??  Its been a long time of keeping it covered up.  Now we are trying to lotion it up and help that skin get nice and healthy before reconstruction surgery.  We have an appointment to discuss options in a couple of weeks.

He is wearing his contact lenses daily.  Woo hoo!  He had an appointment with his eye dr yesterday, and guess what?  His vision has actually improved since he was there over a year ago.  I wonder if hyperbaric therapy did it.  He has decided to keep his contacts in for a week at a time.  This way he doesn’t have to worry about them so much.  The doc thinks this is fine as long as he uses drops daily to keep them moist.

We celebrated our TEN year anniversary last Friday.  It was nice to spend the day together and with the kids.  Ian arranged for a sitter to stay with the kids while we went out to dinner.  An anniversary trip did not work out, maybe sometime soon.  On a positive note, I found the dress I wore to our rehearsal dinner while I was cleaning out our closet the other day.  I decided to try it on and it still fit!  That was a nice little encouragement.

The kids are back in school and they are doing great.  All three of them have birthdays coming up.  We are in party planning mode over here.  Emma is busy planning the girls-only crafts for her party, while Jack has decided that he wants a Wild Animal Party and all the guests should dress up as their favorite wild animal.  I’d like Luke’s party to be extra special this year.  Ian was still so weak last year and we couldn’t focus much on Luke. I still don’t know what we will do for his party.  Ideas anyone?

We are thinking about doing some work to our house.  It is an older home, but we love it.  We got it for a great price, so any time we think about moving, we are discouraged by what we could get for the money now.  Soooooo, we would like to live here as long as we can.  Before Ian got sick, we had started looking at neighborhoods we might like to move to.  We decided that we wanted a more open floor plan so that I can see the kids from the kitchen while I am cooking or cleaning up.  We have decided to see if it would be possible to take down walls to open up our kitchen and living room area.  We had a friend come out to take a look and tell us if it would be possible to do structurally.  He is going to get back to us with a price this week.  We have to be careful since Ian is still not working.  AND, we aren’t sure how long it will be before he goes back to work since he still has to have the hand surgeries.

Thats about it.  We are still doing really well.  I am grateful for each day that we get to spend together. God has blessed us more than we deserve!





18 pairs of shoes. And some other things.

I spent the day cleaning out our closet. Ian’s and mine, that is… I should add that it was probably 75% me to 25% Ian when I got started.

I’ve been thinking about how I can help others around me more. It gives me such joy to do things for others and to give things to others. I think that is something God has grown in me in the last year. To make a long story short, I decided that we have WAY too much stuff in this house. I want to give things to people who can use them. I’m going to clean out dishes, linens, toys, and other household things that can bless the less fortunate. After all, how many towels and sheets do we really need?

Today’s goal was to graciously find things in our closet to give away. There’s probably no way that I will ever fit into the clothes I wore in my teaching days before kids. Who am I kidding when I hold on to them thinking that I might wear them someday?? Instead, I’d like to find someone who can use them now. And come on, Denisse, when will you need to wear that formal you wore to Wedding X, Y, and Z? Hopefully some sweet girls can wear them to a school dance that they may not have attended without a dress they couldn’t afford..

I’m embarrassed to admit that I found 18 pairs of shoes to find homes for. I’ve read that most people donate their shoes when they are already worn out, so I made sure to find some that were still in great shape.

Poor Ian had to participate in this too. He had his chance at choosing what he would keep and what he could give. We both know that he is a tshirt and jeans kind of guy, so why hoard all the dress shirts? Maybe some nice kid out there can give his clothes new life after being stuck in a closet for probably 10 years.

We both found coats to give away too. I pray that they will keep someone warm for many years to come.

I’m actually going to pray over the clothes. I want to pray for the people that will wear them. Pray for them to know God above all, and for safety, protection, and health over them and their families. I’m confident that they will get to the right person. 🙂

It’s almost 1am and I just finished cleaning out and reorganizing. AND, I have a very large pile of clothes in my room to organize tomorrow. Does anyone know of specific organizations that help people in need?