Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Time

We started our Christmas celebrations off with the annual Walters' Family Christmas Party at Grandma and Grandpa Walters' house. All of Mark's family comes to do a white elephant gift exchange. The adults are one group and the kids play their own. Mark made out with a new silverware set, which we need because one little girl that lives with us (won't mention any names) seems to throw them away often and we also got a 101 cookie cutter set (which I brought and got back).

Grandma Walters ended up with this gem that Mark and I brought. I think she later gave it to Mark's niece, Makaela.

A few nights before Christmas, the Gutterys came to my mom and dad's house to visit. Kayla and Breea sang a beautiful song, which I would have on here if my computer wasn't being so slow.
Mark and I spent the night at my parent's house so we could be there with them Christmas morning. Funnily enough I got Mark and Xbox 360 for Christmas and he got me a Wii.
Christmas day we had our annual brunch at my mom and dad's house. Mark's family was there and the Gutterys joined us this year too.
Here's Dad and Daniel together.
Julianna, Bill, Tessa

Mark's sister Tai and her baby Kamren

Zac, Don, Mike

My dad's new jacket from Bill
Tai made Sienna this cute tutu for Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Daniel's progress

Daniel Tillman Gabriella turned 9 months on Sunday. He is still in the hospital and probably will be through Christmas. I thought I would share a photo timeline of his hospital stay. It all started with a check up with his pediatrician at 8 months. They said his head circumference was about 4inches larger that normal and because of that, they set him up to get a CT of his head. On Thursday, Dec. 3rd, my mom and I took him to Banner Desert Cardon's Children Center to get his CT. They told us to wait around to make sure the radiologist got all the images he needed. I never suspected anything to be abnormal because he is the perfect baby. Always happy and playful and getting ready to crawl. When the tech told me Daniel's pediatrician was on the phone and wanted to speak to me I knew something wasn't right. The pediatrician told me the CT showed a mass in Daniel's brain. They were going to admit him right away to the hospital. My heart broke hearing those words, not only for Daniel, but because we had just received the same knews about my mom only 6 months ago and it was cancer. I had to make the tough call to Brandi to let her know the news. Of course she rushed to the hospital, running out on her very first day at a new job. They admitted Daniel to the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) at Cardon's.
This was right after he was set up in his PICU room. Looking at him, you'd never know anything was wrong. They put him in a little mini hospital gown. The physician came in to examine him and then the pediatric neurosurgeon. They planned to do surgery early next morning to remove the tumor, which we were told was 10x9x6cm, taking up the greater part of the left side of his head. Fortunately, the tumor was not taking over the brain, but just pushing it aside.

This was right after Daniel came out of his 8 hour long surgery. The surgeon was able to remove the entire tumor. Daniel had a feeding tube and breathing tube placed to help during his recovery. Although he was sedated, he still responded to people's voices. I was thrilled when I came in to see him and he smiled when I started talking to him.

A few days later, the doctors discovered that fluid was building up in Daniel's head and that he had a blood clot which was preventing fluid from draining the way it should. They did a procedure in his room to draw out 120cc of fluid, but it didn't last and he had to go back to surgery to place a drain in his head and remove the blood clot.

Finally they were able to remove the breathing and feeding tubes and Brandi was able to hold her baby boy. He was real groggy for a while and slept most of the time. After waiting over the weekend to get the results back on what the tumor was, the news was devastating. It was cancer. Anaplastic Astrocytoma. A very rare and aggressive cancer that is rarely seen in babies. The doctors were not sure how to treat and are seeking a second opinion. Daniel is too young to receive radiation, which is really the only thing that could help, so chemotherapy may be the only option, but may not help at all. Most likely, they will monitor Daniel over the next few months to see if the tumor grows again and then make a decision as to how to proceed.

I finally got to hold him after a week of not having him around. It was so nice. I miss that sweet boy so much.

We have seen such a vast improvement in Daniel. He is up and playing with toys and smiling all day long now. Back to his old self. It is so good to see. He has had a few more small hiccups on the way, such as minimal seizures, but he is on medication now to control them. This is a picture Brandi sent me this morning. Daniel still has the drain in his head and a PICC line in his arm, but he is able to be held whenever Brandi wants. They are supposed to be turning the drain off today and monitoring him to see if he can get rid of the fluid on his own. If all goes well, his drain will be removed tomorrow.

Since Daniel will be in the hospital for Christmas, we thought he deserved a baby tree. Other family members had added their decorations to his room as well.
We are so grateful for the surge of support and service that Brandi and Daniel and even Mark and I have received from family, friends, and most of all our ward family. We are so blessed to all be together and here for each other during this difficult time. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, including Daniel. Daniel has a purpose to serve here on Earth and everything happens for a reason, even if we can't see what that is. We pray that he will make a full recovery and want to thank all for their prayers and support. See Daniel's blog for regular updates on his condition.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ward Christmas Party

Last Friday we attended our Ward Christmas Party. The gym was decorated as Whoville from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. They made a video of the Grinch and changed all the words to include the topic of service and added people from our ward to the story. It was great. After the movie was over, we got a surprise as a picture of Daniel in the hospital popped up on the screen. Bishop Smith got up and told the ward Daniel's situation and asked everyone to pray for him and the family. It was so nice! Of course Mark and I were crying. Our ward has really impressed us with all of their kind words and service as we go through this trial. Khera and Julie had a good time running around with all their friends and stuffing themselves with candy and cookies.
Julie had so many treats that she threw up that night. Poor girl!