Thursday, July 31, 2008

No Bare Chest!

Today for the first time since the surgery, Ammon is now wearing his own clothes, and we covered up that bare chest of his. He is able to move around freely in a power chair that they adapted to him. He went all around the hospital in this. He is a happy camper.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Look Ma, No Tubes!

When I went up to Shriner's last night, I was amazed to see that Ammon was off oxygen and his last IV had been removed. He looks GREAT! It was also obvious that he wasn't spaced-out due to narcotics. He rarely asked for pain medication, but the nurses at PCMC were determined to keep him fairly sedated so they kept giving it to him even though he insisted he didn't hurt. He was vibrant (for Ammon) and very, very happy last night.

Brent Pugh (Chelsey's husband) came to town for some meetings so we decided to gather at Shriner's and spend what little time we could with him. It wasn't very long, but it was so great to see him. Ammon was delighted to greet Brent. Brad Pugh, Brent's brother and his wife and two sons also came with Brent. It felt like a family reunion - and it was of sorts.

We got up there quite early to avoid the nasty commute crush, so Adam and Gillian played some pool and Kaitlin and I attempted to play a game of our own. Shriner's has a huge domed play area and it's lots of fun for family when they come to visit. There's badmiton, vollyball and basketball besides arts and crafts that occur several times a day. It was great to be able to take Ammon out there in his bed. He was fascinated with the echoes and kept trying to make echoes. If I can get Jess to help me load the two videos we took of Ammon, I'll get those set up. He sang a song from "Camp Rock" for us - clear as a bell.
What a great night and great relief to see this kid so clear-headed and happy - and tube free.
Gillian & Adam playing pool

Ammon waving to the camera. (He's probably saying inside his head, get out of my face!)

Brent checking in.

This one if for you, Geoffrey - your dad riding up a very cool elevator!

Gillian's new boyfriend.

Kaitlin doesn't look so certain that this is the "guy for her."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Goodbye PCMC, Hello Shriner's!

Ammon has now moved over to Shriner's Hospital for Children. We made the move at 2:00 p.m. today. He was very, very nervous to ride in an ambulance and had been asking me questions (at least a million times) about the ride, the bed, the vehicle, etc. He had a very unsettling morning but once the three paramedics showed up, he decided to trust them. They were great with him as they explained each step they would make to transfer him to their guerney and he settled right down. The guys' names were Jeremy, Andrew and Isaac.

Primary Children's Medical Center

Andrew, Isaac and Jeremy - paramedics shifting Ammon to the guerney.

Shriner's Hospital for Children

Isaac shifting Ammon to his new bed in his new room for the next 33 days.

Making new friends - these are the Child Life Recreation Therapists that will work with Ammon. The taller girl's name is Jillian. Jess came and picked me up to help me transport all our stuff. Thank you, bud!

Dad's the man now - he came up to the hospital to give me a much-needed break. He will be Ammon's buddy for a few days.

Ammon's room # is 21. The phone # is 801-536-3510, which is the nurse's station. Ask for his room and it will be transferred.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

First Sunday

Silly Ella!
Adam, Amy, Henry & Ella
The two Elders that administered the sacrament for Ammon. Ammon was getting a respiratory treatment when the Deacons arrived so they had to wait. Ammon insisted on introducing every single person to the respiratory therapist. He missed a couple of names, but got most of them right.

All you guys rock!!

Ammon's first Sunday away from home was a nice one. He is feeling better each day and continues to get stronger. There is a University of Utah Stake that covers the hospital area and so each university ward takes a Sunday to serve at the hospital. They call young married couples to make the rounds every single day to patients that have recorded on their admittance information that they are LDS. They give you information, including the branch president and phone numbers to call if you need anything, including blessings.
PCMC has a conference room just around the corner from this unit where they hold church every Sunday. I have attended it numerous times during Ammon's stays. The cute couple came to his room before church started to see if we needed anything and then offered to make arrangements so Ammon could take the sacrament. They asked him if he would like that. His face got that slow, cute smile and he said, "Yes!" They also asked if he would like to have a youth lesson. Again he smiled and said, "Yes!"
Before church started, Ammon and I read two chapters in the Book of Mormon - trying to make up for the lost couple of days when he was too sick to participate. I also found a Liken the Scriptures DVD entitled "Ammon and King Lamoni" which we watched together. By the time the DVD was finished, it was time for me to go to church which lasts only one half hour. The conference room was completely packed with sick kids, parents, siblings, grandparents and hospital staff. They have the opening exercises and the sacrament and then a musical number, one talk and a closing song and closing prayer. As soon as the meeting was over I heard a little girl about 8 years old tell her parents, "I like this church!"
About an hour after church two elders from the university ward came and said the sacrament prayers and gave Ammon the bread and water and then left. I got a photo of them. Two young women from the ward came and gave him a short lesson about President Monson and then quietly left. It felt good to have the availability of the Spirit all around us.
Adam & Amy came up and brought Henry and Ella. Amy will be leaving for California for a few weeks so they wanted to come up and see how Ammon was doing. I enjoyed sharing Adam's early birthday cake and playing with the kids. Just as they were about to leave, both Deacon's Quorums from our ward showed up - every single boy but one came up with all their leaders. I was dumbfounded! Ammon was more animated with this group of boys than I've ever seen him since we arrived last week. He was so excited to see this group of boys! He loves his leaders and they seem to love him, too. Each boy gave him a card and other little things to enjoy. They talked about activities, scouts, etc. They laughed and Ammon laughed with them. I let them hold the weight attached to Ammon's head so they could see what was happening and they were amazed. They stayed for about a half hour and then, just as they were going to leave they asked if they could have a prayer with us. Garrett May offered the prayer and I was so touched by the beauty of that prayer that I couldn't hold the tears back. What a wonderful bunch of young boys they are! They gave me hugs, gave Ammon knuckles and high fives and then left. I was an emotional mess by the time they left. I have been so grateful for all the people that have come up here or called or commented on the blog to show their support. Thanks to everybody for all your love!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chest Tube Is Out!

Keri Minson visiting with Ammon on Friday. Doesn't Ammon look great?! (So does Keri!)

A poster Child Life Center made for Ammon on his very first day at the hospital.

We made a paper chain today figuring that Ammon will probably be in the two hospitals for about 50 days. So we made the paper chain and we'll take one off each day that passes by.

Having an x-ray after the chest tube was taken out. Nice - he can stay right in his bed.

Hello Everybody!

Yeah, the chest tube was taken out today. That's great news - it means the lungs are just about cleared out and the pleural cavity is free of fluid. The "cough assist" machine is still being used on Ammon four times a day, but he does not have to be suctioned any longer and he definitely looks so much better today!

We are still looking at Monday for the transfer to Shriner's but the doctor said "Maybe." I'm glad he is being cautious.

Yesterday Ammon was the last person in a particular pod of the surgical/med floor so they moved him to a different area. We are still on the third floor but in a different room - 3086 is the new room. I am wishing that we could reserve this room when we come back. It is twice the size of the last one and there is a couch that makes out into a bed that is long enough for my long legs. I actually had a great night last night. The room is large and very nice. It will be a nice weekend.

Yesterday Ammon had quite a few visitors. He was pretty worn out after everyone left, but he said, "I like having visitors come." I took pictures of the various visitors but must have accidentally deleted them because they didn't upload today.

Bishop Coates and Marina came up this morning and Ammon was fairly attentive but his attention wanders and sometimes he is a little slow to re-tell things. Otherwise, he is doing really well and we are very grateful!

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Room and Phone for Ammon

Ammon was moved to a new room this afternoon. Room #3086. The room phone # is 801-662-3086. Mom says it is a bigger and nicer room with an actual couch. They are still on schedule to move to Shriner's on Monday, assuming his lungs clear up completely.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Few Photos

Shriner's is in the background with a blue dome roof. About 3 minutes from PCMC.
David's friends, Kirt, Cameron and Brandon.

Jess & family came to visit.

Ammon has had a good day for the most part. They did not take the chest tube out but "sealed" it so it wouldn't drain. They will x-ray tomorrow to see how his lungs look. They have not had to suction him at all today, but he is beginning to rattle again so they will do it once tonight. I hate to see them do it because he cries and hates it. That is the only thing they have done to him that has caused him to cry. I hate it, too. Those lungs have to be cleared out, though.
For some reason, this afternoon the nurse decided to give him some pain medication. He has a little button that he can push if he hurts but he doesn't ever push it. They watch his blood pressure and if it begins to rise, they will push the button for him. I don't know how much the nurse gave him, but it knocked him out. I absolutely could not wake him up. It scared me half to death. I found out they switched it to Oxycontin (sp?). I was upset and asked them not to give that dose to him again. He hadn't asked for it but was really fighting the nap. That appears to be the only reason she gave it to him.

Ammon seems to do a lot better in the mornings than late afternoon. He is now asking for pain medication and wants to take the weight off.


Ammon was moved out of ICU last night at 9:45 p.m. We had already left the hospital because they said there was not an empty room on the regular surgical floor. We didn't expect him to move until today.
He is doing GREAT! He is happy and looks really good. They have to take an x-ray today to take a look at his chest. If it all looks good, they will remove the chest tube which will be a big step. They removed one of three IVs. The others won't be removed probably until he moves to Shriner's. That move is scheduled for Monday morning.
He is tolerating the weight very well now. He is busy making friends with all the nurses and cleaning ladies. He has also begun to tell me that he loves me (every few minutes). Ammon is back!!
Ammon's room # is 3063 and the phone # in his room is 801-662-3063. I will be staying with him until Monday evening and will then go home for a break and to do laundry and change clothes. Jim will take my place for a couple of days then.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Day three is now here. Ammon seems to be feeling a little better today but it was a little frightening last night. Gillian and Kaitlin came up to see Ammon and to bring Dad back. The girls had a pretty hard time when they saw Ammon. It's a scary scene at first. He was very happy to see them although the smiles are few and far between. He has been very alert and talking since yesterday afternoon. He had about three hours of really good time - feeling a bit better, relieved to have the tube out, and seemed to be making great progress. His lungs were still very full of junk so they had to suction them out and he hates that. We kept trying to get him to cough the stuff out but he just couldn't. After the girls left, Ammon began to nose dive a bit. He got a pretty good fever, glazed eyes and was very short with us - that's the sign that he doesn't feel well. We decided that he needed some quiet time and so we left about 8:45. I worried about him most of the night, but when I called the nurse this morning about 6:30, she said he had a good night. His fever broke, they suctioned him out four times and he seemed to be comfortable.
Today they started feeding him a little bit and took him off the high flow oxygen. He is still on oxygen (6 liters at this point which is high), but he is doing well. He was very talkative this morning but then the orthopedic people came in and started with the weights. They attached a rope to the top of his halo and let it drape over the top of the bed and then added a 5 lb weight. Five pounds seems like an awful lot of weight to be pulling on the skull and he isn't a happy camper when it's on. I have had to take it off twice to give him a break but he has to get used to it and he doesn't like it.
Oh boy - this is going to be a long five weeks!


This is Jess writing under Ammon's user account.

I visited Ammon and Mom yesterday. He was alert and talked to us quite a bit. Like Mom said in the previous post, his chest is pretty congested, perhaps due to the blood transfusion and breathing tube he's had down his throat. Ammon doesn't naturally cough well, so he's having a hard time getting rid of the gunk. The doctors were coming in every so often to suction his throat out.

At one point, I put my hand on his chest to see if I could feel the junk in his lungs as he breathed. After he felt my hand, he said, "Hey, why is my shirt off?" We had some fun with that one for a while.

Every half hour or so, the doctors would rotate him in his bed so he doesn't get bed sores. After a particular rotation, Ammon said, "Oh, that feels so much better now." The doctor replied, "Well, why didn't you tell me earlier?" Ammon said, "I didn't want to hurt your feelings."

He seemed to be doing pretty well. The TV was on and he was able to look at a certain Disney show episode (Life with Derek) and reported to us that this particular episode was from season 4. Hopefully he'll be out of PCMC soon and on to Shriners where it'll be a little easier to visit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The breathing tube came out about 11:30 this morning. Ammon's voice is coming back a little at a time. He is quite rattly and we need to keep making him cough, but he will definitely feel better now that he is no longer intubated. That's always a relief.
He just asked me if he could have a chocolate bar as soon as he gets out of the two hospitals. That's a great sign! I told him he could have a chocolate bar as soon as he gets to Shriner's.
They will take the Foley Catheter out (that drains the bladder) today as well and will probably begin some light feeding through his g-tube sometime later today. Each step means great progress. We have reason to be very grateful today.
While we were in the waiting room, we became acquainted with a couple whose son was having open heart surgery. They adopted him when he was 6 years old. He is from China. He is now 11 and he is doing very well. As we talked with them at length yesterday, we discovered that they are the uncle and aunt of Eric Major, David's old mission companion.
I don't know the man's first name but the mom's name is Susan. They are great, friendly people.
I thought David might find this little tidbit interesting.

Monday, July 21, 2008


This is not for the faint-hearted! Be warned.

Ammon's surgery went well - there were a few complications but he is now in the ICU and handling things quite well. (I think.) The surgery lasted for about 6 1/2 hours, which was longer than we anticipated but that included prep time before the surgery started. The doctors actually removed 10 discs from his back. That seems impossible, but they said he was so tight that this will really help with his mobility as they do the traction. They said that he had a lot of oozing of blood and it got ahead of them so they ended up giving him a transfusion because his blood pressure dropped so low. The doctor said, "Don't worry - he didn't have cardiac arrest and his heart never stopped beating." Gulp.....

He is still intubated but they are hoping that by morning he will be off the tube and breathing on his own. He has been alert and knows who we are. If I ask him a question (yes or no), he will squeeze my hand in answer. If things go well, we will probably go to Shriner's on Thursday - it could be Wednesday but we're looking at Thursday. There is no phone here in the room so you cannot really contact me here.

Be reassured that Ammon made it through and I think things will be fine.

Here is a photo - maybe two to show what he's doing right now.

Dr. Jacques D'Astou

We can't leave this man out! Here is Dr. Jacques D'Astou. (Once Ammon saw him, he calmed down and knew he could trust this doctor.)

Priesthood Blessing

David,Dad, Jess, Lance, Adam & Ammon Nancy - the nurse in the first room.

Here is a photo showing all the guys that gave us blessings. Thank you to all of you!! Thank you to the whole family who have Ammon in their prayers -- second report says Ammon is doing well during the surgery.
While we were waiting in this room, a woman asked Ammon what he was in here for and he said, loud enough for the entire room to hear, "The doctor is going to CHOP my back off!" You should have heard the gasps from everybody. I would imagine he scared every kid in this room!

Surgery is Here!

Dr. VanGinkle, anesthiologist - This is far as we could go. The nurse that distracted Ammon.

Dr. VanGinkel & Dr. Eric Scaiff (general surgeon)

A tired Dad and Mom - This is the "holding" are waiting to go into the operating room.

On Sunday the boys came up about 5:00 p.m. to give Ammon, me (Mom) and Dad a blessing. Many of us fasted on Sunday, some are going to fast today. We appreciated their participation so very much. It was a very emotional and spiritual experience for everyone. I felt very lucky as a mother to have so many wonderful, worthy priesthood holders give us blessings.

Ammon had a very rough time about half-way through the blessing, sobbing his eyes out. That didn't help the rest of us, either! I think his emotions were mixed with feeling the spirit and his fear. While the boys were giving Dad a blessing, Ammon buried his head on my shoulder and whispered, "I'm so scared." He had a few moments of fear today, but this was the first time he went off without us without crying. A cute nurse got his attention and he was fine.

We received the first report about an hour ago - he is doing well so far. This is supposed to be about a five hour surgery. We're about half way through. They are going down through the ribs and go as far down as they can to take out discs and fuse them from the front. Then they will attach the halo. A chest tube will be inserted to drain for at least two days so it looks like we'll be here at least two or three days.