"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Pillows for Parents"

As most of you know, we started a Foundation in Rowan's name several years ago, The Rowan Jameson Windham Foundation. We did this to try to help other children like himself, medically dependent, chronically ill children who spend a lot of time in the hospital. Each year, during Christmas and Easter he donates gifts to the children who are stuck in the hospital during the holidays. We typically donate blankets, warm fuzzy socks, chapsticks, art supplies, and toys. Here are a few pictures of years past when he donated items during the holidays.
Rowan and I have often talked about what we could do for the parents who are staying there in the hospital with their children too. Well, this past hospitalization Rowan watched me try to get comfortable with my hospital pillow...an extremely thin, blue, plastic pillow. See, hospital pillows are plastic covered so they can be easily sanitized between patients, and very flat from all the use they get. I pretty much have to fold it in half twice and just wedge it under my cheek to try to get comfortable enough to sleep. Here is a photo of one of those pillows with Rowan's hand next to it so you can get an idea of how thin they are.
When Rowan watched me folding my pillow there in the hospital room last month he said "Looks like you need a new pillow Mom." Then it hit me...that is what we could give to the parents there during the holidays...a nice big fluffy pillow! That is actually one of the best gifts I ever received myself once, when Rowan was just a baby and I was in the hospital with him for several weeks. My friend Carri brought me a huge fluffy pillow with a super soft pillow case, and I felt like I was in heaven! So, "Pillows for Parents" it is this Christmas!
Here is a picture of a pillow I just bought this past week. It's soft, fluffy and perfect for donating to a parent in the hospital with their sick child this Christmas. And you know how much it cost? Just $9! So, for under $10, we can give the parents some comfort this Christmas. Rowan's Foundation is still going to be giving the children socks, chapsticks and art projects, but this year we will add pillows for their parents:-) Great idea Rowan!
I have heard from several different people, asking if they can help or donate to his Foundation's giving project this Christmas, which is why I am doing this blog post. If you are interested in contributing, you can email me at cawindham@gvtc.com or send a donation check made out to The Rowan Jameson Windham Foundation, and mail it to 420 River Chase Drive, New Braunfels, Texas 78132. All funds raised will go directly to purchase the pillows, pillow cases, and gifts for the children. The Rowan Jameson Windham Foundation is a tax deductible 501-C3 charity, so you will be given a receipt for tax purposes. If you are local and would like to donate an item or two instead, send me an email so we can meet up. We will take the items to the hospital the week of Christmas, and look forward to another wonderful donation pile this year!
Here is a picture of Rowan and one of the nurses at the hospital who has already started collecting toys and goodies for Rowan's Foundation Christmas Project this year! Way to go Trudy! Thank you so much for getting us started!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

You told me you'd never force me to do anything Mommy...but thank you!

Rowan started out Halloween morning not feeling very good, not really excited about participating in the hospital's Halloween trick or treat event, not even wanting to get his costume on or go out of his room. He cried when we tried to get him excited about it, and asked us to just please let him rest. He said he'd wait until next year. I guess everyone is entitled to a grumpy day, but as you know, this was very unlike Rowan. We knew his spirits would be lifted if he did get out of the hospital bed and trick or treat around the hospital halls though, so we MADE him do it anyway.
Here is Rowan early in the day..not a happy camper.
Here he is when we tried to get him to put on his costume. He wouldn't, so we just laid it on top of him.
Once he dressed up as Michaelangelo the Ninja Turtle, and once he was up and in the wheelchair, Rowan's frown turned to a smile though and he had a great time trick or treating with his brother Ian, Mom and Dad, and his best buddy Logan.
The Hospital Staff did a great job dressing up, decorating, and hosting fun activities for the kids. Our wing was Super Hero themed, and around the corner was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Here are some pictures of the event.
(Willy Wonka's Bubble Room/Fizzy Lifting Drinks:-)
Once back in his room, tucked back in his bed, Rowan told me "You said you'd never force me to do anything Mommy...but thank you! I know that was for my own good. Can I sleep now?"
Rowan had wanted to have "Bed or Treat", where people came to him in his hospital room and he passed out candy, since we missed the "Trunk or Treat" event at Zoe's school. Thank you to ALL the great family and friends who came to visit Rowan, many of whom dressed up for him. We love and appreciate you all, and he was blessed to have so many visitors! I didn't get pictures of everyone, but here are pictures of a few.
And last but not least...some of my all time favorite visitors:
(My brother Ian)
(Cindy the Therapy "Horse & Cowboy" Dog)
Hope everyone had a fun Halloween. Glad we "forced" Rowan to have one:-) And thank you to everyone who helped us cheer him up!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Someday we'll all be better...even me!

As you may know, Rowan is back in the hospital again, this time fighting something in his cerebrospinal fluid. He started running fevers, losing all his hair and had major swelling to the back of his head/neck.
Here is just a portion of what he has gone through in a little less than 48 hours:
Rushed to the er with 103.2 fever and swelling of the head and neck
Brain CT scan
Shunt Tap
Chest Xrays
Repeat Brain CT scan with contrast
Shunt Series of Xrays
Flu test
Urine Culture
Blood Culture
CSF Cultures
Multiple Hematology Labs
Vitals taken every 2 to 4 hours
Surgery (#54) to tap and drain off csf fluid from incision at base of his skull
Fluid leaking from his head
14 rounds of heavy iv antiobiotic infusions
Pain levels of 7-10
Extreme nausea and feeding issues
Neuro exam after neuro exam
Doctor after Doctor coming in to examine him
Specialist after Specialist coming in to consult
Neupogen infusion
IvIg infusion
etc, etc, etc...
And he goes down in the morning for surgery #55.
Sounds like a lot right? Would probably get you down or make you feel sorry for yourself right? Not Rowan, never Rowan.
I had to tell him today that a friend of ours lost their sister this morning, to a battle with Cancer. He immediately said, "She's in a better place than we are...and now all her dreams can come true!" Then tears welled up in his eyes and he said "I'm making mySELF cry! ...But happy tears. I'm happy for her. She's better now. Someday we all will be. Even me!"
Yes, sweet Rowan...Someday we all will be better...even you! Someday you won't have to go through all this pain and trauma. For now, you continue to make me feel better every single day!
Here is a highlight from today...a special visit from his best therapy dog friend, Cindy...true love!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"As long as you have family and friends with you..."

Rowan has been continuing to heal from this last round of surgeries, and has finally been able to start "playing" once again. That was one of the toughest things about being down for months with these headaches, then 2 weeks in the hospital for 2 surgeries, and then home on the couch with sutures all over his head and neck for 2 more weeks...He missed "playing", "playing" video games with his brother, "play" boxing with his Dad, dancing with his Sister, etc. While he rested on the couch, he kept telling us again and again what he was going to "play" when he felt 100% again.
In an unanticipated way, however, Rowan had an experience that put "playing" and it's importance into perspective for him. Here is a little story about a very special day of the year that he and I just celebrated on October 8th, one we honor every year in memory of a dear angel friend of his, Chrissie Patterson, who passed away when she was 4 years old. We tried to bless Chrissie's family in a few special ways, but Rowan and I ended up being blessed ourselves, and he came away with incredible insight about the playing and happiness.
First Rowan started out by visiting Chrissie's Memorial Leaf at Methodist Children's Hospital a couple days before her birthday. He walked right off the elevator, smiled from ear to ear and ran to her specific leaf on the tree. Then he leaned his lttle forehead forward and talked to her for a minute. So sweet.
Next Rowan helped me make some perfectly pink and princessy chocolate cupcakes to take to Chrissie's family.
He picked out the most beautiful assorted pink roses to take to her Mommy, and one to place on Chrissie's grave.
And of course he needed a Happy Birthday Princess Balloon to tie on the gate by her grave too.
Last but not least, Rowan drew Chrissie's Mommy a picture of God with his big arms outstretched over Chrissie (with pink angel wings) and Harley (his old Bull Mastif who died a couple years ago). He made sure to tell us about God's blue eyes, and the rainbow, flowers and 5 butterflies, which were all beautiful because he says that is where Chrissie wants her family to look for her...in all the beautiful things around them.
Rowan and I took the goodies out to give to Chrissie's Family and so Rowan could visit her grave to wish her Happy Birthday and say a prayer. These are just a few of the pictures from that visit.
These amazing photos show Rowan doing a myriad of priceless things: taking Chrissie's Mommy flowers and a picture, petting Chrissie's horse Navidad, blowing out her birthday candles for her, kneeling down praying at her grave, leaving a rose at her grave, blowing her kisses, tying a ballon to her grave, releasing balloons in her memory,etc. These were precious moments we will cherish forever. And when we finally parted ways for the evening, and got in the car to drive home...that is when it hit Rowan...when he had the epiphany:
"Mommy, you know what I just realized? I just realized that you don't need to actually "play" to have fun. All those things we just did, praying for Chrissie 2 times, blowing out her candles, sending up balloons to heaven, ALL of that stuff was fun! So as long as you are with your family and your friends, everything can be fun...even if it means celebrating someone who is already gone...that can be ok too, if you're together. Right?"
And he is right of course. Thank you Rowan for sharing your insight with me. Thank you God for speaking to Rowan once again that evening. Thank you Patterson family for allowing us to share in your joys and your sorrow. And for allowing us to be there, seeing your families love, which exuded that grace, peace and joy that Rowan witnessed. On what could have been seen as a sad day, you celebrated Chrissie's life instead of her death. And Rowan learned a great lesson, family and friends can get you through anything and is where we can find happiness, without even playing.
Now, something else happened that evening that I just can't go without mentioning...We all released 7 pink balloons that said princess on them, which had led lights inside. Within minutes of them being released, this photo was taken, but you'll notice only 6 balloons were drifting up into the night sky.
They all had helium in them. The next two pictures are of the 7th balloon (also helium filled).
It didn't float upward, instead it started drifting over to Chrissie's favorite water pond on their ranch, one she named after a Lake in Serbia. It seriously stayed only about 3 feet off the ground and slowly traveled parallel to the ground, accross the yard until it stopped hovering over the middle of the "lake". The last photo shows the balloons reflection in the lake because it is just a couple feet off the water. Keep in mind again...this is a helium filled balloon just like the others. It never went up into the night sky like the other 6 balloons. I saw it with my own eyes. Rowan will tell you, Chrissie wanted everyone to know she was still around, in the beautiful lake, and in their memories of her there. It was an unbelievable, chilling, thing to witness...and the even more interesting thing is that her family says the same thing happened last year! God does have a sense of humor, right?