Big and good news that I forgot to tell you about.

Neil had some diagnostic tests to check up on his Crohns in November. You have to wait forever for a follow-up to actually hear the results of the test, so he finally had his appointment a couple weeks ago.

And the big and good news is that the doctor declared Neil’s Crohns officially “inactive”, or in remission. Neil’s graduated to twice a year check-ups instead of every three months, and had to have his medication increased, because he’s gained over thirty pounds since last summer. Crazy how being able to eat food will do that to you. Neil looks so great.

Anyway this is very good news for Neil and for our family. It’s really amazing what a huge difference there is in Neil’s health compared to this time last year, when he was pretty much constantly sick and in pain. It is the best ever to have him feeling so good.

We’re obviously very very happy! We love this man so much!

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(hashtag best dad ever!)

Two months post-op; an update.

So it’s been over two months since all that crazy went down, and I thought we were all in need of an update.

It’s weird how almost immediately after Neil came home, it already seemed like that whole ordeal was just a hazy dream, a distant reality, a “did that even happen” kind of thing. Things weren’t exactly normal right away; it took Neil awhile to do much more than sleep, and we were doing daily dressing changes and IV meds, but we were all together, in our home, and everything felt fine. We had survived it, and it all of a sudden felt like it hadn’t even been that bad. And it wasn’t really. Even though there were some very bad days, and moments that were horrible, overall it really was okay.

And now we’re pretty much back to normal. Except a better normal, beacause Neil feels GREAT. He’s gained almost all those twenty pounds back that he lost while in the hospital. He eats everything, including things he used to avoid because he would feel terrible, and he feels good. The gastroenterologist gave him the go-ahead with all foods, and Neil’s going for it. (The GI also said that they had no idea Neil was so sick pre-operatively, that it’s very unusual to see a case so severe, and that it’s no wonder that the meds weren’t working before. Wow!) I just have to say it is so nice to cook meals that Neil actually eats. Although my grocery bill has increased considerably…

He’s been back at work for a couple weeks now. The first week he just worked the mornings, and came home totally exhausted, but by the second week he worked full days, and even took care of the kids all evening a couple of those days while I worked.

On Saturday Neil even cut the grass! (I’m so happy I didn’t have to do it again!) We amped up our flower beds, Neil built the kids a picnic table out of skateboards, and got started on a playhouse. He’s like a real person again! No lingering tiredness or pain, just goodness. 20140714-125545-46545632.jpg (Neil made that! So awesome!)

I’m so happy that he’s all good and we’ve got the summer ahead of us. We’re going camping next month and I’m really really excited for our first trip in a long time where Neil just feels like Neil, and isn’t throwing up outside the tent or doubled over in pain half the time. It’s going to be amazing.

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Thank you to all of you for your continued prayers over our family through all of this. We felt them, and we wouldn’t have survived without them!

School, done. Summer, begun.

The boys finished school last Thursday. Both of them brought home amazing report cards. If they used A’s like the old days, Seth’s would have been straight A’s except for music class, which was B’s. He read 114 chapter books this school year, a total of almost 1400 chapters, the most in his class. At the last parent-teacher interviews his teacher said she’d never seen someone read like Seth. Considering he only started reading chapter books in the fall, I’m pretty impressed with his skills, although not surprised. I was the same way when I was a kid. Ben’s report card was pretty much straight A’s too, and I’m pinching myself a little that they both had such wonderful years. Ben learned so much this first year of school, and is pretty much reading on his own now too. He’s come by reading much more naturally and with much less struggle than Seth did in the beginning. Ben was just kind of all of a sudden reading everything. It was weird and awesome and we hardly noticed, which is the way of the second child I guess, unfortunately. I’m always surprised when he just reads something like it’s no big deal. Like I’m wondering when this happened, because I wasn’t there for it or something. I’m so proud of him, so proud of both of them.

And so happy it’s summer holidays. Friday was supposed to be all rainy and gross but then it wasn’t, it was beautiful and hot and mostly sunny and we packed up and went to the beach. It was the best afternoon, catching tadpoles and burying kids in sand and getting sunburned because we forgot about sunscreen.

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We caught a bunch of tadpoles at our usual spot and brought them home with us in hopes of raising them to be little frogs. We’ve only been successful at this once out of many many years, but I’m feeling good about this summer. Plus many of the tadpoles already had a couple legs, so it’s like we have a head start.

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I love summer and I love the beach and I love that I have no more babies. Each summer gets easier and easier and I hope we can spend a lot of days at the beach this summer.

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And ironically now that the kids are home all day every day, Neil went back to work today! Last week he had his follow-up appointment with the infectious diseases doctor, who said his last MRI was all clear, no abcesses, and so he could stop the IV antibiotics. He took his PICC line out right away, and now his wound is all healed up too! It’s amazing, really, how it went from being the same same same for weeks and weeks to bam, healing up, and now, just a few weeks later, all new skin. He kind of has a “divot” where the wound infection was, right beside his belly button, almost like a second belly button. But two is better than one, I guess, and I am beyond happy to be done with daily IV meds and dressing changes.

Here’s to a summer full of health and happiness and sunshine!

(Especially the sunshine. It’s been raining for days and yesterday was basically a prairie hurricane. Seriously, what?)

That time Ivy was horrible at the doctor’s. (And Neil was good.)

Today Neil had his follow-up appointment with the surgeon, and Ivy had her specialist appointment at the Variety Heart clinic to check up on that heart murmur that her doctor noticed at her two-year check-up. The appointments were unfortunately at the same time, but on the opposite sides of the city as one another.
I dropped Oliver off at daycare but Ben didn’t want to go, so he and Ivy and I went to the heart place while Neil went to his appointment.
Ivy’s always been fine at her doctor’s appointments. At her last check-up she sat on the table while she got checked over, coughed on demand, and did everything the doctor asked her to. Today, not so much. She absolutely refused to get on the scale, so we got to go on the scale together. That’s always nice. Then I had to hold her down while they put all the EKG leads all over her. She was ripping those suckers off as fast as they could put them on. Even four princess stickers couldn’t convince her everything was going to be okay. When it was time to go into the office with the doctor, she wouldn’t even follow me in. She just yelled “home!!!” in the doorway. So I had to drag her in there and hold her crying while the doctor took her history. Then I had to hold her still while he tried to check her over, trying to restrain her and calm her at the same time so he could actually have a proper listen of her heart. By the end of the exam I didn’t even have the energy to ask him any questions. He didn’t say anything about the EKG but did listen to her heart good and long and then said that he didn’t think there was any reason to worry about heart disease (thanks) but that he would see her again in a year to check on things again when she would hopefully be more cooperative. Sheesh.
By the time we were ready to leave I could not find my parking ticket anywhere, then I couldn’t find my van anywhere in the parkade. We finally found the van and then pressed the call for help button but then found the ticket. So I reparked the van and went to the paystation to pay where the paystation said my ticket was unreadable. That was awesome. So I went back to leave again, pressed the call for help button again, and finally got out of there with some help from a parking attendant. It felt like the morning was a complete gong show.
Neil had a much more successful appointment than we did. The doctor was happy with how he is doing. His wound has been healing so well lately that the nurse at the clinic yesterday said there is now no more tunneling and that his dressing only needs to be changed every two days now, which is awesome. The doctor said that he’d heard a lot about Neil, that everyone had been talking about him, and that it isn’t very often that he has a case with as many complications as Neil had. How exciting! He thought that Neil will probably be able to go to work at the end of the month, although maybe just shorter days at first. He’ll have to see how it goes. I have to say, Neil has basically done nothing the last couple weeks since he came home, but then all of a sudden in the last couple days has almost been like a normal person again. That’s pretty awesome.
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So that was our morning today. When I came home I did Neil’s meds and put Ivy for her nap and then I went to my garden to hunt for cutworms. Those little bastards ate all my carrot seedlings and all my lettuce too and I need them gone. I replanted and I don’t want to experience the sadness of seeing my garden disappear overnight again. Anyway I found around 15 or 20 and “disposed” of them. I don’t know how many more of them I missed but I hope I got enough that at least some of my plants will make it. On the bright side, there’s not a weed to be seen in my garden. Only because I picked them all out while hunting for cutworms. Not because cutworms ate my weeds. They avoided those, the little jerks.
Girls movie night tonight, and I’m excited. Here’s to hoping Neil can manage to get four children to bed on his own…

Gutsy Walk 2014.

We participated in our first ever fundraising walk yesterday. I am SO proud of our team- we raised $1550.00!! Huge thank yous to everyone who donated so very generously. We truly felt loved and honored by your support.

The walk was a lot of fun! The weather was all raining/sunny/thunderstorms/sunny/cool/warm/I can’t make up my mind but for the hours that we were at the walk it was completely cooperative and beautiful. Seth lost a tooth as soon as we got there. A free granola bar was the end of that wiggly tooth. It went straight down the hatch with a mouthful of nuts and whole grains. (Don’t worry, the tooth fairy came anyway.)

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(He loves that Crohns and Colitis buff!)

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(I love my new t-shirt! Why am I doing the peace symbol? I don’t know! I just never know how to pose for pictures. What do you think of Neil’s beard?? Yowsa!)

Lots of our amazing family and friends came out to walk with us. Thank you guys for showing our family support by spending time walking with us. You guys are all so awesome and we are so thankful for amazing people in our life!

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Seriously, just thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has supported Neil and our family in one way or another! We could not/would not do life without you!

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And who won the passport wallet??

Neil’s lovely and very generous co-worker Colleen! Congrats lady! (I’ll email you and get that to you asap!)

At home.

I realized I haven’t really posted in awhile, and some of you might be wondering how things are going. Some of you probably aren’t.

Things are going fine. There’s nothing really too exciting to report, which is just fine. I’m doing Neil’s IV meds and dressing change every day and, besides Neil being a little overly demanding/bossy/doubtful of my actual nursing skills, it’s going well. I think today he finally seemed to think I maybe knew what I was doing. It took four days, but hey. It is kind of tricky doing stuff here at home, though. The supplies they gave us are all mumble-jumble in a huge box, and although you’re expected to do things with sterile technique, many of the things required for truly sterile technique aren’t included. So that’s interesting. But I think we’re making do alright, and I can at least say that Neil’s wound doesn’t look any worse, so I’m not totally sucking. The kids have been getting a little involved, helping me tape down the dressing and stuff like that. The first time Ivy and Oliver watched the dressing change yesterday, Ivy was so cute. She was so compassionate and tender to Neil, just so concerned for him, but not in a worried way. I think she would make a really great nurse one day. She has a really tender heart, but she’s also super feisty which I think is the perfect combo for an excellent nurse.

So we’re surviving. It’s going mostly good although I find myself shorter on patience and snappier at the kids, and sometimes Neil, than I wish I was. Wine helps. And I’ve tried to escape for a bit here. I finally, FINALLY, got my hair done yesterday. That was long overdue, and I feel much happier about life now that I can’t see all those grey hairs.

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We’re trying to spend lots of time outside, because everyone’s happier in the sunshine, and then Neil doesn’t have four kids running around while he’s trying to rest. Seth and Ben (and I) rode bikes to school on Friday. That was fun. My first time! I always always wished I could ride my bike to school, but living twenty miles from school kind of quashed that dream. Anyway, dream come true, finally, yesterday.

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Tomorrow is the Gutsy Walk, and we’re all excited about it. We’ve never done it before, so we have no idea what to expect, and the weather forecast is a bit dicey, but I’m sure that no matter what we’ll have a great time. I’m really proud of our team and the money we raised, too. So far we’re at over $1100! And there’s still time to donate, so maybe we’ll even up it a bit more. (If you wanted to donate, but didn’t yet, you can here!

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Happy Saturday everyone!

Thank-you

Hi. It’s Neil. I’ve been meaning to say thanks to so many of you for weeks now, I tried to write an Instagram post, but once I started writing I realized that that was not the right platform. I have way too many people to acknowledge. Anyway, I’m home and Nik has given me access to the blog. She may regret it, as I’m a little more….rough around the edges than she typically is. She made me promise no “F words”. No problem babe. I’m also not nearly half the writer she is, so hopefully this isn’t too dry compared to your usual read. Here we go.

Four weeks ago I was taken to the all-too-familiar Concordia Emergency Room thinking I was having yet another flare-up from my Crohns. I figured I would get my “regular” dose of beloved narcotics over the next 8 to 12 hours to help pass the worst of it and be back home in time to shower and make it to the office the next morning. No biggie. Thats been the routine over that last few years, why would this time be any different? But it was. Long story short (mostly because I know you’ve all heard the story) by 8 that night I was in surgery that would last 5.5 hours and see me lose 22cm of bad intestines. The next few months of my life would be changing dramatically. 25 days after my surgery, I was finally discharged from the hospital. After a few days of going back to a clinic for a dose of IV antibiotics and a dressing change to my open incision, Nik is taking over those duties, and I will only have to go back once a week, which is really nice.

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God, Family and Friends have all showed up big-time over the last month. I want you all to know how much I love you and appreciate everything you have done for me, and even more importantly to me, everything you have done for Nik and the kids. Knowing that they were loved and cared for while I was away made this whole thing so much more bearable for me. Thank-you all SO MUCH.

I want to start by saying thanks to my amazing and beautiful wife. You are the strongest woman I know, hands down. Thank-you for everything you do for our family, you truly do hold us together, and keep us going. Thank-you for putting up with me ALL OF THE TIME. Thanks for being at the hospital with me as much as you were, even when I didn’t even know you were there, or was annoyed at you for whatever stupid reason. I know that I’m not an easy guy to love at times. Thanks for kicking my ass when I need it, which I know is more than any grown man should have to get his ass kicked, and for not giving up on me. EVER. Whether it had to do with my illness or not. I love you more than I could ever put into words.

Mom and Dad Moran and Hennan, thanks for taking the kids as much as you did so that Nik could be with me. We could not have done it without you guys. I know it also helped take their little minds off of the situation being with their grandparents, who they absolutely love and adore. Mom and Dad, thanks for making it in to see me as much as you did, again when I probably didn’t even realize you were there. I love you guys so much, and am thankful for all of the sacrifices you have made for me and opportunities you have given me my whole life.

MY HOMEYS!!! I literally have a handful of close friends and I wouldn’t trade you guys for anything in the world.
Neil Downie (and Jen!)– thank-you so much for all of the little things you’ve done for us over the last weeks. None of it has gone unnoticed. Raking our yard, babysitting the kids, picking up my truck, visiting me at the hospital, coming over to watch playoffs only to come back an hour after you had gotten home to be with our kids while Nik had to unexpectedly take me back to the hospital. I possibly love you more than any other dude on the planet and I’m beyond thankful to be your friend.
Travis Guy – My oldest friend in the world. Even when we go years without seeing each other, we pick up right where we left off. Thanks for making it to see me in the hospital Trav. I know you were only home for a few days, and while trying to fit in time to see your family and spend time with your kids, you made the time to come and see me, and I will never forget that. You’ve been there for us more than a couple times over the last few years, and helped us out big-time. I love you for that, brother. BBFL.
Tennille Frost – Thank-you for getting me to the hospital that day, and staying with me until they got me a bed. You are one of the few people that I know always has my back, but you will also tell me when I’m being a dick, and need to smarten up. Thank-you for visiting me as often as you did, I know it wasn’t easy with work, and having your own family to care for, but I appreciate every visit, no matter how short or uneventful it was. Thanks for all of your encouraging texts, even on the days I didn’t want to hear them, and may have been rude in my reply or even ignored you. I’m really glad we are friends. You are definitely one of the top 5 women in my life ;P Thanks G!
Chris Olson (and Heather!) – Thanks for always being a real pal, Chris, even though we don’t get together nearly as much as we should. Thanks for making the time to come to the hospital a couple of times, even though I know you guys have a lot going on in your own lives right now. Heather, thanks for that stupid mother-bleepin’ puzzle that I never did finish, it literally ate up hours and hours of my time. And by the way, Seth did it in about 5 minutes. I love you guys and I’m really happy to call you both friends. Just so you know, my goal is to get healed up enough to get some surfing in this year, so beware. NRSC! Also Heather, I think you should consider letting Chris get a crew tat, I don’t know how he could ever regret it, and it would give me an excuse to get it too. Just some food for thought.

My church family is next. To be completely honest, I have always been more than happy to go to church on Sunday morning, and get out as fast as I could without talking to too many people. I know I said to Nik on more than one occasion “I hardly have time for the friends I have”. I was wrong to think like that. You people have shown me and my family love like I have never witnessed before. The way you were there for the family of a guy that you barely know has won me over completely. People I have never talked to, or can even put a face to have been so generous to us through all of this, and I am so grateful to you all, and so proud to call you family. We are still eating meals that were brought to us almost 4 weeks ago. Our freezers were overflowing. You gave us gift cards for groceries, and gas, iTunes and Tim Hortons, among other places. Someone paid for a house-cleaning service, knowing that Nik would be running back and forth so much that she would be forgetting to eat, nevermind clean the house. We honestly could not have done this without your generosity, and I hope that one day we will be able to somehow return the favour(s). Jono and Nicole Zantingh, Jono thanks for the encouraging visits, they really did mean a lot. Blake and Marissa Manshanden, thanks for the haircut Blake, and Marissa, thanks for being there for Nik as much as you are. Sherry and Ben Andrusco. Stephanie (there’s no last name on the card, but thanks!) Leslie and Ron Joyal. Rob and Leigh Reimer, Rob thanks for hanging out all evening with me during the first week, I cant remember what we talked about and the whole visit is pretty fuzzy, but I know you were there and I appreciate you taking the time from your hectic schedule to sit with me. And thanks for getting my iTunes to work, damn narcotics… Chris and Elaine Dilay. Megan and Arlen Brooke. Carla Gloux. Christine and Mike DiDomenicantonio. Nicole McMillan. Tempest and Darrin Thorvaldson. Tammy and Tim Sanderson. Charles and Sharenda Wiebe. Sue and Phil Dupuis. Viola Pritchard. Heather and Al Rempel. Cindy and Dave Broadfoot. Crystal and Bennie Woligroski. Sophie Dyck.I know I am for sure forgetting someone, and if you have helped us out even in the smallest way, but don’t see your name here, please forgive me, and thank-you! I am looking forward to getting to know you all and thank you in person some day soon.

Family and friends that I haven’t mentioned, thank-you so much for your thoughts and prayers, positive vibes and well wishes. Thank-you for your texts and encouraging words. Facebook messages from people I hadn’t talked to in years, thanks you guys. There are so many people that I haven’t mentioned, and I’m sorry!
Things might get a little random from here…
Grandma Julie, Auntie Bonny, Lyndsey, Sara, and Jenni, thank-you for your kind gift. Girls thank-you for the constant text messages and Instagram messages. Sara, thank-you so much for helping promote the Crohns and Colitis Foundation with Nik, it means the world to me.
Rachel and Chris; Rach, more than a couple times you text me when I really needed some encouragement, thank-you, and Chris, thanks for stopping by for a visit.
Josh and Jaclyn; thank-you both for stopping by and bringing your beautiful baby girl, she definitely put a smile on my face, and it was nice to see you guys as well.
Drew Dueck (and Liv!); thanks for the encouraging texts as well as the always awesome music suggestions to help pass the time. I’ve missed you guys since you headed out west, it was great to spend a weekend with you this past January, and I look forward to another snowboarding trip next year!
Whynona! Thanks for coming to see me when you could and for watching the Bruins lose to the Habs with me. It was nice to have someone to watch hockey with. Sorry you had to see that old guy’s balls when he coughed. *shiver*
Mike Beauchamp, thanks for the texts brother, its been nice to be in contact again, I’m probably gonna need your help to bulk up here, my even-more-skinny-than-usual ass could use a personal trainer.
Maureen Reid, thank-you so much for the box of sunshine for the kids. Anyone who does something that special for my kids is an amazing and awesome person in my books. We have never met, but I would love to give you a hug one day, because you are the best.

I don’t think I’ve ever even written a school paper this long. I have to admit that its taken me approximately 4 hours, but I wanted to do my best to acknowledge everyone that has made this last month of our lives a little more bearable. From the bottom of my heart, Thank-you.