Of Crohn’s disease, Adoption and Gratitude

I’m just going to jump back in here…

Jump!

Hi. So, furlough has been…well, not what we planned.  It came suddenly (for very good reason.  Yay Layla!) And it’s been a ton of travel and a lot of doctor visits.  We have been to Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and California.  That doesn’t include all of the states Nathan drove through on his way from AZ to MI and back again.

Two weeks after we arrived, we found ourselves in the hospital with two-week old Layla sick with RSV.  Thankfully she was the “healthiest RSV baby in the hospital” and was released a few days later.  Still…not fun to rush your newborn to the hospital with a 104 fever at 12:00 a.m.

Two months after we arrived, Nathan starting having a Crohn’s flare-up.  And now, 7 months later, he is still in the midst of it.  He is on a new fancy medicine with promises of being “disease altering.”  It will take 12-14 weeks to know if it is effective or not.  He’s on week 8.  If it is effective, he will potentially be on this medicine for the rest of his life.  But words like “disease altering” give us hope that it could be amazing! Most likely, he will need to have surgery come December to remove the parts of his intestines that are too damaged, but the doctors want to give the meds the full 14 weeks before they decide if surgery is necessary.

In happier news, we completed Layla’s adoption on September 29.  We were in the courtroom a whopping 8 minutes, and just like that, one little bang of a gavel, we officially have a daughter!  Layla is this amazing little ball of happy.  Seriously, I think God totally knew we needed this baby at this period in our lives.  She is such an easy baby!  And, oh is she a joy-bringer!

Gotcha!

Furlough has ended up being longer than we expected. And more doctor visits than we expected. And more travel than we expected (20,000+ miles on the car). But we are grateful to be in America where there is great healthcare and Taco Bell. We are grateful that we will get to meet our new niece when she’s born (any day now!) We are grateful that we will be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family. We are grateful for our awesome churches and supporters who have been so understanding of our extended time away from Indonesia. We are grateful for each of you that have asked us how we’re really doing.

Now, go eat some Taco Bell and pray for Nathan’s gut while you’re at it!

Does this X-ray Make Me Look Fat?

X-ray

It finally happened.  I had to go to the Nabire hospital.  And, you know, it wasn’t too scary!  Thankfully I was just there for a chest x-ray, so once we found our way through the trash, mud and barb wire, we (a friend came with me) found the radiology department!  And then 45 minutes and $8 later, I walked out with a picture of my lungs.

I’ve had a myriad of symptoms including cycling low-grade fevers (for about a year) and now a persistent cough (probably unrelated), all of this quite a mystery as to what I really have.  There are a lot of theories, which I won’t bore you with…but good news!..I do not have walking pneumonia or valley fever.

For now, just pray as we try to figure out this puzzle.  I am so very grateful for the medical professionals we have around us who can help!

The Haps: Fagerlies Visit America

We’ve been in paradise America for about a week and a half now.  Say what you will about the state of our country…but easy shopping, anonymity, amazing food, wide roads, general cleanliness, lack of people pinching my kiddo’s cute cheeks (all the while still noticing how cute he is), church in English, and, let’s be real, Target, make this place pretty awesome!!

But, I’m sure you don’t want to just read about my adventures staring at the cheese section of Walmart; you want to hear about Nathan’s health.  So, here’s the lowdown:

Nathan visited with his G.I. doctor the day after we arrived who ordered a ct scan and some blood work.  Surprisingly, considering all of his symptoms, the tests came back relatively normal, other than showing two spots of inflammation in his small intestines.  But, he continues to have issues that don’t match with the test results.  So, the doctor has ordered a few more tests that will be completed this week.  Hopefully it sheds some light on what’s going on.  We have one more week here in Phoenix until we head to Idaho for Nathan’s training there.

Can I tell you what a blessing it is to be in America right now?  All of this health stuff is so much easier here.  There is comfort in knowing that we can just drive to the E.R. if we need to; no medevac, no third-world medicine…qualified medical professionals at our fingertips!

P.S.-one of the highlights (can I call it that?) of Elias’ culture shock…watching his expression and listening to his questions as he experienced a drive-through for the first time.  “Grandpa doesn’t even have to get out of the car to get the food???”

Whirlwind

This week has been a whirlwind…of pain.  Dun, dun, dun.

Ok, I just wanted to say “whirlwind of pain” but seriously, this week has been, um, out of the ordinary.  Nathan is having a flare up of Crohn’s, giving him more pain than usual.  So, after consulting with the medical personnel here, he is taking some medication that he is not allowed to fly on.  The medical personnel have also advised him to get checked out by specialists while we are in the U.S. and since he is not flying anyway, our countdown chain had gotten a little trim, cutting 13 days off our leave time!  Whew!  So, suddenly we are leaving for the U.S. on Tuesday!

Countdown Chain

I don’t want to make light of what is going on with Nathan’s health, BUT this is nothing like the emergency situation we found ourselves in 7 years ago when we were in language school.  So, all and all, this kinda feels like a Crohn’s walk in the park.  His pain is not too severe and he can function almost normally.

Hopefully, the Doctors in the U.S. can give us a clearer picture of what is going on and we can determine if he needs surgery before this becomes an emergency.  After his last surgery in 2009, we were told there’s a 50/50 chance he would need surgery again within 10 years.

We would appreciate your prayers as we travel halfway around the world with a 2 1/2 year old and then as we consult with Doctors in the U.S.  Thanks y’all!

Big God, Little Stories

Missionary work is not all made up of big stories.  It’s a lot of little stories, everyday stories.  But no matter the size of the story, one thing is always clear: we serve a BIG God.

On Thursday morning, I woke up…it was a normal day.  Elias and I went for our morning walk.  I did the dishes.  And I prayed that my time that day would be HIS time.  About mid-morning I received a phone call from one of the expat nurses in Sentani.  Our good friend, Ryan had an infection in his leg that was not responding to oral antibiotics and so he needed to get out to a bigger city to get an IV.  Nathan was already out flying, so I had no way to get ahold of him but he was due back in Nabire about 45 minutes later.  I knew he would turn around right away to get Ryan.

Meanwhile, the nurse was speaking to Steve, one of the Sentani pilots about how to get the drugs Ryan needed to Nabire.  He happened to be scheduled to come to Nabire that day to deliver some airplane parts and so he could easily bring the medicine along with him.  He also got ahold of Nathan on the radio before he returned to Nabire, so that Nathan could turn around mid-air to get Ryan rather than returning to Nabire first.

We happened to have a nurse (Mindy, our future teammate…yay!) visiting Nabire for a few weeks, so she could put in the IV and care for Ryan’s wound.

Within 20 minutes of the decision that Ryan needed to get out of his village, Nathan’s airplane was landing there to pick-him up; Steve was loading his airplane with the necessary medicines and Mindy was setting up my family room as a make-shift clinic.

An hour later, Ryan arrived and not long after that so did his medicine.

Checking the wound IV in Ryan and Elias

Less than 24 hours after Ryan arrived, it was decided that he needed to go to Sentani for further medical care.  And, after seeing a doctor in Sentani, it became clear that he most likely needs surgery to removed the affected tissue.

Last night, as Elias was going to bed he said, “I nervous about Ryan’s owie. We pray gether, Mommy?”  Sweet boy.  Will you pray too?  Ryan has a long road ahead of him, but we’ve already seen God arrange so many details for Ryan’s care, I have no doubt that He will continue to do the same as they move forward.

**UPDATE:  Ryan is out of the hospital now.  The super strong dose of anitbiotics worked and he should be returning home soon!

Hospital Stay

Of all the “firsts” I was looking forward to in Elias’ life, the first trip to the hospital (besides birth, of course) was, surprisingly, not one of them.

About two weeks ago, we took Elias to the doctor because he was wheezing.  They diagnosed him with bronchialitis and sent us home with a nebulizer to give him breathing treatments.  After a week, he stopped wheezing.  Yay!  Then, on this past Tuesday, he was wheezing again, so we brought him back into the doctor.  Same deal, nebulizer and breathing treatments.  On Thursday he had his 6-month well-baby check.  The doctor listened to his lungs and didn’t like what he was hearing, so he admitted him to the hospital overnight for observation.

Elias was a champ in the hospital.  He smiled and talked to all the nurses and doctors.  IMG_0713

If you’re going to be in the hospital, being the happy, smiley baby is the way to go!  Love my little boy.  And we are so grateful that he wasn’t any worse.

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He sat still for his x-rays and cooed at the x-ray techs.  I tell ya, this kid is awesome.  Plus, his x-rays came back clear!

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We spent the night.  It was a long one.  Sigh.  Sleeping in the hospital=no sleep.  This is Elias in the hospital crib.  May this be the only time we see him behind bars!  At around 2 a.m. the pulse-ox machine starting giving an alarm because Elias’ oxygen levels had dropped to 84 (they want them to be between 95 and 100 and anything below 90 is considered low).  The nurse gave him oxygen for about 30 minutes while waiting for the respiratory guy.  Once he showed up, Elias rolled over and coughed and his levels suddenly went up to 98!  I guess he just had a little plug of mucus in there restricting the flow of oxygen.  Amazingly, Elias slept through this whole ordeal.  Once he cleared that bit of junk, they decided to give him some Albuterol (the med he gets through the nebulizer).  It helps loosen things up, but also make him hyper.  So at 2:30 a.m., it was time to party!

We spent the next two hours trying to sleep (but really “partying” instead).  Elias apparently liked the nurse because he kept kicking off his oxygen monitor so that she would come in again.  Every time she walked in the door, he had a huge grin on his face.

Anyway, we made it to morning and the doctor came to check on him.  He listened to his lungs and was happy with what he heard, so he sent us home!  Yay!  He’ll still need to do breathing treatments every few hours, but he can do them at home.  Because coughing cleared up the lack of oxygen, the doctor wasn’t too concerned about that whole episode. We are planning to bring the nebulizer to Indonesia with us since it seems like this may be a pattern in his life.  Poor kid.

Overall, I am so grateful that his first hospital stay was a good experience and not traumatizing (for me or him).  My heart goes out to those parents out there whose kiddos are in the hospital long-term.  I have no idea how you do it.

Some fun things about the hospital stay (if there is such a thing)…

When asked, “Are you his legal guardians?” we could say, “Yes!”
Elias’ hospital bracelet said “Fagerlie, Elias” instead of “Baby Boy, A New Beginning” like it did when he was born.  I even took a picture:

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(Isn’t that the cutest chunky-monkey ankle you’ve ever seen?)

Hearing “He is so cute!” over and over again.  The 2 a.m. respiratory guy said they get a lot of “neat” babies, but Elias was definitely a cute one, in his professional medical opinion, of course.

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Love my sweet boy!  I’m so glad that he is home and healthy.  Thank you to everyone out there who was praying for us!

Dentistry in the Third World

Nathan has been having some dental issues over the last few weeks.  One of his fillings popped out when he was flossing.  It wasn’t causing him any pain, so we thought he could just make it until we’re in America next month, where he already has a dental appointment set up.

And then a few days ago, his tooth started hurting.  A lot.

Fortunately for him, we are still in Sentani where there is an expat dentist!  Dr. Lopez was trained in the U.S. and now runs a clinic here in Sentani.  He was able to fit Nathan in to his busy schedule.

We were really impressed with the set up that Dr. Lopez has, especially over here at the ends of the earth.  He has a lot of the equipment that we are familiar with from the US, but something are just creatively tweaked because certain things aren’t available in Papua.  For example, his dentist chair is a reclining lawn chair and his spit sink is a plastic bag that Nathan held in his hand.  Also, being in line with Indonesian custom, you have to take your shoes off before walking in the door, so both you and the dentist are walking around sock-footed!

Dr. Lopez pulled two nerves out of Nathan’s tooth.  He’s still experiencing some pain today, so we’re going back in to see if Dr. Lopez can help.  Please pray that this can be taken care of in Papua, otherwise we may be making an emergency trip to Jakarta.  With only 4 weeks left in country, we’re hoping to avoid this!

The Pharmacy

Our pharmacies here in Papua work a little differently than they do in the U.S.

Most items you can obtain without a prescription…if they have it in stock.

I went recently to find birth control for my dog.  Yes, my dog.  We have no access to a vet here, so birth control is our only method of preventing her from getting preggers.  And there’s no such thing as doggie birth control, she will just take a smaller dosage of regular birth control.  Oh, and it’s in shot form and lasts for three months.  Poor Piper has no idea what’s coming.

Outside of the pharmacy.  Apotik means pharmacy.  Mulia means noble.

I apologize for the poor picture quality.  I look these photos on my phone.

Inside the pharmacy.  After handing over 50,000 Rupiah (just over $5), I walked away with 15 months worth of birth control for my little Piper-Doo!

Milk (and Why I’ve Been M.I.A.)

Hi!  So sorry for the brief blogging hiatus.

I’ve been sick.

With Giardia.

Which is an intestinal parasite.

Which I don’t recommend as a weight loss program (Seriously, it’s awful.), but it does work.

 Anyway, I’m feeling better now!  Yay! 

So, on to the real topic: Milk!

We basically have two choices for milk here: UHT or powdered.

UHT stands for Ultra High Temperature.  This means that instead of standard pasteurization, where milk is heated to 72 degrees C for 15 minutes, it is instead heated to 135 degrees C for one or two seconds. 

This hot, fast heat some how allows the milk to be stored unrefrigerated.  So, it can last a loooooong time and is cheaper to ship because it doesn’t require a refrigerated container and therefore it is also cheaper to buy.

Phew.  That’s more than you ever wanted to know isn’t it? 

Here’s what you do want to know: it does not taste the same as pasteurized milk that we all know and love in the U.S. 

So, I use it for cooking and sometimes on cereal, but no glass of milk with cookies for us.

Powdered milk.  Well, you’re probably familiar with that if you’ve ever gone camping.  At least if you’ve ever gone camping with my parents.

It is made by evaporating milk until it becomes a powder.

And then later you can add water and it becomes milk again.

It also does not taste the same as the pasteurized milk we all know and love in the U.S.

So, I use it to make yogurt mostly.  Or to thicken up cream sauces.

And when I was younger I put it on cereal when we were camping, because who cares what the milk tastes like when mom and dad are letting you eat Lucky Charms, am I right??

P.S.-Milk was not the cause of my intestinal parasite.

P.P.S.-I learned how to spell “pasteurized” in the writing of this post. :)

P.P.P.S-I just spell checked it to make sure I spelled it right.  I did.

One Year

April 21, 2009.  The day we left Indonesia to seek medical attention for Nathan.  It was a long 36 hour trip back home, but thankfully, because of two morphine patches (both Nathan’s, I unfortunetly didn’t get any morphine…) the trip was not as bad as I had been imagining.  It’s all kind of a blur now, but I am so grateful that we made it back safely!  About three days after our return, Nathan was admitted to the hospital and four days after that, he had surgery. 

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May 13, 2009.  This picture was taken about three days after Nathan was released from the hospital.  He had lost 20 pounds after a 3-week intravenous liquid diet.  (Playing Wii with my brother, Billy and our niece, Daria)

Fast-forward to September, mostly because I lost all of my picture from June-August.   : (   <—–that’s what my face looks like when I think about my lost pictures.

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September 2, 2009.  Still in America waiting for our visas to come through.  Nathan was cleared by the doctor to return to Indonesia in June and then we began the long process of reapplying for visas.  We enjoyed spending time with these two girls, Daria and Violet, our nieces.  I know this is a blurry picture, but I love Daria’s facial expression.  Remember the days when a sit-and-spin was the best thing ever??

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October 12, 2009.  Nathan and I spent 6 weeks working at MAF headquarters in Nampa, ID while waiting for our visas.  Nathan logged 0.4 hours in the new Quest Kodiak!

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October 27, 2009.  After many months of waiting, our visas came through!  Yay!  We had about 2 weeks to pack up and leave for Indonesia.

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November 15, 2009.  We arrived back in Indonesia and welcomed the humidity once again!

And the rest, as they say, is history!  We are so grateful for all of your encouragement and prayers over the last year!  It has been a roller coaster ride!  And we couldn’t have done it without you.