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Friday, June 29, 2012

GOODBYES...............

FRIDAY JUNE 29 (9:30PM)

I hope you can understand why I haven't blogged in the last few days.  I am sitting here in the room alone with Andrew as he is heavily sedated and on his last leg of his journey here on earth.  The past few days have been an extremely emotional and physically draining.  Relatives have started coming in from all over the country.  Yesterday, Uncle Chan Soo, Aunties Jeannie and Cindy came in from the west coast.  And of course my brother and Andrew's favorite, Uncle Albert and Auntie Jennifer and cousin Margot came in as well.  Many tears were shed as they said there final hellos and goodbyes.

Today, was the toughest day.  This morning Jennifer and I had the difficult task, that no parent should have to say to their children, to tell Andrew there is nothing else the doctors can do and that he is dying.
Andrew was semi lucid and opened his eyes ever so slowly to hear us.  We asked if he understood the situation and whether he knew he would go into the arms of Jesus as passes from this ever so temporary earth and go into eternal glory with God.  He nodded yes.  We knew going into transplant that Andrew had given his life to Jesus Christ and understood what John 3:16 says in the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.    


Andrew understood where he was going.  He may not have had a lifetime to grow in his faith, but he acted out his faith in so many ways!  I will elude to this later.
We later asked if he was scared and he nodded and told him to not be.  We told him Jesus is waiting with open arms and he would be smiling in his perfect body glorifying God in eternity!  We told him not to hold on for us and that his family would be okay.  We told him we didn't want him to suffer and that it was okay to goto Jesus.  He nodded!


Andrew was being so brave as he tried to hold off more pain meds to stay somewhat lucid to "see" his friends and family.  That's what kind of strong boy he is!  Jenn and I believe he has hung on so far because of others!  With that being said, he had his Hinsdale Central boys come by: Ryan, Cameron, Andy, Marc,  Jonathon and Ritchie.  The next thing that happened blew me away!!!  We told Andrew his friend from Central were here and from his eyes being closed, HIS EYES FLEW WIDE OPEN AND HE SMILED!!!  HE HASN'T SHOWN ANY EMOTIONS BUT PAIN ON HIS FACE THE PAST MONTH IN ICU AND HE SMILED TODAY!!!!!  
Andrew smiling at his friends!


The emotion was palpable and real.  The tears shed for Andrew were of sadness because they were losing a selfless and wonderful friend.  I eluded to Andrew's faith played out in his actions, well we heard the stories of Andrew helping others and making people smile.  As a father, I am so happy to hear the impact he had on others!  It's been unbelievable the testimonies about Andrew making others smile, feel comfortable and just helping others out!  If you look closely at Andrew's chest in the picture, it is the medal Ryan (his best friend and part of the Park Family) won in his huge regional soccer tournament, which was dedicated to Andrew before the tournament!  The energy required to keep his eyes open and smile for the guys, considering he is heavily sedated and medicated, is incredible.  He also tried lifting his head to greet them!  I explained to the boys, although they are sad for Andrew's imminent passing, that Andrew knows where he is going, into the arms of Jesus.  I told them regardless of their religious beliefs, my hope would they would find the peace and grace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.  It was wonderful as we joined hands and prayed in Jesus Name Andrew would be at peace and comfort, void of fear and worry.  


The next surprise came when Andrew woke back up after the boys left and looked at me.  I asked Andrew for a kiss and he puckered up, I kissed him and he SMILED AT ME!!!!!!  I will never forget that kiss and smile.  It was as if Andrew was saying Dad, it's okay, I will be okay.  He proceeded to pucker up for Grandma and Grandpa, Jennifer, Yun and his sisters.  He was so cute as he lied  there with his lips all ready to smooch.  He made everyone's day!  The Park side of the family all showed up: Auntie Sunny, cousin Sophia, Auntie Tina, Uncle Dom, Baby D, Uncle Richard and Auntie Jeannie and baby Anderson.  Andrew so loves his Aunts and Uncles!  He loved Baby D and the little cousins! But the Uncle and Aunt he loves the most is Uncle Albert and Auntie Jennifer.  The blessing of what those two have done for the kids over the years cannot be repaid!!!


There was some levity as well during the day.  We talked about Andrew's taste for Cheetoes and how he always had a stash of chips, mints, gum, candy and gatorade always at the ready in his back pack. We spoke of how Andrew would have as much Hooter's wings in heaven without he fear of pancreatitis.  Most of the family's funny and heartwarming stories were always associated with food!  We talked of how Andrew and his Grandfather (ha-bah-ghee) would be able to play unlimited golf in heaven and have as many 10th hole foot long hotdogs;-)  We tried to laugh and celebrate his life today as well.  But I know it was particularly tough for my mom and dad.  I have never seen my dad cry like he did!  You just don't see first generation Korean men do that.  It showed how much my dad loves Andrew!


More visitors came and left and Jennifer and I are exhausted!  But with the help of my best friends Dan, Don and Pastor Michael, I made it through this incredibly difficult yet joyous day.  These men understand that you need not speak to a person that is grieving, but  just be there for them.  Just be.  


Again, no one should have to tell their kids they are dying, but on the other hand, I have the honor to pass my son to his Heavenly Father who has and always will love him more than I could ever have.  So with that reality, I have a modicum of piece in my heart.  Again the peace that Philippians 4:6-7 speaks of:


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understandingwill guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


As I am looking at my sick child, I have divergent feelings.  On one hand I am sad that Andrew is suffering and broken, but on the other hand, I am glad he will be in eternal peace.  I know there will be many day ahead after Andrew is gone where it will be painful for our family, but I know God will not forsake us or leave us.  Hebrews 13:5:



“...Never will I leave you  never will I forsake you.”



One of Andrew's friends asked why Andrew?  And I replied why not.  Andrew lived a "full" life in his 17 years here on earth.  I believe he was put here to bless others.  I don't know if you remember, but one constant prayer I have had for the kids throughout their lives is that they would bless others!  Well, Andrew did that.  


Prayer Request:


-Pray Andrew would be at peace as he goes to Jesus.  Pray he would feel no pain!


-Pray for Jennifer, Yun and myself that we would have the strength to be there for Bry and Emily and that we would be able to grieve in a healthy fashion.


-Pray for my parents and family as they grieve and try to process Andrew's imminent passing and ultimately his death.


***As far as funeral arrangements, Jenn, Yun and I will decide on how to celebrate and memorialize this life.  Please respect the decisions of our family.  We will try to have a intimate gathering for family only and then a celebration service for the throng of loved ones of Andrew.  


Love You All!
Joe





Wednesday, June 27, 2012


As we prepare to say goodbye to Andrew, I ask those that want to visit to respect our time as a family, so family members can first say their goodbyes. I know there is so many people that want to say goodbye and the reality is we can't accommodate everyone, so please don't be offended if we say no. We will determine who can see Andrew at a later time. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We are still praying for a miracle, but know that it is unlikely and are ready to hand him over to Jesus, to rest in eternal glory. To dance, sing and flash that wonderful smile everyone knows in eternal joy, peace and happiness. He will see his friend Anna who passed to be with the Lord couple months ago and share the love they had on earth and how it will be a moment before they see their parents and loved ones.

Andrew will get his breathing tube removed from his throat to get a tracheotomy for his breathing tube. The reason being is to help him feel more comfortable. He has been trying to take his tube out the past few days. It will may possibly enable Andrew to say any final words. Please pray this surgical procedure goes smoothly. There will be a lot of preparation to get him to the o.r. Please pray for a smooth procedure. Please pray for minimal pain.

Thank you for the throngs of support and love our family has received the past few days. Andrew's Army is strong! Keep praying for a miracle, but pray Andrew would not be scared but at peace in his last days here with us.

Blessings,
Joe

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

UPDATE....

It's with an utterly broken, sad and grieving heart that the c.t. scan showed Andrew's lungs are worse than 3 weeks ago.  The scan shows more murkiness and there is a an absence of tissue in the lung that may be indicative of an infection or a healed one.
The team basically said they have done whatever they can to help his lungs.  Dr. Sonali said he has little chance of surviving and we need to focus on his comfort.  I asked if we are at the point of letting him go and there are no other option and she said that if we let go know, it's a acceptable decision.  Basically,
Andrew will need a miracle!  Sonali brought up putting a tube in his neck, so he could be more comfortable than the breathing tube down his throat.  Being on a breathing tube down his throat for such an extended time gets uncomfortable.  It also may allow him to be more lucid and communicate with us.  It will possible allow his loved ones to say goodbye.  It also can give him time to turn around, although unlikely.

I met with Jim the chaplain and we discussed what is best for Andrew and the possible things we will need to do before we say goodbye.  This is all overwhelming to say the least, but these questions and scenarios need to be addressed.

I ask you from the bottom of my heart that Andrew is at peace, comfortable and not scared.  I don't want my boy to be this way.


I have asked my brother and close family members to come as soon as they can.  I will tell you when it is appropriate for people to visit.  Until then, PLEASE DO NOT ASK IF YOU CAN COME.  PLEASE RESPECT OUR FAMILY IN THIS TIME OF GRIEF.  

I can't reconcile what is going on, but I trust Jesus is comforting Andrew as I write this!  If I have to let go, I know he will on to be with the Lord and rest in eternal peace.


I HAVE A SPECIAL PRAYER REQUEST.  PLEASE PRAY ANDREW WILL AT SOME POINT BEFORE HE PASSES, BE ABLE TO SAY SOMETHING AND BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH HIS FAMILY.  


PLEASE COVER THE PARK FAMILY IN PRAYER IN THIS TURBULENT TIME.

Grieving,
JOE

Monday, June 25, 2012

PRAYER REQUESTS....DAY 24 IN ICU....

Andrew remains stable, still in seriously critical condition.  Andrew was just pulled of his crt dialysis machine because of a clot formed in the machine.  Since he is off the dialysis, the team decided to get a c.t. scan of his lungs and abdomen.  He will be going in any minute.  
PLEASE PRAY THAT THERE ISN'T ANYTHING ABNORMAL (NO INFECTION), BUT THE OPPOSITE, SHOWING MARKED IMPROVEMENT.  
PRAY THERE IS NO BLOCKAGE OR ISSUES WITH HIS ABDOMEN, G.I. TRACT.

I will post  another blog later today talking about my weekend and the privilege of going to my 25th High School reunion.  As they say "all the stars were aligned" for Jenn and I to get to the reunion and boy was I glad I went!  The love!  The Love!

Will keep you updated on the c.t. results.  

Blessings,
Joe

Friday, June 22, 2012

BIOPSY RESULTS IN....

6-22 (4:30pm)

I just spoke to Dr. Sonali and the biopsy results showed Andrew has mild gvhd, but it is healing.  The g.i. doctor who performed the scope and the biopsy said he didn't see anything remarkable or aggressive when he scoped the gut.   What does that mean?  It's encouraging because he has a mild case and it's healing, responding to the therapies he has been on for his liver and other issues.  With that being said, Dr. Sonali believes Andrew's liver issues may be less gvhd and more attributed to the tpn (nutritional supplement given through a tube), medication or because he hasn't eaten in over three weeks.  Is this an answered prayer?  I think this is what God wants at this time and I am happy Andrew doesn't have rampant and aggressive gvhd that could have given Andrew no chance to live.

The biggest issue remain his lungs.  The lungs are in very poor condition.  There was some tiny improvement today, as his oxygenation levels in his blood gases have gotten better and his ventilator settings showed some improvement.  I had mentioned an anti-inflammatory called Etanercept which has been given to Andrew to help with his lungs and the full dosage of four doses (twice a week) has not been given yet.  The last dose will be this Monday.  Let's pray Andrew's lungs will respond in leaps and bounds to the Etanercept immediately.  

Dr. Sonali still thinks Andrew's chances of survival are still low, but the slight improvement gives some hope and the team will continue to pursue aggressive treatment to give Andrew the best chance to recover.  She said that the his improvement is not the miraculous type, but rather small incremental improvement which is encouraging.   Pray that Andrew would continue to have the strength to fight!!!

Thank you for your prayers and specific ones at that!  God has heard His elect.  It could have very well been the other way and that would not have changed who God is.  But I am sure thankful for the results. I will take this:-)  Last night was a night filled with prayer and tears and I am so grateful he heard my prayers.  There is still a long road ahead, but Andrew is fighting!  PLEASE PRAY THAT THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A MIRACULOUS TURNAROUND!  


Let's Go Andrew's Army!  Thank you for the overwhelming support from all over the world.  I have been getting more encouraging comments on this blog from people I have never met, compared to the ones I know:-) The body of Christ is big and strong.  I thank all of you, who come from all backgrounds and religious beliefs!  I thank you for all your prayers and encouragement!  I thank you for praying without ceasing!  Thank you!!!!


Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33

Stay Tuned!

Love,
Joe


UPDATE AND HOW DO WE DO IT?

6-22 (2am)

Andrew has remained stable since yesterday.  Andrew's colonoscopy and biopsy was quick and uneventful.  Again, the reason behind the scope is to see if Andrew has gvhd of the gut.  His stools have been bloody and loose, indicating gvhd.  PLEASE, PLEASE PRAY, ALTHOUGH LIKELY, THE BIOPSY IS NEGATIVE FOR GVHD. PRAY FOR THE MIRACLE.  LET ME REMIND YOU OF THE MIRACLES AND ANSWERED PRAYER:

-REMISSION OF CANCER AFTER ONE ROUND OF CHEMO
-THE MIRACLE OF HIS CHROMOSOMAL ABNORMALITY CLEARING UP.  ALLOWING HIM TO GET A BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT.
-AND GOD ANSWERING PRAYERS FOR A DONOR MATCH ONE WEEK LATER!

Since yesterday afternoon, Andrew has not had a loose and bloody stool as of 2am this morning.  Maybe that is a good sign?

The biggest issue remains the poor condition of the lungs.  In light of his increased pressure needed to maintain the lungs being open as much as possible, the respiratory team went to a different respirator setting to see if Andrew would be more comfortable.  The setting was not necessarily a cure for the lungs.  Andrew's lungs have gotten worse, even though the lungs have cleared up on x-ray.  
I BEG OF YOU TO PRAY THAT THE LUNGS WOULD START TO SHOW MARKED IMPROVEMENT AND TURN AROUND TOWARD FULL RESTORATION OF HIS BREATHING.  HE IS TOTALLY RELIANT ON THE RESPIRATOR FOR HIS BREATHING.

Andrew's liver bilirubin have started to climb the past few days, although not in severely dangerous levels, the rising levels are of concern.  PLEASE PRAY THE LIVER WOULD HEAL AND THAT HIS BILIRUBIN LEVELS WOULD SHOW THAT THEY ARE INDEED HEALING.

Andrew seemed to be more comfortable yesterday, compared to the day before and may be reflective of the change in pain management.  PLEASE PRAY FOR COMFORT AND PEACE!
I asked Jennifer if she thought Andrew is afraid and Jenn said he may be.  I am praying desperately to our Lord that Andrew is at peace and God is reassuring him that he is in good hands.  Please pray Andrew is understanding Philippians 4:13:  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Pray he will be assured that God has his back.  

Yesterday, after the discussion with Dr. Sonali, without being said,  Jennifer, Yun (Andrew's mom) and I were overwhelmed and totally depleted mentally and emotionally.  It was like we were punched in the gut when Dr. Sonali said Andrew's chance of survival were poor if he had gvhd of the gut.  Thank God,  our dear friend and pastor, Michael, came on a moments notice and came to console and help us deal with our stress and grief.  Jennifer, Yun and I had the difficult task of discussing what to do if there was no hope.  We all agreed that we don't Andrew to suffer.  Hearing others who have faced similar situations and have said they would not want to let their love one suffer, in the midst of severe pain,  and not continue further treatment seemed so wrong to me.  Why wouldn't people pursue other options?  But I understand now how the comfort of my son is tantamount!  If that time does come, I would want Andrew to be comfortable, withdraw his respirator and wait for him to go home with the Lord.  This discussion was one of the most difficult things I have had to do.  

Some people have asked how I do it.  People say I am so strong, but the reality is that I AM NOT STRONG!  In my weakness, I trust that Jesus Christ is being strong for me.  There is no secret formula to how Jennifer, my family and I have survived.  It has been the grace and love of God.  Some of you may wonder, how I can trust in a God who can let children suffer and die?  Well, we live in a sinful and ugly world where innocent children and people die for no apparent reason.  But there is hope!  I believe that what Jesus Christ died on the cross to save His people from "death".  His blood was shed for me so I can "live".  This world is fleeting and an ugly place at times, but this world is temporary compared to the eternal glory that is promised by simply placing trust in Jesus Christ.  He is the reason I can say I have a modicum of peace in the midst of turbulent seas.  Andrew may pass away, but I know his trust in Jesus Christ will give him eternal peace.  We will all one day pass away, but I know where I am going.   I know in my heart if my son dies, I will see him in heaven.  Trust me, I am horrified he might die and I can't fully reconcile why this is happening, but I have my faith and trust that is carrying Andrew and my family at this moment.  Again, no secret, but it's  faith that has sustained me.  I trust in what John 3:16 says, yep the Bible verse you have seen many times growing up on tv at the end zone of  football games written haphazardly on a bed sheet,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

So, with that being said, I will cast my burdens upon Jesus, for he cares for me (us). 
Psalm 55:22 
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
I will update you on the biopsy results which come on later today.

Love,
Joe

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ANDREW IS NOT DOING WELL!!! NEED URGENT PRAYERS!!!


I just spoke with Andrew's stem cell doctor and the prognosis is not good.  Andrew as you know has been on a respirator for over two weeks and his lungs are not getting better.  They may be clear, but the pressure required to keep him breathing is not getting lower.  If fact they have had to raise the pressure. His fluid removal is not the key factor anymore.  Andrew's stool has turned to diarrhea and that is a sign of gvhd.  They will perform a biopsy through a colonoscopy at noon today to determine if it is gvhd.  The biopsy results will come back by sometime early tomorrow morning.  The doctors have said if he does have gvhd of the the gut, his chance of making it are not good.  Andrew is on every gvhd drug to help treat it and if he does have gvhd that means the therapies are not working well.  

So with that being said, if it is gvhd of the gut and the stool becomes bloody or he becomes more in pain, we will need to determine if we want to continue his treatment or stop.  We will need to determine whether we want to be more aggressive, with chances of him not getting better great, balanced with the fact if he is in pain.  Yesterday, Andrew had pain in is stomach!  The more aggressive route may make him even more susceptible to infection as well.  If he is in pain, we don't want him to suffer and will have to make the tough decision to stop treatment, manage his pain and let him be in peace.  

Dr,  Sonali has always been straight forward with us.  We call her the "doom and gloom" doctor because of how straight forward she is prognosis.  She was straight forward today!  On paper the chances of Andrew making it if he has gvhd of the gut is poor at best.  So, with that being said, I here are my desperate prayer requests and petitions to our God:

-Pray Andrew's lungs will improve drastically!  Pray the pressure required on the respirator for him to breathe would become less and less.

-PRAY THAT THERE IS NO GVND OF THE GUT.  PRAY FOR A MIRACLE!  PRAY THE BIOPSY WOULD BE NEGATIVE FOR GVHD!  THE BIOPSY WILL BE PERFORMED AROUND NOON TODAY.

-PRAY ANDREW WOULD BE IN COMFORT AND THE TEAM WOULD BE ABLE TO MANAGE HIS PAIN.

-PRAY FOR JENNIFER, YUN AND MYSELF.  PRAY THAT WE CAN BE STRONG FOR EACH OTHER AND ESPECIALLY ANDREW.

***PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD, SO WE CAN HAVE GOD'S ELECT PRAYING FOR ANDREW AND A MIRACLE TO BE DONE!

I am in shock right now and very emotional.  Please cover us and especially Andrew is prayer.  We were in a desperate situation right now.

Love,
Joe

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DAY 18 IN ICU...DAY 35 POST BMT...DREAMS...

June 20 (2am)

Andrew remains stable and his lungs are clearing up nicely.  He still is dependent on a respirator for breathing.  The fluid removal via dialysis is set a steady rate of removal.  The theme of his treatment in ICU seems to be slow and go.  The pain/palliative team have changed up his pain management to reflect the elevated pain and discomfort Andrew is showing.  When asked, he gingerly and barely noticeably nods or shakes his head to say if he is pain or not.  Jennifer has been as the hospital the past few days and she seems to think the change in pain management is allowing Andrew to get more restful sleep.  He has been fever free for quite sometime.  Andrew remains on many meds and in particular the meds to treat his serious liver issues.  The liver bilirubin levels have remained steady and out of dangerously high levels.  I long for the day to have Andrew fully awake, off his respirator and able to speak to us about his wonderful dreams he dreamt while being sedated.

As a parent, we all have dreams for our children.  Dreams for them to be prosperous, happy healthy, joyful and at peace.  From the day I set eyes on my Andrew, I fell in love with this gentle and precious boy. I fell in love with his infectious and precious smile.
Still smiling in the midst of his trials!


Andrew's wonderful and beautiful smile!

I wished and prayed all the aforementioned for Andrew.  Ever since my children were babies, I have prayed a standard prayer for them.  I have prayed they would be blessing to others whatever way they can and that other's wold be able to bless them as well.  Furthermore, I would pray they would know the love of Christ and what that means to them.  Well, God has answered those prayers.  Andrew has grown to be a gentle and kind wonderful young man, who has blessed so many people by his demeanor and presence. Anyone who has met this special young man would concur.  

I remember so many special moments with Andrew, but I think of the special times when Andrew and I would lay on the driveway, ever since he was a young boy, where ever we have lived and gaze at the stars.  I showed Andrew some constellations and in particular the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).  I remember those clear nights where we would have our heads lying together pointing to the sky in awe and being super excited to find the Dipper.  This not happened on the driveway, but the times we went camping when it was only Andrew, myself and God's wonderfully natural creations.  Why am I bringing this up, I am on my patio and looking at the Dipper as I write this.  It's been the constant through Andrew's arduous young life.  But it reminds me of the ultimate constant, God!  Many of you know I am a Christian and I  have made that claim through my blog posts.  I have not shied away from this fact, because my relationship with Jesus Christ has given me a modicum of peace and hope during the turbulent times, whether it was my horrifying divorce,  the years of trying to get Andrew better, financial turmoil or trying to figure out my lot in life and my identity.  And the constant, God , has showed me my true calling: to be the best father and steward not only to Andrew but to Emily and Bry as well.  You see, most people that know me well, know I love children and relate well with them, whether it's been coaching my kids sports team, at birthdays or just interacting one on one with a child.   I was lead to believe to be a failure when I didn't succeed in certain endeavors, but as I have grown older, I have learned by the grace of God, my calling is to be the best steward of my children and other kids I can help shape.  This epiphany has directed to my next challenge or endeavor in my life, to become a teacher.  I don't regret the path I have taken, because the past has shaped me into the man I am today, a child of God, who has been lost but now is found.  So a few days removed from Father's Day, I am blessed to have God place this responsibility of guiding my children and pointing to the constants in this life, whether it's the Big Dipper or more importantly the only one who can give peace that passes all understanding, Jesus Christ.  So, many people have marveled at Jennifer and my resolve as we go through this incredibly hard journey with Andrew and life's circumstances, but we can't take any of the credit.  It is the hope and belief in a God who, so aptly put in the words of the son Amazing Grace, that have saved a wretch like me.  


My dreams for my children and in particular Andrew my not have materialized in the way I wanted, but I know God's plans and dreams for him are so much more grand than I can ever conjure up.  The bible states:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jerimiah 29:11


So as I basque in God's great wonderful night time sky, I have hope God is placing wonderful and peaceful dreams as Andrew lays in critical condition and is fighting for his life.  I so wish, as a father, I could take this all away from Andrew, but I know God ultimately has a plan to use what he is going through to bless others.  Yep, that has and is been my prayer from day one of Andrew's short life here on earth.  God has honored those prayers and I know so many have been blessed with how resilient, strong and courageous he has been as he faces life's brutal barrages.  I have written about Andrew's friend Anna, who passed to away to be with our Lord little more than a month ago after a long battle with cancer, and on how profoundly she blessed others in her short life here.  She never wavered from her faith, often times telling others of her faith in God and how others should trust in this gracious God.  So as I speak of dreams, that is my dream and hope for others, the dream and hope other's would see in the midst of the turbulent seas, there is a life boat and the life boat is called Jesus Christ.  I am in no way trying to legislate my faith on you all, but I  just want to tell of my testimony and the testimony of my precious son.  


Ever since Andrew has been a little kid, I would call Andrew, "Champ".
Well, folks, he is the true definition of a Champ!
Andrew, your daddy loves you so much!  I have loved you since day one and If I could die so you could live, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I have dreams for you my son and I pray as you are sleeping God would grant you dreams of peace, dreams of heaven, dreams of vibrant colors, dreams of the stars and the Dipper and dreams of how God has your back.  I long for the day when you wake up with that infectious and beautiful smile you possess.  Until then, dream my son, dream of the stars!  I love you!
Thank you for the best Father's Day gift ever, your strong squeeze of my hand.  The squeeze showing me you are a true champ and fighter!  


As I end this post, I am reminded of another answered prayer I have prayed for Andrew.  The prayer that others would bless him.  Well, my friends, family and loved ones all over this planet, thank you for the blessings upon Andrew and our family you have given.  To my Deerfield High School classmates, I hope to see you all this weekend for our 25th reunion and to  thank you all individually for your prayers and support! Thank you all for the hedges of protection you pray for our family!  XOXO!


Goodnight everyone!  May God give you wonderful dreams tonight!


Bye for now,
Joe

Monday, June 18, 2012

DAY 16 in ICU...Day 33 Post Transplant.

6/18 (3pm)

Sorry for not posting since Thursday, but to tell you the truth, I have been running on vapors.  Jennifer took over for me the other day and I finally got some rest on my own bed.  Although the new hospital has new pull put out sofas, Jenn and I really never can get a good nights rest, because of all the alarms, beeps and Andrew being constantly change because of bowel movements.  The nurses can do the job, but it takes extra hands trying to move a 180 pound young man.

Andrew's condition has not changed drastically since Thursday, although his lungs are clearing up slowly but surely. His lungs are getting better but his respirator settings are still set for high lung pressure. Andrew's is on constant dialysis (crt) for fluid removal.  The approach of the doctors are slow and steady.  As stated earlier, if the rate of the fluid removal is too high, there is risk of lowered blood pressure and the need for more meds or reducing of the flow rate.  Andrew's bilirubin levels are going up and down, but the levels are not too high.  He is being treated for both gvhd and vod of liver, so he is covered for both just in case.  Andrew for the past several days has been more lucid and responsive.  Although he is heavily sedated and on pain meds around the clock, he has nodded and shaken his head to questions.  He will show you with a grimace on his face if he doesn't like something.  It's okay for him to be awake at times, but the question is whether he is in pain or not.  The last post, I mentioned the thrill of Andrew squeezing my hand strong an firm.  And on Father's Day, Andrew gave me a Father's Day squeeze.  He not only gave me a squeeze, but he has done it for Jennifer and yesterday, he gave one for Uncle Dom;-)  Auntie Tina and  Uncle Dom visited and when we mentioned they were at his bed side, he started to move.  It was an emotional experience for Dom and Tina.  Andrew loves his Uncle Dom, Auntie Tina, Baby D and Baby Rocco.

I want to thank all of Andrew's friends, family and loved ones who have sent pictures for me to post on his flat screen in his room.  He may not see them now, but he definitely will be surprised when he wakes up.  And I long for the day when he can ween off his respirator and wake up.  Please continue to pray for him!

PRAY FOR:


-LUNGS TO CONTINUE TO CLEAR UP TO THE POINT HE CAN START WEENING OFF HIS RESPIRATOR. 


-PRAY FOR THE LIVER TO HEEL AND THE BILIRUBIN LEVELS WILL NOT RISE.  


-PRAY FOR WISDOM ON HIS TEAM OF DOCTORS AN NURSES.  


-PRAY FOR JENN AND I FOR STRENGTH AND WISDOM AS WE TRY TO ADVOCATE FOR OUR SON.


-PRAY FOR CONNOR, STEPHANIE AND STEVE AS THEY TRY TO DEAL WITH THE APPARENT FAILURE OF CONNOR'S BMT.  PRAY FOR THE MIRACLE THAT CONNOR'S DONOR CELLS WOULD ENGRAFT!


I will post a personal note on this past Father's Day and what it meant to me. Tomorrow.

Thanks,
Joe




Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 13 in ICU...Day +29 post bmt....

Andrew remains in critical condition but stable.  His chest x-ray showed his lungs haven't improved since yesterday.  The doctors have started a new drug that will help with the swelling in the lungs.  The only draw back is that he will be more susceptible to infection, but the doctors feel the reward outweighs the risk, considering he is on a wide spectrum of antibiotics and anti fungal medications already.  Some good news, Andrew's liver bilirubin went down a bit.  Andrew's dialysis which has been removing the excess fluid was ratcheted down due to low blood pressure.  They have dialed it back up after a bp medication was given to regulate his bp and has consequently went up.  They will take a slow approach to getting the dialysis back to where it was.

The boys holding hands;-)
An amazing things just a few moments ago!  I just got back from a quick birthday dinner for Jennifer, yes it's her b day, and when our nurse Nicole was asking him if he was okay, he opened his eyes.  I quickly got up to see Andrew trying to open his eyes a bit, albeit in a drug induced stupor.  The next thing sent me over the edge!  I asked if he could squeeze my hand, which he has failed to do over and over the past 13 days since he has been sedated and on an respirator, and to my surprise...
HE SQUEEZED MY HAND AND HE SQUEEZED IT STRONG!  IT LASTED A COUPLE OF SECONDS, BUT IT WAS A MANLY SQUEEZE.  IT WAS A SQUEEZE SAYING I AM HERE DAD!
It was if he was telling me that he is fighting and he still remains strong.  I asked him if he wanted me to  stay and hold his hand and he nodded gingerly, barely noticeable if I wasn't looking at him.
THIS SIMPLE ACT, MADE MY DAY!!!!!


I want to take time out and wish my wife of 5 years, the Happiest of Birthdays!  I think most of you who have been following Andrew's battle cancer through the blog and other social media, know the outstanding character of one Jennifer Park!  She has literally and figuratively an angel sent from the Lord!  Let me tell you about this woman.  When Jennifer first met my kids, Andrew and Emily, for the first time, she immediately tried to connect and love them.  She told me shortly after she loved them.  I was quite puzzled on how a person can love so quickly and that easily, but it just went to show who Jenn is.  

Well, saying you love them and acting out the love are two different enchiladas.  But Jennifer is a woman of her words.  As far as Andrew, before and during his cancer battle, Jenn has been a caretaker, mother, therapist, encourager, admonisher, among other things.  She has been not a step mom but a REAL MOM!  I don't know if you know but she stays in the hospital many days doing the little things.  Lately with Andrew not being ambulatory and in critical condition, Jennifer does the unthankful job of cleaning Andrew's poop up with the nurses, trying to man handle a 180 pound young man.  She cleans him and makes sure his bottom is slathered in lotion to prevent sores.  She wipes the "shmootz" of Andrew's face and wipes him clean.  She constantly talks to him and encourages him as he is sedated.  I remember one day in February, while the temperature was abnormally warm and as we sat outside in our tiny little patio, how she said looked into my eyes and told me she would die for Andrew.  What more proof does she have to give to remind others what kind of person she is.  As far as Emily, the transition into being a step mother was a bit tougher, with Emily having a mom and all.  But nonetheless,  Jennifer loved and continues to love Emily the way Emily needs.  Emily's primary love language (for an understanding of what languages are, please click Here, you will find it beneficial and interesting) is gifts and act of service.  Jennifer knows this love language and thinks of Emily all the time by buying her "little" things she needs and many times just spoiling her with other items, but in Emily's eyes they are "big".  She has loved her sacrificially like a real mother.  And of course there is Bry, her daughter and my step daughter, but quite honestly I don't feel like she is my step daughter, so for all intense purposes, I will refer to her as my daughter.  Jennifer sometimes tries to love Andrew and Emily so much that Bry gets the short end a bit.  But boy has Jennifer raised a great girl.  Jennifer can be tough on her at times, doing the likewise with Drew and Emily as she has developed a close relationship with the two, but Bry is her guuuuuuurl (West Philly accent)! She has raised a girl who is extremely caring and loving for a 10 year old.  She is a mini me.  Bry is her Banana Berry as she calls her;-)  You can see, she would die if it meant protecting all her kids.  That's who she is.

Then there is the medal of patience awarded to Jenn for putting up with me and all my shenanigans.  It hasn't been easy been living with me and all my demons.  But she has loved me the way I needed.  She has been by my side through this often times lonely journey nursing our son back to health.  She has reminded me when the crap hits the fan, that "it is what it is!" and to  "Move on and let things go!"   She has reminded me to  subtly and boldly to get off my pity pot when things go wrong in my life.  She has had the courage to get in my face and admonish me, because she loves and cares for me.  

I remember when I first read her online profile on Korean Cupid.com.  Ok, yes, we met online on a website called Koreancupid.com.  No joke!  She wrote on her profile she is a loving and passionate person.  Boy was the profile right!  I have never met a person who loves so passionately and with all her heart and sometimes to her detriment, getting tired out.  She loves unconditionally and without ulterior motives.  She loves because she cares.  SHE SHOWS CHRIST LIKE LOVE!  I wish I could show a video montage of the person I know as my friend, encourager, admonisher. lover and wife.  I know everyone who has met her would agree with my assessment of this angel from above.  I love you Jennifer!!! Happy Birthday my love!!!!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The great love chapter in the Bible)


***PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR CONNOR!  SEE PREVIOUS POST FOR DETAILS AND PRAYER REQUESTS.  BUT LET'S PRAY FOR THE MIRACLE OF THE DONOR CELLS ENGRAFTING, EVEN THOUGH HOPE IS ALMOST GONE.  
PHILIPPIANS 4:13  "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES STRENGTH."


Almost forgot!  Bry and Emily came by the first time since their "oppa" (big bro in Korean) went into the icu!
I was a bit pensive a first exposing them to Andrew in his condition, but with the help of ChildLife Services at Children's, they did great.  They were happy to see him and I know Andrew was happy they were there too.




Love,
Joe

BAD DAY IN GENERAL....

June 14th (12:49am) 


It is with sadness that I found out our friend Connor, the 7 year old boy who got a bmt the day after Andrew's and whom we have become close to, has failed to have his donor cells engraft.  Here is Connor's mom, Stephanie's post today on Connor's blog: connorsbmt.blogspot.com



June 13 Day +27 - Chimerism Test Results

We received the worst possible news - the cells growing back are all Connor's cells NONE are from the donor!  The Bone Marrow Transplant did not work! I am in Shock and don't understand WHY God would allow this to happen to him?  Why give us this match?  Why put him through 35+ days of Hell?  The BMT Team is meeting this afternoon to come up with a new game plan -but we are now facing our worst fears and don't know how we will come out of this.  IT ALL SUCKS!

Jenn and I have been privileged get to know Connor's mom and dad, Stephanie and Steve and their great character and giving nature. We first met through a mutual friend, Peter Cho who's wife Kim had got diagnoses with Lymphoma the same time of Andrew's relapse, and realized that both of our sons needed a bone marrow transplant (bmt).  We had many bone drives organized to find a match and after the miraculous news of Andrew's chromosomal abnormality clearing up, we both found matches within a week of each other.  What are the odds of that?  Andrew had his bmt a day before Connor's and the Park and Lim families were excited, but a bit pensive, to get the process going.  Almost, a month post bmt, both families are grieving but for two different things.  A potentially failed bmt and Andrew begin critically sick in the icu with odds of 50/50 to survive.  I know God's sovereign plan was have our live cross paths so we could help and support one another and in this case to help one another process and grieve the stresses in our lives.
I went upstairs this afternoon from the icu to goto Connor's room and see what the results of the test were.  I know by peeking in, something was wrong.  Steve came first and we had a lengthy discussion about the specifics and how things just suck and that live is not fair.  Poor Connor went through all this for not.  I have learned from being someone who has grieved many times because of my divorce,  Andrew's cancer battle and other afflications that it is not necessary to say many words when you try to console someone who is grieving. In actuality the less you say to someone grieving often times is better, trust me I know.  Words were so inadequate.  All I could say was that I understood Steve's and Stephanie's pain, say I was so sorry and just hug them.  You see, I have that unique angle.  God allowed me to go through certain pain, so I could just "be" there for people.  I don't have the secret to comfort others nor am I a licensed therapist, but I have one thing:  Jesus Christ and knowing he records all the tears his children shed and how he will wipe them away, being the ultimate comforter he is.  But one thing is required: FAITH.


***please read this interesting devotional I read yesterday on our tears:
click here

I have the hope that there is reason for all this.  I told Steve and Stephanie that this was totally unfair for our boys to endure this !%$@! and I had no answer why these things were happening.  I told Stephanie that somethings will not be answered until I meet God.  But I know there is reason for everything.
And there lays in my modicum of faith.  My faith has wavered through the hard times and I would be lying if I said my faith was strong throughout the last six months with Andrew's relapse.  But my faith remains that God's plan is sovereign. There is a reason for Anna's death, Ernest's death, Andrew's critical condition and Connor's disappointing news.  My faith has been never been lost because of brothers and sisters who have encouraged me and admonished me to always lay my eyes on Jesus. It still doesn't take all the grief away, but It gives us hope.  I am reminded of a very well known verse which encourages me continually:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Well those plans may not be the way I may see fit, but I trust my plans conjured up by pea sized brain is so unremarkable compared to what my God has in store for Andrew, Connor and our families. 


UPDATE:
Andrew's echocardiogram and ultrasound showed no signs of fluid outside of his lungs.  So he will not need to be tapped for fluid removal outside of his lungs.  We found a huge open sore on his bottom from apparently not being ambulatory.  He remains totally helpless with Jennifer and I, mostly Jennifer, wiping him down in lieu of baths, wiping his poop when he goes and other things a normal healthy 17 year old should be doing.  
I am glad that I came down a day early after hearing the 50/50 chance of survival.  When I got to Andrew's room I saw Jenn Schneiderman, a stem cell doctor but not our main attending and who we have seen mainly in the ICU and Dr. Morgan, Andrew's oncologist of 3+ years.   They both noticed I was bummed and I told them I was down because of what Dr. Sonali, Andrew's main stem cell doctor, said.  They both said that I shouldn't dwell on the numbers and they agree he is a very very sick child, and Doctors are not good at predicting things like Andrew's condition.  Dr. Morgan, who is a brilliant clinician for over 35 years at Children's, reminded me of Andrew's odd of survival, 10 to 20% pre bmt and how he beat the odds with the chromosomal abnormality clearing up and Andrew getting a bmt. Jenn Schneiderman told me that she has and always be upfront with us.  She feels we are far from not being to do more for Andrew and let him go.  


PRAYER REQUESTS:


-Pray for Connor that God would miraculously start the donor cells to engraft!   Let me remind you all the miracle of Andrew's chromosomal abnormality clearing up!  God is in the business of miracles!  The doctors will test Connor for engraftment the next few weeks.  So let's "get on our knees" and pray for this miracle.  I distinctly remember when asking Dr. Morgan what the chances Andrew's abnormality would 
clear up and she said, "Miraculous".  God can!  


-Pray for Steve and Stephanie as they grieve and wonder why this is happening.  Pray for a hedge of protection around this wonderful couple and they would somehow see how God has their backs and Connor's


-Pray for Andrew and a "miraculous" turn around.  Let's pray big and pray specific.  Pray for the lungs, liver and kidneys.  


As I end this blog, I am reminded of some comforting verses, verses I cling onto. Verses that I have personally fulfilled in my time of sorrow and grief:



Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit

Psalm 46:1-2
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

Psalm 71:20-21
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Matthew 11:25-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.



Blessings,
Joe




Wednesday, June 13, 2012

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST...DAY 12 ICU...DAY +28 POST BMT

6-13 (2pm)

Andrew's chest x-ray showed more fluid build up and the doctors were concerned, so they ordered an ultrasound to see how what the fluid build up is like and where it is and an echo cardiogram to see if everything is ok with his heart.  His blood pressure has been down quite a bit, but his oxygen saturation is has gone dangerously low in the 60's where a normal reading is in the 90's.  Consequently, they have turned up his respirator to help Andrew breath more efficiently.  The doctors will more than likely tap the lungs to relieve the pressure.  Andrew has been more twitchy than normal and they have given more sedatives to make him comfortable.  The liver remains a concern, but it's taken a back seat to the lungs.

Our main stem cell doctor, Dr. Sonali, when asked what his realistic condition and outlook, she said that Andrew is a VERY VERY SICK CHILD.  She also said she gives Andrew a 50/50 chance to survive.  Jenn asked her yesterday if Andrew is close to the point where they can't do more for Andrew and the doctor said they we are far from that scenario.

I know these posts are getting to you with a delay and I can't do anything about it.  I ask that for those who are on the automatic email notification list to check through out the day for more timely updates.

I thank you for Andrew's Army, which is growing each day, for praying fervently that our Lord and Savior is interceding for my son.  Thank you.

***Please continue to pray for Connor and that his donor cells would flourish and engraft.  Pray for a positive test result.

Blessings and Love,
Joe

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DAY 11 in ICU...DAY +27 POST BMT...

June 12th (3:30pm)

Andrew remains sedated, on a ventilator, on dialysis (crt), on antibiotics, steroids and array of other meds. Andrew's bilirubin level has gone up yet again today.  The ultrasound results were unremarkable.  The liver hasn't increased in size.  Andrew has been getting steroids to treat possible gvhd of the liver. But with the steroids, there is a risk of infection.  The best way to diagnose what is going on with Andrew's liver is to get a liver biopsy.  The biopsy can be done two ways.  One, the most risky of the two, is to biopsy through the skin, which can cause bleeding and in Andrew's case with his low blood pressure issue, this is not an option at this point.  Two, the preferred method, is through the carotid artery in the neck.  An interventional radiologist can use a catheter to reach the liver, with bleeding a less likely a problem.  The problem is that Andrew's carotid artery is accessed by the dialysis machine, so we will need to wait.
Andrew's fluid removal was good until today, when they had to dial the removal rate back due to Andrew's blood pressure getting dangerously low, so the biopsy will have to wait until more fluid is removed and the CRT machine stopped.  His chest x-ray showed no new improvement.  

The doctors say that he remains stable but is critical.  He has not gotten worse, but he hasn't gotten better. 
He is in the fight of his life.  Please pray for complete recovery.  But pray specifically for:

-Andrew's fluid removal will begin again and that the fluid will dissipate to the point where he can get off dialysis, which will allow for a liver biopsy.


-Pray for a clear cut liver diagnosis so the Doctors can treat it properly.


-Pray for lungs which are still compromised with the fluid build up.


-Pray for his kidney function to come back to normal and not dependent on dialysis.


-Pray for Andrew's mental state.  I can't imagine what is going on as he has been sedated for 11 days.  Is it fear?  Is it calm?  Is it both?  Pray that Andrew would be at peace and dreaming wonderful peaceful an serene dreams.  Pray that he can hear the encouragement spoken to him by the healthcare providers and his family.


***Keep praying for Connor.  Pray that his donor cells would start engrafting quickly and copiously!  Pray for a favorable test results showing Connor's donor cells are doing it's job.  Pray for Stephanie and Steve as they are anxious during this stressful time.  Please goto Connor's blog for more info:


connorsbmt.blogspot.com


I must admit I was super anxious this morning.  I actually thought about Andrew not making it.  But ever time I think these thoughts, it seems the Holy Spirit intervenes to remind me that God is in control.  God is indeed my fortress and shield in this time of utter stress.


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3,7

(Psalms 30:2 NKJV) O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me (Andrew).



I just want to remind you if you think you are having a bad day, to think about coming to Children's to take a stroll around the ICU and the Oncology ward.  Things will soon be put into perspective.  If you have children, hug them today and say that you love them.  Tell your spouse or significant other that you appreciate and love them.   Do not take things for granted.  Take what God has given you and give thanks!


Joe


I do have a favor to ask of you.  I ask that you not only pray for Andrew and our family, but to leave a comment or so reminding us that you are doing so and any other words of encouragement or what not. Speak your heart and let us know that Andrew's Army is strong!

Monday, June 11, 2012

DAY 10 IN ICU...DAY +26 POST BMT

Andrew's liver bilirubin level remains elevated. An ultrasound is scheduled for anytime now. They will try to determine the size of the liver and whether the liver is draining properly. If the bilirubin continues to rise a risky liver biopsy will be performed to see if the liver's condition is due to GVHD or VOD. Please pray first for the bilirubin levels to lower to normal levels. Pray also for a favorable ultrasound result and/or the doctors will be able to read it properly so they can take the proper next step.

On a positive note, Andrew's fluid removal via the dialysis (crt) is going great. The kidney doctors will determine when to remove him or not soon. Andrew's chest x ray looked ok.
Andrew is still a very sick child. Pray for continued success of the dialysis and that it will allow Andrew to ween off the ventilator.

***I ask all that have been covering Andrew and the Park Family in prayer, to pray for our friends, Stephanie and Steve and their son Connor. Most of you are aware of Connor's condition and how our lives have intertwined. Connor is day +25 post transplant and has not engrafted as of yet and there is concern. He will be getting a special test today to see if the engraftment process has started. The results will come in late tomorrow, please pray results to show donor cells are engrafting. Please pray for Steve and Stephanie and their angst in this time of stress. Goto Connor's blog for more specifics:

http://connorbmt.blogspot.com/

Again, as I have been whispering in Andrew's ear:

"We (I) can do all things through Christ who gives us (me) strength."
Philippians 4:13

Blessings,



Joe 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

MOVED AND SETTLED...DAY 9 IN ICU...DAY +25

JUNE 9, 2012 (1:30AM)

WHAT A DAY!!!  Most of you know Andrew was transported to the new Lurie's Children's Hospital downtown Chicago, Saturday afternoon.  Andrew's planned move time Saturday was scheduled at 2pm.  The hospital actually started moving around 6am.  Our friend Connor who was on 4 west, the hem/oncology ward, was one of the first to move and actually was the first patient into Children's.  Way to go Connor.
***NOTE: PLEASE PRAY FOR CONNOR THAT HE WILL START ENGRAFTING HIS DONOR BONE MARROW SOON.  ALSO, PRAY FOR THE PAIN CAUSED BY SIDE EFFECTS FROM PRE TRANSPLANT CHEMO, WOULD BE MANAGED PROPERLY.  THANKS.


Like most severely critical kids in the icu, Andrew's move was toward the end of the Children's move.  Andrew's move was not an easy one.  The health team needed to sedate him more and actually "paralyze" him with medicine so he would not feel all the jostling of the move.  The health team disconnected Andrew from his dialysis machine and observed to see if his blood pressure would be effected.  Next, the team moved Andrew to the ambulance stretcher and observed to see how he would react.  There was a few fluctuations in his oxygen saturation and blood pressure, but for the most part he was stable.  It was amazing how efficient the team was getting Andrew ready, it was really impressive.  Since Andrew's case was so critical, an attending, Dr. Goodman, rode with Andrew on the ambulance along with 3 other nurses.  By the time Andrew left, there were only 6 or so patients left at Children's.   I rode shotgun and saw how Fullerton was closed from the hospital to Lake Shore Drive and how relatively fast we got to the hospital.

We got to Lurie's and there, waited a team to guide us to the 16th floor icu.  Our room is nice and much bigger than our accommodations at the old Children's.  We have a great northeast view of the Lake.  It took an army of Doctors and Nurses to get Andrew settled from the stretcher to the bed and ultimately settled.  I felt so helpless and sad seeing the limp body of Andrew being manipulated by so many people.
The awesome receiving team at Lurie's.  It took an army to get Andrew settled and stable.  Andrew's Army;-)
There was a really scary moment as they settled Andrew in his bed.  Soon after transferring him to the hospital bed, his oxygen saturation started to drop drastically!  Normal saturation range is above 90, but Andrew's tanked to 50.  They asked for the "crash" cart just in case they needed to resuscitate  him.  I was just outside the room observing and praying a silent prayer for a quick return to normal saturations and thank God, the saturation started to climb fast!  Pheeeeew!  Andrew was observed a bit then was sent to get a c.t. scan of his head to see if there was any bacterial infection going on.  After returning, Andrew was reconnected to the CRT machine, dialysis, and the doctors watched closely to see if it would be a success.  The blood pressure remained steady and the rest is history.  We were also blessed to have Heather as our nurse!  She was the receiving nurse at Lurie's.  Heather has 16 year of picu experience at Children's and came on her off days, this past Thursday and Friday to care for Andrew!  She constantly reminded me to eat and sleep and reminded several times from Lurie's to eat and sleep before the big move.  

Andrew is still a very sick person.  His numbers today were slightly worse than yesterday and his chest x-ray showed more fluid in his chest.  He has slight skin rash, which was biopsied and was confirmed as gvhd.  Andrew's liver bilirubin level went from 2.6 to 4.6 which could attributed to medicine toxicity levels and gvhd.  If you don't remember what GVHD, Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a complication that can occur after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant in which the newly transplanted material attacks the transplant recipient's body.  GVHD manifests itself with issues in the gut from the mouth to the bowels, liver problems, skin rashes, mucositis, among other things.  
Andrew's dialysis will be increased to remove more fluid.  The fluid removal is the key to clearing up  many of his infirmities.  He remain stable and has worsened so to speak.  He was a true champ today as he made the big move.  

Children's Memorial, YOU WILL BE MISSED!
This is where Andrew first started his first chemo treatment in March of 2009

Today was a physically and emotionally draining day.  Although Andrew's move was not until the afternoon, I got up at 5am.  I took a stroll outside to see the ambulances all lined up and ready to move 200 patients.  After I found 4 west was moved already, I took a final nostalgic walk around the floor Andrew and I spent many of day the past three years.  I snapped the above picture, because 488 bed 2 was the first room Andrew to start his chemo.  I can remember clear as day the moment before Andrew was given his first dose of chemo and the words I will never forget uttered by Andrew, "Dad, I am scared."  I was very emotional having a potpourri of emotions as we drove out of the hospital for the last time.  I must have shed more than one tear.

If the walls of old Children's could speak, they would speak of the dedication of healthcare providers for over 130 years at this storied institution.  They would speak of a scared 13 year old who was diagnosed with leukemia in March of 2009 and to see this young man grow into the courageous fighter he is today.  They would speak of the tears, sadness, fear, smiles exhibited by Andrew's parents.  The walls would speak of young people's lives cut short at such young ages.  But they would also speak of the legacy these kids left.  A legacy of hope, bravery and courage.  They would speak of all the nurses, doctors and staff that did the "little things" so patients and patient's families could be at ease or have a modicum of comfort in a unbelievably stressful environment.  They would speak of:  Where Kids Come First.  (Children's trademarked words)


As I said Goodbye to Children's and walked out of the building, I walked over the famous train tracks which guided patients and parents to their destinations.  But the rail road doesn't end, it just goes to another station and that station we call Lurie's Children's Hospital.  


Thanks for all your prayers today!  They were heard by our great God and answered.  

PLEASE SPECIFICALLY PRAY FOR:

-THE FLUID REMOVAL WOULD GO WELL AND THAT ALL THE ACCESS FLUID WOULD BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY, SO ANDREW COULD START BREATHING ON HIS OWN AND ALLEVIATE WHAT IS GOING ON IN HIS LUNG, KIDNEYS AND LIVER.

-PRAY FOR MINIMAL GVHD AT BEST.

-PRAY THAT ANDREW WHILE SEDATED WOULD BE HAVING WONDERFUL DREAMS.  DREAMS WHERE GOD IS PART OF THEM.  PRAY THAT ANDREW WOULD BE AT EASE IN HIS SEDATED STATE.  PRAY THAT HE WOULD BE ASSURED THAT HE WILL BEAT ALL THESE AILMENTS.

-PRAY FOR JENNIFER AND I .  MY PARENTS LEFT, SINCE THEY REALLY COULDN'T DO ANYTHING FOR ANDREW WHILE HE IS SEDATED AND INTUBATED, AND JENNIFER AND I WILL BE CONTINUING TO SWITCH OFF AT THE HOSPITAL.  PRAY FOR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STRENGTH AS CONTINUE TO CARE FOR OUR SON.  
PRAY ALSO FOR YUN, ANDREW'S MOTHER, WHO IS TRYING TO JUGGLE WORK AND TRYING TO BE WITH ANDREW AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

UPDATE:  SUNDAY JUNE 10TH (11:10AM)
Andrew remains stable and overall he is looking better.  The dialysis fluid removal has been increased and his blood pressure remains steady.  His chest x-ray shows improvement, but Andrew's liver function level has elevated for a second day.  They will check his levels again tomorrow to determine whether he needs an ultrasound and to see if his meds need to be changed.  
Dr. Duerst says he remains very sick.  The more organs that are effected the harder it is to recover and Andrew has two major organs that are not well:  The lungs and Kidneys, not to mention the liver.  
***Please continue to pray for the fluid to be removed expeditiously, so he can ween off his ventilator and that his liver numbers would go back to normal levels.  



Thanks everyone!  Until next time!

Joe xoxoxo
General in Andrew's Army!