True it is that Mason never was healthy enough to take on a vacation (well, anywhere further than our normal 40 minute drive to Primary Children's or our medically necessary trips to Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford) before now. That also means the only vacations I (Mom) have taken since Mason was born have been our get-a-way's to the hospital. Last Friday April 8 we finally heard from Mason's transplant team, after waiting about a week, that we had permission to join in with two of my Sister-in-laws (Mark's sisters) and their families to enjoy a 'spring stay and ski special' in Sun Valley Idaho. I will admit I was nervous to venture 5 hours away from our Primary Children's, which would also be the closest children's hospital if something went wrong while in Sun Valley.
I am used to packing now for our trips to Stanford, which when your packing for a child like Mason on so many meds (several needing to be refrigerated) and still mostly fed through a g-tube is not a 'throw it together' in 30 minutes task, but by now I know the routine. Although.............going somewhere else felt like I was packing the WHOLE house because we weren't going to be just 5 minutes away from the luxury of hospital diagnostic equipment if needed. I'm pretty sure my suitcase that I shared with Mason weighed at least 100 lbs!!! When the bell boy at the hotel lifted this suitcase from our Suburban to the hotel cart I suddenly felt the need to explain that, in addition to the normal items needed for a ski vacation, inside was a blood pressure monitor, a pulse oximeter for checking oxygen saturations, several cans of g-tube formula, and oodles of heart transplant medications. Instead of being so explicit, I just introduced him to Mason and said "he's had a heart transplant and doesn't travel lightly."
It was another one of those moments when Mason needed to be wearing a t-shirt that reads, " Questions??? Answer: I've had a heart transplant"!
Sun Valley is absolutely beautiful. It was the perfect 3 night get-a- way. We had a great time! Since it's the off season it was the perfect time of year for us to go. The hotel was practically empty except for our three families which totaled 22 of us. We were told numerous times by the hotel staff that they hadn't had so much excitement in a long time. One party of 16 kiddos is not a normal thing there!! I'm still not sure that being part of that excitement is something to be proud of, but I do know that we made many fun memories while we were there. I will admit that one of my children caused one of the most exciting, thrilling, but embarrassing moments. Ammon set of the fire alarm one night around 9pm. And no, it wasn't just a ' hotel manager can turn it off kind off fire alarm', it was a 'Fire Marshall has to come in the big fire truck and turn it off kind of fire alarm'!!! Oh memories......
Here's a few pictures:
Mason and I spent sometime sitting outside the lodge
watching everyone come down one of the ski hills. He just
loves being outside, but I forgot to put sunscreen on him,
and that was a big 'oops', cuz steroids and sun don't mix
well. He got a little sun burnt, but since we didn't stay out
too long it wasn't very bad. (Learned my lesson though!)
Mason saw all the cousins skiing down together and
shouted out for all of them "Hi guys!"
One time I walked (carrying) Mason about 1oo yards up the ski hill
and handed him off to Mark, so he could ski down holding Mason.
Mason laughed the whole way down. He absolutely loved it!
This was after Mason's little skiing experience down the hill.
He wanted "more". So then mark took him up the little magic
carpet and down the bunny hill a couple of times. Then the
employee at the bunny hill said that we shouldn't be doing that
and I just thought to myself, "if she only knew what our sweet
little kiddo has been through, she wouldn't have said anything!!!"
Even Ammon had some fun out on the ski hill! I'm so proud
of this little guy. And, when he falls he just laughs it off.
It's kind of funny that he can't remember his colors or numbers,
but he can "pizza" down the ski hill just fine! Way to go Ammon!
Now, here are the real Strickland Skiers!!! Kaitlin,
Preston, and Braiden have been skiing since they were
3 years old. They are much much better than I. What can
I say? I've just been a little busy having babies for several
years. I might be right on the same level as Ammon. Someday,
Mason will be strong enough to ski and we can all head out
together, but for now Mason still needs to figure out that
walking is definitely better than bum scooting.
The latest on Mason? He is doing pretty well. He has a bit of a cold right now, but nothing bad. He never had his IVIg treatment the week after we returned from Stanford. I'll just say that this is the fault of a one of my least favorite topics, health insurance. They are fighting the docs, saying it is unnecessary! Errrr!!!! Stanford only has a 99.9% survival rate of heart transplants, the highest in the nation, why would they now what's best for Mason??? We WILL get it approved!! Pre-transplant Mason was highly sensitized (high antibodies), and this is the treatment that will keep his antibodies under control. Keep then from attacking his heart!! I truly wonder why insurance companies claim to be looking out for our best interest!! He needs this treatment every 4 weeks and next Wednesday will be 8 weeks since his last one. He's never gone a month without it since transplant. I'm nervous and pray for our Father Above to protect his heart right now.
Happy Spring! I'll update again soon..............