Monday, September 29, 2008

Back from my business trip


8 days, 7 nights, and thousands of miles away. I was in Lisbon, Portugal last week for a business trip and I have NEVER spent that much time away from Sophia. Even worse, I was in a time zone that was 6 hours ahead and when I would get a chance to talk to Trey on the phone, she was still at daycare. Not hearing her voice for 5 days straight was very difficult, even if our conversations mainly consist of me asking if she is having fun with daddy and her responding "Yesh". After a total of 42 hours of travel time (over two days) to get back to Dallas on Saturday, I was exhausted but the first thing I did was tiptoe into her room just so I can could watch her sleep. On Sunday morning I finally got to see her smiling face when I went to get her out of bed. She willingly gave me hugs and kisses and I just inhaled her sweet little smell until she wiggled out of my arms to go play.

This was the second time that I have been to Lisbon this year, both times for business. Business travel is much different than leisure travel so I don't have a lot of sight-seeing pictures to post. We sat in meetings most of the days, ate a lot of traditional portugese food, and got out a few nights to walk around the town. Four days of travel for four days of meetings. I am happy to be home.
I am using work as my excuse for not posting lately (and I was without internet access for most of last week). I promise to keep up with postings in a more timely manner.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Baby Jackson Update - Friday Sept 12th

Friday, September 12th

Good and bad news since I last updated about Jackson's condition on Tuesday. Doug and Mel were able to bottle feed him Tuesday, which means the doctors did not have to put in a feeding tube. Melissa was also able to nurse him Wednesday and hold him again on Thursday. Jackson's seizures have also stopped which is wonderful news.

Yesterday they did another MRI and there is no change since Sunday when they found the infection. No infection has drained off the brain either, so they removed the tubes yesterday and will continue to give him IV antibiotics and hope the body absorbs the fluid on it's own. He also received a transfusion for his immune system yesterday and they expect to give him several more over the next few months. He should be out of ICU today (or they may have moved him out last night), but the doctors have told Doug and Mel he must stay in the hospital for at least six weeks. This may not seem like a lot of progress, but he is not getting worse and I have hope we will see some improvement over the next week.

Doug and Mel will be staying in the Ronald McDonald House next to Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth for the next 6 weeks so they can be close to Jackson but have a place to rest. Mel said it felt like checking into a four star hotel after sleeping in Jackson's hospital room and ICU for a week. They still are not accepting visitors so we have not been to see them or Jackson, but they have their immediate family with them every day.

Melissa has started a CaringBridge website to update us on Jackson's condition and she is planning to post some pictures very soon. I am excited to see (even a picture) of little Jackson's smiling face. He is such a sweet boy, who looks just like his mommy, and we continue to pray for his recovery. You can follow his progress at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jacksonmerriman

Monday, September 8, 2008

14 days and 4 pounds later...

I was 100% committed to my vegetarian diet and I had a goal of eating meat-free for 21 days. I started on a Sunday and I have to admit that the first week was even harder than I anticipated. I CRAVED steak, chicken, hamburgers. One day I had to grab lunch from the deli in our building and I settled on soup and a veggie wrap (which I could only eat about half of before it got soggy and I threw it away). At the Cowboys pre-season game, I settled on nachos instead of pizza or a hot dog. We ordered food from our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant and I had to change my order when I remembered that the cannelloni was made with ground meat. That weekend we drove to Louisiana for the Labor Day weekend and on the way there Sophia started screaming to eat. Our only option for the next 20 miles was fast food, so I ate salad from McDonald's and shared a yogurt parfait with her. On the way back to Dallas just two short days later, the exits and restaurants were so crowded from the hurricane evacuation that we ate fast food again. This time I had a salad from Burger King. Basically by the end of the first week, I was starving.

Once we were home, I was determined to try out some new vegetarian recipes. I made veggie lasagna, broccoli rice casserole, and vegetable stir fry. To be considerate of Trey and Sophia's need for meat, I grilled them some chicken. Trey felt bad that I had to cook the chicken when I was not even going to eat it so he offered to take over the grill.

I began to notice a difference that second week, as my focus on food began to fade. My craving for meat was gone and making vegetarian choices became second nature. I did struggle when we went out to restaurants, especially since I had also chosen to give up fish, crab and shrimp. Salads, pasta, rice, and soup became obvious choices. Interestingly, along with my lack of craving meat, my desire for dessert diminished. I became less hungry that second week, but my diet did have some side effects that I could not ignore.

I got on the scale Saturday morning and saw that I lost four pounds in 14 days. This may not sound like a lot to some people but I am only 5 feet 2 inches tall and that amount of weight can make a difference. I was not exercising regularly during these two weeks but I can say that my energy level was lower than normal. After considering the risks vs benefits of continuing my diet for another week, I decided it was time to start adding more protein to my diet.

On Sunday, I started to slowly add meat to my meals. Ground turkey, lean chicken and fish are all options for me to eat this week. I will continue to leave out pork and red meat for the next few weeks or maybe completely. I am still forming my opinions about a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle but I have found that it is not feasible for me to follow a totally meat free diet.

I was surprised at the questions I received from friends and family about my choice to change my diet. I did not choose to change my diet to draw attention to the environmental impacts or to debate my stance on animal cruelty. I made a personal choice and a challenge to myself to see how my diet affects many different aspects of my life. These past two weeks have allowed me to look for healthier alternatives at restaurants and at home. We will continue to include meat-free meals in our family's diet one or two times a week and I will continue to eat meat-free for at least one meal a day. And I will continue to boycott tofu.

Prayers for Baby Jackson

*****UPDATE on Tuesday, September 9th*****
Melissa sent us an email this morning and Jackson is still in ICU. They are still giving him antibiotics, anti-seizure meds, morphine and anti-anxiety medication. They are not sure if the infection will respond to the antibiotics or what long term effects it will have on his brain. His immune system is also not making enough antibodies to fight this infection, which is why it may have spread so quickly. At this point they will continue to run tests and we will just have to wait to see how his body responds to all the medicine. Melissa's faith appears to be strong and she has put her son in God's hands. However, she is still hurting and it is difficult for her to not be able to hold Jackson or comfort him. Please continue to pray for Jackson, Doug and Melissa.


I have a friend who desperately needs prayers and I am sending out this request to everyone I know. My friend Melissa called me last Wednesday in tears. She had taken her 9 1/2 month old son, Jackson, to the doctor because he had a high fever. After more than one blood test, the doctors confirmed his white blood count was high and told her to pack a bag and go straight to the children's hospital in Fort Worth. Lots of tests have been administered over the past few days, tests that you should never have to subject your child to at any age. Jackson has had a spinal tap, bone marrow aspiration, CT scan, MRI and brain surgery in the past three days. On the phone this morning, Melissa told me that her son has a severe infection that covers 75% of his brain. The doctors have put in tubes to drain fluid from the brain and are treating him with antibiotics. He is having seizures so they are giving him more medicine to make them stop and monitoring him constantly. Jackson is in ICU and is heavily sedated so she can't hold him or nurse him right now.

Please pray for baby Jackson and his parents Doug and Melissa. She is looking for some hope that he will start to get better and that the doctors will have some answers regarding treatment options. I cannot begin to imagine the pain in their hearts right now and I pray that God is with them during this heartbreaking time. The next few days they will keep him in ICU and see how is body recovers from surgery and fights this infection. I will update if I get any further information about Jackson's conditon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Weekend Whirlwind Roadtrip

Today is my first day back to work since Friday but it feels like I have been gone for weeks.

On Friday afternoon, we packed up the car and hit the road for a long holiday weekend trip to Louisiana to visit with Trey’s family. We have not been back to Crowley (his hometown) since Christmas, so we were WAY past due for a visit.

Here in Dallas, we were aware of Hurricane Gustav. However on Friday, we were not too concerned about its projected landfall on Tuesday. That was four whole days away! We thought that maybe we would have to leave Monday morning instead of Monday night. Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the mass evacuation orders for the entire South Louisiana region!

While driving on the interstate in Louisiana Friday night, groups of 10 ambulances at a time were driving in the opposite direction. Apparently the hospitals or nursing homes were moving patients away from the impending storm. I thought that was a little early to be leaving, and it was erie to watch all ten pass with their lights flashing on top but not hear their sirens.

Saturday morning we had to check with the state police to see if the surrounding area was under a mandatory evacuation order before we drove down to the camp. The sun was shining as we spent the day visiting and eating with family. The television remained on the local news station as we watched Gustav build to a category 4 storm. Then we heard the press conference that announced plans for contraflow. Beginning at 4 AM on Sunday, the interstate would have all four lanes open to drive north and away from the storm. Stores were closing, bottled water was sold out, gas stations were packed with cars or already closed, stores and homes had their windows boarded up. We knew we needed to make a decision soon.

Sunday morning, we got up and packed the car again for the long trip home. Traffic was constant but not unbearable. The rest stops, gas stations and fast food restaurants were overflowing with cars. Almost 9 hours later, we were home. I calculated 16 hours of travel time in just two short days.

Although they may still be without power, all of Trey’s family is safe and I have not heard of any significant damage. When I lived in Louisiana about 6 years ago, I had to board-up my house for Hurricane Lily. The police came to my door to announce a mandatory evacuation at 9:00 PM at night. I remember the fear and uneasiness about leaving my home to flee from the storm and I never wanted to experience that again. About 6 months later, I moved to Dallas. We are blessed that we were returning home and not fleeing from our home this time.

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On a lighter note, Sophia is going on her pink potty now and she wears panties instead of pull-ups during the day! I am so proud that she can ask to go to the potty now, although it does make trips to the grocery store, the mall, to a restaurant, or LONG CAR TRIPS a little more hectic. On Sunday, she would ask to go potty about every 1 to 1 ½ hours. Crowded restrooms were standard at every exit - so we put her potty in the back of the Yukon, pulled in to a gas station, opened the hatch and let her sit on the potty right in the car. She was so happy to have her own potty each time!