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Grant • 2017




Grant Hammett

Grant

August 31st, 2015 was the day that our life changed in ways we never dreamed were possible. Grant had lingering cough that turned out to be a tumor in his chest that had already punctured his lung and was affecting blood flow in his heart. We were transported to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) immediately and our life as a “C” Family began.

Daily life totally changed and seemed surreal. This couldn’t happen to us; he was too young. Nothing was the same! Chemotherapy began almost immediately. Grant couldn’t hold his head up for days. He laid in bed, the otherwise extremely active 13 year old slept all the time. When he was awake he felt bad and was moody. We had to take many precautions to prevent him from getting sick because his immune system was so compromised. We had to monitor his temperature on a regular basis. If it got to 100.4 we had to be in the hospital within an hour to get antibiotics. A trip to the hospital meant we would be away from home for hours, days, weeks or months as we soon found out. Grant’s little sister Mary-Ellen was 5 years old. She never knew if she would wake up to find us gone or how long we would be gone for.

When we were home, our lives centered around medications. We had many medications oral/IVs, feeding tube and eventually had to use a wheelchair/walker to get around. It was heart wrenching to watch him struggle and to see how it impacted our family. My parents practically moved in with us to help care for Mary-Ellen, since we never knew when we would have to leave. It was the only solution to try and keep her on her normal schedule.

In late March, Grant was diagnosed with Chicken Pox. Three days after he was “over” them, he broke out with Shingles. We were in and out of the hospital to treat these illnesses and to get scheduled chemo. While in the hospital, receiving chemotherapy, Grant had an allergic reaction. The reaction was for all intense purposes presented as a stroke. The right side of his body was impacted by this episode. This started a 3 month stay in the hospital. While our faith was strong, we had moments filled with fear and uncertainty. Soon after the stroke and shingles cleared up, bumps/skin infection appeared on Grant’s body. After testing, it was determined it was a candida yeast (fungal) infection. As time progressed his condition became worse, the fungal infection was in several of his internal organs (kidneys, liver, spleen, lungs, and brain) as well. Grant was in a medically induced coma for over 13 days. At one point, there were over 16 bags of medications hanging from his pole.

Grant

May 19th, the darkest part of this storm descended on us. Grant coded twice. With all physical resources exhausted, the family was called in and numbness set in. The most difficult part was not hearing his voice, not knowing what he was thinking. I had a very difficult time leaving him. I went home only 2 times during this stay, once Mary-Ellen was sick and throwing up and I can’t remember the other time. It seemed that every time I left him something would happen; he would have to be moved to step down unit, PICU or he coded.

Visitors soon slowed and life in a hospital room was difficult. We missed our family and friends. At one point they stopped Mary-Ellen from spending the night with us. I was heartbroken. It was so hard to be a single mom trying to care for two children who were worlds apart.

Finally, on July 13th we got our walking papers and we were happy!!! I learned how to hook up IVs and feeding tubes. I figured out the best way to get the wheelchair in the car without breaking my back. Everywhere we went, it was like we had half the house with us. We had to have medication, pillows, blankets, wheelchair or walker and food. While Grant was on a feeding tube, he still struggled to gain weight.

Now we are 9 months from the darkest storm of our life. As I reflect on our life the past couple of years, I am in awe of the support and love we experienced. My paycheck stopped in March of 2016 and I am still not back to work. The amazing thing is we haven’t had a need. Grant now goes to two classes a day. We still have to go to clinic and other specialist. We were informed not too long ago that the fungal infection in his lungs was still growing. Issues like this pop up but we haven’t given up and we won’t. Medications have been adjusted and are hoping to see an improvement soon.

Basically, we missed out on two years of life, but we still are living. Two years does not sound like much but to a 13/15-year-old, who checked out of his life for two years, it is a life time. He’s strong and doing good. As more time passes I see his old self coming back. One thing that has helped him has been the opportunities for him to hunt and fish.

Grant

These opportunities have motivated him and helped him feel “normal” in the midst of our “C” journey. Mary-Ellen is now doing much better. She was struggling academically and now she is on grade level. She loves having us home and her confidence is returning. For a period of time she was angry at Grant for “taking me away from her.”

While our life is beginning to resemble what it used to be like. There are still issues and concerns we deal with daily. Grant does not need the wheelchair or walker any longer. His balance and ability to move around improves daily, but he’s not back to normal. There’s still lots of medications, trips to MUSC for clinic, chemo that can make him feel horrible, and being sensitive to things he’s exposed to. He continues to struggle with gaining weight. Transitioning to high school hasn’t been as easy as we thought it would be but it is getting better.

While our life is beginning to resemble what it used to be like. There are still issues and concerns we deal with daily. Grant does not need the wheelchair or walker any longer. His balance and ability to move around improves daily, but he’s not back to normal. There’s still lots of medications, trips to MUSC for clinic, chemo that can make him feel horrible, and being sensitive to things he’s exposed to. He continues to struggle with gaining weight. Transitioning to high school hasn’t been as easy as we thought it would be but it is getting better.

Looking back, I realize how blessed we have been. I know God has had us in the palm of his hand. While we still are growing and trying to find our way back to normal, we know that the storm will soon be a memory. We definitely look at life very different and we all three have a bond that is rarely seen between parent and children. Life as a “C” family is not easy but with faith, love and hope you can come out of it with strength and blessings that have been miraculous.

Grant

 


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