Our fourth daughter, Kendra, was born on September 29, 2003. My husband and I were very blessed to bring home another beautiful little girl. Kendra had a few minor issues right after she was born. She was sick a few times, but we were not overly worried about any major medical issues. Our oldest had been sick a few times when she was an infant, but I learned she was much better if I stopped nursing her and changed to formula.
We tried this for Kendra and it seemed to help for a little while. Unfortunately, she continued to projectile vomit. Soon after, she was admitted to the local hospital for a test to find out what was going on. We learned Kendra’s urine was going the wrong direction. If this hadn’t been detected, Kendra could have ended up in kidney failure.
Kendra was sent to Rochester, Minn., for possible surgery. There we learned the reflux was very serious. I had to catheterize Kendra, which was a new experience for me. I had never done medical care on an infant. Soon after, we found out Kendra’s bowels weren’t working either.
What caused something like this? To have both organs with problems was very unusual. Kendra’s first surgery was in November 2004. They gave her an ileostomy bag to help her empty her system. Kendra was released from Rochester after 30 days there. It felt good to be home as a family.
After being home less than a week, Kendra started projectile vomiting again and blew out 12 inches of her bowel. We went back to the hospital and her doctor wasn’t sure she would pull through. With the grace of God and Kendra’s will to live, she did. After another week, we were very blessed to take her home. Kendra continued to be in and out of hospitals. We decided it was time to seek a second opinion.
We made our first trip to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin on July 29, 2006. Meeting us was a great staff that asked so many questions regarding Kendra’s care and condition. They followed up with her pediatrician in LaCrosse for additional information. I appreciated the close connection Children’s provided with our family pediatrician. I was not feeling as overwhelmed now. We all stayed on the same page, even as the care continued to get more difficult and Kendra’s medical problems increased.
We were so blessed to meet with the specialists from surgery, respiratory, infectious disease, pain control and special needs. Holly, her nurse, and Dr. Gordon, the medical director of the Special Needs Program, were wonderful people and caregivers. They stopped in every day, sometimes several times a day, as Kendra was getting more critical. Dr. Gordon was always so good to Kendra, and Kendra always found time to squirt Dr. Gordon with her squirt guns. No matter the time of day, she was ready to fire! He was a great sport and never complained no matter how wet his shirt got. He continued to smile and let Kendra have her fun. You don’t find many people like that.
I can’t forget the surgery team. They always spoke with Kendra before her surgeries so she knew what was going to be done before they took her back to the procedure room. After her surgery, it never seemed to take long for Kendra to get back to her usual self and begin playing snakes with Dr. Arca, her surgeon. Of course, Kendra always had the bigger snake that could eat up Dr. Arca’s snake. Then they’d laugh about it. Dr. Arca was a great sport to take the extra time to play with Kendra and set her mind at ease.
I wish I could tell you our story has a happy ending. Kendra is now an angel, and got her wings, on March 18, 2009. We truly miss her and will never forget the wonderful, and caring team of nurses and doctors at Children’s. All they did for Kendra and our family will always be treasured and never forgotten.
Thank you Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin!
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~ The McGarry Family: Tim, Sue, Kayla, Katie, Kelsey and our angel Kendra
You are welcome to visit the CaringBridge site for Kendra.