August 21, 2016

Luke's Heart & Liver Checkup at the Mayo Clinic


Luke's Heart & Liver Checkup at the Mayo Clinic
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 21, 2016


On Tuesday night, we went to the Mall of America to meet our friends, Ron & Kristie Myers, along with their kids.  They have such a beautiful family.


We went to Benihana together because we hadn't gorged ourselves for awhile.  Mission accomplished.


I don't think they'd been to this restaurant before, but they seemed to enjoy it.


On Wednesday night, we went to Outback to hook up with Miss Sheri's Aunt Mary and cousin Mary along with her husband Michael.  They were in town from California so we decided to enjoy a little down under no rules cuisine.  It felt just right.

  
It has been two years since we had to go through the evaluation for Luke's heart and liver transplant.  We decided to switch his care to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester because it's much closer to home from where we'd been going the past couple of years which was Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago.

Things are looking really good for Luke currently.  He received a pacemaker a year and a half ago and went on growth hormones.  He has grown more than 4 inches in the past year.

If you’re interested in seeing some info about his ordeal, here’s a few posts from my site that show what we went through a couple of years ago:


Focus on the Sunshine and Not on the Clouds. Update on Luke Swank for October 11, 2014



We're very glad we made the switch.  We'd always considered going to Mayo Clinic since it's only an hour and a half drive for us, but we hadn't done it until now.  Seeing that they were recently named the #1 hospital in the nation by U.S.News helped reinforce our decision. 


Miss Sheri has always been Luke's greatest advocate and carries his medical records with her to all of his appointments.   Believe it or not, this is the very condensed version.


Luke and Sheri came down on Thursday to go through a day of tests.  I came down with them on Friday to meet with the liver transplant specialist and the heart transplant specialist.


We were so impressed with the doctors.  This is Dr. Driscoll and he is the cardiologist.  He explained to us that they recently published a paper where they studied 1052 patients who they had performed the exact same Fontan heart procedure that Luke had when he was little and the associated effects that procedure has had on those patients' livers.  It was so awesome to hear that they had so much experience with the exact situation as Luke.   Dr. Driscoll told us he thought Luke's heart was still performing very well and we don't need to see him for another year.  That's like music to our ears!


We were hoping to get as good of news from the liver doctor, Dr. El-Youssef, and we were not disappointed.  He was so smart and did such an excellent job of explaining what they know about cases like Luke and how there's still a lot that we don't know about Luke's particular situation.  He did tell us that the liver is an amazing organ though and has the ability to re-generate itself which it appears may be happening with Luke.  He said he couldn't even see the liver damage that the doctors saw in Luke two years ago and downgraded his diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver down to liver fibrosis.  We didn't even know this was possible.  We were only hoping Luke's liver wouldn't get worse, but we didn't realize it could actually get better.  

We feel so incredibly blessed!!  

We credit his success to great doctors, a new medicine routine, positive living, and a whole bunch of prayers.   We will never take his status for granted and recognize that we need to be grateful for every single day that he is healthy, but this is just such great news and we are so happy to be where we are at today.

Thanks be to God!


Miss Sheri also happened to have her birthday on Friday.  This is the third year in a row that she has had to spend her birthday in hospitals and we are very hopeful that we can schedule next year's check-up on a different weekend.

Happy Birthday, Sheri!!!


Our friends, The Brown Family, came over to help us celebrate Sheri's birthday.  They're such nice people.


We had a Vive party and gave Rhonda her first taste of Virtual Reality.  I think she enjoyed it.


On Saturday, we spent a couple of hours helping with another Eagle project.


Braeden Malotky is in the same grade and same troop as Luke and Avery and it is his project.  He and his dad, John, were very helpful with the boys projects so we were glad to have the opportunity to repay the favor.


His project is a pretty big one that should be enjoyed by many people in the years to come.  There's a Frisbee golf course at the high school that was built and never utilized so it was pretty inaccessible.  Braeden is cleaning up all the holes to give players access and building cement tee boxes for every hole.   It's going to be really cool to see it when it's all done.


We had fun helping them move sticks and spreading mulch.  I gotta get me one of these Kubotas!


Of course, Miss Sheri crushed me in the productivity department as usual.  She can just shovel way better than I can.  It's tough being married to a Farm Girl.  




August 14, 2016

Jet Skiing on the St. Croix River


Jet Skiing on the St. Croix River
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 14, 2016


On Saturday, we went to visit our old buddy, Karl Zitzewitz, on the St. Croix River.


It was just Karl and his daughter this trip which was a little lonely for Miss Sheri and the boys not having their buddies Tina and Aaron there.  But we made due.


It was an absolutely beautiful day.  Just right for me to do my stretching exercises on the bow.


The river was somewhat busy, but not too much to get in a little jet ski action.


So that's what we did.  The girls were excited to ride the tube behind it.


While Luke was excited to ride backwards while spotting the tube.


Avery was excited to avoid the jet ski for awhile and just chill on a floating chair.


Karl is a lot braver than I am while riding the jet ski, so I asked him to give me a ride.  I got a little nervous when he started following the big boats and hitting their wake at full throttle.  He says we got about 6-8 feet in the air before we slammed back down to the water.  I didn't have a tape measure to verify his estimates, but that felt about right.


Miss Sheri wasn't feeling the need to get out on the water.  She was quite content just sitting next to it.


I eventually talked Avery into going for a ride with Karl, although he said they didn't find nearly big enough waves like we did. 


Luke had better luck as they both said they hit about 6-8 feet in the air also.  They also found a bunch of fresh flowers floating in the river.  Not sure if that's an unusual thing or not.


In any case, Ana seemed to like the flowers.


I don't think Avery ever actually went tubing, but he did practice his technique for awhile.


I think Luke probably should have practiced for awhile also before he went out.  Maybe he would have actually opened his eyes if he would have done that.


I think he was much more comfortable driving the jet ski then riding on the tube behind it.  He made me want to close my eyes a few times while he was driving though.



Miss Sheri's birthday is on Friday, but Grandma Linda is going to be out of town so we started the celebration early with a little breakfast action at Little 6 Casino.  It's going to be a week-long celebration of Miss Sheri!


August 7, 2016

Prior Lake Lakefront Days Parade 2016


Prior Lake Lakefront Days Parade 2016
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 7, 2016


Saturday brought us Prior Lake's annual Lakefront Days parade and we were there to support the Prior Lake Robotic's team float.


Before the parade began we saw a lot of old friends like Wayne who used to be the boys Tball coach about 100 years ago.


I saw my personal work hero, Orlando Mazzolini, and his lovely daughter Sofia.  They were here to support a friend who is running for city council.


Ronald McDonald and I go way back.  I used to go to his house and eat a lot when I was a kid.


I met Tony Albright who is a member of the Minnesota house of representatives and a great guy.  He has been a good friend to Prior Lake Robotics and is going to help us work on some projects this year.


Some of the team captains had a chance to talk to Tony.  They discussed ways to spread the word about all the good things that First Robotics is doing for kids to help them build their STEM skills as well as so many other great leadership qualities.


We chatted with Melissa and Todd from the Prior Lake school board.  We had a great conversation and talked about ways to continue to grow the robotics program going forward.


Soon enough the parade started and we had to run to the front of the pack to see Avery.  He normally works on Saturday mornings so he walked along with his co-workers at Versatile Vehicles.


We saw Tony Albright again spreading good will to the community while spreading candy to the kids.


We have been fans of Jason Lewis for years as he used to have a talk radio show in the Twin Cities before deciding to run for the US House of Representatives.  Miss Sheri was standing on the side of the road taking his picture when he noticed her.


He said a picture of him by himself was no fun so insisted she joined him for another shot.  What a good guy!


Most of the time, though, we hung out with the KING TeC kids.  They looked so fashionable that it just felt good to be around them.


Luke worked hard as he walked the parade route handing out program flyers to people in the community.


Liz and I also walked much of the way trying to figure out ways to make ourselves useful.  That comes real hard for me.


Jackson and crew were rocking out as they made their way down Main Street.


I don't know if Jen and Dan had the toughest job or the easiest job as they drove the float through town.


After the parade, all the kids went to a party so we grabbed a few of the other parents and decided to have a party of our own on the boat.


We got pretty loony!


We even picked up a hitchhiker as we passed by Pat Hines on her dock.  She joined us while we hung out on Candy Cove.


All in all, it was a pretty darned good day!