New Blog for Nathanael

We recently started fundraising with COTA to cover Nathanael's medical expenses, so updates about him will be on his new blog from now on: Please check out the blog, pictures, and opportunities to help, and feel free to pass along the link to others. We appreciate your concern!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas from the Banks family!

We pray that you rejoice with us as we celebrate God's goodness in so many ways. Our hope in Christ has given us strength to get through a challenging year following Nathanael's cord blood transplant last fall. We feel blessed to have two precious boys in our lives, one healthy and the other moving towards health, as we finally share our first Christmas together as a family! May you and your family know His love in this season and in the coming year.

Brad, Bree, Jamison & Nathanael

Photo captions:

Jamison, at 3.5 years old, loves his role as big brother

Nathanael at 14 months, after the removal of his central lines

Caption from the family picture:

Transplant = $750,000

Homes in 2 states = $25,000

Being together = PRICELESS

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Birth Announcement (a year late!)

So now that our precious little boy is 16 months old I'm finally sending out birth announcements! I'm also posting it here and on FB. Hope you enjoy the beautiful pictures by Kay McIntire of KM Digital Images. More of her work can be seen here:

I also realized that Friday, December 17 was exactly one year after Nathanael was discharged from the hospital (after more than 5 weeks inpatient for transplant) - what a great day!

Just in case the text is hard to read, it says:
Share in our joy as we welcome
Nathanael Zachary
August 19, 2009
8 lbs, 7 oz, 20 inches
Brad, Bree & Jamison Banks
"When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, "Behold, a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit." - John 1:47

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our friend Jackson

We are so thankful for some friends who were introduced to us shortly after Nathanael's birth. Their son, Jackson, has a rare immune deficiency disease as well, and had a bone marrow transplant in March. Since we have kept the boys so isolated, our doctors (we see the same ones here in Dallas) agreed that having them play together would be fine, so in early November we set up a time for them to come over to play. (Of course, Nathanael was only a spectator...)

I was still pretty nervous that something would go wrong, that we'd share germs with Jackson and he'd get I steam cleaned the furniture and the floors, sanitized some toys, and prayed. Of course, as soon as the boys got comfortable playing with cars in the living room, off they ran to Jamison's (uncleaned) room full of (uncleaned) stuffed toys, and they both came back with lots of "furry friends" in their arms...I was horrified, and they had so much fun! The animals played games together, and eventually they were abandoned in favor of a pillow fight on our bed! We also played outside together. The boys were thrilled to play together, and Melissa and I were so thankful that despite their extended isolation, both boys had retained/learned enough to handle themselves appropriately. God's grace was clearly evident.

While I was worried about Jackson before he came over, I noticed that he washed his hands often, didn't put things in his mouth, and was great about only playing with Jamison. At 3 years old he's very verbal, and has an INCREDIBLE understanding of his condition, the "rules" (he wears a mask and hat when outdoors), so I understood why Melissa was comfortable with his being here...even playing with Jamison's toys. He is also farther along in his recovery than Nathanael, so that set my mind at ease as well. One of the challenges of Nathanael's age is that he doesn't "get it" and can't understand why things happen. Jackson showed us his central line and g-tube button, and told us that he got medicines through them...what a great attitude!

Of course, it was such a blessing to me to be able to talk with Melissa. She has an in-depth understanding of our situation and is incredibly compassionate. I love all of my friends, and am grateful for all of you who pray for us, but (thankfully) so few of our friends know what this road has been like, that it's a great comfort to share it with someone who also shares your faith, can laugh and cry with you, and can understand the unique challenges we've faced this year. We do hope to have both families together again soon.

It was such a great day all-around. Of course Nathanael was an observer of all the fun, both from his exersaucer and his booster seat, but that didn't bother him, and the benefit to the rest of us was well worthwhile.

Please pray for Jackson and his family, as he continues to recover from his transplant. We praise God with them for his continued good health, and look forward to lots more fun together!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Out of the frying pan...

I wrote the title of this post almost a year ago, and I had no idea how true it would prove to be. At the time I had just been told by the nurse in charge of discharging transplant patients that we would be sent home before Christmas. (I've said it before, but it bears repeating that in the BMT world, NOTHING is certain until it actually happens...) Nevertheless, around that time we were planning to go "home" to the apartment in Cincinnati after almost 6 weeks in the hospital. It was scary for me, as I knew that I would become Nathanael's primary caregiver and would have to give IV meds, milk and meds via the NG tube, and would have to carefully watch him for any signs of illness or infection. It felt like an impossible task, and I even created a spreadsheet for myself to use as a reminder of everything we had to do (and so we could write it down so we didn't forget that we had done it!). I was glad that my mom was going to be with me, but I still had no idea that I'd learn to do so many things, and would become so comfortable with them.

What I had no idea about at the time was that it in a year we might possibly feel like we had made almost no progress.'s not really true that we've made no progress, but it often FEELS that way, since we still live in isolation, we still give oral meds 3x daily, and we still obsessively wipe and clean anything that Nathanael is going to touch. It breaks my heart to hear Jamison tell me that he's sanitizing his hands (3x in 10 min the other day) to keep Nathanael from getting sick, but that's such a big part of his world...and I'm not sure how it can be any different right now. Yes, the central lines are gone, and we've stopped some meds, but then we added some to our home routine that used to be done at the hospital. And it feels like we're always on the brink of another inpatient stay. Ugh!

Several months ago Brad asked me if he thought we'd all be in church together for Christmas. I think I laughed at him. That wasn't very nice of me, but it seemed so unrealistic, and I couldn't even dare to hope for that. Now I think I'd just like to get to church together NEXT Christmas. Yes, we were told 1-2 years for the rebuilding of a healthy immune system, but we're ready to be done with this ordeal NOW. Out of the frying pan into the fire, indeed.