Wednesday, May 28, 2014

“Let the storm rage on, The cold never bothered me anyway”

Could she possibly be any more adorable? I especially love the "pssshhh" hand motion after she sings "the cold never bothered me anyway". LOL! That's our Zoey Rene! :)

As you might have imagined, the Chalk girls' favorite movie is none other then Disney's Frozen. We are frequently graced with those lyrics :) It brings me to a deeper meaning though, the storms of our life. We have all faced a storm or two in our lives, had times when life just didn’t make sense, when our problems were big and faith seemed too little, when we are utterly afraid that we would be overtaken by the raging storm whether it be emotional or physical. The Chalk family has experienced a number of those storms themselves in the last year alone. And little Zoey has fared her storm with such courage and determination.

April 2014

Zoey’s story became public when she contracted Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh Eating Bacteria) in May of last year. After 8 surgeries to save her leg and ultimately saving her life, she miraculously recovered when all odds were against her. But you see, even though the weeks in the hospital, afraid of losing her leg, afraid she might lose her life…. All the sleepless nights spent storming heaven’s gates pleading our merciful father for healing, for a miracle…. All the pain that Zoey suffered, and the impact her scaring still has on her life today and might for many years to come… Through all of that storm, we still see it all as a blessing in disguise. But aren’t the most beautiful testimonies paved with stormy weather? In the testing to save her life last year, another scare was discovered. A hole in Zoey’s heart. If left undiscovered, it’s possible that the condition could have eventually taken her life. We knew last year that it was going to be a surgical necessity reasonably soon, but her depleted tired body needing some time to recover from all the surgery, for her leg to heal, and to be sure that the bacteria would not continue to spread. We were told in one year they would revisit this.

Now three years old, and as we reached the one year mark of Zoey’s brave battle with Flesh Eating Bacteria, she was again within the walls of Seattle Children’s Hospital last week. Only this time it was in cardiology, hooked up to heart monitors.

The hole is causing her heart to pump so much extra blood that the right half of her heart is very enlarged. Without some kind of surgical intervention this will eventually cause complications for her. Scary stuff. The verdict of the top surgeons is this: the hole in her heart is large, so large in fact and too close to the lining of her heart that a surgery via catheterization is not an option, as it comes with too high a risk of causing damage that potentially could lead to her bleeding out. With that said, Zoey is going to be scheduled for open heart surgery sometime within the next month. She will be in the hospital for one week, then have a 6-8 week recovery at home as her sternum will be broken to perform the surgery. In the weeks leading to surgery they have her on a heart monitor to catch the abnormalities of her heart rhythm.

All things said, let the storm rage on…. The cold never bothered us anyway, right? Not when we know who goes before us, and who will keep our girl safe yet again. Zoey will fare this storm too. Our God is faithful and has never once left her side. This too shall pass and we will again glorify His mighty name! Please remember Zoey, her family, and all of the medical team at Children’s in your prayers in the weeks leading up to her open heart surgery. And again, your support and love is cherished by all of us! 

You can follow her story on Facebook

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"When you fall, you can get up again"

Here's an update from Komo 4 News. Thank you to the amazing community! Your help is much appreciated! Thank you to Molly Shen, The Problem Solvers, and all of the Komo staff for your continued support as well! The Chalk family is beyond blessed and thankful for all the support! The end of the video brought me to tears: "Zoey is proof that when you fall, you can get up again" <3

Also a huge thank you to the BOEING FAMILY who put together some fundraisers on behalf of the Chalk family. Your compassion, efforts, and generosity have touched the family so deeply. Bless each and every one of you!

Thank you all for being Zoey's hope, and for your continued prayers and support. More updates will come as we face more surgery to fix the hole in Zoey's heart, and try to figure out whatever autoimmune condition she may have. 

Much love,
Zoey's family

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Walking Miracle; Stand Strong!

Monday afternoon Zoey had a check up at Childrens. They removed all the stitches, said her incisions have healed very well, and gave her the green light to begin walking as she is ready to!!

Scars on her calf

Well Thursday night she amazed us all yet again. Zoey very frankly said "I'm gonna walk", stood right up, and WALKED!! Then, at our church's VBS finale, Zoey went up on stage with 300 other children and danced to praise songs!!! We all kind of stood in awe, tears falling, as we watched her dancing and praising Jesus to the lyrics: "We will trust, trust in God alone. We will stand, stand upon His word. And whatever comes our way, WE ARE STRONG, and WE ARE BRAVE.... His truth will be our guide through the day, and the darkest night. Our God will give us strength. We will stand together, stand forever. We will STAND STRONG!"

This girl seriously continues to amaze us every day. She has overcome so much, beat all the odds, and is quite literally a walking miracle!! Just weeks ago, we were afraid she would die. Weeks ago we weren't sure if she would have two legs. We weren't sure if she would be able to walk again, let alone dance. This moment will not too soon leave our hearts!

However, she gets pretty excited to be walking again and goes all crazy, but quickly gets exhausted and is in pain after too much bouncing around, so she reverts to crawling, but she is making huge progress!

She also had another checkup with her primary care physician. There's a little concern because, although the last three days she has been eating well, Zoey has lost quite a bit of weight through this whole ordeal.

Thursday she also had the appointment at Children's Cardiology about her Atrial Septal Defect. She had another echocardiogram and they have said that the hole is significantly large and will for sure need to be closed. They are going to wait until spring of next year before doing surgery, so her body has a good chance to continue to heal from all the surgeries on her leg. They will first try to close the hole by catheter, but it's likely that she will need open heart surgery. This is frightening news and very hard to think about, so for now we focus on regaining her strength, healing from this part of the journey, and reveling in the miracle that she is.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Quick Update and Photos

It's been 10 days since Zoey came home from the hospital. Her leg is healing pretty well, with only a couple of the wider places struggling to stay closed up. Zoey is doing pretty well getting around now- she started crawling a couple days ago! Being able to move around has made her so happy! Although if she over does it, the pain is inevitable :(

She is still not eating very well, but she does drink her PediaSure to supplement. Her favorite snack is Mickey Mouse shaped cheese and hard boiled eggs :)

Monday the 24th is her next doctor's check up and to have her stitches removed. Later next week she also has an appointment in cardiology to have another echo cardiogram, and to talk about what she needs to fix the hole in her heart.

There are still no results back yet on the autoimmune condition. Labs have been sent out of state for further testing. Prayers for provision are needed in this area, as insurance is not going to pay for these very costly testings through an out-of-state laboratory.

Here are some photos from the last 10 days:

Zoey's favorite mode of transportation, a wagon donated by an amazing local family! It's perfect, because one side can be up in the chair position, and the other side down flat with a comfy pillow to support her leg. Of course she brings the whole Disney gang along on her rides! We call her new wagon "Zoey's Minnie Mobile"

Out enjoying the gorgeous sunshine with Mommy.

Sweet girl loving her stickers, a cup of PediaSure, and a Minnie Mouse movie :)

And Auntie's personal favorite: her new hat. We were in Target and she saw this hat and immediately exclaimed with glee: "DAISY O'DARE"! (her favorite Disney movie this week). She puts the hat on and Zoey becomes miss Daisy O'Dare! Too cute!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Welcome Home Zoey!

This evening Zoey was welcomed home with much love and excitement.

Her sisters and two of her cousins worked hard on making Zoey a giant welcome home banner!

We all enjoyed some quiet times visiting with Bryan and Valorie, and playing with Zoey. And of course Zoey got lots and lots of kisses!! 

Kisses from Ama (Great Grandma)

Playing with sissy Hayley

Lovin's from Auntie 

Playing Minnie Mouse, of course, with her Mammie.
(HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMMIE! What a gift, to see her grandbaby 
come home from the hospital on her birthday!!)

Our hearts were beyond happy tonight, seeing Zoey at home, full of spunk and laughter. This is the Zoey we all know and love so much. It's crazy to think that just two weeks ago, we were in such a dark place when Zoey was fighting for her life. Today she looks amazing, considering all that she has been through! And what courage this little girl has.... I can only imagine how I'd feel after 8 surgeries, but Zoey doesn't fail to have the most beautiful smile upon her face. She is feisty, she is a fighter, she is full of LIFE! 

Zoey, in Greek means "Life". Rene, in Late Latin means "Born Again". How awesome is that?! Zoey Rene is life, and she will have life abundantly! Though she may have quite the journey ahead of her, there is no doubt in our minds that she will overcome again and again. Her life is destined for greatness! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Out for a stroll

Zoey had a great day today! Since she was doing so well, the doctor let her leave the hospital for a couple hours! Bryan and Valorie took her for a quick stroll through the mall. Zoey even did her best to eat some orange chicken! Way to go baby girl!! She is still on track to be discharged sometime tomorrow!

A very kind lady at the Disney store got to talking with them about her experience at Children's, and very generously gave Zoey a bag with a pair of Minnie Mouse ears and a little Minnie Mouse stuffed animal. What a kind thoughtful thing she did, that meant so much to Zoey Bryan and Valorie!

Also, a local daycare owner reached out today to offer to buy Zoey a new wagon to make outings like today much easier on her sore little body! She will not be able to put any pressure on her leg for at least 3 weeks before beginning physical therapy. I am still in awe of the total love and compassion from people we have never met. Every gift and every dollar from donations we have received means more than you know. All our family can do is stand back and cry tears of joy and warmth, thanking the Lord for seeing our Zoey and her family through this difficult time. There are some amazing people in our surrounding community, and you all are cherished for your acts of kindness.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013