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

Zoey's Hope on Facebook

You can now follow Zoey's journey on Facebook as well.

See you there!

Day 12

Still no update on the underlying autoimmune condition today, but tests did produce an unexpected result. Zoey has a heart defect, Atrial Septal Defect. What this means is Zoey was likely born with a hole in her heart and it never closed on it's own. Not at all something any of us were prepared to hear, but we're also thankful to be aware of it. Without all the testing for a possible autoimmune condition, this diagnosis probably would have continued to go unnoticed. In future months, she will likely have it treated by a cardiac catheterization procedure, but it's not a high priority at the moment. Her doctors agree that her body first needs time to recover from all her surgeries in the last week!

Doctors are hopeful that Zoey should be able to come home by the weekend, so long as nothing changes between now and then. They were hoping she would be able to regain some strength, which being able to eat solid food would help. But as of yet she has had little to no appetite. They are talking about sending her home with the feeding tube still in place, to make sure she continues to get the much needed nutrients to continue her healing and recovery.

Today is Bryan's birthday, so we brought the girls down to surprise daddy for a visit. When we arrived, Zoey was out for a quick stroll to the play room in her newest mode of transportation. What a breath of fresh air it was for Valorie, Bryan, and little miss Zoey to get out of her room for a short while! Looks like a cozy ride to me! :) I think I'm going to try and find her one for when she comes home to make moving about a lot easier and pain free!

Here is Zoey playing with a tiara and happily exclaiming, "I'm the princess!" Yes you are a little princess, sweet girl! Oh how my heart melted to see that beautiful smile coming back!

 Zoey got lots of lovins today. Sweet kisses from her Mammie:

And kisses and snuggles from sissy Hayley. Zoey said "Hayley come lay down with me" So precious!

Here's the birthday guy posing for a quick photo with Mama (Cindy). Happy birthday Bryan! We all love you!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

More photos from day 11

Zoey waking up from surgery. Hello precious <3

 Her leg all bandaged up after surgery.

Sweet baby girl in her natural sleep pose, anesthesia still wearing off  :) 

Sleep well our precious little one. You are loved. Oh so loved. <3 

Road to Recovery Begins!

Huge praise report today! Zoey has done a huge turnaround!! She just came out of surgery #8, and for now the doctors were able to get the incisions closed up enough without having to do a skin graft!! Should she need any more surgeries, they won't be in the immediate future. Her precious little body is going to have a chance to recover now! Doctors are hopeful that Zoey should be able to come home this weekend! Zoey just needs to regain her strength enough to be able to eat on her own. For now they are confident that all the infection is gone and under control. Further testing, treatments, physical therapy and the rest of her recovery should be able to be done on an outpatient basis! Bryan and Valorie will need to keep a close eye on her for awhile, since we all know just how fast spreading of a bacteria this was. But, this is a total answer to prayer and we are all in awe of this amazing news!! There is still not an answer yet as to what the possible autoimmune condition could be, or if it was all a result of the trauma her body has gone through.

To every person who has faithfully been in prayer for our sweet girl, the family thanks you! To every person and family who has generously donated to Zoey's Medical Fund, THANK YOU! This will help lift a little bit of the burden off Bryan and Valorie's shoulders over the next weeks during Zoey's recovery. We are eternally grateful!

In the Media

Though exhausted after a roller coaster 10 days, Bryan and Valorie were brave to do interviews with the media to bring public awareness about Zoey's condition. Necrotizing Fasciitis, also known as flesh eating bacteria, is extremely rare but without early intervention can be deadly. To see their interviews, follow the links below.

For more information about flesh-eating bacteria, you can go to the CDC's website:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Eventful Day

Today was quite the eventful day. This was by far the best day Zoey has had since this all began.

The girls got to come down to visit with Zoey in her room! The quarantine has been lifted as of today!! The whole family got to spend some sweet moments at Zoey's bedside. Here is sister Peyton singing Zoey a song:

Hayley enjoyed a trip to get pizza with Daddy:

Q13 Fox news came to interview Bryan and Valorie about Zoey's condition. Tune in tonight at 10 o'clock to see the interview. 

Zoey had a lot of imaging done today, including an MRI and echocardiogram. The rash on her body has not subsided. Doctors are at this point still baffled as to what the cause is, and unsure what autoimmune disease she may or may not have. They continue to do more testing and cultures of her blood. Today Zoey also pulled out her feeding tube again, and this evening they had to put in another one. This time they put some mitts on her hands to keep her from pulling on the tube. We're praying that she gets lots of rest tonight in preparation for tomorrow's surgery, which will begin the reconstruction phase. Please cover our sweet girl  and her parents in prayer tomorrow during surgery. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Uncertainty and heavy hearts

Coming from a heavy heart and uncertainty...please don't stop the chain of prayer for our precious little Zoey, and for Bryan, Valorie, and the team of doctors. Zoey is undergoing some more testing today. The doctors found inflammation in the biopsy of her blood vessels, which leads them to believe she has a rare autoimmune disease of the blood. Specifics are unknown at this point, and we have no clue what this is going to mean for her treatment and for her future. She woke up today with swelling in her leg and a rash up her of now doctors feel the rash/swelling is not from the bacterial infection like before, but rather from the unknown possible autoimmune disease. Our hearts are breaking for what Zoey continues to go through. Please keep Bryan Valorie and all of the family in your prayers as well, there's so much uncertainty and fear in the unknown. 

This evening the doctors decided that Zoey truly needed the NG tube put back in. They sedated her to put in the tube in less traumatically for Zoey. We are praying that she can keep this one in, for her body is weak and needs the nutrients. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Princesses visit with Mommy

Last night Bryan came home to get some much needed rest, get some more clothes and items needed from home, and to spend some one on one time with Peyton and Hayley. Then in the morning we brought the big girls to the hospital for a surprise visit with Mommy!

Not wanting to go far from Zoey at the hospital, we went to a nearby shopping mall and played at the park. It was a refreshing time for Valorie to get out of the hospital, and spend some much needed time with the big girls. Mommy bought the girls a special animal at a toy shop, Peyton picked a cute little hootie owl and Hayley a kitten. The girls were dressed in their favorite princess dresses.... it was a princess parade through the mall!

Today was a mostly refreshing day. There was some concern from doctors about biopsy results, but we don't know anything yet. More information should come tomorrow.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Surgery #7

They were only able to close up one side of incisions, she doesn't have enough skin to close up all of it. They put in drain tubes and packed with a spongy material. The plan is to let Zoey recover until Tuesday and then they'll begin skin grafts. Pray that infection doesn't spread more so she doesn't have to undergo more surgery this weekend. Pray she continues to get more protein in her.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 6, another surgery after all

Unfortunately Zoey had to have surgery today after all. Not because infection was spotted, but because they wanted to start getting her incisions closed up so they don't begin to heal while they are open. Temporary closures began today, and they will try to fully close up tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Surgery #5

Zoey's surgery went very well today! The surgeon said he saw NO INFECTION and NOTHING had to be removed! They have not closed up the incisions yet though. Tomorrow the plan is to have the surgeon look for no more signs of infection, but they will give her a day of rest and no surgery! Her tired body needs this recovery time! Also tomorrow, the plastic surgeon will be coming in to talk about what reconstruction will look like. Friday's surgery will have one last clean out, and then begin the closing up of incisions and reconstruction. All I can say is GOD IS GOOD and hears our prayers! He has been faithful to see Zoey Bryan and Valorie through this, and now the worst is over! Praising Jesus! To Him be the glory! Thank you Father for your infinite love and healing power! {insert tears of joy and praise}. We are all overwhelmed with happy tears. Feels like a huge weight lifted off. Thank you to every person who has been praying for our girl, your support is cherished! On another note, Zoey is doing her best to get more nutrients. She is currently sipping on a PediaSure.

A message from Bryan

From Bryan: "In the past few years I have been diagnosed and beaten cancer, seen my wife roll her car, I as a pedestrian got hit by a car, and now Zoey is going through all of this. God worked miracles with us every time. Even as I type this he is working on Zoey's miracle. I truly believe that he is raising me up to be a soldier for Christ. I want to thank everyone for the love and support through all of this. Your prayers have been felt by my wife and I. Quick update on Zoey. She will go in again for surgery this morning and this time they will stitch a feeding tube in so she can't rip it out like the last one. Thank you all for your prayers and god bless you all. Thanks!"

You two were destined for greatness, and so are your three beautiful daughters! Sometimes we don't understand why He allows things to happen until it's over and we can look back and clearly see how every step was guided by His hands, and that He never once left your side. Also to see how the body of Christ is working in all this right now makes us stand in awe. Just to think of how many people, many we don't even know, are covering our girl in prayer! We couldn't go through such difficult times without the faith and hope that is Jesus Christ. I am excited to see how much more God blesses you in this life!

Prayer request for today: Surgery #5 is planned within the next 1-2 hours. Again we are hoping this is IT and the can begin to sew up all of Zoey's incisions. Jesus let them find no more reason to keep these incisions open. Let Zoey begin the next chapter of reconstruction and healing! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2 steps forward, 1 step back. Surgery #4

2 steps forward, 1 step back. The PICC line is in, which should make things a lot easier for Zoey to receive her antibiotics and pain meds. They did put in a feeding tube as well, which we knew was going to be a struggle. She really needs the nutrients in her body to be able to heal, but unfortunately the NG tube didn't last long before Zoey pulled it out. She is a feisty little fighter! This evening she is doing her best to try to eat; she was able to eat 2 chicken nuggets and an egg yolk. Way to go Zoey!

Surgery #4 today did find more infectious tissue. This is definitely disappointing news. We really believed that today would be it. Her poor little body is going to have to endure yet another surgery tomorrow. This infection needs to STOP spreading! Her body has been through enough, and it's time to begin healing and the next step of this crazy journey. Our hearts are hurting for her tonight.

On a brighter note, some encouraging news! They feel that for the time being she is safe enough to not have to be in ICU! Tonight Bryan was able to have some precious father-daughter time, carrying his baby girl to her new isolation room outside of ICU. <3

Prayer request from Valorie

Just got an update from Valorie:

"We really need prayer right now- Zoey is really struggling. She is in so much pain. She is having a hard time keeping an IV in and she doesn't understand what they are doing to her. She thinks they are torturing her. I just hate to see her suffering.... They finally decided to sedate her and got the IV in that way. They should have done that from the beginning. The last two and a half hours have been incredibly difficult, both for Zoey and us. Having to watch her go through this, holding her down, listening to her scream from mommy to help her is taking it's emotional toll. I need some prayer too. They will be putting in the PICC today so at least we know that things will be a bit easier on poor little Zoey, and the prayer is that hopefully there will not have to be anymore clean out surgeries after today and we can move on to reconstruction and healing".

A few things to be in prayer for today: Zoey will be having another surgery today to check again for infected tissue, and she will have surgery every day until no infection is found. As of last night there is no sign of infection in the bone, but this bacteria is still not controlled. We are believing that they will not find any more infection and they can start to close up all the incisions. She has not been able to eat on her own and she needs to or they will have to put in a feeding tube. Today they will also be putting in the PICC line, so pray that goes smoothly and successfully on the first try. This is going to be a very long road for Zoey, Bryan and Valorie. Please continue to pray for them, and for the team of doctors and nurses at Children's. Pray for Valorie...this is very difficult to watch her baby go through so much. Whenever you think of their family today, pray for peace. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 3, surgery #3

This morning Zoey was in a great deal of pain after a rough night. She unknowingly pulled out her IVs and went awhile without any pain medication. The redness on her leg continued to creep upward so they again had to make the incision larger, as well as another new incision on her thigh. Unfortunately they did find and remove more infected tissue in her thigh. The good news is they made cuts down to the bone, and NO infection was found in the bone! This is great news! Also, the worst part of the infection in her lower calf is receding! Praise Jesus!

However, with the find of more infected tissue today, this means another surgery is for sure going to happen tomorrow afternoon. Please uplift Valorie, she is have a very hard day. As you can imagine, this is such a gut-wrenching emotional journey. At the end of the day, Valorie was able to hold Zoey for awhile. This was a much needed moment for both Valorie and Zoey. Mama cried a sweet sigh of relief when they put her baby girl in her arms after a couple days of not being able to hold her girl. <3

Pray tonight that Zoey has an appetite. She needs some protein in her system. If she is unable to eat tonight, they are considering the option of a feeding tube. Praying for rest and peace tonight.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

2 surgeries on day 2

Late last night Zoey was transported to Seattle Children's Hospital by aid car when they thought she had a skin infection needing surgical attention, called Cellulitis. Zoey came out of surgery in the wee hours of the morning, along with the daunting diagnosis of Necrotizing Faciitis, otherwise known as a flesh eating bacterial infection. NF is a fast spreading disease that destroys the body's soft tissue, and can infect surrounding muscles, nerves, fat, and blood vessels. The cause of this infection is unknown, but thought to be from bacteria entering her body through either an insect bite or a small cut. She is on 4 strong antibiotics to fight this infection. The surgery was to remove dead infected tissue to help stop the spread of infection. Doctors prepared the family for the worst possible outcome, that Zoey could possibly need an amputation of her leg if infection could not be contained, and the more scary possibility of loss of life.

After the first surgery, Zoey was left sedated in preparation for another surgery. Redness on her leg continued to spread upward today, and surgery #2 was performed this evening. They had to extend her lower incision, and make another one in her thigh to check to check for more infected tissue. Praises to Jesus, NO additional infection was found. She will still have another surgery tomorrow, but at the moment no infection being found is very encouraging news! Sadly, Zoey is having a hard time with pain and discomfort coming out of this surgery. Her poor little body is undergoing quite the traumatic ordeal.

Surgery #3 is scheduled for mid-morning tomorrow. This is a very rapid spreading infection, therefore the need for aggressive treatment and close monitoring. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!