life flight

My great grand niece, Reece Victoria Renae Balcerzak is a little girl who has coma a long way is just one year. Looking back on her first year of life can take her family from the deepest fear of loss to the greatest thrill of victory. Reece was originally due February 17, 2018, but on December 1, 2017, things went wrong in a scary way. While Reece’s parents, Katie and Keifer, were sitting on the couch talking about the future and the precious little life Katie was carrying, her water broke. They rushed to the hospital, where the staff prepared them for a ride in an ambulance to the airport, and a trip on Life Flight to Denver where they were taken to Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital. They had such different plans for this time in their lives.

On October 5, 2017, Katie and Keifer found out that their bundle of joy was going to be a girl. They couldn’t have been more excited, and now on December 1, 2017, they couldn’t have been more scared. After all, Katie was just 28 weeks pregnant. Birth now was just too soon. Keifer later wrote, “Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital has been an amazing place. The Doctors and Nurses are top notch and treat us like normal human beings. We have been told that they hope to keep Katie pregnant for another 5 weeks before she will be induced. However, it’s very scary because with her water being broken we all know she could begin labor at any given time. After Katie gives birth our baby girl will be here until her original birth day of February 17, 2018.” The goal of five more weeks was not to be, and on December 14, 2018, Reece made her entrance into the world. She was born at 2:23pm, weighing just 3 pounds 11 ounces. She was just 17¾ inches long.

That unplanned arrival marked the traumatic start to little Reece’s life, but her story did not end there. Reece received amazing care at Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital. The are like God’s miracle working network for babies, preemie or just sick. A very long 60 days later, Katie and Keifer left Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital, with very mixed emotions. They wanted to go home, but as any parent of a preemie will tell you, that carries with it the worry over your child. Nevertheless, before long, Reece’s sweet smiles and her darling personality soothed their worried minds, because it was obvious that their little girl was going to be just fine at home too. Reece has made amazing progress, and while she may still be a bit smaller than average, she is a happy, healthy one year old. Today is Reece’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Reece!! Have a great day sweet girl!! We love you!!

Sometimes in life, a person has the unique opportunity to basically go full circle. It’s not exactly like going back to your roots, because many people have done that…myself included. Sometimes though, as in the case with my youngest grandson, Josh Petersen and his dad, Kevin, you have the opportunity to go back to a birth event, and see it in an entirely different light. When Josh was born on September 9, 1998…five weeks early, his lungs just weren’t quite strong enough to maintain his oxygen levels without assistance. It was decided that he would be taken to Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado via Life Flight’s Learjet. Since his mother, my daughter Corrie Petersen has just given birth, after serious attempts to stop it, the doctors felt it would be best for her to spend the night in the hospital here. So it was decided that Kevin would fly to Denver with Josh, and my husband Bob and I would bring Corrie, and their oldest son, Chris to Denver the next day, when she was released. It was a traumatic event for everyone involved, especially for Chris, who was 2½ at the time.

Fast forward now…eighteen years and seven months later, to the present. After spending two weeks in the hospital in Denver, Josh went on to become a healthy young man, who wants to be a fire fighter and EMT…small wonder. Josh has always had a helpers heart, and has assisted in caregiving for years with great grandparents. He has a gentle way, and he is meticulous in proper caregiving. He has been taking fire fighting courses through the Boces program at his high school, and in the fall will continue working toward his degree in Fire Science. He will also be training in EMT in the very near future.

A few days ago, his dad talked to a friend, Clancy, from high school, who just happens to work for Life Flight now. They got on the subject of Josh, and Clancy offer to give them a tour. For Josh and for Kevin, this was like going full circle…not just to the hospital or the city Josh was born in, which he still lives in, but back to the service that took them on that life saving journey to Denver. They were given a tour of both the Life Flight Helicopter and the Life Flight Learjet. I can’t say for sure that this jet was the same as the one Josh and Kevin traveled in initially, but if not it was probably exactly like that one. For Josh, I’m sure this was another step in his journey to his career, but since he has heard his story before, I’m sure that was in the back of his mind too. For Kevin, I wonder if there was a memory of that worried feeling in the pit of his stomach, but then I’m sure there was also a feeling of gratitude, both for saving his son’s life, and giving him such a wonderful tour. Josh…well, he was excited to be right where he wants to be.

Brian Cratty, who is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner, is just as athletic as she is. They love to hike, ski, snow shoe, and a variety of other activities together. Last September, they hiked the Colorado Trail, which culminated in 14,000 foot peak. Jennifer told me that it was pretty difficult, and since that is quite a bit higher than the highest hike I have made, I can only imagine. From what I understand, Brian did very well with it, however. Maybe the fact that Brian is a pilot has something to do with being able to acclimate to those higher altitudes. Brian is retired now, but he spent a number of years flying for Wyoming Medical Center, where Jennifer is a nurse.

While Jennifer likes hiking more than bicycling, the same cannot be said of Brian. When we decided to take a group hike, Brian went off ahead on his bicycle. He crisscrossed all over the trail we were on, but oddly we only saw him once while we hiked. Brian and Jennifer love to spend time on the mountain, and a while back, they came into a sweet deal. They had been using a friends cabin, in exchange for keeping an eye on it, and since he hadn’t been back to Wyoming to use it in quite some time, and had the need for some money to pay medical bills, he offered to sell the cabin to Brian and Jennifer. And they jumped at the chance. Now they spend as much time as they can, at the cabin, fixing it up and just enjoying it. It is going to be really nice when they get it done.

Jennifer has been so happy since she met Brian, and we are all very happy for her. They really make a great team. He is a kindhearted and compassionate person, and that has been a blessing over the past few years, especially when the family lost their dad, Walt Schulenberg. I don’t know if his compassion has to do with his years of flying Life Flight or not, but I tend to think that he is just a very kind person, and he understands the needs of those around him. It is a wonderful trait to have. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

10676136_10203963098216709_6950743894931229963_nAfter her divorce, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Schulenberg Parmely met a man named Brian Cratty. Brian is a pilot and for many years his work was as a pilot for the Life Flight team. Brian and Jennifer are well suited to each other in many ways…such as their work in the medical field. They have spent their lives meeting the medical needs of others, but in very different ways. Jennifer as an Obstetrics nurse, and Brian as a Life Flight pilot. Brian has since retired from his job as a Life Flight pilot, and now is a private pilot, who still flies for others occasionally.

Brian and Jennifer are really good friends. They both enjoy the same things. They hike, ski, run, and they love to travel. They also spend quite a bit of time at their cabin on Casper Mountain. In fact, the mountain is such a big part of their lives that they had a house built a while back that is in the foothills of Casper Mountain. That way, they can go for a hike before the get going on their day, and they don’t have to go very far to do it. In fact it was the love of hiking that we all share, that placed so many of the right people with me when I fell on the Bridle Trail and broke my shoulder. Each one of those people played their part, and I will be forever grateful. Brian and I also have something else in common…physical therapy. He recently had to have Rotator Cuff surgery done, and was taking IMG_1234physical therapy too…something that neither of us wanted to have in common…ever, but there it is. I have since been released, and I’m sure he has too, and I hope his shoulder is doing as well as mine is, because the shoulder is more important than we realize sometimes.

Brian is rather a quiet man, and tries not to be intrusive on family matters, but I think I speak for everyone, when I say that we all consider him an important part of this family. I suppose that the longer he is in this family, the less an outsider he will feel…or maybe, like many people, he will always be a quiet man. I am often that way, so I can completely relate to it. I think some people are just listeners. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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