Heath loves team sports: baseball, basketball, football, you name it. The Tuttle family cherishes the support of a large team of family and friends in the good, fun times and in the hard times.

This site is to keep the beloved members of this team informed about the latest with our favorite all-star.

Monday, January 17 — Happy birthday, Heath!


Heath turns 14-years-old tomorrow, January 18!! How is that possible? I read something about the fact that he would be eligible for driver’s ed this summer. Seriously?

I think about how many times we have had to say that birthdate over the years for all of his medical stuff, especially in the last 6 months. Those of you who have had chronic medical stuff and lots of appointments, hospitalizations, pharmacy pick-ups, will know exactly what I mean. Sometimes you say that particular birthdate so much that it feels weird to say your own or your other family members’ birthdates and question whether or not you are correct.

We had all hoped that his birthday would be a point to mark in being done with treatment, able to do something super celebratory. And while it is true that he is recovering WELL, albeit slowly, and gaining strength and energy every day, this darn COVID mess and winter weather have hampered our celebration ideas.

SO, I think we’ve all decided that we’ll mark the day with some fun take-out and maybe a little golf cart ride at our friends’ house, but we’ll really figure out how to celebrate it in a few weeks. January birthdays are always a little tricky that way, made trickier in this particular year.

Goodness knows we have plenty to celebrate about this fella and his 14th birthday!!

In an unfortunate turn of events, darn old Omicron has paid our house a visit. Ella Brooks learned on Tuesday that she had been directly exposed on Monday afternoon. She immediately entered her room to isolate, just in case. She didn’t start to show any symptoms until Friday morning and tested positive later that day. (*This is a quick PSA to tell you that an immediate rapid test after exposure is NOT necessarily accurate.) She has been amazing–and with symptoms waning, she is due to be “released from captivity” on Wednesday with more days of masking when around people. Because she isolated so quickly, it appears so far that the rest of us are ok. Her room is cleaner and better organized than ever, and I think she is almost through ALL the seasons of NCIS. We cope how we cope.

While EB and Heath enjoyed the winter weather from their windows, Wilson and Rosie got to do a little snow/ice/sleet time. That meant that Chris and I also got a little time outside, which was mostly lovely, until it wasn’t. Winter in the south–we lost power for only about 2 minutes and even made some fun attempts at some “sledding” (you can ask Wilson about the video) while laughing a bit at the 24×7 frantic news coverage.

Chris, Heath, and I spent some time this morning organizing your incredibly generous donations for our “Medical Staff Appreciation” project.  We are overwhelmed, in the best way, folks.  From all over we have received treats and Starbucks cards and donations.  And there is more coming, we know.  Our new goal–150 bags!!  And some other much-needed donations to a few units. We will really be able to reach SO MANY staff members.  What an incredible gift.  As we opened and organized, we said through tears, “Wow, people are good.”  We must remember that as these days lead us to think the opposite.  There really is so much GOOD.

So, happy birthday to Heath Tuttle tomorrow. 
And happy day to all you good people.
Thank you for continuing to help and care for us and for the world.

Saturday, January 8 – Recovery and giving back

Heath continues to recover well–the effects of surgery and chemo are no small mountains to climb, but he is making great strides.  Surgery follow-up last week was great and we have basically been given the “we don’t need to see you unless something isn’t right” from that specialty.  We are dealing with getting immuno-suppressants and magnesium levels in the right place.  We have a cardiology quarterly check and the oncology next round of scans in a couple of weeks.  AND, today Heath got his COVID booster after being cleared by docs!!!  It was a special treat to run into a few friends from church, perhaps the first folks outside hospital and family that Heath has seen in person in a long time.

In the rising COVID numbers, I would like to take a moment to remind you all that getting COVID vaccines and boosters are not only for personal safety but for the safety of the larger population–folks like Heath who are immune-compromised and others with pre-existing conditions may not fare as well as healthier folks, even when they have had their shots.  And hey, if he can get a booster after all that he’s been through, use that as your inspiration!

We’re spending much of our time thinking about making the transition back to school and work, strengthening, and exercising.  More than once we’ve looked at each other and said, “I don’t know what to do with myself…”  It is a strange feeling to start to let your guard down when you have been living in “possible crisis mode” for months and months with no break.  I suspect many of you know this feeling from past experience.  Last Sunday Chris and I were both back in the pulpit–also a strange reality of “normal” (perhaps that is not the best way to describe preaching the word of God, but we are both pretty strange…)

SO, we’re finding ourselves turning to wanting to give back.  We promise we’re not going to go overboard right now (there is plenty of time for that as we move on), but we wanted to do a few things and to offer a few ways that you could help us:

1.  DONATE BLOOD–Chris and I are setting up appointments in the next week or so.  It is SO needed EVERYWHERE.  Heath ended up only having a few transfusions, but we promised ourselves that we would start back to regular donation after treatment.

2. HONOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS--wherever you live, find a way to thank those who serve as medical and emergency medical professionals.  They are EXHAUSTED and give so much of themselves to their work.  This article in The Atlantic explains why the Omicron wave is taking an even harder toll on healthcare workers than previous waves. From the article, “It [Omicron] might be less of a threat to individual people, but it’s disastrous for the health-care system that those individuals will ultimately need.” (read here)

We are working with some friends to provide a meal to some of those folks who specifically cared for Heath (THANKS and more on this soon) and we have a dream to make AT LEAST 50 “THANK YOU” BAGS for the staff of inpatient and outpatient Peds Oncology, Surgery and Cardiology at Duke.

Here is how you can help. 

We are prepared to do this ourselves, but would welcome your contributions by January 21st.

–50+ $10-15 Starbucks gift cards
–individually-wrapped nice chocolates or other candies
–tic-tacs or gum
–nice small lotions

*You can contact carolinetuttle@gmail.com if you have questions or are welcome to drop off something at our house (or send or contribute a little $).  If you wish to donate, please have anything to us by January 21st when we begin assembling thank you bags.

We did something like this quite a few years ago with our family at Thanksgiving and it meant so much to the medical staff.

This is how we’re beginning to give back to our exhausted medical community. We’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments for other ways to say thank you and support healthcare workers. Your suggestions might resonate with other readers and together our small contributions can create a large wave of gratitude.

Saturday, January 1 – A good start to 2022

So…I pray your 2022 is beginning well.

Ours is!

After a flurry of activity, we brought Heath home around 1pm today.

The week certainly had its ups and downs. WE felt great after the surgery, but Heath still has a lot of work to do post significant abdominal surgery. Everything is put back together, and the port is removed, but we had to manage a tough pain transition as well as, ahem…get those intestines functioning in a somewhat normal manner:) We juggled all of it with the help of wonderful family support. We can’t do any of this without them.

In the hospital, it was once again the gift of wonderful staff continuity that carried us. We made some new friends, but two of our very favorite nurses were working this week. One helped Heath and I navigate the pain and make a plan, and the other took amazing care of us the past two days, helping lock down all of the details that allowed us to leave comfortably. We took some walks and found out the unit has a nice view of Duke Chapel.

Two quick things.

  1. We are home, and so very excited, but know we have a lot ahead of us. Time and healing and adding weight and gaining strength. Follow up with both surgery and nephrology on Monday. Another appointment Weds. A planning meeting about a transition back to school plan in a few weeks. We already have more followup with cardiology planned, and will be working with oncology to put in place another scan that will hopefully confirm that we’re on solid ground to move forward. It is a lot. We are breathing, and so grateful, but are already making the turn to a new set of plans.
  2. Our healthcare workers are amazing. We have been touched by the skill and compassion of so many saints at Duke, from surgeons and department heads to an especially awesome woman who came to get our food orders this week. But they are all exhausted. A few hadn’t left the hospital for days. Our nurse in the recovery room on Tuesday told us more than 100 nurses were out because of having covid or being directly exposed, and every time the phone rang it was someone else. These people are sacrificing so much as they continue to care for all, and every unit is short-staffed. The pressure is immense. PLEASE do what you can to make their job easier, not harder.

We’re working on some ideas for some things we can do for these saints and will be back in touch this week. We’ll need your help.

Blessings to you all as 2022 begins. May it be filled with good health, special time with people you love, new things to learn and experience, and perhaps a newfound sense of equity and justice in the land.

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