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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Camping, Creativty, and Courage

Mom and Dad, the day after the wedding of my youngest nephew, summer before last. This photo taken in my older brothers and SIL's back yard where we all just chilled after the wedding, the rehearsal dinner. We were celebrating hubby and my Anniversary (35), younger brother's Mike and his wife Dee's Anniversary and both of their birthdays, AND the end of chemo for young Janet...many of you will remember my niece Janet and her battle with bone cancer.

Remember the good times, which aside from my nature; Mom said in some of her last moments.

Mike, Mom and Dad and I were camping locally on an Island that we got to from our small fishing boat. Took several trips to get the 4 of us, and our camping equipment there. The Island was soft and sandy and we were the ONLY people on it. Soooooooo cool. (older brother Chuck was working and couldn't go). Mike and Dad fished and Mom and I set up camp, made dinner and did our thing. Sleeping on the soft sand in our tent was comfy.....

Mom and Dad were up having their morning coffee at the picnic table, Mike and I racked out. Next up me. Sorta. As I started out of the tent (no doubt to make my way to the woods to go potty), bees surrounded me. Quickly I zipped the tent shut and yelled at Mike to wake up. Mom and I decided, with Mikes help the bees were waking up. The bees that lived in the sand, that were asleep when we pitched our tent. So, I jumped back in the tent to help Mike hit the floor of the tent to stun or better yet kill those bees. Mom and Dad were at the ready to drop the tent poles the minute we escape. Naturally, we're all moving fast; and laughing.

Whew, made it. Bees stunned, escape made, tent downed super fast and moved quickly off the nests.

Some how, we all managed not to get stung.

I know anyone who knows me is immediately thinking, knitting and crocheting. Sure, Mom taught me to knit when I was very young and that will always be with me. She didn't teach me to crochet; but......being creative is more than that. Being creative with how you cook, how you stretch the family budget to get the most for the dollar. You know, look in the fridge...not much there. Take a look in the cupboards...even less and still make a meal so the family you love will have something to eat. And really not just something; but a balanced meal. Being creative means taking clothing and furniture and making something worthwhile from it.

The dining room table still in use at Mom and Dad's house is a table Mom rescued from the curbside when we were young. We lived in half a duplex, a rented duplex. The older woman next door had died and her place was being emptied. She was the owner. A table carried from her basement in parts (legs and top separate, with burn holes we were told had been used by the guys to play poker) held possibilities for my Mother. She got help to carry the table to our basement. She spent months working on it. Cleaning it, sanding it, filling the holes with wood putty, staining it, and using a nail made what looked like a knot hole in a couple of larger holes. She and Dad put the table together. It's Oak, it's beautiful. The family ate more meals there then I can count. I don't remember how many leaves there are; but a huge number. As the family grew with us kids getting married; we could still all sit around this table at Thanksgiving.
Fine china, linen table cloth and the family around that table is a memory I will never forget.

The courage Mom showed at the hospital is something to marvel at. She never cried, not when they put in 3 different chest tubes, not when she wasn't able to speak due to a respirator being inserted a 2nd time, not when she watched them hang the 16th unit of blood, or when they had to get ultrasound to help place her 4th arterial line because her veins were so bad. In her long 7 week hospital stay, she never ate a meal. She had a feeding tube and went weeks without water except for a swab in her mouth, or an occasional pop cycle. When she had so much fluid in her system that it oozed out her pores she showed courage. When she had the opposite problem and had so many tubes/hole that she drank a swallow of juice and it came out her side, she showed courage. When she made the decision that it was time to stop all the medical intervention; she showed courage. Not a tear did she shed.

Just some of the things I will always remember that start with the letter C.

Love you Mom

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tribute to Mom........continued

Please flip back for a picture of Mom and the beginning of my tribute...alphabetical in style.

Bread, Mom used to make homemade bread and rolls when we were younger. She often doubled or trippled the recipe. One Sat we were busy working in the kitchen and she had truly undone herself with the number of different items she made. I think she planned to freeze some items, and some were for gifts for a neighbor. However, after all the hard work she realized she'd forgotten to check the date on the yeast. When items came from oven........they were hard as bricks and all had to be pitched. The dates were no good on the yeast. All day long she worked, all that work, the time, the energy, and the cost of the flour etc. She just laughed and said..........that'll teach me to pay more attention. One item she made was a tea ring, seeing one, eating one always makes me think of that Sat. so long ago.
Bernie, a favorite neighbor in our growing up years. Bernie and Mom often shared morning coffee, chatted when they hung clothes on the line, picked up things for each other when a store run took place. Bernie had a daughter, Pam a year younger than me. We were very good friends and the 4 of us would make a shopping venture once or twice a year from our little town of Marion, Ohio to the big city Columbus for the day. That was quite an adventure. We'd leave in the morning, shop, do lunch, shop some more than pick up the car in the parking garage at Lazarus (local store that preceeded Macey's). One day in the garage waiting our turn a little boy handed me peanuts. I'd never had nuts in the shell, and so popped the whole thing in my mouth and began chewing.......everyone got a good laugh out of that. Poor little girl from Hicksville.....live and learn. Bernie passed some time back, bet she and Mom are catching up.

Again my deepest appreciation for all who've visited, left comments, sent emails, left hugs and prayers for Mom and my family. All have been appreciated. I've begun visiting you, my blogging friends; but it may take a little while to reach you all. Please know, even if I've not yet made it to your page to read and see what you're up to; it's not because you've been forgotten.

**Homespun you've left several very nice comments. I am unable to click on your name and go to your blog; please leave contact info when you return.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Tribute to My Mother!

This photo was at my Mother's 80th birthday party last summer. This was before things went bad for her. She was able to get around, though a bit limited due to the knee pain. She was happy here, and this is the way I choose to remember her. Happy! Her life after this was a downward spiral that soon was completely out of control. I do miss her; but am so relieved to know she is once again Happy and pain free, no more suffering.
The alphabet begins with the letter A
Three words come to mind that start with the letter A that apply and bring back memories of Mom.
ADVICE, Mom gave me some really good advice when I got married, never go to bed mad. Just after her decision to be done with the tests, the tubes etc, she gave this same advice to my youngest nephew (her youngest grandson). He's a newly wed, and she told both of them these were her words of wisdom.
AFGHAN, Most of you know I knit and crochet and have made hundreds of afghans. Some were wedding gifts, some Christmas presents, some for new babies, but mostly my afghans have been donated to various charities over the years. From here forward, each and every afghan I make will keep her memory alive. Her gift to me was teaching me the very rudamentary stitches so very long ago.
APPLES, Mom and Dad had a tradition of picking apples in the fall and dividing them among us kids. It's been a few years since Mom was able to walk well enough to do that; but fresh picked apples and apple cider in the fall.........this too is a fond memory I'll have of her.
(I've got several afghans in the works right now, way behind working on them. But, when I do get back to it, rest assured she'll be with me. I have 2 knitted baby blankets in the works, one children's afghan, an afghan for a coworker, a Christmas afghan for the family exchange for Christmas 09.)
Many many thanks for all the nice comments and emails, the hugs, the prayers. They are all very much appreciated.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Peace, at last

My Mother passed today, peacefully with the love of her life, Daddy at her bedside. I'm so relieved to know she'll suffer no more. My heart breaks for him, they've been married 61 years last August. My two brothers, their wives, and my husband and I were there; though not in the room with them. I think their relationship was so very special that is nice they had those final moments together.

Daddy and I had gone this am to make arrangements. She knew we were putting things in order and I believe this too gave her comfort.

I'm grateful she's now at peace, and have begun thinking about how to best help Daddy through this next trial. It's Spring, a time of growth and renewal------he's a consumate gardner and I pray he'll find comfort in planting and tending his garden.

Thank you all for the continued support you've given, I truly appreciate it---more than I know how to express.


Sunday, April 12, 2009


Ash Wednesday is the night Mom went into the hospital and had emergency surgery, a few days ago Good Friday the doctor told us she would not heal. I asked if hospice was appropiate and his answer-- we've crossed the line where we're preventing her death instead of prolonging her life. We consulted Hospice and today Easter Sunday will be her first day under full Hospice Care. Once papers were signed yesterday it took til 8:30 last night to physically get the move done. She is very much at peace with this decision; though it was a difficult one for the family to come together on. I take comfort in knowing her decision is the right decision; though I say it with a heavy heart.

I hope each and everyone of you spend this special day with loved ones.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Comfort Care, Do Not Resuscitate

After my last post, thngs continued downward. Her breathing was labored, shallow, vitals all over the place in both directions high and low. Blood sugars irratic, pain level increasing, flow from the chest tube very minimal to where they decided to remove it. Feeling that it might help her be more comfortable. The decision made that she was very depressed and in lots of pain and the talk of taking back to ICU only highten that depression. So, family discussion and DNR order written. The doctor felt if the tube went in, it would never come out and thats not what anyone wants. Once the decision was made and she was able to discuss her wishes, see family members she became more calm and that seemed to help her breathing. Changes in her meds with the inclusion of a mood elevator also helped; not only her-- but family as she looked better. The tough part is is it an elusion? Her vitals are better, her breathing was better, they took out the G tube also. Her hemaglobin continued to drop farther and got down to 8 again; 2 more units of packed cells were given. This now makes 12 or 14 units of packed cells she's been given; so clearly the bleeding is still an issue. After the cells are given she has a little more color, a little more energy and her level actually got to 12 one day, the next day it dropped to 11.5, wonder what it will be today. If the count levels out or maintains, they may feel the bleeding is coming under control; but we've been many times before. Confusion and pain increase when hemaglobin drops.

Yesterday, they decided to see if she could tolerate any food. This is the 3rd attempt since surgery 7 wks ago. She had small amounts of hot tea at all 3 meals yesterday with some very thin diluted brooth, a little Italian Icy. She didn't throw up, or have more pain as she has in the past; but it's too soon to tell if her stomach is going to process it this time.

Her partially calapsed lung has worsened in the past 2 days, and yesterday 2 Interns/Residents were talking about chest tubes again. I told them she's already had 3, and I didn't think she'd let them put another one in. They wrote orders for an occlusion dressing at the site of the last chest tube to hopefully prevent air from the outside from entering, feeling that might help the situation. They'll do another chest x-ray today. The other possible reason for the calapsed lung would be a hold in the lung; but that isn't showing up on x-ray.

She's so very tired of this all, depressed. I don't think I can count the number tests, tubes, holes etc. her poor body's been through.

Thanks again to all for your continued support both here via comments, emails etc. I truly appreciate each and every hug, good vib, and prayer.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sunday....I just don't what to think, Day #40

Not much new from Mom's bedside there at the hospital. Hemaglobin still being watched carefully to assertain how much bleeding is going on, and whether or not things are recovering in that area. She was 11 something after the last 2 packed cells given about 5 days ago, she dropped to 10, which while to low seems to be leveling out. She's coughing up less blood. The chest tube drained quite a bit out of her lungs for the first day and has slowed down since then. The color is less bloody, so that would appear to be a good sign.........on the other hand, they say her lungs aren't clear and were hoping to get more fluid out. Respiratory therapy treatments continue around the clock every 4 hours. Her vitals.......well, we wish we knew. One minute they're bad, then they get a little better for a few minutes, then go bad again. Initially yesterday am, she looked very bad and was in lots of pain. Later in the day, her pain level seemed better and she was more responsive and better color.

Each day as we walk down the hall to enter her room, we wonder how that day will go. It's sure been a long hard hospital stay. I've been pretty impressed with the level of caring nurses she's had over this long haul. Some better than others, human nature; but many who truly care and help not only her, but us family members as well.

Continued thanks for your prayers and support.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Today, Day 36! Better or Worse?

The last 4 days have been hectic, emotionally up and down; though mostly down. Mom continued to bleed, continued to throw up blood and became increasingly more uncomfortable. Her breathing became more labored, hemaglobin was up and down though more down than up. She received more packed cells.

Once again the surgeons thought about doing an endoscopy to try and determine the source of the bleeding. Once again they scheduled and cancelled it. This now makes the 4th one scheduled, and 2nd one cancelled. This wasn't communicated very well, and there seemed to be confusion to do it or not.

Enter, Dr. Iscabar!!! A wonderful doctor and communicator. FINALLY! She's a Pulmonary and Intensivist. She explains she's got too much fluid in her lungs to do endoscopy and that would heighten the risk, she ups her Lasix's, ulters the IV's, and indicates she needs closer watching. Transfers her to A step down unit (where she went right after being ICU), a much lower nurse to patient ratio, more equipment etc. Further she indcates the primary difficulty needing immediate attention is her lungs, full of liquid, the need to stop the throwing up, emphysema being a major problem. Cardiologist get involved and the decision is made for added suction to get some of the junk out of her stomach, insert a chest tube (now her 3rd one) to drain off this liquid (which appears to have lots of blood in it) from her lungs. They did all this yesterday. She's in pain, but actually is breathing and resting better. Her hemaglobin is starting to recover.

For the time being, status quo. Everything seems to be monitored more closely and she makes rounds more often and communicates and toes and fingers crossed; we might be seeing some minimal improvement. She's far from out of the woods; but...maybe a light at the tunnel can be observed.

Thanks to all for your continued support and prayer, all is much appreciated. Managed a few updates here on the blog with my charity numbers. My yarn bag stays with me at the hospital. Most recently, I've made 6 pair of booties and 5 infant hats.

I hope to get some pictures proceesed to update the bridge, so please check in later there. Would love you all to pop over to my SIL, Jan's site (some of you have before), to see her really awesome new blog banner. We're both pretty excited about it. Badges for both in the right side bar.