Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012

I meant to post our annual Christmas letter earlier.  But then I haven't finished sending Christmas cards either.   (Well, almost all but local cards were in the mail before Christmas, which I felt was a noble accomplishment with the little free time I had.)  I love cards and letters so much during the holiday season that I really did not want to fail to send our cards.   If you don't enjoy end-of-the-year summaries, just skip this.  

                                                                      Woodsong Christmas 2012
Dear Friends and Relatives,
Here are some of the many happy happenings have brightened our lives this past year:  
Family gatherings at Easter and Thanksgiving,
Thanks to Tara and Bryan Archibald, three great grandsons to ride the tractor with Gerald and to charm Gma Sue,
Gerald’s breakfasts with his brothers and trips to softball games with nephew DuWayne,  
Gerald taking grandson Sam to  Knoxville to see University of Tennessee play basketball,
Celebrating Gerald’s birthday by going to Oxford, MS, and seeing the University of Georgia softball team sweep the three games there and seeing the three great grandsons there,
Sue’s traveling to Nashville with  Jeannie to Leslie’s senior recital and later to her bridal shower with the Eiler family, 
A wonderful May visit from Gerald’s sister Ernestine and her daughter Leah and little Emmy, 
Leslie and Mike’s college graduation from Belmont and Geri Ann’s graduation from Oconee High,
Having Geri Ann surprised with the National Softball Player of the Year trophy in an interview by Jessica Mendoza, and then watching the ESPN awards week which she and her parents were sent to in California,
Leslie and Mike’s wedding at our church in Crab Orchard with a party afterward in the barn on Brian and Mary Ellen’s new place-- the former Harold and Novella Rix home, 
Jeannie’s successful trip riding her bicycle from the Wisconsin border down to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, 
Five grandkids here to help in Vacation Bible School at Center -- Cecelie (8th grade and violin player) Sam (sophomore and trombone player), Brianna (senior and clarinet player), and our two college sophomores--Elijah at Illinois State and Trent at Lincolnland,
Erin’s becoming assistant softball coach at North Texas State College in Denton, 
Seeing the fall colors and eating fish on the floating restaurant on the Ohio River,
Beautiful Brianna being in the Homecoming court at Lincolnwood High this month,
Other blessings too numerous to mention.
Nevertheless, our lives are drenched with sadness as we have had to witness the devastation that multiple sclerosis has produced for our daughter Katherine. Her suffering is difficult to watch, and yet she has to endure it--not just watch it.  Please pray that researchers might find a cure for this disease. 
We struggle to remember that Apostle John tells us he heard a loud voice saying, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will  be no more death or mourning or crying for pain…” Revelation 21: 4.  That verse is my scripture present to you. 
Love and Merry Christmas,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Katherine's Home from the Hospital

People are asking, so I better post to let you know that Katherine came home finally on Thursday.  We were originally told that she could come home Tuesday, which made me very nervous because I thought it seemed too soon although she was out of ICU on Monday even though they had no new room to move her to until Tuesday.  But we made all the arrangements to bring her home as we had been told.  In fact, they had even checked with the doctor to see if she could be out by noon to keep her 2 p.m. dental appointment. He said that was possible. When I got to the hospital early Tuesday, I learned that her newest INR reading showed her blood was too thin, so she would not get out after all.

I arrived at the hospital as early as possible Wednesday morning assuming she would be able to come home that day.  Someone unofficially told us her blood level was ok.  (Wrong. Actually it was still a wee bit high.) Her hospitalist doctor was off that day, and we waited for the substitute.  And waited. We were told he was on our floor before noon—but we never saw him if he was. Gerald was at home poised to drop everything and  go get her van as soon as we phoned him—the same as he had waited on Tuesday.  Finally late in afternoon, we gave up on being allowed to take Katherine home.  Actually I was not in any hurry, but she was. I felt she was safer in the hospital, but I felt sorry for her wanting to go home so would have welcomed that too.  At 6:15 that evening, I decided my day had been as long as I needed; and if the doctor came, Katherine could talk to him alone, which of course she did.

Again I arrived early on Thursday.  She was given the ok to go home, and we started gathering stuff and planning. It was amazing how much staff she had accumulated in a week’s time. Her dental appointment had been postponed until Thursday afternoon when we thought she was getting out on Wednesday.   Jeannie had texted that she would be down to help, and that took a big worry off my mind.  Gerald brought her home and drove her to the dentist in time for her appointment. I went to the drug store and filled two prescriptions, and called her aide that we were home.  The aide  came to help, and a friend brought a casserole.  I eventually went home to rest so I could come back with Gerald and Jeannie to help them get her in bed.  Jeannie spent the night.

The aide came Friday morning to get her out of the bed with the Hoyer, and when the aide went home, I came in.  Jeannie again came to help Gerald with the Hoyer and to spend the night again making the necessary adjustment that Katherine's pain requires.  Jeannie had spent some of her daytime sleeping time shopping for what she hoped might be more comfortable night wear for Kathy. I have been home both nights by 11, and I can sleep late again in the morning as I have the last two days.  Jeannie will have to return to the northern part of the state tomorrow as soon as she rests up for the drive. I will miss her.

Tonight’s blog should let everyone know that as far as the blood clots are concerned, Katherine is doing well. The multiple sclerosis  really does not seem any worse because of them. Since the MS and the constant pain was bad enough before the clots, we are grateful symptoms have not increased. That is a good thing.

We try to get daily texts to Katherine’s siblings, but I really do not have time to do more than that.  So just know if I do not blog or do not phone, things are going as well as we can hope, but there is just not time for much communication.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Getting Acquainted with the Modern ICU

 Since Thanksgiving, I have been away from home many days or nights at Katherine’s house. I have always dropped in to help some, but lately aides have had doctor appointments or other problems causing them to need to be off and we haven’t been able to get subs.  The night aide, who was coming at 12:30 a.m. after she got off of a full time job has had to quit, which I certainly understand. She would go home to take care of four adorable children after her two jobs were over, and I worried how in the world she was able to stand that schedule very long.

On Thursday, Katherine had what she thought was an asthma attack. She continued to have trouble breathing and was wearing her oxygen supply.  During that night she was aching all over and I finally decided she must have the flu.  Although I had heard a home health worker weeks ago say she would give Katherine a flu shot, I just found out that day that had not happened.  I don’t know why. That was a difficult night.

Her morning aide phoned both her primary doctor and the home health agency, and both said Katherine should go to the emergency room, where she spent the rest of the day getting tests, and then they admitted her to the ICU upstairs when they found out she had blood clots in her legs and lungs.  She was soon wired up with cords and monitors all over her, and those wires grew in greater numbers yesterday.

Needless to say, it has been a scary two days as they did a procedure with medicines to blast the clots and also put in filters to prevent any more clots going from her legs to her heart.  The plan today was to do a scan to see how successful they had been dissolving  or lessening the clots and to repeat this procedure if necessary. We received good news this afternoon when the scan showed much progress. The second “blasting” would not be given...At that point Gerald came on back to the farm.  

So then the nurses were to take out something they called slips from yesterday’s procedure and they gave her a pain pills to prepare her as they were to press hard for 30 minutes to stop  bleeding after the removal—and Katherine was to rest for three hours afterwards.  I started to go to the ICU waiting room when that started, but Katherine said she would rest better knowing I was going home to rest.  Since it was already getting dark and pouring rain, I was glad to do so.

Often when it rains at funerals, I comfort myself that nature is grieving.  As I drove home through the downpour today, a heavy rain which is so welcome to the farms and rivers here, I felt nature was joining in the celebration that we had received good news.
I was amazed at the freedom and liberality of visitation in the modern ICU.  I thought in ICU that family was restricted to 10 or 15 minute visits every two or three hours. (Maybe they still are for some conditions.) From the first, they allowed two visitors throughout the entire day with us leaving when asked because nurses had to give meds or other care.

Her three high school girl friends were there Friday when they moved her in and they let them all three stay!  After being up the previous night, I had gone to the farm to take a nap as I planned to spend the night since the hospital allowed people to stay during the night when she had been admitted there before. 

However, that was the one thing ICU did not allow, but very nearby was a quite comfortable ICU waiting room with rest rooms and lockers, coffee, and coin machines. The chairs pulled into beds and were being well used.  I did not sleep there, but I had to spend enough time there to get acquainted and feel comfortable. When her girl friends brought a beautiful bouquet matching the lovely lavender gift bag, the flowers could not be taken into her room.  Leah told me to take the arrangement home, but I suggested we leave it there so all of us and the others in the room could enjoy that beauty. (The gift was a sweet singing angel with three blue birds on her shoulders.  Leah laughed that the three birds represented her three bird-brained friends.)

I could not have disagreed more that those three young women were bird-brained.  They were my three angels throughout this weekend—making Katherine laugh and helping to adjust her arms and feet and comforting me in the ICU waiting room.   (We had told our daughters not to make the long trip down yet as we might need them more later.)

Anyhow that is why I have not been on the Internet.  So I decided I better blog tonight while I could.