Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

(from Jenny)

On this New Year's Eve, we find ourselves full of gratitude and breathing a sigh of relief (if I can be honest) that we're closing the book on 2010.

It has been a sweet end to the year for our family. Christmas was great... we celebrated with everyone together, sharing food, laughter, and watching the little ones tear open their presents. My dad was emotional during our time together, but in that "laughter-through-tears" kind of way.

I remember thinking last year at Christmas (right after my dad had received his diagnosis) that we all seemed to enjoy the holidays more, knowing that the future was a little more uncertain. This year was no exception. It's been a long, arduous battle, and these last few months have been the toughest of all, physically, for Dad. We all were (and are) grateful that God keeps giving us special memories together as a family unit. At this point, we'll take any excuse (Thanksgiving, Christmas, a Thursday night) to get together and just hang out!

A lot has happened over the last few weeks as Dad settles into his new routine since returning from the Mayo Clinic. He's on many new medications. Before surgery, his extremely low blood pressure was a major concern. Post-op, it's been the exact opposite problem. Most of his new meds are for uncontrollably high blood pressure. Unfortunately, with all the new drugs, he is fatigued and somewhat "foggy". Even as recently as yesterday, his medications were altered once again to continue battling that blood pressure and try to relieve some of those side effects.

He continues dialysis 3 times each week and leaves there feeling exhausted (they say it's like working an 8 hour day). Perhaps soon his body will begin to adjust to this rigorous routine... we have some good friends in this field of medicine who have encouraged us that it will - we would appreciate your prayers for this to happen!

Three other days each week, a physical therapist comes out to the house to help Dad regain some of the muscle tone he has lost over the past few months. The PT is a really nice guy, which is a blessing. On their short walks around the kitchen counter, I have overheard him asking my dad questions about the grandkids... smart motivator, isn't he?

Next week, Dad has an appointment to discuss a surgical procedure to insert a permanent access into his arm for dialysis (it's called a fistula). From what we've all been told, it's very important for him to receive dialysis through this fistula instead of his current arrangement (I have no idea how it's administered currently, only that it has a much higher risk of infection and is not optimal).

In other news, this was also a hard year on my parents' plumbing system. It revolted this week, leaving toilets, tubs, showers, floors, and sinks flooded with well... you get the picture. My dad is usually credited as the "funny" one, but my mom had us in tears of laughter as she stood there, sleeves rolled up with a plunger in one hand and a gallon of Clorox in the other, and deadpanned something about it being a fitting end to 2010.

(By the way, I might have just been fired from ever updating this blog again!)

Let me recover by saying this...

We could not have made it through the past year without the grace of Jesus and your outpouring of love. I marveled as I sat on my parents' couch this week and poured through the various cards and emails you've sent them this year. Long letters, Bible verses, words of encouragement, personal visits - we are ALL gaining strength and courage from your friendship.

I think my mom is going to have a hard time putting away the Christmas decor. This year, every ornament and tinsel and wreath and bow was hung by many hands of many friends who "surprised" her with a decorated house when they returned from Minnesota. It's a great picture of what everyone has done for us this year.

You have traveled a long, long road with my mom & dad this year, and as he's asked you to do in the past, I'll ask you again... please keep up the great work!

Happy New Year 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Beginning Dialysis"

(Friday, December 17, 2010) “Beginning Dialysis"
I can definitely make things interesting. We returned home from Minnesota last Wednesday. Friday, I developed severe lower quadrant pain and we called EMS. I was admitted to the local hospital until Sunday. I had really hoped to stay out of hospitals a little longer.

It appears after many tests and examinations that nothing had “broken down” and the pain was a “normal” part of the recovery from my abdominal surgery in Minnesota.

Speaking of Minnesota, boy, did we get out right in time. It is much better watching a blizzard on the weather channel from the comfort of my recliner than the window of a hotel. I can barely handle the cold weather we have had in Clearwater. The low 30s are bad. Below zero is ridiculous!

These have been difficult days for Patra and me as we try to adjust to a new normal – dialysis three times per week. We again solicit your prayers and ask that you “not grow weary in well doing.” Please keep praying for us! Numerous times THIS WEEK God has demonstrated His love to us through your prayers, cards, visits, e-mails, etc. God showed His love to us through His visitation to earth – I’m so glad He didn’t forget us. We appreciate the fact the you haven't forgotten us.

I am hooked up to a dialysis machine for 4 hours/3 days a week so much of our time is spent preparing for, traveling to, and receiving dialysis. It is a much more difficult adjustment than I thought it would be. I am exhausted at the end of dialysis.

Over the next several days we have a number of important visits with doctors. These are my first meetings with them since my return from Mayo. I am really interested in their input into this RARE AND RADICAL WORLD.

The grandkids continue to be great therapy – no matter how difficult a day may be, their antics and stories bring smiles.

Christmas really is about the best GIFT that was ever given. God sent His Son - the greatest gift that was ever given. Wise men brought GIFTS. What gift can I bring this year?

I’ve asked Jenny to send a Christmas card to everyone through the blog next week and to include pictures.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, December 10, 2010

Home!

Friday, December 10, 2010
(updated collaboratively by Jenny & Emily)

They are home! Mom and Dad are home!

After 31 days in Minnesota, Mom & Dad arrived home safely on Wednesday evening. Adam & Jenny's families were excited to meet them at the airport with hugs and helping hands. But the real welcome started about an hour after the flight landed.

As we pulled our cars into Mom & Dad's neighborhood, we were all greeted by dozens of neighbors and friends holding signs, shouting greetings, and cheering them on as they traveled the last few hundred feet toward HOME!

On our parents' insistence, the crowd of well-wishers gathered inside for a few moments and sang two songs at dad's request. Snippets of the evening's events were caught on video... the quality of the pictures isn't great, but the quality of the hearts of these amazing people - well, it leaves us speechless.



After such an amazing welcome home, we enjoyed a quiet dinner together and then left Mom & Dad to get settled in for their first night back in their own house. We knew they needed sleep as Thursday was going to be a busy day - Dad's first day of dialysis here.

Apparently, it was a rough day, but we are confident that over time it will get a bit easier and they'll find the best "fit" for Dad's needs. That is something they would love your prayers for, as his next appointment for dialysis will be Saturday.

The challenges of the day were overshadowed by the arrival Thursday evening of Emily & Austin. They couldn't come home Wednesday evening because Austin had a preschool Christmas performance Thursday morning at school. He gladly obliged his Grandma and Grandpa with a full performance of all his songs when he got to town, though!

After two nights of sweet serenades from friends, neighbors, and grandchildren, Dad needed a little break from giving this week's update himself. We hope he'll be back to the blog soon. After all, we know how transparently his heart shows when he can write these things himself. And we can only imagine that he has a lot he wants to share.

For now, just know that the overwhelming emotion from the kids (and grandkids) this week is a great big old sigh of relief and a sense that things are just a little more "right" in the world because Mom & Dad are HOME!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Blizzard Warnings

Friday, December 3, 2010 "Blizzard Warnings!"
We are very homesick. I can't wait to get home to "sunny and warm" Clearwater! The talk today during my dialysis was about a possible "BLIZZARD" tomorrow. Are you kidding me? a BLIZZARD! I haven't been outside in weeks but am still freezing. People in Minnesota think hurricanes and alligators are scary - and they may have a BLIZZARD!

Our week wasn't dull - I'm getting good at keeping things exciting. We were released from the hospital last Thursday. Saturday morning I had a significant amount of bleeding. We went to the hospital to get checked out and they told me I "had bought myself a new admission and a colonoscopy." People no longer respect promises - I had my regular colonoscopy in August 2009 and was "promised" I wouldn't need another for 3 years!

Seriously, colonoscopies are nothing - everyone seems to agree the preparation is the worst part. This time the preparation caused some nausea and vomiting so Sunday was not a fun day. Monday morning I was taken down for the procedure and by Monday night we knew the bleeding was not a major problem. One of the concerns was that the bleeding might be caused by the amyloidosis attacking my digestive system. It was quite a relief mentally to know the doctors do not think that has happened. I added 4 more days to my hospitalization total and was released on Tuesday afternoon.

Please continue to lift us up in prayer. God has been so faithful and I don't like admitting when I have a "faith crisis." I totally lost my focus one night early this week and convinced myself in the middle of the night that I would never make it home to Clearwater to see my kids or grandkids again. I'm sure it was precipitated by a discussion with the doctors upon my re-admission to the hospital as to whether or not I wanted them to use "heroic measures" to resuscitate me if I "coded" during any procedure. When you lose your focus and your faith falters, you begin to imagine things - I convinced myself the doctors knew something about my condition they didn't want to tell me and that's why we had that discussion.

Now that I am again an "outpatient," I go to the Mayo Clinic every day for appointments with doctors, physical therapy or dialysis. Wednesday I had physical therapy - I did not do well. I'm having a difficult time with balance.Candidly, I'm not performing well with the strength or walking either. I've got some real helpers in Clearwater who have come out in the past to encourage and walk with me in the mall. They helped me recover from the bone marrow transplant. I'm looking forward to seeing them and having them help me again. Right, friends?

I have physical therapy this morning (Friday) and depending upon when we travel HOME I will have one or two more physical therapy sessions here.

My next dialysis is Saturday and a Mayo social worker is coordinating with a dialysis center in Clearwater to make sure I am set up for dialysis when we GET HOME.

Patra may take away my role praying for our meals. Lately, I can't get passed praying for the kids and grandkids without getting emotional. She can't get passed me being emotional. Meanwhile, the food is getting cold!

When we met with the nephrologist yesterday, he discussed my staying in Rochester another week to allow a vascular surgeon to install a "fistula"in my arm which I will use for dialysis. I told the doctor I didn't think I could handle any more "procedures" right now. I am down to 150 pounds and frankly need a little break from the probing and cutting. An additional procedure would mean an additional delay in getting HOME. I told him I was "homesick" and that I was confident I could find a qualified vascular surgeon in Clearwater.

Also today (Friday) I am scheduled for "autonomic reflex testing." Monday we meet with the doctor to discuss the findings. I'll be honest with you - I have no idea what it is about or why I am taking it. Once the doctors told me it wasn't "invasive" I was satisfied that everything else would work out. Monday's meeting with the doctor may be an important one. Please pray specifically that the doctors will say we can GO HOME!

Father, you are so faithful. Help me not to lose my focus - to keep my eyes on You! If it is Your will, I pray that we can go home soon and continue my recovery there.

We love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know. God Bless!
Until next Friday - and hopefully from WARM, SUNNY Clearwater where the only place they talk about BLIZZARDS is at the Dairy Queen! God willing.

Bob
 

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