Friday, February 25, 2011

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad

"Two Out of Three Ain't Bad"
(from Jenny)

Last week, I left you with my parents' three goals for this week:

Sitting, Standing and Blog-Writing

Two out of three ain't bad. Since recovering from the surgery he had last week, my dad is able to sit up again without fainting. And although he can't stand up in his own strength, once he's helped up, he's able to use a walker (and my mom) to walk from the couch to the bed or wheelchair.

Dad was released from the hospital last Saturday and has spent this week recovering and trying to regain some strength. It's slow-going. While it appears the surgery was a success (the kidneys seem to have been shut down), he is incredibly weak and a bit "fuzzy" these days. The doctors seem to think he'll become more clear-headed as the residual effects of the hospital stay and anesthesia wear off.

The doctors and nurses continue to provide amazing care and support for our family. One of my dad's kidney doctors joked with my parents this week that they owed him a bottle of Grecian formula (for all the gray hair my dad's case has caused him). My parents were once again reminded that "interesting" and "unusual" are NOT good adjectives you want doctors to use when describing your medical case. But the medical teams continue to work hard on his behalf. Even the pharmacists have been supportive and encouraging, now greeting my mom by name immediately when she pulls up to the window!

Mom got to attend Grandparents Day at Andrew's school on Thursday. It was a real treat. Both Adam and I took turns staying at the house with Dad so she could enjoy the special music program and festivities the kids worked hard to plan. She came home from Grandparents Day with a new picture for the refrigerator and a "full tank" in her heart (as she put it!).

The weather is beautiful here. Although my dad doesn't get to spend much time outside, he appreciates the new warm breezes and the ample sun pouring in through the windows these days.

Next week, my dad has an appointment at Moffitt. It's been a while since they've been there, and they're looking forward to seeing the medical team there (who've also been so incredibly wonderful to my parents through this journey).

As I ask my mom each week for the information she'd like included on our weekly post, she always asks me to thank everyone for your prayers and encouragement. They are so grateful and feel so loved.

Thank you!

Friday, February 18, 2011

An Eventful Week

"An Eventful Week"
(from Jenny)

A lot has transpired since the last "Friday Update". I'll try to get you up to speed!

By Monday of this past week, my dad's continued fluid/protein losses from the kidneys began to cause him to pass out from dehydration. Even the simple act of getting from the bed to the wheelchair caused him to lose consciousness.

So, after dialysis treatments on Monday, the doctors sent him straight to the hospital. Monday evening and Tuesday were full of tests. CT scans, nuclear scans, etc.

On Wednesday, Dad received his dialysis treatments at the hospital. After that was completed, they informed my parents that they were prepping him for surgery. The tests had at least come back with enough information for them to diagnosis which kidney was producing urine again. And their goal was to ablate (or shut down) that kidney chemically this time.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, they completed the procedure of chemically shutting down his kidney. The surgeon informed my parents that Dad would probably be in a good amount of pain and would likely run a fever as he recovered and the kidney "died", so to speak.

We are so pleased to report, though, that over the past 2 days, Dad has had very little pain. And NO fever! He suffered some nausea on Thursday morning, but by Thursday night he was sitting up, eating, and even making jokes! What a turnaround! We are very excited!

The plan is that he'll receive dialysis at the hospital again today (Friday) and then hopefully be sent home sometime this weekend.

This hospital stay has been full of encouraging blessings... two of which I wanted to share with you all.

On Wednesday morning, as my dad was wheeled into dialysis, my mom began speaking to one of the dialysis nurses. They were discussing Dad's unusual circumstances, and my mom was filling her in on the propensity he had for becoming dehydrated. She asked the nurse to take special precautions with him. And this nurse looked over at my mom with a smile and said, "Your husband has been on my church's prayer list. I'll take good care of him." She was a complete stranger to us, but she knew my dad's name. Knew it and had prayed for him!

Later that same afternoon, my dad's OR nurse turned out to be one of my dear friends from church. She and her husband (who is a nephrology nurse himself) have been amazing resources for our family for the past year. The couple has shared insights, provided educational materials, called to check on, and have prayed for my dad countless times although they'd never met him. When she began asking my mom questions about the patient going into surgery, she just tilted her head to the side and said, "This sounds so familiar..." It didn't take long to put it all together.

I am reminded all the time (but especially this week) that God cares about even the smallest details of our lives. The One who spins planets in orbit and knows exactly how many grains of sand just washed up on the beach also oversees nursing schedules at a hospital in downtown Clearwater.

Isn't He good!

My sister, Emily, came into town on Thursday to help out as my dad transitions back home. It's always such a boost for us to have her here. She is definitely the "caregiver" personality in the family. I have no doubt she's busily cleaning and filling up the refrigerator in preparation for Dad's return to the house. Maybe the extra bit of TLC for both my parents will help with their new goals for this week:

Sitting, Standing, and Blog-Writing!
We'll let you know next Friday how it goes!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Wishes

"Valentine's Wishes"

(from Jenny)

Bob: "I wish I could get you a million diamonds for Valentine's Day."

Patra: "Aw, that's sweet. But I don't want diamonds." (then to herself: I just want you to get well...)

Bob: "I wish I could get you a million grandchildren for Valentine's Day."

Patra: "NOW you're talking!!"

And with two due dates fast-approaching, it looks like my dad's Valentine's wish isn't too far off the mark. As the spring approaches, we are excitedly anticipating the arrival of two little boys. Adam & Sharon are due at the beginning of April, and Emily & James will welcome their little guy at the end of May. That will be six grandchildren!

My dad reminded me yesterday that he was sitting in his nephrologist's office for his very first appointment when our little girl, Megan, was born. That was the "beginning", so to speak, of his fight against this nasty little disease. It's incredible to imagine that, despite the difficulties over the past 18 months, God will have blessed our family with FOUR new little lives in that same time period. He is SO good!

(A recent picture of the girls, Megan & Avery)

(A not-so-recent picture of the "big" boys, as we supposed they'll be referred to with two little boys coming soon!. These two never stop long enough anymore for us to capture their adventures!)

Despite the countless hours my parents have spent at various doctors, hospitals, and dialysis centers, I hadn't been to many of my dad's usual "hangouts" myself. On Thursday of this week, though, I dropped something off at his kidney doctor's office while running errands around town. I walked in and waited to speak with the receptionist while she cheerfully attended to about 65 tasks swirling around her. But in the midst of her multi-tasking, she kept looking up and checking in with me. "Be with you in a sec!" "You're next!" "I just need to do one quick thing and then I'll be with you!"

Then, she put a phone call on hold and looked directly at me. "I know who you are, by the way! You don't even have to tell me. You look just like your mom!"

I was stunned yet grateful. This woman probably handles about a thousand things and a hundred patients in the course of a day. But when she finally was able to greet me, she jumped out of her chair, ran around the reception area, flung open the door and gave me a hug. She expressed her affection for my parents then took the information I'd brought her and wished me a great day.

I left there so energized. I always love it when I'm recognized as my parents' kid! Even in my mid-thirties, I find that it gives me a sense of security to be identified as part of the "Bugg" family. And I know that my brother and sister would whole-heartedly agree.

I also left that doctor's office realizing anew that a cheerful heart truly is good medicine. I'm so grateful that the Lord has given my parents an amazing greeting each and every time they walk into the nephrologist's office through that young lady!

And speaking of nephrologists (kidney doctors)... my parents have spent quite a bit of time at their office this past week.

On Monday, my dad had an appointment in the morning, followed by dialysis in the afternoon. Because of his complications (his kidneys are producing urine again), he is losing significant fluids, proteins, etc. This takes a major physical toll on his body. He passed out after the doctor appointment. But the dialysis center that afternoon took great care to not only filter his blood but provide much-needed fluid replacements. They do an incredible job finding the balance between too much fluid, too little fluid, and all the other factors they must consider in my dad's unique situation.

Tuesday was dad's ultrasound and a renal scan. These tests were supposed to reveal what was happening inside to cause the urine production. While we hoped for answers, all we got instead was more confusion heaped on top of his already-complicated case. The doctors used words like "Impossible", "Baffled", and said that the scans didn't match the patient. He kidneys appear to still be shut down, yet he continues to lose fluids, proteins. A separate analysis of the fluids he's losing shows that they are not filtering out any of the toxins that kidneys are supposed to filter. His loss of fluids is so great that he's also lost 14 pounds since this complication arose on January 24. The doctors need to talk with his doctors at the Mayo Clinic. They also need to make a decision about what to do next (which will almost certainly include another surgery).

We ask for your prayers this week, especially for the doctors to be clear and wise about how to proceed.

Although his case is so very challenging, my dad is still hopeful and still wants to fight!! I'm grateful that his hope is placed in Jesus (who is never baffled or confused; with whom NOTHING is impossible!!)

We once again thank you, especially on this Valentine's weekend, for your love, prayers and support! You constantly remind us that you're "fighting" with us.
Thank you!

Friday, February 4, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

"What a Difference a Year Makes"

from Jenny

Tonight, as I watched my five-year old chase butterflies and fly balls at t-ball practice, I reminisced to another mom about the difference a year can make.

Last year, my four-year old was the littlest guy (by far) on the team during his very first baseball season ever!

Tonight... he's one of the biggest. He's an "old pro", this being his 3rd season of t-ball. And I'm even getting the hang of being the "dugout mom", making sure the boys get in and out swiftly with the right equipment (and making sure the toddling girl at my side doesn't sneak out to first base when I'm not looking!).

Tonight, my husband (the coach) instructed the other parents about the upcoming opening ceremonies, which will be held later this month. And I recalled that last year at this time, my dad actually attended the opening ceremonies... just days before he went into the hospital for his stem cell transplant.

A lot has happened medically over the course of this year. My dad has gone through the stem cell transplant, chemotherapy, surgery in Minnesota, and the beginning of dialysis.

So, it shouldn't come as a surprise, I guess, that the weekly updates on my dad's condition are that he is exhausted.

His body is weary. He moves from the couch to the bed. Or from the couch to the car. Not much else this week. Because of his most recent complication, he is beginning to experience dizziness again. His blood pressure is dropping again (as you may recall, he's volleyed back and forth between low blood pressure before surgery to high blood pressure post-op).

We received the results back from a few tests this week. These initial numbers gave my parents important information - we know that his kidneys are producing and eliminating waste again... but that they are not filtering out the toxins they need to. So, for now, my dad will continue with dialysis so that these toxins can be removed from his blood.

Next Tuesday, Dad has an ultrasound scheduled so that the doctors can see what is really going on. I know both my parents (and at least a few doctors) are anxious to get some answers . Staying true to form, my dad's case continues to mystify his medical team. And like he always quips, he doesn't really want to be "this special".

But he is "this special", and I was reminded of that as I prepared to write this week's post. For the first time in several months, I went back in his archives and pulled up the post my dad wrote almost exactly a year ago today. This is what was on his mind then:

I am reminded of what God told Jeremiah. (You may recall that Jeremiah is often referred to as “the weeping prophet” so he obviously needed comforting. One of the ways God comforted him was to let Jeremiah know that God knew who Jeremiah was and God cared for Jeremiah.)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

In my own personal amplified translation of that verse:

“Bob, before you were a baby in your mother’s womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I knew all about this journey you're going through with these “nasty little diseases.” I’m not surprised by them. I know you, and I’ve appointed you to accomplish certain things in your life. And nothing will stop you from keeping any appointment I’ve made for you.

Isn't that encouraging? I'm so grateful that nothing takes God by surprise. That even though a year can make a big difference to us, it doesn't change anything about who God is and what His plans are for our lives.

I'm grateful for that!

I'm also pretty grateful for a certain t-baller who invited his Grandma & Grandpa to this year's opening ceremonies, too! He may be slightly oblivious... but he sure knows how to cheer his grandparents' hearts!

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