Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Gift of Life--PLEASE Donate Blood Products

Update 5-30-07
"Nurses are angels in comfortable shoes"

This terrible picture of a beautiful person was taken with my cell phone. Normally it takes better pictures than this, but "someone" had overindulged in strong coffee this morning and had the shakes. Since cell phones are verbodden in the ICU, I was only able to take a few photos.

This is Dale's nurse, Carol. She and Peggy are Dale's favorite caretakers (shhhh, don't tell the others). He thinks the world of them and they seem to feel the same about him. He says he's the luckiest man in the universe to be in their care and I wholeheartedly agree. It is comforting to know that they are there for Dale and that they care so much for him.

Dale is about the same today, although a little more confused than he has been. Carol said it's probably because of the toxins in his system. It's not uncommon when the liver is compromised. They are doing everything in their power to help him, and that is all we can ask.

As always, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

We love you all.

Update 5-29-07
"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

According to Darek, Dales dear friend from Billings, Dale is having a very good day today. He is having no difficulty breathing and is doing well with his various therapies. He is very upbeat and asks that his next visitor from Billings bring him a tub of his CD's! A few days ago, Dale was barely interested in his music CD's at all and now he wants a tub of them! I have to think that is a very good sign!

It is obvious that Darek's visit has been a godsend for Dale, as it has been for me. I took the first day off since I arrived and while I miss seeing Dale, I have enjoyed every minute of it. I had my hair cut (I finally put my detective skills to work and tracked down the wonderful lady that cut my hair last time I was here--just call me Nancy Drew), my nails done and I also had a pedicure (only $30.00 for both--life in the big city is beautiful).

I took a walk at one of the cities many open spaces in a downpour, thereby ruining my new hairdo, but it was totally worth it. I went shopping, got lost on purpose a couple of times (according to my son it's the only way to truly get to know the city) and then I came back to the apartment and started catching up on my work!

It's been a great day all around here and it has reminded me just how important good friends are in a person's life. Darek's visit couldn't have come at a better time and I want to thank him and thank all of you for being such wonderful friends to all of us here in Colorado.

We love you!

Update 5-28-07
"A bit better today"

Dale's feeling a bit better today. He is breathing without the help of the mask and his oxygen levels look good. The main priority now is to keep him motivated. He has been lying around for so long that it is difficult for him to move.

He's hooked up to so many things that every movement has the potential to kink a line or block off his dialysis, but the benefits outweigh the risks so I spent most of this afternoon urging him to work his fingers and toes and squeeze washrags.

It's an uphill battle, but I think I'm up to the task. He might not like me very much for awhile, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

I didn't see Shirley or the kids today, but I did step in to see Bob. He is still on the ventilator and looks quite peaceful. I'd like to think he isn't suffering.

As always your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated, as are suggestions on how best to motivate Dale.

Thank you!

We love you all.

Update 5-27-07

Dale has had a setback. Because his kidneys aren't working very well, he has a lot of fluid built up in his lungs. This has caused him to develop pulmonary edema. He is still breathing on his own (Yay!) with the help of a mask and they suction him out on a regular basis. He isn't as alert as yesterday, but still smiles at me and tells me he loves me.

His nurse today was Peggy, from a few days ago. She requested to be put with Dale again and I am so thankful that she did. All of the nurses he's had have been wonderful, but Peggy, in my opinion, is the best of the best. She goes through the test results with Dale and I and makes it her mission to pull off as much fluid through dialysis as she can. She never, ever says anything negative to Dale about his health in earshot and encourages him in every way. I absolutely adore her and tell her so often.

The good news is that Dale's dear friend Darek is here from Billings. He spent quite a bit of time with Dale today and will spend the morning with him tomorrow. They are going to a baseball game at 1 pm so I will take the afternoon "shift". I could tell that Dale was happy to see Darek, although he wasn't really able to communicate it very well.

In other news, I sat with Shirley, while Dale was being hooked back up to dialysis. Bob hasn't been taken off of the ventilator because they wanted to give him more time to rally if he could. If things haven't improved for him by Tuesday morning, they will disconnect then. We talked about a lot of things, including what she will do if he doesn't survive. She really is an incredibly strong woman.

I hope you all know how much we appreciate your thoughts and prayers. You really are amazing and we love you all.

Dale, Wolf and Laurie

Update 5-26-07, Part 2
"Bob and Shirley"

Dale's liver biopsy showed that the Graft Vs Host is in his liver. Tomorrow they will start him on an experimental drug that they have had excellent success with. His spirits continue to be high and he is very much looking forward to his friends from Billings, MT coming to visit.

This update isn't so much about Dale, it's about Bob and Shirley.

The day that Dale was moved to the ICU, Bob was moved down from the ninth floor. He had been hospitalized with congestive heart failure and had been intubated about the same time as Dale had, which necessitated his move to the ICU.

Shirley, Bob's wife of 53 years, was alone in the waiting room when I walked in to wait for Dale to get settled into his new room. I sat down with my bottle of water and stared blankly at the TV. Shirley sat a chair away, staring blankly at a book.

I heard a sigh and looked over to see a beautiful woman about the age my mom was when she passed away. Her face was a mask of tension and her hands were trembling. I didn't think, I just reached over and placed my hand on hers. She turned to face me and her eyes filled with tears. "I can't let the boys see me cry." she said, and dissolved into tears.

I moved to the chair next to hers and held her as she cried. We didn't speak, I just let her cry. When she was done she went into the rest room and washed her face. When she returned, her sons were there. She smiled a sad smile and walked with her boys into the ICU.

Shirley and I have managed to find some quiet time to talk each day this week. She told me how she and Bob met, about the business they owned in California, and why they moved back to Denver to take care of her dad.

She told me that when Bob asked her to marry him she had jokingly told him that she would on one condition; he had to promise she would be able to have her hair and nails done once a week. He had agreed and she said that he had lived up to that promise, even driving her to the hairdresser in his 4 wheel drive when the weather was bad. In all the years they'd been married, she'd never missed having her hair done until Bob went into the hospital on Friday of last week.

She told me how much she regretted that she and Bob hadn't had any alone time in the last many years. If Bob made it through, she was going to make sure that they could spend their remaining years together, enjoying life. The best times of their life had been when they lived in California and she thought they might even move back there.

Yesterday they took Bob off the ventilator. He responded very well. He was talkative and seemed to be improving rapidly. He even teased her about missing her hair and nail appointment on Friday. She said she told him she didn't give a care about her hair appointment. We had a laugh over that.

She told me she had made plans for her dad to go into a very nice nursing home near her brother's house in Colorado Springs and she and Bob were going to finally have their time together. She was full of optimism as were her boys.

Today was a completely different story. Shirley called the hospital at 7 am and Bob was doing well. When she arrived there at 8, he was back on the ventilator and not expected to live through the day.

To put it mildly, the family was devastated. Shirley wanted to know how things could change so quickly? How could he be fine at 7 and dying at 8? How could her husband of 53 years not be coming home?

When I left the hospital tonight, the family was in with Bob, as was the family priest. They were preparing to take him off the ventilator. Shirley will not be taking Bob home to heal and spend their remaining years together. Shirley will be going home alone.

I know I've asked a lot of you all lately, but I'm asking one more thing. Please include Shirley and her family in your thoughts and prayers. Please pray that they make it through this night, and tomorrow, and tomorrow night and all of the days and nights to come.
Thank you.

Update 5-26-07
"I get by with a little help from my friends."

Dale continues to improve. He is quite weak, apparently from the antibiotics he was given to control the infection, but they assure me that it will resolve itself within a week or so. He has physical therapy several times a day and he is working hard to regain his strength. We are still waiting on results from the liver biopsy and I am hopeful that they will have those today.

One of Dale's co-workers will be arriving tomorrow and will spend several days here. Dale, of course, is very excited to see him. The ICU room is small, so that means I will probably not be spending much time with Dale for awhile, but one of his favorite nurses will be taking care of him Sunday-Tuesday, and she will keep me posted on his condition. I am so happy for Dale.

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers. We love you all.

Update 5-25-07

When asked how he was doing this morning, Dale replied, "Fantastic". I just thought you'd want to know.

For those of you wishing to send a card, the address is:

Dale Petersen
St. Luke's Presbyterian Hospital
ICU Room 17
1719 E 19th Ave
Denver, CO 80218

Thanks to all that have sent cards, photos and letters. It means the world to us. A special thanks to Thomas for the CD. It really hit the spot!

Update 5-24-07

Dale had a liver biopsy today. They fed an instrument through a vein in his neck and down into his liver. What they learn from it will determine the course of treatment they follow for the next several weeks. They have been trying to get him stable enough to do it for over a week and today was the big day. As I expected, he came through it swimmingly. When he got back to the room and settled in, he turned to me and said, "Dale has many blessings" and then he smiled. He's an amazing man.

I'll know more tomorrow and I will update you then.

Until then, thank you for caring.

Dale had all of his IV ports removed on Tuesday and then yesterday, they installed a port in his carotid artery. When he came back from the procedure, he was weak as a kitten and obviously a bit distressed. His neck wouldn't stop bleeding, despite a variety of pressure dressings and different types of clotting factors topically applied.

Peggy, his wonderful ICU nurse, held pressure on it for quite awhile and then I was allowed to help out and did the same for 45 minutes or so while they waited for platelets to arrive from another hospital. Apparently there is such a shortage of donors, that this is a frequent problem. So in the mean time, Dale soaked dozens of gauze pads and washcloths even while we were applying constant pressure. I've donated double platelets twice in the week I've been here and I'm scheduled to do so again tomorrow morning, but the need far outweighs the supply, so patients bleed and wait.

The platelets finally arrived and Peggy started them in his IV. Within a few minutes, the wound stopped bleeding. When she changed the dressing you could see that a huge clot had formed. It was like magic. Pure magic. I've never seen anything like it.

I know I've said it before, and I am not one to harp (OK, my son might disagree) but please find out if you are eligible to give blood products and if you are (around 60% of the population IS and of that 60%, only 5% actually donate) please schedule an appointment to donate. You can give platelets twice a week, up to 24 times per year, plasma 12 times per year and whole blood every 56 days. It's painless and only takes a little while.

Please donate blood, it truly is the gift of life. I've seen it first hand and it's beautiful.


threecollie said...

We are holding good thoughts for in NY. I hope he continues to improve.

Cathy said...

Why don't we hear more about this need than we do? You've written a powerful and persuasive account. Anyone reading it cannot help but to be moved to action.

You are so brave, Laurie. Not everyone could manage the hands-on care you're giving Dale. God bless you. I'll bet those nurses love you, too.

Reverend Sumangali Tania Pink said...


Unfortunately, I found out that I am not eligible to give blood because of the many vaccinations, including hepatitis, that I've had for travel. I would gladly give blood if I could.

I'll put up a post on my blog on this too...even if I can't give, I can help spread the word.

Hang in there, all of you.

Laurie said...

Threecollie, thanks so much. We really appreciate it.

Cathy, I just found out that one of the summer interns I've worked with in the past donated today for the first time because she read my blog. I am totally thrilled!

Thanks Meg!!!!

Pink, thank you so much for getting the word out.

Anonymous said...

I must do so. I am terrible with even my own healthcare but I am harping on myself to get to the various types of DR's I need to get to. I will have to add this to my list and make a habit of it!!!!Thanks Laurie!

Squirl said...

Good advice. And thanks for the next update on Dale.

MsLittlePea said...

I tried once-I don't wiegh enough. I'm still praying for you all though :o)

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I will donate blood if it is accepted. In the meantime, my prayers continue.

Laurie said...

Butterfly, you better take care of yourself!

Squirl, I just posted it and you are welcome. :-)

Littlepea, thanks for trying to donate. You are right, you have to weigh at least 110 to donate. Thanks for mentioning that.

Nick, if you can't donate, just put the word out to your friends. Thank you!

Cathy said...

Laurie, What room is Dale in now?
Yes, Dale has many blessings and 1 very special angel hovering over him.
Love and a hug . . . prayers and good wishes for many many more blessings.

thailandchani said...

So glad to hear the good news. I knew he'd come through this okay. It was just a matter of time.



Pam said...

I always have...blood and platelets. I no longer can but feel good that I did when I could.

As always, blessings to Dale, he is so special.

Anonymous said...

THank you for the update.
I used to give blood regularly but the red cross doesn't want me anymore alas.
Michael AKA Urspo

Gina said...

I wonder if I can donate with my thyroid condition?

Dale is so lucky to have you and your family in his life!

We made a card, I will be sending it soon!

Reverend Sumangali Tania Pink said...

Yay! I'm so happy to hear that!

I sent a card - and my back placard from the race to the room 3404. Hopefully it will reach you all.


Laurie said...

Cathy, I posted his new address on the update. Thank you!

Chani, thanks for keeping the faith.

Pam, how good of you to give all those years. Think of all the good it did.

Michael (Ur-spo), they won't take my son's either. I think it's a real shame!

Gina, I answered on your blog, but according to the donor services here at the hospital, you can as long as your condition wasn't cancerous. :)

Pink, what a thoughtful thing to do! I am sure he will get it. He got a couple of cards today that had been addressed to his previous room (thanks Mary and Bobbi!).

Cathy said...

Fantastic. 3 beautiful syllables :0)

Mary said...

Hurray! Dale is feeling OK! May this trend continue.

Cathy said...

How great that a co-worker is coming for a visit. It will be so good for Dale. Will you head home for a bit or stay near Dale?
You, dear lady - will hopefully have a little 'Laurie' time - even if that's just a box of chocolate in front of the TV for a couple days.

Mary said...

I'm so happy that Dale's co-worker will visit him. That's a shot in the arm for Dale. I'm not saying you aren't an angel, Laurie. You are a very strong lady.

About giving blood - many years ago I didn't weigh enough. Now I have no excuse :o) I did give blood during the last drive at the college.

The ICU is probably similar to the CCU - very constricting and guarded. I found the nursing staff in CCU to be the best, both professionally and personally. Sounds like Dale is surrounded by the best.

Gawpo said...

Good to see Dale is beyond just a little in the fight. He prevails!

Waiting for news on how the liver biopsy goes.

Tell Dale that he looks a whole lot like one of the guys I work with and every time I see him, I think of Dale. I should send you a picture. It's rather funny. But if he ever grows his hair back, the whole thing will be ruined!

Laurie said...

Cathy, fantastic--it is a beautiful word. You should see and hear him say it...his eyes light up like Christmas, it's incredible.

Mary, the doctors are cautiously optimistic, but I am guns a blazin optimistic! He's a fighter and if anyone can survive this, Dale can and will!

Cathy, I'm going to visit Dale early in the day. His co-worker will be there late afternoon. The room is small, so I'll probably head home once his friend arrives.

I plan to take the day off on Monday if all goes well. I have a date with a hiking trail above Boulder!

Mary, good on you for giving blood! I hope you are able to do so again.

You're right about the level of care in the ICU/CCU. It's outstanding. I tell the nurses I appreciate them all the time. They truly are amazing.

Gawpo, you're right, Dale is going to prevail! He's so strong mentally, I really believe with all my heart that he'll be fine.

Send the photo of your co-worker. I'll post it in Dale's room.

Reverend Sumangali Tania Pink said...

You got it kid.

Bob and Shirley and the boys - the whole family is in my prayers.

I'm going to ask my friends here in Zurich - newlyweds - to read your post. I hope they have at least 53 years together like Bob and Shirley did.


caroline said...

Hi Laurie,
Please receive my gentle and caring thoughts and share them with those around you.

I was going to say that I can't imagine what you all are going through, but actually I've been through it. The ups and downs take months off the end of your life.

You are wise to reach out.

Within Without said...

Let's hope this new wonder drug does wonders for Dale's liver and clearing out that infection.

I guess we don't know yet what happened to Bob (and Shirley), but what a beautiful thing for you to reach out to her the way you have for Dale.

You know that old song...

Reach out and touch...
Somebody's hand
Make the world a better place...
If you can.


Laurie said...

Pink, please tell your friends congratulations and that I wish them a long lifetime of happiness. Thank you.

Caroline, I will share your caring, gentle thoughts with all of those around me. Thank you so much.

WW, you are so right, we can't know what happened to Bob and his family. It's possible a miracle happened and he was able to endure the ventilator being removed.

Thank you for reminding me to focus on the potential for good things to happen. :-)

Within Without said...

Silly girl...

You're the super focused one spreading all the love and positivity around this place!

If Dale or Wolf read this, they'd agree.

You don't need any focusing lessons from me or anyone else.

All we need to do is watch you in action, smile and warm smile...and try to do the same.


Squirl said...

I hope they have the liver thing right for Dale! I'm so sorry to hear about Bob and Shirley. That's so devastating. I hope the family is okay.

Anonymous said...

I think that really sucks. Her heart must be broken. Your blog always makes me feel so lucky Laurie. And sad. Take care and give her a hug for me if you see her again. Tell Dale I said hi too.

Mary said...

First, I'm glad Dale's spirits are up.

For Shirley and Bob, I will be thinking of them. The story is so tender and nice but I'm sorry about the sad ending... I understand her grief.

Again, you are an angel, Laurie.

KGMom said...

Consider your new found friend added to my prayer list.

Cathy said...

I tenderly add Bob and Shirley to my prayer list. We all need a Laurie sitting next to us when our heart is aching and our hands are trembling.

Laurie said...

WW, awwwwww shucks, thanks. :-) You are a real sweetheart.

Squirl, they can't start the liver drug until he's stable. We are still hoping for the best! Thank you.

Butterfly, I'm sorry the blog makes you sad. I hope to have much better news to report soon!

Mary, I'm sad for Shirley too, she's a lovely woman. She's a pillar of strength and I'm lucky to have met her. And if I'm an angel, then my halo is sitting atop my horns. ;-)

KG, thank you so much.

Cathy, thank you for adding them to your list. It's really all any of us can do for them. I am still very hopeful that both Bob and Dale will come out of this.

Menchie said...

how heartbreaking for shirley and bob. will pray for them as well and Dave too.

Squirl said...

I love how you and your family help keep Dale's spirits up. Sounds like Peggy is a godsend, too. I'm glad that Shirley has you to talk to. All my best to her, too.

The Atavist said...

My best wishes for Dale to beat this, and for you to have the strength to offer the support he needs so much.

Laurie said...

Menchie, thank you so much. We all appreciate it immensely.

Squirl, Dale is a joy to be around. Saturday he asked ME how I was holding up. That's the kind of guy he is. Thank you.

Atavist, thank you. We draw strength from all of you.

Cathy said...

Oh, Laurie. I sat at a bedside once and know so well that longing to give solace and encouragement.

Your presence - your human heart - your caring - are the lighthouse beacon shining from the shore that point the way back for Dale.

But you can only be the light - the journey is his, dear friend - you can only be the gentle flicker in the night - but, what a beautiful light.

My prayers for healing and comfort for Dale, you and Wolf - and Bob and his Shirley.

Reverend Sumangali Tania Pink said...

Distracted? Well thats a tough one. I think of things to engage him but it could be that he needs to rest and allow his body to heal.

So I guess the thing I would say is to let Dale guide you on that. You can try telling him stories when he is tired. When he is not, you can see if he can remember things from your childhood. Or play games - especially mental games. But it all depends on his level of lucidness and his energy levels.

I would also suggest that if there is somewhere in nature he loves to go, to get a photo of it blown up and tacked to the wall directly opposite him so he has a 'view' of his 'happy place'.

Hang in there.

Helen the Felon said...

It doesn't surprise me at all to hear that you've reached out to somone else who needs support, in spite of the challenges you're already facing. Your compassion and generosity are inspiring and humbling.

So happy to hear that Dale is getting better. Best thoughts for him, and for Shirley and Bob.

Squirl said...

I'm glad you're getting a bit of a break. You could use it. Glad to hear that he wants his music. That sounds like a positive sign to me. My best to Bob's family, too.

Cathy said...

Getting lost on purpose :0) Only someone with courage, optimism and faith in her ability to learn would do that. It's so 'Laurie.'

What a great bit of news about the 'lift' that Dale is getting. This lifts my heart and I cannot imagine what it does for you and Wolf and everyone who's pulling for Dale.

Sending love and a hug along with continued prayers.

Laurie said...

Cathy, such beautiful words with so much caring behind them. Thank you so much.

Pink, great idea! My cousin in Billings is going to take photos of his yard and his 1957 Chevy pickup which I will enlarge and post in his room. Thank you.

Helen, I think you give me too much credit, but thank you. Since I didn't go in to the hospital today, I don't know what happened to Shirley and Bob. All I can do is hope for the best, whatever that is.

Squirl, I think it will give me renewed energy, which will help Dale as much as it will help me.

Cathy, it was fun getting lost. Of course I had Marcia, my GPS navigator, with me for backup, so I knew I would find my way eventually. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I am just beside myself, giddy, that Dale is doing so well! I know you all will be glad when this is over and you can sit around and eat and laugh again!Tell Dale I said Hello!

Within Without said...

Getting lost in the big city is a good thing, even if you ruined your new do!

I guess that's called doing your do diligence...(*Runs away as audience plasters him with tomatoes and eggs*)

Hopefully Dale continues on the up and up :-)

Gina said...

Wonderful news!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Dale would enjoy a little keyboard, something like this:


(The goal would be to get him exercising his wrists and fingers- but you don't have to tell him that.)

MsLittlePea said...

So glad he's feeling a bit better. 30bucks for a hair cut!yay!

Mary said...

Yay, Laurie! I'm so happy for you, as you did something every woman wants to do - GET PAMPERED, and by golly, you deserve it!

Dale's friend is another angel when needed.

I smiled throughout your update, dear! And, even though you got a little lost, you are with your son.

Cathy said...

Her smile radiates a beautiful soul. Some rules just beg to be broken. After all - snapping a few photos is pretty harmless and it's nice for us to be able to attach a face to the names of people who are caring for Dale.

I know the liver can re-generate and I imagine there are ways they can help move the healing along.

Sending love and hugs, Laurie.

Menchie said...

I get what you mean about nurses and Dale is lucky he has very caring ones looking after him. My newborn son was in the NICU for a month after he was born premature and I know how difficult it is to leave your loved ones in the care of strangers.

I hope and pray he gets better soon.

Reverend Sumangali Tania Pink said...

Keep taking care of you too!

Did you receive the card and placard yet? I hope it reaches Dale in his new room.

Reverend Sumangali Tania Pink said...

ps - what is the update with bob and shirley? is he still on the machines?

Pam said...

I am so glad that Dale has good and kind nurses, it makes such a difference. And you, bless you for your love and caring. When life is threatened, the love and presence of the people who mean the most can turn the tide. I send my prayers to you all every day.

Within Without said...

The nurses are always the heart and soul and lifeblood of any hospital department.

They're the nurturers, caregivers, caretakers and all. It's no surprise Dale has taken a shine to them.

There's also the small matter of family nurturers too. I bet if they could, they'd nominate you as Dale's Honorary No. 1 Nurse.