Sunday, December 28, 2008

To Uncle John, with love

Uncle John died of complications of surgery and life at 4AM this morning. We are, to say the least, mourning the loss of our favorite uncle.

The hospital called yesterday while my brother and I were cleaning up John's house in anticipation of his return home.

They told us his blood pressure was falling and his kidneys shutting down. They were taking him to the cath lab to see if it had something to do with his heart.

Mike and I took off for Billings. The doctors did their best, but there were too many things going wrong at the same time.

Cousin Kay was with him when he passed on. She is the most spiritual person I know and as hard as it was for her, we are very thankful that she was there for him.

He knew, right up until the last few minutes, exactly what was going on and made the choice to accept the pain medications that ended his life.

Uncle John has been a part of nearly every aspect of our lives for as long as I can remember. I really can't imagine life without him.

John's main concern at the end of his life (as it had been since she came to him), was for his beloved dog, Tilley. We will do our best to make her remaining years happy.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Just a brief note to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas. Things have been crazy here, as it seems they have mostly been since I came home.

I blogged about my dad being hospitalized with pneumonia over Thanksgiving and I want to let you all know he is doing very well now. He spends most of his days "paddling" around the nursing home, chit chatting with the staff and other residents. He even played checkers with another resident yesterday! Rumor has it they didn't exactly follow the rules, but I figure if you want to make up your own rules at the age of 85, go for it, you've earned the right!

Continuing with the trend of elderly family members being hospitalized during the holidays, my favorite uncle spent Christmas in the Billings Hospital. My brother had taken him to the local hospital at 12:30 AM on Monday. The doctor mistakenly identified a hernia as the cause of his excruciating pain and sent him home with a truss.

Several hours later the pain became unbearable and Mike brought him to Columbus and I took him on to Billings to a hospital there. The doctors did a cat scan and he was in surgery an hour later. They discovered a cancerous blockage in his colon. The doctors are quite certain they got it all, but sent off lymph nodes to the lab to be sure.

Needless to say, Uncle missed out on the family Christmas celebration, but we are thrilled that he is doing well and should be coming home tomorrow or Sunday.

This is just one more reason I am thankful to be home and very grateful that I am able to be here now, when both my dad and uncle need me.

I guess you really can go home...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Timing is everything...

Things happen for a reason. Be they good, bad or indifferent, if you keep an open mind, I believe you will see a reason behind everything.

While I hadn’t really planned on quitting my job the way that I did, the timing really couldn’t have been any better.

I had just mailed my resignation letter, when dad got sick with pneumonia.

I spent two nights with him at the nursing home and he just wasn’t getting any better, so my brother and I decided to break the living will and have him admitted to the local hospital for more aggressive treatment.

The doctor and nurses pumped him full of fluids and antibiotics and gave him breathing treatments every few hours. They could not have been nicer to him or to me. In fact they doted on me as if I were a patient most of the time.

They tried, gently, to let me know that he might not make it, but me being me and all, didn’t want to consider that possibility. I carried on as if he were wide awake, talking to him and telling him how much better he was getting. Mike came in before and after work and the cousins came to see him as often as possible as well.

It was a tough fight, the first couple of days he didn’t respond very well to treatment. He wouldn’t eat anything and barely woke up most of the time. I napped by his bedside, holding his hand and telling him I loved him. I have to say there were times when I was afraid to close my eyes for fear he would pass away while I slept…

Along about day four, dad started to rally. He was hungry, a very good sign!

It was decided that he had aspiration pneumonia, which is caused by the inability to swallow properly. The food goes down into the lungs and causes pneumonia. A very wonderful speech pathologist came in and worked with dad on his swallowing. Food was ground and liquids were thickened. Dad was soon eating like his old self!

Soon daddy was back in his wheelchair, paddling around the hospital, grinning at the nurses, and then it was time to return to the nursing home. The nurses were sad (but happy, If you know what I mean) to see him leave, but the nursing home patients and staff were ecstatic!

Things happen for a reason. If I hadn’t quit my job when I did, I would not have been able to spend all those days and nights with dad. I am not saying that I think he wouldn’t have made it without me, because I know how strong he is and how much he enjoys life, I’m just saying that I would have felt awful if I had not been able to be there for him.

The timing of my job resignation could not have been better for another reason too. The day after I officially decided not to return, I read a help wanted ad in the local paper. Applications were due at 4:30 , Friday (the next day), so I updated my resume’ and filled out the forms. I made it to the HR office with 20 minutes to spare.

On Monday they called to set up an interview. The following Monday I interviewed for the position and they called me at 8 am the next morning to offer me the job. Of course I took it! The pay is good and the benefits are outstanding! The biggest “perk” is being about 2 minutes from dad. I eat lunch with him every day and go see him when I get off of work at 5.

It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?