Thursday, May 31, 2007

If well wishes were fishes, we'd have a pond full...

Update 6-2-07
"Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else's life forever."
~Margaret Cho

They are giving Dale the new anti-rejection drug that has the potential to eradicate the Graft Vs Host disease in his liver. It was started yesterday and according to the doctor's it will take about a week for any noticeable improvement.

According to the nurse that cared for him until 7 am, he had a bit of trouble breathing early this morning so he is on a mask that helps force the oxygen into his lungs. He continues to receive platelets on a regular basis, so of course, I ask again that you go out and donate if you can.

Thank you all for caring.

We love you.

Update 5-31-07
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."
~ Helen Keller

Dale and his nurses cannot believe the number of cards, letters, photos and miscellaneous other items he continues to receive. Most days he is presented with at least 2 or 3 cards and some days it's more than that. Even when he's confused, he talks about how fortunate he is and how much he loves getting mail each day. He can't believe that people he's never met care enough to take the time to let him know they are thinking about him.

On Tuesday, it rained buckets here in Denver. The room Dale was in sprung a leak, and he had to be moved to the room next to him. As it always is, it was quite the ordeal to get him situated again. They sent me out for a walk while they were doing it and when I returned to his new room I was delighted to find that the nurse had not only opened the cards he'd received that day, but she had also put them up in his room as you can see in the photo at the top of the page. Thank you Carol!

Included in his mail yesterday was this placard, sent from Pink. She ran in the Race for Life in the United Kingdom and as you can see, she raced for Dale. When I talked to Dale about it, he was so touched that he cried.

Because I went back to Forsyth for 10 days, I haven't been able to keep a complete list of all of the cards, photos and miscellaneous other things that Dale has received. Envelopes were thrown away and I found envelopes that did not have cards in them. Dale has been moved so many times, it is hard to know exactly where everything is, though I did go on a reconnaissance mission to locate missing items when he was moved to ICU. But here is the partial list I have and I want to thank all of you for your kindness and thoughtfulness:
Three Collie, Within Without, Ur-Spo, Jen, Tiger Yogi, Helen (the Felon), Courtney and her get well fishes card (ha ha), Bonita, Squirl, Bill, Cathy, who has sent at least 2 cards and many photographs (frog with attitude was our favorite), Pink, who has sent two cards and her race placard as well, KC, Mary, KGmom, Ginnie, Laura, Pam, who sent along some of her beautiful artwork, Thomas, who sent along a Jimmy Durante CD that Dale adores, Cuppa and AC, anonymous X 3, Nicole and Bobbi, who don't have blogs, yet, and of course Heather who started it all.

As I said, I'm sure that I've missed some of you and I apologize. If you'd like to leave me a message in the comment section, I'll be glad to add your name to the list.

For those of you wishing to send Dale a card, or another card, or a cure for what ails him (I wish), his new address is:

Dale Petersen
St. Luke's Presbyterian Hospital
ICU Room 18
1719 E 19th Ave
Denver, CO 80218

I have to go back to Forsyth tomorrow. As much as I hate to leave Dale in this condition, I have work duties that have to be taken care of. Making the decision to go is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I don't see any way out of it and it is breaking my heart.

Take good care all of you lovely people. You have touched our hearts and our lives more than you can ever possibly know.

We love you.

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.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thoughts and prayers appreciated

In his better days...

5-23-07 Update
Just (de)venting here...

The vent tube has been removed and he is doing really well. He's very weak, of course, but talking (!!) and things are going much better for him. People say not to get too excited, that things can change in a moments notice and I'll get my hopes dashed, but I don't care! I'm an optimist and proud to be one.

I will update more later in the day if I get the opportunity, tonight at the latest.

Thank you all, once again, for your thoughts and prayers. I KNOW it has made a huge difference.

We love you all.

5-22-07 Update
It was a heck of a day at sea, Sir.

The doctors removed all of Dale's infusion ports today because they are thought to be the source of his bacterial infection. Other ports were installed and will be put to use tomorrow. Despite their concerns to the contrary, he tolerated the procedure very well and when I left at 7 pm to take his brother to the airport, he was resting comfortably.

In order for the procedure to be performed, it was necessary for the nurse to unhook him from the many machines he was on. She was on a tight timetable in order to get him ready to go to the ER and his wrist would not stop bleeding. I had volunteered to help her earlier, and she finally took me up on it and let me apply pressure to his wrist. For the first time I felt like I was really helping! Don't get me wrong, I know that my being there gives him strength and I'm all about that, but this was something totally different and it felt really REALLY good! But enough about me...

His critical care doctor had told me that the procedure would be difficult for someone in Dale's condition and that there was a chance that he wouldn't make it through. As you can imagine, I was Nervous Nelly, waiting for him to come back to the ICU. I hadn't told Dan what the doctor said because he was already stressed enough and I didn't need 2 patients on my hands, so I'm sure he thought I was a nut-job (even more than usual) when I spent the next 3 hours pacing the hospital.

But, obviously, the outcome was good. Very good!

I took Dan to the airport without getting lost or running anyone off the road (that I know of) and am now back at Wolf's apartment. Stick a fork in me, I'm done (for the night). Tomorrow it's back to the hospital for the day. They are planning on taking him off the ventilator (!!) as he has tolerated the weaning process very well.

Thank you all, once again, for your thoughts and prayers. It means the world to us.

We love you all.

5-21-07 Update, Part II

Today was a tough day. They took all the tubes and the ventilator out for the move to ICU and then had to re-insert them. As you can imagine, that wasn't very fun for Dale. This is all so hard on him, I can't even imagine what he's thinking most of the time.

The room is about the size of a bathroom and there's absolutely nowhere to put any of his things. His photos, the cards, the personal items are all in boxes against the wall. There's no stereo, no anything. They have visiting hours (which I will break, I guarantee it) and there's no room for anyone to be in there with him, unless you stand by his bed. I can't see how that can be conducive to his getting well.

They said that they moved him because he needs such specialized care and they don't have the staff in place on the bone marrow ward to do it right now, but I think that Dale believes it's because he's getting worse. I've told him the reason, but he doesn't seem convinced.

To be honest, I'm very upset that they moved him and I'm sure they are aware of it. I tracked down the social worker in charge of his case and she promised to make sure that the doctor's tell him why he was moved. She also promised that he was at the top of the list to move back into the Bone Marrow Transplant ward once a nurse becomes available and I will hold them to that. I know they are doing the best they can, but I am very afraid that this will set Dale back or worse.

We are going to meet with the Dale's medical team tomorrow to discuss treatment options and also to figure out the medical power of attorney issue. Dan needs to go back to Billings to take care of some of Dale's affairs and would like to meet with the doctor's before that happens. I'll stay with Dale until Dan gets back.

Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.

Dale, Dan, Wolf and Laurie

5-21-07 Update

Because of a staffing shortage, they are moving Dale to the ICU. None of us, most especially Dale, are happy about it. The room is tiny and we can't be with him as much. He has improved a bit and I hope this doesn't set him back. Thank you all for your kindness and prayers. We love you all.

I'm giving platelets so this will be short. I'll try to post more tonight if I don't fall asleep at the computer again.

Hugs from Dale, Dan, Wolf and I.

5-20 Sunday Update

Dale has an infection that is antibiotic resistant. His critical care doctor said if they can't get a handle on it soon, they are out of options. Please keep Dale in your thoughts and prayers and hug the people you love.

Update 5-19-07

Dale has made small, but important gains today. He has some infection growing in his main lines, but they are watching it closely. His liver counts are slightly improved and his critical care specialist seems really pleased. She says she believes the improvement he is showing is the real deal and I, for one, choose to believe her.

Cousin Dan asked Dale if he felt like he could continue on this way and Dale was very adamant that he DID want to carry on. It was a defining moment in Dan's eyes, though not so much for me because I already knew what his answer would be.

Wolf came to visit and brought some more of Dale's jazz CD's. Dale brightened considerably while he was here. He kept his eyes wide open, answering Wolf's questions with nods and he was even trying to form words.

They have lessened his level of sedation because he is tolerating the ventilator well. They are going to be letting him breathe some on his own today or tomorrow, which according to the nurse, is a very good thing.

I read a few more cards to Dale today and he got tears in his eyes when he heard your messages. I hope you all know how much it means to him. If any of you are considering sending more cards, the address is the same, but the room number is now 3404. I think he will be there for awhile.

Overall, things are slowly improving. Some say not to get too excited or count on too much, but I'm a very positive person so I'm going to continue to be positive.

I thank you again for all the love you've shown us. Keep those thoughts and prayers coming our way.

With love to you all from Denver,

Dale, Wolf, Dan and Laurie

Update 5-18-07

Last evening Dale looked better. He wasn't nearly as "yellow" and he appeared more peaceful. When I told him a funny story about what had happened during the day, he grinned. When his brother told him that his niece Rachel had called, Dale turned his head and opened his eyes. He was unable to speak due to the heavy sedation and tube in his mouth, but he is most definitely aware of what is going on

When we were leaving I touched his arm and told him that he was strong and I knew he could beat this thing. I told him to keep on fighting and he shook his head up and down several times.

It is obvious to me that Dale is not ready to hang up the towel yet. We will keep reading to him and talking to him and playing jazz for him. If there comes a time when he is ready to stop fighting, I know he will tell us, somehow.

Please continue to pray for a miracle.

We love you all.

Update 5-17-07

Dale's blood tests were slightly improved today so we will stay the course and pray for a miracle. He knows we are there and is not in pain. I'm giving platelets now so this will be short. I have a hard enough time typing with both hands. Thank you all for caring and praying and loving.

Another Update 5-16-07
We were called into a family meeting today at the hospital. The meeting was attended by Dale's primary care physician, his primary nurse, social workers and several other people who's names and functions I did not catch. At this meeting we were told that some catastrophic event had caused Dale's systems to start shutting Tuesday morning. His last several liver tests had come back off the charts and not in a good way.

His doctor said that on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being healthy and 100 being deceased, Dale was currently at 99.9. His doctor told us that he had a heart attack on Tuesday morning and they had been forced to give him very strong drugs to control it. They would not be able to use those drugs on him again because of his condition. In other words, if he had another heart-related incident, they could not revive him. It was suggested that since Dale had voiced some opinions over quality of life issues, that we allow life support to be withdrawn. We were not ready, or able to make the decision at this time. They told us to take the all time we needed.

After leaving the meeting, shaken and despondent, the doctor came in and said he would like to try one more thing. Dale had already suffered through numerous blood clots, and so he wanted to try a drug that would prevent them from forming, hoping that the clots were causing the strain on the liver. We, of course, agreed to have them try the drug and it was started at 5:30 this evening. They will draw blood at 4 am and we should know more then.

It is really hard to know what to do, since Dale had not put any of his thoughts to paper, despite being asked to. I always thought he hesitated because he thought by writing it out, it would mean it was a possibility and he didn't want to even consider that. He is unable to tell us what he wants now, being sedated and quite confused because of the toxins in his system, so whatever decision is made will fall on Dan, and also on me. I pray that this treatment will work and a miracle will come to pass, but if not I ask for the strength we will need to make the right decision if the time comes.

When I talked to Wolf tonight, he told me of a conversation he had with Dale on Monday night as he was leaving. He said that Dale told him he just wanted to go home. Wolf thought that it meant he wanted to go home when he was well, but now he thinks that maybe Dale knew, as dying people often do, that his time on earth was ending and he was ready to go "home". My mom, Wolf's grandma, said the exact same thing as she lay dying not that long ago.

Anyway, that is the latest news. I will try to keep you all posted.

Thanks for keeping Dale and all of us in your thoughts and prayers.

Update 5-15-07:

I'm in Denver now. Kay couldn't get away and time seemed of the essence so I left around 1 pm and drove straight through. Dale's brother Dan flew in from Billings this afternoon. Wolf was given the day off to spend with Dale who is now on a ventilator and heavily sedated. The purpose of the sedation is to keep him from trying to breath on his own. We will talk to the doctors tomorrow and we should know more then.

Wolf read some of the your newest cards to Dale (kudos everyone, they really are amazing), and even though Dale wasn't able to comment, Wolf believes he was listening. Dale's heart rate was quite erratic for awhile, so Wolf put a jazz CD in the DVD player. The speakers are located right by Dale's head and his heart rate stabilized after the music was turned on. I am so thankful Wolf was here to be with Dale. No one should be alone in that situation.

I'll try to update as often as I can. Your kindness and concern means the world to all of us.

Thank you


I had wanted to wait to update you on Dale until I had good news, but recent developments dictate that I do so now. On Friday when my son Wolf went in to see Dale, he was in good spirits. They teased the nurses and talked about the future.

Dale showed Wolf the multitude of cards and photos and artwork he had received from you bloggers and discussed what he would write back to each one of you. He showed Wolf each item and Wolf said Dale was fairly beaming with delight. He couldn't believe that people he didn't even know had taken the time to shower him with gifts. He was a very happy man and very thankful.

The plan they devised was to have Wolf bring in his laptop and type out the comments, then Wolf would email them to me for editing and posting on this blog. They agreed that Wolf would come over this afternoon (Tuesday) to work on the project. It would be Dale's first official ghost blogger post.

Wolf showed up at the hospital at the appointed time only to find that Dale's condition had deteriorated drastically and he had been moved to a different room. Dale was disoriented and non-communicative. He would answer questions, but didn't talk otherwise. His eyes were bright yellow. Wolf was beside himself when he realized that the nurses weren't able to give him any real information on Dale's condition because he didn't have the proper privacy authorization.

Wolf called me and I talked to the nurse. She was one that I had gotten to know rather well when I was down there and she finally, despite her reservations, told me what I wanted to know. Then she made arrangements so that Wolf could access Dale's information by calling a number and giving the security code.

The news isn't good. Dale was started on continuous dialysis this morning because he is in acute renal failure. His liver is shutting down and he is having some serious heart problems as well. What is startling to me is that he could go downhill so quickly in a hospital of all places, but according to his nurse, it happens sometimes with Graft Vs Host Disease. She said the situation was dire, but not to give up hope. Wolf will be talking to Dale's primary doctor tomorrow and I hope to have more information for you all then.

My son handled everything with grace and dignity. While I know he had to be shaken beyond belief, he held fast to the belief that this was a temporary setback and that Dale would shake it off and come out of it. Wolf stayed with Dale for several hours and spent the last half hour holding Dale's hand. After he left he went down to the parking lot and called me to reassure me that Dale would make it. I have a wonderful, strong, incredible son and I am so thankful that he is there for Dale.

Kay and I are trying to make arrangements to go down this weekend, if her work schedule permits. We will leave Thursday afternoon, drive straight through and stay until Sunday night or Monday morning and then come back to Montana. Our hope is to raise Dale's spirits and also give Wolf a break. If she is unable to go, I will probably drive by myself.

I know I've asked for your help before and you've given it more than willingly. I'm asking for it again. Please send forth your healing thoughts and prayers today and everyday until Dale is out of danger.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

In the end, it's all about the children...

Cousin Kay and I had been planning to take her niece, Rissa, to Sheridan, Wyoming to participate in the Snicker's Cup Soccer Tournament this weekend. We were also going to take Rissa's siblings, Eric and Sadie Rose, along with us. Although Kay goes to most of Rissa's home games, I hadn't been able to attend one yet. This was our chance to hang out together, spoil the kids rotten and spend some quality cousin time together. Kay said the kids were more excited about the trip than Christmas, and I have to say I was pretty jazzed myself.

Cousin Kay's brother Gary had been in the hospital for about a week suffering from a blood clot in his lung. He had been feeling much better and spoke of going home soon. Late Thursday night a blood vessel in his brain ruptured and he was put on a ventilator. He died around 10 am Friday morning.

As always, Kay was the rock of the family. She spent all day making funeral arrangements and comforting her brother's adult children. She and I kept in touch, trying to decide whether or not we should attend the tournament. In the end, after much soul searching and discussion, we decided to go because it meant so much to the children.

Rissa's team did really well and Rissa, Sadie and Eric had a good time. Kay and I talked for hours and doted on the kids. Even though the decision to go was a tough one, we were really glad we went.

As our mom's used to say, bury the dead and tend to the living.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mom always said I paddled my own canoe...

Storms move quickly in southeastern Montana. Sometimes I'm surprised by how fast they travel.

Friday we were out scouting the sites for Conservation D
ays, which is an event sponsored by the office I administer. We bring 5th and 6th graders from all of the schools in the county to three locations where they spend a day with us. We break them up into groups and hold 25 minute sessions on archeology, soil science, water quality, forestry, surveying, range and wetlands or wildlife, depending on the location and instructors available. The groups and their team leaders go from station to station, learning about conservation. It is a very popular event and one that we try to sponsor every year.

Our task for the day was to travel around the county, check the three sites for access and determine what we needed to do to prepare for the students arrival. In the morning we went to the site closest to our office. That is where I found this wonderful tree.

This is a photo of the trunk. I wonder what caused it to do this? Lightning? Very large termites? Laser beams from outer space? Any guesses?

After lunch we went out to the more distant sites.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I'm the coordinator of a watershed group. The people in the group all live along Rosebud Creek which is pictured above. I took this picture on our site inspection tour, near one of our sites.

As we left Rosebud Creek, clouds started building.

The third and final site location was at Crazy Head Springs, which is located between Ashland and Lame Deer, MT in southeastern Montana. The recreation area is located on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. It is a wonderful place, with a great diversity of flora and fauna; perfect for Conservation Days. The red winged blackbird, pictured above, was one of many that flitted around the ponds in the area.

We were at the last site for less than an hour and then it started to get windy and cloudy.

We left Crazy Head Springs and headed north. The cloud appeared to be centered directly over Forsyth.

This is what greeted us upon our return to the office.

Has anyone seen my canoe?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Drinking Blogger Thinking Blogger

I have been nominated for a thinking blogger award by Butterfly Girl. I don't know that I'm a particularly deep thinker, but I very much appreciate that she considers me to be. If you haven't been to her blog before, I suggest you do so immediately. She is a good read, full of fun and full of heart. She's the real deal, folks. You will thank me later, I promise.

As a nominee, it was my duty to nominate 5 other folks for the same award. My first thought was that there was no way I could narrow it down to five. Everyone on my blogroll is a thinker. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! Couldn't I just nominate my entire blog roll?

I read and re-read the rules, hoping that there was some sort of a loophole that I could take advantage of. I nearly called in an attorney, but decided against it. As my dad used to say, "What's the difference between an attorney and a sucker (fish)? One is a scum sucking bottom dweller and the other is a fish." ** I apologize to any and all lawyers that may or may not read this blog. In no way was I referring to you or any of your attorney friends, it is only a joke.

My next thought (were you surprised that I had two thoughts in the same day?) was to nominate only those who hadn't received a thinking award previously. That narrowed it down some, but the list was still entirely too long. This was TOO HARD!!! My brain was going to burst. Explode into flames of frustration and anguish!

After much soul searching, perusing of blogs and a little bit of eenie-meenie-miney-moe, I had the list narrowed down to 15. Gads, what to do now? Draw straws? Put the names in a hat? Have one of my cats pick? Throw up my hands in frustration and drink lots of wine or maybe a shot or two (or three) of tequila?

The drinking idea was starting to look better and better...

Finally *hiccup* after purshuing the final opshun fer awhile, I came up with my final five. It occurred to me that shome of you *hic* might rather not have this honor beshtowed upon you *hiccup*, so I deshided to email to ask for permishun. My first (and only) requesht *hic* was oh, sho, very, politely met with an "I'm not really into that
kind of thing" responshe (you know who you are--but I shtill lurve ya anyway), so the resht of you are getting thish honor whether you want it or not!

So without further ado and in no particular order, here are my five nominees for the Thinking Blogger Awards:

P B & J: Bill is a very kind-hearted, giving and loving man. His posts are always from the heart and he doesn't shy away from important issues. He is a good friend and a good person and very deserving of this award.

Mary's View: Mary is a caring and loving lady. Her posts will make you laugh and make you cry. She is a defender of nature and an amazing photographer. When I want a good giggle, I head on over to Mary's place and she rarely, if ever, fails to amuse me. I love her like a sister.
Looking Up: Cathy was one of my earliest blogging buddies and is one of the dearest people I know. We met during the 2,996 project and have stayed in contact ever since. She is smart and full of love and full of life. She has a soft spot in her heart for all of God's creatures, most especially birds, and is a very gifted photographer.

Mind Trips: Pam is one of a kind. Her command of PhotoShop is unbelievable and her poetry often moves me to tears. She is an incredibly gifted artist and an amazing person. She is a conservationist and is teaching her grandchildren to be the same. Her posts are always enlightening and always make me think.

Flitzy Phoebe: Bonita is another amazing woman I've come to know since I began blogging. She has to be one of the kindest and most spiritual people I've ever had the privilege to "meet". Her love for her family and nature is awe inspiring and she is also one tough lady.

Bill, Mary, Cathy, Pam and Bonita, please pick up your awards here. If any of you lovely people would rather not participate for one reason or another, it won't offend me.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Audience Participation

I’ve hesitated to write this post for several reasons. A few of the people who read my blog are going through extremely hard times right now. Yen, at Two Lucky, is losing the love of his life to a very aggressive type of melanoma. They have given him less than a month to live. It’s been a long, hard fight for these two very dear people and it breaks my heart that their time together on earth is nearly over. Another one of my favorite bloggers, recently lost her father. They were very close and it has been very hard on her. Some people are going through hard times financially, or in their personal lives (or both), and others are making life-changing career choices. It’s not easy for any of these people and my heart goes out to them.

I am usually a very positive person, and I try to keep this blog positive, especially when people I care about are down. I want this blog to be a place where they can come and get a giggle or two or see a photo of something they might not see elsewhere. But there are several people who read this blog specifically to hear how Cousin Dale is doing, so I feel I must update.

My son, Wolf, goes to see Dale several times a week and spends all day Sunday with him. Despite working a full time job and living clear across the city, he spends as much time with Dale as he possibly can. I’d like to think there are a lot of 24 year olds who would show this type of commitment, but I’m not entirely sure there are. Anyway, I digress…

Wolf is one of the most optimistic people I know, and always puts a positive spin on things, but even with that, the news isn’t good. Dale has been struggling physically and emotionally because of complications from his bone marrow transplant. The Graft Vs Host disease is kicking his butt. He has been bed-ridden since right after I left Denver. He cannot eat or drink because the disease has centered in his digestive tract. Taking food or fluids by mouth makes him very ill, although from time to time he does have ice chips. He has constant diarrhea and a rash that covers his entire body. As you can imagine, he is miserable.

He is on too many IV drugs to count; chemo meds to try to control the disease, antibiotics, steroids, some kind of food substance, fluids and who knows what all. They are draining up to 10 pounds of fluid off of him every night. Everything that can be done is being done, but so far nothing is working. He is one very sick puppy. He has, in his weakest moments, considered giving up.

I would like nothing better than to be able to go back to Denver to stay with him while he’s so sick. But this is the busy season at work. There are trainings, workshops outreach and education events planned for the next several months. There are so many things I can’t do when I’m away from the office and my work has suffered. I just can’t go right now. I ache because I can’t do the one thing I really feel I should be doing right now, giving Dale support.

I have wracked my brain (such as it is) trying to figure out a way to help Dale focus on the future. He has been inside the hospital for so long now that I think he has forgotten that there is a world outside of it. His friends call and send cards and gifts and of course Kay and I call as often as we can. There are times when he is too tired or discouraged to talk and those of us that love him are aware of that and understand.

A week or so ago, Butterfly Girl emailed to ask for Dale’s address at the hospital so that she and her daughter could send a home-made card to him. I gave her the address, thinking how happy Dale would be to receive such a kind offering. Then, last night, while trying to sleep, it occurred to me that maybe the blogworld could help Dale regain his will to live, his zest for life, and his desire to fight this thing and win.

So, fellow bloggers, I am asking for audience participation. I know you are all busy with your lives and it is a lot to ask that you take time out of your day to send a card, a letter, or a funny or uplifting photo to a man you don’t even know, but this simple act on your part might give him the boost he needs to continue to fight. And that, my friends, is what he needs.

Dale Petersen
Room 3408
Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital
1719 E 19th Ave
Denver, CO 80218

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My Name is Laurie and I'm an Elkaholic

These pictures were taken this weekend. My dad, brother, neighbor Lois, Shasta (the Disasta) and I drove up the West Rosebud River drainage, above Fishtail, Montana.

We saw a lot of wildlife on the trip. The photos, below, were taken about 20 miles from home just off of the gravel road that leads to Mystic Lake, where my dad was raised.

We were driving along and my brother spotted an elk coming out of the barrow ditch on the side of the road. I bailed out of the car (ala Mary) with my sweatshirt half on and the camera bag around my neck. I nearly choked on the seatbelt but managed to untangle myself and started snapping pictures. I think the other members of the expedition thought I was nuts.

Lone elk crossing the road...

A few of her friends followed...

And a few more...

They didn't go far...

It must have been dinner time.

There were more of them in the trees, but I couldn't get them all in the shot.

We drove further up the road and had another adventure (or two) which I will probably blog about later in the week. It was a splendid road trip and a good time was had by all. Even the elk.

**I hope my blog title doesn't offend anyone**