Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ebenezer Stones

Happy Thanksgiving!  Our church has a tradition on Thanksgiving.  If you go up front and share something you are thankful for, you may take an Ebenezer Stone (I Samuel 7:12) as a reminder.  Our church service was on Wednesday evening, always a special service.  I truly wanted to get up and share, but I didn't for two reasons.  1) I was a really long ways from the front (because of the way the chairs were placed) - it would have taken me a long time to walk up there  2) I was a bit concerned that once I had a microphone in my hand, I would have "lost it".  So often I am on the edge of losing it, even when I am feeling strong.  Does that make sense? 

Anyway, I want to share for my Ebeneezer Stone.  Last Sunday we had the opportunity to write a thankful note on a leaf, and put it up on a tree in the front of church.  Les wanted me to write that he was thankful for the "joy of his salvation".  I did, and I hung that leaf.  At the Wednesday evening service, Roger mentioned how thankful he was for the joy of his salvation, AND how we as Christians so often kinda forget about that, and that thankfulness/joy gets put on the back burner.  I thought back to Les' thankful leaf, and I thought, how true!  When you are faced with dying, what would you be thankful for???  More than likely you would be most thankful for the joy of your salvation.  As is Les.  We right now are thankful for many things, but nothing else matters as much as that hope.

Les has been saying for months, since he could not swallow ANYTHING, that he was going to eat mashed potatoes and sit with his family at Thanksgiving.  For a long time that did not seem possible.  And just last week he was told to eat thin liquids only.   Well, if you know Les, this will not surprise you:

Les smoked the turkey on his Traeger grill.  That turkey was so good.  The carving has been handed down to Kris - thanks Kris, you did a great job!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Special Visitors

Last weekend we had some very special visitors.  My cousin Jesse and his wife Cheryl were in town for a wedding.  My cousin and I grew up in southern California together.  He is my age, so of course one of my favorites.  I have a scar on my upper lip from when he threw something at me, back when we were about 5.  I still love him though.  And his wife Cheryl - what a dear.  I wish we lived closer together than 14 hours - I think we would be VERY good friends.

 We had a good week last week with no trips to UW.  Unfortunately, we have one this week.  I truly am getting tired of those trips - mainly because of the awful traffic in the city!!

Les is doing well.  He eats some real food almost every day (along with his liquid diet, of course).  Scrambled eggs, a pancake, some bacon, a piece of pizza!!, soup - and usually a shake a day.   Cousins Ron & Judy stopped in the other day.  She made a yummy squash-from-her-garden soup.  It was so good - Les really liked it!  (And Happy Birthday Ron! we forgot to tell you that day).   Les has gained a couple of pounds - yay!!  His breathing is great.  His breathing is so quiet after that noisy, messy trach tube.  His right hand/arm/shoulder continues to weaken, which is frustrating.  He really can't do much with that hand anymore.  Also his left leg is starting to drag, which makes me nervous when he is walking.  Apparently the dominant limbs are the first to weaken.  Strange, huh?  Please pray that his left hand stays strong.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mocha Shakes

Les' swallow test last week went as we figured.  Deanna, the speech therapist, told Les that he was swallowing (no leaking!!), but with difficulty.  His tongue doesn't work AT ALL anymore.  He can't keep his lips pressed together.  The swallowing muscles in his throat are slowing up.  BUT he was swallowing.  Deanna suggested thin liquids only.  She explained it would be easier for Les if his head was tilted back a bit when swallowing.  This has been easiest for Les when reclining in his chair, since he can't really keep his head tilted back on his own.
SO, Les is trying different things and figuring out what works and what doesn't.  One thing that Les has missed eating/drinking is a mocha shake.  He LOVES them.  Teacher niece Emily texted one afternoon and asked if he needed anything.  Yes, he did - a mocha shake.  The next day, pastor friend Ben asked if Les needed anything.  Yes, he did - a mocha shake.  These shakes were from two different coffee stands in town.  As most of you know, there is not a shortage of coffee stands in our town!  Our friend Tana found out about these mocha shakes and insisted that were she works had the best mocha shakes.  Okay, Les said, prove it.  Sunday after church Tana brought one of those over.  (This was 3 mocha shakes in 4 days!!).  Les decided that Tana was right - that mocha shake was the best.  He has also tried eating soup, which works pretty well.  Neighbor Grace once again showed up at our door step - this time with several almond sticks and homemade pea soup.  I have been enjoying the almond sticks and Les also enjoyed the pea soup.  So yummy!!!

Seriously - who does this??? 
Back to the Seattle trip last week.  Les knew I needed a break from Seattle, so he asked his friend Rolf to take him.  Rolf is a farmer; he made the time to take Les.  This was the first appointment I have not been to in a year and a half of appointments.  It was a weird feeling when Les left - guilt mixed with relief.  I have seen a swallow test before so we both felt it was an appointment I could miss.  Thank you very much Rolf - I very much enjoyed the day off. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Whew, LONG day yesterday.  We figured it would be about an hour appointment with Dr. Hillel, including getting Les' stitches out and the swallow test.  We should know better by now!!

Leslie and Little Man came along with us this trip, since it was just the one appointment and we didn't have to be at UW until 3:15.  Leslie needed to pick up her wedding ring after getting it cleaned in the city-- so we had some fun passengers.

While waiting at UW, Leslie, Little Man and I had popped up to the 8th floor to visit Nurse Jen.  We had a fun visit with her!  Little Man, like his grandpa, thought that Nurse Jen is pretty awesome.  Les and I finally saw Dr. Hillel about 4:30  Dr. Hillel chatted with us about Les' concerns with the saliva.  Dr. thinks we need to give it more time.  He reminded Les that this was a pretty invasive surgery and it might take awhile for things to settle down in there.  In the meantime, Les will go back on the meds to help control saliva.  Dr. Hillel also told us that he was NOT able to get the swallow test for this day.  He was quite upset about this, and we appreciated that.  While sitting there, Les received the email that the x-ray swallow test will be this Wednesday (grrrrrrrrrr).  Dr. Hillel went ahead and had Les swallow a bit of water, AND HE SWALLOWED IT!  Praise the Lord.  Dr. said to go ahead and start with swallowing some clear liquids now until Wednesday.  We questioned why we even had to do the test, but Dr. said he really needs to make sure there is no leakage after this huge surgery.  OKAY.............

Dr. Hillel had something going on next door to us - he was in and out of there the entire 3 hours we were hanging around.  People coming and going, tears, phone calls.  We felt bad for him and for whoever was in that exam room.  One of the reasons everything got pushed back so much, I guess.

We then had a conversation with the Speech Pathologist.  She was pretty helpful explaining the stoma and how the new swallowing will work.  She talked with Les about HME's (Humidifier plug) which Les will need to use after his stoma is completely healed.  Finally, we had to wait for Nurse Carol to come in and take out the stitches.  The side stitches went pretty well, but the stoma stitches were very painful.  Les took a break and decided to have some painkiller put in.  Duh!!  The stoma stitches took awhile.  But now that all stitches are out, Les is turning his head side to side again, and the area looks great!
On the way home, Leslie and I grabbed a burger and sweet potato fries to eat on our ride home.  A bit down the road, Les asked for a fry.  And then another...........he was eating took a long time to get them down but he did it!!  HUGE SMILE on his face. (Don't tell Dr. Hillel!!)  This morning he is again drinking a bit of water and some apple juice.

We are thankful for these small things.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Post-Op Surgery Update

We've been home since Monday night, so I figured I better get an update out!

Overall, Les is doing pretty well.  His incisions look good and are healing nicely.  He is breathing so much easier.  He has had a bit more saliva the past few days, which is a bit of a concern.  His whole neck has been stiff and numb so we are hoping and praying that is the reason for excess saliva.  Tomorrow, Monday, we go to Dr. Hillel to have the stitches taken out.  Dr. will also do a swallow test.

Les has been a bit down off and on the past several days.  He is a bit discouraged about the saliva and he is quite anxious about the swallow test.  He is SO hoping and praying for the ability to swallow SOMETHING and he is afraid he won't be able to swallow anything.  Please pray that he will be able to swallow!!

We have had very timely visitors this week!  One evening he was pretty down and several different people popped in.  When the last one left he said, "I guess I needed some company - I feel much better"!  We had an issue with our pond yesterday morning.  Les and I were both out there working in the wet and mud.  He was trying to explain what he needed done with the pump - and that kinda thing is NOT my forte.  Needless to say we were "having a moment".  Just at that time friend Dale stopped by to drop something off....he took over as Les' pump assistant and I went in the house and cried.  Again, a very timely visitor!  And once I have a good cry like that, I'm pretty good again for awhile. :)

We do covet your prayers.  Please pray the saliva gets under control.  Please pray Les will be able to swallow a bit.  And if you ever feel like popping in for a couple minutes, please do so!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Home Sweet Home

We are home!!!  I had planned on coming home Sunday afternoon to get some work done today and then go back to UW tonight.  For some reason last night I decided to stay.  Nurse Kelsie had said, No, not going home Monday.  We had a really busy weekend with visitors and I was tired so decided to just stay.

This morning when I saw Les, he was pretty perky! The doctors at 6:45 had mentioned MAYBE he could go home tonight.  Well, we both went running with that.  Les got dressed in sweatpants this morning; he walked without any support; he got in and out of bed; he sat in a chair for several hours.  We asked nurse Megan what we had to do to go home.  She said she would work on it.  We had a stoma cleaning session planned for 3 (Les' opening in his throat is called a stoma). Dr. Hillel surprised us at one - we thought he would come around 6 pm!! He was so pleased with Les' progress and said we could go home. Praise The Lord! We still figured it would be around 6 or 7 before the orders got through.  My brother Don surprised us about that time, 1:00.  He lives in eastern Washington and drove over just to visit.  He helped pass the time.  All of a sudden at 3:30 nurse Megan came in waving discharge papers and we were out of there by 4:30.  I was so thankful to have my brother to help load everything up and push the wheelchair!!

When we got home this dark and dreary night, the cleaning fairies had returned.  My house has not been this clean for a very long time.  Lawn is mowed, flower beds are cleaned out, soup is in the fridge.  You have NO IDEA how much we appreciate these acts of love.  Thanks for all the prayers, the cards, the visits (didn't get a picture of Pam & Brandi!!), the gifts.....
Day 1 - not sure Les remembers this visit!!
Pastor/friend Ben
Had a GREAT lunch/visit with these girls Friday
Always an adventure with Emily......
Happy Birthday Leslie!  And SURPRISE from Alaska nephew Mark  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Things Are Looking Up

Saturday morning here at UW is pretty quiet! No traffic this morning and the medical center is VERY quiet.  We aren't used to that!

Les got moved to a regular floor last night.  My friend Lori was here for the afternoon; she had gone to get a cup of coffe about 6.  While she was gone two nurses came in and threw all of Les' stuff on the bed, unplugged all his tubes and wires, and took off!!  I had to grab all my stuff and Lori's stuff and try to keep up.  He is on a floor with several trach patients.  It's quieter, but the nurses don't come as quickly when called.  Weird to see so many people with trachs!

Les had a much better day yesterday.  First thing in the morning he got up and walked with David from PT (David is who we work with on the wheelchair fitting).  Les walked twice more yesterday.  Now today he has made the rounds twice already! Niece Emily came and spent the night with Lori and I last night, so Emily got to walk with uncle this morning.  We also had visits yesterday from Pam and Brandi, Sheri and Kay.  I had a great lunch with Lori, Sheri and Kay.  Ben spent some time with Les in the morning; he and Kate popped back in later.  Thank you all for visiting!

Today is Leslie's birthday.  Our kids and grand baby are coming down and will spend the night.  Les is resting up for the excitement.   No talk of going home yet and I think Les is okay with that.