Monday, May 25, 2015

Random Stuff

 Several months ago, our daughter-in-law and her dentist dad Randy created a "bumper" for Les to wear in his mouth because he kept biting his tongue and cheeks.  This new bumper has helped so much with that.  They re-created some sort of brace for him.  Isn't she cute???   Les still does bite his tongue quite a bit, but the "bumper" protects his cheeks.

My workout friend Jan happens to be our son's mother-in-law and our daughter-in-law's mother.  Jan brings Les and I lattes every Tuesday morning.  She is so sweet and giving.

I do bookkeeping work for Joey.  Joey, Jeff and Joe built our wheelchair ramp in the garage.  Joey and Jeff also put in a wider door to our bathroom so the wheelchair gets in easier.  Joey is a great boss and a great friend.  My other construction friends helped refinish the new door, and our church friend Dan (who owns the door store) donated the door.  This is all so great!

The reverend in romeo's has made some random visits.  He recently cleaned out our flower beds and brought away all our cardboard.  I need to catch him by camera one of these visits!!

My friends Pam and Doris have set up a schedule for meals to be brought in.  This has been very helpful since we were receiving so many meals!  We are truly blessed by all the great cooks we know.

The cleaning fairies have been showing up every few weeks.  It seems like such an easy thing to just quick vacuum or dust...........but that's always at the end of my list so never gets done.   It's such a relief knowing that our house is staying clean.  Well......... except for the other day when Kris was transferring his Dad and knocked over his FULL vanilla latte on the carpet...........  Oh well.  It's only carpet.   Thankfully Melinda next door has a Spot Bot.

Recently our church handed out a piece of paper that was blank except for "Dear Les".......  The other day Pastor Clay stopped by with all of these notes from our church family.  We can only read a few at a time because I start crying and can't read, and Les starts crying and can't breath......  We are so grateful for our church family.  (Truly, how does anyone go through a journey like this without the support of a church family?????)   It is a silver lining to being diagnosed with a terminal illness:  Les is being blessed even as he knows his life here on earth is short.  In all truthfulness, we should always be this caring and supportive of each other!  We are all going to die some day - Les is not the only one that will leave this world!
The other pic is our card box - overflowing with cards we have received.

We had a great Mother's Day.  We are blessed to have my mom here with us, and our two girls.  Baby bump is growing!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


This is a nasty disease.  It just plain sucks.  We are progressing into a not-so-very-fun stage.

When this disease began we thought, Well Les is slurring his words a bit - we can handle that!  When he could barely talk we thought, Well, he can still talk with texting and we can understand some words.  At least he is mobile and very active!

When he had his first trach surgery we thought, Well at least he is mobile and he can talk with texting.  He was pretty miserable because he couldn't eat, but he was mobile and active!

After his second surgery which removed his larynx, we were so thankful he could eat a bit again!  He was mobile and could talk with texting.  He started losing a bit of strength in his right hand and left leg, but otherwise was doing good physically.  He could still give himself his meds and was walking!

When Les started using a walker we thought, Well he can still get around.  He can get in and out of the car, he can get himself to bed, he can get himself on the toilet.  And he could still talk with texting!

When Les couldn't walk anymore or use his right hand at all we thought, Well he can still talk with texting using his left hand!  He could still stand upright so I could get him from the recliner to the wheelchair, and from the wheelchair to the toilet.  He couldn't give himself his meds anymore, but I learned all that and did it myself.  He could still feed himself.

But now Les can't get himself up and I can't pull him up by myself.  He is losing strength in his left hand; he can barely hold his phone to text (to talk).  He is losing strength to swallow; he can only eat foods that have been thinned enough to feed through a syringe.  We have some of his very dear friends coming every evening to get him on and off the toilet, and into the recliner for bed (he prefers sleeping in the recliner).  We recently hired a gal, Kelli, to come in three mornings a week to get him up and washed.  Kelli also does a bit of stretching with his legs and arms.  The other mornings, either our son Kris or a friend gets Les up.  Les has to make a decision in the morning if he wants to spend the day in the recliner or his wheelchair.  Most days it's the wheelchair; he can get outside on the deck and putz around the house a bit.  He also uses a cough assist several times a day to pull up mucus (like our snot) from his stoma opening.

We have been with Hospice for a month now.  We LOVE nurse Carren and we LOVE the bath aide Sheila.  These gals are so kind and compassionate!  Carren comes once a week - she brings meds and cans of liquid food,  she changes the catheter, she does a quick physical check up.  Sheila comes twice a week to give Les a shower in the bathtub - we use a transfer chair.  Les has also tried acupuncture through Hospice - he's had Robin come once and will probably continue weekly.  She also did a bit of massage, which he loved!

We are currently trying to learn how to use a Hoyer lift and a different version of that lift.  When Les can't bear ANY weight on his own, we will need to use this lift.  He is not happy about it.  It's not a very nice way to be transferred.  But, it will be a necessity and we need to be prepared.

Not a very uplifting post, I realize.  But we are in a very difficult stage.  It's exhausting for me and for Les.  We covet your prayers - we need them.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Our Love Story (in a nutshell)

We met the last week of my junior year of college in Iowa.  Les was a city police officer.  One day I was riding my bike and Les drove up next to me on his Goldwing motorcycle and asked if I wanted a ride.  Um, yes please!!   We saw each other just about every night that last week until I left for Washington for the summer.  Les actually drove out with his parents that summer and he spent a week visiting at my parents house.  We dated that next year, my senior year.   I knew from about our first date that I wanted to marry him!!  We had originally planned on getting married right after my college graduation, but we had a bit of a bump in our relationship (we hadn't even dated a year!!!) so postponed the wedding a year.  After graduation I got a job in Yakima, Washington; Les quit his police officer job and started long haul trucking.  We visited a few times, wrote many letters, and spent lots of $$ on long distance phone calls!

We got married May 8, 1982 in Iowa.  We had a second wedding reception in Washington.  We settled in Iowa.

 I had a great job for a large advertising company. Les was a long haul trucker for a few years until he became an electrician for the same city he was a police officer.  After 4 years, we had our first baby, Kristopher Gerrit.  I went back to work full time but after six months of that craziness I quit and became a full time mommy.  Almost 3 years later Leslie Grace came along.

 About this time, Les decided he wanted to try out for a state trooper job.  When Leslie turned 2, he went to police academy and became an Iowa state trooper.  It wasn't long before he decided he wasn't cut out for that kind of work.

  He went back to an electrician job, but wasn't content.  We talked about moving to Washington (his idea - not mine!!).  Les had a job interview in eastern Washington and while out there, we decided to drive to Lynden because Les had heard so much about it.  We both fell in love with this little town and decided we wanted to live here.  Through some total "God things" we ended up moving about a month later.  Les then applied for a UPS driving job - he was a preloader for about 3.5 years while also working for a local electrician.  I got a job with a construction contractor and they offered to build us a house.  We still live in the same house!  And I work for the same contractor.  It's been almost 23 years since we have lived here.  We never regretted the move.

Today is our 33rd anniversary.  It's weird knowing that this is most likely our last anniversary we will celebrate together.  We won't be going on a trip, we won't be going out for dinner, we won't even be able to have an "I love you" kiss.  But, we have been blessed with so many more amazing years than lots of people have!   When we look back, we can totally see how God was weaving everything together.  Tough times helped us grow.  Fun times made for good memories.  We always loved each other "tons and tons" no matter what happened.  He was always my best friend.

Les always gave me flowers on our anniversary.  Lots of fun surprises!  The best was one of the first years we lived here.  We went out for dinner at the place on Chuckanut Drive.  Right before we received our dinners, the waiter brought me flowers.  What???  How did he do that?   And today was no exception.  Not sure how he did it, but I had flowers delivered today. 

This disease has not taken away our love.  Les can't talk and tell me that he loves me, but he can make a heart with his fingers to tell me. Caring for a loved one is a true testament of true love.  Believe me, I wouldn't do this for anyone else!  We are so thankful that God brought us together and we are thankful that He has given us 33 amazing years.
My flowers today