Friday, February 29, 2008

Another Day In The ICU

We went in a bit later today so we could go to an art store for Kerry so he could find something on which to draw. We got there about noon. It was a bit of a hard day, but resolved to the positive in the end.

She was fighting the ventilator when we got there. The fighting was wearing her out as she tried to breathe while the ventilator tried to do the same thing for her. They finally decided to paralyze her again. That helped enormously. Her blood oxygen went back into the 90s. This way she can use her energy to heal not to fight the ventilator.

No fever, white cell count is good, her weight is coming down again as they get fluids off of her from the surgery on Wednesday. Tomorrow she is going to get a new bed that rocks from side to side. This will keep her blood from clotting plus they won't have to move her as much to relieve pressure sores. It's like a very slow-motion hammock.

We are scheduled to go home on Tuesday, but I just don't see how I can leave her. We will see. The very negative lung doctor, Dr. McCauley, will be gone as of Monday. He's there on a one month fellowship. I didn't like him from the get go. He's very negative and has no bedside manner.

Tonight she has a male nurse named Kevin. He's very efficient but doesn't have the same warmth that the women do. I know that is sexist but I can't help myself. I want the best medical and emotional care for my sister.

We are not out of the woods yet.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Toothbrush Episode

We had a good laugh in ICU today; that almost sounds like an oxymoron. Now that the intubation tube is out of her mouth and in her neck, the nurses can do a more thorough job of brushing her teeth. She had a great nurse today who has been an ICU nurse for 25 years. She calls herself an adrenaline junky.

Anyway Carol brushes Vicky's teeth with a small sponge covered with toothpaste at the end of a toothbrush-type handle. Today she put the toothbrush in Vicky's mouth and started scrubbing. Vicky clamped down on the toothbrush with her teeth and wouldn't let go. Carol, said "that's a good sign. She's in there and doesn't like what I'm doing." Carol did it several more times and she reacted the same way. It really relieved my stress to see her fight back. She needs to keep fighting.

Other good news today: her white cell count is up and she doesn't have a fever. She's still on ventomyocin (sp?). And she's getting six cans of liquid food every 24 hours. It's baby steps but they are steps.

As we were leaving the hospital today we heard "Code Blue on 3North." Vicky is on 2North. My heart went out to the poor family of that person, but I was so glad it wasn't Vicky. That's all for today. Neil is working again tomorrow so Kerry and I will be on duty.

Thank you all again for your kind words, thoughts, energy and prayers. They are working.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One More Step

We have been in Minneapolis for two seems like forever. Seeing her with the all the tubes and machines was very hard. Kerry and I are really here to support her husband and kids. My view of that is to cook comfort food. I made tuna casserole tonight; that's about as basic as it gets. A crock pot recipe for the next two nights and then homemade made mac and cheese.

Vicky had more surgery today. It was hard to even think about that because her first surgery went so wrong. Today they did a tracheotomy (sp?) which will actually help her breathe better. It also allowed us to see her face. I stroked her cheek after surgery, ran my fingers through her hair and then held the one hand that does not have any lines running into it. They were going to close her stomach muscles but decided not to for the time being. We didn't get to see the surgeon because he had to go back into another operation.

The staff in the ICU are incredible; they really care for her. She has one nurse just for her. The nurse she had tonight always combs her hair. They move her often to avoid pressure sores and put lotion on her body to keep her skin moist. Because they did the trach, she can now have more and different things through the tube in her nose. It's also a smaller tube and in a different nostril. They can give her water and meds through the tube plus she continues to get nutrition which she is tolerating very well. Her stoma has healed well and her intestines are working.

When we left tonight the kidney doctor was hooking her up to the dialysis machine again. They removed that during surgery.

Her birthday is April 12th. I really hope I get to say happy birthday to her and hear her respond. We met some folks today in ICU who have been there for 4-1/2 weeks. I think we will beat their record because their family member goes to a respiratory rehab center on Friday.

The bright spot in the day came when we were in the hospital lobby during her surgery; we got to watch all the newborns go home. It helped balance what was happening for our family. And Kerry, well he has been just great. I couldn't do this without him.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

People Are Wonderful

I was out running errands earlier today in the pouring rain. It's also really windy. My last stop was the scrapbook store. I was looking for a 5/8 inch hole punch to use in my newest applique block. You punch a hole in non-melt Mylar and then use it to make any circles in the applique. The circles are called yo-yos.

Somehow the sales clerk, who had been really helpful, and I started talking and before I knew it I had told her about my sister being in ICU. "Would you like her name added to our prayer group?" she asked. I was amazed. Here I am a total stranger and this woman is willing to pray for my sister whom she's never met. I readily agreed and told her we had other prayer groups, but one more would never hurt.

So that's my happy story for the day. I'm off to the quilt show to pick up my Mardi Gras quilt. I ordered a CD of all the quilts in the show so I can show all of you a few of the most amazing quilts.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

She's Still Stable

Nothing much to report about Vicky, which is the good news. There is no bad news. She is still on dialysis and the ventilator. But lately the nurses have been asking about her hearing aid. Today the nurses talked to my brother about her hearing loss and what the best way is to talk to her. They have her hearing aid and glasses in the drawer next to her bed along with additional batteries.

Kerry and I are flying to Minneapolis next Tuesday to spend a week with my sister and family. My brother is still there. He's going home on Sunday. I left Minneapolis in 1971 and have only occasionally visited. The rule, which my family knows, is that I don't visit after Nov. 1 (well once in 1999) and I don't visit before May 1. As I'm sure you know it's after Nov. 1 and before May 1. I'm not even sure I know where my warm clothes are.

The good news about the weather is that it will be above zero all next week (even at night). This week it got down to 25 below zero. The only time I will be outside is when I go from the car to whatever building I'm entering. I am a wimp when it comes to cold weather.

Once again my brother-in-law said to thank everyone for their prayers and positive energy. I don't think it's time to stop, however. We still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Great News

I think we have turned a corner. They stopped her paralytic drug today. The dialysis has taken 23 pounds of fluid out of her body. The number of breaths on the respirator has been reduced. Your prayers and energy have worked. Thank you.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Good News

Well, once again she bounced back. Her good health when she went into the hospital was so important; it has helped in so many ways. Plus my sister is very strong-willed, just like me. We don't give up easily.

Her collapsed lung re-inflated and her blood oxygen level is 100%. Her blood pressure is normal. They got another couple of liters of fluid out of her today thanks to the dialysis and the opening of her incisions. Gas that had built up in her belly was pressing down in her kidneys as well as making her belly swell. Now that the gas has been released her kidneys are doing much better but she will stay on dialysis. She received two units of whole blood today because her hemoglobin level was low.

So my goal is to get my sister to my son's wedding on Oct. 4th at the Grand Canyon. Everyone needs a goal; she can't set any right now so Neil and I have done it for her.

This means that your prayers and positive energy are working. If you could just keep it up for a while longer.... We are not out of the woods yet but I do think we see a clearing ahead.


That's how things look right now. One of her lungs went flat and they had to insert a chest tube to reinflate it. Also her lungs are "stiff," which is probably why this happened. Plus the build up of air in her body required that they open her incision to release the pressure. My brother says you can see her intestines.

The dialysis continues to work. My brother is going to stay in Minneapolis for a few more days. We were going to leave for Palm Desert today but now that's on hold.

Keep praying.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's Working

The dialysis is working. The type she is having does not take over her entire kidney function. I'm not sure I understand it very well, but I am glad that within an hour of starting she had filled an entire urine bag. Neil said he was never so happy to see pee.

Already her oxygen level in her blood is up and her blood pressure is more in the normal range. They are not trying to remove the fluid buildup that makes her look so puffy. That will come once they think the kidneys are working better and can handle it. Somehow they weighed her and she has 25 pounds of fluid in her.

So for tonight at least I will sleep better and feel a tiny bit optimistic. Thank you all for your support.

A Very Special Bouquet

This wonderful creation was sent to us by my brother and sister-in-law. It arrived yesterday when I was feeling especially low about my sister. The company that does this is Incredible Edibles ( ). The strawberries dipped in chocolate are especially tasty.

I just spoke with my brother-in-law. My sister is starting dialysis today. Her kidneys are not functioning as they should; they don't want fluid to build up in her abdominal cavity again so the dialysis is necessary. It will be continuous until her kidneys start doing a better job.

That just freaks me out. Neil, bless his heart, told me this was a positive thing. I should be comforting him and he's doing it for me. Good guy. He and my sister are just two years shy of their 40th wedding anniversary.

So keep praying and sending energy.
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Friday, February 15, 2008

My Brother-in-Law Thanks You

Neil wanted me to let all of you know how much he and Vicky appreciate the prayers and positive energy you have sent their way. He thinks it's pretty wonderful that people who don't know either of them will write such wonderful thoughts and keep them in their prayers. I already know how special all of you are. He's learning.

The litany of her health woes is long and scary: lung infection, on ventilator with nebulizer attached still trying to keep her lungs inflated even when she exhales, kidneys not doing well, sedated and paralyzed so she can recover, on antibiotics... I sort of lost count. Her blood pressure was too low but that seems to have responded well to medication.

They have started physical therapy for her so her muscles don't atrophy. They are especially concerned about something called "dropped foot." When you are sedated and paralyzed as she is, your feet drop and your achilles is shortened. To prevent that from being permanent, she is wearing a boot with a hard sole that keeps her feet in a position that extends the tendon. Plus they move her around so she doesn't get pressure sores.

My brother and his wife were there today. My brother said he couldn't call me until he stopped sobbing.

Right this moment my son is playing at Carnegie Hall with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. I would like to have been there but I just couldn't do it; I have to stay close to Kerry. He is my rock in good times and bad.

I feel sick to my stomach and sort of spacey. I'm getting through this by counting each hour that she is alive as proof that she will make it. Please keep praying and sending energy. She is my baby sister and I don't want to lose her. And thank you from the entire family for your support.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Doing Just Okay, Fabric Helps

Nothing bolsters my spirits like writing about, reading about and touching fabric. I find I'm having trouble concentrating today. My thoughts are with my sister in the ICU in Minneapolis, but I'm here and feel pretty helpless. So I went to the web site for my favorite quilt shop and looked at upcoming classes. The pillow here is a class taught by Rami Kim. She uses a Korean method for folding fabric to make quilts, wearable art and pillows three dimensional. This pillow is just plain beautiful plus I want to learn these folding methods. So March 14th I will be in class with her for six hours and make this pillow.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Sister

After four hours of surgery, she is in the ICU; intubated and drugged for a while until she can recover. She's on antibiotics due to the leakage from the original joining of the colon. The doctor took out some more of her colon. I'm worried about the infection because I've read all kinds of things about MRSA. I'm hoping Blogauthor will be of help here. She knows this stuff.

I am so relieved that she survived the surgery. Don't stop praying and sending energy yet. She still needs all she can get. I told my brother-in-law to whisper in her ear tomorrow that I love her. It's something I need her to know. We have not always had the most pleasant of relationships.

So, I'm off to bed now. My bookgroup was here during all of this, and we actually had a great discussion thanks to Jan who took care of it all. I was a basket case. Our dessert was sugar-free ice cream (vanilla and cookies and cream) with homemade biscotti (not made in my home but made by my friend Linda's husband Tony).

That's all for today. She is alive, and I'm so greatful for that.

My Sister

She went back into surgery at 2 p.m. Pacific time. Fluid was building up in her abdominal cavity, which was making it very difficult for her to breath. I'm a wreck. My poor brother-in-law is a triple double wreck. Prayers and energy are urgently needed. That's all.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Worry And Stubbornness

Well, my sister is having a hard time with her recovery from her colon surgery. The good news is the nodule was a nano-second away from being cancerous but it wasn't. Yippee. Everything around the nodule was clean.

She is just really having a hard time recovering. My family is known for its stubbornness; we are not proud of that but we are a stubborn Norwegian/Irish lot. To give you a frame of reference. I had knee surgery when I was 16. I was supposed to move my leg afterward. This was 1961 so they didn't have all these fancy computerized things to move your leg whether you wanted to or not. I said it hurt to move it and wouldn't do it. The orthopedist came in and told me I had to move it. I said no. He moved it, I screamed and my father, who was there, punched him. I felt vindicated; the doctor was pissed and my father felt he'd done the right thing. Many years later I can tell you I should have moved my leg. I have very limited mobility in that knee and it's all due to my stubbornness. Back to my sister.

The big issue for my sister is getting out of bed and walking. She was worried about falling so didn't. Her lungs began to collapse which caused her to breath shallowly which caused her to panic. My brother, sister and I are asthmatics so not being able to breath is a big deal.

Plus she couldn't keep anything down so wasn't taking her anti-anxiety drugs. Yesterday they finally gave her the drugs intravenously plus they put a tube down her nose to her stomach to get rid of the toxic mixture that had built up there.

I had that tube to the stomach procedure when I had complications after a gall bladder operation a few years ago. It is an awful procedure, but the relief is practically instantaneous. I was in the emergency room when it was done (I digress). The nurse who did it asked Kerry if he wanted to stay. He said yes, held my hand, stroked my back and whispered calming words. What a guy. After that he went to move the car, which was in a limited time parking area. The nurse said to me, "Is he your husband?" I said no; she said, "he's a keeper; most guys are out of the room at the mention of the procedure." I kept him.

Back to my sister. So today she finally walked a bit. She still has not eaten. Surgery was last Wednesday. Until she eats and shows that her colon is working, she cannot go home. There is a family wedding next Friday that I know she wants to attend. Right now her husband Neil says he will go with their youngest son Adam.

Meanwhile I found out that my cousin Dennis' wife Carole has a bad case of Shingles. She's in a lot of pain and spending a good portion of her day in bed. She's supposed to be at the same wedding next Friday but has to fly to Minneapolis from Naples, FL to get there.

Things are not looking good for the wedding.

The good news is that Kerry and I are healthy and happy; the sun has shown for several days and tomorrow I go to my quilt guild meeting. But, as you can tell, the rest of the family needs some prayers, positive energy and a lot of crossed digits.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Back To Normal

Yes, I'm feeling much better. The food/wine hangover did pass as they always do. Luckily Kerry found a home for the huge, multi-layered chocolate chocolate cake from Costco. One of our guests brought it to the party. Everyone had some; then we were faced with this delicious thing which neither Kerry or I need. So Kerry took it to our polling place on Tuesday and they were very glad to see it.

I sure wish that Super Tuesday had been more definitive (I'm a Hillary supporter; if you don't like her don't send me any ugly mail).

My sister had her surgery yesterday for the pre-cancerous nodule in her colon. Everything went well. The doctor said it didn't look "nasty;" his word not mine. Now we just have to wait for the pathology report.

Unlike so many surgeries these days, she will be in the hospital for a few days so they can make sure that her digestive system works. I hadn't thought about that. They took out two inches of her colon; a little on either side of the nodule just to make sure. I was pretty nervous all day waiting to hear from my brother-in-law. Turns out the surgery was delayed for a couple of hours due to the person in the operating room before her. My brother is in Denmark on business and had to go to bed before we knew the outcome. He found out this morning with my e-mail.

So thank you all for your prayers and positive energy. Once again it did the trick. Don't skip those colonoscopies. The prep is worse than the exam.

We had lots of veggies left over from our party so I made a soup with potatoes and leeks (not left over), red peppers, cauliflower, carrots and corn (also not left over). I cooked the veggies in chicken broth and a little leftover wine, whirred it up in the Cuisinart, added some cream, salt and pepper, and we had soup. Kerry bought some really good crusty bread to dunk. Delicious and healthy dinner.

It's treadmill day and then on to some more quilting. The sun is shining and I feel great.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Day After The Super Bowl

I feel like shit...I got up at 7:30 and was back in bed by 9:30 and never quite got up for very long until about 4:30. I didn't even feel like quilting. Before I get any further in the description of my woes, I am really glad the underdog won. That actually may be why they won; nothing to lose. Besides, the Patriots had a great run so get over it.

Anyway, we had our usual Super Bowl party complete with Kerry's great homemade chili plus all kinds of appetizers. Missing this year were the chocolate martinis, which is probably a good thing. I guess I drank a lot of chardonnay and I ate all kinds of rich appetizers plus a large piece of a four layer chocolate cake from Costco. For a split second this morning I felt great. It was sunny, no rain and clear skies. I hadn't been up more than a few minutes when I knew that this day would go down in history as a wine/food hangover day. I had planned to get on the treadmill for my usual 45 minutes. Didn't happen. It's now evening and I'm beginning to feel human again. Getting older makes it harder to party hardy. Next year, veggies and one glass of wine...who am I kidding. Anyway, I had fun and our company was great.

Friday, February 01, 2008


Had lunch with a wonderful friend today. We've known each other forever. When you are 63, that is a long time.

I have know for a long time that she was unhappy in her marriage; maybe even longer than she's known. We skirted the edges of her unhappiness at birthday lunches but never really acknowledged the elephant in the corner. I just didn't have the courage to tell her that I knew how much pain she was in and that I thought she should throw the bastard out.

Today she sort of came clean and told me how awful it is. I told her that I knew from the very beginning of the marriage that she was going to be made to feel unimportant and not very bright. She is none of those things. I did beat her in a spelling bee in 6th grade but that was the last time I beat her.

Her situation reminded me so much of my marriage. In my husband's eyes I couldn't do anything right. With the help of a wonderful therapist I finally began to discover that I'm okay; it's the other person who is struggling with self esteem. In order to feel good, he had to put me down.

I think my friend began to see a glimmer of hope today. It's going to be tough for her and I don't know what the end will be, but I feel good about the honesty I showed her today.

Say a prayer for her; she will need it.