Thursday, April 28, 2011

Letting Go

It might have been funny. Well, actually it was funny. The six of us, seven if you  count Mom, plus 2 laptops, an oxygen machine, an Ipad, a Kindle, 2 blackberries, 4 cell phones and, oh yes, even a jigsaw puzzle, crowded in a makeshift boot camp/slumber party/vigil in Moms tiny room at Parker Oaks.
Grieving family gone high tech.
Except we did not skype. Crap, we could have skyped.

Just like old times
we joked about passing gas
endured stinky feet (wait, I guess I didn't say anything because I'm about 99% sure it was my feet)
climbed over each other countless times
played musical chairs with the winners ending up in one of  the 2 broken down recliners and the losers in the metal folding chair.
reminisced about whatever came to mind
didn't sleep
sang hymns
checked facebook

And every chance possible drew close to Mom, stroked her forehead, hands, arms, shoulders
And had plenty of time to tell her over and over, how much we loved her and what a great mom she was.
Tears seeped from her eyes when we sang
Tears flowed down her cheeks this morning.
She heard and felt everything.
She slipped peacefully in the arms of her Savior at 10 am this morning.
What a glorious resurrection gift.
That right now feels like an inconsolable loss

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Curled up in a blanket in a recliner next to Mom's bed. I'm dozing intermittently but Mom is awake and a little restless.
I push down the footrest and go up to the bed..
"I love you," she says
"I love you too, Mom. You are the best Mom ever"
"How are you doing?" she asks
""I'm OK"
"Am I ok?" she wonders
"You are great"

"Good." she whispers.

I go back to the chair, lean back and close my eyes
I put down the foot rest and go up to her bed. I re-position the cool towel on her forehead. She sighs and says, "There, that feels so good."
"Everything OK, Mom?"
"I'm good."

A few moments later, "Nina"
This time she just looks at me and says, "I forgot what I was going to say."
"I't's ok Mom, I need the exercise."
I tease her about owing me a big tip--like when we're in Florida and I put out a "Tip Jar"
She nods.
And I realize that she can't smile anymore--except with her eyes.

Monday, April 25, 2011


What a glorious resurrection day yesterday! We worshipped early in the morning in the crisp spring air and heard the proclamation of the women at the tomb, "he is not here, he is risen. Jesus is alive"
There is no denying that Mom's condition is deteriorating. Vaunda and I are with her tonight. We feel the power and strength of all of your prayers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


to figure out what to post about the past few days.
There's so much to say.
But I don't have the words.
Well, yes I do, but you do not want to hear them right now.
Mom entered Parker Oaks just in time for an outbreak of a stomach virus.
The sounds and smells nearly did us in yesterday.
One month ago today was the day we found out Mom had cancer.
This afternoon I curled up on the couch in my office and fell sound asleep.
Maybe tomorrow I can write more.
I'll try.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank you

For all of your prayers, cards, notes, calls, texts, comments. We are blessed to have been able to continue the tradition of  birthday pizza!

Nothing fancy--kind of thrown together
Like this post--but I'm tired tonight. In a good way.
Because this was the first day in a long time that something felt normal.
Monday night supper

Saturday, April 16, 2011


the hospital today. Finally.
At least that is the plan.
But I am SO done with planning.
Mom is being discharged to Parker Oaks Care Facility
Who at first told the social worker that they do not do weekend admissions
Then Dr. Ingram (palliative care physician) intervened
And told them the Monday is Mom's birthday and neither he nor the family wanted her to spend her birthday in transit
They changed their mind
And told them he "owed them big"
(what do you suppose that means in their terms?)
Hopefully by the end of the day, Mom will be settled in her room. No tubes. No pokes. No hospital noise.
Maybe she can hear the birds chirp, see the faces of family, friends and have as much birthday cake as she wants.
We may even sneak in a puppy...but mum's the word on that one!

Friday, April 15, 2011


for answers.

After 2 fairly good days, Mom was weaker yesterday. Sounds like she did not sleep well the night before.
A long nap in the afternoon seemed to help. She was able to work with the respiratory therapists and get back up the chair for dinner.
Whenever we go to McDonalds, Mom always orders the fish sandwich, so I ordered her one off the hospital menu. She ate almost the whole thing! Yay Mom! So we are going to try ordering her some other favorites like maybe Mac and Cheese or a hot dog. The good part is, if she doesn't like it we can order something else.
We have a care conference scheduled for 1 pm today. It seems like it's time to get her surgery, hospital and palliative care doctors together and attempt to come up with a plan to get her out of the hospital.

Care conference. I've heard that expression so many times. But it's always for someone else.
Not us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The View From Here

Zac and Amber's dog Maddie comes to work with Zac every day. She spends 99.9% of her time on the couch in Sam's office or this chair in my office. Maddie now has a baby sister, Zoe. Maddie (chair) met me at the office door.

It is a chilly morning here. I found baby Zoe (pillow) outside on her lead. I unhooked her and she cuddled in my jacket, put her nose under my chin and went to sleep.

Please understand, we put our little Gus to sleep and don't plan to get another dog. We will enjoy the grand-dogs. A sweet, tame, stray, outside cat has befriended us so we are covered in that department.

Zac and Amber got Zoe last week. But I'm going through a lot right now...a puppy...too much..too needy...too messy

Too much like me right now.

But this morning, when I was feeling rather low, she was just right.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Things are better today. Mom is eating , looks more like herself, taking her walk, doing her therapy.

I am on a mission
She needs to get out of here.
It's time.

3 Weeks and Counting

Duration of Mom's hospitalization.
And, yes, I am discouraged.
She seems to want to spend all of her time in bed. When I arrived Sunday, she was up in the chair. Her lunch tray arrived with the same old swill of a full liquid diet. I asked the nurse for a piece of toast. Mom always likes a little toast to dip in her soup. The nurse was back in only a few moments with a warm slice for her.
She took about 3 teeny bites--and said "That's enough"
However, Zac, Amber, Harrison and Olivia arrived a few moments later. I scooped little Mr H who was attired in a green and brown monkey hoodie and  took him over to GG.
He smiled at her as if to say, "There you are, I've been wondering where you've been"
Her face lit up and she murmured her usual sweet talk to him.
Harrison just kept smiling.
Olivia gave her an envelope covered with princess stickers that she had made. Inside was a piece of candy.
I was so encouraged. Finally, we have found Mom's (as Dr Phil would say) currency.
But yesterday, she was back to being withdrawn and unwilling to eat, walk or engage in conversation.
I had my own sh***y day. Will write about that later.
Today I am going to Parker Oaks Care Facility in Winnebago. Verla and I toured the Waseca option recommended by the palliative care team, but I am thinking more and more that she would do better where she could have more company and familiar faces. So I'm going to check it out to see if the programs are comparable. 
George and Jan are here this week. We are trying to come up with ways to get Mom eating again.
Her birthday is next Monday--and we all know what that means:
Beer and Pizza
It's a tradition.
That started on her 80th birthday.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


has been one of our favorite caregivers at ISJ. He does a great job, enjoys visiting with Mom and those of us who are in and out of her room and most importantly
He's :
Easy on the eyes
ISJ Mancake
A burgundy scrub wearing hottie....

I'd better stop there.

So, the other night he is in Mom's room. We were talking about what we were having for dinner. And Mom quoted an oft-used phrase from the past:
"Hey Grandpa, what's for supper?"
Matt *blank look*
Mom, "Remember on Hee Haw how they always asked Grandpa Jones 'What's for supper?'"
Matt *blanker look* now a bit desperate thinking he hopes to wake up from a nightmare
Me, "Mom, I don't think Matt knows what Hee Haw was--Matt's mom and dad may have been forced to watch it at some point in time but have, so far, have chosen not to expose their sweet boy to such as this;"
(Hee Haw Video removed as it blocked some people from viewing the blog)

Because in addition to everything that's been going on with Mom,
Taxes are due
I have an insurance audit
And we had our sweet dog Gus put to sleep

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quality of LIfe

Verla, Mom and I met with the palliative care team yesterday. Things were a little rough at the start, Mom had a bout of nausea after they had offered her a little jello and a sip of water. Her anti-nausea meds had been on an "as needed" basis so there was nothing in place to prevent it. That has now changed so she is on Zofran every 6 hours. It had been a big day, therapy, walking, staples removed and I think a whole room full of people in white coats was too much.

Mostly they wanted to get to know Mom, hear about her life and talk about options for when she leaves the hospital. She was able, even after barfing in front of everyone, to carry on a conversation and even told how she and Dad met. I share the barfing point only because, had that been me, I would have ordered them out of the room, asked for a sedative and told them to come back when I had some lipstick on.

However, this is a woman who has done what needed to be done no matter what. Even if it meant having Dad carry in a calf with scours (think projectile diarrhea) to the basement shower room across her newly mopped floor or spending her birthday sowing oats.

Quality of life is an expression that comes up frequently these days. Mom said to them, "Do you know what quality of life is?"
"It's having a steaming hot cup coffee brought to your bed every morning."

Because my dad did that for her every day I can remember. Now I take her coffee in the morning. I never realized how much it meant to her.

(Sorry for the poop and barf content--but if you ever spent an extended amount of time in a hospital, it's kind of like talking about the weather)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Many Things About Tomorrow

I don't understand. Decisions weigh heavy on my heart. The words from this gospel song came to me last night and I found this video--poor quality--but the message is exactly what I'm clinging too right now.


I have a few things to share, but find it's easier to post in small amounts.
Mom had just returned from a walk in the hallway and was sitting up in her chair. I read a couple stories from Guideposts and she, Verla and I were visiting. .About an hour had passed and she said, "I think I'm ready to go for my walk."
I said, "Mom, you just walked about an hour ago, are you sure you want to go again?"
Verla then told me that the nurses have left it up to mom when she walks, there is no set schedule
"Yes," Mom smiled, "I canoe my own peddle."
Which is an expression she has used so often.
She then went on to explain where the phrase came from. Her grandmother was disgusted with another relative who was thinking of leaving her husband. Mom gave the dialogue in German, told us what it meant and that the response her Grandmother received was "But I vant to canoe my own peddle."

And, to quote another of her favorite phrases, "Don't we all?"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Yesterday Mom seemed extremely tired and slept most of the day. She was subdued and quiet when awake.
She walked and sat in the chair. Verla read to Mom intermittently throughout the day. Mom was sleeping when I arrived--I waited as long as I could to wake her up and let her know that the grain markets had taken another leap. She has been so patient and optimistic about the markets and I'm "Chicken Little" in the equation. However, I felt compelled to make sure she took advantage of historic high prices.

So we sold some corn. And then she went back to sleep. And I wished we could turn back time and be at home where we would have a glass of wine together and a little toast to celebrate.

Lately it has felt like time is standing still in the hospital. It's like living in two completely different worlds.
I'm wondering if the same thing is happening with Mom.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Question

came this afternoon when Sam, Verla and I returned from lunch. Mom was settled in her bed after a  good morning of her first real shower, no Linda Blair vomiting and a brief sing-a-long when I told her we sang Marvelous Grace in church this morning. She is looking and sounding more like herself.
"Nina, I have a question. When did I get sick? "
"Can you tell me what's wrong or is it too hard for you?"
I told her everything we knew. It wasn't too hard.
She replied, "It's ok, I've had a good life. How many people live to be 93?"
She said a few other things--I wish I could remember it all.
But right now.
It's hard.
Really hard.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How Sweet It Is

To get a text message from Mark that reads:
In the area of "not for general publication" Mom had a small bowel movement accompanied by a couple of toots.

The last 24 hours have shown great improvement in her pain level, nausea and a overall demeanor. They removed the NG tube, and she had not had any pain meds all day. Again, a great sign.

The nurses told us shortly after her surgery that there have been some significant celebrations involving the event of passing gas. I can see why. It's a big deal to know that things are starting to function normally. However, we kept the partying to a minimum and instead read the market commentary on the Linder Farm network and discussed  the news.

Then I clicked on a link to Tina and Lena jokes on the site--and we had a few laughs. Maybe they'll make you laugh too:

A guy goes to the Doctor, and the Doctor tells him he only has a day to live. He goes home to tell his wife and she asks him what he wants to do with his final hours. “Let’s go upstairs and fool around all night long.”
“Well…” his wife replied, “that might be alright for you…you don’t have to get up in the morning.”

The town cop was parked outside a bar at midnight, watching for drunk drivers. He saw a man stumbling out the door, trip over the curb, searching the lot for his car, struggle to get the door opened and finally fall asleep on the front seat.  One by one the drivers of the other cars drive off, and finally the guy wakes up, starts his car and pulls out of the parking lot.  The cop pulls him over and gives him a Breathalyzer test. The results show 0.0 blood-alcohol level, and the cop is puzzled. He asks, “How can that be?” The guy says, “Well, tonight was my turn to be the designated decoy.”

Lena was competing in the Sons of Norway swim meet. She came in l-a-s-t in the hundred-yard breast stroke, and she approached the judges, “Oh, say, I don’t vant to complain, but I tink those other ladies vere using dere arms.”

How many Germans does it take to grease a combine?
Vell, only two…but you gotta run ‘em through r-e-a-l-l-y SLOW!