Saturday, April 29, 2017

An Officer and a Gentleman

On Friday Nick left in the pouring rain to a scout campout in Goblin Valley where they planned to hike 8 miles through a slot canyon. He's gone on so many campouts since he got to go along with Dan while he was still 11, that he's become really good at knowing what he needs! He got himself packed up and made his tin foil dinner with just a small amount of help (mainly just folding the tinfoil right so his food didn't escape!)

They got back late the next afternoon. He had a great time and although it was cold, it didn't rain! Also got this note from one of his leaders:

Nick was a perfect gentleman on the camp out.  He's a great example to the other boys,  he's helpful, kind,  and very good natured. He'll be missed tremendously. He finished the hike in the lead group with what appeared to be endurance to spare.

He really is such a nice kid!

While Nick was at his campout, Chris was at an overnight for his friend's 16th birthday. That left Dan and I with a house to ourselves on Saturday morning! Well... that is us and a dog who still needed to be taken out at 7 a.m. We went on a walk and then took Kershaw to his last puppy training class. Which ended up taking 2 hours because all of our trainer's support team was out of town. After we came home and changed, we went to an afternoon wedding reception. It was a leisurely day all day.

After the reception, we got a text from Diane that my Dad was doing awesome up at the hospital. He was feeling so much better and getting around (to the bathroom and back) with very little support. An old seminary teacher friend had stopped by and they were laughing and chatting about old times which Dad loved. They are feeling very relieved and hopeful!

After we had a nice afternoon nap, we got dinner at the lobster roll truck in the neighborhood. Sooooo delicious! On the way home from a stop at the grocery store, we noticed a police car on the side of the road. Didn't think much of it until we went to pick up Nick from his friend's house. He was with a bunch of girls and boys all in a panic because they were toilet papering and someone called the police. To top it off one of the girls dropped her phone. This made me glad because I really hate toilet papering so I'm hoping the potential police incident has scared Nick straight. He wanted us to go back and help the girl find her phone but I said that I wasn't in the mood to talk to the cops tonight and they needed to "face the music." They got it all worked out without parental intervention. Did I mention most of these kids are youngest children?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Back Again

Friday morning Dad had a radiation appointment to radiate his hip and hope for pain relief. Michelle and I went over to the house and luckily Luke had come home because his class was cancelled. We needed all of us to get him in the car. Diane was discouraged. That morning getting him in the shower was difficult and overwhelming. He had lost strength again. A week earlier in rehab he was doing so good -- walking just holding on to his therapist's arm for support. Now he couldn't support himself again.

Luke and I were on either side of him. Diane in front and Michelle holding on to his belt in back. Dad couldn't remember what leg was supposed to step down each step. I'd tap his leg... "It's this leg, Dad. Move this leg." Sometimes he would get it. Other steps he'd say, "I'm not sure what to do." A few times he felt he was falling. Luke would comfort him in his upbeat voice, "I've got you, Dad. I'm not going to let you fall. You're doing so awesome Dad! You've got this!"

I am so grateful that my dad's boys love and care for him so much. They are patient and caring and loving in a situation that no teenager should have to be in. It was kind of breaking my heart and bursting with gratitude all at the same time.

We finally got him to the car.

After the trek to radiation, Michelle and Diane called that they were taking him back to Huntsman. After they had gotten home from radiation, he started to get confused. He couldn't remember why they'd been to the doctor that morning. "Was it for my prostate?" "No, you had pain. Do you remember where?" "In my knee?"  It reminded them of how he was acting with the brain bleed.

Diane called Luke and asked him to grab some buddies to help get Dad in the car. This is the text she sent the next day:
"I just wanted to tell u something about ur sweet boys. Yesterday Mike started to fade again and I knew we needed to get him back up to Huntsman. Mike is too weak to get down our stairs so I sent Luke a text and told him to grab some friends so they could carry Mike down to the car. Within 5 minutes Luke and Chris pulled up followed by McKay and Noah. Right behind them came Jon n Austin running.  They were able to carry Mike to the car [carried the wheelchair right down the stairs], get him in, hug us both, and when we pulled out of the driveway they were in a group hug comforting Luke in the garage. Really it was so great. Thx for raising such amazing boys."

I really am grateful for Chris and Luke's group of friends. They love to have fun and they have such good hearts. They are such great young men.

I met Dad, Diane and Michelle just after they arrived at Huntsman. First item of business was to get a CT scan. They got him on oxygen. He was much more coherent after the oxygen. We wondered if maybe the exertion and low oxygen had caused the confusion? Regardless, everyone felt it was the right call to check him out. When tested, his strength wasn't as weak as before. He was conversing, asking questions about his care and was involved. Yet he would need to close his eyes regularly and although he could follow two-step commands, he couldn't do three-step commands. He wasn't confused this time but would just think and then say, "I can't remember what you said."

At one point the nurse practitioner, Emily, (who we LOVE) had to ask what his wishes were about starting his heart if it were to stop. She said, "I'm not asking because I think you're going to die. I'm asking because it's important we know what you want. If you were to die, do you want us to bring you back to life."
Dad said, "No."
Diane and I immediately started to cry. Then he asked, "Well, what do you think, Diane?"
She said she didn't want to lose him. But that it was his decision he had to make.
Then he said he wasn't sure. I said, "If you're not sure, Dad, then I think your answer is, 'yes,' you do want them to revive you. You're not ready. You'll know when you're ready."
So he said with a laugh, "Can I change my mind?" And we were all relieved.

Soon it was time for Michelle to go to the airport (she managed to fly out for a couple of days in between buying a house in Richmond, VA and planning a move this summer and then just days prior canceling that plan when Brent was offered a job in Chicago. AFTER they already sold their house. So they needed to find a new one. It's a wonderful story that maybe she'll blog! Ha!)

We received the report from the neurologist that no bleed was indicated on his brain. What a relief! Lots of old blood still, but it was probably ok. Diane was happy to get him home. The nurse said it was imperative that he have a few days of rest. He hadn't had ANY rest time since leaving rehab two days prior with so many hospital visits. Hoping that his confusion was simply exhaustion.

Just as a nurse came in and took out his IV, Emily, the Nurse practitioner arrived (remember, we LOVE her). The attending neurologist had asked to run some blood tests and from that they discovered his platelets were low, his hemoglobin was low and his blood wasn't clotting too well.  They wanted to admit him and give him a platelet infusion/transfusion, steroids, and keep him on oxygen. His confusion and weakness was a result of the low platelets. Unfortunately, the low platelets were a result of the cancer being in his bone marrow and therefore the marrow isn't a good factory anymore. She said his former medication, Xtandi, would be out of his system by now so wasn't a factor in the problem.

Even though Diane was so ready to get him home, when the nurse came in with the new information and a plan, we all felt so good about it. It felt like it was possible to get him some real strength and help him feel better.

And then it was 6:00 p.m. and I had to leave because Dan and I were going to the Jazz game. It sounds trivial, but it was actually so nice to do something trivial and normal. Diane and Dad wholeheartedly agreed. Diane promised that she was going home to sleep and Dad promised he didn't want anyone to stay the night with him because he'd sleep better. And Diane also promised she'd call me if she needed me.

The Jazz lost but it was a great game and we had fun going out with our friends, The Englands.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Happy 75th Dad!

Had a great walk with KT this morning. Hiked from her house up to Tanner Park and across the bridge to Wasatch. Considered turning around because I needed to pick up Michelle at airport, but then decided to walk more and forget showering! Hiked for over 2 hours -- it was a welcome respite from the chaos of the last few weeks.

Back at KT's I got an urgent message from Diane -- my dad was in so much pain they needed to go back to the hospital. I called Dan at work and we both rushed over to help get him down the stairs and into the car. He's been so weak, he can't move without people on either side for him to drape his arms over and support him. We got him in the car and Diane and Dad headed to hospital. I headed to the airport to get Michelle.

Did I mention it's his 75th Birthday?

Then we headed straight to Huntsman. When we got there the same wonderful staff was on duty. I honestly wanted to cry at the site of these ladies who had been so compassionate, knowledgable and caring a couple of weeks earlier! Their smiles and competent care were a welcome relief!

And on the flip side, Dad and Diane were super excited to see Michelle!

Dad felt okay when he wasn't moving, but any movement created terrible pain in his hip. They were going to take x-rays to make sure there wasn't a fracture. However, the x-rays showed no fracture -- just the cancer tumors causing pain.

I stayed at the hospital for a short while and then left Michelle there and went home to take the dog out and get Nick's carpool. Also dashed all around to get supplies dad would need to assist him at home. (Happy Birthday, Dad! Have some new diapers!) (Sorry, is that okay I'm posting on the blog? Just keepin' it real... Besides, I love diapers. When I had pneumonia, they were a lifesaver. I could cough and hack away. It was awesome!)

A bit later Diane and Michelle texted that we were absolutely planning on celebrating Dad's 75th birthday. Dessert at their home!

Everyone who was here came -- Sheree's family, Michael's family, Our family, Dad's and Michelle. I brought balloons and an ice cream cake and we had a fun evening sitting in their living room talking, laughing, eating and enjoying each other's company. Dad did great sitting on the couch visiting with everyone, surrounded by our family and enjoying everyone's company.

When everyone went home, Sheree, Michelle and I got Diane & Dad's room prepped in ways we thought would help Dad be comfortable and make life easier for him getting to/from the bathroom.

Diane and Dad were exhausted by the end of the evening, but it was a happy celebration.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Happy Birthday, Courtney!

Beautiful Courtney turns 22 today!

Monday, April 24, 2017

25th Anniversary!

25 Years!
At one time in our life we said we should take a fun trip for our 25th. But really, our house is our gift this year. 
So we said no additional presents. 
For the last few years we've spent the night up at Deer Valley to celebrate -- a late-night dinner at The St. Regis (coincidentally our anniversary always falls on 
Concerto Night with Marty in the orchestra 
so we've headed up to DV after the concert),
 and then back early in the morning for lacrosse games. 
This year Chris offered to hold down the fort 
so we could go overnight, but with Kershaw 
having such bad nights, we wanted to stay home and 
make sure his schedule didn't get disrupted. 
We talked about going to dinner together, but then decided what we really wanted to do was take the boys with us. 
So we went to a nice dinner downtown and then up to the hospital to see my dad--Nick hadn't had 
a chance to see him yet.
And then we came home. It was perfect.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

As Big as a Pistachio!

Luke got his Eagle on Sunday and my dad was super sad about missing it. In fact, when the rehab people told him he'd be staying about a week, he said, "Sure. Except that I need to leave for 90 minutes to go to my son's Eagle ceremony." They said that wasn't possible. My Dad didn't like hearing that and in his words, "pressed her a little to see if she would budge." In my words, I'd say he was getting pretty ticked and wasn't about to take no for an answer and this conversation was escalating at an accelerated rate. But they talked through it and he said he understood and it all ended friendly. (But I was sweating bullets... Just kidding. No, not really.)

Basically if you leave the hospital, insurance presumes you're well enough to leave. So you can't come back and have them pay for it. He was pretty dang bummed. And that was heartbreaking.

But technology is awesome so we helped him FaceTime the ceremony. Dan went to the ceremony to FaceTime from there and I went to the hospital to receive the call with my dad. And it went perfectly. It was awesome that when Luke got his award, the phone got passed to him and my dad could congratulate him real time.

That was the cool part of the evening.

The not cool part was that my dad had had a miserable night the night before. With prostate cancer comes prostate problems. In fact, they came before the cancer. So when my dad was trying to pee and he couldn't, he assumed he had a blood clot like he's had before. He said he was in a ton of pain beginning at 8 in the evening. After an hour. he called Diane to come back to the hospital. The nurses said there was a urologist they could call, but wouldn't call him unless he had 400 ml of fluid in his bladder. They did a scan and he only had 200 so THEY ASSUMED HE WAS FINE! In fact Diane had to beg them for pain meds for him. Believe me, if my dad says he has pain, he has serious pain! (We have a super high pain threshold in our family!)

And at 1:00 a.m. after being in intense pain that he said the meds didn't even touch, Dad passed a kidney stone the size of a pistachio! Um, Yeah.

Not a pistachio.
So on Sunday, I was trying to help him get comfortable before I left and he felt the nurses and aides hadn't been very attentive throughout the day. He would ask for something and they'd forget to do it. Well right then, last night's nurse shift came on and came in the room to work on the computer. So I asked if we could get a few things. Tim mumbled something and then I realized he was getting an aide. I politely said the aides hadn't returned previously when my dad asked so could he make sure my dad was taken care of?

And then Tim and the other nurse got super defensive and weird. He said they were perfectly attentive. I said they weren't. And my dad chimed in that they weren't. And I said, in fact, Tim, you haven't been here all day to know. And I said it was neither here nor there now, but now he needed some attention. And also, Tim, what's the plan for tonight if he gets in pain and has another kidney stone?

And Tim said, "It Wasn't a Kidney Stone. And we kept checking his bladder and he didn't have much urine and so we couldn't call the doctor. We only call the doctor if its an emergency and his bladder is distended. And his wasn't. So he couldn't have been in that much pain. And we did give him pain meds." (Yeah, after Diane begged you to because you didn't believe he was in pain!) And the other nurse is nodding away.

"Tim," I said, in my super firm, very 'I mean business voice,' "What is this then?" I held up the specimen cup that was still holding the large kidney stone (still sitting at his bedside table... what?!), and thrust it in his face. "I don't care what this is! No man wants to pass this giant rock trying to pee!! Are you kidding me?! Of course he was in a ton of pain! Everyone knows that kidney stones cause tons of pain! So what's the plan for tonight?!"

And Tim is an idiot nurse and didn't have a plan and quite frankly I think he was bugged that he had to work at work.

"Tim, I want clean sheets for my dad."
And lady-nurse says, "They aren't dirty."

"Well, you know what? My dad thinks they are and he wants clean sheets. So get the dang sheets. I'll do it myself if I have to! It takes about 10 seconds to change his sheets and if he wants new sheets, and a new brief every hour on the hour, it's your job to get him some! Geez! It's not that hard!"

So Tim did agree to send an aide in and she was smiley and darling. So that won some hospital points. But Tim didn't. He was a jerk.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Long Road

Kershaw has completely gone off the rails and poops in his crate at night -- sometimes several times at night -- no matter when we try to get up with him. Been going on ever since we got back from Seattle and Dan's going crazy. Me too. But Dan is really frustrated. Mainly because he's the one whose been getting up with him because he's nice and I can't deal with one more thing.

Yes, his crate is the right size and we don't feed him after 6 and who knows if he's sick and we have bedding or no bedding, depending on what we're trying that day, and he's not crated too long etc. etc. etc. etc. It's a mystery and I hope Kershaw lives to see if it turns out ok for him in the end.

Chris and Dan went to the racetrack early today -- something they've been looking forward to for a long time! It's an all-day thing, getting four runs on the track throughout the day with an instructor, and also watching professional racing. They had a blast! Chris says it's the funnest day he's ever had and Dan said Chris is really good at it. They've got a few more days scheduled this summer and Nick's going to go out and watch them too.

Once they got off, I took Kershaw down and gave him a bath. Then dried him well and brushed him. I was able to read my scriptures while he napped and get the house tidied up. Doesn't a clean house make everyone feel better? Nick and I took him to puppy training class -- mostly to ask Dave for suggestions about what to do. (And a little bit to see if Kershaw was afraid of him and if he secretly was a bad trainer while we left him when we were out of town. But Kershaw loves him and was so excited to see him.)

On the way home, we drove past the end of the Salt Lake Marathon. It was 11:30 a.m., at mile 18. The street was still blocked off on one side with a water station with supporters and police at each intersection. There weren't a lot of runners by that time. In fact I didn't think there would be any 4 hours into the race all the way back at mile 18. But soon a woman ran by. A man ran by her side but he wasn't wearing a number. I assumed he was there for support. Up the hill I made out another woman. Pretty heavy-set and jogging at mile 18. Behind her a ways was another runner.

I was so overcome by their dedication, I started to weep. Already running for 4 hours and looking at at least 2 more hours to go. I prayed for them that they wouldn't get discouraged and they could see how far they'd come. 18 Miles! It was so inspirational. Also knowing how hard they had worked over several months to get there. They made my day.

There weren't a lot of them, but there were still a few determined to make it no matter how long it took!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Goals... What Matters Most

Need I say I haven't kept up with any of my goals? Story of my life. Kind of the story of everyone's lives. We make goals, life gets in the way, we don't have time and then we're back to square one again. I have kept up pretty good on no sugar, which is good because otherwise I would have eaten my emotions. Kind of like when we found out my dad had cancer and I literally gained 10 pounds. Getting out walking has also kept me sane. Also went on a bike ride. I haven't made 5x/week of exercise, but I've gotten out and that's been good for my head.


Dan and I gave away our Jazz tickets and instead went to the hospital and had dinner with my dad. Then we watched the Jazz game together in his room. It was a nice evening and I'm glad I'm married to someone who appreciates what matters most.

I think "what matters most" can relate to goals as well. My goals are to help me improve in areas I want to work on. Also to help me feel like I'm making the best use of my time. I've got a good sense of balance about me and I don't beat myself up when I fall short. Because right now eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies, doing Kegels and doing my British Lit homework aren't really what's most important. I COULD fit it all in. Of course I could. But I'd make myself crazy doing it. I realize it only takes a bit of planning. But my mind needs a rest sometimes. Time when I'm not checking off my list or planning ways "to get everything done." So I COULD, but I Don't. Because it matters, but it doesn't matter most right now.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Spent the afternoon with Dad and attended a couple of physical therapy sessions with him. 
PT was a couple of short walks with rests in between. He commented he feels so good in the morning and is surprised at how such a short walk fatigues him.
Also stood on a foam pad and tried to keep balanced. Did ok but needs work.
He's walking holding on to his therapist, but not using any other devices.
Occupational Therapy was a game of Hi-Q using velcro blocks that he had to reach to either side to pick up and attach to the board and do the same as he removed them. A good way to practice reaching, using both hands and cognitive all in one.

In between sessions he slept soundly.
I'm reading "The God Who Weeps." 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


I met Diane at the hospital by 8:00 a.m. so we could get some answers. Rounds are at 6 a.m. and if you miss meeting the doctor that early, you may never get any more information. I'm not kidding. It's a very strange system.

Yesterday they were trying to discharge my dad but Michael and Rachel were saying, absolutely not. He needs follow-up CT scans, has an appointment with his cancer doc on Tuesday (which he's too sick to simply jump in the car and drive back up again), he has an MRI for his brain tumor on Thursday. We need a lot more answers before sending him home.

So Diane and I were going to figure out all of this together. And we did. But it definitely helped to have two of us.

In the end, all cancer treatment is on hold until end of May to give him time to recover from the brain surgery. His appointment with his cancer doc is postponed until next week. (Because that doctor doesn't come down to this hospital NEXT DOOR... "He simply doesn't do that!" said his very adamant and protective nurse. "Shall we bring the brain surgery patient to you then? Is that more convenient for the very busy (and presumably healthy) important doctor?" "Oh no! We definitely don't do that either!" There have been so many times I've wanted to shout, "Well, what the hell do you do?!")

His Xtandi trial-drug therapy (which can cause low platelets which can cause brain bleeds) is on hold until end of May as well.

Diane finally talked to the neuro-oncologist who said his extensive MRI and radiation for the brain tumor is also on hold.  She felt good about just healing and not trying to navigate all these other things right now. They also said (in spite of what we were told by... someone.. in neuro ICU), that they had heard nothing about my dad having a brain bleed. Serious communication problems here at the hospital.

I felt strongly (since the neurologist was very adamant that there was 50% chance of bleeding starting again) that he wasn't discharged until he had another CT scan. The resident was resistant but then his attending agreed. It felt like we were finally getting things worked out and a plan in place. My dad was approved to stay at the U for rehab. I sent Diane home so she could get some rest. I stayed all day just reading while he tried to rest. The minute one nurse left, another person came in for another reason. Check vitals, empty the trash, say hi because they're from the rehab unit, etc. etc. Again, it's a very strange system. I think I could improve it. I really do. Diane came back in the evening -- we still hadn't been moved to rehab yet. (That was going to happen at 3:30 and now it was 6:00. I went home. They finally moved downstairs at 10:30.)

In other life events, Kershaw was neutered today.

Monday, April 17, 2017


Thursday arriving to hospital.
I spent Friday morning driving back and forth to the airport. Bekah and Matt came first, with enough time to sit and visit while Bekah nursed baby Jane. (Matt had called to say, "Bekah and Jane are flying in first thing in the morning." Me: Who's Jane? (Turns out that's their name of their new baby. Oops.)

Then they headed up to the hospital and I drove out to pick up Rachel. Of course they both offered to get an Uber, but selfishly I was wanted to pick them up to have a few minutes with each of them to myself!

Rachel and I drove straight to the hospital. NCC (Neurology Critical Care) only allowed 2 people in the room at a time and no children under 14. So we waited outside with Matt (and Jane) while Bekah and Diane were in with Dad.

I was anxious to see him and see how he'd improved after a good night's sleep. When it was finally my turn, he was definitely so much better. Of course very tired, but talking more in his regular voice and much more alert. The scar and drains coming from his head after surgery were pretty gnarly.

It was good to have both Rachel and Matt in town able to "talk-the-talk" with nurses and doctors, to give advice on who to talk to with concerns, and get their opinions on what to expect and next steps.

Everyone else stayed at the hospital, but I needed to leave to meet my family to get passports! Mom and Dad both have to be present, so it's kind of a big ordeal. Glad it's only once every 5 years.

Friday night we met up at Pizzeria Limone for dinner -- Sheree, Michael & Kate, Matt & Bekah, Matt's parents, and Dan & I. Rachel stayed at the hospital to give Diane a much-needed break. We love being all together! Afterward, Sheree came over so she could see Rachel when Rachel got back. And then the four of us (Rebekah, Rachel, Sheree and Me) stayed up until 1:30 a.m. talking. Because that's what we always do. (I'm thinking of my mom calling out when we were little, "Girls! No more talking! It's time for bed!)

In the middle of all of this is real life. Saturday Nick had lacrosse games and Chris and Luke had Prom. Rachel and Bekah stayed up at the hospital again so Diane could be home in time to help Luke get ready. The boys' morning activity was breakfast at Jo Jo's home. In the evening, they went to the capital for pictures, dinner at Rodizios, the dance and after and Escape Room. And after that hanging out at Cole's.

Saturday in Sheree's life, she was hosting a big Easter Egg Hung for Soren's birthday. So Nick went down to hunt and sleepover. (I think Miles slept over the night before at our house -- they love being together.) As we were thinking through the day's plans I said, "But Nick, if you sleepover at Miles', you'll miss Easter baskets on Sunday morning." He chose Miles. And of course Chris chose sleeping in. But both were very excited when at 10:00 p.m. Sunday night we said we'd hide Easter eggs and they could hunt for them. And Chris finally ended up finding a bunch of eggs with money. In past years he generally doesn't find very much! A much-needed Easter "win" for him!

That day Bekah, Rachel and Matt took turns at the hospital again. Saturday night we all met at Itto's for Sushi.

Sunday morning, I asked Matt if he'd make crepes. Kind of a tradition whenever they stay with us -- his crepes are so yummy! And then it dawned on me we had no kids here -- neither his nor ours. Nor Rachel's or anyone else's. So that was kind of weird of me to ask him to make breakfast for the adults, but he happily obliged and it was kind of fun to have an adult morning!
A different kind of Easter morning!
Dan and I went to the hospital in the morning and Matt and Bekah came after us. Not sure if the weekend staff is more lenient, but they allowed Dan and I to both go in the room (with Diane as well). So we took baby Jane from Matt and Bekah so they could both go in together.
On the mend...
It was super fun holding a baby in church. A bunch of people asked how I got a grand baby so quickly! (Extra early since Courtney's not even married!)

All of us went to Sheree's in the evening for Easter dinner. Rachel stayed up at the hospital again.

Everything can be so frustrating up there because it's really hard to get good answers. Neurology is only designed to help brain issues. Not cancer issues. And that's just the beginning.

Matt went home Sunday night and Bekah had to go home Monday morning. Rachel left Tuesday morning.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Over The Fence

To marty,
Hey Marty it’s Nick I was playing a baseball game at tanner park today we won 12-2, but mom wanted me to tell you right away that I hit a home run right over the fence over center, but neither mom nor dad were there. And I pitched a lot this season and we are undefeated.

Nick that has got to be the coolest thing Ive ever heard! Man i wish i coulda seen your homer! Thats soo sweet! So fun that you guys are undefeated too! Youre gonna be a better baseball player than I ever was! Keep it up man! I can totally picture you up on the mound!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Did I Also Mention

Did I also mention that Nick has spots all over his body that the doctor thinks is possibly Bed Bugs? (Called Sheree and Miles has them too... St. George condo?!)

Kershaw has diarrhea and even having accidents in his crate. Not only in the day, but at night.

My teeth are still killing me from all my dental work. And Dan has huge blisters from back-country skiing and can't even wear shoes.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Well This Sucks.

Rebekah sent out a text on Wednesday concerned about Dad. It went like this:
"Got off the phone earlier with dad. He was planning on coming out to bless Jane. His spirits are way down today and he's not himself at all. Slurring his speech and taking much longer than normal (for dad) to answer questions. He mentioned he has lost a lot of the function in his legs and he has fallen several times this week. He seemed sadder than I've ever heard him. I've been bawling all afternoon. And I feel awful that I haven't been checking up on him."

So that started off a flurry of texts amongst the sisters reporting last time we'd talked to him, etc.

Dan and I had just had lunch with he and Diane on Friday and then taken them to tour Dan's office (never been! What?!). He was definitely walking slower and needing to hold on to Diane because he said he was dizzy. But was himself except for that.

We were all planning on going to Olympus High to watch Sheree's girls play lax against Oly that afternoon. I arrived at the game a little late and Dad hadn't come yet. Pretty soon we got a text from Diane that they couldn't come. Dad wasn't feeling well and could hardly move. I had to take Nick to his baseball game, so on my way home I stopped by to check on him.

He was curled up in bed and spoke barely above a whisper. He listened while I talked and nodded and smiled, but didn't say much himself. It was really weird to see him like that. Diane said that morning he'd fallen off the bed and he couldn't get up. She had to get a neighbor to help because she couldn't get him out of the corner he was in by herself and Dad had no strength at all.

But once he was up, she was able to assist him down the stairs. He'd been on the couch all day and they'd worked together. They were cleaning out closets, so she'd bring boxes to him while he sat on the couch and he was going through them deciding what should be kept and tossed. So he was alert, just fatigued and couldn't move well.  However, when it was time to get to the game, she tried to get him up, and he couldn't move. We were all super concerned. He had a doctor appointment the next morning so we made a plan that we'd go together to the hospital, but Dan would come over in the morning to help him get in the car.

After the lacrosse game, Sheree and their family went to check on him and found him much the same. Not talking much but still able to listen. Jared had to help my dad to the bathroom and it was very difficult to move him. We were relieved that his doctor appointment was the next morning.

On Thursday morning at 8 a.m., Dan and my dad's best friend (and my old seminary teacher!) Rex Pond were there to move Dad to the car. They each got an arm over their shoulders and carried him. My dad couldn't even move his legs. His right leg was literally dragging behind him and I had to have them stop so I could pick it up and move it closer to them. At the stairs Dan had Dad hold him around his neck and he piggy back/dragged him down the stairs. They were able to get him in the car by laying him on the backseat and one person pulled from the other side to get him in. I sat in the back with his head on my lap to keep him from falling off the seat.

When we got to Huntsman Cancer Institute, they have valets to park the car and assist anyone who needs it. Diane explained that we needed help getting him out of the car. He had no strength and couldn't assist at all so we needed a lot of help because he's essentially dead weight. And then my dad whispers to me in his joking voice, "I wish she wouldn't use that word to describe me!" Aw man. Still joking even on what was practically his death bed. That's one thing I love about him. He makes me laugh.

The valets were awesome and ran to talk to someone in charge and get advice. They brought back a stretcher and a slide board and between several strong 20-somethings, get him on the stretcher and up to acute care. Everyone was great and quick about assessing his needs, explaining what they were testing and order of care. Diane was great about explaining the situation, how it had changed from just a week ago, the medications he's on, what we know about his cancer etc. etc. She also calls everyone by their first name and made everyone love her because she was so respectful and kind to them. She has a gift in this.

Bloodwork, urine sample, neurology testing, CT scan. An MRI if the other things weren't telling. However, pretty soon the results from the CT came back and indicated bleeding on his brain that was compressing his brain and causing essentially stroke-like symptoms. (Why the right side of his body was so weak.) The neurosurgeon came to show us the scans and was very urgent that we needed to make a decision if we were going to have surgery and if so, he had to have it immediately. And we had to discuss the risk that at his age they can't get him off oxygen and the 50% risk that at his age the bleed starts again and we're in a vicious cycle. But the alternative was that he dies in a few days.

But he was so grim about the surgery it was confusing. Realizing now that he didn't know if he was already incapacitated (as he was seeing him currently) and I think he was giving us a good option for end of life. But my dad wasn't there yet. He's generally still up and around and doing yardwork, going to church, going to lunch and being normal.

We had to discuss what life-saving options we wanted or didn't want. We wanted them.

Diane asked for a few minutes to decide. We called Matt to get his opinion--we were so confused at what we weren't understanding--why was the surgeon acting so grim. (Matt said yes, of course have the surgery.) We called Dan and Chad and Rex and Doug as fast as we could to see who could make it to the hospital in time to give him a blessing. She said if the men didn't get here in time, we would say a prayer and women have powerful prayers. Yes we do. I have a testimony that Mom's prayers can be just as powerful as priesthood blessings. Diane called Luke at school and had him get Sam and Max and come to the hospital fast.

And then we stood together and she leaned on his chest and prayed for him, his health, the surgeons and the surgery and ended with, "we ask that thou will grant us a miracle that the men can get here in time to give him a blessing."

The neurosurgeon came back and we told him we wanted to go ahead with surgery.

Soon my dad was being taken in an ambulance to be moved to the U Hospital next door. Diane went with him and Dan arrived just then parked out front so I rode with him over.

Dan, Chad, Rex and Doug all made it in time. The boys all made it in time. Dan and Rex gave my Dad a blessing and the boys were able to give him a hug and tell him they loved him. And then he was taken to surgery for an emergency craniotomy to relieve the bleeding and pressure on his brain.

Soon everyone went home and Diane and I went to the cafeteria to have lunch. That sounds so normal. Sheree arrived soon and we all waited in a sunny part of a windowed hall waiting for him to come out. (The family waiting room was dark, freezing, depressing and had the news of Trump bombing Russia cycling on the TV. Ugh!)

And surgery went well. No problems at all. Because he was in ICU, only two people could be with him at a time. Sheree and Diane went to be with him. Sheree reported that he couldn't remember anything from the last two days. He didn't understand why he was in the hospital and was frightened and upset when he learned what had happened and that he couldn't remember anything. She said it was heartbreaking.

It's very weird to end a day like that. Everything happened so fast. Throughout the day we weren't really panicked, but then some moments we were. We weren't emotional, but then some moments we were. We ate lunch, we sat on the floor, we talked about other things. We laughed. (In fact Dad made us laugh a couple of times -- another "dead weight" comment and he said again, "Please don't describe me as dead!" and when the nurse told him she needed to insert a catheter and then check his colon as well and he got a sparkle in his eye and his mouth turned up and you could just see him trying to think of a joke!!)

His surgery went well. We gave him a hug and gave Diane a hug and then we went home. Diane was going to stay until 8ish and then go home to sleep. Sheree drove me home around 6ish. It's weird after all that to say good-bye.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

100 Days Goals

After Conference last weekend I was inspired to set several goals. President Nelson talked about studying the life of Christ by reading The Living Christ and the Topical Guide references to Christs' life. Courtney had mentioned she was reading Jesus the Christ because of his challenge. Pres. Nelson said after studying the life of Christ his wife asked him what he'd learned. He said, "I'm a changed man." Interesting for a man who is 91 years old and dedicated the latter half of his life as an Apostle. So I wanted to take the challenge myself. I'm starting with reading The Living Christ and then will move to the Topical Guide as well.

I also was recently reading some research on Kegels (wouldn't it be great to jump on the tramp and not pee my pants?)... (Actually, wouldn't it be great to sneeze, cough, or go bowling with my family and not pee my pants?)... and (check out the alliteration in that first sentence!)... AND... if I do some particular Kegel exercises for 14 weeks, women have noticed a big difference in their leakage problems. (So sad that women leak... pee leaks, breast milk leaks... I'm not quite sure what we're supposed to learn from having parts that leak. Sorry, God. You know I love you. But leaking?? I'm confused why.)

I realized that 14 weeks sounds like a long time but it's actually only 100 days. And I've had my kids do 100 days challenges several times -- 100 days of practicing; 100 days of no sugar...

So I can do 100 days. And I made a 100 day chart and added a bunch of goals:

1) Exercise 5x/week
2) Eat 5 servings of fruits & veggies/day
3) No sugar
4) Kegel Exercises

5) Study Christ (Living Christ & Topical Guide)
6) Scriptures & Prayer
7) Temple 4x

8) British Lit: 1 unit/week
9) Write every day (journal, blog, creative writing)

10) FHE

Takes me to July 10.
Yay! I love goals. And lists. And not peeing.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Signs of Marty

Things that reminded us of Marty this week:
Clocks on the wall of our restaurant! Marty and Courtney!

Sitting next to me in the airport this guy was working on a Rubik's Cube different from anything I'd ever seen before... I struck up a conversation and he showed me the Rubik's Cube he solved the previous week. 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Seattle With Shaeffers

We have been looking forward to our trip with Gram and Papa to see Courtney play lacrosse for a while. We had a wonderful time!
Nick passing time with his new VR box.
We got off to a rough start with our delayed flight -- Courtney, Gram and Papa had to wait for us at the Crab Pot until late when we arrived! But the crab was delish as always and it was so fun to all be together wearing our bibs and cracking through claws!

After dinner, Courtney came back with us to the hotel because Gram and Papa had a gift for her upcoming birthday and graduation. Papa had made her a beautiful bowl, inlaid with turquoise. It's one of his many talents and we have three that we treasure. Courtney was hoping to have one of ours, but I didn't want to part with any. We asked Papa if he'd be willing to make her one. The best part is he says during the hours of working on the bowl, he thinks of the person he's making it for. We are so grateful for the tenderness and love he shows for each of us and that he shares his wonderful talents with us too!

Saturday morning we visited Pike's Place and had breakfast at The Crumpet Shop, fresh raspberries and blueberries from the fruit stands and the best fresh Greek yogurt at another stand. A perfect Saturday morning! I've said it before... I SO wish we had Pike's Place in Utah!

After breakfast we visited The Chihuly Glass Museum right under the space needle. 
Nick and the space needle
The glass sculptures were colorful and stunning. It's been on my list of things to see for a while and it didn't disappoint. Room after room was filled with Chihuly's creations. He inspires creativity!

We drove up to campus and showed Gram and Papa Courtney's apartment and then drove around campus, stopping at the boathouse to see relics from "The Boys in the Boat" days which Marty, EC and I all read and loved. ("Look! Rowing machines!")

Courtney's books she reads for fun. Well, she says her classes are fun.
Love how her trunk has become decorated over 4 years!

We helped Courtney check-out the shade tents and lacrosse gear from the UW rec center since UW was hosting the tournament and she's team captain, so therefore in charge of getting the gear. Such a big job!

Courtney's game was rainy and freezing. And they lost. They had a tough fight and played hard. And Courtney was ticked and disappointed after and didn't want to talk about it. That kind of game. Dang!  But we loved watching her play.

We had an amazing dinner that night across the street from our hotel. Courtney was able to join us after the second game was played. After dinner we dropped Gram and Papa off at the hotel and went back to campus to pick up a couple of Courtney's friends and go out to ice cream. We loved meeting fun friends that Courtney talks so much about! We see why she likes them!

Sunday's game they had a pretty easy win for 3rd place in the Northwest Region. It was still pretty cold but not as rainy. Afterward they presented awards. It was so cool to be there and see Courtney voted Defensive MVP of the entire Northwest Region!! So amazing!

Her coach said, "Courtney is an outstanding player and team-leader in every aspect. She embodies focus, discipline and drive--pushing her teammates to always work harder. She is the go-to when it's time for defense to strategize or change the plan of attack..."

So glad we could be there to see her honored and receive the MVP!

Sunday -- Getting my letter written to Marty! It's COOOOLD!
Thanks Gram and Papa for traveling all the way to Seattle to spend a fabulous weekend together!
We love you!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Photos to Make Me Smile

Cyberchase! Marty's favorite show when he was in elementary school! 
Didn't realize it was still on TV.

Packing up the office and came across this box we've kept storing stuff in. 
Vintage WordPerfect.

Courtney's friend, Carine, posted these photos to say, 
"Look how far Courtney's come!"

One year later, 2017!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Bait and Switch

Since October when I got my first root canal, and through my quest to find a dentist that actually tells you when you have cavities,  I have been to see someone in the tooth profession (dentist, endodontist, prosthodontist) 10 times. With the root canals, I can finally chew without pain. (I ate apple skins! Yay!) I now have new crowns so I have teeth to chew with. (Went with stub teeth without temporaries for a couple of weeks since they were root canalled teeth.) Today I went to get my cavities filled. So glad to be getting everything fixed!

Remember how I interviewed a few dentists so I could get one I felt really good about? Well today when I showed up for my appointment, it was with a totally different dentist. Whose flight was running late so I actually was seeing a third guy in the office.

I totally felt like I was back having a baby. When it comes right down to the actual hard part, you have no idea who the doctor will be delivering. Ugh. (In my case, midwife.)

So I said, "I didn't schedule an appointment with him. I scheduled with the other guy."
No, he doesn't work on Tuesdays.
"Well, that's weird. Because his hygenist was the one who actually scheduled my appointment."

So I got the bait and switch. Exactly what I was afraid of with a guy who is practically retired.

After some internal debate I stayed anyway. When I walked to the room, the assistant said, "So we're filling cavities on the top left side of your mouth! And then the chart says you're coming back next week to do the bottom and another appointment for the other top side!"

"No. I'm getting the whole top done today. Both sides. That's what we decided last time I was here."

She said she needed to ask if that was ok. (Well it was ok when I talked to the guy who I thought was going to be my dentist a few weeks ago and that's what he suggested!)

So I got numbed by one dentist. He was like, "Hi! Good to see you again, Angela!" And you know what? Sometimes I just go along with the story, not wanting to embarrass the person catching them pretending to know me. But this time I didn't. I was friendly, but I just said, "We've never met. It was your dad I saw before." And he's like, "Oh! Ha, Ha!"

He did agree to fix the whole top of my mouth. (Even though that wasn't the plan in the chart.) He was very jovial.

And then after I was sufficiently numb, the dentist came back in the room. Only apparently the other dentist's plane had arrived so it was this guy that came in. And he totally did the same thing! "Hi, Angela! Great to see you again! How's everything going?"
"We've never met," I said. "Because my last appointment was with Dentist #1."
"Oh, I was wondering why you didn't look familiar! Ha, ha!" Then Dentist #2 came in and joked that next the UPS man will be trying to do dental work on me. And they laughed and laughed about it like it was hilarious.

And yes, I can see the humor in it. But I didn't spend several hours interviewing several dentists only to choose one and then get "reassigned" to someone totally unfamiliar. Not to mention not have my procedure detailed correctly in the chart.

And you know what else bugs me? When I walked in to the office, the girl at the front desk was chewing and I had to wait for her to finish chewing and swallow. She apologized and I told her not to worry because I've done the same thing. (Of course, not when I'm working!) But, you know what I think now? I think it's gross. Don't eat while you're working the front desk! Be professional! Geez.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Letter to Marty

Hi Elder Shaeffer,

We’re in Deer Valley again this weekend and Dad has taken Chris and Nicholas to the General Conference Priesthood Session. Nick’s first one! I’m at the condo alone and knew it would be a perfect time to write to you.
Nick's first Priesthood Session
Chris can officially ski now so we thought it would be a fun end to his Spring Break to take him skiing. Glad we had the condo too, because Dad and Chris came up Friday morning but after just a few runs, Chris leg hurt and he was exhausted. They were able to come back to the condo and Chris slept while Dad “hit it hard” (his words!) for a while. Later they skied over to get lunch on some easy groomers and Chris did great. Dad said he looked good and Chris actually felt better enough in the afternoon to take a few extra runs. Of course they’re easy ones – his muscle is still really weak and he limps quite a bit still.  So his muscle got tired quickly from skiing, but also he said any bumps actually hurt. He was a bit nervous before he went skiing, but said he wasn’t scared at all once he got up on the hill.  That’s good because my first few funs last time we were up here I kept thinking, “Please don’t let me fall and break my femur!”

Nick and I came up last night after he got out of school. Dad grilled steaks at our condo and we hung out and watched Hunger Games and Men In Black II. Super chill, but really nice to be all together – just us – for an evening.

We didn’t ski today because Nick is all skied out (which always happens at spring break) and I wasn’t dying to go and wanted to watch Conference. Chris couldn’t do a second day and Dad is starting to get sick with a cold. So we just stayed in. (Mom and Dad watched Conference – Chris and Nick watched shows in their rooms, of course! Ha, ha!)

Between sessions Dad and I hiked up the road to Guardsman Pass. It was super steep and I haven’t hiked at all this winter (Dang—KT and I were so good about going last year, but she’s gone back to work as a nurse and I’ve had different excuses so we only went twice this winter! Sad!) Anyway, we’d been going about 40 minutes and needed to stop for a rest. Dad was pointing out the top which seemed VERY far away and we weren’t sure if we had the stamina to make it. (Seriously, it was so steep!) We decided after our break we’d walk to the top of the hill we could see and then turn around. But when we got to that spot, we were still feeling good. We kept going and pretty soon we had made it to the top! And it was so beautiful!! We could see the back of Brighton, Heber City, Mt. Tiimpanogos and the Park City Valley.

Taking a breather is a good life lesson. You are going to be keeping a busy schedule. Well, maybe some days won’t be busy and then you’ll have the challenge of thinking of things to do to stay busy. But when you feel tired or feel you’ve done all you can do, take a short break. Catch your breath. Then keep going. A short breather will often give you the energy you need to not only move forward, but go farther than you thought you would be able to previously.

Some of my “breathers” this week were: I’ve been so good about reading my scriptures in the morning lately, but this week a couple of mornings I drove carpool or had early meetings so didn’t have that 30 min. in the morning and then didn’t read my scriptures at all those days. But another day, I stopped in the afternoon and sat on the couch for 20 min. and read and studied. It felt so good to immerse myself for a few minutes in spiritual things. To step back from the world and consciously think about God.

This morning’s walk with dad was another “breather.” Some days when I have nothing planned, it’s kind of hard to think of something to do – or get motivated to do the things I should or even would like to do. After Conference it would have been easy to lay down and nap, but it was beautiful and sunny outside and we were so glad we went out. We loved being together, having time to talk and getting exercise at the same time. So that was more a metaphorical “breather” because actually it was hard work. But it recharged my soul.

Bishop Bragg was our bishop in Los Angeles – Dad worked with him as the Young Men’s President, I worked with him as the Primary President and besides that he was our good friend and his wife, Yvonne, was one of my best friends. She was in our “beach day” group (do you remember beach day at all?!) They are both funny and thoughtful and awesome. He spoke at General Conference today in the morning session. I can’t wait for you to see him! He spoke on Light and was so positive and such a comfortable speaker. It was his first General Conf. talk and he was a natural. It was so great! He spoke in the last half of the morning session. The other morning talks were great. As were the afternoon.
Elder Bragg!
Some of my favorite thoughts were:
Henry B. Eyring spoke a lot on Family History work. He talked of a dilemma he had in doing some research and only he could decide what to do. He prayed to know, and said, “when I prayed, I knew of a surety what I should do – just as I have had known in other situations… After all, these are beloved sons and daughters of God.” This struck me because I have felt the same thing as I’ve prayed for you kids. I have always wanted to do my best as a mom, and I’ve often thought as I prayed, “these are your sons and daughters too. Help me to know what to do.” And I have always received answers to my prayers. I imagine you will have similar opportunities as you pray on behalf of investigators, members of your ward or even your companions. Or quite frankly yourself. You are a beloved son of God. He will help you any way he can if you ask. I’ll never forget a blessing Dad gave me when I was PTA President. I was feeling overwhelmed by responsibility and in that blessing he said, “Heavenly Father knows you and loves you and wants to bless you. But you need to ask.”

Joseph Brough’s talk right after was along similar lines. “Heavenly Father knows what we need better than anyone else.” He also said, “I felt peace in seeking Heavenly Father’s will.”

One of the speakers talked about honoring our ancestors (probably Eyring) and I thought it was great for you and all missionaries in Japan where respect for their ancestors is taken so seriously.

Russell M. Nelson encouraged us to study Jesus Christ and The Living Christ. He did so himself this past year and said the effect his study had on him is “I am a different man.” I am going to start by reading The Living Christ. 

President Holland and Elder Sabin’s talks in the afternoon session were also awesome! As was some guys (didn’t catch his name) who talked about “Teaching the Langage of the Gospel to our Children.” They were all great. I love Conference!

Changing topics -- On a sad note, Grandpa got news this week that he has a cancerous tumor on his brain. In his e-mail he said he was “disquieted” by the news. Me too! I texted Diane and she said she was much more than disquieted, she was SO sad. 1 tumor is not as bad as 3. So that’s good. And we don’t know the size yet – less than 3 cm is hopeful. And we don’t know where it’s located either, which also makes a difference. But his jaw has been numb as if he’s had dental work for a couple of months so that’s why he had the MRI to begin with. They will treat the tumor with direct radiation which can kill the cells (as opposed to whole brain radiation – which is kind of last resort with not very long survival outcomes). So all those things are promising. But the reality is, his cancer is spreading and it makes me so sad. On the other hand, he is just as fun and funny and caring as he has always been and I love that he’s “my same old Dad.”

I hated the thought of telling you his cancer has spread. But I want you to know especially so you can keep him in your prayers. I’m praying that his symptoms don’t become disabling and of course for Diane, Luke, Sam and Max to be strong and to have time with him and also peace through any outcome. What I love about both my mom and my dad is that they love you kids so much. As do Dad’s parents. We’re a very blessed family to be surrounded by so much love.

Oh wow! And Kay is engaged! Maybe Courtney already told you! But to Chuck! They get married June 3 in the Mesa Temple.

This is officially a Very Long Letter. We loved your letter last week and getting answers to our questions! I’d love to hear about any investigators. Are you teaching English classes and what’s that like? About how street contacting went your first few times – what’s hard about it and what you like or what you’ve noticed you’re good at. Do you ride your bike every day? I’ve got the weather for Okinawa on my app and it looks about 10 degrees warmer than Fukuoka so I thought that seemed lucky. KT wants me to tell you that if you start to get chaffed from your bike seat from riding so much – especially if you’re wet on a rainy day – you should put Vaseline (or a similar product) on your inner thighs to prevent blisters. Apparently a missionary she knew in Japan just came home because his blisters got infected or something gross like that. So take care of yourself!

I love you, Marty! XOXO