Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dr. Visit today

Dad got to see beautiful Maine autumn colored leaves during a ride in a wheelchair van today, to a follow-up appointment with the surgeon who operated on him. The doctor was pleased--he had not been sure Dad would survive this long after the surgery. Dad was encouraged by the visit. He hadn't eaten anything this week until tonight, when he drank several ounces of his nutrition shake for dinner! :-)

It has been an "up-and-down" week for him, with some days stronger than others. He's been sitting up at least an hour on most days, to keep him from getting pneumonia. His therapists are also trying to build up his strength with walking and other exercises for his legs and arms. They had him remove his own shirt yesterday, which he managed, although with great difficulty.

He continues to be fed through the feeding tube. That is going directly into his small intestine, as the stomach continues to heal from the surgery.

On another note, my sister Lois texted me that there was an attempted coup in Ecuador today, and the situation is quite unstable this evening. They are staying indoors, because the police are on strike and it is not safe to be out. So she has asked for prayer for peace.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pretty Good Day

Dad drank about 4 oz. of a nutritious strawberry shake at lunch today! This is in addition to 75 ml/hr. through his feeding tube.

Dad was sitting in a wheelchair when Mom got there late this morning. (She had a dr. appt. of her own earlier in the day.) Mom is going to see if he could be wheeled to their apt. for a short visit with Josey (their cat). Dad loves Josey, and that prospect would be motivational for him.

Dad has been a little confused; he asked Mom when they would be moving to Ledgeview. Mom explained to him that they were already there, just living in different wings of the building at the moment. He seemed to understand, but she's not sure if he'll remember.

Interestingly, after complaining about the TV that his roommate watches, Dad has been watching it occasionally! Mom said he seemed interested in a cooking show today, and even put his hearing aid in. :-)

There was no problem with nausea today, and the best news is that he was in good spirits! We are so grateful for that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not feeling so well today

Mom said Dad didn't feel very well today; he was experiencing some nausea. The doctor plans to address it with medication, because they want to maintain his feeding tube volume.

Not much exercise today. Mom says Dad is tired, and "tired of being sick." His temp. and blood pressure were good though.

Still in good spirits on Monday

I'm pleased that Mom has been taking some time to herself. On Sunday she went to church in the morning and "Singspiration" in the evening, and last night she went to the historical society meeting and supper. She needs to do things like that to stay refreshed.

Dad's still receiving all his nutrition through the feeding tube. They have gradually increased the volume he is receiving, and when it has been at a certain level for enough time, they plan to cut it back and encourage him to eat.

He was able to walk to the bathroom and back yesterday with his walker and two aides assisting him. He also sat up for awhile yesterday morning, but stayed in bed all afternoon. Mom says he is "weary," but his attitude is good. That is such an answer to our prayers. My longing for him is to feel God's peace.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday was rough, Sunday better

Mom shared yesterday that Dad's first full day at Ledgeview was pretty rough. He is having to figure out how to handle some things that are different from when he was in the hospital, and it didn't always go smoothly. Consequently he was quite upset and discouraged yesterday.

HOWEVER . . . today was better!! And his spirits are better. He says he doesn't like the TV that his roommate watches, but Mom says his eyes often follow it. He doesn't care for sports, but there was a show about dogs that he liked.

He is still getting nourishment through his feeding tube and not wanting to eat. Not even a "pumpkin pie" milkshake tempted him today.

However, Mom said his legs seemed a little stronger. That is encouraging!! Thanks to all of you who are caring and praying.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Change of Scenery

Dad was released from the hospital today, and admitted to Ledgeview Nursing Home's Skilled Nursing Facility--Room 204. A few of the needles and tubes were removed, but they left the feeding tube for now. Since he's no longer on IV nutrition, we're hoping he will get hungrier. Today at lunch he had a few sips of root beer. That diet won't be adequate for long. :-)

After arriving at the nursing home, he was transferred to a wheelchair and taken to be weighed. Once he got back to his room, he was exhausted, and they let him stay in bed rather than trying to sit up in the chair. Mom said he had a good long nap this afternoon.

His roommate, Eli (who Aunt Betty knows--he lives near her), likes to watch TV. My parents have never wanted a TV, so dad is thankful that he has a removable hearing aid. :-)

Mom said that Dad's spirits are good! I'm sure the change of scenery is welcome for him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting out of the hospital tomorrow!

Mom reported this afternoon that Dad seemed stronger on his short walk from bed to chair today. He will be discharged TOMORROW to Ledgeview Nursing Home for skilled care/therapy.

Mom & Dad's apt. at Ledgeview Living Center is in the very same building!! So Mom won't need a ride to visit Dad anymore. :-) He is hoping to see their cat, Josey. So Mom plans to take her to visit Dad as soon as possible. :-) I hope the nursing home staff allows it. Many health care institutions now recognize the benefits of permitting animals to visit, and some even have resident pets.

Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers as Mom & Dad adjust to another new situation. Please pray for Dad's therapy . . . that he will be willing to work at it, that his therapists will know how far to push him, and that he and Mom will continue to feel God's peace in their hearts.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update from Mom Ames (slightly edited and abridged :-)

Mom e-mailed an update this evening. I don't think she'd mind if I share it:

"Dad's spirits are up tonight after a very difficult day. Dr. Medd (Dad's PCP) came in. He had ordered a CT Scan this morning of Dad's stomach, to see if things are working well. Dad did not feel very well the last couple of days - or this morning. His feeding tube got plugged again. Several nurses tried over and over this morning to get it unplugged.

"The evening nurse came in about 4:30 PM. She got the feeding tube unplugged--after all of those tries by so many nurses before. It was her 3rd try to get it, but she did !!!!! Her name is Jill - and she is a Christian. Really sweet nurse.

"Dr. Medd came in this evening, went to the nurse's station to get the report from the CT scan, and came back to tell us the good news. Everything is working well - and NO SURPRISES APPEARING. (Note: Mom is referring to new cancer growth.) Dr. Medd was very pleased, and wants to have Dad try eating tomorrow--custard, etc.

"After Dr. Medd left, Dad asked me what Dr. Medd said. So I repeated the conversation, and Dad was so glad, and 'Praise the Lord' was his comment. Indeed, we do PRAISE THE LORD that nothing is causing a problem at the present time. That is a great relief to my mind for sure.

"So, it may be that Dad will be moved into the Ledgeview Nursing Home for 'skilled care' after a few more days. I will have news on that as time goes on."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Better, still weak

When I called Mom for the afternoon update, she didn't feel that Dad had a very good day; she said his blood pressure was low (80/50) and he was very weak. His walk from the bed to the chair was very difficult, and he only sat up for an hour.

To look on the bright side . . . he WAS able to walk from the bed to the chair (with a lot of help) and he sat up for a whole hour! :-) Gotta be grateful for the blessings. The best one was that he talked to me for a couple of minutes! He hadn't done that since last Friday.

Dad's feeding tube is once again operational for meds and liquid food. He has only had a few sips of water and ice chips by mouth since the feeding tube was replaced yesterday. IV nutrition continues also.

No discharge in sight, yet. We are so grateful for the good care Dad is receiving, with plenty of consideration for Mom's needs as well.

Daddy & his girls, 1976

Monday, September 13, 2010

Relief today

We were glad to find out today that Dad's internal discomfort in the stomach area was due to a blockage in his feeding tube! The surgeon tried several times to dislodge the blockage but was unable to, so he replaced the tube. That procedure was done right in Dad's room; he didn't have to go to an operating room.

Since the tube was replaced, Dad has been feeling much better. :-) We hope that he will feel like eating a little bit of liquid food again tomorrow.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Right Time

Mom shared this evening that today Dad was very uncomfortable. His stomach hurts. Of course the incision site is painful, and he has a pillow to press against it when he coughs. But today he had significant internal discomfort also, and did not eat anything all day. He is still getting IV nutrition.

This makes three bad days in a row. So naturally we are increasingly concerned, and alert to the possibility that I/we may need to travel up there fairly soon. A number of arrangements will need to be made when that time comes, particularly for our children's schoolwork, and we desperately need wisdom to know the right time to go. Jack and I have tickets for a trip to Denver CO on Sept. 24-27, that were booked shortly before we learned how ill my dad was. My mom said today that she thinks we can wait until after that trip, but if necessary, we can cancel it and use the flight credits.

It is comforting to know that God has the right time prepared for Dad's departure. Mom said she is comforted by that also. As Dad repeated over and over today, "I'm so uncomfortable," she said she told the Lord that she knew He would do what is best.

Pastor Holliday, our dear friend who has been faithful to visit every few days, reported that while he was there today, whenever Mom or one of the hospital staff did anything for Dad, he said "thank you" every time. That always impressed me about Dad when I was growing up. After every dinner Mom cooked, he would take her hand, smile tenderly at her, and say "thank you, sweetheart."

Friday & Saturday

Friday and Saturday were similar for Dad. He was able to walk a short distance both days, and eat a small amount of liquid food: chicken broth, chocolate drink, and his favorite, vanilla ice cream. A blessing is that he did not experience any nausea.

Friday he sat up more of the time, and talked to me briefly on the phone. Yesterday (Saturday) he stayed in bed all afternoon, and was too tired to talk when I called. Mom also sounded tired yesterday. I have not been able to reach her this afternoon. I'll keep trying and will post again later if there is more news.
"The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms..." Deuteronomy 33:27

Friday, September 10, 2010

Candid words from a caring doctor

Mom called again last night to share that Dr. Medd, Dad's PCP, had told her that the cancer has spread well beyond the surgery site. They did the surgery in hopes of giving Dad some time, and will be giving him therapy for quality of life . . . but they are not recommending any other interventions.

We are grateful for Dr. Medd's honesty, caring and compassion. He did not mention any time frame; he said that he can't predict how the coming weeks and months will go. We are praying that Dad will remain as comfortable as possible, and we are going to be thankful for the blessing of each day God gives us.

"Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth." (Proverbs 27:1)

Mom & Dad on their 40th wedding anniversary - May 24, 2009

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More positive progress!

Dad continued to improve today, with TWO walks--one halfway to the door and back, and the other almost to the door and back! He also sat in the chair most of the afternoon, wearing his glasses and reading a little bit of the newspaper. Railroad friends have brought picture books of trains, but he hasn't felt quite up to looking at those yet.

He has been able to drink water today, and even some root beer. However, his intestines still are not showing any sign of activity. :-( That is an important indicator that they are watching for. A pressure sore is also being treated.

Mom was there when the social worker/discharge planner asked Dad's nurse when he might be discharged. She said possibly Tuesday of next week, at the earliest.

Here is a photo of Dad with Danielle . . . several years ago. :-)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting better

Dad is back in a "regular" room - #140, for anyone who wants to call or visit him. Today he put his hearing aid in (although he didn't want his false teeth or his glasses), and I got to talk to him on the phone for a few minutes! He sounded weak, but quite like himself. It was great. Afterward I heard him tell his nurse that I was Lois, so he was slightly confused, but close enough!

Mom said the nurse thinks they will try having Dad do a little walk tomorrow. The plan for when he leaves the hospital is to return to Ledgeview, but not to their apartment, at least not right away. He'll be receiving rehab therapy for awhile at Ledgeview's Skilled Nursing Facility.

It is possible, and we are hopeful, that he might regain enough strength to go home to their apartment in the Ledgeview Living Center. But if not, he would become a patient in the Long Term Care facility there at Ledgeview . . . what we think of as the "nursing home." This would be a difficult transition, but we are trying to prepare ourselves for that possibility. Mom has worked very hard to care for him in the last year, and it has often been difficult for her.

Again, we are thankful that Mom & Dad are in the Lord's loving hands. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Good Day!

Mom reports that today was "a good day." It was so nice to hear her say that!! She said that Dad was in fairly good spirits, although he still isn't talking very much (not that he ever does) and didn't feel like having her read to him. His dry humor popped up when the nurse asked how his hands were doing. He said "Well, I can feel them."

He was bathed and shaved today. Mom said, "Wow, sweetheart, they've shined you right up! You must feel like a king!" Dad said, "Nooooo."

He is still in the ICU. There was some talk yesterday about moving him to a regular room today, but it didn't happen, and Mom's not sure what the holdup is. She thinks maybe it's because his blood pressure and heart rate are both quite low, but that is only a guess.

Mom plans to take his glasses and hearing aid when she goes tomorrow, hoping that will encourage him to stay awake a little more. They did get him moved to a chair for a few hours today . . . but he fell asleep in the chair too. :-)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Awake and Talking Today

Mom says that Dad is fairly alert and talking today, although he's taken a number of naps. This afternoon the nurses have gotten him up from the bed to sit in a reclining chair for awhile, despite his protests. It is uncomfortable for him to move, but it is beneficial for both his lungs and his muscles.

Last night Dad had several episodes of irregular heartbeat, but today that seems to be under control. Mom did get home to sleep last night, but she wasn't able to get back as early as she wanted to this morning, so she may sleep on the couch in the ICU waiting room tonight.

Thank you all so much for caring and praying.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dad made it through surgery

Mom just called to say that Dad is out of surgery. He is in a lot of pain, so they are giving him something for that. The surgeon told her he removed a large tumor and some surrounding tissue . . . but was not able to get all the cancer. That was not unexpected.

Please pray for the Lord's comfort for them: physical for Dad, and emotional, mental & spiritual for both of them. Thank you so much.

Surgery today

I just spoke with Mom, and she said that an ICU room had become available, and they would be coming soon to take Dad and prepare him for surgery. She said she feels God's sweet peace, for which we are grateful!!

Dad was disobeying orders today. They gave him wet sponges to moisten his mouth but told him not to swallow . . . well he wanted to swallow, and he did. :-) Who would have thought my dad, who never broke the speed limit, would be so rebellious! Mom said the nurse pretended she didn't see anything. :-)

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Surgery tomorrow (again)

Turns out Dad's surgery won't be today after all, because the hospital doesn't have any open ICU beds. Now they are planning to do it tomorrow (Sunday). We don't know the time yet.

Mom is doing well. On the phone she sounds calm and strong, which we know is God's strength as a result of your prayers. THANK YOU !! We would appreciate prayer for wisdom to identify things Mom might need help with, that she might not think of or feel comfortable asking for. And also wisdom to know when I/we should make plans to go to Maine.

"The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms..." (Deuteronomy 33:27)

So it is cancer

We found out this morning that Dad does have a large cancerous tumor in his stomach. The surgeon is planning to remove part of the stomach and intestine, and reconnect everything as best as he can.

They are not sure where the cancer originated or how far it has spread. We will know more after the surgery.

Thanks for praying for all of us.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Surgery tomorrow

Dad's upper GI scope this morning showed that the passage from the stomach to the small intestine is completely blocked. The doctors are not sure if it is a tumor, or scar tissue from ulcers. They did a biopsy and expect the results tomorrow morning.

After the biopsy results are in, they are also planning surgery tomorrow to remove the blockage. (The surgeon told Mom that Dad's doctor used "special charm" to convince them to do the surgery on Saturday. :-) We are happy that Dad consented to surgery.

He still has a productive cough, so his lungs need clearing up also. Thanks for caring and praying!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Now It's Dad's Turn

After a year of relatively stable health, my Dad (John) has taken a turn for the worse. He began having difficulty eating early in August, and finally it got so bad that he had a CT scan on August 30. The scan showed a blood clot in his lung and swelling in his stomach, and he was immediately hospitalized at Stephens Memorial in Norway ME.

Dad is on a blood thinner now, and an upper GI scope this morning showed that food has not been getting past his stomach for awhile. The reason for the blockage was not visible. They are going to do another scope tomorrow. Since the stomach has now been cleared, we hope the scope will be able to locate the source of the problem.

Another issue is his breathing. He has a bad cough and is on oxygen. Thankfully he is receiving IV nutrition, which should help to build his strength back up. He grew very frail during the last month of not being able to eat much.

It is so hard to be 1,400 miles away while this is going on. Our family and friends in Maine have been great about helping my mom during this time, with rides and making telephone calls. Thank you Aunt Jane, Aunt Betty, Uncle Ted, Debbie, Stephen, Pastor and Mrs. Tiner, and anyone I have missed.

As always, we appreciate your thoughts & prayers!