Monday, January 28, 2008

Going Back To Work on Snowy Monday

Well, this is a good new/bad news post.

We haven't had too much to report lately, just progressing a little more each day on the road to full recovery. After a good doctor's visit last week, Mike has been pushing himself every day to walk more, lift more, drive more so he can be ready for today - his first day back! Mike will report to work at 9AM and spends the first two hours getting recertified to drive bus.

The bad news: this snowy weather! TriMet knows no "late start" or "closure." "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these people couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Our prayer requests - for Michael to safely drive into work from our frozen valley here in Wilsonville; Michael passes his recertification with flying colors and that the weather does not hamper him in any way; and that Michael has the strength and stamina to complete six-hour work days for the next two weeks - not just complete, but feel energized and ready to do more!

Thanks friends!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On the mend

Well now! Or almost. Good news from the doctors office is that I am close to being back to normal. Just a bit more healing of the skin on my leg and bottom of my feet. My stamina has increased each day as I try to walk more and try to help around the house.
Looks like I can return to work at least part time, next week. More tests will come towards the end of the week.
On the down side poor Oliver heads in to the vet for change to his point of view tomorrow morning. Hope he can forgive me...

Blessing to all.

Cookie Help!

I know this is a Mike's blog, but we've dropped the ball for Tatum.

We finally found her a new Brownie troop and we've had the past two weeks for Girl Scout Cookie pre-orders and just haven't had the energy to go around Wilsonville. If you know anyone who loves cookies or want some for yourself, consider giving us a call! Pre-orders are needed this week, and no money needed until they arrive in February (picture is from last year). Overall, Tatum hopes to sell 200 boxes herself and earn a special troop overnight OMSI trip.

Cookies are $3.50 per box and they have all your favorites (Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos, All Abouts, Tagalongs) and two new ones - Chocolate Chip and Lemon Chalet.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

How do you Know....?

How do you know it is cold outside.....

When the deer are leaning on the house to stay warm.

When the dog decides he can wait a little longer before he goes out to do his business.

When the Deer are gathering around the dryer vent on laundry day.

When the dog comes back in from doing his business the deer try to follow him.

When the cat looks at the front door and runs to hide in the bathroom ( near the oil heater).

When you have to put things in the refrigerator so they won't freeze.

How do you know it is cold inside.....

When cooking can change the weather inside the house.

When there is freezing fog from the bathroom after a shower.

When the cat starts romancing the oil heater in the bathroom.

When you realize the pile of laundry really is talking to you,
and it is your wife who is all bundled up.

When the liquid dish soap under the kitchen sink is really more of a semi-solid.

When you have to warm up the Bic-lighter to start a fire in the fireplace.

When butter in the butter dish will not soften.

How do you know when it is warm in the house.

When the dog and cat quit cuddling and start ignoring each other again.

When you can walk to the bathroom in the morning in a house-coat instead of ski jacket.

When my darling bride is only wearing 4 layers.

When my youngest child want to go to school in shorts.

How do you know when it is too warm in the house.
When the poinsettia start to bloom again.

When the dog would rather sit on the porch, and it is snowing.

When my darling bride is no longer wearing mittens and a third sweater.

When the stale crackers get crisp again.

When the neighbor is complaining about you setting off his fire alarm.

Hope you all enjoyed a little light humor from the other side Mike's mind.
After all if we can not have humor when we are down in life, do we really have it at all?

More serious posts tomorrow will be coming shortly.
Love to all and thanks for the support.


Miracle "Drug"

You are looking at a modern miracle drug --- the humble Bag Balm!

Mike's mom, Karen, called and reminded us that bag balm is an antiseptic and suggested we try it on his healing leg. So, two nights ago, we tentatively rubbed some into his leg and foot, popped a sock on it and went to sleep. Come morning, his skin was remarkably smooth, all the flaking was gone and it looked 100% better.

Last night, we slathered it on both feet like there was no tomorrow!!! Wow, this morning, the skin just looks so fresh and new, like a baby's. Thanks for the great idea, Karen! Those dairy farmers sure have a secret weapon.

We do have a prayer request, and that is about our rental home/heating conditions. We need God's direction on how to proceed. Our newest electricity bill arrived and it was over $400 for December - and we were gone half the month at the hospital! And we are still freezing, heating only with the fireplace and new supposedly-energy-efficient space heaters! With that kind of utility bill along with the fact that we are paying storage fees because there is no garage at our current space, this has turned out to be a very expensive housing option for us even if Mike were working right now. We already close off half the rooms because they are like a refrigerator, so are living in a very small portion of this home. However, we love being out in the country, I'm grateful that we can still have animals (Dad's dog Ringo and sweet kitty Oliver), and I know that rental management firms wouldn't be excited about renting to us as we continue to struggle to recover from a long-term layoff and now disability. And, I'm very sad at the thought of making Tatum change schools AGAIN, and also overwhelmed at just the thought of physically moving again. We are feeling a bit lost about the right decision to make for the future, and we want to do God's will. I pray for clear direction for both of us. And, am so thankful for my dear friends who have been so supportive and generous in the midst of all this. Thank you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On the Road to Recovery

What a difference a week can make! It feels like Mike is really on the road to recovery. In just the last few days, he's been able to be upright several hours a day without excruciating pain, is walking now with just a cane instead of the walker, and has actually driven the car for several short trips now that he's totally off of the prescription painkillers. He still needs the hospital bed and has his leg elevated for most of the day, but this is just such a relief.

Our goal and prayer is that he is able to be upright for at least eight hours without being totally wiped out so he can safely return to driving bus - soon. =)

I just want to publicly thank several people/groups for their kindness during this ordeal and especially lately - Milt, Connie, Don, Cindy, Sarah, Vicki, Denny, Kathy, Laurie, Jeff, Becky, Dee, Kati, Kathryn, Frank, Melinda, Jason, RHCC Treehouse and our Rolling Hills family. I apologize if I've missed anyone . To each of you, named or not, please know that your kindness and generosity has meant the world to us.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Areas of Need and Prayer

Hi again friends,

I'm asked so often what someone can do to help and I really don't have a definite answer at the time or don't want to put someone on the spot for something they are unable to help with. So, I'll list some things that have been weighing on my mind along with areas where we need prayer.

Firewood: A friend of Mike's mom lives in Hillsboro and has offered us some firewood but we need to haul it. We need the assistance of a truck and another set of hands to coordinate schedules with Trevor and the owner. We are down to our last few days of wood from RHCC treehouse and the Heuschkels.

Tatum's Birthday: Tatum turns 9 this Friday, already! Long before Mike got sick, I had agreed that she could have her usual birthday party and Tatum really wanted us to host a "Super Hero" party for both Tualatin and Wilsonville friends on Saturday the 19th. Now, we don't have the space for a party with a hospital bed in our main living space, I don't have the energy to create this fun party since I would have normally spent December working on it bit by bit, and no one can afford the $200+ that most places charge to host kids birthday parties these days! We've let Tatum know the Super Hero party won't happen this year but she's still hopeful for something, so I need ideas or a magical birthday fairy!

Prayers for Mike: Our biggest concern right now is getting Mike back to health with strength and stamina, so he can return to work. We ask for prayers for a full and complete recovery.

Big Praise: I took Mike to Kaiser today and his IV line was removed! We've finished with the IV medication unless we're told differently at his next appt. on the 21st.

Thank you all for your sweet concern and care. A burden shared is light indeed.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

More thanks

Thanks (continued) Warning of graphic material below.

Pain is an amazing mechanism God gave us to highlight problems in our systems. It is motivating and challenging both as a tool and an obstacle to over come.
While my leg was on fire with infection it pointed out the problems and areas to focus on, but it also formed a wall between me as I was and as I wanted to be. I can distinctly remember four separated areas and flavors of pain in my lower appendage. It felt to me as though a freezing cold steel railroad spike was being driven through my ankle, with a slow pulse of electricity underscoring its aching presence. The second area was an intermittent cord of searing pain felt like a smoldering wire coat hanger climbing up the bones of my calf. The third and most intense of all was the outer layers of skin. From the top my foot to the calf muscles my skin was bright red, hot to the touch, and swollen. Inside it felt like a form fitting clamp had been heated cheery red and branded to me. Lastly, almost as an after thought a small egg of discomfort rested to the inside of my right knee. Tender to bending and movement, both of which I was trying to avoid, it was the most forgettable of the inflictions.
And why am I thankful for this?
It illustrated to me the seriousness of the infection, and it gave me a personal challenge to maintain dignity and grace.
As my closest of friends know I have an incredible tolerance to pain and painkillers. In fact most painkillers do not work on me. Every doctor I meet gives me the same jaundiced eye when I tell them about it, and until they try to work on me they quite frankly think I am lying.
I took it as my challenge to remain pleasant, to remember please and thank you as part of my vocabulary, and to try and call each of my nurses and aides by name. It is Really really difficult smile and say hello when throbbing red hot nerves are crawling like ants all over my leg, and even more so when narcotics have dulled my IQ to that of a carrot.
Even in the aftermath of all this I am still glad for the mechanism of pain.
Ollie our tabby shaped poop factory has endeared me again to him. Even though he came to us under dubious circumstances, Ollie has taken to me more than most of our animals. I am hardest on him, and most likely to yell or swat him when he misbehaves (yeah ok so it is a compliment to my cooking when food smells so good the cat tries to steal it from the daughter), or hold him accountable for his behavior. Ollie will sulk for a couple of hours then come back to make up. He has been a constant companion to me, seldom leaving me. He loves the fact that I am prone and still. His number one place to sleep is on my chest (as close to my neck as possible), and the close second is between by knees, in fact on the pillows propping up my knees curled up in a tight ball.
Secondary to that of course is the cuddling and purring. Ollie will jump up to the bed, cautiously walk the edge until he is entrenched in my left arm pit. then nuzzling his face towards mine he begs to have his ears scratched, face rubbed, and spine massaged. A low grade rumbling purr can progress to an all out chain saw like cacophony when cat heaven is achieved.
I am also thankful for Ollie.
More again later, Mike

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Thanks and Praise

Mike here for the 2nd chance at adding to the blog. I am afraid I am not the writer that Shawnee had hope for. Having and running the blog is really much more her type of thing.
That said there are a few things I did want to say.

First and foremost thank you.
To All who have helped and prayed and called and sent well wishes, thank you.

As Shawnee mentioned earlier, the medications I am on do make concentration difficult and make me feel short of a normal IQ by about 30 points.

One of the ways I keep trying to focus is list what I am thankful for. So in no particular order this is my list so far.
God I am thankful for:
Ambulances and drivers, Firemen and medics who are congenial no matter how matter how you feel at the moment. Thanks for doctors who make their livelihood's trying to make people better.
Nurses, oh my yes, thanks for nurses. Men and women who deal with the most vile and utterly humiliating parts of human existence, yet smile and reassure you that all will be better. Those angels who arrive bearing painkillers and a glass of water, just as you begin to feel your appendages catch fire. They give empathy and understanding, and can still smile while cleaning up your messes.
Thanks to ministers and chaplains who bring hope even to those who look hopeless. They minister even to the patient whose bleeding liver wont stop because they refuse to stop drinking alcohol.
Thanks in particular for Pastor Dale. By his example I have learned to not be ashamed of showing my faith. Before I met Dale I might not have had the confidence to confront someone whose was belligerent to God. (I will elaborate on this story later).
Thanks for friends and family and for spouses. My wife is amazing. She has stepped up to be my nurse and maid and counselor. She has put down her own fear of IV's to learn how to give me my medications. There is no doubt in my mind that I made a good decision lo those 23 years ago.
More to follow , I have to recharge me and the computer as well...

Day 28

Sorry for the lack of posts. I had hoped Mike would want to continue his messages but the pain medications make it difficult to track much for very long. I'll try to make this quick, even though it's been a while since our last update.

Here's a picture of my dear sweetie (you can see the pain in his eyes)

Mike is still in the hospital bed back on IV antibiotics, prescription pain medications every three hours and leg continually elevated in a attempt to fight and beat this infection and
cellulitis. It's the amount of pain the bothers me most for him. As we were getting ready to leave for a follow-up appointment on Thursday, Mike said he was in the worst pain he's had for two weeks and that was before he was up for several hours and transferred from house to van to wheelchair and back, poked and prodded, etc. The doctor ordered an ultrasound because there's a lump on his calf so we also had that trip to make Thursday afternoon, but his leg is clear thankfully.

I say back on IVs because we had finished up on the 23rd but restarted on the 28th at his follow-up because a bright red spot appeared on his leg so the oral antibiotics don't seem to be as effective. We have a couple more days around-the-clock IVs and then we'll know more. His leg still is so horrible looking, with the skin constantly sloughing off and regenerating (which is good) but being replaced with still more deep reddish-purple flesh. I am sharing a photo for anyone who can stand it, but I'll just post a clickable link here so as not to shock anyone unexpectedly. This is after 28 days on antibiotics, and the doc thinks it's doing well!

Overall, we doing fine just weary. Trevor is back from the east coast, so helps me out when he's not working. Tess and Tara are back in their respective college towns, so it's Tatum and me holding down the fort. Tatum has helped me move a pile of firewood and keeps the box inside full, refills her Daddy's water bottle regularly, fetches things from upstairs and tries to cuddle him whenever possible. I think she'll be the most happy when his IV line is finally removed, because that right arm is her snuggle spot!

Mike is keeping up his spirits but really bored. Daytime TV, even satellite, is just horrible; he's seen so many movies, and tries to keep entertained on the computer but the meds affect his reaction time and ability to concentrate/read, too. He does a lot of napping and chats on the phone if someone calls.

My days are full just trying to keep up: this med every four hours, that one every six, IVs four times a day, apply creams morning and night, meals every five hours, dishes, laundry, and just every day living, too. I've been to work twice this week for some catch up and to quickly train a temp, but there's just so much that still needs to be done. And, my dear friend Mary Ann is in the final days of hospice; I wish I could visit her more but she knows I love her and will miss her so much. Then there's the paperwork: it looks like the info I faxed to his work hasn't all arrived so short-term disability hasn't started yet, plus we found out Tri-Met's policy only pays $150 a week so it's really not going to help much. If you know anyone who would be interested in hosting a freezer cooking party or would like to purchase a unique hand-crafted hat, felted bag or prayer blanket, send them my way as I attempt to fill in our funding gap.

Enjoy your weekend!