Saturday, July 29, 2006

I know it's been a while

It's been a very busy week.

First with Gerri things are not going well. I am very glad not to be the person responsible for making the decisions here. Since my last post they have extubated, intubated, and then put in a permanent (although it will close if it ever gets to the point that she no longer needs it) trach. She has been evicted from Henry Ford Hospital as it is not a long term care hospital (she was there 28 days) and moved to a long term facility in the old Outer Drive Hospital. As a long term facility she can stay there up to 25 days, although their "program" is only 21 days. If the decision is made to continue treating her she will need to be moved to one of the five nursing facilities in the state of Michigan that can handle her needs. I know all too well the pain of losing someone suddenly and the pain of watching someone die slowly, however this crap of making decisions along the way really sucks. Every place in her body that can have a tube coming out of it does, and they have created additional holes for extra tubing. She is awake, alert, and responsive, but unable to talk or write or communicate in any way that is effective. She is noticeably uncomfortable and restrained so that she can not pull any of her many tubes out. Everything is functioning normally except her lungs (and today her digestive system since they had the feeding tube set at Gordon instead of Gerri) and there is no clear cut answer on whether or not her lungs will ever again function at a life sustaining level. As frustrating as it is to visit and see her so miserable and unable to communicate whatever it is that she is so frantically trying to say, I realize it is a thousand time harder for her than it is for me and the alternative to visiting is to leave her there alone. So I will continue to go see her whenever I can 2 or 3 times a week and Gordon will be going back downstate in a couple of weeks when he can get around again (more later on that). Tonia is pretty set on moving Gerri into one of the nursing facilities, in the hopes that her lungs will improve and she will be able to come home but that decision is a couple of weeks away and the way things have been going anything could happen.

Gordon had ankle surgery yesterday afternoon and although it was supposed to be an overnight in the hospital he is still there. Hopefully he will be coming home tomorrow since he does not have a feeding tube and is receiving normal hospital rations. He had the surgery in Bay City and Megan and I stopped on our way up yesterday evening and brought him some snacks to get him through the night. When we found out he was spending another day Bryan and I drove down this afternoon with more snacks and a couple of 7-11 hotdogs. His foot is in a metal contraption that looks very similar to the brace thing that Chris Reeve wore on his head. He will need to wear the brace for 3 months (I think, it might be 6) and use crutches or a walker for a year, on the up side he gets a handicrapper placard for the car.

Megan is home safe and sound. Her flight was delayed and as it was the last flight into DTW for the evening and nobody was in the terminal her flight was naturally delegated to the very last gate in the Metro Detroit Area. All of the ticket counters were closed when I got to the airport and I had no idea of where to go to get the gate pass to pick her up. I finally found someone who could direct me to the Northwest office in baggage claim. Apparently Northwest was suffering from computer issues and they were not able to print me out a gate pass, I said fine just bring her here to baggage claim. But no this was not an option I had to pick her up at the gate, after much ado someone wrote me up a pass to take through security. Security was of course closed since no one was leaving on a flight for several hours. I finally found someone who was able to call security and they opened up for me. As I was disturbing their break time I was given the special treatment that included testing swabs of the inside of my purse and a thorough pat down. I retreated to the ends of the earth with my book to await her plane. I was joined later by a woman in her 60's meeting her sister (also in her 60"s) I'm not quite sure how that qualified for a gate pass but oh well. Megan of course was the last one off the plane with her escort. Of course the computer system was still down and they could not verify that I was actually supposed to pick her up, but alas they gave her to me anyway. One of her suitcases was missing and knowing where the Northwest office came in handy as we put in a claim for the lost luggage. By this point it was after 2:00 am and I was very tired. They had to verify that indeed all of the luggage was off the plane and then one woman kept bringing in bags off the conveyor saying is this it? I thought I handled it all very calmly but my face must have showed my frustration as the other woman behind the counter said "Ma'am we're all tired", I just asked her if she had been at work at 8:30 that morning and if she had to be back there again in a few hours. She finally figured out how to put in Mommy's address as a temporary address in case the luggage was found before Friday and sent us on our merry way. At 11:00 the following night we got a call from the luggage company saying the bag had been located and that they were going to be in our area "this evening" could they drop it off then. I was a little confused as to what time frame "this evening" constitutes at 11:00 pm, but said sure and they showed up a 4:00 am (Megan was still up so she took care of it.)

My computer died earlier this week booting to a screen that just said, there was no options, no place to exit for set ups nothing. I called a computer place in Bay City (near the hospital) and brought it in on my way to see Gordon. I called them while I was with Gordon and they told me it was spyware that had crashed it and that they were deleting the spyware and loading a anti-virus software. On my way out of town I watched it boot at the repair shop and paid them their $60. Got home fed the kids and hooked everything up only to get to the screen. I eliminated plugs one by one and when I unplugged my USB hub the computer booted just fine. I could then plug in the USB hub but the trackball connected to it did not work. So I unplugged the trackball plugged in the old yucky mouse and have not had a problem with it. I hate the mouse and will look for a PS2 port trackball.

I think that's everything and my poker is just about done taping. And if Will makes it into the jury house I will quit watching the show.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What a Smile

For a baby that didn't start out too cute Jonathan is extremely cute now. I'm not sure if he really is that cute or if it's just his huge smile which stays on his face pretty permanently. (Unless of course there is a camera pointed at him.) (I just found out my delete key is not working, that could be a real pain in the butt.) We had Sabrina and Jonathan all day yesterday and they were fun. We have Josh right now and are expecting Bryan and Sean in a few minutes. I have missed these kids something awful, it's been almost a month since I have seen them.

Things are still going along with Gordon's mom, one day good, one day not so good. We had a few really bad days and then the next she was awake, alert, and responsive. It is so hard to tell what is going on and what to expect. She has been on the ventilator for over a week now, but for most of that it has been turned off and the machine was not breathing only giving oxygen support much like the tubes that go under the nose. On Friday we found out that although the vent has been turned off and she had been breathing on her own since Tuesday they had been turning it back on at night so that she could rest. Yesterday it was turned back on full time, this is part of that up and down. Wednesday they talked of taking the vent out on Thursday but by Thursday she had had two good days (Tuesday and Wednesday) in a row and had worked loose her arm restraints, she then attempted full scale extubation on her own starting with the feeding tube in her nose. This caused her anxiety level to soar, and she had to be sedated and given new restraints very similar to boxing gloves. I was there on Friday to speak with the nurse and we found out that it is her anxiety level that is keeping her on the vent and I have no idea how they can fix that. She has a high anxiety level sitting on her own couch, short of keeping her totally sedated (in which case they cannot remove the vent) I don't see her being unanxious while in the hospital. So we will have to see what will happen, they can't leave the vent in much longer as it is too prone to causing infection and if they need to keep her on the machine they will need to consider putting in a permanent tracheotomy. It's a hell of a decision to have to make, trying to define quality of life. It's one thing to be kept alive in a vegetative state and another to be kept alive alert and responsive but unable to do the things you want to do.

On a much happier note I am getting rid of Megan for a couple of weeks. Some suckers in California have agreed to entertain her. I haven't quite worked out how she's getting to the airport but have no fears she will be there.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Okay first the waterfall, yes it is whatever Dad said it was, with c, q, and a bunch of vowels. These falls are in the lower peninsula where the tip of the index finger meets the middle finger. We first visited them while Dad was visiting and returned in honor of his birthday last week. When Dad was here we took 23 up the coast of the Lake Huron and came back down 33 which runs down the middle of the state and right past our high school. This year we took I-75 up to get there quicker and moseyed down 23 for the return trip. Our initial visit was on a whim and we arrived with no bathing suits or towels, this time we were better prepared with suits and water shoes, towels and a disposable grill for hotdogs. Megan brought Jacque along and we had Sabrina. Megan and Jacque dove right in while Sabrina is not much of a swimmer, she likes to walk around the edges and find stuff. She found lots of stuff at the waterfall including over a dozen frogs and a dead mouse. After a while Sabrina and I took a walk up the falls to look for stuff and after a 1/4 mile or so I bemoaned not having Gordon there for a hand to balance on, she said "Wait right here I'll go get him," unfortunately there were way too many bends in the river for me to let her venture on her own so I returned with her. I talked Gordon in to making the trek and drug Megan and Jacque with us as no one would be there to watch them. Megan hated every minute of the walk until we came to another set of falls farther up. Just before the falls the river opened up and was chest deep smack in the middle was a long rock (bench) waist height so we could sit on it and have the water pour over us much like a jacuzzi (only slightly colder, though not nearly as cold as I was expecting). All in all it was a lot of fun and hopefully we will make it back there sooner than it took this time.

Unfortunately we returned to two urgent messages from Gordon's sister Tonia, Gerry had a brain aneurysm and was in Henry Ford hospital (the same hospital his father passed away in earlier in the month). Knowing there was nothing we could do then and I was in no condition to drive another 2 hours we went to bed (those that needed to sleep did those that couldn't sleep didn't) and left to drive down the next morning. Gerry was taken into surgery for a procedure that is called coiling she came through the procedure well and was making good progress. She had a shunt placed in her head for drainage that she did not approve of so they had to keep her restrained so she would not pull it out. She wanted to go home and was very aggressive so they were keeping her relatively sedated. On Wednesday while we were at the fireworks Tonia visited her and said that she was alert and responding. When Tonia talked about going to bingo Gerry began nodding furiously. Thursday when Gordon and Tonia got to the hospital Gerry had developed an infection and was running dangerously high fevers and her breathing had become very labored. They were treating the fevers with Tylenol and had begun giving her antibiotics for the infection but they were not sure what the cause of the infection was. They were also afraid that her labored breathing could cause her to have a stroke or a heart attack before they were able to treat the infection. They needed permission to put Gerry on a ventilator. And although everyone is in agreement that they do not want Gerry (or anyone else) kept alive by artificial means the doctor was able to explain that the ventilator was not a means of life support but of life assistance. Gerry was (is) breathing on her own, the ventilator is to facilitate her breathing not a substitute for it. The doctor's asked for one week on the ventilator to give them time to find out where the infection is coming from and treat it. After a week they will be able to determine if they can be successful at treating the infection and if she will be able to continue without the ventilator. With the ventilator in Gerry is kept under almost complete sedation so that she doesn't fight the assistance from the ventilator. While we were visiting her yesterday she received a breathing treatment (her respiratory nurse is from West Branch) which she did not like at all. This brought her conscious and in a fighting mood, her eyes looked like they did when anyone said anything derogatory about one of her kids and you could see her jerking her still restrained hands to start shaking her finger. They got her sedated again and when the doctor came around she told us that Gerry was progressing well. They still did not know the cause of the infection but were going on the assumption that it is pneumonia, but that the cultures should produce results in the next couple of days.

So Gordon, Megan, and I came home for a few days Gordon is in touch with Tonia and we will be back down tomorrow or sooner if necessary. Gerry is a fighter, she has had to fight most of her life, I don't think she know any other was of doing things. She's 77 years old (I only say that since I know there is no way she is reading a blog - ever, but I will deny it if any one tells her I said that. She insists that she is only 75.) and her only medication is an inhaler for asthma. She has always appeared so weak and unhealthy that I has assumed she was more infirm than she is. Keep up the good thoughts and prayers, although I have never been a big on prayer Gerry is and it's worked for her for a long time.