Sunday, June 13, 2010

Home at Last - a Gala Celebration

Home at Last.
It took nearly 12 hours to get there thanks to some more typ Delta delays (I think their slogan is "We're NOT ready when you are") but we made it home safe and sound Friday nite (6/11). Her own house. Her own cats. Her own bathroom. Her own coffee cup. And especially her own bed.

The familiar sound of quiet. All the birds singing from the deck and wetlands. Gone is the rushing waves of the Pacific. But also gone is the busy sounds of Manhattan Beach; Construction on the houses behind us. Loud laughing of beach-goers passing by on the streets. The rumble of underground continental plate-shifting.

One of the great anxieties of this whole trip was lifted in the process. The daughters have been working very hard all year at Compass Fine Arts Dance Academy and the Gala celebration was this Saturday 6/12. Any mother longs to see their child perform and celebrate all their hard work and express themselves artistically. For a long time it was looking like we were going to miss it, a real heartbreak it would have been. 

ga·la\ˈgā-lə, ˈga-, ˈgä-1 : a festive celebration; especially : a public entertainment marking a special occasion.

In a way it not only marked the special occasion of all their work in dance and music, but it marked the end of a chapter in Dana's life as she returned home happy and smiling. The tumor is (mostly) gone, it was benign, she has no trach scar and can breathe by herself, and she got to see her daughters at the Gala.

God is indeed good. We asked for a clear and straight path. There were bumps in the road but you can't see them when you're looking ahead.

One glance around the audience you can see people are missing. A lot less dancers than last year. Joel wasn't there to greet us at the door. His passing was honored and celebrated. Last year my father came up to congratulate the director and staff for the music and performance, all the Russian music his mother used to play when he was a child. Just a few months later, he passed on. 

And yet God is praised, for He is worthy. There is heartbreak all around us. As hard as it may seem, life goes on.
And the waves unceasingly crash.
++ dps ++

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Shall be Released!

One last meeting with Dr Kelly and we're cleared to fly home
One last trip to the rooftop deck with the wind in her hair!
 One last chance to play with the neighborhood cats!

 One last sunset walk on the Manhattan Beach Strand and it's time to pack for home.
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Wond'rin Where the Lions are...

Wednesday we thought it would be a great idea to try to knock one more thing off of her "To-Do" list. Sea Lions have always been her favorite animal since childhood. Seeing them in the zoos is always fascinating, but she asked God to let her see some real sea lions "in the wild."

There were rumors they used to show up as Seal Beach, but our friends from Huntington Beach (the next town to the south) hadn't seen any there. So we Googled where to see seals and it turns out Long Beach has some tour boats that claim to see seals and dolphins in the harbor. Now, the writer whom Dana loves isn't very fond of boating, so we thought to just drive out to the harbor and see what we can find.

Well, we know that God has a sense of humor, and our experience was either the result of that or that Dana's prayers were a little mush-mouthed due to her brain surgery because rather than finding SEA LIONS at the Shoreline Park, we found FELINES:

So we walked a little farther along the Shoreline and were about to give up and find something for dinner when I heard a splash and Dana exclaimed "I just saw one!" and fumbled for the camera. However I didn't see it and we agreed previously that a wild animal sighting is not a confirmed sighting unless another person also witnesses it.

Sure enough, ol' Nessie popped her head up again and chomped on a fish! I grabbed the camera and went running closer and tried my best to get some pictures. She was very big and dark-skinned, and obviously very hungry because every time she popped her head up she was chomping on a fish. Next time we go there we'll have to bring some. I thought we should name her "Kitty" because of our findings in the earlier paragraphs, but Dana chose Nessie because she was so elusive to our camera, like the one in Loch Ness.
In this picture if you look closely you can see Nessie popping out of the water to eat a fish! It's kinda grainy because she was so far away I had to blow the picture up a lot. I know, it looks like a dog but it was a sea lion, really! It was a confirmed sighting. 
She later said goodbye and went back out to sea.
++ dps ++

Don't fly Mr. Bluebird I'm just walkin' down the road...

With the agony of stitch removal behind her, we were finally able to get out and see some of the countryside. Weather-wise It's been pretty overcast and cool the last few weeks. The call it the "June Gloom" around here.

After stopping back at the hospital to pick up her camera that I mindlessly left behind during suture removal, we headed north towards Malibu and into the Santa Monica mountains. Driving thru mountains was always on her "To-Do" List, which is the list formerly known as "Bucket List" which no longer applies! :-) Photos barely capture the awe.
We stopped at a roadside fruit stand and bought her some of the freshest & plumpest Rainier and Bing cherries she's ever had! It was actually pretty sunny as we were driving through the mountains, the first real sunny since her surgery. We drove into a State Park for a few minutes, and she jumped out of the car when she saw a bluebird. Still not sure what made her the happiest, the cherries or seeing the Mountain bluebird below.
It seemed that God really wanted us to enjoy the last few days before we headed home. This seemed obvious  as we started driving back south to the rental house, we could see miles ahead that it was very cloudy over "our" area of the beach towns! Back to the June Gloom. But we had a lovely time up in the mountains.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

You Got Me Outta Stitches

Current update, as of Monday nite, 6/7.

Dana was released on her own recognizance Saturday afternoon. We immediately went home and slept for four hrs before even thinking about dinner. Overnight she slept about 7 hrs straight, by far the longest in over a week. Someone suggested I wake her up around 3 or 4 to check her blood pressure or test her blood sugar, but to do this it would actually require me to awaken at that time, which was just not going to happen.  

Sunday was pretty much a rest day, a little walk down to the Strand (concrete walking path along the beach) but  not that strenuous. The boys wanted to go to Griffith Observatory but the online info shouted such danger signs as "not much parking" and "many inclines" and "lot of walking" and "it's a busy weekend stay home." So we took them to the airport and sent them home to Chicago. Went back to the house to make a real home-cooked steak dinner for her, and early bedtime.

Remember a few months ago when there was a 4.0 earthquake in Pingree Grove IL? The epicenter was 2 miles from our house! It startled her awake, I was half awake and said "probably just an earthquake, you can go back to sleep" but she couldn't and spent the next few hrs looking at geological maps online.

Well last night was Deja Vu all over again. Middle of the night, about 2:15am we were wakened by the sound of an army tank dropping on the house. "Probably just another earthquake, you can go back to sleep" I said half-awake. This was just like being at home. Except this one was 8 miles to the west, out in the ocean. Surfin' waves musta been killer this morning! Not that I would know about that...

Well Monday 10:00am was time to take the sutures out, just one more step in the healing process. The Nurse had a little trouble, they were designed to pull right out but she had healed so quickly, they had fused under the skin and scab. Had to call in the doctor, he couldn't. Our surgeon was busy in surgery so thus began the contemplation, how do they get them out? One of the options was to go back into the OR for 15 mins or so to cut it back open, under local anest, but she had eaten that day.

eventually it was decided to do it in the exam room as clean as possible to hopefully prevent infection. The doctor cut it into four pieces under the skin and took it out that day. This was of course extremely painful and she sat on her hands to keep from strangling someone. Doctor Dave, the Golden Retriever pictured in the last post, would have been a welcome guest at this point.

So she's back home safe now. We're trying to make the final flight arrangements to return to Chicago on Friday. Thank you for your kind comments and email. I've been reading them all to her and she is very grateful for the support. Tomorrow she will probably be able to reply to them by herself, right now her eye is still a little swollen and hard to focus. Bye for now!
++ dps ++

PS...I posted that at 4:38... at 5:00 I went to talk to Dana while she was lying down, and we felt another earthquake together! It lasted a couple seconds, seemed stronger than last night but not as loud. I was surfin' on the bedroom floor! Gotta go check the Geo site..... she wants to come home NOW!... To the land of tornadoes...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I've got no time to pack my bags, My foot's outside the door!

I hear the ocean calling me!
Doctor Dave Discharges Dana

Friday, June 4, 2010

I Have to Admit, She's Getting Better all the Time!

Yesterday My Lady was doing much better in the ICU. Sitting up a little, breathing a little, drinking a little, eating a little. So much better that it seemed she didn't belong in ICU. I've always assumed that people in ICU were a heartbeat away from going back to the OR or ER and that was certainly not her condition. I guess it all depends on how much monitoring and wires and IVs the patient has.
So Thurs night she was transferred down to the PCCU, Post Critical Care Unit. Less wires, one less IV. Most of today (Friday) she has shown a lot more improvement. She got up and walked all the way to the nurse station and back three times! And PT took her up one flight of stairs and back down. She's eating regular food, going to the bathroom by herself, sitting in a chair listening to the sons talk about normal stuff.

The girls flew home with Dana's parents, and they're getting used to flying now. No crying no complaining. The boys are still here, the went to La Brea Tar Pits and maybe the Griffith Observatory tomorrow.

Dana's Penpal from Seattle made a surprise visit! She and her husband were at the hospital for one last clinic visit before flying home on Saturday. This was such a blessing for them to meet, she has been such a great online friend and mentor, helping Dana see things from a patients' perspectives. They've gone through the same thing and hearing "you're going to be okay" from them means so much more than from a doctor.

So now I'm writing this from her new room as she now got downgraded to a regular patient room. They are still very nice, private rooms with her own bathroom and a little bed for me to sleep in. The staff everywhere has been so kind and helpful. The atmosphere is pretty calm, quiet and pleasant.

Saturday will probably be her last day in the hospital, we'll go back to the rental house for the rest of next week. Monday she gets the stitches out and one more visit to the clinic to check things over.

I've been reading to her and she ends up falling asleep halfway through the chapter. She hasn't read the blog yet but really enjoys when I read back to her the comments and her email. I got a text message the other day from a co-worker who shared how this story has impacted their family. Dana head that and said if there is something good that comes out of her story it would be that if others are blessed and learn how great God is how He brings us through trials.

So please take this opportunity to send comments and well-wishes, whether here publicly or private through one of our email addresses, she cherishes those.
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