Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dad peacefully passed away, yesterday, November 23 at 4:45 PM. Mom was at his side. Dennis, Debbie and Heather, Tim, Mark, Shelly and her family and John, Jake and I were there also. Mark texted me early that morning to tell me that Dad seemed to have slipped into a coma around 5:00 AM. When I arrived it was apparent Dad would be leaving us soon.We woke Mom and then the others and gathered around his bedside for family prayer. John and Jacob gave him a blessing of release.

Throughout the day, we monitored his condition and Mark gave him medication as needed. Nancy, our hospice nurse, told us what to expect in the coming hours. Mom has been strengthened throughout this difficult time and as she sat by Dad's side she had the courage to tell him she was okay and that it was okay for him to go. She talked to him of going to see his parents, and his baby brother. She even asked Dad to give her love to her parents when he saw them. She told him to go into arms of his Savior. Her words and touch always seemed to calm him. Each of us also took a moment of 'alone' time with Dad, giving us each a few minutes to say good-bye.

Dad's breathing began to alter around 4:00 PM and he peacefully drew his last breath about 45 minutes later. The whole thing seems surreal, yet I know he is gone when I walk into his room and see his empty chair.

Mother is holding up. It is hard for her to rest with so many people about, and we are doing our best to help her. Dad's funeral service is Saturday, November 27 at 1:00PM with a viewing about an hour prior to the service and will be at the Springville Stake Center.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rocky Day

Today has seemed to last way beyond its ture boundaries. Dad communicated very little with anyone, though he and Mom had a couple of short exchanges which included a kiss or two. The hospice aide came to bathe Dad and Dennis assisted him. When Dennis applied the aftershave (Black Suade), Dad was pleased!

Later in the evening, Mom went in to talk with Dad, and as she expressed her love we could tell he could understand her, and in a nonverbal way, expresses his devotion to her. A bit later, Dad became somewhat agitated and insisted on doing things for himself that he didn't have the strength to do. His nonsense chatter has increased, he is not eating, and drinking is becoming difficult. When he finially settled down, his breathing seemed different, more labored, so we called Hospice and the nurse who made the housecall felt Dad was in some pain. He advised us to give medication more often and so far it seems to help Dad rest more comfortably.

Tim arrived late last night, through a snow storm on I-15 and was at a stand still for three hours outside Beaver. We are grateful he arrived safely, Dad seemed happy to see him. Heather (Dennis' daughter) flew in this afternoon and Dennis Jr. and famiy arrived also. Tim is on the night shift tonight, keeping watch over Dad. We feel he is beginning to slip farther from us and pray the transition from this life to the next will be a sweet. calm experience.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Gramps (Dad) came home Thursday afternoon. He was pretty weak, but tolerated the ride okay. When we arrived, I thought for sure he would go straight to his favorite chair, but he made a beeline to the love seat in the family room. He and Mom sat side by side for awhile- for the first time in two weeks, and Dad requested a milkshake! Thrilled that he actually craved food, I went to Sonic and bought both a chocolate and vanilla, hoping one would suit his taste. He tried the vanilla, but it was just too sweet. He drank some lemonade, and sat up for quite a while.

When Matt and I helped him to his bed, he had a hard time maintaining balance and finding the strength to walk. He was concerned about his lack of strength saying that he has never felt that way. Jake stayed with him through the night. We are grateful he is an RN and for all he has done to help in Dad's care. Friday Aubrey came to watch over Mom and Dad and before Jake left Dad's temperature spiked and he had an episode with chills that left him feeling extremely tired. He had a hard time communicating but when I went to see him during my lunch break and told him I loved him, he responded with a whisper voice and a knowing nod. He expressed that he was afraid to be alone and I assured him someone would always be with him.

I felt I should call my Mark, Dennis and Tim who were planning to come up later in the week and tell them they may want to come sooner because Dad seemed to weaken by the hour, and I wasn't sure if they would be able to visit much later in the week. Mark and Wendy caught a flight that afternoon and arrived toward evening. Dad had been pretty unresponsive through the day, but went they arrived, he sat up, requested ice cream, drank some water and actually visited a while. We were heartened

I slept over Friday night, checking him often and giving him pain meds when needed. He is receiving little medication for pain and for the most part rests comfortably. Mark and Jake bathed him Saturday afternoon and he said that felt good, but left him exhausted. As other children and grandchildren have arrived, he has greeted them and expressed his love. Shelly, Mark and Dennis are here and Tim is on his way (He is at a standstill in Beaver, the snow is causing delays.) My children, who live locally have each had a moment with Gramps. Shelly's kids are here and Dennis' son, Denny is en route. Mark Jr. said his goodbyes a few days ago as did Steve and family last week.

Mother is working through the gamut of emotions that accompanies losing one's life long companion. I see her going through the phases I've read about and pray we will be able to help her through this all. We are grateful for each other, for family and for our faith. We thank Mom and Dad for their lives of faith and love and for the example of strength they have always been to us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Going Home Tomorrow

That last post was actually written on Nov. 13, not the 10th - I couldn't figure out how to change the date! Today is November 17 and Dad will go home tomorrow. He is off the epidural and taking oral pain meds. He has been on TPN (intravenous liquids) supplemented by what he felt he could eat, which was little. We hope his appetite improves now that he is finished with TPN and he can eat good ole HOME made food! Though he is pretty weak, he is still trotting around the floor more quickly than any other 84 year- old post surgical cancer patient could ever move!

We met our hospice nurse, Nancy, today and she seems to be an angel. She only lives a few blocks from Dad and Mom and has already helped us feel more at ease with this next part of our journey. She will manage his care including ordering all medical supplies and medications. Along with doctor and nurse visits, aids will be in three times a week and Nancy said she is always just a phone call away.

Dad had Tim worked out a trust last week and with the help of Legal Zoom, it arrived a few days ago. I brought it up to the hospital for Mom and Dad to sign, using the hospital notary. They were set to sign when it was realized Dad's ID was at home, so Mark Jr. and Sara went back to the house to retrieve it. When they were back, the notary was paged but never came, and never came. Then hospice called and said they were at the house with the equipment delivery. So Mark and Sara left to move some things out of the office and receive the bed, walker, etc. Meanwhile back at the hospital, the notary arrived and we discovered that the nurses on the floor could not act as witnesses, so I went down to the lobby and rounded up a couple of little old pink lady volunteers. They came up and we were told they were associated with the hospital, so they couldn't witness. So the pink ladies went with me to the surgical waiting room and asked if anyone would be willing to act as witnesses. A lady stood up immediately, her sister-in-law also volunteered and up we went to dad's room. They were both from Helper, Utah and one had previously worked for an estate planner. She took over the 'session', explaining the documents as Dad, Mom, the notary and she and the other witness signed. We were grateful she was here and felt it a blessing that we were able to find her.

After the signing 'party' we were instructed on how to take care of the colostomy and the wound specialist changed dad's bandage as Mark Jr. and Sara arrived to say goodbye to Gramps and take Grana home. On the way back to Springville, Mom took them out to a well-deserved dinner!

One hopes never to be in this situation, but now that we are here, we are so very grateful for the help that we have had and the help that is available and we see blessings in so many little things. Dad's nurses here in intermediate care have been so very caring and kind, the physical therapists have been robust young men who tenderly guided dad through his walks with positive feedback and genuine kindness. Vicki Doxey (mom's niece) works here at UVRMC and has been able to help us in so many ways - from poaching an egg for dad in her office using his little electric egg poacher to recommending our hospice nurse and rounding up the notary. We feel the Lord's tender mercy through the kind service of others.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some Good News, Some Not So Good

We have had some great times over the past few months. After leaving Huntsman's Dad's health continued to improve. By September he was walking around the block, taking care of his own medical needs and doing his 'chores around the has as usual. We had some fun family get-to-gethers and Mom and Dad enjoyed numerous outings with Don and Bonnie and visits with David and Raelene and others. So the Summer that began on rocky ground ended on a high.

Then out of the blue, Dad was hit with what he thought to be a case of food poisoning. After several days of bowel distress, Dad went to see his internist and the PA advised him. When that didn't work he went back and tried other remedies to cure his diarrhea. In the mean time, Mom had her aching shoulder checked out by an orthopedist and found that the shoulder she broke nine years ago had never healed, I repeat, NEVER healed, and the metal plate connecting the broken parts had broken also. The doctor referred her to a specialist at the University of Utah Medical Center and surgery for a complete shoulder replacement was set for October 15. We made mom's pre-op appointment at the U. the same day as Dad's three month post-op appointment, and on Oct 6, I drove them to Salt Lake.

Dad had a CT scan, chest x-ray, blood tests and a few other inquiries into his overall being. At first report, tests showed nothing out of the ordinary . Dr. Stephensen told Dad to continue to seek help for his bowel symptoms and sent Dad to x-ray as I left to take Mom down the hill to the U Med Center for blood work. They shuttled Dad over to meet us when he was finished. Mom was worried about Dad's health and suggested she cancel her surgery until he was feeling better, but Dad insisted she go ahead with it.

We were up early on Oct 15 to take Mom to her surgery. All of us were all a bit nervous, especially Mom, knowing it would be a pretty long recovery. However, the shoulder replacement went without a hitch and left the surgeon puzzling over the fact Mom had lived with that arm, and its pain, for so many years! Mom had the usual post operative nuisances with nausea being the most annoying, but her recovery went well. Dad had a room at the U Guest House and I stayed at the hospital with Mom. Dad came over each day to be with her.

I could tell his condition was not getting better and after a couple of days, had John come and get him and take him home so he could get in to see a doctor. When he arrived home, he found a message on his phone from Huntsman's asking him to call and make an appointment with an oncologist because reports from the 6th had indicated some concerns with thickened colon, high white count and swollen lyphnodes. To make an even longer story a bit shorter.... we finally got to the oncologist on Oct 28. They told us Dad's cancer was back, terminal, and that chemo drugs could be used, but that those most promising would not work for him in the condition he was in. They ordered a colonoscopy, which was set for Tues Nov 2 in Provo.

Mom also had an appointment the 28th, her post op visit. The doctor was very pleased with her progress. So our visit did have a positive note for mom. She continues to improve daily and is doing most everything on her own, though she is still in a sling both day and night.

On Monday Nov 1, Dad received a call to report to the ER because of his high white blood count. We took him to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, and after consulting with Huntsman doctors, they gave him an IV, some antibiotics, took some blood and sent him home to prepare for his colonoscopy the next day. When Dr. Dickenson did the procedure, he was unable to proceed very far because the colon was not totally clear, but he did seeof a pollyp near the rectum and a possibke mass behind it. They admitted Dad, had him down over a gallon of "Go-Lightly" ( a misnomer) and repeated the colonoscopy on Wednesday.

Our worst fears were realized when the results came back. The cancer appeared to have matastisised to the colon. They took out the pollyp, and took a biopsy of the mass. It was recommeded that Dad stay in hospital to handle the pain from the blockage and prepare for a possible colostomy. The surgery was done Tuesday November 12, on Mom and Dad's 64th wedding anniversay. Tim, Mark, Steve and Shelly were all here. Dennis and Debbe had stayed the previous two weeks and had just left for home. The surgery went well, but the cancer remains in his pelvis. The mass of monsterous malignancy is unoperable. The colosomy will give him gastrointestinal releif and allow him to eat and drink AND to go home, which is what he and all of us want.

Today Dad is resting pretty comfortably, on an epidural pump for pain. He can walk around the floor twice daily and is beginning to take some liquid lnouishment by mouth. The doctor says he is strong and the nurses proclaim him amazing ! But then, thats nothing we didn't already know!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Recovery certainly has its ups and downs! Dad was feeling pretty good when we left the hospital last Monday, but by the next day, he was exhausted. We just figured it was from lack of sleep, the trip home, etc. A home health care nurse visited Dad on Tuesday. Dad's blood pressure was low. She said he needed to drink more fluids. She came back the next day and took blood for tests ordered by doctors and Dad's blood pressure was lower than the day before.

Jacob (our RN son) and family arrived home from Disneyland Wednesday night and he checked on Gramps Thursday. His blood pressure had dropped lower and Dad had Jake buy him a cuff so he could monitor it on his own. It dropped some more and they called the Huntsman doctors to ask about it. Dad also showed signs of dehydration, and possible infection, so they wanted him back in the hospital. John and I were in Cedar City attending a play at the Shakespearean Festival (Great Expectations- the musical. It was marvelous, by the way!), so Jake drove Gramps to Salt Lake and stayed with him for the night.

After admission, they put Dad on an IV, monitored his vitals, drew blood, ordered a urine culture - all that basic "you're in the hospital" kind of stuff. They found his blood sugar as well as blood pressure was low. Neither Jake nor Dad slept well- wonder why? John and I drove back from Cedar on Friday, picked up Mom and went to the hospital. Dad's blood pressure was up to normal, his blood sugar had stabilized, he felt more energy, and when the doctors made their rounds that afternoon, they released him with the strong admonishment to DRINK MORE WATER!

Sooooo they are home again! Mom is pretty tired, finding that preparing Dad's food, caring for his medical needs and reminding him to drink is a full time job, but she just keeps on 'doin'. Dad is drinking more water and with his new blood pressure cuff, he is monitoring his blood pressure and watching for other signs of dehydration or infection. The doctor never called about the urine culture result so we assume it didn't show infection. He is moving around better, not as weak when he sits and stands and he walks at a pretty brisk pace. Dad says his abdomen is a bit tender, but other than that, he has no pain. He has a follow-up appointment in Salt Lake on Wednesday.

Heather, (Dennis' daughter) had surgery on Friday- tonsils, adenoids removed - not a fun one. Last we heard she was home, in some pain, but doing okay. Dennis and Debbie just seem to go from one medical drama to another :). Shelly and family will be here on Monday afternoon. Mom has invited all of our kids over for a planned pot luck dinner on the patio. Hopefully she will let us do the work and she can just sit and enjoy.

There are a few more photos posted, added Mark and Megan and a couple others, or at least they will be added as soon as I send them to Dayna K or Kirby. My technology has not extended to that point - yet. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHELLY !! and GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Love to you all. - Dayna

Monday, June 28, 2010

Home at Last !

Dad was released from the hospital today! His blood count is still up a bit and they can't find a reason why, so it will be monitored at home. As we left, he mentioned again how grateful he was for all who cared for him at Huntsman's and that they were all so very kind.

Dad is glad to get snuggled into his own comfy chair and Mom is relieved to have these last two weeks behind them. I think they are both going to enjoy home with even greater appreciation than before. We drove by Del Taco on the way home and mom said, "Mmm a green chili burrito sounds good." Dad piped up that it sure would taste good so we made a "U" turn and headed back! It is probably the only food he has had in the past two weeks that really tasted good to him!

It has been fun to blog our "adventure" When Dad feels a little better, I'll teach him how to get onto it and he can write for himself. Meanwhile, know that we love you all and I'll keep posting every few days.