Wednesday, November 29, 2006
And, Oh! We have so much to be thankful for! It was just a short 2 months ago that Sally's family gathered around her in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit! Remember this?
Sometimes a picture really does tell all that needs to be said!
We are so thankful for Sally's miraculous recovery. We love you Mom! And we will never stop thanking our God for his healing touch on your life and our hearts!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
My own children are all nearly grown and out of the house. I can not tell you the number of tears I have shed, feeling my cherished role as their parent was coming to an end. I was wrong; I have learned from my dear MIL that a parents' influence lives on in the hearts of her children long after they become adults! As I have watched my MIL go through the health crisis of the past six weeks, I have seen the impact she still has on the lives of those she loves. Decades have passed since her last baby left the nest and still, as we stood by her bedside, we continue to learn some mighty important life lessons.
We have observed and been challenged by her persistent faith. From the first moment she lay, nearly unconscious in her bed at the Cardiac Care Intensive Care Unit, Sally could be seen making the sign of the Cross, with her lips quietly moving. Taking the hand of a grandchild who came to visit, this desperately frail Grandmother looked into the eyes of her strapping 6'4" grandson and told him confidently, in barely an audible whisper, how much she loved him, letting him know that she prayed for him, and all of her family, each and every day. At a time she felt she could not fight any longer, she lovingly called her oldest daughter into the room, asking her to pray with her; asking that all of her children pray that God would take her home. When others may whine and protest, Sally prays! One cannot be in the same room with Sally and not be aware of her love for and trust in her God.
We have been amazed by her strength of will. Sally does not waste any time feeling sorry for herself; rather, she accepts what is before her and musters up the strength necessary to meet it's demands. Each challenge she has endured has been met head-on. This really is no surprise; for when her beloved husband died twenty-six years ago, Sally was widowed at the age of 57, mother to eight, and sole owner of the family farm. Somehow, in the midst of great sorrow, Sally moved forward with grace and strength. Ralph Waldo Emerson has said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." No matter the circumstance, the loss of a husband or a near-death experience, Sally exemplifies, with grace and determination, an ideal for all to aspire. We all continue to be blessed by "what is within" this dear woman.
Sally will be leaving the Assisted Living Facility on December 1st; she has given her 30 day notice. At 83 years old, Sally continues to set a goal and reach it! Surviving a massive heart attack may permit some seniors to kick back and take it easy. True to form, Sally's determination kicks in and she is doing the hard work of returning to fully, independent living. When asked if she thought she should work with the physical therapist on using a cane; she replied, "Oh no. I won't be going home with a cane or a walker!" Clear minded, she has thought through all of the immediate concerns of her return home. She has set a reasonable goal and is making it happen. There's a life lesson for anyone!
What life lessons have you learned from Sally? For those of you who have known Sally even longer than I, please post a comment (without a blog? post anonymously) and we will be sure to get this post to her. How about the grandkids? What have you learned from Grandma Sally? Let's bless Grandma Sally by telling her how much we have been blessed by her living legacy!
Monday, November 06, 2006
Isn't she lovely! This photo was taken one week ago on the afternoon Sally arrived at her new assisted living facility. I am so glad that she has come this far and we still have that beautiful smile to look at each time we enter her apartment!
Isn't she wonderful! She has been working so hard, even at times when she simply wanted to give up. This is the lady who loves to play bingo, lights up a room with her smile and has the most contagious giggle. This is our Grandma Sally, and we are so happy that she is doing so well.
Each day is filled with physical therapy, occupational therapy, visitors, and of course visits to the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sally says they do "a lot of eating here." She is walking miles each day throughout the hallways, exercising that troublesome left leg and foot.
Isn't she beautiful! We are planning a family get-to-gether at Thanksgiving time and oh--we have so much to be thankful for! We will, once again be a housefilled with family (I'm serious! with 8 children, spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren--any house is stretched to its limits!), thanking God that we still have our beautiful matriarch in our midst. We may even break out into song...lead by Tim (alias: Elvis!) and sing from the lyrics of Stevie Wonder's song--Isn't she lovely! Isn't she wonderful...We have been Heaven blessed, I can't believe what God has done....Isn't she wonderful! While this song was written for the birth of a baby--we have experienced a rebirth of our own around here! We have watched this near-death experience turn into a miraculous recovery! That calls for some some serious turkey, dressing, and banana cream pie.....sprinkled with a healthy dose of THANKS-giving!
So while there are 18 days until Thanksgiving, we have begun the celebration already. Thanks for joining in with us!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Sitting with Sally in her new assisted living home, we all looked at each other and wondered what happened to the month of October 2006?!
We began the month celebrating Sally's 83rd birthday; a short 24 hours later, we sat horrified, praying for her recovery outside of the heart center's Critical Care Center. Minutes turned into hours, hours into days, and on Monday, we found ourselves chatting with Sally in her new studio apartment in a lovely assisted living community. God is so good!
While this move was greatly anticipated, it is a transition nonetheless. Just as a college student feels the excitement of a new found freedom, there is a level of homesickness felt. Still, anyone who knows Sally knows that she will handle this transition with grace, for grace is at the core of who she has always been.
For the time being, it is expected that Sally will stay in assisted living, for an unknown brief time, to continue her rehab in a safe place and move forward towards complete independent living. I have no doubts, as Sally has put her mind and all of her energy to returning to her home--she will! She can't help but do it!
So on this first day of a new month, Sally continues to work towards her goal and we return to our daily activities which have waited for our return. If you would like to add one small thing to your daily or weekly schedule and write Grandma Sally at her new place....please email me and I'll send you the address. She so appreciates the cards and letters you have each sent to her while at the Hospital--I'm certain your encouragement and prayer support has been key to her recovery to this point!
Although we can't believe the entire month of October has flown bye, as we review, we know the struggle Sally has endured and the blessings she has received! We are grateful for each miracle along the way and look forward to Sally's complete recovery and return home. Where did October go? Directly into the hands of God! And what a month it was!
Friday, October 20, 2006
Sally continues to progress at turbo speed, however, she is feeling great discomfort and downright pain in her troublesome foot. The goal is to find a pain medication that Sally can tolerate. However, since Sally has rarely--yes, I said rarely--taken any medication throughout her 83 years, she is highly sensitive to even the slightest side effects of most medications.
Marilyn searched the town last night for a comfortabe tennis shoe in her size, upgrading to a wide. Akin to the Amazing Race, she and Janelle raced through every shoe store they coud find before they eventually found just the right slipper for our Grand Lady! Since she must wear street shoes during her physical therapy, the hope is a wider shoe will not irritate her swollen and aching foot.
Our education continues as we research medical alert systems for Sally once she returns home. Never have I read such treasured words in an advertisement: "Lifeline can not only protect a life...it can preserve a cherished way of life by giving seniors the confidence to continue living in their own homes." Sally has always been our lifeline, it is only appropriate that she will now be accessorized with a new watch or necklace by Life Line!
Step by painful step Sally and her family are readying for her return home. We are so thankful for the prayer support, plants, cards and letters you have each provided! Sally is on four Church prayer chains, numerous family and friends prayer lists and that's not to mention the prayers we find her praying when we walk into her hospital room! We are grateful to be able to enter the throne room of God with each and every petition. He is Sally's Life Line....what an example of lasting LIFE support she has modeled throughout this entire experience. We cherish each and every lesson. When we lift our hearts from the pain of the experience and take the Hand of the One who carries us through--we find peace, comfort, joy, and victory! That is a life lesson for all!
Gordy and I are boarding an airplane tomorrow, we will be in Argentina for a 10 day business trip. I will be in contact with the Minnesota Viere clan (Marilyn, Loren, Geralyn and Tim)and hope to post updates when possible while I am away.
Thank you for your continued prayers and concern. You have been a lifeline of support throughout this valley. Your prayers and concern have raised our spirits and lightened our burden. It means so much to Sally...and her entire family.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Sally's Training for the Olympics!
As we sat waiting for the Doctor to arrive for the scheduled 4:00 p.m. family meeting, it was hard to miss the agility of this 83 year old woman who is recovering from a major heart event. Sitting upright in the center of her hospital bed, Sally pulled her left leg to the center of her core and began massaging the troublesome foot; the foot that tingles with pain due to nerve damage from the blood clot suffered after removing the heart pump one week ago. While some of her rehab is geared for Cardiac recovery, most of her focus is learning how to walk, with the aide of a walker, due to the lack of sensation or control of her left leg.
Apparently, when blood flow is blocked for any length of time, nerves die. The Doctor explained there are two types of possible damage: the milder type whereby the insulation or myelin is damaged; the recovery time for this type of damage could be as early as 3 weeks up to 12 weeks. The second type of damage is actual nerve damage. The length of recovery time for this type is much longer.....18 months+. At this time, there is no way to tell what type of damage Sally has experienced.
Nonetheless (don't you just love that word!), Sally has attacked rehab with the dedication and fortitude of a Champion. She has surpassed all expectations and will, within days, no doubt, be walking, dressing, and functioning independent of supervision or observation of medical staff. Although she is not happy about the exercises required of her, she brings her fighting attitude to the Physical Therapy room--'let's get it done!'
It now looks like Sally will skip the assisted living part of her recovery and be able to return to her own apartment, supplementing her independent living with Home Health Care and PT/OT visits. Do you hear the roar of the crowd! Sally's gold medal will be--returning to her own home.
No victory laps--just yet. There is much to get used to. The same agility that allows Sally to do near yoga postions in her hospital bed will be stretched as she faces uncertainty about limitations in movement, in endurance....in the seasoning allowance for mashed potatoes! Still, we are stunned, we are amazed, we are filled with joy as we watch our Champion move forward each step of the race....with grace, with beauty, with the strength of an Olympic athlete!
"We're so proud of you, Mom!"
"We love you Sally!"
.....and.......Thank you God!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
If you've ever wondered if we've been created or if we've evolved....the answer is clear after watching Sally's heart regenerate! It is simply amazing the manner in which God has created us. The issue of creation versus evolution was resolved permanently, for me, at the birth of our first child. No lingering questions remained as we held the precious little life God had gifted us. Perfectly formed, perfectly functioning, and uniquely designed; our daughter confirmed God's Handiwork.
Today, as Sally progresses, we are amazed that it was only two weeks ago that her heart suffered a massive attack, damaging more than 50% of it's muscle. Still, in what can only be a God-thing....she rises each sunrise and takes the steps toward the miraculous healing we have so desperately prayed for. With the birth of each of Sally's 25 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren, in the regenerative power of her body, in the mighty Mississippi River outside her room, in answered prayer--we cannot help but see the evidence of our Creator. We only have to look and listen!
How wonderful, O Lord, are the works of your hands!
The heavens declare Your glory,
the arch of the sky displays Your handiwork
In Your love You have given us the power
to behold the beauty of Your world
robed in all its splendor.
The sun and the stars, the valleys and the hills,
the rivers and the lakes all disclose Your presence.
The roaring breakers of the sea tell of Your awesome might,
the beast of the field and the birds of the air
bespeak Your wondrous will.
In Your goodness You have made us able to hear
the music of the world.
The voices of the loved ones
reveal to us that You are in our midst.
A divine voice sings through all creation.
traditional jewish prayer
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sally was moved to the Rehabilitation Unit on Friday afternoon. She has a beautiful room--large enough for an entire Viere Family renunion...and that's saying quite a bit! With 8 children, 8 in-laws, and a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren.....the space is well-used. Her daily routine is returning to a familiar note; gone is the lovely, ever fashionable hospital gown, replaced with Sally's own street clothes. Occupational therapy begins at sunrise, whereby, Sally is supervised as she is able to get out of bed on her own, wash her face and brush her teeth, and get dressed to go to breakfast at the Rehab dining room. Life is good!
Each day, Sally will have up to 3 hours of occupational and physical therapy. The color has returned to her smiling face and she is doing very well. Had it not been for the blood clot she experienced last week she would be very possibly be heading home! Amazing! Apparently, when the heart pump was taken out of her left leg artery (remember? the pump was assisting her heart's function early on)a blood clot developed at the location the tube was inserted. It seems when a blood clot disrupts the blood flow to any part of your body, cells and nerves die. Even when it is a short-term disruption. As Sally's blood flow was blocked for nearly 18 hours, her left leg and foot are not cooperating and she is still experiencing pain. We are told this is normal. One of her granddaughters is an Occupational Therapist and reports that the recovery process will include week's of exercise, exercise, exercise, encouraging the nerve endings to regrow. Seems no matter how old we get--we can't escape exercise! Still, Sally's spirits are high and she is ready to rock 'n roll!
We are all breathing easier this day; two weeks after suffering a massive coronary event, Sally is back! Saturday night we spent three hours as a family, sitting comfortably in her room with a view of the Mississippi River, talking about old times. With eight children, five of them boys--it was a very interesting discussion. It is no surprise she has survived losing 50% of her heart muscle--after all, she survived the antics of five boys growing up on the family farm!!!! Three hours of intensive rehab shouldn't be a problem! :)
Friday, October 13, 2006
Sally's Cardiologist believes that she will be able to tolerate the 3 hours of intensive rehab at the Hosptial's Rehab Center. So she will not be transported to a sub-acute care facility, she will be moved to a new floor at the Hospital: Rehabilitation Services. This is exceptional news! Patients are not transferred to this unit if the Doctor does not believe they will be able to tolerate the intensive rehab required on this unit. Who knew! We have learned so much over the past 12 days; at the top of the list is Sally's abundance of strength and endurance! Frail is not a word we will ever coin in the same sentence with this woman--ever again!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Sally is insisting that we all return to our jobs, our normal activities, our lives. She has kicked us out of the hospital! She has been moved from Cardiac Care ICU and was returned to a beautiful room in Telemetry. Marilyn reports her new room is nicer than most hotel rooms, it even has some interesting architectural curves! This is the room that Sally will begin her Cardiac Rehab which will include getting her up and out of the bed she has been laying in for more than 10 days. Here she will begin to sit up, stand up, walk (3-4 times daily), activities that will enable her to, one day, become independent again. However, each will, no doubt, wear her out. Her request is reasonable--she should be able to rest in between breaks from rehab--not entertain!
We are grateful for the uneventful day yesterday. Since this medical crisis began, Sally has experienced an acute complication each day following her heart attack, with the exception of Sunday and yesterday. We are all breathing easier, energized by Sally's smile and the twinkle in her eye that has once again returned.
Returning to a new normal. What once was--may never be. What will be is yet unknown. Still, we know for certain that we are walking a path that is lit by His lamp. And though we cannot see it with human eyes, our hearts feel it. Thank you for your prayer support along this path.