Friday, September 30, 2011

An angel comes home.

This is Diana Clark and I; I was explaining how the camera would blink until it took the picture. She and Bob live here, but they've been in Kazakhstan for weeks (months?). Bob called me several times a day while Don was in the hospital. It was almost like they were there with us. I went to school in Japan with Bob in the 8th grade, so we go back a long ways. It feels like Diana went to school with us; she is most certainly the other half of Bob. Anyway, it was so good to see her. She'll be home for a few weeks before she goes back to join Bob.

So, today worked. It's dark and I can go to bed, soon. I'll find a million things to do on my way to bed, but I'm really going to make an effort to get there early. I got a bunch of loose ends tied up today. I never dreamed there were so many! Four of my friends, who also went to school with me in Japan are coming up to spend the weekend with me on the 15th! That was more good news of today! How awesome is that? One from Tulsa; one from Houston; one from Fort Worth and one from Palestine, Texas! I can really hardly wait to see these girls. Don would so have loved to see them, too; these are all really special girls. I thank God for them and for their love. I'm a blessed little lady!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yes, a better day.

Okay, trust me. This is the best picture I could get. I'm learning to use the timer on the camera, but the camera can't make me smile like Don could. I used to ask him to take 3 pictures so I could get a good one. I took TEN pictures and this is the best one I could get. It's hard to get me with make up that's not all smeared these days. I'm doing the best I can to give thanks for all the wonderful years we had and all the many blessings with which I am left. But the honest truth is that I feel like someone shot a bowling ball through my gut and I'm walking around with a gaping hole. It's like there is an elephant in the living room and, somehow, I'm supposed to accept that and go right on with life.

Here's the good news. Dorothy understands. Bless her precious heart! Her grandson is so good to her. She and I talk every day and we are stumbling down the same path. We do lots of things together, like church and some meals. I took her to Wal-Mart the other day because she needed a couple of things I could find for her. I think she and I are gifts for each other. We can cry together one minute and then we find a way to laugh and pick each other up. If anyone else found us crying they'd probably freak out; we don't have to be so careful with each other, and we'd be no good at putting up fronts with each other. We're just totally honest. The four of us were so close; we miss both David and Don. God will see us through this, but we are still very raw.

Thank you all so much for your love and support. I have gotten so many cards and so many of you have donated to the Magic Foundation and other places; it all pleases me. I appreciate so much your love and respect for Don and I thank you for making his death count for something more than a heartache.

When I got breast cancer I was not so shocked. My mother and her mother had breast cancer, so I always sort of suspected that I might also have it. However, Don's mother lived to be 86 and his dad was almost 96 when he died. I never expected to outlive Don. Even the day he had the heart attack, I didn't expect him to die. The stroke was the fatal blow, but I still didn't believe he would die and it's still so hard to believe. I keep looking for him in his chair. I keep saving the things he liked for him. I can get through this with your support; your love and your prayers. Thank you for all that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blue day.

This is a picture that Garrett took of Gretta and I on the Sunday before Don's service was on Monday. Lots of people think Gretta and I look alike, but I never really see it. She looks so much like my mom that I can't get past that. We do have the same smaller right eye and I can see that in this picture. When we're sick that right eye really wimps out on us and is more noticeably smaller. Anyway, I'm honored when someone thinks she looks like me.

Today has been difficult. I was crunching numbers and looking through Don's files when I found a file that said, "Family Related." In it were two letters; one that he wrote to me and one that he wrote to the kids. Both were precious, but knocked me flat into a spin. The one to me was dated in May of 2000. The one to the kids was not dated. He was so proud of our kids and I will make copies and send it to each of them, with a tissue. I know we all knew he loved us, but these letters are treasures. I thank God for those letters, and even more for giving us Don in our lives. I'm sure the letters were not meant to make us cry and I should be beaming, but the reality is difficult. Tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy birthday, Erica!

Today is Erica's birthday; she's our first grandchild and we are so proud of her. I say we, because I still speak for Don. He couldn't have been more proud of her and this was one of his favorite pictures. It was taken 2 years ago, but she still looks the same. he had lost some weight, but he still smiled big over Erica! She started our group of 15 grandkids and we thank God for all of them.

Today has been way busy for me. I signed updated forms on our trust and that will all be done and I can pick up the court recorded forms on Friday. A trust is so much better than probate; I'll always be glad we went that route. I went to the bank and got instructions for doing online banking. I'll set that up soon; tonight if I have time. I took pictures of everything in our safe deposit box and will make a list of what it all is and what meaning it has. I returned two things that Don had ordered and never used and got two more ready to return tomorrow. He was always ordering something to give him more energy; we should have read the clues, but we just thought it was part of aging. People please don't make that mistake; if you feel tired, check your heart! I talked to the social security office and they already had changes in place, so I hope that works okay. I called and alerted the company he does his stocks through to his death and his account representative will call me in the morning; it was 5:30 when I called, so he was gone for today. That will be a big relief off my mind to get a handle on this stock deal; it feels like a mountain I've got to climb.

I even watered my magnolia tree. Don has done that for me all summer, so it was my turn. While I let the hose run to soak it good, I pulled weeds out of the front flower bed. I almost finished, but I got all the huge ones out and only have about 3 more feet to go to finish. I had all my bags full, though, so I quite. I'll enjoy getting out there another day and finishing it. Our weather feels like Kona, Hawaii. It's great right now!

Monday, September 26, 2011

So not thinking!

This is a picture Garrett took of Gretta and Dorothy and I on the Sunday before Don's service. Dorothy came home from church with us for lunch and hugs. Gretta immediately loved Dorothy like I do. We had stopped by Dorothy's house on our way home on Saturday, so they were fast friends by this time.

I decided that I'm so not thinking because Alyssa and her mommy, Leeann, came by to visit today and I didn't even think to ask Leeann to get pictures of us for the blog. Drat! I even had on make up. I wanted to be decent when I went to the attorney's office today. We had set up a trust many years ago and I wanted to be sure I do everything I'm supposed to do. He is preparing a couple of updates for the trust, but it's working the way it should and will be a pretty simple process.

My biggest job is to figure out what all Don did and take on that job, now. He was the numbers whiz and I'm a chemo brain, so this is a real challenge. He was in charge of bills and money and I was in charge of clutter; maybe I will clear everything out so there is no clutter, now that I have to do the numbers. God will provide. I'll go pick up the updates tomorrow and also go to the bank to get some advice about online banking, etc. So, tomorrow will be another day for make up; maybe someone will take a picture. I hope I can get home in time to get some sun tomorrow; I missed it today.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Precious, precious people.

This is a scene in the family waiting room with "those big boys" and "the beast." We had lots of happy moments, but there were some tense ones like this one, too. It was hard to come to terms with letting Don slip away and yet we knew we didn't want to make him fight to stay alive if he couldn't have quality in his life. This was really difficult, but out of this we all grew closer. Our baby daughter became "the beast" who we've always loved and cherished and she informed the director of nursing that if she had any more business in her dad's room then she'd have to take it up with one of "those big boys." Then later when we had a run in with the nurse on the next shift, "those big boys" threatened to unleash "the beast" if she couldn't get Don's meds to him on time. Precious memories.

Yesterday I was laying on the deck when my neighbor came over with a big plate of fresh fruit. We were talking about how we always laid out in the sun together: Don laid in the grass on a towel, but the ants bite me, so I laid on the deck (In a kiddie pool when it was 110.). The last 15 minutes Don would go in and check the temperature and then come out and sit in a chair on the deck with me. I thought of that and realized it would never happen again, and lost it. Don used to say, he knew I was out there because he could hear me chewing ice. I cried, but I got over it and it was a good revelation to me. We did everything together, but we weren't always side by side. Like inside, he watched TV and I'd putter around all over the house doing chores or go to the basement and sew. We were together, but not side by side. So, now, we are still together, just not side by side. I can't touch him but he still touches me and I feel him. I thank God for precious years and memories and for "those big boys" and "the beast!" We have two other daughters and I thank God for them, too. I'd be absolutely lost without family and friends. Thank you all!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A surprise visitor!

My good friend, Sue Dempsy, came by with a surprise visitor today! This is Vereal Barton, who used to live here, but he now lives in Mississippi. He brought me that calendar because it has a bunch of Japanese stuff on it; he know I'd fall for that! Sue was kind enough to take the picture for us. Notice the stereo behind us; that came up from the basement and is entertaining me!

Vereal is my keeper from afar. He reads my blog all the time and if I mention birds, he sends me lots of bird information and pictures. If I say I'm taking some amount of Vit. D3, he sends me an article telling me how much I should be taking. He's just a really good friend and I sure was happy to see him. He'll be at church tomorrow, so lots of folks will be so glad to see him.

This afternoon I was laying on the deck, collecting Vitamin D and my neighbor came over bringing a big dish of fresh fruit. We had a great visit, then I called Dorothy to see if she'd had supper. I went out to her house and we shared the fruit and had a sandwich each. It was a good visit and I still have fruit left for breakfast.

People have been so good to me. I'm overwhelmed and I sure thank God for you all!

Friday, September 23, 2011

One more day.

This is my sister, Ruthie, and her husband, Phil, as they were leaving this morning. Bless their hearts they've called as they travel and I think they're going to go all the way home tonight. I just talked to them and they are in Memphis, so they're just have a couple more hours to go. I am so grateful that they stayed with me a few days and Phil sure helped me do a lot around here! He says they're going to come back in a month or so and he'll cut down a couple of trees that have died this summer. These trees are really old and they were diseased and struggling to live, so the heat and lack of rain has just about done them in; it's time for them to come down. I can wait until Phil and Ruthie can make another trip, though, so no rush.

I made it through today just fine. I got the sheets on all the beds changed. Well, I'm not changing our bed, yet; I'm still liking the smell of Don that I imagine in our bed. I know that's silly, but I can be silly. I laid out in the sun for a couple of hours today. It was wonderful outside and I hadn't been out to collect any vitamin D in a long time. I needed it. I also got through all the mail. I had new mail today, but I had mail that was waiting when I got back from being in Oklahoma City that I haven't had time to open. There were lots of precious cards in the mail. I am overwhelmed at the people who are hurting/rejoicing with me. It's sure a bittersweet time. I am so pleased for Don, but I'm sure left with a big gap in my life. God will see me through this.

I talked to Dorothy tonight. We are good for each other. She's doing very, very well. We talk every day. Soon we'll see each other most days, I think. I just have to get my house put back together and figure out all the things I'm supposed to be doing that Don did. That's going to be tricky, but once I figure it out, then I can relax and make a new routine. I refuse to get all bogged down with it, but I know it's going to be a real challenge for me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One more daughter.

This is our daughter, Trish. I've pictured Jeff and Davy and Gina and Gretta, but Trish was right there with us. In fact I called her as soon as I left the Altus hospital and told her that they would be flying Don into Baptist hospital, and I was on my way. She dropped everything and went to the hospital. She figured out where everything was and came to meet me and take me up to the waiting room when I called her from the parking lot. She hovered over me and brought me food and drinks the whole time. It's not like she didn't have anything to do! She has 6 kids and one son's birthday was the 13th, the day after we arrived in OKC. Her birthday was on the 15th, the day Don died. She's been an amazing brick. She (and Gretta) call me every day to make sure I'm okay. I think I'm okay. The kids have been so awesome. The others check in on me, too. My sister is here with her husband and they've been a huge help. Phil and I got the other ceiling fan up today and we moved the stereo upstairs from the basement. We're exhausted, but I can have a wild party, now, because we can sure have great music! (Sure.)

Phil and Ruthie will head for home in the morning. I'll get to get my feet wet in the world without a keeper. I'm not so looking forward to it, but I think I can do okay. I keep telling myself that I'm not the first widow. People are so good to call and check on me. If I need help, I'm not afraid to ask.

Thanks for your love. I thank God for our kids and all the wonderful people who are checking to make sure I'm okay. It's wonderful to feel so loved and blessed. I miss Don, yes, but I can do this. God planned it, so I know I can do it; He will guide me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The "Beast."

This is Gretta, holding her niece, Raynie, the day that we had the private service for Don at Davy's house. (The day after he died and we were all still in town.) I wanted to post this picture because a good friend, Harold Branstetter, made the following comment in regard to the boys referring to her as 'the beast: ' " . . . if you eliminate the "a" you will have the true Gretta "the Best". Isn't that about the sweetest thing to say? She is certainly one of the best in my book! We have been so blessed with 5 awesome children who are all 'the best.' Coming behind them are 15 grandkids who are also the best. Just ask their grammy!

Today Phil and I took down the ceiling fans in two bedrooms and replaced one of them. We had to quit to go to church tonight, but we'll finish tomorrow. I'm so glad he's here to do this with me. I could never do it by myself, so it's a really big help.

I was able to sing at the nursing home tonight. It was a blessing for me. People are so supportive; even the nursing home residents knew and were sorry with me. I thank God for precious people in my life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our 'big boys.'

These are our wonderful sons; Jeff and David. The other night when Gretta told the the director of nursing on the 8th floor to never speak to me like that again, she added: "If you have something to say to someone in here about my dad you see one of those big boys!" She'll never live down her tirade and we all enjoy recalling it. We had to find something good about the week and being together was sure it. Every memory is a treasure.

Last night I slept like a brick for 8 hours. Ahhhhhh. Today I've taken it pretty easy. It's so nice to have Ruthie and Phil here. I thank God for them coming and staying with me a bit. We've always loved to have company and it's a good time for me not to be alone, I think. I'll be okay when they go, but it's a nice luxury to have them here with me, now. The church prepared food for our family on the day of Don's service and they brought the leftovers to our house. We're enjoying them, still. What a blessing it has been to have food all prepared. We're relaxing and enjoying wonderful food as we enjoy our time. This has to go down as one of the best things anyone has ever provided for us. It reminds me of the apartment that the ministry of the church in Houston made available to us when I had to be there for surgery and radiation. Some things are just so wonderful that words really can't describe it adequately.

I'm so very tired!

This is a picture of Gina and Gretta, comforting each other in Don's room in the hospital. This was a really difficult experience for us, but the kids came through so beautifully! We are always so proud of them, but they came through so well and left me in awe of them. No kidding. I didn't even know what I needed, but they really took good care of me and were so loving. I'm so richly blessed and I sure thank God for all of them.

Today was a wonderful day. I was really scared going into it, but I made it fine. How could I not when there were so many precious hugs for me all day? I'm really tired. I am finally alone at home, but my sister and her husband are staying with me a few days, so I'm not really alone. I can go to bed, though. I think we can sleep as long as we want in the morning. I so need that!

Thank you for your love. I will write soon all about the service. It was wonderful.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wonderful day!

It has been so busy! It was wonderful to go to church and have everyone in the building give me a hug! I feel the love and compassion coming from folks who are as shocked and disappointed as I am that Don is not with us. We have to get a handle on the fact that he is with us; just his body is not here.

People keep bringing food; I'm amazed! Gretta stayed home tonight and put together a bunch of pictures of Don over the years to use at the service tomorrow. Garrett put it all onto a DVD with some hymns.

My sister, Ruthie, and her husband, Phil got here this afternoon. Don's sister, Doris and her husband, Jerry, got here this afternoon, too. Trish and Robert and 5 of their kids arrived tonight. It's been a great reunion! I know that Don would be pleased to see everyone who is gathering to celebrate his life. I am pleased. I sure thank God for a loving community in addition to a loving family. Wow; we are blessed. It's still so hard for me to realize that I can't touch him, but he's sure touching me, so I give thanks for that. The Shnell house is full tonight and we always love when that's the case!

The funeral home has his obituary at the following location:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Davy!

Today is our son, David's birthday. He's so much like his dad and we are so very proud of him! He invited us all to their house yesterday to sit around and share memories of Don and have lunch and some special time together in Don's honor. This is a picture I took of him and his wife, Susan, on Thursday in Don's room. Now, Susan is another story; she's an incredible hostess! She makes everything looks so easy and made us all feel so very welcome. Thanks Susan and Davy!

A story of family love:

They had moved us out of the ICU into a private room, so we had room for all of us to be in there. It was way more convenient for us and they didn't have Don on any of the intensive care equipment. However we had some issues with the care we got there. After we first moved to the room, they were about 40 minutes late coming with Don's first medication. I went looking for his nurse and couldn't find her anywhere on the whole floor. (Found out later she had gone to lunch.) Then I went to the nurse's station and nobody even acknowledged me standing there. I went around to the reception area and said, "Excuse me; have you seen Terms of Endearment?" She hadn't, so I told her she needed to see it. There is a scene in there where Shirley McClain's daughter is dying and not getting her meds, and Shirley McClain goes to the nurses' station and pitches a royal fit which I was about to reproduce if they didn't get my husband's meds to him. She couldn't find our nurse, either, so she came in shortly and gave Don his meds. In a few minutes the director of nursing for that floor came down and called me out into the hall for a minute. She proceeded to tell me that I needed to lower my expectations! Of course I'm cutting this short, but Gretta saw that and said, "Did that woman just call my mom out there in the hall to scold her?" She went storming after her and told her that her mom's husband was laying in there dying and she would NOT speak to her mother that way. The woman started to get defensive and Gretta said, "And that's MY dad in there, dying, so you don't speak to me that way, either! Just get his meds to him on time!" She also filed a complaint with the hospital administrator. That was the beginning. When the shift changed the new nurse came in and told us that she was uncomfortable giving Don morphine every hour like the doctor had ordered, but she'd be willing to give it to him every 2 hours! I almost flipped out! Gretta was asleep, and Davy said to the new nurse, you don't want to wake up the beast; we've got her calmed down right now, but if we unleash her, you'll be really sorry. Long story, shortened; he got his meds on time every time after that and we never saw the director of nursing, again. We came away from this weekend knowing that we have a wonderful beast on our team. Davy and Jeff kept calling her the beast and we were all pretty proud of her. It's amazing how experiences can bring us closer even when they are awful. I thank God for absolutely wonderful children!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Home; what a difference!

I hope this is the worst day of our lives in this picture. Surely losing our husband and father is as bad as it gets? I sure hope we learn from this experience. We DID learn that we can smile even when things are so grim. We were worn to frazzles. This was after 96 hours or trauma and 7 hours of sleep. I got another 4 hours last night, so I'm hoping to feel better tomorrow. This is our youngest, Gretta and I sharing a hug; man we needed lots of hugs (and got them) to get through this week!

We choose what we do with our lives, regardless of the challenges that face us. I think if I can get some sleep I'll do a better job at making choices.

I will make the final arrangements for Don's public service tomorrow morning. No doubt that will be tough, but it will feel good to get that behind me, too. We have decided that the public service will be at 11:00 a.m. on Monday morning. It will be at the Church of Christ in Hobart. Instead of flowers the family is requesting that people make donations to :

The Magic Foundation
6645 W. North Avenue
Oak Park, Illinois 60302

Gretta's daughter, Elena, was born with Turner Syndrome and has to take human growth hormone daily to help her to grow. The Magic Foundation has been such a help in their lives, so we would like to think people would join us in donating to this organization in memory of Don for Elena's and others' benefit. Elena is their poster child!

Thanks so much for your tremendous support during these really tough times. It's been worse than breast cancer and that was a doozie!

I'm so tired, so I'm headed to bed. Hug your loved ones!

RIP, my precious Don.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 8:51 p.m. Don Shnell passed from this life on earth to go home to our heavenly Father and a host of family and friends who preceded him in death. I could list lots of folks he'll be so happy to see and who will be so happy to see him, but the one that comes to mind so quickly is David Rule. This picture was made on the day that Don served as a pallbearer at David's funeral on September 3rd, less than 2 weeks ago. He was suffering with what we thought was a crick in his neck and a bladder infection. The bladder infection was a fact, but the crick in his neck was really some angina which eventually became a heart attack on Monday morning of this week. Then Monday night he had a stroke. Our family and many friends gathered to help us through these days that seemed so long.

We had many hours of wonderful visiting, lots of sobbing and crying, and some wonderful moments of hilarity. I have slept a total of 3 hours of sleep since I got up Monday morning. Tonight after Don's death, the hospital chaplain came by and visited with us. Then we visited in the room until they came to get his body. We were exhausted, but it was a wonderful time of visiting with all the kids. It was horrible when he really stopped breathing, but it was so quiet compared to all the noise he had made as he struggled to breath. He had an instant face lift. I'm not kidding; there was not a wrinkle on his face or forehead. He looked so relaxed. I am thrilled for him to have made this graduation into the rest of eternity. How I will live without him is a mystery, but I trust God to lead me and to provide.

Tomorrow we are having a family memorial service at our son, David's home in Norman. Lots of us are staying at their house tonight. More family will come tomorrow. I haven't determined the details of our public celebration of Don's life. I will do that tomorrow. Our kids had to fly in to see Don and can't stay for the public service It's too costly to go home and return for it, so this family service tomorrow will be special.

Thank you all for your prayers. God is good and I trust Him to put me back together without the biggest piece of my life. This will certainly be a job that only God can handle. I thank Him for the years we've had and the many joys those years brought. Without Don to proofread the blogs, you'll be seeing more errors. I use the spell checker, but he still caught a lot I'd missed. RIP, Sweetheart.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy birthday, Trish!

This picture is Trish and Raynie one day last month when we all went to lunch. It was a birthday treat for me. Today is Tricia's birthday!

It is 3 in the morning and I'm writing the blog nearly cross eyed! I'm so ready to get some sleep. I waited in Don's room until they brought him back from a 2nd CT scan on his brain. We're hoping to compare it to the first CT scan and find some encouraging differences in them. If there are no differences or if the new one is worse then we will comply with the comfort care plan that is in place for him.

He is resting well and that's a joy to see. However, when we talk to him he opens his eyes and looks like he might smile or say something. Of course we are daring to dream. I've got to go get some sleep, though. So far I've had 1 hour of sleep since we got out of bed on Monday morning. We've been through a lot since then, too. So, I'm headed to find a couch and a blanket.

Don's prognosis was downgraded late yesterday to 75% chance of mortality and 25% chance of survival. We believe he is responding to us, though, so we have great hope.God is all powerful and we are asking for Him to heal Don's brain so that he can recover well.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Now a stroke. Thank you for your prayers.

This is my darling. Please pray for God's will with his life.

They just explained to me that Don has had a stroke. Due to the clot buster meds they gave him to attempt to break up the blockage he has blood collecting on his brain, in other words a stroke. I told the doctor that there are people all over the world praying for him and I trust God's timing. He said, "Including me." I asked him bluntly what is his prognosis, because Gretta has been asking that all day. He said, after the heart attack he had and now a stroke it's about a 50/50 kind of thing, but if he lives he will have some permanent damage from the stroke and he has no idea what that might be. They have called in a neurologist and a lung specialist. The lung specialist is putting him on a ventilator because there are some things they can do with that which might help the blood to flow away from his brain. This is not a pretty picture at all, I am so unequipped to make the decisions that are going to face me. I know Don and I love him. I know God and I love and trust Him. Don knows and loves and trusts God. All I know to do at this point is turn it all over to God. He has gotten us this far. He has given us everything, but it and we all belong to Him. If it's time for Don to go be at rest, I will learn to live with that and thank God for His decision. I'm not calling anyone to tell them this in the middle of the night. I will make calls in the morning; by then we will know more. This blog is my support group tonight. Thank you for being there. I love you all.

Heart attack day.

Oh, brother. Last night Ruthie called me after she read my blog post and she said, "This is the point where you over rule him." We were both in bed and I knew there was no way he was going to leave. I promised to check him all night. Through the night his fever went down a little, but this morning it was 102.4. He didn't resist when I called his urologist, but the urologist was out of town! He made arrangements for Don to see another doctor in Altus today. On the way to the doctor he was groaning and when I asked what hurt he said his chest! We got to the doctor's office and I was filling out the forms, asking him what meds he was taking and he gasped and his eyes rolled back in his head! I ran for the nurse and they came right away. He came around really quickly, but had no idea what had happened. They put him into a wheel chair and then took him back to the office. His temp was 95! They decided that his infection was septic, so they wanted to put him into ICU to watch him closely since his fever was so volatile and his blood pressure was very low. They did an EKG in the ICU and asked me if he'd ever had a heart attack. I said, "Not unless it was back there in the doctor's lobby." The cardiologist from OKC was in Altus today and they called him in and he said, he's having a heart attack right now; we've got to get him to the city. So, they medi-flighted him here and I drove. Trish was at the hospital before he got here and she was here with me until about 15 minutes ago. Davy and Susan came and Frank and Jo Ann Meier came to be with us.

There are 3 arteries to the heart and one of his is completely blocked and has been for a long time. They've left it alone for now. The 2nd artery completely blocked today and they opened it and put two stents into it. They also have a little pump they put into his heart to pump the blood for him tonight. They'll leave it for 12 or so hours to give his heart a chance to rest and heal. Depending on how he does in this 12 hours they'll determine what to do next. They don't believe he has infection all through his body, so he is not septic. All his symptoms were about his heart. They do not know how much damage has been done; we'll know more tomorrow.

They think he looks great, but he does not look like he does in tonight's picture. That picture was taken August 2, so about 6 weeks ago. He looks wonderful to me, but he has a lot of drugs in him and a million tubes running all over him and an oxygen mask on. I wonder if they'll let me take a picture? He'll never believe how he looks; probably he'll never want to see it, either.

Anyway, the doctor said that he looks so good and he was hardly complaining. He said he had pain of about 3 out of 10. The doctor said, most people would have turned green at what he was going through and many would not have lived through it. Bless his heart, I think he was having a heart attack for the last 2 weeks! It's a wonder the muscle relaxers didn't relax his heart and kill him!

That was way more information that you all wanted, I'll bet, but I had to spill it all out. I've had calls from all over and I know you are all praying for us. Thank you! (Linda, Ruthie loved talking to you; I'm so glad she called you!) I love you all!

PS: I'm staying in the waiting room and it's very nice. They'll come and get me if I need to go back there and I can go in at 8 or so in the morning. I pray he'll be even better in the morning.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mostly rocks, these mountains!

This is a shot from the distance of Garrett at the heart rock. I think it's so neat that among this pile of huge rocks sits this heart on a pedestal. This has not been tampered with by man, either; this is just how God made it for us! Praise Him!

Now, I have to be real honest. I'm so worried about Don. He won't go to the ER and he's in a lot of pain, plus his fever is way up. It's 103. (An hour and a half ago it was 103.5; now that it's 'down' I'll never get him to get off this fence!) I'm wondering at what point do I over rule him and call the doctor? He says he'll go to the doctor tomorrow. I'm thinking I'll go pack a suitcase to take to the hospital. He says he doesn't feel like his temperature is that high. I've never been in this situation. If I have the bag packed, at least I'll be ready to make a hospital run if we have to make one. Thanks for your prayers!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Playa date with Garrett.

Garrett was really tolerating me taking all these pictures, but we did have so much fun. I'm grateful for our time together and for a digital camera to record it! I'm so glad we had that play date! Check out the work the beavers have done on these two trees!

Now, I'm really frustrated with Don's ailments. I know he is! His spasms are not as intense because of the muscle relaxers, but they are still so there and wearing him down. I thank God that he's been able to sleep in our bed for the last three nights. He's still just not good, though. Just a few minutes ago he was shaking all over with chills. I covered him with a blanket and took his temperature. It's only 99.4, but that's still enough to make him feel bad. I wanted him to see the doc Friday, but he wouldn't. Now, he's going to run out of muscle relaxers tomorrow and I'm thinking' we'll be in real trouble when those spasms come back in full force. We'll see. Y'all pray with me, please. I wonder why we get so hard headed, sometimes.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The heart rock and the all heart boy.

This is a picture I took of Garrett beside the heart rock last Sunday afternoon when we went to the reserve. The heart rock is one of our favorite places, so we were glad that we could get to it since so much of the reserve was closed. It was a fun day of memory building for Garrett and I. I hate that Don was too sick to go, but it turned out to be a special time for just Garrett and I, so I thank God that we got to do it. One time we took someone there and they said, "Who made that?' God made it and left it for our delight; I love it!

Don is a little better each day, I think. Emphasis on the little; he's still in a lot of pain, but he did sleep in our bed all night last night for the 2nd night. That's worth a lot! His fever was back, again, tonight, so I hope that doesn't become an issue, again. It's not high, so it's not bothering him so much. I know when I see him holding his head that it's probably back; take his temperature and sure enough, it's up, again. Ugh. This business is not for the faint of heart. We'll sure be glad when we can report that he's feeling great!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A good night's sleep in our bed!

This is a picture Garrett took of me when we went hiking in the reserve on Sunday afternoon. We meant to go swimming, so we were dressed in swim suits and sandals, and I didn't take my hiking sticks. We stuck to mostly level ground, though, and I found a stick I could use to help me keep vertical. It was really a perfect day for hiking; too bad we weren't better prepared. We had great fun, though, so I thank God for the sweet memories.

Don had a wonderful night last night, relatively speaking. It was the first night in a week that we were able to sleep in our bed. Bless his heart. He woke up once and stayed awake for about an hour, and he couldn't have slept that well, but it was better than before. He woke up this morning and his fingers were stiff from holding onto his collar bones all night. His fever is mostly stable (It still goes up a bit at night, but comes down every day.) The doctors say it may take a week or two for his muscle spasms to stop and he will need to be on a maintenance drug for his bladder infection. We aren't too keen on that, but we give thanks that there is hope!

Sweet Dorothy is doing really well. She calls every day to check on Don! I'm hoping to see her tomorrow. She said she might need me tomorrow and I'm ready and waiting to be any help I can. God love her! God love you for caring for her and us.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Garrett and the buffalo!

When Garrett and I were hiking at the reserve we came up over a hill and there was a buffalo who had beat us to the area. We cautiously walked around where he was, keeping a close eye on him all the way. See him back over Garrett's right shoulder? Notice also all the brown (dead) trees due to the drought; the grass is all dead, too. We were lucky to be able to hike because much of the reserve was on fire and closed to public access.

Don slept for an hour on the bed last night and a couple of hours in the recliner, so he got better sleep than he's had in a week. He did sleep quite a bit today, too, so at least he's getting some rest. He is still having terrible spasms, but not as bad as they were. I guess if he improved a little each day, he'll get back to normal, eventually. The urologist calls to check on him, so he's getting pretty good care. His fever is pretty stable, but it does go up a little at night, so we think his bladder infection is improving, but not gone, yet. His antibiotic runs out tomorrow, so I imagine they will want him to refill it and take it for another week. I just thank God that he is normally very healthy and doesn't have to live like this all the time. He is strong and will recover from this; then we'll be ready to escape somewhere, I'm sure!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hoping to RELAX.

This is a picture Garrett took of me at the reserve when we went Sunday afternoon. Notice the heart rock behind me. It's one of our favorite spots. I'm glad we got to go there since we couldn't go to much more of the reserve due to grass fires. It was VERY windy; you can tell by my hair! I had my swim suit on under my clothes because we meant to go swimming; we couldn't get there because of the fires. Anyway, that's the white you see under my shirt on my shoulder.

Today Don's urologist insisted that we take him to the ER. We did. By the time we got there his fever was gone, so they think it was due to the bladder infection and it must be getting better since he has no fever. They think the pain in his neck, shoulders and collar bone area is due to a muscle spasm. They gave him a shot of muscle relaxer and a prescription for more muscle relaxers to take 3 times a day. It's been 4 hours and he's not any better, but maybe it will help once he gets a pill in him. We had high hopes of sleeping in the bed tonight, but it doesn't look like we will. At least they didn't throw him in the hospital. He is to see his local doctor in 3 days and then the urologist in 2 weeks, so they'll be keeping a close eye on him, and I'm glad of that. If he's not better in a couple of days I'm sure they'll have him do an MRI, and we'll be so ready to find out what's causing this!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Don, catching some ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz's.

Don was able to sleep more in the recliner last night than he has in several nights. Mostly he sleeps like in this picture; with his head on a pillow and his arms hanging down. Last night he didn't wake me up at all and when I was awake, he was sleeping, so it was the best night so far. His fever was gone all day, but it started coming back around 7. Bless his heart. I hope we can get to the cause of all this soon!

We took Garrett back to meet his dad today. We had a wonderful weekend with him, even though Don wasn't feeling good. It was great to have him and we had lots of good times. We thank God for wonderful grandkids, who bring us great joy.

Happy Labor Day! Make every day one of celebration; there are lots of things to celebrate.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Still dragging, here, but it's COOL!

Don took this picture of Garrett and I on our way to church this morning. Church was very much a continuation of the celebration of David's life. Everyone there loves David and Dorothy and it seemed like everyone who had anything to say tied it in some way to David's example and the treasure he is to us and the loss we feel. It was bittersweet. Don didn't go; he was just too exhausted.

After lunch Garrett and I went to the reserve. We were going to go swimming in the river at Medicine Park, but most of the reserve was closed due to grass fires! We did manage to go one direction and saw the heart rock, and we took a little hike where we saw a buffalo. It was really fun. It was so wonderful that it was only 83, too! We thank God for the break in the heat wave! It made it a perfect day for hiking. I forgot to take my walking sticks, so I found a stick I could use.

This morning Don's fever was down to 98 (not normally a fever to most people, but for him anything over 97 is a fever), so we were feeling better about him. However, it was 99.3 when Garrett and I got home and it's up to 99.8, now. Here we go back up with the fever! This is the 3rd day he's taken this more powerful drug, so this is not good. I just hope we can keep him out of the ER until Tuesday when we'll begin an intensive search for what is the root of his problem. I'll admit I'm very uncomfortable with all that's going on with him; this is so not him.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Looking good.

Garrett took this picture of us as we left for David's funeral today. Don sure puts up a good front. Trust me, he doesn't feel as good as he looks! His fever was down to 99 until about an hour ago and it's back up to 100.2. His normal is 97, so this fever is not good. He did make it through the funeral today, though.

I did fine with the singing, too. In fact the singing was so good! We got together 30 minutes prior to the funeral and practiced. I cried THEN. That helped me. I was able to get it sort of out
of my system. Then we had 18 folks and 6 of them were men with tremendous voices, so we all blended really well and there was no pressure on anyone to be perfect. The songs we sang were:

How Great Thou Art (As family came into the room.)
Amazing Grace (After family was seated.)
His Eye is On The Sparrow (That's a difficult song, but our song leader sang
it as a solo and we just sang the chorus, so it was easy and beautiful.) We
sang this after the preacher read the Obituary.
My God and I (After the Sermon, as the family left)
There Is a Place of Quiet Rest (As the rest of the people left.)

Dorothy was queen for this day. Her only son died about 15 years ago. His only son is very attentive to her, but today David's son and daughter (David and Dorothy married 13 years ago.) were right there with her every moment. She had one on each arm all day. I was so touched and I know that she was, too. They are a wonderful family. Two of her 3 sisters were here and lots more family, too. It was wonderful to see all of them. David's daughter lives here and his son lives in California; he'll stay with Dorothy for this next week. When they get all the details taken care of and go home, the community will be here to wrap our arms around Dorothy. I'll get a picture of her soon to share on the blog.

Trish decided to postpone their trip until a time that Don feels better. We miss them, but we've had some good quiet time with Garrett. We'll look forward to whenever they do come.

God bless you all. I love you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bright spots and dim ones.

This is a picture Don took of Garrett and I when we picked him up today. This is our 14 year old grandson, and we are thrilled to have him for the weekend. He's already got the pictures Don took this week of the contents of our house onto a disc to go to the safe deposit box. I'd worked for hours and couldn't get it done, but he did it in 10 minutes. It's great to have a kid around who can do stuff for us old folks! Besides, he's a wonderful gentleman to open doors for us, etc.; just a joy to have.

I got to go with Joan today to see Dorothy and Joel (son) and David all dressed up and relaxed and with NO OXYGEN! Dorothy is doing wonderfully, even with lots of tears. David's funeral is tomorrow. Don is going to be a pal bearer tomorrow and I will sing with a group from church. I could not refuse, but I can't believe I can do this.

Don saw the chiropractor twice today and he is still not doing good at all, so we're very disappointed with that. He has gone to bed, but he may end up back in the recliner again in a few minutes. We'll see. Also, he started running a fever last night and ran it all day today. We talked to the doctor tonight and he prescribed a stronger antibiotic for him, but we had to drive all the way to Altus to get it because everything here was closed! The doctor scared me to death when he said if the fever doesn't come down then we'll have to put him into the hospital. I said, "Holy cow! and he said, "What?" He's a foreigner, so I had to explain that I thought he was being extreme to put him in the hospital because of a 100.2 fever. He replied, "I'm not being extreme; I'm being cautious. If his fever continues he could get septic." I nearly passed out when he used the word septic; I'm too familiar with that. We jumped right into the van and went to get the stronger antibiotic. (David was septic.) So, we're being very cautious with Don. I will keep you updated. He sure hates not feeling like himself.

David's funeral will be a great celebration in many ways. I certainly hope that we can accentuate all the positives about having David Rule in our lives. The preacher who lived next door for 5 years is coming to preach it, so we're really looking forward to that. He knew David really well. In fact he said today that except for the tremendous personal loss it will be an easy funeral to preach because David wrote his own funeral with the life he lived.

After the funeral Trish and Rob and the little kids are coming. I hope Don gets up in the morning and has no fever. That will help him to enjoy the day and the rest of the weekend more. Maybe all the adjustments he has has will settle in and his neck will be better, too.

Another wonderful friend, posted the following poem that he wrote in the comments of yesterday's blog post. Thank you, HB! If you don't read the comments, you would miss it, so I'm copying it, here:

'When life as we know it has ended,
the final breath is breathed,
the pain, the sorrow, and the struggles all have been relieved.
When God welcomes His children to their heavenly home above,
He leaves us precious memories and a truly undying love...."
-Harold Branstetter-

Thursday, September 1, 2011

RIP, David.

This picture was taken on my birthday. Dorothy's birthday was the 11th of this August and we were going to be gone to Bella Vista, so we celebrated my birthday and Dorothy's on the same day. We went to Altus to visit Olya and Sonia and Sasha, who used to live next door to us. Olya is from Russia and they had spent the summer in Russia, so it was a real treat to us to get to see them. Bill, Olya's husband was working, so we missed him and Olya took the picture. When they lived next door to us Bill was our preacher for 5 years. Sasha was just about 3 months old when they moved here. They are like family to us, so this picture is like a family picture; all very precious people to us. It's my most recent picture of David. He passed away this morning at 9:45. He's one of the biggest treats of my whole life; what an honor to have known him and to have enjoyed many hours with him. God blessed us so; thanks to Dorothy for bringing him into our lives. Thanks to all of you for your prayers for David and Dorothy. I don't know the details for his service, yet. I think the family is working out all of that tonight. Dorothy is exhausted, but holding up very well.

Don got a treatment with the chiropractor this afternoon and he's been doing his best to take it easy since then to let the adjustment set. He does have better range of motion and is hoping to sleep in the bed instead of the recliner tonight. Praise God! He'll get another treatment in the morning, and I sure hope that will fix him for the weekend!