Thursday, March 30, 2006

I'm Still here!

Just a quick update. I'm still at home, with my wonderful nurse, who happens to be my wife. She and the family have been so helpful, and so thoughtful. This has been quite a humbling experience. Except for getting my tonsils out when I was a 6 year-old, I had never been hospitalized before. I've always been pretty independent, and have been able to take care of myself. Now I have to depend on others to take care of my needs. There have been times when I have been overcome with gratitude, and tears have come to my eyes, as I have thought of how my loved ones have loved, and served, and prayed for me.

My parents, in-laws and other family members have been calling and visiting regularly.

I've also had a great outpouring of support and help from the ward and stake. The High-Priests group leader asked some other quorum members to look after my home teaching families until I can get out again. The Bishopric has visited me a couple of times. I have a great home teacher. The Relief society has been a great help too.

A member of the stake high council is going to cover my speaking assignments in April. A member of the stake presidency is filling in for me in some of my other assignments.

I've also received many well-wishes and thoughts from my blogging friends as well.

I'm so grateful for all the thoughts and prayers that have been directed my way. It can be overwhelming, if you thing about it -- but on the other hand, its what I need at this time.

Here is an example of what my daily routine is these days:

7:00 am - Start first IV (takes two hours to infuse).
7:00 am - Take oral antibiotic
9:00 am - Start second IV (one hour)
10:00 am - disconnect from IV

10:00 am - Flush and Drain the drain tubes. Measure and log the net output from each drain.
10:15 am - Wound Care. Clean and dress wounds surrounding where the tubes make their entrance.

12:00 - Take Oral Antibiotic

Some free time in the afternoon, time to take a shower (a complicated process). And maybe take a nap.

5:00 - Take Oral Antibiotic

7:00 pm - Start IV (two hour version)

9:00 pm - Disconnect IV
9:00 pm - Flush and drain Tubes.
9:15 pm - Wound care.
10:00 pm - Take Oral antibiotic.

The pain has gone down substantially. I still get a little achy from time to time, but usually Tylenol will take care of it. I've tried to use the Lortab sparingly.

We had a follow-up CT scan last Monday. The abscesses have still not completely closed off. When they injected dye into the abscesses, they found traces of the dye going into the liver, and into the colon. Ideally, we want the abscesses to completely seal off - that way they won't be spreading infection.

We have another follow-up CT scan set for this coming Monday.

Should the abscesses NOT seal off, then I am looking at the possibility of needing surgery remove the abscesses, and seal up the organs. A portion of the colon could also be removed.

For now though, I'm hoping and praying the drains do their jobs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Henry and St. Mary

Henry and Mary (not their real names) are a nice couple in their late 70’s who are originally from Holland. Mary came to America as a 21-year old woman in 1949. Henry came a year later, in 1950. Each of them would have endured the horrors of the Nazi occupation of the Dutch people. Mary told me of one of her relatives who died of starvation during those years. Both were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon coming to America, both settled in the Salt Lake Valley. Eventually they would meet and marry.

I met Henry and Mary in my semi-private room during my recent hospital stay. Henry has advanced Parkinson’s Disease. He had been staying in a local care center for the last several months, but then developed a case of pneumonia, which put his life in jeopardy – hence his hospital stay.

Henry, my roommate, didn’t say much. He slept mostly. During the night he would dream, and mumble a few things, often in Dutch. Sometimes he would sing a few bars of a song. You could tell that at one time, he probably had a beautiful singing voice.

He had developed bedsores, and hospital staff came in every two hours to turn him – day and night. Respiratory therapists would visit him several times a day.

Henry couldn’t feed himself. Hospital staff would come in to try to coax him to eat, but usually didn’t have much success. He was unable to take his oral medications normally, so they had to grind them up and mix them in applesauce, which he would take (usually).

The only one who could get much response from Henry was his wife, Mary. Over the course of the week, I got to talk to Mary quite a bit. She still spoke with a Dutch accent, in a kind of staccato voice.

I would talk with her quite a bit over the days we were there. As it turns out, her husband, Henry, had developed Parkinson’s Disease some 17 years ago. She has been looking after him, and taking care of his needs ever since.

The first 7 or 8 years weren’t too bad. She said there were times when you couldn’t tell anything was wrong with him. Henry had started a plumbing business, and as his disease advanced, the plumbing business was turned over to one of their sons. (The business is still going well, by the way.) Mary has always done the bookkeeping for the business – and amazingly, still does!

About 10 years ago, things took a turn for the worse. Henry’s disease became more advanced, and he could no longer be left alone. Mary was there, at his side, seeing to his every need as she watched her husband’s health decline.

After more 10 years, Henry could no longer get himself up out of bed, and Mary, in her late 70’s could not lift him. This, along with other advancing health issues made it necessary for Mary to place Henry in a care center.

At the care center, Mary is there for several hours, 7 days a week. She takes such good care of Henry, that the care center even offered her a part-time job.

Mary and I were able to develop enough rapport, that she began telling me about her own thoughts and feelings. I told her about my family, and the health issues that brought me there. We even had a few gospel discussions together, as we whiled away the hours.

Only the Lord knows how long Mary will need to continue her service. Her faithful service and the care she took for her husband was really touching to observe. For 17 years, she has never wavered, and steadfastly been there to meet her husband’s needs. Her Christlike example was truly an inspiration to me. I’m sure that rich blessings will be hers.

It also reminds me of the service my own mother has given to the health-care needs of her family. First with her parents as their health declined and eventually passed away. And now with my dad as he has encountered health problems the last few years. It has been 10 years and counting for her.

I love you mom, and all the selfless service you have given. Thanks for your great example, and the many ways you have blessed the lives of your family.

Oh, and mom. Thanks for that homemade chicken-noodle soup! It helped me to regain my appetite after that hospital “food”. I’m feeling much better now!

Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm Home!

I got home from the hospital on Sunday afternoon. There is an old Simon and Garfunkel song that starts out:

"Gee but its great to be back home, home is where I want to be!"

That just about sums it up for me.

Today I've had really good day. I have been resting, and catching up on a few things. I have felt reasonably good, and am beginning to get my new home-routine down. I really don't miss the hospital at all!

As my wife stated in her guest post, I have been experiencing a lot of abdominal pain for some time. My Dr. finally decided to have a CT scan done of my abdomen to see what was going on down there.

I had an appointment for 8:00 am on Monday morning (March 13th) at the CT lab. My plan was to go get the test done, and then report for work a little later in the morning after I was done. I had expected it to take a day or two for results to come back from the scan. After the scan was over, I found out that I would be going nowhere anytime soon!

When I got there, I was handed what looked like a milk jug of orange flavored barium, and told to have a cup full of the stuff every 20 minutes. Each cup full began to be harder and harder to take. I swear I was tasting that awful stuff for days afterword! I guess it could have been worse -- they could have administered the barium from the "other" end.

After an hour and a half, they handed me a hospital gown and a pair of pajama bottoms to change into (having bottoms was a nice touch, I thought). Then I was escorted to the CT scanner room. After the scan, I expected to go back to the dressing room and change back into my regular clothes. However, I was told to just take a seat and wait for a few minutes and a nurse would come talk to me. This should have been my first clue that something was up.

So I sat and waited for about 10-15 minutes. Finally someone came and asked me if a Dr. had talked to me yet. I replied that "no, I hadn't". A couple of minutes later, I was led to a phone where my Internist would talk to me. I sat down on a chair and began talking to my Dr. He asked me if anyone had spoken with me about my test results. Again, I replied that I had not.

He then explained to me that I had been suffering from Diverticulitis, which had then developed an abscess. In addition, the infection had spread to my liver as well, where a second abscess had formed. I had been at the outpatient CT lab at the hospital. The Dr. told me that I would be admitted to the hospital and to expect to be there for 4-5 days. I would be taken to the in-patient CT lab, where they would use the CT scanner to pinpoint the locations of the abscesses, and insert drainage tubes. I was told that the tubes would probably be in for 3-4 weeks, and that I would be on home IV antibiotics for about 2 months. The Dr. also exclaimed that he was surprised that I was getting along as well as I had been, considering the extent and seriousness of the problems I was having.

I was also told that in a few months, after I had completely healed and was infection-free for awhile, that I would need to undergo surgery to remove the infected portion of my bowel, and to clear out any scar tissue that may develop. Apparently, once you have a weak spot in your colon, it is likely to have similar problems in the future. And we wouldn't want that to happen, now would we?

Suddenly the seriousness of the situation hit me! Things were about to change in a big way. However, I had been in so much pain, that I welcomed finding out what the trouble was, and getting it resolved. Later I would learn that if one of those abscesses were to have burst, that it would have been a life-threatening situation which would have required emergency surgery. (Sort of like a ruptured appendix, only worse).

Dawn Ann, my wife, had been concerned about this whole situation, and had come to join me at the CT lab. I was so glad that she was there. After getting dressed in street clothes, I was directed to the lab for some blood-work. Then I was lead to the in-patient X-ray lab for the next CT scan. I was poked and prodded a few times until they found a vein for an IV, then they started pumping me up full of all kinds of drugs. They ran me through the CT scanner a few times until they had pin-pointed the abscess pockets on my bowel and liver. Then they poked me. The Dr in the x-ray lab pulled 500 cc's of fluid from my liver, and about another 50 or so from my bowel. They were amazed at the amount of fluid. I would learn that up until about 5 years ago, someone in my same condition would have had major abdominal surgery, to clear out the abscesses, and would have been fitted with a colostomy bag for about 6 months in order for the colon to heal. Yikes!

The good part for me, was that immediately after the drain tubes had been inserted and much of the fluid had been drained, the pressure and abdominal pain that I had been experiencing was reduced. Even to this point in time, a week later, I have not had the same amount of pain that I was having before the drains were inserted. (Of course, the Lortabs help a lot now too, but I still don't think the pain is as great as it was before, thank heavens!)

Although I was to be admitted to the hospital, they had a full-house. After the drain insertion and flushing procedure, I was left in a hallway in the x-ray dept. until a room opened up. Poor Dawn Ann spent hours in the x-ray waiting room, worrying and wondering how things went. My Internist came by to visit me in the hallway and explained what they would be doing the next few days. They would be taking cultures of the bacteria that had caused my infection. First they had to identify the specific bacteria involved, then they had to determine what combination of antibiotics, and in what dosage would be needed to kill them off. When that equation was solved, then I could go home (in theory, at least).

Eventually I was able to be assigned to a room, and got all settled in.

There are some other stories, and thoughts and reflections that I intend to write about from my experiences this past week, but I can't do all of that in one post.

I would like to thank all those who have had my family and I in their thoughts and prayers. I have received a generous outpouring of love and support from family, friends, ward and stake members, co-workers, and from my blogging friends as well. Your kindness and thoughtfulness has been very touching for us. Thanks for being there for us.

Friday, March 17, 2006

All is not well- after all

Guest Blogger-- His wife, DawnAnn

Dave has been in the hospital since Monday with infected absesses on his liver and bowel and he is one sick puppy. Don't you love these cowboy types-- They never let on they are about to die. They kind of do this "Oh, by the way I have been shot" kind of moves. Man I hate surprises.

He has been struggling for a while now but he still forced himself to be about his duties and responsibilities. Even last Sunday he was at his assigned ward to conduct sustaining for a new ward clerk. Afterward he set him apart. The kids and I went with him (mostly to bring him home if needed). He was pale as a ghost, diaphoretic, and in pain even then. Man alive, I hate having to figure out the true picture of how he is doing with all his cowboy stoicism.

He had me scared there for a little while. I never anticipated the speed of action or this outcome but we had been praying that these tests would discover what was causing his pain and help direct the Dr.s on how to fix it. (I was secretly praying that it wasn't cancer.)

We went in to the hospital this last Monday for his scheduled abdominal tests, (barium cocktail type.) Afterward Dave comes come and calls me in to tells me the findings and that the Dr. is going to admit him shortly. This would be after they successfully poke tubes the size of the Chunnel into those dastardly pus pockets. (The liver absess surprised even the Dr. I think but now looking back it made sense too.) The tubes weren't that big but I am sure Dave would feel that they were.

Now all this was good and bad. It is good that we now knew what this beast was and the plan of attack was set out. Bad news was that I started to worry-worry. As a nurse I started putting it all together, OK now what do we need to watch out for. Systemic SEPSIS. Medical people know too much about illnesses for our own good. Needless to say I got teary after I got the kids home and sat down.

These many days he has been doing fairly well with his antibiotic therapy. They have had so many chemicals running through his veins, he positively glows in the dark. Now he has a pink face, smiles quicker, and moves around easier.

We were hoping to be able to bring him home today. He had been doing well until this afternoon when he developed a bout of fever and chills. Not good for our plans. I think it bought him another 2 day stay. We'll see how he is doing tomarrow.

There you have it, why Dave has been quiet here for this last week. He has had some neat visits from long ago people in his past. He will have to tell you all about it next week.

He will be home bound for a few weeks more getting antibiotics and such so I am sure he will have lots of blog time. I can't wait-- Oh man did I say that. I get pretty jelous of this blog but I just want him home.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I love Our Solar Snow Shovel!

Yesterday we woke up to snowy weather.  In the mid morning hours, we had a blizzard come through our town.  The snow was coming sideways, and was sticking to the windows. By the time it was done, We had about 4 inches of snow on our driveway.

Our house faces South -- which is a very good thing!  In the winter time, the sun shines mostly from the South.  Oh, it still crosses the sky form East to West, just at a distinct Southerly angle.   After the storm passed by, the sun came out, and began to work its magic.  By the time I got home from work, all the snow was melted off the driveway!  I call this the Solar Snow Shovel Effect. It's a beautiful thing!

I first learned about the Solar Snow Shovel Effect the hard way, as I was growing up.  You see, my folks had (still have) a house that faces North. As the oldest child, I was given the task of snow removal.  I learned that It was important to shovel the snow as soon as possible after it fell, because it wasn't about to melt on its own in the shade of the house.  If left too long, it would turn to Ice, and then it would be really tough to remove.  I also noticed that much, if not all, of the snow on the driveways of the South facing houses across the street from us  would quickly melt off - making snow removal a lot easier. 

Now I can afford to be a little bit lazy when it snows.  If the sun comes out, its a pretty good bet that the Solar Snow Shovel will have done the job for me!  Unless its a really big storm, chances are I won't have to shovel at all!  Now that's what I call putting Solar Power to work for you!

When the time came that we bought our own home, I made it a point to ensure that we would have one of the privileged South-Facing homes.  That's a decision I have never regretted in the 12 years we've lived here. 

So, the moral of the story is -- If you live in a snow prone area, and your are considering a home purchase, remember to get a South-Facing home.  And then you, too, will have a Solar Snow Shovel of your own! 

P.S.  - Your back will thank you too!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Seven - Fours

No, that's not my height! The tallest person I know if in my ancestry was about 5'10". Needless to say, I and my poor children got the short end of the stick!

What this is really about, is a meme, that asks you to list 4 things, on seven different topics. I was tagged by S'mee over at Knot in the String. So here it goes:

Four Jobs I Have Had in My Life:

1. Cattle Ranch Hand. I spent the summers working on my grandpa's cattle ranch from age 5 thru 18. I would leave home at the end of each school year, and live with my grandparents for the summer. I got to do things like build fences, fight mosquitoes, move sprinkler pipe, fight mosquitoes, drive tractors and machinery, bale hay, fight mosquitoes, ride horses, go on cattle drives, milk cows, deliver calves, and did I mention fighting mosquitoes? You can read more about Grandpa and my experiences on the ranch here.

2. Dish Room at the BYU Wilkinson Center. Oh, this was a glorious job. I got to use commercial dishwashers, and clean up all sorts of yucky stuff. The best part was when I met a cute girl, that I really liked. Unfortunately, after getting to know one another, she turned out to be a cousin of mine form Canada! (Drat!)

3. Police Dispatcher/9-1-1 Operator. I took police, fire, and medical calls and worked in public safety for about 10 years. I spoke with a wide variety of people in all kinds of circumstances. I was exposed to people and circumstances that I had never before known. When you deal with people who are at their worst, I found that I had to make extra efforts to protect myself spiritually. I enjoyed the work a lot, but found that the shiftwork (and the pay) didn't match up with my needs to provide for my family. You can read more about my dispatching days here.

4. Computer Programmer. In my later years in public safety, I was put in charge of the 911 computer systems. I learned a lot of things, and then took some classes in programming. When a computer programmer retired, I was able to move into his position. I have been in this position now for about 13 years. Information technology is constantly changing, and so it requires continuing education to stay up on your skills, and to keep yourself marketable. I've enjoyed my work in programming. My favorite part is when I can find ways to help people do their jobs, and help make them more efficient and productive. Especially when I can take something that was once very tedious and time consuming, and automate it for them. As an in-house programmer, I have the opportunity to work directly with those who use my programs. Our IT department takes pleasure in spoiling our customers.

Many programmers work for large software development companies, and never get to see how their work is used (and hopefully appreciated) by end users. I would hate that.

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over:

1. Sound of Music - Great music and Story
2. Fiddler on the Roof - Again, great music and story
3. A shot in the Dark (Pink Panther) - Just for fun
4. Never Cry Wolf - Breathtakingly beautiful Alaska scenery, funny, and hauntingly beautiful music at the end.

Four Places I've Lived:

1. Biloxi, Mississippi - (I was born there while dad was in the Air Force)
2. Lompoc, California (Also an Air Force venue)
3. Randolph, Utah (Where Grandpa's Ranch was located)
4. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (I served my mission in BC)

Four TV shows you love to watch

First, you should know that there has not been a regular network TV show that I have watched for years and years. The shows I like are either cable fare, or classic shows from days gone by that are in syndication.

1. Star Trek, The Next Generation
2. The Andy Griffith Show
3. The MythBusters
4. Special Report with Brit Hume

Four Websites you visit daily

Boy could I get in trouble here! I visit several blogs daily, and its more than just four! Just look on my LDS blogroll on the sidebar. I highly recommend all of them. To avoid any hurt feelings, I will list some blogs that you may not be familiar with, but are of interest:

1. K-Pinion Katie, is a practicing Christian in the Dallas, TX area. She writes a combination of funny and whimsical pieces, and throws in a few philosophical/religious posts to boot, which are often quite thought provoking.

2. Mamacita at the Scheiss Weekly. Mamacita is an English teacher at a Jr. College in Indiana. She is witty, humorous, and often has some good insights on education.

3. Worship Naked - Don't let the name scare you off. Tracey, the proprietress is another Christian woman living in Southern California. She is an excellent writer, and can really tell a tale when she wants to. Perhaps the funniest blog post I have ever read was Tracey's The End Times. If you don't follow any of the rest of these links -- read The End Times. You won't be sorry you did.

4. Micaheal Yon Michael Yon is a Military Blogger (Mil-blogger for short). He is a former special forces officer who was retired, and working a productive civilian career. However, after getting sick of the mainstream media coverage of the war in Iraq, he self-financed a trip to Iraq to do his own reports. He still is an independent journalist, and he depends on contributions by his readers to support his trips to Iraq. He tells you the stories that the media refuses to tell or are too lazy (scared) to report on. Especially stories that might cast the troops and the mission in Iraq in a positive light. I encourage you to read his posting called The Gates of Fire, which is a real-life account of the battle of Mosul. I don't know when I have read a more riveting combat narrative. Read it, and hold on to your seats.

Four of My Favorite Foods:

1. Shrimp - Grilled, Coconut, butterflied, creole, you name it.
2. Chocolate dipped Strawberries
3. Home bottled peaches - (grandma and my mama's recipe)
4. Grilled Mahi-Mahi (best eaten in Hawaii, with a little grilled pineapple on the side.)

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now:

1. Moab, Utah - I'd love to be out 4-wheeling on the jeep trails there. Redrock country touches my soul.
2. Hawaii - Paradise, what more can I say.
3. Australia - Would love to see the land down under. Besides, they have redrock deserts too!
4. Alaska - Never been there. In some ways I'm afraid to go -- I'm not sure I'd ever want to come back!

I wont' tag anyone. But if you would like to participate, post it on your blog, and let me know in comments here.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Which Harry Potter Character Are You?

I saw this quiz over at The Sisters Bourne Identity. I thought I would give it a try to see what Harry Potter Character my personality matched. I was pleased with the result. (Warning, the quiz is rather long -- 112 Questions. It might take 10-15 minutes to complete.)

(Click on image for larger version)

You scored as Albus Dumbledore. You are very wise, observant, and
analyctical. You have a very "well-organized" mind, which makes you
function in a calm and fair manner. Though you get angered easily,
its rare of you to ever act our of temper. You are constantly seeing
the good in people and are naturally forgiving because of it. You're
easy to please and a great person to learn from.

Albus Dumbledore


Sirius Black


Remus Lupin


Lord Voldemort


Luna Lovegood


Neville Longbottom


Bellatrix Lestrange


Percy Weasley


Ron Weasley


Oliver Wood


Severus Snape


Harry Potter


Hermione Granger


Draco Malfoy


Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with