Saturday, December 25, 2010

Clark and I

Clark and I are still doing okay. I had forgotten all about this blog.
I had been posting and reading alot of nothing on facebook. Had around 152 friends. LOL What a laugh out loud is right! I realized the only reason I had all the people as friends, was because I was nosey. They started to irritate me with the post of depression, rage and anger they had at each other. Then I thought you aren't much better, feeding off their life's when they really aren't your friends. So I did remove them. I am now down to 25, mostly family and some old friends from high school. Life is to wonderful and I need to concentrate on family, true friends and Clark and I. Happy Birthday to Jesus! I send my prayers out to my mother and step father.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Has been a Very long Time

Clark and I are doing well. We are closer then ever, he is my very "bestest" friend. LOL
I have been thinking alot about retirement, it is only 9 to 10 years away. We went to see a Financial Advisor and opened up a Roth IRA, to go along with my 401K retirement at work.
Most likely we will sell our house and buy a smaller one, which we can payoff and not have a mortgage.
I have found all but 1 of my best high school friends and the emailing back and forth has been fun.
I discovered a new blog called "For Everyone", written by my brother-in-law. He is an excellent writer, has a lot to say and has had a very interesting life.

We no longer have our oldest dog Rodney, we had to be him to sleep from old age. Very, Very hard to do. Carly is a little dog, mixed with Min Pin and who knows what else.
Blue our oldest cat is now blind and hard of hearing, but she still gets around okay, with just an occasional bump into the wall.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Been a Long Time

I haven't posted for a very long time. So, this one will be a quick summary since my last post.
Life has been good in Alabama for Clark and I.
Clark ended up with prostrate cancer earlier this year, but it was caught very very early.
God found us a good doctor, like the one we had in Ohio. Clark only had to go through radiation therapy and now his PSA level is down.
I noticed I lost all my links and I forget how to do them now, so I am not going to bother.
This is my journal online and that is all. Just for me and if anyone wanders in then they do.
Clark also had shoulder surgry this year and is still recovering from that.
I think the hardest part is his phobias and lack of exercise. He is in a lot of pain, so he doesn't exercise or move around much; which makes it worse. We just started this weekend going to the community pool. I am hoping this will help him. His short term memory isn't so great either. Which also has me concerned. I wonder sometimes if he has the early signs of alzheimers.
He wasn't feeling good one night and instead of getting sick in the toilet, he went and got a mop bucket and put in the bathroom to get sick. He said the next morning he didn't remember he could use the toilet. That really bothered me. The other instance, is he was going to help me mash the potatoes for Thanksgiving. I put the strainer in the sink and poured the potatoes in it to drain them. Instead, of him then taking the potatoes and putting them in a bowl to add butter and mash, he added the butter in the strainer. I was like "what are you doing" you can't mash them in the strainer. He looked perplexed and then was like oh yeh? LOL
I don't know, will just need to watch and hope I am wrong. Well enough of this blog for today.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thank You

Today is Christmas, the day you connect with family, friends. The time that can bring many emotions, the personalities vary so much, it brings pain. I question, why we can't be thankful for what we have? I talked to my family today, like many other days, they each have pain, confusion in their lives. I want to scream sometimes, Why can't you be thankful?? Each of us are blessed.
To tell the whole story.... Impossible - Each family member I speak with, expresses pain and sadness. I can only listen, wish, pray they can thank the Lord. He has given me so much, just as he has given them. But, we are like a little world, all by ourselves. I am confused from all the emotions I experienced today. Yet, in my core, I thank Jesus for what he has given me.
He gave me Clark, the man made for me, as I am made for him. I want to be able to sooth them, to guide them. But, I do not know how.......

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Alabama Blue

Alabama has beautiful blue skies. I haven't blogged in a long time and really don't have much to say......

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

After a Recovery

It has been a long time since I posted. Clark has come a long way. We moved to Alabama, from Ohio and that is a good thing. We are in a struggle though. So, I need to blog it out. LOL. Before Clark had his strokes, he was in charge of everything. He did the finances, made all the decisions. I worked full time, but left everything else up to him. That all changed when he had his strokes, I took over, in every way. When I look back, I was determined to be strong and "fix" everything. To make this short, I became the decision maker, since Clark couldn't. Well, now (Thank the Lord), Clark is still progressing. He still has speech, reading, memory and a little right side weakness, but he has come back enough that he wants the decision making or control back. I in the other hand, don't want to give it totally up. We both recognize this and talk about how to handle it. We disagree a lot and it escalates to a fight status more then we both like. We want to level out. We want to some how come to a agreement that, neither of us need to be in control. We can work equally with each other. But, man that is easier said then done. I am sure other stroke families have experienced this. I think Clark and I are starting to go in the right direction, since we at least understand what has happening. I think what I need to do, is to back off more, keep the little "lips" sewed shut more.
Here we go another stage in our marriage, the other end will be wonderful....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

We took the Plunge

A new stage in our life together. I have realized, it is better for me to blog, when the actual events have passed. When you are actually living the event, you give out raw emotion, not logical emotion. That emotion is normal, but can be harmful. That kind of emotion "it is all about me" or "it is all about us". I had no idea how stressful it would be to buy a new home in another state and sell our present home. The actual transfer of the job was a piece of cake !!! WOW, Clark and I have never fought as much as we have with getting this move accomplished. We also realized how much I have changed since Clark has had his strokes, not just how much Clark has, but me. I could go off on several roads with this story, and I might later.... but right now, we are moving !! November 23rd and we are on the road. Clark with his dog, the U-haul and towing the boat. Me, with my dog and 3 cats. (that should be interesting !) We sold our two horses, Floozie and Babe, to a couple who wants to trail ride. They own 40 acres and will give them a good home, with a lot of exercise ! I am proud of Clark and I, we still have it in us, to not just let life pass us by, in the old routine. But, to try to reach our dreams. Life with Clark has taught me so much, it has come in all emotions and stages... raw lust, love, friendship, sadness, fear of loss, hatred at times, anger, tenderness, compassion, laughter, adventure, routine day to day, then another break through.
The main thing I have learned with Clark, is life is wonderful, it isn't always easy together, but we won't quit, you have to get through the rough times, to appreciate the growth and closeness you feel after. I thank God, that he led me to Clark and my wonderful life !!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Whiteboard

As much as I try to live the life that Clark is his old self, it just doesn't get it.
BUT, Clark is becoming even more aware, that he isn't his old self. This brings conversations, which can be from one end to the other. Meaning, it is good, but it isn't good. I am amazed, he has come so far, to oh my ....he is really struggling.
Examples, keep in mind, he is starting to realize what he used to do, to what he can do.
He needed to take his/our dog to the vet, he went to write this down on the board and had to ask "What is his name?" , I said "Rodney", "oh yes, okay....Ro.. how do you make a "D", "look up on the board, you just made a "d" here." This brings me back to the reality of what has happened. Which, floods my thoughts, what should I do to help him recover his spelling and langauge? But, then I have to go to work, and it fades, daily life takes over to the importance of Clark.
He said the other day, "I don't think you know how much my language was affected". I said "you are probably right". He then gives me this example, where and were, I know they are words, but what do they mean and how do you spell them? I said, "where" is a place, like we went to Lake Erie the other day, and "were", is past tense, like we "were" at Lake Erie. He said, okay, now how do you spell them?
Clark, is so amazing, I can not express to you how much. He is so intelligent. He was a paramadic for years. There is so much more I could tell you, he could write papers, and knew things, about everything. No matter what! A jack of all trades, but even more, he was close to being an expert in all. He could actually bore you to tears, on topics you could care less about. But, my point is - this is so Great, as far as he has come, and so sad, for the struggles. I almost wish, he didn't realize the loss. But, I take that back, because he doesn't get depressed, he says, "I might not get it all back, but I will never stop trying." I am no where close to Clark, he is amazing.....

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Goodbye for A While

I don't have anything to say for a while. I enjoy all of my favorite bloggers, especially Dr. Charles and Death Maiden. I will still be reading and enjoying.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Bee

I park under a tree at work, so the shade keeps the car cooler. I notice everyone keeps their windows up and the doors locked, but on the hot days, I leave my windows down. I like to sit in the car, when I have break or lunch and enjoy the quiet. Today, I went to my car and continued to read a book, Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. It is a great read in my opinion. But, in the midst of reading, something got my eye, a bee, a very small bee. It entered one of four, very small holes, about the size of a cocktail straw, right below where my radio is. It was a smaller then a honey bee, I really am not sure what kind it was. It crawled into the hole for a short period of time, then flew back out the window on the passenger side. I continued to read, and there it was again, back into the hole. I thought, I should put my windows up, or block that little hole, but I was fascinated by that little bee. It is so busy building a nest, it's instincts are in high drive. So,I left my windows down and went back to work. When I came out for lunch, the bottom little hole on the left, was covered with the bee's efforts. And no surprise, there it was again, but this time it entered the top left. It came in and flew away several times. It never noticed me, it was too busy doing what it was meant to do. Anyway, I went back into work, and as silly as it might sound, I continued to think about that bee. Finally, the work day was over, as I walked to my car, I wondered, will it be in the hole, or will it be out gathering it's needs for the nest? I got in the car and saw no bee, I thought about that wonderful bee off and on all the way home, looking at that hole, is it in there? I really should have put my window up, because that determined bee, spent all day building a nest, that was gone after the worker's clock sounded.....

Friday, June 10, 2005

Emotions are High

The general surgeon tells Clark and I that the biopsy was actually a lumpectomy. He asked me to consider a mastectomy, but I instantly reacted to no. It was so small, caught so early. He told me to find an oncologist. She gave me good news, that it was estrogen positive, and Tamoxiphen was prescribed to block the estrogen my body produces. No food, no cancer !
But, she wanted a lymphectomy done. This is where Clark and I had our fight....
Clark felt that I should not have it done, he was fearful and had encountered other women, who suffered from lymphdema. I on the other hand felt I should listen to the doctors. Both Dr. T and Dr. L felt I should make sure it had not spread to the lymph nodes. My father died of colon cancer, and the suffering he went through was unbearable for him. He was not a big man, but when he died, he weighed 68 lbs., was in a veterans hospital, in a fetal position, with bed sores. I was 9 when he was diagnosed, and watched him cry when he lost his hair, and heard him scream in pain. I remember so many anguished moments. Anyway, I think that is why I was so strong in the fight, that I would have the operation. I did talk to Dr. L and told her I wanted them to only remove the sentinal lymph node, if they could locate it. But, Dr. T (the surgeon) removed 14 lymph nodes. That shocked me he took so many, but the good news, all were negative for cancer. I remember Clark fighting with me, not to have it done. At one point, he said "If you go forward with that operation, I will not go with you". I felt as if he had physically slapped me. I was shocked, but did not back down. I cried and then he cried. He did come with me and was with me all the way. That says a lot, for two people in total disagreement, to be there for each other in the end.....

Mammogram - Say Yes

The next step in the breast cancer, was to go in for a surgical biopsy. Dr. G (our family doctor), introduced us to Dr. T (General Surgeon). During the Stereotactic biopsy, they had put a small titanium clip by the spot they suspected of cancer. I can't remember alot of what happened, just glimpses. I remember a woman, who had to stick a long, thin needle into my breast, she talked about her sister, who had breast cancer, that was too advanced and she died. It scared her so much, that she actually had a double mastectomy to make sure she wouldn't succumb to the same awful death, I can't imagine how deep those experiences must of affected her, for her to make such a decision. I felt so many different emotions, while she told me this, that while she stuck that needle in my breast, it was like nothing, okay a needle is in my breast, so? Maybe, that is why she talked about it, I don't know. But, I will never forget her.
I also remember something ...where they took me in a room, with Clark (he was not a stroke survivor at this point (that was yet to come)), but they had to inject this dye, OH yes I remember that was for the 3rd surgery. When they removed my lymph nodes. I will get to that later, and the awful fight Clark and I had.
Sorry, I am confusing things. I never kept a journal, about this experience.
To make this short, I had a biopsy, where they removed tissue about the size of a melon ball. It came back as cancerous:
Ductal carcinoma, invasive, grade 2, Scarff-Bloom-Richardson tubule+nuclear+mitotic scores 3+2+2=7, with extensive intraductal component (high grade). Tumor measures 0.32 cm, adjacent to needle core biopsy site.
Excision margins negative; nearest margin, lateral, is 0.8 cm from invasive carcinoma, 0.5 cm from ductal carcinoma in situ.
Very small, very early, it was Estrogen Receptor positive, very good news, the only negative aspect was the HER2/neu was 2+. So my oncologist, watches this very closely.
I will go more into that later.
Anyway, the MAMMOGRAM was the key, I am a very lucky lady......

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Delicate Balance & Team Work

Today, Clark went to see our family doctor without me? This doesn't sound like a big deal does it? But, this is the first time since 2003 that he did. I had to see the oncologist yesterday and couldn't get off work to do both. I wrote down the information I thought Dr. G would need and gave it to Clark for him.
Last night, I created a current medication list that Clark is taking. With the catherizations and bypass surgery, different doctors changed this and that. I knew Dr. G might not have everything he is or is not taking. One medication they took him off was his blood pressure, Altace. Well, Clark didn't give Dr. G the list, or didn't emphasize the importance of it. Dr. G wrote me a note to "increase" his Altace to 10mg daily. I will call the doctor tomorrow to make sure he knows that he is not on Altace like before, which was only 5 mg a day. I don't want Clark on a 10 mg, when he only needs 5 mg a day. Dr. G also wants Clark to have a MRI brain, MRA Brain, from the script I read, he wants them to check out where he had the carotid artery surgery and the left frontal hemorrhage area. I wish I could have been there... Clark has a lot of pain in the area, so that must be why.
My whole point to this post, is the importance of ... Delicate Balance: To let Clark handle his own health and independence without me & Team Work between Dr. G and us. It is so important to balance this, to let Clark grow and become even more independent of me, is of top priority, but to not keep your family doctor informed when many specialist are involved is also of utmost importance. Remember, if you have a good family doctor and YOU keep them updated, they will balance all the specialist information. Anyway, there is a balance and that is what I am striving for, along with Clark and Dr. G.

In some ways, I think this post was confusing, but I hope anyone that is dealing with care giving and doctors, take notice...this is very, very important....

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Me and Breast Cancer?

The routine mammogram was scheduled. I had a conversation with my mother, that I might cancel it, that every two years should be plenty, why every year?? What a pain to go get squished and bother to take time out of my vacation. But, then I decided, oh what the heck, I might as well. This mammogram went a little different, they took more pictures of my left breast, and used a pin pointing squisher, you might say. I still wasn't concerned, curious but not concerned. A couple days later, I received the letter and a phone call from my family doctor's office. There was suspicion of an irregularity, please schedule to come in. Everything, started to happen very fast then, I went to see my doctor, who said "it is probably nothing, but I think you should have a biopsy". We decided to try a Stereotactic Biopsy.
Within two days, I was flat on my stomach with my left arm above my head and my left breast hanging through a hole in the table. Everyone involved in the actual procedure was very nice, comforting and jovial. But, my breast wouldn't cooperate, it was too dense. A procedure that normally takes 45 minutes, took 2 hours and 15 minutes and was unsuccessful. I could not move during the whole thing, and felt like a dried up pretzel trying to uncurl itself, when I fianlly could ! Everytime, they tried to hit the spot, my dense tissue got in the way and pushed it away. They did get one very small sample, that made them decide I should go for the surgical biopsy....

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Breast Cancer

I always hoped this blog would help other people feel comfort or kinship, to someone who has experienced what they have, mainly the experience of stroke. I am not sure that happened, but maybe it will prepare someone for the future. I decided to add another experience, breast cancer, which I was diagnosed with in 2002. There are many women, that have experienced this, men also I hear, but I do not know the percentage of men.
Anyway, I went today to my oncologist and they drew the blood for my appointment next week, so my wonderful, attentive oncologist would have the medical information she needed. One thing I love about her, is her passion, you can hear it in her employees, as they talk about her, in praise, or a comment of something they didn't do exactly right, yet she demands they do. She also takes care of herself. She goes on vacations, that are adventurous, the Amazon, Africa and who knows where. She then covers her walls with pictures of all those wonderful places. She not only keeps up on all the research, she is part of it. She encourages you to be part of a study, if it fits, without making you feel you have too. Anyway, she has a wonderful smile and I thank God she is my oncologist.
More later on my experience as a breast cancer survivor, with hope it help someone.....

Friday, May 20, 2005

Making Dreams Reality

Clark and I love the ocean and saltwater fishing. Now that Clark had the bypass surgery, it was successful and he is improving everyday, we bit the bullet and bought a 1999 Campion Explorer 622. Link to see
It is a beauty....
We are now searching for doggy life jackets. We will need a tiny one with about a 21" girth and one big one with about 35" girth. Carly and Rodney are our buddies.
Carly and I are so close, Rodney and Clark are inseparable, so they will definitely be boating with us.
Our next step in the near future, at least I hope, will be for me to relocate to another region with my employer. I have my eye towards Houston Tx, Florence or Charleston SC, Pensacola Fl, Atlanta or Alpharetta, GA. I want to apply for the job that is posted in Houston right now. But, Clark needs to take things a little slower ever since the stroke. He can only concentrate deeply on one thing at a time, and needless to say, the BOAT is the deep thought right now. LOL He says he does want to move, but wants to take some time to wrap his thoughts around that task a little later. One step at a time, we will be making dreams reality......

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Marathon Heart

It is the 3rd day after Clark's surgery. Around 2AM Saturday morning, his heart decided it wanted to speed up and stay full speed. In order for Clark to get out of the hospital, his heart rate needs to be below 100. But, his heart has decided to settle into a steady beat of 145. Clark is agitated and confused, probably from the morphine and who knows what, he is in the recliner where he sleeps, (I sleep in the bed beside him, figure that out).. He screams, "Get out of here, get out of here". I think he means, that he wants me to leave the room. I then figure out that the aphasia is getting in the way. What he wants is the recliner brought to a sitting position.
Once, they realize his heart won't slow down, they start him on a protocol they have for this problem. They try Lopressor pills, no doesn't work, IV of Diltrazem, no doesn't work, around 3:00 PM they try Procraine, he heart slows down to around 125. His blood pressure also drops to 72/50. Sunday, 7AM his heart is back up to 140-142. The doctor comes in around 9:30, Clark is in A Fib, he says they call what is happening to him, a "Flutterbird". They try Digoxin as a final effort in medicines. It is Monday 6AM and now his heart rate is 151-154.
A doctor who is a partner to Clarks surgeon, decides to try using the temporary pacemaker wires, that are attached to Clark's heart.(I am not sure about this, so forgive me for my ignorance, if I get it wrong). He attaches the pacemaker and pushes the button, no change, then again, it goes down to 120. But, fluctuates higher, lower, higher, lower. They decide to schedule him for a Cardioversion. They will put him in a twilight sleep for just a couple minutes, then shock his heart into rhythm. Clark, is getting depressed, agitated, and he looks so tired.
Tuesday, the doctor tries the pacemaker one more time, but it doesn't work.
Tuesday afternoon, Clark is in bed and starts coughing. He is holding his chest tightly, you can see the pain on his face. The surgeon walks in the door, to talk to him about getting him down for the CardioVersion, we look at the heart monitor. There are ??? marks, from Clark coughing so hard. Then......92? The rate just went from 159 to 92. His doctor smiles and says,"Well now, Clark you just coughed yourself out of CardioVersion". I start laughing, and hit the doctor's arm, saying "that was amazing, you walk in the door right at the moment Clark cough's his heart rate down." "The magic doctor !!" The doctor starts laughing and raises his arms up in the air, and motions like he is hitting Clark in the head, saying "You are heaaaalllled". The look on Clark's face is priceless. I am serious, you could see the relief wash over him. His whole body relaxed, tears started down his cheek, as he started smiling. It was a wonderful, wonderful moment......

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Saturday, April 30, 2005

There are Moments

Every once in a while, I feel such a deep loss. I miss the man before the stroke, if I look back, which I rarely do, I remember him as he was. He is different now, but he is still the same. That doesn't make sense does it? But it is true. He acts different, talks different, he can't read or write like he could. He is more emotional and sensitive. He struggles to keep up with a conversation, you must be patient and allow him to get the words out. The words are stuck in his brain, he can't bring them quickly. I hurt for him, when his friend talks over him, I can see the frustration, anger that comes to the surface. He becomes quiet with him; with me, he reminds me, I can't go as fast as you. You need to slow down. Do you know how hard it is to stay slow? It has been almost 2 years, I work 40 hours+, I make all the doctor appointments for Clark and myself, I need to go with Clark, because he cannot remember what is said. So, I need to schedule work around his appointments, as well as mine. I am his pharmacist, he takes around 20 pills a day. Thank God, I have insurance. I make sure he takes them when he should, and make sure they are ordered when they should be. I manage all the bills, pay for the home, two vehicles, medical bills, scripts, utilties. I do the laundry, cooking, try to keep the house clean. Try to figure out what to do when the washer is out of balance, try to figure out why the mower won't start, so I can mow the growing grass. (beautiful green it is!) Try to be strong to unload the horse feed and hay for the horses. Make sure our dogs, horses and cats are fed and loved. He is shorter then me now. But, his eyes are still so intensely brown, they still can tell you exactly what he is feeling. They can show anger, love, laughter with a twinkle. His "essence" is still him, I can't put that into words, but that is the key... He is much more then what I have said in this post, the bypass has set him back some, which brought this out I think. He says he is depressed right now, but he can feel the life coming back, the desire to live and be all you can be, just like everyone else.....

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Chest Tubes

It is Friday, two days after surgery. They have Clark on morphine and torodol for pain.
Jim, his roommate had surgery the sametime as Clark, also a quadruple bypass.
He is a moaner with his pain, where Clark sits in his chair with his head down, quiet and within himself. On Thursday, the doctor came in and removed Jim's two chest tubes for drainage. I thought Jim was going to wake the dead, he moaned for quite a while after the doctor was done. So, Friday night when Clark's doctor stopped in, and said "okay, you ready to get these tubes out?" Clark, said no not now, let's do that later. The doctor had already made up his mind and you could see his determination. He tore the tape off, Clark says "wait a minute". But, quickly and with expert hands, he says, "okay here we go". And he pulls it out. Clark, responds with "You F-----".
My eyes got wider with that, yet inside I chuckled. I am sure it wasn't funny to Clark at all, but I still saw some humor in the moment, when he said that.
The doctor, just kept on working, "okay, here comes the other one". He pulls it out with a quick, steady pressure. He says, "okay we are done". Clark, says "you aren't taking the other one out?" Dr. says, "I already did". Clark, is shocked, "YOU did?" I think the fear of hearing his roommate, raised his anxiety, but when it was all said and done, it wasn't that bad.....

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Fellow bloggers,
What have you heard about Feedburner? I am struggling to understand all this new lingo, url, RSS feed, etc. etc. I started to register to Feedburner, but it said it would republish me with a new URL. Wouldn't that take me off blogspot? I don't want to lose what I have. Any tips, or education for a "wannabe" educated blogger?

Four Hours Later

The surgeon comes to see me 4 hours later. We are in a waiting room, with all the families, waiting for news about their loved ones after bypass, aortic valve replacement, even a tumor being cut out of the heart.
He brings me good news, "Clark is doing well, we did 4 bypasses, we used the Lima artery, and 3 sections of the Saphenous vein, from his left leg. He came off the heart, lung machine very easily. There was no heart damage." While, I waited for a couple hours, to go see him. I watched and heard doctors talking to other families. Everyone reacted differently, yet the same. Tears, stoic, nervous laughter, questions, quiet.
Anyway, it was so good to see Clark, even though he was still intubated, and was puffy and pale. He looked so good, he even tried to talk, I told him " You did it honey, you did it"! He gave me a little smile, then closed his eyes. I ended up spending the night, and Phil the nurse, came and got me around 11:00 PM and let me sneak in to see him. He wasn't intubated anymore, but was in a lot of pain. I barely touched his arm, he opened his eyes and told me "Get off me"! Oh,the pain he was in, he also couldn't communicate very well. The aphasia was worse again, the nurse was having trouble understanding him. Clark tried to respond correctly to "What's your name, when were you born, squeeze my hand, are you in pain"? But, it seemed to be true, all his deficits from the previous strokes were more pronounced. I left the room, he needed his rest, Thank God, he made it.....

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Green Leaves

I am looking out my window,I see spring, budding green, yellow, red, life is opening in the trees, if you take the time, you can even see the weed pushing the dirt aside, to live. The air is chilly today, but life is whispering in the air, I am coming and I am beautiful. The grass has gone from brown to brilliant green. The spring rain comes, it flows in the air, the smell, the feel...
Clark is tired, bone tired right now, but just hours ago, he was full of life. He said he felt better then he did before surgery. His mind was going at full speed, all the things he wants to do, will do, but needs a little more rest, just like spring. He reminds me of the seasons, Winter.. harsh, and cold, it hits his senses, going over a bump in the road, it stings his skin, if out to long, pain arises, until all you can do is sit there and drop you head, rest, let the numbness come, whatever happens, happens. Rest, rest, then warmth, sun, you feel the life coming. I can see it in Clark, I am coming, I am coming, life is in me and around me. I am here for a reason, flowers, trees bloom as I do, the pain receeds, I can see me coming to life, as summer does. Full, bursting with energy, taking control of my life. No one telling me, don't lift more then 5 lbs, don't pull, don't push, we need to weigh you, take your pulse. It will be him, freedom, driving, lifting, pushing forward to accomplish all his dreams. I see it, in Clark, his frustrations, and determination. I can't really know what he feels, but I see and guess. I admire him, and only hope if I ever go through what he has, that I will be as strong. Strong, as summer, when everything is full, hot, bursting with life. Windows, are open to the day and the night, the sounds of frogs, crickets, breezes are abundant, you want to take advantage of what God has given you. It will be seen what fall brings, but I see it as, a time to wind down for just a moment, enjoy the color of the leaves, green, yellow and red; rest, stay warm, see the sparkle of winter and go for spring again.
I don't think I really expressed what I wanted to in this post, but I tried, and sometimes that is all you can do....

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Yes, I Do

Clark and I are in the pre-surgery room, IV's are all hooked up, the sound of the curtains can be heard in other rooms, with other people talking softly, or sitting in silence. The rush of the nurses back and forth. The surgeon, peeks in and checks to see how his doing. Tells him,"we are ready and they will be bringing you back shortly".
Smiles, as Clark waves and says okay.
We are alone, Clark takes my hand, pulls me close and says, "I love you with all I have in me. If I don't make it, I will be okay, because I know I will be with Jesus, I will wait for you there" Tears start to flow, close to uncontrollable, but we fight them back, so we can continue to speak. I am overwhelmed with what to do, all I can do is take my hand and pat his chest, saying "you will be okay, I know you will". Clark says, "No I have to say this", when they come to get him. His words are lost, except to say to me "you know what I mean, right?" "Yes hon, yes I do, I love you and will see you soon"......

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Heart , Lung Machine

What an amazing piece of technology.

Informational link: Heart Lung Machine

Friday, April 01, 2005

Go for the Pass

Wednesday is the day, Clark will be put under general anesthesia, have his ribs parted and spread, people will be seeing parts of Clark again, that I will never see. Part of me wants to be in the operating room, watching quietly and seeing exactly what they are doing. I would need to detach myself totally. Go to that focus place, where you push the emotions way down, so far down they don't exist, you just concentrate on what needs to be done. You see them part the ribs, I imagine you smell blood and bone, a burnt smell maybe, as the ribs are separated, then you would see the heart beating.
I sometimes think about the fact that, the neurosurgeon, actually saw his brain, he saved him, by having the skill and training to do what he does. And now Dr. B, a small man, with a workaholic attitude, small clean hands, will see his heart,lungs, and bones. Enough of that, I could actually go on and on, but the fact is, this happening to Clark, and to not have emotions surface is not possible.

Dr. B and his nurse were very honest and descriptive. I hope I have this right, it is hard to absorb all they are saying, when they are talking about your loved one, but here I go....They will remove a vein (or artery (I am not sure which is right) that isn't really necessary) from behind the heart, and use it for one bypass, then take some from his legs. Dr.B lifted the sheet and inspected his leg for potential vein sites, running his fingers over the area, and noticed the scar from before and looked quizzical?? I reminded him, you took that vein for his carotid artery surgery. Of course, he doesn't remember, but knows the procedure he does, so nods like he does remember. Anyway, he continues... we will use these veins to bypass your clogs. We will have tubes in your heart, for the heart / lung machine, which will keep your blood pumping through out your body. After, we are done, we will remove the tubes from your heart. Start your heart pumping on it's own again. Pull your chest back together and wire it in about 3 to 5 places. Those wires will stay there permanently. We will stitch you up inside, and they will dissolve.
We then got instructions on how Clark needs to practice breathing into the breath contraption after the surgery. I was warned that Clark would not want to do this, because of the pain, but I must make sure he does....

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bubble Gum Dream

I have always had vivid, detailed dreams, but recurring dreams are few. One I have had all my life is the dream of flying, but as I got older, electric wires would get in my way. But, I still dream of flying, had one just a few nights a go, I made it over the electric wires, soared over, then slowly landed, as I struggled to stay a high above, in the fast blowing wind.
This gum dream though, is driving me crazy, I do not like it and in the dream it causes me physical pain. I have had it for months now, and it happens at least two times a week if not more. It has developed into one of those dreams, where you recognize you are dreaming, you tell yourself in your dream, that you are dreaming.
I once had to scream at myself to wake up, because it hurt so bad and was so frustrating. Anyway, this is the basic dream..

No matter what setting is in the dream, I suddenly realize I am tasting the sweetness of bubble gum. I am listening or talking to someone, when the gum gets in the way, so I try to take it out of my mouth, but it stick's to the roof of my mouth, at first I try to apologize to the person, as I pull on it, then I try to hide my face from them, as I pull and pull at this gum. It stretches and stretches, but will not come out. I can feel it pull at the roof of my mouth and it feels like it is going to rip my palate off. A piece will come off, but then I realize there is more in my mouth, and I start pulling all over again.

I think this dream has to do with Clark's struggle to get the words out, I had hoped it would go away when I had this thought, but it hasn't.

Anyone else have strange dreams? Especially, the same one over and over?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Not in Control

The sun is shining in my window, I feel the warmth on my forehead, I love that warmth, it means life. Life .......
Clark had his 2nd catherization, but he is just too blocked, we all tried to make the stents successful, but heart bypass is coming very soon. We are going to go through a quadruple bypass. I want to tell you about all the wonderful people we met today. Patients, family members, doctors, nurses, technicians, cleaning people. Clark brought each of them into our life's today. Pam, Greg, Betty, Brenda, Dr. V, Dr. B, Jack, Jordan, Carolyn, Vickie, Linda, there are even more.... Clark made each of them smile, some said he was a breath of fresh air. Clark isn't a saint, I can tell you stories, about his temper, but to help himself, he jokes, he reaches out to help someone else. The sun is still shining on me through the window, I feel it's warmth, and I want Clark to be well, I wish, I pray, I want.... him to be well, I want him to saltwater fish, and to feel the warmth...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Lonely and Loved

Clark will be going back for his 2nd catherization on Thursday. We had some fun added to this drama of medical problems... Since, we have to be there at 6:45 in the morning, they will pay for a hotel room for us. (I am sure it is buried somewhere in that bill).
But, now we can go out to dinner, go to our room, close to the hospital, soak in the tub and rise in the morning for the "occasion". Clark, has been through so much, he shed tears of relief after the first catherization. His chest pain has gone. I pray they can get the 2nd stent in and stop the fear of open heart surgery.
I wish I were one of those amazing, strong people, who seem to weather every storm. But, sometimes I feel so isolated from the other people that I know, sometimes even Clark. People, friends.. (and I can't blame them)don't want to hear about your medical dealings, and to talk with Clark in a combination of things. He has too much already to deal with, and he forgets a lot of what I tell him anyway. Anyway, I am feeling optimistic but isolated. That is okay, we will prevail.....

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Clark sheds tears of relief. Clark is talking about the catherization, he is glad it is over, and I see the change in his face, the eyes crinkle, tears well in his brown eyes and begin to over flow. The tension flows out, down his cheeks and he licks a tear as it goes by his lips. He looks at me and smiles, he is so glad that part is over.
I want to sear each moment of Clark in my mind, each twinkle of the eye, the smile, the anger in those eyes, as they narrow to slits and look as if they good shoot bolts of lightning out to whatever is angering him. His messed up hair, his beautiful strong legs, that always have brought quivers to me. Tears, the relief he felt, was tangible for just a moment.....

Dr. M

Hyper, Hyper ....this man has so much energy, I swear he is about to explode. He is very tall, and you if you can imagine a thermometer and the mercury rising steadily, to over 100 degress, you can visualize Dr. M.
Clark saw him about 1 1/2 years ago, after he examined Clark and left the room, we looked at each other and burst out laughing. I am not sure he heard Clark answer his questions, nor did he even attempt to give him the time to answer. He would acknowledge to Clark, "yes I understand you have problems speaking from the strokes, take your time". He would then take a breath and take off with more questions, not getting answers for the previous.

It was the day after Clark's first catherization and he was very sore, not only from the catherization, but his back was killing him from laying down for so long. Clark, was getting very testy...
I explained to him that Dr. V (the Dr. who actually did the catherization and inserted the stent), wanted him to stay the weekend, so Monday they could attempt to finish.
This was not sitting well with Clark to begin with, he was insisting that he was leaving today, when Dr. M walked in the room. My heart sank, knowing this was going to turn very sour, very quick.
Dr. M walked in quickly and sat down, his foot started to tap immediately. I noticed Clark didn't recognize him and thought, "oh maybe this will be okay this time". Dr. M, quickly changed any chance of that. "Well, Mr. B here is what we are going to do",...., flipping his chart pages quickly and not looking at Clark as he spoke.
Clark tried to interject his feelings and what he wanted, but Dr. M got agitated, you could almost hear his thoughts, (how dare this man disagree with me). Dr. M, promptly cut the conversation short, told Clark, "you do what you want", stood up, looked at me and said, "you try to explain it to him", and walked quickly out of the room.
Clark was livid, I mean livid, I thought his groin artery, where they entered for the catherization, would start spurting in any moment. I was upset to, but wanted to calm Clark down, what a mess.
To shorten this story, Vickie the day nurse came in, and slowly but surely she got Clark to calm down. She convinced him to wait and she would get Dr. V on the phone and they could talk and work things out. About, 4 hours later Clark was released from the hospital, but not before Vickie expressed to us how frustrated she was with Dr. M, as she shook her fist in the air a few times. She verbalized to me, out of ear shot to Clark, that Dr. M was purposely going to take his time about signing the discharge papers for Clark, he was being a royal pain.
Dr. M, I am sure you are a okay person, but if I ever see a Dr. M enter a room where Clark is, I will pleasantly say, "Please send another doctor"......


Clark is so strong-willed. He is an optimistic fighter, a sensitive,wonderful man.
Usually, a catherization takes about 45 minutes I was told, if they are fixing the heart then it can take up to about 2 hours. Clark, took 2 hours and 15 minutes. Dr. V found his right carotid was still only 40% blocked (thank goodness), his Circumflex Artery has two diffused areas about 40 to 50% blocked, the Left Anterior Descending Artery about 70%, the Right Coronary artery was the worse. It had a long diffused area starting at 80%, and further down 90 to 95%. They decided to concentrate on the RCA since it was the worse. The doctor said "we worked hard to get this done", Clark and the doctor were partially successful. They were able to get a Cordis Stent in the upper part, but then a "flap over" occurred. Which, if I understand correctly, a tear happened in the artery and flapped over. So, now the bottom part of the RCA is totally blocked. They are going to try again next Thursday. They normally use about 150 cc of dye during this procedure, but they used 450cc on Clark. They were concerned about his kidneys, but in the end, his creatine level was lower when he left the hospital, then when he went in. Good job....Doctor's, nurse, techs, and Clark. There was a snag though, and that was the doctor who came in the next day, to talk to Clark, to go over what Dr. V had done and what Dr. V wants to do next.
Dr. M should not be a doctor, who has to communicate with patients. This guy we have seen two times, and both times were not good. This time was a disaster. He cannot handle any conflict, nor disagreement from the patient. I think I am going to stop this post for now, but I will be back with other post, about this experience. There are many stories and thoughts to be told and Dr. M is one.....

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Clark is having his Catherization tomorrow. He has been on valium for about 4 days, so he is feeling pretty relaxed now. The doctor is going to check his heart and his right carotid, since the doppler showed his right carotid is now 70% blocked.
He will try to use stents for his heart. I am now going into protective, control mode......

Friday, March 11, 2005

These Words

Strength, love, adventure, excitement, passion, fear, faith, hope and destiny.
These words each hold a special meaning to each of us...
To Clark and to me they each have their own special meaning, yet blended together by years of friendship and love. Each of these words if taken by their selves and thought about, bring a different feeling to each of us and it depends what we are experiencing at any moment in time how we think of them.
Right now to me..
Strength.. I need the word strength, it brings me confidence and comfort. I am strong and I can get through any thing. It makes me straighten my back and sit up and take notice of everything around me. Alert and watchful, comforting.
Love.. oh the word love is most wonderful, to love in all the different degrees it brings. What a wonderful gift. Each person I come to know or pass, if I take the time to look at them and see them, I can feel a degree of love. Each is so special, words can not describe. So, take the word love and feel it, with all it's wonders.
Adventure, OH adventure, I love it and I miss it. There is so much of it when you are young, my fingers play on the computer board as if playing a piano.. they become joyful and light hearted to think of adventure. Clark and I still have so much of it in us. To explore, to know, to be daring and irresponsible, these things have their place.
Excitement.. there are many forms of excitement isn't there? The excitement of not understanding something you are learning and then it hit's you like a bolt of lightning. How exciting it feels, vacation is the next day, seeing two fox playing in your back yard, the world is full of excitement.
Passion.. do you dare share your feelings of passion with just anyone. I think not, passion is so very special, daring, and strong. Obsessive and to the maximum. I like passion, but I control this feeling, it can be so strong it can over take you.
Fear.. adrenaline coursing through you as your car starts to slide towards the edge of a bridge, you wake to someone being in your house at night, your loved one is dying and you can't help, anyone is dying and you can't help. Fear is good for us, it starts the heart pumping, the blood flowing and the mind is so alert it feels like it could burst.
Faith.. we all have it in some form don't we? And it varies like the temperature outside... it is unpredictable to the time. But, when put to the hammer, it comes out strong. Faith, in God comes to me first. Faith, what do you have faith in? Because, when you are down, you need this word.
Hope.. how wonderful to have hope, hope the emotion that can keep you going. I just thought, that hope is kind of a down word, if you are hoping, you are not there are you? You hope to be with Jesus someday, you hope to be somewhere, that you are not. Yet, hope is positive, a good word, it raises you to tree tops, if you let it.
Destiny, what a comfort, how deep this word can be, what will be, will be. We have the choice, yet it is destined....
But, the journey to that destiny is full of These Words.....

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Tiny Flower

Clark has thought a lot about his heart since my last post. The doctor he saw was very direct and didn't fool around. That is what Clark needed, but it scared the bejeezes out of him. Clark can't remember things for even a short time, let alone before the strokes. So, all of this seems new to him, but he a fighter and wants to stay around to buy a boat and go salt water fishing. Not, fresh mind you (unfortunately we are in Ohio), but salt water. I love the ocean myself, so hopefully some day we will fulfill our dreams.
After Clark came home from the strokes, I remember a few instances, that were amazing to me. He would go outside for a walk, not mentally being all there, and he would look around and look around, then lay down where ever he was and fall asleep. This caused a few scares when he first did it, I would watch him from the window, and see the sun shining on him. Walking with a drag of his right leg and his right arm hanging limply, yet seemingly oblivious to his situation. He was out to enjoy the warmth. I went on and did a few things in the house, then went to look out the window to see if he was okay, and there he was laying on the ground. OH MY!! I ran out to where he was and discovered he was sound asleep. I woke him up, thinking something was wrong, but he was just fine. He was taking in the warmth. Anyway, he got up and suddenly went, "oh, look at that" and reached down to a tiny, tiny white flower, and said "isn't that wonderful, look at it". He was amazed at the beauty of it. I took the time and looked at it with him and agreed it was beautiful, and I felt moved by his wonderment of the smallest of things. Clark wasn't like that before, it was like he was seeing everything for the first time, yet was 60 years old.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Go for the pass ? Or not?

Back when Clark had his carotid artery operated on, the doctor's also wanted to do a triple bypass at the same time. See, Clark has atherosclerosis all over, it seems. Even his femoral artery in the right leg has blockage.
Clark, absolutely refused to have the bypass on his heart, but he agreed to have an Endarterectomy, (carotid artery surgery). He was overwhelmed, I believe with all the bad news about his health, and the thought of them cracking his chest open and stopping his heart was more then he could handle. He only agreed to the carotid surgery, because he didn't want to have a stroke and be a burden to me or himself. Well, anyone who reads this blog knows how that turned out, he had a couple strokes because of the surgery anyway, but thanks to his stubborness and the Lord, he is doing well now !
Well, here we are now, 1 1/2 years later and guess what??
Clark is facing the decision again. Clark, actually brought it up first, that he thought he was ready for surgery. But, in reality I don't think he is. After, his strokes, no doctor wanted to touch him when it came to heart surgery. I am guessing, that made stubborn Clark decide he was ready to have it done. Well, low and behold, the doctor said it had been long enough since the stroke, that she/he agreed it is time. Whoa now, Whoa now...... Clark suddenly is back paddling, quickly. I could go on and on with the emotions I am feeling and I could go on and on about the emotions "I think" Clark is feeling, but right now I just ask, and I am not sure who I am asking, should he or shouldn't he? I think he should, but I am more fearful of the outcome then I would have been before. You might not believe this, but if I could, I would have the surgery for him.....
I take that phrase back, I know who I am asking, should he or shouldn't he...God is who I am asking, but since we have free will, it still is up to Clark...

Saturday, February 12, 2005

What Version are YOU?

I had been working on the computer and Clark was curious to see what I was doing.
He was a whiz on the computer, graphics and all kinds of things I don't have a clue about. He lost a lot of that after the strokes, but he is working to retrieve what he can. Anyway, Clark went and took a long nap, while I did my daily things. It was time to wake him up for his pills and to just make sure he was still breathing. You know where you get up real close and watch for the chest to rise??? Whew, he is still breathing, I don't have to jump on him and start CPR. Thank GOD! Well, I woke him up and he opened his sleepy eyes, slowly, and looked at me and said, "What version are you?" I said, "What?" "What version are you?" "Clark I don't know what you mean?" Now a little louder, with some frustration coming out as he starts to fully wake up, "WHAT VERSION ARE YOU?" "Well, the PC is Windows XP, is that what you mean?" "NO, WHAT VERSION ARE YOU"? This went on for about 3 minutes or so, and then he finally pointed at me....
"WHAT VERSION ARE YOU?" OH.... "I am ANN, Is that what you mean?" "YES, what version are you? You are Ann, RIGHT?" "Yes, honey I am Ann." Kisses, and hugs, we crossed another language hurdle, and came out successful.....

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Graham Crackers

Clark had to have a "Peg" inserted during his stay in ICU, I believe I mentioned this in an earlier post. I added a link on my side bar for Tube Feeding, if you have an interest for more detail. That was one of those hard decisions for me, I understood what they were telling me, that it would be easier on Clark, rather then having the nose feeding tube. But, it felt like I was admitting to myself and to Clark that he might not being coming back so quick. I signed their form though and the next day they made me leave the room, so they could insert it. I wanted to stay and see what they do, but they encouraged me rather strongly to wait in the family room. Clark ended up having that tube for about 1 1/2 months. Which, really isn't to bad compared to most people, with a medical problem. I felt bad for him, after he came around and he would want to try solid food, but couldn't, everything was poured into his Peg.
The day finally came though for Clark to have his swallow test, they let me come along and watch. It was amazing to see Clark's bones in his skull. Not to many wives can say they know their husbands inside and out, and mean it literally. Anyway, they started with thicker foods first, and worked progressively down to liquids. I could actually see the food enter his mouth, chewing and then swallowing.
Well, after 26 days of no food by mouth, Clark was allowed FOOD. He passed the SWALLOW TEST. We went back to his room and they gave him a Graham cracker and I will never forget the smile of pure joy on his face. The cooing coming from his throat, it tasted soooo good ! I broke down in tears of JOY that he could finally eat something by mouth. The Peg had to stay in though for 6 weeks after insertion. Something, to do with the healing? I never understood the reasoning behind this fully. Maybe, someone can enlighten me, if they read this and know the answer.
Remember the next time you eat a graham cracker, slow down and really taste it and feel it, like you haven't eaten in months..... Oh, thank God for taste buds!

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Apraxia: is a motor disorder in which volitional or voluntary movement is impaired without muscle weakness. The ability to select and sequence movements is impaired.
Oral apraxia affects one ability to move the muscles of the mouth for non-speech purposes, for example. Apraxic speakers "grope" for the correct word; they may make several attempts at a word before they get it right. It not only affects language, which is my next story.

Clark is home in this story, and I have to go back to work. I have used up all my short term disability and Clark seems to be capable enough to stay alone. I have asked our friend who lives down the road to check on him when he can.
I had only mentioned to the therapist in passing, that Clark couldn't work the remote to the TV without my help, or go to the bathroom without my help, etc. I thought Clark's memory was impaired and he couldn't remember how to do these things. But, it actually was apraxia, which Dave the therapist discovered when he saw Clark try to fix his own cup of coffee. They were actually excited about working with him on this, because they had only encountered one other person with this problem and they were not as bad as Clark. For example, when he had to go to the bathroom, he sometimes would be fine, but other times he would come to me and gesture at his penis, since he had trouble getting the words out, that he needed me to show him "how" to go. I would take him to the toilet, explain and show him how to accomplish this feat, where as he would nod quickly that he got it. One story that really stands out in my memory is this one: The occupational therapist decided that when Clark had to fix himself a meal, it should always be the same thing, so he could get the sequence down in the brain. Repetition you know? Well, Clark liked raisin bran and that was safe, since he didn't have to use the stove or microwave. I set out the cereal, a bowl and a spoon, side by side. I had Clark come to the kitchen, where I explained and showed him how to prepare his lunch. Pour the cereal in the bowl, open the refrigerator, get the milk out, take the lid off and pour it on the cereal. Put the lid back on the milk and place it back in the refrigerator. He agreed he could do this, so I loaded up and went off to work. Tick, tock, tick tock.....the day is over, and I walk in the door after work. I see the cereal box and the milk sitting out, but no bowl. I open up the refrigerator to put the milk away and my eyes open a little wider, while I try to wrap them around what I am seeing. There is the bowl on the shelf with milk in it. He wasn't able to sequence the correct order to get his cereal ready !! I put the milk away and start to go see Clark, when I see a Cup of Soup (you know the kind you peel the lid away and add water and heat it in the microwave). I walk over to the table and there it is, upside down with little dents in the bottom, next to it is a pair of pliers. OH MY.....poor Clark, he tried to get his cereal and that didn't work, so he decided on trying the cup of soup. He couldn't figure out how to open it, so pliers seemed like the answer. I rushed out to the living room where he is wrapped up to his chin in a blanket, watching TV. I say "Oh Clark you must really be hunger, huh?" He shook his head, yes. I felt so bad. But, I admired his ingenuity and his effort to try. The next day needless to say, I called for help from the County, Meals on Wheels to the rescue. This worked out great, not only did they bring him lunch everyday, but there was someone checking on him around noon everyday. The sequencing is really the strangest condition of Clark's stroke. I can't put it in words really. It amazes me how the brain works, how it can be damaged and yet it can find new paths to accomplish what it needs to. Clark's apraxia was horrible don't get me wrong, but it also made us laugh and brought us very close.
What more could you ask for.....

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Sex and Shrimp

Clark is home in this story and we have quickly discovered he has lost his sense of taste, or more that it has changed drastically. He goes through phases, he sometimes eats only tomato soup or eggs and for a while only grapes. I try to fix all of his favorites but as soon as he gets it in his mouth, he grimaces and looking like a little kid, he spits it out. I usually have to put my hand out to catch it, or it lands in his lap or the floor or where ever.
So, I decide okay I will fix him some shrimp, he always loved shrimp.
I decide to tell him in the morning my great idea for dinner. "Clark, we are going to have shrimp tonight, okay?" He mumbles okay and that is that. The day continues on and Clark takes his usual long nap. Sleeping a lot is expected after a stroke, and this holds true for him, he can sleep about 16 hours a day. Anyway, he awakes from his nap and comes out to couch and ask me.."So do you want sex tonight?" I am very suprised by this question, since Clark has totally lost interest in sex since his stroke, much to my dismay. I look at him and say "well, yes I would like that, do you want to?" He says "No not really". So I continue on, reassuring him that is okay. I miss sex, but I can wait until he is better and even if he never wants to again, I will understand and we will make do. The conversation goes on for about a half hour back and forth, when Clark in total frustration says "I thought you wanted to have sex tonight? Now you don't?!" You said you wanted sex, as he holds out his index finger and it is curled like the shape of a ...shrimp? OH MY GOD, it hits me like a bolt of lightning.... "Clark, you aren't talking about sex are you? You are talking about shrimp for dinner tonight !!??" Clark looks at me like I am a total nut and says "Yes, sex for dinner?" I can't help but crack up laughing about this conversation. Clark was speaking Strokanese and I thought he was speaking English. Like I said in an earlier post, I need to create a Srokanese dictionary and Sex means shrimp in Strokanese. This is one of the many stories I will never forget, although I do forget all the words exactly, I think you can still get the idea. Oh my, oh my what are we to do? Love and laugh and enjoy each other to the very end.....

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

I can't believe a month has almost passed since my last post. I have a draft on Clark's new language, but I guess I needed a break from the past. It was time to live in the present. Which, means this blogging has probably helped me get past the last year or so. I wish all of you a happy new year....I will continue with Clark's and my story, but it will probably be in a different format. More short stories or times I remember that were sad, happy and so on. I also want to just blog about anything.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Clark's new Language

Clark has aphasia bad enough that you can't hold a conversation with him. It isn't that his speech is slurred or anything, it is the words come out wrong. He also gets things reversed. For example, if I give him a picture of his sister and ask him who is this? He will say my brother, if I give him a picture of his brother, then that is his sister. So, son is daughter, daughter is son. Right is left and left is right. She is he and he is she. I am sure you get the idea. Clark didn't even realize it would come out wrong. If I told him no, that is your brother, he would say "yeh my sister". The therapist tell me that with aphasia a lot of time the people think the word comes out correctly, even when it doesn't. This can present some interesting challenges when trying to communicate. It took me a while to learn to decipher this new language. Clark even now, 1 year and 4 months later is still working on improving. I am happy to say he has come so far. He is a walking miracle as you will see as my story goes on.....

Friday, December 03, 2004

Bennington Glen

I have chosen a nursing / rehabilitation home for Clark close to our home. It is very nice and has a new rehabilitation program. The transport people come and load Clark up, I must of had a lost look, since one of them looks at me compassionately and assures me that they will take good care of him. The therapist have notified the home that he will be coming and advise them of his condition. All of lines and tubes have been removed except for the food tube into his stomach. He sleeps most of the time, occasionally opening his eyes and listens to what is going on around him. I am waiting at the nursing home when they bring a sleeping Clark. They get him into his room and everything is going okay, so I stay for awhile and then head home to gather up clothes and pictures. The therapist told me to bring pictures of is family and friends. It will help him in his recovery and they can use them in speech therapy.
I arrive early the next day and Clark evidently is ready to begin his rehabilitation, even if no one else is ready! They want him to stay in bed and he wants none of that. So, they put an alarm on his bed, well that didn't last long, Clark was able to turn that off before end of day. He is trying get up and walk around, but his right leg is very weak and is right arm and hand are totally unmoving. In ICU they gave me a strap that I would put around Clark's chest to help stabilize him when he relearns to walk, little did I know how quickly I would learn how to use that, because rehabilitation was about to begin. The amazing Clark is returning with a shout and a lot of stutters.....

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Beautiful Brown Eyes

Jamie the nurse is so excited. She is saying "Clark opened his eyes!! He opened his eyes!!" She was working with him, when she turned and looked at his face. He was just laying there staring at her. She leaned over and started talking to him, he reached up his hand to her chin and pulled her face down real close to his face and just looked at her. Jamie said she burst into tears. He then closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
All of the nurses are talking about it and of course I am reduced to tears.
Clark seemed to only respond to Jamie and myself from then on. He would squeeze our hands if we asked. Not everytime, but enough that my hope was growing. He would open his eyes just a little, for a small amount of time.
Clark would not respond to the doctors, it was if he was being stubborn or something. They would come in by theirselves or with a group of students, and would pinch him and do a sternum rub, etc., but Clark would not move a inch. Jamie said she thinks the doctors think we are making it up.
One day I was standing and talking to him, when he took my hand and raised it to his lips and kissed it 3 times. I can't describe to you how that moment was. Tears of joy were not lacking.
Clark tries to talk but the words are garbled so you cannot understand him at all. This makes my heart pound a little faster. The doctor has told me his Aphasia might be worse, and now we are finding out it is. So, I ask the question "Will his talking get better?" I already know the answer is, "We can't say, only time will tell". I will ask that question again and again, even though I know they can't tell me. But I can't resist, I keep hoping someone will give me an answer.
Clark's best friend Dick has come to visit and when Clark sees him, tears start streaming down his cheeks, which makes his friend start crying, and of course then me. Clark looks scared, but relaxes and smiles a little when his friend starts reassuring him. Dick tells Clark that he will be moved to Bennington Glen the nursing /rehabilation home by the end of the week. I had told Clark this already, but there was no reaction, this time though he listened very closely. You could see it in his eyes, that he was intently listening and very curious....

**Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.** Psalm 27:14

Friday, November 26, 2004

Wonderful Nurses

For a couple days and nights now, Clark has been very agitated, so they only put male nurses with him. Clark can be a handful for the female nurses, because of his strength. Emil one of the male nurses is exceptionally good to Clark. When he comes in to check on him, he always speaks in a loud, friendly voice and will say "Okay Peanut, how are you doing?" Clark doesn't look like a peanut at all...and Emil commented more then once; "Man, I bet if he heard me call him Peanut, I would be in big trouble". (Which is probably true.) He can't believe the size of Clark's fingers, and is always commenting that they look like sausages, not to mention how strong he is, which is a good thing since it will help him recover. Emil is optimistic, comforting, answers all my questions and even makes me smile. He also realizes Clark has developed thrush, which no one else noticed and begins treating it.
I wrote down all the nurses names so I wouldn't forget them: Emil, Janet, Katie, Kim, Emily, Paul, Stephanie, Judy, Kevin and Jamie. Three of them stand out the most, Judy is one of the three, but she stands out in a negative way. I demand that they not let her care for Clark, because she is inpatient, pessimistic, and doesn't show any real concern for Clark. She is probably burned out or has personal problems, but at this time I don't care what her problems are, I want the best care for Clark. Emil and Jamie are my favorites, Emil I have already mentioned and Jamie I save for last. She is excellent, so I make a request for her to always be Clark's nurse when she is on. I guess they usually won't do this, but this time they agree.
She is wonderful with him, and come to find out Clark thinks so too, he actually seems to respond to her voice.....

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all who read this. A special Thanksgiving to Mia, my new found friend who introduced me to blogging.
And of course, Thank you Lord for the past year and 4 months. You spared Clark, you taught us many things during this time. I can't praise you enough for the hard lessons you taught us, the people you brought into our lifes, the strength you gave us to endure all the obstacles. Thank you Lord, Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

First Night Home

Clark is kept in restraints when I am not in the room, he is becoming agitated and he keeps trying to pull his arterial line and peg tube out. The restraint on his left wrist has rubbed his skin off, so I try to stay with him as much as possible to hold his left hand down when he goes for the tubes. He still hasn't opened his eyes, but he is moving his left side. The oxygen tube tickles his nose, which causes him to reach up to pull it out constantly. So, I have taken up the duty of nose scratching. You wouldn't think such a small thing could be so satisfying, but not only does Clark get relief from an annoying itch, but I feel good that I can do something to help him. My other effort that is equally for both our benefits, is I try to stimulate him by giving him a sponge baths and massages.
One day I was exercising his arm and was talking to him about everything and nothing, when I saw a tear run down his cheek and then another. I leaned over and said "Clark can you hear me, open your eyes, come on honey you can do it". A few more tears ran down his cheek and then stopped. I believe he is trying, he is working very hard to come back. I make sure no one talks negative about his recovery in earshot of Clark.
I believe he hears us and negative talk might scare him, or hurt his recovery.

I decide to come home for a night, I have bills I need to pay and my mother is insistent (in a good, helpful way) that I need to take care of things. I wasn't prepared for my reaction pulling into the driveway. I felt the lump in my throat and the tears pushing towards the surface. I tried hard to fight them back, but as I got out of the car, the rush of emotion was overwhelming. I realized how empty my life would be without Clark, I stood with my forehead on the car, crying and praying to God. It was very hard to go into the house, but of course I did. I completed what I came home for and decided that before getting into bed, I would call ICU to see how Clark was and found out he was very agitated and they couldn't keep him calmed down. So, I rushed back to the hospital. That was a hard night, I wondered what he was feeling, what did he know, was he in pain, was he was afraid and couldn't tell me. I did the only things I could to help him; I pulled up my chair as close as I could to his bed, removed his restraint, took his hand in mine, laid back and talked to him.
Finally, he relaxed and his breathing evened out. I love him so much....

**The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.** Psalm 121:7,8

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Coming Back

I can't remember the days exactly, but I scribbled notes each day...

One day at a time Clark is coming back:

New day - Clark squeezes the doctor's hand when asked, temperature 101 degrees. He is taking some breaths on his own, with the ventilator doing the rest. The therapist comes in and instructs me on how to exercise Clark's muscles. His right arm and leg are totally limp. I need to stretch his achilles heel, so the tendons won't shrink. Otherwise, when he recovers he will have a harder time learning to walk again. I like having something to do to help him. I talk to him constantly as I work all his muscles.

New day - Clark doesn't squeeze the doctor's hand on command today, temperature 100.3, alot of "gunk" in his lungs, more seizures in his right arm...up the dilantin.

New day - Clark pulls the ventilator out himself. They were going to remove it tomorrow but Clark had other ideas. (go Clark!)

New day - He is trying to open his eyes but can't. You can see his eye muscles trying to pull the lid open. I decide to give his eyes some help, I put my face into Clark's face, and lift both of his eyelids up to see his brown eyes, and tell him "Clark you can do it, it is Ann, I love you". The doctor tells me the aphasia might be worse, if he even comes out all the way.

New day - another cat scan - carbon dioxide level is a concern. I get up the nerve and choke back the tears, as I ask the nurse practitioner..."Will Clark ever wake up?". She says quite simply "We don't know", I know she said more but I don't remember what. I go back to his room and talk to him, while holding his hand.

New day - They removed his feeding tube that went through his nose, but had me sign a form to put a "Peg in", which is a tube that is surgically inserted through your skin, above the belly button directly into the stomach. Liquid food and medicine is then poured into the stomach through the tube. He stops breathing and the first time scares me... I run out to the nurse "Clark isn't breathing", but by the time we got back to his room he had started to breath again. I think she thought I was imagining things, but they soon found out that he has sleep apnea.

New day - They try to stimulate Clark to consciouness. They yell, pinch him as hard as they can. Clark doesn't respond....

New day - Three therapist come in and they sit him up on the side of the bed. He isn't even conscious, he is totally limp, but they hope the stimulation will help him come around.

New day - He moved his left thumb and one finger!!!! Temperature 100.5.

New day - They start talking to me about moving him to a Nursing Home, he is stable and there is no more they can do. They can give me no ideas how far he will recover, nor how long it will take...

**I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.** Psalm 120:1

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Sixteen Days In ICU

Grand mal seizure: Also known as a tonic-clonic seizure, is a common type of seizure.
A typical grand mal starts with a loss of consciouness and falling down. This is followed by a 15- to 20-second period with muscle rigidity (tonic phase) and then a one- to two-minute period of violent, rhythmic convulsions (clonic phase). Most grand mal seizures last from one to two minutes.

Katie the nurse told me that Clark was up sitting up in a chair watching TV, when they heard something and they went into his room, where they saw him on his knees with is head on the bed, saying wrong, he then went into a Grand mal seizure which lasted 3 minutes. She told me that was long for a Grand mal.
They had been giving Clark a medication called Ativan in increasing amounts trying to stop the seizures, but his seizures started to increase in intensity. He then started to froth at the mouth, which really got to me. I said to them calmly, but in a raised voice..."He is frothing". Katie said "yes I see" and went to call the doctor again.
He was then started on Dilantin a seizure medication. To keep this as short as possible. The seizures lessoned in intensity but continued on the right side of his face and right arm for several days. They increased the Dilantin, added Depakote and when he still didn't stop they put him on Keppra. All anti-seizure medications.
Dr. Lica ordered another catscan and it showed he had another cerebral hemorrhage in a totally separate area. He told me that Clark needed brain surgery, that another clot had formed and was pushing Clark's brain to the right and was causing further damage and could even result in death if not removed. So, Thursday Dr. Lica removed a blood clot from Clark's brain, which the doctor told me was a size of a lemon.
Clark was in a coma and on life support for about a week, if I remember correctly. Those were very long days and nights. I met many families with loved ones during that time. I will never forget them, we helped each other with talk, tears and silence....

**Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.** Psalm 136:1

Friday, November 19, 2004

4 days

It has been 4 days since I ran over Muffin in the driveway. She keeps coming into my mind at work, the sight of her suffering. When I get home I visualize her coming to see me, feeding her, hugging her, her dorky personality, when I get in bed I look where she used to be and she isn't. There is nothing I can do, to undo what I did. I know time will soften this, but right now, I just want Muffin back. I am sorry this is depressing...but I loved Muffin, she was so special and such a dork.