Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reports of My Demise Are Premature!!! I'm Blowing This Joint!!!

These pics are me prepped to go down to the Cath Lab for an angiogram yesterday. The angiogram came out clean as a whistle--strong heart, clean arteries. Couldn't ask for a better report and I am thrilled. Now we have to deal with the SVT issue, but that is minor compared to what we thought we were dealing with. It's been a long three days--since this incident was set in motion on Sunday midday.
So we are in the process of getting ready to check out and head home. We're working on getting an appt set up for Walt this afternoon with doc to do a chest xray of his punctured lung to be sure the repair of that is holding, and also to redo his dressings of the chest tube site. Tonight we will be back at home and he will be sleeping comfortably in his hospital bed that was brought in to us. We will both be relieved to be done with all of this and spend these next weeks recovering from our joint ordeals! I will be meeting with my primary care doc in the next couple weeks to work out whatever we're going to do about my heart condition.

WOW! We are so aware of Whose Hands we've been in these last days. What a blessed peace to know that whatever happens we are in complete care of our heavenly Father. And a huge thank you to everyone who has held us up in prayer through these days.

We're going home!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Hospital's Done!!!

EEEEEEEEWWW!!! Doc is preparing to pull the tube out of Walt's chest cavity. Not sure which was worse--removing the tape from all that chest hair or pulling out the tube. The tube was in his chest about 10 inches and it was about 1/2 inch in diameter. Well, it saved his life. Doc commented on how much fluid was removed through the pump and the pressure it took to do that. He theorizes there were probably multiple punctures in his lung. . . .
Now, for the new bandage. He already looks much relieved, don't you think?! He's been quite sure that the chest tube was the most painful part of this whole thing.
Doc wanted to be sure he got it well taped--lots of tape! But then, it's vital that the hole be completely covered and closed.
Here's the tube that was in his chest.
Ready to go home. Now, that's a real sling--it works great.
The American Legion Post in Dillon loans out hospital equipment, so they brought out a bed for Walt to use during this recovery time. I can't imagine how on earth with his injuries that he would be able to get into and out of a normal bed, so this is going to be really helpful. We've put it downstairs in the family room, so he has a tv, bathroom, big wide windows to outside, etc. So, we both will be living down here for awhile, but it's so comfy that we don't mind.

He is insisting that I go to my dr. appt. in Billings on Monday, so I will leave here about noon tomorrow to head down there. I'm just praying he will be ok alone while I'm gone. Probably, as long as he doesn't try to do something foolish. . . .

Thanks for your caring and your prayers. This is all looking pretty good at this point. We're headed in the right direction, at least.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bannack Reflections

Bannack is an extremely well preserved and protected "ghost town" in southwestern Montana. It was established in 1862 when gold was discovered in Grasshopper Creek and subsequently became the first territorial capital of the Montana Territory. It is located about 20 minutes from where we live, and it is a popular place where we frequently take visitors. Our grandchildren love to visit especially during Bannack Days in July when the town is filled with period-dressed folks demonstrating crafts and activities from that time. So, of course, when we all gathered here for a "family reunion" with some of the Lots family, we loaded up one day and all headed over there. (We still can't believe that Jim is the only one of the entire Lots family who had ever been there. . . .;) We all had a really great time, it was a fabulously beautiful day with bright blue sky and fluffy clouds floating around--a photographer's dream--and there were several of us photographers who took tons of photos. I have a thing about reflection images--either in water or windows--so am posting here some of those window reflection images that I captured that day. So fun. (Remember that you can click on the individual images if you want to really see the detail--Blogger images are way too small!)

Another Day. . . .

Walt with his nurse, Vicky. We think she's not only delightful, funny and fun, but also very efficient. Walt is in a lot of pain from the broken shoulder blade (scapula) and is more comfortable with his arm supported and close to his body. This was Vicky's solution with a sheet that happened to be handy!!! (It didn't work very well, but she tried--patient comfort first priority--she's a cool lady.)
So, now this is how we take our little walks around the hospital hallways. Cute, huh?!!!

We are hopeful that he will be able to come home tomorrow. Doc will be to see him in the morning after they do another xray to check the condition of his affected lung. We're hoping for the best. Meanwhile, we are working on getting a hospital bed out to the house--there is absolutely no way he will be able to get into and out of our beds. It is extremely difficult and painful for him to get into his hospital bed with the back straight up--a regular bed is out of the question. And I think I've pretty much made the decision that there is no way I will be able to leave him alone to go to Billings to my dr. appt on Monday. It is what it is. You know. Life happens. We are in a place now where we do what we have to do. (I'm tired of driving anyway!!!)

This is what I came home to this evening. My wild yellow rose bush is absolutely stunning. I love this week or so when this bush is in full bloom. So beautiful. This bush was brought over from Ireland by the grandmother of one of our neighbors. It's one of my treasures and July joys. And take a look at my beautiful peony bushes--about the one thing the deer won't eat!!! This whole place is so awesomely beautiful during these days of summer and fall. I love sitting out on the dining room porch enjoying my morning coffee, listening to the delightful birdsong and watching the sun rise over the Sawtooth Mountain. I am so excited about the building and completion of our summer house (a permanent screened-in log structure in the backyard by the pond.) It will be lovely to sit out there (sans mosquitos) and enjoy the sounds of Walt's wonderful rock waterfall project.

(Wait until I rhapsodize about winter!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hospital Update

The dr came in this evening about 5:00 p.m. so I can bring this up to date. He decided to leave the pump pumping in the chest cavity (the area surrounding the punctured lung) until tomorrow (Friday) morning. At that point he will stop the pump, but leave the tube in his chest for another 24 hours--until Saturday morning. The purpose in that is to not have to reinsert the tube between the ribs into the chest cavity if the lung should collapse again. (We don't think that will happen, but it's good to be on the safe side.) So we are hopeful that he will be home on Saturday afternoon. I have an appt with a cardiologist specialist of some kind (did you realize that there are specialist subcategories for cardiologists?) in Billings on Monday morning at 8:40 (one of those appts that I don't dare cancel) so must drive down on Sunday evening at the latest, so I'm very hopeful that he will be ok enough for me to leave him home alone. Probably more of a problem for me than it will be for him! Although, for sure, he will not be motivating particularly well.

I will take his laptop in to him tomorrow so he can catch up on "work" (reading the newspapers in Ecuador) and his e-mail. So if you want to send him a msg, you can do so at He's getting pretty bored!

Daisy and Her Demons

AKA: One day at a time. This is a picture of Walt on Daisy for the second time. I wasn't there for his first time actually mounting her and riding her, so had to make due with his second ride. She spent two months with the trainer over by Whitehall, as we knew she needed more than the basic one-month start. In the first place, she is a huge horse and has a very spirited and outgoing personality. Besides that Walt is a few years past 60 and we wanted to be sure that he would be as safe as possible when he started working with her. Patrick, the trainer, said she did really well during her training, but she came along slowly because of what he called "trust issues."

Walt started out with her very slowly just working in the corral, walking with her, etc., before he ever even attempted to mount her and ride. And when he started riding, he also did that very slowly and two days ago was only taking her out of the corral area, down the road and across a little irrigation ditch--that kind of thing. Certainly not out on a trail ride or something like that.

Well, day before yesterday on Tuesday he took her out and she was doing very well, calm and doing everything he asked her to do. They headed back to the Beckers and she started bucking, so he immediately dismounted and walked her around and got her all calmed down--made sure she was ok and then remounted her and continued back to the corral area. Walt still isn't sure exactly what happened, but something must have spooked her and she took off down the road at a dead run, and no matter what he did to stop her, she was done being nice and docile. At that point he could see the driveway area and the corrals and the fences and the gates ahead and knew that they both were in imminent danger of a possible disastrous accident. So he decided to bail. Which he did. (From his clothes and his injuries it appears that he landed on the back side of his right shoulder.)

He got up off the ground, knew he was injured--obviously--but walked to the barn where Daisy was standing calmly waiting for him. He unsaddled her, brushed her, turned her back out into the pasture, walked back to the truck, and drove home. He knew he was injured. He got out of as many clothes as he could and got into the shower hoping that some hot water would help soothe the pain in his shoulder. At that point he began to feel lightheaded, so got out of the shower, got the phone and lay down on the bed--all wet!!! He didn't have a phone book so hit the number for Jenny's cell phone (in Kansas!!!) and called her in order to ask me what was the phone number for the Beckers!

Well, it was obvious to me that he was in a great deal of pain and he was breathing hard and having some difficulty talking. I gave him the phone number and talked a little trying to get some information, then hung up. Jenny said right away, "Mom, you need to call the Beckers to be sure that he was able to make the call and didn't pass out or something," so I did that and Jim answered the phone and I asked him if Walt had called and he said no he hadn't. Well, I got pretty fired up at that point and asked Jim to go over and take Walt to the hospital, and then I called Walt back. He answered the phone and I asked him if he had called Jim--he said, "Well, I thought I did!!!" It turns out that Jim heard the phone ring, but wasn't able to get to it so Walt left a message on their answering machine!!!!! Unbelievable.

At that point I got really fired up and called Betty and asked her to call and get the ambulance over to the house as soon as possible, which she did and she also called our neighbors, Barry and Joan, and they went over immediately. Walt probably didn't know what had just happened to him--a house full of people!!! They got him out of the bed, on to a board (ooooooh so uncomfortable, but the guys had no clue as to how badly he was injured at that point), down the stairs and loaded into the ambulance for the trip to town. I heard later that Barry thought that was a pretty nifty (fast) way to get to town with lights flashing and sirens blowing and all the cars moving out of his way!

Well, needless to say I threw my suitcase together as soon as Jenny and I got back to her house and said goodbye to all the Gang and jumped into the car to start the 1430 mile trip back home. I made it as far as Mitchell, SD, where I stopped for the night--that was about seven hours, I think. Didn't sleep very well. Got started the next morning about 5:30 and arrived at the hospital about 8:30 in the evening. I was a total wreck. I had never really rested up from my drive to KS to fly with Allie to Europe for 8 days, fly back to KS, drive to Montana with the Gang--they were here for 8 wonderful days--so enjoyed having them, and then the drive back to Kansas. All that to say that my drive back here was exhausting--I kept having to stop every couple hours yesterday to nap for 10 or 15 minutes before I could drive on. I'm beat, but I'm here and we're together and he's going to be fine.

So. The medical details. He has a collapsed lung that they're working on stabilizing--it is looking much better today. He has 9 broken ribs and some of those are broken in several places. And his shoulder blade (scapula) is also broken. I think that is causing him the most pain right now. He's certainly going to be weeks healing from all this. For sure, a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) is a very serious problem (the doctor called it a "major" injury, possibly fatal) and the broken bones are very painful, but the truth is that we are thanking God that it was not worse--he could have had head injuries, broken neck, internal injuries--you name it!!! So we are most thankful that it is a good as it is.

And we are so very thankful for all the prayer--Jenny was twittering immediately to all her followers for prayer, our neighbors praying, my mother and her church. . . . And we are so very thankful for all the help--from neighbors, from the fire department ambulance crew--they are the greatest--we are thankful for all the caring and concern.

Later this afternoon they will do more xrays of his lung--it looked much better this morning. If it is back to normal, the doc will pull the pump from the lung, but leave the tube in his lung cavity for 24 hours. If everything remains stable at that point, he will pull the tube from his chest and probably let him go home on Saturday--I have my doubts that we will actually be out of here tomorrow. We'll see.

From here on out, it's praise the Lord and one day at a time. . . .

Thursday, July 9, 2009

London and Paris--Thanks for the Memories--Wonderful Memories!

People. Places. Fun. Awe.
Allie and I are back in the States. Arrived in Kansas on Sunday afternoon. Tried to rest up a little on Monday--yeah, right! On Tuesday Jenny and I and 8 kids (yikes!!!) in two vehicles headed west--18 hours later we finally arrived in Billings, MT, at my mother's where we all crashed and spent the night. Wednesday we made the relatively short drive on home--here to our beautiful Grasshopper Valley. Zack will come tomorrow for a few days. The rest of our "family" (Jim and Judy Lots and daughter Jessie and her three little girls--we will be missing you, Greg) will arrive from Salt Lake for the weekend. We are going to have a wonderful, long-overdue reunion. I am so excited. Then on the following Saturday and Sunday Jenny and I and our eight passengers will head east back to Kansas. We will do a very sedate two ten-hour days to get there. . . .

And then after I return from that trip, I will have time to sit at this computer, look at my images from our fabulous trip to London and Paris and maybe even post some of them. I got a few good ones. . . .

Au Revoir!! for awhile. (I will be doing some serious food preparation these next few days!!!) (I love the chaos of this house full of family and fun.)