Friday, December 20, 2013

The Heart - An Unexpected Journey {Part 6} and Beyond

On Tuesday, December 17 Jon and Alicia came out and visited. It was such a fun time with Navy and Satchel. 
On Wednesday, December 18, Bryan had and appointment with Dr. Oakes {yes I have misspelled that in the past posts. My apologies to him.} Once again I was reminded of what a sweet and caring man he is. He gave Bryan a clean "2 weeks out" review. He said that in about 4 more weeks Bryan can "climb Mt. Everest if he wants to." He also said "when I operate on someone of your strength and muscle mass I use double wires to secure their sternum." There by giving Superman yet another confirmation of his strength.
I made some cookies to give to the Dr. and staff there. A small thanks for peace of mind.
The 19th I celebrated turning 55. I did make my own cookies, but as I told Bryan, I had the pleasure of getting to make them and getting to eat one.
The girls all came out for supper and we had such a good time just being together and talking. I am so grateful for such wonderful girls. They are a treasure.
It had been a very quiet 2 weeks at home just helping Bryan get some strength back. On Monday, December 23 I was back to taking care of the kids and I was looking forward to seeing them. We had a little Christmas of our own.

We ate cookies, drank hot chocolate and played with Legos most of the day.
Thursday, December 24 Bobbi was on Worship for the Christmas Eve Services. Ashley, Jayme and I went to the 2 o'clock service then came home to hang out with Bryan and cook some food.
We also watched the 4 o'clock service online. It was a service worth seeing twice! That has been so great for Bryan to be able to "attend" even though he has to be home. lf you are interested in watching a service they run Saturday nights at 7 p.m. central time and Sundays 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. central time. The link is on our website. (I realize a lot of you know this but some don't) Jayme tried to relax by the fire but Mae wanted to cuddle.
Bobbi and Travis came out after she was done and we had a lot of food and just had fun sitting around talking and watching Jax (their dog) 
The girls spent the night and we woke up Christmas Day and opened our stockings.
Mae and Oliver weren't too interested in theirs.
I took Bobbi in to go spend some time with Travis and his family, picked up Ferne to come out to spend time with us. While we waited Ashley and I did the chores.
Bryan drank tea out of his new Superman mug.
Then about noon Bobbi and Travis came back out and we had such a wonderful time together. Ferne and Travis opened their stockings.
We ate a late lunch and opened presents. Such a fun day together.
They all entertained themselves with a dart gun set that I had gotten Bryan to play with while he healed.

The dogs all thought they needed to be on the loveseat with me.
Thursday, December 26 I was back with the kids and Bryan was home. 
Friday, December 27 our friends, Tom and Carmen Christie came out to visit. They have moved to Iowa and it was so good to see them. Tom brought Bryan one of his miniature duck carvings. It is absolutely amazing. Tom is a 5 time World Champion Duck Carver. 
The ducks are maybe 2 & 1/2 inches by 1 & 1/2 inches. The entire sculpture is 7 by 4 and 1/2 inches. So detailed and engineered so that the ducks appear to actually be flying.  He balanced them all on one wing of one duck on the base. The shadows are painted. The whole thing is just so amazing. Easy to see why he is a world champion.
Saturday, December 28 Bryan wanted to just get out of the house so we ran a few errands in town. Then I was possessed with a fit of cleaning setting the house to normal so I took the tree down and put things back where they belong.
Sunday, December 29 Ashley turned 29. 
Those 29 years have gone so fast. 
Her Golden Birthday. She had a little party at her house and Bryan and I went for a bit. I made food for the party and a gaudy golden cookie bouquet for her.
Monday, December 30 I was back with the kids in town and Bryan was home.
I was taking care of some super little heros!!
 Which brings us to today, the final day of this very interesting and at times painful year. We are so grateful for our family and friends. For all the prayers offered up on our behalf. Grateful that we have three wonderful, loving and caring daughters. 
As I look to 2014 I find myself looking forward and being grateful that I don't face the future with fear but with hope and faith and trust that God has my best interest at heart.
Happy New Year to all of you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Heart - An Unexpected Journey {Part 5}

Our time at home is very peaceful. Bryan is getting stonger by the day. Sometimes it is hard to look at him and think that he needs to rest and take it easy. He looks so good.
Bobbi came out Saturday afternoon and hung out with him so I could run some errands.
I got Bryan a Superman T-shirt so he posed for the girls.
On Sunday we spent a wonderful day watching the service, enjoying Christmas music, watching the snow fall, watching football and knowing that we didn't need to go anywhere. 
I went out and took care of the animals and just enjoyed how beautiful everything looked. That white hen just loves being outside. She didn't seem to mind the -7 wind chill. Probably because she is the size of a small turkey...
I wrapped a few presents, sat by the fire and worked on a project, stepped outside and thought it looked like Narnia and then inbetween football games we watched "A Charlie Brown's Christmas". Always a treat. 
I'm so thankful for the thoughts and prayers of everyone and so thankful for the progress that Bryan has made and is making. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Heart - An Unexpected Journey {Part 4}

Today is Wednesday, December 4. Yesterday I got to the hospital at about 8:45 a.m. and Bryan greeted me with "I guess I'm going home today." Whoa! All of his Doctors and nurses were just in awe of the fact that an open heart redo was ready to go home just 3 and 1/2 days after his surgery. So at 2:30 p.m. we loaded him into my car and I began the drive home. I never realized how bumpy roads are until I was trying not to jostle him...they are bumpy!! But we got home and got him settled into his recliner in front of the fireplace.
He told me this morning that he slept much better here at home than he had at the hospital. 
I have to just tell this story from the hospital. One of his cardiologists was in talking to him and said that his surgeon had said, "For awhile there during surgery I thought I was operating on Superman I had so much trouble getting through his chest bone." This was extremely funny to all of us in our family because the day before surgery Bryan had jokingly said to the girls "The hardest part of the whole thing will be trying to cut through my chest. They may have to call for extra blades." True story! So the next day I brought him his own talking Superman toy. The Drs loved it.
On the subject of all of his doctors....I tear up thinking about what they did for us and how they cared for Bryan. They were amazing. This may sound confusing to anyone not from Lincoln because the hospital is called Bryan Memorial Hospital and the Heart Team is called Bryan Heart. Appropriate! 
His surgeon, Dr. Oaks, had his 40th birthday the day after the surgery. He was extremely caring and stopped in to check on Bryan several times a day. Not to mention the amazing things he did with Bryan's heart. His cardiologist, Dr. Meckle was in and out all the time he was in there, checking and adjusting meds and making sure that every need was seen to. So much care. I never once wondered what was going on because they always had someone or they themselves came and explained stuff to us. On Monday Dr. Oaks came in and said "You COULD go home tomorrow but that would be world record healing from an open heart redo and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with how fast the turn around is. I've just never seen this!" It is amazing considering they had told us that he would be moved to a room from ICU on Monday...But then when Dr. Oaks came in yesterday he said, "I have run out of reasons to keep you and unless you want to stay, you are certainly ready to go home." I can't thank all of them enough. Every nurse, tech, aide etc. treated us with such kindness and care. 
We have to be very careful of colds and flu right now and also because of what was done we have to control salt intake for at least 2-3 weeks so that his heart doesn't have to work so hard to get his fluids out of his body. Also he can only drink 48 ounces of liquid a day for the next 2 -3 weeks. 
So we are home, by the fire, watching birds at the feeder, listening to Christmas music and being so grateful.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Heart - An Unexpected Journey {Part 3}

It is Sunday, December 1 and I am sitting beside Bryan's hospital bed. He is finally getting some much needed sleep and quiet. On Friday, November 29 we got to the hospital at 4:45 a.m. and he was admitted and at 5:00 a.m. they began prep and blood work
and then at 6:30 they took him down to surgery to finish prep and begin the journey to his heart. At 7:30 the nurse in surgery called me to say that they were almost done with prep and things were progressing nicely. At 7:40 or so Dr. Oaks came out and explained to me what he was going to be doing and about how long it would take. The surgery began at 8:00 a.m. I can not begin to explain how wonderful the entire surgery, nursing, Administrative and even security staff were. I felt so informed and cared for. They had a nurse in surgery who called me about every 2 hours with an update about what they were doing and how Bryan was doing. At 9:40 they got Bryan on the bypass, one of the PAs came out and talked at length with us about what had happened before they could put him on the bypass they had to open him up, remove any scar tissue from the last surgery and detach the heart from the chest cavity. After a heart surgery the heart attaches to the scar tissue. All this is very dangerous considering they don't have the bypass to fall back on if something goes wrong. Then he went and took care of some minor check-in details that I was concerned about (as if he wasn't busy enough) and the next thing I knew there was the Nursing Director and the ICU nurse that would care for Bryan and they were telling us what to expect and had come to see if we needed anything from them. 
They had arranged a private room for the girls and I to hang out in if we felt the need to just get away from people. So wonderful. At 11:20 the call came that the valve had been replaced and he was starting on the stem repair. At 12:47 the call came that he was finished with the stem repair and was reattaching the coronary arteries. At 2:14 the call came that he was off the bypass and his heart was working on its own. At 3:33 the call came that Dr. Oaks was about 30 minutes away from being done and Bryan was about 45 minutes from being taken to ICU. At 4:15 Dr. Oaks came out and talked to the girls and I and said that Bryan was responding amazingly and was an extremely strong and healthy person. He said the surgery could not have gone any better. He had put in a tissue valve (it is a titanium core with cow tissues that are injected into a synthetic material and they grow over that) in the aortic valve spot and he replaced all of his aortic stem with a synthetic material but the extent that needed to be replaced required that he detach all the coronary arteries to access that so they had to all be reattached. At 5:09 ICU called and said that Bryan was trying to wake up too fast and they needed to slow him down but that he was doing great. Dr. Oaks came back down and talked to us and told us he was doing so good it was just necessary to slow him down. At 6:40 they called and said that the girls and I should come up and see him. So 12 hours after I left him as he was being wheeled down to surgery I was able to see him again. 
It was hard to look at all the tubes and lines in him but I was grateful for every one of them! At one point when Bobbi and I were in with him she said "Sounds like you are doing really well." and he said "I'm tough, I'm a cowboy." He doesn't remember saying that but we all heard it so...
Yesterday, Saturday November 30, they removed him from all the lines in his neck (leaving the port there just in case they need it and also to administer meds into) and all he has left is a temporary pacemaker and the chest tube. They said those will come out tomorrow or early Tuesday.
Today they moved him to progressive care and his ICU nurse said that she had never had a better or nicer patient. Dr. Oaks said that he may come home on Wednesday. Amazing. 
I am so grateful for the nurses and Drs who have cared so well for him here at Bryan Hospital. He has a lot of healing to go yet but he has had such a great start. After this is all over he won't have to take any meds or restrict his activity in any way. That was a huge answer to prayer. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Heart - An Unexpected Journey {Part 2}

We had gotten our heads and lives all set to have Bryan's surgery on Monday but today they called him and told him that because of an issue with another patient of Dr. Oaks they needed to move Bryan's surgery to Friday, November 29.
We were sitting here this evening after telling everyone about the change and Dr. Oaks called at 8:45 and offered Bryan a couple different times. We were rather impressed that he called. We talked about it and decided to leave it on Friday. Too many things would have needed to be changed.
So for now the surgery will be Friday.
I found these pictures and notes from 15 years ago.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and encouragment. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Heart - An Unexpected Journey {Part 1}

Tuesday, November 19 Bryan and I spent the whole day together. We went to Omaha to find a recliner that would fit him and not be huge and puffy. We found one and bonus! it is a wall hugger and very small profile not to mention that it fits him really well.
He tried it out that evening.
Wednesday, November 20 I spent my last day with the kids for about 3 weeks. We played a rousing game of UNO before school.
Bryan went to work and taught his evening class for the last time in 8 weeks or so. 
Today, Thursday, November 21 Bryan had a cardiac catheterization. It showed that his arteries were "clean as a whistle" according to Dr. Meckle. That was very good news. That means they won't need to do any bypasses while they are in replacing the aortic valve and repairing the aortic stem. They had a little trouble getting an IV in. Third time was the charm. The nurses felt so bad. 
The two guys in the lower left photo are both on Dr. Oaks surgery team and will be assisting with Bryan's surgery. They also both attend Berean and when they got done explaining everything to us and talking with Bryan, they asked if they could pray with us. It was very sweet. 
So we are here in the hospital room waiting for him to be able to get up and then go home to wait until Monday. On Monday we have to be here at 5:00 a.m. and the surgery starts at 7:30 a.m. So the journey has begun. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Which brings us to today...

Today we begin the week long wait. Yesterday Bryan did an amazing job announcing to the congregation, without drama, that he will be undergoing open heart surgery on Monday, November 25. It will be his second one. 15 years ago on December 29 he had to have a Ross Procedure done to repair a birth defect that had never been discovered until then. He was the 27th person in Nebraska to have that procedure and at that time only 3 hospitals in the country were doing the Ross. One of them being Bryan Hospital in Lincoln. Never doubt that God is in control. Well, over the years that surgery has served him well. At the time that he had it, they only had 6 years of data to go on so they really couldn't tell him what life might be like past 6 years. So for 15 years they have checked and watched and been comfortable with the results of their tests. 5 years ago they told us the valve was leaking a bit but there was no swelling on his heart to indicate stress so all was fine, they would just keep a closer eye on him. He, of course, never slows down so this was good news to him. A year and a half ago they thought there was swelling and we faced the possibility of surgery. But the test they did showed them that wasn't the case. Checks every 6 months. Rollercoaster ride of "will he have to have surgery this time" every 6 months. Then October 30th he had his 6 months check. There was concern so they scheduled him for a CAT scan. That showed swelling in an area of his aortic stem. This WAS cause for concern so he met with the surgeon on Wednesday, November 13. He explained to Bryan about the new valve they would put in and also about the stem that they would replace with a synthetic. They needed to schedule the surgery on a day when the Dr. had no other surgeries so they scheduled it for Monday, November 25. This Thursday he will have a heart cath. to check and make sure there are no surprises when they do the surgery. 
We are all doing fine. The waiting is hard. 
It is rather weird to see him doing projects, going to work and just looking so normal and know that in a week he will be miserable and it seems so strange. But we totally trust the team of doctors.
More than that we totally trust God and believe that He has us held in the palm of his hand.

Celebrating BobbiHaircut

In case you are wondering, clear back when Amiah was 4 she referred to Bobbi as BobbiHaircut (because of Bobbi being a cosmotologist) and that name has stuck.
Yesterday, Bobbi turned 26.
It is hard to believe that much time as passed. I love that I have been given the privilege of being her mom. She is such an amazing person. Caring, loving, funny and with a heart that loves God. 
Last night we had a party for her at her house. We had such a fun time. Ashley made her this beautiful cake.
 I love this beautiful girl!

Way back on November 8...

{Life got in the way of blogging on October 30, so I am catching up. I will explain later.}
The sun came up, beautifully.
It tends to do that out here. And say what you want about Nebraska just don't ever say that we don't see some amazing sunrises and sunsets. Well, ok we may defend our state from other criticism but, you know what I mean.
I had to go into town to get Jayme and take her for a surgery. Yes, another of my children had to have surgery. 
After she came out of recovery we came out here for her to spend the weekend getting full speed again. That night Bryan had been given tickets to the Nebraska Basketball game against Florida Gulf Coast. Row 6 in the new arena. It was the first season game in the brand new Arena downtown. Ashley came out to hang out with Jayme and we headed in. 
They lit the marching band in red and had an opening show of all sorts of stuff. 
I believe the score ended up somewhere around 75 to 52 or something like that. The Arena is beautiful. It was my first time in it. 
Saturday dawned warm (for November in Nebraska) and sunny and not gale force winds so Bryan and I decided to take the boat out one last time before putting it away for winter. It was a good decision. 
First of all because the fish were really biting, second the day was amazing and third it was a very relaxing, fun time. 
This was the first time I have used a crank bait and I've decided I like using one. Normally, I just use a red brush hog because they don't get caught in weeds so bad as others but I may be a convert.
After we were done fishing it was time to pull the boat out of the water and store it for winter. (I am writing this on November 18 and if we would have had the time we could have fished for the last 9 days. It has just been amazing here.) But we needed to get the boat out this day because we knew we wouldn't have time later.
My job was to put weight at the back end so the boat didn't drag as he was putting it on the trailer. No, I did not feel insulted by this assignment. hahahaha
Then on Sunday, everyone came back out here for lunch. Bobbi and Travis had to leave earlier but Ashley stayed and she and I made Ninjabread cookies. 

Yes, NINJAbread!
Jayme was still resting and getting her strength back. Then Ashley went home and Jayme and I played a rousing game of Harry Potter Clue.
Monday, November 11 and I am back with the kids. Bryan is off doing projects. Tuesday I ripped everything out of my kitchen cupboards and cleaned and organized them. I had this thought, "WHEN did I become that person who saves plastic food containers just in case I need them!!!" I purged myself of all that. Wednesday and Thursday back with the kids. Thursday night, November 14 Bryan and I had tickets to Trans Siberian Orchestra at the Arena. The girls all went but seperate from us. Wow. It is a Christmas rock opera in case you have never heard of them. The story they did this year was "The Lost Christmas Eve" 
Friday, November 15 I pulled everything out of my living room and rearranged and cleaned it. (I don't spring clean. I usually want to be outside in the spring, not inside cleaning!!) So I fall clean. 
Saturday I spent the day preparing food for Bobbi's birthday celebration.