We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday at St. Joseph's

   Pretty quite day...seems as if most of the medical community take the weekend off.  But, Dr. Taetle did make his rounds and looked at Kim's legs, which are each wrapped following her sugery 'they have you looking like the mummy.' he told her.  He said we need to stay the course on making sure the blod clots have been corrected before going forward with chemo - we are hoping that he will want to give Kim a dose early next week.
  Dr. Choi, the hospital generalist stopped by and we found that we all had something in common - all of our fathers worked for the Bethelehem Steel!  What a small world.  He said he would get with Dr. Taetle and Dr. Namanny to decide on the right dose of Lovenox for Kim, once they were ready to let her go home, so we can stay on top of the blood clots.
  Dr. Namanny check Kim's legs and said they need to stay wrapped for 3 days before being fitted with custom sleeves.  Kim asked if she could be fitted with a full body sleeve to prevent clots in her whole body.
After he left, we took Kim for a walk down the hallway and back, which wiped her out.  Her oxygen has been reduced to 1 liter - she had been at 2 following surgery.  She's feeling pretty good, now that the pressure in her legs have been relieved, but experiencing some pain in her ankles, since they are returning to normal size.  She has been given morphine to combat this pain.  She says she is having an achey day.
   The bambinis slept in to about 7, having been up until midnight last night, after their long wait at CVS and late dinners.  They sure had fun - I'll try to get a few pictures Patti, Mrs. Schrantz and Mrs. Rudzena took of them riding shopping carts, rocking horses and Tonio sporting a plunger on his head like a hat!  I was glad Patti, Mrs. Schrantz and Mrs. Rudzena were with them to keep them entertained while they waited, although it made for a long day for those poor teachers.  We made it down to the hospital around 9:30 and brought up breakfast from the cafeteria to eat with Kim.  The kids colored, read books and watched t.v. with Kim. Her tech, Jesse, set up a cot in her room so the kids could use it like a couch. For lunch we headed over to Viro's Italian Bakery for lunch and to visit with Rose and Vito.  They fed us well ( I always get the panini Italiano - highly recommend it!), the kids ate gelato and they sent us back to the hospital with a huge container of gelato for Kim and a large box of Italian cookies for all of the nurses on Kim's floor, to show their appreciation for how well they are taking care of our Kimmy!  The nurses loved them!  It's  6 p.m. now and the kids have been here all day, loving their time with their mom.
     Kim is winding down for the day and it's almost time to get the little ones home.  Kim is thankful Dr. Namanny could relieve the pressure in her legs and we are praying it is a long term fix.  Nothing scheduled for tomorrow, just hoping Kim might be released, but it is more likely going to happen on Monday, if all goes well.
    Thanks for praying for Kim's legs and her surgery, which went well.  We appreciate all everyone is doing for our family!
    Love, Dave

Friday, December 3, 2010

'I jumped another hurdle!'

   Kim went into surgery around 5 - about 6:40, Dr. Namanny came out and found me hiding underneath my chair...he said that he was able to clear several large clots and cleared around the IVC.  He is hoping the heparin blood thinner will help clear up the rest.  A short while later, the doors to surgery swung open and I could hear laughter and spirited conversation - it was Kim keeping the two techs wheeling her bed out of surgery entertained!  She is amazing!!
  The techs got her back up to the 5th floor - she had not eaten since dinner last night, so I scavenged up a turkey sandwhich and some apple juice for her - just as Janene was bringing me a huge slice of pizza from the Arizona Pizza Company, which is right next door to her salon, Unique Identity.  I needed that.
  All the nurses and techs were happy to see Kim back on their floor.  She is such an inspiration! Tomorrow, we'll meet with Dr. Taetle to see when she can get back to her chemo treatments - the cancer she has is aggressive and she says that is next on her checklist!
   Kim told me that there were photos of her arteries up on a big screen - she said that the blood clots looked huge!! 
   Meanwhile, poor Mrs. Schrantz and Patti - they waited for flu shots at CVS for about 3 hours!!  What a long day for them!  Patti's daughter/Autumn's teacher, Mrs. Rudzena, came down to lend Autumn emotional support.  Then, Patti took Autumn and Antonio to Desert Sky Middle School, where Cody goes, to play 'Jingle Bingo' and left them with Andrea and her kids and her mom, Angie.  When bingo was over, they headed over to McD's for a late dinner.  Our neighbor, Amy, picked up Cody and brought him back down to St. Joe's, as, it seems I locked my keys in my truck...I guess I am losing it a little...she took Cod to Taco Bell on the way here.  They were happy to see Kimmy.
   Kim is happy this hurdle has passed...she even had a new revelation as she was being prepped for surgery - it is Advent - the season of miracles!!  Isnt' she something?
   Love, Dave

Kim's in surgery...

    Kim had a lot of spiritual visitors today, to help her prepare for this evening's surgery, which was a great comfort.  A Eucharistic Minister, Trudy, stopped in first thing this morning to give Kim Communion.  She really lifted Kim's spirits and told us about her journey to the U.S. from Germany 54 years ago.  She came over via boat, arriving into N.Y. and wept when she saw the Statue of Liberty.  She said Kim was a ray of sunshine in her day...Our friends Janene and Andrea combined to bring out Father Gregory from St. Pius and Monsignor Tom from Our Mother of Sorrows...both annointed Kim and prayed with her.  Monsignor Tom was especially uplifting and moving.  Kim related to him how much he had helped her on Tuesday morning, when she was waiting to be readmitted and he, by chance, had caught her eye and spent some time consoling her.  Later in the afternoon, a chaplain from the hospital checked in and chatted with Kim, too.  She was feeling more relaxed and comfortable as the hour of surgery approached.
     At one point, Kim had fallen asleep, and I read a book called 'Mother Teresa's Secret Fire'...I was re-reading an especially powerful chapter, about how Mother Teresa felt that our society does all it can to avoid pain, conflict and suffering.  She said, rather than spend all of our time and energy trying to eradicate pain, the real question must become "What are we going to do with our suffering?".  A nurse came in to wake Kim and we started discussing what I was reading.  Kim related how she has never avoided pain and suffering, even to the point of not taking Tylenol to rid herself of the pain from a headache - her philosphy has always been to work through it and come out a stronger person.  The nurse commented that in this case, Kim has turned her suffering into good for the hospital, brightening the lives of all she encounters.
     The bambini's came by right after school, anxious to see their mom before she was whisked away to surgery.  Tonio's teacher, Mrs. Schrantz and Autumn's teacher's mom, Patti, brought them down to the hospital.  When they left, they were going to get their flu shots...Autumn's a little scared, but willing to do it for the good of her mom.  Then, they will go out for a fun dinner, before heading for home, where our neighbor, Amy will take care of them for us.
    Thanks for all of the warm words, wishes and prayers, that melt away the icy fingers of fear that try to creep into our lives!  I'll try to get back on later to let you all know how Kimmy did...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Time to turn my logs back into legs!'

   So far today, Dr. Taetle and Dr. Leon put their heads together to come up with a plan to fix Kim's legs.  "I keep throwing everyone curve balls", said Kim apologetically.  Dr. Leon's associate, Dr. Namanny, was brought in with the idea of performing a bilateral lower extremity percutaneous venus thrombectomy (say that three times fast!).  He will go into the upper legs and clean out clots from the thighs up to the IVC...if all goes well, Kim should be able to come home Saturday.  Dr. Namanny said he will perform this procedure tomorrow afternoon.  Please pray for a successful surgery for Kimmy.  She is feeling somewhat anxious, for the first time, regarding this procedure.  Some of it is, that she had wanted Dr. Leon to perform the surgery, but he will be out of town until Tuesday.  Some of it is, the cumulative affect of the experiences she has been through are becoming a little overwhelming - remember I told you how high Kim's pain tolerance is?  When she says she has pain that is a 5 on a scale of 10, for the mere mortal, that would equate to a 7 or 8.  So, when I say the cumulative experiences are becoming a little overwhelming, most of us would have already been put in a rubber room by now!  Her nurse, Heidi, quickly consoled Kim and gave her strength.  These nurses have been there for Kim so many times.  Last night, around 3 a.m., her tech came in to take her vitals and Kim told her what angels they all were...her tech told her that the nurses and techs at St. Joseph's say that Kim is the angel of the hospital right now - that no matter what she goes through, she keeps on glowing!
     Kim's mom and Jim flew out today, which was a difficult depature for both.  They gave Kim a nice morale boost and really helped the bambini's (not to mention being white tornados around our home!!).  They will be back on the 20th and Kim and the kids are already counting down the days...
      Speaking of the bambini's...they did a great job this morning getting ready on time for school and helping out with the dishes, wash, etc. They took their math benchmarks today - none of them were too excited to be taking those today! After school, our friend, Andrea picked them up, helped them through homework, got them some food and took them to the Reid Park Zoo for their Festival of Lights...we typically take them there each Christmas season - they were excited to be going!
       Special thanks to Mrs. Lofgren, from Cottonwood, for the wonderful potato soup, salad, bread, dessert, etc, etc!! And to Andrea and Angie for feeding me today in the hospital.
      Today, we were thankful for the ongoing support of Kim's school, Rincon Vista, as we found out she was approved to use some sick time, typically not available since she was a 15 hr/week employee.  This was great news and may open the door to have her approved for a sick time borrowing program the district has!
      For now, Kim is pain free - and, she is off of oxygen!!  These were some of the big wins of the day.  Tomorrow, we pray that the surgery relieves the pressure of her blood clots and, in her words, 'turn my logs back into legs!'.  Please pray for Kim's confidence, as well.  We were talking about a book I read by Max Lucado called 'Fearless', in which he says that the Bible has more than 50 verses that tell us to have courage or strength or to have no fear.  Sometimes it is a challenge to quiet the subconscious in these situations - but if anyone can do it, it will be Kim, with all of your support and prayers!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dr. Leon's Visit

   Some of these Dr's at St. Joseph's are incredibly hard workers...Dr. Leon, Kim's vascular surgeon, is one of those non-stop type of guys.  After putting in a 14 hour day, he stopped in to see Kim around 9 tonight.  He took a look at her legs and said 'wow...can you walk on those?'.  He told us that sometimes, the IVC, the vent designed to protect the heart from blood clots, can be counter productive, causing blockage below it.  He believes the solution is sugery, similiar to what he did to fix Kim's arm.  He will install two balloons at the top and bottom of the affected artery and then go in with a 30mm long piece of wire, a 'trellis', that makes a drilling motion as he enters the artery, clearing out the clots.  Although he makes this sound as simple as washing your car and has done the operation successfully dozens of times, he said that this same thing could reoccur, as Kim's body seems to be rejecting all forms of blood thinner.  Largely, this is the nature of the cancer she has, to develop clots.  She had the clots when she was admitted back on 10/19 for gall bladder surgery.
   The question is:  how soon can Dr. Leon perform his magic?  He said he would speak to Dr. Taetle tonight to formulate a plan and may operate as soon as Thursday morning...so, please pray for the 'plan' to be a good one for Kim and that, whatever it may be, it helps her be able to walk again.  We'll find out in the morning what is going to happen next.
   Grammie and Grandpa Jim brought the bambinis down for a visit after feeding them and making sure they got their homework done.  They enjoyed time with their mom.  They will be sad to see Grammie and Grandpa Jim leave tomorrow, but know they will be back soon.  What a big help they were to all of us and they worked tirelessly (and endlessly) on keeping the house looking great!  Cody, Tonio and I ran the 130 steps to the basement for sodas at the cafeteria and then, all the way back up.  Cody does this with ease.  Tonio carried me the last 20 steps.  Our friend, Kim, who is an RN on Kim's floor, had arrived for her shift and brought me a BMT Subway sub for dinner.  She keeps a good eye on Kim for us and is a great nurse.
     Before I left, I cleaned her up as well as I could in her chair and put on some new, clean pj's I just bought her - flannel ones decorated with owls - I got Autumn a matching pair (she LOVES owls, and has quite a collection).  Kim is happy Dr. Leon was able to see her and feels confident he can help.  He said she can go home shortly after the procedure and she was thrilled at that thought.  She is using up the energy all of you are sending her and keeping confident thanks to your prayers.
     Thank you,

"I'm keeping everybody on the edge of their seat"...Kimmy 12/1

     Kim started the day with a visit from her oncologist, Dr. Taetle.  He is concerned with Kim's growing legs - can the clots slip by the IVC??  He is calling in Dr. Leon, the vascular surgeon who did a fantastic job on Kim's arm several weeks ago.  He is also concerned that the Lovenox is not effective and will consider increasing the dosage or creating a combo thinner for Kim.  One of the things that Kim really likes about Dr. Taetle, is he examines her daily for progress and is already thinking ahead about what is next.  He talked to us about her chest x-ray from yesterday and said he sees no changes, which is good!
    Dr. Taetle was sympathetic to Kim's situation, as she has been through so much and it seems new things keep coming up for the poor girl.  She told him "I'm keeping everybody on the edge of their seat"...He loves her upbeat outlook!
    The bambini's got off to school on a rough start!  They were up late last night and were sluggish this morning, as they worry about their mom.  We got them in there just a little late - today they will have benchmark testing their reading skills.  Autumn and Tonio will stay after school, as their teachers, Mrs. Rudzena and Mrs. Schrantz continue to go above and beyond for these little loves.  Mrs. Rudzena's mom, Patti, will bring them home.  Grammie and Grandpa Jim will pick up Cody after school.  Once again, the house was spotless before we went to bed last night!  They fly back to Bethlehem, PA tomorrow - they will be missed.
    Barnes & Noble continues to support our family and needs right now, as my District Manager, Tom has kept me on the payroll to focus on Kim and her health.  It is unbelievable, and I know God found me this incredible company, supervisor and peers to help us through this challenging time .  The team at my store has worked so hard and Tom has been very complementary of their performance.  I could not do this without all of them!!
    The positive thoughts and prayers you send us continue to inspire us each day...
     I brought the lap top to do some updating today and will post any new updates.
     "A lamp to my feet and a light to my path"
                                                 Psalms 119:105
                                                                                    Love, Dave

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kimmy at St. Joseph's

   It was a sad morning for Kim and us, as she was very emotional on the way back to St. Joseph's.  I let her know, it was good to cry - it did not mean she was not being strong or losing faith.  I snagged a wheelchair once we got there and wheeled her into the lobby, parking her out of the cold's way - and ran to park my truck.
  While she was waiting, she caught sight of Monsignor Tom, from Our Mother of Sorrows church, where we used to go when we first moved to Tucson over 17 years ago.  He was hurrying on his way, when he glanced Kim's way and made brief eye contact...he said to her 'are you Catholic?', Kim said 'yes father'.  Monsignor Tom proceeded to perform the Annointing of the Sick Sacrament right there in the lobby for Kim and told her 'this is a sure sign that God loves you!  That I, by chance, found you here and you caught my eye'.  Kim was had tears of comfort, knowing for sure that she needed to be back at St. Joseph's.
   I wheeled her to the room where she was to receive a blood transfusion and our friend, Darlene, made her feel right at home.  Once she got Kim's transfusion started, she ran to the gift shop and bought Kim some magazines to pass the time.  She even brought Kim a piece of homemade apple pie.  Kim asked where the blood she was being given was from.  Darlene told her it was from a donor in California.  Kim said 'oh, you are filling me up with California sunshine!'.  Darlene also communicated with the hospital staff to get Kim placed back up on the 5th floor, where another friend, also named Kim, works as an RN - and they put her right back in room 548, the room she was in prior to her release a couple of weeks ago.
   When I left Kim tonight, she was awaiting the a drip of heparin, a blood thinner, to try to combat the clots in her legs.  Please pray that this helps her and she can avoid a surgery to manually remove them.  The blood transfusion had helped her breathing, thankfully, and she was reduced to 1 1/2 liters before I left.
    The bambini's were saddened that their mom had to go again.  It has been hard on them - but they continue to make the best of the situation.  Our neighbor, Betsey, picked them all up at school today and brough them home.  Grammie and Jim cooked for them and then brought them down to the hospital for a visit.  They let us know that a huge Christmas wreath had been delivered from our Cottonwood Elementary family and a large box of steaks, potatoes, gourmet hot dogs, etc had arrived all the way from Bethlehem, PA from my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Jeff and family.  The kids were delighted to find the feast packed in dry ice. They quickly placed it in the sink, ran some water and transformed the kitchen into an eerie, fog filled room.  Bella had fun trying to bite the fog!  Once at the hosptital,Tonio and Autumn laid on either side of Kim in her bed as they enjoyed a little Sponge Bob Square Pants (we only subscribe to basic cable, so there is no Sponge Bob in our home!) and the nurses brought them juices to enjoy.  Our friend, Janene, brought me a huge burger from Applebees for dinner, which was incredible.
    Tomorrow, I'll drop the bambini's off at school and get back to St. Joseph's, hoping to see Kimmy have some relief from the swelling in her legs and anxious to hear from Dr. Taetle what the plan is...just praying this little girls gets some good news...Love, Dave

   'The day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness'
                                                                                                             -Luke 1:78

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kimmy...back to St. Joe's

   We were blessed to have Kim with us for the whole Thanksgiving weekend...during the weekend, we gradually increased her oxygen, as she found it increasingly difficult to breathe.  We have it up to 2 1/2 liters and it wears her down just to switch seats in our home.  Going to the bathroom requires stopping and sitting halfway there.  Also, Kim's legs have been getting larger and larger 'I have legs that feel like logs', Kim says.  We had taken her to her primary care physician, who advised compression hose would help, but they did not.  This morning, Kim was scheduled for a blood draw to see if her values were good enough for her to have her chemo, as scheduled, tomorrow.  While the nurse drew her blood, I casually mentioned Kim's growing thighs...she took a look and said 'let's get Dr. Taetle...'  Dr. Taetle was thoughtful...he knew Kim did not want to land back in the hospital, but he sensed trouble.  He ordered a chest x-ray and a vascular doppler done on Kim's legs. 
     I got to view the x-ray, as they allow me to accompany Kimmy for all of her tests, and today, she was in a wheel chair, unable to walk, so I was able to navigate her throughout the facility.  I commented to the techician 'oh s*#t, is that the tumor?'...she was not allowed to answer, but, although I am no xray technician...the evil there was evident.  Dammit. 
    We had an hour to kill between the chest xray and ultra sound, and Kim was starving - her appettite has remained strong during this whole episode!  We went to Beyond Bread, well, I went in and brought her out a huge turkey sandwhich to the car and we shared it together.
    The ultra sound was scheduled at St. Joseph's as an outpatient...the tech recognized us right away, she had been so nice to Kim during her previous stay on tests done on Kim.  As she performed the ultra sound, we could see the clots, especially at the top of both of Kim's legs...the tech kept Kim calm, telling her how she had told her fiance all about Kim and what a positive person she was - another live Kim had touched during her dark time! 
       While the test was being done, Dr. Taetle's office called...Kim's bloodwork showed she was horribly anemic, she was a '6' and a normal woman is a '12'.  They told us to go down the hall following her ultra sound so she could begin the paperwork trail for another blood transfusion, her 5th so far.  It is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.
        Our tech consulted with the radiologist, who said Kim would probably be immediately admitted. 
When they left the room...Kim broke down and cried her hardest yet...so broken, yet telling me she was sorry she could not be strong...we held each other as I reassured her, that she has been stronger than the majority of the patience we had witnessed in the hospital and that we would do this together!  By the time the tech returned, she was back to radiant Kim...an amazing transformation.  The tech told us that Dr. Taetle was sympathetic and that since Kim had the IVC to prevent clots from going to her heart, she could go home to her family tonight and return tomorrow.  Kim had to go down the hall to start the transfusion paperwork, etc...many of the techs their were ones who met her on her first and second trips through St. Joe's, to put in a pick line or access her power port.   They went above and beyond to get Kim the most comfortable chair and speed up the process...more lives that Kim has touched while on her journey!  Following her transfusion, Kim will be readmitted to St. Joseph's.  The plan is to hook her up to a heparin drip to see if they can naturally difuse the clots and to make sure her IVC is holding up ok...we'll go from there...
     Meanwhile, the bambinis had expected me to pick them up at noon to take them for their flu shots...I got word to the schools and once again, they stepped up for our children!  Mrs. Schrantz and Mrs. Rudzena volunteered to work with Tonio and Aut on their homework after school and Mrs. Rudzena's mom, Patti, said she would give them a lift home.  Mrs. Schrantz took Tonio to McD's after school for his very first McFlurry - he chose the Oreo version and was so excited to describe it in vivid detail to us when he got home!!  Mr. Mortensen, Cody's principal, made sure that Cody knew I wasn't coming early for him and that our friend, Andrea, was coming to get him.  She took Cod to McD's (they did not run into Tonio and Mrs. Schrantz), and got him his favorite, a fish sandwhich!  She took him back to her house to hang out while she made our family tortellini soup!!  So the kids had a fun time, although it was tough for them to wake up this morning after a nice 4 day weekend.
     Carole and Jim have taken this all in great stride.  They have kept the house so clean and the kids fed.  And, today is Carole's birthday!  Kim was glad to be able to come home to help celebrate.  The kids decorated the house for her and she got her own cake for all of us.
     We'll see how Kim's treatments at St. Joseph's handle the clots and Dr. Taetle has pushed back her next chemo until they are under control.  We know we have to fight this one symptom at a time and a fix for one symptom, often triggers something else...I guess that's why they call them 'patients', eh?  You have to have patience to be a patient. 
      Please pray that Kim's transfusion tomorrow goes well and that the heparin can safely break up her blood clots...and that she does not have to stay in St. Joseph's for too long...thank you all, Love, Dave

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:19
 -Thanks for this Bible verse Eva!  We appreciate your prayers!!