Sunday, January 31, 2010

And the Story Continues....

Last night at dinner I noticed my Dad's hand was bright pink where the finger used to be. I asked him if it hurt. He said it did and that the pink area seemed to be getting bigger. About 10 last night he called me in to look at it again and I noticed an abnormal growth that hadn't been there at dinner time and asked him again if it was hurting. He said it was worse than at dinner. I told him I would be back in 15 minutes to look at it again. I came back later with a marker and circled the growth (now I realize I should have circled the pink area as well). The blister type growth was certainly bigger than before. I told him to call the doctor and went to get my shoes on.

We still hadn't heard from the doctor so we went ahead and went back to the ER. Well the ER was packed! We waited patiently (I can't say that for everyone in there) and were finally called into triage and then we waited again until they had a room open. We came prepared with our books. The triage nurse thought that was hilarious and wished everyone came in on Saturday nights so prepared.

The ER physician could not get a hold of the doctor either (later we found out he was out of town) so he tracked down our doctor's back up and together they decided to put him back on the IV. They had to order that twice as they lost the first batch so we finally made it home about 3:00 a.m. The ER doctor wasn't familiar with the pump procedure so he originally ordered separate IV doses every 4 hours. Thankfully the IV pharmacy called this morning and said they were changing the prescription back to the pump and canceled the nurse who was supposed to come as we already knew what we were doing. He'll see his doctor again on Monday and we'll find out what the next step is. We thought this was over, but apparently this bacteria had other intentions.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Charley's New Adventure

The other day our neighbor called and asked if Charley could come over and watch her kids while she dropped her car off to be serviced. I laughed at first and asked if she was serious. Then I thought about it for a minute and realized I started babysitting at this age. Where has the time gone? I asked Charley if she wanted to go and she ran out the door. An hour later she walked back in with sparkles in her eyes as she proudly showed off her $5 dollar bill. The same neighbor has already called back asking if Charley can babysit again. Apparently her girls had so much fun playing with Charley they can't wait for her to come back. She proudly paid her tithing the next Sunday and already has an idea of what she wants to save her money for. I guess its about time I taught her how to change a diaper and make macaroni and cheese, what else am I missing. All of a sudden I realize there is so much I still need to teach her! I better get started.....

Sledding Frenzy

We finally convinced some friends from Oregon to come visit us this holiday season. (Of course having their relatives here helped some too, but only just a little.....:) Our two families spent many hours together in the rain and cold of Oregon and we all couldn't wait until they got here. Denise had some much needed time with Stacey, Ronny and Jared had their BYU and Phd chats, and the boys had their much needed time with their friends from "home" as they call it.

As soon as they arrived and the hugs were done being dispensed, we immediately pulled out the snow gear and headed outside for some sledding. (Thankfully the park across the street has built-in sledding hills so we didn't have far to go.) We managed to scrape up enough snow clothes for all the kids and adults believe it or not. Their boys were a little timid at first but that didn't last much longer than the first time down the hill. Once we were all frozen we headed inside for some hot chocolate while Stacey and Denise started on dinner. We pulled out the tables and the feasting began. After dinner we all headed downstairs for some Wii challenges. Poor Sam was demolished by Jared in boxing and had a melt down. We convinced their boys to stay the night so the kids could get as much time with them as possible.

As soon as the sun crested the kids wanted back outside for more sledding. I think if you asked my kids what their favorite present for Christmas was, they would hands down say time with the Stenson's! I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hospital Mania

So as you know my father moved in with us in November. The week before Christmas he was back in California packing the last of his stuff and moving it into a storage unit and cleaning out his apartment. While cleaning out a fish tank he scratched his knuckle on the index finger of his right hand. He didn't think much of it and kept on working. About an hour later he noticed that his finger was throbbing and a bright red ring and pustule had formed on his knuckle. After trying to lance it he opted to spread on some neosporin and put on a band aid. Later that night his hand was swollen and the red ring had turned into streaks running up his hand and arm. He called a friend and asked for advice and decided to see the doctor in the morning if it still hurt. He said that was a really long night as he couldn't sleep, the pain was so bad.

The next morning he went to the doctor who cleaned the wound gave him a shot and put him on oral antibiotics and pain killers and sent him on his way. Unfortunately due to gastric bypass surgery the year before the oral antibiotics were not digested into his system so the finger got worse. My sister was to do her temple work later that evening so he got himself in his truck and proceeded to drive to Utah. (Thankfully he made it safely, we found out later he had been taking the painkillers while driving.........:( ). We met him at the temple that night and saw his wrapped finger for the first time. Ouch! We noticed the finger had gone dark and his hand was extremely swollen and red streaks were once again making their way up his hand. Unfortunately we were not able to talk him into going to the ER that night......

The next morning (after more pleading) I finally got him to go to the ER. The doctor there said it looked bad and said he most likely needed surgery so he sent him to a neighboring hospital who accepted his insurance. I met up with him there. The new ER physician was not as proactive as we would have liked and thought the discoloring was from bruising and not gangrene. It took him over two hours to hang IV antibiotics and only after I insisted twice! He finally managed to track down a hand surgeon who was not on call but came in as a favor to see it. He walked in the room and immediately said he was headed to surgery. 20 minutes later Dad was there.

After the surgery the surgeon met me in the waiting room and told me things did not look good but he did his best to save the finger. He said Dad would need to stay for the next few days and then be on IV antibiotics for the next several weeks. This was Friday afternoon. Sunday night he was released and late that night a nurse came over to train me how to take care of things from there. (Unfortunately his insurance did not cover a nurse everyday so we had to learn how to change the IV's and the dressings). Let's just say it was not a pretty site and the smell wasn't good either! The medication had to be changed every 8 hours and one had to be pushed over a 5-8 minute period. I once again felt like I had a newborn in the house with all the late night alarms.

Late Tuesday night I noticed a patch of skin (not much remained) that was again going dark. The nurse was to come the next morning to draw blood and check things out so we decided to wait to see her. She wasn't much help so I called the doctor to see if he could see us early. We were there in about an hour. The doctor removed the remaining skin in his office and drained a few more pustules and checked his blood results. He told us after looking at things he didn't think we were winning the battle with the infection and he would need to go back to surgery. 2 hours later he was back under the knife. Unfortunately the finger was necrotic and had to be removed. We found out the bacteria was a strain of Strep A (strep throat family). This isn't MRSA but it is its own form of flesh eating bacteria. An aggressive one as all this took place within 7 days!

He was discharged the next day which happened to be Christmas Eve. He had planned to fly to MN to be with my sister for the holidays but obviously that had to be changed. With all that was going on and with our own hustle and bustle at home things were nothing short of chaotic! Before picking him up from the hospital Joseph,Charley and I went on the hunt to find things for Papa to make the holiday a little brighter. We managed to find a stocking and holder, and found a puzzle he could do. We also found one of those foam hands with the index finger raised at the craft store. We picked it up and grabbed some makers and decided to have all the family sign and decorate it. It was so cute and Papa loved it. Later that night another nurse came to train us on the new IV medication that we now had to give. This time it came with a pump. One medication is on a 24 hour drip but the other was again on an 8 hour cycle so the late nights persisted for another week. We also had new instructions on how to change the wound. I now have significant supplies to add to our first aid kit with the left overs from the first surgery. His bedroom is looking more like a hospital room with the IV stand and boxes of gauze, ace bandages, and IV flush supplies.

The week after Christmas he was then scheduled for 2 hand therapy sessions a week with blood draws and doctor appointments once a week. He is now continuing the therapy and the doctor visits and is still on the 24 hour pump. We are hoping the stitches come out this week and that the IV treatments finish as well. We will just have to wait and see.

Through all of this Ronny and the kids were real troopers. I was either away at the hospital or taking care of Dad most of that week and Ronny stepped right in at home. Many nights I saw the kids for the first time as they went to bed. Exhaustion finally won out on one of the days and I was an emotional wreck, Ronny again stepped in and took over. This was certainly not in our Christmas plans but we got through it and was grateful Dad could be home with us on Christmas morning. We certainly felt the prayers offered on our behalf and truly appreciate them.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Just after Thanksgiving Ronny and I flew back to Oregon for Ronny's dissertation defense and a short visit with friends. The morning of the defense I dropped Ronny off at the school while I headed over to a friends house and the store to prep the refreshments. The night before one of Ronny's professors emailed out to everyone that all should come to hear him and that his wife makes really good brownies and they should come just for that. (Nice, no pressure or anything!) My friend was great and had everything all ready for me and we chatted while they baked.

Ronny did great and many people attended, (more than we expected). The room quickly filled, I think only 2 seats were left open. One of the guys in his lab presented just before he Ronny did and only 2 people other than his committee came, he was kind enough to bring the coffee service over that wasn't used at his. I completely blanked on that as we don't drink coffee so everyone was happy.

After the presentation the audience was kicked out and his committee has a question and answer session with him. After that is complete Ronny is asked to leave while the committee deliberates and decides whether to pass him or not. Ronny said he was only out of the room for less than a minute. The committee said they passed him in world record time and asked him to sign his name on the completion page. Ronny then asked them for any revisions they had so that he could wrap up everything by the following afternoon. The next day was spent with Ronny frantically completing the few revisions he had (mostly typos and rearranging stuff) amongst meetings his lead professor had set up. At 3:30 I was sent to Kinko's to have the finally copy printed and then raced back. We then hunted everyone down that he needed signatures from and I raced over to the administration building to pay for an archiving fee and submit the final dissertation to the graduate office. I made it there at 4:47 (the office closed at 5). Ronny was in yet another meeting and met me at the bookstore just after 5 as we had dinner plans with friends and had to drive to Portland that night.

Ronny received an email shortly before Christmas that his degree was processed and he was complete as of Dec. 2, 2009. Welcome Dr. Ronald Vance Bjarnason Jr. PhD! It was a long journey but he has finally reached the finish line.

Christmas Blessings

At the beginning of December the kids came home from school so excited and announced they were starting their holiday units and art projects. Joseph and Charley came close and whispered that in their classes this year they got to talk about Christmas and wondered if that was allowed. I laughed out loud and thought how sad is that! I guess we are officially out of the politically correct school system of our past. The next week they announced that Santa had visited the school and Joseph wanted to know if I would play the draddle with him. They also talked about all the decorations that had been hung all over the school. They are still in disbelief that its ok to talk about different holidays here.

Sam's teacher sent around a list asking for parents to come in and tell about their holiday traditions to ensure everyone had a chance to voice their customs and beliefs. I was assigned to the 22nd of the month. Unfortunately due to IV treatment times and nurse and doctor appointments I wasn't able to make it. I asked the teacher if I could send a letter and have Sam act things out and share a few traditions he likes. She agreed and thought it was a great idea.

Sam wanted to share of the Christmas Eve traditions at Nana and Papa's house in particular. That night all the family and many friends are invited over for the festivities. The barn is cleaned out and prepared with hay bale seats and a stage. Every child and adults who have been coerced will be given a part in the nativity and will then search the house for costume material. There is a bin of clothes, however the house is depleted of all bathrobes, towels, sheets, and blankets. The story is read from the Bible and the actors do their stuff. (Its quite the site!). After the nativity is completed we sing songs, tell stories, and play homemade chimes. Then we move back into the house for the sugar blitz!

I made Sam a costume consisting of a hat and shall made out of towels and wrote a short note describing the traditions in CA and the ones we now have at home. I picked up Sam from school that day and asked the teacher how it went. She said it was great and that she may change to have the kids share their traditions next year as she loved Sam's presentation. I asked Sam how it went. He told him a girl at his table laughed at him when he dressed up. I asked him how he felt about that. He said, "Mom, she doesn't know how much fun we have, if she knew she wouldn't laugh, she would want to dress up too." I love it. Of course this made his Nana cry knowing how much he loves being there for the holidays.

With Christmas Eve's arrival and having my Dad released from the hospital that day we had to scramble to complete our preparations for Christmas on a tight schedule. Charley and Joseph tagged along as we scrambled to find a stocking and presents for Grandpa as he would be with us instead of in MN. I told the duo that they couldn't tell the younger ones that Mom was helping Santa out with some of the stocking stuff this year. Joseph looked at me with wonderment and asked me what I meant. I realized I hadn't told him what Grandpa was in the hospital for and what had happened and that we needed to make sure he had a good Christmas. Joseph began to cry and offered his stocking to Grandpa and wanted to know how he could make things better. I think for the first time Joseph got the gist of why we celebrate Christmas.

Holiday Decor

A few of our friends in Oregon requested pictures of our house decorated for Christmas. Here you go! I don't have much and am collecting as we go but I sure enjoyed having a banister to put garland and lights on, it so reminds me of Christmas's of my youth.

New Happenings

In October my Dad called and asked if he could move in while he looked for new employment. He moved in the week before Thanksgiving. The kids were thrilled and love having him here. The adjustment has gone relatively well considering the recent medical problems (this will be its own blog post). I love having him read with the boys while I get dinner on. The kids also love that he helps with their chores sometimes. We're happy he's here and hope he's enjoying his time here as well.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Posts Coming Soon

Sorry, its been a long month, I promise to have lots of updates by this weekend!