Jan 31, 2010

Such a hard thing

I am still here. It feels like I have been gone forever though. I don't even know what to write. Everything is so up and down and upside down sometimes and so heavy and intense and just consumes every fiber of your body and mind - I know many of you know what I mean. We came home from the hospital Thursday. We had two very good days, yesterday and the day before, but lost ground last night. It was a long night of confusion and hallucinations again. No one here now but my dad's wife, a 24 hour nurse aid, and me. Kent was here from Thursday to this morning but needed to get back to work and the kids. He helped immensely as I had hit my wall after about 3 straight days and nights I stayed with my dad in the hospital before we came home - very little sleep or nerves left. Hospice is coming today for an extra visit to assess and see if there is something that can help the hallucinations and restlessness - he hardly took any pain meds yesterday and hadn't had hallucinations since last Tuesday when he was taking alot more pain medicine in the days between. I fear yesterday's activities may have been that surge of energy that often comes a few days before the end, but then I also fear it wasn't. It is hard to know what to wish for anymore. Yesterday, everyone had good talks with dad about all kinds of things, trivial and not, emotional and not. He even asked for some ham salad to be made and ate a bit of that - very comfortable day, very fresh and clear. And then about 9 last night he started having confusing weird hallucinations. At one point in the night my dad wanted me to check on everyone else in the house because people from another country had been here and had taken all of our money and groceries - that kind of weird and numerous episodes through the night.

So, I am sorry my blog has taken such a turn away from art and happy things, but I guess it is part of my journey. I will try to be better about posting now that we're home. Hope some of you from some of the groups I belong to can update the message boards for me. I just can't seem to hit a stride that allows me to focus on anything but dad for more than a few minutes here and there. love you all and miss you so much.

Jan 25, 2010

Update and quick hello

Hi everyone. I've been in Missouri 2 weeks and it seems like 2 months. What a roller coaster. What a time warp and intense experience. When I got here my dad was obviously in pain, very thin, no appetite and somewhat shell shocked with finding out about the cancer but otherwise okay. That was 2 weeks ago yesterday. By the next Thursday, he was sleeping almost constantly, in much more pain and quickly became dehydrated shutting down his kidneys causing confusion and hallucinations. He was brought to the hospital by ambulance a week ago tomorrow and it has been a long week. I took turns with my brother staying with dad in 12 hour shifts as he still needed assistance and reassurance as the confusion lifted. As his mental state and kidneys started getting better other problems arose. His kidneys worked but not his urinary tract so a catheter was put in. His bowels became impacted and that caused some painful procedures. His heart started having ventricular tachycardia because of an electrolyte imbalance, possibly, could be that his heart is starting to have more problems. Anyway, after scans we found out Friday that his back was broken in two places and was probably the cause of the worst of his pain. Tomorrow he is having a quick procedure that inflates the two broken vertebra and will hopefully take care of much of the pain but we won't know til we try. His official prognosis is 3 months but if he slips back into dehydration or any other complications, of course, this could be over at any time. The cancer started in the gall bladder and we know it is in the liver and lymph nodes but that is all. Despite appetite stimulants, his appetite is not returning nor his desire for fluids so it is just hard to say what will happen. My brother left today so most is up to me now but Neva, dad's wife, does her best to help. This is going to be a long haul. It will be good to get out of the hospital and home to their house - that will help me in some ways, make it harder in others. Hospice will start immediately and we have a call into my dad's long term health care insurance to see what other ways we can get help. At least when we are home sleeping, eating, being all in once place will help. I have a hard time focusing on anything other than this situation so forgive my absence and "bain" damage (roc). I love you all and miss you so much. Hope all is well with everyone else.

Jan 16, 2010

Just a quick update . . .

Being with someone dying is so complicated on so many levels. There are so many dynamics with all the people involved. On top of that I am hormonal I think - not a good mixture.

Doctor and Hospice both came today. Monday we are going for a bone scan to see if the cancer has spread there and that is what ...is causing the worst pain that they haven't been able to manage yet. If it shows up then they will do heavy duty radiation to eliminate pain but it will not help his prognosis. In fact, in this situation, it is a way heavier dose of radiation than would ever be used to treat cancer. We kind of almost hope that is what happens so that the pain might get better. After that process is through, Hospice will start immediately.

In the discussion my brother had with the doc away from my dad we found out that the next two weeks will reveal a lot. They might be able to improve his condition a bit, not the overall prognosis but his comfort for many weeks. If they are not able to improve things in the next two weeks, even with the radiation, then the doc said the end would come fairly quickly within a couple of weeks maybe. Next to pain, his complete loss of appetite, growing inabiltiy to take solid food and severe weight loss will have a lot to do with the outcome along with his weak heart. So there are still lots of unknowns. I can say that there has been a rather large decline since I've been here and even Kent sees a decline since he got here Thursday. His eyes look different, he is sleeping way way more the last two days, his speech has slowed down a bit, he is happy in the bedroom away from the activity, hasn't had anything solid since Thursday morning, kind of talks about things sometimes that have nothing to do with what we were just talking about (like for some reason today he explained his very weird dream last night in great detail to his doctor while we were trying to talk about medications for indigestion) Kent goes home tomorrow. My brother will be here another week. Monday is going to be a long trying day trying to get dad to the hospital and back, so pray for good things.


Jan 12, 2010

Update from Missouri

Thank you all so very much for all of your kind wishes, good thoughts, and prayers. I can feel them and I know they are helping. Please keep 'em coming.

The flight here did not do me in at least, and I got here just fine. It was a shock to see how tiny my dad has become and see him so sick so suddenly. Everyone here that sees him regularly tells me this came so fast and so hard. Hearing that makes it hard to imagine that he will linger a year as the prognosis seems to foretell. His doctor came to the house last night and said that the prognosis is a year but given my dad's heart troubles and not knowing where all the cancer has reached, it really can be any time. My dad is very very thin and can only lay on his left side to get any comfort and is still in pain then. He isn't all that weak yet, but can't sit up long enough to eat and doesn't want to eat anyway. We are giving him ensure as often as he will take it and trying to force small amounts of food but we don't get very far with that. He has a complication that is going to make this tough in that he can't have too strong a pain med or it makes his blood pressure drop too low. So he's kind of in a pickle there and I think that may make the end come sooner than later. He is going in for a bone scan Monday to see if the cancer has spread to his back bones where they can hit it with radiation to relieve the pain, but there will be no change in his prognosis.

Gall bladder cancer is very uncommon and very hard to find. It doesn't form a mass or tumor that is easily seen by any kind of medical imaging. And, usually, once it's found it's too late to treat well. But, it definitely started in the gall bladder and has likely spread to other areas like his back bones and there is some indications that it might be just now starting to affect his kidneys and pancreas, based on lab results from bloodwork. They are not going to do any other looking as it wouldn't change anything anyway.

Okay, so that's all the clinical reality side of this - still lots of unknowns. I am fine. I only break down a bit when people tell me mushy stuff and then the love and emotions kind of overwhelms my emotions a bit. But, I feel strangely matter of fact about this right now. Maybe I cried so much before I came that I have some room in my head to deal with it. The hardest part right now is having to be away from my family and not having my own support group here in person. I think that kind of makes me be tough until someone tells me something mushy and then I go to my soft side. My mom died many years ago so I have no family or personal friends here other than my dad's wife who he married about 4 years ago. She's wonderful but needs some TLC herself so I am kinda taking care of both. We will be calling in hospice in the next few days, maybe while my brother is here. My husband Kent is coming Thursday to Sunday just to see my dad and talk to the doctor and do a couple of chores around the house with my brother. My brother will be here a week and then won't be able to come much after that because of work. I think he only has 3 weeks of leave so we need to use it only when we absolutely need to.

So that's the story. I'm hoping in the next few days we'll all kind of settle into this and get my dad a little better taken care of or leveled off and then I might try to do some blog visiting and maybe even some collage sheet work if Kent can bring me my wacom tablet and get photoshop installed on my laptop this weekend.

Jan 8, 2010

Very bad news

Well, this may be the hardest post I've had to write. In the midst of all the other bad things going on (as in the previous post) I found out today that my dad has terminal cancer. I am getting things together to fly there on Sunday and I bought a one way ticket. I'm not sure how long I will be there or what is about to happen or how and it will surely be the toughest trip I've ever made. Not only am I so deeply sad beyond words about my dad, but leaving my family in the midst of the crisis here with my brother-in-law and our friends' parents, it's just very very tough from all sides.

I expect to be with my dad for many weeks so I'm not sure what will happen to my art life but I will resume it down the road when the time is right. A little silver lining is that I will have plenty of time to finally get caught up on everyone else's blogs and work and I look forward to that. Of all the times I've asked for prayers, this is the time I have needed them most for myself, for strength and wisdom, and for all those in my family and friends' families that are suffering and in need of strength as well.

Jan 7, 2010

Life updates

Thank you all for all of the good wishes, sweet words and prayers. Please keep praying for Tina's family. I have sent about 25 prints of Walk Ahead (in the post below), and the original, to her family and very close friends. I've had so many requests for it from so many people, I put it in my Etsy for a short time to help cover the postage and packaging. You only pay for materials and shipping.

It has been a rough couple of weeks. I feel like I always have some drama to share and I feel like overall I am the happiest most un-dramatic person you'll find in reality. But when one sums up one's existence on a blog, the bad news sticks out like a sore thumb and overtakes the joys and happy things sometimes. So, I am not being much of a happy carefreee artist this week but a person with a few curve balls thrown at her.

Spent yesterday in the ER with my daughter, again. She had the swine flu in the fall but this time had a good ol' stomach/intestinal flu and got dehydrated. So, we had to go get her tanks filled up and she is starting to perk up this morning.

My dad is doing much better and feels like he is on his way to finally getting better. That's great news and a big relief to me. But, I have other bad news. Kent's (my husband) brother is in intensive care after it appears the same flu my daughter and nephew had, caused some bleeding in his stomach and intestines. He had a seizure and was taken to the hospital when they discovered the bleeding and that he had some very serious liver problems after many years of injuries, medical and other issues have overtaxed his liver. He has had a broken back and other back problems over the years and then a very badly broken leg that he nearly lost, along with his life, due to staff infection and he is in pain daily due to those injuries. He has had lots of pain meds, even just over the counter, go through that liver over the years and they have taken their toll. We are waiting to find out how bad things are but he has been sedated since Tuesday night and is currently on a ventilator though he is breathing on his own. They expect that to come out today when they feel like they have good control over all the issues going on. Test results will let us know how bad the liver is in the next day or two.

On top of that, the mothers of two of my closest friends have been in the hospital too. One had a spinal stroke Christmas night and is now in a rehabilitation center getting therapy to help her legs work again. The other has been fighting cancer many years and is in the hospital to manage pain and get some heavy duty treatment.

Here I am again, asking for prayers. Please pray for the healing of these people and that their families can overcome the challenges they face and know they have the strength of an army of angels behind them. And selfishly, I ask that you pray that 2010 gets a little better soon.

Jan 3, 2010

Tina passed away last night. Please continue to hold her loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

Jan 1, 2010

There is no picture

that can show what a broken heart feels like. There are no words that adequately describe it. I just got word tonight that Tina Wright is losing her battle with cancer and slipping away. Many of you may know her as CollageMojo on flickr or from her blog {glue on my fingers, paint in my hair}. Tina was the first person to leave me a testimonial on my flickr and it meant so much to me then and means so much to me now. She was always available to give me a good quick kick in the pants if I started feeling blah about my work, or life in general for that matter. She wore big girl underpants and was so great at showing the rest of us how to put them on.

She and I were actually working on a little swap project together just as she got the news she had cancer. After a few weeks of adjusting to things, she posted a bit about our project together (here) and there was no way I would have thought anything but that she would kick this cancer thing out to the curb.

But she is part of another masterpiece, bigger than anything we could create here on earth and it appears she is being called to work on that now. Along with a few other thousand people, including her devoted husband and family and other artist friends, I am devastated. My life will not be the same without her here but it never would have been the same without her touching me as she did. That's how people go on after they leave this world, they live on in the ways they changed those around them. She will always be in my heart as a friend and sistah in life, and a little bit of her support and encouragement and spirit that she shared with me will always be in my art.

Added later in the evening . . . I couldn't sleep tonight. I made this. It reads "The strength we have found in our sisters on this journey, remains with us even when we must walk ahead on our own."

Walk Ahead (thinking of Tina)

copyright by Marsha Jorgensen 1/1/10. All rights reserved. You may not copy, print, download, or use this image in any way without my permission.
This is an 8 x 10 collage using a main image from flickr's picassowoman (hand cut and colored with inks and pastel), wings and road from Holliewood Studios at Oscraps.com, a crown from keeperofthenest.etsy.com, and a background from Studio Lorrie at Scrapbookgraphics.com. The group pictures are all from the Library of Congress and the outside border pieces are from Gaby Braun of gaby-cajubrasil.blogspot.com.

Thanks, Becky, for keeping me posted. Hugs to you dear friend. And thinking of you Cindy. I know you both are hurting.