Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Fred!!

On November 11 Fred celebrated his birthday! Now more than ever we are grateful for the gift of Fred! He is recovering nicely from his very serious illness in September. Fred 's kindness, courage, and gratitude are a daily inspiration to me. I'm glad we get to spend so much time together. It's been cozy and we've had some great sports entertainment, of course the Phillies, and sometimes the Eagles. Now the Villanova basketball season is upon us. Since Fred returned home from the hospital we've taken it easy, and have had just a couple of outings, including a trip to Longwood Gardens during the height of fall color. Fred visited the urologist on Monday 11-10, and had a bladder catheter and a stent in his kidney removed. He feels good, and has done well in home therapy. In a few weeks Fred will start some outpatient therapy at Bryn Mawr Rehab.
Of course, our grandchildren are always the best medicine! We had a wonderful visit with the Brown family last week. Carolyn brought the kids up on Wed afternoon, after Fred's trip to Paoli Hospital Radiology to have his kidney catheter removed. Carolyn, John Paul, Gabe, and Monica were lots of fun! Luis joined us on Friday, for some delicious meals and good conversation.
Monica enjoyed herself, and displayed great trust in her brother's driving!!

Fortunately, Uncle Greg kept a watchful eye on the children.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Perfect Day for a Parade!

Today, on a beautiful October morning, I drove to the Malvern train station hoping to board and meet up with our dear friends Jerry and Nicki. There were Phillies fans swarming everywhere, and not enough trains to accommodate us all. We ended up driving to the airport and taking that train into the city, after a mad dash to the mobbed train.
Nicki and I had curbside seats with a tree for a backrest as we waited for the parade.

We wildly cheered the Phillies as they were driven by!! The majority of fans lining the parade route weren't even born the only other time the Phillies were world champions, in 1980.
Very loyal fans Jerry, Nicki, and Chris savoring the great conclusion of the 2008 season! Chris displayed his devotion by driving up from Birmingham, Alabama yesterday, to attend the parade.
It was very exciting to see the players, who thanked the fans for their support at the ceremony in the ball park.
We really appreciate a championship in Philadelphia- we have to live in the present moment!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

World Champions!!!!

We are so proud of our Phillies for their incredible teamwork, perseverance, and devotion to each other. They are a great example to us and have brought joy to all long suffering Philadelphia sports fans!!! We're looking forward to the parade!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Best Tonic

Time spent with children and grandchildren is the best tonic!!
We had a wonderful week long visit with the Berg family.
Catherine, Frederick, Gemma, and I went to the zoo on a perfect fall day.

We had lots of fun in the woods behind our house.
The child sized John Deere gator was a huge hit with the boys!
Enjoying cousin time!
Family, brisk air, and sunshine- a recipe for good health!
Grandad's room is a fun place to play.
The two Freds having a Connect 4 competition.
Catherine, Gemma, and I spent a glorious fall afternoon at Longwood Gardens, while Greg and Tom held down the home front.
Gemma's smile could melt the hardest heart!
Relaxing with Uncle Greg.
Watch out for these drivers!!
A pick up game in our family room.

Giving the Bergs a proper send-off. Fortunately we had a two day visit with the Browns!
Riding the tractor with Daddy is a treat.
Nothing beats a tire swing!
Fred, energized by our family visits, did a fine job of standing with the therapists' help today!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Thank God It Went Well"

Those were the words of Fred's urologist this morning after spending a few hours doing all kinds of procedures on Fred. The kidney stone was broken apart by lithotripsy ( shock waves focused directly at the stone, passing harmlessly through the body), and a stent placed in the kidney. The doctor used a laser to remove two areas of scar tissue in the urinary tract and bladder stones. Fred is quite the trooper, and we came home this afternoon, loaded up with prescriptions, especially for pain management. So far, so good. Thank you for praying! I'm quite relieved that things went well. Hopefully, we can get some good rest tonight. This morning we had a classic encounter that illustrates Fred's six degrees of separation. At 7 AM Fred was being rolled down to radiology for an xray to make sure the kidney stone was still in the same place. He got a big grin when he saw the technician- an old friend from Villanova days! They had gone on double dates to basketball games at the Palestra; Fred and a friend from Villanova went with her and her sister. Fred was thrilled to see her and reminisce! One of our old neighbors was also helping in the OR so we knew Fred was in good hands. I included the picture of Fred from about 1973 , since we had traveled down memory lane today (don't you love the plaid pants?)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

We Wait in Joyful Hope

One of my favorite prayers during Mass is right after the Our Father, when the priest says, "Protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ". About three weeks ago when Fred was critically ill, much of our family gathered together.
The grandchildren helped us, as always, to live in the present moment.

The boys are good examples of joyfulness!
Making the most of time together, and enjoying our neighbors who shared their trucks.
Monica, reveling in her newly acquired skill of walking with a balloon!

Enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and grassy expanses.
Taking a walk is always a tonic!
Another tonic is our neighbor's well tended garden, enjoyed with cousins.
Busy mothers Carolyn and Jaye have learned about enjoying the present moment.
Sharon and Lydia already know how to do that!
Lydia is a perfect example of confident trust!
Now, thank God, Fred is home, enjoying life and waiting in joyful hope! ( Good thing he's not dependent on the Eagles' game outcome for his joyful hope). As Jesus said, "Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Friday, October 3, 2008

That Was the Week That Was

Whew! This week has been jam packed and extremely tiring. Outpatient doctor visits, many phone calls, several visits with nurses and therapists, coordinating blood draws for lab work, and last but not least, a five hour visit to Paoli Hospital's ER on Wed. We had a cardiology appointment that morning, and as we were leaving I got concerned that the catheter in Fred's kidney might have slipped out of place, because there was drainage I hadn't seen before. After waiting for a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis, and xrays, it turned out that the catheter was right where it was supposed to be. We needed those tests anyway for the urologist. I'll feel better when Fred has the procedure to remove the kidney stones, and I don't have to deal with the catheter to drain his kidney. It's attached to Fred by two stitches, and makes me nervous because it seems so easy to pull out. During the last three weeks I realized that I have had to explain the story of Fred's accident and injuries many times to doctors, nurses, and therapists, which is emotionally draining. Fred has been waking up more at night, and all that interrupted sleep takes it's toll. I had a few meltdowns today and could commiserate with Teresa of Avila; "If this is how you treat your friends Lord, no wonder you don't have many!" However, the last day of a very trying week contained it's own measure of comic relief. This morning at 8:45 I had successfully helped Fred with his morning routine, given him his IV antibiotic, and was watching as he sat in his motorized chair at the table with a lovely breakfast, supervised by the speech therapist. I was feeling proud of myself for these accomplishments in my sleep deprived state. All of a sudden Fred's chair starting moving forward, tipping the table on top of his therapist, who was trapped in the corner with Fred's big chair moving closer. Fred's control for the chair had become stuck under the table with the power on. I madly scrambled to turn off the chair in the nick of time! His therapist seemed none the worst for wear, but I had seen fear in her eyes. Fred and that humongous wheelchair can be a formidable combination, and that was a close call. This too shall pass!

Friday, September 26, 2008

No Place Like Home

By noon today Fred was dressed and ready for the outside world after two weeks in Paoli Hospital! Fred's nurse today said, "Everybody loves him! You can't resist that smile."
A bright spot during Fred's stay was the presence of dear family friend and neighbor Peg Maguire! The Pierce and Maguire families have been friends for almost sixty years. She has been faithfully volunteering at Paoli Hospital for three decades, and made the atmosphere more homey and welcoming! Fred also had daily visits from St. Patrick's parishioners and our deacon, who brought the Eucharist and prayed with Fred. What a great comfort! Fred said it made him feel great.
Peg insisted on helping to bring Fred to our van. She is quite a woman! When we arrived home, we immediately had a meeting with a nurse from Jefferson Home Care whom we have known for many years. She refreshed my IV medication infusion skills, since Fred needs an IV antibiotic three times a day for the next ten days. Fred also needs a twice daily injection of heparin for now, and has some new medications added. Never a dull moment! We are very happy and thankful for Fred's return home. Our Phillies and Eagles will provide excitement since we'll be nesting at home for a while!! Thank you Lord for the gift of Fred's life, and for great medical care available practically in our backyard! We don't plan to darken the doorstep of Paoli Hospital again, though, God willing!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heading for Home!

Today when I went to the hospital it was all great news. Fred's lab results show that the platelets and white blood cells are back to normal levels, his blood cultures have not grown any bacteria for 3 days, and best of all, a repeat echocardiogram indicated that his heart has recovered very well from all the stress of the massive infection! Nine days ago Fred's heart was pumping blood very weakly as measured by the "ejection fraction"- the number should be 60 and Fred's was 10. Now Fred's ejection fraction is 55 -thank God! I am in awe of the power of prayer, the miracle of Fred's body recovering so well, and the excellent care provided by the doctors and nurses of Paoli Hospital. Fred is on a new medication for his heart and we'll be following up with the cardiologist. Everything is set up for discharge from the hospital on Friday the 26th. Fred is hoping we can stop at Coldstone on the way home for ice cream!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cabin Fever

Fred is feeling better and getting antsy (which certainly runs in the family!). Yesterday evening his bed was switched to a nice soft Clinitron bed which he enjoys at home. Today he was doing fine with no supplemental oxygen. The pulmonologist said Fred's lungs sound better and that he's doing great! He had a video swallowing test, and was given the green light to eat pureed food and honey thick liquids with supervision. I don't think anyone could have enjoyed eating pureed meat and vegetables more than Fred. He proclaimed that his first meal in eleven days was "Delicious!" He also had some occupational and physical therapy at the bedside, and was assisted to a standing position with two therapists. His blood culture from 9-20 was positive today so he's going to be staying in his isolation room a while longer. We are very grateful for all the prayers and for Fred's miraculous turnaround!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Patient Endurance

Fred is doing better, thank God!! He did have low grade fevers yesterday;100.4 last night, and was given Tylenol. Since the doctor had decided on Friday the 19th to give him continuous tube feedings and nothing by mouth until another swallowing test on Monday, this has caused him discomfort. He frequently asks for something to drink. He has to stay in a semiupright position(30 degrees) all the time, and it's hard for him to relax enough to dose off. His bed is firm and very unlike the extremely comfortable bed he sleeps in at home. He has to keep the tubing in his nostrils in for extra oxygen, which he's not crazy about. The IV Picc line in his left arm was bothering him, and he has another tube in his back which is draining his kidney. No wonder that it's hard to get comfortable! Fred needs to stay in the hospital until all the IV antibiotics are finished and there are no signs of infection. Obviously, it's hard to get rest in a hospital, and especially the critical care unit where Fred spent four and a half days. This has been a very long weekend for Fred, who has patiently endured much suffering for the last ten days. His spirits are good through it all, and I am amazed at the miraculous power of prayer and the body's ability to heal!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Steady Recovery!

Late this afternoon Fred was transferred from the ICU to the regular floor because he has been stable since he was taken off the ventilator. He is not allowed to drink or eat yet because he will get a video swallowing study next Monday, but he is receiving nutrition through stomach tube feedings. He is on 4 liters of oxygen, and that is an improvement from yesterday when he needed 6 liters. I talked with the home care case manager today. When Fred returns home we hope to work with the home care therapists and nursing staff who helped us when Fred was discharged from Moss Rehab three and a half years ago. Thank you so much for your prayers, love, and concern, and thank God for Fred, a great gift to us all!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fred Fights Back from Sepsis

Thank you for all the prayers for Fred! He is improving, but still has bacteria in his blood, is on oxygen, and has a weakened heart and lungs from the terrible stress on his body.
Last night Fred experienced respiratory distress, which could have been caused by the kidney stone. With a dose of morphine, extra oxygen, and a "nonbreather" mask he became comfortable enough to get some rest. The pulmonologist said Fred was doing "okay" on the 6 liters of oxygen, and he needed physical therapy to get his muscles that support his lungs stronger. We need to remind him to use the incentive spirometer (the little plastic device you breathe into to get feedback about how you're moving air). The chest Xray is stable; pneumonia in one lung but not getting any worse. The nephrostomy procedure that Fred had on 9-16 was to insert a catheter in Fred's right kidney and allow all the infected urine to drain from his body. The kidney stone is still lodged and blocking urine from passing along the normal route. The plan now is to have the kidney stone dissolved by the urologist during an outpatient visit, so hopefully it won't cause Fred too much pain between now and then. Something that has been tricky since Fred's brain injury 4 years ago is his ability to describe pain and be aware of where it 's located. Fred was very restless all night on Friday 9-12; (I brought him to the hospital the next morning) and now I know that is a big red flag for him. When the nurses ask Fred if he's having any pain he almost always says no. His last two incidents of respiratory distress were triggered by pain. He's going to have a rehab consult soon which will be extremely helpful. Fred's platelets are almost back to normal today, as well as his blood clotting time. "You won't be needing me anymore!", said Fred's hematologist. His nurse today commented that she's never seen such clear urine draining from a nephrostomy bag. Thank God for that wonderful intervention which really saved Fred and got things moving in the right direction. This afternoon Fred had a brain scan, which his doctors ordered to help with neurological assessments. Fred needs lots of rest to continue this recovery so we ask if we could hold off on visitors while Fred is in the ICU. In a very weak voice today he asked when he can go home- can't blame him! What a wonderful thought! He will need to be infection free as determined by the blood cultures, and he may need some inpatient time at Bryn Mawr Rehab. We are so thankful to God for sparing Fred, and for the support of our beloved family and friends!

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Southern Pierce Reunion

Catherine, Gemma and I traveled to Greensboro,NC last weekend, where John and Sherry and their entire family offered us wonderful hospitality. The star of our family, Mom and Gram, was hospitalized for pneumonia two weeks ago, and is not bouncing back too well. She celebrated her ninety sixth birthday on July 28.
The book of Jack Pierce's poems was created with the help of a family friend. The picture on the cover is Betty and Jack on their honeymoon in February 1942. As the 1966 poem says: "You started it all in Forty two, in something borrowed, something blue. Through the years, who is your most ardent fan, of course you know, just the old man." He was a real romantic, with a great sense of humor!Jaye, Catherine, Mom, and I read all of Dad's poems out loud. Here's an excerpt from the poem of Christmas 1969: "Her hair's turning gray, the spirit's bold, just a few signs that she's getting old. Her hair may be tinged but her eyes still shine bright, ruffle her feathers and you've got a fight. During daylight, hers they fuss fume and fret. When darkness settles in, the sack's the best bet. As time catches up they're not far from each other. Why not, he married a grandmother." ( A grandmother of eight and great grandmother of eleven and one due in December. Betty and Jack's family is getting bigger all the time!)
Some words of wisdom from Jack to his wife: "What can one say when near the end of the day of life's tumultuous span, when your heart is glad, life is good, really not bad, pleasant thought let memory fan. You've done what you could, best you can, knock on wood. Remember the pleasures you've had. All the years gone past, not enough done, all too fast, loving, living, is more than a fad. The name of the game is not fortune or fame, more likely tis how did one love."
Four generations!
Cousins add so much to life!
Time flies- I remember when Catherine was the flower girl at Jacqueline's wedding.
Bonding time with second cousins- Sharon was a delightful host and we had fun at her house and at the Messicks!
John and his whole family are serious Panther fans. I watched the Panthers pull out an exciting last second victory in their season opener. We Eagles won also, so everybody was happy.
John and Sherry just celebrated their 40th wedding Anniversary. Congratulations and thanks for the great witness of your faithful love!

Greg and Fred picked me up at the airport, and we had time for dinner with Catherine since she had a layover. It's always good to spend time with our far flung family!