Home Again!

It’s be a bit more than a month.  Jerry checked into the hospital on February 6 and checked out of rehab on March 10.  Whew!  It’s been a long haul.  And we still have a long way to go, especially in the swallowing department.  But we’re on our way.  We have lots of appointments next week…x-ray, meet with surgeon, with primary care, with cardiologist, with speech therapist.

And we’re going to have a houseful of family.  Ryan and his family will be here tomorrow.  Erin and her gang come on Sunday.  They may overlap…sleeping arrangements will be interesting….but I think one goes when the other comes.  At least it’s family…they can take care of themselves while we go off to see doctors.

And I have a new (unchipped) tooth.  Scrapes and bruises are healing.  I still can’t believe how lucky I was not to break anything.

So all is well.  Thanks again for your prayers, your thoughts, your healing energy!

If It Isn’t One Thing…

In the courtyard

Jerry is definitely on the mend and I think they’re ready to kick him out of rehab…He’s got his little quirky issues but, aside from not being able to eat real food (and yes, we know that’s BIG), he’s doing just fine.  Well, he’s got some pneumonia …that’s not so great…but with some heavy duty antibiotics and a lot of time walking and a handy little spirometer, he’ll have that licked.  When he comes home, we’re expecting he’ll be going to speech for swallowing work several times a week and to the Y for exercise.

My guess is that he’ll be home by Friday.  He came home Saturday and Sunday afternoon (no therapy on the weekends).  It was nice…relax by the pool, get taxes done, pick out his own clothes to bring back (I didn’t do a bad job but he wanted particular shorts and tee shirts), play cards (He won the last set but I’m winning this one) and walk a little bit around the neighborhood.  Jerry also fixed the lights on the lanai and checked the oil in the Camry (there’s something weird with the oil and the Camry) We could do his feedings at home but he did need to go back for meds and breathing treatments.

In the meantime, I took a nasty fall this morning.  Was out walking before I met a friend for breakfast and tripped on an uneven sidewalk and went flying.  The good news…nothing is broken.  I remember when a good friend fell on a cobblestone street in a tiny town in Germany during a Viking River Cruise.  She broke one wrist and sprained the other.  That would not have been a good thing for us at the moment.  All I had was a  split lip, chipped tooth (I look stunning), scraped hands and a knee that was really hurting for awhile.  I was a bloody mess but essentially I was fine.  Incredibly lucky…I know.

Saw the dentist…new crown on Thursday.  Stopped by to drop off some things for Jerry at rehab and then went home to ice my lip and knee and sulk and feel sorry for myself for awhile.  I thought I’d take a nap but didn’t fall asleep so I went over to Pinebrook to beat Jerry at five rounds of Gin Rummy.

So,honestly, we’re doing okay.  And next week is Spring Break.  Ryan, Anne and Grace are coming on the weekend and Erin and her gang will be here Monday night.  Beach, pool, kayaking…It certainly won’t be quiet around here.  But, oh my, what joy those little people bring!



Louise Penny

811sqbhadjlJerry has settled in at Pinebrook Center for rehab.  The therapists are great and he’s working hard, determined to get well and get home as soon as possible.  It’s the swallowing that’s really holding him back.  Once he can eat, or at least get most of his nourishment by food rather than a feeding tube, he’ll be home.  No clue when that will be but the staff is pretty  optimistic that he’ll be out in a couple weeks.  Hope they’re right.

In the meantime, it is so nice to have him in Venice.  I’m getting back pieces of my life…heading to the beach early to walk and do yoga, stopping for breakfast with friends before I head over to Pinebrook, leaving in the middle of the day to begin to take care of things that a piling up around the house ( I think I could write “Dust me” on every piece of furniture in this place) or run errands in town.  I usually go back late afternoon and stay until after the dinner hour (obviously he’s not having dinner but everyone else is) I still come home and am in bed by 7:30, sometimes reading, sometimes watching TV or You Tube, sometimes sleeping but doing fine.   It’s working, anyway.  And Jerry continues to stay cheerful and positive…

So why did I call this post “Louise Penny”?  I guess it’s because Louise is helping both of us through these days.  In January when we drove to Texas, I downloaded the first three books of her series on Armand Gamache and that magical village of Three Pines.  We listened to them coming and going. It was wonderful.  I had read a few of her later ones but never gone back to the beginning.   I liked the later ones but now, knowing the characters as well as I do, I LOVE the books.  They’re like comfort food–mac and cheese and chicken soup for the soul.

Now Jerry is listening to them on his iPod when he’s tired and doesn’t want to read…he can just sit or lie back and relax and escape into another world filled with some very special people that I think we’ve both come to love as if they are real.  And I listened to the books on the way back and forth to the hospital and sometimes when I took my walks in the afternoon when I was dying for fresh air and sunshine.

In the last couple of days, I’ve discovered interviews with Louise Penny on You Tube.  She’s beautiful, inside and out, and  honest about her own life and her process for writing her books.  She’s wise and witty and humble and incredibly funny.  I’ve been watching the interviews before I go to sleep at night.  They just make me appreciate this woman’s talent even more.

Sufficient to say, if you haven’t tried a Louise Penny and you’re looking for something to read, start with Still Life, her very first one.  The books are treasures and I need to write to thank her for being with us these past few months, but especially this February.

Love to you all..

For all you Catholics out there, people came from Epiphany Cathedral and offered us ashes (It’s Ash Wednesday, folks)  We said sure.  Doesn’t he look holy?




imageCleared for takeoff.  Just waiting for discharge orders.  Day 20 at Sarasota MemoriL Hospital.   Long days and hard work still ahead but the light at the end of the tunnel is BRIGHT.

The hospital has “star grams” that patients and family can fill out to recognize exceptional care. We needed six could probably have done more….lots of wonderful nurses who were cheerful. Competent and encouraging.  But we picked the ones who seemed to really make a difference.

First was Maureen, his nurse in ICU who was probably around fifty. She was with Jerry after surgery and then again when we landed back there after the chocolate shake fiasco when he could barely breathe and his heart rate skyrocketed. We must have looked like deer in headlights when we arrived and she said, “You again.  I thought I got rid of you.  Never mind. Your heart rate will come right down now that you’re back with just me and your wife around. It was all those cute young nurses on the seventh floor that got you so excited.”

And Dana, the nurse on the seventh floor who, when all hell broke loose, got me a cup of coffee and sat down and hugged me and told me it wasn’t my fault…they SAID he could have a shake…and just sat with me until we moved to ICU.

And Stephen, the first nurse Jerry had after we left ICU the second time, who told him he was doing great and never stopped smiling.

And Vilma, who quietly cleaned the room every day and stopped to chat when you asked her about her family.  Her steadiness was so calming each day.

And Ashley…poor Ashley..who had the dubious honor of calming Jerry down and  putting in the first feeding tube when he just wanted to try to swallow again.  Erin and I told her forget it–they could try again in the morning.   I don’t know how she did it or  exactly what happened but Jerry called a few minutes later, around 9:00 and said, “It’s done.  And Ashley thinks I’m wonderful, because I didn’t hit her.” They were both laughing ..first time he had laughed since surgery.

And Sharon…speech therapist.  How do I describe this gifted woman?  She made me wish I had a “do over” with teaching because she was the perfect teacher.  I kept watching trying to figure out how she did it…the perfect mix of encouragement with helpful tips and straightforward, no nonsense this isn’t easy and I know it.  The honesty…I can’t clear you for ice chips yet, you aren’t good enough…the constructive criticism…your voice sounds gravelly…clear your throat and swallow before  you talk, the matter of fact ness …you’re going to eat again but it’s going to take time and work.  You need to do those exercises.   No fake, “you’re doing great” when he wasn’t but no “it’s not looking good” either. No matter how tired we both were or how discouraged, we were both smiling and laughing when  Sharon  left.

That reminded me of what my sister, Paula, Said almost  twenty years ago..that the teachers who meant the most to her were not the ones who were the most interesting or funny or clever but the ones who saw something in her, who challenged her and made her believe she could do it.

So we hope to be out of here some time today   But we know things move at glacial speed around here. Jerry’s nurse said there are seven people being discharged today and no orders have come through for any of them. Good thing Jerry  is a patient patient.  We have a bet on…I say he’ll be out before 3:30.  He says it will be after  3:30.  The prize will have something to do with picking the TV shows when we get home.

And I,  by theway, am killing him at gin rummy this time around –ahead of him by 210 points at the moment.  Last time he won he won 558 to 278  Revenge is sweet.



Light at the End of the Tunnel


There IS a light at the end of this particular tunnel and we’re beginning to see it.  Okay, first the good news..and a lot of it is REALLY good

  1.   No more air leaks.  Jerry had surgery again yesterday to put in an additional chest tube put in, hoping it would address the air leak. And either we were turning a corner anyway or it did the trick. Unless things take a weird turn, all three chest tubes will be clamped later on today and removed tomorrow morning.
  2. Speech therapist has been in again and Jerry is cleared for ice chips whenever he wants them and yogurt under supervision. We’re on our way back to New York Strip steak and baked potatoes.
  3. IF the Coumadin kicks in, we might actually get out of here and go to rehab tomorrow. Big if, but we’re planning on it happening.
  4. Four new babies this morning, including our friend, Lisa’s, baby boy, Keighen.  Welcome to the world, Keighen.  Lucky you…you’re joining a beautiful family.
  5. Jerry is walking more and more without getting tired. And I’ve learned how to unplug all his tubes and walk him so we don’t have to wait until Ivan, the walker, comes around.  Ivan says they should hire me to help him out. He has 36 people to walk today…multiple times if possible. I’d help out if they’d let me but I imagine there’s liability issues. And I’m not the best walker.  I get distracted and run Jerry’s IV pole into his heels or into the wall.
  6. We continue to play gin rummy and (drum roll) I’m winning. I never win so I am in a very good mood at the moment. And Jerry isn’t whining about it. Actually he’s not whining about anything..

There isn’t any bad news except

  1.  Donald Trump  is still President.
  2. We haven’t won the lottery or anything

But it as I said, life is good and we are so grateful.



Except I’m not so humble when I win at cards!!!

Sixteen Days and Counting


First the good news

1. Jerry continues to get stronger.

2.  He’s very sharp…knows more about his tubes and what meds go where and how to fix quirky things than I do. I was so passive after my surgery. He’s way more interested in what’s going on and why. The nurses don’t have a lot of experience with feeding tubes so he supervises.

3 Four new babies yesterday. One set of twins.

4. Sean is safely back in LA. Erin’s  kids did terrific at their swim meet this weekend.

5.  My back is doing fine.

6. Jerry did better swallowing yesterday. Great therapist who had some good tips for him and really gave us a lot of hope that this swallowing issue is temporary and he’ll most likely get back to real food eventually.  And she’s coming back every day till he’s discharged. They still won’t let him have anything by mouth except during therapy sessions.  Are determined he won’t go back to ICU on their watch

7  I saw my sister’s grandkids last night.  Great to get a kid fix.  They are just beautiful and I loved spending time with them (and my nephew, Jason, and his wife, Ang)

8. We probably  know every nurse on the floor and they promise to take good care of me now that the kids are gone and I’m on my own.

9  We have a big beautiful room with lots of sun and light and a huge couch for me…best hospital room I’ve ever seen.

10.  The play at FST…Brownsville Song…was absolutely wonderful.  Thanks, Deirdre and Russ, for getting me there and back to the hospital.

And the bad news?

1  No discharge date in sight.  Biggest problem is an air leak in the lungs…don’t seem to know exactly what caused it or why it hasn’t healed itself the way it’s supposed to.  Lungs still don’t look good

2  Still going into a-fib off and on…more meds!

3  Walked in today and someone followed me in with a nice pitcher of ice water.  I’m usually pretty easy going but mistakes like this could cost someone his life  I blasted the guy.  There’s a red light outside Jerry’s room indicating nothing by mouth, the whiteboard in his room says tube feeding only,  and this guy doesn’t check.  I told him it wasn’t  serious in Jerry’s case because he’s sharp enough to know he can’t have water but someone else who was disoriented and confused could have a nice glass of water and aspirate and land in the ICU with pneumonia.  He kinda shrugged and said sorry…I gave him the finger when he walked out.  (No, he didn’t see me)  Told Jerry’s nurse about it.  She wrote NPO in huge letters on the whiteboard.

4  We’ve been playing a lot of gin rummy. Jerry continues to kill me.  Wouldn’t you think I’d be able to beat a sick guy?

5  Donald Trump is still President.

My days have taken on a certain rhythm.  I’m out of the house by 6:30, at the hospital shortly after 7.  I  get here in time for rounds, see the doctor and the night nurse and hear results of any tests they did during the night. I try to do a little yoga in the morning, walk outside every afternoon. We read, play cards, , watch TV (mostly Netflix on the iPad) I leave around 5:00, go home,  have something to eat and go to bed.  Exciting life, huh?  When Jerry gets to rehab I’m hoping to go to yoga every morning before I go see him but for now, I need to be here early.  Thinking maybe one of these days I’ll skip out early and go to sunset yoga  it would do me good.

Thank you again for your prayers and good thoughts.  We are so grateful to know we aren’t doing this all alone.