Friday, November 28, 2008

Words just seem inadequate

It seems that I am at a loss for speak of our grief seems so very inadequate. Her Mom, KK, and her Dad, Ray are truly suffering....but the faces of her children are the images that you cannot remove from your mind. They are such brave children, and loved their Mom very much. How do you console a child when they loose their mother? Or a mother when they loose their child? Everything is inadequate!
WHY, WHY, WHY.....I know we are not supposed to ask this question, but it is so hard to accept the fact that healthy, thirty-five year old Kristy should be so stricken with such a dreadful disease. It was January 30, 2008, when we had just left Quartzsite heading for Phoenix, when KK emailed to tell us that Kristy had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I knew almost nothing about such a diagnosis, but quickly learned that she had a very high risk case of this disease. Still, I thought, many people live long lives with leukemia, and they can cure most anything these days. Wrong, wrong wrong.

She suffered more than anyone should have to, enduring the most lethal doses of chemo, trying so hard to live. She really wanted to live. She truly gave it her all, and through it all, I never once heard her issue a complaint. Her mouth and throat were completely covered with raw lesions, but she complained not at all. She was always grateful, thanking the nurses, and anyone who did anything for her, constantly. More than anything, she did not want to burden anyone. She worried about her mom, and how much she was juggling her work, and helping with the kids and keeping so many balls bouncing. And she worried about her dad, as she thought he was worrying himself too much over her, and how often he would come to sit at the hospital with her. She did not want her illness to take a toll on them. And of course, most of all, she worried about her children. She loved them so her Dad said, when they walked into the room to see her, her face would light up like a one thousand watt bulb.....they just meant so much to her. She truly wanted to live for them. But God had other plans.

The days spent with Kristy during the last month were special ones. It was a privilege to be with her and she inspired me with her tenacity and how hard she struggled to get to the other side of her Bone Marrow Transplant. When the doctors began to indicate that her cells had not engrafted, we were very concerned about the options. She had no white blood count, and thus, was completely vulnerable to any and all infections and viruses. The docs told us it would take 30 to 45 days to get another donor and stem cells. What a precarious situation. Sure enough, around day 30 she began to show signs of serious infections. It was apparent on Monday that she was getting sicker, but still, I thought she could come through it. By Wednesday, I felt that only a huge miracle would bring her through this, and I just knew that the miracle would come. Thursday afternoon she was suffering from delusions and her blood oxygen was down to about 82. She was drifting in and out of sleepiness and was really having congestion and mucousitis issues. They increased her oxygen intake and called Dr. McCarty. It seemed that her current meds might be causing the delusional issues, so the meds were removed.
We left her around 6 PM and a sitter was ordered for her.

At 11:40 pm KK called me to say that a gentleman from MCV had called to say that Kristy had been found "unresponsive: but with a pulse" and to come on over. I threw on my jogging suit and dashed from Montpelier to Ashland to pick up KK. We hurried on up to MCV hospital, arriving around 12:30, about the same time as Ray (her Dad). They took us into the conference room to await Dr. McCarty. He came in around 1 :15 am and told us they had found Kristy unresponsive around 11:20. They tried everything to resuscitate her (paddles, drugs, everything!) and her heart would not even try to restart. She died peacefully around 12:25. They remain unsure as to what brought about the failure...possibly the fungal or infections attacked her heart, and it could not withstand it. They asked to do an autopsy so we may learn exactly what transpired.

She had been at peace all week, seeming to know that the children were being cared for and that she had gotten some things in order that she had been wanting to get straight. She knew that she was loved and cared for by her family and children, and was more at peace with things than she had been in a long time. She had let go of some of her "worrying". She never gave up and never quit fighting, but the miracle never came. God had other plans.

Endless tears are shed, and it hurts so deeply to know that she is gone, and that she had to suffer so. But there is comfort in knowing she will suffer no more, and that she knew she was loved, and had the full support of her family. She is at peace now, and still loved. But our hearts hurt so deeply, for the young woman gone from our sight, and for the four children that she loved so.

Your kindness and condolences mean so much to us..., many thanks !
Today is a very sad day...we lost Kristy last night. She fought such a brave battle.
We miss her terribly.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A visit to Scott and Tiff's

Friday I picked up Kristy's two middle children, Kristen and Trey, from school and we took a little road trip up to Catonsville to spend the weekend with my favorite daughter and son-in-law, Tiff and Scott. Bob stayed at the farm to help Paul with some weekend projects that they wanted to get done.

This was to be our coldest weekend yet, down in the twenties, with the promise of snow flurries and wind....yuck! Luckily, the motorhome fares pretty well in the cold department....but it still fares much better in the seventies!!! :0!

It's always a treat to spend time at Tiff and Scott's, and Scott wanted to take Trey duck and goose hunting, so the boys got up at 3:40 AM and headed off to Delaware to the goose hunting grounds. The temperature was hovering in the twenties, but they were dressed warmly, and we girls were staying in the house to do "girl things!!

Kristen and Tiff making cookies
Dixie wearing her winter coat!
Kristen lounging around with Dixie

The hunters are ready to go! (Trey and Scott)

In the afternoon we went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore to see the marine life. This is a wonderful exhibit and was a great deal of fun.

Here's a photo of Trey observing one of the fish exhibits.

And below is a huge Tiger Shark.......

and here's a group of ray's swimming in the tank......

It was a great weekend with the kids...mine and Kristy's! The only way it would be better is to be seventy degrees!!
It will be a busy week coming up...Turkey Day is this week, and Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. Normally, we cook all week and have a huge feast, but this year I'm not cooking....I won't know what to do with myself! :)
Big hugs to everyone!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow at the Farm....'s cold here....way to cold for me!! We awoke this morning to SNOW on the was really pretty, but thankfully it quit pretty quickly. Still, it is cold and windy and around 24 degrees tonight....yuck!!
Everyday has been spent at MCV with Kristy so it's been a busy time. Bob and Paul are busy doing "farm projects", whenever Paul is home from the House of Delegates.

Sunday morning we got up early and went down to Warsaw to our Church at Cobham Park. It was so good to see everyone and spend a little time with some good friends. We had a nice lunch with George and Charlotte and then visited with Linda and Everett before returning to Montpelier.

There was a nice surprise when we arrived back at the Farm. I had mentioned that I wanted to clear one of the seven ports in the pole barn to park the toad (my Saturn station wagon), so that I would not have to scrape ice (yuck!) early in the morning when I leave for the hospital. When we pulled in Sunday afternoon, Paul had been a busy guy; he had cleaned out a port and put up a little sign "Home of the Toad" by my pull-in parking port!!! Yippee, when I left early Monday morning for the hospital, my little toad was ice free!!! He's a good guy!!! ....and I am a happy girl!!! Thanks Paul! :)

Kristy is bravely fighting her battle each day. It is really tough on her. Her WBC went up to 1.700 last week, but has now dropped back to 700. They will do a biopsy this week to see what is happening. She is still holding her own, but remains immune deficient and very susceptible to infections until the White Blood Count comes up. I enjoy my days with her and admire her will and tenacity to just get through each day. I am reminded everyday to be grateful for good health and for the many blessings we receive each day.

Thanks again, for caring sentiments from so many!

The peeps are growing by leaps and bounds! There are photos of them, but I haven't got them up yet. Maybe this week!

Hugs to everyone!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Curly Kale, turnip greens...and baby Peeps

On the way home from Myrtle Beach, we stopped to get some fresh greens. Grannie (mom) was a great cook, and one of the many things we loved were her greens, and most especially her turnips. Now, I don't eat turnips, unless they were Mom's; her's were always so sweet and tender, and we loved to smash them up with oh my, those were good! At the produce farm, they had fresh kale and turnip greens, and some tiny, tender turnips, so we purchase some and brought them back to the farm. It was decided that I would attempt to make the turnips like Mom did. Now, I've cooked the greens many times, but this was the first turnip attempt. They could never be as good as her's, but they were mighty fine! Bob and Paul and I feasted on those sweet and tender root veggies and thought about how good Grannie's were!! The greens weren't too shabby either, of course we had to slather those with Chow-chow, and a side of roasted pork loin and cornbread!!! Yum was good eating on the farm last night!!

There was also a great surprise at the farm upon our return....we now have grand-chicks....23 of them! Katie and Paul ordered baby peeps for the hen house!! These little peeps are so fluffly and sweet and grow several inches per day (or so it seems!) She's keeping them warm and protected in the basement right now. Soon they will each be named after chicken know...dumplin', caccatorie, fried, kiev, divan any good chicken dish ideas for these little peeps?? And soon we'll have fresh eggs! (well, after the rooster arrives!) :)

Kristy is doing better and making progress so it is a blessing to see her coming along now. She has struggled so much...I'm hoping things will look up dramatically for her very soon! Most of each day is still spent at the hospital with her. She's such a good patient that it makes Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy's job a breeze. Many thanks to all of you who have sent cards and warm sentiments. It means alot and she enjoys it.

Big hugs to everyone!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Porch sitting and a break in Myrtle Beach

Sunrise over the Atlantic from the porch of the condo
The first week of November was one of our weeks at the condo in Myrtle Beach, but we knew we wouldn't go down for the whole week, so after seeing that Kristy's tests had come back OK, and that she would have an aide or sitter 24/7, we decided to come down for the weekend. KK and Karisa have kept us up to date on how Kristy is doing. KK said today that she looked better and was more responsive, so this is all good.
The weather here has been just wonderful; sunny with a bright blue sky and in the upper seventies each day. My oh my, I do love warm weather!! We have walked on the beach a lot and collected shells to take back for the kids. Seafood is one of our very favorite things and it is great here...lots of fresh shrimp, flounder, grouper and great oysters.....especially in November! So there's been some great meals at Bimini's and Nance's in Murrell's Inlet (favorite seafood joints) and a little relaxing near the pool. And lots of just plain ol' "porch sitting"....looking out over the sea oats and dunes to the ocean and listening to the sound of the waves. It is a peaceful place. It would be great to bring Kristy here when she gets better. It's a therapeutic place!!

View across Murrell's Inlet near Myrtle Beach
This is truly one of our favorite places to be, so it is good to enjoy a couple of days here. We'll head back to Richmond early Sunday morning and I'll be heading back to MCV each day to see if I can be of any help to Kristy. Hopefully, she'll be improving every day!! Hugs to everyone!!

Bob "porch sitting"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Busy days

Just a quick update to say that things are keeping me busy here. Bob arrived back in Virginia Saturday evening around 8 Pm and we've been getting set up at the farm. The weather has been very nice and the trees are in grand Fall form here in Montpelier. Despite the fact that we enjoyed our stay in Elkhart, we sure are glad to be finished will all the "punch list" for the motorhome. There are a few little things left to do inside, but otherwise we're done!!

I've been at the hospital most days with Kristy, except for Saturday (and Sunday) when I took Eric and Trey (Kristy's youngest boys) out for the day. They are really good boys and are always fun to be around. They are doing pretty well and Grannie Barbara is taking good care of them and the house while Kristy is gone. She has the house in great shape and the kids on a good routine, so everyone is grateful for her help. I think she's about 76 years young and she's my nominee for the next Nanny show! Thanks Barbara! :)

I sure wish I could say that Kristy was better, but she is really struggling. Most days she sleeps, sometimes fitfully and sometimes peacefully. They say this is the best thing for her while they try to get her electrolites and blood levels corrected. They should start dialysis every day now (as opposed to every other day), and that will make her better. The doctors and nurses seem pleased with her progress so this is a good thing. It's just very hard to see her so very sick and able to do nothing to really help her. Despite the fact that you know up front, going into a Bone Marrow Transplant that the patient will be deathly ill, you're still not quite prepared for the life struggle that they must go through.

It is humbling to see the BMT patients on the wing with Kristy as they fight their individual battles for survival. What a tremendous reminder to count your blessings every day and what a wonderful gift good health and good friends are. I am so thankful to have some of both!!

Many, many thanks to all of you who have sent cards, left greetings, called and just been so supportive.

Tomorrow is Voting day...hope everyone casts theirs! We will drive down to Warsaw tomorrow when I leave the hospital to vote and visit some good friends. Another busy day!

Big hugs to everyone!