Tuesday, August 2, 2011

God bless you Lei

Its time to write the final blogg for Wrinklies on Tour USA. I have had this on my mind for a couple of days now and I know Lei would want me to complete it ... she was very particular about writing the blogg. It is difficult to put into words the emotions I feel about doing this. On the one hand it needs to be written in the way she would want it but on the other, it is so very final that it is overwhelming. I know I shall also use this as a form of catharsis that will help to put her to rest. God bless her.

The last time I wrote in the blogg I asked for everyone's prayers. Lei and I had managed to cross the Atlantic and how we did this I will never know. She was brave and strong and typically determined that she wanted to be home, despite all the medical complications she was still facing. The fact that the insurance company had denied cover for any of the hospital treatment and had refused to sanction our trip back did not deter her determination to get home. She worked hard for the week at Bob and Janet's home; to improve her mobility in order that we could at least consider the journey. The final frustration came with the hospital doctor who refused to see her once he knew she had no cover and this became a challenge for us to find a way to bring her back as it is Scotland that she considered as her beloved home.

Lei's friend, Ann Romaker from Girl Scout days came to her rescue. She is a doctor and had been to visit Lei only a short while before and thus knew of Lei's condition. She ordered blood tests and when they were at an optimum level to fly, she gave the word. The medical team from the insurance company were still not giving permission to travel. So, Lei and I took the decision and with the help and support of Bob and Janet, we set off on our journey. Lei remembers very little of the journey and I am so glad she didn't. On arriving at Edinburgh, Nigel and Bobby were there to pick us up and Lei wept....  she was so relieved and pleased to be home. Lei could not be more appreciative of all the support from everyone in order to achieve this mammoth goal.

That said, we spent a few days in Tillygrain and she was happy. The weather was warm and sunny and we sat  outside looking at the sea and just chilling. The hospital doctors saw her regularly and she accepted that she would have to go into hospital as her breathing became laboured. Sarah, our friend came up to give us the loving support that we needed at that time as I must confess, I was exhausted.

The weekend before Lei passed she was still full of fun even though she was uncomfortable. She still gave the nurses hell despite getting weaker.Nigel came and they enjoyed lots of laughs and I am sure some would be at my expense! By Sunday Chris and Helen, my son and daughter came up to the hospital as Lei was not doing so well. Mary Modeen, her friend from Girl Scout camp all those years ago  was also constanly at her side and we all chatted with her .None of us were sure how ill she was but there was a pending sense that something was not as well as it could have been.

On Sunday night we left her for a while as she was very tired we went to find some food. In the event we came back after an hour and by then Lei was not able to talk to us. I spent the night with her, talking and reminiscing  and Helen and Chris joined me from time to time. It was now obvious how ill she was. Mary returned early on Monday morning and said that Winky ( Ann Romaker) had explained the seriousness of Lei's condition. The Consultant Haematologist Mr Culligan spoke to us all  and prepared us for what was to come. We all chatted to her and I am sure she could hear. We held her and hugged her and whispered to her. We sang to her and  kissed her. Finally, I remember saying to her that it was ok to go and that we would be alright and not to worry. I said I knew she had promised to fight until her last breath and I said how much I admired and loved her for fulfilling that promise. We sang her favourite song.. myself, Helen, Mary, Chris, Nigel, Rob and then I sang Brahms Lullaby to her. She closed her eyes and went to sleep.

We thank you for your prayers and all your thoughts and everything that you have done to help Lei in her journey. She said several times to me that she had , had a blast and had absolutely no regrets doing our tour of the US - whatever happened. I believe that all your prayers at the end served to help her pass over to that place of rest and that she is now looking over us, with her mum and Kenny her brother.

Lei also told me how blessed she felt with having all you loving friends and family and being able to visit many of you in those last few months. SHe told me she was not frightened and that there was no point in worrying because what would be, would be. She lived her life believing that she should..

Accept the things she cannot change
Change the things she cannot accept
And be wise enough to know the difference between them.

I have had the honour of knowing such a very special person who has touched so many lives in a positive way. She impacted all who met her, however fleeting a time in her company. She lived a loving and positive life with no negatives, no judgments and would have said to me...

Is this Saint Felicia?

And we would have laughed together.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prayers around the world.

Lei has not been on the website because she is too ill. Just to catch you up she is in hospital with several complications. She needs your help and I know we can do this.She needs to stabilise and get her strength and so i am askingeveryone to rally round her and please pray for her as soon as possible and for the next few weeks. She has to be well enough for a mild chemotherapy to have any chance of being successful and shrinking her lymph nodes.. It is very important that she gets the chemo on Monday so lets all get our prayergroups going.
With lots of love to you

Sunday, May 1, 2011

...the body and mind is amazing at its ability to recover!

Well - I am back - still quite weak, waiting on some final words of wisdom from the Doctors - but at least I am sitting up, typing for myself and showing definite signs of recovery.  I can say that these past 2 weeks have been quite the trial.  As I mentioned in my last post - I was admitted into the hospital on the 14th of April, by the 18th had deteriorated to the point that they put me into ICU for closer treatment because of the discovered blood clot in my right lung.  To add insult to injury, I ended up having a biopsy of my bone morrow and while we don't have the final results - all indicators suggests that the lymphoma has returned there.  We shall have to wait for the final pathology - but from all signs the absolute best thing that I can do is get released, get my strength back and get home so I can get started on the next phase and find out what is actually happening here. 

We have been in San Antonio since April 7th, many things have happened - none of which were mentioned in the blog - so I thought that we would try and catch you up on some of that...

The cousins reunion started on the 9th of April - Karen and I arrived early and managed to have a great evening out with Janet and Lucille on the 8th who were also here.  By the evening of the 9th, all of the others had arrived and the only disappointment was that Edie had not recovered enough from some prior surgery to make it down.  A big hole in the line up - but little did we know that this would be but a beginning of holes appearing all over.

Sat night - we all stopped over at Janet's for a welcome dinner - my job was to BBQ the bratwurst with the help of my trusty assistant - Judy.  In total - 10 of us showed up for the reunion - which isn't half bad.  It was great just sitting on the patio enjoying the evening and having dinner with family catching up on old times.  Most of the cousins I saw a few years ago at the last Howell reunion - but still great timing all the same.

On Sunday - we were off - did a bit of the river walk, took in a live show trying to sustain traditional country/western music, took in a traditional Mexican outdoor markets and did the open top bus tour of San Antonio dropping off to spend a small amount of time at the Alamo.  I was quite warm and I thought with the open top bus, walking the outdoor market, etc - that perhaps I had over done it - as by the Monday - I was feeling a bit down as was Karen so we decided to stay in that day - take it easy and just relax. 

By Tuesday - Karen was still feeling low - but I decided to try and push that extra bit and go around with everyone on the day.  We spent the day touring the sites...had a picnic down by the Zoo, went to a local museum to look at a small portion of their collection of  the gowns that have been made over the years for past Queens and their courts for the fiesta. 

The gowns are amazing - a tremendous amount of detail goes into them each year.  It is a hugh expenditure - but the gowns are made to last.  Too bad you can only wear them once.  We then all piled onto one of their riverboats for a tour of downtown San Antonino.  I know that Caroline was well aware that her time with the cousin's was going to be short as her daughter was picking her up on Wed to spend the rest of the week with her - so we had to try and fit everything possible into the few days we had with her and I can assure you - Janet did her best.

By Wed morning - Karen was feeling a bit better - I was still a little low - but since this was our last day with Caroline - we all decided to give it a go and do some touring of homes in the historic district.  For this - I have to defer to the people who took the tour.  I was starting on my decline by then so while I went to the historic district with the rest - I ended up staying in the car while the others toured the grand old homes.  What I saw in the district was lovely though. 

Wednesday night - everyone came out to the RV park and we had the rest of the food from the dinners and picnics we had been accumulating throughout the week.  A lovely evening - but by then I was definitely going down hill - just didn't know how much further I had to go.  Thursday morning came and went and my only recollection was the EMS guys coming to take me away.  I fought Karen hard on the subject - but she was not in the mood to let this one pass.  By the time Sandy and Brian got there - they had 911 on the phone and I was whisked away. 

From then until a few days - the rest just kind of blurs.  Jim, Maur and Sam came down to help out - ended up taking the Motor Home back to Michigan for us - (with ALOT of things popping up along the way that shall not go yet into this blog - as I am not sure I can afford to alienate Maureen just yet - I may need her expertise again.)  Suffice it to say that she, motor homes and buildings don't always get along together...  When they left on Tuesday - I still wasn't able to lift my head or arms from the bed - now I am up, about and typing to you.  Margaret Britain (aka Mead) made it down last weekend with her daughter Emma for a couple of days so that we could catch up -
Ann Romaker (Dr. Winky) came down this weekend and we had a great couple of days together.  Besides just the peace that comes with seeing a soulmate after 25 years came the practical advice that only a pulminologist can give you that gives you the confidence to move forward.  I cannot believe how incredibly lucky I am to have the support network that I have around me - both family and friends - that keeps me moving in hopefully the right direction. 

Karen had been kipping in the hospital on the sofa in my room until the past few nights.  She is now comfortable with the fact that I am capable of making the night with just my trusty call button by my side - again she has pulled it through like a trooper.  I hope the day never comes - but if it does - she is going to have alot of built up back credit to call upon from me if she needs it.  I can never make the nurse she has over these past few weeks - but I am not sure I would have been able to recover as quickly without her support. 

Here we are on Sunday night - I am hoping that tomorrow I will be released from hospital - to go to my cousin's home.  The insurance company was talking about arranging a flight back to Scotland as early as Tuesday (yes - you heard right - Tuesday) and my ace in the hole 'Dr Winky' suggested a list of things to ask about but assures me that I will not die on a flight if I do fly out this quickly.  If I can get some assurances/plans in place to answer the list - then Tuesday may be well within a reasonable time frame. 

I will keep all posted as to what is happening.  Know that I am getting stronger every day, feeling my old confidence returning and looking forward to getting on with getting on...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

...been awhile since I stopped by last.

Good morning all - been off line for awhile - so I  thought I  would keep you updated as to what is happening - while I can, (thanks to Karen for the typing). These last few days have not been my best and that's going some towards an understatement for me. I have been released out of ICU back to the telemetry floor. So, I'm on my way out the door. That said, crawling those last few feet to the door seems to be harder than everything up 'til now.

Just to let everyone know what's happened to date. I was admitted on 14th April with what appeared to be a gall bladder attack. It quickly became apparent that the gall bladder was the least of my issues. We discovered I was losing platelets to some unknown cause, becoming critically low which meant my clotting functions were heavily impacted. Once they started working on that and the infection from the gall bladder a CAT scan revealed a Pulmonary Embolism in the right lung. So now I have an impeded clotting function whilst throwing clots and needing medication to break down my clots...Go figure!

So we have been balancing these acts for a few days and in the process have lost a great deal of strength and control that allows me to stand up and perform daily functions on my own. What a mess! I am doing my level best to be as big a pain in the ass as I possibly can  whilst trying to recover. I've got Maur and Jim down with Sam; we had  Lucille, Janet and Bob and Margaret Brittain and her daughter Emma this past week. The place has been busy, especially with all the cousins the week before. it has been grand that all the visitors have made the efforts they have made even if I haven't always been as spritely as I should be when you get hospital visitors. So now I am relearning old tasks..how to stand, walk, sit, basic puppy commands. I'll probably get through this pretty good.

There's tons of other things to tell you but I think for now we will leave it be and hold you in suspense. I have loaded some pictures of the visitors... what a handsome crew.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dictation... never could do it...

Hello all. Again this is Karen. Lei is still in the ICU but much better and is getting out of the woods.She is fighting eating the hospital beef  broth so I know the fiesty Lei is on her way back. I am hoping she can dictate a message as she doesn't like to be out of the loop ! I know she feels very privileged to have such a supportive network of  and family and friends who are always there for her.She said as much yesterday.  Love to you all wherever you are in the world.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Positive thinking

Dear all followers
Karen again.
Far be it that I be a drama queen because Lei sends a message that she is fine. All I will say is that she is in the intensive care unit. Please send her all your prayers and positive thoughts... I'll let her tell me off when she gets better.
She still owes us all a Cousins' blogg for Texas. Watch this space

Friday, April 15, 2011

Take a minute.....

Hello everyone...
Karen here and I am sure Lei will be ticked off with me for this! The fact is that she is in hospital. We called 911 yesterday even though she was protesting overmuch. She has a fever and had a lot of pain which was unbearable. At present she is still undergoing tests but is now in the right place. Please take a minute or so and give her your thoughts as I know she will benefit. At present she is ok. I will keep you posted as I am sure when she feels better the Cousins' Reunion will get its rightful coverage.