Saturday, November 24, 2007
We are so grateful for the blessing of having him make it through the surgery and recovery. I have felt so blessed that we get to have him around for another season!
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I know I did! I cooked the TURKEY this year for the 1st time. Thanks to my chef/accountant brother-in-law, Paul, I did a great job. It was a great dinner and we all wrote down that we were grateful for this year. It has been another wonderful year.
I said that I was grateful for times spent with family. I love all my many families and am always happy to be around them. We took a delightful vacation (with some) and have had a few game nights, girls night out, movie nights, birthday celebrations and family fasts.
It is amazing how through this time with Dad I have experienced the feeling of "having their hears knit together with unity and love, one towards another" towards all of you. I love the feeling of working toward a common goal and I was thinking how I really should feel that all the time. We all are (hopefully) working toward a common goal of being together for the eternities. No matter where we live, how much we earn, how often we meet or even what team we cheer for we are supposed to have our hearts knit together. What a wonderful time to practice for the next life. I am grateful that I have you all! Love you!
Friday, November 16, 2007
Love you all
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I got to be there on Monday morning when we took him to the 4th floor. Dr. Collins (the surgeon) came and told him "We need this bed for a sick person". What great news! He has been able to shower, sleep better, talk on the phone and see grandkids, neighbors and feel a bit more human.
He and Mom met with the oncologist yesterday and he told them he has never seen a larger blood clot than they one that was complicating Dad's recovery! We are so grateful that he was able to survive that nasty clot. He is so blessed.
Sometimes I forget about the cancer part. The surgery and the recovery have been so horrible. He has been on the brink of death more times than I would like to think about He is doing so well now that I sometimes breath a sigh of relief and think "He made it!" I forget. I forget that we are in the beginning of this ordeal not nearing the end. After the oncologists visit Mom told me about the process for chemo (which they will do before the radiation) once a week for six weeks then a little time off and then another once a week for six weeks episode. Then they will start the radiation. Wow.
It would be easier just to forget. It is amazing how all the other things in life march on. Homework, piano, PTA, YW, basketball, soccer, EQ, meals, and especially laundry go on and on. I am glad though. It is important to have some normalcy (although I could really do without the laundry!). I am glad that Mom has work and church to do. She is tired but at least she gets away from heart rates, oxygen saturation and caloric intakes for a little while. It could suck you dry! I was glad to see the other day that a social worker was stopping by an a regular basis to talk to them both.
I have been so grateful for good friends, good neighbors and a terrific family support base for both my parents and myself. I know both my mom and my dad have been blessed by the many prayers said in their behalf. Thank you. Thank you. You darling wonderful people!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The best news came on Sunday when Alli called and said she felt like she needed to go home to Utah to be with Mom! That was such a blessing to us all. I was feeling bad about deserting Mom for the week and Alli was literally an answer to prayer. We all talked to Dad on Tuesday before he went into the hospital. Alli arrived that day and surprised them. On Wednesday we were all feeling rather anxious at Disneyland. As Tricia mentioned it is no longer the Happiest Place on Earth.
We talked to Mom and Alli several times during the day and we heard that the surgery was going well but it was going to take longer than they thought. We finally heard from them while I was on the carousel in Fantasyland. Mom called and said "Kelli, this is a bad cancer" She then started crying which made me scared so I started bawling and then Andrew saw me crying and he burst into tears and then Mom just stopped talking. Alli got on the phone and shared with me the news.
The cancer was a lot larger than they first suspected. They had to take 30% of the stomach and 80% of the esophagus. The stomach is now right under the collar bone. The cancer was in the lymph nodes and they took some bone marrow to see if it is in the bone. The surgeon told them that 10 years ago he would have seen that much cancer and would have just closed him back up. He said that he took all the tissue surrounding the esophagus including the infected tissue around the aorta. He said it was probable that it was was a 2 or 3. He said that he got all the visible cancer but he is positive that there is still microscopic cancer in Dad's body. He will have to have radiation.
It was a hard blow. We had thought it was a level 1 and that they would for sure get it all in the surgery. I had a hard time the rest of the day. Alli called later that night after seeing him and told us that he looked horrible. He had tubes coming from everywhere. We later found out that Mom was so upset she couldn't even talk to us. She wondered why we had done this to Dad. It was a hard day for our family.
Thursday was better. Mom told us that they had Dad sitting up and dangling his legs.
Friday was good also. They got a good surprise. Sara and the kids had jumped in the car and they were with Mom and Dad. Dad was still making progress.
Saturday he was transferred to a regular room out of ICU. Brad flew in and was with them now also. Dad walked to the elevator and was doing better.
Sunday Tricia and Mom went in and Dad was sitting in a chair. Tricia did his hair and put his socks on him and talked to him for a while and then he said was tired and wanted to sleep. He went to be and almost immediately started to go downhill. The nurse rushed in and they started trying to get him some oxygen. They tried a few different things and couldn't get his oxygen levels back up. Mom called Brad, Andrew and Mitch and told them to come give him a blessing. They transferred him back to ICU and the boys gave him a quick blessing. The doctors were all gathered around and discussing what was going on. Everyone but Mom left to come home and they said he had done a complet 180 from the day before. I called Mom and she was crying and was very frightened so Mitch and Haley and I rushed back in to be with her. They figured out that it was a pulmonary embolism in his lung. They were worried about other clots. They did a CT scan and then took him over to Angio. They said they had found several clots in both his legs and also a really scary one teetering on his pulmonary artery that could go to his lung or to his brain. In angio they went up through his vein and put in a filter below his diaphragm that would hopefully catch all blood clots coming from his legs.
A few days later we found out that it was so serious that the doctors had almost had to open up his chest to clear the lungs. The secondary worry that night was they needed to thin his blood. They were worried about the epidural bleeding under the skin which could press against his spine and cause him to lose feeling in his legs. The epidural is a good form of pain management and it makes it easier to breathe deeply since they don't feel the pain. The morphine alternative would make it more difficult to breathe which would cause more complications. After weighing the options the doctors decided to leave the epidural and to start the Heperin (blood thinner).
The nurse came out at about 6 and told Mom to come help Dad take a pill to help him relax. I was finally able to go in and see him. He looked like a scared little boy. He is frightened and confused. One of the side effects of oxygen deprivation is decreased mental abilities. He was loopy. He didn't want to take the pill. Mom went in and told him that she loved him, his kids loved him, his grandkids loved him and that she wasn't ready for him to go home to his parents. She reminded him of how he promised to fight hard. Then she convinced him to take the pill. He was finally able to rest and slept for the rest of the evening. I stayed with him while Mom ran home to get a change of clothes. He slept most of the time and I sat and held his hand. It was amazing to sit there quietly and let the memories of my big, tough, strong father wash over me while I held the hand of this smaller, weak, scared man. I love him and am not ready to lose him.
Early this week the doctor talked to Mom and Dad and gave them the results of the tests. The cancer has not spread to the bones!! Yea! It is in the lymph nodes and it is rated a stage 3a. So much worse than we thought! Dad will have to have chemotherapy and radiation. He was a little disinheartened at the news. He didn't know it was that bad. I really believe if he had known it was a 3 he would not have done the surgery. I hope that not knowing the truth and going through with the surgery will be a blessing to us!
The last three days have been a continuation of that rollercoaster ride. He has been on bed rest because they were worried about the teetering clot. We are now mainly worried about his oxygen levels. He is at 100% for a few hours then down to 55% then back to 100% the next day. On Tuesday he was able to sit up and even have a few ice chips. Mitch & Haley were dad sitting Wednesday night and had him watching a Jazz game and we were glad to hear of dad doing something normal. Wednesday he had his barium test to see if the seals between esophagus and stomach are tight. The test was great. If his oxygen level was higher he would be able to drink but they gave him a little bit of grape juice Thursday morning is all. He did walk today again which is great. He is getting better just not as fast as we would like!
It is amazing to see my courageous dad fight his way through this trial. My mom is the epitomy of faith and my brothers and sisters are a constant support to both of them and to me. I am glad I not on this ride all alone!
We loved our trip. We spent the first night in Mesquite in the lovely Casa Blanca resort. Nasty places those casinos! Those people have no idea how to find happiness as they sit there hour after hour. We left the next day and celebrated Jonathan's birthday on the road. We did ride the Desperado rollercoaster at the state line. Our first of many rides.
We got to our condo and we were thrilled to find we were 1 block from the beach! It was a great temporary home. The kids and Dave, Mitch and Haley took off to the beach while Tricia and I shopped for groceries. We had quite a shock when we got home. Tricia thought some strange gut was about to attack her! It turned out to be our Uncle Clifford. Of all the places in all the world he was just a few minutes from where we were staying. He came and gave us great advice on fun things to do and even better he brought us some yummy Thrifty ice cream. That was fun to see him. The kids came home completely soaked so we cleaned them up and got ready for bed.
Sunday we went to church there in Oceanside. There were 17 families whose homes had burned down during the fires. The ward talked about the help they were needing. It really brought home the devastating fires in this state. We then drove to the San Diego Temple and saw the beautiful temple and grounds. Then we went to the bay to see the seals. We met Jenn and her parents there and again let the kids get wet at the beach!
The next day we met Andrew and Sam at Universal Studios where the Jurassic Park ride and the Indiana Jones ride were the favorite rides of the day. It was the perfect day to go there! There were absolutely no lines! We could walk on any ride, get off and go get on again!
Tuesday we all met at Sea World! Again there were no lines. This was the water day! Every ride we got wetter and wetter. When we went to the dolphin, seal and Shamu show we got wet! The boys and the boy/men were saoked! We loved the shows! Those animals are truly amazing. We will never forget the cute grandma behind us that was one of those really loud talkers who thought that Shamu was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. She was yelling at her granddaughter to get the picture!! Jenn, Haley, Tricia and I were laughing so hard. I love that place. My little Alex learned a new trick of putting his hands together and bow down like an Orca tail all the while chanting Sham-U, Sham-U! It is kind of creepy.
The big day! Disneyland here we come! So exciting. We thought that the lines would be worse here but the luck held out! We also had the stroller pal thing that they do! The best loved ride was Space Mountain. I really liked the Finding Nemo ride also. The day was a little bit of a roller coaster because we were all worried about Dad and his surgery. We will get to that later.
The next day was our more restful day. We all (except Mitch and Haley who studied for the LSAT and rested) went to the San Diego Zoo for a few hours in the morning. The most amazing animal we saw was the Panda bear. It was hanging on a branch right over our heads. Beautiful animal. We then went home and the kids went to the beach with Mitch, Andrew and Dave. Haley, Tricia and I went and did much needed laundry for a few hours. That night Andrew, Jenn, Tricia, Mitch, Haley and I went to our much needed crab dinner. Dave was very nice and he stayed home with all the tired kids and watched a movie. He hates seafood so it really wasn't a huge sacrifice.
Friday we went to California Adventure with everyone except Jenn. The lines were a bit longer that day but srill nothing more than 15 minutes. We had the best of luck! This park is much smaller than Disneyland and we were able to ride everything pretty quick. The favorite rides were the Tower of Terror and I really liked the California Soarin ride. I especially loved watching the RiverRafting ride. Tricia got The parks were opened later so we also ran over to Disneyland for one last ride on Space Mountain. We left that night and went to dinner at IHOP. We were all so tired and very ready to come home!
The best part of the trip was doing all of these fun things with family. We loved being with Tricia, Mitch & Haley, Andrew & Jenn, Jacob, Kass, Conner, Sam, Lauren and little Claire! I was amazed at how well we all got along! I kept waiting for the "we have spent way too much time together" feelings to set in. I love my siblings which includes all 3 of my "added later" sisters.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
- California is burning! Sea World and the San Diego Wild Animal Park are closed because of air quality and actual fires in the park! We are hoping that the winds will die down, the fires will be controlled and the air will clear up in the next few days!
- Dad is having his surgery on Halloween day! Wouldn't you know that they would schedule it right during our vacation! If we weren't all pre-paid and a bit financially committed it would be easy to stay home. The doctors have told us they have never lost anyone on the table before and that he will be so doped up and out of it in ICU for a few days that he wouldn't know if we were there or not. I am still worried as we have heard that this surgery is horrible and the recovery every bit as bad! Mom says that his insides will be totally changed and reorganized.
- Mom will be alone. This is a tough one. How can we leave her to deal with this alone.? I was even tempted to call Alli and tell her we will all chip in on a flight to get her home. Still might do that. (Forget the fact Alli has a life of her own) I have talked to Grandma and she said that she will be there for her. I hope Mom will even stay at Grandma's for a few days! We may have to do a few more things to make sure she is ok while we are gone.
We are excited for the trip and it will be a great time if we can get ready by Friday. Jonathan is especially excited to celebrate his birthday in California. I haven't had the heart to tell him most of that day will be spent in the car driving through deserts! He did have a nice Rollins party on Sunday and a Rencher party the week before. Grandma Carter even got his birthday card in the mail in time! Such a generous family we have.
I have been thinking a lot about how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family! I have in-laws whom I adore and are always willing to help me! I have extended family who are such a support and grandparents who are absolutely amazing. My siblings (both ROLLINS and RENCHER, IN-LAWS, OUT-LAWS, BLOOD, MUD-BLOOD etc.) are my best friends! I love each of them with all my heart. They make me laugh and share in any good cry, they are my support and my lifeline. They keep me humble and lift me up! My parents are my foundation. They are constant and steadfast. I love my family!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Dad went into organization mode. He updated his will, wrote letters, planned his funeral and talked to everyone. His heart was soft and he was full of love for us all. It is amazing the spin that a lot of the LDS Conference talks took when we were thinking of all the "What Ifs?" Mitch and Andrew gave him a couple of wonderful blessings! What a great thing to have these worthy, soft hearted men in our lives. I am grateful for good brothers and brother-in -laws. All of them are a blessing in my life!
Now the Good News. He had his tests (CT and PET scans) on Monday, 8th and on Tuesday met with his "Team" for the prognosis. We found out that he is between a stage 1 and stage 2! Wow. We were fearing a 4, expecting a 3, and hoping for a 2! What great news. The surgeon is very confident that with surgery they can cure him! It doesn't look like it has spread although there are some signs of something on his pancreas and a lymph node. They will check that out when they do the surgery. He goes in for a EUS (Endoscopic Ultrasound) today and then they will schedule the surgery. The surgery is horrible. It takes 7 hours and he will be hospitalized for almost 2 weeks for recovery. They are going to remove 2/3-3/4 of his esophagus and pull the stomach up high to meet the stub that is left. Not a pleasant sounding thing is it?
So after thinking we could be so close to losing Dad, it is nice to have him back with us! We hope and pray it will be a great while yet.
We had a great time! As soon as we walked in we saw Stacy McNellis and Jennifer Hoskins. I visited with Scott Wood, Jimmie Allen, Scott Hinerman, Mark Wenzel, Matt Eastman, Heather Bradford, Amy Coleman, Glenda Fountain, Kim Hurst, Angie Smith, Bill Crowther, and many others. We went away wishing that more old friends had come! It was especially nice that I already see some of my best friends from high school on a regular basis. I had several "easy" people where I could take a break from the "So, what have you done for the last 20 years?" and relax with people who already know the answers!
We found out that one of our graduating class is a Grandfather already and 1 of our class has 8 kids. Crazy! My cheeks hurt from smiling so much through the night! I came away feeling pretty good about the last 20 years.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
So for my birthday I sent Dave up to the Homestead with 2 of the boys. So that means I am sports chauffeur extraordinaire today. So fall is officially starting here at our house. We had...
- football weigh in at 7:30,
- Soccer practice at 9:00,
- Soccer game at 11:00,
- Football pictures at 1:00,
- Football scrimmage at 2:00,
- 2nd Football scrimmage at 3:00.
Oh, I also have a new color this fall.... Pink! Pink is for PTA! I went down to the school to meet and chat with the new principal and in the course of the conversation she asked me to be the PTA President! I was very firm (you would be proud) and said NO! That was a month ago. Since then I kept feeling guilty that we had no PTA! So one night in order to make myself feel better I said to myself..... Well if Cheryl (former president, Ward friend) would be my co-president, I would do it! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! Literally 2 days later I get a phone call.... "Kelli, this is Cheryl. If I do this with you would you be the PTA President?" So Pink is for PTA. Enough said. Though one positive point is I told my little sister, Tricia, that since I was the President then she had to be on my executive committee. Membership Vice-President. HA-HA That made me happy.
I feel that I must share with you a few highlights of the wisdom that I have learned in the last 38 years! This of course is a very small representation of the vast amount of knowledge that I have accumulated in my short life span.
- Using big words in a sentence makes you sound really smart
- But only if you spell them right!
- Mom was right. Dishes are easier to do if you do them right after you eat!
- Dad was right. Making lists is a good way to remember everything when you go camping.
- Grandma Carter was right. Kissing is fun.
- Parents and Grandparents are smarter than I thought.
- Siblings are cooler to play with when you get older.
- Boys are smelly and messy and adorable. They do bring me the greatest joys and biggest stress.
- The church is true.
- My Dave is the most amazing man alive making me the luckiest woman.
- Laundry and Families are forever!
- Anything kids mess up in 10 minutes will take 4 hours to clean up.
- Laughing can make a lot of tense situations a little better.
I don't want to overwhelm you all at once and have anyone go into brain overload so I will sign off for now. Love you all.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
The four wheeler rides were an obvious highlight and we enjoyed having the wind in our hair and the dust in our eyes as we drove through the beautiful area. The big boys all thrived on driving "all by myself and really fast" around the loop.Our hike to Time Spring is always fun despite Emma the Brave falling twice into the stream. She finally gave up trying to jump and just took her shoes off and walked through the stream! Thanks to Uncle Horace we were able to shower and bathe all of these filthy kids. We talked and laughed and played and rode and cleaned and cooked and talked some more. It was great but we did miss the rest of the family. B. Rad got a little taste of what it would be like to be the only boy having to hang out with all his sisters. Sounds like what Andrew deals with a lot.
We finally got out on the boat and it finally stopped raining and we proceeded to knee board and ride the tube and wake board. Wow B. Rad and Mitch and Haley are fancy wake boarders. Tricia and Alli and Steve and even Josh did well also. The boys love telling tales of their wild adventures of Mitch and B. Rad trying to dump them off the tube! The drivers must have been going 80 mph at least! Sam and Alex went on the tube, rode in the boat and played on the beach. All the knee boarders did great. Josh, Adam, Aaron, Emma, Ethan and Jonathan took a turn this year. We have many fish in the family. We didn't get home until 11:30 and we had some very tired boat adventurerers.
While we were boating Dave was attending his 20th High School Reunion! It was an alumni only party and he had a great time. He laughed a lot at some of his old friends who were a bit tipsy and kept telling him how much he loved him! I was proud of my anti-social husband going and being social without me! We are so proud!
So after many late night visits, late night movies, late dinners and cousin play days we wrap up our July. Thanks to B. Rad and Sara for sharing their vacation with us. We love having them here and miss them when they are gone. Love you all!
Monday, July 9, 2007
Things are busy in our household these days. We have soccer, swimming, baseball, gymnastics, scouts and piano and that is just Aaron! Some days I do not know if I am going to survive. You know things are bad when your sister who you haven't seen for a few months sees you for the first time and says " Kelli, you look horrible!" True.
Regardless of that I will try this writing thing and see how that does. Thanks for reading.