Bear With Me…

Bear with me as we navigate the changes in our lifestyle because of Greg’s recent stroke. My Feedly was overwhelmingly full and I had to mark all of those missed posts in the last week as read although I did not read them. Slowly but surely things will become a comfortable new normal for us at Our Country Bungalow. When that happens you will probably hear from me more and more.

We both (Greg and I) so appreciate the concern, love, and outpourings of prayer and encouragement we have received.

The following will be my journal notes of our experiences as I remember them from the 5th of November through the 13th so it will be long and I don’t expect y’all to read it.

Remember, remember the 5th of November will ring true for our family and not because of Guy Fawkes and the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Saturday November 5th I took a quick trip to Wal-Mart to get some extra ingredients for the tacos we planned to have for lunch. As we sat down to enjoy those tacos at approx. 1:30 pm Greg said his left hand wouldn’t work. He couldn’t make it work and it was numb. I said, “are you having a stroke?”. Very soon after calling our son I called 911 and asked for emergency assistance. First vehicle to pull up to our door was a Steven’s County Fire Department vehicle and right on it’s tail was the paramedic vehicle. Greg was assessed and it was verified that he most likely had suffered a stroke. As they wheeled him out to the ambulance our son arrived on the scene.

I’m journaling here to remember all the things to be thankful for…

Our children rallied and made phone calls, sending texts, driving to Spokane and back, arranging hotel rooms, airport runs, food deliveries. Our oldest Josh and Laura had just landed in Cancun when they got a text from their siblings about their dad having a stroke.

The afternoon of Greg’s stroke our son Dan arrived at our door before the ambulance left and drove me to the hospital. When Greg was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane by ambulance we each went to our homes to gather what we needed for an undetermined stay in a hotel by the hospital. Dan drove me to Spokane shortly after the ambulance left for the journey.

We arrived to the ICU and were able to see the beginning of care Greg would receive. Jamie had packed a cooler for our journey with tortilla wraps and chicken wings and lots of bottles of water and other snacks. The hotel we stayed in was across the street from the hospital which meant we could walk back and forth without having to navigate the parking garages at the huge complex. Only two visitors at a time are allowed into the hospital and into the rooms with very strict 9am until 6pm visiting hours for ICU extended to 6:45 for regular rooms.

This was very encouraging to read about Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Every stroke is a medical emergency, even if symptoms go away quickly. If you know the warning signs and call 911 right away, you can help save lives and prevent or limit brain damage.

The nationally-recognized stroke team at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center provides rapid, high-level diagnosis and care at any hour. As a Primary Stroke Center, we’re certified by national leaders for meeting advanced standards of stroke care. The center is part of the Providence Neuroscience Center, a comprehensive, integrated neuroscience program that treats conditions of the brain and spine.

Our neurosurgeons and other specialists apply the latest expertise, technology and teamwork. Stroke can cause troubling symptoms, but with brain-savvy specialists on your side, you’re in good and capable hands.

We were definitely at the right place for Greg’s care. Thank you, Lord!

On Sunday morning Dan drove to Spokane International airport to pick up his sister Katie and Andrew who had taken an early morning flight from Everett, Washington to Spokane. Both mountain passes were closed the day before so they couldn’t drive over.

Sunday Jamie and our grands drove to Spokane to see us all and so that Dan would have a way to get home since he had driven my car with me to Spokane. Dan also needed to be home so he could change out their regular tires for snow tires since a good dump of snow was predicted in the early hours of Monday.

Late on Sunday, Greg was finally transferred out of ICU to the Vascular floor of the hospital to await his scheduled Tuesday afternoon surgery. Katie and I saw his new room and said our goodnights and were happy at the prospect of being able to visit on Monday with more creature comforts in the room…like chairs to sit in.

Andrew picked up Katie and me from the hospital and drove us right to Park Inn, a casual eatery behind the hotel, for a more relaxing bite to eat. That was nice.

Andrew needed to get back home for work responsibilities so Monday morning he tried to schedule an UBER to take him to the airport. He was able to get a flight which would be delayed because of the snow that fell overnight and the need to de-ice the planes. Spokane had about 3 inches of snow on the ground on Monday morning. The Uber driver cancelled so me and Katie got our big girl pants on and drove Andrew to the airport. Everyone was driving slow and easy so getting to the airport and back to the hotel was just fine. We parked the car at the hotel and walked like penguins to the hospital in time for visiting hours to begin.

Monday was one very long day in the hospital with very little happening in Greg’s room. He was able to take a shower which was very nice for him. He had less wires hooked up to him and that made moving easier and made him more comfortable. Katie and I had lunch in the hospital cafeteria. We advised Dan not to try to make the drive back to Spokane from Colville because the roads would not be in the best shape with the snow and ice. Besides, it was not a day that anything significant was going on. When visiting hours were over we had dinner of leftovers in our hotel room.

On Tuesday, the day of Greg’s surgery Dan wanted to see his dad before the surgery began so he and Jamie left Colville for the 90 minute + drive with their newly installed snow tires. They were detoured off of the main highway because of a fatal accident requiring two helicopter transports. Those helicopters would land on the highway. The detour delayed them and they were hoping to make it in time. They did with time to spare. Katie traded out her visiting privilege to her brother. We had many hurry up and wait moments during Greg’s stay in the hospital. Later than we thought his chariot for surgery arrived and Dan and I were able to follow him to the pre-op room outside of the surgery. Katie and Jamie would join us in the surgery waiting area as we were given permission for all 4 of us to wait there instead of just two of us. It was good to meet the surgeon, who explained what he would be doing and the risks etc., etc. The anesthesiologist also gave us a good rundown. The pre-op nurse was full of praise for the team that would be working on Greg.  They wheeled him out and Dan and I were shown to the right waiting room only to see that Katie and Jamie were not there. So the gal helping us took Dan to the other waiting room to escort Katie and Jamie to the correct one. We had snacks that Jamie had prepared for us while we waited.

I received phone calls from the nurses attending the surgery to let me know when Greg fell asleep with the help of anesthesia and another call when the surgery was over and he was being stitched up. There was still recovery time that would happen before he would be transferred to ICU for the night. The surgeon came to the waiting room with a vile to show us what he had scraped out of Greg’s carotid artery. Yuck! Our kids knew their dad would want to see that so they took a photo. The surgeon was gracious and shared that everything went well and he didn’t expect any complications. At this point it was getting close to the 6pm cut off for visitors in ICU so Dan and Jamie left to drive home. As Katie and I left the waiting room I got a call from the recovery nurse saying she was going to wheel Greg to the ICU and she would wait in the hall outside of ICU so we could see him before we left the hospital. That was very kind and we were happy to see him and give the nurse his glasses for when he woke up. He was loopy when I gave him a kiss goodnight.

Katie and I walked back to the hotel in freezing temps (we had freezing temps the whole time Greg was there) got into my car and headed back to Park Inn for a more relaxing meal before we tucked in for the night.

On Wednesday morning Dan, Jamie and the kids made the trip early to Spokane. We walked to the hospital together. Wednesday was a long and tense day as Greg expected to be released from the hospital and with good reason as the vascular surgeon gave the okay bright and early on Wednesday morning for him to be released. Come to find out the hospital wanted other boxes to be ticked for his release. We finally made it clear that we would not be fine with them keeping him for another night for all the hurry up and wait frustrations. The final doctor who came in and who mentioned a Thursday release was met with very firm stonewall on our part and she decided to make the release happen and it happened immediately. We scrambled. The nurse disconnected his leads. Katie called her brother. I helped Greg get dressed. Gathered up all the belongings and Katie stayed with Greg waiting for the wheel chair to wheel him out. I walked to the hotel and retrieved the car and headed back to the front doors of the hospital where they were just wheeling him out. Sheesh…perfect timing. We got him in the back seat on the driver’s side so the seat belt would not cut into his incision and went back to the hotel parking lot to gather up all our belongings, check out and hit the road home. We followed Dan and Jamie and the kids to the pharmacy where we would pick up Greg’s meds and continued on the road home.

When we arrived home our neighbor had cleared a path to our front door so Greg would not have to slip and slide through the snow.

We got Greg settled and he was so happy to be in his own space. Dan and Jamie and the kids headed home. Greg, Katie and I put our comfy clothes on and wondered how all this was going to play out. I know we had something to eat but I can’t remember what. When it was time to crawl into bed we slept some but both were up at 2am. Now what y’all need to know about Greg is that his normal wake up time is anywhere between 2am and 4am. This first night at home he woke up at 2am and because I was still on call in my head I was up at 2am, too. Oye! Thursday would be a very long day. Food, hydration, meds and rest were the goals for the day.

We needed to get our vehicle in for an oil change since we missed that appointment while we were in Spokane. The dealer was understanding and said to drop the vehicle off any time and they would work it into their schedule. A friend texted on Thursday and I asked if they could pick me up at the dealer and bring me home. When I got to the dealer and signed the car in I realized I had left my phone at home. (A little discombobulated I am). How was I going to text my friend to tell her I was at the dealer? Katie to the rescue. She realized soon after I left that my phone was still at home. She texted my friend to let her know I did not have my phone and also told her to pick me up at Safeway instead of the dealer so I could pick up a few items that would be easy for Greg to eat. They arrived just as I was done with my shopping and taxied me home. Thank you, Lord, for friends who are willing to go out of their way to help. Home again after a few crying breakdowns on the road.

Jamie to the rescue again arrived at 12:30 with a Instant Pot full of delicious hamburger soup and freshly baked cornbread. Addy and JJ got to see their Gramps at home all dressed and looking well. We all ate together and then Jamie and the grands headed home for naps but not before dropping me back to the dealers with my car ready to go.

Our grands have co-op homeschool on Fridays so Jamie stopped by after dropping them off to spend a few minutes with us. She took Greg’s eyeglasses with her when she left.

While in the hospital Greg’s wonky left hand knocked his eye glasses off, damaging them. We had to tape them so he could still see without being poked in the eye. At home we found an older pair for him to wear. Our DIL took the broken pair to a local optometrist who repaired them lickity split and would not charge her. Our DIL also came up with a phone sleeve that slips onto Greg’s hand so he can comfortably use his phone to talk and take messages without dropping the phone. She is such a sweet blessing to our family.

On Friday, too, since our daughter was still here I felt comfortable leaving the house to catch up on a few responsibilities I have. I needed to drop off some items at church and do a little organizing. When I headed to my car to leave the church building, Jamie had arrived there with the repaired glasses. So many pieces that work together. I am very thankful for these moments. On the way home I stopped at Walmart to get Greg some new slippers (that won’t slip) and another pair of flannel bottoms.

Saturday Jamie brought the grands over to say their goodbyes to Katie who would be flying home on Sunday. She also brought ingredients for a hot chocolate bar for us all to enjoy. Our temperatures here are still below freezing for much of the day. Jamie’s mom who is our grands’ granny sent along a floor puzzle to keep those little hands busy.

We had an easier and uneventful rest of the day on Saturday with a goal to stay awake past 5pm to see if we could sleep longer into the following morning.

On Sunday morning Katie got packed up and ready for Jamie to take her to the airport to fly home where she would get a warm welcome from her hubby Andrew and Willow their cat. We are so grateful for the days she could spend with us and for Jamie driving her to the airport. Dan took Sunday off to stay with our grands so Jamie could drive Katie.

Today Sunday after Katie and Jamie left we decided to have a little ride in the car to diminish some of the cabin fever Greg was experiencing. We drove to Chewelah to enjoy lunch at El Ranchito and on the way home we stopped at Wal-Mart to make a few purchases. It was good for both of us to test the waters in this way.

And just like that it has been a full week plus a day since Greg’s stroke. Whew!

We believe in the Providence of God. We know that Greg’s stroke will result in our growth in grace and trust in Him. From the Westminster Confession of Faith:

God the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible, fore-knowledge, and the free immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, and mercy.

Hope you all have a good week.

Praizing the Lord…

…as our dear Pop would say. That’s not a typo. Dear had a successful surgery.

It was a very long day. We have to wait until 9am to be able to visit in the hospital…not a minute earlier. Katie and I got to Dear’s room at a little after 9am. He didn’t have any food or drink from midnight on so he was getting a bit dry in the mouth. We were expecting the surgical bed for his transfer to surgery at noon but it didn’t arrive until 1:15. So much in this setting is hurry up and wait. This timing worked out well because although Dan and Jamie left their home in Colville with plenty of time to make it to the hospital to see Dear before he was carted away to surgery there was a fatal crash on Hiway 395 with two Life Flight Helicopters landing on the highway to transport critical patients to the hospital we were at. Dan and Jamie had to detour off the highway which added several minutes to their journey. They made it before the transfer and we were all relieved.

In the Pre-Op room with all the preliminary things to do and a time where we got to meet the surgeon, the Anesthesiologist and the whole surgical team. The Surgeon and Anesthesiologist both took time to explain everything that would go on in surgery and we were confident with the care Dear would receive.

All set and ready to go. We prayed together before we headed to the surgical ward. Dear let the surgeon know that we and many others had prayed for him, too. He gave us a big smile.

Here’s my waiting room team. Jamie is such a gem who thinks of everything and brought some great snacks for us all. While waiting I was called 3 separate times. Once to tell me that Dear was asleep and they were ready to go with the surgery. Then they called to let us know that the surgery was successful and the surgeon was finishing with the final stitching. This was at 5:15 and it would be at least a half hour in recovery. The Surgeon then came to the Waiting Room and let us know in person that the surgery went well and showed us what he had removed from the Carotid Artery. At this point Dear would be transferred from Recovery to ICU and the visiting window was closing fast at 6pm. The recovery nurse gave us a call and asked us where we were and that we could meet her in the hall on her way to ICU so we could get a glimpse of Dear and give him his eye glasses. It was good to see him Post op before we had to leave the hospital. We will be back in the hospital on Wednesday at 9am sharp to see him in a non-loopy state.

We are so very grateful to all of you who have prayed and encouraged us during this first phase of Dear’s treatment and recovery. Prayer has been powerful. Your encouraging words are like balm to our hearts and minds. Thank you so much!

Time will tell if he gets to be released on Wednesday.

Surgery Today

I took some photos of Dear in the hospital to text to our kids and our family and friends. This first one is of him in ICU at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane on Saturday night. Our son Dan and I were with him for as long as they let us stay in ICU before we left him in good hands and headed to our hotel to check in.

In this one (Sunday November 6th) he is still in ICU waiting for a room on the Vascular floor of the hospital. Our daughter Katie and her hubby Andrew arrived on Sunday morning flying into Spokane. They were going to drive over on Saturday as soon as they got the word that Dear had a stroke but both passes between us and them were closed due to snow accumulations and hazardous conditions. Auntie Lana used her airline miles to fly them over early Sunday morning. Thank you to my generous sister for doing that.

The hospital only allows 2 people to visit at a time so we alternated our visits so Dan, Katie, Andrew and I could spend time with him.

Jamie drove to Spokane on Sunday with our grands to pick up Dan and head back home before the snow that was predicted started to fall. It was good to be able to see them and give them hugs. Jamie is amazing and brought some snacks and homemade cookies and banana bread for us all to enjoy.

Late Sunday Dear was finally moved to the vascular floor and Katie and I were with him when he was moved to his new room. When visiting hours were over Andrew picked Katie and me up and we had a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant before we settled in for the night.

While we slept Sunday night into Monday snow fell. I took the photo above out our hotel room window. Andrew needed to fly home on Monday morning for some work responsibilities. He tried booking an UBER to the airport but then they canceled so I drove him to the airport. Happy we have our snow tires on and the car does well in snowy conditions. Katie and I were proud of ourselves for putting our big girl pants on and driving in the slippery conditions. When we got back to our hotel we parked the car and decided to walk to the hospital. That walk was under 5 minutes. We walked like a penguin through the ice and snow.

Dear was very happy to be out of ICU. Doesn’t he look better already?

Katie and I spent all day on Monday with Dear. We had lunch at the hospitals cafeteria. Dear had a quiet day and was able to take a shower. The photo above is of him quite pleased after that shower!

Our son Josh and Laura had landed in Cancun when Dear had his stroke. We have been communicating back and forth with them with all the information we receive.

Visiting hours are strictly enforced and are between 9am and 6:45 PM in rooms other than ICU. Katie and I will head over at 9am today and spend some time with Dear before they start prepping him for surgery. Dan and Jamie are driving back down here today to spend some time with him before surgery, too. Jamie’s mom is watching the grands while Dan and Jamie travel to the hospital.

Thank you so much to all of you for your encouraging comments and for the prayers you offer up on our behalf. We feel those prayers and are thankful for the peace that God is giving us as we head into this new chapter in our lives. There are hurdles ahead for us and changes that we hadn’t anticipated but we move forward with the God of the Universe who gives us the strength to carry on.

Our Guest Bath Update

Good morning friends. The forecast here in our corner of Washington State has predictions of heavy wet snow with the possibility of falling trees and branches breaking and downing power lines. Hopefully we will not lose power but if we do, I’ve created a few posts for this week and hopefully the predictions won’t be as dire as forecasted.

When we moved into our current home in September of 2018 we knew that we wanted to make changes in our guest bath. In 2019 we bought a slab of maple wood with a live edge to replace the countertop in this bathroom. That slab lived under the guest bed in what we call the Blue Room for about 3 years. Along the way in those 3 years we bought a new sink for the bathroom, too.

Demolition day…

After he stripped the bathroom, the walls, ceiling and cabinet were painted white.

The slab of wood was measured for cutting the hole for the sink and faucet.

Now it was time to treat the wood with TopOil.

The top oil complete it was time to install the backsplash.

Time for the plumbing. We tried some of our old wall pieces and really didn’t like the look so we contemplated changes that would function better. That wall piece on the side wall got moved to the master bedroom. It poked out to far over the new countertop and imposed on the counter space.

Time to set the sink and hook up more plumbing.

We tried a few pieces over the toilet area and finally settled on this piece with shelves and a rod for hand towels. We found this piece at Wal-Mart.

We are pleased with the update. Josh and Laura were our first overnight guests to enjoy the changes.

Dear does good work and has saved us thousands of dollars over the years by doing these projects himself.

I was going to list the projects that Dear was planning to complete in the next several months but as Providence would have it we had an emergency health event that has changed our plans. Dear suffered a Stroke on Saturday in our home while we were together enjoying our lunch. He and I recognized something was terribly wrong. 911 was called and we had a great response with the EMT’s and the Fire Chief of our area. Once evaluated at our local hospital, Dear was transported to Spokane to the ICU at Sacred Heart for further evaluation. Our son drove me to Spokane and booked a room for us across the street from the hospital. Dear is in expert care and it was determined he should have surgery sooner than later and he will have an Endarterectomy on Tuesday afternoon. We are grateful that things were caught early and the right treatment was given for the best overall outcomes. His brain and speech are in great shape. The lingering symptom is weakness in his left hand. Thanking God for watching over him. Thanking those of you in advance who will pray to our God for Dear’s surgery to go well and for his recovery to be free of complications.

We have had such an outpouring of care and prayers from loved ones, our kids have rallied, our church family in Colville, old friends in Edmonds, Monroe, Bothell, Lynnwood, Kenmore and Poulsbo. Family in New York, North Carolina, Texas, California, my ‘girls’ in British Columbia and Manitoba. We are so thankful to our God for the love and peace we have experienced because of those prayers.

Posts this week will be sporadic if at all.

Hope your new week is going well.