Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some Hard Times

That's what happens when you are going peacefully along, minding your own business - and then WHAM - something hits you from out of the blue.

I've already been through uterine cancer surgery (they got it all - no chemo and no radiation), a kidney stone the size of a huge marble (had it blasted after getting rid of the infection caused by a blocked duct), emergency gall bladder surgery and a while back a blood infection that was hard to beat - but I've gotten through all of them. Don had cataract surgery, followed by lazer eye surgery - and we thought we were in the clear - sailing along - enjoying our new house - then the latest bit of news hit us.


My wonderful Don has to have open heart surgery. He's had a heart murmur since he was 50 and it was something the doctors said would need to be watched - but was not life threatening. Until recently - and now his heart is beginning to show signs of not tolerating the leakage from the heart murmur. A cord is broken in the mitral valve and it has to be repaired - and if it is not repairable, then an artificial valve will be inserted during open heart surgery. They will also do a heart catheterization to check for a need for bypass surgery at the same time as the open heart surgery. There is no evidence at all that he might need the bypass, but it is a safety precaution just in case it is needed - so they wouldn't have to go in a second time. The bypass would only add an hour to the surgery time - much better than going in twice if they discovered the need later.


About age 7, with his Grandpa, in Wisconsin . . .


And now he is a grampy - I made this shirt for his birthday the year after Ben was born. No - he is not 44 - but Hank Aaron wore number 44 when he played baseball for the Milwaukee Braves - and he was Don's hero all the time he was growing up and attending the Milwaukee Braves games (riding the bus across town by himself when he was only 7 - he loved the game!!)

We got this news in late March and it has taken time to sink in - to become real (surely this isn't happening to us) - to settle into our brains and our lives.


With Ben, about 6 months old . . .talking to Auntie Jamie . . .

The good part is that the new cardiologist says that we can wait a while - a few months - and just have an electrocardiogram every two months to assess things to make sure there isn't any further damage. And we HAVE to wait - since insurance won't cover about $25,000.00 of the surgery - and we have to come up with that amount before the hospital will schedule the surgery. Now isn't that nice??? But how to do that - we certainly can't lay our hands on $25,000.00. The hospital will schedule payments, but the payments are so high we couldn't pay them - and if we miss a payment they garnishee our wages - and you know the spiral that puts a person into.

Bills are already accumulating for the doctors he has to see until the surgery and for tests on his heart to check and make sure that it is not degenerating. The surgery is planned for early Sept. and we have until then to raise the money - now if that doesn't put stress on you - I don't know what does.

With Ben - about 1 year old . . .

Don is in excellent health - does his treadmill faithfully every day - takes long walks - eats properly and comes from a long line of people who have lived into their 80s and 90s - so we are hopeful - yet fearful at the same time. We'd prefer not to wait - but then we don't have that choice right now.

He is to do no lifting, no carrying groceries, no lawn mowing, no painting the house this summer like he planned, nothing that would put strain on his heart. He can still do the treadmill and walking - which will help keep his heart in good condition, aerobic exercise is good for his heart. The cardiologist says his heart function is still perfect, and we want to keep it that way - with the limited activites and a medication designed just for this situation.

Our daughters and sons-in-law have already begun to pitch in with chores, shopping and helping around the house - and have offered to help whenever needed - it is nice to have familiy close at this time. Our son and daughter-in-law live in WV and they want to fly out for a visit before the surgery, and they will pitch in with any projects that need done around the house during their visit.

I ask your prayers, good thoughts, white light - whatever you have - during this time. We appreciate all that our friends and family have done for us already. This is a long and scary road - and we must go down it - but we already feel your love and your hope for us at this time. If I could go through this for Don, I would, but we all know that isn't possible -so I will help him in any way I can - and hope that the time whizzes by - although I must say - if you want to see time come to a stand still - just come over to our house. I'm pretty sure that all clocks have decided to move backwards a bit each day - making time drag.

At the John Deere Park with Ben - in Lynden . . .

Playing "football" with the boys at Thanksgiving . . .mostly it was a game of run and catch Grampy . . .

Our cardiologist is the best in the world - everyone we've talked to about him has raved about what a great doctor he is, how well he explains things, how he has more knowledge than any other doctor they've ever met. Everyone loves him - the only people who don't like him are people who haven't met him yet. The surgeon is equally as good - and has put our Heart Center here in Bellingham on the map. He is top of the line and our cardiologist is happy we have been able to schedule the surgery with this particular surgeon. That means a lot to us.

Painted faces at the Super Bowl Party . . .

Jahn opening his present of "spy goggles" that Grampy bought for him at christmas. . .

Blinking Rudolph noses - kind of blurry but the only shot that turned out . . .

Making a snowman with Ben . . .

Thank you fo reading - and thanks for walking this lonely, scary path with us - we are planning on coming out the other side better than before.

21 comments:

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and Don and the family.

Gypsy Quilter said...

Joann, I just wanted you to know that my dad had 6 bypasses and a pacemaker about 15 years ago. He lived a full and active life. The technology available today is amazing. Contact Social Services at the hospital and the American Heart Association regarding payment fees, etc. See what they have to say about financial assistance.

Amy ~ 12 Acres said...

I'm pulling for you and Don too. Why does life have to throw these curve balls all the time??? It's so frustrating. Just when you think things are going your way things like this happen. I'm glad your family is chipping in to help out.

Christine Thresh said...

I'll walk along with you and send good wishes and whatever else you might need by long distance.
Perhaps the American Heart Association has some financial leads, as Gypsy Quilter suggested.

I enjoyed the pictures today.

Linda B said...

My neighbor just had emergency heart surgery and I'm sure it is the doctor you are talking about. He's incredible. Your Don will be in good hands, and in all our hearts.

Judy S. said...

So sorry to hear about your husband's impending surgery; hopefully things will soon sort themselves out! I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Is Don from Wisconsin? I'm asking because that's where I grew up, too. I've never quite adapted to the Atlanta Braves~they'll always a part of Milwaukee for me!

Julie in the Barn said...

My thoughts are with you and your family, Joann. I just know all will be fine in the long run. It is just criminal that only the wealthy can afford medical care in America. This has got to change.

Peggy said...

I have recently started reading yor blog and my heart and prayers go out to you and your family in this worrying time. We moan about our health service over here but we only pay for private health care but once you have worked and payed taxes and social insurance then surgery of this kind in done without any further payment in public hospitals. Best wishes

Belvie said...

Your and your family are in my thoughts and prayers....that all will turn out well.

QuiltedSimple said...

My thoughts and prayers are with Don, you and your family!
Kris

Sand Flat Farm said...

You've had alot on your plate lately, sorry to hear. I just found your blog. I'm lifting up a prayer for your husband's surgery as well as the financial means to have it. I know your family will help out. What would we do without our families?

I know that we have problems and trials in this life, but they make us stronger, help our faith to grow, and draw us closer to the Lord. "Cast your your burdens upon the Lord, for He cares for you".

Dorothy said...

Joann, pardon my bluntness, but that just sucks. You have plenty of shoulders here to lean on. Do.

Moon Daisies said...

I`m so sorry to hear of your bad news, theres nothing so precious as our loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours at this time.x

Ramblings From Spain said...

Oh dear, oh dear, I am so sorry to hear of your troubles Joann and Don, and especialy the extra burden the financial worries bring at at time you need them the least.
I hope your family, friends and all your friends in the blogging community can help you cope through this agonising time, our thoughts and best wishes are with you xx

*karendianne. said...

My dear friend, know that I am sending you more than this note. I'm holding you as close as I can. I'm covering you and Don in prayer. I'm wishing you the peace of the moment. This moment. The place to pan for gold is in the kitchen sink. The simple tasks, the monotonous tedious efforts where ideas and prayer and miracles come together as one.

And please know my friend beyond anything resembling doubt that you will come through this. There is a paradise of friendship here for you to rest in.

Ps: I've enjoyed your photos in this post as well. Thank you.

Serena said...

You've got my thoughts and prayers! May all go well and your burdens slowly lift during this difficult time.

Chris said...

What a scary time for both of you. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Dorothy said...

JoAnn, my thoughts and prayers are with you and Don at this very stressful time. I wish there was more I could do!

JoyceAnn said...

JoAnn , I've been busy this week , my oldest grandson has been staying with me since he was having spring break from pre-school.
Know that you and Don are in my Prayers and Thoughts. It's a shame we have to worry about insurance coverage in this country , hopefully everything will fall in place for you'll.

~ Hugs & Many Blessings ~
JoyceAnn

craftyhala said...

I hope things are well with you. I am sad to hear such news, however, I have heard about the doctors there and they are good. In fact my Mom had a couple of surgeries there.
I send thoughts and prayers your way.
Mahala

Mary L. said...

I don't know how I missed reading this when first posted. You both will be in my prayers!