Sunday, June 28, 2009

Her Way

As many of you have heard, my mother-in-law never made her anticipated transition to hospice care. Bev passed away at five o'clock this morning in her hospital room. Fighting pneumonia proved to be too big of a burden for her frail body. Jim and I spent most of today driving from the hospital to the assisted living place to the funeral home to Bev's old house, and here and there and everywhere else in between. Tomorrow will be more of the same, and then the funeral is planned for Tuesday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Heading to Hospice

My mother-in-law is still in the hospital ICU battling pneumonia and two secondary bacterial infections - not to mention her end-stage emphysema and congestive heart failure. Her lungs are so damaged that the doctors say that even the strongest antibiotics are no match for her afflictions. Even using an oxygen mask with dosage settings as high as they will go (15!), her breathing is extremely labored. The doctors have decided that since she is a "Do Not Resuscitate" patient (her own decision made years ago), they can no longer do anything for her. They have informed us that she will probably not live more than another week, and have suggested that we choose a hospice in which to place her. That will be our task for Friday.

Bev's Alzheimer's is, of course, as prevalent as ever, even though she can barely talk. When I visited her today, I was changing her wall calendar and told her that it was Thursday. In all seriousness, she struggled to whisper to me, "I don't even know anyone named Thursday."

Knowing her, she will most likely outlast the one-week life-expectancy predicted by the hospital physicians.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Flying Wallendas and Fireworks

Every June, our township hosts a three-day-long community festival. There are carnival rides, a car show, concerts, art demonstrations, a parade, food & beverage tents, fireworks, etc. This year, the "Flying Wallendas" were hired to entertain the festival-goers with some of their acrobatic highwire feats. Jim and I were very impressed with their show. Jacob - not so much. But, then, we older folks actually remember the Wallenda family's daredevil stunts from long ago, always performed without safety nets. I vividly recall the fatal fall that took place at the Detroit State Fair Coliseum in 1962, killing two Wallendas. (Not the most pleasant of memories from my youth!)

After partaking in numerous festival activities over the past few days, we invited friends and family over to the house for a little shindig prior to Saturday's pyrotechnic extravaganza. We all drank, snacked, chatted, & played Rockband. The weather cooperated nicely, and the fireworks display was grand, as usual. It was so good to see everyone - I hope we can all get together again soon!

Carla Wallenda on top of the 110-foot high "Swaypole."

Julia sparkled before the fireworks started.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Five Minutes of Fame

Adam returned home on Monday from his 6-week-long Vortex2 tornado chase. Besides catching fleeting glimpses of him on The Weather Channel from time to time during that period, we were excited to discover that some of the pictures Adam had taken were displayed on our local NBC station. Yes, my son emailed photos of his tornado encounter to Channel 4, yet I, his mother, have not yet seen them. He also completed a phone interview with the WDIV meteorologists while he was still on the road. After being preempted twice last week - first for breaking news about some flooding, and then for the final Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup playoff game - Adam's interview and story finally aired on Tuesday. The video of that broadcast is available on the website, and is labeled, "UM Students Have Close Encounter With Tornado." See here. If you would like to view the earlier story that Channel 4 televised when Adam sent them his tornado pictures, click here. That one is titled, "Project Studies Tornadoes." The videos will only be available for a few weeks on the WDIV website, but we did tape the one with Adam's interview on our totally-out-of-date-and-humiliatingly-old-fashioned VCR. Hopefully someone we know with a DVR has a copy of one or the other of the Channel 4 stories because eventually our VCR will be obsolete, and our tape will undoubtedly become worthless. I guess that will teach us not to rely on 1990s technology anymore!

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's Up With This?

We came across this sign while we were traveling in Delaware. It was not exactly the most welcoming "Rest Area" we encountered during our trip! We didn't stop there because, obviously, it was not permitted. We are certainly curious to know what Elsie Walker did to deserve her own official "Rest Area," and, at the same time, we are puzzled as to why she does not allow anyone to visit there. Interesting.

Friday, June 12, 2009

She's Like Houdini or Something

My mother-in-law is once again in the hospital - this time in the ICU. She was brought by ambulance from the rehab facility a few days ago in critical condition with respiratory distress. The diagnosis this time is pneumonia, and she has two secondary bacterial infections as well. That means that whenever we visit Bev's room, we have to don protective gowns and gloves. Attractive. Bev has been on a ventilator since she was admitted to the hospital, although the nurses tell us that they plan to slowly wean her from the breathing machine in the coming days. Always one to be feisty, however, Bev had other ideas about this alleged weaning timetable. Under moderate sedation, and with her hands and arms restrained, my mother-in-law somehow managed to remove the ventilator tube from her throat yesterday. As alarms sounded, nurses rushed to her side and had to quickly summon a doctor to re-intubate her. No one can figure out how she accomplished the tube extraction, but nothing really surprises us anymore.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Should Have Seen the One That Got Away

Jacob, Nancy, and I traveled to Delaware last week to visit my nephews. (Nancy's sons) We spent a few days in the northern part of the state with Sean and his family, and then drove to Rehoboth Beach to stay with Carey and his wife & kids. While at Sean's house, we toured both a potato chip factory (yum, warm chips right off the line!) and the QVC home shopping network studio. Jacob spent time volunteering during "field day" at 7-year-old Mandy's elementary school, while Nancy and I attended preschool with 4-year-old Sam one day. Sean also has a beautiful in-ground pool in his backyard, so the kids swam and swam and swam. In Rehoboth, Carey took Jacob and Josh fishing, and they each caught - are you ready for this - thirteen fish! Jacob even hooked a large (over a foot-long) bass, but it got away as he reeled it in. I know that sounds like your typical "fish story," but he did have witnesses! Jacob was just ecstatic, and I'm sure that any of our feeble attempts at fishing this summer will pale in comparison. It is certainly advantageous to have a professional fisherman at your disposal. Despite some wet weather, we also went to the beach at the local state park between raindrops. The highlight of our time with Carey (in my opinion - although I'm certain that Jacob's highlight was the fishing) was his daughter's dance recital on Saturday night. Abey performed in four different numbers in the show, and was extremely good. She is only in first grade this year, so her future as a dancer looks very bright. I hope we can attend her recital again next year.

Herr's factory tour. I have never seen this brand of chips in Michigan.

Jacob and Mandy at the Brandywine River. Those rocks looked frighteningly similar to the boulders where I hurt my ankle in Juneau, AK last year. I stayed far away!

Josh tossed this one back.

One of Jacob's catches.

At the beach.

Tiny dancer.

Josh holding a surprise for his sister after the recital.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Anybody who is even a casual viewer of The Weather Channel knows that Adam and the Vortex2 team finally intercepted a tornado in Wyoming on Friday. It was a perfect storm, as the researchers were able to witness the entire evolution of the tornado - from the formation right through to it's dissipation. They were also relieved that it occurred on an open range, as no people were injured and no structures sustained damage. I understand that the U of M/Texas Tech sticknet crew raced ahead of the supercell after the initial tornado touchdown, and were able to experience more of the storm's wrath. Adam will be writing the next update for the U of M Vortex2 blog (see sidebar), so check that out in the coming days. I'm sure he will be posting plenty of pictures, and possibly even some video as well.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hip Hip Hooray

While in the rehab place to strengthen her legs, Bev fell down once again. This time she sliced open her head and was rushed to the emergency room. After stapling her skull back together, the doctors discovered that she had also fractured her hip in the tumble. Bev had a metal plate and three screws placed in her hip during surgery on Monday. She was sent back to the rehab place yesterday to again attempt some sort of physical therapy. Since Jacob and I are out of town (more about that later), we have had to hear about Bev's ordeal long distance. Jim says that even though she has been as loopy as ever, she has been unusually calm. We will have to find out which magical relaxing medications were prescribed for Bev's post hip-surgery recovery, as we would be interested in ordering them in bulk for her future use. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Patience is a Virtue

Adam's Vortex2 tornado chase has been experiencing some setbacks. Namely - good weather. Beautiful, dry, sunny days have been the norm this spring in the Great Plains, and the severe weather outbreaks have been far and few between. I'm sure that the scientists are becoming quite frustrated with the unusually tranquil conditions, and they are probably very annoyed with Mother Nature. The researchers spend their time driving and driving (over 5,000 miles so far), followed by hours of waiting and waiting. Adam has taken hundreds of pictures of some pretty awesome-looking storms, but no tornadoes have been spotted. The U of M group still remains upbeat, though, as is evident if you read their blog. I certainly hope that their patience pays off for them soon!