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Crochet and Our Health


I'm now putting the most current of this long story at the top. If you need to read back to catch up, see below the *******line.
August 2, 2010
Life goes on and Dad is hanging in there. We visited there just this past weekend and had two family events, one on Dad's side and one on mom's. On Sat., Alan and I took dad to lunch at "Cindy's Diner." In the morning we had read about the owner in the North Side Alumni News and I decided it sounded like a fun place to go. I was right! The choclate malt is one of the best I have ever had and the onion rings were great too!Dad enjoyed seeing the old place and had a "Murphy's donut" made from the donut machine that was in the Murphy's five and dime store, dating back to the fifties. Murphy's was my sat. hangout when I was 12 or so. I would take the bus there on Sat. and shop around and of course, have a donut!

Cousin Jeff's son is getting married in Louisville, KY in October and his brother threw a "luau"-themed shower. It came just two weeks after the groom's grandmother, (my mom's sister, Donnabelle) had died at the age of 26. Like I said, "life goes on" and the younger generation has their plans and their life to live. I went to my Aunt's funeral on July 16 and it was like a family reunion. It was very tough on my Dad, though; way to close in time for him to have to re-live a funeral. He was there to support his brother-in-law but kept it very brief.

On my Dad's side, cousin alan threw a reception for his son, Brad who was wed in Minneapolis on July 3. Good food; good conversation. A busy weekend in Ft. Wayne.

Dad asked me to go through pictures that he has stored in a trunk, which I did. He says he isn't going to be around much longer, so I should take what I want! I made a little dent in them, but I already have so many and many are dups of what I have already. Anyhoo, it made Dad happy to have me go through them and that is what counts!

April 20, 2010
This post has been a long time coming, but it is hard to write about...I visited Dad in early Feb 2010 to just check in with him and to give him some company. We've been in toch weekly, at lest, since mom's death b phone and I'd say dad has done relatively well adjusting to the vast lonilness he feels. It is never easy and as they say, "Only time heals wounds." Roger has stopped in on some days and found that he has been crying. All he can do is reassure him and try to help finding things to keep dad busy. On September 18, 2009 Mom and Dad celebrated 63 years of marriage! Ironically when they returned from celebration dinner with Rog and Lynn, mom's hip broke and she fell off the step at the entrance to their house. Even though she had come throgh heart surgery six weeks before, as is commonly the case, that became he beginning of her end.

I told him it would be a great idea to come and visit us in June during the week of mom's birthday. (Alan and Mom have the same day) A distraction during that time seems therapeutic to me and we would love havng him and Jack, but he didn't think leaving the house was something he is interested in. How frustrting!! I am pretty mcuh out of ideas!

Thankfully, he is going to his two weekly groups for breakfast and afternoon tea. I wonder if this group of his longtime friends are helpful? Does that generation know how to be open and comforting? My experience has been that my parents hold in a lot of emotions and don't find it appropriate to express themselves in public. Dad, especially, is shy anyway and doesn't like to show his feelings. Lynn has said that he has done pretty well at church holding it together when people greet him and share their ondolences. I am sure he cries silently and privately on long days when he is home alone. He calls these times "spells."

Alan and I went to visit Dad in March for the weekend. It was a whilwindvisit and we ept dad busy. The three of us took the twins for ice cream at an old ice cream shop for their 5th birthday. Then we headed out to th movies to see "Avatar". I was right to think that dad would enjoy it. He found it amazing and started to walk out of the theatre with his 3-D glasses still on! Right after that we met Rog for dinner. It was a long day for dad, but good for him to be distracted. I am sure e slept well that night. Lynn had been in Indy babsitting Kaylee, but she got home on Sunday i time to see us before we left. It is such a nice feeling to not be rushed and to not have to be home at any special time. We don't let the four hour ride home daunt us!

March 28, 2009-Almost 3 months to the day that mom died. Dad called me that night (not unusual for a Sunday)What was unusual was that he was crying so hard that he could hardly get the words out! I had a hard time keeping it toether and was grabbingat straws a to what to say to him to comfort him. Intellectually he knew that t is okayto cry, but her said, "I don't want to be a cry baby. I just have these spells every now and then." He said te pastor has toalked to him about it being okay to cry. It id happen to be a gloomy rainy day and sundays are traditionally very hard for the elderly. I decided at one point to take little sterner tack with dad. I am frankly getting a little frustrated with his unwillingness to try things that will ocupy stime. He has complained about not having enough to do since he reired ten yers ago at age 80. He has never wanted to seek knew activiies, but yet complains of not having enough to do. I gave him an assignment to go to the park district and get the activity calendar for Seniors just to look at.

A doctor/minister at the Vet's hospital has recommended some interesting approaches to dad in th past which included vitamin supplements, and reading Psalm 23 3 times daily to meditate on it. This makes sense to me and I would rather see him on less medication if supplements could help. I told him we would talk the next day after I did a lttle research on what meds he has taken in the past for depression. I was so glad dad reached out to me and called rather than just suffering alone.I tod dad wewould talkthe next day and he seemed grateful to have been able to talk to me.

I immediately called Rog and Lynn but told them not to rush over there to him , but just to be aware. It was a wake upcall to Rog, because ihe gave dad some jobs to dothe net day that are actually helpful for Rog: errands to the supply house; washng shop rags, etc.

Lynn and I sorted through some of mom's clothes with Dad's permission. He decided to keep them out in the garage until he decided exactly where hewante to take them: the church or to donte them elsewhere. We only tuced the surface and Lynn and I decided that we shuld have a grage sale and seell off the clothe really cheap in bag lots. Mom always loved a bargain and her favorites were at church rummae sales were they would offer a grocery bag ful for $5.00! We will wait to spring or fall and do somthig like that, offering great garage salebarains in Nanny's honor.

The next day when we talked, he owned that he doesn't like to talk to friends about his troubles because he doesn't like to cry in public, even though they have been through the same and would undestand. He also owned that since he is almost 80 he probably won't take up any new activities. I told him that it is his choice to sit at home and do nothing or to get creative and get out nd do something that takes up time. Even if it is just to get in the car and go to Coney Island for a hot dog with Jack or go to the mall for a stroll, it some different scenery and is good. Thankfully, Spring is coming and he can spend more time in his garage puttering as well as be n the yard doing some work or walking Jack near the house.

>January 4, 2010:

Dorothy E. Blakley (mom to us) died on 12/29/09 at 4:20 PM. She was born on June 23, 1926 and was 83 years old. This is a pencil drawing done some time ago from a photo by grandson, Marty Blakley. Surrounded by her favorite flowers which she grew in her perennial garden, are black-eyed susans.

January 2, 2010: Mom was cremated and we held a memorial service in her honor today. My brother, Roger, built a wooden box for her ashes that will be placed in the urn/vault. The five great granchildren, with the help of their parents, wrote or drew notes to be put in the box. Mom was dearly loved and well-known by many in town. We had a standing-room only crowd, even though my dad's wishes were that we keep it a private service for just family and close friends. We have a large family too!

Pop (Martin Blakley, age 89) meeting great-grandaughter, Chloe Marie, for the first time.
Dear,dear friend Deb: "Sleep tight...your mother is watching over you now."

Throughout our process of realizing and accepting that her death was imminent and inevitable, we heard many comments from others. Sharing them here tells it all and concludes my story!
Nurses: "Your dad is such a sweetie. We fell in love with him; he cared so much for your mom and took such good care of her."

Long, long time friend, Sue: "I just don't know what to do. Can I make spagetti for you?"

Another long, long time friend, Dolores: "She was my best friend; I will miss her so much!"

Dad's "army buddy's" widow Iris in FL: "Thank you so very much for letting me know. Please give my love to your dad."
My cousin Sherry: "I remember the first time I came to your home in Ft. Wayne for a poker fame. it was so exciting to find I had such relatives: socially interactive, fun-loving and with true passions. I have many things from (Dorothy's ) antique shop and memories that will last forever. I am sorry for your Dad for I believe he had a life partner in the best sense."

Nicole's dear friend Millie: "(we are) grateful for the precious stories you have shared of her memory that she will live fondly in our hearts."
"I will sure miss her. We were so close growing up and I will always remember playing house with her."

My cousin Holly: "I hope you are strengthened by God , encouraged by happy memories."

Mom's sister, Donnabelle (age 86):
My cousin Jim: "I remember coming to Aunt Dorothy's house on Sundays to play with Tom, Roger and Gwen. When I was studying at Purdue in Ft. Wayne, she would have me over every Thursday for dinner and that meant a lot to me."

Alan's cousin, Connie: "I remember her coming to Aunt Dorothy's funeral and she was such a tall elegant woman."

Alan's sister, Alice: She was an elegant lady who was loved by many. You will have some tough times for quite a while when you think of her, but just remember all she meant to you."

Our dear friend, Gerry: "The pastor ask us to say something about Dorothy and I thougt of metioning her love of playing poker, but I didn't know if the pastor knew she was a gambler!"

My brother Tom's good friend, Marge: "I really loved her and will miss her so much!"

Others: "She as such a good cook and made the best apple pie." She was an elegant lady."

Dad: "Her fried mush was the best!"

My cousin Lana: "Oh, I can't beleve it. I am so,so sorry!"

My cousin Donita: "I know exactly how your feel. It has been two-and-a-half years since my mom died and I still get teary thinking about her."

During the couple of weeks that proceeded her passing, the only words that popped into my head when I thought of updating the blog here were, "Just shoot me!" Somehow that didn't seem appropriate at such a solemn time. However, I do strongly believe that one must keep a sense of humor even in the worst of times. It's not really that humorous to say, "just shoot me." I guess. It is a very serious way of thinking, as many I am sure, would prefer to go that way over prolonged agony. That's where courage comes in and I don't have it for such things.

On December 19, 2009 when I left my mom today and saw her alive for the last time, I was struck with profound sadness at the realization that she was completely helpless and at the mercy of everyone for her both physically and emotionally. She had delirium or hallucinations and talked non-stop about people and things way in the past that didn't make sense. She did recognize us, though, but had no real sense of the here and now. Her stage 4 bedsore (the worst level) was healing thanks to the protein she received through a stomach tube from 5PM to 5 AM. She was not eating and had no strength to move around in bed, let alone stand by herself. Her lack o cognitive skills prevented her from following the cues of the very patient physical therapist. Yet she went to PT twice a day an happily tried to do her best.I would say that the feeding tube protein is the only thing keeping her alive because she eats only a few bites at each meal if strongly encouraged or fed. I knew as I left and kissed her goodbye that she would never make it back home, as my dad so deperately hoped, with any sense of normalcy! My grieving her absence had atarted.

November 13 2009
Almost a week since we were there and Mom has steadily declined all week. She is just not eating and we don't know exactly why. The dr. wants to put a feeling tube in her stomach increase potein and get the debubitus to heal. Maybe then she can eventually get out of bed. Right now that seems out of the question. So they will wean her off the coumadin an get ready to surgically put he tube in by te end of he week,hopefully. Dad has had a really rough week as he sees her go downhill. Out of frustration, he hreatened to "yank"her out of there and says he is beginning to hat it!

I am now set up to receive weekly updates after the Medical team meats and I will talk to the clinical nurse dirctor. I have my own isueswith the place, but know mom is in a tough situation too. She is not bringing much particiption to the situation.

Mom is 83 and Dad is 89. They have been married 63 years! Dad has been steadfast and strong through all of mom's ups and downs and has stood by her side for everything, even though he hates hsopitals! Her cardiac doctor was pleased at her progress and thought she was doing as well as could be expected. She was going to the grocery with Dad, doctor's appoitnments and out to eat at restaurants. As a matter of fact, it was on their anniversary, September 18, after they returned home from dinner with Rog and Lynn that she broke her hip! I met my husband, Alan, on September 18, 1965 and wanted to get married on that day as well. However, since we decided to tie the knot during Thanksgiving break at college, it didn't happen! Back to the love birds!

As Dad was unlocking the door, he turned around to see Mom on the ground! Rog and Lynn were next door at their garage and came running. They got her in a chair and called the ambulance! It has been a long and tortuous path for Mother; I will keep the details brief.

November 1-Dad answered Mom's phone and he had just arrived and Lovingly, he had thoughnt to bring her a Wendy's hamburger and frosty! He said she had enjoyed the shrimp they had served her for dinner and didn't know if she could eat the hamburger as well. Mom has not been fully cognizant much of the time and I don't think she fully appreciate's all the anxiety my dad has been through on her behalf, nor has she appreciated his heroic efforts to see that she is taken care of the best possible. Deep down, though, I know she realizes the depth of his love. It is a reminder to all of us that each day is an opportunity to express the love we feel for those closest to us and to not take any day for granted!

October 31- I talked to Mom and she sounded very weak, but alert. She couldn't remember what she had eaten, though. She had a report about my neice's Halloween party the night before and told me what my brother went as: cowboy!

October 29-Papers re-signed and all is well. She has a beautiful view out her window of the city and is in a room with another lady who has MMRSA as well. My dad prefers a private room, but for now this is what they have to offer. I headed home to be with Alan who has been in Orlando all week. Through it all, I crocheted and crocheted! I was wise to bring along plenty of progjects and if need be, I could always run out to a yarn store as a diversion to get more yarn! It soothes me and helps pass the long evenings after a long day back and forth from the hospital.

Wednesday October 28-Nothing much happens on the weekend, but finally on Sunday a PT person showed up and got mom out of bed to stand and then sit in the chair. She did well. On Monday she walked 15 feet with the aid of a walker and gait belt with the PT supporting her. She's been so weak and we tried creative ways to get her to eat. I brought her apple crisp I had made and Dad stopped by to pick up a Wendy's frosty for her. Just the slightest little thing fills her up and she seems to prefer sweets over everthing else! Quoting Mom, "Do you have any idea how they can ruin Macaroni and cheese?" Her dr. had recommended that the next step be a long term acute care facility called "Select." It is housed in another hospital in town, not as close and convenient, but if this is what is needed, my Dad is very willing to give it a try. Finally after being "released" since yesterday, she arrived there at 5:00 PM. After we saw she was settled in, we left for home, exhausted from a long day.

At dinner later, I got an urgent call from the dr. saying my dad had mistakenly signed a DNR (Do Not Resusitate) order for MOM!! He gets very baffled at the medical terminology and the support staff don't exactly handle this kind of thing well either. Anyway, the dr. put her on "Full Code" for the night and we were supposed to go and resign the papers in the morning. I had no reason to believe she would stop breathing tonight, but the thought of it was daunting!

October 27-I think we have a "status quo" day today and Dad had decided to go to "tea" at the local ice cream parlor with a group of firends who are all married couples still in their 80s and 90s! He invited me to go along and it was such a sweet scene. Another Love Story! All except one couple are people who I knew growing up and who Mom and Dad have been friends with for over 50 years. The eldest is 96 and he can't hear or see, but boy does he had an upbeat attitude. He even remembered Alan's name and gave me a big hug and wanted to know all about my family. Now, that's admirable!It is very amazing that there would be still four couples at their age and still able to get out on their own each week to socialize! I enjoyed the time with them immensely and they were so concerned about Mom. They passed around a card and all signed it for her.

October 24-She has MMRSA in the would and it is antibiotic resistant. She is also short of breath and the dr. says it is from the hydration! So, she is on one antibiotic for possible pneumonia and another for the wound! If the disease doesn't kill you the doctors will!!!! They also checked for a blood clot because of the shortness of breath, but thankfully, that was negative. We needed some good news by now. Every visit, Dad would kiss Mom hello and goodbye, even if it meant stretching on tip-toes over the bedrail to reach her lips! She could hardly raise her head to help most times. I had to lower the rail to reach her for a kiss!

October 23-I got up at the crack of dawn to get to the hospital in time for Mom's surgery to debride the decubitus. I made it in time and the surgery started late-well, it didn't actually start! Her blood ooxygen levels were not good and the anesthesiaologist didn't feel comfortable putting her under. So, instead, they packed the wound and used a cream medication that will debride the wound as well. It is a much slower process, but the only alternative at this point. It is my cousin Laura's birthday today. She is a nurse at the same hospital. She has been so supportive and good to check in on Mom and Dad often, even though she has her own "full plate" at home.

October 20- I thought she was in good hands at St. Anne's, but Mom was having a rough time. She had night sweats and they sent off a urine culture to check for a urinary tract infection. She developed shaky hands, due to the medicine for confusion, so they finally lowered the dose and that helped. She has developed a bedsore and they are treating it with a paste. She is going to rehab daily but Dad says all she can do is stand with the walker and shuffle a couple of steps. Very very weak and Dad is so concerned. He visits her three times a day and I am worried that he is not getting enohyg rest or food. He insists on doing what he does and there is no sense trying to change his mind! He has repeatedly told me that if this ever happens to him, he doesn't want to go through all Mom has. I am not sure she wants to go through it either! This is the day that they finally took her to the hospital: dehydrated with a stage 4 (the worst) decubitus!

October 6, 2009 Mom graduated to the next step in her rehab process: St. Anne's Nursing home rehab facility.

October 1, 2009-Mom was moved to the Continuing Care Unit at the hospital where she can start some therapy for the hip. Mom is so weak from the pain meds that she is also resitant to any offers of exercise.

September 26, 2009-I left for MI to attend Nicole's first shower hosted by her work friends.The next day Mom received two pints of blood! Bleeding from the intestine was suspected because of the Coumadin and Dr. was hoping it would stabilize so she wouldn't have to do a colonoscopy to explore causes. The pain meds were lowered and the anxiety drug discontiued so Mom was beginning to come out of her fog. I greatly appreciated the family doctor who was keeping track of all the consulting doctors and very willing to talk to me long distance from home.
September 23-26-I was there advocating for Mom in the hospital. Her hemaglobin got low and this is always an issue when patients are on Coumadin. She is confused and sleeps alot probably due to the pain medication, dehydration. I got very concerned about "Delirium" and talked to my former boss, Donna. She was so helpful, and encouraging and gave me some goosd tips which I came armed with to the hospital.

Sunday, September 20, 2009-Surgery to repair the hip was delayed until today because Mom's blood pressure had spiked. I got the call from Rog as I was about to leave MI after visiting Nicole and Jeff and helping with some of the preparation for "Pippie's" arrival (Nov. 28)

It has been said that crochet and probably any other form of needlework are good for one's health: relaxing, exercises the fingers and the mind and oh, let's see so much more. Tomorrow I begin research on an article I have wanted to write on this subject for years! I've collected bits and pieces and they're in a folder ready to browse and organize into some answers on the subject.

Recently, I went through a challenging experience when my mother had scheduled open-heart surgery on Thursday, July 30. At age 83, she was ready for her surgery, tired of not being able to breathe well and had a positive outlook about what the outcome would be. I had positive thoughts, also, about the outcome of the surgery because my cousin, Laura, is a nurse there and confirmed that Mom's cardiac surgeon is very good. The surgery was scheduled ahead of time, so I had time to plan ahead. My crochet was by my side through it all.

Dad, Lynn (sister-in-law) and I arrived at 6:00 AM with mom and amazingly Mom's pastor arrived at 6:30. She offered comfort to Mom with her prayer, I know. From then until 3:00 PM, Dad, Lynn and I endured the wait. Rog, my brother, got there when he could. Lynn is the best sister-in-law in the world! I know Mom and Dad think of her as a "daughter." She is always there willing to help with nary a complaint! I sure appreciate her being there so close in my absence! The nurses and staff were caring and ehlpful and kept us informed of mom's progress every two hours. We were so relieved to find that not only did she endure the long surgery and accompanying anesthesia, but she did quite well.

I've entered that "in-between" phases of my life: caring for elderly parents and awaiting our first grandchild. Read my post, "It's a Girl." Having a girl grandchild for our first one is all I could have hoped for. Her parents, Nicole and Jeff, are pretty excited as well. There are so many cute crocheted things I made and want to make for her, that my hands and mind kept busy during the surgery. The time passed quickly and I know it's because I go into a nice state of relaxation while I crochet and my mind wanders and time passes. One easy-to-make baby bonnet finished except for the variegated yarn trim which I forgot to bring along. No biggie; I can quickly finish off this project when I get back home.

We didn't lose our appetite during the day and had a decent breakfast with Lynn in the hospital cafeteria, lunch across the street at a nice restaurant and dinner at an upscale but casual restaurant nearby with my cousin who is in town from Florida.

We were finally able to see Mom in ICU and even though the nurses were excellent and explained everything to us, I know it was very hard for dad to see her on a ventilator which is breathing for her and in her "zonked" state from the anesthesia. There was nothing we could do for or say to mom at this point, so, exhausted, we called it a night and went home.

About two hours later, I got a call on my cell phone from an id in town. Turns out if was Mom's nurse telling me that she had started bleeding out of one of her chest tubes, an amount greater than normal. I could tell the nurse was anxious to get her attention back to mom as she was breathing pretty fast. She told me that the doctor was on his way and they didn't know where the bleeding was coming from and most likely they would have to take her back to surgery to fix it. Not more than twenty minutes later, the same dear nurse, Kim, called and said they were on their way to surgery.

My hands went cold and I was shaking inside a bit, but I had to remain calm for Dad and expalin it all to him. The nurse said we didn't have to come to the hospital because there was nothing we could do, but she also said we could if we wanted to. I left it up to Dad and he wanted to be there. The good news is that the hospital is just seven minutes from their house; so off we went. By now, we knew our way to ICU and we waited there. It was quiet and dad had a good half hour "doze." Earlier in the day, I had been cold in the various waiting rooms, so I had enough wits about me to grab mom's prayer shawl that her church ladies, bless their hearts, had given her when she had her pacemaker put in. It served Dad well as a "pillow."

It was eerily quiet in the ICU waiting room at 9:00 to 11:00 PM at , but I felt peaceful as Dad dozed and I crocheted. One mini-menagerie "elephant." well on its way to being finished. I didn't bring any fiberfil along, so his stuffing will have to wait 'til I get home!No probalem; it is not suitable for children under two so I can enjoy it until baby comes into the world and passes the two-year mark!

About 10:30, Kim let us know that Mom had come out of surgery just fine and that the doctor would be out soon to talk to us. He appeared shortly thereafter and gave us a thumbs up! He said Mom did just fine during the second surgery and a minor repair of a nick in her lung was taken care of with just one stitch. The good news is that the doctor said while he was in her chest, he could see that the heart repair was just fine and her heart is working well! He reassured us that opening her up the second time won't impede healing, but there may be a slightly increased chance of infection.
Whew, what a big sigh of relief. We could now go home and be asleep by midnight for hopefully some hard-earned rest!

Friday: Mom is struggling. The nurses say this operation is hard on a fifty-year-old let alone someone who is 83 and she had anesthesia twice in one day yesterday!She is opening her eyes slightly and seems to know we are there when we visit. The nurses permit us to come anytime we want and we can see her as long as they aren't involved in a procedure with her. She'll be sleeping a lot, so I can get some cooking done for the long-awaited reunion for my dad's side tomorrow! Yep, the timing is bad, but it has been planned for almost a year and relatives have arrived from out of town and we have come to far to back down now. "Don't forget to pick up the pavillion key at the Park Dsitrict; don't forget to pickup the key!" Setting aside her surgery worries beforehand, mom asked me what dad i needed to pick up the key! I hadn't read the contract carefully about picking up the key the day before. I would have never thought of it. Thanks, MOM! Ft. Wayne is not a huge town; it's easy to get around. Dad and I stopped by the park district and got the key after we left the hospital. I MUST fit in some crochet today too! My cousin joined dad and I for a light dinner tonight. He has very little family and is so happy to be visiting his uncle (my dad) in the town his father spent some childhood. He's been very dear to stop in to see Mom often. I know she wasn't really aware that he was there, but his caring is very much appreciated. We'll have lots to tell her later about what she's missed these last couple of days!

After dinner, we called to see if mom was awake and how she was doing. They were keeping her pretty well medicated with morphine and thus, asleep, so we took a break and went home for some rest.It was not late and I started another project, just for variety: a crocheted butterfly on a wire armature to be used a s yard art by my neighbor. I already have one in other colors perched on my fencepost and she admired it and wanted me to make her one.

Saturday: Up early to go to the park/rosegarden to set up the tables and make sure all is well for our reunion to start at 11:00. Putting the final touches on the food is easy today after all the prep I did yesterday. Getting excited about hubby, younger daughter and older daughter and her husband arriving soon. We had a very good turnout, about thirty people, at the reunion and tons of delicous food. It all went smoothly and although I felt a bit stressed, everyone was very grateful that I had put together this first-ever Blakley Family Reunion. We had photo albums and memorabilia scrapbooks and even some of my aunt and uncle's art to share.

Dad and I made a trip to the hospital at two PM to avoid the "change of shift" hubbub which prevents us from seeing mom. Alan and the kids came along. I've been strong and I have been the "chosen" memeber of the family to communicate with the doctors and nurses and to keep everyone informed as to mom's progress. They've depended on me and my nursing background has come in handy. Seeing my girls cry at the shock of how their grandma looks was all it took for me to breakdown. I had warned them that she doesn't look good, but I guess one never knows what to expect in situations like this. It's really a first exposure for our girls; they've had very little experience with hospitals, thankfully! Four of the five grandchildren and spouses were in town for the reunion, and they were all able to visit Grandma. Mom opened her eyes a little more and waved one hand. She knew us, but can't talk; still on the ventilator. She knew the kids, if only for the moemnt. We got back to the pavillion and finished up the cleanup. Some of the cousins had it well underway and that was greatly appreciated.

Alan, Beth and I checked into our hotel for the evening and Nicole and Jeff headed back to Michigan. Sure wish they could have stayed longer, but they had had a flood in their kitchen this week and had to get back to the big job or repair. We rested some and didn't feel hungry until about 8:00 PM. We joined my cousin at a wonderful Mexican restaurant and just had a Margarita and appetizers. What a welcomed change of scenery from the hospital! His flight in the morning was going to be early so we said our goodbyes and returned to our own hotel for some needed rest.

Sunday: Alan and Bethany returned to Chicago fairly early and I returned to my dad's house. Today was a turning point of sorts for mom, but not in a good way. By now, she was getting less morphine and waking up but severely confused. She kind of knows who we are but doesn't realize she is in the hospital and REALLY wants to go home! This was most likely due to the effects of so much anesthesia in one day and her creatanine levels were high which didn't help matters! We were reassured by the nurses that this is perfectly normal especially for someone her age. I accepted that and crocheted, but I know it was very hard for my dad to see her talking "crazy talk."! She had also vomited in the morning and there was concern about her ingesting some of the liquid food they have begun to give her.

S-I-L, Lynn, is looking for a teddy bear with her new granddaughter's name on it. We go to the consignment craft store, but it is closed on Sunday. Not all is lost, as we go next door to a faboulous re-sale clothes store, Clothes Mentor and do some shopping therapy. I found a pink sweater with "fibery" embellishment.

When we went back in the afternoon, Mom was sleeping real hard. The nurse told us she had had a sleepless night and this was the best thing for her. We didn't distrub her. When we called again at 6:00 PM, they said she was still sleeping and it was best for us to stay at home and not disturb her. Sleep is the best thing she can do. The nurses said she is stable and the chemistry levels in her blood are starting to go down.

Okay, time to get organized with the crochet, have a glass of wine and check out what I can start or finish now.I'm sleeping at my brother and sister-in-law's house and they watch tv everynight with a medicinal glass of wine. Good idea! I keep her company and crochet.Darn it, why didn't I bring along fiberfil? I am starting another imini-menagerie animal, this time a mouse.

Monday: What a difference and what a surpise when we got to the hospital at 10 AM! My cousin, Laura, was there also, and has been a great support. They took Mom off the ventilator "cold turkey" this moring instead of weaning her off and she was doing well with her stats remaining stable. As predicted, her confusion has passed; how wonderful to be able to talk to her and understand what she wanted to say. We even got a smile out of her! Mom doesn't remember much of what she has been through, but that is not such a bad thing! Later in the afternoon when we visit we find that they have mom back on the ventilator. Her kidneys output is not sufficient and they are giving her Lasix. She may need a lung specialist consult and the dr. has decided that weaning is a better thing for her, so she is two hours on and two hours off. We are reassured that this is not an emergency, but Mom is just taking "baby steps" in her recovery. She was pretty well de-conditioned before her surgery due to her leaky mitral valve, so she has a long road to restore her strength ahead of her. She's still getting the IV protein but taking some ice chips now. Yeah!

Lynn and I take a break and return to the craft store. Unfortunately, there are no bears with "Kaylee's" name. Lynn was kind enough, though, to go with me to a JoAnn store nearby and even gave me her coupon so I could buy some elastic cord I need for the baby booties I am making. One pair of crocheted Baby UGGS booties complete! They are precious and adorable and kudos to Pamapaloza who designed them and offered them on Not only is it satisfying to finish a project that turns out so well, but the anticipation of my daughter, the new mother, opening up this gift at an upcoming shower is very exciting!I know she will think they are funny and the cutest!
Gee, I thought I had planned well. I brought lots of yarn, patterns and hooks, but it's the little finishing touches and I didn't bring along.

During our evening visit, Dad, Lynn and I found that Mom has progressed to taking clear liquids and she's holding them down real well. Rog hs been visiting Mom every day after work. Things are looking up.

Tuesday: Dad goes out to breakfast with his cronies for his weekly meet-up at a local restaurant. This is a good sign that he is feeling much more comfortable with Mom's progress and ready to get back to some of his routine.
We visit Mom at 10:00 AM and she progressed rapidly to thick liquids and was eating pudding and jello when we visited this morning. They are getting her up to a chair and it's going to be a good day and she will progress more rapidly now with some real food going into her system. There is talk of her going to a regular hospital room today or tomorrow. We're sure happy about that news.

After Lynn's twin granddaughters go home, she and I do a little shopping for baby clothes at Once Upon a Child. Her new granddaughter is due any day and my first in November. What fun is this! Shopping therapy is always good for distracting the mind from stress, just like crochet! The amount of CUTE baby things for all ages in this store woverwhelmed me, but I did pull through and pick up quite a few wonderful ensembles for Baby Wawpk!

During our afternoon hosptial visit, we find that Mom's on her way to her new room in the cardiac unit. She continues with heavy lquids tonight for dinner, but the nurse asked her if she wanted a regular breakfast in the morning. Mom has a good appetite and said, "yes."

My friend and co-author of the Kids Can Do It Crocheting book Jackie Young, invited me to join her at knitting group tonight at Panera. It's my best chance of fitting in a visit with Jackie and a nice diversion. I had a great, relaxing time and Jackie said I was her 'show and tell!" I took the mini-UGGS for show and tiell. They had seen the knitted version and thought the crocheted ones were pretty nifty! It was a great getaway with some very enthusiastic knitters. I met one lovely young woman, "SpoonsnSpools" on Ravelry who is a physician. We are friends on Rav now.

Wednesday: Mom's feeling like her hair is a mess today and this is a real good sign. I brushed it for her and put it up in a tidy knot. She said her breakfast of bacon, fruit and oatmeal was good and that they serve a lot of food. She'll be getting out of bed and sitting in a chair today!

Dad goes to afternoon "tea" at the ice cream shop. The ladies are included in this gathering. Everyone is concerned about Mom and sends their well-wishes. Dad's getting back in the groove!

My "shopping therapy" today is a trip to he collectible/antique shop. Ever since I blogged about Ginny doll, I have been searching all over the house for the re-issue version that I bought in the eighties, to no avail. I do have the box, so I know I am not dreaming about having purchased her. I have done some searching on line and Ginny's were released each decade since the 1950s and are still being produced using the original mold. i want to replace the one I had bought, but didn't want to spend $50.00 or more. Low and behold this shop had ONE Ginny, from 1984 and I thought it was reasonable at $35.00 with a ten percent discount with cash. SOLD! Oh, I'm excited to have this in a box that appears it has never been opened. The title on the box is "Going Shopping." Hmmm, appropriate!

Thursday: This morning we saw Mom take a walk with her walker out in the hall for a short distance and she had also walked to the bathroom. Cousin Alan and his son, Paul came to visit also and mom enjoyed chatting with them, but it doesn't take much to get her completely worn out!We leave her to rest until lunch time.

In-between hospital visits, I treat myself to a visit to a new yarn shop, "Knitting on Broadway." highly recommended by the ladies at the knitting group. My only complaint is that the name of the store is limiting and screams crochet rejection. I believe a mother-daughter team own the shop and it is surprising that the younger of the two didn't choose to use a "bi-textural" name for the store to be all-encompassing instead of limiting! As I appraoch a store like this and don't see my choice of needlework included as a welcoming gesture, I limit my purchases. Today I couldn't resist a very cute needle case adorned with a bright flower to take to my friend in Mexico when we go later this month. Awakening people to the value of crochet is like Mom's health: it takes patience and baby steps!

I am beginning to think I will be able to return home tomorrow or Saturday. The nurse says she is not quite ready to go to rehab today, but most likely will tomorrow. The rehab unit is in the hospital and she is a candidate for this unit because the doctors want to visit her a little more often. She has her final chest tube out and that is a pre-requisite for moving off this floor.

Dad gets a dinner invite from a friend to go to the Legion Hall. He accepts and it is good for him to get back to seeing his friend.s I cooked pork chops with brother, Rog, and Lynn. I harvested some rhubarb from Rog's garden and made a pie too.

Friday: At the hospital today, we are getting mixed messages about the move to rehab. The nurse says she never promises an exact day because the census is large and beds need to empty before one can move there. I took Mom a pie of rhubarb pie and she seemed very enthusiastic about eating it. She is enjoying the hospital food, but says they give her too much. She is looking much better and almost like herself. She continues to gain a little strength each time she gets up to walk.

I kiss Mom goodbye and she asks me when I am coming back? Probably in ten days, depending on how she progresses. Niece, Liz, is coming to town from FL soon, and I don't want to overlap with her too much due to lack of beds. I do want to see her though, so will return before she leaves, probably August 19.

I'm determined to make my drive home a pleasant and leisurely one. I am starving by the time I get to Plymouth, so I stop for a hamburger at Schoop's. Yummy, with cheese fries. (eating therapy!) Heading down the road, progressing well; all of a sudden my car takes a sharp right curve, just after I've seen a sign for "American Girl Clothes"!! I have seen this sign numerous times and have wanted to check it out, but usually I'm with Alan and He prefers the "shot-of-out-of-cannon" method of getting home, with minimal stops! One mile off the highway is a lovely house with one huge room dedicated to the American Girl clothes home-abased busines, called "Imbue". Again, I am overwhelmed by the choices, but do manage to pick out a pair of adorable blue sneakers for mine. I enter my business card in the free-outfit drawing and the owner notices, Fiber Impressions and asks me what I do. I tell her crochet and she gets very excited. She believes skull caps for the doll would be a best seller and tells me if I make some for her she will take them in trade. At the moment, I am making a crocheted ribbed jacket and hat for my doll, so we will see what inspires me after that. See my blogpost: "Ginny, Barbie, American Girl: Influences Through the Generations."
Home Sweet Home about 5:00 and I enjoy a lovely meal at a new Italian Restaurant with Alan.

Saturday: Today was spent busying myself around the house, unpacking and catching up on email I also had to "unpack" what I had started to pack for the CGOA crochet conference in Buffalo. I had to make the hard decision to NOT go this year because of Mom's surgery. All my plans to go and take classes as well as celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of CGOA ( signed and sealed. However, the timeing was just bad. I would have felt too guilty to go and wouldn't have been able to concentrate. The Celebration plans were in able hands of and, as well as BJ and the other Past Presidents so I didn't have to worry about that. I decided it's best I just bite the bullet, cancel my flight and try not to think about it. I am content with my decision. Dad didn't stop telling me how much he appreciated my being there and that he "couldn't have done it without me." I am not so sure of that. The human spirit is strong and comes through, especially intimes of crisis! I'm anxious to hear reports from friends who were there and photos of the event are starting to appear on some of the online groups, so I can live vicariously through them.

Sunday: The weekend passed pretty uneventfully for Mom, while she waited for a room in rehab to open up. She exercised by walking, but PT doesn't happen during weekends. Apparently not in rehab either!I got in some crochet time and finished up little details on the projects I had in progress. That is a real satisfying feeling of accomplishment when several projects come together all at once and I can count them as finihsed!

Monday, August 10: Mom goes to rehab at St. Anne's Assisted Living facility.. No rooms ever became avaialble at the hospital and Mom needs to get started on her rehab. St. Anne's was her second choice and off she went. When I talked to her this evening, she was settled in and said it was nice. She walks down the hall to the cafeteria and says the food is real good. She does have to share the room, but coincidentally, her roommate is from the town where Mom grew up!

Tuesday: Wearing "real clothes" today! Mom says that makes her feel real great. She had an excercise session that lasted two hours and said that it wasn't vigorous the whole time, but that the therapists were happy with her ability to do some of the things thay didn't expect she could. Go MOM! They had an orientation today to the facility and she is so excited because they told her that Dad could bring their dog, Jack, to visit!

Mom before surgery with jack

My crochet got me through this tough experience and the love and support of family and friends got mom through (not to mention the doctors and nurses). Maybe when I vist Mom next in rehab, crochet will become part of her therapy!

Thursday: Two weeks today since her surgery and Lynn said tonight that Mom looked like "herself" for the first time today; hair combed, regular clothes on and wearing her glasses. Now that's the next chapter in her recovery!

Sunday: I called Mom at 1 PM and work her up. She said she hadn't slept well, but knew of no cause, like pain. She reported that Dad and Lynn had brought Jack to visit as planned on Friday night and he was all "wiggly" when he saw her. It didn't take long for him to settle in and relax on Mom's bed. Niece, Liz, is in town from FK and she came to visit Nanny on Sat. night after she had been to dinner with Lynn, Rog, Dad and niece Sarah and her family. Mom said she hasn't even thought of Dad bringing in food from a restaurant. She likes the food at St. Anne's but is not eating big portions.

Other big news from MOM: Sheila passed a kidney stone and feels SOOOO much better now. She will be induced this Wed. if Kaylee doesn't come before. Sheila, medical student that she is, asked her doctor if it could be a kidney stone and he "poopooed" the idea." Sheila retrieved the stone and will take it to show her doctor. UH! OH!!

Mom also said that her sister fell and cracked her hip. She was to have surgery to repair it today, but Mom hadn't heard anything. She is three years older than MOM and a dear lady. I told Mom the next thing we know, they will be roommates in rehab!

Wednesday,August 19, 2009 I returned to Ft. Wayne to check in on Mom in the hopes that she is progressing well enough that I will feel comfortable leaving for vacation to Mexico next week! I didn't arrive until 1PM and Dad had already seen Mom in the morning during her workout. So we had lunch together and I got to take in my workout at the local Curves while Mom was resting. We went to see her about 4Pm and boy, was she looking great in her lavender sweater, hair combed and sitting upright! Such an improvement in her voice now that her throat has had time to heal from the ventilator tubes who were her friend for many days! A good strong voice conveys strength! Mom is still weak, but the PT people are saying she is doing agreat job on her exercise routines and mom said that they have been surprised at how well she has done also. They eat early in rehab, so Dad and I joined her in the dining room Mom is walking with a walker and an aide walks with her using a gait belt,just to assist with her steadiness.

Thursday: I got to St. Anne's in time to observe Mom in the rehab room and I also thought she was doing great. She did tend to get a little distracted bytalking with a lady friend, but she told me it was okay and needed rest! I was very impressed that she did an arm exercise non-stop for fifteen minutes! She is doing leg-lifts with weights, bicycling, and hitting a balloon that is tossed to her. After Mom is done with an exercise session, she is pretty well wiped out and goes to lunch and that naptime calls to her. So, I left her and spent the afternoon doing some errands and grabbed a little lunch while I was out. Dad and I joined Mom for dinner at 5PM and it is obvious that Mom hasn't lost her social characteristics. She was pointing out the friends she's made and sharing their stories with us. Dad's friend had invited him out to the VFW again, so I joined Mom for dinner. They make great desserts in rehab!

Friday: Lynn is babysitting her 5 year old twin granddaughters, Paris and Mariss, and so we all go together to visit "Nanny" She was busy in the rehab room when we got there and was, of course, glad to see the twins. Mom has really progressed and is walking very steadily, with her walker still, but without the aid of a person or the gait belt now!The girls were excited to meet Mya, the golden retreiver who hangs out in rehab too! Dad was there too and Roger showed up for a quick visit on his lunch break. I was told by the PT lady that they will be doing a home assessment next week and after that they will decide if Mom can go home about next Thursday. Yeah, this is really good progress!

There was a bonus as St. Anne's was having a garage sale which we perused befored taking off to do some errand that Lynn and I had. I like the pace; it's relaxing. We went to McDonald's when the girls started to get a bit impatient. Lynn treated them because it is the last day of "Grammy School" They are starting Kindergarten next week and Lynn has been their primary caretaker while Sarah worked ever since they have beenn infants! The first day of Kinder is going to be just as hard on Lynn as it is Sarah!During my afternoon visit to see Mom I took my Ginny doll which I had purposely brought because I thought she would enjoy seeing this special doll she gave me when I was ten. Ginny was very special to me because all her clothes were made by my grandmother, many from fabric used by my Mom to sew dresses for me! Mom hadn't seen her in fifty years, and I had hoped, she really enjoyed reminiscing about the doll and the fabrics. I also brought along a snapshor of me dressed in one of the dresses my Mom had made and had Ginny dressed the same!

Dad is tired and growing weary of the many trips to visit MOM. He needed a break tonight and didn't even want to go to Pizza Hut, so I accompanied Lynn to a Lia Sophia party at her friends house. It was a nice diversion and Lynn bought a lovely cross necklace for daughter-in-law, Sheila, who is giving birth any day.

Saturday: It is Saturday already and time for me to go home. I had talked Dad into trying a new Pancake house in the building where Burger King usedn to be. He was skeptical and habitually only goes to Bob Evan's. I took a chance, but it worked out. Dad loved it and thought Mom would slso enjoy it once she is back home. Dad and I then went to see Mom and found her lounging in bed; no rehab on Sat! Dad and I visited for about an hour and encouraged Mom to get out of bed and sit up. No laziness; gotta keep up that strength. Dad also has to learn to not cater to Mom's every wish, but to use each opportunity to let use those muscles which so need to be kept strong. We're aiming for continued progress and no back-peddling when she gets home.

Tuesday: Dad called to tell us goodbye and wish us "bon voyage" and said Mom's home assesment is tomorrow.

Wednesday: Lynn reports via email that the assessement went well, Mom passed, and she is going home tomorrow! Mother had to go to the house and show the PT supervisor all around and explain all her daily activities and show how it all would work out. Three weeks and she is outta there! Good work, MOM!


Sharon said…
Hello, from a fellow CGOA member! Thank you for sharing your story about your mother's hospital visit. I can identify with bringing lots of crochet projects while waiting for news of a loved one. Unfortunately, my story didn't turn out as well as yours--my father passed away after a week in ICU of pulminary fibrosis. The afghan I made during his hospital stay is very precious to me, like a special connection to my father.

Here's hoping your mother will continue to improve. She sounds feisty enough to pull it off! :-)

A Musician by Grace
Jeff Blakley said…
Thanks so much for the detailed progress report, Gwen! I know this was a terribly stressful time for you, but you handled it very, very well. I wish that I could have done half as well as I dealt with my Mother's decline five years ago this past March.

When I looked at your Flickr page the other night, I didn't realize that the elephants and butterfly were made while you were in Fort Wayne. I love them - they are so cute. They remind me of the fiber animal that I bought at Orchard Gallery - did you have time to vist there?

One tiny correction, though -- Dad was born in Oklahoma, not Indiana. I'm not sure where - he always maintained that he was born in Guthrie, but seeing the marriage certificate of his mom and dad at the reunion, witnessed by one of Dad's aunts, leads me to believe that he was born in Oklahoma City. I'll have to do some digging - Dad was never able to find his birth certificate - maybe a home birth that was not registered? Who knows?

I sure enjoyed our dinners together! I'm so glad that I was able to spend so much time with you and Uncle Mart.

I'm looking forward to more progress reports and hope that your Mom gets out of St. Anne's very soon. She is a real fighter - I think she'll be out sooner than most folks expect!
Sheila Kay said…
You have been the stitch that's held the Blakleys together for the past few weeks. We sincerely appreciate everything you've done for Nanny, Papa, and the entire Blakley clan. Somehow you've managed to assume and execute the roles of family representative, medical interpreter, informant, adviser, overseer, care provider, and organizer. Good thing you're a crochet connoisseur so you can fashion the many hats you wear. Thanks for all you do.

Your grateful niece and nephew
Sheila & Marty

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