Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hospital Update - 7

So far, the fever has been easily manageable. One dose of tylenol or motrin seems to prevent fever for a good 12 hours or more.

We gave Maggie her first shower since pre-surgery. There's been so much sticky stuff on her (surgical tape, the stick-ums for the electrical leads, etc) and, when it comes off, lint and blood and betadine and stuff stick to it. We got her scrubbed up as best we can. We removed the bandages from where the chest-tubes were inserted (she says woozily).

We also taped garlic to the area around the incision for the bypass, hoping that will help. Maggie doesn't like the smell and she says it stings, but it's done wonders for us in the past.

Hospital Update - 6

Maggie's fever has been down since midnight; we haven't even given her meds for it since early evening yesterday. I got up three times during the night to check on her. Once, though, was courtesy of the cat. She wanted to go out, and she jumped up on the bed and stuck her cold nose right onto my nose. She does that sometimes, and it's no big deal. (She absolutely hates to meow or make noise.) But last night when she did it, I about jumped out of my skin: I couldn't figure out why there were furry creatures in ICU and why one was right smack in my face! "Oh, wait. We're not in ICU anymore. Oh, it's just the cat. We're home now."

Cardiology said we had to check in with our family doctor this week. When I called this morning to make the appt, the receptionist told me that Dr C was only in the office Monday and Tuesday, and that she was booked solid both those days. She told Gary two weeks ago that she definitely wanted to see Maggie post-surgery. So the receptionist is seeing what she can do to squeeze us in. We usually make "urgent" appts a week or more in advance, and then cancel if we've improved. But I didn't know when we'd be getting out of the hospital, to know when to schedule a follow-up.

They gave us Lasix tablets. Maggie is supposed to take a half pill each day. They said I'd have to cut them. No problem, I thought. Then I saw how tiny they are. Hmmm. I sharpened my sharpest knife, and proceeded to split itsy-bitsy pills into itsier-bitsier pieces this morning. I'll give her the "big halves" sooner and the "smaller halves" later. And I think we'll have to go heavy on the bananas and oj and chocolate while we're on the "bigger halves." The biggest danger with Lasix is potassium depletion.

One boy got re-addicted to the computer while we were gone. I'll give it another day or so (for my chance to catch up on laundry and bills and cleaning) before I cruelly and heartlessly rip the brain-numbing computer games away from him again.

Take the Lead

One night shortly before surgery, we watched Take the Lead, a movie about Pierre Dulaine who teaches ballroom dance in the New York City public schools. It was a really good movie, much in the same vein as Finding Forrester or Renaissance Man.

(Warning to those offended by oodles of foul language: the movie is about at-risk kids in a violent neighborhood, and how this man's involvement in teaching them influenced their lives. So the movie may be offensive to some. It's not for little kids.)

Watching movies like this always leaves me pondering the place of culture and the arts in the schools. On the one hand, I think music and the other arts are critical to humanity, and how we think of ourselves, and how we treat each other. These beautiful things should be taught. And yet, when school attendance is mandated by the government and funded by the taxpayers instead of being entirely the responsibility of the parents, there needs to be a realization that we can't do "whatever is best" for "the sake of the children" because then there will be no limits whatsoever on extravagances. Furthermore, there is such diversity of opinion within our society on what constitutes "art" that it doesn't seem good for those battles to be fought out in the schools, influencing the minds of the children. And yet, the benefit that comes from beautiful words and beautiful music and beautiful dance and beautiful paintings is so immense that it would be tragic if children are not exposed to those things.

In spite of being "po' white folk," our family has also been labeled "artsy-fartsy." And thus I never quite know which "side" I'm on when I watch movies like this.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hospital Update - 5

Should I keep calling these "hospital updates" if we're home now???

The roads coming home weren't very nice. In most places, one lane of the interstate was clear. But when you've got a long row of cars traveling at 45 mph, and then along comes an impatient dude doing 70 in a 4-wheeler, it gets a little nerve-wracking. Oftentimes, the other lane of the interstate was such a mess that it would've necessitated driving about 20-30 mph, and it sure ain't good to slow down that quickly on that kind of road to get out of the other guy's way. But we got home nevertheless. Well, almost home. Not quite.

Gary had called the fellow who does the plowing for church, to let him know our need to be able to get into the driveway. Oftentimes, church is left as the last thing on his list, and it gets to be quite a hardship when people here have to come and go from work. You just can't shovel 200' of a very wide driveway that's deeply drifted, when all you have are shovels and no plow. Even a snowblower would take a really long time. Well, when we got home, nothing was plowed. We couldn't turn into the drive at all. Everything the county plows had thrown off to the side of the road, was still sitting there in our entry-way. There was nothing to do but plunge the car into the pile of snow, just so as to get it off the road. Then we made a lot of trips, unloading the contents of the car and backseat and hauling it all up to the house through the drifts. Maggie had to be carried in -- and not piggy-back because that would be bad for the stitches. Not a happy or easy homecoming.

She began running her fever again, a little more than an hour after arriving home. We have to keep it under 101.5 or we may have to go back to the hospital. So far, we're staying under 101 with the help of tylenol and ibuprofen. (This is hard for me, because I tend to think fever is the body's way of fighting infection. However, fever also speeds up the pulse, and she seriously does not need increased pulse rate right now.)

She also has some serious puffiness where she was hooked up to the heart-lung machine. I hope continued rest and her prescription diuretic will help get that under control.

We'll just keep watching and resting. Hopefully we (that would mostly be me) can let other things slide around here while we make nursing the patient top-priority. Lots of tv this week. I got videos from the library that are educational, but I'll bet we end up watching more Hogan's Heroes than Shakespeare and Dickens. Oh well... the main thing is the fever and the puffiness. That's more important than history and literature right now.

Hospital Update - 4

We decided that it would be wise to go check out of Ronald McDonald House. Maggie's doing well. We've given about a dozen doctors the pitch on why we should go home today. None has had any real objection. So I figured I'd start packing up and do the housecleaning at RMH. If we ended up staying another night or two, the hospital has the cafeteria, and the parent showers, and there's always the possibility of imposing upon the Mays and the Kochs and Matt.

On my way past the nurses' station, we got the okay to leave any time after 3:00. Woo hooo! We're going to be going home only 70 hours after this kid left the operating room. Unbelievable! If I had dared to wish for the very best recuperation I could've imagined, it would've been worse than what God has actually blessed us with this week.

And now, to go load up the car and drive over to fetch a girl.

Hospital Update - 3

Oh, darn it. Now Maggie's got a fever. I figured they'd let her go, even with the one part of the left lung not being A-OK, because there's really nothing here they can do for it that can't be done better at home. But a fever ... that could indicate infection inside. So we may be here for a while after all. Still waiting to hear...

Hospital Update - 2

Sooooo, the last one wasn't the last one after. Dr Samyn came in after the echo. Given Maggie's mobility (she wheeled her own wheelchair back from the downstairs Family Resource Room, and walked herself to the staff kitchen on fourth floor to nab a pop), they're thinking that she could probably go home. However, there's a little problem with the lower part of the left lung; they want to get a good look at the chest xray before making a final determination. And if they do decide to send her home today, it won't be until later in the afternoon, when the snowplows have had a chance to do their duty on the roads.

Hospital Update - 1

We had a good and restful night. Maggie and I are on our way back from cardiology to the room. We're out tooling around the hospital with the wheelchair because it's a hefty walk all the way down to cardiology. The echocardiogram didn't show the homograft and how the valve is working. The technicians and doctors would get glimpses, but no good looks at it. They said it's not uncommon for that to happen post-surgery, due to scarring and fluid build-up. But they got a good look at the valve on Tuesday after surgery, and it sounds great through the stethoscope -- no leakage.

Maggie's eating, drinking, and doing all the things she needs to do. Pretty mobile too. Feeling good. Seems like we should be going home posthaste. We'll see what the doctor on the floor says when we get back up there. Can't get our hands on a DVD-player or VCR, so I think Maggie would rather be home with her own tv and Hogan's Heroes. Only problem is the snow. I'm not sure that it would be wise to leave to go home now. Maybe in a few hours the roads will be more clear. Right now, this hospital is dead and quiet -- SO many people have not come in to work, and a bunch of people have canceled appts because of the weather.

Maggie's getting impatient with waiting, so I'll close and get her back upstairs. Hopefully, this will be the last one of these. :-)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hospital Update - 16

Besides just being more comfortable, Maggie is also breathing much better with the chest tubes removed.

Yesterday and today she seems hypernasal again, that is, the sound of her voice is like it was before her palate surgery. I ought to remember to ask about that during rounds tomorrow. Maybe it's nothing, or maybe they'd have her ENT stop by.

Gary asked during this morning's rounds what needs to be accomplished before Maggie is allowed to go home. They said they need to take an echo and x-rays and EKG twenty-four or more hours after the chest tubes are removed. So we're scheduled for an echo tomorrow morning at 10. But in light of the dire predictions of the weather forecasters, if she were to get sprung, we might not be able to drive home anyhow because of deep deep snow. (I need to remember to get my tennies out of the trunk so I'm not walking back over to RMH on Friday in my sandals ... through 10" of snow. LOL.)

I really don't think we'll be going home tomorrow, though. Maggie's tummy has not been doing well. She hasn't thrown up since she began drinking and eating yesterday. But things just haven't been settling well. She eats a little, and then starts feeling nauseous. That lasts 1-2 hours, and then she's fine again. She's hungry and wants to eat, but when she does, it makes her feel cruddy. So she's been avoiding food. The nurse and doctor decided to put her on Zofran which will settle her tummy and allow her to start getting some more calories into herself, and enough liquid to not dehydrate. At this point, she simply couldn't go home because, without the IV, she couldn't keep herself hydrated due to the nausea. So hopefully the meds will have an effect by middle of the day tomorrow. The doctor on rounds tonight said she expected we'd be going home "this weekend."

Hospital Update - 15

Couldn't find a computer available at the hosptial, church, or RMH prior to Bible class. So here's the late-morning scoop.

Last night, Maggie was having some pain (visible in the face, although she didn't want to admit it), and we offered her a second dose of tylenol for the day. She didn't want it. She doesn't like the "taste" of the pill. She preferred to deal with the pain, rather than take tylenol. Oy! So we asked the nurse if there was anything that could be put into her IV line. Maggie got a half dose of morphine, and in 10 minutes was feeling much more comfortable, and her face was much more relaxed.

Nurse was pleased that Maggie slep so well during the night. Even with being woken at 4 for blood-draws, 5 for x-ray, again at 6 for another blood-draw (oops on the first try at 4:00), she was still getting good solid rest for several hours at a time.

Chest tubes have been pulled. Mag couldn't eat this morning because pulling the tubes required some sedation. She wasn't even feeling like eating jello last night at bedtime, so the lack of food probably hasn't been too bad for her.

Moved out of ICU to room 463.

Gary heard on the news yesterday that there was a schoolbus/semi accident on Tuesday morning, and that all the kids were taken to Children's and treated there. That may just possibly explain the delay in surgery -- a lot of medical personnel probably had to be diverted to ER to deal with 60 kids who needed attention. And the timetable would fit with when we were phoned to postpone surgery.

All This Dust

For some reason, when we were hanging out at the hospital Monday for pre-op, I couldn't help but ponder why this whole world exists. All these people here with kids who are hurting. All the kids with cancer. All the kids on dialysis. All the kids here for surgeries because of birth defects. Or because of illness. Or because of violence. And ALL the people who take care of them -- their parents and nurses and doctors and cleaning folks and secretaries.

And you lie in bed at night and hear the sirens on the ambulances, bringing in more damaged bodies. We hardly ever hear sirens at home -- one of the sheltered benefits of living in the boonies. And you talk to some of the other parents whose kids were medi-flighted here.

"And God created man out of the dust of the ground, and man became a living being." All this dust. All this dust arranged into arms and legs and mouths and livers and kidneys. And I just kept thinking -- why? It's all so transitory. Why would God set it up like this? When you start thinking of it objectively, like as if you could be an outside observer from another planet or even another reality, you start to think that this whole world is kinda weird. People just living, eating, talking to each other, growing up, having more babies to do the same thing all over again; houses being built, technology being developed, entertainment consuming our attention, other people just struggling to survive starvation. And for some dumb bizarre philosophical reason, these thoughts would resurface now and then in the busyness of answering questions for doctors and fluffing pillows, or in the waiting-times as I noticed all the parents just sitting in the surgery waiting-room, waiting for the latest report from the surgeons' assistants.

And then last night, as Pastor read Sunday's OT (end of Isaiah 65) at Mass, I think I got part of the answer. I knew before that Pastor's answer is that "God created for love's sake." But with last night's OT, it made me think about God's creating us to have joy. That it's connected with "love's sake" (as Pastor always says), and that we are made in the image of the triune God. Not that God made us to have joy just because of frivolity and happy-happiness. No, the joy of being in Him. The joy of giving and receiving love, not only receiving God's love forever, but also giving and receiving love amongst ourselves eternally. If God was complete before He created, if God needed nothing, then even before He made the world, everything was full of joy and love and the communion within the Trinity. And that love moved out to make us, so that we could be brought into it too. God will rejoice over His people. And they will rejoice in Him. And that's why all this dust is walking around the hospital, why the generations continue, why the dust is walking around a gazillion grocery stores and schools and factories today -- because that dust is favored of God, given the breath of life by Him, so that we may receive all that He has to give.

And this is all obvious stuff. And I'm being weird (having been woken and kicked out of the room for early-morning x-rays again). But sometimes a person gets a chance to wonder at the marvels of it all --
"For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth;
and the former things shall not be remembered
nor come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
and her people a joy."

And now, I suppose I will go back to a girl who's been woken, and we'll watch some more Hogan's Heroes or something.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hospital Update - 14

We're still in ICU. When our cardiologist came by at 2:30, he asked the nurses if there were something about Maggie keeping us there, or if it's an issue with space. That's it: there's just not a room for her to move into. One of the nurses mentioned to me about 5ish that somebody was going to be clearing out of a room, so it would be open for Maggie "later." I guess it was just getting too late in the day to move her. So I anticipate a move tomorrow.

She's been for two walks, tooling around ICU. She's gone potty several times. The blood draining from her chest tubes is significantly decreased and much lighter colored; she is quite anxious to be rid of those.

Maggie has been deciphering the monitor. She watches her heart rate and her oxygen saturation. They're quite stable and boring. The thing that really gets her attention is when another bed in the unit alarms; then the stats show up on all the monitors to make sure the nurses know who needs attention and how desperately. So she sees when someone's pulse goes over 150, or goes down too low. She asks biology and anatomy questions about how this all works. She hasn't been working her lungs and taking deep breaths like she should: it hurts too much. But now that she's figured out that the squiggly yellow line measures her breath, we tried playing with the line -- take a deep breath or hold your breath or take three fast breaths. She wasn't too willing to do it because of the pain. But a few interesting quirks on the line did a tad bit to draw her interest. I'm hoping that it may provide encouragement to continue bigger breaths. But it is true that it hurts. And her chest tubes may have to be in for a while longer than she'd prefer; there was enough bleeding at the end of surgery that they just had to leave her splayed open there for a while before sewing her up.

Which reminds me, what Pr Petersen said about the violence. It is an overwhelming amount of violence that happens in that OR. And yet, how necessary for her continued health. It hurts to think of it, and yet there is no option. Kinda makes ya think of Hannah's song and Luther's comment on it: to bring to life, first God puts to death.

Rachel, Andrew, and Paul came to stay with Maggie for the evening. Gary had to teach confirmation class. I was hoping to go to Mass, but she had missed me very much when she was left alone for half an hour while I ran over to RMH and got the laundry out of the dryer. So I told her I'd stay with her for the evening, and she took me up on the offer. But when Rachel and the boys arrived, and then Matt arrived, she thought it would be just fine if I left for a while. LOL -- I know where I rate.... (No, actually, sitting on the bed with my arm around her does do a lot to make her feel better.) A present was sent up from the gift shop earlier, and a friend stopped by with a present this evening. Ooooh, this child is getting treated like royalty. :-)

On my way to Mass, I was pondering how well this hospital stay is going. It's really quite mind-boggling. How can it possibly be this easy??? And I just kept thinking of what Pastor says: "How shall He not then, along with Him, freely give us all things?" He's quoted that to me so many times, and so many times I've fussed and crabbed at him about not understanding it. And yet, tonight, driving to church, that was the one verse that I couldn't stop meditating upon. Yes, we have Jesus. Yes, we have the forgiveness of sins. Yes, we have life and salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit and so much more. But looking at this hospital stay, we have this overflowing overwhelming abundant nearly-unbelievable temporal blessing too. As if forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation weren't enough for Him to pour out, He gives even more! And why? Just because He loves to give freely. Just because of His compassion and love and mercy. Because of the cross and the forgiveness won there. Because He is good to those who don't deserve any goodness whatsoever. Just because He wants to lavish these things upon us.

Oh, Thou spring of boundless blessing!
How could e'er my feeble mind
of the depths the bottom find,
though my efforts were unceasing!
All things else have but their day --
God's great love abides for aye!

Is It Selfish to Fight for Homeschooling Freedoms? (Part 5)

Flipping through my "Day by Day We Magnify Thee" Monday night, I found a scribbled-out quote from a novel I read on vacation a few years back (the only time I ever get to read grown-up for-fun books). This is from Gillian Bradshaw's Render Unto Caesar (p. 432) which is set shortly before the fall of Rome. Discussing the evils of their society, and the troubles, and how to respond, and what to support when both sides of the political structure are corrupt, one character responds to the other:

"The empire isn't going to fall, so our only option is to support those parts of it that make it something we can endure."

Now, the "empire isn't going to fall" was not really inaccurate; the discussion was about whether it would fall imminently. I have often thought that this quote fits quite well for a Christian's place in American society. Especially one of my political persuasion.

What do we do in society and in the political arena now? We know our meager efforts are not going to dismantle the entrenched politics. We may make differences. We try to do our best. But so much is unchangeable. So we support those parts of the system that make the society endurable in the midst of too much raw evil as well as too much power-grabbing.

To me, homeschool freedoms support the things that make this society work. It supports families. It supports the honor of parents to be the authority over their children. Homeschooling freedoms is one wee demonstration that governmental authority flows from the authority of the father, and not vice versa. Homeschooling freedoms allow for options and alternatives, instead of insisting on all power and decision-making being caught up under one mindset.

Some may say that homeschooling freedoms might allow for people to be free FROM education instead of free to choose WHICH education. Although I really don't see it (and I know a whole lot of homeschoolers and unschoolers), I suppose it IS possible. But I believe that it is a small risk. I also believe that the State's regulation and monitoring of homeschoolers brings much greater risk to society as we "support those parts of it that make it something we can endure" than does the acknowledgement that parents can and should make those decisions for their children.

I'm sure I could go on and on, but the washer is nearly done, and I want to get back to the hospital and see how my gal is doing.

Hospital Update - 13

Bad planning on my part. I should've thrown the load of clothes into the wash FIRST, and then hit the blog. But noooo, I am a blog-addict and did that first. Now I have 20 minutes to kill before I can change the load over to the dryer. Pastor called and said he'd be coming to visit between 1 and 1:30, so I kinda want to be done with the housewifey stuff at RMH and be back to Maggie's room to receive.

Man, these super-fancy washers at the RMH take a lot longer to run through a load than does my Kenmore at home.

If we're out of ICU soon, the phone number I posted last night will no longer be valid for us. But if you have the cell-phone number, that should work. I assume cell phones are allowed out on the floor, since they're allowed in the hallways and the waiting rooms, just not in ICU.

Hospital Update - 12

This is going stunningly well and fast!

Maggie was up and alert, pretty much from 3 until just a few minutes ago. Doctors are extremely pleased with the looks of last night's echocardiogram; the homograft is working very well. She is not even on any medicine at this point that helps her heart to work. They pulled her foley catheter so that she can get up and go potty now herself, instead of having the bother of the tubes.

At morning rounds, the doctors said she was doing so well that they plan to move her out of ICU and onto the floor this afternoon. So several more lines were pulled: her arterial line and her central line. A bunch of monitors were taken off too. The only thing she's got left at this point are the peripheral lines (IV into her left hand, and hep-lock into her right hand) and her chest drainage tubes. The doctors seemed a bit apologetic about leaving even those in, but there's still enough bloody drainage that they're staying for a while longer. Even those, though, may be taken out this afternoon. Dr Fedderly (our cardiologist) says Maggie is "on the fast track." :-)

So many things have been unplugged and pulled that the nurse has cleared a WHOLE lot of equipment out of the room. I think the only things Mag is on, at this point, are the IV drip and the antibiotics (which is for prevention's sake because of being intubated yesterday). She got tylenol once for a bit of high temp, and once for a bit of pain.

Pr Koch was here to visit and pray with us this morning. He said he'd bring his daughter (one of Mag's bestest friends) next time he comes. Gary's with Maggie for another couple of hours. So I have a chance to update blog and grab a shower and maybe a few calories. Ronald McDonald House has sandwiches available for us for lunch, and will have a hot supper tonight too.

Maggie does not remember at all seeing Katie and Nathan and Matt last night. Kinda funny, since she was so happy to see Matt when we first came into ICU.

Hospital Update - 11

The night has gone pretty well. They now allow a parent to sleep/doze in ICU. For Mag's last surgery, that was strictly prohibited. So Gary stayed at RMH, and I stayed in ICU. I got about 4 hours of sleep before Maggie woke up enough to desire a little attention. Prior to 3:00am she was pretty zoned out. She'd nod or shake her head in answer to questions, but rarely spoke. (Oh, by the way, that reminds me. They extubated her before bringing her out of OR. Last open-heart, it was more than 5 days on the breathing tube.) When we asked last evening if we could put on a book-on-tape or a movie or even just a Kantorei CD, the answer was NO. She was tired, and really needed for us to hush. (For some reason, she feels compelled to listen in and pay attention when conversation is going on. So our talking was disturbing her ability to rest. I can't imagine where she would get that trait of wanting to Not Miss Anything around her.)

I am now briefly kicked out of the room for x-rays.

Maggie needed some whole blood last night. Her hematocrit was down to 28. Earlier they'd given plasma because her blood pressure was pretty low, and they assumed that was due simply to volume; the plasma solved that problem.

Chest tubes are not draining too much anymore, and that's looking quite good. She has SO few tubes compared to what I expected!

For the last couple of hours, she has appreciated my sitting on the bed with her while we listen to a Ramona book read by Stockard Channing. Mag is feeling more chatty now, opens her eyes a lot more, and has questions about the tubes and the monitors and when will she get to have a drink.

Well, x-rays are probably done, so I should get back there.

Many thanks to you all for your prayers and your encouragement!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hospital Update - 10

Laura, Mom, Kathy, and a few others:
Cell phones aren't allowed in ICU. If you need to get a hold of us, we're in PICU 24. The phone that goes direct to the room is 607-5374.

Katie's Kitty

Check it out -- a different title!!

Rachel, Matt, Nathan, and Katie are with Magser right now. There're only supposed to be four at a time in ICU, so Gary and I are fixing some supper. Well, Gary's cooking, and I'm blogging. How's that for a spoiled woman?

The cat Katie got for her 13th birthday cannot, of course, go live with Katie and Nathan, locked indoors in an apartment. We got her from Pastor's family because their original cat was a really good hunter. When Athena was just a wee ball of fluff, just a little beyond being an attractive and tempting snack herself for the red-tail hawks that temporarily took up residence on our patio swing, she was already beginning to catch her own meat. When her whole body still fit into our hands, she dragged home an opossum and ate it up. Not all in one sitting: we found the tail, which she later went back and finished off when she had done some digesting and found a spare nook in her tummy.

She is now 6 1/2 yrs old, and slowing down. She's getting to be middle-aged, and I can empathize with her slower and quieter ways. But sometimes she just gets too darn lazy. I caught two mice last week. Granted, I think that's all there were; we hear no more scuffling in the basement ceiling and find no other evidence of mice anymore. But, c'mon, she's only got one job to do, and she ain't been pulling her weight.

Last week, we had a rabbit in the yard. A rabbit! Now, personally, I kinda like watching cute little rabbits, so long as there is nothing gardenish for them to be destroying. So it was okay with me that there was a rabbit -- although my approval of having a rabbit in the yard would have changed tremendously by March. But what must the cat be thinking? Leaving mice in the house? Letting a rabbit take up residence in our yard? Good grief. Almost makes me consider indulging Andrew's repeated requests for his own kitten.

Then something odd happened. On Thanksgiving, Athena was not underfoot. She loves turkey. She adores turkey. If she hears "here kitty kitty" from a quarter mile away when there's been turkey smell wafting through the kitchen, she'll be there momentarily! And she wasn't hanging around Thursday. Surely something was amiss.

Well, I think it is possible that she was full. Maybe she didn't want to mess with the indoor mice (who have so many nice little hiding spots that she can't access) because of the plethora of outdoor mice.

Sunday night, she was sitting on the porch ledge, giving herself a bath. Maggie was concerned about the blood on her nose. As we were checking it out, Maggie caught sight of the rabbit. A big rabbit. A big rabbit with about half its head missing. Right next to the front stoop. Eeeeuuuuwww -- lovely!

She wouldn't come in. She had dragged that rabbit up to the house to protect it. She has lost critters before. Sometimes we rude humans take the prey and toss it in the field, away from the house, to avoid the flies and smell and other contamination of her hunting. I really don't want to step barefooted on a half-eaten critter as I'm taking the trash out. So we sometimes rid the yard of her snacks. But I suspect that she has also lost her prey to coyotes, neighbor cats, skunks, weasels, and other wildlife. Once she dragged a woodchuck into the garage and left it at the kitchen door; it was safe there. (Blech!) This time she stashed her rabbit by the house, under the porch light, near the door where we big humans come and go frequently, AND she stood guard all night.

She kept eating. Who needs dry cat food when you have nice bunny brains? The kids were getting a bit of a lesson in mammal anatomy, as every time they passed through the front door, new portions of innards were exposed. Thing is, it is a FAT rabbit. She is going to be good and stuffed by the time she spends several days working her way through that thing. I hope she does a good job of clearing it up before we get home from the hospital.

Well, Gary says hamburgers are ready. Gotta go so we can get back to ICU.

Hospital Update - 9

Surgeon just came in to meet with us. He's done. He said everything went very well except for the trouble getting through the sternum, and that was resolved by getting Mag on the heart-lung machine right away. He said her heart started up perfectly when they took her off bypass, and it's beating great. They're starting to wake her up now.

Matt asked the doctor about how the heart-lung machine worked. Rather than answering, the surgeon just invited him to come by "anytime" and see it and have it explained with the machine right there. Matt's got the phone number and is looking forward to the demonstration.

Erin, just wanted to let you know the boys said the "brussels sprouts with peanut butter and mayo sauce" was awesome! For those of you who are tossing your cookies at the very thought of this dish, be assured that it was interestingly labeled due to a birthday-dinner joke, and was actually delicious stuffed pasta-shells.

Don't think we're going to make dinner at the Ronald McDonald House tonight. It starts in 15 minutes, and that's just when Maggie is due out to see us. But on the other hand, maybe we'll see her, run over and grab supper, and come back just in time to get into ICU. Boy, oh boy, that RMH sure is a humongous blessing to families who are busy taking care of sick kids!

Anybody want to sing the LCMS theme song with me? "It's a small world, after all. It's a small, small world." Just after I left for Didache last night, a couple sat down at the RMH dining room table that Gary and Maggie were at. They said the table prayer that is common to northern-Wisc Lutherans. So Gary asked about where they were from. A few moments of conversation, and the mom says, "So you're Pastor G!" Oy! There's a surprise for ya! Turns out that she was a junior councilor at Camp LuWiSoMo when Gary was Pastor of the Week once. She is also a friend of one of our friends. This family's baby was born the same day as Gerhardt Stuckwisch, but he had to be medi-flighted to a big city hospital. Her friend mentioned that we'd be here this week for Mag's surgery. So that's how she put all the pieces together. They're just around the corner from us at the RMH, and their son is in ICU with Mag. They could use prayers too, with munchkins staying with grandparents, and baby recuperating from heart surgery.

Maggie got mail here today from David Daniel and the APT company. Wow! Thanks, Maria and David!


Just took a break to go see Mag as they wheeled her down the hall. They told us she was waking up. Their version of "awake" is a little different than mine. But the anethesiologist is happy. And when we started talking to her and holding her hand and giving a kiss or two (and when Rachel mentioned mail from APT -- LOL), Maggie started trying to sit up. No no... too much too fast. She had to relax. So, she's doing well. :-)

Hospital Update - 8

They're closing. The surgeon will come meet with us in about a half-hour. When the rest of the crew is done with the dressings and getting Mags cleaned up, they will be wheeling her to ICU. We'll get to see her on the way there (in about 45-60 minutes). When she's settled in ICU with her nurses there, then we'll be able to join her.

Hospital Update - 7

Echo is done. Everything looks good. Maggie's off the heart-lung machine and her heart is beating on its own.

Because there tends to be more bleeding in second surgeries, they want to be especially sure that bleeding has stopped before they close up the chest. So it will still be a while before they start sewing closed. Nurse just reported that it should be another hour and a half or two before they finish in the OR.

Hospital Update - 6

The new artery is sewn in. They're starting to warm up the room and bring Maggie back up to temperature. When she's ready, they'll do an echocardiogram to check and make sure that everything is hooked up correctly, blood is flowing where it's supposed to be, and not where it's not supposed to be. When the echo assures them that the job has been done well, they'll begin get ready to take her off the heart-lung machine. They hope to begin that by 4:00.

Pastor was here this afternoon, with preaching and the Supper. Ah, it is a good thing to have Jesus come with His word!

Hospital Update - 5

They've gotten a homograft out of the freezer and begun thawing it to sew into Maggie. They're using a human artery, probably from an adult. Doctor said he'd get one that's a little too big, to give her room to "grow into." They have also begun cooling down Maggie's body. The doctor is nearly done cutting through to the heart. By 2:00 they should be attaching the new artery.

Hospital Update - 4

There was quite a bit of bleeding before the doctor even managed to cut through the sternum. Apparently her heart is placed very shallowly in her chest. So they hooked Maggie up to the bypass right away, through the groin. They got her on the machine right away when the problem started; all her vital signs stayed stable. Surgeon is still working on getting through the scar tissue to the heart.

Hospital Update - 3

The nurse just came in and told us that the surgeon began cutting a few minutes before 11:00. There is a LOT of scar tissue to work through. She said that, with 10 years to build it up, that's to be expected. We were surprised; we didn't know that scar tissue continuned to build up in the chest cavity. The nurse said, "Oh, yeah." So the doctor has a lot to cut through, and will have to go slower as he gets closer to the heart. They told us yesterday that this is the part that will be a "few" hours. Nurse will report back at noon. All the vital signs are good and Maggie is stable.

Hospital Update - 2

We checked in this morning. The nurse went to get the "happy juice" at 7:30. While she was doing so, a call came from OR: "Hold up! Don't drug that kid yet!"

Ten minutes later, a call came that said the surgeon was doing an emergency surgery. They didn't know how long it would be, but Maggie was bumped.

Are you laughing??? :-)

I went to jog and shower while Gary sat with Maggie and watched Star Wars. I got some breakfast and was on my way to the computer room to update the blog when Gary called. The emergency has been dealt with. They're getting ready to give Mags her first dose of drugs and her amnesiac. So we're nearly two hours behind schedule, but we're still good to go. Scooting back to the hospital now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hospital Update - 1

Well, we're still in the city. They didn't send us home from pre-op. About an hour ago, the nurse called and said, "I need to let you know you've been bumped ..." and my heart sank! But the sentence continued, "... back half an hour. Check in at 7:00 tomorrow morning instead of 6:30." Whew!

Pre-op today was only about 3 hours. We were settled in at the Ronald McDonald House by 3:00. I can't say enough about how fantastic this place is for out-of-towners visiting the hospital for Big Stuff.

The layout for the day is about an hour of paper work and vital signs and drinking the "happy juice" and other surgery prep. Then at 8:00 we head down to meet up with the anesthesiologist. They're planning not to give an epidural, but just a caudal (sp?) in hopes of a shorter hospital stay and fewer complications. (I know some of you don't care about this stuff, but my mom the RN will want to know.) Putting Maggie to sleep and hooking up a bunch of the tubes will take about an hour. Then the surgeon gets to start.

They will remove the scar tissue from her previous surgery. The estimate is a whole hour just to cut through the sternum, due to the scarring. Then it will be "a few hours" to get ready to hook Maggie up to the bypass machine. The nurse explained that the scarring from the previous surgery is like unto throwing a whole bunch of glue into the chest cavity and letting it connect up organs and bones in odd and bizarre places. And they have to get all those parts straightened out and "unglued" before they can start work.

Around noon or 1:00, they should be ready to hook her up to the heart-lung machine. This may have to be done earlier, if what's inside is too much of a mess. But hopefully they'll have her on bypass for only about 40 minutes. That's how long it will take to actually sew in the new pulmonary artery. After the artery is connected, they'll begin the finishing-up part (another hour). The estimate for surgery is about six hours.

They hope to have the breathing tube out while she's still in OR. If she doesn't wake up well (which would be no surprise) they're still hoping to have it out by bedtime Tuesday. They anticipate that she should need no blood transfusions, but it will be available just in case.

Wednesday morning, they'll start pulling chest tubes and serving popsicles. They explained to her that she will have to get up and move on Wednesday, and cough, and do some other things that will hurt. They were honest that it would hurt, and told her that there would be pain medication to help but not eliminate the pain, and told her why she'd have to do these things to get better and avoid pneumonia.

The nurse told us that the anticipated hospital stay is 5-7 days, but there have been kids who go home as early as three days.

The blood draw was the worst part of the day. But we got her to relax a little and breath [breathing is GOOD], and then it hurt less. I hope the amnesiac drugs work as well this time as they did during her previous surgeries, because this time she's got fears and awareness that she didn't have before.

Boring information that only Mom will care about: BUN and creatinin were 14 and 0.6. I hope that makes you happy, Mom.

Is It Selfish to Fight for Homeschooling Freedoms? (Part 4)

An article in the New York Times discusses unschooling. Reading that article, you'd think unschoolers are kooks who have no control of their children, and you'd think the children are brain-wastes. There are people flipping out because they don't understand how unschooling works and they have no ability to control it, monitor it, STOP it.

Most of the articles about unschooling cover families who have kids in the grade-school years. Seldom are there articles that tell about grown-up kids. What about MY kids? They were unschooled. The oldest is a prize employee who has helped train the people who train her counterparts in other stores. The second graduated with a BA in three years and is now employed. The third graduated with an AA in one year and is now happily married and working. We were the people who are "cause for growing concern" (in the words of the article) among educrats. My grown-up kids turned out just fine, thankyouverymuch. And they wouldn't be the people they are if, in our homeschool, we had conformed to conventional school methods.

Apparently this article is making the rounds of many major newspapers. The cardiology nurse today was asking us questions about "real homeschoolers" and "these unschoolers," based on what she read in yesterday's Milwaukee paper. We talked. She was getting it. She was understanding. She saw the need for there to be alternatives to the government-run schools. But she too had one question.

"But you're one of the good ones. What about the others out there?"

Hey, I know a whole bunch of the "others out there." Not only do I know hundreds of homeschoolers, but I know gobs and gobs of unschoolers. I am NOT "one of the good ones." I'm one of the run-of-the-mill average ones. I might even be in the lower half, simply because my attention has been divided amongst more kids. (I think it's easier to be a reeeally good unschooler if you don't have a whole bunch of kids.)

The uproar about people "not doing anything" with their kids isn't a big problem. I'm not saying that every single homeschooler on the face of the earth is pristine and pure; that'd just be a stupid thing to say. But the desire to monitor and regulate homeschoolers becaue of "those unschoolers who don't do anything" is nothing more than people who have certain ideas about what education should be and who are unwilling to allow for different methods and different timetables.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Denomination Selector

My friend Anthea had something on her blog that proved to be a fun waste of a few minutes. :-)

The quiz pegged me as

first choice -- LCMS
second choice -- Eastern Orthodox
third choice -- ELCA
fourth choice -- Roman Catholic

Uh, yeah, that's about it. Not sure about its placing ELCA higher than Rome, though.

Hospital Update

Y'know, after having the surgery canceled last time, it's tremendously hard to get motivated to pack and to get ready to be gone for a week. I just don't believe that the surgery is actually gonna happen. For example, I detest shopping, but I have to do the weekly errands today (still in the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy); my gut rebels, saying that I could just as well wait until Tuesday morning because, after all, we're just going to be sent home Monday anyhow. One of the kids mentioned something earlier this week, suggesting that I might be stressed out about the upcoming surgery. But I'm not. Can't get all stressed out about something that I don't believe is gonna happen anyway.

It's all very surreal this time.

Psalm 103:6 in NKJV

"The LORD executes righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed."

I know what that verse is supposed to mean. ESV translates it "works righteousness" and NASB translates it "performs righteous deeds."

But I just love the double entendre in the New King James.

Next week we start singing from Jeremiah 23 at vespers, "This is the name by which He will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness."

In NKJV, we get another accompanying image from Ps 103's word executes: the death sentence is carried out against the One whose name is Righteousness. And that execution/slaying is precisely how God "performs righteous deeds."

Is It Selfish to Fight for Homeschooling Freedoms? (Part 3)

"But you're different. You really do care about your kids. You really do care about education. What about the people that don't?"

Very few of them homeschool.

Some have been forced into it by the public schools. They didn't want to homeschool. They didn't understand that the public school cannot legally force them to become homeschoolers. And thus, they accepted what the public school decreed and became unwilling homeschoolers. Some of them step up to the plate and make a hearty effort to give their kids what the school wouldn't or couldn't. I hear rumors that there are those who just don't care and don't try. (Never met one.) For parents who became homeschoolers against their will and just don't care, will it help them or their kids if homeschooling regulations are increased?

Also, it seems kinda convoluted for the State to claim that "homeschoolers need regulation because some of them don't do a good job" when their "proof" and "evidence" are the families that the State coerced into being homeschoolers.

Some troubled kids struggle in school. They don't learn in school. Their parents may withdraw them from conventional school (either willingly or because the school tells them they must begin homeschooling). If those parents do a better job than the school was doing, hooray! But if they don't do any better, then can we recognize that nothing's been lost? It's not exactly like the schools have a stellar record on educating kids these days.

There's an old legal maxim: "hard cases make bad law." When laws are written to cover all the "hard cases," the laws get unwieldy. The laws then interfere with good people doing good things, without sufficiently eliminating the problems the laws were meant to solve.

The original question asked about whether we Christians should be willing to forego some of our homeschooling freedoms so that we might be of service to the hypothetical neighbor who is a homeschooled student whose parents are educationally neglecting him. I think the answer is no. I think the cost to society and to individual families would be a greater burden than we realize. If this burden were really a way to end educational neglect, then society would have to weigh the pros and cons of burdening so many families for the benefit of a few. (Maybe I should mention here a recent post about the failures of running a society on the premise of extorting self-sacrifice.)

We need to recognize that most laws develop out of a desire for somebody to do something, whether or not that something will accomplish what it aims to accomplish. We also need to recognize that there are bureaucrats who just can't stand it that there are people who aren't under their control, and they want to get control. If they can use the excuse of "helping those who are educationally neglected" as a way to control the other 99.999% of homeschoolers, then everyone loses. Except the power-hungry bureaucrats. Not even the hypothetical "educationally neglected homeschooler" would come out any better.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.
When homeschoolers are regulated, those who "don't care about education" will find ways to avoid the regulations. Then alllll the others will have lost their right to obtain an education uniquely suited to their own children, while accomplishing nothing to help the few who were supposed to be rescued by the regulations.