Looking back

Photos below from July 12, 1969

We were in Cincy from summer of 1965 until June of 1967. June 11 began “the long hot summer” in the City, including Avondale, just west of the University’s Scioto Hall tower where Nancy lived. I only remember a few things from the graduation time.
I remember the riots, watching from the balcony of her apartment. I remember seeing Jeeps with Nation Guard folks tucked under trees along the Campus walks.
The ceremony was held outside in the football stadium. Dignitaries were on a raised platform in the field. Mid-ceremony a large Collie came onto the field, wandered out to the platform, and anointed it with his pee, providing a highlight to an otherwise less than memorial event.
I also remember taking the photo of Nancy in the gown she wore. I did then, and still do think it is the best of the many photos taken of her.

The other two images were taken two years later. After years, scanning, and digital adjustments for the web, quality is not great. Shame.

Nancy’s father died when she was in 9th grade. Her mother’s second husband died when Nancy was on a 9 week tour of Europe; at the end of her time as a student at Georgia State University. Nancy flew home and missed the last few days of that trip. Just a short time after the funeral, she traveled north to graduate school in Cincinnati. Her mother did not handle the situation. Nancy went home to her mother and a teaching job at GSU. I went to The University of Iowa. Thus, our wedding was delayed by 2 years.

The car – Fordie, a 1935 Ford, was a company car that her dad drove for 2 years, then bought when the company replaced it. Nancy learned about cars and motor sounds with her dad and an elderly mechanic. It was her mobility when she got her driver’s license, and became our honeymoon transportation. Years later Fordie was sold to a lady who also had a childhood connection to ’35 Fords. She also had the money to have it restored to new-like status, and protect it, something we did not have the resources to do.

One of the many photos from the wedding. We had a joint ceremony of Baptist and Catholic, held in the church of Nancy and her mother. The catholic church was a few blocks away. We sat with the priest and minister and wrote the wedding vows. An audio recording was made; I think we listened to it once. I don’t remember a lot of the day, but do remember a child of the caterer tripping while carrying a large bowl of melon balls in the asphalt parking lot.
We stayed that night in a motel at Stone Mountain, then went back to her mother’s place to help her settle in to being alone again. Next we went to my folks place in Clarion, PA for two weeks before heading west to Iowa City. We stayed on there for 2 years after my degree, as an assistant in a research office, Nancy as a student. We moved farther west and settled in Troy, Idaho in 1974.

Next weekend I hope to have a few insights about “what happens after.”

{News of the hour: I-90 is closed in both directions because of snow and related accidents. Here: sunny, cool, windy}

April 3rd The 5th Day

Stunned at the void

First, I’ll suggest if you are new to these pages you can get the background by scrolling down until you get to the beginning of March, then read forward.
I provided Brookside Funeral with a text and photo (2019, April) of Nancy holding her violin. I have tried to show important things in her life that many may not know. Most will know that her career was that of a geographer at the college/university level. There is more of that aspect on the CWU Geography page.

Friend Elise has provided a ‘pdf’ of the obituary that you can see by following this link:
Nancy’s Obituary

The Funeral home – Brookside, Ellensburg – folks, Kelly and Charity have been great. On that page – Brookside – they have added the banner across the top, and the “remembrance” things under her photo. Please do not do those things. We planted lots of trees, some now 50 feet tall, and our Tulips and Daffodils are soon to bloom.
I have not yet gone there to see the guestbook nor the condolences. It is too soon for me.
While there has been much to do this week, the hardest was taking the obituary to the facilities where the Fiddlers and Friends played and asking if they could place the page on a bulletin board therein.

There is no service planned. Later in the year I expect there to be a couple of gatherings with sort of a theme list; maybe neighbors one time, musicians another, just friends another. I suspect these to be more spontaneous, rather than planned or elaborate.

Nancy’s ashes will be brought back to the Naneum Fan, her home for 32 of her 77 years.

There are several things about what happens when a person dies that I want to share with family and friends. That will have to wait, until next Saturday or the following one. They are just “things” and do not belong here.

Thanks for all the good thoughts.

The saddest news.

Nancy’s life ended Tuesday.

We were preparing for a move to the Rehab in Ellensburg during mid-day.
I was called about 6:30 am. with the news of her death because of pulmonary aspiration (blood in her lungs).
This was unexpected because her episode of bleeding late Friday had been suppressed by 3 am Saturday.
Her body did not cooperate.

This has been a sad and busy day.
I will write more later in the week.


March 28th Health post

Plan still unsettled . . .

Yesterday and earlier reports follow after this.

I have now had several phone conversations with nurses and hospital “care” workers. I have the feeling the initial view there was that they were getting an older woman with ‘just‘ a nosebleed.
Nancy’s year of inactivity, and then the fluid build-up, has left her immobile to a severe degree. Her damaged heart is not going to provide for much exertion or sustained activity.
A physical therapist came (about 11:15 am) and got her out of bed and for a walk in the hall. His assessment – conveyed to me later by another person – was that Nancy should be sent to a rehabilitation facility. This, I had already urged (explained) to two of the nurses for her room.
Insofar as she is quite rational (mostly), the “care” person (sorry, don’t know job title) questioned me about home versus a facility – because Nancy seems capable of making decisions for herself.

I need time to work with the Home Health folks here in EBRG to get in-home help, not just nurse and PT visits. But she needs to be in better physical shape, even for that. If she can’t get to that (low) level of physical shape, there is a good change she will need a long term care facility.

There are many moving parts to this situation, so very unsettled.
_ _ _ _
The hospital’s phone system got chaotic this afternoon. She was to call me after 3:00, but didn’t. When I called the system did not connect with her room. I called back. That connection sounded like someone was keying in a number. I switched handsets; that helped. But, she wanted to call me back, so I hit the off button. She didn’t call, so I tried again. Busy signal. Now at 9:00 pm I don’t know any more than I did at 1:30.
What’s the phrase: There is always tomorrow.

Hope your day went better than ours did.

March 27th – – Health post

Not part of the plan . . .

I tucked Nancy in bed and turned the lights down about 9:30 last night.
Then I came to the computer to write an update. A few minutes later she buzzed the phone intercom. Her nose was bleeding and she was using tissue after tissue to sop it up. I tried a more appropriate technique – pressure for 5 minutes, for a couple or four tries. As soon as the pressure was released the blood would flow again.

So, I put pressure on with one hand and between the two of us managed to clean her up, get warm clothing on, and get in the car. At that point I needed two hands and insisted she not release pressure for the next 20 minutes – our drive time to the ER. Repeated urgings during the drive worked and we were soon being attended to.

Pressure and nasal packing slowed, but did not stop the flow. The solution was a small “balloon” insert, then inflated.

The doctor and I talked through the next steps. I did not think it safe for me to bring Nancy home. Getting some in home care – beyond hour visits by nurses and physical therapists – was going to be a Monday to-do thing. Second option was to admit her to the hospital where we were. But, going through the ER to the regular wing without weekend Nose & Throat + Cardioloigst seemed to be a stretch. The best option seemed to be a transfer to the Yakima Hospital. Those providers have to agree, and did with the team lead being the Nose & Throat specialist.
Yakima County has had a larger Covid experience than here. They, therefore, want a recent negative test; another bit of a delay. She arrived there at about 10:30.
The hospital – newly named Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital in Yakima – has a very restrictive visitors code. I won’t be visiting, but there is a phone in her room. I know that because the nurse for today called to ask a few questions of me, and answer mine.
I will call there tonight and sometime on Sunday, and post what I learn late on Sunday evening.
Having been active since 6:30 am Friday to ~1:30 pm Saturday, I think it is time for a nap.


March update #3

A very busy week

Nancy is very ill but the episode last week was brought under control and stabilized. The unanswerable question is how long this can last.
Lots of folks are working to improve the current situation. There is not a cure, so we go day by day.

Saturday and Sunday were just Nancy and me at home, with a couple of phone calls to old friends. We were active – meals, pills, and potty, plus animal chores.
The hospital bed, partially working, was helping but . . .
The head and shoulders part was wood-beam supported, so that part could not be easily changed. See previous post for photo. We managed.

The non-working bed parts parts were switched out for new. Thus, in addition to the time Friday, Monday also included another 2 hour session (with more equipment). Nancy was home for this episode, moving to the recliner where she could watch the setup, and talk with Dylan as he worked.
Delivered at the same time was an Oxygen Concentrator.
This is about the size and weight of a larger Badger, 37 pounds, not meant to be portable. The company claims it is quiet, and sells a higher priced one that may be. This is not.
These things take most of the Nitrogen out of room air – leaving the Oxygen and minor gases. The concentrated Oxygen is sent to the patients nose via a long clear tube, called a cannula. The face piece can be either a small mask or the 2-pronged insert.
Nancy tried the mask Monday night. At about 4 AM – potty time – she decided “enough of that” and the rest of sleep time did not have supplemental Oxygen. The alternative will be tried Tuesday.

NEXT nurse & Physical Therapist
Medical care at home is covered via Medicare, here:
Home health care
Click outside the pop-up window to see the page.

I assume this is paid for via the insurance cost deducted from the Social Security payment, that began for us in 2009. I don’t know the cost then, but in 2021 it is $148.50 per month for each of us.

Nurse Dani took the lead for Nancy, arriving this morning, doing a health check, and explaining the Kittitas Valley “Home Health Care” program. Following her assessment and report – she expected 2 hours of office work to follow the home visit – then the Physical Therapist, Seth, was authorized to begin. He came in the afternoon.

A digression: Our mail route has three addresses within a few miles of each other with 1’s and 4’s and 0’s. The carrier must have trouble with numbers – we often find other’s mail in the big blue box. Seth called from a neighbor’s to say he was early, but in front of our house.
By looking out the window I assured him he was not at our house.

Both nurse and physical therapist returned. Somehow the blood drawn was not what the lab was expecting. Someone called here looking for Nurse Dani, who was long gone. I told the person to call the doctor or nurse at Cle Elum.
Seth got Nancy doing a few exercises. I guess he talks more authoritatively than do I. She does them a few times a day, and I got her moving and stretching her right arm (that with the recent break & cast).

When she left the hospital last Friday the discharge included an appointment in Cle Elum for 1 pm this Friday the 19th. The morning was busy with food, pills, and chores. For an unknown reason, just before leaving Nancy insisted she should wear the cast and sling. Not able to change her mind, that’s how we went. The first question Chelsea asked was “Why the cast and sling?” I told her it was a mental glitch, not physical.
After that we had a 40 minute discussion. Not much was new or resolved. The hospital doctor wanted it to happen, so it did.
Back home a message was on the recorder about Nancy’s 2nd dose of vaccine. {I got mine Thursday, am.) Again, the hospital wanted this to happen at home for her, but exactly when was hard to pin down. I returned the call and 20 minutes later Ellensburg Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Rich Elliott appeared at our door. He stuck around about 15 minutes – there was no immediate reaction for Nancy. Six hours later, still nothing. Me? 36 hours and counting – nothing.

While I prepared supper, she watched much of a video of the Moody Blues live at the Royal Albert Hall. In a non-busy moment I may watch that. Then we came upon Joe Biden stumbling up the steps leading to Air Force One. We have missed most of the first two months of the new administration. Maybe that’s a good thing.

My old cheap flip phone quit synchronizing or connecting with my Bluetooth enabled Crosstrek. Nancy’s similar phone worked, so it is the phone, not the car. We needed another problem?

Nancy is now sleeping with Oxygen from the concentrator.

Check back next Saturday (I hope)
for news from the Naneum Fan

Best to all.
John & Nancy

March update #2

I knew there were issue a week ago but I’ll just start with Tuesday; that’s the regular blood draw day.
We started in the door (auto sliding) and made one step inside.
A man was coming from our right – the direction we needed to go.
Nancy started to pivot that direction, and I took another step forward. Oops!
Her feet tangled and she went down – I had her hand and kept it from being a hard fall. With the man’s help we got her up, and the receptionist rushed over with one of the tall chairs. A rest, and then on into the real waiting room.
I told Kim (phlebotomist) she need not draw a vial for the clotting index INR but could use a finger-prick. She did better, taking a drop from the vial being sent to the lab. INR this way is immediate.
We had little to do in town, so went home and had lunch.
Not long after our “doc” Chelsea called and reported the Potassium level had spiked into critical level and we should think about going to the ER. I questioned whether or not we could just walk in. So she called the ER, then called us back to say they were expecting us.
Indeed, they were – so no waiting. The ER doctor and about 6 or 7 others fussed around Nancy, and the hospital doctor of the day came in also. He came to talk serious stuff with me, and then arranged the transfer from ER to the Critical Care Unit (CCU).

To digress some – Nancy was mentally confused – this I knew, but also knew I was going to talk to Chelsea on Tuesday, so did not call her Monday. Nancy’s “sleep study” was scheduled for Wednesday at 8 PM, and I was sure that would be disaster in her condition. On the way to the ER (about 17 minutes), I called the Sleep place and cancelled.

The ER doctor asked Nancy about name, time, date and where she was. She knew all the answers. Then in an instant she would say something very odd. She heard the conversation when we cancelled the sleep study but then told a nurse she needed to get out for the study. At some point she told me someone in the hospital was going to take all my clothes and I would have to walk the streets of Ellensburg naked. (That happened the next morning, I guess; but she was behaving strangely.) She was trying to remember the words to the “doxology” song and wanted nurses and aides to sing with her.

At this point her Potassium was recorded at 6.5.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a normal range of Potassium is between 3.6 and 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) of blood. A potassium level higher than 5.5 mmol/L is critically high, and a potassium level over 6 mmol/L can be life-threatening. {Last year, mine was just 4.0.}
They gave her a cocktail of chemicals to bring that down while still in the ER. By Wednesday Noonish it was down to 5.5, and Thursday to 5.1. That’s good. Not so good is that she has retained a weight gain of 20 pounds since early December, and that hasn’t responded. With weak muscles from a year of inactivity, this complicates simple movements, such as getting on and off of a regular chair (think commode). I’m trying to locate a high and wide bedside unit.
As that dropped, her mental condition improved. To me the result was stunning. For the time we were there the CCU doctor was a retired man but working at least a few days a month at regional hospitals. He too (along with nurses and aides) were impressed with the rapidly changing (improving) mental state. I was told on Thursday to expect a discharge on Friday.
Had a short visit with a Physical Therapist and a long visit with a Social worker, Polly. They were (did) to set in motion actions to get help at home with in-home things. On discharge, I was told folks would be in touch Monday. Polly also arranged for Nancy’s 2nd Covid shot to be brought out to the house.
On Thursday I ordered a powered hospital bed for home, and borrowed a walker from Hospice Friends. The bed was to arrive at 11 am Friday, so I visited Nancy at breakfast, then went home.
A young man named Dylan came with the bed. This is his #2 job. Number 1 is with the EBRG Fire and Rescue folks, where friend Sara is an EMT. The bed has 3 small electric motors and the gear to (1) raise the entire frame, (2) put a kink under the knees and (3) raise the head & shoulders section.
#3 was dead on arrival. A metal piece had been drilled with two holes too close to the end that attached to the drive shaft from the motor. Those holes (metal) tore, leaving a sharp edge like on the lip of a just opened tomato can. Dylan and I tried to fix this, but could not make it work.
Otherwise the bed was fine, so he left it and will bring a new one Monday. My work-around is shown in this photo.

Once Nancy was in the bed, she thought it needed tilted more. I rotated the plank. I’d already taken the photo; a new one seemed unnecessary, but the height is now about double what you see.

Diet instructions were given to me. That is, a list of high, medium, and low K foods is provided. I managed to dress up a mushroom soup, with a side of pears. I will only note that this is going to be a problem. For example, when on the blood thinner Coumadin there are things one is to avoid. Of course these seem to be low in Potassium. Also, there are a few things Nancy will not eat – Watermelon! Butternut squash (she likes) is a no. Summer squash (sorta doesn’t like) is fine.

I guess that is it for now –

Remember to change clocks this weekend!


March post #1

I’m going to combine the 3 things we have been doing into just one.
Health news will be first up.
Other interesting stuff will follow, and indicated.

Current health & related situation:

Serious issues here; briefly . . . (for those recently learning of this)

Many know that Nancy is having a life-changing health episode. Some may not know that she had Rheumatic fever as a child and years later needed a Mitral Valve replacement. That was done in December, 2009. She also needed a bypass at Thanksgiving that year, and had heart damage. Then the blood thinner Heparin almost killed her.
You can search up Heparin – HIT.

2020 has been unkind and Nancy’s heart disease has progressed. Other issues, maybe related, include declining mind-hand coordination. She has used multiple e-mail accounts for the earth science jobs list and a few other things. I need to figure that stuff out and shut them down.

We have avoided Covid-19, but not Panic20. Many functions in Washington State were closed, including the Senior Center and the eldercare facilities where she & others played music. These kept Nancy busy, interested, and doing soft exercise. There is evidence of a linkage between these things and elderly health. Nancy’s health was already compromised, but Panic20 didn’t help.

We have had the first of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The second doze is set for 3/18 (John) and 3/19 (Nancy).
Tomorrow (Sunday) she is to have pre-sleep study Covid test. Then she goes for the sleep study Wednesday at 8PM, and I pick her up the next morning a 6AM. The place is 50 miles away, so that’s a bummer.
The cardiologist wants her to get more Oxygen at night, that requires some form of breathing assist. That may mean a CPAP unit.
She doesn’t have the serious apnea issues, but apparently does have {assumption from expert knowledge} shallow breathing during sleep.
She went through this years ago, then lost a lot of weight, and stopped using CPAP.
A weight loss of over 10% triggers a “new test requirement” – apparently so the proper sort of apparatus can be prescribed – and likely the health providers meet legal norms. By the time the test is done, and so on, about 6 weeks will have gone by since the cardiologist said she needed to up the night time Oxygen in her blood (SpO2).

As her heart function declined (and maybe something else unknown), sometime in late December her legs swelled. Also the Potassium level spiked. Doc took her off one medication and doubled the other water pill – Lasix. We were introduced to compression socks. We wish for you, dear reader, to never encounter this need.

Newest wrinkle is finding an in-home hospital bed designed to allow raising her feet and legs above her heart. The idea is to ease the burden on the heart. Friend Elise (New Jersey) has been helpful in sparking this and providing information. A Monday chore.

Check back next Sunday for updates.

A less than exciting week

John writing:
Not a lot to write about this week.

Nancy is having problems with her lap top. Sometimes I can help, mostly not. She uses a Dell touch screen. I am almost cured of touching the screen unintenionaly. Also, it is not a large screen. I have 2 monitors and about 4 times the amount of screen space. She uses programs about which I haven’t a clue.
She appears to need to do something about the Jacquie Lawson ecards site, while my advice is to sign off and sign out.
Our small county is well into vaccinating folks and our experience, recounted below, seems to be much different from other states. It really was the only episode, this week, worth a report. I am just going to copy what I wrote for the Saturday update. Here it is:

Tuesday was a blood draw with INR and K both within range.
Getting a plump vein to tap has been a problem. Conversations with others suggest diet and fluid intake need an increase. Looking back, I think she drastically cut Powerade (sports drink) along with total removal of Ensure protein drink (about the highest Vit K item in her diet – still not real high).

As a substitute I’ve been making what I call “blurpies”. If you put fruit, ice cream, and yogurt in a blender the first sound produced sounds like “blurp.” Well, it does to me.
She uses Almond Water (COSTCO brand) to dilute coffee, so we also add that to the Blurpy.
So, we are working in this.

Friday at 3:30 we went for the 1st dose of the Pfizer vaccine. We were met in the parking lot and handed a 2-sided survey – filled out in the car. I took those to the greeting table. We were escorted inside and passed off to person #3. We asked for a high chair for Nancy. Most chairs were of the folding metal type, and 10 inches lower. (More of the higher chairs are needed in this world.)
Because Nancy is on a blood thinner (question was on the survey) we were visited by a Nurse (#4), who explained possible bruising from a shot. Nancy showed her a few, and she was satisfied we would not be startled if such happened at the site of the poke. (Without a mirror we can’t see that spot.) The nurse summoned #5 who led us to a table (with a high chair) where #6 was waiting.
We wore short sleeve shirts and warm vests without sleeves; and a warm winter coat. Remove the coat, and there is the bare arm ready for the shot. Next we were off with person #6 to the waiting area. Chest tag had the time 1551 (24 hour clock) at which we could leave. About five minutes into the wait, person #7 arrived with a computer on a high rolling cart. For maybe the forth time we gave names, birth date, address, phone number, e-mail.
Person #8 appeared and we asked to short-circuit the longer exit route, pass through curtains, and exited where we came in, about 30 feet from the car.

Our 2nd dose was scheduled, but she could not alter the 21 day period. We want to stagger those by 3 days. Some folks can feel a bit off (symptoms vary) as the body’s immune system ramps up after the 2nd dose. It is not likely that both of us would be impacted, but that is possible, and easily prevented. We just have to call the County Health folks and reschedule. I had to call to get us in the same time slot on Friday. The computer system tossed me out when I tried to fill a second slot from my computer. {End Copy}

Saturday morning and into the evening we could feel where the shot was given, only if we put a hand on the arm. Otherwise, it was not noticeable. Now Sunday evening and still no reaction.
Sunny and cool here today. 53°F was the high at the airport.

From me and Nancy, that’s it for now.
Still on the Naneum Fan

Not so Nasty News February 26th

Item #1: Parma Street Clouds

Left photo by my sister in NE Ohio.
Right image from here: Cloud Streets

Various sites claim that “cloud streets” typically form fairly straight lines over large flat areas such as the ocean. Ohio isn’t an ocean but the area next to Lake Erie (or parts of) is flatter than an ocean under a good breeze.

While in the region, there are some nice photos of Niagara Falls at this site: Ice is nice

Item #2: Vaccine
We went for the 1st dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine on Friday afternoon. Two hours later I cannot (feel) tell where the needle poke was. I was talking to one of the volunteers and not looking. Maybe I got just a skin-pinch for some sort of test.
Our entry was at 3:30 and the folks had give over 400 shots.
There is a second site in the County. Hope the Saturday morning paper will provide information. We ought to be near half vaccinated.

Somewhat related is the number of times we keep having to give our e-mail, phone #, address, and more in a county where we have a “medical portal” that’s is supposed to keep track of health records. If this sort of stuff is what is being designed into self-driving cars – the lack of connectivity and intelligence, I mean – such cars should have a bright orange, with black skulls, paint job. We’d know to pull to the side when one is spotted.

Item #3: Snow

Washington is having a snow season. Snoqualmie Pass, 70 miles west of us has an accumulation of about 33 feet. There is 37 feet at the pass north of that. Farther north the road has been closed since last November 13th.
Many people are pleased with this. Others, not so much. Spring melt will have some flooding, so that is already being discussed; in the local paper early in the week. There has been 2 or 3 feet of new snow since then. We got about 5 inches.

To prevent snow coming down on traffic the roads are often closed, say from 4 AM to 6 AM. Various means are used to bring the snow down, then they clear what hits the road. Travelers need to stay informed and prepared.

And that, for this week, is the not so nasty news.