Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Unsung Heroes

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:31 AM CDT

Let me first say, this entry isn’t for everyone. I’m going to talk about some of the less pretty aspects. I’m going to talk about the hard work of dying. It’s not easy to write, and I imagine it won’t be easy to read.

It finally dawned on me why it’s been so difficult for me to write about Dave’s memorial service. It’s because it’s not finished. We gathered together, we celebrated Dave’s life, we honored his memory, his accomplishments and recognized what a fine man he was and how many, many gifts he brought into this world. It was a beautiful celebration of a life well lived, and a great tribute to a great man, and also to those people who helped him become that man, and supported and loved him throughout his life, his parents, brothers, family, teachers, coaches, students and friends, also me & our kids. All this was mentioned.

I’m going to talk some about what wasn't mentioned much: his death, specifically the process of dying. And recognize some of the people who were there for him during the darkest, hardest times. People who didn’t shy away, people who shouldered the work that needed to be done, the physical work and the emotional work. People who hurt terribly to see a strong, vibrant man in such a weakened state, but didn’t close their eyes or turn away.

The lion’s share fell to me. I need no recognition, and have in fact, received far more than I deserve. I describe my share, to help you better understand. I was honored to be able to be his partner, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, until death parted us. I walked beside him, and I did not falter. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I looked death in the face, and knew its sting would be unbearable, but temporary. I held our children while they cried and realized that their father would die. I told Dave everything in my heart. I soaked up every second with him that I could, even when people told me to "get some sleep!" I realized that because of the way that Dave loved the people in his life, that this process was bigger than me, and I opened our home and shared my last days with him with other people who needed to touch him one last time, when part of me wanted him all to myself. I did the best that I could to honor Dave every step of the way. He told me he wanted to fight, and I gave him those chemo pills until he simply could no longer swallow them. I made the hard decisions alone when he could no longer make them with me. And when it was time, I told him that it was okay to rest. I told him that he had done well, that his children were strong, because they were of him, that they have learned so much from him, and promised that I would make sure they would be okay. I gave him permission to leave, reminding him that he was no less a fighter, no less a warrior, that it was time to lay down the sword and receive the crown. I did it with honor and dignity, and I know he was grateful. It was the hardest thing I've ever done.

Here is the key. I didn’t do it alone. My mom and dad were here, 24/7 for the last three months. Yes, three months. They never wavered. They never faltered. Not once. My dad told Dave, “I love you as my own son.” And he did. Mom, too. They gave him medicine when it was next to impossible, they changed bed linens, they turned him to prevent bedsores, they held him while he threw up, they wiped his face, they fed him, bathed him, they brushed his teeth and swabbed his mouth. The list could go on for pages. My dad would help transfer Dave from bed to wheelchair, holding him up, hugging him, saying, “This is my favorite part, you know you were the one who taught me to hug.” He held Dave securely, talking Dave through it, keeping him safe. Mom played back-up, reading what we needed without us having to ask. This strange dance, this odd synchronicity, not what we wanted, but what Dave needed. They shouldered a burden they did not have to. They did it with grace and love. They never complained, or even acknowledged how much they were giving up in order to be here for me and for Dave.

When I reached that point, the nadir where I was certain I could not go on, that I could not see this through to its inevitable conclusion, I called my sister, Denise. Without a second thought, she dropped everything and came. She stepped in when I was exhausted, she stayed awake all night, she sat with me as the reality that Dave was truly dying crashed over me. She reminded me that I had the power of love, that I could do this. She was covered with puke and pee and sweat and never flinched. She soothed us both with gentle strokes and reassuring words. Darren was apprehensive, but came anyway. He faced this full-on and came to realize the honor in the part we had no choice but to play. He learned that it would be okay, if Dave died when he was alone with him. Like the rest of us, he worked through fear, because of his love for Dave, and found strength he didn’t even know he had. He stayed the course and took up the yoke, easing my burden.

I'll touch on just a few others. Jeffery, who didn’t say, “Call me if you need anything,” but came on Tuesdays and said, “Go, I will be here.” He walked through the valley with Dave.

Jim, who tenderly wiped Dave’s face and held the bucket for him as he threw up for the 10th time that day.

Skip, praying with us every day, bringing peaceful music, helping with bathroom duty in the hospital.

Matt, whose heart broke every time he came to the house, who continued to come anyway, unafraid to feel, unafraid to love, showing us strength and courage beyond his years, pitching in, facing the hard parts, telling Dave he would be there for his boys, knowing this was the greatest gift he could give.

Amy, who is only 15, and was losing a man she has loved for most of her life, a man who thought of her as his little girl. Amy, braver than most of the adults I know. Being here, facing death, even when she was unsure.

And Deb, who put her own life on hold to be a second mother to my children.

These are people who loved Dave in life, and continued to love him in death, who loved him enough to not be afraid, and to find courage even when they were. They helped me help Dave with the work of dying. They didn’t fall apart, or focus on how hard it was for them, they just did what needed to be done as Dave died. It’s not as pretty or uplifting or encouraging as all the magical things that happened when Dave lived, but they are no less important.

There are others, and of course, Dave's family was here often, and supported us, too, but as I said, they have already been recognized, honored and thanked, publicly and privately. Most people are aware of the ways his family has loved and supported him and what wonderful people they are. The service was beautiful, and an incredible life was celebrated, along with the simply amazing people who made it possible. Their love and support have been beyond measure.

But it’s time for me to also recognize these other people, the ones who were my rock and my fortress, the ones who held fast during the ugliest, most horrific hours and helped me make something beautiful of the worst thing in my life. The ones who made it possible for Dave to die the way he lived. The quiet ones in the background, who aren’t being acknowledged or sent sympathy cards. The ones who didn't fall apart or shy away or get stuck in their own pain. I know Dave would want me to thank them. I know how grateful he was. I saw the way his eyes searched for my dad, the way he visibly relaxed, knowing my dad was here. Along with me, my dad was the one who stepped into the gap the most. I’m more grateful than I can even tell you.

I can rest now. I’ll try to update about the service tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Trying

Monday, August 29, 2005 3:10 PM CDT

Update on the service coming soon.
Every time I try to write it, I just cry.
Soon I'll be able to get it.

I plan to keep this site going, and to give you reports about how Dave is still shining. I have so many examples already.

Thank you to everyone for all your support.
Love, Shelley

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Matt

Thursday, August 25, 2005 6:35 PM CDT

NOTICE PLEASE:
There was an error in the e-mail sent out to the school district employees. We had planned a reception after Dave's memorial service at the College Church, and just a day ago, found out that the fellowship hall is under construction. We had hoped to find a way to serve refreshments and have a gathering time after the service. Skip visited the church, and it seems that just wouldn't work. We do invite folks to take time to connect after the service, we can gather on the lawn and in the foyer. The e-mail stated that "the family wants privacy." Well, you all know that was so NOT Dave. We welcome a chance to share some time with all of you, you are so important to Dave. We are just unable to offer a formal reception in the fellowship hall as planned.




Here is a letter that Matt Stroe wrote to Dave. Matt has been a real source of support and caring to our family. His presence over the years has influenced us greatly. He is one of the most Dave-like men I know. He is not afraid to really love the people in his life. He is determined and everything he does, he does with honor and integrity. He has been here for us through these past few weeks, and has really looked out for Kenny. I know that it was easier for Dave, knowing he had to go, since he knew that Matt would be there for his son. Dave loves you, Matt. We all do. Like you said in the tv spot, you're passing on Dave's love. He shines in you.


"Dave,
You have been an important part of my life for the last 13 years. You helped turn me into a player when you were my coach, and you helped turn me into a better coach when you were my mentor. But most of all you helped turn me into a better person by being my friend. I have very fond memories of our boys' weekends to watch the east/west games. Zach running up and down the bleachers in Seattle, Kenny doing a play for us in the back seat of the car, and our conversations about the next season, or you giving me the history and meanings of different songs. Those trips meant a lot to me as does the friendship you and I share. I think of you not only as a coach, mentor, and friend but also like a brother. You have taught me so many things about life. You may not have told me those things, but I watched you. You taught me that life can throw you some curve balls, but that doesn't mean you watch them go by, or stop swinging. As a matter of fact you have to swing harder for the things you want and love. When I graduated from Wa-Hi you wrote in my annual that you were glad to know Matt Stroe. The fact is I am the one who should be glad that you know me, and I am the one who was lucky enough to get to call you my friend. You were with me for all of my growing period as a coach. I was able to learn from one of the best coaches I've ever had. You taught me how to care for kids no matter how talented they were because every kid wants someone to care for them. When the time comes, I am looking forward to coaching your kids and hopefully teaching them the things you taught me. Dave, thank you for everything you have given me over the past years. Thank you for helping me become the person I am today. But most of all Dave, thank you for teaching me how to swing away. Your friend, Matt Stroe"

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Arrangements

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 8:37 PM CDT

To see the article in the paper, visit:

http://www.union-bulletin.com/main.asp?FromHome=1&TypeID=1&ArticleID=28074&SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1


Get on your GO BIG BLUE shirts, your Hawaiian shirts, your Mickey Mouse shirts and come remember a valiant warrior, an inspirational coach, a caring teacher and a loving man. Suits and ties optional. The girls here are wearing bright dresses, mostly purple!

Memorial for Dave Meyer
Saturday, August 27, 2005
3:00 pm at the Walla Walla College Church on 4th and Bade in College Place, Washington


Donations may be made in honor of Dave to:

The Dave Meyer Memorial Scholarship Fund
*a scholarship fund for student athletes at Wa-Hi
*managed by Big Blue Boosters
*contact Herring Groseclose

The Meyer Children Educational Fund
*an educational fund for Dave's children
*managed by Eastgate Banner Bank
*contact Herring Groseclose

All arrangements by:
Herring Groseclose Funeral Home
315 West Alder
Walla Walla, WA 99362
(509)525-1150

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Next Place

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 3:12 PM CDT

I thought that the world would be a dimmer, darker place today. I thought I would feel alone, abandoned, bereft. As Kenny, Zach, Kate and I held each other and cried, I looked at their faces, and I knew. Dave's light still shines. It shines brightly in our children. It shines in each person he touched. One candle may not be burning, but that candle lit so many others that the glow is warming every corner of our world. And the world where Dave plays football with Kyle must be unbearably bright today.

I will share some more stories, there are so many precious, tender moments from the past few days. For the moment there are things to do.

Details of the service to follow, it will likely be this weekend.

I can almost hear God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home. Hold your son. I will hold the others. I will hold them."

In His mighty grip,
Shelley

Monday, August 22, 2005

Circles

Monday, August 22, 2005 2:34 AM CDT

A day of circles complete. Updating friends who are close in heart, but far in distance. Laughing and crying together as we share memories of a man who leaves an indelible mark on everyone he meets.

Zach came home a day early. It was hard for him, as he missed the gradual decline, and even though he was updated over the phone, it's something else entirely to see his strong, vibrant Dad this way.

Kate was definitely waiting for Zach to come home to allow this process to become real for her. Kenny's been very in tune all along, he's incredibly perceptive, and always, always cuts right to the heart of the matter.

There is lots to share, but I have to get some sleep, so will sum it up by saying, the kids each spent much time with me, crying and hugging and talking it out. They are so Dave's kids! They are in the moment with their feelings, honest and true and deep. They allow the waves of hurt to come, and reach out to me, and I hold them close. We work it through together. The time with just us has been so precious. The kids shared many, many favorite memories of their Dad. Pictures in our hearts. Then they each spent some quiet individual time with Dad to share with him what is in their hearts.

It was hard. It was real. It was an honor, to be their shepherd, their guide through this valley and to help them turn to the only One who can ever fully answer the questions. They honor and reflect their father in so many ways, and are learning to honor and reflect their heavenly Father as Dave does.

Dave is sleeping now. He has not had a time of real alertness today. He mostly rests easily, he does complain when we move him! He still flutters his eyes and his breathing rate increases when someone talks with him. I know it's driving him crazy not to be able to talk back, and I sense that he is hearing.

There is much more, so many to thank, so many who have been here. That will have to wait until I'm less rummy! Denise, thanks for coming when I was sure I couldn't take one more step on this journey. With you, I can.

Love, Shell

Romans 8:35-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Tough Days

Saturday, August 20, 2005 2:25 AM CDT

I think this is the third entry today, so check the journal history for more info.

Tonight, we gave Dave a bath, and he woke up fully for the first time today. He was awake and talking a bit, and drank some water. He seemed to feel better after the bath, much more comfortable. He wasn't awake long, but was fully focused and communicating with us when he was. He went back to sleep, but the sleep was different than it had been all day. All day, he was very unresponsive, a few times leaning into my hand, but mostly not responding. He squeezed Cindy's hand once, and opened his eyes for Amy. But after the bath, and being awake, his sleep was different, seeming more like normal sleep. He was sleeping lightly, but still responding more, nodding his head, murmuring "mm-hmm." Yesterday his breathing was from his diaphragm, not wanting to choke on the mucus. The mucus is gone with the patch, and he's breathing easily and normally now. Yesterday and earlier today, he was not really moving much, but tonight, he has been moving more, reaching out, helping us with bedding changes and pillow adjustment, giving direction with his hand as to how he wants things. The pain in his neck has eased, and he's holding and moving his head normally now. We haven't had to give any nausea or pain medication. It's a small reprieve, but one we treasure.

Thanks, Deb, for the late night heart-to-heart, it's just what I needed. You always know. I love you.

Erik and Evy, you were (again) there for me during the tough parts of today. Reaching for you is as natural as breathing. I'm grateful beyond words for the lifeline that you are.

Thanks for the kind words of affirmation, Judy & Bob, it meant a lot.

And Mom and Dad, I could not do this without you.

Z comes home tomorrow. He's been having a blast in Idaho, and checking in on the phone every day. We miss him like crazy.

Jim, you made quite an impression on Kate, she wants to know when are you please coming back and will you bring your three girls? We so enjoyed seeing you with her, it gave us a glimpse of the kind of father you are, fun, loving, patient and delighting in the funny quirks.

Night, all.
Shell

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005 4:43 PM CDT

2nd update today. See journal for first.

Dave has been sleeping all day today. He woke up for a minute or two a couple of times, but mostly is sleeping peacefully.

He is no longer squeezing our hands or responding in any way, so it's not clear if he still hears us. I believe he does. So I talk to him, rub his head, and tell him how much we love him, and how proud we are.

Jim and Mark left today. Jim, it was great to reunite with you, your willingness to come and be there is so appreciated. Some bonds are never weakened, even by time or distance, your faith is strong and a great gift to us.

As they left, hugging Mark, seeing his eyes, it was one of the most painful moments of the journey so far for me. Mark, you've been there, every step, for more than 20 years. Whenever we needed you, you came. With quiet, strong hugs, guitar in hand, and your ready laugh, you always found a way to help us through. We love you, more than words can say. You are Dave's brother. Watching The Currents again, I am awed by the connection, the love between you and Dave and Erik. It's a very profound thing, a bond of love and music, a sharing that goes beyond mere words. And that love has surrounded the rest of us, sheltered us. Evy and I often talk about the strange miracle that you three are. It's something many people never get to know. And today, even surrounded by some of the best people in the world, I have never felt so alone as when your "convenient Lexus cage" pulled out of the driveway. I miss you already.


My Father's House by Audio Adrenaline
I don't know where you lay your head or where you call your home.
I don't know where you eat your meals or where you talk on the phone.
I don't know if you got a cook, a butler or a maid,
I don't know if you got a yard with a hammock in the shade.

I don't know if you got a shelter, say a place to hide.
I don't know if you live with friends in whom you can confide.
I don't know if you got a family, say a mom or a dad.
I don't know if you feel love at all, but I bet you wish you had.

CHORUS:
Come, and go with me, to my Father's house.
Come, and go with me, to my Father's house.
It's big, big house, with lots and lots of room,
A big, big table, with lots and lots of food,
A big, big yard, where we can play football
A big, big house, it's my Father's house.

All I know is a big ole house, with rooms for everyone.
All I know is lots of land, where we can play and run.
All I know is you need love, and I've got a family.
All I know is you're all alone, so why not come with me?

Dave will soon be in his Father's house, teaching Kyle about "listen and hustle."

Harvey & Darlene sent this link: I Can Only Imagine
Thank you so much, this is one of Dave's favorite songs. Thanks for your visit last night, too. Harv, you had a hand in shaping a young boy into a great man. We're so grateful that you'll have a presence in Zach and Kenny's lives, too.
Love, Shell

Hospice

Friday, August 19, 2005 10:34 AM CDT

Have you ridden a roller coaster lately? Do you remember the anticipation, the flutter in your stomach as the coaster climbs the hill? Did you feel that slight stall, that quiet moment at the top? Then the bottom drops and you fall. Then there's a time of relative quiet, and it starts all over again?

That was yesterday for me.

I made the decision to call hospice. It was a hard decision for many reasons. Number 1, I'm a control freak, and calling in someone made me feel less in control. The hospice nurse came in and said, "You're still in charge, we won't try to boss you around." Bob smiled a little at that one. I told her, "I'm a pretty hard person to boss around." Number 2, in some ways, it feels like giving up. I know in my head that it's not, that we're working toward different things, but in my heart, it's difficult to accept. Dave has fought so valiantly for so long, it's hard to consider another way of being. And Number 3, it was the first real decision that I have made without Dave in 20 years. Most of the time, in these journals, I talk about "we" decided or did. This time, Dave was not really able to help me make the decision. That was a lonely, bereft feeling.

But Dave could no longer swallow pills. He wanted to fight this thing with everything he had until the very last possible moment. So until he physically couldn't swallow the pills, I kept giving him the chemo. I feel good about that. I'm glad that I supported his choice and his decision to fight, no matter what the cost. I'm glad that we waited to call hospice until we absolutely had to. If he becomes able to swallow pills again, and indicates he wants chemo, I can always stop hospice. (They only allow comfort measures on hospice, not any treatments.)

Now that he can't swallow pills, he'll be getting all his medications in liquid or suppository form. Should have seen his face when I told him about suppositories!! This will make it easy to get medications in him reliably. Since we stopped giving him pills, the nausea is completely gone.

He was able to eat some applesauce and some mandarin oranges yesterday. We're able to trickle a little water into his mouth with a small straw without him choking.

He was holding his head at an odd angle yesterday and indicated that his neck hurt. I massaged it for him and we got some pain meds, which helped. He slept well last night.

Hospice has been wonderful so far. They got us a suction machine to help with the mucus. They're getting Dave an extra-long bed since he doesn't easily fit in the regular size. The help with medications has been wonderful.

We had lots of visitors yesterday. Wonderful people, and it was good. Crowded sometimes, but okay. Dave always likes a party. He's able to squeeze hands, and listen, sometimes nodding his head.

Mark and Jim are here, that seems to have brightened Dave up quite a bit.

Matt Stroe, you are the best. We love you so much.

Love, Shell

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tears

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 5:44 PM CDT

Tears. Lots of tears. We have made the most of these last few weeks and I am so glad. Dave is surrounded by people who love him, who stroke his head, who tell him what a fine man he is, a wonderful father, a nearly :-) perfect husband--a life partner beyond what I could ever have imagined or come close to deserving, an inspirational coach and a teacher beyond measure. Before Zach left for Idaho, after spending some special time with Dad, Dave looked at our children's faces, then at me and said, "We done good, Shell. We done good." And so we have.

I fear our journey is nearing the end. Dave has been confined to bed for the past week or so, unable to use his left side. Swallowing is becoming increasingly difficult. His breathing has changed over the last 12 hours, he has a lot of mucus in his throat, which makes it hard to breathe, and chokes him sometimes. The vomiting has pretty well abated, thank God. He is unable to eat or drink much, just a few bites and sips here and there. It's getting harder to get the medication in.

He's been pretty alert and with us most of the time, but today even that has taken a sharp decline. When he's awake, he's not really very oriented, and has not been talking, although he seems to hear us.

We've made some great memories over the past few months, and are making sure that Dave hears all the words, everything he needs to hear.

I hope I'm wrong, he's proved statistics wrong so many times in the past. He's been a brave and valiant warrior, fighting this battle with everything he has, continuing to smile and just be Dave....if you've ever been in his presence, you know exactly what I mean. If you've ever been the recipient of that Dave smile, or one of those Dave hugs, you know. Even now, he finds the strength to lift his good hand and stroke my hair when I lay my head on his chest. That's Dave, always giving.

I love him more than I can say.

For those of you that don't know him well, I'm going to paste in a letter from Jillian, his long-term sub last spring. I hope she won't mind, I can't find her phone number to ask permission. But it gives a clear picture of the kind of man Dave is. Amazing, remarkable, unequaled.

"Dave –

I should have written this note two months ago, but my Mom always says that it’s never too late to say thank you. I’m afraid this little card doesn’t have enough room to hold all the gratitude I felt for having the chance to brush elbows with you, but it’ll have to do!

When Ginger called me in January, asking me to sub long-term for “THE” Dave Meyer, I said yes with fear & trepidation, wondering if I had what it would take to fill the biggest (figurative) shoes at Wa-Hi. Turns out I didn’t, and that was the point. From the first day, it was overwhelming how much your students cared about you. They are drawn to you, Dave, not because of your gift for teaching, your extensive knowledge in history & English, or even your passion for music (although you’ve got all of those things.) They are drawn to the Jesus in you, the one who radiates His love to every single kid that walks through your door, in every single lesson, song, story, or smile. You love them with the love of the One whose love they need the very most. And that doesn’t come from you. Thanks for showing me that I don’t have what it takes to really love these kids – but He does.

Thanks for being so gracious with such a stubborn, learning teacher. You encouraged me, even when I didn’t deserve it, just because you knew I needed it. You gave me chocolate, smiles, cookies, and hugs when I was grouchy. You showed up, when every fiber in your body screamed at you to stay in bed. Thanks for teaching me what it means to be faithful.

I’ll never forget what Nick Clark wrote on his final, in answering the question, “What did you learn this semester?” He said, “ Mr. Meyer showed me what it means to really fight.” Thanks for fighting for those kids, Dave. They noticed.

You are a man of true faith, and the truth about your character has really been revealed in your “Cancer Journey,” as you called it on your Cultural Profile. You are a fighter, faithful to your core to the only Source of real LIFE. I’m honored to have worked with you this year. Thanks for the chance to teach with you, and through that, to discover the kind of teacher I want to become. I’m blessed to call you a colleague and honored to call you a friend! In Christ, Jillian"

Music and Laughter

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 1:32 AM CDT

If you can't hear the music, check back in an hour. I uploaded the music to my geocities free site, and it can't handle all the traffic, so it disables itself for an hour.

Better day today, meds stayed in. We changed bedding and did a bath and all that rocking around brought up some breakfast, but overall, okay.

Jeffrey and Shane came to sing, play guitar and keyboards with Dave. Dave was singing along, and tapping his foot and hand to the music. It was a beautiful, healing, loving time for him. Thanks, guys.

Dave's got his days and nights turned around, wants to have some deep conversations between, oh, say 2:00 and 3:00 am. Sheesh. I'm looking like I'm 85 these days.

Where do tadpoles change?
In a croak room.

What kind of hair do oceans have?
Wavy.

Why was the broom late?
It over-swept.

Bumper Stickers:

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
We have enough youth, how about a fountain of SMART?
Chaos. Panic. Disorder. My work here is done.
I'm not tense, just terribly, terribly alert.
I started out with nothing and still have most of it left.
I just got lost in thought. It's unfamiliar territory.
The two most common elements in the universe: hydrogen and stupidity.
Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.
It's not hard to meet expenses. They're everywhere.
She's always late. Her ancestors arrived on the Juneflower.
Warning: dates in calendar are closer than they appear.
According to my calculations, the problem doesn't exist.
Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.
What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
I intend to live forever, so far, so good.
Taxation WITH representation ain't so hot, either.
Why be difficult, when with a little effort you can be impossible.
Lottery: tax on people who are bad at math.




Restored by Jeremy Camp

All this time I've wandered around
Searching for the things I'll never know
I've been searching for this answer that
Only will be found in Your love

And I feel it my heart is being mended by Your touch
And I hear it Your voice that's shown my purpose in this world

You have restored me from my feeble and broken soul
You have restored me

I've only come to realize my strength will be made perfect at Your throne
Laying all reflections down to see the precious beauty that You've shown

And I feel it my heart is being mended by Your touch
And I hear it Your voice that's shown my purpose in this world

You have restored me from my feeble and broken soul
You have restored me

Laying all these questions down
You've answered what I need
You've given more than I deserve
You're making me complete

You've given all these open doors
I'm humbled at Your feet
Because of what You've done for me

Monday, August 15, 2005

Aftermath

Monday, August 15, 2005 11:19 PM CDT

Thanks for all the prayers. The seizure was a very small one, and my mom and dad were here. Thank the Lord my dad is a trained EMT. Dave was in the best hands. I was at work. My mom called, and she was handling it well and really calm. Later I told Dave that if he wanted me to stay home, he should just ask, he didn't have to cause such a commotion! By the time I got to him, he was alert and responsive, without any meds on board at all.

My mom and dad have been the absolute best, they have given up their own lives in totality to be here for us. They have taken care of everything, and have let me have my wild, crazy bursts of painting, etc. I couldn't ask for more. And they've been so understanding and supportive, whatever my mood or state of mind. They never scold or lecture or tell me what I "ought" to be doing. They are so amazing to trust that I have a sense of what needs to happen, even if it seems whacko to them. They know how ;much I need that illusion of control. We've had lots of help....Dave's dad has helped with the house so much, mowing the lawn and putting in floor. Judy has come by to help with laundry and dishes. Jeffrey has come to visit, Mike has helped with transporting, Mindy has rubbed feet and taken the kids (Bob, too...the kids, not the feet.) Deb took Kate today so she could have a break and relax a little. Ted & Maribeth took Z on their family vacation to Idaho, Z called, he's having a blast. We're so lucky to have so many people. Thanks for dinner, by the way, Cindy. And Amy, thanks for coming by, Dave wasn't' very talkative that day, but his eyes followed you everywhere....you were his little girl, even before Kate, and he's always had a special place for you. Alex was there on the other end of the phone while I was at the hospital, and Erik was there for me on the way there, and Evy afterward. Couldn't do it without you guys!

We elected to take him to the hospital anyway, just in case and to get his levels checked. As I suspected, his tegretol level was low. Those pills are designed to dissolve over a long period of time, so anytime there is vomiting, the patient doesn't get the full benefit. He's also been choking on the size of the 400 mg tabs. All other blood work was great.

They tried giving him the suspension (liquid) tegretol, but it's only 100 mg/ml (teaspoon) so he had to drink 8 tsp. It was icky, and it came right back up! So we tried the 200 mg tabs, they are much smaller. They went in and stayed in. He's been keeping them in the last two days, since the IV decadron, but his levels must have already been plummeting from the vomiting before, so they called this a break-through seizure. Dave is allergic to the meds that they can give IV for seizures, so IV is not an option. They did give us an emergency med in case he has another seizure before his levels get stable again.

He's been keeping the oral decadron and everything else in the last two days, so that's good. He's tired from the seizure, but is still quite himself, and actually talking a lot more these last few days, much more than last week. Voice is stronger, too.

And he's a little snippy and feisty, which is good to see. He made some more jokes in the ER.

We tried thickening his water tonight, but that was a disaster. Right now, the best bet seems to be getting the small pills and giving them with applesauce. Amazing what happens when the meds stay in!

They also gave him 2 liters of fluid in the ER, so that was good, to make sure he's still hydrated, although this weekend he was eating pretty well. Well....better than before, still not putting away plates of food like the usual Dave, but better.

Ala Willy: How do you make a kleenex dance? Answer: You put a little boogie in it!

We love you all, thank you for your support and prayers.
Love, Shell

Seizure

Monday, August 15, 2005 4:43 PM CDT

Please pray.

Dave had a seizure about an hour ago. We are at the hospital now, he's stable, and responding and talking to me. We think that his tegretol levels dropped because of all the nausea and inability to get the meds into him reliably.

He's on IV fluids, they're checking his tegretol level and checking for infection. He has no fever, so they think there probably isn't an infection.

Please pray for God to place His healing hand upon Dave. Dave's already charming the nurses. More later.

In His mighty grip,
Shell

More Jokes

Monday, August 15, 2005 1:20 AM CDT

Three-legged dog walks into a bar, says, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw." That's the other Jake joke I forgot to post yesterday. I'm sure I'll remember more.

Denise and kids drove all the way to Seattle to deliver the PET to gamma knife. Thank you, thank you. Nurse Neese brought lots more nursey kinds of things to make life easier. Mom and Dad are still here. Dad and I have transferring Dave down to an art form. It's an odd synchronicity, but one I appreciate so much.

Dave was tired this morning, but perked up a lot again in the evening. Talking a lot more than he was. Keeping meds in. Keeping our spirits up. Shouldn't that be the other way around?

We wait. We pray. We laugh. And mostly, we love. And appreciate those of you joining us in the wait, the prayer, the laughter and the love.
Shell

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Laughter - it sounds good

Saturday, August 13, 2005 10:57 PM CDT

"What do you get when you cross an elephant with ex-lax?"
"OUT OF THE WAY!"

Two peanuts went into a bar. One was assaulted.


Little, tiny voice answers the phone, "Hello?"
"Is your mommy there?"
Tiny voice whispers, "Yes."
"Can I talk with her?"
Tiny voice whispers, "No, she's busy."
"Well, is your daddy there?"
Whisper: "Yes."
"Can I speak with him?"
"No, he's busy, too."
"Well is there anyone else there?"
"Yes, the firepeople are here."
"Can I talk to one of them?"
"No, they're busy."
"Is there anyone else there?"
"Yes, the police."
"Can I talk to the police?"
"No, they're busy."
"OK, so your mommy and daddy and the police and the firepeople are all there, but they're busy?"
"That's right."
"What are they all so busy doing?"
Tiny whisper: "Looking for me."

Kenny, getting ready for anesthesia for a dental procedure, says to the doctor: "Are you the one that's gonna knock me out?" Doctor says, "Yes, that's the plan." Kenny says, "Not if I knock you out first!"

Just a sample of what was flying around our living room tonight. Lots of laughter, and Dave smiling, laughing. And zinging us.

I said, "Well, I'm a slow driver, Dave calls me Pokey. I'm pretty cautious." Dave: "You THINK you're cautious!"

Mom to Dave: "You look pretty spiffy today." Dave: "TODAY???"

Denise to Annalee, "How old are you now?" Dave: "42." Denise, "What?" Dave: "Why don't you ask me how old I am??"

What a night.

Obviously, Dave has perked up quite a bit! We got some IV fluids and decadron at his appointment yesterday, which made a huge difference. He's back at it. Good appetite, good energy, and full of well....his eyes ARE brown, after all. Singing some, even.

PET scan will be reviewed at the Gamma Knife Board on Monday and at the Neuro-Onc Board on Wednesday. Dr. Sacks didn't have the disk yet when we met with him, and said that really, without the report, we probably wouldn't get much good information. We did look at the scan, but it's very different from an MRI, and all Greek to me. He does have a very pretty brain. :-)

We'll know more as it comes. A song for you:


"Rest" by Skillet

Still, soft quietly spoken voice
That persistently calls my name
And quickens my heart to come
And I come

And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of Your Grace
And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of You

Embraced in the promise of You
Is rest for the weary soul
Releasing all that is mine
I reach for You

And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of Your Grace
And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of You

Take all the old and You make it new
Everything I give to You
You're the hope that can pull me through
Hallelujah

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

PET Scan

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 0:49 AM CDT

***CHECK OUT THE BLUE DEVIL FOOTBALL LINK BELOW*** It includes pics of Z at football camp. When you get to the site, click the Players of the Week link.

PET scan will be Thursday afternoon at 1:15 pm. Dave has been very weak today, didn't get out of bed at all, except to go to the bathroom. No nausea and no headache, though, praise the Lord for that. He's been awake all day, but not talking very much, just nodding/shaking his head. And gesturing with his hand, but I can never figure out what he means.

He's such a sweet man, he kept waving to me tonight, and then tapping his chest. Finally I understood he wanted me to lay my head on his chest. So I did. And HE gave ME a backrub. I am most certainly the luckiest woman on the planet.

He's been talking more this evening, feeling good overall, just tired. Only one more day of the new chemo, then rest for a few weeks. Hopefully, not taking those HUGE pills will help.

He has a doc appt on Friday to see how the blood counts are doing on this new chemo.

Tonight Kenny told Dave how sad he was that he wouldn't be coaching or teaching this fall. He was really looking forward to playing football for his Dad, and being at the same school where Dad teaches. Dave said, "Don't worry, Kenny, I'll get back there." Pray for that, k? No energy to write more. Night all. S

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

No Seattle

Tuesday, August 9, 2005 1:12 AM CDT


New medical news: Dr. Rockhill (better known as Dr. Rock-n-Roll) said that a PET scan would give the same information, and we can have that done locally. Although it would have been nice to see our coastie friends, it's a good thing. Travel would be very hard on Dave at this point.

The sign thing isn't working. Kenny keeps turning it over to "Not a good time for visitors." In Kenny's world, it's never a good time for visitors. When I bought his name plaque, there was Kenneth, which meant "handsome" and Kenny which meant "gracious" Guess which one I got??? HA!

Hope you're enjoying the Peach Basket pictures. Gotta get some sleep.

Love, Shelley

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Seattle, again?

Sunday, August 7, 2005 5:01 PM CDT

Medical news: Looks like we have to go to Seattle to get an MRI spectroscopy. Put in a call to our angelic nurse, Jodie, at the Gamma Knife Center at Harborview to help us get that set up. Meantime, we'll stay on the VP-16/Tarceva. We can always rotate back to the CPT-11/Avastin after a round of VP-16. Duke has several protocols running now that rotate chemo agents, thinking this may be a good way to delay the tumor developing resistance to any particular chemo. It's all speculation, but with good logic behind it.

Peach Basket News: We had a lot of fun. Dave was able to go to Zach's first game and Kate's first game. The kids both played really well and had a blast. Neither team made it too far in the tournament, but they had a great time. Kate looked awesome and scored several baskets. Zach had a buzzer-beater 2 point shot to tie one game. Very cool.

Erik, Evy, Canute and Sonja and Andrew, Adrienne, Jeremy and Brent all came for the weekend. We got to see Dale and Ginger yesterday. Bob and Judy and Bob and Mindy saw most of the kid's games. Mom and Dad stayed with Dave while the rest of us finished the tourney. The heat was simply blistering, and Dave couldn't stay out there all day.

Today we watched old video of the Currents, the band that Dave and Erik and Mark were in during college and a few years after. It was fun to see them, looking so young and rocking on stage, such stars, with the fan blowing their 80's hair all over. Evy and I were dancing together, the ultimate groupies. Ah, memories. We were all singing along, and took time to remember Steve, being Bono in the pizza parlor, with his red beret and long hair. We miss him, every inch of that 6'6" guy. The Doctor, leaving 30 minute messages from Hawaii on our answering machine, messages with l-o-n-g pauses. Giving hugs that just swallowed you up. Drumming like he was in an Olympic sprint. And smiling, always smiling. Sometimes smirking. We love you, Steve. Mark, wish you had been there today.

Dave is enjoying having visitors, but sometimes things are a little hairy around here, so we're implementing a new system.

There will be a sign in the window. One side says: "Visitors Welcome." The other side says, "Not a good time for visitors." So please, check the sign before you ring the bell.

Thank you for your continued prayers, support and love.

Shelley

Friday, August 05, 2005

Wait....Just Wait a Minute

Friday, August 5, 2005 1:38 AM CDT

Deb's right. Shampooing carpets, got the entryway and hallway painted. Grout still waiting for Denny, I guess!

Dave was feeling pretty weak today, but is awake more and quite alert and with it.

We heard from UW. They are questioning whether what shows on the scan is actually tumor growth or necrosis from the gamma knife. I was quite surprised by this, but they were the ones that did the gk, and know better than I, besides, that would actually be good news. So..... they say, get an MRI spectroscopy (a scan that can help determine if the tissue in question is growing/alive or dead, and stay on the CPT-11/Avastin. We meet with Dr. Sacks tomorrow to decide.

Peach Basket is this weekend. Zach and Kate are both very excited. The kids have had a good week. They went swimming with Deb & kids, Kenny has been doing BDAD every day and went to the pool again today, Zach has been riding bikes with friends, today he and a bud rode all the way to Bennington Lake to fish. I looked on our deck thermometer and it said 109*! Crazy kid. He came home covered in mud from hunting frogs. Kate's been all over the neighborhood, the McEuen's have kind of taken her in, and she's been able to go lots of places with them. Bob & Mindy took the kids on Tuesday, they had a lot of fun playing with the little ones.

Sigh. Kate got her school supplies yesterday. She can't wait for school to start. Kenny can't wait for football to start. Zach is more in my camp, mourning that the start of school is coming so soon. And on my birthday no less! How dare they take my kids on my birthday???? The nerve. I know I'm supposed to look forward to the first day of school and some time to myself, but I like having the kids around. They're sweet (most of the time), funny and very interesting people. Guess I'm a little biased.

Anyway, it's just one more sign that time is marching on, and I'm dragging my heels a little nowadays. I'm praying for God to give me what I need to keep moving forward.

In His grip,
Shelley

Right Here by Jeremy Camp

All the world is watching
All the world does care
Even when the world weighs on my shoulder now,
These feelings I can bear
Because I know,
That you’re here,

(CHORUS:)
Everywhere I go,
I know you're not far away,
You're right here
You're right here, yeah

All these thoughts I’ve wasted,
All these thoughts I fear,
Even when these thoughts have faded,
I still know that you’re here,
So I can rest my hope in you

(Repeat Chorus)

Many of times that I have felt alone,
Many of times that I have the world was crashing down upon me,
You always stood here by my side,
You were always there ...

Everywhere I go,
I know you're not far away,
You're right here
You're right here, yeah

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Pills and Grout

Tuesday, August 2, 2005 4:56 PM CDT

Well, getting to the doctor appointment was an ordeal. Got Dave in the shower, after a near spill in the bathroom. Got him dressed, he had some yogurt and about a million pills. Then the puke came. He threw up once in the bedroom. Thought we had it under control, but when he stood up to come downstairs, puke again. Poor guy. We upped his dex, that should help, if he can keep it down! Zofran isn't really helping much, which tells us the nausea is due to swelling. Thanks for coming to help, Bob.

The visit with the doc was good. He said, "Big guy, I'm not giving up on you!" He prescribed the tarceva and VP-16, and we'll check next week on blood counts and how Dave's feeling, if all is good, we'll add temodar at that point. The pharmacy had to order the meds, so we won't start until tomorrow. Both are pills, so that will be easier than IV. I'm actually glad that the pharmacy didn't have them in stock, because I expect to hear from UW tomorrow after tumor board. Turns out Dave's scans didn't get there in time to get on the agenda for last Wednesday. Not sure what's up with Duke, but we're not waiting around.

After the appointment, we visited with Skip and Mom & Dad in the waiting room. Dave ate most of an Ice Burg hamburger and blackberry shake and felt much better after eating something. Got him home and he's taking a little snooze. He was awake most of the night, so thankfully Jeffrey is coming over, which he doesn't want to miss a minute of, so he'll be awake this evening, and hopefully sleep tonight. And me, too. When he doesn't sleep, neither do I!

Going out with the girls tonight. Should be fun. Painted the living room yesterday. Still staring at that grout. Decided to paint rather than grout. Maybe it's just cuz grout is such an ugly word. I mean, say it to yourself....grout. Ick.

Love to you all, thanks for the prayers. Thanks for the cookies and pizza and everything, Diane, cookie lady. Love, Shelley