Dear Friends and Family:
In times of stress, the support and prayers of family and friends are of great value. Thank you for your kindness and many expressions of sympathy. It has meant a lot. I am not a strong advocate of Facebook but it sure has proven a fast way to get information out.
The last two weeks have been very hectic. Two weeks ago, on October 23, I had to cancel my classes and head to Michigan when my Dad, Carl, was placed in the ICU. I went directly to the hospital at midnight and I couldn’t awaken him. However, during the next two days, he had spells of some amazing mental clarity and some improvement in his need for oxygen. His severe chest pain was minimal those two days. He was able to talk on the phone or Skype with all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. On Friday, he deteriorated. His pain came roaring back and he begged for deliverance. With my sisters and Mom present, we made the hard decision to put him in hospice. He was coherent and agreed. They transferred him to a separate inpatient hospice unit just before midnight. The next morning, he was in great pain and with the exception of a few minutes of lucidity spent with two of his great-grandchildren, he passed away shortly after noon with all of us in attendance. The funeral was held Tuesday afternoon. It was a time of great celebration of my Dad’s 86 years of life and of the Savior he served. It was so good to have him out of pain and to know he was in the arms of Jesus.
The very next morning, on a Wednesday, my mother, Ardith, went to the cardiologist for what she thought would be a routine follow-up. Instead she was admitted with a diagnosis of congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation with a rapid ventricular response (for you medical types). She was begun on medications to get rid of the extra fluid and to control her heart rate. The next day, after an echocardiogramt, we were stunned to find out that she had severe valvular disease. The cardiologist felt she needed an urgent/emergent replacement of the aortic and mitral valves. After discussion, she was transferred to Cleveland Clinic. I rode in the back of the ambulance with her for a very bouncy 4 hours (those devices are not known for their smooth suspension or enough room for riders to stretch). We got her into bed just before 1:00 AM but she was interrupted every few minutes all night long – the intern, the various technicians and so on. My sisters arrived late morning and Micky and Sean drove over in the afternoon. She underwent a series of tests and finally on Saturday morning, the senior cardiologists and team of trainees told us that she would indeed need cardiac surgery. A left-heart cardiac catheterization will be done tomorrow and the cardiac surgery team will decide one whether one or two valves will be needed, whether concomitant bypass surgery will be needed. Two valves and/or concomitant bypass surgery will require open surgery. If only one valve, they will decide whether open or percutaneous valve replacement is best. They will also decide on the day this week for her surgery.
The chairman of the Anesthesiology institute at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Dave Brown, is a friend of mine and a brother in the Lord. He stopped in twice and has offered help in whatever way we need it.
Despite my desire to stay with my mother, I had to go home to teach – I have just enough classroom time left to complete the scheduled curriculum – and Sean needs to get back to school My two sisters will stay with her throughout the surgery and recovery. I had arranged to go to Ethiopia in early December to participate in the oral examinations of the College of Surgery of East Central and Southern Africa (and to do some necessary politicking) but I have cancelled that. Mom’s illness also meant I had to miss the business meeting of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons which was held the past two days. I have arranged and rearranged tickets, but never got there and now have three tickets I am not sure I can ever effectively use. Oh well - just part of the price of such events in one’s life.
We have a hectic week ahead of us. Sean was not able to get all his assignments for school and so he has a lot to catch up on. I am teaching through Wednesday and then Micky’s folks will come from Michigan to watch Sean while Micky and I go to the Global Health Missions Conference in Louisville, KY. I have three sessions to teach, the booth to help man and Saturday night is the Friend of PAACS dinner. We will return on Sunday. All that is dependent upon Mom doing well. My two sisters are there with her and I will return only in case of an emergency (that is at my mother’s command and I am still afraid of that feisty lady!)
Sean enjoyed the time with his Papa (Micky’s father) and served admirably with his brother Ryan as one of the pallbearers for my father’s funeral. He looked sharp in his new suit bought for the occasion. Michelle, my oldest daughter, was also to fly from California to join us for the funeral, along with most of my father’s remaining relatives. Bethany, my youngest daughter, did not feel she could handle it but was in frequent communication from North Carolina. Micky and Sean did get to spend some time with Micky’s folks and while Mom was in Cleveland Clinic, they went to the Akron zoo to spend time yesterday. It was small but had some unusual animals including a Komodo dragon, snow leopards and others.
Praise and Prayer:
- Please pray for my mother as she undergoes the cardiac catheterization and the surgery. Pray for strength and adequate rest during this time.
- Pray for my mother as she must face not only the grief of losing her life-partner but also the grief for herself in the face of life-threatening disease and surgery. Pray for the rest of us as we face all of this.
- Please pray for Micky as she tries to reorganize the PAACS financial record-keeping and as we continue to look for an accountant to volunteer to run Quickbooks Pro after January.
- Please pray for me as I study the next four weeks for my general surgery recertification exam to be taken November 26.
- Pray for God to provide financial donors for both PAACS and for our ministry (S3 Ministries).
- Pray for the Global Health Mission Conference (www.medicalmissions.com) in Louisville, KY. You are invited to the Friend of PAACS dinner to be held Saturday, November 10 – please contact Terry.McLamb@paacs.net to let her know you are interested in attending and to get the address and time
Grateful that we do not grieve as others, but missing my father,
Bruce for Micky and Sean