Tuesday, December 26, 2006

E-mail from Richard and Ruth (update)

Kristen and Jason,
You can e-mail the pictures to us at Freulein551@comcast.net (I apologize that my e-mail address was incorrect before.)

December 26, 2006 - MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Merry Christmas to everyone from Mack and us. I know he loved having all the visitors there on Christmas day.

Daniel and Jenny, his little sister, got Mack the Grinch pajamas for Christmas and Richard and I got him the Santa hat and Grinch to round out the outfit. I think that together, this makes a cute picture of Mack. The hospital gown (at least it was green), unfortunately, is a "must" since he is still on the feeding tube. The nurses need access to it at all times, so we couldn't put the pajama t-shirt on him that came with the pants.

Mack looks forward to Richard feeding him his ice pops and frozen juice ices when he comes to visit each day. He actually puts his finger to his mouth as soon as he sees us coming. For now, all Mack can have is icy liquids to help quench his thirst. We aren't giving him anything else (pudding or applesauce) because he does seem to have difficulty in swallowing those things right now. It's just a little set-back. Mack has also lost some of the mobility of his right arm that he had before. We had him brushing his teeth with his right hand in November, but now he can't seem to do that anymore.

Belinda, Richard and I brought Mack's dog, Alex, up to the hospital room to visit Mack again weekend before last. Mack had to have help to pet Alex, but seemed to be happy that his dog was there. The way we can usually tell when he's happy is by the way he moves his legs (like clapping his knees together). I've noticed that if he's happy or content about something, he will move his legs like that.

Mack's doctor ran another CT scan on Mack's brain about three weeks ago and he actually said that "we might see a miracle in about six months". So, in the mean time, we're keeping his brain stimulated each time we go to visit him with pictures, talking to him and telling him what's been happening on a daily basis, and feeding him ice pops and ice chips (for now). Richard actually got Mack to stick out his tongue on command several times in the past week or so. Mack didn't do it yesterday, but he did open his mouth like a little bird when the ice pop stopped coming as fast as he wanted it. He wanted more and NOW!

Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. David Farmer! They were married on December 10th, 2006. We will always support you and wish you all the best life has to offer.

Their winter wedding was absolutely beautiful! They planned every detail of the wedding to perfection. The decorations were gorgeous and well done. Their four children, together, were part of, and included in the wedding vows, which was well done. The wedding and reception ran so smoothly that it was like a dream. And - I've never been to a wedding that included cocktails, crudities, and a sit-down full dinner before! Their wedding cake was beautiful and the best I've ever eaten, not the usual run of the mill pound cake with icing. We wish you all many, many years of wedded bliss together and happiness always.

Richard and I have had a busy month and particularly, the weekend of Dec 8th -10th. On Friday night, we went to a friend's surprise 60th birthday party, Saturday night - a friend's Christmas party in a beautiful Victorian house, and on Sunday - at Crystal and David's wedding. Even though we were busy, it was nice to be able to put away the day-to-day duties for just a little while to spend time with friends and family. I'm thankful that Richard and I have each other for support during the rough times and also for sharing our happy times together. That's what married life is all about, being there for each other through good and bad times, and to always look out for each other.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours,

Ruth & Richard

We wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Goodbye 2006

Welcome 2007!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

December 7, 2006

One of the traditions in our family is baking cookies for Christmas. I remember spending many happy moments in the kitchen with my Mom and with my grandmother and great-grandmother (in mid 1950's in Germany) baking cookies for Christmas. My great-grandmother had a stove/oven heated by wood to get the temperature "just right". There wasn't a dial to get the oven to 350 degrees, but the cookies seemed to always come out just right. When Mack was about Lauren's age, I got him started in helping me bake cookies too, and he enjoyed it. Each year he looked forward to helping me bake the Christmas cookies until he left home to be on his own. As he got older, he looked forward to eating the cookies more than baking them. This year, Mom and I passed that tradition of baking cookies on to Lauren, my granddaughter, Mom's great-granddaughter. Mom made Lauren her own special little apron to wear for the occasion. As you can see, Lauren was getting a lesson from her "Uri" in how to handle the cookies prior to baking. This year she mostly did the decorating with sprinkles. After we finished baking the sugar cookies and started on the second batch of chocolate chip cookies she said "Oma, I'm tired, this is hard work", so I had to finish baking the chocolate chips cookies. The finalle was when Lauren and Mom used the last bit of sugar cookie dough to bake a special cookie that "looked" like Lauren.

The day after Thanksgiving Mom had to have surgery done on her heart to slow the heart rate down. Her heart was racing all the time as if she were running, which could have caused her to have a stroke. The procedure was done on Friday, after Thanksgiving, at Chippenham Hospital and she spent the night there for observation. The next night, she stayed with me so that I could keep an eye on her, and the following day (Sunday) I took her to her house. That evening she started having complications and went to JRH -ER and was transported back to Chippenham the next morning where she spent 3 more days in the hospital having tests done and getting stable again. Needless to say, it's been quite an ordeal having Mom with complicatons in one hospital and Mack having surgery in the other.

We noticed on Thanksgiving that Mack's upper left jaw
was swollen and he was drooling again. I remembered that he used to have tooth aches weeks before the accident. The nurse on duty checked in his mouth to see if he could detect any problems and he determined that one or two teeth had cavaties. The doctor was notified and x-rays were done to find out what the problem was. The x-rays showed that Mack had an impacted wisdom tooth which was causing the biggest problem and the doctor scheduled him for surgery to have it removed. They removed the impacted wisdom tooth and two other teeth that were causing problems and couldn't be saved. This happened on the same day that Mom was in Chippenham to have her surgery done, so I stayed with Mom and Richard stayed with Mack for each of their surgeries. Mack did fine throughout the surgery and is healing well. Mack has started moving his left leg as much as he has been moving his right leg. We've been waiting for that to happen. He also started moving his left arm slightly last night when Richard was there.

Mack had a headache last Sunday afternoon. While we were there visiting, he started rubbing his eyes and head as if he had something bothering him and rolled over to his left side and tried to hide in the pillow. I've seen this behavior with him before the accident and realized that he must have a severe headache to act like that. Mack has always had a high tollerance for pain and would never complain until something was really painful. We got the nurse to give him Motrin and about 15 minutes later, Mack calmed down and seemed to be okay.

As I've mentioned before, I think Mack is hungry and thirsty and is trying to tell us so. He puts everything he can into his mouth. On Thanksgiving we gave him some crushed ice to see what he would do with it and he chewed and swallowed it without complications. We have to watch him closely to make sure that he does swallow it and that he doesn't inhale and aspirate it into his lungs. That could cause him to have pneumonia again. Richard checked with Mack's Speech Pathologist about giving him crushed ice and "liquid-type" food. He said that it would be okay, but that there is a risk that Mack could inhale it into his lungs and that we would have to be very careful with it and watch him swallow it. With that in mind, we've also been giving Mack a little applesauce and pudding and he's done just fine with it so far. Last night when Richard was feeding him crushed ice, Mack grabbed Richard's arm when he saw the spoon coming and shoved the spoon into his mouth with a vengance several times. He chewed the ice and swallowed it without any problem. If Mack doesn't swallow what's in his mouth within a short time, we aspirate it back out just to be safe.

Seems that Mack has two Christmas trees in his room now. One from us with red and white bells and one with gold decorations. We also got him a Grinch that sings to him. He loved the Jim Carry movie version of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas". I think Mack's favorite holiday is Christmas, because of all the activities surrounding it and family getting together. He also looks forward to opening the gifts at Christmas. I saw a Santa outfit for dogs at Wal-Mart recently and I think it may fit Alex, his dog. We plan on getting Alex dressed up in the Santa outfit and taking him back up to visit Mack real soon. I'll try to remember to take my camera and take pictures of it to post later.

David and Crystal (Mack's oldest sister) are getting married this coming Sunday, and I'm sorry to say that Mack will miss yet another wedding in his family. We will have to share pictures and videos of it with him later on when he can comprehend what's going on again. Richard and I wish David and Crystal much happiness, peace, and love as they go through life as husband and wife. I couldn't be happier seeing the two of them get together. They're both wonderful people and actually found each other through the daughter of a mutual friend of my best friend and sister-in-law, Sue Farmer. With David's two sons and Crystal's two daughters, they'll have a wonderful, happy family together.

Thanks for all the prayers for Mack and the family. Please remember to visit the elderly, the sick and shut-ins over the winter and help them with things that they can't do themselves. If you have a neighbor or friend that lives alone, please call and check on them frequently to make sure they are okay, as they don't come out of the house much in the winter.

Our love to all,
Ruth & Richard