2016

Jeff and I spent 10 days in Saskatchewan with my family over Christmas. Between puzzles, baking, eating, playing games and lots of visiting, my plans to create and send a Christmas letter went unrealized. Now that we are home and back to work, it feels like the window has passed. Despite this missed opportunity, we want to extend our wishes for peace, hope and joy to you in 2016. Happy New Year.

Life on Van Island

Life on Van Island

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Quick update

I haven’t posted for a few days as I wanted to focus the last few days of my visit on my parents (Sorry for those of you who have been waiting for updates!). It was really good to take time for conversations and begin processing the enormity of what has happened in the past 30 days.  Now that we are out of the “danger zone”, that processing can begin; I think it was helpful to start doing this together before I returned home.

My dad continues to do really well. I have used the phrase “really well” so many times in the past month that it feels a little trite, but it’s the best I can come up with! At this point in recovery, “really well” means:


  • continuing to build strength and momentum each day
  • remaining relatively free of pain
  • keeping his incisions infection-free
  • managing his physical limitations (with gentle reminders!) 
  • keeping an absolutely consistent positive attitude
There is still a lot of healing to do and after a busy day, my dad seems to need a quiet day to catch up on rest. We are assured that his recuperation has been textbook perfect and for this we are just very thankful. In the coming months, my dad will continue to work with a cardiac specialist and undergo tests to explore the full extent of the arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) that was detected after his heart attack.  For me, it is just so reassuring to know that he is in very good hands. While there is lots more healing to be done and the normal risks following heart surgery are still present, it really does seem that the worst is over. 
For those of you who know my parents, you will not be surprised to hear that they released the story of my dad’s “cardiac incident” for teaching and review within the local emergency response team. It was their way to thank the volunteer First Responders who saved my dad’s life and stabilized him until the paramedics arrived. In releasing this story, the company that makes the portable defibrillator (that restarted my dad’s heart) heard about what happened and decided to donate another machine, in my dad’s name, to the town of Waldheim where they live. So, the final chapter of this story for our family is that my dad’s experience will, we hope, somehow help save the life of someone else. It certainly draws things here to a pretty amazing close. When this occurs, I’ll try and post information here.

For now, however, I’ll stop with daily updates on my dad and encourage those of you who know him, to email him directly.  During my last week in Saskatchewan, he began checking email again. I know that he and my mom were encouraged beyond words by the notes of support we received and are so thankful.  Feel free to drop him a note- I know he is energized by the contact and I think it’s a good way to keep him away from the temptation of driving combine this harvest!

Together, my parents, Lyndon & Jenn, and Jeff and I want to thank you all from the very bottom of our hearts for your love, support, encouragement, love and prayers. I can not begin to articulate what this meant to all of us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
While I’ve just arrived home to BC now, I leave this post with a few parting images from the past week in Saskatchewan. 

Fresh rhubarb and saskatoon berry platz

one of the more interesting dragon flies

Farmer Unger inspecting this year’s crop

wonderful cloud formations looking of my parent’s front porch
day 6 of raspberry picking

our compromise to my dad’s insistence that he get to pick, too!
loving fresh lettuce every day

dealing with the fifth major power outage of my visit (thanks to some crazy electrical storms)

prairie sunset

Celebration from afar

Today was a quiet and restful day. We celebrated the removal of the last of my dad’s staples (in his leg) and started arranging appointments for next week with cardiac therapists, dieticians, nurses and other care team members.  After receiving a warning from his home care nurse (AKA my aunt!) to stop picking raspberries (something he did yesterday for about 15 minutes), my dad appeared to be a little more compliant today!

The beautiful lilies shown here were a gift last summer from my Uncle H and Aunt N. They are are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend and we send them our congratulations and warmest wishes. We wish we could celebrate with you!

Heat Reprieve

The heat wave finally broke yesterday, in a spectacular thunder and lightening show that blew out the power for more than nine hours (to the entire town where my parent’s live). We had our morning coffee on the front porch, enjoying the cool breeze, blooming flowers, butterflies and steady rain.

After being stuck in indoor air conditioning for a few days, my dad was particularly happy to be allowed outside! He continues to do very well, and make slow but steady improvements. This morning, while sorting Saskatoon berries, he was a little off balance and it was a good reminder that while he feels better, he’s still not as steady or as strong as he might expect, or like to be. Thankfully, he’s not ignoring his limitations, even though they must be frustrating.

During this week’s heat wave, the raspberries and Saskatoon berries happily ripened… and not so happily, needed to be picked.  So far, my mom has picked and frozen four ice cream buckets of Saskatoon berries (with more scheduled for tomorrow) along with countless trays of local strawberries. Over the next few days, I think there will be more raspberries to pick (and devour) as well. After a morning of rain yesterday, my parent’s garden is a major mud pit, but things should be dried out enough by tomorrow to pick a second round of raspberries. They are so deliciously sweet, it’s worth trudging through mud to enjoy them!

Sizzle

It’s 9:30AM and the thermometer (which sits in the shade) measures 34 degrees. The Environment Canada website tells me that humidity (unusual for this part of the world) makes it feel more like 38 degrees… and the mercury is rising. My dad continues to do well, but is looking forward to a break in this heat wave so he can actually go outdoors for more than a few minutes of exercise. I think that climbing stairs and walking laps around the house are getting a little boring.

We had a good weekend- after surviving enjoying(!) B&B guests, my Mom had a much needed break on Saturday when she and I attended a family wedding and my dad enjoyed visits with family and friends. He still tires very easily but is really buoyed by social activity. So, if you want to call or visit, please do! Just call before you drop by to make sure he’s awake. 

Inkeeping

When I moved to Nanaimo, I was not certain if I would continue work in my field or do something completely different. Jeff and I entertained all sorts of ideas, one of which was renovating an ocean front (or at least, ocean view!) house and running a Bed and Breakfast. Today, I got a taste of the B&B  inkeeper’s life and it’s a little less glamorous than I imagined!  After cleaning bathrooms and ironing sheets, I made the mistake of telling my Mom that the only part of B&B hosting that appeals to me is having a captive audience to try out new culinary experiments…. so guess who is signed up to cook breakfast tomorrow morning?!

My Dad is doing better today. He enjoyed a field trip to Rosthern this morning for a hair cut and a doctor’s appointment, and the change of scenery put some pep back in his step.  All seems to be going well from a medical recovery perspective, and one small drainage tube incision that has been troublesome is now aided by antibiotics to avoid possible infection. The doctor reminded Dad that he is an incredibly fortunate to still be here…. and while this is still very humbling, we are simply grateful and thankful. I know there is an incredible network of friends, family, faith and prayer still surrounding us- my Dad really does feel this.

The gratuitous garden shots today are of my parent’s acre (almost) of lettuce, and some blooming Sweet William. I do feel a little guilty- while Jeff is braving out cold temperatures and rain at home, the thermometer is set to hit 30+ again tomorrow with lots of glorious sunshine.

Plateau

While yesterday’s motto was “Slow and Steady”, today was a day more slow than steady.  I think that during recovery, plateaus are common- today was a day for quiet, rest and a little more aches and pains than in the past few. Maybe that’s a result of activity during the past two days… or maybe it was just a flat day. Tonight, my Dad said the weariness of today had lifted a bit, so we end the day on a little more upbeat a note than it was lived out.

Tomorrow, my parents have two rooms of overnight B&B guests coming- this was a long standing reservation they both felt was important to keep.  I have a feeling this will make for an interesting 12 hours (hopefully, with minimal mayhem!).

Lilies in my mom’s garden