Monday, December 13, 2021

He has a name

His name is Kevin.  

This note stabbed me in the deepest recesses of my heart.  His name wasn't mentioned.  No person took the time to personally sign their name.  Not his transplant doctor, nor his transplant coordinator...not even the social worker for the transplant team.  But honestly, they completely wrote Kevin off a while ago.

My beloved husband, partner, best friend, co-parent, advocate, counselor, personal comedian, financial supporter, lover, masseuse, workout partner, dog walker, errand boy, and much, much more died on 11/28/2021.

I am not the only one left behind.  I have six children.

Kevin's death was unexpected. One can never mentally prepare for the loss of a spouse, I believe, even if the spouse is ill for a long time. I have had thoughts about this possibility since 2006 when we found out Kevin only had one functioning kidney that wasn't really functioning as it should.  On March 22, 2018, Kevin received a beautiful gift from a family friend - a healthy kidney.  

Kevin and all the family members living at home were diagnosed with COVID on November 9.  He contacted the transplant team immediately.  You might think that someone with a compromised immune system might be carefully watched over by the transplant team.  They took more than a day to respond.  Their response? We're sorry to hear you have COVID.  He mentioned to them that our family doctor recommended getting monoclonal antibodies.  Their response? Great idea.  He asked if they could help him get them.  Their response? We'll send you a link.  They sent the link a day later on November 11.  We found the closest location to receive monoclonal antibodies was Crookston, MN, which is 260 miles away.  He asked if there was any way he was eligible for closer treatment or in-home treatment.  The answer was sorry. That was the LAST contact he had with the transplant team.  Our internal medicine doctor, on the other hand, insisted on daily telehealth visits.

He was not able to get into the clinic that administered the monoclonal antibodies for 5 days because of the high demand.  We drove up through a winter storm including 45 mph crosswinds with blowing snow.  It was a 13 hour day.  He immediately had an increase in symptoms.  Up until then, he had mild symptoms.  We got home that night and he felt really, really cruddy.  He barely slept that night.  He continued daily telehealth visits with our internal medicine doctor who put him on every medicine he would have received in the hospital.  Kevin did not want to go to the hospital because we had COVID at home and would be barred from seeing him.  He didn't want to be intubated.  He didn't want to die alone in the event COVID won.  We got all the right meds.  He had oxygen.  His CPAP was outfitted with a special bleeder so he could sleep and receive oxygen.  While he was at his worst from 11/18 - 11/22, he started turning the corner.  His O2 levels were better, we could reduce the O2 rate, and he could stay awake, and have conversations, get up to go to the bathroom, and eat.  By Thanksgiving, he looked better.  He was complaining how wretched he felt not having a shower for a week.  Our doctor was encouraged because by 11/28, he was maintaining good oxygen levels on room air. No more oxygen.  He was smiling.  But he felt gross and wanted to take a shower.  He had an appointment for lab work on 11/29. He really felt he couldn't go anywhere looking like he did.  So he went up to take a shower.  Everything sounded normal.  You know how you get to know your partner's patterns.  First I heard the toilet flush.  Then I heard the shower turn on.  I heard the shower run for a few minutes.  Kevin liked a hot shower and waited for the hot water to make its long journey from the basement water heater to the second-floor bathroom.  About five minutes later, I heard a loud thump.  I'll spare the rest of the details other than the fact his death was determined to be of natural causes (likely a heart attack, cardiac arrest, etc.)

On Monday, after Kevin died, as one of Kevin's caregivers I had access to his Mychart account.  I sent a note to Kevin's transplant doctor that Kevin passed away.  It was not negative. I just wanted to let them know.  My access to Kevin's account was immediately terminated. I know they saw the email, because how else would they have known to close his account?

I'm so deeply disappointed with the lack of compassion from this group.  He had a name.  He was my husband, my kids' dad. his parents' son, his siblings' goofy brother, a Scoutmaster, an employee, a lector, a community leader, a friend to many, and he will be missed. I lost the most important person in my life.   Please have some HUMANE person at least sign their name on cards like this so it doesn't look like some robot sent it and acknowledge the person who died.  Please remember that the person reading the note is grieving is not a robot.  

In case you need help, here's what you should have written:

We are so sorry for the loss of Kevin.  We know he was an important part of your family.  Our prayers and thoughts are with you during this difficult time.  


Thursday, April 9, 2020

An Unleavened Bread Recipe Your 3 year old Could Make (No Yeast Required)

Happy Holy Thursday!  This is a great bread to eat tonight as we celebrate the Institution of the Eucharist.  I was just praying for our First Communicants who, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will not be able to make their First Communion on the date we had planned.  I pray that this extra time will make them LONG for Jesus in the Eucharist.

Last January I had the pleasure of working with a group of 2-3 year old children in a Level T (Infant Toddler) Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium in Kansas City.  My task was to present how to make bread.  As you can imagine the attention span of a 2-3 year old is very short.  I didn't want to do a leavened bread due to the time it takes to proof the yeast.  We were already short on time, so I presented how to make unleavened bread.

This was their result.  I can't eat wheat, but those that could said they were chewy on the inside and a little crispy (in a good way) on the outside.

I had recently started following an archaeological baker.  She had posted about unleavened bread found in the ruins of Pompeii in a bathhouse, of all places.  With analysis and research, she provided the recipe.  This was the recipe we used with the toddlers.  Families of toddlers might want to give this a try for Holy Thursday!

You can read the whole LONG article here.  This is the recipe we used:

Herculaneum Bath Bread

7 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. warm water
1 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You combine all the ingredients and knead for 15 minutes (tag team if you need to).  The longer you knead, the chewier the bread will become.

Divide the dough into 9 pieces.  Roll each piece into a nice round ball.  Sprinkle whole wheat flour or semolina flour on your work surface.  Flatten each piece with your hand.  If you have a cookie press or butter press, you could make an impression in the dough.  Carefully place the flattened round onto lightly oiled sheet pan a few centimeters apart.  They won't rise or spread very much.

Bake 30 minutes.  Enjoy with hummus, or olive oil!

NOTE:  The 2-3 year olds did not knead the dough for 15 minutes, LOL.  They did it for about 3 minutes.  We divided the dough, let them press it out and we put their initials on each round.  They enjoyed them at snack time.  There was plenty of dough left to make more, which we shared with other atria.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

You MUST Go!

Once a year the BCPA hosts a book sale like no other. Head to the old Borders Books in Bloomington, MN at Lyndale and 76th. $118 worth of books in two large boxes. Go!  What are you waiting for?  Leave the check card. Cash or check only!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why nothing is getting done around here...

Song for a Fifth Child

Photo: What a difference a day makes.  He developed some breathing problems last night then the vomiting started.   We will be here watching MORE Tom & Jerry for a while longer.

 Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her his eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

My little fifth child is just out of the hospital after getting aspiration pneumonia following surgery.  We're just hangin' and I'm good with that.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Julia's Guardian Angel

Dear Friends -
This is our daughter Julia.  She is 13 and has a life threatening allergy to peanuts.  1/100 of a peanut could and probably would kill her if she ingested it.  She could possibly die if she comes into contact with peanuts because her body sends blood rushing to the area touched by the allergen, causing blood to pool in the area (typically extremities) resulting in a drop in blood pressure and possible stroke.

She recently met Bullet, an Australian Labradoodle that is a Peanut Detection Dog.  His job is, like a narcotics dog, to sniff out peanuts and peanut residue for people that have life threatening peanut allergies.

On Sunday we called 911 after arriving home from our Montana vacation. Julia had touched something with peanut residue at a restaurant on the way home. Within minutes, her fingers, knuckles and hands were swollen and covered with hives. She must have also brushed her lips because they were swelling up, too.

We've been contemplating getting a peanut detection dog for Julia for almost a year now, but there is just no way we can afford it.

Today we decided we just have to ask for help.

Please check out our fundraising site.

Thank you for taking a look and please pray that Julia will be able to raise the money for a guardian angel.

By the way, we are quite certain that the contact happened when she touched something in the bathroom at the restaurant, possibly the bathroom door.   Whatever it was, it was small enough to not be visible or smell-able because she is overly scrupulous about what she touches.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Live Blogging at Irish Fair

My kids are dancing this weekend. Come on down and check them out!!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Yet another Austen Allegory...

My very favorite character in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen is Colonel Brandon.  He always does the right thing.  He takes care of his niece.  He loves Marianne Dashwood and, while he sees her falling for Mr. Willoughby, he does the right thing and steps back.  When Mr. Willoughby is proven a cad, Marianne falls heartbroken.  She also falls ill and it is Colonel Brandon, who ultimately needs "an occupation lest he go mad..."  He who had carried her in when she fainted.  Finally, he rides off to get her mother when he can do nothing else.

Today one of my very best friends was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  She will need to remain in the hospital for 6 weeks, followed by 8 months of chemo, then perhaps a bone marrow transplant.

I have been uber busy the last several weeks overseeing Catholic Vacation Bible School.  My dear friend helped to get out our confirmation letters to each student, helped package art kits for craft time and on the very last day of CVBS, gave me a meal.   And while this was all happening, she was moving.  I told her she didn't look like she felt well and she just sighed and said, "Yes, I have been very tired."  Last week, I had three sick children and company coming, so I didn't realize how sick she had gotten and she ended up with having a bone marrow biopsy on Friday, last, one week from when she said she was very tired.

This morning she shared an initial diagnosis of leukemia and lymphoma.  I spent the day crying.  I cried because I was too busy last week to realize she might have needed my help.  I cried because I didn't know the extent of her illness and that she took care of me in my time of need.  I cried because I didn't know how serious it was and felt helpless.  I cried because I love her like a sister, her husband like a brother and her kids like my own.  I paced the house, trying to find things to do to help.  I felt like Colonel Brandon, like I needed an occupation, lest I go mad. 

Her husband called me to tonight to share the full details.  Finally those of us who have been asking how to help, know what they need.  That's no consolation, but at least we have an occupation so we can, at the least, feel like we're helping.

If you have time, can you say a prayer to Blessed Fr. Anibal asking his intercession on my friend's behalf?  He'll know who you are talking about without having to name her because he's hearing many, many prayers from those of us who got her request to pray for his intercession.  Click on the picture for his intercessory prayer.
Regardless of your denomination, please pray for my friend.  We need a miracle.  Her husband and 4 kids need one, too.