Friday, February 18, 2011

Back to the blessed cool of AK!

Wow! I'm so out-of-date it isn't funny! I'm not in Florida any longer and haven't been for quite a while. Dad remained on the respirator for 12 very long, worrisome days and then stayed in the ICU for a few more days after they finally removed the tubes. Once they moved him to a different floor it was much busier for my mom and I just trying to get him the proper care, feeding him, helping turn him, etc. For a bit of perspective on how bad it was, he was so weak that he couldn't even press the "call nurse" button even if he could have remembered how to do it. His primary nurse was really good and we didn't have to worry much when he was on duty, but that was only 4 days a week (and then less later because he got sick). When we had different nurses the situation could VERY quickly go downhill! There was one in particular that didn't do ANYTHING other than give him his medications. One day of that was enough to give him a bedsore. It didn't take us too long to figure out the system and how to go to a supervisor to get things done. Not exactly how you'd like it to happen, but his health was at stake so we got pushy. His insurance company would not allow us to move him to the specialty hospital and there was only one "skilled care facility" (aka nursing home for rehab) that would take his insurance. Some friends took me to look at that place and we all pretty quickly decided that there was no way we were going to let him end up there!

Seriously, that place was horrible! The beds were more like low, tiny cots with most people either curled into the fetal position or slouched over in wheelchairs in the dark, postage-stamp-sized rooms. If you'd have put a king sized bed in one of those rooms I don't think there would have been room to walk around it, and each of those rooms had TWO people "living" in there! It was the most depressing place I've seen since the orphanages that our kids came from in Russia! Actually, both Sergei's and Andrei's orphanages were more cheerful looking than that place. Not a picture, not a painting, not a decoration anywhere in sight. Nothing. The "courtyard" was more like a weedy little gravel-yard with a handful of people standing or sitting around smoking. That was their access to the outdoors. That was after we'd talked to a lady who was going in whose husband was there. It was the only place that took Medicaid that would take him and she said the care was horrible. She said almost every time she came to visit there was a problem, often lack of hygiene or care. And we call ourselves a "civilized" country! That's NOT a way to treat people with dignity! I'd better stop now. I'm getting disgusted and furious all over again.

Fortunately we didn't have to figure out what to do if the hospital decided to release him. Kevin flew down from NY and then flew my mom and dad back up there on a direct flight from Orlando to Rochester (2.5 hrs). Dad tolerated the flight pretty well considering that he'd only sat in a chair twice in the weeks since the ICU. Not sure if I mentioned it before, but my brother Kevin is also a doctor which came in quite helpful in this situation. Not only was he able to get the doctors in Florida to pay attention when he went down initially, but he was also able to take precautions (and medications) when flying back. There were 10 places within 15 miles of my parent's home in NY that would take their insurance. Much better options than we had in Florida! He has been getting all sorts of therapy in NY (4-5 times a day) and is making fantastic progress. He can now feed himself and is even starting to take some steps while holding on to parallel bars to support himself. I don't think he can get into the wheelchair himself, but once he's there he can really go to town! His spirits are good and it sounds like he's becoming a bit more and more like himself every day. There was still one spot on his lungs that had the look of a cancerous spot so he had a biopsy earlier this week. The results came back today that it is NOT cancer!!! What a huge relief! That possibility had been at the back of all of our minds since this whole episode started. It doesn't seem enough to say that we're praising God for His mighty healing in my dad's body! Blessings on top of blessings.

So I'm home now and back to normal life. The water line that provided our electric AND our water remains frozen and the line that we put into the lake for water is also frozen. Rodney has been hauling water from camp to fill the tanks in the back room basement. So far it looks like we can go about 3 weeks between fill-ups as long as we continue to do laundry at camp. It's not so bad at this point since we can drive on the lake. It might take some figuring once the lake starts to thaw. Granted, at that point we can probably run the line over the ground from the spring as Lee Althens used to do.

The bigger problem for Rodney has been freezing lines in camp. The line to empty the Alpine sewer treatment plant froze up and it took two weeks to get that thawed at which point the Alpine boys septic tank had frozen. They just got that open today and the other line that they spent two weeks thawing just broke! He was a bit discouraged this afternoon. We haven't had the snow on the ground this winter that we had last year so while our ice road is a lot thicker this year, so is the freezing into the ground all over camp. Alpine was not initially built for winter use so they battle freezing there pretty much every winter. Fortunately there is no group using Alpine this weekend so hopefully it will be ready to go by next weekend when they do need it. But that's another week that he feels like he gets behind in other areas. Job security! That also reminds me that one of these days I need to take ya'll on a virtual tour of camp!

I've got plenty of pictures to sign off with - probably as many as this post is long! I wish I'd gotten pictures of the full moon on the snow covered mountain peaks with just a few clouds in the sky last night. It's hard to go to sleep because you just get spell-bound by the beauty of the moon gleaming off the snow. I got a few pictures the other day but they didn't come out that well and then last night when we were out for a drive it was spectacular and I didn't have my camera! Ugh! I'll have to try again next month! The days are quickly getting longer so I won't have too many more opportunities this year!

One thing Florida has going for it are sunsets:

My mom knit a lot of sweaters for while dad was in the ICU. I knitted one, very slowly.

Oksana decided to give short hair a try. When she says short, she means SHORT! She's so cute she can make any cut look good, but this definitely fits her!

A nice snow machine ride clears all the Florida cobwebs away:

Remind me again how I got to be so blessed to live here? :)


  1. Welcome back ! Nice blog for your return and you earned your blessings.

  2. So glad to hear your dad is doing well. May the Lord bless him with a great recovery!!!

    The Florida photos are nice, but the Alaska ones??? THE BEST!!!!


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