Thursday, January 31, 2008

The best picture I've ever taken!

The sun setting over the Mississippi River near Warsaw, IL.
I'm no photographer, but this is a good one.

Pics of Us.

This is me, Bob, holding our dog Bobo. In this shot he was only three months old. Since that time I have also removed the goatee from my face. Since I'll be having a birthday in February, I decided I want to look younger. Vain, eh?

This is my beautiful wife Ingrid. She is, among other things, a photography buff, but doesn't like having her own picture taken.
What a great smile.
My mother in law is now home from the hospital. She is still weak, and has an apparatus which is used for feeding her through a tube, and also for the giving of insulin. Even after all this time, she still feels nauseous. If she were able to eat solid food, the machinery would be unnecessary. Until that time, she will use it. Having her home is good, for obvious reasons, but also Ingrid and I live next door to Ursula. (That is a story in itself, for another post.) No more driving to and from the hospital 17 miles each way, or buying the cafeteria food.
Tomorrow I will attend a "mini job fair" sponsored by the local unemployment office. 14 companies are scheduled to be there, looking for employees. There must be some company that will believe that my experience would be a good fit. We shall see.
More later.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our "children"

This is Lily, our domestic tabby cat. She came home to us one month after our wedding. She loves boxes, as you can see.

This is Bobo, my beautiful miniature Dachshund. I grew up with a dachshund, Lady. She died when I was 7. We got Bobo in late September of 2006. He was born Aug. 8, 06. He's my buddy.

The long hospitalization is over.........

Ursula is coming home today. To recap, she was admitted Jan. 2, had surgery Jan. 4, and after fighting nausea and other ailments during her stay, is being released today. Ingrid is there with her. Yesterday's weather was, in a word.....CRAZY! 8 am yesterday, 41 degrees. 8 am this morning, 4 degrees. Big storm front blew through last night. Rain, freezing conditions, cars in the ditch. Ingrid worked yesterday 3pm-11pm, and ended up staying in Champaign rather than risk the roads coming home.

It will be interesting to observe things around here. Ursula will have to have more get the rest of the cancer that remained after the surgery. She has fought cancer for 23 years.....and the fight goes on. She is a strong-willed person, but this latest illness has left her very weak physically. It will be tough for her. God gives strength where we are weak.

More later.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Attended Cathy's memorial service last Friday. It truly was a celebration of her life. More than a hundred people came, including over twenty members of the armed services. It was a good time of remembrance, praise, and affirmation of life.

Ursula was supposed to be released from hospital today, but a test that had been scheduled was abruptly cancelled. So the saga continues.

Ingrid is working evenings for at least the next 4 or 5 weeks, 3pm-11pm.

Temp here was 43 degrees at 8 am; around 3pm there is supposed to be rain, and temps dropping into the 30's, then tonight the rain will freeze and the low is supposed to be 5 degrees above. Crazy. Just Crazy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Medical Update

We were awakened by the cell phone @ 6:55am this morning. Couldn't get to it in time so Ingrid listened to the voicemail. It was her mother, Ursula, saying that she had developed pneumonia and that the staff wants to transfer her to a nursing home. Whoa.

Two days ago, we were told that Ursula would have a feeding tube placed directly into her stomach, because even after all this time, she cannot keep solid food down,with hopes of her being discharged sometime next week. Now, pneumonia. I had pneunomia 3 years ago. Of course, I was only 40 at the time. Ursula is 73, and with everything else happening, this is devastating. Ingrid is at the hospital at this time. I am home, sick with a bad cold and horrible congestion. So going to visit is not a good idea.

This is the type of thing that you're never ready for. Aging parents struggling with their health. Both my parents are gone, Mom having died in 1981 when I was 16, and my dad died in 2002 at age 76 from bone cancer. Ingrid is going to have a lot to deal with. I hope that I can be a help to her.

My cousin Cathy's funeral is this Friday morning @ 11 am. I hope to be well enough to go, but probably not. And of course, Ingrid needs me, so that takes priority.

More later.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The call I had been dreading....

has come. At 9:05 this morning, my aunt called to tell me that my cousin Jeff's wife, Cathy, passed away at around 6:00pm last night from cancer. It was expected, but still hard to hear. She leaves behind her husband and three daughters; Meaghan, 21; Rebecca, 18, and Kimberly, 17. Jeff & Cathy were married for 24 years. Jeff serves in the Air Force. Funeral arrangements are being made.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, as I am, please include this family in your prayers. Cathy is with her Savior, and for that I am so thankful.

More later.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Caught in the Middle

About a week ago, there was a nasty exchange between Ingrid and her brother Kirk at the hospital where my mother in law is currently a patient. Yesterday Kirk took me aside to give me what he termed "the truth." I wont' go into it except to say I now have a pretty good idea how it all started. I have said before that Ursula has found fault with the hospital staff. The confrontation of last weekend was because of a phone conversation between Ursula and Kirk, during which Ursula allegedly said she didn't want Ingrid to stay with her at night, and that "she doesn't do anything when she's here." She further allegedly stated that Ingrid was, using my words, rude and disrespectful. Kirk heard that and the next morning entered the room to confront Ingrid. He says she yelled at him. She says, and Kirk agrees, that he pointed his finger in her face, moving her glasses up her face in the bargain. They both believe they are right, and have not spoken to each other since.

Here's my take: Ursula is a controlling person. If things aren't the exact way she wants them, she will do whatever is necessary to get her way. Ingrid is a CNA, yes. But there is an entire hospital staff there to take care of Ursula's needs. Ursula, however, doesn't necessarily see it that way. Until I came along almost 10 years ago, Ursula was still basically controlling Ingrid's life. Ursula was sure that when any health crisis came up for her, Ingrid would drop everything and be at her side. Even after our wedding, she has been quite a bit. Ingrid believes that just because she knows how to do some of the tasks of the hospital techs and nurses, that doesn't mean it should be expected of her to do it. Ingrid has helped her mom in using the bathroom and walking the halls with her. Kirk sees any refusal to do these tasks (as expressed by Ursula) as being disrespectful. The bottom line is that Ursula will manipulate anyone or anything, family or not, to get her own way. Kirk is being manipulated, but he doesn't see that. Meanwhile the standoff continues. At this point, Ursula won't leave the hospital until she's good and ready.

I'm caught in the middle. I think both sister and brother have copped attitudes, therefore neither will be the first to apologize. Meanwhile Ursula has stirred things up yet again. I know that I am out on a limb saying these things about a woman fighting cancer and laying in a hospital bed, but in the nearly ten years I've been in this family, I have seen this over and over again. Ursula's kids were raised (by herself for the most part) with fear and intimidation. As I see it, her love has always been based on performance and results, rather than being given unconditionally. So as a result, all three have a lot of anger toward her. Except when she gets sick. All three are hard-headed, like their mother. All three believe that they are usually right, like their mother. One thing is for sure. The way to motivate Ingrid is not by yelling at her.

What do I do to help this situation?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's been a while...

since I last posted. During that time, my mother in law's condition has improved somewhat, to the point that if she can eat solid food and keep it down without nausea, she could be cleared to go home soon. We still don't know about any schedule for chemo or anything like that yet.

This whole ordeal has been the hardest on Ingrid. She wants to be there with her mother, but Ursula is not the best hospital patient. Being a retired RN, she knows the score. But when she's the one in the hospital bed, she expects the entire floor staff to be at her beck and well as family and friends. When that is not the case, she throws a fit. She's 73, and it still works for her. I believe that she does what she does, because it has worked for her. That makes for very strained relationships with her kids (Tony, Kirk, Ingrid) sometimes. Make no mistake, when she is sick, they circle the wagons, like families do. I have observed this dynamic for nearly 10 years now. Unlike in the beginning, I know when to keep my mouth shut. :-)

I did not see Ingrid at all yesterday, but we talked on the phone. Today I met her for lunch. During that time, at 12:55pm, she got a call from work, wanting her to take a case @ a town almost 40 miles 2pm. She talked them down to 3pm....we raced home to our house, where she had not been since Sunday....stayed 25 minutes....then left for work. She comes home, to our house, tonight. Being a CNA for an agency means driving to various assignments, sometimes with little notice. On top of that, it is snow-showering in our part of the country, with lows tonight expected to be 15 degrees. Above zero. Great. Rain....which will freeze,...and Ingrid thirty-five miles from home, having to drive in it to get home. Oh my.

I continue in my efforts to find stable employment. Temp work pays $7.50 to $8.00 an hour around here. About 40% less than what I made at the factory. A humbling experience, to be sure.

Meanwhile, my cousin Cathy is stricken with cancer that made necessary the amputation of her lower left leg. Now the cancer has spread to the bones. It's just a matter of time.

More later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hopeful News....and a new Complication

Yesterday we finally heard from the doctors concerning my mother in law's condition. It appears that, at this time, there is NO pancreatic cancer. They want to begin chemo to get rid of the remaining cancer around the colon and small intestine. Further surgery may be needed. We are so thankful that pancreatic cancer seems to have been ruled out at this time; however, we know that an MRI indicated a spot of some sort on her pancreas. Yesterday evening her blood sugar level (she is diabetic as well) measured 199. On Saturday it had been around 160. It is still too high.

This morning, Monday, Ingrid, my dear wife, called and said that Ursula had developed vaginal bleeding and is going in for a scope this morning.
Ingrid spent the night last night after coming home Saturday @ noon and staying home until we went yesterday afternoon. But even at home, she didn't sleep well. It seems that there was a disagreement between her and another family member. Ingrid was very hurt, then became angry, and came home. The experience, however, caused her to not sleep well Saturday night. She was up @ 12:30am and didn't sleep the rest of the night. I am so concerned for her health and well being, but until Ursula comes home, being at the hospital every night, while still working, is the norm.

More on this story later.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Say WHAT?????

From the "No Comment" Dept:
San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, commenting on the team's private workout with Utah quarterback Alex Smith before the
2005 NFL Draft:

"He had to cut the wind with his balls, which is something we had to see."

Allllllllllllll righty then.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

January 10, 2008

Today was not a good day for Ursula, my mother in law. Food wise, she was upgraded to "full liquids," which means juices, strained soup, ice cream, et al. She didn't feel well all day, and while I was there, between 6 pm and 9:15pm, she felt she wasn't getting enough air. She has been on oxygen for a few days now. Ingrid was told the pathology report will be in tomorrow, so finally we will know just what we are dealing with. Also tomorrow, Ingrid will be working a total of ten hours in a split shift. Being a CNA with an agency, she gets assignments for as little as 2 hours to 8 to 10 hours. On one hand I hope the pathology report comes early, so she can go to work. On the other hand, if that happens it will be on her mind during work. It's not an easy situation either way. Ingrid is staying at the hospital tonight, and after her work day will return Friday night. I know this is really hard on her. Yet she doesn't complain. I know that she needs to do this, but I miss her at home. It's hard to maintain your normal life when you are basically living at the hospital.

On the lighter side, here's something that made me laugh, and I hope will do the same for you.

"Actual country song titles" (according to the 2008 calendar The 365 Stupidest Thngs Ever Said)

*She Made Toothpicks Out of the Timber of My Heart"
*Get Your Tongue Outta My Mouth 'Cause I'm Kissing You Goodbye"
*Mama, Get the Hammer (There's a Fly on Papa's Head)

So long for now.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008



My mother in law Ursula is doing somewhat better this morning. Ingrid finally came home, to our house, around 10:30am (Central) after having spent three consecutive nights, as well as five of the last seven, at the hospital with her mother. Ursula doesn't like to be alone at any time while in hospital. Ingrid, her daughter and my dear wife, is sleeping right now. She will be going back later today to the hospital. Sigh.

I have mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, it's wonderful that the children rally around Ursula. Her son Kirk returned to work today after spending the hours of his work days on Monday and Tuesday with his mom. Oldest kid Tony visited from out of town on Monday as well. Ingrid has spent the most time, not only by her own decision but by Ursula's wishes as well. It's just that......I miss Ingrid when she's not home. Selfish, yes, but I do. Plus I still can't wrap my mind around this notion that family has to be with you 24/7 while you are in the hospital. Of course, I have not been hospitalized for any reason since I was 15. So maybe I'm not the best person to comment. But I see how hard it is on Ingrid, physically, mentally, and truthfully even in our pocketbooks. Neither one of us has worked since the crisis began. I am receiving unemployment benefits along with any temp work I get through Manpower, but it pales in comparision to what I made at the factory before it closed. I realize, such is life. Family dynamics are, at the same time, fascinating and frustrating. As the old preacher said, "Can I get a witness?"

I think at some point soon I need to post the back story of our lives. I had intended to do so earlier, but the crisis with Ursula happened. It is fair if I expect anyone to be interested in this blog, that I should share a bit of my personality with you. Coming Soon.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Devastating News

This is not an entry I ever wanted to write.

My mother in law was told yesterday (6 Jan) that she has pancreatic cancer and nothing more can be done. We are still waiting for the pathology findings......evidently the doctors will use that to estimate how much time she has, and if there is any treatment. She is 73, having been born in 1934 in Germany, just after Hitler came to power. She lost family in the concentration camps. After coming to America, she married and adopted three mixed race children, my wife being one of them. She worked hard and earned a degree in nursing and did that for 27 years. This was her worst fear going into surgery last week, that there would be cancer in, on, or around the pancreas. She has recovered from the confusion I wrote of in the last post, and is awake and alert. She understands what is happening, and seems to be taking it well.

My wife and her brothers are, understandably, very upset. As all families do, there were issues, but in times of crisis, they are there. This is the biggest crisis yet. My dear Ingrid has spent 3 of the last 5 nights at the hospital with her mother. She is exhausted, yet hesitates to leave her mother's side. Being a CNA herself, she is qualified to stay with her mother and ask the questions that need to be asked. I don't know what the immediate future holds.....but as a follower of Jesus Christ, I know who holds the future. Our lives are in His hands.

Just about everything else has taken a back seat for now. That's all right; it's how it should be. My main concern is for my wife. She will have much to do in the coming days in addition to holding down a job as well. I just want to be as much help to her as I can.

More later.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A "Happy" New Year?

Hey. Hope your new year is starting out better than mine.

My mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital on Wed. 2 Jan with a bowel obstruction. Turns out it is a reappearance of cancer, which she has fought in various places since 1985. Surgery was performed on 4 Jan. The surgeon could not get it all, because it wrapped itself around her small intestine. He got what he could, and chemo/radiation will have to kill the rest. Unlike her other surgeries, she doesn't appear to be 100% mentally yet. This afternoon when I went, she believed she was in her own bed, at home, and couldn't understand why nurses were trying to make her get up and move. She stubbornly refused, and told them to "get out of my house." Problem is, she's in a hospital bed, in an actual hospital, the very one where she worked as an RN for 27 years. My dear wife Ingrid has spent two of the past three nights at the hospital with her mother. She is worn out. She is sleeping now as I write this @ 9:00 pm Central time 5 Jan.

Seems like back in the day, hospital visiting hours were rigid and unbending, and no one was allowed to stay overnight in a patient's room. Now it seems commonplace. When did this start?

Otherwise, how are things? I lost my factory job of 20 years back on 31 Aug. because of a plant closing, and in December began work with a temp agency. It's been tough trying to find a stable permanent job, that isn't fast food or convenience store. That may be next. I am not complaining or having a pity party, though. God is good....ALL the time.

Thanks for dropping by.