Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sinking

After last night's visit with Clark I was excited to come home and tell you all about it. Then I received a phone call from Clark this morning that deflated my excitement. I will tell you the good news first.

We had a great visit with Clark last night. He said he has been craving pizza. You know all those hours of watching TV, seeing commercial after commercial, they really do work. I also needed to meet up with the girl who bought Clark's last puppy. So Kellen, the kids, two dogs, and I packed in the car and headed to the hospital, grabbing a couple pizzas on the way. Clark had asked the nurse if we could bring the dogs in and she said it was ok as long as they were up to date on their shots and bathed. So I walked right into Clark's room with Hemi who was excited to see him this time. When the nurse came in I was scolded and told to get the dog out ASAP! Whoa! At least they got a few kisses in first.

Because Clark will be staying with me they needed to teach me how to do his dressing change. I have seen it done a few times so the sight of it was not alarming to me, which surprised the nurse. Clark said he has seen it done so many times that he could teach me himself and he did have to teach another nurse how to do it earlier in the week. Thankfully the incision is healthy and healing well so it isn't too tricky. There are areas where the upper layer sof skin are almost touching! There are also areas that are still inches apart and weeping. They no longer think that Clark will need plastic surgery but are confident that it will heal well on it's own. As the nurse touched Clark's belly he commented how weird it is because he has no feeling in the area below his incision. We don't know if feeling will come back or not. Clark did say that he is a little nervous about going home. In the hospital he has immediate care if something were to go wrong. He's also worried about the flu and all the other sicknesses that are running rampant this season. It will be a big transition but he will do great.Finally, after the run in with the nurse and a dressing change lesson, we made it to Kellen, the kids, and our cold pizza. Clark surprised me by eating two pieces and started in on a third which he ended up packing away for later. We had a nice talk, met up with Becky to sell the puppy, and Clark headed back to his room for his Fantasy Basketball draft.

Stick a needle in my balloon. Clark called this morning and said that all his levels are off again. My heart sank! I didn't want to hear what this meant. His white blood count is low. He is isolated to his room and visitors are required to wear a mask and gown again. His platelets are low and he may have to have another transfusion. And . . . there is talk again about a bone marrow transplant. There are six different teams working together on Clark's case. They are going to try to fix things by adjusting his medication but if that doesn't work, he WILL NEED a bone marrow transplant. They told him that they are "hesitant to hold his meds and this is all trial and error." Not too comforting. Thankfully his liver is still doing well. This is all Clark knew for today. I felt bad for him being there, receiving this news alone. And all this, just one week before his much anticipated discharge date. We should know more in the days to come. Hopefully good news! Keep praying. Clark IS a Superman, but only through the power of Heavenly Father. We are searching for answers to questions that number the starts. Clark is growing weary but thankfully he can rest with Him until a brighter day, and he's ok.

Clark has a phone directly into his room and would love to hear from you. He continues to check the blog often and reads all your comments but a phone call is always nice too. His number is 801-585-8275. You can call anytime but you will have the most luck reaching him from 4:00 - 10:00 pm MST.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day in Rehab

Yesterday I was able to leave both kids and go to rehab with Clark. I tell you it was a foreign feeling walking around with just my keys and my phone in my hands. It felt strange not to have a baby in each arm, a monster bag over my shoulder, and spit up somewhere on my clothes. It was fun to focus more on Clark though. I was able to see what he does in rehab and learn how to help him do his exercises as well as assist him on stairs. While I was there they were mostly working on balance. They had him stand on different surfaces and do certain movements while keeping his balance. I can see the competitive side of him as he pushed himself even further than what was expected. He even asked his therapist to step off a little so he could be more independent. Clark was also proud of his improvements in the 6 minute walk. The first day he was able to walk just over 700 feet in six minutes and by the second day he increased that to over 900 feet. He is doing a great job.Clark also does occupational therapy which helps him with everyday skills like showering, cooking, cleaning, and going out in public. This is a real treat for him. He was excited the other day when they made brownies. Next week they are going to make chili so Clark asked if I could bring Mom's White Chili recipe so he could ask his group if they would rather make that. He also asked me if I could make him Chicken Pot Pie because he's been craving it. Others are happy he's able to eat now and have brought him a few treats to enjoy. A cute box of Raisin Bran with the message "Glad you're RAISIN' up..." was brought in my the singles ward, Taylor make delicious homemade yogurt and rolls (both Clark's favorites), and the bag of chocolates Mom brought in that have been sitting unopened by his bed for months is now half gone.

I think therapy has helped Clark out a lot not only physically, but emotionally as well. It gives him confidence and purpose as well as pushes him to do better each day. He said that by 7:00 at night he is struggling to stay awake and sleeps much better at night. He is in relatively no pain except for his left should which was hurt when a nurse lifted him out of bed wrong, and his ankles hurt when he's exercising.

Clark said that his incision has stalled. It is no longer healing so the plastic surgery team is coming to look at it on Monday and may possibly do another surgery.

He has his X Box now so that helps him pass the time. Eric has been up a few times to play a game or two with him. He has a book on his nightstand but has only read a few pages. His concentration and the mental energy required are not quite up for a much reading. He watches a lot of TV and I told him he will be great at board/trivia games with all the little known facts he's learning.

video video

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Point

As a part of his rehab, Clark gets to go on outings 1-2 times a week. For his first outing we went to The Point restaurant at the Huntsman Center. An underground walkway connects the University Hospital and the Huntsman Center so Clark was able to walk much of the way. I did notice even more how thin he is. When he is standing you can see how baggy his pants are. It's not hard to notice when they almost fall off. Thankfully Kate was wearing a belt and offered it to Clark. She said he needed it more than she did. So with pants cinched tight, he was on his way. I was very impressed by how well and how much he was able to walk.Going on outings is not only a chance for the patients to get out, but also allows the therapists to evaluate them in everyday situations. Clark was encouraged to do everything for himself including ordering his food, carrying his tray, opening containers, etc. He did well with all of this. Clark stood reading the chalkboard menu for quite sometime, trying to decide what fine meal he would get to taste. He chose a grilled chicken sandwich but wondered what else came with it. He wasn't going to get dessert but when he saw an enticing piece of Red Velvet Cake he couldn't resist, then ended up with two desserts. I think his eyes were bigger than his stomach, which doesn't take much right now. He ate half of the chicken breast, a pickle, and a few bites of a cookie. The cake was packaged up to be enjoyed later. His therapist asked him if he knew how much his meal cost and to help lead the way back to test his cognitive thinking. Again, he did well.On the way back, a nurse or doctor (I'm not sure who she was) passed us in the hall. She took a double take at Clark and said, "Oh! Wow! How are you? It's so good to see you doing so well. You just made my day!" Seeing Clark makes many people's day lately. Myself, Kate and Eric, Taylor and Austin, and many others who visit say how great it is to see him doing so well. For awhile, I would leave feeling heavy and depressed but with Clark's improving condition all our spirits are lifted.

Clark is noticing some side effects from his medications. His face is swollen, he has lost a lot of hair, and he shakes. Since he will be on Prograf for the rest of his life, he hopes these symptoms will level off as his body adjusts. He said he is in little to no pain anymore.
video

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Movin' and A Groovin'

Clark is now in Rehabilitation. This is a big move on his journey toward the exit! I was so excited to see that he doesn't have one tube or cord hooked up to him! He is doing well and seems as though his spirits are much higher than when I saw him last. He is more confident and independent. He is able to get in and out of bed by himself, is wearing his own clothes, and uses the bathroom and shower. Clark said that mentally he feels like he can do everything, but physically he gets tired quickly. He is surprised by how week he really is when he gets up and moves around. They are mostly working on his leg strength right now. He doesn't do too much stretching because his incision is still healing and they don't want to pull on that. He said that rehab isn't hard, it just takes a long time. I just received a call from Clark saying that he just got done playing Guitar Hero and WII in rehab.

Clark is also eating normal food, no restrictions. He said he isn't craving anything in particular but when I offered to bring something in he said, "Anything." His stomach and the rest of his digestive system are tolerating food well. He isn't nauseated or vomiting. He can only eat about three bites before he's full. He is on oral meds now which he will be on for the rest of his life. His voice is much stronger. One of his vocal cords is still paralyzed but hopefully will heal.
He is in a nice room, especially compared to others on his floor. Clark is the only one with his own room. Others are four to a room. It is a homey room but hopefully he doesn't get too comfortable because his estimated discharge date is set for Nov. 3! This can change earlier or later depending on how rehab goes. Kick it in the butt Clark! I purposely brought up your Strong Arrow shirt to give you some motivation. Show them what and Arrow is made of! (For those of you who aren't Arrows - We are the Watertown Arrows in school sports. The Strong Arrow is an award that is only given to those who can complete a list of physical tasks. It is not achieved by many.) It's crazy to think that Clark went into the hospital in July and won't get out until November. A whole season has gone by, summer has changed to fall, and blossoming flowers traded for falling leaves. And in Clark a mighty change as well. A whole trial has gone by, sickness has changed to health, and certain death traded for a second chance at life. A spiritual awakening that may not have been possible in any other way.

New restrictions are in place at the hospital. Children under the age of 14, large groups, and people who are sick or been around sick people are not welcome in the hospital. This does make it hard for many to visit but we understand that this is to stop the spread of H1N1. If you want to visit, please be aware of these rules. Clark can have other visitors. He is in rehab most of the morning so after 4:00 is best. If you are unable to visit him in the hospital, anyone is welcome to visit at my house once he gets out.
Clark continues to keep up with the outside world and watches the news and sports. He reads the blog and your comments. Please let him know your reading and give him your words of encouragement. Thank you to all those who already comment. If you haven't yet, please do, whether we know you or not. As I've said before, we are going to make this blog into a book. It will be a great record of history for Clark. He said that even the nurses at the hospital told him it's the best blog they've ever read.

To Comment:
1. Scroll to the bottom of the post you want to comment on. Click on "Comments" (in blue on bottom right of each post) and a pop up window will appear.

2. If others have left comments you can read them here. At the bottom of this window will be a text field that says "Leave your comment" where you can type your comment.

3. Choose an identity - You do not have to have a Google account to comment. If you do have one it will automatically insert your name. You can also choose "Name/URL" and enter your name how you would like it to appear. Or choose "Anonymous" if you would like to remain anonymous.

Some have said they have typed their comment and then lost it in computer land. If you are worried about this, I suggest highlighting your text and copying it. That way, if you loose it you can paste it in the text box and try again. Or you can type your comment in another application like Word and copy and paste it in to be really safe.

4. Click "PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT."

If you have trouble, please don't give up. You can even email me (klkimble@gmail.com) your comment and I will put it on for you. It is important that we know your on board with us! Thanks!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm Home in SD But Left My Heart In Utah

Another summer day has come and gone for the year. I'm going home before Clark did. I said my goodbye to Clark and headed back to South Dakota on Monday. Just as I didn't want, I ran into bad weather. Summer? Winter? I left SD the end of July in the heat of summer and come home to snow! I drove 100 miles in freezing rain and fog over freshly fallen snow. Black ice is a big worry and when its 32* and raining it makes for a perfect recipe. It was midnight when I got to Lusk, Wyoming and got a room for the night. I was exhausted after driving 35 mph for the last 100 miles. I woke in the morning to iced up windows and slippery side walks, slow moving traffic, and the same freezing rain conditions. But I was anxious to get home so I ventured out and just took it slow. I had rough roads, on and off, all the way to Mitchell where things then cleared up.
I received many phone calls from the boys at home. They wanted to know nearly mile by mile where I was at. They (primarily Wyatt and Ryan with gopher help from the others) wanted to surprise me with my newly remodeled bathrooms. Both needed a face life bad. I knew they were working on them as they'd call with questions but my answer was always the same, "keep the cost down, make the upstairs bathroom for a lady, and do what ever you want other than that". So they were just on the tail end of things and needed a few more hours before I could come home. I was greeted with hugs from them all except Ryan who had already headed back to Minneapolis. I grabbed my camera and went to check things out. WOW! I'm so impressed with the work they did in both bathrooms, but especially in mine. I've been gone for 2 1/2 months and what a good time for the boys to be naughty if they wanted to be, but look what I came home to. Besides working two jobs, Wyatt completely gutted the bathroom except for the tub. He sheet rocked the walls, built a closet, put in a new floor, sanded down and stained the vanity, put a new counter top on, new mirrors and shower doors, new toilet, and freshly painted the walls that I love the color of. Ryan came with his talent and porcelain tiled the shower and floors. Thank you so very much boys.

It's great being back in my own home. I have reconnected with my kitchen by making the boys a peach pie, some home made yogurt, home made Flax/Sunflower Seed Bread, sprouts, and tonight home made pasta. They are happy I'm home too. I want to thank all who brought food for the boys while I was away. I'm not liking all the rain, snow, and gloom though. Pretty hard to keep spirits up without sunshine. I miss going for my daily walks in the mountains of Utah. I started out on September 12 by walking 5 miles 6 days a week, and then increased daily up to 10 miles one day. It was funny after that 10 mile walk because I ended up with black and blue toe nails. I walked 5 miles inclined all the way up and 5 miles back down. My shoes do fit! Guess I'll have to get on my treadmill now.

I called the hospital this morning to get an update on Clark. They said he was doing well, his spirits were up, for the first time yesterday he actually pulled his own food tray close and ate 6 bites of food. The vomiting has stopped and his stomach is tolerating the nutrition they are still feeding through his nose. Keep up the good work Clark. He is very close to being transferred to rehab, possibly later today. I know I've been saying that for a long time, we all feel that way, especially Clark. But it will happen! I'm so sorry that I will not be with Clark to the end of his hospital stay. I will be going back to work on Monday. Kristin will do her best to keep all of us informed on Clark's progress but she too will have fewer visits to the hospital. H1N1 is a huge problem in Utah and hospitals are limiting visits. Not only a risk to Clark but to her two children. So please be patient as we endure to the end of this journey. We have appreciated all the support and followers who have encouraged each of us daily. Thank You and hurry home Clark. Love Mom from South Dakota

Friday, October 9, 2009

. . . Or stroll!

Looks like running as fast as he can isn't as fast as we'd hoped. Clark is doing well but making slow progress. Still progress though. You can imagine it would be hard after not eating or walking in months to learn those things again. Clark has become somewhat complaisant and needs much coaxing and motivation from Mom and staff. They have been very firm with him as they explain what is expected of him. One even said, "Clark, if you don't get up and move, you will get blood clots and that will kill you!" That would be motivation enough for me.

He has graduated to a puree diet which are things with a thick consistency like yogurt and mashed potatoes. Clark usually loves these things but isn't hungry nor has the desire to even taste them. This tray consisted of ground salmon (which I wouldn't like either - Mom quickly scraped that off his plate and took it away!), mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, pineapple sorbet, two kinds of yogurt, 2 kinds of pudding, 2 kinds of ice cream, and a soft dessert of some kind. Talk about a buffet. He took one bite of sorbet and fell asleep. He is still on IV Nutrition of 2000 calories per 12 hours so I can understand why he wouldn't be hungry. He has managed to gain 1 pound so he is now at a whopping 139 lbs. They plan to switch his IV Nutrition to go into his stomach instead of his vein. However, it is vital to his recovery that he eats. They are satisfied if he only takes two bites at a time. He also has to do swallowing exercises. He is to press his tongue hard against the roof of his mouth for three seconds 20 times per hour. They hope his swallowing will improve soon so they can switch him to oral medication.Getting mobile is another obstacle. He needs to get up at least four times a day, even if he just takes two passes back and forth around his room. The day before yesterday he did get up and take a shower! A real shower, not a sponge bath. Then he walked the hall a little bit. He complains of pain in his right foot when he puts weight on it. The only other pain is from his incision but this is managed by pain meds. His incision is healing very well. Dr. Hutson said it will be about 4 weeks before it's healed completely.

Hopes are for him to be transferred to rehabilitation on Monday. This depends on the bacteria that reappeared in his urine. Once he is in rehabilitation he will have more freedom and less of a hospital atmosphere. They will work him hard though, about 4 hours a day. They will also do speech therapy. They expect rehab to take 2-3 weeks. When Mom asked one of the doctors how much longer Clark would be in the hospital, without hesitation she answered, "A month." Dr. Hutson estimated 2-4 weeks. See, maybe you can catch him!

Yesterday was a rough day. His platelets were low which caused him to get a bloody nose very easily. The blood drained down his throat and into his stomach. The stomach hates blood and rejects it immediately so he was vomiting all day. They did give him a bag of platelets but the vomiting continued. He ate one small bite of Mom's homemade peanut butter pie and one small bite of yogurt. Hopefully today is a better day.
Mom had hoped to see Clark walk out of the hospital doors but unfortunately she will have to be heading back to South Dakota soon. Home, family, and work are calling for her there. She has been by Clark's side for hours on end so I'm sure he will miss her company, service, and support.

Visitors are welcome! There aren't any restrictions on his visitation anymore as far as the number, children, or hours. You do still have to wear a gown and gloves though. He is on the 5th floor, room 8. I'm sure he would love to see you!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Run Run Fast As You Can, You Can't Find Me I'm A Transplant Man

Clark is going to move out of this hospital as fast as he moved in. Kristin and I spent the morning with my sister in law, Illa Larson, baking home made bread. Just as I was getting ready to come to the hospital, Clark sent me a text telling me that he had already moved to the fifth floor, room eight. WOW! He said they took his drains out, did a swallowing test and will soon begin him on small meals (still no ice cream, can you believe it?) He text me that his room was great because it had a plasma TV and a DVD player. Then another text followed saying that there was no restricted visitation hours, more than two people can come in the room and kids could also come in. Do you think Clark has been lonely? THEN, his final text was, "Mom, they have a couch that makes into a bed". I guess that is a lot better than his last offer in his previous room which was a recliner that I refused. From my understanding, Clark will be moved to a rehab room tomorrow and I'm not prepared to spend the night tonight, but I promise I will stay in the hospital with you one of these nights Clark. I'm so thankful for the nice room Kristin and Kellen have provided me with since I came to Utah, it is hard to give it up.

If anyone plans to visit Clark over the weekend, you should check at the front desk to find him because he is definitely moving about the hospital on a scavenger hunt, looking for the front door. Soon enough he will find it. Dear Lord, we do give thanks and appreciation for watching over this dear child and promising him another chance at life. Clark has endured many tender days in thy care. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the donor family, we will never neglect thy gift. We pray for their comfort and peace. We soon hope to let them know of our love for them and because of them, Clark is alive today.

Jessica Woody Visits

Jessica Woody
Clark and I enjoyed a visit from Jessica Woody last night. She had been living in Tennessee but moved back to Salt Lake City just a few days ago. Jessica said she can take care of Clark if Kristin needs some time away. Its nice to have that offer, thanks Jessica. Clark will be staying at Kristin's home once released from the hospital. He is hoping to come back to South Dakota for awhile, once he is allowed to travel out of state, perhaps in November.

Winning and Giving To Someone She Hadn't Yet Met

April Steck, Kate Larson, and Clark
Wow, it was cold in Utah yesterday! Heavy rain and snowing in the mountains. That didn't stop Kate and I from going on a five mile walk in early morning before going to see Clark. It was beautiful along City Creek near the State Capital where we walked, even in the rain. The trees are turning colors, the creek was flowing rapidly due to the new rain, and the mountain tops were white with fresh snow. But it was HOT in Clark's room. We met in Clark's room with Kate's sister in law, April Steck. April had never met Clark before, only knew of his circumstance through Kate. April wanted to do something to help and she did. April recently participated in a Slot Tournament in Nevada and brought back $320 in winnings and gave it all to Clark. She made the T-Shirt (on Clark in the picture) and got attention from others in the tournament which added some life and fun to the day. April also sent an email to the Atlanta Falcons (Clark's football team) and they emailed her back wishing Clark well. Thank you April!