Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,
Again, I am home for some rest. I have been staying at the hospital in Gary's room since Dec. 24. He is progressing steadily and surely, getting some strength and coordination a bit more each day.
I am so grateful for our choice children, our three sons, Andy, Dave, and Pete and our three daughters, Christina, Cherisa, and Melissa. I am so grateful for each of their loving mates and for our beautiful grandchildren. Along with Gary's siblings, and my siblings, and the support of our family - and each of you - Christmas has been a most sacred experience. It has been somewhat sad, but overwhelmingly tender and spiritual. It has been an experience beyond explanation witnessing the ministering and serving that our children have performed for their father and father-in-law. The hugs and kisses and tender words of care from our grandchildren have been priceless. Each of them have always been supportive, loving and respectful of Gary's patriarchal position, but the opportunity of this latest circumstance has enabled them to serve to an even higher level of Christ-like love.
We have felt surrounded by the love and concern and faith and support of all of you. Your expressions of this through messages, calls, gifts, prayers, and contacts have been enormously felt. Gary and I had a quiet never-to-be-forgotten Christmas Eve together. The hospital was so still it felt as if we were about the only ones there. As I dimmed the lights in his room and listened to soft Christmas music, I watched the pure white snow falling outside the large hospital window. Gary was not feeling so great - he was very nauseated and had intense pain in his legs from his nerve rejuvenation. However, all was well and we felt of the the true representation of Christmas - the birth and atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I read a story to Gary and we opened a few gifts given to us my some friends. Gary and I were together in the hospital and our children and their families were having fun together at Cherisa and Darren's home and that was what brought us joy and peace.
On the Sabbath before Christmas, each member of our family - all thirty (except for me and Gary), in addition to Gary's siblings, gathered at the hospital in a special room provided for us by the hospital staff. Each family unit came up to visit Gary for fifteen minutes at a time as he was very subject to exhaustion. We had a special one-on-one time with each of our children and their mates and their children as we gave each of them a DVD copy of a fireside that Gary had spoken at in a Ward Youth Fireside in November entitled, "What is really important in life." During this time Gary was able to give one more father's blessings to another one of our children, our youngest son, Pete. The father's blessings that Gary has given thus far to our children have been one of the most memorable things that we have experienced during this challenging time.
Our daughter-in-law, Christine, Andy's wife, had arranged for a special "Make a Wish" for Gary - a round of golf with his sons at Pebble Beach in California. It was an emotional surprise to Gary as the video taped presentation took place in his hospital room. Everyone is rooting that Gary will regain his strength and mobility to be able to play a round of golf as this next year progresses. Gary has a wish to be able to "perfect" his golf swing - he knows he can do it! What a choice gift! Again, we are so blessed with such dear family.
Christmas Day was again spent with visits from our children and their families.
Well, to get back to the beginning, I have come home for a day. Gary has been moved to the 12th floor in the hospital for five days of intense rehab - Room 1202. He didn't physically qualify (it was the doctor's call at Utah's Valley's Hospital - even without seeing him) to come down to Utah Valley Hospital as we had expected. We are grateful that the medical staff at Intermountain Health Care in Murray knew that he needed quite a bit more therapy before he was ready to come home. He will still need several weeks of out-patient therapy once he does return home. We are indebted to the extremely caring medical personnel at this hospital that have looked after Gary. It is the best facility in the state for dealing with this disorder.
Gary's episode last night proved that he was not ready to be sent home. Soon after I left last night, he was brushing his teeth at the sink by his bed and lost his balance and fell down. It took four hospital staff - one male therapist and three nurses - to help him get back up since he is so weak. He is so slight of frame right now. I'm sure that he has lost more weight in the hospital not feeling like eating very much. He has to be shadowed all of the time because of just such an unexpected loss of balance. We are anxious to get him strong enough and well enough as soon as possible so that he will be able to continue with some new chemo that hopefully will extend his life. (Quite a happy incentive, huh?)
Gary has been strong and has exhibited a positive "upbeat" attitude. I've only witnessed him say two negative things through this whole ordeal: once when he was prostrate on our living room floor on Dec. 18th when he couldn't move and I couldn't move him - he said, "I'm such an invalid." The other time was to his cancer doctor last week when he was lying on his bed not able to move at all and he said to the doctor, "I'm a little down." But when the doctor said, "It's obvious why you should feel that way, but you're going to get better!" Gary perked right up after that and has forged ahead ever since.
Again, our future is unknown, but we do know for absolute that our Father in Heaven's hand is intervening in all aspects of this trial and that the strength of our Savior is felt continually and the peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost is ever present. These are the "gifts" of the season. We love you all and are grateful that you are all a part of our lives. My sister, LaDeane, gave me a Lenox snowflake for Christmas symbolically meaning that a "real" snowflake is fragile and can melt away quickly, but when they are all put together, look what can be done! We feel the strength of each of you - I know that I couldn't "make this alone."
I hope you don't mind me sharing part of my journal with you with this update. (Actually, it is only a hundredth part of what I really write in my journal.) We have hope for a New Year - for you and for us. We have much to be grateful for..............our oldest grandson, Nate, is flying out on January 1st to Brazil to begin his mission; our youngest son and his wife are expecting their third child, a boy, the middle of February; Gary is responding to the treatments and therapy well (there is a 45-year-old man in the same rehab with Gary that also has Guillain-Barre ["geann"] Syndrome that has been staying in the hospital receiving therapy for 9 & 1/2 months!); our children and grandchildren are loving and obedient and kind and respectful to each other and to us and to all with whom they come in contact. Through the kindness of our High Priest Group Leader, Paul Welker, our family will be staying together at a hotel in Salt Lake City this weekend for some "together time." Even though they have been together for the most part, I haven't been able to be with them as much as I would like. Some of our children from out of state will be returning to their homes this next week as the holidays come to an end. Then I will need to take all of our Christmas decorations down and begin with life as surreal as it seems to be at this time. There's a song that I relate to every year from Michael McLean's Forgotten Carols, "I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down." It will be especially so this year..........
Forever with love - Glenda .......and Gary

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tonight is Christmas Eve and Mom is spending the night in the hospital with Dad. I just got off the phone with her and she said they had all the lights dimmed listening to Christmas music and reading a story given to them in an email from Jim Smart. They have got quite a decorated room there as well with all the flowers, poinsettias and other Christmas decorations people have sent. They did have one visitor today (after yesterdays full day of vistors) from Dad's sister Jill and her husband Jim as they were making their way back to Redondo Beach, CA. I don't remember the exact number but Dad did take some steps today that the therapists were very encouraged about. He finished his last interveneous treatment last night, but they want him to be walking on his own before he leaves the hospital. They are hoping to get Dad into the physical therapy down in Utah County so he can return to home (or at least close to home). We had our annual Christmas Eve morning breakfast this morning up in Midway and all the grandkids opened up their presents from each other as well as our presents to each other. We missed having Mom and Dad there, but we took plenty of video of the action that we will show to them tomorrow on Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Exciting New Developments

Hello everyone,

This is Andy, Gary's oldest son writing with some amazing updates that have just occured. I have had first hand witness of the progression of my dad's situation. The physical therepist was just here and to see what was a struggle two days ago with moving his arms and legs, and seeing little or no strength to the progression today is awesome. Things are progressing right on schedule and we are so pleased with how the staff of nurses and doctors have been right there with their helping hand. ....(to be continued)

Message from Dad

Thank you to everyone for all your love and concern. Hopefully we'll be back home soon. Merry Christmas to all!
Love, Gary

Saturday Dec 22

This is Pete, Dad youngest son, and we have created this blog to help keep everyone updated a little easier. We have had an overwhelming amount of support and curiosity with Dad. I worry that Mom is somewhat overwhelmed with trying to keep everyone updated. At the same time it is therapeutic for her, but also very exhausting. Last night, Friday, I stayed over with Dad in the hospital. We were able to sleep at least 4-5 hours, which from what I understand is a record this week. I must be more boring or something. Andy has been here most of the time at nights with Dad, so last night I wanted to relieve him. Dave will be here with him tonight. Mom has spent a couple of nights here this week and but she doesn't get much sleep here at the hospital so it is much better that she stays home at night so she herself does not get sick and exhausted. This morning, therapists have been in all morning and each one of them have said Dad is improving very well. The respiratory therapist said "Wow", when he did his breathing tests so that is a good sign that things are progressing. One of my good friends, Mike Gatherum, his dad Steve is Dad's physical therapist here at the hospital.
I love you Dad. It is an honor to be here with you in the hospital helping in any way that I can. My Dad apologized every time he had to wake me through the night to assist him in turning over, or to walk the halls in the wheelchair. I can speak for all my other siblings I'm sure, we would do anything for you to help you get through these difficult times. It is amazing how Dad has been so positive and upbeat the entire time I have been here with him. Through the night he did experience some pain in legs as the nerves start to come back.
He has two remaining intervenous treatments, which will conclude Sunday night. We hope to have enough progress that he will be able to leave Monday sometime and continue physical therapy from home or down in Utah County. But he may have to stay longer here at IMC in Murray.
Dec 20

Dear Family and Friends,
I'm home for a moment and wanted to explain our latest developments so you will be aware of what's going on in case you are not able to reach us.
Gary has developed what's called Guillain Barre (French Polio) which can be explained on the internet. It came upon him on Monday and by Tuesday he was totally incapacitated. None of his muscles or nerves function. He is completely depend ant on other people to address all of his bodily needs. He can talk, but that's about all. There is a concern of it going into his respiratory system whereby he would stop breathing. So far, that is being kept under control, but it could go there immediately. He is monitored around the clock. The cause is unknown by the Neurologist experts. It is an autoimmune disease which is somewhat rare. The propensity for it can already be in the body and then be activated by the body because of disease or chemo used to treat cancer or other physiological stress.
Gary is in the new Intermountain Hospital on 53rd South in Murray in the "Tower" Rm. 704. He is being given intravenous IGIV treatment every day for five days. If that doesn't restore capacity, they will try another treatment for ten days. He may, or may not, regain the use of his body being at a disadvantage with his pancreatic cancer condition. He undoubtedly will not be able to have any more chemo to prolong his life. If he responds to either treatment, he will require physical therapy. We will be in the hospital for 5 days to 3 weeks, most likely the latter. I am staying there with him, coming home a night for some rest now and then while our son from Oregon stays with him. We have all of our children in town now and they are all ministering to him every moment.
Whatever the reason for this latest condition must be a part of our Father's merciful plan. Perhaps in time we will know.
We love you. Merry Christmas!
Glenda and Gary

Dec 14

Our Dear Loved Ones,
This is a hard email to write - but it is the best way to communicate with each of you right now. Our hearts are heavy..............
We found out today in Gary's endoscopy ultrasound that his cancer is inoperable. The tumor has spread to all three major arteries in the pancreas therefore making it impossible to do any surgery to remove the cancer. We don't know our time period. We will be meeting with our cancer doctor next Tuesday. We expect to be advised on palliative treatment to make Gary as comfortable as possible during the ensuing weeks and months. We do not wish to prolong any suffering for the inevitable. He has not experienced pain to this point, but it will come sooner than later and it will be very severe.
We are grateful for the three months that we have enjoyed with our family and friends. The fasting and prayers have brought Gary to this point with a sweetness of life. He has been blessed as each of our family has as well. We love each of you and we will move forward with the love and peace of our Heavenly Father and our Savior. We are grateful for this Christmas season that has brought a needed balance in our heart aches. As I was driving Gary home from the hospital in Salt Lake today, a special song came on our CD player that identified my tender feelings: "Believe"
Children sleeping, snow is softly falling; Dreams are calling like bells in the distance
We were dreamers not so long ago; But one by one we all had to grow up
When it seems the magic's slipped away; We find it all again on Christmas day
Believe in what your heart is saying; Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste; There's so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside; And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need; If you just believe
Trains move quickly to their journey's end; Destinations are where we begin again
Ships go sailing far across the sea; Trusting starlight to get where they need to be
When it seems that we have lost our way; We find ourselves again on Christmas day
Believe in what your heart is saying; Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste; There's so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside; And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need; If you just believe
Just believe
..............So this is Christmas - and what have we done? Another year older, a new one's just begun. And so this is Christmas - I hope we have fun - the near and the dear ones - the old and the young. A very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - Let's hope it's a good one, without any fear. We will celebrate the "reason for the season."
We love you - always and forever. Glenda and Gary