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Earlier medical reports:
March-April 2013, Eunice broke a hip in Morocco, click here
2011 -history of Aortic Dissection- CLICK HERE

Eunice has heart valve trouble, early 2014

  Last note at bottom, Feb 26 about 7  PM, to go there click here
We are now at  our daughter Bev's home but just until Feb 19.
 Address here is Eunice Ordman at
4407 West 77th Terrace, Prairie Village, Kansas, 66208.
Phone number here at Bev's is 913-649-0782
  My cell phone at 901-634-7309 - takes voice messages and records numbers - I'm not good at text messages so recommend against them.

(sometimes late getting online, spotty web connection at the rehab home.)
(Oh my, I should have been putting recent news at the top, shouldn't I? Oh. Well, scroll down or use that link!)

The most recent copy of this is usually at
which for some reason updates faster than ( is on fatcow, inotherplaces is on 1&1, for those who care)

We drove from Memphis to Kansas City to visit daughter Bev and family around Christmas 2013. Late on Dec 27 Eunice was unusually tired; when she was still tired the next morning I took vital signs and we went to the nearest emergency room. The initial diagnosis was severe congestive heart failure, with a great deal of fluid in the lungs.

January 2, 2014  report:

We've known for some years that Eunice had severe aortic stenosis (stiffening and narrowing of the aortic valve, the main valve leaving the heart.)  Whenever we've asked about replacing that valve, her cardiologist has said "she is not complaining of shortness of breath or chest pain; she is up and about and active mentally and socially; let's not do elective surgery. It will let us know when it needs replacing. Now, it seems, it has let us know.  Luckily Kansas City has one of the major heart hospitals (St. Luke's) and Eunice was transferred there by ambulance.

Eunice's attitude toward this, as to a few previous incidents, has been "I've had a wonderful, full, life. Life doesn't owe me anything. But I'm having much too much fun to leave. What are you (doctors) going to try next?"

Eunice is comfortable, in no pain, fluid out of lungs, on oxygen but able to walk around with a long oxygen cord. There are plenty of phone calls and family around.

The doctors have been spending a great deal of time testing, discussing alternatives, explaining things to us. They say this is not an emergency situation, they want to work out the best procedure and best surgical team.  They don't want to open her chest, preferring to go in through a small hole and replace the valve that way.  (Eunice feels she's an old hand at this, having had a stent placed in her abdomen, in the superior mesenteric artery, in 2011.) They don't think they can go up her aorta from her leg due to the prior aortic dissection.  They could enter between ribs or by cutting a small hole in the sternum.  But they prefer to use instruments placed down the esophagus to get a good look at what they are doing, and Eunice has had a constricted esophagus for years (causing her to eat slowly, but  it has not been enough of a problem to justify surgery in the past.) So we are now awaiting an angiogram to see what the arteries around the heart look like and an upper endoscopy and possible biopsies and balloon stretch of the esophagus to see if it can take the instruments the cardiologists want to put down there. As of January 1, it sounds to me as if the surgery itself may be one to three weeks in the future, assuming they work out a method. 

January 2 PM:  Todaywe had high precision CT scans, pulmonary function test, got more prior reports from Memphis, discussions to plan work for tomorrow (upper endoscopy down to the duodenum, biopsies if indicated, possible balloon stretch of the esophagus. Instrustions on what she can and can't eat have been changing every two hours, sometime before she can open the ice cream they just delivered. We cannot complain of any lack of medical attention, and have lovely discussions with the chaplain. They are still exploring the possibility that the presenting cause was a form of pneumonia, although that does not negate that the aortic valve is getting worse and, by any usual standard, needs replacing.  One problem is that the muscles that push things down the esophagus are weak or uncoordinated, so when she eats in a hospital bed (not fully upright) things she eats or drinks don't go down properly and she may get them into her lungs.
        .It's after 5 PM and we've been told to expect more doctors this evening.

January 2  at 7 PM - they did more pulmonary function tests, no one has told us results. More past test results have arrived from Memphis. They have cancelled the Friday angiogram and scheduled a major endoscopy to look over the throat, esophagus, and duodenum, biopsying and stretching as possible, then a swallowing test.  So she's on nothing-by-mouth for the next 18 hours or so, and back on an intravenous. If they decide they still need the angiogram that can't be done before Monday.

Jan 3 PM. It has been a very very busy day.  An upper endoscopy in the morning showed the esophagus sufficiently clear that they will be able to put a doppler sonogram probe down the esophagus to image the heard from that direction during surgery.  No narrowing of the esophagus was found but they have considerable questions about her swallowing ability - perhaps malfunction of the swallowing muscles (peristalsis?).  They hope to do a swallowing study Saturday morning.  Reading of x-rays showed a very fuzzy area near the heart and they don't understand it - pneumonia? inflammation? aspiration? something related to heart? So the pulmunologists want to do more before letting her out of the hospital.  Afternoon they did a coronary angiogram since they had found no record of a recent one in Memphis. No arteries are blocked, in fact they were in unusally good shape. The lower part of the aortic dissection has healed remarkably, according to a cat scan. But there is a substantial aneurysm (7 to 8 cm) in the aorta just below the left subclavian artery  (where the arch turns down.) Cardiologist believes the odd appearance in the lung may be something associated with that large aneurysm.  So they need to replace the aortic valve and stent the aortic aneurysm. They hope they can assemble the rather large surgical team to do that on Monday morning.
      They cannot go up through the aorta because one end of the stent in the superior mesenteric artery extends out just enough into the aorta that equipment headed up the aorta might snag on it. (It may not have projected out when it was placed but the aorta has changed shape considerably since then as the dissection has healed.)  So they propose to go in between the ribs under the left breast, run equipment into the bottom tip of the heart into the left ventricle (if I understood correctly) then run their tube through the heart and push the esixting valve flaps aside and install a new aortic valve (bovine pericardial valve in cobalt-nickel?), then continue to move their equipment through the new valve to stent the aorta. The man says he has done this quite a few times, most recently last week. (Dr Allen is the one talking with us and is one of the surgeons who will be there.) 
         Risk estimates?  10 percent risk of serious side effects or death from the surgery;  over 50% risk of death within a year if the surgery is not done, given probable failure of the aortic valve or probable bursting of the aneurysm.
        Eunice came through both major procedures today fine, recovered quickly, the anesthesiologist was extremely nervous about the endoscopy and did terminate it a few minutes before the gastroenterologist would have liked but the gastroenterologist says he is happy with the results and saw nothing that would require biopsies or a balloon stretch.
      They are letting her have ice cream and some other stuff this evening - "full liquids but no actual liquid", in other words soft foods, after about 28 hours of nothing-by-mouth.  She is a bit confused by all the goings on but speaks loudly and demands explanations appropriately.  She helped convince the reluctant anesthesiologist that yes, she really wanted this done.

January 4, 9 PM. The only remaining tests today was a swallowing test, with the speech therapist. She found no impediment to Eunice swallowing either thick or thin liquids.  This was just an exam in the throat and neck, not a full barium swallow as I had expected, so it tells us no more about any muscle problems in the esophagus.  But it had one wonderful side effect: She is niow allowed to eat or drink anything she wants, as long as she sits fully upright to so so. After over about 40 hours of nothing-by-mouth, she is reveling in having a choice of foods and feeling much livelier and enthusiastic.
    Her cardiologist who seems to do the "admitting doctor" job became concerned at her lack of exercise after a week in the hospital and sent in a physical therapist to do an evaluation and tell us which of her hip exercises she should resume, as well as take her for her first significant walk on a walker in the hospital corridor.  No major tests are scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday) - it is a day to eat, exercise, rest, and be ready for the big surgery which they hope to do just before noon on Monday (assuming the surgery the team is doing before hers that morning goes as planned.)
       Carl and Bill have returned to college, so Bev and Heidi now have the night sessions at the hospital - Heidi tonight. 

Sunday morning Jan 5 10 AM
I'm at home (Bev and Bob's) with a bad cold and productive cough. Eunice is fine. The doctor who came on morning rounds said that a doctor essential to the surgery was unavailable Monday and that the next day they could hope to assemble the surgical team in Thursday January 9.   This is not a big surprise as we had been told last Monday that Thursdays were the normal day to do this sort of surgery, given the large team needed.

Wednesday morning Jan 8 10 am
Nothing exciting has happened in the interim. Eunice is her usual cheerful self, they have a physical therapist or two session for her daily getting her to walk up and down the corridor.  They offered to let her come home for a day or two but given my bad cold (cough still occasionally productive), sub-zero temperatures and a lot of snow on the ground, that seemed a bad idea.   Surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning - I think she is second on the schedule and of course this sort of surgery is of rather unknown duration - they hope to start in the 8 to 9 range and take 90 minutes to 2 hours, so she should be out of post-op around noon.  I'll get a notice up here as soon as I can after that.
I understand they will movbe her to a different room after surgery (I'm unclear on whether that is intensive care or simply a post-op special follow-up corridor) so the room phone number will change. I hope she'll be ready for phone calls Friday or Saturday. My cell is 901-634-7309 and if I'm not with her I'll refer you to the cell number of whichever of the Skrukruds is with her or a room phone once we have one.
Our mail is now arriving at Bev's so she has Christmas cards and the like to read. Address things to Eunice Ordman at
4407 West 77th Terrace, Prairie Village, Kansas, 66208.  I have no idea yet how long we will be there but I'll be startled if we get back to Memphis during January.
  Thanks for all the phone calls and e-mails.
   Love, Chip (and Eunice!)

Monday Jan 9 about 1 PM.  Doctors say the surgery went fine but she is still under anesthetic. The stent went in fine, the new heart valve went in satisfactorily with a small but acceptable amount of leakage (small backflow when valve is closed).  The only problem encountered was that after surgery her heart rate (pulse) was slow.  They had her on a temporary pacemaker during surgery and phasing her off of it left the rate too low (e.g. 40 rather than 60). So they have decided to put in a pacemaker while she is still in the surgical area.  The conjecture is that the stent and the new valve are very close to an electrical/nerve circuit in the heart and may be affecting it. Since the wires for the temporary pacemaker have worked well for a few hours now, making it a permanent pacemaker is a minor operation and the batteries won't need replacing for ten years. But it means it will be another two hours more or less until she is conscious again.  I get to go in occasionally to hold her hand.

Jan 9 3:30 PM    all the surgery done, including putting in a pacemaker. Still asleep, and they say it may be another hour and a half or so before she can open eyes. It seems to me that is the third time at least they have said "another hour or two."   I'm not sure if they move her to the ICU before or after she wakes up.  I've had Bob, Bev, Heidi, Jilana with me at various stages, right now Jilana is here. Lots of e-mails and phone calls but at this hour the waiting room is quite noisy. Good support and contact by hospital staff.

Jan 9 Monday 7:30 PM.   They have had trouble getting her blood pressure and body temperature up to normal levels.  As of now the nurse says that body temperature is OK but that they are going through change-of-shift and that the doctors who did the surgeries are now off duty.  They may lighten the anesthesia to test reflexes this evening and may not.  The nurse guesses that they won't try to seriously wake her up before 8 am or so tomorrow. But she suggests I stay here another hour or so to talk to the night shift of doctors, then go home to get a night's sleep and come back in the morning.  I may well not make another report before noon Tuesday unless there is
an exciting change.

Jan 9 10:10 PM.  The breathing tube is out, breathing on her own with some nosepiece (canulla) oxygen. Some responses (raise your left hand, squeeze my fingers.)  Vital signs all acceptable.  Lightly sedated, letting her sleep for the night. We've gone home to go to bed also.

Jan 10, Friday, 8:20 AM.  She is awake, smiling, recognizing people, talking quietly, still a bit confused about date and current events but happily remembering children and grandchildren.  No sedation.  Blood pressure and pulse a bit higher than they want but not alarming.  They have stood her up briefly.  They hope to get various tubes (surgery drainage) out later today and if her vitals are stable enough they may move her to a normal room (with a phone) by this evening, or that may be tomorrow. I probably won't report again until she is moved.  Phone calls are rather inconvenient in the intensive care unit.

Jan 10, 1 PM. She has been moved, after a bunch more tests and doctor visits.  She is sitting up in her new room,
Room 529.  The room phone number is 816-960-4402.  She is still tired and still rather confused, The nurses say her confusion is much less than typical given that she was anesthetized or sedated for so many hours.
   One nurse practitioner gave a rough estimate of five days in hospital, come back for checkup five days after that, then probably cleared to travel to Memphis.  Don't use left arm today (due to incision for pacemaker), don't lift over 10 pounds with left arm or raise left arm overhead for six weeks.  Possible release from hospital to nursing home for a few days for physical therapy but physical therapy will start today or tomorrow in hospital.  The pacemaker is a new new Medtronic model that allows MRI's.  Her lung capacity at the moment is lowered, she is on 3 liters of oxygen and doing breathing exercises (this doesn't worry me much - at one point in April she was on 5 liters.)

January 11, 10 AM.   The hospital internet access has been down yesterday afternoon and overnight, still questionable now.  E-mail is questionable at the moment. Web works. Eunice is dramatically improved, bathroom functions fine. Still suffering from some anesthesia aftereffects but is starting to distinguish dreams from reality much better than yesterday. (Nurses say that at 89 and after 14 hours under, this may take three or four days.) A physical therapist is with her now but Eunice is having a bit of trouble remembering not to put weight on her left hand (due to the incision for the pacemaker.)  She's enjoying reading National Geographics (we have plenty).  She's making progress on the deep-breathing exerciser. They are not letting her use her walker yet since they are afraid her short-term memory is still weak enough that she will put too much weight on the left arm.

(I took a day off from the internet)

January 13, 9:30 AM.  Eunice's memory is now very normal except for a bit of mental blocking on medical issues and events of the few days after the operation.  She is standing up easily but has only walked about 20 feet at a time. Lungs still are not fully expanded, and her blood count was low enough yesterday that they gave her a unit of blood in the late afternoon.  So she is still on oxygen and itwill be at least a few days before we can go back to our daughter's house. (One prediction on Jan 10 was hospital until the 14th to 16th, then maybe a rehab home for a few days, followup appointment Jan 20, then further plans.)  Phone calls have tapered off so by all means give us a call at 816-960-4402 (hospital room)  or  901-634-7309 (Chip's cell)

Jan 13, 9 PM.  I'm afraid this has been one those two-steps-forward, one step back, days.  Lungs and blood oxygen were a bit worse, appetite and activity level much lower.  Mentally she is still fine, although a bit depressed at the setbacks.  Lots of diuretic today to try to get fluid out of the lungs and they'll do some more detailed x-rays in the morning, then bring in the pulmonologists if necessary. The nurses say this sort of setback is not uncommon and are being very helpful and supportive.

January 14, 4 PM.   As predicted, they did x-rays and called the pulmonologists, who decided to use a needle and drain fluid that had accumulated between the lung and the chest wall, especially in the upper left back (if I understand the x-rays correctly). They did that about 3:30 PM, withdrawing about 1.3 liters of fluid.  Eunice's voice sounds much better already, but I suspect it will take a night's sleep and a meal (in which order I'm not sure) to see how much improvement it brought.  The hope is that this will let them slowly wean her off oxygen (now at 4 liters.) In the absence of further setbacks, we'll probably leave the hospital Thursday or Friday and spend the weekend in a rehab home near Bev's house, then see the doctors for followup next Tuesday +/-.

January 15, Wednesday, 7 PM.  It was a much better day today - obviously the lung drainage worked. There is still a biyt of fluid left there, she is still on Lasix (diuretic), but is maintaining good blood oxygen levels (95) on only two liters rate in the nose piece.  She is more talkative, standing up by herself more easily, and walked 20 feet for the first time in several days. I took four or five hours off today, with daughter Bev staying with Eunice and granddaughter Heidi helping me to run errands (refill prescriptions, shopping for snacks, bringing more changes of clothes to the hospital.)  I'm beginning to gather copies of radiology and other interesting details. The stent they put in her aorta measures 3.1 cm in diameter by 15 cm long - in layman's language, they have reinforced her aorta with a piece of fat garden hose about 6 inches long!   The estimates of opening in the aortic valve before surgery were an opening of .34 cm-sq and a pressure differential exceeding 51 mm-hg; I haven't seen the estimates for after surgery yet but presumably the opening should exceed 1 cm-sq and the pressure differential should be very low.

Jan 16, Thursday, 10 PM.  Eunice is still being very sleepy a lot, but she is eating somewhat better and walked aboput 18 to 20 feet twice today. Oxygen down to 1 liter rate.  The present plan is to release her from the hospital and move her to a rehab home after lunch on Friday. We've agreed to a rehab place within a few miles of Bev's house and they say that I (or Bev or Heidi) can spend nights there in her room. So we are on the way back to normalcy!  I'll get the phone number and such at the rehab home posted within a few hours of getting there.
January 17, Friday, 1:30 PM. They are planning to release Eunice from the hospital between 3 and 4 PM today.
She is off oxygen experimentally for the last hour or so and symptomatically is fine, they haven't tested blood oxygen level yet.  Walking is still slow and short - about 20 feet at a time - and she still gets sleepy, so we will go to a rehab home probably for a few days to a week.  The doctors are suggesting followup appointments about Jan 29, so we'll probably still be in Kansas City for granddaughter Heidi Skrukrud's birthday on Jan 30th, and I hope then we'll go to Memphis.
     The rehab home is "Brighton Gardens of Prairie Village" but mail should still go to Bev's house, address in the Jan 8 note above.  The phone number in room 173 at Brighton Gardens is reputed to be 913-236-9354  but I doubt we'll be settled in for phone calls before about 6 PM Central time this evening. (Yes, it is a different area code - the Hospital is in Missouri and the Rehab home is maybe five miles away, in Kansas.)

January 17, 8:15 PM.  [not posted promptly, poor internet connection at rehab home] We've made the move, phone works, she is asleep. Blood oxygen however fell back to about 86% so I suspect she'll be back on oxygen for awhile longer.  She is still not doing well at deep breathing exercises (rarely above 500 ml on the standard suck-machine test, rarely up to 600).  She is standing up easily without assistance when needed.

January 19.  3:15 PM.  We are very happy with the rehab home, getting phone calls, I can sleep in the room and eat meals with her.  Bev Bob and Heidi  are in and out (and spelling me so I can go shopping or home for a shower)  but her blood oxygen still falls to the 80's if she is off oxygen too long or walks 20 feet.  So progress may be slower than I'd hoped.  We'll get there!  Mentally she is fine when oxygen level is OK, but very tired when it is low.  I'll probably report less often, unless there are changes to report. She does enjoy and respond well to phone calls, 913-236-9354, we tend to be out of the room for meals for roughly two hours starting roughly  7:45 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:30 PM  Central time. The room phone does not take messages or record caller numbers.  My cell phone at 901-634-7309 takes voice messages and records numbers - I'm not good at text messages so recommend against them.

January 21, 8:45 PM  We are not spending a lot of time in Eunice's room.  Physical Therapy (=below waist), occupational therapy (=above waist), speech therapy (deep breathing and avoiding swallowing down windpipe), shower.  Daughter Bev was in for three hours or so today while I ran errands with granddaughter Heidi's help.  The very minor bleeding around Eunice's incisions seems to be subsiding (the nurse says no bras for awhile, maybe the bra is rubbing one of the incisions), and her blood oxygen level is coming back a little better after exercise.  She is still on oxygen while resting or sleeping but can manage two to four hours of activity while off oxygen.  Monday she walked 80 to 100 feet on her rollator, a little less Tuesday but that was after all the other exercise!  We are usually out of the room for meals for about 90 to 120 minutes starting about 7:55 am, 11:55 am, 4:55 pm Central time.

January 25, 11 am.  Eunice is still improving and getting visibly stronger, and enjoying long conversations both in person and on the telephone. Incision bleeding seems to have completely stopped. She still tires and naps a lot, which the nurses say is very normal after such major surgery. Unfortunately her lungs are not expanding as much as we'd like; blood oxygen level still drops briefly as low as 81% to 84%  when she's been exercising and off oxygen for a few hours.
       In the rehab home she gets physical therapy (hip and leg and general strengthening exercise), occupational therapy (coping with her limited use of left arm for six weeks following surgery that involved multiple left-side incisions), and speech therapy (deep breathing and some tendency to swallow down her windpipe) at least five times a week each, and oxygen is readily available when needed. So she is tolerating not coming back to daughter Bev's home (and then Memphis) as fast as we'd both like. She sees the surgeons on January 29 for the post-surgical checkup, so I should get a report up late on the 29th.
         I've been out of the loop for most of two days with upset digestion (it may simply have been exhaustion). daughter Bev, granddaughter Heidi, and son-in-law Bob have been taking  turns caring for me at Bev's house and being with Eunice at the rehab home.

Wednesday, January 29, 1:30 PM.  I'm fully recovered from the digestive bug,and granddaughter Heidi, who got it shortly after I did, is largely recovered.  We went back to the surgeons' office for a followup this morning.\, by wheelchair van from the rehab home.  The doctor felt that the incisions were in good shape, everything sounded right with a stethoscope.  He wanted us to stay around Kansas City until Feb 12 unless there is some urgent reason to leave sooner, and then wants to do a more complete followup, with x-ray, sonogram, EKG, I think.  In the meantime Eunice's lungs continue to have fluid in and around them, so she is getting Lasix 40mg/day. Right now they have her on oxygen 2 liters/min constantly, hoping it will make her more active, build up muscle strength, and that will make her breathing stronger.    It certainly is making her more interested in more things, so in that sense things are looking up. We are still doing multiple therapy sessions per day (Physical, occupational, speech).

Saturday, February 1, 7:45 PM  They are giving Eunice an Albuterol inhaler 4 times a day, which is supposed to help open bronchial passages and I suspect lungs. It seems to be helping considerably. On Friday morning they lowered the oxygen rate from 2 liters/min to 1 liter/min. Her oxygen level is mainly staying 90 - 93 % even during exercise; if it briefly drops to 88 it comes up to 93 within 2 minutes of rest. She is walking 100 ft+ several times a day, and is able to stand and work with her hands for 5 or 6 minutes at a time before tiring. On the "suck on this" test machine (which I'm told is called a spirometer) she is now hitting 750 ml a few times a day - she was stuck at 500 or less for a week or two.  If she continues this well, she may be able to go off oxygen all or part of the time by Monday or Tuesday.
     The other obstacle to getting out of here is where to go - Eunice would love to spend a few days at Bev's house, a mile from here, which makes excellent sense, but Bev's is a split-level and to live normally there Eunice would have to manage seven steps. As yet her left hip isn't up to that. Recall she broke that hip in Marakesh, Morocco, in March; she was doing a flight of steps with no trouble by June, but a few weeks in bad with the hear issue has cost her muscle tone there, So  the therapists here are starting her up-and-down one step to work her back up to ability to do stairs.  Of course in Memphis we can live without stairs (on one floor) if necessary, but that raises the issue of whether she is up to that 500-mile trip without a few extra days recovery. 
     We had a small birthday party here at the rehab for granddaughter Heidi Skrukrud on Jan 30, and grandsons Bill and Carl Skrukrud have come down from college in Minnesota to visit for a few days, so we have plenty of extra entertainment.  The other people here at the rehab are giving us fascination conversation; among others, there is one lady whose father was an officer in the Estonian Army in World War One, a man who has been on 25 medical mission trips to Haiti starting in 1982, and the director of the Kansas City World War One Museum is a frequent visitor (his mother is a patient here.).

February 6, Thursday, 8 AM.  We had a rough few days. Sunday she had no appetite and was listless; Monday and Tuesday she had some sort of digestive flu (fever under 100, but plenty of symptoms at both ends; could not even keep pills down.)  Wednesday, stopped up with immodium, she felt like a new woman - some appetite, doing slaloms in the hall on her walker during physical therapy. We had a major blizzard here Tuesday and some of the volunteers and staff couldn't get in Tuesday and Wednesday (several of the nurses and others worked 16 hours instead of 8 when their replacement couldn't get in or they couldn't get out) and the "entertainment" people in particular were in short supply. So I did a story-telling session for the residents and Bev's family turned out in force to do musical performances (family folk-sing with Bob and Carl on guitars, Bill on mandolin, Heidi as well as the males on vocals ... then Bill on piano.)   Then they went home (about a mile away) and cooked an elaborate dinner and brought it back and we had a family dinner for seven in the very fancy private dining room / board room here.
     We don't know how badly the flu will set Eunice's release bak - they put her back on 2 liters/min on oxygen, and she hasn't made progress on the inhaler (incentive spirometer, Carl calls it), still topping out at 750 ml. The latest x-ray shows a reduction in fluid in/around the lungs but I don't know how to quantify the improvement and I haven't been able to get the disks to compare the pictures - this is one of the extremely few things I've been unhappy about here, the place has generally done a fantastic job.  We'll see the surgeon(s) again on Feb 12 and no doubt get a clearer discussion.

February 7, Friday, 5 PM.  Dramatic progress in muscle work the last two days - now going up and down 7 steps on a flight of stairs and walking slalom courses on her rollator (4-wheel walker).  But her blood oxygen level still drops quickly to about 86 to 88% if she spends time off oxygen (e.g. getting dressed,  when the nose piece is off so she can pull a dress over her head.)  They are experimenting tonight with 1 liter/min instead of 2 to see how it goes.  The local doctor in the rehab feels that the pleural effusion at the base of the left lung (I take it this means fluid around the lung, rather than in the lung) is not resolving as rapidly as it should and has suggested a pulmonologist look at it. So we are going in for a pulmonology appointment at St.Luke;s Hospital (the attached medical buildings) on Monday afternoon Feb 10, and then going in for a full round of tests with the cardiology surgeons for essentially all day Wednesday February 12.  We very much hope that after that Eunice will be off oxygen, or only need a whiff occasionally, and that we will then be able to arrange to return to Memphis.  The present thought is that we will fly (minimizing travel time, and airplanes have oxygen available) and that Bev will drive our car back to Memphis.  But of course we'll see what the doctors say on Monday and Wednesday.
February 10, Monday, 7 PM.  Very Good News! The pulmonologist says that the remaining pleural effusion (fluid around the base of the left lung) is relatively small and slowly decreasing. He estimates that it will go away in a month, more or less, faster with more activity on Eunice's part. As far as he is concerned we can get out of the rehab home, fly, go home, and resume as normal a life as Eunice is able. We still need to see the cardiologists on Wednesday, but expect they will say much the same.  Among the tests on Wednesday (when we expect to spend all day with doctors) will be a CAT scan, a Doppler sonogram, if needed x-rays and.or EKGs, and an altitude tolerance test (to tell the airline how much oxygen to give her at any given altitude or cabin pressure.) After that  we still have the logistics of making travel arrangements, arranging oxygen equipment where we need it, etc., so exact date of return to Memphis is still very much open.

February 12, Wednesday, about 4:30 PM. We spent the whole day with doctors- Caridiologists for CT scan of chest, Doppler sonogram of heart, EKG, all looked great, doctors are impressed by how she has healed; then to the pulmonologists for a test of altitude tolerance.  She needs 1 liter/min of oxygen on the ground but at flight altitude needs 3 liters/min.  After about seven phone calls I found a place that will lend us the portable oxygen concentrator needed for flying.  We now need to arrange to get out of the rehab home to go to our daughter Bev's house near here (lots of paperwork, getting prescriptions written and filled), arrange for oxygen at Bev's house, make flight reservations, arrange for oxygen on the flight from Kansas City to Memphis, arrange for oxygen at home in Memphis.  Present guess is that we'll move from Rehab to Bev's on Friday and fly to Memphis next Wednesday. (Part of the constraint here is figuring out when Bev can drive our car to Memphis and come help us get settled in there.)

February 14, Friday, 5 PM.  We have escaped from the rehab home and are at Bev's house. After about 48 hours of utter chaos organizing prescriptions and oxygen, we left there  after lunch today and now have a stock of prescription medicines, oxygen at Bev's house, and oxygen equipment for flying to Memphis Weds. Feb 19 arriving early evening. I'll add more when I get more time.

[added the 18th:  The rehab home did a fabulous job while we were there. Getting out was absurd. Two examples:  The fax machine at he rehab and the fax machine at Walgreens had incompatible margins. So the faxes Walgreen's received cut off the first two letters of "Ordman" and the first two letters of each prescribed medicine. So when we called Walgreens, they said they had not received any fax about Ordman. When finally got the origibal from the rehab home and carried it, the problem ot identified but Walgreen's still couldn't correct it and give me pills based on my copy since my copy didn't have the doctor's signature... (etc.)  Then  we needed an order for the oxygen system at home. The oxygen company told the rehab home to do an Oxygen Desaturation test on Eunice and fax the results. Apparently the words "Oxygen Desaturation Test" meant different things in the two organizations; the rehab home kept saying they had send it and the oxygen company kept saying they had sent the wrong form... In both cases, very minor differences in procedure that the human beings involved seemed completely incapable of resolving without 7 or eight faxes, ten phone calls, and eventually a personal visit.

February 18, Tuesday 1:30 PM (note added material in the paragraph above also.)  We are doing fine at Bev's, therapists have come to the house a few times to check that things are doing well. Eunice is going up and down stairs (half flight - split level) and clearly can get around by herself (but we stay beside her). The doctors still hope she'll be off oxygen in a month or two (she hit 850 on the inspirational spirometer twice yesterday - a month ago it was hard for her to get to 500.)   We will fly to Memphis tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon - daughter Bev is driving our car to Memphis, granddaughter Heidi is driving us to the airport.  Delta Airlines has approved our oxygen arrangements for the flight, the oxygen company here is talking with the oxygen company in Memphis to set us up there.  We have Thursday appointments with Eunice's internist and cardiologist, a caregiver coming in Friday afternoon so I can go shopping, an orthopedic appointment next Tuesday. I hope that by about 5 PM Friday we'll be settled in enough to manage phone calls on our home number (901-327-9735).

February 19, 2014, Wednesday, 8 PM.  We are home in Memphis!   The plane ride had several minor problems (Delta Airlines slow at wheelchair help and some of their staff  being bewildered about oxygen) but the glitches were very minor in the scheme of things.  Bev and Bob left Kansas City at daybreak and drove our car and theirs to Memphis (theirs to go home in) and were here at our condo cleaning out the refrigerator, going shopping, etc., and ready for us to arrive!  The oxygen company arrived within an hour and had us set up and off the portable oxygen.  We are exhausted.  Doctors appointments tomorrow Thursday   at 11 and 12:30, numerous errands to run.  Help lined up in the home for Friday and Sunday afternoons.

February 26, Wednesday, 7 PM.  It has been a week. We are still unpacking and sorting papers, and trying to figure out how to move projects from my old computer I had taken to Kansas (thinking of a one-week trip) after it is two months out of synch with my home computer.  Eunice has seen her internist, cardiologist, and hip surgeon, and will start physical therapy (outpatient) tomorrow. We've been to church, out to lunch with friends, and to a League of Women Voters meeting.  I am getting in home help a few times a week so I can run errands et cetera without leaving Eunice alone, and one of those helpers drove us to and from the League of Women Voters meeting.  Eunice is still on oxygen (1 liter continuous at home, 2 liters pulsed when out), walker at home, wheelchair in public, but is now active at her desk and on the phone and very much herself, with a bit of extra short term memory weakness - but if the first time a husband notices that is when his wife is 89 and a half, he has little reason to complain. The cardiologist and hip surgeon are talking to figure out how to coordinate heart rehab (stress training, typically on a treadmill) with hip rehab (on a walker) , and the cardiologist is planning a pulmonology consult in case the pleural effusion does not clear up smoothly.
     As our life is now returning remarkably to normal (well, we aren't auditing classes on campus yet!) I may well not update this again unless something unexpected happens.  Do send us e-mails (, as eunice checks hers too rarely) or phone us (901-327-9735.)