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Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Hero

While my sister has been very busy being my brother's hero, my husband has been being very busy being mine. He has been there to do anything I needed him to do, so I can be there for my brother.

Willie has been taking care of my dad on his days off. As much as I love my father, he can be very challenging to care for. He has trouble getting to the bathroom on time, and refuses to wear a depends. He will ask what we are going to have for lunch, and then say he's not hungry once you get lunch ready. He refuses to let his bath aid give him his bath at least once a week. His dementia leaves him unable to remember something that you just told him ten minutes ago. You have the same conversation with him over and over.

Willie has been very patient and very kind to him through it all. They have been talking a lot and learning more about each other. They have been watching golf together. According to Willie, Dad really seems to like to watch golf. He has told Willie stories about how he used to caddy when he was in high school. Something I never knew. Willie says he doesn't seem to like baseball though. He falls asleep when that is on, well, who doesn't.

Willie and Dad haven't always been close. Not that there have been any hard feelings between them, just that they haven't had a lot in common. Willie loves to garden, Dad loves to watch TV and read the paper. Willie loves sports, Dad has never been one to watch sports, (honestly though, I'm not sure that was his choice, Mom hated sports.) They just are different people.

The day that Willie and I got married Dad was as proud as I have ever seen him. Not knowing much about the proper ways of weddings, I had Dad and Willie dressed in black tuxes with tails and ascots. This was really much too formal for the rest of the wedding. I thought they both looked perfect though. 

As my father put out his arm to escort me down the aisle his smile was as wide as I'd ever seen it. He promised not to let me trip and fall. We turned and headed toward Willie. 

Willie had not seen my dress. He had no idea what it was going to look like. He never even saw the pattern that was being used to make my dress. I was kind of superstitious about all things wedding. I didn't want to even come close to torking off the wedding god's. Willie did not see me the day of the wedding until those doors opened for Dad and I to walk down the aisle. (hey, we've been married thirty years come this next April, you going to argue with that?) 

Dad walked taller and straighter than I had ever seen him walk before. His limp, due to his prosthetic right leg, was barely noticeable. We walked at his pace, which was slow, but strong. He smiled all the way to the alter. Asked who gives this woman to marry this man, he proudly and firmly said "I do." 

He helped me up on to the alter with Willie, let go and sat down next to my mother. 

Willie was smiling ear to ear as my father and I walked toward him. He saw, for the first time, the lavender satin dress with white lace over lay that I was wearing. I smiled back at him. I felt like I was walking through a fog to my very own prince charming. It was the happiest day of my life. I couldn't stop smiling. 

Willie and my dad have spent more time together than they ever have before. They are learning much about each other. Finding more they have in common. More things to talk about. Dad's dementia makes it harder, but they are getting there none the less. We will be finding out what other sports Dad likes or doesn't like. Golf, yes, baseball, not so much. NASCAR, he seems OK with, football, we will see. Dad and Willie will be watching more and more together. Willie has the NFL package from DirectTV. We watch a lot of football. GO RAMS!!! (I know! Willie is a Steelers fan, but I'm a Rams fan, deal with it!) I wonder if Dad will pick a favorite team?

Ben's Hero

Sitting in a hospital room all day, trying to talk to a person who can't respond, can be very hard on the joints and the emotions. I quite often get up and roam around the hospital. While I walk feeling very helpless, my sister is driving herself crazy in Des Moines.

When we were kids money was tight. I don't think we, as children, ever knew it though. My dad worked hard every day. I hardly ever remember him taking a sick day. He worked six days a week with two weeks vacation every year. About the only time he missed work was when he was sick enough to have to go to the hospital. 

It wasn't until my sister reached her teens and started going to a junior high school on the, let's say, more well to do side of town, that I started to realize that we didn't have a lot of money. 

Stacey had a hard time, as all teens do, seeing just how much she didn't have. I don't know if she had started realizing it sooner, but junior high really accentuated it. She had friends there that lived in big houses, that didn't have to share a room with their twerpy little sisters. Kids that had all of the fashionable clothes, the right shoes, everything she didn't. I think this was very hard on her. 

Ben and Stacey have had a tumultuous relationship from the day she was born. They have fought on and off my whole life. I, as the ever cute little sister, would always pick a side. Sometimes my sister's, sometimes my brother's. Even as a four year old I knew to pick the side which would better suit my need and desires. Usually, I would side with whoever was left in charge at the time. 

My mother had a job ever summer, from the time I was seven I think, at a Girl Scout resident camp about fifty miles away. She was gone for weeks at a time. This left my dad to take care of my sister, brother and me. Having to work six days a week, that meant my brother and sister were always left in charge of me. They always fought over who was "in charge" of everything. 

Ben would delight in pointing out the things that Stacey didn't have that all of her friends had. Stacey would delight in poking at his buttons of insecurity as well. They worked very hard at making each other angry. That's when I would step in and make things worse by siding with one or the other. Our lives were like that for years. I don't know that my sister and brother ever found a way to get past those times. 

Since Ben got sick, my sister has been working very hard to get my brother's affairs in order. She had been by his side when he was still in the hospital in Des Moines. She has ran all over Des Moines getting the documents that were needed to help my brother get on disability. She went down to Indianola to get his dental expenses. She hand delivered it all to the Social Security office. She has been an absolute storm trooper getting this all done for him. She has been amazing! If Ben is never able to thank her himself, I certainly have!

While Stacey was running all over central Iowa, I was with Ben. No changes, no answers, no progress. It has been a heart wrenching week. Usually, there are up and downs. With Ben there have just been downs. More and more downs.

The hospital wants to get Ben out of the ICU. His vitals are stable, his decline has seemed to reach bottom. He really doesn't belong in ICU any more. We understand that. Instead of move him to another floor they want to transfer him back to the hospital in Des Moines where this all started. None of the different services, at the hospital he's at now, want him on their floor. Neuro is convinced he is suffering from hepatic encephalopathy, Liver diseases are convinced he is not. No one is willing to take him on their service. Stacey has another fight to fight while I stay with our father. She is calling the social worker that has been working with Ben for the liver transplant. She is calling the patient advocate. She is being the hero Ben needs.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Room With a View

There has been no change in Ben. He is neither progressing nor regressing. I fear the doctors are slowly giving up hope. They come in, desperately attempt to get him to follow even the simplest commands, always to no avail.

They attempted a repeat MRI last night. He moved around too much and they couldn't get any pictures. They are discussing today if it would be safe to sedate him to try again.

They have been giving him lactolose to try to clear toxins from his blood stream to see if that would help, so far it hasn't. All it has done is turn his stool to water. They decided to hold it for now.

They started him on zinc yesterday, it has shown hope in patients with hepatic encephalopathy, no change yet. The liver specialists still aren't convinced it is HE.

Ben is in a room where we can see a large ornate tower. I don't know what it is or what it symbolizes, if anything. I know that if I could ask Ben he could, and would, give me an hour long lesson on the subject.  

When I was in nursing school I had a term paper due. In the past I had gotten away with hand writing my papers. I couldn't type, and had no typewriter, yes I said typewriter, nor a computer. This particular teacher was requiring the paper be typed. My brother offered to let me use his computer. 

"It's easy to use," he told me,  and then gave me a typical hour long tutorial. Of course I tuned out after the first two sentences. Ben wasn't good at dumbing down instructions. He either didn't get that others didn't understand his technical jargon or he just liked being superior. I suspect a little bit of both. 

After his instructions session was over he went into his room and I stared blankly at the screen. I was terrified. I just knew I was going to do something to wipe out the whole drive thingy he was going on and on about. 

There was no choice, I had to touch the keyboard. It looked harmless enough. I didn't see teeth or any indication that the mouse doohicky was really a rattle snake in disguise. I started to "type." I use the term type very loosely. I was typing in the sense that I was touching the keys, and letters were showing up on the screen. To say I was typING though was a LIE! It took me forever! 

Nine hours later, that is not exaggerated in any way, I had typed nine pages. I was so close to done. For some reason, and I can't remember why, the kids were with me that day. Willie must have been working. They must have been being very good, too. Honestly, I only remember Josh being there. There is a reason for that. 

I was almost done. I was on the last page. I'd been sitting there for, really truly, nine hours working on it. My dad and Ben must have been entertaining the kids that whole time. Valerie was maybe seven, Josh was three, and Alyssa was one or so. They had been so good. 

Josh came over to give me a hug, and this I remember perfectly. I picked him up, gave him a big old squishy hug, put him back down and he decided he wanted a turn at the keyboard. 

Before  his feet were even on the ground he was banging on the keyboard. 

My heart stopped. I shooed Josh off to Grandpa. I slowly turned to look at the screen. I started to cry. Tears roared down my face. There were all of these weird symbols and colons and semicolons and dollar signs all throughout my paper. They were everywhere. On all nine pages. I was devastated. 

Ben came out of his room. My first thought was, he's going to kill me, I broke his computer! He asked me what was wrong. I couldn't speak. I just looked at the screen. He came over, looked over my shoulder. "Joshua banged on the keyboard," was all I could say. I waited for  the sound of anger and rage to come from behind me. 

"When was the last time you saved," he asked in an eerily calm voice. 

"When was the last time I what?"

"Hit save." 

"Was I supposed to do that?" 

That night Ben went through my entire paper. He cleared out every last strange little symbol that didn't belong. He probably corrected my grammar and spelling as well. He printed it off and handed it to me. He was my hero again!

Ben keeps moaning. Sometimes it sounds like he is trying to say a word or two. I just don't know.

The doctors just tried a drug that they hoped would get him to react quickly. It was called flumazanol. It blocks benzodiazepines from brain cells. They said there was a chance that meds that had been given even a while ago might still be roaming around in him. This drug would block their effects. It would work quickly, with in a few minutes. Ben could be back in a few minutes. It didn't work. There was no response.

No response, save one. I saw a tear roll down the side of his face. I feel in my heart now, that he is very aware of what is going on. That he heard the doctor say how this drug would work. He was very hopeful. When it didn't work, he cried.

Monday, August 26, 2013


When my sister was here with my brother the other night she must have had trouble sleeping. Ben's moaning gets very loud. The nurse called and requested a sleep kit for her. It consists of a mask and earplugs. By the time it had gotten up to the floor, Stacey was asleep and the nurse wasn't going to wake her up just to give it to her.
When I got to the hospital it was given to me in case I wanted to try using it for the night.

When we were kids our family went camping a lot. When we went on vacations we were camping. Anytime there was a long weekend, we were camping. Inevitably, there would also be car problems. My dad drove a Chevy Corvair. It's engine was in the back instead of the front. I don't know why. Dad liked them though. Corvairs did not have a large enough engine to tow a camper trailer, but tow a camper trailer it did. When the car broke down, and  it always did, my dad would cuss at it and always blame this one set of mechanics that chained the oil once. It was always their fault because they did something to it to make it leak oil. It was never because a little corvair shouldn't be towing, well, anything.  

One trip we took down to Nauvoo, Illinois, was a rare time we didn't have engine trouble, but we still had car trouble. 

We had stumbled upon Nauvoo on a previous excursion. My dad was the stereotypical male driver. He would not ask for directions, he would not use a map. He KNEW where he was going. We got lost, A LOT!! Almost every time we got into the car to go somewhere new. 

We lived in Des Moines, Iowa, and we were going to Geode State park in south east Iowa. Somehow we ended up in Illinois. Now how my dad didn't notice us crossing the MISSISSIPPI, I'll never know. We ended up in Nauvoo. My mother, who was a big history buff, absolutely fell in love with the place, so we returned there many times. (Still getting lost most of the time. Dad KNEW how to get there damn it!)

This particular trip to Nauvoo it rained. It rained a lot. it rained hard! As a child, I didn't care. The state park had this wonderful playground that was right in the middle of a pine forest. You could play there in the hardest down pour and barely get wet at all. Ben would always push me on the swings and do underdoggies. (For those who might not know, an underdoggy is when the person pushing you on a swing would push you so high that they could run under you) Ben would swing him self as high as he could and jump out of the swing. He would fly through the air, arms and legs flaying around. I thought he was superman. It was at this playground that he encouraged me to jump from a swing for the first time. He wouldn't let me go very high to do it though. 

The day we were to head home Dad noticed that the car and the trailer had both sunk deeply into the rain soaked ground. Being a kid I thought it was a wonderful thing and that maybe we'd get to stay another day. Dad, had to be back at work the next day, you know the real world, that kids are so oblivious to, so get the car unstuck was the mission. 

My dad has an artificial leg, a WWII injury. It always came down to my mom in the driver seat, my dad pushing by the driver side door so he could give my mom "instructions", and my brother pushing at the back of the car. (Did you notice I said, always, yeah, this happened a lot, too) This particular time Stacey and I were in the car because it was still raining. At some point dad felt the car move just a bit and told my mom to floor it. She did. She stomped on the gas, and held it down. My brother, still in the back, got pummeled with mud and water! He was covered head to toe. He looked like a mud monster. My mom and dad were completely unaware of what was happening in the back. My sister and I were rolling around on the back seat howling with laughter. We got very angry looks from my mom and dad. Mom let off the gas and asked us what we thought was so funny. We pointed out the back window at Ben. My mom held back her laughter, Ben saw nothing funny at all in the situation. She scolded Stacey and I appropriately, and then went back to help Ben clean up. 

I looked at the sleep kit and put it aside. About nine o'clock Ben's moaning had stopped. He was quiet for a couple of hours. It freaked me out. I started wondering if he had slipped into a coma. The longer he stayed quiet, the harder it was to sleep.

The nurse came in to give Ben his bath. That didn't even rouse him. The nurse and I both started really worrying. Then she had to clean around his catheter, he moaned! I was never so happy to hear that moan. He moaned for a little while more while she finished his bath. He kept moaning after she was done. I drifted off to sleep.   

Sunday, August 25, 2013

You Don't Buy Chai Tea, You Rent It

My sister has stayed with my brother the last two nights. I stayed home and tended to my dad's needs. Yesterday I brought my dad out to see Ben. He talked to Ben and told the nurse stories. Ben's nurse had been in the air force so he listened very kindly to my dad's stories of WWII.

I'm not sure how much my dad is understanding about what is going on. One minute he is very aware that his son is very sick. The next minute he refers to Ben as his brother. Not just mixing up his name, but really believing he is his brother. He has several times said that if Don, meaning Ben, passes away, that that will leave him the last one. The last one of what, I'll ask. The last one of the old people. The last one of "his" family. I try to remind him that Ben is his son, not his brother. Sometimes it takes, others it doesn't. Maybe Dad is protecting himself from the hurt by believing that it is Uncle Don in that bed, rather than his son. He knows, it is very possible, that the person in the bed may never come back. He just is very confused as to who that person is.

I got to the hospital today and bought an iced chai tea and headed up to the fifth floor where my brother lay fighting the battle for his life. When I got to his room, the electrodes for the EEG had been removed. That machine was out of the room. He was still moaning and still reaching to the sky. I thought once or twice he was trying to make words through his moans. Wishful thinking I'm sure. I talked to him. Told him the goings on of family members. Told him how excited his grand niece was to start preschool. I reminded him that he needed to be here to watch his nephew's upcoming excursion into fatherhood. I thought I saw a glimmer of response, was it real or coincidental?

My brother is a techy. He loves just about anything there is to do with technology. He built the website for his church, St.George's. He is very proud of the site and very possessive of it. He works hard on it. I'm pretty sure most if not all of the photos on the site were taken by him. A friend of his from church told me that every now and then he would offer Ben a photo for the site, Ben would politely say no for one reason or another. He apparently wanted the work to all be his. 

Ben loves his computers. He knows how to fix about anything on a computer. If he was told he had to give up either his books or his computers to survive, he'd probably choose not to survive. 

This all being said, Ben, has a flip phone. Yes, a flip phone. The only reason that he has that is because his previous phone, a model from 1988, fell in the toilet. Ben will trudge around carrying a huge computer, his iPod and his cell phone everywhere he goes, rather than buy a smartphone. 

In February when my father was having gallbladder surgery Ben was lugging all of those things with him throughout the hospital. The computer is not a light thing to carry. I don't remember how the subject came up, but we got onto the subject of smart phones. "I don't need a smartphone," he said, holding up his phone from 1922, "this one works just fine."

I looked at him. I looked at my sister. I looked back at Ben and his collection of stuff all around him. I held up my iPhone and said, "see all of that stuff all around you, that heavy computer, that iPod, that phone. I have all of that stuff, RIGHT HERE!" 

He looked at me, with the ever famous I know more than you look he has, "but if I want to edit a photo for the St. George's web site, I can't do it on that." 

I sighed, looked at my sister, and sat back in my chair. There was no winning this one. 

The Father from the local church came by again today. He said a prayer for healing. I thought I saw a little spark of my brother come through while he was here. It is just so hard to tell.

When the Father left I went to the bathroom for the fiftieth time. One thing good about drinking chai tea, you get your exercise.

Ben sometimes seems to listen intently to his music that I keep playing next to him. Especially prayers, and chants. Once in a while he seems to try to chant along. Then returns to moaning. I keep the music going, and hope that at some point his moans will turn into chants.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

So Far

The barrage of tests go on. Blood cultures, so far, are still negative. Spinal tap cultures, so far, are still negative. Urine samples, stool samples, sputum samples, all negative, so far. I know this should feel like a good thing. No infection, so far. It doesn't feel good though. If just one came back with a positive then they could treat it. If they treat it,  Ben might come back. 

My brother has a, shall we say, a very unique sense of humor. He enjoys a pun much more than any normal person could. When he tells a joke he quite often uses references that most people have no idea what he is talking about. Then when you look at him blankly, obviously not getting it, he delights in showing his superior intelligence to explain it to you, you poor uneducated soul. 

Ben is a studier. He is like a sponge. If he decides to learn about something, he learns every last detail. He reads every study, manual, or book on the subject and retains it. He retains it all. He enjoys the process of learning. He would swim in knowledge if it was possible. Letting it soak in through every pore of his body. He seriously loves to know things. 

Then he enjoys even more imparting his knowledge unto others. Hence, the fifteen minute answer to a yes or no question. Asked a question, any question, he will fold his left arm over his stomach, rest his right elbow on his left hand. He will bring his right hand up to his chin, stroke his beard, look up and off to the right, squint his eyes, and say "Wellllllll." Anyone that knows Ben, has seen and knows this gesture all too well. When you see it, you know you are in for quite a history lesson, or a detailed account or about to be regaled with a litany of facts about what ever trivial question you made the mistake to ask. I admit, you will always learn something, whether you like it or not. You will always leave with a new bit of knowledge you never thought you would know. You always have some new factoid stuck in your head. However, when the question you asked was, "is this DVD yours or Dad's?" You don't need a full account of when the DVD was bought and a history of the movie and an account of if the actors in the movie are alive or dead. 

As irritating as my brother can be, I miss him. I don't want him to be trapped in a body that won't respond to him. A mouth that won't talk for him. What I wouldn't do to hear one of his stupid jokes that I just don't get.  

He is still hooked up to the EEG. Do I know what anyone of those squiggles mean? No. They tell us that they have seen no sign of seizure, so far. 

They are still treating him for hepatic encephalopathy, though the liver specialists don't necessarily think that is what is going on. No change, so far. 

Every day there are more questions, but no answers. Why can't they find anything? Why can't they rule out anything? What the hell is going on with my brother? Is he still in there? He spends his days moaning and reaching toward the sky. Once in a while we hear what sounds like the word "mom" come from his moans. Why does he keep reaching toward the sky? Does he see something we don't? Is he hallucinating? Does he see our mother? Is he acting out a dream? Are the movements even voluntary? Is he aware of his surroundings? Does he know where he is, what is going on? How sick he is? No one can answer those questions, or any others, so far. 

So far, all we know for sure is my brother has something drastically wrong with him and isn't getting any better. 

So far.... So far..... So far...... 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hospital Lasagna

Hospital food whether it be for patient or visitor should not be able to be listed as a food product. This is false advertising at its worst.

My brother had to have another EEG. Apparently they haven't ruled out seizures as a cause of my brother's condition. Yesterday when they did one, the tech finished it and took the leads right off. Today, she printed off a copy of the results and left to go show it to the doctors. She left the leads hooked up.

I got up to talk to my brother. I noticed that there was a mess in his bed. The tube they had put in to gather his stool had slipped out. I decided to go downstairs while they changed his bed and cleaned him up.

I went down and got some substance formally known as food and tried to eat. I called a Father at a local church that had called to check on Ben. I took deep breaths and said a little prayer. Not a prayer of thankfulness for pail watermelon and mushy lasagna, I knew God wouldn't believe that anyway. I'm pretty sure lying to God is a mortal sin. I said a prayer for healing or relief from pain. If God is ready to bring Ben home then please let it be painless. If he wants him to get better then please let it be quick. 

My brother's religion is Greek Orthodox. My sister is Jewish. My father is Roman Catholic. My mother believed in Native American theology. Religion is not a binding factor in my family. Neither is it something that is causes tensions. One thing my mother instilled in us as children is a tolerance and even embracement of other beliefs and cultures. Which is probably why our own family is very diverse. I don't have a church, but I have very strong religious beliefs and a strong faith in God that has led me to believe in the idea that every situation has a multitude of outcomes. Something that may seem horrible or terrible at the moment it is happening to you may be the best thing that can happen to you in that situation. It may take decades before you know that, but you will, one day, know it. I have learned over the years that when you pray your heart out for something, and God says no, which he will, one day you will know why. When you finally realize why, you will look back and see, "damm, God really knows what he's doing." So, I've learned to pray for what he thinks is best, rather than what I think I want. When I do that it is with an open heart, I am often amazed at the outcome. Usually something I would have never thought of.  

I got back to the room, my brother was still hooked up to the EEG. I asked the nurse and he said they were still evaluating the results. If they find something they may still leave him hooked up.  I put on a gown and gloves and went in. My brother was restless. I hooked up his iPod to a little speaker I have, found orthodox chants and turned it on.  I stroked his forehead which seems to calm him. While I was standing next to him his nurse came in. "Well I have a little good news," he said, "his labs came back cdiff negative." It wasn't much but it was worth a little celebration. I looked at Ben and repeated what the nurse said. Ben had been fighting the CDiff bacteria for months. Round after round of potent antibiotics. Soon to be followed by yet another bout of relentless diarrhea. Now it is FINALLY gone. I thanked God, ripped off the gown and gloves and returned to stroking Ben's forehead. 

Poached Eggs

Tuesday morning Dad and I woke up and started our usual routine. I had remembered that my dad ate a lot of poached eggs when I was a kid so I decided to try to make him poached eggs for breakfast. With the stress of the weekend I wanted to make him a breakfast he would enjoy.  One was a success, one was not. He ate them both, because that's just how he is. The phone rang, it was my sister.

"They are no longer going to send Ben to the nursing home." She said. "The doctor said he took a turn for the worse overnight and they are going to transport him to University of Iowa. He is no longer forming any words.  He is responsive but just can't make words." My brother is a very verbal very wordy person. Asked a yes or no question he will give you a 15 minute answer. He was one frustrated person.

"Thank God," I told my sister. She went on to explain when it looked like they would get him transferred. Transferring from one medical facility to another is a long process. All of the stars in the universe have to align just perfectly and then it will take two more hours beyond that. I got things all packed up for Dad to spend as much time at the hospital as he was comfortable. I packed extra jeans and underwear, just in case of accidents. I got his meds all together and made sure he had his glasses.

I called my kids and let them know what was going on with their uncle. They each headed out to.our house to wait for the call that Ben was on his way. Finally about 2:30 pm the call came, that would put him in Iowa City between 4:00 and 4:30. About 4:00 pm I started the process of getting Dad to the car. I pushed his wheel chair down the hall, carried it down the front steps and locked the brakes. Dad got his walker, stood up and slowly struggled his way down the hall and down the steps. In his wheelchair I walked him around the house and to the car. Once he was inside the car I put his wheelchair in the back. The rest of us all climbed in and we took off for the hospital. We got to the emergency room and they took my dad, my sister and I back to the room my brother was placed in. The ER staff seemed a little confused as to why he wasn't just taken to the floor. They ran tests, a rather unpleasant neurology intern kept running in and out yelling at my brother like he was deaf.   My brother was still able to understand. He could respond but not with words. He was laughing some at appropriate times and crying at appropriate times. He was trying to ask me something and I couldn't figure out what. I looked to Stacey and she said he might be trying to ask me why I was doing this. I looked at her perplexed. She continued that he had asked her that the day before. We as siblings had had our differences. Some more severe than others. I looked to Ben and asked if that's what he was trying to ask. He looked at me in a way that I knew it was. I just looked at him and said, "you're our brother, how many brothers do you think we have?" He looked at me, tears rolling out of his eyes as he reached out to hug me. I hugged him back as he kept crying.

A friend of Ben's from his church came to the hospital with Stacey. He talked to Ben and even chanted to him. Ben tried to chant along with him.

Waiting in an ER exam room is awful. The bed that Ben was laying on was uncomfortable, he kept putting his legs over the rails trying to crawl out. The chairs for visitors are really ancient torture devices cleverly disguised as modern furniture. It was after ten when they finally moved him to a floor. He was put on the Neuro floor.

From the time he got to the floor he started another decline. He stopped responding to me as much. He wasn't making eye contact as much. He was moaning rhythmically. There was a change. I stayed the night in his room. As much as he had been fighting to get out of bed I didn't want him to end up falling. About 4:00 am he settled down and seemed to be resting. I dozed off as well. When I woke up, Ben had declined further. He was now not following verbal cues. He wasn't following verbal commands. He was however still pulling away while the lab personnel took his blood.

My brother is needle phobic to a very severe extreme. He leaves the room when my dad even needs his finger poked for an INR. He will recoil if someone is getting a shot..... on TV. The fact that my brother was still fighting back against needles was, well, a good thing in my eyes.

A barrage of tests were ordered. Many IVs were hung. A decision was made to move him up to intensive care. More tests were done. An EKG, an  EEG, blood tests, urine cultures, chest Xrays. Still no real answers. In the afternoon they decided to do a spinal tap. I told the doctor under no circumstances let him see that needle. He would freak.

They came in to do the tap and asked my sister and I to leave. We went downstairs grabbed a bite and headed back up. They were still in the room. We went back down to the waiting room for a few minutes. When we went back again they had just finished. The nurse came out and told us they weren't able to get the fluid. In a weird way we were both happy. Not that they couldn't get it, but maybe it meant he fought it, that he was being Ben. She went on to say he did great with it, they just needed weren't able to get in. Our faces must of sunk because she looked at us oddly. "It's good that it didn't bother him," I explained, "but it was very bad that he was a trooper." That was NOT Ben. That was not what we were hoping to hear.

Stacey and I decided to head home and get some sleep. We got home and explained what had happened throughout the day to Dad. He seemed to understand.

This morning I called before I came back into the hospital so I could give Dad an update before I left. Ben was the same as the day before. He had some swelling that they wanted to check out and were sending him for a CT scan of his abdomen. They had put in a nasal gastric feeding tube to start giving him a medicine to lower his ammonia level and see if he responds to that. The liver doctors don't really believe he has hepatic encephalopathy, but it certainly won't hurt to try treating him as if he did.  After getting Dad his breakfast and showing Stacey where everything was I left for the hospital.

When I got there I saw that they had put him under contact isolation. If I wanted to touch him I needed to wear a gown and gloves. The CT scan had shown some fluid on his abdomen. They wanted to do a paracentesis to analyze it. Make sure there wasn't an infectious process going on there. Ben has had paracentesis before. Liver disease can cause fluid to fill the abdomen. Sometimes this fluid needs to be removed to take pressure off the other organs and make him more comfortable.

I'm now in the waiting room while they stick my brother with yet another dreaded evil needle. There is still no real answer. He is turning into a science experiment.  The only choice they have is to check for everything and hope they stumble upon the answer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Life Turns

Life takes turns, unexpected turns, happy turns, exciting turns and frightening turns. My brother's life has taken a frightening turn.

When I was a little girl, my brother was a menace, a torturer, a know it all and at times my hero. (But don't tell him I said that.)

My brother, Ben Black Elk, me, and my sister in the Black Hills
 When we were kids he would pick on me. He would tickle me relentlessly until I would cry because I couldn't breath. He would boss me around when our parents weren't home. He would constantly make me feel stupid by correcting me. In other words, he was a normal big brother.

I would get my revenge in any way I could. One of my favorite ways was to call him Benny Boy. He hated it. That's why I loved it. My parents actually were kind of amused by it. So, of course, I made sure to call him Benny Boy when they were around and he couldn't get retribution. My parents would laugh, Ben would seethe. I was quite a bit younger than my sister and brother, so I could get away with stuff like that because I was cute!

There were times though, that my big brother was my protector. One time when we were vacationing in the Black Hills, Ben, Stacey and I were out walking. Somewhere along the way I stepped on a cactus. The thorn went through my tennis shoe and poked my foot. I cried, I was a bit of a cry baby. Ben picked me up, put me on his back and carried me, piggy back, all the way back to camp. I realized probably Half way down the hill, and it was a big hill, that my foot wasn't really hurt, but I loved getting piggy back rides from my brother. We got back down to camp, where our parents were. My mom grabbed me and checked my foot. It was fine. My mom was very proud of my brother for taking care of me that day. I remember her telling the next door neighbor and a few other people about in the days after we got home from vacation. She would glow with pride every time I heard her tell it.

My brother was also my teacher. He taught me many things. Including, most important to me at the time, how to ride a bike. My mom didn't believe in training wheels. She thought they were a crutch, and that kids got addicted to them. Yeah, I don't get it either, but there you are. Ben ended up being my training wheels. He encouraged me for weeks to keep trying to ride the little red bike that used to be his. My dad took out the piece that made it a "boy's bike." He was much too tall for it. Therefore it was now mine. Though he reminded me often that it was really his. He would hold me up on my/his bike, running beside me making sure I didn't fall. He was the one to give me that last push off. That final hands in the air, "I'm not holding you any more" let go that transitioned me from learning to ride a bike, to actually riding a bike. Therefore, my hero.
I know it's bad, but it is one of the first pictures of me riding a bike.
My brother is now the one who needs protected and needs a hero. He has been battling non alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver for several years now. It turns out that he has a genetic abnormality that caused Ben not to produce a necessary enzyme that protects the liver. Over his lifetime the damage was occurring unknown to him. By the time he found out what was going on, the damage had been done. He needed a new liver.

Getting an organ, any organ, is a very complicated process. It takes a long time. You have to qualify, not just medically, but financially, you have to show that you can keep up with the medication regime, and show that you have support for back up. You have to have a specific person ordained as your support person. That person has to be able to come to appointments with you, be available to make sure you take your meds, basically be your best bud plus. Ben has been going through all of the interviews and tests to get a transplant. The one thing that has been holding him back is the financial part, and his MELD score. A MELD score is a battery of scoring how severe a disease process is, and how badly a person needs a transplant compared to someone else who may also be a match for that organ. His MELD score has been at a point where he is considered not sick enough for a liver. 

Saturday evening things changed. Things changed abruptly and severely. A very frightening life turn. I got a call from my sister. I couldn't get to the phone in time and missed it. She left a voicemail and I figured I would check it in a few minutes. I was busy making supper. Then my phone rang again. This time it was my brother's ring tone. "Ooooh, myyyyy, oooooh myyyyyy," George Takei's distinctive voice kept repeating. This time I got to the phone. I picked it up, slid my finger across the screen to answer it. 

In broken words, out of order and hard to understand, my brother started talking to  me. He was at work. He was wondering if his speech pattern sounded weird to me. I listened hard and tried to understand what he was saying. Once I got what he was trying to ask me, I told him that yes, he sounded very weird and I was having trouble understanding him. He asked if I thought he should go to the hospital and I told him, yes. He had already called my sister and had told her that if he hadn't snapped out of it by 8:00, he was going to have her take him over to the hospital. I told him to go right away. He was the only one working and needed to find coverage. He hung up and I waited a while to call my sister, thinking he would be calling her. 

Fifteen minutes later I called her. She hadn't heard from him yet, he was probably still trying to find coverage. She told me what he had said about waiting until eight, and I told her I'd told him to go now. She went ahead and started heading to get my brother. I live an hour and a half from my brother and sister. Plus with having to be here for Dad, I couldn't be there for my brother. 

They got to the hospital, they did a CT scan. There was no bleeding in the brain, and they couldn't see a clot, so no stroke. My daughter Valerie had once had an episode much like what Ben was going through. It turned out to be a silent migraine, perhaps that was what Ben was going through. Silent migraines can run in families, I get them too, but with visual symptoms. I never knew that was what they were and I'd had them since third grade. Since, my daughter and I both get them it sure made sense that was what Ben could be going through. With my daughter, as fast as the trouble with talking started, it  just stopped. I was talking to her on the phone when it was happening. She was having trouble getting the words in the right order, then suddenly she was talking correctly. That didn't happen for Ben. 

The next day he had an MRI which showed a lesion on the corpus callosum of his brain. The doctor called it a glioma, according to my sister. By this time I was talking to my sister only because my brother was struggling so hard to put words together. He tried to text me on my sisters iPad, but he was also unable to do that. His ability to think and understand is there, but his ability to communicate his thoughts is not. 

Being a former nurse, I quickly took to the Internet to look up glioma. I remembered the word, but couldn't remember what it meant. I had a feeling that it wasn't good though. I was right. A glioma is a tumor. It can be benign, or malignant. It can be fast or slow growing. A slow growing benign tumor can present with symptoms, but they are usually subtle. Slow changes, that may not be noticed over years. A glioblastoma is a very fast growing tumor. Very invasive and grows by direct extension, meaning it just grows from one tissue right into the next. It seldom passes through the blood brain barrier to metastasize to other organs. It doesn't have to. It does its evil work quickly and mercilessly. Medium life expectancy for a person with a glioblastoma is about fifteen months with full treatment. Full treatment involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Glioblastomas also appear to have the ability to shape shift and change itself to avoid punishment. Apparently they are made of up to four different kinds of cells each of which needs to be attacked from a different angle.  Did I say Ben has liver disease? I don't know if he can even go through chemo. Since Ben's symptoms hit so suddenly and fiercely, the lesion could be a glioblastoma.

Last night, the hospital said they were going to send Ben to University of Iowa Hospitals today to have them biopsy the lesion. They weren't equipped for such delicate procedures. Since it is affecting his speech, it, or at least part of it, is quite probably in the language center of the brain. That makes biopsy and extraction even more difficult. I wanted Ben transferred right away, but they wanter to wait until today. 

Today my sister got to the hospital and found out they were going to transfer Ben, to a nursing home, with a very poor reputation. She was able to nip that in the bud, but they were still determined to ship him out. Out any where they could. They started talking about a home in Perry, another hour away from here, and another hour away from Iowa City where he needs to go for most of his appointments. As it turned out it was another nursing home with a bad reputation as well. My sister kept fighting them. At one point I told her to have him discharged to home and then just take him to Iowa City to the ER. Ben was worried about the legality of it. While I'm sure it is legal, I don't think he was willing to take the chance his insurance would decide not to pay if he did. Oh, and by the way, at this point we still don't know if my brother has a malignant time bomb in his head. 

Finally, the social worker found a good nursing home in Baxter. Ben agreed to it. Baxter is actually a little closer to me and not that far from my sister. It seemed like a good compromise. 

As the weekend turned into the week, not only did my brother not improve, but according to my sister has gotten weaker. He doesn't have the strength to walk even with a walker. He actually fell while trying to go to the bathroom Sunday. Whatever is wrong is not getting better. Tomorrow, my big brother goes to a nursing home. We still don't know what is wrong. We still don't know if he has a cancer brewing in his skull. He is depressed. He needs a hero. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cross Purposes

Something you should know about me: I hate horror movies. They give me very bad dreams.

Something you should know about my dad: His favorite TV channels are Chiller and SyFy. 


(I like SyFy, but not when they show horror movies!)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Dad's Billie Jean

Today Dad and I had to go to Des Moines to get his toe nails clipped. Yes, it seems silly that we had to drive an hour and a half to get toe nails clipped. I have, since he moved here to live with us, tried to keep as much normal as I can. One of the things I have insisted on is that all of his medical care continue at the VA in Des Moines. It is where he is used to. He knows his way around, he knows people there. Everything else in his life has changed, I wanted to let him have something that didn't.

On the way there he talked about things from the past. He talked about things that we drove past. While he didn't talk like he was living in the past, he wasn't quite in the present either. As we were leaving the house today, he asked about the neighbor lady that brought us some tomatoes yesterday. Then said that they were the neighbors that had asked permission to build something next to the fence on our property. "But then they tore it down," he said.  We don't have a fence. He pointed to our shed and insisted that was the building. The building he had just said had been torn down. I told him, no that was our shed. He was confusing our house with his house, where a neighbor did ask and build a shed, next to the fence, on his property. He has good days and bad days, today wasn't the best.

All the way to Des Moines, he would point out things that had been there forever and talk about them like they were brand new. At the same time he talked of taking his mom to Davenport to see her sister. The concept that that was a long time ago seemed intact. He knew that his aunt had passed away a long time ago. 

We got to the VA hospital, he knew where we needed to go. He directed me in the right direction and we got a few other things done besides getting his toe nails cut on his one foot. We went to the eye care clinic and got his glasses adjusted again, and got him some ted hose. He even got to chat a bit with some physical therapists he worked with while he was at the Community Living Center there. I think he kind of enjoyed the trip today. 

On the way home he started talking about the past again. He told me a story about Billie Jean Triber. Billie Jean was, I think, his first love. He met her while he was in the service during WWII. I think, perhaps, had her parents been different, he would have married her. Her parents had money, he didn't. She was going to college in Nevada. I haven't quite figured out how they met, but I do know that her mother didn't approve. They were from Alaska, and Billie Jean's mother made her leave college and come back home. She had someone more suitable in mind for Billie Jean to wed. 

This isn't the first time I have heard of Billie Jean. When Dad speaks of her, a little light, stardust perhaps, gleams in his eyes. He has a look I never see any other time. He said today that he would like to see her again. He knows there is a possibility that she has passed away. He almost said it, but got a catch in his voice when he did. He said, "the last letter I got from her was the day before her wedding, she was asking me to come get her and bring her home." He said that twice. I think he wishes he had done just that. 

I looked up Billie Jean Triber in Alaska tonight when I got home. I got one good hit. There is an organization called Pioneers of Alaska in Anchorage. I found a newsletter dated in 2009. In it was a listing of birthdays for the three months the newsletter covered. On September 29, there was the name Billie Jean Triber. I looked and looked to try and find something more recent from the Pioneers of Alaska to see if they were still around. I couldn't find anything past 2010. I did find an address for them, but it was for 2009. 

I tried to looks up obituaries in Alaska. She is my father's age so it is very possible. I didn't find anything. Does that mean she may still be alive? If this is the same Billie Jean Triber that was in Igloo 4 in the Pioneers of Alaska, in 2009, that my dad so obviously loved, did she never marry? It wasn't the custom for a bride to keep her own name in the 1940's. If she was widowed, she likely wouldn't have changed her name, but maybe if she had divorced. Could this maybe be a niece, her brother's daughter, that was named for her? Maybe it is someone completely different. 

I'm thinking of writing a letter and sending it to the address of the Pioneers of Alaska. Should I? I suppose the worst thing that could happen is getting a letter back saying that she has passed away, or that it is the completely wrong person. What if it is my dad's Billie Jean. What if a reunion with her would be a dream come true for him. Or what if it would be a disaster? What if it broke his heart? 

I'll be honest with you, Dad talks to me more of Billie Jean than he does of my mother. In fact he seldom speaks of my mother at all. He will respond when I bring Mom up, but never talks about her on his own. 

I guess my question to throw out there to the great beyond is, should I try to reach out to Billie Jean? Should I keep trying to find her? I won't tell my dad I'm looking for her. That way if I don't find her he won't be disappointed. If I do find her, but she is very ill or doesn't want to get back in touch with Dad, he would never know. What if something could happen, and in a fairy tail way, they could find happiness if even by just writing letters? What should I do?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Much Needed Day Outside

Since my dad came to live with us, most of my time is spent looking after his needs. If he wants to go out for a ride, we go, but then he usually doesn't want to get out of the car. We just drive around. Sometimes with a destination in  mind, sometimes not. Most times though, if we have a destination, it is someplace that I run into real quick, like the store. About the only time we ever really stop anywhere is at Olive Garden to eat lunch. I never thought I would say this, but I'm kind of tired of Olive Garden.

Once we tried going up to Coralville Lake. At that time the water was really high so most places were blocked off. We never got out of the car then either.

Today, Dad was out and about with my brother for the day. Bazinga and I had the day to ourselves. I grabbed my camera, we got in the car, and away we went.
I didn't know where I was going to go, I just went. I was out of the house, and I could go where ever I wanted. I pointed the car southwest and drove. I had a sense of freedom I hadn't had in two months. I love my dad dearly, and I am so grateful to have this time with him, but it is hard sometimes.

Dad's dementia is getting worse. Not quickly, thank God, but it is progressing. He asks me the same questions over and over again. Every single time Bazinga barks at something dad laughs and says, "what is he barking at now?" He thinks it is funny that he's barking. Me, not so much.

There are times when he goes thru his mail and asks me the same questions over and over. He will put one piece of mail down, after asking me questions about it, then pick it up again in a few minutes and ask the same questions again, and again a few more minutes later. I keep having to tell myself that he's not doing it on purpose. His short term memory doesn't transfer to long term memory. He truly doesn't remember asking the questions. It can be very frustrating, more for me than him, as he doesn't remember already asking.

That's why today was so needed. I needed a day to just clear my mind.  A day to just chase dragonflies and watch ducks. A day when I didn't have to answer ANY questions, much less the same one over and over. I sometimes feel like a mother of a toddler again. I know that sounds awful, but it is quite like that. Only this toddler is 160 pounds, and has every legal right to say no.

The saddest part is knowing that Dad is going to get worse, not better. A toddler grows and develops. He learns and becomes a little person. Dad is going to decline. He is going to lose what makes him, him. Knowing this makes me want to spend as much time with him as I can, but I do still need a break now and again. Honestly, I think he enjoys the break from me, too.

 Bazinga needed time out and about as well. We both enjoyed the day. We spent a long time at a little county park we found by Montezuma. There was a lake, and ducks and bullfrogs and dragon flies. We sat and watched. Just watched. And watched some more.

We got sunshine, we got fresh air, we got cleared minds. Well, Bazinga got fresh air and sunshine, there isn't much of a mind there to clear. He was happy none the less. He did all of the dog things. He sniffed, he peed, he sniffed, he peed. When he was done with that, he sniffed and peed some more. Whoever decided that someone who has a hard life has a "dog's life" didn't know my dog.

My favorite part of the day, just taking pictures. I fell on my butt at one point trying to get a photo of a dragonfly, but I didn't care. (I just hoped no one saw me. If they did, well, who cares. Odds are I will never see them again.) I picked myself up, brushed myself off and kept snapping away. Luckily, I didn't land on Bazinga. He was very happy about that.
Quiet surrounded me. It was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed. It fueled my energy. It helped me  gain strength for the days to come.
 Bazinga enjoyed the long ride home. His head out the window. His nose sniffing happily away.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Someone..... Turns Four!!!!!

 The chicken made it! Willie and I drove from Williamsburg to Grimes with the air conditioner  on full blast the whole way. The horse rode in the back of the van, and the chicken rode on my lap. We made it to the park, both cakes intact, Willie and I, popsicles. Nothing melted, and nothing broken.

The birthday girl seemed pretty happy with both cakes.

 With a birthday in August it is a perfect time to have a party in a park. Somehow, every year, the weather has been wonderful for her party. Even last year when the Midwest was a scalding hot wasteland, the day of her party was wonderful. This year was no different. The weather was perfect. Not too hot, a nice breeze blowing. It was a good day.

Kahlen and her friends played long and hard. Presents were opened and Kahlen made out like a bandit. One wonderful present was from her Grammy, Shane's mom. She is going to pay for a year of dance lessons for Kahlen. Such a perfect present for her! She loves to dance and already tries to do ballet moves. After watching the gymnasts in the summer Olympics she has been seen doing moves like she saw them do.

Now that she is a big girl, she can do things that only "big people" can do. Like climbing the jungle gym. "Only big people can do this," she told me. "It is very scary!" 

 Baby brother Paxton got in on the fun. He was a little cranky that day. We now know why, he was working on cutting his first tooth. Swinging in the swing made everything all better. He would have stayed there all day if he hadn't gotten hungry.

(He's looking more and more like his daddy every day!)
I do believe the birthday girl had a fabulous time. Her mommy and daddy gave her a wonderful party! When she got home she played on her bike for a while, but was exhausted. Mommy told her that it was going to be an early bedtime night, and Kahlen said, "OK." 100% proof that it was a successful day!

 Oh, and the chicken? His tail fell off. Yeah, and his face, too. 

Two Cakes for Kahlen

 Alyssa asked me if I wanted to make Kahlen's birthday cake this year. I love making birthday cakes. I don't have any training with it, so things don't always work out the way I hope they will. I try real hard though. Kahlen wanted a farm theme party. Alyssa and I had taken Kahlen and Paxton down to my friend Dawn's house for a weekend in May and Kahlen fell in love with all of the animals she had. Even the chickens, despite one rooster (forever to be known as the "bad chicken") chasing her down and terrifying her.

For her cake she couldn't decide between a horse and a chicken. I'd ask her and she'd say, horse. I'd ask her again and it would be chicken. I finally said, how about both! She smiled and said yes. The horse cake I made out of cupcakes. Lemon cupcakes with blueberry filling. I "painted" a poster board with frosting to set them on. The frosting made the cupcakes stick into place and gave the horse a back ground besides a white board.

The chicken was a lot more complicated.  The easiest part was the nest. Chocolate almond bark, melted and chow mien noodles stirred in, then shaped into a nest. Easy peasy. Kahlen wanted strawberry cake, so that's what the chicken would be. I baked the cakes and then froze them so they would cut cleaner to shape them. I made a strawberry cream filling for between the layers. Quite tasty if I do say so myself. However, tasty did not make for sticky and the layers kept sliding apart. I looked around the kitchen for something to keep the layers in place. I found a reusable plastic straw, I ran it through the layers, and it worked!
 The next step, the head. Dawn's rooster, Ernie, was my inspiration. Ernie, WAS NOT, the BAD chicken. I had been given explicit instructions, by Kahlen, not to make it look like the BAD chicken.

To make the head I used rice crispy treats. They are moldable and stick together pretty good. I molded the head around the end of the straw sticking up out of the cake. I had to hold it together for quite a while. It was hot enough that day that the marshmallows didn't want to firm back up. Once I got it just about where I wanted it I stuck it in the fridge to get it to stay in place.
 Of course every chicken needs a tail. Yeah, yeah, I know, it looks more like a turkey tail, but poultry is poultry. Kahlen didn't know the difference anyway, as long as it wasn't the bad chicken.

The tail kept trying to slip off as well. I called Willie to see if they had bamboo shiskabob (I know I didn't spell it right, not even close enough for spell check to figure it out.) skewers at Lowe's, they didn't. I looked around the kitchen again. A BABY SPOON! I stuck a baby spoon down the chickens tail. It seemed to be working.

The next day I put the finishing touches on the rice crispy head. I turned on the air, turned it way down, (about froze my dad out) and went to work on frosting it.

I started with a crumb coat and put it in the fridge.
 Then I added some details in the base color of frosting and back into the fridge.

While I was applying the gray frosting all I could think of was the movie "Steel Magnolias." Do you know that movie? It is one of my favorites. One of the main characters, Shelby, was getting married, and her groom to be asked his aunt to make the grooms cake. He wanted an armadillo, and they are gray. It was a red velvet cake. They called it the "bleeding armadillo cake." This wasn't red velvet, but it was strawberry.
More details were added. It took quite a while as I had to stop to put it in the fridge every now and then. The end result was pretty good. I think it looked like a chicken anyway.  Next question, would it make the trip to Grimes with out either melting or just falling apart?

Caitlin's BABY Shower

 My daughter in law, Caitlin, is pregnant. If you didn't already know this it must be because you don't live in Iowa, and not Facebook friends with anyone I know. You see, Caitlin is very happy and very excited to be pregnant. She has wanted a baby well, at least since the second she and Josh said "I do." I suspect however that this longing for a baby was inborn in her. She is one of those people who were just born to be a parent.

The theme for the shower was Rock a Bye Baby, with the emphasis on ROCK. I had a lot of fun making the invitations. I experimented with several different, what I called, prototypes, and settled on the one shown. The card stock had several shades of blue, and they were all hand painted, so each was unique. Unfortunately, some got out a little late, that's what happens when you do things by hand though. (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

My daughter Valerie came out to my house to make cupcakes and help make some decorations two days before. My daughter Alyssa, and my friends Dawn and Kelley and I spent the evening before decorating. As you can see we carried the music theme into the decorations. 

Family and friends were there. The soon to be new great grandmother and grand mother were both there. This will be the first grand baby for Caitlin's parents. I think perhaps, even as excited as they are, just perhaps, great grandma is just a tad bit more excited. 

There was also food, onsie painting, silly games and conversation. We had people write happy, (OK silly and some a little sarcastic,)  messages on diapers for the new parents to use for those endless middle of the night diaper changes. Something to make them giggle in their delirium. Many had the message, "make Josh change this one." We had clues all over in the decorations, for people to try and guess the baby's name. Which is Noah.  

I think people had fun. I know Caitlin was excited and enjoying seeing everyone. There were babies galore there, that made her even happier.

One little glitch, which I had nothing to do with, so, not my fault, was the baby registry. She was registered at Target. You know, so that she would get the things she wanted and needed. AND not get any duplicates...... She ended up with three pack and plays. Yes, three. OK, maybe one was my fault, I went at the last minute and bought one. I had noticed the day before that it wasn't checked off the list. When I got to Target the list wouldn't print out, (see still not my fault) and I took the chance and got one anyway. On the bright side, I think they took two back and used it toward a crib. 
One game we played was one I made up. I painted five different pictures on poster board. Each one depicted a song with the word "rock" in it and a little hint about who the artist that sang it was. Below are photos of said paintings. Can you figure out the songs and artists?