Sunday, December 19, 2010


Have you every stood by the stove and waited for the tea pot to whistle?  Well, this is worse!  Dick and I both are patiently waiting for "THE CALL" but so far no call. 
This morning at church they prayed for Dick's healing......   rather than praying for healing, pray for the right heart to be made available to Dick.  The clock is still ticking; we are so hoping that during this thirty day period, the perfect matched heart will be made available.
Thank you all for your continued prayer and support.
Love to each of you this Christmas season,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Clock is Ticking Again

Dick is back on the #oneA list!  After  Dr. Zigler's report Friday morning to the transplant team, Dick was put back on the list.  Much of what was thought to be shingles, (by amateur doctors = family, was a reaction to the tape, dry weather and medications.  So, we are once again on call.
This time we are better prepared for what is coming.  The kids and I will have to be traveling back and forth due to work schedules unlike last time; taking turns.
I pray you all will have a wonderful Christmas season with your family and your friends.  Hopefully soon, Dick and I will be able to have you all to our home to celebrate the conclusion of a very long journey.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Saga Continues

Today the "powers at be" put Dick on hold because of his shingles.  I guess the transplant team want to be sure that his shingles do not interfere with the implantation process.  This holding patterns is exactly that.  His precious 1st place spot will not be wasted during this time of evaluation.  Once it is decided the shingles will not be problematic at the time of implant, he will be reinstated.
So.....  please pray for all this.  Dick's emotions are really taking a tole and could possibly be the cause of his shingles; in fact we both are quite numb.  I guess only God knows our future.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pray Pray Pray

I just received a call from the hospital, Dick is being put on the  "#one A"  list!!!!!  We are to have our phones on us at all time, so the clock is ticking.  He has thirty day where he will be the first one to get a heart if one comes in that matches his blood type, basic size, etc.  This will be the only opportunity for this thirty day window so please pray that the right heart will come in.   Also pray for the dear person and the family of the person giving Dick their heart - it will be a difficult time for them.
This is wonderful news for us; could this really be happening?
Lots of love,

Thursday, November 25, 2010


There has been quite a bit of excitement around the Kelly household these past few days.  There is a internal cable which attaches directly to Dicks pump in his body; this same cable then comes out of his body through a port and attaches to a computer/control panel that is on his body at all times.   Well, we had noticed the connection between the cable and the metal housing  on this cable was pulling apart. We have been trying to keep it together  with tape until someone from the company could come to Sioux Falls and repair it.  Tuesday evening Dick was changing from batteries to AC when his alarms went off.  We were able to get the alarm silenced and immediately reported it. By noon Wednesday a representative from Thoratec had flown in from Chicago and had fixed it.
Wednesday evening, I had already taken my back brace off and had laid down for the night when I heard Dick's alarm go off again.  This time it was a solid alarm which indicates a life threatening pump problem.  Dick was yelling and I was trying to get out of bed as fast as I could to get to Dick.  The solid alarm still was ringing; immediately I called the LVAD coordinator who identified the problem and helped me exchange his computer to a backup computer.  The disconnection of his control computer instantly took his flow from 90% to 10%.  If he had not been laying down, he would have pass out.  Once changed everything was quiet and was back to normal.  Even though we both were a little rattled, all that training from this summer proved itself absolutely necessary.  Thanksgiving morning, another control computer arrived by curior; it is vital to always have back ups, just incase something like this happens.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and aside from the scare, the good new that we all are very thankful, is Dick's name on the heart transplant list!  The hard surgery is over, the most difficult transition has been completed.  From here on out it is downhill.  The transplant itself is a much easier surgery than this LVAD implant. So we are counting our blessings for the worst is over.

This Thanksgiving I am thanking God for each of you.  You have carried us in your heart and carried us in your prayers.  God has answered your prayers and Dick is living proof of the faithfulness of God to answer prayer.  How can we ever thank you?
We love and cherish each of you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good News

He lived through the test on Thursday and the test on Friday, and actually slept much better both nights - thank you for praying!  Three little polyps were removed from his colon on Thursday that needed to be biopsied, however the doctor was confident they were normal. Dick's heart/lung pressures and  blood flow counts were great and Dr Masri, his cardiologist, was very pleased with the final test results. Next week she will get the report concerning the polyps and based on the report will be able to proceed to the final step.  On November 23rd Dick's name will be presented to go on the heart transplant list.  Even now, as I'm writing these words, tears are flowing....  I can't define the emotion -  it goes beyond words!

When Dr. Masri, Shawn (Dick's LVAD coordinator), Richard, Dick and I were sitting in that final meeting, knowing he was so close, I wanted to jump up and celebrate.  He has finished all the tests required for the transplant evaluation and is now ready.

This morning as we were going to church, I said, "A heart transplant seems like such a big thing to most people, but to us it seems just like the next step,"  Dick agreed.  We were told the difficult surgery was the LVAD implantation and the actual heart transplant surgery will be much easier.  All I know is that with God all things are possible.  Maybe just maybe our lives can calm down and Dick can resume life in good health.  I can't imagine it....  Good health, wow, what an amazing gift; you don't know how wonderful good health is until you don't have it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

So Far So Good

Dick is ready for his test today, however his anxieties are off the chart. There is one procedure today and another procedure tomorrow and hopefully after these tests, he will calm down.  Both Dick and I have confessed of having emotional anxieties that, more than likely, we aren’t aware of having.  There is no other explanation of why we are experiencing some of the things we are experiencing.  This emotional roller coaster has been going on since he was first diagnosed with heart disease but lately it seems to have been gaining momentum.

When life leads us to a place where there is absolutely no human control possible, we are forced to trust God and forced to let Him orchestrate the events moment by moment.  Dick has been physically out of his human control since the end of June and I can tell you as an eyewitness, it is difficult for any human being to be there.  I think we pride ourselves in planning and preparing for life, and take almost a negative attitude toward helplessness and weakness, but it is in our helpless state where we actually see the hand of God move on our behalf.  Isn’t it a shame we are so determined to be strong and in charge?

So, as for today, we go on to this next step, thanking God, trusting God and putting our faith in God to work our future out for the good.  Let Go and Let God!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What is too much?

It has been a while since I have written, mainly because life has neither been easy nor necessarily hard, but has been too full, I would say, " Super overload."  There were so many things I should have been tending to in August that had to be left till October;  an enormous amount of daily responsibilities plus a two month back log that has to be squeezed in as well.
Most of you know that Dick has recovered beautifully from his stoke and only has some paralyses in his right hand, but may not have been aware that he also now has shingles.  HOWEVER, there is clear evidence that God's grace is resting upon him because he has very little pain and hardly any itching.  God knew how much we could handle and did not give us more than we could bare...
I am healing slowly from my back surgery and will be actually driving Dick to Minneapolis this coming Tuesday for some of his final medical tests.  Once he has successfully passed, he will be put on the transplant list.  He is walking almost 25 minutes on the treadmill and is regaining his strength.
I will send out another update this week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fabulous Family and Friends

Between Dick and I, we keep our children busy.  Dede and Richard actually have temporarily moved in and are taking care of our basic needs and John and Ashley are helping with much of our business affairs.  Dear friends have brought food almost every evening.  If it had not been for all the help I don't know what I would be doing.  Dick is continually improving but I, on the other hand, am totally NEEDY.  Dede and I have had many hilarious moment getting me dressed and other things. I now wear a body brace and putting it on and  taking it off is not a easy thing.  I am to wear a t-shirt under the brace to keep it away from my skin so....       the t-shirt plus the brace plus basic over blouse plus a cover up plus stacks - well forget the high style for a few month. If you see, don't laugh....  I'm doing the best I can.
Sleep is at a premium around here, in fact if anyone is out around 2:30 AM stop by, Dick could use some company
Dede is taking Dick to Minneapolis for a checkup with his heart doctor.  He is  getting close to being put on the list.  Let's Hope.....

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mom's status

Hello Everyone,
It's Robert and I wanted to get a quick update to all our blog followers on mom's surgery yesterday.  Dede just called and said it was a success and the doctor was pleased with how everything went. Having said that, the doctor also said it was a very difficult surgery where he had to "grind" out the bone that had been compressing the spinal cord and successfully insert cages between her vertebrae. The doctor was not able to use screws to hold everything together because the arthritic bone density was so dense that to try to insert screws could have injured the spinal cord or damaged nerves; the risk was not worth it.  
Here is a link demonstrating the operation (, click spine then PLIF).
Today, mom was even walking, one day later!  She will spend Thursday and Friday in the hospital and leave Saturday to continue recovering back home.  She won't be able to lift anything heavier then 10/15 lbs for at least three months and she is experiencing lots of body pain so please keep her in prayer.

Thank you for all your kind comments and prayers!  And thank God for His continued mercy and grace over both Mary and Dick and their healing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mary's Turn

Dick is progressing nicely as you may have seen on the news report I sent out.  But as for me, I am complete worn out, mostly because of my back .  I have been working like mad fire trying to finish work I had left dangling this past summer and have been really trying to get moving on current projects,  all in addition to helping Dick with his schedule and needs. Well tonight about 7:00 PM I finally arrived at a place where I can comfortably say, "I'm ready."  As many of you know, in a few hours, five to be precise, I go in for back surgery.   I can't imagine how wonderful it will be to finally go up and down stairs and walk without pain and to be able to stand straight again. Although I know it will be painful, I am looking forward to lots of sleep. I am very confident in Dr Gust, my neurosurgeon's ability and trust completely in God's protection and grace.   Thank you ahead of time for all your prayers.  I will sign in again in a few days, when I'm off the pain pump,  and let you know how everything went.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back to Work

This week has been filled with Dick's PT, OT, and ST (short for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy).  All these therapies are a new form of "work" for him.  Dick's LVAD coordinator  Shawn came to Sioux Falls this past Tuesday to teach a class on the VAD at the Heart Hospital. Because this is not a common procedure, not too many are familiar with the LVAD and need some training. Of course Dick, Dede, and I were there Tuesday afternoon, and Dick seemed quite pleased to show off his equipment.  It was really nice to see that it was so well attended.

While Dick kept busy with his work, the week for me was filled with the long neglected interior work I had virtually left back in July.  I must say, my clients are the best!  They have been more than understanding and have patiently waited for our lives to somewhat stabilized. I praise God for each of them and pray God will richly bless them for their kindness!

Dick is once again talking politics with friends and associates and is planning to get back to the commission meeting next week.  He still gets tired, but is trying to balance his therapies and work with rest. Please continue to pray for him, sleep is still a problem and he still needs more strength in his right hand.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Home Again

Saturday we arrived home around dinner time.  John and Ashley welcomed us with a fire in the fireplace, beautiful mood lighting around the house and a wonderful lasagna dinner.  It is good to be home!

Sunday Dick was able to watch the Vikings with Mike and Jonathan.  During the commercials and after the game they helped me move the treadmill upstairs to the porch and moved Dick's office to our kitchen table. The boys took him through his exercises and had him saying his tongue twisters, many of which I can not say.
Pertaining to living in our three story home, we have considered all possibilities and the one we are going with for the moment is, one time down the stairs in the morning. one time up the stairs at night, and never to the basement.  It is not that he can't do stairs, but rather that he is somewhat nervous about the stairs.  Even last night, after realizing that they weren't so bad, he went upstairs early so I could change his dressing early and go to bed.  My back was really giving me fits and I needed to get off my feet.
Inch by inch, everyday more progress, more strength, more confidence.

On the whole, things are going well.  We are nestling in for the winter.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Home Sick

I think Dick and I are both home sick.  The days seem longer and it is harder to come back to the hotel.  Dick is for sure ready to be released.  Tomorrow (Saturday) he will be discharged from rehab; I pray for the last time until transplant.
Both of us have accomplished much this week, but now it's time to come home.  Back to our home, dog, home cooking, wonderful family, and friends.  I'm scheduled to have my back surgery the first part of October and once again the kids are rising to the occasion to help.  Dede will move into our home for the first week and Robert is trying to coming back for the two weeks following.  I need to  train Dede how to change Dick's dressing but Robert already knows... (he spent all that time after Dick's release helping me).
2010 has definitely been a year to remember.  On June 20th, Dick thought it would be a normal summer...  God has shown us so much GRACE in the midst of our challenges.  It has been hard to be away these past nine weeks; away from our family and dear friends, away from our "safe place."  Like I said yesterday, it will be good to get home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hard Work

Everything is hard work, even the simplest of things seem difficult.  Although Dick is regaining some strength in his right hand, he still feels numb and those automatic movements just don't work like they used to.  Imagine only using one hand to do the everyday things.  Imagine putting on your coat, cutting a steak, setting a table, typing, opening a bottle, pouring the orange juice, holding a book, making coffee, or getting dressed; he is relearning and adapting really well in spite of the obstacles.

His physical therapy treatments have increased to almost three hours or more a day.  Yesterday he practiced getting in and out of a car and worked in their mock kitchen; I love having help in the kitchen so I was particularly pleased he was learning those skills.  Last night Rich and I took him out for a little Italian, which is one of our favorite types of food.  It started to rain hard so we lingered at the restaurant which seemed so right, kinda like those dinners we used to have.  I guess nothing stays the same, in fact, I have come to the conclusion that we are always in a state of change; it helps us trust God all the more.  The rain finally let up enough for us to dash (Dick's dash is semi-slow) to the car. Both Dick and I long for the day when our life can stabilize, we must trust God to work all this out.
Every night I dress his implant sight; he thinks I do it the best.  I have to admit it is getting to be second nature and going much quicker then at first.  When the dressing is finished, Dick and I are more than ready for sleep; him to his room and me to mine.  It will be good to be home again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's forcast is SUNNY

Dick is regaining his strength every day.  Yesterday he began moving is right hand fingers. I thank God he is left handed.  You never think about all you do with your hands until you don't have the use of one of them.
He had a wonderful night rest Sunday night and I'm hoping last night was equally as restful.
Yesterday (Monday) he was in therapy all day so I actually hit my lists. Fortunately for me the International Market Square here in Minneapolis is the place I go to work on my interior projects; it felt really good to get some neglected work done.  Today, Dick will be in therapy almost all day again, but unlike yesterday, I intend on sitting in most of his exercises.  Really on the whole, Dick is really responding well, much better than I had ever imagined. I'm very optimistic!

Richard is coming over this afternoon and together we are going to get a new phone for me. If you have tried to call me and I haven't answered, it is because my phone isn't working right and it's time to retire this one for a more trustworthy one especially if you consider that one of these days, doctors will be calling us about a new heart.  Good communication is vital at this stage of the game.  More later.....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

Yesterday I left Minneapolis but was in communication with Dick's nurse and doctors.  He is beginning to be able to squeeze the ball with his right hand and even press hard enough to imprint a glob of putty.  This is a wonderful improvement!   Although gone, I'm still in communication with him via cell-phone, so he is getting plenty of practice speaking.  I can understand his words and although his speech sounds a little like he has something in his mouth, I can fully understand what he is saying.
Richard and Dick and gone to the LVAD support group and to lunch; I'm sure he practiced lots of speaking in both settings as well.  He is particularly concerned about his speaking because of his County Commission position; rest assured he is working really hard so he will be able to resume sooner rather than later.
I was thinking of the word fortitude this morning and looking it up in Webster's Dictionary I found: "strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage."  As I ponder that word, I think fortitude is a good measure of a man's character. Who amongst us has never had adversity or pain in our lives?  In these past few years Dick has definitely had his share; he has been and is an overcomer, a man of fortitude.  His entire family is truly blessed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Three-Legged Dog?

Decisions have to be made....  If Dick goes to in-patient rehab Thursday and will be there from seven to ten days, then what do I do about housing etc?  I have a doctor appointment on Thursday, so Dede and I will be leaving Dick tomorrow and Richard will stand in during our absence.  I guess when I return, a hotel will be the best temporary stay.

Thank the Lord for Richard who is so willing to cover for me.  I so appreciate the kids who have sacrificially taken time away from their jobs to be with their dad.   Please pray for them.

Today Dick's right hand is still paralyzed and his speech is still slurred.   The speech therapist is teaching him to speak slower and more intentional, and the  physical therapist will teach him how to use other parts of the brain to achieve his desired goal.  So on the whole, he is recovering nicely and the doctors  are pleased.  Dick will need six weeks of recovery before being eligible for a heart, however his doctors will be more aggressive to find him a heart, because of the stroke.
Dick just asked, " Have you ever seen a three legged dog?"

Answer: They learn to adapt and so will Dick.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Visible Miracles

This morning  Dede, Richard and I arrived at the hospital to find Dick eating, walking and speaking slowly but clearly.  The Neurologists were there and were so encouraged about Dick's miraculous recovery!!!!!!   They were concluding that the clot was caused by the heart and there is something that can be done about it: blood thinners.  His cardiologist had been in earlier and said this definitely would put him high on the transplant list, so since he seems to always be in the hospital over a holiday, that means around Thanksgiving.....
He may  be moving to a rehab center tomorrow for about one week then HOME.  If you had seen him yesterday you would not believe it.  The only explanation - the Faithfulness of God.
All your heart felt prayers are being answered.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Emergency trip

Hello everyone,
This is Robert, I'm filling in for mom to give you a quick update.  This morning mom and Dick were preparing to head back to Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis for some post-op appointments with Dick's cardiologist and surgeon.  Mom found Dick around 5:00 AM slumped over the bed unable to talk; he had suffered a stroke.  She called his doctors and they rushed him to MN by plane.  They are both in the hospital now and a team of Neurologists have been brought in to help diagnose what may have caused this.  It will take at least a day to identify the cause but thankfully Dick's  cardiologists are working along side the Neurologist.  He apparently has suffered some paralysis on his right side.

Tonight mom is making arrangements to move back into the apartment.  Please hold them up.  Thank all you prayer warriors, we must continue to persevere, seek the Lord and trust His divine purpose through this storm.

"O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me."
-Psalm 30:2

Friday, September 3, 2010

Silence or Annoying Bell

I have been used to peace and quiet for quite a few years and it is difficult to have that taken away.  I know I must be there for Dick around the clock but the absence of solitude is difficult. John came over to install a doorbell gadget so when I am in the basement and Dick is upstairs and needs help, he will be able to push the button and "ding-dong" me. I don't really know what I think of that!
Dick still has anxiety about his pump for just cause.  If the power is cut off or shuts down for any reason, he will go from 100% blood flow, down to 10% flow.  More than likely he would pass out and it would be an emergency situation.  I guess I can fully understand and justify the reason for his nervousness yet my selfish side does not want to be tethered to a bell.  Most married people I know are different from each other and Dick and I are no exception.  He prepares for all possibilities and tends to worry and I trust God for all things and "fly by faith."  All I can say is that it is a good thing I don't have the LVAD!

Today marks one month since Dick had his surgery and today he is actually driving himself over to the clinic to get his blood checked.  I'm sitting in the kitchen in total peace and quiet and for the first time in about two months, although Dick is doing well and we are finally normalizing, I didn't realize how much I miss solitude until I didn't have it, so for about an hour I am enjoying the quiet time I so love.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A beautiful day!

PRAISE THE LORD!  Our first somewhat "normal day."  May I say, the sun is shinning and I feel like I have the man I married  back. Dick went to Minnehaha County Commission meeting and I was able to work.  A pot of spaghetti sauce is on the stove infusing our home with onion, garlic, and the fresh tomatoes picked from our garden. The green peppers are on the vine and the Lisianthus are blooming and life is good.  Isn't it amazing what a smile can do!

I have always said "puppies and babies won't let you grieve,"  well, our 3 year old springer, Scout, is still like a puppy and between her beautiful face and sweet disposition, Dolly's death has lost its sting.

Today God has definitely blown HIS fresh breath upon us both.

This morning I met a dear friend for coffee while Dick was at his first commission meeting, and when I returned, Dick's long time friend Rick was sitting in our kitchen talking to Dick.  It is as if God pushed a button and life has returned. These past few days have been so different from today.  Just as I was thinking, "How can we get through this,” wonderful friends with personal visits, flowers, and prayers filled our lives.  Thank you Glenny, Rick Susan, Kim, Melissa, Rosemary, Elaine, and Charlotte; between these last few days and today, you all have helped us more than you know. TODAY has been a great day.

Dick and I just took a short walk; he with his "red Cadillac" and I with my two very able legs, thanks to Bob Van Demark.  The sky was multi faceted with blues, pinks, yellows and golds and I could only think how wonderful God is.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recover, no, Transition

Recover is an interesting word. Webster's Dictionary says: the act, process, or an instance of recovering; the process of combating a disorder or a real or perceived problem. Recovery suggests getting back to the original so I think a better word is transition. Day by day Dick is transitioning is not easy. He tires quickly and is finding it very difficult to be tethered to a machine at night. It is like sleeping with a tight battery pack around your waste. As miraculous as so many things were with his initial healing, his life post-op is a "step by step" process.

I look back a few months and can now understand why I was so moved to put a home office in our house. Since Dick is not driving and has many Dr. appointments, and while it is still a fact that I still have an active business, I'm amazed at how God worked it out for both of us to be at home and still do what we need to do.

Dick's heart failure and sudden implant surgery are now over and its' back to "normal day" life. Hum, come to think about it, what in our life has ever been normal? Recovery of the last few months is something we do not want, but rather something we want to pull away from and come out of. Dick will never be what he was; he is being healed and eventually will be stronger than ever. He is transitioning!

PS. Thank you so much for your loving calls and notes concerning Dolly. Love always come with great cost. Grief is real, no matter the loss. Love you all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Getting Back Isn't Easy

It hasn't been easy getting back into the swing of things.  Dick is still not able to pick up and take off as he had hoped, but if you consider that just three weeks ago he had his surgery, it is quite remarkable he is where he is in his recovery process.  Most LVAD patients are just getting out of the hospital at this point.  
Robert, Dede, and Richard were most helpful in cleaning the apartment Sunday; packing all our things and bringing them home.  Sunday evening Jonathan helped unload Dede’s Tahoe of our "stuff” that had either been taken to Minneapolis or had been purchased or brought.  So, yesterday (Monday) it took all day to go through mail, laundry, rearranging furniture to fit the extra equipment and put everything away. 
Our electrician was nice enough to come over early Monday AM to put in a separate grounded circuit outlet for all of Dick's equipment. Because uninterrupted power is necessary to keep his pump working, all precautions must be met. Anyway, needless to say, last night when I finally sat down, I was totally drained. 
Dick had high hope of going back to his County Commission meeting this morning, but was still unable to muster up the energy. With daily exercise he is gaining strength so maybe next week….

Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

Today is Tuesday, August 24th and our dear Dolly died.  She was such a wonderful dog and will be forever missed.  I will never forget her famous ball trick where she would lay on her back and holding the ball in between her two front paws, drop the ball into her mouth, then again she would take it out of her mouth to do it all over again.  She would play ball with herself if no one else would play with her.
Isaiah 11 talks about animals and on a day like today, I pray these wonderful pets of ours will be with us again some day.  They have shown us what  unconditional love looks like.
I remember the day she was delivered and today, in the same room where she was born, she breathed her last.
She was one of our family and all who are reading this are amongst those who are closest to us and more than likely remember what a wonderful blessing she was and always will be.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Home Sweet Home!

Hello Everyone,

Ahead of schedule like all the other events surrounding Dick's surgery and recovery he was able to come back to Sioux Falls Friday night!  Earlier Friday morning I had called Shawn our LVAD coordinator and asked him if he could be released sooner seeing how well his recovery was going.  Plus, his physical therapy last Thursday was not very intensive and I figured he could just as easily do that in Sioux Falls.  Shawn was very impressed with Dick's overall strength and improvement and agreed he could resume his PT in Sioux Falls.

Three and a half weeks early!  The original projected homecoming date was September 15th, then changed to September 6th, then changed to August 20th.  This was music to our ears!  Robert and I had come home Thursday afternoon because our 14-year-old Springer Spaniel, Dolly is failing.  Both Dick and I wanted to get home for her, so with me going to Sioux Falls the day before, I asked Richard if he could drive Dick home Friday.  Dick and Rich loaded up the "essentials" plus whatever they could fit into Richard's car and left Minneapolis around 7pm.  We had a homemade carrot cake ready for him to welcome him home.  

At our support group last Thursday, the transplant and LVAD recipients were absolutely amazed at how quickly Dick was able to recover.  They asked if he had been really healthy before surgery, but the answer I gave them was "No".  But I told them that it was the goodness of God who heard the prayers of over two thousand people throughout the country that led to a quick and successful recovery.  There is still a long to go so keep praying, but having Dick home is a hugh step.

 Thank you to all our beloved family and friends for all your prayers.  God is indeed so gracious and his loving kindness endures forever!  I would like to invite everyone to a homecoming party once Dick has progress further in gratitude of your care and support.

Love you,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hi everyone, you will be glad to hear that Dick had a very blah day.  No problems, no aches, no pains, no sleeplessness, no irritations, just a good old fashion regular day.  This is the first time in months he has had this kind of a day.  So we celebrated with some sushi and tempura - yum delicious.
John, Ashley and Eva left around noon, so on a whole, things all day were very quiet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Home Again

Dick's going back into the hospital for one more night proved to be advantageous.  The medical team was able to adjust his meds, stop the allergic reaction, and get his pain under  control, so on the whole,  "all things God worked for the good for "Dick" who loves Him and who have been called according to his purpose."

It is natural there is anxiety with transitioning back to a normal life style after this kind of surgery.  Most of you, like me, really know very little about the LVAD.  Dick now wears a fanny pack that carries a computer that controls his heart pump.  This control panel is powered by two lithium batteries which he wears in a harness.  The Vad itself has a drive line that at one end is implanted into his heart and at the other end is plugged into a control panel (computer) that he wears in the fanny pack around his waste.  At the point where the drive line come out side his chest cavity, there is a sterile dressing and this entire dressing is then covered with a large velcro belt.  SO.......  Dick is wearing lots of contraptions that he will continue to wear until he is gets his new heart. All of this is so needed yet so hard to get used to.  Like anything, it will take time to have this become second nature. I think he doing great, but he still needs your prayers.  
As one who like to sleep on her stomach, it sounds awful to have to always sleep on my back.  Lots of changes, but all for his good.

Monday, August 16, 2010

To The ER

Shortly after 1:00 AM I took Dick, who had been experiencing severe back pain and who had developed a horrendous rash, back to the hospital.  After three hours about 4:00 AM the ER doctor admitted him into the hospital.  This has been an extremely boring day for Dick who has been doing nothing but relaxing.  It is going to take time to discover what medicine he has developed an allergy to.  Thank God his back pain is once again controlled.  
It is a blessing he is there; they are in complete control of all his medications and can adjusted as needed.  One of the reasons we were told to stay in Minneapolis after surgery was because   things like this happen and should be expected.  When anyone has a implant or transplant,  additional rehab time is always expected as part of the recovery.

Tomorrow morning hopefully we will find out more.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I can't believe it has been four Sundays since we left Sioux Falls. On one hand it seems like it has been forever since we left home, but on the other hand, it can't possible already be three full weeks.  Everything seems a blur, almost unimaginable that all that has happened has happened.
Dick, Robert, Jonathan, Ashley and I had our own little bible study/prayer time this morning. It is truly a blessing to study the word and pray with our  kids; what a wonderful source of strength.
The kids all went to the Mall of America  this afternoon so Dick took a nice nap while our little granddaughter Eva slept, when she woke she mostly entertained us until her Mom and Dad came home.
Dick is having some kind of allergic reaction to something, unfortunately it could be anything he has taken during this past week.  Tomorrow we go back to the clinic and check it out.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Turn

Day 12 of my second chance at life. I asked Mary if I could write today's blog.  Someone asked me if I reviewed the content or pictures in this saga and I assure you I have not, in fact this weekend was the first I saw most of the postings. Do you really think I would allow a picture of me trying to eat noodles or some of the 'Tuesday or Wednesday pictures!
John, Ashley and Eva made a supply run so we have a full house for dinner. I am finding that 7 people in a 2 bedroom apartment gets a little close after a while. But it is great to see them.

Our son Richard designed these t-shirts with the logo "We love Dick Kelly" that actually shows a heart with the LVAD pump connected.  This is pretty close to the actual size and the position it lays in the chest cavity.  

I began my rehab at home Physical Therapy today with a walk outside. I forget how much strength I have lost, but it is coming back. Most frustrating, is my fingers which are still weak and uncordinated.
But primarily I wanted to take the opportunity to THANK everyone for the cards, flowers, and prayers over the past two weeks. We are but halfway through this experience which will end when I get that big call to come back for a new heart. I can't tell you all  how important your friendship has been during this period. I am looking forward to getting back to work next month and back to Sioux Falls.

Again, thank you all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Free At Last!

Beautiful women surround him every day.  I wonder if he really wants to leave.....
This is Angela, his PA.  She has been with Dick throughout his entire journey; from assisting in surgery all the way through today.

Erin and Dick

This morning started off with Kevin (sorry no picture), Shawn's LVAD partner, coming in and going over our tests.  WE BOTH PASSED!   The few questions we missed, we reviewed so we have more understanding of what happens when the control monitor shows 8000 RPM's per pump speed.  You can't believe what we have had to learn, you would be impressed.  After going over things, the LVAD team signed off on Dick.

His physical therapist Erin found us a deal on the Cadillac of walkers - fire red.  For those of you who have known Dick from way back when, you may remember his red Buick convertible and his red Jeep.  Now he has a red Cadillac.  Ha Ha.
Erin has worked with Dick and was truly impressed with his progress, so much so, she also signed his discharge.

 Incredibly, Dick will only have one physical therapy treatment next week and three the following week, then released to go back to Sioux Falls, provided all things go well.  Can you believe it?  I think he must be one of their favorite patients, a real success story!

Free at last, free at last, THANK GOD, he is free at last!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coming Home

This morning when I arrived I was told that Dick is going to be released tomorrow, not into rehab but to the apartment!  He will go back and forth to rehab but as an outpatient. The average LVAD patient has a hospital stay between fourteen to twenty-one days.  Dick will be released on the tenth day after his surgery.  The healing that he is experiencing can only be credited to a loving God who is hearing and answering all your prayers.  THANK YOU!
Practically the entire day was spent with Shawn in training.  We went over the alarm systems and what to do when this happens and what to do when that happens.  We had a brief recess at noon to go to the Heart Transplant/LVAD support group.  What a tremendous group!  Dick had many of his questions answered and could clearly see that all the transplant people were living active full lives again.  Robert went with us and asked many pertinent questions as well.  After the group session Dick was very tired and wanted to take a nap so Rob and I went home to get a sandwich.
Shawn was waiting for me when I returned to test me on changing Dick's chest bandage.  I PASSED!  Yeh!  Because we are going home tomorrow, we had to also take a written test.  He reviewed once again the material then left us to take the test.   I know for certain that test taking is not for me.  Dick and Robert both laughed at some of my answers.  Instead of just true or false, I had to write a brief reason for the T or F.  I guess it is the artist in me; I see too many possibilities.
Finally around 8:00 Rob and I left, taking some of Dick's personal things and the gorgeous flowers that had arrived this past week.

An interesting side note:  There were 2 heart transplants just this week.  And Dick's Surgeon, Dr Shumway, is the daughter of the renown surgeon who was the first heart transplant surgeon in America. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Picture Says a Million Words

Doesn't he look GREAT
How Blessed am I!!  Wow, what a wonderful family

Our great LVAD Coordinator/trainer  -  Shawn
My first time solo .....  Will be tested soon

YUM....  Finally a decent meal !

(We snuck in some pasta from Applebee's)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Busy Day

Today Dick was busy from morning until night!  It was great for Angie and Pat to be able to spend some time catching up with their dad.  Thanks for coming up you guys!  I know it was a blessing that they could have time with Dick before returning to Omaha.  It seemed as if Dick had a constant flow of people coming and going this afternoon - surgeons, the cath doctors, a physical therapy doctor,  physical therapists, occupational therapists, cardiac therapist, nutritionist, and Shawn the LVAD coordinator (who we love!) and finally his PA who took out the last drain from his incision.  There was no way he could have slept even if he had tried.  The big news of the day is that they will be moving him in a week or so to the rehab facility across the river - this is wonderful news!  This will be his transitional home before moving into our apartment.  Dick, Robert, Richard, and I took our first LVAD instructional class today. There is so much to learn, but there's a test at the end which I must pass (probably score perfect, who knows) before they will release him to my care.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moving Upstairs

Today Dick moved upstairs.  It was late in the day when he, hopefully for the last time, left ICU.  His nurse Chris had him walking in the hall two different times.   Although it is still really exhausting for him, each day he grow stronger and is able to do more then the day before.  Robert flew in from San Diego around noon and he and Richard were both around of the first LVAD training.  Shawn our LVAD Co-coordinator taught me how to change Dick's dressing. I will have to practice daily to get this perfected, because they won't release Dick from the hospital till I pass the LVAD dressing test.   There will be more training every day, teaching me everything I will need to know about the devise.  Since this pump actually is circulating 90% of Dick’s blood, it is absolutely vital that we know everything about it. 

 After dinner Pat and Angie arrived from Omaha and are now in his room trying to keep him awake.  The consistent problem for Dick has been not sleeping at night, so tonight we are trying a new technique, keep him awake till 10:00 PM and then let his clock get back on a normal schedule.  Please pray that he can begin to sleep at night.    
Speaking of sleep, I think it is about that time.  Goodnight

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday's Thoughts

Today is Sunday, and Dick is doing great and growing stronger; little by little new steps are being made including actual steps, actually walking half way down the hall.  He has started eating three small meals and gives me an occasional spontaneous smile.  Every day from here on out he will be getting better, he actually has very little chest pain from the surgery.  Today I looked at his face and he finally has some color.   Instead of  his face being a pasty grayish yellow he now appears to have pink cheeks, a little pink on his nose, chin and forehead, and his lips are turning reddish; I marvel at what good blood flow can accomplish.

As I think about this entire ordeal when there are huge uncontrollable circumstances that seem to swallow us and where we find ourselves unable and helpless to change anything or to counteract any of this; I can only trust God.   I choose to embrace GRACE .   "He meets us where we are and meets as we are." To be able to watch God perform such marvelous healing in Dick is truly miraculous.  I find myself marveling at Christ.  Only God is able to turn all this for His good.

Please note the date change below.  Our son Richard actually made me aware that tomorrow is the 9th and not the 16th and it is tomorrow when Dick will be moved from ICU to his own room upstairs.  PRAISE GOD!    It has been a long two weeks.
Love to each of you!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Our apartment address when sending cards:

920 Delaware Street SE,
Apartment 1001
Minneapolis, Minnesota  55414

CORRECTION:  Many have asked about sending flowers, please wait till August 9th.  Dick will be out of ICU and in a private room.  I guess I'm a little foggy too, Dick moves this Monday; I had my days mixed up.  The address of the hospital is:
Fairview Medical Center 

516 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, Mn  55455

Friday, August 6, 2010

First Steps

Waiting for someone to get well is like waiting for water to boil.  Today Dick has been extremely foggy.  In the words of his surgeon Dr. Shumway, " he looks stoned."  This poor guy takes nothing stronger then a tylenol except for his heart meds, so all the drug that have been put into his body over these past few days have really made him goofy.  At some point this afternoon he thought there were bugs on the ceiling, I assured him there were no bugs only little dots in the accustical tiles. So although he is still foggy, he is moving forward.

Mid afternoon he had his first meal.  Orange jello along with beef broth and 7-up was served and while that might not sound very good to us, to Dick, who hadn't eaten since last Monday morning, it was wonderful.  The cardiology theorpist was also in and started leg strengthening excercises.  The rest of the day his time was spent going from the bed to the chair and the chair back to the bed.   These simple things which seem so easy to us are difficult to someone who has just under gone major surgery.  I remember when I had my knee replacement, lifting my leg even one inch was terribly painful.  So all the little steps he is taking are great!
With this kind of progress he should be leaving the ICU and moving to the 6th floor LVAD Cardiac wing really soon.  Of course the room he would like to have is room #10 which looks out over the river.  It is hard to believe this beautiful scenic view is in the middle of a large city.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Difference A Day Makes

What a difference a day makes.  This morning Dick was hooked up in every way imaginable including still to the ventilator.  I went to the hospital around 6:00 AM because doctors were going to take him off the breathing machine.  By the time I arrived the procedure had not taken place yet he was still hooked up BUT he was breathing on his own.  It was like breathing through a straw and Dick was having difficulty doing it, so the schedule procedure went forward around 8:30 AM.  I was nicely asked to leave when they were doing this, so I went home.  Totally exhausted, I took a nap and returned after lunch.
When I walked into his room, he was sitting up, wearing his glasses, and talking.  WOW!  I couldn't believe the difference.   He is getting color back into his face and although he still is weak and has pain, you can see the obvious improvement.  He was moved to another ICU room, no longer needing a one on one nurse.  By the time I left, he was watching Jeopardy.

The Argus Leader had a article today that said what would happen if Dick wasn't able to return to the Commission.  I know they were looking at the worse case scenario, but the way he is progressing, he not only will return to the Commission but he will be returning stronger then ever.  At this pace, he will be getting to rehab ahead of schedule.  What an amazing turn around and what an amazing difference twelve hours makes.
This is such a declaration of God's healing hand upon Dick.  Thank you all for praying.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day #1

This morning as I arrived, I found Dick heavily sedated and quite restful. It is a blessing that he was not awake and didn't seem to be suffering from the pain.  Dr. Shumway, the surgeon was in and said she was very pleased with his numbers. Midway through the morning Dr Carter, one of the surgical team, came and pulled the arterial balloon. It was a thin wire with a long balloon about 24” in length; it had been place in his groin and ran up into his heart before and during surgery to help the heart beat more easily. Because they did not want him to move after the balloon was pulled and because when he heard my voice he would tried to move, I walked back to the apartment for lunch in hopes that my absence would settle him.

Upon returning, he was resting comfortably. There was some concern mid afternoon because his heart was beating too fast with no apparent reason. The pacemaker gal came to see if his pacemaker was pacing too fast and after running multiple tests told us that his heart was actually beating independently from the pacemaker. Wow … that means that the pacemaker was on standby only. That was great news to me! Dr Masri, his cardiologist, ran an ultrasound and didn’t see any water around the heart, so she instructed his nurse what to do and when I left around 7:00 PM his vitals were stable.  He still is on ventilator and they are watching him very closely.

These past 10 days have been up and down and up and down; what an emotional roller coaster.  I try to focus on Dick riding his bike and taking the dogs for walks and doing all the things he so loves to do.  That makes all this worth it.  God Bless....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


We as Dick's family are all really tired because it has been an extremely long two days.  The prep, the opening of his chest, the heart and lung by-pass and closure all went well today, and we were most encouraged as we heard the good report from his wonderful surgeon Dr. Shumway.  Of course he is in ICU in critical condition but after what he has gone through, that should be no surprise.

We almost lost him yesterday, but God's hand on Dick today was so evident; I know grace will continue to restore life back into his very tired and failing heart.  After he is out of ICU will come daily therapy and physical strengthening; he needs to be built up to be ready for his new heart when one becomes available.
To all  prayer warriors all over this country praying, thank you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Long day in hospital

Today was long and difficult.  Dick did not sleep well and had a rough morning.  He has been transferred back to the ICU and has become stable once again.  Tomorrow he will have the LVAD placed onto his heart.

The surgery is scheduled for 8:40 am and will most likely take around six hours.  We would appreciate any prayer support during the procedure.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wonderful Staff

Dick's wonderful team of doctors.  Dr. Corbin-Adams is a heart failure doctor who was called in.  I don't think these doctors actually have a life.  They are here from morning to evening, spending quality time with us each time they come by.

Dick's favorite nurse.  Maia...

I am teaching Dede to knit.  There is much down time and we are trying to take advantage of it anyway possible.

Mike,  John,  Ashley,  and Eva came to Minneapolis today.  Dick took a stroll to the lobby for some quality time with the family.  Doctors gave Dick a "hall pass" until 9:00 so the family had supper together at the hospital cafeteria.  That trip was enough to tire him out, so bedtime came shortly after that.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Long Days!

Stir crazy has set in. Dick is finally getting some sleep and now is finding the hospital boring. The doctor's continue to check him and stated that he is stable as long as he continues the IV medications controlling pressures and water levels.  They say he is in good shape for surgery on Tuesday and they expect good results.
Dede, who arrived on Thursday, and I continue to try to personalize the apartment.  We are currently in need of some good art for the walls as they are rather drab.  If you have any good, inexpensive ideas, I would like to hear them.
Mike, John, Ashley and Eva are planning to come up tomorrow.  It will be nice for Dick to see some new faces.
Robert McDonough
Monday afternoon he will be prepped for another heart catheter and moved to ICU until Tuesday's surgery.

Robert, thank you for the beautiful orchid you sent.

Also thanks to the County Commissioners for the gorgeous arrangement.
Minnehaha Commissioners and Staff
Dick checks his emails regularly, so send him some uplifting emails at  After surgery Tuesday, he will be out of it for a few days so he will not be responding.

If you would like to send Dick a card, send it to our apartment:
920 Delaware St #1001 Mpls, MN 55414.

Thank for your continued support and prayers.

Still being evaluated

Dick's evaluation is almost finished.  When the last few tests are completed he will have fulfilled all requirements for a heart transplant when one comes available. Until then, the LVAD pump will be his life line.  This device will enable him to become strong  enough to receive a transplant. This process could several months.

Next week he will be in ICU and will be under heavy medication.  If you would like to send cards, it might be wise to send them to our apartment.
The address here is:

920 Delaware Street SE,
Apartment 1001
Minneapolis, Minnesota  55414

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We got the Apartment!

Thank you God for opening an apartment up for us!  I moved into our first apartment ever Wednesday, July 28th.  It has two bedrooms a large living room/dining room combination, kitchen, and bath.  Absolutely perfect so when visitors come, there will be room.  Our Minneapolis address is:

920 Delaware Street, Apt 1001
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414

Dick will be at Fairview Hospital till mid August then will move in with me for approximately four weeks of rehabilitation.  
I know everything is being worked out for our good.  "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him
who knocks it will be opened."  ~ Mt 7:8

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First week - arriving in Minneapolis

To our dearest friends and family,
Dick and I left for Minneapolis July 25th for a week long evaluation for a heart transplant. The last appointment on the first day was with his transplant doctor who put Dick right into the hospital.  It has been the unanimous conclusion by his team of heart failure doctors that Dick needs a new heart. Dick is scheduled to have major heart surgery - Tuesday, August 3rd where doctors will be implanting a LVAD ( a pump) into his heart (this is the same device Dick Cheney recently had implanted).  This is major heart surgery but it is truly necessary to buy him time until a heart becomes available.

Dick and I will be living in Minneapolis for these seven weeks.   He will be in the hospital for two weeks after surgery then will move in with me in our apartment across the street from the hospital where we will reside for an additional four weeks for his after care and rehab.  Please pray for GRACE GRACE GRACE.  I am trusting God will allow an apartment to become available and am trusting that God's will work all of this out for His GOOD.  I see the Lord in all of this and am so thankful for his amazing love and timing.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and continual support during this next month and a half.
We love each of you.   Dick and I are truly blessed to have such loving family and friends.

May "The LORD bless you and keep you;  the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;  the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."
~ Numbers 6:24-26

Lovingly always,

Hospital information:
The Transplant Center
Fairview Medical Center
516 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, Mn  55455