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.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Shumway 

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.