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Bernie and Me, The Quick Saga to Date


mikev

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1965 I met Bernie (Bernadette) and she knocked me for a loop (now she does that to herself). I was just discharged from the Marine Corps, I didn't care about any wild oats, I wanted her.

 

1967 We were married. She was a baby, 20 years old, I was a baby too 22 years old. I think now and I think kids shouldn't be able to drive until they're 25.

 

1970 Bernie had a serious back surgery due to scoliosis. Nine vertebrae were fused together and she had a couple of stainless rods put in her back. As part of the surgery, one of the units of blood was tainted with Hepatitis C (bummer). She fought that off at the time just fine. My first Caregiving stint.

 

1972 Our First Daughter was born. Katie, who later on would turn into our Cindy Lauper and teenage terror, and mom to a son. BA (legal something) I can't recall, Central Florida, she works as a Paralegal.

 

1974 Our Second Daughter was born. Karen, the thinker, debater and mother of two girls. BA (Economics) University of Michigan, works as a Purchasing Manager

 

1976 Our Third Daughter was born. Annette, the all around stick to it, get er done mother of two sons and one daughter. BS (Chemistry) Wayne State University, PhD (Organic Chemistry, University of Notre Dame), she works as a Project Manager for Dow Agro.

 

1978 Our Fourth Daughter was, (just kidding, only three and done, we knew our limits)

 

1978 through 2000 were our productive, raise a family, further our careers, full of life's ups and downs, and births and deaths.

 

2000 December 19 th Bernie noticed her ankles were swollen, she talked to her sisters about it and they said to just raise your feet for a while and you'll be alright. It didn't work. I told her to get to the doctor asap. She did the following day. The doctor sent her to a specialist, her Doctor Bellovich, a nephrologist, for diagnosis, he's still her doctor and her piece of eye candy. The worst happened. Bernie's Hepatitis C, from 1970, had come out of dormancy and flared up. Her own antibodies were fighting off the Hep C, but her antibodies, so large, plugged up her own kidneys and killed them. It's called glomarulonephritis. It devastated us. Dialisis clinics are some of the saddest environments I have ever been witness to. ( my second stint as care giver)

 

2002 Party! Party! Bernie's younger sister gives her a kidney. How sweet it is. For 8 years now that kidney has worked perfectly. Cruises, Vacations, bought a cottage up north and had a blast. Bernie's blood was never cleaner.

 

2008 June, Florida, Bernie could hardly walk. Back home (Michigan) Bernie's diagnosis, severe anemia 6.4 on the hemoglobin scale. We really don't know why, all we know is that we have a new set of Doctors. Crap, here we go again. They won't let up on my bride.

 

2008 August, a scan of my inflamed gallbladder also revealed a spot on my right lung (I quit smoking in 2003). The biopsy revealed a cancerous tumor. They took out the lower lobe of my right lung. All biopsies of the lymph nodes in the area showed this thing did not spread. How lucky do you get in life. Bernie was my caregiver through my 4 sessions (3 months) of precautionary chemotherapy.

 

2010 April 8, Bernie started having headaches. The MRI revealed a brain bleed. April 19th Bernie had 2 holes drilled into her scull and Dura to flush the gooey blood out. It didn't work. April 26th (2) 2" diameter pieces of scull were removed to peel the gooey clotted blood off the brain (ICU stay started). The brain started swelling so on May 6th a full decompressive craniectomy was performed to accommodate the brain swelling. Bernie spent 15 days on the ventilator, in a coma for several of those days, I went through the wringer.

 

2010 June 4th Bernie finally comes home. And the care giving on my part begins. WOW! This stroke care giving is the real deal. Bernie still has the huge piece of scull missing. We are anxiously waiting for an acrylic prosthetic scull piece to be made, hopefully any day. She still has another surgery facing her to put things back together. I wait with her, feeding tube nutrient in one hand and Kleenex for the drool in the other. She is a fighting Irishman and doing her best.

 

So that's Our Saga for now, oops I hear the dryer going off, gotta get the laundry.

13 Comments


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Mike,

 

I applaud you for your patience in dealing with all this fun stroke stuff. It really does take a good sense of humor and a lot of patience.

 

I wanted to suggest if you haven't already tried this to talk to your Dr. about getting a patch for behind the ear to help control the drooling until Bernie is able to remember to swallow more often and not let it build up in her mouth. We used one for Gary before he was able to remember to swallow- it's called a transderm scop patch - used for motion sickness but helps to dry out the throat a bit so less saliva in the mouth. It took a long time for him to remember to do it on his own and he still has relapses after 6 years, but it's that short-term memory thing that we constantly struggle with, so I have to remind him.

 

Keep up with the swallowing evaluations and eventually she will do better and the feeding tube will be a thing of the past. Drs. told us Gary would have it for the rest of his life but he proved them sooooooo wrong after just 10 months. Lots of pureed foods, strained baby foods and thickened Boosts until he could eat real foods and boy did he try to make up for lost time. lol To date he is six years post-stroke and we still have to thicken all liquids with Thick-it.

 

 

Best of luck on your continuing journey. You're obviously in this for the long-term and love your wife very much.

 

Sarah

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Mike,

 

I applaud you for your patience in dealing with all this fun stroke stuff. It really does take a good sense of humor and a lot of patience.

 

I wanted to suggest if you haven't already tried this to talk to your Dr. about getting a patch for behind the ear to help control the drooling until Bernie is able to remember to swallow more often and not let it build up in her mouth. We used one for Gary before he was able to remember to swallow- it's called a transderm scop patch - used for motion sickness but helps to dry out the throat a bit so less saliva in the mouth. It took a long time for him to remember to do it on his own and he still has relapses after 6 years, but it's that short-term memory thing that we constantly struggle with, so I have to remind him.

 

Keep up with the swallowing evaluations and eventually she will do better and the feeding tube will be a thing of the past. Drs. told us Gary would have it for the rest of his life but he proved them sooooooo wrong after just 10 months. Lots of pureed foods, strained baby foods and thickened Boosts until he could eat real foods and boy did he try to make up for lost time. lol To date he is six years post-stroke and we still have to thicken all liquids with Thick-it.

 

 

Best of luck on your continuing journey. You're obviously in this for the long-term and love your wife very much.

 

Sarah

Thanks Sarah, Her Doctor made the mistake of adding his comcast e-mail address to his busniess card, I use it at least a couple of times a month. I've already sent the request for the Scop Patch to him.

Thanks for the lead. Mike

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Mike: I was in the Rehab library with Bruce this week. He reads all the newspapers awaiting his therapy sessions and I found a pile of Stroke Connection magazines. Do not think these are published anymore, but went through them. Found this great poem, which touched my heart. Xeroxed it and try to read it every morning before we begin our day. Excerpts: "He strokes at her hair. He's become quite skilled in things he knew little about. . . More than 50 years since he met her, They shed tears of loss and thanksgiving, Their laughter also fills the room. You and Bernie could have written this. Debbie

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Mike:

 

welcome to wonderful world of blogging. I am the official blog addict, and I am so delighted you joined my world. your love for your Bernie shines through this blog. I know my husband loves me very much but you beat him with your uncondtional love and sense of humor for your bride. I know I want to have our marriage as strong and loving as yours. share some of your secret.

 

Asha

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Mike,

 

I applaud you for your patience in dealing with all this fun stroke stuff. It really does take a good sense of humor and a lot of patience.

 

I wanted to suggest if you haven't already tried this to talk to your Dr. about getting a patch for behind the ear to help control the drooling until Bernie is able to remember to swallow more often and not let it build up in her mouth. We used one for Gary before he was able to remember to swallow- it's called a transderm scop patch - used for motion sickness but helps to dry out the throat a bit so less saliva in the mouth. It took a long time for him to remember to do it on his own and he still has relapses after 6 years, but it's that short-term memory thing that we constantly struggle with, so I have to remind him.

 

Keep up with the swallowing evaluations and eventually she will do better and the feeding tube will be a thing of the past. Drs. told us Gary would have it for the rest of his life but he proved them sooooooo wrong after just 10 months. Lots of pureed foods, strained baby foods and thickened Boosts until he could eat real foods and boy did he try to make up for lost time. lol To date he is six years post-stroke and we still have to thicken all liquids with Thick-it.

 

 

Best of luck on your continuing journey. You're obviously in this for the long-term and love your wife very much.

 

Sarah

 

Sarah, The Doctor, after reading my request for the patch, wrote back and agreed with the suggestion and is writing the script. I'm surprised he worked so late on a holiday weekend in answering the e-mails. He and Bernie are sort of "buds", she always says he's young enough to be her son (44 years old) as she stares at him with a grin while he's walking away. Maybe that's what started the drooling in the first place.

Thanks Again

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Mike, I love your saga, you are the man! The Marines were looking for a few good men, they found one in you and it has carried over in the real life with Bernie.

 

Mine started out sorta like that but took a turn when I came back from Vietnam. Now on my fourth try it mirrors your first start. I'm one happy man and stroke survivor for sure. I really don't feel I could have a better mate than I have this time around. I'm a happy dude!

 

Thanks for the blog and sharing your happiness too! You are a positive fellow, always Simplify!

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Mike: I was in the Rehab library with Bruce this week. He reads all the newspapers awaiting his therapy sessions and I found a pile of Stroke Connection magazines. Do not think these are published anymore, but went through them. Found this great poem, which touched my heart. Xeroxed it and try to read it every morning before we begin our day. Excerpts: "He strokes at her hair. He's become quite skilled in things he knew little about. . . More than 50 years since he met her, They shed tears of loss and thanksgiving, Their laughter also fills the room. You and Bernie could have written this. Debbie

 

Debbie, I don't know if you got my message, but can you e-mail me a copy of the poem. Thank You, Mike

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Mike:

 

welcome to wonderful world of blogging. I am the official blog addict, and I am so delighted you joined my world. your love for your Bernie shines through this blog. I know my husband loves me very much but you beat him with your uncondtional love and sense of humor for your bride. I know I want to have our marriage as strong and loving as yours. share some of your secret.

 

Asha

 

Asha, Our only secret is we're both kind of nuts, and we don't expect eachother to be perfect. Thank you for your very kind words. I've read this to Bernie, she smiled, and I think she rolled her eyes too (just kidding). Hugs, Mike & Bernie

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Mike, I love your saga, you are the man! The Marines were looking for a few good men, they found one in you and it has carried over in the real life with Bernie.

 

Mine started out sorta like that but took a turn when I came back from Vietnam. Now on my fourth try it mirrors your first start. I'm one happy man and stroke survivor for sure. I really don't feel I could have a better mate than I have this time around. I'm a happy dude!

 

Thanks for the blog and sharing your happiness too! You are a positive fellow, always Simplify!

 

Thanks Fred, I'm enjoying your jokes. I don't respond to some because I don't want the ladies to know what I think is funny. Like they don't know, right. Men are basically the same.

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Hi Mike!

What a nice love story! How is Bernie doing these days?

Keep up the good work!thumbsu.gif

Eva

 

Thanks Eva, Nice talking to you last night. Bernie is not that hot, her swallowing is getting worse and worse. Hopefully when she gets her scull put back together she will be able to improve. Good luck to you in your efforts to help George out of his stalemate situation. Prayers of strength and courage to you, Mike

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