Saturday, December 29, 2007

Amazing News - We Are Home!!

Yes, you read that correctly! We are actually home! Todd had his surgery on Thursday morning, was out of ICU late that night and into a private room. He didn't even use a wheel chair. We saw him twice yesterday and today - we went in at 10:30 a.m. and he said his doctor thought it was possible that he would be released today! Sure enough, the surgeon came in and gave the o.k. We raced back to the hotel to check out by 12:00 noon, stuffed the trunk with everything and got back to the hospital to get Todd. We put him in the back and my oldest son in the front, surrounded by get well plants and other stuff we couldn't get in the trunk. It was a wild ride home. But we made it! God is amazing .... just amazing. I just can't believe it - can you?!!

I just realized how very, very tired I am. What a roller coaster ride this has been. Just yesterday, we were prepared to stay for another 2-4 days and now we are home. I am having trouble processing all this.

Today, the surgeon told us that it was a difficult surgery but explained how Todd's heart reacted when the pericardium was removed. It was as if his heart was breathing a sigh of relief - "Ahhh, now I can fully beat again!" I remarked that it must have been a beautiful thing. I got to hug the surgeon today - I couldn't help it. He is a very intelligent and kind man. I told him how grateful I was to him and though I couldn't name another child after him, I would name something after him someday. He suggested a pet turtle! (Yes, even surgeons can be funny!)

During our hospital visits, I was able to speak with several people who were there waiting for loved ones to come out of surgery, etc. I offered to pray for several of the people and they were so touched. My kids brought cheer to several people as well. I hugged one lady who spent quite a bit of time putting a puzzle together with Chad during my husband's surgery. I was glad that Chad makes friends so easily with strangers - I think it helped her pass the time while she waited for news of her husband. There was an instant bond with others there, even if we only talked for a few minutes. Everyone had the same expression - I can't explain it but I think you know what I mean. The hospital becomes your village for a few days when you must be there. Does that make sense?

Todd is able to walk and stand for quite awhile but definitely needs his pain meds. He looks and feels really good. He said he has no more shortness of breath and his other symptoms are gone. I am so happy for him. So happy. He now bears the scars of a battle that he has won (with the Power of God). The Power of God! (It must be said twice!) Praise the Lord!

I am so very thankful for all that God has done. And I've told everyone I could how God miraculously worked in my husband's life. I want God to be honored and praised. I taught my kids some worship songs today - it was cool to hear their sweet voices in the car, singing, as we drove to pick Todd up.

I must go sleep now. Thank you again for going through this with me. May the Lord bless you for your role in supporting someone you've never met. (Well, o.k., Carrie has met me but no one else has!) I never thought I'd be so grateful for the Internet. This journey would have been a lonely, lonely one without the support of my friends here. My whole family (especially my husband) have been lifted up by your prayers. Thanks again.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Good News! The Surgery Is Over!

God is so good! Thank you, thank you for your prayers!!!

Todd's surgery went very well and he is doing "remarkably well"!!!

My prayers were that he would do better than anyone expected - and God has answered that prayer exactly!

God is to be glorified! He has had His Hand on my husband and everything else involved with the surgery. I want everyone to know how much I appreciate your prayers and I praise God for hearing them. Todd was walking by late last night and today he's in a private room. His pain is being well-managed and he looks really good. The medical staff is very please with his progress. This is only the first day after surgery and he is doing so very well.

We are doing as well as can be expected, living out of the hotel and trying to keep my three active kids in line. Please continue the prayers, if you don't mind. I have definitely felt lifted up by all the support I have received from all of you. God is to be praised. I can't tell you how relieved I am to have the surgery over. (Yes, tears are coming now!!) We are on the road to mending and I am so grateful.

I saw Todd twice today, he was pretty tired in the afternoon. He had been up and walking again and that made him pretty sleepy. I have to make sure he doesn't push himself. I miss him so. Thank you all again - praise God for all He has done and thank you Lord for the prayers said for Todd.

P.S. My sister called me! You know the one who hasn't talked to me in over a year? Yes - she called me! Praise the Lord for additional blessings!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Please Pray

This is my last post until after my husband's surgery, which will be on December 27th at 7:00 a.m. I would appreciate your prayers for Todd, for his surgeon, and for all the hospital staff who will be taking care of him. Please pray that God will watch over every aspect of this event, that the surgery will be uncomplicated, that it will go quickly and that Todd will have no problems with recovery. Please also pray for me and my kids, as we'll all be there, staying in a hotel. The hospital is 2 hours from our home, which will make it more difficult for us but we'll manage. My in-laws will stay in the same hotel for a few days and Todd's uncle will meet us at the hospital on the day of the surgery. We hope to be able to come home in 4-5 days. Pray for good health, cooperative children, good traveling weather, our safety and my sanity. I'm kind of running on auto pilot these days, with Christmas nearly here, but then I need to plan for the days following. Pray for me to buck up and stop being in denial. I have to be strong.

Thank you so much. I appreciate your prayers. To God be the Glory. May we see His mighty hand doing great things this next week.

I sincerely wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We Have Our Tree!

Well, here's the post you've all been waiting for. (Drum roll, please ....)

Did we buy a real tree or an artificial tree?

The answer is: Neither.

Our nice neighbor across the street GAVE us her artificial tree - can you believe that?

I had ordered one online at a store 50 miles away, just as the storm hit 1-1/2 weeks ago. Then the storm, the damage, the roads closed, all kept us from going to pick it up. Our neighbor across the street is a recent widow and we called to check on her a few times during the week. When I mentioned that we were going to go pick up our tree soon, she said she had a tree she bought 2 years ago and wasn't going to use it anymore (I think it reminds her of her late husband). She really wanted us to have it. So, my husband went over and brought it home. Now, it's not the kind of tree we would have bought. But a free tree is a free tree. It's in good shape, over 7 feet tall. So we saved a good deal of money there. God is good. And now that we've decorated it, it looks really nice. I think everyone is pleased, with the exception of our moody oldest son, but he'll get over it.

Another gift from God came in the form of a free turkey. Two weeks ago, we got a flyer on our porch from a local group of full-time moms, asking for food donations for a family they were sponsoring for the holidays. They also had a raffle for a free turkey. I planned to give and enter the raffle but on the day they were to collect the donations, the storm had begun. "You're not seriously going out in this today, are you?" is what I said when I called the lady in charge. Yes, she was going out anyway. Brave soul! So, they picked up the small bag and last week, during the blackout, I got a thank you note saying I had won the turkey! What's even cooler about this is that with the blackout, we had to thaw and eat our Christmas turkey a few days ago. And the Lord replaced it with a free one!

Today was my toy shopping day. I got to head out to my favorite toy story 25 miles south of here, on beautiful Cannon Beach. But this time, I got to see all the damage the storm had done, all the way down. Nearly every house I saw had at least a few shingles blown off, several had a lot of roof damage. I saw what looked like a small mobile home, blown clean off it's base, the toilet sitting there, lonely, with the bathtub still clinging to the wall hanging in the air. Trees down everywhere. Some leaning precariously. There won't be a shortage of aged firewood next year. The people here aren't afraid of chain saws and I saw a lot of new firewood stacked to cure.

I've talked about the view from my kitchen window. It's a tall stand of trees, way up on the top of the hill. There are fewer trees up there now, as some of them fell on the property just on the other side. One fell right on the middle of a home. Ouch! We can see in to the forest at the end of our street. But it's just trees. They can be replanted. The buildings can be rebuilt. It's just so sad to see so much destruction. Everywhere I've gone, that's all that is talked about. "What kind of damage did you have?" has been asked of me, over and over. I heard a lot today, as I talked with people I knew and strangers as well. It is what people do when they all share in a similar experience. Suddenly, we all have this thing in common which makes us temporary acquaintances. I took photos of my in-laws indoor damage and showed them around a bit today. No one can believe what they are looking at (I still can't!) I think everyone needs to talk about it, share their story. A part of me wants to keep talking and another part of me wants to put it behind us. But it will be with us a long time, especially as we assist my in-laws with their rebuilding. My husband put the shed back together - he found nearly all the pieces! Another blessing.

The road we took to Portland last week is now covered in 6 feet of mud in an area about 40 miles from us. A landslide happened yesterday. Praise the Lord we didn't get caught in that, as it could have happened anytime and I'm also thankful the road crews closed the road about 2 hours prior to the slide - they knew it was going to happen. There is no word on when it will reopen.

Thanks for the tree input. I'm glad that is done and now I feel like I can enjoy the Christmas spirit. The tree made all the difference!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Hurricane Roared

This is what I posted Friday on HSB, but if you'd like to read it again, proceed ...

Last weekend, I spent all my time preparing for what we were told would be hurricane-force winds off the coast. High wind warning, 100 mph winds predicted, etc. So we prepared. Or so we thought. I don't think anyone really prepares for something that has never happened to them before. I can now say I've lived through a hurricane. A what? Wait a minute, this is the Northwest coast - hurricanes don't happen here. Well, now they do. And it did. The winds picked up Sunday morning and the first thing to go was our metal chimney. I had some more online ordering to do and cringed at every high gust that slammed the windows, lights flickering. When I said goodbye to my husband after dinner, he walked out into fierce winds and some rain. I was doing laundry and dishes like mad, fully knowing the power would go out soon. I got all the kids bathed and in bed, and managed to blog a little bit. We set out candles and flashlights on the kitchen table. The storm worsened. At 10:15 pm, I had just left a comment for a friend (hi mamaself!) when everything went dark. I felt my way to bed, scolding myself for not showering earlier!! I was just too busy, you know? Once in bed, the noise became deafening. I have compared it to being next to a jet engine but I'm the drama queen after all. It was loud, the loudest I've ever heard and sustained. It just didn't stop or let up. Stuff kept hitting the walls and roof. I slept in fits. Finally called my husband at some point, just to hear his voice. Prayed. After awhile, I had passed from fear into calm but annoyed. The rose bush by our window kept being slammed over and over against the glass - most unsettling. The wind kept wailing and honking through the windows but it was a constant roar with the sounds of debris flying. At 3:00 a.m. a gust I measured at 69 mph, hit the house. Then the giant boots began stomping on the roof. It started at the south end and worked it's way up, back and forth over the house. Thump, THUMP, thump, on and on, for an hour. I prayed it would blow off, whatever it was, and hoped it wouldn't come through the roof. Called Todd again to ask what it might be. Finally, it stopped (we later found that 42 feet of rain gutter had ripped off and was slamming against the roof as it went. I did, in fact, here something hit the ground, softly - weird!) Slept at last until 7:30 a.m., then I heard a little voice say, "Mom, the phone is ringing."

It's my mother-in-law, saying, "Our house is destroyed!" Oh, God! She proceeded to tell me about trees coming through her roof over three rooms in the back of her house. She and her husband were staying in the front bedrooms and couldn't leave, as their driveway was blocked with downed trees. Just then, my husband returned from work so I ran outside to find him so he could talk to his mom. What a sight - me in my black silk pajamas running out the door, the wind raging from all sides. I found him securing a tarp over our woodpile. I was a wreck, dazed by her news and little sleep, crying, "Your mom's on the phone, her house is destroyed!" I still can't believe it. We couldn't go help her because the storm was still going strong, so we spent the day doing very little, watching stuff fly through the air and holding the windows back, as they were bowing in like crazy. The storm continued all day. A local radio station had phone lines open for people to call in, so I called to tell about my in-laws' situation and how we couldn't get to them. The neighbors that live on my in-laws' street heard me (they know me, I used to live on that street, too) and went down to my in-laws' house with chainsaws, clearing their driveway. They did what they could to help out - what a blessing! My mother-in-law called me to tell me and I was so relieved, we both cried! The wind began to lessen somewhat by late Monday night. But not much. When we woke up Tuesday morning, it was finally calm. Then everyone began to assess the damage. Oh, man. It's bad. 911 went down right away. No cell service. Over 42,000 homes without power. We could only call within our prefix. We later learned 1 in 5 houses in Astoria alone had roof damage. Nearly everyone had fences down or trees down. Trees were down everywhere - even trees that had been there for over 100 years! Winds as high as 125 mph had been reported in two spots, one just across the river from us. Everything was closed. All highways out of the county were closed. The community was on its own and did a fantastic job of helping each other out. We heard so many stories on the radio of people helping people. Organizations set up soup kitchens and places for people to shower, things like that. My husband had bought ice the day before and went out again for ice and bottled water. Fortunately, our water was never affected - thank you Lord. Todd rigged up an ice chest with a metal spigot and filled it with hot water heated on our good old wood stove. He cooked breakfast on the campstove on the porch stoop. Praise God for my dh!
We spent Tuesday helping my poor in-laws. I wish I could post photos of their house. It had over 20 trees toppled on it. A tree fell on their livingroom, knocking a huge part of the roof in, and the same tree pierced two big branches through the ceiling of the adjoining bedroom. Imagine huge pencils through a piece of styrofoam. And the masterbath is the most freaky to me - a branch as tall as the room went straight through the roof all the way to the floor, right in front of the bathtub. I still shiver at that one. I had prayed for my in-laws' safety during the worst of the storm, not knowing how they were, and God kept them safe. My mil had been sitting in her living room, got up to move and 5 minutes later, the tree crashed through over where she had been sitting. God is good. Their house has been condemned so we spent the day helping them find storage and moving things out with the help of friends. The neighbors returned to help, and one neighbor actually found a house for my in-laws to rent while they rebuild their home. There was no gas in town, and one neighbor gave my husband enough gas for our Camry, so we could drive to Portland the next day (we had an appt.) I am so thankful for the people on that street!

We went to Portland on Wed, and since we still didn't have any power, it was nice to get away. I was finally able to call my mom on the way there, since cell phone usage was unaffected about 15 miles inland. The only open highway had damage from a huge mud slide and a broken dike but it only delayed us by an hour and we made it to our appt. in time. Had a nice dinner, a hot shower and slept well. The next day, I called home and got through - we had phone service! Little by little, services were being restored. There were over 100 trucks with workers from the surrounding areas and states, coming to help the counties affected by the storm. Our mayor told us to thank every power worker we saw - well, I had already been doing that! Here's a big hug to all you Idaho power workers! And I tracked down the neighbors who showed up with chainsaws and gave them each a hug! As we were coming home on Thursday, we could see power had been restored here and there. We were hopeful. We got to the top of our hill and could see power on at the top house but it ended there. Sigh. O.k., I prepared for another night of darkness. My dh slept for a few hours while I struggled with the propane stove and the manual can opener. I spilled candle wax. Everything went wrong. But I finally got dinner ready, he ate and went to work. As I was pouring boiling water on the floor, trying to clean up the candle wax, the power suddenly came on. I can't tell you how grateful I felt at that moment! I cried. Then we held our breath, because there had been problems with keeping the power on. But it stayed on. Thank you, Lord! The kids and I celebrated with fruitcake, saved especially for the occasion (it gave us something to look forward to! And this is the GOOD fruitcake, my mom has it sent to us every year!)

Last night and today (Fri.) I've been up to my ears in clean up (ice melts in the fridge - what a mess!), doing laundry, trying to get things back to normal but I had to go out this afternoon and help my in-laws again. Then our insurance claim adjuster came to the house, assessed the damages, and wrote me a check on the spot! Boy, that was quick! Honestly, I hadn't even had time to look around our own house much. I had seen that our storage shed had exploded, pieces all over our neighbors' yards. The bikes and stuff laying there, exposed and sad. The cursed rain gutter laying in a heap at the front of the house. Shingles here and there. But honestly, our damage was minimal compared to some. There are so many homes and cars with huge trees smashed on top of them. It hurts to see that. We haven't been all over town, the mayor discouraged people to sightsee due to downed power lines. But I'm sure in a few days, I'll see more damage. We've seen several barns destroyed and two trailers on their sides.

After dinner tonight, my kids finally got out some Christmas decorations. I haven't been home all week and Christmas decorating really hadn't been on my mind, so I'm glad they took the initiative. I just want a quiet day. I'm so tired. I have also discovered a new fear - wind. It has been mostly still these past few days but if I see the trees moving, I get scared. I've never been so fearful of wind - I'm sure it won't last. I hope. Apparently, two typhoons banded together from Hawaii and created what I've heard described as a "perfect storm". Now we know that hurricanes CAN happen on the west coast. I really hope I never have to go through that again.

We have a heavy wooden outdoor bench on our south-facing deck. It usually sits against the wall of the house. On Mon, we woke up to find the bench had been pushed against the railing, as if the wind just scooped it up and moved it there. Later, we saw it bent forward, like it was bowing to the railing. And later still, the wind had set upright again. The wind is powerful - you've got to respect it.

On the radio, the DJ was talking with a pastor's wife about where to donate supplies, but then he asked her where God was when things like this happen. Her response was almost what I would have said. In my opinion, God is everywhere you see people banding together, helping each other, sharing supplies, giving a hug, checking in on neighbors (which we did, also). There were few injuries and few fatalities in this hurricane, as far as I know (at least in Oregon, I know Washington had several deaths) God was here. Still is. Weather happens. We can be made strong through adversity and bring God the glory as we see His hand on the situation. And I am thanking Him everyday for being with us throughout this long, stressful week.