Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Morning

Dennis was alert this morning but largely due to pain.  In order to give him his seizure medication,  they need to stop the morphine as the two cannot run together.  Usually the give him extra morphine just prior and the run the seizure med.  It takes about 1/2 and hour but for some reason today I ran very slow and his pain kept going up.  They finally stopped it, gave him some morphine, and restarted the seizure med.  This worked well and he is resting again.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Morning Update

Dennis rested well last night.  He woke up this morning and had a few spoonfuls of orange juice.  He has had very little eat or drink for the last day and for a few days prior to that he drank and ate only small amounts.  Yesterday his only interest in food was a few bites of breakfast.  When he is awake he is very aware of what we are saying and responds yes or no to what we ask him.

Whenever Dennis would express concerns about not beating this cancer it was always about Brooklyn and me being OK and that our friends would look after us.  Yesterday our pastor stopped and without knowing this has been his one concern he said to Dennis, "Our church family will be watching out for your wife and daughter."  Our friends who were here yesterday assured him of the same thing.  I've been reminding him that we will be OK.  God has so clearly provided for us over this time that I have complete peace moving forward.  My heart aches knowing he will be gone soon but I know our separation is temporary and we will see each other soon.

Brooklyn is doing OK as well.  She spent some time here last night and a friend stayed with her last night.  She wants to know when Daddy will go to heaven.  She is keeping up her normal schedule and will be at school today.

Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Homeward Bound

Dennis is on the home stretch of the journey.  His final home is almost in sight.  As much as we grieve the coming separation, we grieve with peace knowing a well body awaits.  Most importantly, he will be face-to-face with his Savior.

Awhile ago when Dennis was doing really well he siad to me, "Don't take this wrong but I think I am going to beat this and part of me is really bummed by that."  He went on to tell me that he was so looking forward to all that heaven had to offer.

The doctor has told us that moving him home at this point would be too traumatic.   She expects Dennis to be with us a few days to a few weeks.  We had discussed where it would be best for his final days to happen and how location might impact Brooklyn and there was no clear right or wrong in those choices but we are trusting that God orchestrated where he is now and we are at peace in that.  Dennis is at Agrace Hospice in Fitchburg.

We know are parting is temporary.  Someday, for those that know Christ, we will all be forever together.

I will try to keep you up-to-date with posts here and on Facebook.

Dennis is not doing well

Yesterday I called our hospice staff because Dennis was having pain when we moved him and we were not beating it with the medications he was taking.  They came out to the house and decided to admit him to the in patient unit to address the pain.

They started some pain medications and during the night he became unresponsive. The doctor withdrew the medications but his condition has not changed.  This could be medication or it could also be decline.  I suspect it is decline as we have been seeing decline in the last week .

It looks like Dennis will soon be well again as he leaves this earthly body and enters heaven.  My heart is breaking for our lose but rejoicing that when he
leaves this body he will be face to face with his Savior and totally healed.  Our parting will be for a season but a reunion awaits.

Please keep us in your prayers.  Brooklyn is at school and I'm going to see how things go today and let her finish out the day unless we see other changes.  Dennis did briefly open his eyes when he heard my voice.

Monday, January 26, 2015


An online friend of mine who recently lost her husband to this same cancer told me awhile ago that whenever our husband's conditions change we go through the reality check and grieving associated with gradually losing our husbands.  It appears we are there again.

Over the last week I have noticed some subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes with Dennis.  We have from the beginning of this journey been open with what is going on and we plan to continue to do so.  We believe it helps you to pray more specifically for us and also maybe helps someone else along the way.

Dennis has had more pain lately.  When Dennis changes position this is most evident.  For awhile we used Tylenol before his aides came but that does not seem to be adequate anymore.  We will be using a medication that comes in a patch format so he has continual delivery of the pain medication.  Please pray that this provides the relief he needs from pain.  Dennis is unable to identify where exactly the pain is coming from so that makes it more difficult to help him.  A massage therapist has volunteered to come and and work with Dennis so we are hoping that will help as well.

I have also been observing some decline in Dennis' abilities.  He can only use his left hand but has done well feeding himself with that hand.  In the last few days he has been having trouble even doing that.  I want to keep him as independent as possible but balance that with the frustration of not being able to accomplish the task.  Please pray for me to balance his need for help and the amount of assistance I give him.  He is not eating well the last few days and I'm not sure if it is frustration or that he is not hungry.

He also seems to be having trouble understanding me sometimes.  I usually can tell by the look on his face if he understands or not.  Yesterday I asked him if he was having trouble understanding something I had just said and he nodded yes.  I asked him if this was new and again he nodded yes.  I can only imagine how scary this must be for him.  Please pray for us as we learn to communicate and meet his needs with this new deficit.

Please also remember to pray for Brooklyn as she endeavors to understand what is happening and how it impacts her.  We don't hide things from her and I'll be talking to her in the days ahead about what to expect.  There is a good possibility that Dennis will not know her or anyone at some point.  I want her to be ready for this and not be taken by surprise.  Please pray for her as she navigates the changes happening in her life.

We know God is walking this road with us and will continue to do so in the days of head.  No part of this has taken Him by surprise and he is faithful.  Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  God is ordering Dennis' life now as He has all of his life.  We place our hope and trust in a faithful and loving heavenly Father.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Planning and Living


Recently I have found myself in a planning phase.  If you know me well, you know I am a planner.  It has served me well professionally and personally.  Planning helps me get through things.  If I know what is going to happen and the details are covered, I can relax and cope with what is ahead.  So I have been planning.

On the mundane side of planning, I am planning to get our kitchen painted.  I was given some money from my Mom at Christmas and decided the best use of it was to update the kitchen with a fresh coat of paint.  Here is a look at the before - stay tuned for the after.  (Counter tops are on my wish list for the update but those will have to wait for awhile.)

I'm also planning an organized, functional office.  Dennis' "man cave" has been his office.  As such, I did not maintain that room.  It was his area.  Now however it is my job to go through it and make it functional for the future.  Dennis was fine with me doing this but it is turning into a major project.  At this point I have decided to sort so I can determine what we will need in the future and then get a friend to help me decide what to do with the remaining items.  There are electronics that I have no idea if they are something that is current and should be sold or out of date and should be trashed. Let's just say there is a lot more stuff in the room than is needed.

On a much deeper level, I have done some pre-planning with our church staff for the celebration of Dennis' life after he has been fully healed and enjoying the splendors of heaven.  I'm not done with this planning and it is not easy to do.  It will be the last thing I can do for Dennis and I want it to glorify God first and honor the man of God he has always been.  Please remember to pray for this aspect of our journey.

Some planning is just thinking through the days ahead.  I am a firm believer that we need to live in light of Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.-ESV  Last night I found myself planning too far down the road as to what is ahead for us and it overwhelmed me.  I know from experience that God's grace is there whenever I need it.  It is never early but it is also never late.  In the days ahead, this will be true as well.


Our day-to-day lives are complicated at this point.  Dennis' care is intense.  I am so grateful for the aides who come twice a day to help with his morning and evening care.  It gives me a chance to get a shower in the morning and relax.  I also enjoy their company in the morning and in the evening it gives me some good, quality time with Brooklyn.  

Each day involves medication preparations and administration, repositioning Dennis as he can't turn himself, changing and cleaning him, answering when he calls, endeavoring to figure out what he may want or need, finding something to keep him entertained, laundry - lots of laundry, finding coverage if I need to get away, making food he likes and can eat with as little assistance as possible ... you get the idea.  And this is just the things I do for Dennis.  It does not include the normal things of life that we all do for our families.  Yes, I am tired.  Yes, I am sometimes not as patient as I wish I was.  Yes, I get tired of it all.  Yes I feel like this most of the time.  

But, this season of life also has its blessings.  I am learning to slow down.  I'm learning to not sweat the small stuff.  I'm learning there are more important things than a perfectly clean house.  I'm learning that God is the great provider and meets each one of our needs on time and in ways that amaze me.  I'm learning the value of friends.  (Seriously, without them I'm not sure how I would survive.)  And most importantly, I'm learning to trust God in new and wonderful ways.  

How is Dennis?

Dennis is mostly stable but recently has been having some pain with movement.  When we set him up in bed or lay him down it is painful.  The hospice staff believe this is from his joints not being moved so we have added some range of motion to his daily care.  This is painful when it is first started but it is not long before Dennis sighs with how good it feels.  Please pray for his pain in movement.  He does not like to take any heavy duty pain medications as they leave him more tired than he already is so we are using Tylenol at this point.

Dennis still enjoys having visitors.  As you can imagine, his days can be long and mundane.  If you live in the area, he would love a visit.  He sleeps a lot in the morning but afternoons and early evenings are often a good time to stop in and see him.  

Prayer Requests:

  • Pain management.  Dennis does not have much pain but when he is moved it is very uncomfortable.
  • Communication.  At times it is frustrating for everyone when Dennis wants to convey something to us and we can't figure it out.
  • Brooklyn.  Please continue to pray for her as she processes all that is happening.  
  • Ellen.  Please pray for good rest and wisdom as I balance my various roles of wife, mom, care provider, advocate...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Rest of the Furnace Story and a Little More

It has been an interesting week or so at the Hierl home.  In my last post I told how God had provided the money for a new furnace.  It was scheduled to go in the Tuesday after Christmas but on New Years day it was sounding very strange.  It was so loud you had to raise your voice to talk over it when you were near it.  When I went downstairs to investigate the noise, I also discovered our water heater was leaking.  It was a little over two years old so I did not expect it to be leaking.  I called a friend and several friends came to check out the problem.  The consensus was that I needed to call the company about the furnace and that the water heater needed to be replaced but since it was a small leak, I should keep using it. 

I called the furnace guys and they were at the house in about 1/2 an hour and after hearing the furnace decided it could not wait until Tuesday.  They came and put it in the next morning.  It is working great and is so much quieter than the old one. 

The water heater was still on warranty so after a call to the manufacturer and a trip into Home Depot, a Friday install of a new one was in place.  After the installation was done I ran a load of wash and took a shower.  I decided I wanted the temperature a little higher so I went to adjust it.  I was greeted by a pipe connected to the water heater spraying water out all over.  Thankfully it was not a huge hole.  I got the neighbor to help me turn off the water.  I called the company and Home Depot but the plumbing company was not answering phones or returning messages.  Because the leak was at the shut-off valve to the water heater we had to turn off the water further up the water line. At this point we did not have water in the house except for the cold water in the kitchen.  I heated water on the stove for Dennis' aides that night and the next morning when they came to take care of him.  Finally on Saturday morning the plumbing company called and came out to fix the leak.  I still am amazed that a plumbing company does not have an after hours emergency number.

I am so thankful for our friends and neighbors who have helped out in these unexpected situations.  I miss having Dennis able to deal with these type of situations. 

Dennis is doing about the same.  In the last several days he has been waking up early in the morning and calling for me.  It is tiring but has also been a blessing as he has been able to say a few sentences to me each day.  He has told me each morning that he loves me.  It has been awhile since he was able to say that so this was very precious.  On the other side of the coin, these interruptions to my sleep are leaving me very tired. 

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.