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Three score and ten or more

Friday, January 26, 2007

Episode two of the Finnish Adventure

Flea market prime in Myyrmaki.

rainbow 1
Rainbow 2

Episode two of the Finnish adventure. (not day by day)
(As a side note, I have had a couple of question in 'comments' and a couple of e-mails asking how to

find out when I have posted. At least until the Finland story is over, I will try to post each weekend-- what day? I can't say. I will post vignettes like the theatre stuff as they come to me during the week. Saur promised in one of here early posts to post every day. It aint gonna happen here. I love to write but for me it is much too hard a job to try to do it every day. Back when I was posting on politics etc., I could blow off steam pretty often, but not now.)

That first evening, Ed Rogers (they agreed to let me use their names) and I drove to the cottage where we had been staying, and removed all of our baggage and property, taking it to his (our) house, and checked us out of the timeshare. The following day, Ed came with me and we gave Janet a blessing the way it should have been done, with two elders. After he went on to work, Jaana sat with me and with Janet for a long time. In the evening she rode with me, giving me directions, hoping that I would, sometime in the future, be able to find my way back home by myself. I became a regular member of the Rogers household, included into family prayer, church services, and family excursions whenever I was not at the hospital.

My original tickets were to return to the United States on October 7. The doctor told me that the earliest possible return would be November 3, so I changed my tickets to November 6, anticipating some minor problems. In the meantime, my younger daughter called to inform me that she was coming immediately to Finland to help me and asked me to make reservations for her in some hotel near the hospital. The Rogers family immediately vetoed that, rearranged their house again and when daughter arrived on October 8, she had a bed in the Roger’s living room. In the mean time, Janet remained in stable condition in ICU, but when they tried to close the incision she had retained so much fluid from intravenous therapy that her blood pressure spiked, so they informed me that they would have to use diuretics to remove the fluid before she could be closed. They finally closed the incision on the day following my daughter’s arrival. After the incision was closed, they began to try to awaken her. The nurse suggested that we talk to her and call her by name and we did. We also sang to her.

I have mentioned singing Our Love is Here to Stay, to Janet over and over in the hospital. (I am sure that the other residents of the ICU were tired of it) My daughter and I had sung duets in church many times, so together we sang church songs, spirituals, primary songs, scout songs camp songs, and as many other songs as we could remember in two part harmony. I am not sure how much the other residents of the ICU appreciated the daily hour and a half of music, but at least there was more to listen to than Our Love is Here to Stay. As we entered the ward one day, one of the attendants turned to another and said, in Finnish, “Here comes the floor show”. (Sarcasm or enthusiasm, it was hard to tell, but he came by and stood by the door for a while.)

The day after they closed the incision they removed all anesthesia and sedatives. All she was receiving was nutrients, two antibiotics and a diuretic. She was turned slightly on her side and seemed to be breathing mostly by herself, although she reacted pretty strongly when her breathing tube slipped from its connection. She showed no other signs of consciousness. The doctor on call told us that, because she was under sedation for so long that it may be a day or two before she really became conscious.

When we were not at the hospital, daughter and I toured Helsinki, visited Porvoo where Janet had first gone into the Emergency room, visited both the National Museum and the Porvoo Museum (She had worked in museums before she took her present job), had meals with the Rogers Family, went shopping and to the biggest flea market I have ever seen with Jaana and some friends. The Rogers family was not without its own trials as Ed made a business trip to the U.S.A. that included a last visit in the hospital with his father who was terminally ill (and who passed away before we left the country). One of Jaana’s closest friends, had been stricken with a brain tumor, and Jaana was very concerned about that.

Each day we went to the hospital, expecting her to have awakened, but each day we were disappointed. Finally the doctors became a little alarmed and took her up for CAT scans and neurological examinations. They discovered that she had had two strokes, possibly during the atrial fibrillation and subsequent heart massage, and that she had an excess of fluid causing pressure on her brain. We were most concerned when the neurologist informed us that they had given her an EEG (brain scan) and that the readings were almost flat. She warned us that we should prepare for a long recovery, and that she might never completely recover. They did some surgery to relieve the pressure on the brain, but she was still slow to wake, although we had some sense of comfort when she began to breathe on her own a bit. Almost our first daily act, each day was to check the computer to compare her breathing rate to the air provided through the machines. Gradually all the tubes had been removed except the breathing tube, the feeding tube a tube for antibiotics, and a catheter. Other than checking the computer and questioning her nurse (a wonderful lady named Aila, who spoke wonderful English, and whose efficiency was astonishing), we spent our time comforting ourselves by staging daily singing recitals by her bedside. Before going to the hospital one day, I took Beth-Anee out to see the Helsinki Temple. The open house was over, and work had begun preparing the temple for dedication. As we walked around the courtyard taking pictures a lady came out to see us, asking if we were taking pictures for a newspaper. If we were, she said, we should have asked permission. I replied that I was just a former missionary who had come for the open house and whose wife was now in the hospital. “This,” I said, “Is my daughter who came from the States to see her mother.”

“I suppose you don’t recognize me,” she said. I acknowledged that she looked familiar, and I tried a couple of names of sisters I had known as a missionary. She giggled and informed me that, as missionaries we had served together in both Pori and Oulu (cities in Finland). I then recognized her and she noted that her husband, who had been a missionary at the same time as we were, was the Project Superintendent for the temple. We walked around to the front entrance where she introduced me to her husband, who, after giving us the appropriate foot covering, gave my daughter and myself a personal tour of the temple, and showed us what refurbishing was being done. . As the four of us left the temple a wonderful double rainbow appeared, stretching clear across the sky. It was wonderful.. My friend exclaimed aloud “I think it is the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen.” To which one of the workmen who was working on the portico grinned, “Made in Finland, of course.” arousing a lot of laughter in us all. I hope I can be forgiven for considering it an omen, and I have included some pictures of it at the top of the story.

Gradually Janet began, without being conscious, to respond to verbal stimuli by blinking her eyes, sometimes moving her eye for a moment without any focus, and responding to the efforts of the therapists to move her limbs, and even by moving a foot when asked to do so. The neurologist returned and gave Janet and EMG (electric myolagram, to measure nerve reaction) and discovered that she has a peripheral neuropathy in both legs. I could relate to that, having had a neuropathy of my own since 1992.

Daughter’s visit was drawing to a close and I was afraid that she would have to make the trip home without ever seeing her mother conscious, rainbow or no rainbow. I began a fast on Saturday the 14th, and then, on Sunday, October 15th, we went to church, then after sacrament meeting we went to the hospital. Her plane was to leave the next day. When we walked into the room, sat beside her and began to sing, The nurse informed us that she was breathing well enough that they were going to remove both the feeding tube and the breathing tube, and that she had paged the doctor on call to come do it. We were then sent up to the cafeteria to have a snack, and wait so I broke my fast at that time. When we returned, her tubes had all been removed and she was lying there with her eyes open wearing a breathing mask.. The doctor told us that the nurse had been very eager, and she, more or less brushed him aside to get the feeding tube out.

“I guess she wanted my blessing, not my hands” he chuckled.

She seemed so much more comfortable and relaxed and we talked to her. The nurse said, loudly, “Janet, can you give me your first words,” but there was no reply. Only once did she seem to talk. Daughter asked her a question and, without sound, Janet mouthed “What?” Then she went to sleep. I still felt bad that Janet had not seemed to recognize our daughter, (or any of us, for that matter.)

Dr. Kaarne came in just as we were about to leave and apologized that he had been out of town, and said that he would be on duty all next week. I told him that my reservations for the trip home were for Nov. 6, and asked him if I should make them later. He looked at me, checked Jan’s charts and said, “Don’t change them yet. If it becomes necessary, I will let you know in plenty of time.” Somehow, his words made me nervous, rather than comforted.

The next morning, we packed Beth-Anee’s baggage into the car, she said her goodbyes to the Rogers and we went to the hospital for one last visit before her plane was to leave that afternoon. As we sat down and began to sing as usual, Janet opened her eyes, recognized our daughter, and called her by name. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. She was fairly coherent, and much more interested in her child than in her husband, but she recognized me, and became aware that she was in a hospital. She had great difficult talking. We each kissed her as we left, and she kissed us both back. I am sure that my sweet daughter’s trip home was more peaceful than it might have been.

After our daughter was on her plane I returned to the hospital where they let me feed Janet her dinner. I gave her four or five spoonfuls of what smelled like good soup, then she shook her head no. She then drank two thirds of a glass of some kind of shake, which she liked, then they had a little box (like children have, with a small straw on the side) which the nurse said was important because it was an energy drink. She drank half of that, though it smelled like coffee, not a favorite. Then, she turned to me and whispered “I want a coke.” I told her that the nurse wouldn’t approve that, and the nurse asked me “What?”

I explained, and the nurse said she had some fruit juice or lemonade. Jan shook her head and said “coke”. The nurse told me to go ahead up to the snack bar and buy her a “coke”, so I went up and bought her a diet Pepsi. It was the best I could do, and when I brought it down Jan drank almost a half of a half liter bottle, which thrilled the nurse. At the end of her meal, Janet leaned to me and whispered “I must have had a stroke, did I have a stroke?” “Yes you did.” I replied, to which she said “I thought so”.


At 5:36 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

So Janet did have a couple of strokes on top of the aortal embolism.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Yep. I thought I had made that clear somewhere, but. . . .

At 9:47 PM, Blogger opit said...

Jan 21 Patrick was first commenter : you clarified immediately after with a comment in reply.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Thanks for the clarification opit. I had you on my list (I don't know how to do a "blogroll" but I have a bunch of blogs in my bookmarks. The link I have for you doesn't seem to work anymore. Heck, If you are an old phart in training, I am a graduate, a genuine coot. I should be there at the end of your training to present your certificate.

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Yes, Richard you did but I read this post before I read the one in which you mentioned strokes. Blame it on coothood. :)

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Norma said...

Every time I catch up with you, I wonder how people without the support of a faith community ever make it!

At 1:00 PM, Blogger opit said...

It's been a while, but you actually made the same comment on my site when I first fired up oldephartteintraining. Try http://opit.wordpress.com/ ( Wordpress often shows it as deleted ! )
As for Blogrolls, I suffered without for months, until I tried my service's forum, where people can get help with blogging problems. ( And now I seem to be having trouble again ! )


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