health and illness: February 2006 Archives

more prayer requests

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A friend sent me this email:

Yesterday, Lilly Meehan, a good friend, terrific lady and childbirth educator in Ventura CA for many years was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I am asking that you would say a prayer for her strength and her healing as she begins to embark on surgery/treatment. All of this comes in the middle of her trying to plan her daughters wedding and care for her other daughter who has been chronically sick for the last 4-5 years. If you can email her an encouraging word or if you know someone who has had thyroid cancer and can give her information, please email her

I first 'met' Lilly through a couple of email lists - one for childbirth education, the other for PCOS support. On a trip to CA a few years ago I was priviliged to meet her and her daughter for a wonderful few hours. So this news was more than a little distressing. I sent her an email asking permission to post her story and prayer request on the blog. Here is her reply:

Please do post to the blog, I don't mind if it uses my name. I also need any and all prayer warriors doing their thing, the more the merrier! Keep in mind my daughter is getting married in August, she lives in Texas now, the wedding will be here in Ventura, so I am the mother of the bride with a bride not even in town to help out. As if there was not enough going on.............
Lilly Meehan
Childbirth Education
~~Helping families prepare for birth since 1987~~

late night update

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from my sister

Just got off the phone with Dad. He sounds much better than before the surgery, in spite of getting his dinner screwed up – they sent him a hamburger, potato and a cookie. It was in the process of being fixed when I got off the phone, but his blood sugar was very high (330) and they were fixing that too.
One good thing came out of the surgery, his kidney function actually went up. I guess it’s because he has less toxins in his blood to filter since so much infected tissue has been removed, but the Dr’s weren’t speculating. Dad said they seemed surprised which bothered him. He’s also out of isolation. He must be much better because his new roommate is a heart transplant patient. Dad said he’s a very interesting case. We couldn’t talk much about it because the man was there.
Dad expressed his pleasure at hearing from various family members although he couldn’t remember when anyone had called (the first thing that goes in the hospital is your sense of time).

from my brother

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Re: Dad surgery
Date: Feb 21, 2006 10:55 PM
Just talked to dad he's out of surgery and in a new room.
He's doing well says he didn't feel a thing. but did manage to get a peek while the doctor was teaching a student. No more is his right big toe and his left middle. The wound on his heel remains. (another issue and doctor). Heart is doing fine. kidney stable at 30% function.

short update


got an email about 3 hours ago that they were getting ready to take my dad into surgery. the plan was to use a regional block with a little conscious sedation. our family all have had issues with anesthesia - hits us quick and hard. so avoiding general is a good idea. Haven't heard anything since. any bad news would be via phone tree, so I'm assuming that things haven't had more than the usual amounts of hassle.
Time zone issues make it hard sometimes. I'm getting ready to go to sleep, as I have to get up way too early tomorrow for work.

dad update

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latest email from my sister:

he is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday to remove 2 toes, the big toe on his right foot and the 3rd toe on his left. There is still a chance he could loose the right leg below the knee if they can’t get the infection on his heel under control. Right now he is in isolation because the infection in his heel is MRSA (methacillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). That means all visitors and staff entering his room must wear protective gear (gowns, gloves, shoe covers and masks). He said he expects to be in the hospital for another few weeks.

MRSA is nasty, and the prevalence is increasing. I've seen two cases of community acquired MRSA cellulitis in the last year - both in pregnant moms. One managed to clear it before her due date, the other is still in treatment/monitoring phase.
The fact that my dad is immune suppressed due to his kidney transplant isn't making things easier, either. Thanks for all the prayers. please keep praying!

St. Peregrine, pray for him

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Just got off the line with my daughter. She is asking for prayers for the father of one of her friends.
diagnosed with prostate cancer.
PSA 8, Gleeson (spelling?) 8
name is Carl
in Florida.
59 year old.
the numbers indicate a really agressive form.
he's a chem engineer who spent his life working around possible carcinogens.

I told her I'd call out the troops.
Am asking for help from St. Peregrine and St. Gianna, as well.

latest update

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via my sister who

just got off the phone with Dad. good news. The test results are in and he DIDN’T have a heart attack. All heart function tests show no damage and good function. The heart attack suspicion was based on high enzyme levels. The Dr still doesn’t know why those were elevated, but is apparently satisfied that it wasn’t a heart attack. They’ve put him back on his insulin pump so his blood sugar issues are getting sorted out. He has an MRI scheduled for his toes today, but the angiogram is still up in the air.

Thanks for all the prayers. Looks like the crisis is past for now.

Friday Evening update


My sister talked to Dad again.
Her email follows.

He’s in fine spirits in spite of the hospital staff not being able to meet his needs for insulin. He said he knew that would happen and resigned himself to being an interested observer when he knew he was going to have to be admitted. When I spoke to him he had returned from having the cardiac stress test, the results will not be available until tomorrow. He commented that they seem to have forgotten about his toes – the reason for the hospital stay initially- in favor of his heart… can’t say I blame them… and expects they’ll get back to the toes soon.

another update

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I just got off the phone with my dad. He sounds very hoarse but is optimistic that tomorrow they will finally be able to do what he came to the hospital for.
He has ulcerated wounds in 2 toes on each of his two feet. Some of them are down to the bone. He wants to avoid possible amputation, even of a toe, if there is any real alternative. He's fought these before, starting years ago when he was in a cast for way too long with a fracture.
We'll see what happens.
Oh, and talking to him tonight I learned that he had a great-uncle who also had type one diabetes. I hadn't known that. My paternal first cousin's daughter also has type one diabetes. It's a nasty disease. I'm thankful that I've been spared.
Thanks for all the prayers. I think that they are helping. It certainly helps me to know that you guys are out there. I am also hoping and praying that with the healing of the body will come some changes of heart - always the harder part to heal. But it isn't in my hands - what I can do, I have already done.


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Yesterday's news on my dad:
(around noon PST) The procedure was a no-go this morning, don't know the details, but among things mentioned was a blood sugar reading of 600 overnight (I guess that would do it). Right now he says "things are up in the air", but he didn't sound very happy about it.
(Around 5PM PST) Last night Dad had a mild heart attack which was confirmed during a short stay in the cardiac intensive care
unit. He has since been moved into the regular cardiac care unit and
expects another attempt tomorrow morning to complete the angiogram (dye contrast scan of his blood vessels) he wasn't able to have this morning.
I really appreciate the prayers that are being offered up. As in most families, there are always unresolved personal issues between parents and children, and among the sibling group. I am blessed that I have so many brothers and sisters and that we are in communication, despite all the other stuff over the years. It's hard being scattered all over the USA, but we were raised to have that combination of self-sufficient and stick-together that will help, I think.
I'm not yet to the point of trying to take leave from work and scrape together an airline ticket to SoCal - but there's the doom and gloom part of my brain that is starting to head than direction. I'm right now just planning to wait and see what the next few days bring.

a letter from a sister

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update on my dad
I just spoke to (dad's wife). Dad was getting an IV placed. His angiogram (inject dye and see where things flow) is scheduled for tomorrow. If it goes well and seems like it would be worthwhile, they will then to the angioplasty (balloon thing to open up veins). If this doesn't work they may have to try to harvest another vein for a bypass, but he is running out of them.(another monkey-wrench ...the dye is not good for kidneys, so they will have a nephrologist standing by, with consultation to Minnesota if necessary)

I also spoke to Dad. He will be confined to a wheelchair for a while
after this is done, so have bought one from e-bay (good old e-bay).

I just got a call telling me that right now Dad is checking into the Medical Center to have some sort of surgery. I think he said an angioplasty is needed to open the veins in his leg so that the
wound(s) on his feet can get better blood flow in order to heal. Apparently, the wounds have not healed for many weeks (months?). Pray for his recovery and the surgeon's skill & good judgment.
love, (brother)
My dad has type one diabetes (the rare kind). He and his only sibling, his younger brother, were both born with the gene that can lead to type one diabetes if the right stimulus is present. My Uncle Bob got diabetes in childhood, after a viral illness that was probably an influenza. When Bob got his diabetes in 1941 or so, insulin therapy was in its infancy. None the less, with the strict discipline imposed on him by my grandmother, he survived childhood and actually lived to the age of 60 or so.
My dad's diabetes came later in life. He was a very fit man, an Air Force pilot, always working out. His weakness was cola and sweetened tea - he would consume these beverages all day long. But he also exercised to keep from gaining even an ounce over what the flight surgeon recommended.
When he was 28, mumps went through our entire family. I was the first to get it, and had a fairly mild case. My fever went up to 105 degrees F (40.5 C) and I lost 10 lbs, but I had no real complications. My mom was immune, having had mumps as a child. The disease worked its way through the other 5 members of the family, with my sister Cathy and my Dad getting it last and worst. My mom was so exhausted from caring for the rest of us that I ended up doing a lot of nursing care for Cat and Dad. Cat was delirious part of the time. Dad had some other complications that I wasn't told about at the time (but let me say that my baby sister was considered quite a surprise 5 years later). Several months after his bout with mumps, my dad developed his own Type one diabetes.
In those days, not as much was known about the difference between the two types of diabetes. So they didn't put him on insulin right away. Insulin would have meant no more flying. They put him on a very strict diet which he followed, but he continued to lose weight. About 6 months into our stay in France, my dad ended up in the hospital and was started on insulin, and our stay overseas was cut very short - from the planned 3 years to a lttle less than one year.

Diabetes changed his life, and affected every one of his children in one way or another. I learned early how to draw up and give insulin shots. We all learned the mood swings that indicate blood sugar lows and highs. Career plans and life plans were abruptly derailed. The impact of the sudden onset of a chronic illness cannot be underestimated.
One of the truly frustrating things for me is that there is so much confusion and outright ignorance about type one diabetes. The more common type two gets the spotlight, but the two conditions have many differences. The final common endpoint of both of them is pretty similar - piecemeal organ failure due to the effects of the elevated blood sugar on perfusion. But the etiology is extremely different. Both diseases require a combination of genetics and environment. But type one is triggered not by obesity or overstressing the pancreas - it is triggered by the body's immune system destroying the insulin secreting cells of the pancreas. It cannot be effectively treated by anything other than replacing the insulin. In type two diabetes, the pancreas actually produces excessive amounts of insulin - but the body has learned to ignore it.
My dad had a kidney transplant in January 1984. He's had several surgeries to increase blood flow to various parts as the disease process has blocked them. He's had lots of problems. But he's still alive and in as good health as could be expected for a 71 y/o guy who's been living on borrowed time for decades.
Please pray for him - pray most especially for his soul, for his conversion, for whatever graces are needed for however much longer. And while you're at it, could you throw in a few prayers for my grandmother (his mom)? She's 91 and dad's been co-ordinating her care along with his own. Yes, there are six kids in my generation, but we live all over the country and most of us have families as well.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the health and illness category from February 2006.

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