Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Coming Home

We left Vancouver for Michigan on July 5 which is fast approaching a month ago. It's hard to believe that we've been back for that long. But I suppose that there have been some significant events that have quickly filled our days. Just after we landed on the 5th we found out that my dad had been rushed to the hospital earlier that day. We quickly left Illinois and made our way to Kalamazoo's Borgess Hospital where my day was in critical care. Over the next day or two we learned that my dad had a heart attack and that the main arteries leading into his heart were quite clogged. They had done some emergency surgery to open one of the arteries but the other two remained pretty blocked.

To complicate things he also had a severe case of pneumonia and had a high fever because of infection. To help him stabilize they put him on a ventilator to regulate his breathing. He stayed in the critical care wing of the hospital for two weeks. For most of this time he was completely unconscious; sedated to keep him calm and to keep his heart from getting over worked. Just over a week ago he was moved to a long term care facility in Plainwell Michigan which is about 45 minutes from Grand Rapids. It's a smaller hospital that provides care in less intense medical situations. While he was there the pneumonia has gradually been getting better and for one of the first times I knew that he knew I was there. Another thing that is making things difficult is that about two weeks ago he had a tracheotomy (where they make a small hole at the base of the neck) so he wouldn't have to deal with the breathing and feeding tubes irritating his throat. Thankfully he's finally able to breath on his own so he's no longer on the ventilator but he still has oxygen being pumped through the trach tube. This makes communicating incredibly hard. He can sort of mouth words but he can't put any breath behind them which mean I can only sort of understand what he's saying about 10% of the time. This has been really frustrating for him and for us because we really want to be able to understand him and get him what he needs but it's just so hard.

And if simple recovery weren't enough the reason they're trying so hard to get him to a healthy stable place is so they can eventually do open heart surgery when he gets strong enough. Those other two arteries need to be taken care of so that something like this doesn't happen again.


So that's sort of been the biggest, craziest thing that's happened since we've gotten back. It's one of those things that just sort of sits in the back of my mind. Do you ever have that? I mean you have to do normal things and handle the day to day business that is life--laughing, sleeping, shopping, going to church, seeing friends, going for a run, watering flower, writing blog posts-- but the whole time there's this voice at the back of my brain reminding me that my dad's still in the hospital and still has a long way to go. It's weird.

Outside of all that's happened with my dad our time back here has been pretty good. Right now we're house sitting a beautiful home in East Grand Rapids. It's just the sort of house I like living in. Well worn and antique-ish but not in a fancy way, more in a rambling, old, Martha Stuart Living, Real Simple type way. It's got lovely wood floors and well stocked book shelves. It's the type of place you can really enjoy a good cup of tea in the morning if that makes any sense.

It's also been great to see so many faces we missed while we were gone out west. I really missed my whole family--my mom, dad, my sister Janna and my brother Jordan. I missed them a lot. So to see them again on a fairly regular basis has been great. It's been also really good to go back to all the old places that we love or that are at least familiar to us in Grand Rapids. Driving has been fun. It took a day or two to remember how to get around. All those old short cuts that were second nature slowly trickled back into my consciousness and I found I didn't necessarily have to take 28th street every time I wanted to get somewhere.

Since it's sort of hard to find real employment for only a few weeks we've been picking up odd jobs here and there. The other day we headed out to Ada and did some farm type work. I mowed, no lie, two to three foot high grass with a push mower while Jacqui did some serious shop vac-ing in an old basement. There was also some weeding to be done and then we started in on the house painting. I apparently didn't realize where I was leaning my head and came home with a lovely new salt and pepper color. We've also been hired at our church to do some weekly cleaning. Hopefully the odd jobs'll keep coming. If you know anyone in GR who needs anything done feel free to put them in touch with us.

That's all for now. I'm off to Costco to buy some contact solution (I'm hoping it's going to come in a 30 gallon barrel) and other miscellaneous wholesale items. We'll keep you all posted as this new chapter in le Saga de Hoke continues Midwest style.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Jive Turkey

I like cooking turkeys. I never thought I'd add this to my "activities I enjoy" list but never the less there it is. There's just something fun for me in getting such a large volume of food ready all in one juicy, golden brown shot. I have cooked a total of three turkeys in my life. Two of them have been here in Vancouver. The funny thing about the turkey dinner is the time frame most people would consider appropriate for such a meal. Holidays and turkeys are big. No one would bat an eye if you happened to cook one up for Christmas, Easter or the obvious Thanksgiving. The three turkeys I have prepared in my life were roasted in late April, Early December, and most recently late June. Not classic turkey days. In fact most people raised an eye brow if they happened to overhear me in talking about my upcoming poultry extravaganza.

"Why are you cooking a TURKEY?" they exclaim, pronouncing "turkey" as if they were saying "hamster" instead.

"Because it's delicious." I reply.

At that point the conversation doesn't usually go on incredibly long. Mostly because talking turkey isn't the most interesting thing in the world (blogging about turkey however...).

The two turkeys I made here in Vancouver were for Pacific Theatre events. The first on back in early December was for a belated American Thanksgiving. The actual American Thanksgiving passed us by and by the time early December rolled around I felt it would be an injustice to get all geared up for Christmas without the requisite Turkey bash to celebrate giving thanks before we geared up for Yule time fun.

The first one went so well that when Spring rolled around a friend of mine bought a turkey in the hopes of having another fowl par-tay to celebrate a belated Easter. We finally got around to it last week so it turned out to be a really belated Easter but it was festive and fun.

Last night Jacqui and I went for a walk on the beach and I asked her, "What are some of your favorite memories from this year in Vancouver?" She told me a few and then asked me mine. The turkey dinners immediately came to mind. It's funny what sticks with you.