photo taken by Angela Speiker

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pathology results...sort of

After Walt’s procedure to insert a filter into his leg, he stayed in the Wesley ICU for a day for observation, and then was moved to a recovery room on Saturday night. This room is fabulous--single patient (no roommate), on the 10th floor, with a wide window looking out west. We watched a storm roll through, and he is able to enjoy the beautiful sunsets. We were thrilled to have him move to this room, as he was able to see all 3 of my kids at the same time (that is a first in this long 5 week ordeal). Walt loved seeing the kids. We visited for quite some time. We were happy to see his spirits so high! As nice his new room is, though, he will hopefully be moving back to the Rehab center soon. This could likely happen on Tuesday.

Walt continues to regain some movement in his left side. He can wiggle his left fingers and toes. He can raise his arm and knee a little bit. He can even give a “single-finger” salute to his brother, who was never so happy to be given the bird.
The neurologist (Dr. Morgan) who did Walt’s craniotomy last month spent about an hour with us on Saturday explaining the results of the pathology test, and answering all of our questions. We had been waiting such a long time to receive these results, and he had briefly told us last week that the results were “inconclusive”. That word didn’t satisfy us, and we had many questions about what this all meant. He understood our frustration, and was frustrated himself about the delay. But he explained that the length of the test and the “inconclusive” finding were not necessarily a bad thing.

A pathology test tries to positively identify abnormal cells as a certain type of cancer, and origination of the cancer. He said that in Walt’s case, they tested all of the available samples thoroughly, but still were unable to definitively identify the cells, for various reasons. When we asked if he would be passing Walt’s treatment to an oncologist, Dr. Morgan said that there was really nothing for sure to pass to an oncologist, at this time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t have cancer. But the current treatment plan is a “wait and see” approach. He said that Walt is exactly where he needs to be at this time…at the rehab center, getting stronger. There is a follow-up appointment scheduled in about a month with Dr. Morgan. At that time, he will do another MRI and other scans to observe the region from which the tumor was removed. He will then be able to compare that MRI to the scans taken immediately after the surgery, and tell if there is any cancerous growth reforming. He assured us that during the next month, we are not losing any time in fighting possible cancer. He says that Walt needs to be physically stronger in order to do any further treatment. Periodic follow-up visits will continue, which will allow him to keep an eye on any areas of concern.

Dr. Morgan also explained his opinion about the lesion on the other side of Walt’s brain. He said the lesion was much smaller than the tumor which was removed, and of a different type. It is highly unlikely that the two items are related. He said that he could try to remove the lesion, but it would be much riskier than to leave it alone. So his treatment plan for this lesion is also to watch and observe.

For now, we are working with Walt to get him stronger and more mobile, and he is doing a great job.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A little procedure

Walt got to take another ambulance ride today, although this time w/o the lights and sirens. He is now at Wesley Hospital in the ICU. During an ultrasound today, they discovered that Walt had a rather large clot in his left leg (a leg that has been swollen this week). They aren't able to give him the normal blood thinner b/c of the previous hemmoraghe on the brain. Instead they did a minor procedure to insert a filter into his left leg. This was a quick procedure, and is already completed. He will remain here, in the ICU for a few days so that they can monitor him. After this, he will return to the rehab facility.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Walt is having to work hard

The new rehab facility is just where Walt needs to be! They are making him work hard at PT, OT, and speech. He has nearly 3 hours a day of therapy sessions. He is also attending some education classes to help he and Cheryl learn more about moving forward with the "new" Walt. Walt has moved to the window side of the room and he is on the second floor, so they say it is like living in a tree house. They have him sitting up in a wheelchair for several hours a day, which in itself is a lot of work on Walt! He was able to take a shower Saturday (first shower in nearly 4 weeks). With the wheelchair they are able to wheel him around the rehab facility and even took a stroll outside. We are hoping to possibly bring Maggie up this weekend for the 2 of them to visit together--we know Walt will adore his time with Mags!

We would encourage any visitors who are considering visiting to first contact one of us, as Walt's schedule is quite full with therapy sessions. If you show up during one of his scheduled times, he is unable to stop working to visit. Meal times are also considered somewhat therapy times, as he is still fully concentrating on chewing correctly, and is working hard at feeding himself. During this time he is working on using his hand correctly, depth perception (still a slight problem in this area), and correct usage of all the right utensils. His food is in a pureed form and this doesn't make him overly happy. We are hoping to get him back on the chopped up food soon.

Walt still has some problems with his left side. He works each day at recognizing that side of his body, and moving his left arm and leg. Cheryl tells us he is moving his hand and foot slightly and has had to attempt to put pressure on the leg when he is placed in a standing position. His short term memory is still a little slow, but he is working hard at all of this. We are pretty proud of him for working for the therapists and for Cheryl! Keep praying for him to regain strength in his left side and that he will continue to stay positive wanting to work hard with the therapists. Walt's brother flies in tomorrow and is sure to get him in happy spirits. Glenn is known to make people smile :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Walt has an entirely new addess!

Walt was moved to a rehab facility yesterday. I don't have all the details, as I didn't speak long with Cheryl. However, I do know that this is a good move. They will have him intensively working on physical, occupational, and speech therapy. For those who may not know, the speech therapy isn't as much for actual speech, as it is for the muscules involved with swallowing. Walt was on a vent for several days and that can cause problems with swallowing foods and drink. They are just monitoring him to make sure he is doing everything correctly.

I will write more when I learn more info.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And yet another move

Walt moved back down to the 5th floor today. This is a good move, as they only keep "stable" patients on the 5th floor. He has moved to room without a roommate, and this is fabulous news. Walt needs to have as little distraction as possible right now, and his former roommate was a little "needy". Walt was able to sit in a special medical chair on Saturday to eat his lunch. This is the first time he has been able to be out of bed. Yesterday he was able to be in this chair for nearly 2 hours!! I am quite sure this felt really good for him. Walt is doing much better with the small details, brushing his teeth, combing his hair, working on feeding himself, although he is only able to do these with his right hand. Today he was able to squeeze his left hand, which was the first movement we have seen in his left side!!

We realized in talking with some of Walt's friends that we might need to do a better job describing Walt's present condition. His left side is still not moving (although the squeeze of his left hand today is a great improvement). He is in bed nearly all the time because of this lack of movement, leaving it difficult to sit up, or even get up and walk. He does work with a PT & OT, and speech therapist each day to gain back some skills. We really encourage those who might want to visit to do so. If you'd like to talk with me to schedule a time, so that we don't bombard him, I would love that. Again, my email is I know Walt & Cheryl both love seeing their friends. If you do go to visit with him, he is usually albe to remember names, but don't be offended if he forgets. He tends to repeat things often. Some times during conversations he gets confused, and frustrated. We think some of this frustration is causing him to be a little more emotional than before. He does realize how lucky he is and has told us we take things for granted--which is so true. The more tired he gets, the more his conversation seems to drift. We suggest that if you choose to visit, that you keep the distractions limited, and not too many people at a time. Walt has a great attitude trying to do what he is asked. He is trying to joke around with the nurses, which is just like Walt! He will be able to carry on a conversation with you, and most times his eyes are fully open, but at times he will close them (especially if he is overly tired). If you visit, you will probably be able to see his scar on his right side of his skull (and his cool haircut). It looks great now! He has come so far, and we are proud of how hard he is working. We would ask that you wash your hands and refrain from visiting if you are sick. After a major surgery everyone has a lower immune system, and we do not want to do anything to compromise his health at this point.

We continue to wait for path results, oh so patiently! We have spoken with the neurologist and he has not dropped us, but is sticking by our side until those results get back. We have been so impressed with Dr. Morgan! We aren't pushing Walt too fast in his recovery, we undestand he will do things in his own time, when his body is ready. We are hoping that at the end of this stay at the acute care center, Walt will be moved to a rehab center to work on some intense physical therapy. Many of you have asked if he will be coming home anytime soon. We don't have a date, and probably won't have a homecoming date for some time. It is a long recovery road. We just ask that you continue to pray for Walt, his recovery, the medical staff that is helping him recover, and for Cheryl, in her patience, her own health, and her understanding of all this information that is thrown at her.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday update

Walt still had another good day. He seemed to enjoy a baseball game last night. Cheryl has been talking with nurses about the possibility to move him out of this room and get a room in which he will be able to focus more on his therapy. He tried to feed himself again today, which continues to be a good sign. He had a big morning getting moved around in his bed (they changed bedding) and several other housekeeping things, so he was a little more worn out for PT. He tried to do what they said, but wasn't quite as successful. The PT keeps telling us he has a good attitude. They continue to work with him in keeping up the skills with his right side, and getting his left side back into action. There is a big meeting with Cheryl and several of the heads of departments tomorrow. This will be a great time to evaluate where he is at, make sure everyone is working together, and discuss some of his next steps.

We feel so loved by so very many people! We want you to know how much you are all appreciated. As much as we love you all, and want to share updated information, we (the kids) want to protect Cheryl just a little. We sense that this is going to be a very long journey. We can tell that Cheryl is getting tired, and feels inundated with all the tasks at hand, not to mention wanting to spend as much time with Walt as she can. We are encouraging her to ignore phone calls if she is in the middle of helping Walt, or dealing with imporant information. I want to encourage any person out there reading this blog and curious about Walt or the situation to feel free to call me!! Cheryl loves all of you so much and doesn't want to miss anyone. However, we don't want to see her so exhausted that she ends up in the hospital. If you would like my phone number, please email me at I hope you can understand our requests to limit the phone calls to Cheryl. We love her dearly and really do want to protect her!!

In addition to the above request, we are going to be putting in a guest book in Walt's room. If you come by to visit, please sign the book. We aren't always able to be in the room, and we don't know who has been there to visit or who hasn't. We'd love to be able to discuss with Walt who has visited, and looking at the guest book will be one way we can do that.

Again, we want to thank you all for your prayers, love, and support. Thank you for the lawn mowings, the meals, the calls, and everything else! The outpouring of love continues to show me what a fabulous family I married into. Their love has always been so obvious to me--the love they show each other, their children, grandchildren, community, etc. It is only right for them to feel loved back at this time in life!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Getting better each day

Walt had a great PT session today. He has been very cooperative with PT, OT, and Speech and is willing to try to do whatever they ask. He fed himself some of his lunch today as well. We love to continue hearing positive steps each day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Walt's weekend

How does that phrase go, "slow & steady". That is how we feel about Walt's progress. I am frustrated that the simplest question is so hard to answer, "How is he doing?" He is doing good, better in fact, than last week, but this road is such an incredibly long journey! He has both PT & OT working with him. He was able to sit up on the edge of the bed again yesterday. Another big step we saw yesterday was that he could take a drink of water out of a glass by himself! That shows that he has come so far in a week. There are moments of understanding, and moments of confusion. He loved seeing the kids again yesterday. We spent some time with Cheryl back in Mac this weekend trying to help get things situated there. They did remove the cannula (can't remember if I mentioned that), so he is free of almost all medical equipment. Hoping for some good test results today (or soon). Today marks 2 weeks since his surgery.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Another move


Sorry about the pics, I couldn't help myself. It is 4th of July weekend and I had to put up some pics of the kiddos! Those same kiddos got to see Pop Pop today!!! They were all so very happy. Pop Pop kept telling me he was crying "tears of joy" and my kids talked about the visit all day long. They've been such troopers waiting patiently for nearly 2 weeks to finally see him. It was such a great day!

Walt was moved again. We anticipated this move. He is still located in the Via Christi St. Francis building, but it is in a longer term care facility, a rehab center, in which they will help Walt get back to his old self. We are happy to see this move, even though it did wear him out today, because it is one step closer to him being able to come home. They also removed his PICC line today, removed staples, and are weaning him down to almost bare bones in the hospital world! He was doing such a great job visiting with his family today. What an improvement one week can make. Here's praying the rehab center will get him stronger soon. Calvin told me that he & Pop Pop that need to go fishing real soon.
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Walt moved today

Walt was moved out of the critical care unit, and moved into a step-down unit this evening. He is in a room with a roommate. We are still asking that we limit visitors at this time. He had a good time visiting with his daughter, Laura, today. We are seeing improvement each day. The nurses sat him up in bed today for the first time.

Thank you

I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone for helping our family out during this time. The outpouring of prayers, phone calls, and offers of help have been incredible! While I know that Walt & Cheryl are wonderful people, it is so sweet to hear all of your comments on how very much they are loved by everyone else. I know so many of you want to do what you can to help, and trust me it is VERY much appreciated! For now, I think we are covered on meals. For now, the house is taken care of. For now, I think we are ok. However, this is a very long road, and we may be calling in 2 or 3 weeks to cash in on some of the offers of help.

Walt is stable and is doing pretty good. They are looking at possible transferring him to another facility, which will be able to care of his needs and move him out of the CCU. We will let you know if this happens, and when it would be ok to come and visit. At this time they are still limiting his visitors to not wear him out too much.

Again, we thank you and appreciate your support!