Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Life After Trudie

The End of one Journey

The Bartkus Battle is over. Jesus won; death lost. Trudie is celebrating on streets of gold.

A New Blog

In the mean time, I'm continuing to trust and follow Jesus. I'm starting out on a new journey. I have no idea where it will lead.

I've started a new blog. I've titled it "Adventures in Following Jesus." You can find it at http://wwjl.net (Where Will Jesus Lead).

Come along and see where this adventure takes me next.

Trudie's Obituary

Here is a link to Trudie's obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You can e-mail it by referring to http://tinyurl.com/28dm8w.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Memorial Service

Memorial Service

On Tuesday, November 27, 2007, the Memorial Service for Trudie was held at North Point Community Church.

Below is the program and links to the videos (the audio is not very good so turn your speakers up):

The Celebration of the Life of

Trudie Bartkus

August 20, 1949 --- November 22, 2007

Pre-Service Music Mr. Bill DeLoach

Greeting and Invocation Mr. Cliff Atfield

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing Congregational Hymn

Psalm 23 Mr. Drew Leonard

On Christ The Solid Rock Congregational Hymn

Eulogy Ms. Laura Clifford

Personal Remembrances The Myrtles - Jeannie

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Mr. Paul Hanna

Jeremiah 29:10-12

The Gardner’s Gloves Rev. Dr. Bob Culver Part 1 Part 2

Benediction Rev. Dr. Bob Culver

Dismissal and Information Mr. Cliff Atfield

If I can find a way to post the text of the comments, I'll do that.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's A Lot of Decisions

With a Little Help from My Friends

The visitation is tomorrow evening. To get to this point I've had to make a lot of decisions. Let me walk you through the decisions I've had to make. Luckily, I've had the help of a number of caring friends who have been with me all along.

The first big decision was:
  • The Funeral Home
After Trudie died Thursday night, we had to decide on who was to pick up her body or they would have sent it to the county morgue that night. So we didn't have much time to investigate many options. The decision I made was based more upon convenient location to me than anything else.

I had asked a friend to investigate various funeral home options - thinking that we had weeks before the end. Unfortunately, the suddenness of Trudie's death caught the friend before they really had a chance to pursue many options. Luckily, our church has dealt with a number of funeral homes and had a couple of options that they suggested. We chose Roswell Funeral Home.

When I say "we" what I mean is that I decided with the help of some very close friends who flew to my side that night. They were there at the hospice in less than an hour after I called them. They have been my other half-of-a-brain through out these days.

Meetings, meetings, meetings

The next day I had to make many more decisions. The first was:
  • The overall structure of the process
We decided on the night-before visitation/viewing and next-day funeral setup. I felt that the most people could be able to say goodbye to Trudie with this. The next decision was:
  • Where to hold the visitation/viewing & the funeral
We decided that the v/v could be at the funeral home and the funeral it self could be at our church. Then the next big decision was:
  • When to hold the visitation/viewing & the funeral
We had to coordinate with the funeral home and the church but that helped decide the dates. We also wanted to be sensitive to those who would be wanting to come from out of town.
  • Funeral Home services, casket, and grave liner/vault
These were the next decisions and the most expensive. I mean really BIG BUCKS here! I didn't ask if pre-purchasing could have saved us any money but it was definitely sticker-shock to see what such services cost.
  • What Song Style
The song style determined what and how many musicians needed to be lined up. This decision, too, needed to be made early. Luckily, Avery knew what were Trudie's favorite hymns and I like them too. So we went with a keyboard player / group singing leader.
  • Minister
Rev. Dr. Robert Culver (AKA "Uncle" Bob) had married Trudie and me little more than 16 years ago on a chilly morning in the Smokie Mountains. He has remained a dear and precious family friend. He graciously agreed to conduct the service where we are saying our goodbyes to Trudie. Uncle Bob is the head of a ministry to international students and scholars - read all about it at www.iface.org.
  • Pallbearers
I needed to decide and ask guys who would be representatives of all areas of Trudie's circles of influence. I am appreciative of the guys who have answered my call for service.
  • Order of Service
This was a biggie and a tough one. Uncle Bob had a template for an order of service that he typically uses. Filling in the blanks of the template was daunting. I had to decide what hymns to sing when, ask various people to do various parts, etc.

All in all it has been a lot of work. Like I've said, I have been operating on only half-of-a-brain for at least a couple of months. Now I have even fewer brain "noodles" on-line. So my good friends that have been with me have been invaluable to me. They offered awesome advice and help during this time. I thank you every one.

Help your Heirs

Trudie and I had discussed some of the above details but not much. Most of what I have had to decide were S.W.A.G.s. My friends and I made the best guesses we could on most of the things we had to decide.

Do your heirs a favor - talk about these issues. We will all someday be as Trudie is now - dead. How can you help, today, those left behind? There are lots of questions I still didn't get around to asking Trudie. I can't ask now. You have time now to investigate these issues and to discuss these issues with your loved ones especially your spouse. Just say, "Sweetie, with Trudie's passing it has got me thinking about my own passing..." It will be hard; it will take courage; it probably won't be fun. And your spouse will love you more for initiating it.

By the way, you do have a will don't you?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Funeral Details

Time line

Viewing and Visiting - Monday, Nov 26th, 6 PM to 8 PM Roswell Funeral Home

Service - Tuesday, Nov 27th, 10 AM at Northpoint Community Church


Roswell Funeral Home, 950 Mansell Road, Roswell, GA 30076 770-993-4811

View Larger Map

Northpoint Community Church, 4350 Northpoint Parkway, Alpharetta, Georgia 30022

Here are the directions on the Church's Web Site.

Floral Hills Memory Gardens, 3000 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker, GA 30084
Directions will be handed out at the church.

Instead of flowers:
Please consider a donation to Trudie's favorite charity:

Salvation Army

Online at salvationarmy.org
Phone 1-800-SAL-ARMY (or 800-725-2769)
Salvation Army
Atlanta Area Command
PO Box 95766
Atlanta, GA 30347

How am I doing?

I guess I'm doing pretty well considering...

I have made all these plans today with the help of some very dear and close friends. They were my other half of my brain since I'm only working on half a brain for sure. My brother, sister and brother-in-law are with me now and we will spend the evening together.

I'm very sad to say the least but I know she is in a better place and is not in any pain. I am still taking things one day at a time. God is in control and Jesus is helping me every step of the way. Thank you all for the outpouring of support I've had. I appreciate it. If I don't answer each personally please forgive me.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Trudie has passed on to Glory

Dear Friends and Family,
It is with great earthly sadness that I must inform you of Trudie's passing from this life into the next. Patrick received a phone call from Heartland Hospice this Thanksgiving day evening sometime around 8:15 pm that Trudie had passed on. She and Patrick both fought so hard. They were thankful to be out of the hospital, for them to able to converse, and for Trudie to be more comfortable. I know of no other details at this time, but I will post them as I learn more.

When I spoke to Patrick he was on his way to the hospice having just heard this sad news. Your prayers and support, in so many ways, have been helpful and appreciated. God has called Trudie to her new home with Him and all who believe, prepared well in advance for her glorious arrival. She is at peace and she is well. All who knew her in this life will surely miss her. Let us all join in prayer for Patrick and all who grieve Trudie's passing. She will be missed. The Holy Spirit is The Great Comforter and He is near to all who are broken hearted. May you find Him now.

Trudie knew the truth expressed in Hebrews 10:19 and following: "And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By His death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him... Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise."

I will post funeral details as I learn them.

Paul Hanna

Back to Hospice

Lungs need more time to get better

After talking to the main ICU pulmonologist we decided to go back to hospice today. Her lungs are having a hard time clearing themselves after getting fluid filled during/after the surgery. That is why they left her intubated for so long.

Trudie and I talked it over. ICU is not a good environment for Trudie nor me. Hospice was a much better place and will be more comfortable place. More people will be to come see her any time of day or night and be able to stay for as long as they want to stay. I will be able to bring Sari to her. We will see where God is leading us next. This appears to be the right next step.

She will back in the same hospice and the same room as before. Here's a link to the previous blog entry with the details of the hospice.

This isn't where I thought/wished we would go next but it seems that this is where God is leading and so we will just show up and trust that He knows what is right.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


One more step

Today we took one more baby-step toward moving along today. Right before lunch they were successful in extubating Trudie. They now have installed a BiPAP mask that is giving her assistance. This is another great big Praise God!

She's real tired and needs to rest. She also won't be able to talk well for a day or so. But after that, she should be back to her chatty self.

Thanks again for the prayers

Thank all y'all who have continued to keep us in your prayers. We've certainly needed them. Thank You!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Still Intubated - Still in ICU

Exercise in Letting Go and Letting God

To say I'm frustrated is an understatement.

I talked to our hematologist and the pulmonary physician and expressed my extreme desire to get out of ICU. I believe they heard me. It is just in their opinion that she is just not ready to be able to breath on her own and cough up junk on her own. They believe that she would quickly deteriorate and be worse than where she is today. This isn't what I wanted to hear.

This isn't the way I want things to go. I am sorely tempted to try to force a solution by putting more pressure on the docs, techs, etc. But I doubt if that would help. And I possibly could make things worse and be unhelpful.

So I get to let go and let God. God has the situation in hand; He knows what is going on and will continue to monitor the situation much better than any ICU flashy monitors or buzzers.

I am choosing to trust His will and will wait until another day to see Trudie leave the ICU.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

ICU Again - Day 4

Running in Place

Well, they again didn't remove the breathing tube today (extubation). They weren't sure that she had a strong enough cough to clear out the fluid buildup. So it feels like we are running in place. I was very disappointed; I was so looking forward to talking with her again. For now we have to settle with hand signs and sometimes a written sentence. She is breathing on her own - mostly. Sometimes they have the machine just giving O2 and sometimes it helps her breath one breath for every four that she breaths on her own.

Hopefully, tomorrow she will be extubated. I will get to speak to her regular doctors tomorrow to find out what is the deal.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

ICU Again - Day 3

Almost Completely Off the Ventilator

Today, they scaled way back the support that the ventilator is giving her. Between the 10 AM and Noon visits they had stopped her sedative and stopped the machine from pumping. She was breathing on her own completely and she was awake. She couldn't communicate because she had this big hose down her throat. But she could make gestures. At one point, I said something smart-ass (yes me) and she indicated to me that I was still number one by pointing one finger up at me. Isn't that sweet?

But not quite yet ready

Tomorrow morning they are going to try again and most bets are that they will be confident enough in her breathing and coughing ability to take the tube completely out. She is slowly getting stronger.

I'm very tired. I spent a good deal of the day at the hospital. She was SO glad to see me and be able to gesture with me. I was excited to have her back again. So tonight I am really ready to get some good sleep.

Giant Cudos to Brother-in-Law Drew! He has spent the majority of most of the days since and during the Wednesday surgery at the hospital. He has been a real trooper. He has been a great blessing to Trudie and I. Thanks Drew!

Friday, November 16, 2007

ICU Day 2 - Again

Breathing is Hard

Trudie is still on the ventilator. In fact, her O2 level dropped today so they had to increase the amount of oxygen that the ventilator was feeding. She has quite a bit of congestion in her lungs which I'm sure doesn't help.

She is aware of her surroundings. She makes various facial expressions, nods her head, and wiggles her toes when we ask her to. So she is "in there" but she is still very sedated.

New Infection

She has gotten a new infection. She has Vancomycin-resistant entercocci (VRE). See the WebMD article or the Wikipedia article about it. So now we have to don a protective coat and gloves when we go visit her. The nurse has not shown much concern about it although the article she gave me didn't sound good.

Please keep praying. She has done so well up to this point and we give thanks for that. Please pray that progress will continue to be made.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

ICU Day 1 - Again

Not out of the woods yet

Trudie is still in ICU. She is in room 243. Visitation is on the hour for 30 minutes every even-numbered hour starting a 6 AM and ending at 9 PM.

They tried to remove the ventilator today but she wasn't ready yet. So now they are slowly decreasing the support it provides and will remove it in a couple of days. They also have her heavily sedated so that she isn't bothered by the ventilator. She can do some basic responses to stimulation such as squeezing our fingers or nodding her head. So we know she is still in there.

What's in you will?

One of the things we have done in the last couple of weeks is that we have both revised, signed, had witnessed, and notarized our wills. Let's face it - we will all someday leave what toys we have amassed to our heirs. My father died without a will and it was a legal mess to get straightened out. A handy site for quick and easy wills is Dave Ramsey's recommended site US Legal Forms.

The hardest part is getting started. But we held our noses and we both dove in. Now we have it taken care of and we are glad we've done it. Think about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hip Surgery - Five and a Half Hours Later

She's doing OK

I just heard from the surgeon. He said that it was a tough case but that she came through pretty well. She is awaiting room in the recovery room right now. He said that she will probably spend the night in ICU and then back to a floor sometime tomorrow. He said that they wanted a little more time to wean her off the ventilator. And it will allow them time to keep her very sedated so that she can get some rest.

He said that the next step is to get her up and moving it. He said that she will be moved to a chair maybe tomorrow - no later than Friday. He said that it is important for her to be moving as much and as soon as possible.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Thank you all who prayed for her. We really appreciate you! Thank you! I believe used all your prayers today and that she is doing so well, at least in part, because of it. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Game On!

Hip Rebuild on Wednesday

We met with the orthopedic surgeon today. He was amazed at how much Trudie has improved from two weeks ago. The infectious disease doctor came by and remarked that they were not sure if she would survive the C.Diff infection. He too was amazed at her recovery.

The orthopedic surgeon rallied the medical resources and they are going to do the pre-op procedure at 8 AM and the surgery tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12:30 PM. He said it would be longer than the normal four hour hip replacement. I anticipate her not coming out until early evening or later.

Please be in prayer on Wednesday for her surgery!


We would not have believed that we could be here. The doctors cannot believe we are here. The only explanation could be all of you out there praying for us. It is truly God working through the prayers of His people. A friend today said "Well, I guess all we can do is pray." I told him that that is THE most important thing you can do for us.

We are truly grateful to all of you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Back at St Josephs

What's New is Old Again

This morning we got transported back to St. Joseph's. Trudie is now in room 608 (room phone 404-851-4605). It probably has the best view of any of her rooms so far. We are starting to have some of the same nurses that we've had before. They are all surprised at how well she is doing compared to our last trip there.

What's Next

The orthopedic surgeon hasn't definitely said but we are pretty sure that the hip surgery will take place on Wednesday. I have not spoken with him this week but he called Trudie this afternoon. We should know more tomorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Good News - Back to the Hospital

Battle Round Three

We had a good talk with our hematologist today. Trudie is feeling well enough that we want to proceed with the hip rebuild. This will probably happen next Wednesday (11/14). We will leave the Hospice on Monday morning and get re-admitted to St Josephs. She will probable have a pre-op procedure on Tuesday and then the main surgery on Wednesday. The orthopedic surgeon had previously said that it would probably be a six-plus hour surgery. Then would follow another rehab assignment at acute rehab. At the end of that, hopefully she will be walking again and be able to go home. That's the tentative plan.

And after that?

We have learned that we can only take the next step and wait until we are done with that step to see where we are. Then we will decide where we will go next.

Right now it looks like getting the hip fixed is the next right thing to do.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pedicure Success!

"I feel so pampered"

Today, Tram visited Trudie and gave her both a manicure and a pedicure. Trudie was not prepared. She said, "I feel so pampered." She was totally surprised. Thank you Paulette for helping me find Tram. Trudie was so delighted at getting the service.

Feeling Better

Trudie reports feeling stronger than she has in quite a while. She would like to eventually regain some mobility. She is working toward being able to get into a wheel chair and go back outside. But her goal this week is just to dangle her feet off the side of the bed. We will talk with our hematologist tomorrow about what we could realistically expect from the disease.

Grand Central Station

Trudie has been inundated with visitors. Sometimes, during the busiest time, they line up in the common area awaiting room to get in to visit. Trudie is greatly appreciated of all who come by to say hello. Sometimes when I try to call in the evening, her line is busy and the staff report a number of people in her room too. She loves it. If you haven't seen her recently, drop on by.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

E-Mail Notifications

New Service - E-mail Notifications

I've added a new Subscribe box on the left hand side. You can put in your e-mail address and then they check once a day for any entries I've made to the blog. They then send e-mail to your address notifying you of the new post.


They say that they won't sell your e-mail address. YMMV (geek-talk for Your Mileage May Vary).

RSS Feed

Another way to keep up with new posts is to use RSS Feeds. There's a good article titled Better Blog Reading over at John Piper's site. They have a link to More Reading in Less Time which helps learning about how to more efficiently keep up with blogs.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Search for A Pedicure


Last Friday was our 16th wedding anniversary. I was trying to find the perfect gift for Trudie. I did bring her a dozen red roses and a sentimental card. But I wanted to do more.

She has been hinting for the last couple of months before all this happened that she had never spent the money to get a pedicure. She said she has always wanted one. So I thought I would get her one as a (romantic?) anniversary gift.

I need help!

I'm having problems finding someone that will make a hospice call.

If anyone knows of someone who will go to the hospice and give her "the works" please give me a call. I'm willing to pay "retail." Just don't tell Trudie...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bad News

More Tumors

The doctors reported some days ago that x-rays showed more tumors. These are new tumors in her lungs that were not there two months ago when she had the back surgery. This means that the angiosarcoma is more aggressive than they first thought.

What this means

It means that it is doubtful that Trudie will get healthy enough for the next surgery. If she did, that surgery would be bigger, longer, and more arduous that the back surgery. The doctor said that we could continue to try and fight but it would only delay the obvious inevitable. And it would cause her additional pain along the way. This was not just our hematologist's opinion. There were three other doctors that looked at the images and confirmed that they are new tumors.

Were we are today

We are resting comfortably in a 100% insurance-paid hospice. She is able to have as many visitors at any time of day as she wants and can fit into her room. She can stay there as long as she can. They are geared toward making her and us as comfortable as possible. I've told Trudie and she is sad that she will be leaving us and that we will be sad at her going. But she knows that she will be with Jesus and she is looking forward to that.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Be It Ever So Humble

Home, Sweet (New) Home

Trudie is now settling in to her new "home."

New Contact Info:
(770) 936-9546

Someone usually answers that number and you can ask for Trudie. If it rings a bunch of times and then a machine asks you to key in the extension, her extension is 2239.

4598 Barclay Drive
Dunwoody, GA 30338

Take I-285 to exit #30 (Chamblee-Dunwood Drive from the west and N Peachtree / N Shallowford from the east) and go north on North Peachtree. Pass First Baptist Church entrance and a Charter School.
Just past the school turn Left onto Peachford Drive.
Take an almost immediate Right onto Barclay Drive.
Go down a couple of blocks and you'll see the sign on the Left.


You can visit most any time. Just ask someone to show you to room #8. She would love to have the company.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Digs - Hospice

Heartland Hospice - formerly Portsbridge Hospice

Later tonight we will be moving to Heartland Hospice which is here:

View Larger Map

I'll let you know her room number later.

A Good Day

Today, Trudie was "here" more than she has been in a week. She was aware of where she was and wanted to know why she wasn't having the hip surgery tomorrow. I explained that the next right step is to go to hospice. She will be better served there and we will be better served there. We can't plan step two until we are finished with step one. Step one will be to go to hospice to get stronger to be ready for the next step which, hopefully, will be hip surgery but we cross that step after we take step one.

More of our family will be able to visit her there more. The have the services we all need. They don't have wireless access (it didn't seem like any of them did) so I will need to work on that.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Searching for Hospice


She has completed the antibiotics for the Klebsiella pneumoniae infection. She seems to be slowly getting better. She is still fighting the multi-drug resistant C.Difficile Toxin infection so she is not out of the woods yet. But now she is not on antibiotics and she can start to build the good germs to fight the C-Diff.

In a regular room

She has been moved from ICU into a regular room. She is resting better now that she doesn't have fifty-eleven million wires, tubes, etc connected to her. We can also visit her with no time restrictions. She is in room 612 of St. Josephs.

Insurance "challenges"

The good news is that our insurance will cover 100% of in-network hospice care. They pay 0% of out-of-network facilities. Humm... I guess I'll stick with in-network hospice providers.

But here's the catch, the in-network facilities are not very close to our house. There's one in Decatur, one in Duluth, one in Dunwoody (the closest) and one near Emory Univ. The one that is closest in Marietta but is out-of-network. We tried to work with a in-network provider to get her placed there but have had no success. So we will work on it more tomorrow.

Palliative Care

She was assessed by a palliative care nurse today. She said that they could do a better job of managing her pain. She has still been in quite a bit of pain even though she could get a shot of morphine pretty much whenever she said she needed it. But this wasn't working so well. So now Trudie is on a very low dose continuous morphine drip. This seems to have helped her and she is in less pain now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Next Phase


Again, Trudie is not better and not worse. The Dr. has suggested that we consider moving her to a hospice. So this afternoon Avery and I met with a Case Manager and a hospice representative. We both feel that this is move would be in Trudie's best interest.

Giving Up?

Both Trudie and we are getting hospital burn-out. The hospice can be a more pleasant setting for Trudie and us to get through her next stage. What will that stage en tale? Our crystal ball is still broken and so only God knows what will happen and we are in His hands. All I know is that what we are doing isn't working so well and so we need to do something else. The change of scenery will probably lift her spirits. She may get to where she is ready for the hip surgery. But in the mean time, we will be able to be with her more and she will have better surroundings. So, no, I don't consider hospice giving up; we just are trying something different.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

ICU Day 4


More Of The Same thing today. She's still in ICU, she doesn't seem any worse, she doesn't seem any better. She really wants a change of scenery. And who can blame her? She's not aware enough to watch TV, the walls are all white and sterile, she's probably bored to tears. I'm going to get some pictures tomorrow and see if I can't put them up somewhere.

Cleaning people

I asked a neighbor if he had a recommendation and he gave me the card of some cleaning people that he uses. They came over today and we settled on a day of the week and a price. This will be a load off my plate and well worth the money.

Avery and Gracie

Avery and Gracie flew in last night. Avery left Gracie today with a cousin and Avery and I went and spent some time with Trudie.

Gracie is cute and I've created a three minute video of her climbing stairs last week: (url: http://youtube.com/watch?v=PDyHlwH25CA)

Friday, October 26, 2007

ICU Day 3


Trudie now has two infections. She has the initial infection that landed her in ICU 1) Klebsiella pneumoniae and now 2) C.Difficile Toxin. They are both very bad. Apparently the antibiotics that kill the bad bacteria are also killing the good bacteria that normally live in our gut. But without the good bacteria, the other bad bacteria now are multiplying. C.Difficle is apparently one of those bad bacteria. And this guy is not easily killed with antibiotics.


She seems to be holding her own for now. She is somewhat conscious but not very coherent. She wants to leave and is frustrated that she can't. She can't seem to grasp that it is in her best interest to be there. Her blood counts are a little bit better today but not by much.

Surgery On Hold

I spoke with the orthapedic surgeon and he said that until she regains a significant amount of strength, the hip surgery she needs would be too much for her. We will wait for that until she gets her strength back.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ICU Day 2

Better but not great

Trudie is better today. She is conscious and recognizes people. Her blood counts are better than yesterday although still they are not that great. She has not mentally returned to the "real world." She asks us to do "interesting" things and makes strange comments. But, as she frequenly says, she's "better."

Myrtle Road Trip

A group of three Myrtles made the trek from Columbia, SC over today and got to visit with Trudie. She was clearly surprised and pleased to see them. They were here for three hours, got to see Trudie twice, and now are on their way back to CAE. It was great to see them again.

How Long?

The doctor says that we are not totally out of the woods yet. She is still battling the bug. So the estimate is that she will be in ICU for another two or three days. The hip surgery is on hold for now. We will get it rescheduled when she has her strength back.

Thank you for all your prayers! We all appreciate them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Please Pray


I don't want to be alarmist but Trudie is not doing so good right now.

The fever yesterday has become a full blown case of sepsis(also known as septic shock). It is an infection in the blood stream and is impacting any organ that gets blood. They are fighting it with massive antibiotics.

What isn't helping is that her body hasn't quite gotten used to the fact that it doesn't have a spleen any more. It was in the process of adjusting to no-spleen when this infection hit. So she is very sick now.

I'm here at the ICU waiting area. Her hematologist will be by this evening and I'll get more from him then.

Hip Reschedule

New Digs - ICU

Trudie has been transferred to ICU now. They evaluated her fight and decided she needs more intensive treatment.

New day - same plan

The hip rebuild is now scheduled for sometime Saturday, 10/27th. This is assuming that the infection is beaten by then. The nurse said that one of her cultures was growing something so she does have a germ of some description. They haven't been able to make a positive ID on which germ it is yet but they are putting her on more antibiotics.


She can have visitors today and Thursday. ICU lets visiting for 30 minutes every two hours (e.g. 6:00-6:30 AM, 10:00-10:30 AM, etc, etc, etc.) She may or may not remember your being here. Friday she has a pre-op procedure and may be gone part of the day. She is pretty disoriented now because of all the pain meds she has keeping her comfortable.

Keep praying

Keep prayers going for this battle. I'm struggling to keep my energy up. I feel like I'm swimming with a sea anchor. I feel like I should be getting more done but I just can't seem to get there. Keep me in your prayers too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If It Ain't One Thing - It's Another


Today, Trudie's temperature went up and she now has a 102 degree fever. They have assigned her an infectious disease doctor now. Please pray that the drugs will get this under control!

Surgery Postponed

Since she has the fever, the hip-repair surgery has been postponed. They will not operate when she has a fever. We will get a new date once the fever is licked.

Deck Postponed

The contractor who was going to supervise the deck repair has a conflict on 11/3. So we've tentatively penciled in Saturday 11/10 to do the deck R&R.

Please be in prayer for me too. I need wisdom on how to budget my energy which isn't up to what it used to be pre-illness.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gracie Visit

Gracie visit

Today, our granddaughter, Gracie, and our kids, visited Trudie. They raised her spirits greatly.

Results of the MRI

The MRI showed a fracture of the left hip. The hematologist said that the plan is to let her heal a few more days from the splenectomy. They will then operate on next Wednesday, Oct 24th, on her left hip.

New Update

I have just spoken to the orthopedic surgeon. He said that this will not be a run-of-the-mill, "I've fallen and I can't get up" hip surgery. He said that it appears that the hip tumor has severely attacked her hip bones. This will be more than a hip replacement, it will be a hip reconstruction surgery. But, the good news is that this should help alleviate the intense pain that she has been experiencing the last two weeks. After a few days, he expects her to be up and walking again.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On The Floor

Back to a normal room

She is back to a "normal" room today. They took her to get CT scan and a MRI. I didn't hear how they came out. Her good friend, Valerie from Florida, came to spend the weekend helping her (and indirectly - helping me).

Trudie is in room 372 (phone 404-851-4372). If you want to visit, please call first 1) to make sure she isn't off getting poked, prodded, or scanned and 2) to make sure she is up for company.

Next Steps

I know our hematologist has brought an orthopedic doctor in to assess her leg's status. I'll find out more of what he thinks tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Out of Spleen Surgery

Surgery went well

I just talked to the surgeon. He said it went well and she is now in recovery. He said that her spleen was two to three times the normal size. They have sent it off to see if it had a tumor or it was big because of "sequestering" her blood cells. He is sending her to ICU for hopefully an overnight stay.

More updates to follow...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shifting Gears

Back to the Hospital

I spoke with our hematologist today. He said that due to her decreased mobility, he thinks it is time for her go back into the hospital. He wants her to under go an new round of diagnostic MRIs. He thinks he can get them made faster if she is already an in-patient. So he will admit her to St Joseph's Hospital right from our office visit tomorrow, Tuesday.


They are still planning to take her spleen out on Wednesday morning. Please pray that everything goes OK and that she will recover from that surgery quickly.

The help I've had

I've had a bunch of great help recently. My sister and brother-in-law spent almost the whole week with us last week. They enabled me to go to the office. Trudie told me, "go to work so that you can get some rest." It was great to be able to get away and use my techie talents. Brother-in-law Drew was able to accomplish a number of nagging household maintenance items. He drew up plans for the deck remodel and developed the materials list. He was able to help make our bathroom more "accessible" than it was. They were a huge help for us last week.

A week ago, Trudie's long-time friend Laura came from Nashville and spent a couple of days. Laura was a big help.

Then today, Trudie's very good friend, Jeanie, came and spent the day with Trudie while I "went to work and got some rest." Jeanie fielded a number of calls and did many little things for Trudie. She was a great blessing.

We are blessed by each and every one of you. They have helped me keep going a hard as I have been going. Thank you for all your prayers. We need those the most now.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New Challenge

Increased Leg Pain

This week presented a new challenge for us. Trudie's left leg pain has increased. It seems to have started on Tuesday after our two appointments that day. We have spoken with her doctors and they want to press ahead with the splenectomy next Wednesday.


The neurologist wanted some MRIs done of her lower back and leg. Unfortunately, the pain medicines are causing uncontrollable leg twitching. This prevents getting good MRI pictures. The hematologist suggested that the hospital where she gets the splenectomy can give her a stronger sedative that will allow them to get good pictures.

Mossy Creek

We usually do the Mossy Creek Barnyard Festival the third weekend in October. Trudie definitely won't be able to make it this year. I am debating whether to go myself and sell what dolls she was able to make this Spring and Summer before this all started. The money isn't really the issue. I know a LOT of people who know her will be VERY disappointed if no one shows up. If I go, I will be able to tell what has been happening and give them this blog site to watch for future developments.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Four Appointments in One Day

Appointment Creep

We had a serious problem of "appointment creep" today.

First we had two appointments. One was with the surgeon who will do the splenectomy. He added an appointment to get Trudie's immunizations updated.

Then the second original appointment was with the neurologist. He added an appointment with an X-Ray lab to get some pictures of his handiwork.

So two appointments became four appointments in three buildings. We are both very tired tonight.


The surgeon will remove Trudie's spleen on Wednesday, October 17th. They will probably keep her overnight. We don't think this surgery will be as intensive as the last. In fact, he may be able to accomplish it with a laparoscope.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

If I Only Had a Brain

Half Brain

It has been very wierd for me lately. It feels like I only have a half of a brain. For example, a couple of days ago I stopped to talk with some landscapers who were working next door. I tried to talk about some plants of which I know their name and am familiar. But when I went to start talking about those plants I suddenly couldn't think of their names. It's been like that. I can't remember words. I am also finding that I don't remember to bring something I wanted to bring when I go out. I get half way to my destination and I go "oh crap!" Trudie has an excuse of good drugs to plead her mental lapses, but I don't have any excuse. We say that since each of us is running on half a brain, and that then, between us we have a whole brain. We just have to talk more and coordinate more.

Transition to Home

Trudie is feeling better and is getting stronger each day. We have visitors almost every day and she enjoys them. [ Fair warning: please call first if you are thinking of visiting - we have many doctor's appointments next week. ] Tomorrow, her precious friend Jeannie will be with her in the morning. This is a great service to me, too, because it will allow me to go be a volunteer camera operator at our church. Doing this really excites me and I always look forward to the Sundays I get to "shoot." We are also getting visits from home-health nurses, home-health physical therapists, and home-health occupational therapists.

Next Steps

Monday we meet with the surgeon, and at that time will probably set a date for the splenectomy. We also have follow up appointments with the neurosurgeon on Monday and hematologist on Tuesday.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Trudie's Home!

She's Home

I brought Trudie home today. Yea!

As of tomorrow, it will be five weeks since she had been home.

We go tomorrow to see our hematologist and find out what is the next stage.


A big thanks to Robin at Dr. J's office. She got a handicap application filled out, notarized, and personally delivered to Trudie at the hospital this weekend. I was able to get the handicap mirror hang card today from the county vehicle tag office.

Also a big thanks to all those who have been making food for me the last interminable weeks. It's been great. Thanks!


Some guys in our small group are coming over to our house tomorrow evening at 8 PM to devise plans for a ramp up to the back deck. If you are interested in being part of this effort, let me know.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Stategy

We are still on for Trudie coming home tomorrow. A big thanks to the small group for stopping by our house this afternoon and giving it another good cleaning. Trudie will know I didn't keep it this clean :-).

Old Strategy
I have been operating on the strategy that the doctors have much more education, experience, and wisdom on how to approach this disease. I know I have no control over this disease and I was just following what God was up to and all I could do was the next right thing. But, on the whole I was not getting involved other than keeping up this blog and asking for prayer.

Wake Up Call
Last Tuesday we had a visit in Trudie's room with our family doctor, Dr J. He articulated all my positions and strategies about letting the experts handle the technical details. He told a story about a relative that found out that the "experts" don't know about everything and it is a good thing to learn as much as we can about cancer and to become part of the team that helps fight the disease. He said he was amazed how much non-medical background lay people can learn and intelligently discuss the medical issues involved. I believe this visit was a wake-up call from God telling me to get busy and become part of the team.

New Strategy
So now I'm trying to learn all I can about angiosarcoma. I'm learning about cancer and how it works and how it is attacked. It is a daunting task.

We have our next appointment with the hematologist on Tuesday. I plan to be able to speak more intelligently this time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Coming Home

It is official. Trudie will be discharged and coming home on Monday!

I have an appointment on Friday afternoon with her OT and PT people at the center to go over the proper way for me to help her.

Getting Ready
What all do I need to be doing to get ready for her return? I'm not sure. I know I'll be having more conversations with the Case Manager to determine what all will need to be set up at the house.

Keep Praying
We haven't yet begun to fight the cancer itself. We appreciate all those who are praying for us and our doctors. Give thanks to God that she is able to come home.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Give Blood!

Quick Trudie Update
I've had no news on the results of her assessment meeting today. :-(

From the Red Cross Web site:
Why Give Blood?
Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. But only 5% of eligible US population donates blood in any given year.

Currently there is no substitute.

Blood is needed for emergencies and for people who have cancer, blood disorders, sickle cell, anemia and other illnesses. Some people need regular blood transfusions to live.

Imagine if giving blood was part of everyone's life. Something you did on a regular basis, like eating at your favorite restaurant. What kind of difference would that make? For nearly 5 million people who receive blood transfusions every year, your donation can make the difference between life and death.

Giving blood is simple and convenient — see our top 10 reasons to give, browse categories on the left to learn about blood donation, or simply...

sign up to donate now


Our hematologist said that the blood supply is always needing donors. I asked if they could give in Trudie's name and he said do not make a "directed donation." He said that the likelyhood of error goes up with a directed donation.

He recommended to make a contribution to the general pool.

I've you've not given blood in a long time, go ahead and spend an hour for a good cause.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chocolate Slow Down

Too Much Chocolate
Trudie's blood sugar is getting a little high. So she has asked that the well-wishers slow down on the chocolate. She really appreciate the thought and the chocolate (so have I); it has been just a little too much of a good thing.

Today Trudie climbed a few stairs for the first time. She really felt a sense of accomplishment. She is working as hard as she can with her PT and OT people.

Tomorrow her "team" will get together and assess her progress. We believe that they are close to setting a go home date. It could be as early as next Monday. That would be exciting news. I'll let you guys know as soon as I hear.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Hard Day at the "Office"

At the Hospital:
Trudie is really working hard. In fact, Friday she may have overdone it a bit. She worked on a machine that is like bicycle peddles and these are muscles that she apparently has not used in quite a long time. Today those muscles are hurting her pretty badly.

She had a review Friday and she has accomplished all of the goals that the team had set out for her for the week. Her hard work is paying off. She says she can tell that her muscle strength is returning more each day.

Her blood counts continue to drop. She had a transfusion on Thursday night to get them back up and then today they are down again. She is getting another transfusion tonight. She still has the underlying disease and it is messing with her blood counts.

The doctor said that when she is finish getting all the benefits of the acute rehab then he will schedule the splenectomy. The case manager said that the tentative goal was for her to be done with rehab the first week in October. So she has one or two more weeks at No. Fulton.

At the Home Front:
The small group came over today and gave the house a good cleaning. We also made plans to install a ramp off the back deck for our old-man dog. Yoska is a 12 year old Kuvasz and is quite elderly. Trudie has been lobbying for a ramp for him for quite some time and I've not done it. A couple of small group guys think we can do it in one day. I appreciate their attitude and skills and believe we can do this. And I appreciate all the things the group has done for us.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I plan on taking Sari, our five year-old female Kuvasz, over to the hospital and bringing Trudie out for a visit. I know it will lift both of their spirits.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Gracie the Great!

Some of you know but many of you don't know that we have a 20 month-old Granddaughter. She is Gracie and she is currently living with our kids in Durham, NC.

She is scary-bright for a 20 month-old child. She even has her own blog: the-blig

You can see pictures of her here: GracieAt19Months and GracieApril2007.

She's very cute!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The 50 Foot Walk

This is just a quick update.

Trudie's physical rehab is going well. They are working her hard and pushing her to go and go and go.

Today she said that she was able to walk 50 feet. This is quite an accomplishment for someone who was totally bed ridden just two days ago.

Her progress is evaluated at weekly team staff meetings. I'm not sure what day on which they are held. That is when they make a group decision if someone is able to be discharged. I will find out which day that is.

She had many visitors today and she enjoyed every one. She also appreciates the cards that she has received. Thank you everyone for your encouragement.

Continue to pray for her progress in her recovery.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Where's God?


I'm going to talk about our God. Your God may not be the same. If not, that's ok. I'm just talking about our God.

If God is a God of Love - why are we experiencing this? Where is God?

We want God to be the parent who makes things right. We want God to do what we want Him to do.

Where we are coming from

But who is our God? Is He a just a "force?" Is He "love?"

Trudie and I believe that our God is the God described in the 66 book collection known as The Bible. We believe that this collection was written over 600 years by many different authors and yet has a consistent message. We believe that God, as described in The Bible, has the power to do anything He chooses. We believe that He is the maker and creator of all things. We believe that God is very DIFFERENT from us. We believe that this difference is based in His GOODNESS. We also believe that He wants to have a personal individual relationship with each us.

We all have messed up at one time or another and having messed up we cannot be in the presence of TOTAL GOODNESS. We believe that the Bible says that without the payment of punishment deserved for those "messes" then we can not have anything to do with TOTAL GOODNESS. We believe that nothing we can do will restore us to total goodness.

We believe that the Bible says that God loves us so much that He came up with a way to have relationship with Him. Since nothing we could ever do could blot out the blackness of our offenses, He took the punishment of our offenses on Himself. He did this so that if we accept His payment for our bad deeds, we could have a personal relationship with Him now and forever in eternity. We believe that God did this by setting aside most of his OTHERNESS and became one of us - as a man - Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus, as described in the Bible, was not just a wise man, nor just a prophet. We believe He was who He claimed to be. God. We believe that Jesus never "messed up." We believe He accepted the punishment that He didn't deserve but that we deserved. And by doing so, He offers to us the gift of making things right between God and each of us. By accepting that we are powerless to EVER make up for our bad stuff and by accepting that He, Jesus, God has done all that was needed to wipe our slate clean, we can enter into a new relationship with Him. In this new relationship He calls us His children and we can call on Him as Daddy.

That's the kind of relationship Trudie and I have with our God. You may not agree and that's OK but that is our belief.

So why did God allow this?

We believe that God will heal this cancer. We are just uncertain if it will be healed soon and Trudie be allowed to live many more years or if it will be healed with Trudie being ushered into eternity. There is no cancer in eternity so it will definitely be healed when she dies. We all, of course, will die someday - it is just a unknown as to when.

But if God loves us as a Father loves his children, why is He allowing us to suffer this? A good Father wouldn't allow his children to suffer - or would He? From our standpoint of human Fathers we wouldn't knowingly allow our children be in pain needlessly.

But let's look at things from the child's point of view. If a parent denies a child sweets before a meal doesn't the child consider the parent being mean? When a parent sets boundaries around what a teenager is allowed to do doesn't the teenager accuse the parent of being unfair? From the child's point of view they are truly suffering. From the parent's point of view the goal is a greater good. That goal may be an appetite for vegetables or safety from temptation beyond what they have developed so far to bear.

Where does that leave us?

God is good and loves us His children. We may feel like He is being "unfair" in making us endure this. But this we can believe, if Christ endured the cross for us so that we can have a right relationship with him, He has a greater good that is the goal of all this. By the Cross we have assurance that nothing that comes our way can separate us from His Love.

We also know that God is walking through this with us. Many, many things have happened that have let Trudie and me know that God hasn't abandoned us through this. Almost daily we see the "footprints" of God along our path. We know He is walking beside us. We believe that although we may not know all that God is up to, we can know that He is up to something of which this is a part. We trust in Him and that He is working for a greater good.

Why Should We Pray?

If God is going to do what He has in mind, why pray? Because the Bible says He wants us to pray. He wants us to beseech Him. He wants us to ask Him for what we want.

So please, keep praying for us. Please pray for healing. Pray for strength for both Trudie and I as we deal with the practical things of this time. But also pray that God will use this to draw people to desire a relationship with Him. And that they, too, can find the true happiness that we have found in spite of this disease.


Louis Gigilo 9/16/07 message The Anchor of Hope available at North Point Community Church Messages Online (for the next week it is available free as an MP3 download or Podcast ) .

John Piper and David Powlison message Don't Waste Your Cancer

Philip Yancy "Prayer - Does it Make any Difference? " This is a great book!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rehab Assignment

Medical Minor Leagues - Rehab Assignment

Trudie has been transferred to the North Fulton Regional Hospital Rehab unit. Here's her new contact information:

Snail Mail:
Trudie Bartkus - Room 142
North Fulton Regional Hospital Rehabilitation Services
3000 Hospital Boulevard
Roswell, GA 30076

Room Phone: 770-410-4142

Official Visiting Hours:
Mon - Fri: 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Sat & Sun: 12:00 PM to 8:30 PM

After talking to her charge nurse it seems that Trudie may call it more of a boot camp assignment than rehab. Their goal is to help her to become mobile and independent. They will be pushing her to do for herself. I know that Trudie will give it all she has to get back to where she was.

It appears that Trudie will have an even more hectic schedule than before. If your call isn't answered, just assume that she must be out doing push-ups somewhere :-}.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Good bye to Northside (for now)


Trudie received another transfusion today since her blood counts had dropped yet again. Today we got clearance to move on to acute rehabilitation. It will be tough to leave Northside Hospital because there have been many excellent staff people there who have made this stay as best that it could be under the circumstances.

Tomorrow morning we will be transferred to North Fulton Regional Hospital. She has an initial assignment of ten days of intensive physical therapy at their in-patient PT unit. It's going to be tough on her. She is ready to give it the best she can.

Going Forward

Now what is the next step? The pathology finding of the tumor removed was that it is indeed angio sarcoma. This is usually a soft-tissue cancer, but for some reason in Trudie it is in the cells lining her blood vessels in her bones. After her rehab assignment at North Fulton the hematologist wants to evaluate her for a splenectomy. He thinks her spleen has a angio sarcoma tumor that is causing it to sequester Trudie's blood cells. This would be the explanation as to why her blood counts keep falling. The spleen is not an organ this is of much use to adults so they feel they can remove hers and it will help the whole situation.

So we may not be gone from Northside all that long.

Thanks and Appreciation

We appreciate all of you and your expressions of concern and your kindnesses. We know that many of you are praying for us and that is the biggest thing and most important thing that anyone can do for us now. We are blessed with many praying friends and we appreciate every prayer said for us. Trudie wishes me to express her sorrow at not being available when you've tried to reach her. Sometimes she was off being poked and prodded; sometimes she was just too whooped to talk. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Almost Outta There

The consensus is that Trudie will be better served by going to a rehabilitation center. She will get more intense treatment there and so she will get better quicker.

So now it is a matter of where will she go.

North Fulton Hospital has a rehab center. It is near us and is supposed to be very good. Their staff is going to evaluate Trudie tomorrow to see if she is a good candidate for their services.

So she should be leaving Northside Hospital tomorrow (Thursday) or Friday.

She still continues to feel weak. She had been leaving her cell phone off and the room phone unplugged a lot of the time to help her rest. If you have tried to contact her and have not been able to, it isn't you. I've received the same treatment so I've felt your pain. Please be patient; I KNOW it can frustrating.

Monday, September 10, 2007

She's More Like Her Old Self

I visited Trudie on the way into work this morning. She was bright and alert; she was more like her self before the operation. I think that the doctor has finally found the right level of pain medications that is effective and doesn't cloud her mind.

She got out of bed yesterday and was setting up for 45 minutes. The more she's up the sooner she will be out of there. She had much company and many phone calls yesterday.

I don't know what the neurologist thinks her next stop will be. I haven't talked to her since mid-afternoon. We have been told that a rehab assignment to the hospital minor leagues (a rehab center) would help her get well quicker.

The hematologist told me this morning was that he would like to start the first round of chemotherapy in a couple of weeks. He said he would let me know what the pathology report said about the resected tumor when he gets it. Her blood numbers are still very low; they are like there were pre-operation. He said he would order a couple of units of blood to help bolster her.

Keep praying for strength for her and for wisdom for the doctors to select the right course of action.

How Are YOU Doing?

How is Patrick?

I've been asked recently by friends, "Patrick, how are YOU doing?"

I can say that I feel like I'm a part of this battle too. I have to make sure I have energy to encourage her and be her support while she struggles with this whole thing.

Taking care of Patrick

I think the main thing that I have to watch out for is H.A.L.T. - Hungary - Angry - Lonely - Tired. The first three are usually not a problem for me now. The challenge for me is the "tired." I have to be especially vigilant and ensure I get enough rest.

I also have to watch out also not to be overwhelmed by this battle. I occasionally do things I want to do. For example, yesterday I went to Stone Mountain Park for the Yellow Daisy Festival. I saw a number of our craft show friends and I wanted to personally thank the show promoters for graciously allowing us to withdraw from the show at the last minute without prejudice. I had fun.

The other thing I have to do to keep up myself is to make sure I get my exercise. I haven't been to my gym in a couple of weeks, but Shari (the dog) and I have had much quality time walking through the park together. I can really tell that it helps.

Asking for help

Probably the hardest thing for me in this whole battle is in asking for help. I know, I know, I know. A lot of you really want to help. And we are very grateful for it. I've had so many offers of food that I've had to ask a member of our small group to be the meal coordinator. I have made myself ask for assistance in getting things done. And when I've asked for help the response has been very touching and always extremely gracious. But it's this silly thing that I have called pride. Pride is a hard thing to keep from becoming predominant in me. I have to tell myself "people WANT for me to ask" for their help. One friend said that I've got to "let the body of Christ be the body." I do it but it's not easy.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

It was a good day

Today was a good day.

With the help of physical therapists, Trudie was able to sit up, stand up, and move two steps and sit back down again. She then transversed the same path in reverse. She did all this without the anticipated excruciating pain. It hurt some but not what was anticipated. It's amazing that most of the times what we imagine will happen isn't how things actually happen?

The Myrtles Florida diaspora have returned home. But before they left they performed feats that even Mr. Clean would be proud of. Much cleaning was done while I was at the hospital with Trudie. Not only were all the "science projects" removed from our refrigerator, it was cleaned cleaner than when we got it new. The kitchen shines like it is awaiting military inspection. We are VERY grateful for their help these last few days.

When will Trudie be going home? We're not sure. It all depends upon how much strength she regains and how soon she regains it. She is working hard on her breathing exerciser machine. She will start other exercises to strengthen legs and other muscles that have not been used recently.

There may be an option to go from the hospital to a in-patient rehabilitation center. One nurse commented that she could get better quicker at that kind of facility. We will see as the week progresses. A decision would probably not be made until the middle of next week.

Again, thanks for all your prayers and offers of help. They are all very appreciated.


Back on the Floor

Trudie got moved back into a real room night before last. She is in room 460 (404-459-1460). She is still pretty groggy headed because of the pain meds. I don't know if she will have many "noodles" to talk to people quite yet. If you call that number and get no answer, it will probably be because she's not in a talkative mood. Please don't take it personal - I'm sure if she knew it was YOU she would answer. But she has to be judicious about her energy. Sunday may be a better day to start talking.

Today will be the next stage in recovery; she will have to sit up. This is a necessary yet painful step. The doctor says that the quicker she can start moving about the less likely there will be complications. Trudie is being a real trooper and is mentally psyching herself up for the necessary, yet painful, task.

Two of Trudie's girl friends, a pair of Myrtles, came up from Florida Thursday. They came to support Trudie and me. They are leaving today and have been a big help in doing the little things I've not been able to get to.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

ICU Day 1

Trudie made great progress today.

When I got back to the ICU ward about 10 AM she was still groggy and not very coherent. Drew, my brother-in-law, had arrived there before me. She was awake but not really "there." Chip and Shane, from church, again brought us lunch and Drew and I got to chat a while with them.

Drew left soon after lunch and drove on back to Charlotte. He was a great trooper to sit with me in the waiting room all day yesterday and half the evening. He didn't leave until Trudie was well bedded down in her ICU room at 10:30 PM last night. He was a great encouragement to Trudie and me just by being here. Thank you Drew for your showing up.

This evening Trudie started to show signs of her old self. The first indication was her latching onto the TV remote control. She initially might not have been solid on which button to push but SHE was determined to be the one who was going to push it. She reluctantly gave it up when she realized that this was one situation where she could get what she wanted (the right channel) by letting me have charge of the remote.

Then by evening, she was gobbling up her dinner. It wasn't much (jello and ice cycles) but she knew by eating it she would get better.

Now she is motivated to get better. She is showing her old spunk and is putting forth the effort she knows will get here better.

It looks like it is highly probable that she will leave ICU tomorrow sometime. Back in a normal room she will have her own direct phone line in and will be able to receive visitors. I'll update the blog when I know the details.

The Worst is Over - Now for the Bad Stuff

Where we are now

She came through the surgery just fine. The neurosurgeon said that it went very well. She was doing so well that they were able to take her off the ventilator before she left the operating room.

Now she is in ICU where I spent the night with her. She is still very groggy and probably won't remember anything of the night. She and I both got a two maybe three hours of sleep. I'm forever indebted to the nurse tech who located a recliner chair for me and hauled it to her room.

They kick all family out of ICU at 7 AM and 7 PM for shift change so I am home getting charged back up for another day in ICU.


Yesterday was a long day. The surgery didn't start when we thought it would. And then it took a little longer than expected. My brother-in-law, Drew, drove down from Charlotte, NC, and stayed the whole time with me. A friend from church, Chip, brought us lunch and a dear friend of Trudie's, Jeannie, brought us dinner. We are very grateful for everyone who have pitched in and helped us.

She was finally wheeled into ICU about 9:15 PM. She rested pretty well last night.

Where do we go from here

The Bad Stuff is the painful rehab that is coming. She has a chest tube now and that hurts every time that have to shift her. And to prevent bed sores or pneumonia they have to shift her every couple of hours.

We know that there is even more painful rehab to come. Please be in prayer for Trudie's endurance through it.

We're not sure how long she will be in ICU. The doctors had not been in to see her when I left. The doctors originally talked of a day or two stay in ICU.

The "rules" for ICU are that only immediate family members are allowed to visit and then only two at a time can be in the ICU room with her.

Since they request all cell phones be off in the unit, we will be unreachable while I'm in there. You can leave me a voice mail on my cell phone (you know the number) and I'll call you back later.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. I'll let you know news as I find it out.


Quick Update - All OK

This will just be a quick update. I'm staying the night next to Trudie's side in ICU. I'm using the computer in the ICU Family Lounge to post this.

The surgery went well. It started later than we had thought (1:30 PM ) and ended about 7:30 PM. The doctor said it all went well. She is going to be very sore and it will be a painful rehab but he was please at how the reconstruction went.

I'll post more when I can.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Night Before the Big Battle -er- Surgery

Tomorrow Trudie will be undergoing major surgery. This will be by a neurosurgeon to repair her T7 vertebrae. It has a compression fracture and is pressing on her spine. They are scheduled to start at 10:30 AM and take 5+ hours to complete. They will have her on a respirator and so she will go to ICU right after and stay there a day or two. After that she will go to a regular hospital room until she is discharged. They said that this could be 4 to 7 days post-ICU.

I will have my brother-in-law and other friends staying (and praying) with me in the waiting area.

The resected tumor (means cut out) will be sent to pathology for verification of the original diagnosis. Those results will be returned in less than a week.

Thank you for your prayers. We have many stories of how we can see God's hand in events surrounding us. He is showing us that He is right here beside us as we go through this.

Please continue to pray for her speedy recovery after this surgery.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Why I'm Blogging

This is my first blog. I know - a techie like me - just now blogging? Well yes.

I'm creating this so that those who want to know what's happening can keep up with our battle with this disease.

It will be real easy to see if there are any new posts if you use RSS. If you're not sure how RSS works, click on the orange icon that has a dot and two curves on the RIGHT hand side of the "http" address bar. It will prompt you to add this feed to your list. It's pretty cool.

Previously on Bartkus Battle

I'm going to post the entries so that you can get caught up with how we got here today.

Subject: Trudie Pretty Sick
Date Sent: Aug 6th

We went to our general MD last week for Trudie's vertigo and other general malaise.

It turns out that her blood has no "octane." She is severely anemic; her red blood count is very low. Her platelets are also extremely low. The doctor says that he is "concerned."

We went back today to give them another few test tubes full to run additional tests. Those results should be back tomorrow and if they confirm Friday's numbers we will next be seeing a hematologist.

Please pray for Trudie and I as we battle this mysterious disease.


Subject: Sat 8/11 Update on Trudie
Date Sent Sat Aug 11th

Thanks to all who are praying and have offered words of encouragement. We greatly appreciate the outpouring of love for us during this time.

The blood tests were re-run and confirmed the initial rotten numbers. Our primary care physician says that the numbers aren't good and now has referred us to a hematologist. We have an appointment on Tuesday. Hopefully he will be able to make sense of the numbers and direct us in a course of action that will get Trudie feeling better.

In the mean time, Trudie still struggles with a general lack of energy. For example, yesterday she cut up some red bell peppers. The effort of standing at a counter and cutting six peppers up wiped her out and she says that she almost blacked out. She spends most of her days either reading, sleeping, or propped up in the recliner chair TV remote control firmly in hand :-).

I am picking up the cleaning and cooking duties and the garden & flower emergency watering detail.

We are confident that God is walking along with us in this journey. We know that with him we can handle anything that comes our way.

Please continue to pray for us as we live one day at a time and do the next right thing. Please pray for healing, courage, strength for both of us.



Subject: Tuesday 8/14 Trudie Update
Date Sent: Aug 14th

We saw the hematologist today. He is a real nice guy.

He said that it was too soon to tell what this was. All he would say was that there was something going on wrong with her blood.

He had ordered her to get a transfusion (tomorrow), a CT scan (Friday), and a bone marrow biopsy (next Tuesday). We will see him again on Tuesday 8/21.

So for now, it's endure tests and all those kinds of trials and then see what he thinks the results are in two weeks.

Hopefully the transfusion will give Trudie more energy and she can get back to tending her poor plants that are suffering midightly in this heat wave we're having.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.



Subject: Tuesday Aug 21st
Date Sent: Aug 21st

Friends and Family,

First, thank you to all who have had us in your prayers. We are truly blessed by family and friends who beseech God in our behalf.

We are also grateful for an awesome small group who are offering and providing amazing help including wonderful meals.

I'm also grateful for a job that allows me the flexibility to be Trudie's support during all this.

Trudie has endured a week of poking, prodding, examinations, x-rays, and more poking. On one occasion a nurse trying to draw blood for a test poked her three times before she discovered that the vial she was using had no vacuum and couldn't "suck." A new vial worked right away.

Trudie's "final exam" was a much-dreaded bone marrow biopsy this morning. It turned out to be much less painful than was feared. She is now home resting.

All the results are being sent to our hematologist. We have an appointment with him next Tuesday (8/28) to discuss the results. But until then we still have no clue as to what is wrong.

I'll let you know when we hear something.

Please continue to lift us up in your prayers.



Subject: Trudie's test results are in
Date Sent: Aug 28

Dear Family and Friends,

After all the tests the initial diagnosis is angiosarcoma. The doctor said that this is a rare cancer of the blood vessel muscles.

Now we need to endure more tests to determine where it is. It may be in one place; it may be in multiple places.

At a minimum we will have chemotherapy. If it is localized he will also fight it radiation and surgery.

He said we are in for a fight.

Trudie has been admitted to Northside Hospital today for another transfusion of blood. They will keep her a couple of days until they run the other tests too.

Please keep us both in your prayers.

I'll keep you posted when we know more.



Subject: Trudie Update - Thursday Aug 30th
Date Sent: Aug 30th

The additional tests revealed three defined tumors. They all correspond to areas in which she has been experiencing much pain the last few months.

The doctor said as the chemo starts kicking in the tumors will decrease and the pain from them will decrease.

He is planning on getting her discharged from the hospital tomorrow (Friday) or Saturday.

A couple of her girl friends from Florida are coming to stay with us next week for a few days. We are looking forward to their visit.

I will be getting ready to do the Yellow Daisy Festival the following week with the help from friends.

Please pray for healing as we start this battle against this disease.

Pray that Trudie's body will tolerate the chemo and other therapies.

And pray that we will have wisdom as to how to receive all the love you are giving us.



Trudie Update - Friday Aug 31st
Date Sent: Aug 31st

The results of last night's MRI have changed everything.

The MRI revealed that she has a compression fracture of her T7 vertebrae. Part of the fractured bone is pushing against her spinal nerves. This explains her leg weakness and even more of the pain she has been feeling.

The neurosurgeon feels that she needs the tumor removed and a plastic replacement piece put in place of the disintegrated bone. So now Trudie is scheduled for surgery this coming Tuesday. The surgeon says that by doing this operation now, and with radiation, she will have a 99% probability of removing all of the cancer at that one spot. With only chemo and radiation the probability is only 80% and if she EVER fell, she could be totally paralized below her chest for life.

So now we are facing a major operation on Tuesday. She will be in intensive care for a couple of days afterward and in the hospital for a week more after that.

We are so grateful that this fracture was caught. This should help a lot of the leg pain as and a bonus will totally remove one lesion. A huge amount more to deal with but with the grace of God that she had not a paralyzing injury before now because of a fall.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.

Trudie here:

Thank you more than you know for your love and support.

I love you all -