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
  • 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
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.