Monday, April 23, 2012

My Daddy's Final Journey.....I Was So Blessed To Be There

    Hello all!!!  I have been away for a while and decided I am ready to share details of my life the past few weeks. In order to put it all in context here is a brief (or not) synopsis of the past 4 months or so. As many of you know my Dad had been sick on and off since late Nov. 2011. Acute kidney failure and low hemoglobin levels had him hospitalized Nov. 30 until Dec 14, 2011 He recovered and we had a wonderful Christmas together.

     In Jan. 2012 Dad developed sever back pain and no one could pinpoint the source of the pain. They gave him percocet to help with the pain and he took that for 5 weeks. The pain continued and Dad spent more and more time sitting around or sleeping. He lost a lot of leg strength in those 5 weeks. On Feb.14th following several falls Dad was again admitted to Paoli hospital. His hemoglobin crashed, kidneys were not working properly and he had a UTI that cause dementia like symptoms. Dad's legs were quite weak already and got worse after 10 days of hospitalization.

       Upon discharge Dad would need to spend a few weeks in an in-patient rehab/nursing home. In a very short time Dad developed severe edema which we really thought was due to the insanely high sodium levels in the food the nursing home served. Soon Dad developed significant shortness of breath. When Dad needed oxygen for over 2 hours before he even got out of bed I KNEW something was really wrong. I called his Dr. and the Dr. said to take him back to the hospital. So on March 14, 2012 he was admitted to Paoli Hospital for the 3rd time since December.

      March 16th an echo cardiogram was done and found evidence of an infection on his heart so they began IV antibiotics and told us another test was scheduled for Monday to see the infection better. Tuesday morning March 20 the Dr. called saying we needed to meet with him.....never a good sign. That afternoon we were told that the infection Dad had was very large and on his aorta. The ONLY solution was open heart surgery and valve replacement. It was not that simple though. Surgery could replace the valve, but would likely shut down Dad's already weak kidneys. It would not improve the pumping action of Dad's heart which was also weakened and causing the symptoms of congestive heart failure. Not good news at all.  :-(

    Dad had his mind made up even before the Dr. gave us all of the possible complications. As soon as the Dr. mentioned open heart surgery Dad said, "No!" I was very angry because I felt he was giving up. My Dad fought for EVERYTHING in his life and NOW he was going to QUIT??  I just could NOT comprehend my Dad thinking this way. He told me he was tired and the past 4 months had been very hard on him. He said, " I have lived a good life, seen lots of things and I am ready to go." Those words will be FOREVER burned in my memory and on my heart. It hit me then...My Daddy is going to die...soon.  Ugh!! How can this be?? In Oct. 2011 he was perfectly healthy. It kinda felt like a dream. That was UNTIL I had to tell me 3 kids(ages 14, 12 & 9) that their "Pa" was coming home to die.That conversation made it ALL too real for all of us.

     We met with hospice and decided Dad would come home for his remaining days. Dad had some episodes in the hospital where he had trouble swallowing and breathing. I was there and those moments confirmed for me that I would NOT be able to be a caregiver for my Dad in these final days. I felt guilty, but luckily my siblings understood and stepped up! Dad came home Saturday March 24th, the day after my sister arrived from Alaska. My brother drove both of them to Paoli Hospital from NJ and my sister rode home with Dad in the ambulance. She told me Dad told her that his master plan has come together, just sooner than he had planned. Well looking back I can completely see how my Dad set many things up over the past few years to be sure my Mom would be ok when he was not here any longer. That was my Dad, caring for those he loved!!

     My family and I were overwhelmed at the amount of compassion, support, encouragement and food my wonderful friends provided for us. Many loved ones for far away came to spend some time with Dad before he passed. It was touching to see and hear how Dad impacted so many.

    There are many blessings we encountered in Dad's final days. First was being able to have my brother and sister there to care for Dad in his final days. Second was the amazing support from the Hospice organization. Third was that Dad was not in ANY pain and was lucid for several days. Fourth was singing hymns and praying with Pastor Mark and Ferne. Finally the biggest blessing was an amazing conversation we had with Dad the Monday evening before he passed. In that conversation Dad made all of us laugh!! I guess I should not have expected anything different from my Daddy!!  Thanks Daddy for giving us happy memories in the midst of such sadness!!

      Thursday March 29th, 2012 Donald Paul Geib Sr. took his final breath and went home to be with the Jesus. I will FOREVER miss my Daddy!!  I know his body failed but I also know that my Daddy will be WITH ME FOREVER!! He is in my heart and my memory every single day. Most days those memories make me smile, but some days are still tear filled. As a matter of fact I am crying as I type this!    If you are interested here is my Daddy's Obituary

    Daddy gave us the most AMAZING sign that he is at peace, safe and free the day after he died.My Dad always LOVED the bald eagle. There were bald eagles over every outside entrance to every home I ever lived in with my parents. Dad had many, many pictures, needlework, statues and plates of bald eagles. Dad even had a tattoo of a bald eagle on his arm for many years. Friday morning my brother picked up the newspaper from the driveway. He opened it and on the COVER of the newspaper, ironically named the Reading Eagle, was a beautiful photo of a bald eagle SOARING in the sky. My brother was so overwhelmed and showed all of us. We just knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it WAS Dad telling us he IS safe and free!! What a blessing!
     This IS the picture that was on the front page of the paper!

    Grieving is confusing.....I never know if I will have a happy day, a teary day, a somber day or an angry day. Some days I want to be alone and some days I fear being alone. Some days I just curl up with his shirt and cry and talk to him. I know Daddy is always with me in my heart. Sometimes that helps and sometimes it just makes me mad. I just want to hug him one more time. I want him to hold my hand and rub my knuckles together like he always did. I don't want him in my heart, I want him HERE physically!!

    Today, April 24th is my very first birthday without my Daddy. I will not hear him say Happy Birthday to me. I will not get a hug and kiss from him. I will not see him on this birthday or any other here on earth...that thought makes me so sad. I am trying to hold on to the thought that we will be reunited in heaven. Please pray for me as I walk through this grief journey!!
                     I LOVE YOU FOREVER DADDY!!!!
                      Donald Paul Geib Sr. 1/28/33-3/29/12
                           Daddy's Obituary


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thoughtful Support and Creativity

       The past few months I have been doing a whole lot for my parents. I am so thankful to have the time to help. I am even more thankful that my parents are now local so I CAN help out!  The 2 weekends we went away my brother and sister-in-law came from NJ to help out! Getting away for a bit to recharge was wonderful! When I went to my Mom's on Monday to take her over to the rehab. to visit Dad I saw this cool thing on her kitchen table!  This is what I saw:

For those of you who do not know my sister-in-law Lisa is just endlessly creative. Lisa and my brother Donald have a side business where she makes beautiful and delicious candy creations among other things! They wanted to do something to thank me for helping out with Mom and Dad but she and my brother know I have been working hard doing WW to lose weight. She did not want to set me up for failure by making something that would make me take steps backwards. Instead of giving me the chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered oreos(that I LOVE) and that would take ALL my points away in the blink of an eye she put together an arrangement of Weight Watchers candies for me!  I cannot get over how thoughtful this was. It was also a huge sign of encouragement from her and my brother!!

Oh I will post a link for their business as soon as the site is up and running! They are in the process of improving the site as I type this!!

The Numbers

     As much as I hear people say, "It is NOT about the numbers. It is about how you feel!" and I WANT to agree I just CANNOT seem to get there!!  I WANT and NEED to see the numbers GO DOWN!! Is that another hurdle I need to jump over?? Well if it is, it is one that is a ways down the road for me!

    So here are how the numbers go as of now:
  • On February 20th I reached one of my first milestones. I got my 10lb. ribbon and lost 11.2 lbs total.
  • On February 23rd I realized that my OVERALL weight loss is much higher than my weight loss since beginning WW. My overall weightloss then was 25lbs. And I have gone down a pants size as well!!!  Very exciting!
  • On March 5th (following 2 weekends away) I  lost another 2.4lbs!! To date I am MOST proud of this loss. This brings my total WW weight loss to 13.8 and my TOTAL weight loss to 27.4 lbs!!  
  • My weight on Monday night was 250 lbs even. That means next week I SHOULD see the 240's on the scale!!!  I cannot even tell you what it means to see myself succeeding and feeling more confident in this journey!!
     I am so thankful for all of the support I have been given! You are ALL part of my success, but my biggest support comes from above:
       "For I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Two Challenging Weekends in a Row

    On February 24 Dad was discharged from the hospital. It was a few days prior that we had to tell him he was not coming straight home upon discharge. Dad was weak before he was hospitalized and adding 10 days in the hospital, mostly bedridden, rendered him incredibly weak. Dad was unable to walk alone, even using a walker. He needed a short-term residential rehab. facility. The 24th was the day he was going there.

     The 24th was also the day my husband and I were leaving to go away for the weekend. It was a crazy day, but all in all we got Dad settled in and then headed out for out trip to Hershey, PA. "A Weekend to Remember", a christian marriage conference was our destination. I was really looking forward to a weekend with John to focus on our relationship. I was NOT looking forward to the daunting job of making good food chioces for 2 1/2 days. Meals were not included in this conference so we were on our own, in HERSHEY, PA, the land of CHOCOLATE!!!!!  Sigh!!

    I did my best to plan ahead. I went to the store Thursday and bought items we could keep in our room to have for breakfast both mornings as well as snacks. For lunch a group of us went to Friendy's together. If you look at my earlier post (Stress and Food Choices) about Friendly's you will see how I USED to eat there! Today I remained in control and ordered the half sandwich and salad, using only vinegar on the salad, and drank water. I was doing well.

   Dinner was a special date night for John and I. We made reservations at a restaurant in the Hershey Lodge. I had also planned ahead for this meal. I looked at the menu online and I knew what I wanted to eat even before we got there! I also saved ALL of my extra weekly points, that I typically do not use, and planned to use them! All of this planning ahead is SO very new to me. I thought it would make me feel trapped and limited, but instead it has empowered me!!  The warm dinner rolls arrived on the table which is my downfall to begin with, BUT because we were in Hershey there was a twist, CHOCOLATE BUTTER was served with the WARM dinner rolls. I was done for then and there! I allowed myself to over-endulge for that meal. I did not count up the points I had used, I mearly took EVERY SINGLE point I had left and wrote "dinner" next to it.

       Historically a splurge like that dinner would have me so wracked with guilt that I would play the same record in my head: " I might as well quit since I messed up tonight", "There is no way I can get back on track after eating like this." "See I knew I did not have self control."   But I pushed those thoughts AWAY as they attempted to sidetrack me. Instead I began to tell myself, "It is ok. It was ONE night. Get back on program tomorrow." That is EXACTLY what I did. I did not allow one night of over-endulgence the power of taking away the success of the previous 6+ weeks. Another HUGE hurdle I made it over.....I know that SAME hurdle will present itself in the future, but getting over it the first time is the hardest. Each time after that the previous success lifts you up and over that hurdle a little easier!!

       I did not attend my WW meeting the following Monday for several reasons. I had a very stressful day dealing with stuff at the rehab. where my Dad is now staying, John was working, I was beginning to get sick, I had PMS and KNEW I was retaining water. Ultimately I knew the scale would be up so I bailed on the meeting. This was not a good choice, but again one I did not allow to change my overall direction. Monday I was back on program and had a great week. It is a good thing I had a great week because we had yet ANOTHER weekend away to face!!
      This time it was a family retreat with our church family. The families take turns making the meals and the menu is put out before we go so I could plan ahead again. Wow, that makes ALL the difference in the world!!  Sat. breakfast I was good, Sat lunch was make your own hoagies so I brought my own bread that was FAR LESS points than a hoagie roll!! Dinner was tacos so I had little meat, cheese and sour cream and instead loaded up on the veggies!! My biggest saving grace was having salad available with EVERY meal!!  I had even saved enough points to allow myself to partake in ice cream sundae night!  I had a small scoop of ice cream and a small piece of brownie. Somehow I WAS satisfied with that. Historically I would have a ton of ice cream and lots of brownies!!

     Sunday lunch was the final meal of the weekend and my group made it. It was homemade chicken parmesan with spaghetti. I could LIVE on pasta, but it is high in points. I had my chicken, my spaghetti and my bread while staying within my points because THAT was my big meal of the day. Again I am NOT DEPRIVING myself, I am just making BETTER CHOICES!!!   I KNOW this will NEVER be an EASY life change. I know I am able to succeed. I know I will fall short sometimes. The key is to realize TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY!! A FRESH START!!

    Looking forward........that is what I must keep doing......looking forward!!!

Seeing The Fruits of My Labor

   I am several weeks behind with posting updates. Things have been turned upside-down since Dad got sick.

          I want to go back to February 18, 2012. On that day I went to a brunch because a family that is very dear to my heart had come back to Morgantown for a visit. When I saw my friend Karen her first response was, "Oh wow! You look so good!" My immediate response was, "Really?? I have only lost 11 lbs.  How can you see a difference?"  This negative response is typical because I have NEVER received compliments well.(Something else I need to work on.)  Karen said, No you look a lot different than when I saw you in May. I thanked her and enjoyed the rest of our visit.

      Shortly after that visit I went to the bank and needed to give them my drivers license. When I looked at the photo my license I was taken back. My face was so fat I almost did not recognize myself. I had my new photo taken in April of 2011. That was when I realized I had lost much more weight than I am giving myself credit for. Looking back at that photo made me realize it was spring/summer of 2011 I was at my highest weight which was a SCARY 277 lbs. I lost about 12lbs. before I began WW in Jan.  I have lost 20+ lbs total. Woohoo!!!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stress and Food Choices

        My Weight Watcher leader said that next weeks topic in "Managing Stress." Well she may be a week too late for me. Toinght I had to take my 79 year old Father and admit him into the hospital. His kidneys are failing and his blood is messed up. This all began back in Nov. of 2011 but we thought Dad was on the road to recovery until about 2 weeks ago. The mind boggling thing is what caused Dad's initial kidney was from taking over-the-counter Prilosec for 3 weeks. It made his kidneys shut down. He was on meds to keep the kidneys working. The endo of Jan. the Dr. ordered that we taper him off of that medicine. He was doing well but the past week or maybe 2, he has been declining. He has been confused, weak, sleeping most of the day, severe dry mouth and cannot eat. We had bloodwork done yesterday and today the Dr. called saying, "He needs to be admitted to the hospital!" That is what we did this afternoon/evening. It was a stressful evening that is only the beginning of what will be a stressful a stressful week or more.

     When we left the hospital my Mom wanted to stop and eat. We went to Friendly's. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE  Friendly's. I typically do not even have to look at the menu because I get the same thing each time I go. I had this crazy dialog in my head until I got to the restaurant and ordered my food. This is what I was saying; "I am getting what I like to eat because I am stressed!" Then I said, "No, I worked HARD to lose 4.2 lbs last week. I cannot eat poorly and go backwards again."  This went back and forth in my head for a long while. So I pulled my phone out and looked up the points value of the meal I WANTED to eat. Well let me tell you what an eye opener that was for me!!! I have to tell you that I get 38 WW points daily. Here is the point value of the entire meal that I ALWAYS get when I go there is.....are you READY for this??? The total is 71 points....for ONE meal!!!  That meal includes a sandwich, 2 Sprites, fries and a sundae. How INSANE is that????  71 points for ONE meal??? Seriously!!?!?!? What the heck have I been doing to myself??

      Well happily, I made the HEALTHY choice. The meal I chose had a point value of 9 total points!!!  That meal was half of a sandwich, a side salad with fat free dressing and water!!  AND I felt satisfied after I ate it!! It was  BIG step for me to choose the healthy food over what my body told me I was craving or my emotions told me I "need!!"  I feel like I am making serious progress in making good food choices!!

      I plan on packing a cooler of healthy foods and snacks for our visits to the hospital to see my Dad! I am beginning to think I may REALLY be able to succeed this time!!
     Please Pray for my Dad to recover soon!!!



   This week was a really good weigh in and that was because I worked REALLY hard to make it be that way! I made sure what I ate all week was not only within my points I also worked hard to make HEALTHY food choices!  So this week I lost 4.2 lbs!!  It is a GREAT loss, but it would have been so much better if I had not gained last week. I would have loved for that entire 4.2 to be toward my total wieght loss, but it simply helped me regain ground I lost last week. My total losss is 8.8 lbs so far! Looking forward to having loss in the double digits!!