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11/12/2016 Latest post:
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
Burt has been struggling with serious heart issues for over a year. In July of 2015, he had a pacemaker put in when he was in Stage Three heart block. In January 2016, he developed heart failure because his heart was using the pacemaker too much and was not beating efficiently. He had surgery to "upgrade" to a three-lead pacemaker in March, but continued to struggle with fatigue and edema in his legs after that.
Burt celebrated his 90th birthday in June, but after that things went downhill. He fell six times in July and August, luckily not breaking anything but he was sore and unsteady. Various therapists came to our home for a few weeks, but he was not improving. He chose to start home hospice care in late August. He did not want to think about future hospitalizations. The nurses and other resources come to our house. The focus is on his comfort rather than aggressive treatment of his conditions. Though his main diagnosis is heart failure, he also has diabetes and other issues. His hearing and eyesight continue to diminish, too. Burt is now using a wheelchair and needs assistance 24/7. As of late October, he isn't ill, but he is sleepy some days and growing somewhat confused and weaker. The health care professionals tell us it is all part of the natural process towards death. Burt doesn't talk about his feelings much, but is becoming more withdrawn and not as interested in life. He cast his November election ballot by mail already. He was certain he wanted to do that!
The goal is to keep Burt safe and at home, where he wants to be. If he were to fall and break a bone, he would need to go to the hospital to be stabilized. Otherwise, as long as I can care for him here, that is where we hope he stays. If care here becomes too hard, the hospice team has options in extended care we could explore.
The hospice care folks are wonderful, but they are not here all the time. I have contracted with a home health care agency to send aides a couple times a week so I can get a break. Friends from church and friends who are like family in MN have been wonderful in coming to stay with Burt when I need groceries or have an appointment. Others come by to visit or call or email to check in. Burt's sisters call every week. I'm very grateful for the caring and support we're getting. It really makes a huge difference!
This is where things are at now. Things can change quickly, though Burt seems pretty stable and has a good appetite at this point. Phone calls are welcome, but it is often hard for Burt to hear on the phone even with the volume/speaker turned up. We are open to visits, but do call ahead to see how things are before stopping by. Burt is not a morning person anymore; afternoon visits are best.
I appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts as Burt journeys on to his time of rest, He's had a long and relatively smooth road in his earthly travels. We are taking things one day at a time and hoping for the best. I probably will post Caringbridge updates occasionally when there is news to be communicated. Please feel free to share this site with other friends, family, and co-workers who you think might like to stay apprised of Burt's situation. Thank you for being a part of Burt's life.