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.
Marlen's story? Wow! Tough to write. Will try to recap this past couple of weeks so you have an idea what has been going on. The poor man has been through so much in the past couple of weeks! That he is with us now is truly a miracle as a week ago the doctors were giving him hours to live!
On Wednesday, March 1st, Nadine had a medical procedure in Brainerd. She has been battling some severe illnesses herself and, as usual, Marlen was still fully capable to drive her and himself to and fro the many doctor appointments they have been having to go do recently. He really struggled that day as he had been having severe back pain for the past several months. He was being treated by a doctor for that and had a brief stay in the Brainerd hospital and had been taking some medications and receiving physical therapy for that. By the time they arrived in Brainerd that morning he was unable to walk and had to have assistance getting out of the car and needed a wheel chair to get around. Nadine's procedure didn't go as planned and she was admitted to the hospital that day as they wanted to keep her under observation. Marlen did drive the 30 miles back to Pine River though he struggled with numbness in his feet and severe pain in his back. His son Paul took him home and got him out of the car and into the house. He was in a lot of pain and was not doing very well. Paul made sure he had something to eat and he helped him get into bed. He checked on him through the night and came back early the next morning. Marlen didn't want to get out of bed yet so Paul left him for a bit and came back in an hour or so and got him up out of the bed, helped him with the bathroom and got him seated at the kitchen table. Obviously something was very wrong and he figured it was the troubles he had been having with his back. By this time, Nadine was being released from the hospital. Paul sent his son Solomon to pick her up. We called the Brainerd hospital and explained what was going on with Marlen. The nurse said that he should be brought to the ER by ambulance. So, literally, as Nadine was dropped off at home the ambulance was there to pick up Marlen to transport him back down to Brainerd. Paul followed the ambulance in his vehicle and stayed there with him until he was admitted to the hospital in ICU. Marlen had a fever, low BP, severe back pain and was experiencing Afib. They also realized that he was not peeing enough so installed a catheter at which time it was obvious that something really bad was going on.
So, many days go by and Marlen was in ICU until Saturday, the 4th. They moved him into a regular room. Still no answers on what was wrong. He still had a fever and was filling up with fluids. His BP was good and the Afib had stopped. He was tested for everything from the flu to Lyme's Disease. Nothing. He still had a temp, was lethargic and by this point he was, as Paul calls it, "talking smack". He didn't know where he was or why. The kids didn't really didn't know what to do. Marlen didn't want Nadine at the hospital because there were so many flu cases. He was getting weaker and weaker despite physical therapy and fluids. Mike and Kathryn went to sit with him on Tuesday and by then he couldn't even feed himself. On Wednesday when Paul went to sit with him he was doing very poorly. He was very disoriented and full of fluids and in a great deal of pain. Annabelle, Marlen's sister, bless her heart, had been staying with Nadine who also needed care. Paul asked Annie to bring Mom down to hopefully perk him a bit as she has a way of doing! By the time Nadine and Annie madeit to Brainerd they had given him a blood transfusion because they felt he was bleeding internally. Still, they could not figure out where! By then the doctors were giving him hours to live. All of the kids were called and told that he was probably not going to make it. Well, miracle or not, they happened to finally discover 3 bleeding ulcers that were bleeding outside of the stomach. These were cauterized and he seemed to perk up some and was hanging in there. It was very scary for everyone. He continued to be somewhat stable but concern was that his kidneys were shutting down and he would need dialysis. He would either go to Duluth or St. Cloud as Brainerd did not have the capability of doing the procedure to put in the port he would need for the dialysis. The doctor was concerned that Marlen would not make the trip to either hospital in his current condition. A decision had to made. Marlen himself chose to wait until the next day to see how he felt. Thursday came and he was no better. By then most of the kids and some of the grandkids were keeping vigil. Again the doctor said that if he was going to go to Duluth or St. Cloud that "now" was the time. Marlen did not want to go. Sara, his granddaughter, sat by his side and stroked his poor very sore body. She said in spite of it all Grandpa was still cracking one-liners! Friday came and all was pretty much the same. Vitals pretty good and the fever gone but the kidneys were not functioning enough. He was so swollen and and in terrible pain. Every time the nurses tried to move him he would just cry out in pain. It was very hard to see him that way. He's always been so tough. Saturday, more scans, ultra sound, blood tests and still they could not find out really what was wrong. Brainerd doctors could do nothing else for him so recommended he go to St. Cloud. Within a very short time he was transferred to St. Cloud Hospital with the hopes that their kidney doctor would have some answers. Sunday morning Paul went to St. Cloud very early so he could talk to the doctors. The first doctor was not very optimistic. By now Marlen's breathing was very labored. He said it was equivalent of running a race and not being able to rest. They had him on a full mask similar to his CPAP but with oxygen. Meanwhile, Marlen is talking and responding very well. The kidney doctor came in next and said that they needed to get those kidneys working better. He was producing urine but not enough. He figured with dialysis he had a 50/50 chance. Marlen wanted to go ahead with it and the doctor figured it was a positive move. Immediately they made arrangements to have the port put in for dialysis. He had his first treatment later that day. It was a good move as they figured they got about 8 lbs. of fluid off of him. Not enough but a good start. His breathing was still pretty labored and he had developed a cough. He even asked for a cough drop that day but he can have nothing by mouth. Poor Marlen had to have a colonoscopy. The colon looked good. They needed to reduce the fluids out of his belly so put a tube down his throat into his stomach. They removed a ton of icky stuff out of him that way. The doctors decided to install a PICC line so that he could be given medication that way and also, finally, some nutrition. We all had been worrying that days and days had gone by and he had not had any food. Paul had given him a few spoonfuls of yogurt on Saturday morning and that's all he had eaten. So, today, Rosie and Nadine went down to sit with him. Annie has been with him again tonight. He had dialysis again today and they got more fluids off of him. He was done with the procedure shortly after they got to St. Cloud. He didn't really have a good day today. His BP had dropped and he had a fever again. His cough is worse. They keep checking for pneumonia and thankfully, no! He actually asked Nadine today to, "get me the hell out of here!". So, in spite of it all he is fighting to get better. He has had a multitude of tests and by now surely gallons of blood taken. There never has been an absolute answer of what and why. Very frustrating. Tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. he has dialysis again. The doctors are hoping his kidneys will start kicking in more. Mike and Kathryn are going to sit with him tomorrow.
At this point there is still so much unknown. He is putting up the good fight, that's for sure! The family is very appreciative of all of the prayers that have been offered for Marlen. God has been answering. Now that we have this site finally set up we will try to keep you all up to date with what is going on.