Wednesday August 1, 2012

August.  Really?

Erin told me today that there are 34 days until school starts.  She was not happy when she relayed that information.  And while I was able to get her to do a little school supply shopping, she did express her feelings through her notebook choices:

Dan and I are raising a first class smart ass ... we're so proud.

And while the days are dwindling, Erin is making the most of the summer that's left.  Last night it was a friend's birthday party sleepover that involved exactly zero hours of sleep!  Tomorrow, it's back to playing a little volleyball.

Dan is in the middle of a busy couple of weeks that will see him home on Willow Lane for only two nights in 12 days.  Uff da.  One day at a time...

I continue with my IV infusions every day and the course of treatment has been extended a couple of days until Monday, August 6 when infectious disease will see me for a follow up appointment.  Hopefully Monday's labs will allow the ID doctors to clear me to get the picc line out, and then they will most likely switch me to an oral antibiotic for a few more weeks.  I am so ready to get this tube out of my arm and be able to play a little tennis and golf again.

I have been spending my time working on Shannon things:  the book, the Graham Arena memorial,  the scholarship fund.  I feel compelled to keep pressing on, to keep these things moving forward.  It feels mostly good most of the time...

While I'm talking about Shannon stuff, I just wanted to pass this along -  my uncle is doing the Warrior Dash race September 8th, and he's raising donations for St. Jude in honor of Shannon.  Such a kind and thoughtful gesture.

We are grateful that Shannon's tumor cells are at St. Jude, and that they are a part of the much needed research.  Research is how science advances medicine.  And research takes money.

If you are interested, you can click below to check out his fundraising page:

Fran Davies - Warrior Dash for St. Jude

Monday July 30, 2012

We made it through Shannon's birthday.

There's a story about a little girl who returns home late after being at her friend's house.  When her mom asks her why she's late, the little girl explains, "I was helping Jane.  Her doll broke."  The mom says, "Did you help her fix it?"  The child replies, "No.  I helped her cry."

Let's just say, I was glad to sit next to a friend at church yesterday who recognized that she couldn't fix my doll, but she could help me cry.  That's part of grieving - letting it go some times.  I thought we were in for a really long, sad day.

But, we also found people who helped us remember Shannon in a happy way.  Family and friends sharing stories and memories with us lifted us up.  Our family who gathered to take a walk helped buoy us, too.  It's so comforting to know they will always remember.

So, with the help of friends and family, we got through the toughest "first" so far.  How lucky we are that communication is so easy today.  People showed support in so many ways - in person, on the telephone, via e-mail, via text, via Facebook posts, and even via snail mail.  Such kindness.

By the end of the night, Dan, Erin and I were smiling and laughing at the home videos of 2 year old Erin and 5 year old Shannon.  Erin, smiling and content, quietly observing things, and Shannon, jumping in front of the camera and hamming it up every chance she got!  Funny stuff.

If you had told me in the morning that I'd be laughing by the end of the night, I'd have told you you were crazy, but there we were.  

So, I awoke today feeling better, yet still thinking mostly about myself and my family.  Then the universe helped me snap out of it...

I heard from a friend whose dad had a stroke over the weekend.  And I ran into another friend whose husband is on a long road of recovery after a terrible accident. Each of these women has been kind to me on my journey this past year and, despite what was on their minds, each still took the time to ask me how Shannon's birthday went.

So I am reminded to step outside myself, and remember the bigger picture.  Everyone has struggles.  And even in the midst of our own pain, we can still choose to be kind and gentle and engaged with one another.

I had a correspondence some months back with one of my college journalism professors, discussing my book idea.  (I'm not sure if he really remembered me 20 years later, but he was kind enough to pretend he did.)  He read some of my stuff, and gave me some feedback, which stuck with me:

"The message is this: that life is sometimes painful, that we are measured by how we respond to pain and loss, and that joy is never far away."

Sunday July 29, 2012

It was always her eyes that would draw you in.  At every age, you could read her excitement, her enthusiasm in those big, brown eyes.
Our baby girl would be 14 today.  Such a loss for all of us - and I mean ALL of us who miss her - to not get the chance to know her at age 14.  I think we would have liked the young lady she was becoming.

We are going to do our best to honor and remember her today.  Taking a walk with family, working on her Graham Arena memorial, and maybe even looking at some photos and home videos.  Trying to remember all the happiness, all the positive energy, all the spirit that she possessed.  Trying to remember those eyes.
Happy Birthday, Shannon Anne...

Friday July 27, 2012

It's get away day at the cabin... the ritual clean up has begun - sheets have been washed and are drying on the line, we are shaking out the rugs and sweeping the floors of a week's worth of sand.  Same as it ever was.

Our time up here at the lake has been mostly good, though sometimes poignant.  I think you could say that about life in general for the three of us - mostly good, sometimes poignant.  And, we are coming to accept that the poignant moments are good, too, in their own way.  It means we feel Shannon's presence and we are thinking of her.

Family and friends have been checking in with us this week, knowing that it might be a hard week for us.  We are so grateful for the continued support, for those who recognize that this grief, this loss, this learning to carry on is ongoing.

I wrote an epilogue for the book while I was up here, sent it in, and I got almost immediate feedback from my editors.  They feel it's a great ending, because its not really an ending.  It will never truly end for me or for Dan or for Erin.  As long as we live, this will be a part of our story, something we live with and live through.

So, we finish another first today - the first family vacation at Lake Hubert without Shannon.  We did well.  We had fun.  We felt close to Shannon through the memories.  We felt at peace.

And yet, another big first is looming, of course.  Shannon's 14th birthday should be Sunday.

How does a mother, a family, acknowledge a child's birthday when the child is gone?  It doesn't feel quite right to have a party, and it doesn't feel quite right to not do anything.  People are asking what we have planned.  The straight answer is, right now, we have no idea what to do.  We're making this up as we go along, trying to allow ourselves to feel what we feel in the moment.  We can't predict how we will feel on July 29th, so we'll take it as it comes...

Wednesday July 25, 2012

A stormy and unsettled day in Nisswa MN - a welcomed relief from hot and sunny.  Our bodies need some rest and recovery after three days with Team Lang - our pals from Rochester who headed out on Tuesday.

Over an inch of rain fell overnight.  Sunny the Wonderdog and Erin never flinched when the thunder and lightning hit about 3am.  Complete exhaustion.  This morning, Erin asked, "is it OK if we just have a chill day?"

Shannon is everywhere we turn up here.  Even Tuesday at the Baxter Mills Fleet Farm Jen observed, "hard to believe we were in here shopping for kayaks with Shannon just last August."

When we asked Shannon last year what did she want?  Anything? Anything you want?  Her answer was kayaks for the cabin.  If you were one of the countless donors to the Shannon Fund we thank you again.
Erin and Lexi enjoying the kayaks

Our friends reminded us again how fortunate we are to have this spot on our earth for our family - "second to none" was one observation.  So in the midst of the beauty - there is a sadness.  There always will be.  I just keep thinking, "Shannon would love this right now".  Everywhere we turn. 

The Langs brought with them rocks they designed to throw in Lake Hubert to honor Shannon in their own way.  Perfect.
Rocks for Lake Hubert

I can't explain the loss.  I can't explain the why.  Only that she would demand we keep going.  And she would demand that we continue to be kind to each other, to our world.  My sister Megan forwarded us this poem that captures that sentiment really well.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken 
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, 
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho 
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans 
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, 
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.  
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~

Sunday July 22, 2012

Just a quick update here ... we arrived at Lake Hubert on Friday afternoon and I think Erin and her friend Lexi have been in the water for approximately 80 percent of their waking hours!  We are lucky that Erin has a good friend who, like her, is also is part fish.  The weather has been gorgeous.

Lexi's family joined us yesterday, and while we like them as people, they also just happen to have a boat!  All kidding aside, it is great to have the Langs here and share this beautiful place with them.  So today has been filled with swimming, boating, skiing, tubing, kayaking, napping, reading and eating ... over and over and over ...

Just to give Erin some credit, she accomplished her goal of getting up and staying up on waterskis for a whole trip around the bay!

We are doing our best relax and and enjoy.  And remember.  The Langs are some of our "safe people", so we feel comfortable and free to talk about Shannon and share stories when we like, which is nice.

All right, gotta run.  We have a very pressing schedule - everyone is waiting for me to finish this post so we can head to the Chocolate Ox for some ice cream...

Thursday July 19, 2012

I still can't believe she's gone.

That thought runs through my mind about a million times a day.  But over the last 10 days or so the aftershocks of Miss Shannon's death have been felt by each of us in a big way.

Maybe its more on point to equate Shannon's passing to a tidal wave.  There is the underwater earthquake.  You know the waves are coming.  And they still catch you off guard.

The waves of emotion have hit Jen, Erin and me each in our own ways.  And on Monday night we felt them together then we spent the rest of the week trying to regroup and get ready for our family trip to the lake as a threesome.

There is also that July 29th date looming - the day Shannon would turn 14.

So out emotions and senses are heightened again just as they were in the days following Shannon's death.  But that has helped too.  Helped me remember.  Helped me stay grateful for the beauty in our world as I roamed the prairies of Southern Minnesota this week in search of sales.

Shannon's name came up often in my sales calls this week as I visited people that I have known for years.  Customers and friends that knew about Shannon's passing.  And some that didn't know and cried when I told them.

My wife Jen received a lovely note from Shannon's Aunt Jen this week acknowledging our continued grieving and Erin's first summer as an only child.  "I have been thinking of her a lot lately, how tough it must be, to be home alone without someone to fight/play with this summer.  I think about how much you must miss those sounds.  Those sounds of "summer" when you are a mom with kids."

Maybe that is what has us in a funk this week.  We miss the sounds, smells, smart-assed comments, and that beautiful perm-smile.  We miss it all.

We still can't believe she's gone.

Monday July 16, 2012

If only the WFMC (World Famous Mayo Clinic) had a frequent user program - I'd have a free ticket somewhere by now!  Don't worry, these most recent visits were all scheduled.

Friday we were at the WFMC for Erin's 11 year old "well child" visit.  Dr. Puffer agreed that looking at Erin made it hard to call her a child.  So, we re-named it the "well young person" check up.

We have been seeing Dr. Puffer since Shannon was born.  After Shannon's delivery, we needed to choose a primary physician and Dr. Puffer was doing rounds in the nursery that night.  We met him, he seemed nice, and just like that, he became our family's doctor.  Almost 14 years ago.  Our journey with Shannon last spring began with a visit to this family doc who started us on a quick course to diagnosis.

This time around, Dr. Puffer was there to see Erin.  (Although we did manage to talk about my latest medical adventure!  Dr. Puffer will be following my blood work results as my primary physician.) The "well young person's" visit included a lengthy discussion about development, an eye exam, immunizations, and a full physical.  Dr. Puffer signed Erin's sports physical form so she's good to go for volleyball and golf this year as a Mayo Spartan.

Today it was my turn to visit the WFMC for a post surgical check in with the oral surgeon.  Things are healing nicely and I can begin to be a little more adventurous with my foods.  Still need to be gentle with my jaw and let the healing continue, so no tearing into a t-bone just yet.  Baby steps...  They did tell me I could start getting some exercise - walking - but no swimming, tennis, or golf until the PICC line comes out, which hopefully will happen on August 4th.

It's been an emotional time over these past few days.  The three of us have been shedding tears and struggling to carry on.  We all miss Shannon so damn much.  There are triggers for us - Erin finds that down time is hard, knowing that in the past she and Shannon would have found something to do together.  Erin said last night, "I don't have any friends who are only children."  It seems to her that everyone has that built in playmate.

And Erin's not just thinking about today, she's projecting down the road.  Tears flowed as she reminded us, "When I get married, she won't be there to be my maid of honor."  I have no good motherly advice that can take that pain away.

And Dan has had some triggers this week, too.  Seeing Shannon's friends in pictures or at the grocery store reminds him how much everyone is growing up.  Dan also crossed paths with two men this week who each had lost a daughter in a car accident.  Those men are still struggling years after their children had passed.  Their daughters had both reached their 20's.  It made Dan envious that they had that much time.

As for me, nothing hurts me more than seeing Erin and Dan hurting.  I can empathize and support and encourage, but we each must travel through our grief and recognize it and accept it and feel it.  I somehow feel like we are in the middle miles - we've moved on from the beginning of our grief, but we cannot see an end in sight.

So, we will carry on as best we can with a normal work week for all of us.  There is a promise land at the end - a trip to Lake Hubert for some much needed R & R.

"It isn't for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for the long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security."  - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Friday July 13, 2012

A few days at home recuperating has done me some good, for sure.  Family and friends who are eyeballing me on a daily basis told me yesterday that I was looking human again.  I guess I'll take that as a compliment.  The pain is subsiding and the daily PICC line infusions are going fine, so I am crossing my fingers that I am turning the corner.

In the midst of my medical crisis, we really didn't do justice to the Shannon memorial at the lake last week, so I'd like to backtrack:

Lake Hubert is such a special place in the O'Hara family.  O'Hara kids and their kids have been coming there since the 1940's.  It's one of Dan's favorite places on this earth, and it became special for me, too, over the years.  It's a simple cabin on a quiet lake.  We don't own any motorized water toys.  It's a place for swimming and playing and reflecting.  It's been our family summer vacation for a week each year since Shannon was born.

When Shannon was first diagnosed, she went through a list of dreams that she might never get to realize:  going to high school, going to college, being a mom, being a grandma.  But then in true Shannon form, she started thinking short term about what she could do last summer if her body allowed.  First on her wish list was to get to Lake Hubert.  We managed to do that twice last summer and Shannon was feeling good both times.  She and Erin played in the lake for hours on end, made trips into town for pizza, candy, and ice cream, and enjoyed sleeping in the beds on the cabin porch while listening to a storm roll in.  Perfect.

Fast forward to last weekend which marked six months since Shannon's passing.  27 of us gathered to ceremonially help Shannon stay at Lake Hubert forever.  As we gathered around the Shannon rock, we shared stories and memories and then each grandparent and aunt and uncle and cousin placed some of Shannon's ashes beneath the rock.  It will be a place for each of them to be with Shannon, always.

One final piece of the ceremony for us was to sprinkle Shannon out in the lake.  Out in the spot where she and Erin would spend hours on end playing in the rowboat and swimming and making up silly games and laughing so loud that it would echo through the trees.  Out in the spot that was just deep enough to make mom nervous, which, of course, was part of the fun.  Giant tears flowed from Erin as the three of us and Sunny sat there in the rowboat.  The memories are so vivid and the loss so painful.

We will have our annual family vacation at Lake Hubert in just over a week.  The cabin and the beach and the lake will be the same as they have for the past 60 years.  But, for this family of three, it will be a brand new experience...

Tuesday: Home Sweet Home

Just an update ... I am back on Willow Lane.  That part feels good.

Some recovery still ahead.  Managing the residual pain with a round-the-clock drug cocktail of tylenol, oxycodone, and ibuprofen, at least for a few more days.

A soft, no-chew diet for at least two weeks as things heal.  (Maybe I'll finally drop those 10 pounds.  Or is is 20?)

No exertion for a week to ten days and no lifting anything over 10 pounds with the PICC line in.

I get a home health care visit tomorrow to train me on how to do the daily infusions and watch me do the first one.  I have a follow up appointment with the surgeon on Monday.

So, that's where I'm at.  Thanks to all who sent notes and messages and good vibes our way over the past few days.

My first two acts when I got home:  I took a shower and I watched the taped replay of Roger Federer winning Wimbledon.  That guy is good...

Monday July 9, 2012

I love learning new things.  I really do.  I'm usually game for gaining new knowledge.  But, if I have to learn any more medical terminology in the near future, that might just put me over the edge.

Also, I like to think that I'm not one to whine, and I always try to do my best to soldier on.  But, really, enough already.  Popping out an ovary was easy.  Losing one simple molar has started a month long, downward spiral.  It culminated in these past four days when, if it could go wrong, it did.

But, I have learned a few things this weekend:

I now know that sometimes after dental procedures you can develop osteomyelitis which is a bone infection and it is incredibly painful. I now know things about oral and maxillofacial surgery that I didn't know before.  I've had it done twice in seven days.

I now know what a Penrose drain is.  It's a surgical device used to remove fluid from a wound area.  I currently have one in my mouth that will stay in there for a week.

I now know what the people from infectious disease do.  I've met with them five times in four days.  They have used three different antibiotics so far - Clindamycin, Unasyn, and the latest, Ertapenem.  There still may be tinkering to be done with the medicine used to treat my infection depending on what the cultures of my bone and tissue samples show.

I now know how to use a morphine pump to manage pain. This is a nice thing to have.  But, I also know that you can get a headache when you have to wean yourself off of the morphine.  That part sucks.

I now know what a PICC line is.  That's Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter and it's used to deliver daily IV medications.  Mine is 46 centimeters long running from a vein in my right forearm to the subclavian vein near my heart.  I have a little two inch tube hanging out of my right bicep area and this is where I will infuse a daily dose of antibiotics for at least the next 4 weeks.

So, I'm a lot smarter than I was when I checked into St. Mary's four days ago.  But, I'm ready to go home now.  If I'm stable through the night, I can go home on Tuesday.  Please.  The mauve colored walls are closing in on me.  And the picture on the 17 inch tube TV in the corner sucks.

There, I snapped.

Sunday Update

About the time Jen was settling in to watch the Wimbledon Finals, Jen's team examined her and decided it was time for another surgery.

With more swelling on the floor of her mouth, fluid needed draining and samples collected and cultured to eliminate any diagnostic uncertainty. 

So they wheeled her out with Roger Federer leading 2-1 in the third set.  Jennifer missed Roger's 7th Wimbledon title.  It's been one of those weeks, one of those months.  It's been one of those years.

But the surgery was a success and tissue and bone samples were sent off to the lab.  They even sent samples to pathology.  But they also feel really strongly that this is osteomyelitis and they are glad they performed the procedure on Sunday instead of waiting.

And now we wait and they will watch.  There will be some conferring with the Infectious Disease consult.  There is a chance her antibiotic will be switched up to Ertapenum.  Either way Jen will be making her home here at St. Mary's for - at least - the next couple days.

Anyone have a deck of cards?

Sunday July 8, 2012

The Wimbledon Men's tennis final will take place today and yes, my man Roger Federer gets a chance for another grand slam title, this time against England's favorite son, Andy Murray.  Should be a good match and a good story either way.

Last year we watched the men's final from the Pediatric Infusion Treatment Center at St. Mary's where Shannon was receiving IV fluids to help her rebound from post radiation sickness.  This year, it's my turn to be in a hospital bed with the IV hopefully doing it's trick.

The first couple of days here in the hospital have really been focused on getting the pain under control.  The CT scan showed that the infection has stayed contained on the right side of my face/jaw so far.  We need to keep it that way.

Finding the right mixture if pain meds was a process but we've gotten things down from an excruciating throbbing pain to a dull ache, so that's progress.  I have a handy dandy morphine pump that I can activate every ten minutes with the push of a button.

I have had blood draws and blood cultures being done to try and determine how best to treat this infection.  Yesterday, as a result of exams and testing, my antibiotic was switched to Unasyn, which is a cocktail of drugs known to be very effective against infections in the mouth.  The hope is to keep the rest of my teeth in tact but that's not a given.  A procedure may be performed to open up the site and clean it out again which would also allow them to gather some tissue to put into culture.

So, for the time being, St. Mary's is my home.  Teams of doctors from oral surgery and infectious disease are on the case.  Grandma and Papa Harkins came down from up north to be here with us for a few days.  Not easy for parents to see their child in a hospital bed.  Dan and Erin are hanging in there.  Not easy to see your wife or mother in a hospital bed, either.

So, more drugs, more rest, and go Roger...

Friday July 6, 2012

A confluence of challenges greeted us on this Friday - a day that marks 6 months from Shannon's passing on the calendar.  26 Friday's since she left this earth.

Hopeful that Jen's mouth infection had been extracted along with with two molars in surgery Monday, we headed for Lake Hubert to memorialize Shannon with 27 O'Haras. More on that in a moment.

Jen was willing to tough it out for the ceremony, but it became obvious almost from the moment we arrived at the lake that things were getting worse - not better.  By 5am Friday(after only 17 hours up north), I was steering Jen and Sunny the Wonderdog south on Hwy 371 with a destination of WFMC (World Famous Mayo Clinic).  Erin was left in capable hands up north.

We were in an exam room back in Rochester by 9:30 am Friday.  Admitted to St. Mary's Hospital by noon.  And it looks like Jen will spend the weekend in the hospital where pain meds and antibiotics can be administered by IV.  As we were being admitted, the nurse asked Jen what her pain level was on a scale of 1-to-10...her response was 9.75.

The infection appears to have spread in Jen's jaw, neck and face.  A CT scan, a consult with Infectious Disease and an allergy test have been ordered.  All the facts are being gathered and diagnosed, a plan will be in place Friday but it's a virtual certainty we are going to be watching the Wimbledon final from room 6-151 in St. Mary's.  (thank you Roger Federer for delivering some positivity).

Our lakeside ceremony Thursday night was lovely.  Tears flowed as cousins, aunts and uncles took turns scooping Shannon's ashes into a hole dug out for the monument and sharing stories.  The stone was rolled back on top of Shannon's remains and now our Lake Hubert family property is truly sacred ground.

I ran out to grab some lunch after Jen's CT scan and to add to the poignancy of the day - the song on the radio was Daniel Powter's Bad Day.  The same song Shannon played at her last piano recital.  Someone oughta write a damn book.

Tuesday July 3, 2012

I wanted to get an update out here because our text and email is blowing up with people looking for updates on sweet Jennifer.

She's have another tough day.  But today's pains and lethargy are the result of really awful, invasive oral surgery .  She's hurting from the trauma of her jaw bone getting scraped down to its healthiest layers Monday afternoon.  Previous pain had been the throb associated with infection.  This recovery will take time.

Jen's surgeon predicted they wouldn't be friends today.  He was right.  So give her some time.  We will know soon enough whether or not this thing is heading in the right direction.  Geesh.  Poor girl.  Staying medicated is the goal today.  Oxy, ibuprofen, Vicodin, salt water rinse and repeat...

A long day hanging around the Mayo campus Monday brought back a lot of tough memories.  On Shannon's Mayo days we would be there for one appointment after another.  Just like with Jen yesterday, there was a lot down time in various sterile exam rooms in the Mayo and Gonda buildings.  Lots of time to think.  And fret.

When they paged me to come back and give permission to extract two more of Jen's teeth I thought I was going to shit a brick.  When they told Erin to wait in the lobby of Gonda 7E - "the doctor needs to talk to your Dad" - my stomach bottomed out.  An awful feeling.  God can't possibly have more for me?  He didn't.  And, once again, I am jolted into a moment of gratitude.

Last year, we spent another scorching 4th of July holiday week in and out of appointments on the Mayo Clinic campus with Shannon finally going in for IV infusion treatments that helped her turn the corner after post-radiation effects put her down hard.  Impossible not to recollect and wonder why, how this happened to our happy family...    

Here's to hoping we get our leader back here soon.  Here's to turning another corner. 

Monday July 2, 2012

Warning to the reader:  I am under the influence of Vicodin as I write this blog.  Or is it Oxycodone?  Either way...

Let's backtrack.  I had a tooth extraction on June 6th.  We haven't said too much about it here in the blog, but if you are one of my family members or close friends, you have been hearing me bitch about it for three and a half weeks.  My bite wasn't right, then I developed a dry socket, then a small infection, then more trouble with my bite.  So, over the last 26 days I have been to the dentist (twice), the periodontist (three times) and the ER (twice).  I reached what I thought was the low point on my birthday last Friday when I canceled all plans because I wasn't up to golf or dinner or anything other than icing my face.  The low point was yet to come.

By this morning, my face was visibly swollen and we returned to Mayo where they were certain that there was now an infection, possibly a small micro fracture of the bone or possibly debris in the extraction site.  Off to oral surgery where it was determined that we should open it up and clean it out, get some faster acting antibiotics via IV and hope that helped me turn the corner.  Little did we know...

Erin and Dan saw me go back to be sedated and they headed out for some frozen yogurt.  Almost immediately, Dan was paged and Erin was asked to wait in the lobby.  I can only imagine Dan's fear as we are certainly gun-shy about bad news from doctors.  Turns out that my lower right jaw bone was completely infected and two more teeth had been compromised and needed to be removed.  Dan gave consent and the doctor yanked the teeth and then scraped away all the dead bone.  They will be watching the healing process closely and monitoring for any more signs of infections.  Mouths are tricky and things like infection can travel fast.  Let's hope this is the end of it.

I'd be remiss if I didn't share a couple of interactions we had today.  Shannon interactions.  A nurse who helped us this morning recognized me from 15 years ago when she played tennis.  She made a point of letting us know that she was so sorry about the loss of Shannon, but also that she enjoyed getting to know her through what she read.

Then on the surgical unit this afternoon, we ran into one of our close friend's brothers who works there.  Small world.  The nurse who had been helping us then felt comfortable acknowledging that she knew who we were and what we had been through.  Turns out many of the nurses on that unit had been following us and wanted us to know how much they all learned from our family.  Wow.  Sincere and touching and really nice to hear.  The ripples of Shannon's life continue...

So, now we are home and I am resting with this handy-dandy icepak that wraps around your head and ices your cheeks.  Looks like a bra for your face.  I have allowed Dan to take one picture for the archives, but it will not be appearing here on the blog!

I am hoping against hope that I rebound in the next 36 to 48 hours and we can still make our family trip to Lake Hubert for at least part of the holiday weekend.  Cross your fingers...