Sunday, August 18, 2013

Celebration of the Life of Charlie Brown

Please check back soon for full celebration of the life of Charlie Brown.

Dear Friends and Family-

It is with tremendous sorrow and deep gratitude that I write to share that Charlie Brown died early August 11th around 4 a.m. In what may have been God speaking to Charlie's family, or Charlie reaching out as he left this life, Meg, Doug's wife Michelle, Michelle's mother Eileen, all in separate locations, woke up right around the time of his passing. 

Over the course of the last two weeks, since last I wrote, Charlie had the opportunity to be with, talk with, laugh and cry with, pray with, and say goodbye to his immediate family. The four grandchildren and their parents visited for several days, giving Charlie chances to snuggle with them, take one last putt with his oldest Sam, listen to stories, and generally enjoy their playful bonding (tackling in the back yard). Charlie was even able to enjoy some foods he hadn't eaten in years, pie, pickles, and especially apple fritters.

Meg spent a week with Charlie and Mary providing deeply comforting and loving care to both Charlie and Mary, and helping Charlie transition from this place to the next. 

Mary, Doug, Michelle & their family including Michelle's mom, Eileen Loperena spent Friday-early Sunday morning caring for Charlie, making sure he was comfortable. Charlie rested peacefully throughout those two days and left us early this morning. Mary, Doug, Michelle, Sam, Everett, Nathan, Eileen, and Michelle's sister, Jen celebrated Charlie's life, this morning at breakfast, with apple fritters all around! We know that Charlie was and is rejoicing in Heaven, smiling upon his family, freed from his failing body, and whole once more in the arms of God.

The Brown family cannot thank all of you (and each other) enough for all of your prayers, pies, flowers, plants, thoughts, emails, and other ways you have held our family and specifically, Charlie, in your hearts. Thank you. 

Charlie's military service was incredibly important to him so as a retired Major in the United States Air Force his life and service will be honored on Friday, August 23rd at 1pm with a Military Honor Ceremony held at:
 Sacramento Valley National Cementery 5810 Midway Road,Dixon, CA 95620

Charlie's memorial is set for Saturday, August, 24th at 11 a.m. at Centerpoint Community Church. With a reception following the service in the Family Life Center.

515 Sunrise
Rosevile,CA 95661

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Iowa Donor Network 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Home, Sweet, Home

We made it home!! At the last blog I closed with saying that we were going to move our departure day up a week and it all worked great thanks to Meg!! Doug said that Meg had a plan and she sure did. Starting on Monday, the 10th. she went into action and proceeded to spend hours on the phone getting everything set up for Charlie when he arrived home. We are absolutely amazed at her and her ability to get things done!  She got a care/rehab facility set up here in Roseville, arrange transportation for Charlie to get to the airport - just took total care of about 101 things! I could not have done this without her!

She and Lucy arrived in Iowa City on the morning of the 12th and hit the ground running! While I was fretting about different things, she was getting things done. I actually was getting everything packed up and the apartment closed out. Fortunately, I was able to offload a car full of items to my school friend, Lynda, from Des Moines. Her granddaughter is going to have an apartment in the fall there at the University. I was so happy that someone could use some of the stuff that we had accumulated!

The 14th arrived and  finally after almost 18 months we headed home. Charlie handled the trip quite well. What a homecoming - our good friends, the Bells, picked us up along with a ton of luggage and home we went!! And....what a surprise we had! Our whole family  was in the front yard when we got home along with a big "Welcome Home" banner on the garage! To have everyone here was fantastic - all grandkids and of course, their parents!!! We were speechless!

The sad part was that Charlie had to go the rehab facility. He spent the weekend resting up and getting lots of love from the family! He started Physical Therapy on Monday and is making great progress! Either this Monday or Tuesday, he is being transferred to Sutter Rehabilitation here in Roseville. We have heard outstanding things about this place. He will be having 3 hours a day of PT in half hour increments.

I have spent the last week getting settled at home along with a couple of visits a day to see Charlie. It is just amazing to be home again and to see friends!

While our time in Iowa did not turn out the way we had hoped, we are very thankful for our time there.  We feel that Charlie had, without a doubt, the best medical care possible! The doctors and nurses that work at the University of Iowa Hospital are wonderful! We just cannot say enough about the quality of care that we had and the compassion  of everyone involved with Charlie's care. When one of his head doctors comes in and says with tears in his eyes, "I am so sorry that the transplant did not turn out for you" - this is real compassion!

The goal now is to get Charlie rehabilitated.  As far as the liver disease goes, he will be dealing with the same side effects that he had in Iowa City. But....we are so thankful to be home close to friends and much closer to our family!

Thank you for all of your prayers - we are very blest by all of you. We will keep you posted from time to time on how Charlie is doing!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Changing Plans  June 9th

Well, things have taken another turn here. Last Sunday, on the way into church, Charlie tripped and fell on the sidewalk! We found out quite fast that there are a lot of medical people that attended that church. Charlie was instantly surrounded with help – it was amazing! In the ER we found out that he had cracked a rib, his pelvis, and sacrum. They hospitalized him and started giving him morphine which ended up after a couple of days of really messing him up. (So now all he gets is Tylenol – his liver cannot process any heavy pain meds.) Wednesday came along with the news that he was VERY low in sodium and was started on IV’s with sodium. So now we have him coping with getting the morphine out of his system, low sodium which can cause confusion, and the hepatic encephalopathy 
which is confusion! Poor guy – on Friday he was transferred to a skilled nursing/rehab facility.

Fortunately, Doug arrived on Friday and was a big help. We got 5 big boxes mailed home and more things taken to Goodwill. Meg has been working on the other end of speeding up our return home and has been talking to a rehab place in Roseville. We had originally planned on flying home on the 21st, but the plan now is to try to fly home this Friday, the 14th. We feel that we need to get Charlie home! So Meg and Lucy are arriving here on Wednesday, the 12th.

So we would love your prayers and thoughts as we go through this week that all the plans will fall in place to get Charlie home and that the flights will go very smoothly for him. And…….that Charlie is feeling good!!

Thank you everyone!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Exit Plans to California

Well, we are starting to get some plans in place for heading home. As it stands now, we are flying home on June 21st. Meg is flying here on the morning of the 20th to help us get home. The next week, she, Jen, and Lucy are flying here to pick up our car and then have a road trip to CA.

After I posted the last blog, Charlie did spend a week in the hospital – I took him in for the encephalopathy and after taking a chest x-ray they found out that he had what they called a “hospital infection” or pneumonia. They figured that this was what had set off the confusion again. So he was on IV antibiotics all week.  He has been home almost a week and is doing well.  He has several doctor appointments along with procedures – endoscopy and paracentesis lined up before we leave.

We have decided not to do some traveling around here and that we had best get home and get settled there again. We are going to miss Iowa City – it really is a great place and was just listed in the “Top Ten University towns.” We have loved our apartment and its location, but it will certainly be nice to be home again and to be with all of you.

Last Sunday 3 of my girlfriends from Des Moines came up to visit and we had a fun lunch and enjoyed playing some cards. It has been such a plus to be able to get reacquainted with them!

Doug will be here for a couple of days next weekend on his way to Chicago on business.  I have big plans for him!! We have packed up many boxes that need to be mailed home and he can provide the muscles to help me get them mailed.

Boy have we been having the severe weather – tons of rain (we are in a flood warning) and it is so humid! Last year we did not have hardly any rain and now this one is so rainy that the farmers can not get into the fields to plant.

Looking out the window I see that the latest storm has passed by now on to the next one coming through.

Please keep us in your prayers for a safe trip home with Charlie.
Mary and Charlie

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15th - The Roller Coaster Ride has crashed!

Well, it has continued to be a rough ride since the last post and we had a meeting with the transplant team today (Charlie has been in the hospital since yesterday) and the bottom line is that they are NOT putting Charlie back on the transplant list! They feel that he would not make it through surgery. Meg wrote the following for me after she talked to the transplant surgeon – “With the combination of how he reacts to anesthesia and his cardiac problems they can’t risk doing the surgery. The surgery that he needs is quite a bit more complicated than an already complicated liver transplant due to the extensiveness of clots in his portal liver vein system. He would not be able to handle the complex parts of the surgery when he would need to have intense resuscitation.  And…while the transplant surgeon feels confident that he could perform the surgery/reattachment of the donor liver, the anesthesia team does not think it is likely that they can keep him alive during the process. They have determined the risk is too great.

The transplant surgeon assured us that they will facilitate coordinating care in locations where we will likely be – Roseville, Portland, and Seattle – so we will be able to have medical care in place at these locations. He also said that despite how grim it often feels, that he(Charlie) could live quite a while longer – even to the degree of it being something else that could be life-ending rather that the liver.

We are going to take our time in figuring out what we want to do and how Charlie wants to create this next phase of life and go from there. Right now, we are devastated and kind of in shock!

We probably won’t head home to CA until the end of June giving us some time to get out and do some things in the Midwest since we have been so closely tethered to Iowa City.

We continue to ask for your prayers as we start to adjust to this news and we are just very thankful for all of your thoughts and prayers over the last 17 months. We do know that God has a plan for us….

Once we get plans going we will post a blog!
Mary and Charlie

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24th - "The Roller Coaster in Iowa"

April 24th – “The roller coaster in Iowa”

This will be an update about the happenings of the last week and let us say there is never a dull moment. Last Wednesday morning we got a call to come in for a standby possible transplant – yes we thought we were at the top, but this list is a “fluid” one in that at any point in time someone with a higher meld score can move past you. So we waited most of the day and it turned out to be another “no-go!” Since he was already in the hospital they went ahead and did another paracentesis and 13 pounds were tapped off!

Now fast forward to Saturday evening, the 20th, and we got another call that Charlie was the PRIMARY one and that they were not even getting a backup. So we were a little stunned, got the last items placed in the bag that stands ready, and headed to the hospital! The staff got all the things done that are pre-op protocols to get a person ready for a transplant and then we spent the night trying unsuccessfully to sleep! Surgery was scheduled to start at 8 on Sunday morning. Right before 8 the call came that transport was coming from surgery to get him – wow, this was really going to happen and the tears started flowing! We have spent so much time in the transplant unit that it was like a family gathering sending Charlie and I off.

We said our “see you later” etc. and I got settled in the waiting room. Then “all” started going downhill fast! I got a call from the surgeon to let me know that they were having some difficulty getting Charlie’s heart rate and blood pressure stabilized under anesthesia. He said that he would let me know shortly the latest. A little later he came out saying they could not get him stabilized and that I would need to make a decision on whether they should try to continue surgery considering it would be very risky and that he would be back out shortly! Well, needless to say, I was stunned and did not know what to do. Fortunately, the decision was not one that I had to make as he came back out and said that the decision had been made - they all had said STOP! Fortunately, no incision had been made, but he did have all “lines” in ready for action.

All I could do was cry – fortunately, Meg arrived soon after and Doug later that afternoon. We had all hit rock bottom! A couple of days out now we can see how fortunate Charlie was, because the doctors said that he would not have made it through surgery!

The whole team now is trying to figure out exactly what happened – they first thought it was severe aortic stenosis and ran all sorts of heart scans, etc. and, on Tuesday, Charlie had an angiogram. This showed that nothing had changed from the previous known moderate aortic stenosis. The cardiac surgeon said that there was nothing on any of the many tests performed over the last 2 days that would indicate that what happened in the operating room should have happened!!

The plan now is for the cardiac surgeon to meet with the anesthesiologist to hear exactly what happened in the OR and  Charlie is scheduled for a stress test May 1st. Following this,  the whole team will meet to decide what happens next – hopefully, they will get Charlie back on the active transplant list which is the goal!

We came home last night after Charlie having another paracentesis  - we were all making bets on how much fluid would be tapped off! Charlie actually was the closest – 15.4 pounds!

What an absolute roller coaster of emotions we have been going through!  The kids are back home and now to get Charlie rested up from this whole ordeal. Today he has been absolutely exhausted!  We would so appreciate your prayers that the team can figure out exactly what caused the heart situation and that Charlie will be back on the list ASAP!