Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jan 30

Thanks to all of you who attended Mark's wake and funeral. He had many wonderful friends, colleagues and students here in town. Many of you made the trip from Oklahoma and many of you were kept from attending because of the terrible ice storm and for that I am sorry. We have truly been blessed with so many wonderful people.

Many of you asked about the quote Andy used from me in his eulogy. It is something I posted on facebook the day Mark passed. Here it is again. Mark was a wonderful man who taught me to love deeper than I thought I was capable, laugh more than I thought possible and live in each and every moment. He was a great husband, father, teacher and coach. I don't pretend to know the reasons God chose to take Mark at an early age, but I know heaven got a little brighter today.

This has certainly been a tough week. There have been a lot of ups and downs. We've told many funny stories about Mark and laughed as we remembered him in some of his great moments. Believe me, there are many. It's also been sad and tearful where you feel your heart being ripped from your chest. What a roller coaster this will be I'm sure. Matt and I played "Take It To The Limit" by the Eagles which is one of Mark's all time favorite songs. He used to crank it up LOUD and sing at the top of his lungs while we were driving in the car. I think he used to sing it before he played baseball in High School before we even met. It brought tears just remembering him singing that song. We visited the grave today and all that kept going through my head was that song and how he lived life that way.

The kids are holding up. They have spent the night with friends and I am so glad that so many of their friends have been so supportive. It is nice to be in such a great community such as Auburn.

For now, it's just taking it minute by minute and getting through the day. Hopefully it will start getting easier. I feel like my entire universe has shattered and it just doesn't fit back together quite the same way. There is such a huge hole in it now.

Thanks again for all the love and support. We've been truly blessed. Please continue to pray for all those battling cancer. God bless!!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jan 26

It is with heavy heart I write one last time. Mark passed this morning. His suffering has ended and he is no longer in pain. He went to be with our Lord and Saviour. He was surrounded by family and he went in peace. Thanks to all of you who followed Mark's battle. He was one tough warrior and fought hard to the end. We got to say our goodbyes this morning. Hospice came out. Julia was here with the hospice chaplain and they were great. Father Bill came over and prayed with us and spent quite a bit of time here.

After Mark was gone from the house, I went into the bedroom to shower and it really hit me that he was gone. The bed was made and he wasn't in it. It was just not right seeing the bed without Mark there. He's really gone.

The funeral will be at St. Michaels Catholic Church at their NEW location on North College St. It will be Friday morning at 10am. We will be having visitation at Jeffcoat Trant funeral home on Thursday night from 6-8pm. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Mark Bertus Scholarship Fund at any Auburn Bank location or mail to PO Drawer 3110 Auburn, AL 36831-3110.

If anyone is coming from out of town, the Holiday Inn Express will offer a special rate if you give them Mark's name. The address is 1801 Capp Landing Opelika, AL 36804. Ph (334) 749-5250.

I will post if anything changes or as we know more. Thanks to all of you who have supported us through this battle. Hold tight to those you love today and always. Please continue to pray for those battling cancer. May God bless and keep you all!!!!!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Jan 25

Hello to all. Things here continue to decline. I know I keep saying that, but it is true. Mark is more confused and again does not recognize where he is and is saying random things and hallucinating most of the time. It is difficult to tell at times whether he is in pain or not since he cannot give us a lucid answer. We try to use his body language. We had the hospice nurse come out on Saturday to increase his morphine drip and then again on Sunday to increase the drip once again to get better pain control. We are still using extra doses when needed.

Matt had to return home to take care of some business, but hopefully will be back tomorrow. I don't know how much longer Mark can hang on. He is just hanging on by a thread it seems. He is sometimes short of breath and will grab at his chest like it hurts him. We have turned the oxygen up some. It is hard to leave his side. I don't want to be gone for even a minute.

My mom and Eugenie are still here and Mark's parents have been here since September. We are all spending as much time with Mark as possible. It is hard to see him like this. I pray that God will end his suffering and bring him peace. He has been suffering way too long and it's painful to watch and be helpless.

Father Bill came by for a visit and to pray with Mark during the week. Luckily it was when Mark was still able to remember some and he knew who Father Bill was.

Thanks to all of you who continue to support us through this battle. We have been fighting long and hard. Mark is a tough warrior as you can see. He has never been one to give in to anything and this is no different. He plans to fight to the very end and who would expect anything less from Mark. Please continue to pray for peace and for Mark to be pain free. Pray for all those battling cancer and as always, God bless!!!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jan 22

Hello everyone. We continue to hang on and take things as they come. It's hard to remember what has changed since the last post. Mark continues to get weaker overall. He has trouble just holding his hand up and needs help rolling side to side in the bed. He is still confused a lot, but sometimes makes a little sense and has cracked a few jokes to make us laugh. He has a knack for that even in his darkest hours. He truly is amazing.

He kept me up most of the night last night talking to me, fidgeting and asking for water. He wanted the TV back on at 3:30, so we found a NUMB3Rs marathon to watch. That is one of Mark's favorite shows. He loves the way they use math theories and equations to solve things. I have no idea what time it was when I finally went to sleep, but Mark's hospice nurse showed up this morning and I was exhausted and couldn't even get out of bed for her. I think she understood. Mark starts telling her that he's been having trouble breathing (out of the blue) and sounds pretty lucid at first, then starts telling me "honey, I'm off center" and I think he's talking about the position he's laying in so I tell him I'll move him in a minute. He then starts talking about the comet not lining up right, so I know he's confused again. Julia asked why he wasn't wearing the oxygen since he was having trouble breathing and he said "I don't know". We put the oxygen on him today and he's been using it and doing fine with it.

The hiccups continue. Mark's diaphragm will spasm and he will gasp loudly and not be able to breath for a bit every now and then and it is a little scary to see. He did that yesterday once when we were all sitting here and we all reacted towards him and were asking if he was okay. Mark did it again a second time right after that on purpose and then said "ha ha". Like I said, he is still joking around some.

Mark's sister, Eugenie, made it in tonight from the airport. He has had a chance to visit with her now as well. He was asking about her the other day, so now she is here.

Debbie Brooks came by today and got to see Mark for a brief visit. I wasn't sure if Mark would remember her, but when he saw her he did recognize her and got to talk with her briefly. Andy came by for a visit tonight as well. We truly are blessed with some of the best friends ever.

Thanks for all the prayers and support. Pray for all those battling cancer. God bless!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jan 20

Hello to all. It's been a busy and eventful 24 hours. Mark's twin brother, Matt, and my mom, Sue, decided late last night to drive to Auburn. They packed quickly and hopped in the car and drove overnight through the rain and made it today around noon. I told Mark last night that his brother was coming. He didn't remember that he had a brother at first. I sat for a while and told him the story of us moving to Auburn and that he was a Finance Professor at Auburn University and about our children and our life here. I asked if he remembered Andy coming to visit him and after a little bit, he started remembering. After the story, I asked him if he remembered his brother and he looked at me like I was crazy, so I asked "what's your brother's name?" and he said "Matt".

He has been a little more with it today. He still has times where he doesn't know us, but for the most part can figure out who we are. He says off the wall things and I think he hallucinates a lot. The hiccups continue and sometimes his diaphragm goes into a spasm and he makes a very loud gasping sound inward that is pretty scary to hear.

Matt and my mom made it around noon as I stated above. When Matt walked in the front door, I was sitting with Mark in the room and Mark said in a sing songy voice like a child "Matt's here". It was pretty cute. Matt got to stay with him today, but visiting with him is hard since he is so confused. It is more spending time with him than visiting because you never know what you're going to get. Andy came by and he did remember Andy, so that was good.

Mark's blood pressure is decreasing and he is taking in less water. He is definitely declining. No one knows the day or hour, but we're definitely on very limited time now.

I received the nicest gift from Tracy Richard and John Oliver of Camera Graphics today. Tracy took a family picture of us shortly after Mark was diagnosed with cancer as a gift to us. Many of you have seen it as we put it on our Christmas cards in 2007. She had the picture blown up into a beautiful size family portrait and framed by Mr. Oliver of Camera Graphics. It is so beautiful and amazing. The frame is gorgeous!!! I was so overwhelmed at the time, I don't think I said thank you enough to them. I was just in shock!!! I brought it into the room to show Mark and said "look what Tracy brought us" and he said "yeah, she took that". Amazing for how confused he is that he can remember that. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!

We are trying to keep the kids' routines as normal as possible for now. They are definitely feeling Mark's decline. Colton didn't want to come in the room tonight to tell Mark goodnight. Calen has been a little withdrawn, but tells me everything is okay. Emily is just Emily. I think this will be different on her and maybe won't be real for a while for her. It's hard to know what a 5 year old thinks sometimes. She came in to tell Mark goodnight in her usual happy tone as if nothing were wrong. Of course, this is all she knows. Her dad has been sick half of her life now and for all of what she remembers I'm sure.

Thanks to everyone for continued support. We are trying to cherish every moment we have left with Mark. Continue to pray for peace and comfort for him. Pray for all those with cancer. Pray for those in the Haiti earthquake as well. God bless!!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jan 19

Hello to everyone. Today has been hard. Mark had a bad night last night. Shortly after my post last night, he became quite short of breath. I don't know if he reacted to the medicine he took for the hiccups or if it is just a decline in his condition, but he started having trouble breathing. We turned him onto his side and he had trouble for about 15 minutes or so (which felt like an eternity). He started calming down and the hiccups continued most of the night. He was quite confused this morning and didn't know who I was or where he was (at home). I decided not to go in to the office and stayed with Mark today. He has been having more trouble in general. He isn't gasping for breath, but it seems a little harder for him at times. He continues to hiccup most of the time which wears him out. I called the hospice nurse to let her know what was going on and she came to check on him today. She is going to get some oxygen out here for us to use when Mark needs it. It will certainly make it easier on him. It was difficult watching him struggle like that. I can't tell if he's hurting or not and he can't really answer us now. He occasionally will grimace, but when we ask if he's hurting he says no.

It's been a tearful day for me and for Mark's parents. We knew the decline would come, but it is hard to see it happen. I pray that Mark isn't hurting and that there are no more struggles for him breathing like last night. Thanks for all the prayers and messages. God bless!!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jan 18

Hello to everyone. Mark continues to remain in a stable state. He has had unbelievable nonstop hiccups for 3 days straight now. They've kept him (and me) up all night for the last couple of nights. They just wear him out and I don't know how he does it. He is so weak and they just take so much of his energy. He is getting more confused as well. I was talking to him this morning and telling him how sorry I was that he's had these awful hiccups and that he hasn't gotten much sleep because of them. He said yeah and I'm sorry for you too. I asked him what he meant, thinking he was going to say he was keeping me up all night, too, but instead he said "because you had hiccups, too". He managed to unhook his morphine pump tonight and I had to figure out how to get it back together. He constantly messes with the pump and the buttons and the IV pole. I tried to cover it up with a blanket. We will see if that distracts him. The combination of the liver failure, dehydration and morphine are not good.

Emily came in tonight to see her dad. She made him a card earlier tonight and wanted to come in to visit again tonight. He waved to her and smiled. She told him that she would miss him when he went to heaven and asked if he would miss her too. Before he could answer, so piped in and said "at least you won't have any pain in heaven". I think it's harder for me to keep my composure during those moments. They're just so pure, spontaneous, and honest. What do you expect from a 5 year old.

Andy came over and visited with Mark some today. Mark was awake pretty much all day. Mark's parents spent some time with him during the day while I was working and they got to sit and visit.

As I am sitting here typing this, Mark's hiccups are progressively getting worse. They are so loud and violent now. I don't know why they get worse at night, but they do. Julia brought him some medicine today to try and get rid of or reduce the hiccups. They did get a little better this afternoon, but never disappeared. I gave him another dose about an hour ago. Boy, I hope it kicks in soon for both of our sake. It has to be totally miserable for him. He is making this terrible sound. The cancer is up under the diaphragm and irritating it which causes the hiccups. At least, that is our assumption.

The boys spent the night at the Brooks' house last night and were both tired today, but went to hit some baseballs today when they came home. Tomorrow night is basketball for both of them. Colton has practice followed by Calen's game.

Thanks to all of you who continue to support us with prayers. We can't thank you enough. Continue to pray for Mark and all those battling cancer. Also continue to pray for the earthquake victims in Haiti. God bless!!!!