In Memory of Janet

Loving Wife and Friend to All who Met Her

1948 – 2014

 

2014-07-27 – Sunday, 7:00 PM – Janet’s Ashes Have Been Scattered        

 

We (a collection of Janet’s friends and family) pretty much followed the plan below and scattered Janet’s ashes.  Many of the tributes made during lunch may be found at this link.  Both days (Saturday and Sunday) were beautiful.  The lawn and daffodil garden were nicely trimmed (thanks Josh), which made access easy.  Most of the ashes were scattered along the stone wall that Janet was working on.  Here’s a photo by Colin:

 

 

Thanks to everyone who helped say goodbye to Janet,

 

Ray.

 

 

2014-07-21 – Monday, 7:00 PM – Updated Plans for Scattering Janet’s Ashes

 

Folks, thanks for all of your visits, calls and e-mails – they all helped working through the grief.  Here are the final plans for Janet’s memorial:

 

Friday, 2014-07-25, 5:00 PM. – Ray leaves for WV.  I have to leave on Friday as there is just too much preparation to do.  The three dogs and I will be driving alone, leaving two seats empty for anyone who would like to travel with me – it would be nice to not travel alone.  BTW:  Driving directions may be found at www.CherryEngineering.com/WV.

 

Saturday, 2014-07-26, Noon.  We will have a picnic-style dinner on the back porch in WV.  I hope that everyone coming will bring a dish.  I will provide charcoal, drinks, etc.  At this dinner, we will share memories of Janet.  Currently, the following folks are expected:  Ray, Barbara & Colin, John & Shirley, Zia & (his) Janet.  If you would like to join us, please let me know immediately so that I can ensure that we have enough food.

 

Saturday, 2014-07-26, 2:00 PM.  We will scatter Janet’s ashes on her daffodil garden, which is next to an amazing stone wall she was working on.  We will share some of the remembrances that we discussed at lunch.  This “ceremony” will be short, as so many beautiful things related to Janet will be well within view, e.g., flowers, trees, brilliant friends and the house that she co-designed.

Saturday, 2014-07-26, 7:00 PM.  We will have a dinner delivered from the Italian Touch, eating on the back porch.

 

Saturday, 2014-07-26, Night.  Barbara & Colin have the bedroom facing the road.  Zia and Janet have the bedroom facing the spring.  If anyone else plans to stay the night, please contact me immediately.  We have plenty of room in the house, and two excellent local hotels are close by.

 

Sunday, 2014-07-27, Breakfast.  Belgian waffles and other goodies for breakfast.  Perhaps we’ll eat the peach that we found last weekend – first peach from the tree that Janet planted.

Sunday, 2014-07-27, 2:00 PM.  A second ceremony for Leo and Pam, plus anyone else that shows up.  We’ll save some of the ashes for this.  Before or afterwards (depending upon Leo’s arrival time), we will have some kind of snack. 

 

Sunday, 2014-07-27, 6:00 PM.  Everyone will be on the way home, and the “trailer” will be a quiet and lonely place.  If you want to stay later, please let me know as soon as possible.  We can arrange this, but one must be cognizant of everything that must be done when locking up.

 

Soon, this link will connect you to a collection of remembrances of Janet.  These remembrances were harvested from a flood of wonderful e-mails sent by friends, family and colleagues.

 

2014-07-07 – Tuesday, 8:58 AM – A Few Pictures in Remembrance of Janet

 

Thanks for all of the e-mailed references of Janet.  I will put them into this page soon.  Here are a few pictures that you might enjoy.  I hope that her warmth, humor, charm and sweetness come through.

 

Janet in 12th grade - portrait by Ray.   Janet the French teacher.  She later became a computer programmer, a linguist and finally a retiree.  Always a gardener.  Always an artist.

 

HighSchoolPictureByRay         

 

Recent portrait by Barbara.  Front porch in WV during a visit by the Pages, Leo and Pam.  Janet loved WV.

 

IMG_6331  IMG_6303

 

Married 1969-2014.  (45 years!)  A candid photo from one of the later annual World Class Picnics.  After the photo was taken, we had to go back to work getting guests to interact.  A very happy time.  More picnic pictures from links on main CherryEngineering.com web page. 

 

P0000098  DSC_1555

 

Gardening by the spring in WV.  Making Paper Mache flowers in WV kitchen.  Janet had a life-long interest in art, and she was quite good at it.

 

DSC01516 DSC01676

 

Fun with a very wide-angle lens at breakfast with friends in WV.   Janet and Barbara after the 2006 Xmas lights on 34th street in Baltimore.

 

DSC_0153   JanetAndBarb-b

 

Fun with image manipulation. 

 

  JanandBarb-Solar-a  JanetAndJanet-a

 

 

 

2014-07-16 – Janet’s Take on Software Engineering         

 

During a long, boring lecture at work one day, Janet summarized the software development process used at her agency (and many other places).  Please study, as there will be a test.   All of us loved Janet’s drawings.

 

JanetSoftwareProcessPuzzle2 

 

2014-07-07 – Monday, 3:58 AM

 

At 3:20 AM this morning, Janet passed away in her sleep. 

 

Thanks to everyone who helped Janet and her family in her passage.  More details to follow.

 

If you would like to send a remembrance for this page, please e-mail to rcherry@CherryEngineering.com, and I will post.

 

 

 

2014-07-02 – Wednesday, 6:30 AM

 

Janet is spending nearly all day quietly sleeping.  Consumption of food and water is near zero, although we have major celebrations when she is able to eat or drink.  She is suffering no pain.  She is suffering no anxiety.   There is a loving, caring and talented person with Hospice experience by Janet’s side 24/7.  Friends and relatives visit, although she generally is asleep.  The three dogs also keep her company and guard her.  She saw the Hospice nurse yesterday and will have some drug adjustments tomorrow.

 

This status is likely to continue indefinitely, so updates will no longer be every day.

 

Rosemary and Christine visited yesterday, but Janet was asleep.    Leo and Pam are visiting this weekend.  It will be good to have the company.

 

Everyone who knew Janet loved her, and is having a sad time.  Will let you know when the status changes.

 

2014-06-30 – Monday, 7:30 PM

 

I (Ray) tried to go to work today.  That sort of worked until I got a call from Louvinia indicating that Janet was very awake, a bit agitated and starting to be in pain.  Medicated with 2.5 ml Morphine and all was well.  Meanwhile, back at work, I was too agitated to fully focus, so I left work to get a (rare) haircut, thence to COSTCO for NSAID medication for Comet and finally back to Relay.  I’ll try work tomorrow.

 

Janet continues to be without pain.  We have very good help for her 24/7 – they keep her clean, hydrated and fed to the greatest extent possible.  They also know how to move her without hurting her.  I will spare you the details of the decline, but know that every day she gets a little bit weaker.  The oxygen level in her blood is between 87 and 90, which is OK.  Pulse continues at 69.  Her eyes are always open about 20% - we are seeing if a cold compress helps.  Janet’s respiration and temperature normal (enough).  She had some difficulty taking her Morphine by mouth this evening, so it may be time for the “pump”.

 

She can no longer take telephone calls, but if you have a message, I will relay it for you.  Any cards that you mail to the house will be shown to her and then read to her.  Unfortunately, she does not always understand.

 

It is breaking everyone’s heart to see Janet fade away, as she was so generous, kind, intelligent and universally loved.  This is really tough on all that know her.  If you are reading this note, then you are likely suffering as well.  We see the Hospice nurse tomorrow.  Leo and Pam will be this weekend to help out.

 

2014-06-29 – Sunday, 7:30 AM

 

Janet’s temperature all of Saturday was normal.  She was not in pain, and did not require Morphine.  She slept most of the day, guarded by Comet, Tennille and Captain.  Her arms and legs shook only rarely.

 

Yesterday was a tough day for Janet, as she is no longer able to use her potty, even with assistance.  Fortunately, Vida was able to change Janet’s absorbent underwear (provided by Nancy), so Janet is comfortable and dry, as is the bed.  Vida continues to be magic, as she was able to get Janet to eat, drink and talk.  All of us watch Vida in wonder, trying to take mental notes regarding her technique, but fully knowing that we will likely never be a perfect master.  Vida left at 7:30 this morning and will not be back until 7:00 PM.  The rest of us will somehow  manage in her absence.

 

The assistant nurse from the Hospice did not work out, mainly because the only service that she offered was bathing, and Janet did not want or require a bath.

 

In writing today’s entry, it occurred to me that I’m documenting a decline to a state that all of us know is coming.  You, gentle and dear reader, are well aware of this, so, rather than focus on the depressing details; I will focus on general news, with only hints of what is to come.  BTW:  There are no predictions except that the decline will continue.

 

Nancy and Dan are still visiting.  Zia and (his wife) Janet, friends of Janet from work who also visited us in WV, stopped by.  Leo (friend since high school) and Pam (Leo’s friend) stopped by and stayed the night.  Janet was happy to see everyone, although having several folks in her room was tiring.

 

Janet is too weak for phone calls, although if you would like a message relayed to her, just give me (Ray) a call or e-mail.

 

2014-06-28 – Saturday, 6:32 AM

 

First thing in the morning, Janet reported 9/10 pain, which is very serious.  So, we treated with 2.5 ml of Morphine.  After 30 minutes, Janet reported that she was no better, so – with the Hospice nurse’s permission and suggestion – we gave her another 2.5 ml.  As a result, Janet slept for the next 12 hours.  When she woke up, she had a good dinner (thank you, Nancy) and a good deal of liquid.  Vida kept an eye on Janet all night.  (BTW:  Vida has a BS in Biology, and is working on her nursing degree.  She is kind and gentle with Janet.)   Unfortunately, Janet was not able to “potty” all by herself, and needed assistance getting in and out of bed – not a good milestone, but inevitable.    Around 1:00 AM, Janet reported 9/10 pain.  We again treated with 2.5 ml of Morphine, and that worked quite well – as of this writing, Janet is sleeping without pain.

 

Louvinia will be here from 7:00AM – 11:00 AM today, with Vida taking over again at 7:00 PM.  The rest of the time, I (Ray) will be taking care of her, along with her sister and brother-in-law.  Leo is scheduled to visit today.

 

Ray and Dan are being challenged with a broken recliner and a broken bathroom exhaust fan.  What fun!  Dan is so good at this sort of technical work that he should have his own TV show.

 

2014-06-27– Friday, 6:50 AM

 

Janet is OK, but is very weak, and is getting weaker every day.  Just one week ago, she could get around using her walker, this is no longer possible.  Nancy and Dan are here which ensures that Janet is eating wonderful meals, and the additional food and water seem to help her to maintain her strength.  Janet’s magic button (worn around the neck, and, when pressed, sounds an alarm on the box being carried by her helper) works well – at least when Janet can find the button.

 

We have hired a  night nurse, which should help the family to get some sleep.  Janet is without pain – whenever it flares up, Morphine seems to work.  Hospice nurse is doing a great job.  Janet needs a single Tylenol around noon to control a low-grade (101) fever.

 

Just a short note today, as I must head for my physical exam and then to work for a few hours to see if they still recognize me.

 

 

2014-06-26 – Thursday, 4:21 AM

 

Janet’s sister Nancy and her husband Dan arrived safely from Florida yesterday.  The quality of Janet’s food has gone up quite a bit.  Janet’s brother left about 10 minutes ago to fly back to San Diego.  Having Steve and Dan both in the house helped us to get to a few backlogged tasks, such as installing LEDs all over the ceiling fixtures.  We learned that just because a light is “dimmable” does not mean that it matches the dimming patterns of other lights – some of the fixtures now have an odd assortment of colors and brightness levels – especially the fixture with 7 lights.  Having three guests (and 1 guest dog) is a bit of a challenge, but they are great dog walkers, and Captain (now 15) and Tennille (now 13) were really panting after they were walked around our block (1.2 miles).  The dogs must know that something is up, as they all gather around Janet’s bed at night.

 

Janet just “relieved” herself with encouragement, but without assistance this morning, continuing a trend, the end of which will be traumatic.  Yesterday, in the late morning, Janet had a temperature of 100.8, which is a cause for some of concern, especially as her immune system is practically not there.  Tylenol helped a bit, but after an hour we also gave her a Motrin, after consulting by phone with her (excellent) Hospice nurse.  Midafternoon, everything was under control.  Our working theory was that it was the Morphine that was causing the temperature rise, but she had no Morphine yesterday (no severe pain), so perhaps we’re looking at a circadian rhythm.

 

I’m (slowly) learning to spell Louvinia.  Hopefully, I’ll get it right tomorrow.  She continues to do great work, and is a great comfort to Janet.  Janet’s comfort was increased (we hope) by a special air mattress that continually changes patterns to relieve bed sores.  The motor hums away, and it appears to work OK.  This was ordered by the Hospice, and was delivered by Johns Hopkins the next day.  We are currently trying to find the right setting for soft vs. hard.  Between Louvinia, Janet’s sister and her new “Sippy cup”, Janet is starting to eat a bit more and to drink more.  This is good.

 

Tomorrow, Janet’s call button should arrive – The button is worn around the neck, and the receiver unit is kept next to the person responsible for attending to Janet.  Sort of like a token.

 

Tomorrow’s report will likely be delayed because of my physical exam.

 

 

2014-06-25 – Wednesday, 7:21 AM

 

Levinia continues to do great work:  She is magic with Janet and can get her to eat, drink, dress, undress, pee and poo.  I am trying to increase the amount of time that she has for Janet’s care.  Janet looks good in the clothes that Levinia laundered.  The bed is nice and crisply clean, as is the rest of Janet’s room.  It looks happy.

 

We met the official Hospice nurse, who is doing all sorts of things to make Janet comfortable, e.g. Morphine for leg pain and Tylenol to reduce the fever that could have been caused by the Morphine.  (More on that later, as we research.)

 

Janet’s brother made it here safely from CA, although he can only stay a couple of days. 

 

Janet is OK, but sleepy.  I hope that she can get well rested so that she will be ready for her sister’s 5-day visit, starting tomorrow.  Some of you will get me (Ray) on the phone when you call, and I will tell you that Janet is sleeping and cannot be disturbed because she really needs her rest.  I know that this can be disappointing, and I’m sorry for that, but she is so tired and is getting more tired.  She did not wake up for dinner last night until 9:00 PM.

 

2014-06-24 – Tuesday, 7:21 AM

 

Yesterday (Monday) was quite an ordeal – although Lavinia (our wonderful help from Griswold) is quite strong, it was all that the two of us could manage to get Janet into the car.  (Reason, she has very little strength to get into the car and any way we grab her to lift her hurts.  I’m about to go to Harbor Freight to get an engine lift!)  Fortunately, all went well at the hospital and Janet was a little stronger after the transfusion of 2 units of blood.  We didn’t get home until 9:00 PM.  The hospital took about 4 hours to get her the right blood because of antigens that she had acquired that needed a careful check to ensure that the blood that she was to get was acceptable.  This is more complex than in the past – perhaps as a result of previous transfusions.  She had a bit of a fever after the transfusion, but Tylenol seems to have worked.  She had shaky limbs and leg pain, but a small dose of Morphine seemed to help.  Likely more of the same today.

 

Here’s the conflict:  Sunday afternoon, Janet was fading really fast, and I was gravely concerned that she would not be able to lucidly interact with her family and friends who want to say goodbye – they could be wounded for the rest of their lives if they could not say farewell to a wonderful and beloved person.  That’s why I wanted Janet to get a transfusion, on the hope that it might work.  As you likely know, there comes a point in AML patients where transfusions no longer work.   (a) The Hospice folks focus on death without pain, and would be happy to see Janet never leave her bed at Relay.   They do not “cure” disease in any way.  They do not do transfusions.  They are good at what they do, e.g., getting a “potty” for Janet in just 4 hours when she became unable to get to the bathroom by herself.  They will be of tremendous value when the “end” comes.  This is why folks speak so highly of them.   (b)  Hospitals normally cure disease.  Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for AML, the clinical study of which Janet was a part of did not help her and she does not quality for additional clinical studies.  Any additional chemotherapy would likely kill her quickly.  Transfusions can only be given at the hospital – there is no home service.  So, the hospital has no problems providing Janet with a transfusion, but she (somehow) needs to get to the hospital.  To make matters more complex – and to really piss me off – both organizations failed the “$1000” test in which I asked “Who can I give one thousand dollars to in order to get Janet a transfusion today without me having to lug her to the hospital?”.  We have not given up on this yet.

 

Lavinia is doing a great job:  She fed and cleaned Janet.  Bathroom and kitchen are clean.  Laundry is drying – and all of that is just after Monday.  Today, we’re getting ready for Steve (Janet’s brother), who will arrive sometime after noon.

 

All of this is taking a toll on yours truly.  I asked the nurses at the hospital if a prescription could be written for me to get as many hugs as required.  They noted that the prescription should be marked “PRN”, and then said “No.”, and wondered how the prescription would be filled at the pharmacy.

 

 

 

2014-06-23 – Monday Early AM

 

Lavinia arrived this morning and prepared breakfast for Janet, which she was able to eat all by herself. 

 

Janet’s doctor indicated that if she was unable to get to the hospital for a transfusion then the transfusion would likely not be of benefit.

 

 

 

2014-06-22 - Sunday

 

Janet started out this morning OK – we had orange juice, ceareal with strawberrys, and milk for breakfast.  Janet was able to get to breakfast all by herself using her rollerator.  Unfortunately, this afternoon, Janet was very tired and pale.  I had to hand feed her in bed and I had to hold her water bottle for her.  She soiled a pile of clothes which are washing right now.  Called in the emergency Hospice nurse, but are not quite sure how we will be able to get her to her transfusion appointment tomorrow.  Her “potty” is being delivered at 9:00 PM, so we’ll see if we can avoid walking to the bathroom.  Ray is not happy.  Nancy is coming Thursday.  Steve is coming Tuesday.

 

 

2014-06-19

 

Folks,

 

Janet and I met with her doctors, social workers, Hospice workers, Pain Team and Palliative Care team at length today.  The bottom line is that Janet’s health will continue to decline, but she will live out the remainder of her life with dignity, without pain and in the company of those that she loves.  A few details:

 

(1)    Janet’s body cannot handle any additional chemotherapy.   More chemo is not an option.  Bone marrow transplant is out for the same reason.  She will not be cured of AML.  Chemo did result in a couple of good months which were enjoyed.  She had a great time in WV last weekend with Greg.

(2)    The clinical trial, although hopeful, did not help Janet.  There are no other trials available for which Janet qualifies.

(3)    As many of you know, Janet fell down several times earlier this week.  On Tuesday, I came by her bedroom to wish her a good day, but found her sleeping on the dog bed because she collapsed in the bathroom and could not manage the strength to get back into her bed.  On Wednesday, I picked her up off of the floor twice.  I believed that the problem was due to a rare side-effect of Oxycodone, and so we stopped that drug at about midnight.  She is now able to get from her bed to the bathroom using her new, narrower walker without assistance.  She had no trouble using her walker to get around JHU today.  This is GREAT news, but please remember that Janet is really weak.  None of us are really used to the idea the Janet could be weak, but now she is.  Right now, Janet does not suffer from leg pain.  When/if the pain comes back, we will try an alternative drug for which her pain doctor wrote a prescription today.  (I had to contact 5 pharmacies in order to get it filled.)  If that has bad side-effects, we will keep on trying new drugs until we find one that stops the pain, but has manageable side-effects.

(4)    Janet’s doctor agrees that the time to visit her is NOW.  Please do not delay.

(5)    If you have a cold, her doctor suggests that you come anyway, but be sure to take the standard precautions:  Mask, gloves, Purel and gown.  Janet has almost no immune system, so the slightest infection could lead to disaster.  You might want to stay in a local hotel if you have a cold.  If you do not have a cold, we have a bedroom upstairs and a double bed in the living room.

(6)    According to her doctor, AML has resulted in her bone marrow being unable to produce sufficient quantities of red blood cells and white blood cells.  This is why she received 4 units of red blood cells this week.  This will continue until the point comes that transfusions are no longer helpful.  We are jumping all kinds of crazy legal/bureaucratic hoops in order to get her blood while in a Hospice status.

(7)    Janet’s doctors are making no predictions regarding how long she will live.  So, the time to see her is now.  Please come as soon as you can, and stay as long as you can.  All of you are precious to Janet.

(8)    We have arranged for in-home Hospice care.  We see the Hospice folks at 3:30 PM tomorrow.  Janet will never feel pain.  Because of her difficulty in getting around, I will hire someone to be with her when I am not home.  We are working on this and have three leads that will be tracked down tomorrow. 

(9)    In addition to Janet’s illness, and Comet’s bone cancer, I must spend a little time each week helping a couple thousand users with the reality that our project is being turned off, and that (starting Monday), I will be the only person left to keep things running.  Of course, Janet gets the highest priority for my time, but if any of you would like to visit her, that would allow me to catch my breath a bit.  I plan to retire in July.

(10) If you visit, Janet will want to feed you and to make you comfortable.  This cannot happen, so please keep this in mind when you visit.  Greg was the perfect guest:  Spent lots of time with his beloved sister, and made the kitchen and laundry sparkle.  I’m happy to order fine dinners from local restaurants, and if Janet is as strong as she is right now, there are lots of places where we can enjoy eating.  Once again, I’ll pick up the check so that we keep Janet out of the kitchen.

(11) By the end of the weekend, I will put up a Janet news section at CherryEngineering.com.  Please look for it late Sunday.

(12) This e-mail is going out only to Janet’s and my siblings.  Please forward as appropriate, or provide the http://www.CherryEngineering.com  link.  I’m not going to send out updates every week as I did while she was in the hospital, as I’m sure that some folks could not stand being bombarded with unhappy news every few days.

(13) If you respond with “Please let me know what I can do…” in your e-mail, please be ready to install new LED lights in the hallway, prepare meals, take Janet out for a wonderful day at the Museum of Industry or the American Visionary Museum, walk the dogs, do laundry, and especially just spend quality time with our beloved Janet.  (Thanks in advance.  Yea, these are things that I would normally do (and, mostly, enjoy), but my time is limited because of Janet’s needs.)

(14) If you cannot make it, we can try Skype again.

 

All the Best,

 

Ray.