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Signing Off

3 Mar

I am sure many of you have gotten word that Heaven received a beautiful angel today.  Emily passed peacefully in her sleep at 7:30 this morning.  I have been in St. Louis for a week now, and consider myself so blessed to be with her for these past few days.  Even though this time was the roughest part of her journey, Em had a way of keeping her wits about her and making us all smile at the most unexpected times.

A few days ago, she shared with us that she wanted to do one last blog post to let all of her followers know that she was “signing off.”  Of course, in true Emily fashion, she began by thanking everyone for their unconditional love, support, and prayers, and was apologetic for not having posted anything since Christmas.  She said there wasn’t a day that passed without her praying and praying for a miracle, but that this time, it just wasn’t meant to be.  She said she’ll be waiting at the pearly white gates to give us all a tour. 

We are arranging to have a funeral service in Minneapolis, hopefully next weekend, with a great celebration to follow, per Em’s request.  Further details are yet to be determined.

From all of the family, thanks to each and every one of you.  We all know what a precious gem my sister was.

No More Sack Attacks

27 May

I’m glad to be designated to blog duty to report some much-anticipated news…the surgery went off without a hitch! I was at work all day, so much of what you’re reading is what has been relayed to me.

The surgery in it’s entirety was about an hour and a half long procedure and included a little more than reversing the ileostomy.  Dr. Browder, Em’s surgeon, was prepared to essentially blast or cauterize any cancerous lesions she could see on the liver.  Fortunately, she didn’t have to put her light saber (or whatever it is they use) to use because she couldn’t see any lesions to attack!  Given the position of the liver and surrounding organs, however, she was only able to see about 50% of it.  If there are any lesions on the top and/or back side of the liver, they wouldn’t have been able to be burned during this surgery simply because they are inaccessible from the location Dr. Browder was working on.  We’ll talk about that another time.

Once Em came out of surgery Nick met her in the post-surgery recovery area while they waited for a room to be assigned.  In true Emily fashion, her first words to Nick were (while still being groggy from the anesthesia), “So how are my double-D’s?”


I got here shortly after 6:00 and the nurse was trying to control Em’s pain and administer correct doses of pain killers.  She’s comfortable now, and was slightly drowsy…until her red Popsicle arrived.  Last fall, she was on a strict diet of water, ice and Popsicles for quite awhile, but this time around that diet will only last for the duration of the day.

Nick and I grabbed a bite to eat at a little Louisiana kitchen down the street called Lola’s while Em snoozed for a while.  The place was quaint and felt like we were in New Orleans…even though neither of us have ever been there to compare it with.  Anyway, there was a live band playing some classic Southern music and a little Stevie Wonder (one of my personal faves) and the music, as good as it was, was so loud that we couldn’t hear each other talk.  I said to myself, “For once!  There’s something that keeps my brother-in-law’s mouth shut!”, because if you know Nick, you know how much he likes to talk.  He knows I’m teasing, and he knows how grateful we all are that he’s taking such good care of Em and is there at her every beck and call.

Anyway, after 174 days of carrying an unpleasant accessory/annoying apparatus, my sister is finally ileosotomy-free, looking forward to a future of no more sack attacks!

Until next time, folks!

Come home soon Mom…

10 Nov

...We miss you!

Battlefield Update #3: Minor Setbacks

6 Nov

Well, yesterday we were fairly excited because the doctor told Em that if she was feeling well enough she would be able to go home.  She was able to eat solid foods, was unhooked from her catheter, and detached from the pain meds that she was administering to herself when she felt she needed it.  Unfortunately later on she started to experience some painful cramping and decided she would stay the night with the hopes of heading home today.

As it stands now, however, she is still in pain and still cramping, so she’ll be spending tonight in the hospital, too.  Today my dad and Nick’s parents head home, but my mom gets into town tomorrow evening.  I’ll keep you posted about her return home; I’m sure she can’t wait to be in her own bed alongside her beloved dogs!

Battlefield Update #2: Em Goes Shopping

4 Nov

Just a quick update to let you know that Em is doing even better today.  I had to work while friends and family visited her throughout the day, but was able to stop by around 8:00 this evening.  I walked into a room filled with beautiful bouquets, games, other knick knacks, and most importantly, thanks to her good friend Jaime, a size 40DD bra to accommodate Em’s sarcastic request to come out out of a breast enhancement surgery rather than a laproscopic lower anterior resection.

Yesterday she took on a puffy appearance from having her abdomen pumped with air but she must have released it somehow because she looks much better!  She also was able to make a couple laps through the hospital hallways in a fashionable manner – because she is currently hooked up to a catheter it had to come along for the stroll as well…disguised in a shopping bag.

Doesn't she make hospital attire look good?

Tomorrow Em will be able to eat solid foods; she’s truly looking forward to UMC Bistro’s menu because, let’s face it, we all know it doesn’t get any better than hospital food.  It’s looking like she may be able to head home on Saturday, but it depends on her bowels.  Who knew life could be so dependent on a fecal stream!

Thank you all for your continued support.  She is one amazing woman, and if you ask me, it’s her optimism and high spirits that keep me positive!  I think my brother Bill put it best: Lance Armstrong ain’t got nothin’ on Em.  Except for maybe one testicle.

Battlefield Update #1: Commence Operation Kick Ass Cancer

3 Nov

Hello everyone!  My time has come to assume my role as interim blog-poster, as you may have already read.  Before I continue, I must ask that you please don’t hold as high of expectations from me to write such lighthearted and funny posts as Em has, but to maintain the integrity of the blog, I will surely try my hardest to reach the bar she has set.

I met Em, Nick, and my dad at University Medical Center (UMC) at 6:30 this morning to prepare for her 8:30 surgery.  Em and Nick got all settled in the prep room and my dad and I were later brought back to meet them.  We walked through the most secure hospital unit I have ever seen only to enter into what seemed like a crazy zoo!  Every prep station was occupied with a patient and their family, machines were beeping left and right, and nurses pushing large machines through already cramped walkways.

After settling in with Em and Nick in her 8×8 pre-op curtained cell, we had plenty of time to chat with some doctors and her prep nurses, Ann and Rizalee, two Filipino sweethearts who told us more about things we probably didn’t really need to know.  At one point Rizalee shrieked while flipping through Em’s charts and began shaking her head saying, “Oh no!”  The four of us glanced at each other wondering what the issue was. Rizalee informed us it was nothing of our concern, it’s just that the doctors liked to “play tricks on her.”  Shortly after that she ran out of the room.  She came back a few minutes later in a huff telling us that she just almost had her car towed…she had parked it in the wrong lot this morning that was considered “illegal” parking for employees.  We just laughed it off and pretended to ignore the absurdities of the morning rush at the zoo.

One of the doctors came in to ask her a few questions: Why are you here? What is the goal of having the procedure? What’s your name and your birthday?  When he walked out I asked Em how confident she felt that her doctor who would be in on the procedure had to ask her those type of questions.  She explained that it was just a standard procedure (to make sure they are dealing with the correct patient with the right chart) – and then, in her true form and high spirit, told me that when asked what the goal of her surgery was she replied, “to come out with bigger boobs.”  Only Em.

Em in her sexy hospital get-up and Nick in his lucky sweater prior to surgery.

We remained waiting for a while longer with Ann and Rizalee checking in on us to see if the anesthesiologist or surgeon, Dr. Browder, had come to talk to us.  They hadn’t.  The nurses went to go figure out where she was, as she was supposed to meet us at 8:30 (and her office is right across the street). Finally, the anesthesiologist came to go over what his role was in the surgery game, and that he had absolutely no responsibility for the operating part.  Five minutes later, another anesthesiologist came by informing us that he was taking over the task.  At this point it was hard to feel like we were making any progress aside from getting Em dressed in her sexy hospital get-up…until…Dr. Browder finally showed up around 10:00.  She told us she would call us once the surgery was finished; she proceeded to write Nick’s phone number on the pant leg of her scrubs after I offered her a piece of paper, claiming she wouldn’t lose her pants…another element instilling complete confidence in us as members of the E-team fan club…

We were told that we wouldn’t hear anything for at least 2 hours from anyone while Dr. Browder operated.  Nora, Nick’s mom/Em’s mother-in-law, met the three of us at the hospital.  Over the next 4 hours we sat patiently waiting for any news.  Around 3:00 Dr. Browder came out to tell us that Em performed beautifully during surgery, maintained stability, and there were no issues.  She showed us pictures they had taken of the tumor and 6 inches of the colon they removed.  It was only a matter of time before the nurses woke up Em and let us see her in the recovery room. She was very groggy, but she was Emily Ihrke Akerberg, nonetheless.  She was doing her best to keep up with the jokes Nick and I were trying to crack about diverted fecal streams, suction catheters and the sort.

She is now all settled in her hospital room with a nice tray of hospital soup broth and a Popsicle, and Nick, Em, DJ (my boyfriend) and I sit listening to some Notorious B.I.G. as we bring the night to a close.  Tomorrow will be a better day, hopefully filled with books, boardgames and movies.  Thank you for your patience in these posts, and I plan to write again tomorrow.  Please keep your thoughts and prayers with her, they have been serving their purpose!