Monday, February 14, 2011

Good Things in the Works

Last week was so busy that I didn't have much time to keep you in the loop. Now, we have a rainy Monday morning, and I can bring you up to date. First of all,
Happy Valentine's Day!
I hope the day brings awareness of much love and light in your life - all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind.

Last week, a leak appeared in our basement. It was coming from the water intake pipe, which leads to our house from a four-party well. Living in Western Washington, having a leaky basement isn't all that odd...but it wasn't a particularly rainy week, so we wondered...and put a bucket underneath the pipe, to catch the drips. Then, we added rags, then realized (as the floor filled with water) that this leak was growing. So I called our niece, Robin, who owns an earth-moving business with her husband, Brant (Aspen LLC). Brant came over with his colleague, and they found and repaired the leak in one day! That is cause for gratitude. Now we are drying out the basement area that was affected.

I delivered 20 more quilts to a friend who works at Seattle Children's Hospital - she is going to deliver them to the Volunteer Office for us on her way to work. Thank you, Tracie!

A quickie visit from my precious Maribeth - in and out in 24 hours, but how wonderful to hug her, eat our favorite Thai take-out dishes with Gregg, drink wine and talk late into the night. The fun of getting up in the morning, having coffee together and talking more before she felt like Christmas to me!

On Friday night, we watched "The Big Lebowski" - yes, we are that far behind on movies. Oh my goodness, it was funny! "The Dude Abides" - my new favorite line.

Saturday brought us to Seattle to dine with Allegra and her B.Loved. Yes, she is well enough to make a drive up here with her B.Loved (and their adorable puppies)! She has thanked all of you for your prayers for her. She amazes me with her energy and joie de vivre, particularly so soon after such a debilitating illness. We also met their friends, Pauline and Richard, who joined us for dinner. Since Allegra trained at Cordon Bleu and used to own a restaurant, sharing a meal with her is great fun, and an education at the same time. She is a gifted storyteller, and her B.Loved is a most chivalrous and tender partner. Thank you, B.Loved & Allegra!

Yesterday, we slept in, took a beautiful walk on the island, pruned grasses and rosa rugosa in our garden, and relaxed in the evening. Today, the Valentine's celebrations will be low-key: a delicious meal and a loving card is our tradition, and our delicious meal will take place later this week at Paella Bar's Spanish Wine and Food Pairing dinner (look on the right-hand side of the page for the evening's menu and wines). I can hardly wait...but, for today, it will be enough to welcome my love home from work, and spend the evening with him. We might even take a romantic trip to Costco!

The biggest news is that I am about to embark on a new project.

For some time now, I have wanted to use what we learned during Katie's treatment for cancer, in some way that would bless others. The idea came to me to make a seminar of sorts, for medical students and hospital staff - a video, telling the story from the patient's and family's perspective, as it weaves across medical disciplines and many months. One reason that I want to do this is to spare myself from telling the story over and over again, when I am asked to share in front of groups. Another reason is that, having seen the tears on the faces of those to whom I've spoken, I believe that medical students would benefit from "losing" a patient in practice, before it happens to them in real life. If they can watch and hear our story, they might fall in love with Katie, and care about her...and then, learning that she is going to die - "experiencing" that, through my words and photographs - they might be able to face their feelings in a safe, academic environment, before they ever face a family going through it in "real time." My hope is that this experience will better prepare them for their own sake, as well as for their patients' sake.

Last summer, Gregg & I met a lovely man, Dr. S., at two charity functions. He is the Chief Academic Officer of Seattle Children's Hospital and the Chairman of the department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington. After the video idea formed in my mind, it occurred to me that he would know if this were a good idea or not, because of the nature of his work and experience. I contacted him, and asked if he thought the idea had merit; he was enthusiastic, and full of encouragement. A week and a half ago, I presented the idea to the appropriate department of the hospital (with Dr. S.'s blessing), and last week, I was given the green light to begin - and a committment for the funding of the (modest) budget proposed. Our friend, Paul Dudley is going to film it and edit it with me. I pray that this project will bless the staff who see it, as well as their patients and families. If you are a praying person, I invite you to pray with me that this project will fulfill Love's purpose for it, and will be a blessing.
...and to my Valentine:
I love you!
The Dude Abides.


KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN 2 LUV said...

Your dude is HAWT! A blessing to have a someone who is just a GREAT loving soul, but it is icing on the cake when they are as handsome as Gregg. Love his grin! Happy Valentine's to you both!

Anonymous said...

You have been busy! I hope we'll get an opportunity to view the video, too. Glad you got to spend time with wonderful people. =] My Valentine is fishing, but he did call me this morning. xo L.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, what a post chock-ful of love and information! Happy Valentine's Day to you, first of all. And your husband is gorgeous -- wowza!

Secondly, I'm a bit envious that you've had dinner with Allegra TWICE, now! One of these days, I'm coming up there and dining with you both --

Thirdly, your project sounds amazing. I cannot wait to see how this turns out, although I imagine it will be fantastic. I will certainly send prayers your way as you go through the intense experience of it all. I have long dreamed of something sort of similar where I train/support/teach residents of neurology what it's really like to live with a child with uncontrolled epilepsy. It's the "living" part that is so difficult to "learn," I think and partly the reason why so many neurologists are in the dark. Anyway, you are an inspiration, as always.

Love and blessings to you!

Kay said...

You have been busy! Wow. This project sounds amazing. And as you said, it will help you as you won't have to relive it over and over as you speak to different groups. I think it's a great idea. And I'm sure your wonderful Paul Dudley will do a fantastic job with it!

Oh my on the leak..we don't even have basements here. Just seen them on tv. : )

Ellen said...

Reaching out with the video is wonderful. I believe it will help on so many levels. To now have a crew to work with on your personal story is a step forward to helping others...

Happy Valentine's day to you!

rebecca said...

dear karen,

you are so radiant. it seems all the doors that lead into and out of your heart are blessed in compassion. so glad you could be with our allegra and "family".

your project is a perfect fit. thank you for inspiring me with your ideas and vision. i think you know i travel and speak to the medical and patient community regarding pompes disease. i am ramping up efforts towards awareness as the average time to diagnoses remains ten long painful years.

thank you for your place in my heart. i am always uplifted by you and your spirit.

Anonymous said...

Karen - happy Valentine's day! The idea of the video is brave and inspiring - I have no doubt that it will strengthen these young students as well as hopefully provide them with some compassion as they turn to guide other families through the path you tread with Katie. x

ChiTown Girl said...

Your Valentine is awfully handsome!! I hope you have a copy of that photo framed and sitting somewhere where you can look at it all the time! Yowza!!!

Your new project sounds awesome. I can't wait for the updates. I know it'll be a smashing success, cuz, DUH! Look who's behind it!!

Mary Potts said...

Oh Karen, what a BRILLIANT idea! This extraordinary gift will help so many students prepare and gain some understanding of a subject that is so delicate before having to face the real thing. I hope to be able to see the finished product.

Katie's legacy is certain to live on and on...

Busy Bee Suz said...

Ok, let me say this again: WOW.
you have been so productive. (I feel so lazy now)
I LOVE this idea you have come up can ONLY help and never hinder. Seriously....this is brilliant.
Glad the basement is now dry...and that you had so many enjoyable moments last week. Thank goodness Allegra is better!!!

I still have not seen the Big Lebowski. So, what does that say about me??? **peeking from under my rock***

Love that photo of Gregg. He is so both make such a lovely couple together.
Enjoy your day. Oh, and I think Costco is most romantic (pop a squat in the wine section and enjoy) that.

Allegra Smith said...

And we could have ordered a bottle of champagne if you would have shared this wonderful news!

I cannot begin to tell you how much we enjoyed our evening with you and Gregg. Pauline and Richard were delighted to meet you and to find out their friends are your parents friends was the "is a small world after all" touch.

Cannot wait to see you and my boyfriend soon. Happy Happy Happy Hearts Day to you both with my love as always. Cannot wait either
to see that very important film not just for the Hospital but I think it should be available to anyone dealing with grief. I am so proud of you!

wv: Blesari - how aprop.

Karen said...

So much good is happening there, and I am excited for you and for those who will benefit from what you are sharing with them. You really make the world a better place, Karen. This is a wonderful answer to prayer in and of itself, but we will continue to pray that it will exactly what you hope and more. God bless you.
Love, Karen

Lakeland Jo said...

Lots of prayers from me about your wonderful new project. It sounds marvellous

Tracey Axnick said...

Karen, I love the idea of your project. I do remember when you posted last Summer about meeting the doctor... and I think (no, I KNOW) you could offer so MUCH to people, based upon your experience and the wisdom you have gleaned from it.
I think it's a beautiful thing.... your own "ministry", if you will. I know it will be a blessing to so many people! Call me corny, but I'm very proud of you for doing this!

Mary said...

I am so THRILLED for you about this video project. I do think it will really help educate and prepare doctors about the experience ultimately really help the families they are working with. You inspire me!!