Sunday, January 27, 2013

The End of the Beginning: Chapter 2

January 27th, 2012, started off just like any other day. I talked to Elaine on her way to the gym while I was on my way to Christi’s school to watch the kids run laps for their fundraiser. We confirmed our plan to meet for lunch at South Coast and return a purse. It wasn’t but a few minutes later my phone rang with a call that would change our lives forever.

I was watching the kids run, giving them five, and laughing with them. I felt my phone buzz and saw it was my friend Kristin. I didn’t answer. It was loud, and I couldn’t talk. It rang right back and I thought it must be a pocket dial, an accidental call. When it rang the third time in a row, I thought I had better answer. She said, “I’m at the gym with your mom. Don’t freak out, but something has happened to her and they have called the ambulance.”

Of course I freaked out, but I thought it was her racing heart again, and I couldn’t hear her very well and said I would call her right back. I ran as fast as I have ever ran before to my car. I called my dad, who never answers the phone on the golf course, but happened to pick up. He was in Palm Desert. I explained what little I knew, and told him I would call as soon as I got to the gym and could figure out what was going on. I called Ben next who I thought was in LA in a meeting. He didn’t answer. I knew he wouldn’t have his phone on in the meeting so I texted him, “CALL ME 911.” He surprisingly called me right back, as he was getting ready to leave to go to LA because the meeting had been pushed back. He told me he would meet me at the gym.

I called Kristin back to figure out what was going on. She was staying with my mom, talking to her and caring for her. She was able to put me on the phone with the paramedic. He told me she was having a stroke. I am so grateful to Kristin for being there with my mom, being so kind and caring, and letting her know that she wasn’t alone. Despite Elaine’s condition, she told Kristin, “I’m mad at you for calling Staci. You don’t need to bother her with this. I’m fine.” I don’t remember parking the car, but I won’t ever forget pulling into the parking lot and seeing the ambulance and fire truck, knowing that they were there for my mom.

I ran into the gym and saw my poor mom on the gurney, clearly having a stroke, scared, and saying, “I’m not having a stroke.” It was life saving mode now. We loaded in the ambulance and headed to Hoag. I called my dad, who was already on the road heading to Newport, and Ben, who was meeting me at the hospital. We wheeled her into the ER and they were scrambling to get her on the machines and to the scans she needed. Ben called Dr. Hackshaw on the way to the hospital. He continued to walk us through the next few hours. He was amazing, and a lifesaver for Ben and me.

It was a moment you can never be prepared for, when you are asked to truly make life and death decisions with no time for a second opinion or to sleep on it. Elaine never lost her sense of humor, insisting that they not cut her shirt off, despite me arguing that we can get her a new one. The staff was incredibly kind and managed to get her out of her shirt, without cutting it. My poor dad was driving a million miles an hour, in shock, and not sure if he was going to see his wife alive upon his arrival. We continued to call him, making sure we were all in agreement, keeping in mind that we wanted to be aggressive, giving her the best chance at a life. We knew life as a vegetable is not what she would want, She didn’t want them cutting into her brain. She made me promise I wouldn’t let them do that.

The TPA was our first choice, although given the severity of her brain bleed (of which Ben and I saw the proof), they weren’t overly optimistic it would work. Ben continued to stay in touch with Dr. Hackshaw, as we trusted him implicitly. He was in agreement as well. Suddenly, as if it wasn’t possible for the day to get worse, it did. Ben and I were holding my mom’s hand when, Dr. Death as I called him, asked us to step outside and talk to him. He brought us to another computer with some x-rays. They did a body scan and showed us her lung. He then points to two masses. I stared at him in disbelief. There is no way it can be cancer, it just can’t. I literally fell to the floor in shock and heartbroken.

We didn’t want to tell my dad until we could tell him in person. We stayed calm and fortunately, the TPA was working, the clot buster was doing its job! Thank you Herb Boyer and Genetech! Ben met my dad in the parking lot to tell him of the “cancer.” They had moved Elaine to ICU by then, and I will never forget the look on my mom’s face when she saw my dad. She had been telling me throughout the morning that she was “mad you called dad! He didn’t need to get off the golf course for this.” When she saw my dad, they both started to cry, and you could see the sense of relief in both their eyes, each feeling relief for different reasons. Fred sat there holding Elaine’s hand for the next few hours, refusing to leave her side. It was in that, typically two hour drive, that only took Fred 1 hour and 20 minutes, his entire life flashed before him and not knowing if the next time he saw her, she would be dead or alive! We are so grateful she is alive!

It was a day we will never forget, and a day that has changed our lives, our behavior, our attitudes, forever. Your always say you are going to live in the moment, enjoy every day like its your last, not sweat the small stuff, never take a moment with a loved one or friend for granted. These are all easy to say, but harder to do. I have learned that I have the strongest mother alive. I always knew that she was a fighter, but she has been courageous, brave, not felt sorry for herself, not given up, and had the most incredible attitude. Sure she has had some dark days, but who wouldn’t in her situation? She could have crawled in a hole, but she didn’t! She has defied all of the odds, making the impossible, possible.

My dad has surprised me the most. He has been more patient that I ever knew anyone could be, especially him. He has been aggressive in seeking out options, alternatives, new technology or ideas. He has been her voice and brain when she needed him the most. He has been her rock, her shoulder to cry on, her entertainer, and her best friend. He has been incredibly compassionate, and loving. He stepped into a role that I don’t think anyone thought he was capable of, and has simply been amazing. There is no doubt in my mind that Elaine would not be recovering so well, and be the medical miracle she is, without his constant love, support, and attention.

I’m sure she dreams, or has nightmares, hearing his voice saying, “straighten your leg, where is your arm, swing your arm, don’t hitch.”

He has never given up on her, and she has never given up on herself. They are the dream team. It is an incredible feeling knowing that your parents are so committed to each other and have such a strong love, especially in this situation.

Ben does not get the credit or accolades that he deserves. He has been an instrumental part of my mom’s recovery in so many ways. The first night my mom was in the ICU, my dad was exhausted, mentally, and physically, after a very long day. We were at the hospital and Ben came back with his backpack, insisting that he stay with Elaine. Ben didn’t sleep a wink that night, just sat there holding Elaine’s hand, watching monitors, and staring at her. Ben spent many nights in the hospital and rehab hospital with my mom as well. He spent hours taking to doctors, and doing research. He never did this out of obligation, but out of pure love and because he wanted to.  Ben has been so supportive and loving to my mom, my dad, and I, in different ways, but each of us needing him. I am so lucky to have married my best friend and the half that made me whole. Ben, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being by my side throughout the past 11 years, and especially this past year. Thank you for loving my parents so much, too.

There are many lessons we have learned over the year. The most valuable to me has been the importance of family and friends. If you have your health, but no one to share the goods days with, your life is empty. The four of us have worked very closely as a team this past year. We have cried together, laughed together, and most of all, shared love. I have been amazed of the depths of friendships that my parents have, too. We have said it often, but it continues to humble and inspire us, and we could never express our gratitude for the outpouring of love, prayers, and support we have been given throughout the year. Elaine had countless visitors in both hospitals and when she arrived home. People still continue to reach out, inviting them to lunch, dinner, or just wanting to visit. Their friends have filled their days, and given them strength. All of you have displayed friendship in its truest form, and it will never be forgotten. It takes somebody who is very loved, a special soul, and wonderful to have such caring friends. Elaine is certainly that person.

Elaine has inspired so many with her dedication, perseverance, courage, and determination. She has had visitors from all ages visit. Her granddaughter wrote an inspirational paper about her. Elaine had three friends run half marathons for her; Christi, Jackie and Kendra. Greg wrote a song about Little Darlin’. Elaine had a golf tournament dedicated to her. Her ETS bracelets became a staple on all our friends. Elaine even had an award named after her at Palm Desert High School. 

It has been quite a year, and we are celebrating January 28, 2013 as the beginning of our new year! We are full of hope, full of love, full of inspiration, and full of faith. We are thankful to God for answering our prayers. Thankful for each other. Thankful for our friends. We are celebrating the life Elaine is living!

We made a video of the past year from photographs we have taken. We will warn you, it’s a bit long! Its in chronological order, and clearly made by very inexperienced movie makersJ The easiest way to watch it is by clicking on this link:

It should work on your computer, phone, or iPad.

We want to say a very special thank you to Richie, Julie, and Vangie. The three of them completely upended their lives to help us (and continue to do so) every single time we needed them. Their love, kindness, and sacrifice will always be remembered and incredibly appreciated by all of us.  There are not enough words to ever fully express our gratitude. 

This blog has been an important part of our journey. We are so thankful and humbled by all of you who read it and who have told us how much you appreciate it. It means the world to us, and to Fred and Elaine. 

We started this blog a year ago. It is now time that we sign off. Elaine has come so far. We have all come so far. There may be a post every so often if there is something to say, but we hope that the health of Fred and Elaine speaks for itself. Updates will come from seeing them living their lives! We love you, thank you, and Happy New Year! 


Monday, January 21, 2013


Fred and Elaine had a full house of the long weekend! They were both exhausted last night after a fun day of football, swimming, bike rides, and golf cart rides. Elaine went into the jacuzzi, hoping that would help her shoulder pain. Unfortunately, it didn't help, but the kids had fun having her outside with them.

Elaine worked out in the gym with Greg today. Fred and Staci joined in towards the end. Elaine has had very manageable pain over the last month until the past few days. We are trying to figure out what it has flared back up. We also talked a lot about the next steps. Elaine has made tremendous progress over the past year. She literally learned to walk again. Elaine has built such a strong foundation, and basically started over. She has worked so hard to get to where she is now, and she is ready for the next step. Greg really wants to focus on her left arm, to keep it from curling up, which is naturally does when she isn't thinking about it. The more she does it, the faster her brain will retrain to be her natural position. He is also working on her step, keeping her foot pointed straight ahead and her step heel to toe. This is something she has been working on since learning to walk again, but now her muscles are stronger, and able to support her.

The exciting news for Elaine is that she is moving on from "stroke rehab" and onto more advanced exercises. Elaine really is going to focus on paying attention to her pain and finding that level to push herself, without getting in too much pain. Elaine is also going to ice and use heat a few times a day, a habit she has recently strayed from.

We are excited for Elaine, and for the progress she has made. She has three main goals about six months ago; to hold Brian, to drive, and to be able to golf. She is able to do two of the three, and we believe she will be golfing at some point soon, too. Nothing she ever does surprises us. She is a strong and remarkable woman. Elaine is taking life by the horns to be better then ever!

Fred is still having a fair amount of pain. Unfortunately, his bladder control is not improving, but he is optimistic, and practices his kegel exercises daily. Anyone that knows Fred, knows that he doesn't do anything half way, or work up to a goal. He tried to achieve it on the first day. He has been out walking, a little too much, but pushing himself. He sees his doctor in a month, so hopefully Fred will be able to show off to him by then. Fred and Elaine have been through so much, and we pray that things will settle down soon. We were so happy to spend the weekend with them. We never take a moment for granted.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Today's post is mostly an update on all of our patients. Elaine continues to be active here in the desert. She had a great time with Mary today. Elaine's shoulder pain has reared its ugly head again over the past few days. We hope that it starts to feel better soon. Fred's situation is definitely improving. He is eagerly anticipating "back to normal"!

They were both very happy to see Christi, Taylor, and Brian show up in the desert this afternoon (but not as happy as Christi, Taylor, and Brian were to see Fred and Elaine!). The house will be crazy and noisy for a couple days, and there will undoubtedly be lots of fun and laughter. 

Ben's dad is also improving. They have finally determined that he has Organizing Pneumonia - and they have a definitive course of treatment. He should be out of the hospital within a week.

After a long day of errand running and lunches and golf cart rides and bike riding, everyone headed over the Palm Court for dinner with Fred and Elaine's old friend Jim. It was a great time catching up and telling old stories (most of which cannot be repeated on this blog). 

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Big Thursday in the desert! Fred and Elaine visited Larry in the hospital early in the day. They both said he is looking much better and was considerably stronger. Keep your fingers crossed that the improvement continues and he gets to go home soon.

Elaine stayed busy with a workout with her trainer and a lunch at the Palm Court with her girlfriends. It was an active day, and she was definitely feeling some pain in her shoulder this evening. But, as usual, she fought through her pain all day and even went out to dinner!

Fred was equally as active today. He even went to the driving range. He started with putts, moved to chips, graduated to pitching, and even went for full swings. Quite a progression.

Ok. Ben is taking over here to tell a quick story about Fred. They warned Fred that he might have a few bizarre dreams that may be sexual in content. Well, that prediction sort of came true. Here's the dream:

Fred was at his friend Jerry's house. Jerry is a movie producer so there are all kinds of celebrities always running around his house. Well, on this particular day, Fred's very favorite celebrity, Halle Berry, was visiting Jerry. Like most women, she was instantly attracted to Fred (please keep in mind that this is Fred's dream). She made some eyes at Fred. Fred made some eyes at her. Eventually, she couldn't hold herself back any longer. She invited Fred to take a walk out on to the patio. Fred knew that this was his lucky day - and Halle's, too (remember this is his dream so he can believe that). Anyway, they get outside. Halle looks at Fred with her smoldering brown eyes. Then she makes her move. She takes one hand and grabs is face ready to kiss him. She takes the other hand and grabs his behind. . . . . 

But wait! Oh no!  What does she feel back there?

"Fred, what is this? Are you wearing a . . . diaper?" she asks tentatively. 

What can Fred do but be Fred and reply, "Sorry Halle. I don't think this is going to work out!"

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


The Smiths made it to the desert yesterday. They are thrilled to be back "home" with so many close friends, and hopefully some warmer weather. Elaine went to the gym to work out this morning and then ran some errands, yes, she drove in her car:) We still are so excited to mention that!

Fred is hanging in there too, and not complaining. Fred is so strong and such a fighter, too! He spent the morning at the hospital with Ben's dad, Larry. We are reaching out to you all for your thoughts and prayers again for Larry. He is still in the hospital. He has been through so much, and they still aren't able to figure out what he has. They are going to do a lung biopsy in the morning. We are cautiously optimistic that they will find out what type of infection or disease he has. We are asking for your thoughts and prayers for Larry that they will find out what he has so they can treat it accordingly.

He has been in the hospital since December 25th, and they still don't know what is wrong. He has been put through hell, including being on a respirator and feeding tube while also being treated with various antibiotics and steroids. He is a strong man, surrounded by lots of love from his family and friends. We know he can overcome this, we just need to know what he is fighting. As we have said before, we are so humbled and appreciative of your love, support, and prayers. We are asking you to extend them to Larry and Vicki during this difficult time.

The Smith and Francois families have certainly been tested over this past year, but they have learned that love, care, and support from family and friends is the most important thing there is. We have tried to wave the white flag, but so far, to no avail. We are still waiting to celebrate January 27th though, in hopes that it is our New Year!  We feel fortunate to have in our lives people that care, and that everyone is still here, and that we are surrounded by love.

Fred and Elaine have been exceptional role models to us all. They have defined true love, they have overcome the odds that have been stacked against them (several times), and they have given every single person hope. They are our inspiration, they are our leaders, and while we know they draw strength from us, we draw so much strength from them! They make the impossible seem possible. No one asks to be sick, or to be dealt the misfortunes that we all will face at some point. Fred and Elaine have shown us through love, determination, perseverance, and will, anything is possible. They have handled it with courage, strength, and prepared to fight!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


The Smith house slept really well last night, which was a welcome affair. Fred and Elaine had a busy day packing for the desert. They are planning to be down there for a few weeks.

Once the packing and car loading was complete, the Smiths spent the rest of the day relaxing. The Francois family stopped by a couple times. Brian and Ben dropped off coffee and bagels. Then, the whole squad bombarded the house for an hour or so.

As Sunday is supposed to be, it was a day of rest for Fred and Elaine. They are definitely ready for a great time in the desert!

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Elaine and Julie had a really fun day together. They did some shopping, had lunch, and then went to the salon for pedicures, manicures, and blow drys. The pedicure proved to be a little challenging. Elaine wears long underwear to keep her warm. Getting those and her pants up without cutting off her circulation was a little difficult, but they managed. Julie and Richie are heading back to Arizona tomorrow for a few weeks, so they loved sharing the day together. Richie and Fred relaxed at home and watched football. Fred hasn't been sleeping very well, and had an upset stomach as well. The Francois family come by to say goodbye to Bella, and had some takeout. Elaine and Christi heated up some soup for Fred. Elaine had a great day, and we are hoping Fred gets feeling better soon!

Friday, January 11, 2013


TGIF! It has been a long week for everyone, but as usual, the Smiths keep fighting on. It was actually a pretty busy day. Richie and Fred spent some time at the doctor. Elaine and Julie spent some time at the doctor. Fred learned from a CT scan that he is on the road to  recovery, but it will be a bumpier and longer (and wetter) road than originally expected. Somehow, Fred keeps pressing on. It certainly wasn't the best news he could have received, but his positive attitude through this is amazing (though not surprising).

Richie and Julie came by tonight after a stop the mall where they picked up new shoes and long underwear for the ever cold Elaine. It was a much appreciated gift!

Julie had planned on making turkey pasta on her own, but she had a very special helper this evening. Under Julie's supervision, Christi was involved in the entire process - cooking the turkey, making the pasta, and mixing it all together.

We want to thank Richie and Julie again for being so wonderful to our kids. Taylor came home and told me that she climbed on Richie like he was a jungle gym. Cooking with Christi and climbing with Taylor and letting your dog be harassed by Brian are all pretty special. We are so lucky to have them!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Another day closer to full recovery for Fred. He is not all the way there, but he has a great attitude about it all.

Elaine went to lunch at the club with Staci and Brian this afternoon. They ventured out despite what we Southern Californians would consider a very cold day! So cold, in fact, that Elaine dressed like she was going skiing! See the evidence below!

After lunch, our old friend Greg stopped by the house to see Fred and Elaine. Greg was happy to see that Fred was doing well. He was even happier to see that Elaine had come so far since he last saw her. He was so impressed that she was driving and that she back to her old self. Greg asked Elaine when she was going to make him her world famous chocolate chip cookies. He will be waiting!

Fred and Elaine's friend Bob C stopped by to check on the Smiths. They are so grateful to have such caring friends. This evening, Richie and Julie came by the house to make burgers and relax!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


It was a big day at the Smith house. Fred went to the doctor as scheduled to get his catheter removed. It has been a trying week since his procedure, but he has done exceptionally well given his circumstance.

They did tell him today that the cancer in prostate was "outside the margin" or outside the organ. The surgeon saw that/suspected that during the operation and believes that he got it all. However, just to be sure, Fred will get blood tests every five weeks to check for evidence that it spread beyond the prostate.

After two trips to the doctor, Fred and Elaine headed over to True Foods with Richie and Julie for relaxing and healthy dinner.

We can't believe that is has been a week since Fred's operation. He was a pillar of strength suffering through his procedure and the aftermath without complaint. We are incredibly impressed by his strength!

Of course, he had a great role model in Elaine. The last 11 months haven't been easy, but she has clawed her way back to her old life. It won't be long before she is at the grocery store twice a day just like old times! :).

Fred and Elaine have had more than their share of crap thrown their way, but they have persevered and are thriving! We are so proud of them!

In other news, we are happy to report that Ben's dad is finally off the breathing machine and is recovering well (though slowly) in ICU. He should be moving to the regular floor tomorrow and be home soon after.

Monday, January 7, 2013


We are so proud of Fred as he not only kicked cancer's butt, but he is also pushing himself to take long walks and keep moving. He feels really good, although his stomach looks like he got in a massive fight. His entire right side is black and blue. This is likely attributed to the dancing lesson he tried to give in recovery. Fortunately, it looks much worse than it feels. He is well on his way to 100%. He even ditched the bucket today and strapped on the smaller bag. We are so thankful his recovery is going so well.

The Smiths had a great night of sleep as well. Elaine continues to work hard. She had Pilates today, but went early to the gym so she could ride the bike. She is really progressing and her instructor is thrilled with her progress and the muscles she is building on her left side.

In other news, Elaine is exhausted all the time. We have tested her blood, and everything came back normal. The conclusion we have come to, is that everything she does takes SO much effort for her. While Elaine has made incredible progress, everything she does is hard on her. Getting out of a chair, tying her shoes, taking a plate to the sink, these are little things we do without thinking. These are things Elaine had to learn to do again, all the while still having her body ache from head to toe. She doesn't complain, and she is without pain medication. We are hopeful the pain will subside soon. We have been told the the neurological pains typically stop after about a year. Fred said he is so inspired by Elaine and all she is and has gone through. It quickly put in perspective his recovery.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Considering that they never really left the house, it was a pretty busy Sunday for Fred and Elaine. We are sure it feels that every time the Francois family comes over - especially when they come at 9 AM and don't leave until the afternoon. When you mix in a visit from Fred's son, Freddie, and Ron, it makes for a pretty active day.

Thankfully, Julie was there in the morning to make the most delicious pancakes (with Bella who was a hit for the kids - and Staci who is now a little dog crazy). Later in the afternoon, Richie came by for a visit, too!

Julie made a wonderful turkey breast for dinner. And now that "it" has happened, Fred is cleared to eat whatever he likes!

All in all, it was a great day with family and great friends! Here is a great photo from this morning when almost everyone was involved in making pancakes. Talk about too many cooks in the kitchen!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Fred continues down the first few steps on the road to recovery following his surgery two days ago. He mostly rested today, and is feeling pretty good overall. Of course, he is experiencing some soreness in his abdomen and shoulders (shoulders because of the odd position he was in during the procedure). 

The Francois family came by this morning to drop off coffee and bagels. Elaine was already out at Pilates on her own. When she came back home, we realized that it can take a village to clean a catheter!  After everyone was situated, Fred led the whole family on a walk around the neighborhood! 

There were some questions about the purpose of Fred's bucket. It is the carrying case for the catheter bag. Not pleasant, but now you know! In related news, the doctor told Fred that the bag would last 12 hours. The doctor was wrong. Fred learned that and fixed that at 4 am this morning. Mr. Independent! 

Hopefully, everyone gets some sleep tonight and the bucket doesn't get too messy!

Friday, January 4, 2013


We got Fred home today, and he is thrilled to be there! The night went well, and his pain has been pretty bearable. As the day wore on, his back and shoulders were really sore from being on the operating table for so long and in such an odd position. He is having a massage this evening to hopefully relieve some of the tension.

Fred has an additional reason for his soreness. Apparently, he kept trying to get up and said he wanted to dance when he first got to the recovery room.  At one point, he even ripped his drain out from his side from all his crazy movements. Anyone that has seen him on the dance floor will believe that:)

Fred's eyes started to clear up mid-morning. The doctor said its rare for that to happen and it's from the position of his head during surgery being bent back. Apparently, when you have surgery they run all kinds of fluids through your body. Since Fred's head was below his body, the fluids went towards his eyes. Eventually, those fluids crystallized, Fred rubbed his eyes, and it caused soreness, swelling, and blurred vision. The Doc said it happens 3-4 times a year. Fortunately, his eye sight continued to improve, and Fred didn't want to stay in the hospital just to see the eye doctor. All his numbers were good and the doctor cleared him to go home!

The kids were waiting at the house to greet Fred when Julie and Richie brought him home this afternoon. Fred was starving so Elaine had eggs and jello waiting for him.  He is on a soft diet for the next few days. Fred and Elaine were cracking up as they were trying to figure out the catheter. Staci was there when the nurse was explaining it, so she was trying to teach them. It was quite entertaining. It will be an interesting week.

It is a good thing that Fred and Elaine are very experienced at laughing through their trials. They wanted to go out for a little walk to get some fresh air this afternoon. They (Fred) was certainly a site to be seen. He is trying to get used to carrying is little white bucket with him. Richie warned him that he will only walk away without it once:)

We got some especially great news this evening! The doctor called Fred to let him know that the biopsy results were back, and the cancer had not spread! The doctor rushed pathology because he was concerned that it had spread. His cancer was very, very aggressive. The doctor was shocked by its aggressiveness. This was one of the primary reasons the surgery took so long. His prostate was very enlarged and the cancer was aggressive and starting to spread outside the walls. He took his time to get as much of the area around it as possible, and that was very beneficial to Fred. It was a matter of a week or two that it would have spread at the rate it was going. There is no doubt that both Fred and Elaine have angels looking down on them. We are so grateful tonight! Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and love. They have been answered!

Larry is also continuing to improve. He's still in ICU and on a respirator, but improving!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


The day started very early for us all. Elaine found Fred in the in the kitchen at 11:58pm devouring what was left of the ice cream. She said, "Fred you can't eat past midnight." He said, "I have two more minutes left and I am eating until 12!" He did too. It was a sleepless night, as you can imagine. Richie(also known as the greatest brother ever) picked Fred up at 5:30am. They checked into the hospital and Ben and Staci weren't far behind. Richie had Fred laughing and helped keep him calm, although Fred remained in good spirits during pre op.

Fred was anxious for his "juice." There was a slight delay.  Fred did forget to take off his "Love" bracelet that requires a screwdriver. The nurses were scrambling to find screwdrivers. Fortunately, Ben became MacGyver, and used a clip he found in his briefcase to get it off. Even the doctors were impressed:)

They wheeled him back about 7:30 am to start the procedure. It took longer than the 3 1/2-4 hours they excepted. They finished about 12:30. It went really well. His prostate was very enlarged, that is why it took longer. They had to go very slow with the robot at times, but they got it all. They got plenty of nodes to sample, and we should know the results next week. It appears to be contained to the prostate. Everything went as well as we could hope today. He was very sleepy all afternoon and evening. He did get up and walk tonight, and is ready to come home! He didn't have any pain this evening, his only source of discomfort are his eyes. They are burning and swollen. It is from the surgery, and the position of his head, likely because it took longer than anticipated. We are hopeful the medicine will not wear off until morning, and he has a restful night of sleep. 

Elaine was exhausted tonight. It was a long day. She was happy not to be the one in the hospital bed this time, but we are hoping to stay away from hospitals for the rest of the year. Elaine has been unusually tired, and cold. She walks around in a ski parka all the time. They did some blood work today to make sure everything is ok. She was relieved to have the day over and ready to take care of Fred! 

Thank you to everyone for your love, prayers, and concern. We are so grateful! Thank you for your prayers for Larry as well. After Fred was out, and Ben was able to see him, he headed to the desert to visit his dad in the hospital. Please continue to keep him in your prayers a well. Much love from the Smith and Francois Family and a HUGE thank you to Richie and Julie, who yet again, have come to our rescue! We are hopeful that we will be able to bring Fred home tomorrow afternoon. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


We are all anxious for tomorrow and ready for Fred to have his procedure. The Smiths are in good spirits and Elaine is buzzing around town! Elaine looks great! She is clear headed and medication free, we are proud to announce! She went through some aches and pains like a champion, but is ready to resume her role as Fred's caretaker! She has been going to Pilates for her appointments and on her own to ride the bike. Fred has done all his necessary prep work, and has his package of post op surgery goodies. He is very optimistic, as we all are!

We are asking for another favor tonight. The love, prayers and concern you have showed  Fred and Elaine are so appreciated! We ask that you please add Ben's father, Larry to them as well. He is in the hospital as well, currently in ICU. He has a horrible case of pneumonia, one of the worst the hospital has seen. He is going on a ventilator tonight to give his lungs some rest. He is really struggling to breathe and has been wearing a very invasive oxygen mask and it is not giving his lungs enough of a break and they need to heal. Please say an extra prayer for him, as well as the whole Francois family. Thank you!

We are bring in 2013 with a BANG, but thinking our official "new year" begins on January 27th! A HUGE shout out to Dr. Barry Hackshaw who is Elaine's cardiologist, Fred's phone mate a few times a week (discussing Elaine's ever changing INR level), and is also overseeing Larry in the hospital, acting as both a doctor, and most importantly, a friend. It is rare to find someone like Dr. Hackshaw in the medical world and we are so grateful to have him on our side!!