Journal entry by Stephanie Fay
Hello again, folks —
Yes, “blowy” is an actual word — I just looked it up! 🙂
Nancy continues to do well with her recovery — lots of walks to regain her strength and getting out and about on errands, appointments and so forth, too.
Last week we knew Nancy had appointments at the U of M on Monday and Wednesday but we actually went over there for 4 days in a row — Monday thru Thursday. Overall, every appointment was heartening. Such compassionate cardiac doctors and device nurses. Here are a few of the things we learned:
- Nancy had an echocardiogram to check on the strength of her heart both generally and after sustaining those 52 Fiona shocks. Her ejection fraction is 65% — this is excellent! Nancy does not have heart failure. Nor does she have CAD (coronary artery disease). Nancy’s heart issues are purely electrical in nature. This why her original event was called a sudden cardiac arrest, not a heart attack (or MI). Her “plumbing” is good! This heart issue remains purely “electrical.”
- Nancy is taking a pretty heavy duty antiarrythmia drug called Amiodarone. She was on it during her first hospital stay, but they weaned her off it before discharge. This time she remained on the drug at discharge. Her electrophysiologist here, Dr Roukoz, wants to wean her off it again slowly — over a period of months. This drug has some side effects, so it’s not terrific for long-term use, especially in someone as young as Nancy, he said. Meanwhile, he ran some baseline blood tests, and Nancy had a breathing test, too, to establish a baseline for her lungs. So they will monitor all that closely.
- The PVC (premature ventricular contraction) that led to all the ventricular tachycardia (which led to the Fiona firings) is now only present in Nancy’s heart rhythm ONCE per hour on average. This is a good thing! However, this also means that having an ablation to try to stop this particular PVC is not a possibility. It has to be present in order to ablate it. Dr Roukoz said doing the procedure with those few PVCs would take hours and hours! Meanwhile, he is having Nancy wear a fancy, newer type of Holter device for 48 hours to gather all the information he can about her heart and this particular PVC.
- Dr Roukoz talked to us extensively about potassium. Nancy’s potassium and magnesium were very low at hospital admission for both cardiac events. He wants her to continue to take a potassium supplement and to eat a potassium-rich diet and stay well hydrated with water and electrolyte drinks. He said that some people are very sensitive to low potassium, and that likely Nancy is. And he wants to reduce this “trigger” to her PVCs as much as possible.
- Dr Roukoz has advised no travel for at least 3 months! Nancy may get a special dispensation to fly out to Portland for her Dad’s 90th birthday party in June, depending on how she’s feeling and how things are going. Roukoz especially doesn’t want her to travel after any Amiodarone reductions. The next step down of that won’t be until mid-July. So, there’s a good chance we won’t be leaving the state of Minnesota for much of 2018, which, aside from one summer trip to Norway and a few trips to see family that we’ve had to postpone, is okay with us.
- Nancy and I are both tremendously relieved to be home, back in the capable and compassionate hands of her cardiac caregivers, and just 7 miles away from the University of Minnesota Hospital!
- Both Dr Roukoz and Dr Bartos (her regular cardiologist) indicated that Nancy’s long-term prognosis is very good. They expect her to make a full recovery and, over a period of months, get back to her full and active life.
- In the short term, both Nancy and I remain quite anxious about another Fiona storm coming over the horizon. But we (and the docs!) know a lot more about her storms now. Dr Roukoz said he would recommend intubation and sedation as soon as possible after the very first shock if it were to happen again. He and Bartos feel that part of her storm cycle was the normal surge of adrenaline causing additional heart irritability. So sedation would interrupt that cycle quickly — and also give Nancy relief from Fiona.
- Nancy’s also taking a beta blocker called Metoprolol. This is a very common drug for heart issues. They doubled her dose during and after this hospital stay, and it appears that its side affects (lightheadedness from lowered heart rate and low blood pressure) may be affecting Nancy a few times per 24 hours. Dr Roukoz said that he could lower that dose as well if she continues to have issues. It’s certainly affecting her quality of life at the moment and, since feeling lightheaded and nauseous was a precursor to both her big events, it’s just generally alarming.
- Folks often have a PTSD reaction after their ICDs (Fiona) go off, even after just 1 firing! So Nancy is going to talk to a health counselor about that and other concerns beginning next week — with a fellow who works right out of the cardiac unit there at the clinic. Nancy says she has a few trust issues to work out with Fiona.
- I plan to follow up with a Health Partners psychologist who uses EMDR to help folks with traumatic experiences. I went to see him a handful of times after Nancy’s initial cardiac arrest. Beyond the EMDR process, I found it really helpful to talk to him in minute detail about the morning of Nancy’s arrest — what I saw, did, felt, etc. I imagine we will approach Nancy’s Fiona storm in much that same way.
- Nancy and I are so relieved to be home. Did I mention that already? Neither Nancy nor I are ready for Nancy to be by herself yet so we’ve arranged for a friend to spend time with her on several mornings each week while I get a workout in and run errands.
We want to thank you all for your outpouring of support. We’ve had a few spontaneous soup and salad deliveries — thank you for those! For the most part, we’re up and firing on all daily life fronts. If we need anything, we will definitely ask! Over the coming weeks, I know Nancy will want to see many of you locals face to face. As will I!
Like all of you, I’m grateful my Nancy is alive. She is a medical miracle with a miraculous will to live.
Patricia Sween|Apr 14, 2018
We’re so pleased that Nancy is on a good path to recovery. Your thorough report was most appreciated, Stephanie. You both are doing the right things. Love and hugs to you!
susan Donohue|Apr 14, 2018
Oh, Stephanie, what a thorough report of such a complex condition. Trying to take it all in and understand. The important thing is that you are on top of this with amazing doctors you trust who are taking all the right paths to manage this condition. Sounds like all his advice will help. Could it be so simple as potassium levels?? The next few months will show more. Meanwhile, a good idea to talk to therapists to help cope with the events. Very traumatic. But so much promise ahead! Thank you, thank you!
Barbara Taylor|Apr 14, 2018
Thank you for a thorough update. I am available for respite visits Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Feel free to call. Good to see you both at the rec center Friday. Know the outlook is good as you are in good hands and do as told.
Margaret O|Apr 14, 2018
I really appreciate being able to know all the details–and am so relieved that Nancy’s prognosis is positive! It was great to see you guys in Northfield the other day. Love you both!
Claudia Gordon|Apr 14, 2018
I am sitting in my sunroom this morning in St. Paul, trying to bask in some rays of sunshine???……BUT…..your note brought the ‘sunbeams’ to me! What a beautiful blast! Spring WILL come after all and Nancy and Stephanie will make it happen!
Gail Klemm|Apr 14, 2018
Such an uplifting and detailed report – I am one who always appreciates information, so thank you, Stephanie! I have been thinking of Nancy and you, hoping the trip home went smoothly, and that everything was continuing to improve. (Apparently, all but the weather!) Love and peace to both of you.
Lori Ellertson|Apr 14, 2018
Thank you Steph for a detailed explanation of what you and Nancy went through! Love you both to the Moon and back and your in my constant thoughts and pleadings for good health from here on out!
Terry Kenck|Apr 14, 2018
Thinking of Nancy so often and praying for a complete recovery . Thank you for the detailed report, Stephanie….what a blessing you are to Nancy. Really words seem inadequate to express how grateful I feel that Nancy is so well, despite the big challenges that remain. I am on my way to take care of my 20 month old amazing granddaughter…as Nancy knows…also named Fiona! 😃 Maybe the name Fiona means BLESSING! Wishing you joy! Terry
Kari Lipke|Apr 14, 2018
So glad for all the healing, and all still to come!
Mary Ellen Erlandson|Apr 14, 2018
Thanks for the thorough update. Glad to hear the prognosis is good. You’re in good hands at the university. Prayers for continued healing both physically and emotionally.
Jeanne Eberhart|Apr 14, 2018
Stephanie, I enjoyed reading your detailed narrative and read it to Jerry, first because I had my own heart incident a couple of years ago; and second, because he’s worked in pharma for 25 years now. Amiodarone is said to be an extremely effective drug, even after all these years, but does, as you say, have some weird side effects. My robust 90-year-old aunt has been on it from time to time and she says the same thing.
I’ve been on Metroprolol since my valve replacement, and it does agree with me. I’m on 50mg. I remember Nancy having very low BP in the old days, so maybe this is a factor—or maybe not. It does take some doing to get my heart rate up when I exercise!
I like your idea about the PTSD and the EMDR. It’s so caring of you to think of that. I may research that myself.
I believe Nancy and I are FB friends, so please Message me anytime, either of you, to say hello or to ask about any drug Jerry might have worked with.
Su Smallen|Apr 14, 2018
Wow so much good. I know EMDR is effective. Any time you need me to come over, give me a call. Oh, maybe not today, sorry. I can’t even see my neighbors house at the moment (to be fair, his house is white). Lots of love -Su
Patti Pherson|Apr 14, 2018
Positive, life-affirming thoughts and prayers being said for your continued recovery and rest period. Funny how life has a way of kicking us in the arse to remind us to slow down, breathe deeply, hug wholeheartedly and enjoy each precious moment as a gift! YOU are a gift to the world, woman! And Stephanie, you are most definitely a gift to Nancy and those of us who love her!
Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak|Apr 15, 2018
Sorry I missed your visit to campus – would have loved the chance to give a real hug instead of this virtual one. Glad to know that you are back on the path to health. Kathy
Sveinung Skjesol|Apr 16, 2018
Well, now I’m crying 🙂 Thank you, Stephanie, for what looks like full disclosure, it is both comforting to comprehend the help you are receiving, professionally and in your network, and amazing to read about all of your well-advised strategies.
Bummer that Norway is bumped to another year, but we’ll cope!
I think you already thought about this, but I think that even for yourself, this documentation will be valuable. If you are like me (and you might just be, a little, those Hegge genes and all), you think now that you will remember all of these details forever. But you won’t.
Pilgrim Lutheran Church|Apr 16, 2018
Stephanie, thank you for your detailed report. Nancy, so glad you are better and have such great doctors! We missed both of you at the women’s retreat this weekend. Take care and looking forward to seeing you both.
Anne Sabo|Apr 17, 2018
Yes, thank you for updating us so well. When feeling so helpless and far away, I really appreciate being able to follow you both on Nancy’s way to full recovery and, for both of you, the processing of this hugely traumatic episode. It’s great to hear you’re getting such good care, being followed up carefully by professionals, and supported and helped by friends in the community. I did not know you were planning a trip to Norway this summer; what a bummer you’ll have to postpone it, but then I really look forward to seeing you when you do make it over here! Hope you’re having a lovely birthday celebration of LIFE and our special NANCY today! Love you!
Journal entry by Nancy Aarsvold
Hello, all —
Here is our last update from Scottsdale since we have been cleared to travel home to Minnesota tonight!
Stephanie and I have had a relatively quiet week here in a comfortable AirBnb condo. It was nice to have a simple daily routine of walks and light meals, naps and visits with family in person or on the telephone. I tire easily, but I have been able to walk a little further and sleep a little better as each day passed.
We have also been able to have a little outing each day to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the car wash, and even lunch at a restaurant one afternoon. Our sister-in-law Kit arrived on Wednesday, so it was good to have time with her. We spent a couple of lovely family evenings on Brad and Lisa’s balcony with Kit. She left early this morning to drive our car back to the Twin Cities, and we are grateful for that help.
Yesterday, I had an appointment with Dr. Zawaneh, the electrophysiologist who treated me in the Scottsdale hospital and saved my life by finding a way to stop the “electrical storm” of ventricular fibrillation that I experienced for about 12 hours on March 18. It was wonderful to see him again and be able to thank him personally for his work. He also very patiently answered the many questions we had about what had happened and cleared me to travel home later today.
Stephanie and I are grateful for the many people who have supported us via Caring Bridge, texts, and e-mails, as well as for the people who were here by our side in Scottsdale:
- Steph’s brother Brad Fay and our sister-in-law Lisa Fay who made airport runs, arranged housing and cars for my kids, hosted us for meals, and made sure I had the best decorated hospital room in town
- Steph’s sister Elaine Kinnard and our-brother-in-law Dave Kinnard who stayed with me at the hospital, held my hand and sang to me when I was anxious
- My sister Jennifer Kraemer who flew in from California the first day, stayed by my side at the hospital, and provided comfort as only a big sister can
- My son Andreas Aarsvold and his girlfriend Greta Hanson and my daughter Tina Aarsvold and her wife Jessica Aarsvold who flew in from St. Paul and Seattle the first day to watch over me, cheer me up, and be my bodyguards
- Steph’s cousin Sonia Hegge Bar from Fargo, North Dakota who visited me in the hospital several times
- Steph’s niece Tonya Katcher who arrived from Silver Spring, Maryland at the end of my hospital stay to support us for 6 days as we made the transition from hospital to home.
- Our sister-in-law Kit Hadley who flew in from St. Paul to visit us and then to drive our car home to Minnesota
- Last but not least, I am grateful for the care and constant support from Stephanie, my wife and best travel companion in life. She has been by my side during both of my cardiac events, and she is a wonderful advocate for me, working with the doctors, organizing to ensure that a family member was with me at all times in the hospital, and communicating via Caring Bridge, texts, and emails with our family and friends. She is amazing, and I’m lucky to have her as my wife. I’m attaching a picture of her that I took on St. Patrick’s Day while we were out at a beautiful golf course in Scottsdal
We will see my cardiologist, electrophysiologist, and Fiona’s device nurses at the University of Minnesota on Monday and Wednesday, so we should know more about what lies ahead at the end of next week. In the meantime, we are so excited to get home to Minnesota and see our family and friends there! And we’re hoping that our cat Judy will forgive us for how long we have been gone this winter.
Kari Dorer|Apr 6, 2018
God tur hjem!
Mary Beth Lake|Apr 6, 2018
Excited that you can fly to your summer home, family, friends!! We checked out Merlyn’s Nest; it’s a hoot—good comfort food!!
Pilgrim Lutheran Church|Apr 6, 2018
Oh, such great news! Welcome home to Minnesota!
Martha Morrow|Apr 6, 2018
Please let me know how soon I can come up and see you once you get home. I will message my number to you;-)
susan Donohue|Apr 6, 2018
Travel safely, friends! What a wonderful new beginning! Blessings on you both.
Mary Ellen Erlandson|Apr 6, 2018
Great to hear you’re able to fly home to Minnesota. Have a great trip. Wishing you continued healing and strength. Hugs.
Barbara McCauley|Apr 6, 2018
Dear, dear Nancy and Stephanie – Thank you for all this good news! We are preparing a snowy welcome home for you! With our prayers for your safe and uneventful journey. Lovingly, Barbara and Gary
Abby Brogden|Apr 6, 2018
Safe travels! This is such great news. I wish the weather was more welcoming! XOXO
Elaine Kinnard|Apr 6, 2018
We are happy you are getting better each day!
We are blessed to have you in our family!
Love to both of you!
Ps- it’s cold in Montana! Kinda like Minnesota!
Kris Grangaard|Apr 6, 2018
Take care on your travels, Nancy and Stephanie,
We look forward to seeing you. I know that weather is not my responsibility, but I still feel the need to apologize for what you will return to. Just so, so sorry. Maybe turn the heat up to 80 and don’t emerge until your appointments next week?! Or maybe you will love the change!
rhonnie mccauley|Apr 6, 2018
I have been following your Journey and am so happy to hear you guys are going home!! Thank you for including me in your journey. I can’t imagine what you all have been through with this experience. What I do know is that you have so many people who love and support you and are cheering for you. You are very loved!!! I have been cheering you on from Colorado and sending you the fresh mountain air, beautiful sunrises and sunsets. March on Soldier….I wish you love, peace and good healing. CHEERS! Rhonnie
Barbara Taylor|Apr 6, 2018
Sounds like it is time to come home and REST with no more visitors 😜
Margaret O|Apr 6, 2018
Great news that you will be coming home–sleep in your own bed and snuggle with your own cat!
Gail Klemm|Apr 6, 2018
Safe travels, dear cousin…one of these days, we need to meet in person! I have been so thankful for all of the support you have had. There is nothing like family to advocate fiercely when needed! Sending love from southern CA.
Gail Ellertson Klemm
Ann Dyellig|Apr 6, 2018
We will welcome you home with open arms (because we’ve missed you and because we’ll need to warm you up from our MN April weather!)!! Relax on the plane and the next few days as you get back to being at home. Hugs — Ann
Pat Sass|Apr 6, 2018
I’m so glad you are making such great strides! Your support system is phenomenal, which is only fitting for a phenomenal woman like you!!!! Keeping you in my prayers! – PAT SASS
Anne Sabo|Apr 6, 2018
James Davidson|Apr 6, 2018
Wonderful news Nancy. Safe travels. Go get ’em Tiger.
Jeanne Eberhart|Apr 6, 2018
Jerry and I are very, very happy for you both
Gloria Betcher|Apr 6, 2018
Wishing you safe travels and a happy homecoming. I hope Fiona stays quiet for a very long time.
Claudia Gordon|Apr 6, 2018
What a beautiful note, Nancy!……full of beautiful thoughts, beautiful people, and a beautiful picture of a loving wife. You have been truly blessed, Nancy! Welcome home, girls!
Patricia Sween|Apr 6, 2018
Love to you both as you return to normal life and activities. We’re anxious to see you!
Robin Katcher|Apr 6, 2018
I hope the travel is easy and comfortable. Sending lots of love
Marsha Foss|Apr 6, 2018
Wonderful news. It will be great to have you back in St. Paul.
Traveling mercies to you and to Kit. Love, Marsha
Su Smallen|Apr 6, 2018
I am at the ready for any help you need! Looking forward to seeing you both!
Kathy Olsufka|Apr 7, 2018
🤗 I am so happy for both of you that you can return home. I hope that your travels go smoothly and no new surprises from Fiona. What a wonderful support system you have had with lots of love and help. Cousin Kathy
Sveinung Skjesol|Apr 7, 2018
Takk igjen, Nancy! God tur heim!
Joan Haan|Apr 7, 2018
Yes, indeed! Welcome home to the Minnesota sun and snow
You will be warmly embraced!
Pat Herrington|Apr 8, 2018
Safe travels and many happy days ahead. You have an amazing network of friends and family and I am thankful that you have such support. Now go kick some butt!
Donna Dingle|Apr 8, 2018
Glad to have you back on Minnesota!
Judy Fay|Apr 8, 2018
What a journey you’re on, Nancy and Steph. And what a blessing for you to be in the company of so many who love and care about you. Will continue to hold you close as you return to the comfort of your home. Much love.
Sarah Monson|Apr 14, 2018
Welcome home to Minnesota. A journey home won’t be complete until you reunite with your old table on our balcony 🙂 Isaac and I look forward to seeing you both. Carter sends his kisses and tail wags. Nancy, we’re so thankful you’re recovering. You both are amazing and wonderful and mighty strong women.
Journal entry by Nancy Aarsvold
This is Nancy, checking in from Scottsdale, Arizona! I wanted to write and thank you for the many ways you have supported our Fay-Aarsvold family during the past two weeks — for your thoughts and prayers, for your lyrical writing and bullet lists, and for your messages and hashtags to Fiona the defibrillator.
You have helped us to be strong when we really felt weak, to be brave when we felt mostly fear, and to remind us of the love and good in the world when it appeared a little dark. I had a pretty good case of ICU delirium after I woke up, so I especially appreciated the humor and thoughtfulness of your comments.
I got out of the hospital on Tuesday, and Steph and I have been staying in an AirBnB in Scottsdale. Steph’s niece is staying with us, and Steph’s brother and sister and spouses are nearby as well. They are taking good care of me, as you can well imagine. For my part, I am getting used to some new meds, eating some small but very healthy meals, and walking outside at least 4 times a day. I can’t go very far or very fast yet, but I am aiming for 4000 steps today.
Our plan for now is to stay here in Arizona until the end of next week and then fly home to Minnesota. We have our car here with us, so our sister-in-law from St. Paul is going to fly in and drive it home for us.
We have been in contact with my cardiologist and electrophysiologist at the U of M, as well as with Fiona the defibrillator’s device nurses. They have all been very helpful in scheduling appointments for us the first week we are home.
That is what we know for now, and it is enough. In the meantime, we are getting on with our lives, which for us means doing something meaningful and fun together and, of course, with our family and friends.
Margaret O’Leary|Mar 29, 2018
So glad to hear that you’re up to reading your own messages now! Hang in there! I’m sure it will feel really good to get home and sleep in your own bed.
Mary Beth Lake|Mar 29, 2018
So thankful for your recovery. Yes, get those 4,000 steps in carefully! Enjoy the sun and family! Love you both and see you this spring!!
Jane Summers|Mar 29, 2018
What a wild ride you guys have been on. So glad you are out of the hospital and that you’re on the receiving end of such loving TLC!! Sending love and prayers.
Mary Cisar|Mar 29, 2018
Such good news, Nancy! Good to hear your voice directly.
Hi to Steph and Fiona!
Gail Klemm|Mar 29, 2018
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear from you, directly, Nancy! (I am your dad’s cousin, Gail Ellertson Klemm, and live in s. CA. Jen found me on Facebook a couple of years ago, and we message back and forth – which was how I learned of your recent health scare. I have kept in touch since, and send you so much love and best wishes for strength and healing.
(I know you don’t know me, but I have always thought of you as “Nancy, who teaches Norwegian at St. Olaf” with a little envy, since my Norwegian is very limited.) Consider yourself hugged!
Ann Dyellig|Mar 29, 2018
Wonderful to hear from you Nancy! Glad you are taking it easy for now. Continued healing, exercise, and rest! See you soon! Hugs and Luv, Ann
Christine Hanson|Mar 29, 2018
This is great news! Wishing you all the best. ❤️
Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak|Mar 29, 2018
Nancy, so glad that you’re well enough to write to us all yourself. “That is what we know for now, and it is enough” strikes me as a good life motto. Wishing you a smooth, steady recovery and trip home. Happy Easter!
Su Smallen|Mar 29, 2018
Hello Nancy! Thank you for writing! Remember I’m at the ready to help once you’re back in St. Paul! Enjoy the warmth of Scottsdale and then bring it here with you. Last night Coco discovered that she can run at the deer barking, and they leap and dash and it is SO fun! Especially at 2am! Who needs sleeping when you can play like this?
Melanie Ruda|Mar 29, 2018
So glad! Thanks for the thoughtful, eloquent update!
Mary Moen|Mar 29, 2018
So glad you are doing so well! You all have been in my prayers.
Mary Ellen Erlandson|Mar 29, 2018
Welcome back Nancy. Great to hear from you. Blessings for continued healing. Have a blessed Easter in Arizona. Take care. Hugs!’
Jeanne Eberhart|Mar 29, 2018
Nancy, Jerry and I are thrilled for you. We cannot imagine how frightening and unexpected this was for both of you. We’re happy you ‘graduated,’ and that you’re taking it day by day.
Your old friends,
Jeanne and Jerry
Lynda Hirschboeck|Mar 29, 2018
Great news! Scottsdale should be a great place to be for getting out for walks. We’ll be so happy to see you when you do get back!
Judith Tande|Mar 29, 2018
Glad that you’re able to be out and moving in the beautiful AZ weather. We are so thankful that you’re gaining strength and look forward to seeing you back in MN soon.
Hugs to you both!
Claudia Gordon|Mar 29, 2018
‘…..getting on with our lives….’ That’s what spring is all about! New life springing up from the ground, birds singing, trees budding, people out walking, everyone and everything ‘getting on with our lives’. And you and Stephanie, too. You made it through a very difficult time to enjoy a new spring. Good job, ladies!
Liz Hawkinson|Mar 29, 2018
Take good care!
Lai Wong|Mar 29, 2018
We miss you! Get well soon!
Kathy Styc|Mar 29, 2018
I’m so glad to hear the great news. That seems like a pretty fast recovery after such a traumatic event! Wonderful!!! 4000 steps a day is good . I have one of those Fitbits that nags me to get up and move. Seems like I can’t relax anymore! But moving is good.
My love to you both. And thank you, Stephanie for your updates.
JoAnn Johnson|Mar 29, 2018
So happy to hear your sweet voice in your words Nancy! You are indeed surrounded by the sweetest and most expert of care and love. Hi Steph. Hi Tonya.
Terry Kenck|Mar 29, 2018
So happy to hear how well you are doing, Nancy . Love you! Happy Easter ! (A bunch of Ellertsons in church tonight and I know we are all so thankful for YOU! And… it might be fun for you to know that Aunt Kathleen is feeling so much better that she is having Easter dinner for her kids at her house!!!!) 😃❤️🐣🌷🌷🌷
Ingela Flatin|Mar 30, 2018
That is such wonderful news! ❤️💐❤️ Big hug 🤗🤗🤗
Anne Sabo|Mar 30, 2018
So wonderful to hear your voice and see you outdoors in the sun smiling! I hear smiles in your voice too. Love you, Nancy! STOR klem fra meg!! xoxo
Donna Dingle|Mar 30, 2018
So happy to hear this news! Thinking of you both. See you when you get back! The Swingles
Randi Jeeps|Mar 30, 2018
Such good news! May you continue to improve In health and increase your steps! Best regards to you both, Randi. P.s. I just got my Ancestry DNA results back and I am 59% Norwegian! Much hirer than I would have expected. Xx
Kris Davis|Mar 30, 2018
So glad to hear you are safe, well cared for, cheerful and determined …. Love to you both!
Cara Lemmage|Mar 30, 2018
So thankful that you are well, Nancy! Cheering for you and Stephanie always. The world is brighter and happier with you back on your feet. Prayers for a good week of gratitude and healing. UM YA YA!
Patricia Sween|Mar 30, 2018
Your smiling face and positive words warmed my heart. Continuing to pray for your full health to return. Come back to us safely! Love from Roger and Pat
susan Donohue|Mar 30, 2018
What a great plan! Rest well and get strong. By the time you come home, it will . be spring and you’ll be cruising the ‘hood. Much love to you both.
ANN LIMRIC|Mar 30, 2018
It just goes to show, “It Takes a Village.” So happy you are both where you are right now. Great News
Andrea Nixon|Mar 30, 2018
It is great to hear from you!! Safe travels and happy walking.
dorothy bocian|Mar 30, 2018
I’m SO glad you have the support you have!! Best wishes to you all!
Michael Schulze|Mar 30, 2018
Hang in there kid oh.
Debra Taylor|Mar 30, 2018
I’m glad you can soak in the sunshine & fresh air to help you regain your strength & health. Take care.
Nancy Montgomery|Mar 30, 2018
Sending good vibes to you! So happy to hear that you are doing so well, Nancy! Sounds like Stephanie is taking very good care of you!!! There is nothing like having those who love you at your side, encouraging you along the way. Hope to see you on the Twin Cities.
Sigrun Skjesol|Mar 31, 2018
Great Nancy! Nice to see you are so well! Ta dei 4000 stega og bli sterk. Helsing frå påskefjellet i Norge- Sigrun
Phyllis Zumach|Mar 31, 2018
With you out of the hospital, eating little healthy meals, and walking 4000 steps a day, our hearts are doing little flip flops of joy. (No, Fiona, it’s not of concern) So glad you’ll be home soon. In the meantime, 2 1/2 inches of wet snow last night …. so enjoy the Arizona sunshine while you’re there.
Love and Hugs,
Phyllis and Allen
Lynn Davidson|Apr 2, 2018
Hip, Hip, Hooray! So glad you’re feeling better today! Take it easy and let others care for you. Soak up the sunshine. It is very healing. Take care looking forward to our next gathering. Thanks, Lynn
Sveinung Skjesol|Apr 3, 2018
Girl, that’s one good read.
Vi har hatt en veldig fin påskeferie på Høvringen med hele storfamilien i løpet av påska. Klemmer! Klem Stephanie fra meg. Er det Kit som skal kjøre bilen (RV?) hjem?
Journal entry by Stephanie Fay
Pilgrim Lutheran Church|Mar 27, 2018
Yay! Way to go Steph and Nancy!
Elaine Kinnard|Mar 27, 2018
Lynda Hirschboeck|Mar 27, 2018
Hanna Emerson|Mar 27, 2018
Great news !
Lisa Webster|Mar 27, 2018
Yay! That’s fabulous news!
Bobbi Baker|Mar 27, 2018
Eric Schlotterbeck|Mar 27, 2018
That’s great, you guys!
Mary Beth Lake|Mar 27, 2018
Fantastic! See you soon!
Liz Hawkinson|Mar 27, 2018
So good to hear this. Take good care!
Andrea Nixon|Mar 27, 2018
Randi Jeeps|Mar 27, 2018
Brilliant news! So happy for you both. Xx
Ann Dyellig|Mar 27, 2018
Looking good, girls!! So happy for this news! ♥️
Marsha Foss|Mar 27, 2018
Delighted to hear this good news! Take good care of yourselves. Love, Marsha
Barbara McCauley|Mar 27, 2018
Oh, good news! Understatement of the day!! Much love from me and Gary
Su Smallen|Mar 27, 2018
Diane LeBlanc|Mar 27, 2018
Great news. Have a safe transition. Sending love and prayers.
Mary Beth Lake|Mar 27, 2018
Rest well and enjoy the 🌞 and warmth.
Kari Dorer|Mar 27, 2018
Connie Ford|Mar 27, 2018
Carl Hokanson|Mar 27, 2018
!!! Great news!
Marcia Swinney-Shay|Mar 27, 2018
Love seeing your smiling faces–and you’re out of the hospital!!! Woohoo!!
Pat Herrington|Mar 27, 2018
YAY! Rest up and get back to kicking some behind!
Pamela Itzin|Mar 27, 2018
Wonderful news! I’m so glad!
Anne Sabo|Mar 27, 2018
Kris Davis|Mar 28, 2018
Linne Jensen|Mar 28, 2018
Good news! Holding all in the Light and sending more good energy your way.
susan Donohue|Mar 28, 2018
Wonderful news!!! What’s the plan now?
Jeanne Eberhart|Mar 28, 2018
Extremely relieved and happy for both of you and your loved ones.
Journal entry by Stephanie Fay
Good morning, everyone!
From Nancy’s rather small but wonderfully ordinary hospital room. They discharged her from the Cardiac ICU late yesterday. Such good news and progress!
“The kids” are flying home this morning after a week of supporting Nancy in innumerable important and life-giving ways. Time for them to return to work, naturally. Our niece Tonya has been poised all week to fly out from Maryland at a moment’s notice — and so she will arrive PHX this evening. She was an immeasurable help to me and to us in August of 2016 when Nancy had her last “event,” as we sometimes call it. I’ve rented an AirBnB starting tomorrow. That will be our “basecamp” here in Scottsdale, and the place where Nancy will go after discharge to get up and running again.
After spending quite a few nights in Nancy’s room, I will focus on being at the hospital during the day now as she works her way towards discharge. Planning is fluid but we do have a framework that we are working with now. Her electrophysiologist down here (Dr Zuwani) wants to see her in his office on the Monday or Tuesday after Easter. Once Nancy’s gets the green light from him to travel and Nancy feels strong enough, we will fly home late next week. I’ve booked first class tickets (insured!) on Delta for Friday, April 6th. Very flexible on that timeframe however. And I haven’t ruled out the possibility of flying home via private jet. My brother Brad is exploring those options.
The Team Nancy crew here has been amazing! What can I say? There’s nothing like family. Especially family like our families. ere they are — oldest to youngest (as best I know! :-). My brother-in-law Dave Kinnard, my sister Elaine Kinnard, Nancy’s sister Jennifer Kraemer, my brother Bradley Fay, my sister-in-law Lisa Fay, me, Nancy’s son Andreas Aarsold, Andreas’ girlfriend Greta Hanson, Nancy’s daughter Tina Aarsvold, and Tina’s spouse Jessica Aarsvold. Ok, “the kids” are definitely out of age sequence! This intensity and continuity of immediate support is overwhelminig — I cry with gratitude pretty much every day over that.
My cousin Sonia Hegge Bar arrived from Fargo on Friday morning. Nancy and I had a long weekend planned with her, staying at an AirBnB near downtown Phoenix. She’s been a great comfort to me these past couple of days, too, and I was able to sleep long and well at our place last night and hope to do so again tonight.
The electrophysiologist group is calling the shots around Nancy’s care, led by Dr. Zuwani. He was the one who came to the Cardiac ICU last Sunday morning and problem solved until Nancy’s PVCs stopped, ending the Fiona frenzy of shocks. They haven’t seen ANY PVCs since late last Sunday. This is a very very good thing!! Dr Zuwani is in close conversation with Nancy’s electrophysiologist back at the U of MN. Dr. Roukoz will take over Nancy’s care once we are home. The possibility of an ablation to stop this premature beat is on the table. This is a decision Nancy will make in consultation with Dr. Roukoz after we get home. We have excellent rapport with Dr Roukoz, and one of the U of MN device nurses I have been in contact with assured me folks with these sorts of arrhythmias come from a three-state area to have these sorts of surgeries there.
Returning to Minnesota will also put Nancy back in the care of her regular cardiologist, Dr. Jason Bartos. He was a fellow at the U of MN when Nancy was in the hospital in 2016, and now he’s a practicing cardiologist in the U of MN Clinics. We’ve seen him in clinic once — this past November, I think it was. We’ll be seeing more of him in the months ahead, I imagine. He’s everything we feel a doctor should be — knowledgeable, compassionate and utterly approachable. We are also looking forward to returning the oversight and care of Nancy’s device (as in Fiona) nurses at the U of MN. A wonderful group of 4 women who we’ve gotten to know more and more thru Fiona’s quarterly check-ups.
Coming out of 5 days on the respirator, Nancy has been a little confused at times. They call it ICU delirium. But all that seems to be clearing as she gets moving about. Moving to a regular cardiac unit helps as well, I’m told. The PTs and OTs are putting her thru her paces daily. From what I hear, these folks don’t take “I don’t want to” for an answer! ery persuasive, very good coaches.
At least 1 if not 2 or more people from Team Nancy have been with Nancy nearly around the clock. Fortunately, both the ICU and this room have a rather comfortable recliner to sleep in. The Team has also given me some precious and essential time to R & R. I’ve spent nearly 2 full days away from the hospital — but don’t ask me which days! It’s all a bit of a blur. Ok, so it’s actually a total blur. 🙂
Some folks comment on how hard it must be to write on Caring Bridge. Not so for me. Here’s what it does for me/us —
- A written record of some of the blur for Nancy and I to read later on.
- A place for you to cheer Nancy on!
- Keeps family and friends in the loop with minimal effort and time on my part.
- I am one to want to know what is going on. In turn it’s important to me to share what is going on with others.
- The writing is cathartic somehow. Based on the length of this entry, I must have been due some of that!
Notice how I worked another list in there for Nancy? Feeling pretty clever.
Nancy is snoozing calmly at the moment. The OT will be by today to give her a good workout, no doubt. And she’s going to get a shower later this afternoon!
It’s a beautiful day in the Arizona desert. It’s a beautiful day in Room 351 as well. Griff, the physical therapist, just arrived on the scene.
Thanks for your ongoing support!
Love, Nancy & Stephanie
Lori Ellertson|Mar 25, 2018
Thank you much for keeping us in the loop Steph! Nancy has a grand team of family and friends that got her through this! Love you! 💖💞💖
Laureen Schott-Jacobson|Mar 25, 2018
Good to hear that things are looking up. Still sending prayers.
Christine Hanson|Mar 25, 2018
So glad to hear about continued improvements. It’s amazing how family can carry you through stressful times. Thinking of you all. Chris
Gail Klemm|Mar 25, 2018
So, so happy with continuing good news! Thank you, Steph! I know how one day blurs into another, and have been so grateful for the support team – you both needed them! Prayers continue, including this morning at Trinity (one of the many Trinitys attended by Ellertsons in various locales.) After singing at two services – lots of “Hosannas” still in my head, so I will add another for Nancy and for you. Thank you for all of the information – it is cathartic, and it keeps everyone equally informed. That has been so appreciated. Sending love from southern CA.
Hanna Emerson|Mar 25, 2018
Very grateful for your updates, Steph! Love to you both!
Joan Haan|Mar 25, 2018
It’s sunny here, in St. Paul, a fitting day for Palm Sunday and the good reports (reporting).
Blessings and healing from our hearts to yours!
Joan & Phil
PS. It ‘s amazing grace all the support you are receiving from family! Grace and peace to all!
Tamara Holyk Crane|Mar 25, 2018
I read every entry you post. Thank you. Hugs, healing and Aloha to both of you and the crew. There’s no place like home! Wishing you a safe journey. 🌺
Denise Swanson|Mar 25, 2018
So happy to hear this great progress. Praying all the heart and device issues are addressed and your life goes back to “normal.” Though I am a distant family friend from Nancy’s childhood and “relative,” following her progress and cheering with each corner she turns. Bless you Stephanie for writing and having strength to keep going. Prayers and love to you both.
Mary Beth Lake|Mar 25, 2018
After being away for a week, we can assure you both it is beginning to feel and look like spring is near in Mpls, rebirth! What a wonderful family you have😎. Excited for your return home; no more surfing 🏄♀️ on Mission Beach for a while though!!
Claudia Gordon|Mar 25, 2018
What a beautiful journal entry, Stephanie…..beautiful in content and beautifully written. The love in room 351 is spilling out all over this Palm Sunday. Prayers and peace to Nancy and Stephanie!
Anne Sabo|Mar 25, 2018
In crisis we come closer, or close again, and then even closer. ❤️❤️❤️ Love you. And thank you, for sharing and championing through. A lot of good news in this update, ❤️, and it feels good to be able to picture your hours and days over there, to feel closer with you as I hold you close in my heart. I’ve been keeping Lilly in the loop too. Hugs and kisses from her as well! 😘
Eric Schlotterbeck|Mar 25, 2018
Nancy and Steph, we are so pumped to hear how much progress you’ve made and also your plans to return home. Keep up the great work! Love to you both-
susan Donohue|Mar 25, 2018
Thank you for this detailed account, Stephanie. I’m glad it is cathartic. I had to look up ablation though! I am so thankful for the quality of care and experience Nancy is getting both here and in AZ. That comforts me so much, and you are such a good wife to juggle all the living details with the medical details and the emotional frenzy. Looking forward to squeezing you both when the time comes. love, love.
Nonny Smith|Mar 25, 2018
Thank you so much for writing so thoroughly about what is/has been happening. It is a win-win from the standpoint of me (and perhaps others) who long to know how it is all going, and who feel a bit helpless being so far away and wishing we could do more. Maybe the “writing makes it real” , or makes it into a coherent story for you, Stephanie, in much the same way that telling a story out loud does. It is a great relief to hear that Nancy is progressing, that you have such phenomenal family support, and that you can get some time for self-care. May the moment to moment journey go smoothly now. Blessings and love, and continued prayers come your way from here.
Melanie Ruda|Mar 25, 2018
So glad to hear about the continual improvements! Thanks for keeping us updated. We love you both.
Melanie and Katia
Su Smallen|Mar 25, 2018
- I’m all for cathartic writing! (Note: not catheter writing.)
- Steph you are a planning machine! Air bnb, plane tickets, age-ordering your family…wow. I can’t imagine what your tired self must feel like. I’m glad you’ve been getting more and better sleep.
- Nancy, I’m so glad you have been sprung from ICU!
- Speaking of sprung, it’s spring-y in MN. I bet you’ll find some perennials already poking up under dead leaves.
- The deer have been coming to nap in my yard nearly every late night/early morning.
- I’m looking forward to seeing you both, and to helping out.
Ann Dyellig|Mar 25, 2018
So happy to hear the news that Nancy is out of ICU! Yippee! I can feel your sense of calm thru your words and hope you get your bride out of the hospital really soon! Keep up the good, hard work, Nancy! You’ll be back home soon! Can’t wait! ♥️
M Rickard|Mar 25, 2018
Lots of prayers and hugs to you and Nancy. So happy it is going well and all the wonderful medical staff and family support you have! Thanks for the updates.
Barbara Taylor|Mar 25, 2018
Thank you for taking the time to update us, Stephanie. This is cathartic for us too. We will be glad to have you home again when team Minnesota can kick into gear.
Barbara McCauley|Mar 25, 2018
Dear Stephanie – thank you for sharing all this wonderful news. Your writing skills are amazing, and love the lists! You and your beloved Nancy continue to be in the prayers of your Pilgrim family. We look forward to more good news, and to seeing both of your beautiful faces in MN in April. Sent from our thankful hearts!
Jeanne Huggins|Mar 25, 2018
Excellent news Steph! So happy for you both! ❤️
Sharon Hinz|Mar 25, 2018
Blessings to you both. Stephanie, thank you for caring so beautifully for Nancy!
Dana Whitford|Mar 25, 2018
Stephanie, your updates are so amazing. I really appreciate them. And even if I haven’t seen Nancy in a long time, she continues to remain special to me and I hope one day to meet you both out here on the west coast, where I can properly thank Nancy for all she did for me and hug you for all you do for her.
Abby Brogden|Mar 25, 2018
You go girls! Steph you write beautifully about what’s going on. So helpful to those of us who are far away physically but not spiritually. We are now back from Mexico and so look forward to seeing you back in MN. We hope to see you so soon!!! A & J
Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak|Mar 25, 2018
Delighted to read so much good news of healing. Wish you a peaceful week with reinforcements, time to rest, and a bright path to recovery.
Debra Taylor|Mar 25, 2018
Thank you for the thorough updates. I’m sure you will both be happy to get back home so Nancy can recuperate in comfort. Safe travels!
Kathy Olsufka|Mar 25, 2018
That’s wonderful that Nancy is progressing towards getting to be able to go home. Prayers that she will be able to fly on the 6th as hoped. Thanks so much for the updates. I am with you Nancy, I like bullet points also😉
Kristin and Jean Kristin and Jean|Mar 25, 2018
Love your updates. This one especially. Glad to hear Nancy moved to an ordinary room. Sending you healing love.
Heidi Dombek|Mar 25, 2018
So very blessed to get these updates from you Stephanie. The details keep us right there with you, and we are all hugging you both from afar. God be with you, and strengthen you and Nancy.
Kari Dorer|Mar 26, 2018
Thanks again for the update, Steph. SO great to read the word discharge, even if it is next week!
Gloria Betcher|Mar 26, 2018
I hope everything continues to head in the right direction for Nancy. The Team support sounds excellent and I’m sure you can use the help, Stephanie. Take care of the caregiver (you) and your spouse, and look forward to returning home after a more relaxing stay than you have had up til now in Scottsdale.–Still sending positive vibes and prayers–Gloria
Gail Merriam|Mar 26, 2018
Thanks for the update, Stephanie! It snowed here last night, so it’s a little bit more beautiful in Saint Paul right now. You can be grateful she is in sunny Arizona for this. Keep fighting the good fight! Take care of both yourselves.
Nadine sanders|Mar 26, 2018
I add that your excellent writing skills (no doubt honed at that St Olaf place) make your updates easy to read. I am sure you would rather be at Pilgrim Lutheran Easter Sunday, but all the pilgrims will welcome u home when you get there. cheers nadine
Phyllis Zumach|Mar 27, 2018
You’ve written so many pieces of information in your most recent post … and we appreciate them all! So grateful for the progress Nancy is making. And now may it continue at an exponentially rapid rate!
Love and Hugs,
Phyllis and Allen
Journal entry by Stephanie Fay
…more words than any of us can count at the moment.
Thanks especially to our family here in Scottsdale. They carried us through this day.
Love, Nancy & Steph
Abby Brogden|Mar 23, 2018
Looking so good and what a beautiful smile!
Pat Saltsman|Mar 23, 2018
Love the smile!!! Nancy you look great!
Anne Sabo|Mar 23, 2018
For et nydelig smil!! This picture makes me so happy. It’s great that the breathing tube now is out, and that you have family around you helping out, taking turns. Hope you got some time off yesterday, Stephanie, to find your breath again too. Sending more love and big hugs!!
Ann Dyellig|Mar 24, 2018
Wonderful to see you first thing as I wake this morning Nancy! Been praying for you lots and lots.
Marsha Foss|Mar 24, 2018
What a joy to see that great smile this Saturday morning. May the days continue to be good. Blessings!
Claudia Gordon|Mar 24, 2018
Beautiful smile, Nancy! Also like the off-the-shoulder style of the gown….gorgeous!
Marcia Swinney-Shay|Mar 24, 2018
It’s wonderful to see your smiling face 🙂 Love to you both.
Nonny Smith|Mar 24, 2018
Agreeing with the earlier commentators!!!! SUCH a great smile!!! Sending love and continued encouragement.
Debra Taylor|Mar 24, 2018
Wonderful! Glad to see that beautiful smile.
Erica Kragerud-Smith|Mar 24, 2018
What a smile! Sending lots of prayers and positive thoughts!
Jonathan O|Mar 24, 2018
Looking grand, Nancy!! It does a body good to see that beautiful smile! Sending thoughts of healing and some hold-your-horses-there-Fiona vibes, but mostly just sending love. We would love to be there in person to give you both hugs, but we are so glad to know that you are surrounded constantly by love and support of an amazing family. Our hugs will be waiting for you when you get home. Much love.
Barbara McCauley|Mar 24, 2018
That’s our Nancy!! What a blessing to see her beautiful smile! We send our continued prayers. Lovingly!
susan Donohue|Mar 24, 2018
So happy for everyone. What a joy.
Joan Haan|Mar 24, 2018
Smiling back at you, also in my pajama’s 🙂
Su Smallen|Mar 24, 2018
Love that smile! So Very Happy to “see” you!
John Eric Rolfstad|Mar 24, 2018
Great to see that smile again!
Lisa Webster|Mar 24, 2018
Love that beautiful smile!
Kari Dorer|Mar 24, 2018
Thanks for posting a pic, it is so nice to see!!
Terry Kenck|Mar 24, 2018
Oh so happy Nancy is getting well!!!What awesome news to see in the morning! Prayers continue . ❤️❤️❤️
Marte Hult|Mar 24, 2018
Lovely smile to see! thanks for the update.
Patricia Sween|Mar 24, 2018
So happy to see this picture. You two simply ROCK!!
Gail Klemm|Mar 24, 2018
Smiling back at you, here! Such a boost for all of us to see Nancy’s smile and wave. SO grateful that you have had family support there. Many prayers said and continuing for all of you.
Kathy Olsufka|Mar 24, 2018
Hanna Emerson|Mar 24, 2018
Thank you for the update! Great to see you smiling!
Martha Morrow|Mar 26, 2018
Gloria Betcher|Mar 26, 2018