Monday, April 12, 2010

Obituary for Charles

This obituary will be posted in the Salem Statesman Journal and the Eugene Register Guard newspapers. Don

Charles Aaron Garrett
October 5, 1980 - April 7, 2010

Salem - Charles, 29, of Eugene, passed away, in Portland, after a valiant year's battle with leukemia.
Charles grew up in Salem and attended Englewood Elementary, Parrish Middle School and graduated from North Salem High School in 1999.
He attended Chemeketa Community College, Oregon State and the University of Oregon. He graduated from the U of O with a degree in Sociology. He made the Dean's list.
Following graduation he continued to work for the Duck Store in Eugene. He worked in Information Technology, as a receiving clerk at the warehouse and various other duties.
Charles had a passion for sports. He was involved in softball, football and tennis during his years in school. He was also on the Duck Store softball team "The Bookies." They were undefeated. He enjoyed golfing with family and friends. He followed major league sports, had favorite teams and kept track of stats.
Charles was a pleasant, caring person with an infectious sense of humor and had many wonderful friends. He enjoyed a good time, loved pranks and being with his friends. He was sensitive to others, helpful and a good friend. He will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his parents, Don and DeeDee, brothers Matthew, Jonathan and Daniel; his sweetheart Karlin Johnson; grandmother Ima Gates, Uncle Kent & Aunt Rose Ann Garrett of Turner, Aunt Heidi (Ron) Miner of Salem, Aunt Brenda (Ned) Darling of Anchorage AK, Aunt Pam (Lee) Jesperson of Provo UT and many wonderful cousins.
Funeral services will be April 17th at 1:00pm at the LDS Church: 570 Madison St NE (5th & Madison Sts.), Salem. Viewing will be 11:30-12:50 preceding the funeral service. Viewing at the Dallas Tribute Center will be Friday, April 16th from 12:00-8:00pm. [287 SW Washington St., Dallas OR]
The families wish to thank his doctors, nurses, CNAs and therapists, in Salem and at OHSU, Kohler Pavilion, 14th Floor, who lovingly cared for him.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 9320 SW Barbur Blvd, Suite 140, Portland, OR 97219

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Know in your hearts, he has peace.

Karlin here. I don't think I could ever be ready to write this entry, I'm really not ready to say anything yet, but it was important to me that people know how things were, and to have peace about his passing.

Charles has been surrounded by loved ones all week. Tuesday night it was just me, Charles' parents Don and Dee Dee, and his brother Jon. We sat with him for a long time. He knew we were there with him. He always did. Even when he became mostly unable to respond, he knew we were there. One of the only verbal responses I got from him that day, through his unmoving mouth was, "I love you too." We kept hands on him all day and talked to him and tried to make sure he was comfortable. After Charles' family left that night I set up my cot right next to his bed, spoke to Charles and held his hands, as always. I told him for the millionth time that day, we all loved him so much.

I turned out the light early since our previous two nights had been rather restless. Charles had a lot of deep congestion that night and his breathing was becoming quicker and he wasn't able to clear his throat like he had been in nights before. Still, he slept and looked peaceful. I would wake up periodically to check on him, or when the nurses came to check on him and he was always peaceful. No struggles like previous nights. I would touch his face and chest and hands, kiss him and tell him how much I loved him, I would ask him if he was okay. He would go back to sleep and I was able to sleep much better than nights before.

That morning I woke up early, around 6 or 6:30. I was tired but felt like it was time to get up. I sat with Charles most of the morning, just holding his hands and telling him again, I loved him. Though it seemed he was too tired to respond, he was looking into my eyes and listening. I opened Charles' curtains so he could look out into the trees. I saw him watching something out the window behind me and turned around to see a squirrel bounding through the branches. I think it came to his window just for him.

Mid-morning I told Charles that I wanted him to know that all we wanted for him was peace. I had felt like the last couple of days, Charles was hanging on for us, more than anything. I told him that we just wanted him to have peace and comfort, and that I knew how hard he had tried.

Charles got his sheets changed and new pajamas put on, and I ordered some breakfast. We put his bed in a more upright position and his congestion sounded much better, and he was breathing easier. I told him that morning that two of his dear friends planned to visit that day. I told him not to be worried about doing anything, that all they wanted was to see his face and tell him they loved him. I sat next to him eating breakfast, telling him again and again that I love him. I told him I just spoken to his friend Heather, who was going to come visit in a couple of hours.

I was almost done with breakfast when I looked up and saw Charles lift his head. His eyes were wide but didn't look frightened. He took a few deep breaths. Though it was a very different situation, being with my dad when he passed had prepared me for what was happening. I began to cry and shake, but I held Charles' face, and told him one more time, "I love you, ok?" He was looking at me and heard me. His labored breathing had stopped. His eyes had stopped searching. I called the nurses and held Charles to me and there were a couple more small rises in his chest, then he was gone. He was finally at peace.

Charles had expressed to me in his last night up at OHSU that he couldn't do it anymore. That's how I knew that he was hanging on for us. That's the type of person he is... and you all know that already. He asked me if I understood, and I told him that none of us can ever understand. I said that none of us will ever be ready to let him go, but when goes is up to him, and up to God. So, it's true. None of us could have been ready... I personally am still not ready. I'm not sure if it's real. But the relief and peace in my heart was almost immediate as he passed. He was as comfortable as we could make him. I don't believe that he was scared or worried anymore. He knew how deeply we all loved him, he did not struggle and he was not alone when he passed.

Charles has peace now. His mom and I agreed, now his spirit can soar. It makes my heart swell to think that he is happy and healthy again, probably running around throwing a football, and I'm pretty sure my dad is teaching him to fish.

I think he's probably doing some of these things too:

So, as so many have said in their wonderful comments, aren't we all just so lucky to have known him? His time here was far, far too short. I know I certainly expected to have him around forever, but the last 4 years of my life have been fantastic because of him and I would rather have them than not have them. We are all just so blessed to have met such a wonderful man. And I am so blessed to know many of you because of Charles. I have gained life-long best friends through Charles, as well as a second wonderful, amazing family that I would not have otherwise come to know. I could reflect for days on end, so I'll stop now, because that's not what this entry is about. This entry is about all of you having peace in your hearts for Charles. He's looking down at us now... and probably giggling.

Rest in peace, my love.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Service Scheduled

Dear Family and Friends:
We have scheduled the funeral service for Charles Aaron for:

April 17th, Saturday
LDS Church
570 Madison St NE (5th and Madison)
Salem 97301

We hope this will give all time to make arrangements to share this time with us. Again, we appreciate your love and support.

Our Champion, The Winner

We received a call this morning from Hopewell House Hospice. Our valiant champion, son and friend passed away this morning at 8:50am. We thank you all for your love, support and prayers. This is a sad day. Yet, we know that Charles has entered a realm with family, peace, beauty and love. A place we can scarcely imagine. We are thankful to Heavenly Father for all his blessings; for our Saviour Jesus Christ and His gospel which give meaning to this life.

We will post Charles' service arrangements.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Charles - Now At Hospice

$$$ Previous Entry Completed $$$

This is a entry by Don, Charles' father.

Thank you for the many comments to Charles' last blog entry. They will ALL be read to him soon. ( Hey, Sarah A. -long time. )

Things move fast. We received a call this morning that a room was avaialble at Hopewell Hospice. The Hospice wanted to receive Charles today. Arrangements were made to get him transported at 3:30pm. We gathered moving boxes and headed up. Since Charles has been at OHSU for 3 and a half months and has sooooo many thoughtful friends, he has accumlated quite a bit. Well, the boxes overflowed and we had to use shopping bags.
The move went well overall. The ambulance was late and it took a while to get off the floor with the hugs and goodbyes with staff. We will MISS the OHSU, Kohler Pavilion, 14th Floor staff!!!
Once at the hospice Charles was quickly settled into Room 3. Being in a wooded area, Charles windows look out at tree scenery. While he was settling in there was a strong wind storm that blew through. We have been having winter weather to begin our spring.
Karlin will be staying at the hospice with Charles tonight. She will be on a cott in Charles' room.
Charles is restful and bright, yet his body weakens. We are happy that he can be in a place where his comfort and peace will be the first priority.
Again, we appreciate the love, support and prayers of our family and friends. They are many and we feel them with a calm that all will be well. dc

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Decision

$$$ FINAL UPDATE - 4-5-10 11:30pm $$$

This is an entry by Don, Charles' father.

Dear Family and Friends:

First, we appreciate all the comments that have been posted to Charles' blog. Every one of them are read to him and he enjoys them.

This has been quite an emotional day for all of us.
We met today, Charles' family and Karlin, and visited about Charles' continuing care. The OHSU Oncology Social Worker had given us information about a hospice not far away. After our discussion we decided to go and visit that hospice: Hopewell House Hospice. We were all impressed and felt it would be a wonderful place for Charles. They can handle all his needs. It is in a wooded area and they encourage patients to go outside, wheeled in their bed, to be in the sun. It handles 11 patients. Charles is second on the list after another OHSU patient. We all felt good and agreed, and notified OHSU upon returning. The move is in the works.
After we returned Dr Spurgeon came by to visit. He wanted to talk about what Charles will need and won't need for care at the hospice. First, Charles had a question for him. Charles wanted to know how long he had. After a moment, the Drs answer was "weeks." Charles accepted the Drs response like the trooper he is. There were few dry eyes. Then, the Dr explained that many of the meds that Charles is getting won't be necessary at hospice. He will still receive pain medication, the same he has been using, that works well. They will discontinue TPN (liquid IV nutrition). The Dr explained that it is not doing much for him now. I might add at this juncture that a few days ago Dr Chen asked what Charles wishes were for life support if/when the situation came in his care. He advised that he didn't want it. In hospice he will be in a very pleasant surrounding and have all his needs met for comfort and peace.
Charles is in little pain even though his body continues to weaken. He has that wonderful little chuckle that I'm sure you have all heard a "million" times. His mind is sharp. His jaw and tongue don't work so well which makes it difficult to understand him when he talks. He has lost the use of his left arm and most of the use of his right arm. With all this his spirit is bright and NO COMPLAINTS!!! He has wanted Sprite and Root Beer. Because his gut is pretty well healed he can have some. Problem is he can't swallow well. So, he receives a few drops from a spoon. He enjoys that. Today Karlin's mom sent some chocolate. Charles wanted to know what it was. After explaining he said he wanted some. We asked the Dr and he said a small amount. So, his mom smashed the chocolate and melted a small piece on the end of a gloved finger and rubbed it on his tongue. He liked that.
Another difficult part of the day was that the word got out on the floor that Charles would be leaving soon for hospice care. Well, the nurses, CNAs and others just love him. Today, after shift, 1 nurse and 1 cna, that have cared for Charles many times during his 3 and a half month visit, came by. They didn't want to miss saying "Goodbye." Again, not a dry in the room. The nurses, CNAs and others are so WONDERFUL!!
Charles' brother, Matthew, brought him a comic book. It is a new one and will probably not have a sequel. Here is Daniel reading and showing The Governator to Charles. It's about a mythical governor of a mythical state. Hummm. Right up Charles alley for a good look, a good read and a good laugh. He liked it.

We go from day to day. Thank you for your love, support and prayers. dg

Friday, April 2, 2010

Charles Summit

This is an entry by Don, Charles' father.

Dear Family and Friends:

Thank you wonderful family and friends for your love and support. Charles, and we, appreciate the many comments of love and support. We are greatly blessed!

Yesterday Charles had a minor surgery to inject collagen into his left vocal chord. Back in August he had the same procedure when he had almost lost his voice. The injection fattens the vocal chord so that speaking and swallowing work better. The affects of this should be seen within a day or so. The procedure went well and Charles did good.
The Summit
The OSHU Oncology Social Worker, Keren, called yesterday and said that Dr Chen, the rounds Dr, wanted to meet with family today. We set the time for 3:15pm. At 3:25 we all gathered: Dr Chen; the palliative care team (Amy, Anna & Dr Anne); the oncology social worker, Keren; current nurse, Tim; an OSHU chaplain, Debi; girlfriend, Karlin and family: Dad, Mom and brother Jonathan.
Dr Chen explained that with the current relapse, the 3rd, there was not a lot that they could do. They would continue to give chemo therapy and see how the symptoms he is having respond. He is currently having trouble speaking, swallowing and his right eye has a "blister." His energy has fallen and he is generally weaker. He has added pain to the head and neck. Dr Chen added that at some point the leukemia would enter the blood. The next topic was Charles pain management, comfort and quality of life. These are the main considerations now. Then, there was discussion of where he would best receive care. Dr Chen said the options where: 1.) continue at OHSU, 2.) hospice care facility or 3.) home hospice care. The options were discussed. Then, the Dr told us we could take the weekend to discuss care and let OHSU know what the family decided. We have set Sunday, 12:00 @ OHSU, with family and Karlin, to discuss and decide.
Currently Dr Chen recommended that Charles pain medication be changed from Dilaudid to Fentanyl. This change was made about 2:00pm. Here it is 6:30pm and they are changing back to Dilaudid. Turns out that the Fentanyl doesn't jive with Charles. It doesn't quell the pain real well and it causes him to be disoriented and have delusions. Just a short time ago he thought he was a character in the movies. Charles wanted the change and we agreed.

The Drs, nurses and staff here at OHSU are WONDERFUL!

So, we press forward, knowing that family, friendship and love are Eternal. Thank you all! dg