My beloved Uwe….

I write this with a heavy heart.  Uwe passed away early Friday morning.  We knew he was near the end and spent as much time as we could sitting holding his hand, trying to lend comfort to his pain.  He was never left alone on his last day, with each of us there for him at some point.

At bed time, I couldn’t leave Uwe.  Instead I pulled a chair up next to his bed, and held his hand through the night.  I was awakened at 2:30 by his night aid, who noticed his fading breath.  Uwe’s brother Heinrich was still awake in the other room and came in with us.  Uwe took his last few breaths and gently left our world.

It’s too difficult for me to say more.  At Uwe’s request, he will be buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in San jose.  Below is the funeral/celebration information.  Please join us in the Chapel of Roses to once again laugh at Uwe’s funny ways, cry for his pain and pray as he returns to the earth.

Funeral:  Friday, October 15, 2010      11:00 am

Oak Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park   in the Chapel of Roses

300 Curtner Ave   San Jose

Procession to the grave site burial will follow.

Much love from the Heine family, Rita, Johannes, Antonio, Elena.

Our friends and family have supported us in a way I never could have imagined.  I thank you all for showing our children that in the face of tragedy there is goodness in the world.

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Uwe’s pond

Even in Uwe’s last few days he is requesting that we wheel him out to the new pond being built so he can see what’s going on and enjoy the view.  A few months ago Uwe decided that if he couldn’t travel anymore, he wanted the backyard to be an oasis of beauty.  The waterless pond was to be converted to a real pond with new California native landscaping in the rest of the yard.  This was designed before the graywater went in, making sure the plan brought together all aspects of the new graywater system, the pond, veggie garden, plants and a turtle for Antonio. Elena’s goldfish will be the first fish to go into the pond.

Middlebrook Gardens was Uwe’s first choice for designing and implementing the project.  They’ve worked with Uwe on other green projects and put his pond up as a priority.  Every day that they have been out there, Uwe sits and watches.  Although the last few days he has been doing more sleeping in front of the pond.  Yesterday they filled the pond with water.  Uwe loved listening to the sounds of the waterfall.

Today Uwe is remarkably weaker.  He can’t stand on his own and it takes two of us to put him in his chair.  But, as I said, he loves sitting outside. The kids have vacation this week and are home to touch and whisper to their papa as much as they can.

We are sad that the time has come to ask for visits to stop.  We are keeping the house quiet with family and very close friends of Uwe’s.

Much love to everyone.  Rita lou and family

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Today’s status update English and Deutsch

Today was a balancing act trying to keep Uwe’s pain at a low level.  When he is hurting it’s really hard for him to tolerate much of anything.  So, today we asked visitors to check in with us before coming in.  But, with each visit he wasn’t really up for chatting.  We finally got the go ahead to give him more pain meds and he is sleeping well right now.

We have had many friends ask about how the kids are doing.  As you can imagine it is so hard for them.  In the past week each child has spent and “Papa Day” with Uwe. They stayed home from school, looked at photos and got some really good cuddle time with lots of tears and stories.

A few months ago, Johannes got the lead in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” at his school.  We had no idea what Uwe’s condition would be on opening weekend so, we both encouraged Johannes to try out.  Once Uwe went into hospice, we continued to support Johannes.  Last night I went to see the play and was so proud of the performance he gave.  Uwe was also proud when he heard about it.  Tonight my sister and Uwe’s brother will go to see the play, they will tape it for Uwe to see tomorrow.  I can’t wait to watch it again.

Von Heinrich:

Es ist schwer zu sehen das Uwe so viele Schmerzen hat. Ich moechte meiner Frau Anke danken, dass Sie mich dazu gebracht hat den Besuch auf den jetzigen Zeitpunkt vorzuverlegen. Uwe und ich haben viel Zeit damit zugebracht alte Familiengeschichten zu erzaehlen. Besonders schoen ist es zu erleben wie sich die Nachbarn um die Kinder, Rita und Uwe kuemmern. In Rebecca (Rita’s Schwester) haben wir Alle eine grosse Unterstuetzung.

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Finally, a day at the beach

Just a quick note… Uwe talked his brother and our neighbor Norm into taking him to the beach.  It was a logistical challenge to get all his stuff together but, they made it out the door, into the car and stopped by Jamba juice for a treat before crossing the mountains to the beaches in the Santa Cruz area. He had a big smile on as he was driving off with his partners in crime.

I wish them a wonderful few hours in Aptos!  I’m sure Uwe will come home with lots of sand between his toes. Hopefully they’ll be able to pause for pictures to prove they made it to the sandy areas.

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Love is in the air

In these last few days big amounts of love and joy have surrounded Uwe and our family.  Uwe’s brother arrived on Sunday, my sister on Saturday and many, many friends have stopped by for a smile, a laugh, a beer and a tear.

Uwe is resting right now, he is getting weaker by the day.  His humor still shines through, peeking out from under a cloak of sadness.  It’s so hard to know you are going to leave this world sooner than you planned.

I’ve heard from several people that the news of hospice came as a big surprise.  Uwe and I kept our hopes up until the doctors told us, no more treatment.  And we didn’t share the consequence of every medical intervention.  The big issue with Uwe is that the path from Uwe’s stomach to his intestine is blocked by the tumor.  He had a gastric bypass surgery to fix it but, it never really worked that well.  His stomach got a little slow, so he took a pill for it.  But, still limited his intake to pureed foods.

A few weeks ago we found out he developed a partial obstruction in his upper intestine, making it that much harder to get nutrition the old fashioned way.  I think since then the obstruction has gotten bigger only allowing trickles of liquid to pass through.

The tpn, food in a bag, was part of his treatment to supply nutrition through a picc line.  This meant he was getting fluid, vitamins, mineral and lipids delivered directly to his heart.  The body would take this ‘tpn’ to the parts of the body that needed it and Uwe would get energy from it. There is a limited amount of time that the body will tolerate all this extra liquid being deposited at the heart and Uwe hit that limit.  The liquids started to pool in his legs, stomach and just recently a little in his lungs.   The doctors decided it was time to take Uwe off the tpn because it was doing more harm than good.  They also said his body wasn’t healthy enough to withstand another chemo.  This whole cancer thing sucks and even though medicine can do amazing things, they haven’t figured out how to feed someone without either the tpn or use of the existing intestinal tract.

So Uwe came home for hospice.  He is trying to get some nutrition in but, we see it coming out of his gastro tube.  The g tube was inserted last week to relieve the pressure from his stomach filling up and not going down the intestines.  This has reduced the amount Uwe throws up each day, although not stopped it completely.  I’m sorry if this is too much information but, I’m hoping it answers some questions for many of our friends.

I feel so helpless at this stage of his illness but, sadly there are no longer any options.  So we have chosen to give Uwe a big send off, filled with love, Love, LOVE.

We are blessed to have so many family members and friends around us.   Rita lou

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Hospital to Hospice

Uwe was released from the hospital Thursday night to begin hospice care at home.  We are all so sad, mad, frustrated and confused that this is the path of pancreatic cancer.  It would be much easier to crawl in a hole and ignore the outside world but, we wanted to make sure those far and wide knew where he was in this journey.

Heinrich, Uwe’s brother, and Rebecca, my sister, will be coming this weekend to spend time with Uwe and help out.  We’ve never done this before and don’t know what the right way is but, for us it feels comfortable to welcome friends and family in to visit with Uwe.  The days seem longer when one sits, waiting, wondering.  It passes by easier with friends around.  Although too much noise can be overwhelming.

So, we open our hearts and home to those who want to share their love, a story or just a smile with Uwe in his last weeks.  Just drop by, you might see him through the living room window.  Uwe loves to lay by the open window, looking at his roses, birds and watching the people stroll by.

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Spoke too soon

Uwe stayed in the hospital today for a late afternoon session with the IR doctors. Another attempt was made to drain more ascites fluid. The dr described the pockets of fluid to be like bubble wrap. The very small pockets are making it hard to get the fluid out. Nonetheless, they put in a new ascites drain and took out the old one. He is resting quietly now.

As Uwe was being wheeled out to his procedure he made a joke. His nurse turned to me and said, “your husband is so sweet.”. Yes, he is.

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