Wednesday, August 28, 2013

thank you and love

Good Evening -

Crickets are chirping, backyard chimes are ringing, and there is baseball on the radio.  It's difficult to believe that we lost Kurtis a little over a week ago, and life has been an adjustment as you might expect. I had written a longer post last Thursday, but it got lost in internet land and I didn't have the stamina to rewrite it then, and tonight I felt like typing out some of what I had written before.

To begin, I want to say thank you.  The journey from the past several years has been a roller coaster ride and I'll admit that roller coasters are far from my favorite.  So many of you have been along with both Kurtis and myself for the ride and I know that without you that we wouldn't have been able to walk through this for as long.  Perhaps everything happened really quickly last week or perhaps we weren't aware just how sick Kurtis was, but we were able to spend so much of the summer together thanks to the countless acts of kindness from each of you.

Our families have been incredible, providing us with what we needed.  I was thankful to be able to have both of our parents and K's sister and brother in law with us when Kurtis passed last week, and it was so good to see so many of you at the celebration this weekend.  I can't imagine going through this without a family that would do anything (and everything) to help.  I feel so fortunate and thankful to have all of you in my life <3  My parents have been nothing but amazing and, Mom and Dad - I can't say thank you in enough languages or ways to really express how thankful and blessed I am to have you as parents.  You are both such wonderful, loving, kind, thoughtful, and strong individuals that I know I wouldn't be able to be standing up right now if it wasn't for you.

Thank you to our Polaris staff who exemplify our school motto "Crew, not passengers" - I have told people since I started working on a chilly January day in 2010 that I work at the best school in the world, and I firmly believe that is true.  Kurtis loved working with all of you and I want you to know how thrilled he was to have gotten the job last summer.  From morning chai to hallway hugs and jokes you all have made it possible for me to feel loved, safe, and happy at work even though it hasn't been easy.

To our friends from far and wide, thank you for the messages of love, support, and help.  I appreciate the supportive conversations, shoulders to cry on, and the ability to reminisce over a beer.  Thank you for all the text messages and late night phone calls when I felt like the world was crumbling.  For helping me to finish my backyard, etc. etc. etc.

To our lacrosse families and school families, you are incredible too.  There were so many loving messages, visits to the hospital, and cards from you that helped to light our life up these past few months and  I appreciate it more than you know.

And, to the strangers who have found this blog and send us love and support too, thank you.

I know I haven't had a chance to respond to all of the emails, notes, texts, facebook messages and more, but I will.  <3

I also feel like I want to tell you a few things now that I've had some time to process.  I loved Kurtis so much and it was incredibly difficult to lose him, but I feel so relieved that he is free.  I know that many of you who have been following along didn't spend time with us with all the tests, chemo, radiation, blood getting, hospital sleeping, etc. etc. etc. and it was really getting to a point where it was easy to tell that Kurtis was tired and in massive amounts of pain.  I'm not really sure that the pain would have ever released, even if they could have gotten the cancer under control.  I am so proud of the fight that he put up, and it was because he gave it everything he could that I feel like I was able to tell him it was okay to go.  We had a conversation before he left where I made him promise that he would let me know that he was okay when he got wherever he was going.

After we got home, I was drawn out to our deck immediately, where the air was heavy, sticky, and still. Without a breeze or gust of wind, the chimes that our friends gave us for our wedding went wild.  Kurtis loved those chimes so much (which, is odd since they're sort of randomly noisy...) but it let me know that he's okay and I want to share that with all of you.

I know that a lot of you are worried about me and I want to let you know I'm okay too.  I have my family (and Kurtis') around me and I'm happy being back at work.  I have a week off in a few weeks and I'm very excited to be visiting an old friend in New York City.  My parents and I are going to go out to South Carolina (or somewhere right around there) to play some golf for Kurtis' birthday and lacrosse starts next week.  Keep the chai, hugs, and love coming, but know that I'm okay too.  My friend Amelia has moved into the house with me so I'm not alone, Chauncey has been overly loving, and I know that Kurtis is watching over all of us.

There was an article in our local paper about Kurtis, you can read it here

I hope you will consider donating to the scholarship fund that we've set up for Kurtis.  The scholarships will be awarded annually to one student from our school, Polaris, and one to Kurtis' alma mater, Holyoke High School, to further their education.  The easiest way is to send the check to the PO box :)

You may make your donation at any Wells Fargo Bank Branch, or mail a check made payable to the Kurtis Huss Memorial Scholarship Fund to:

Kurtis Huss Fund
P. O. Box 51284
Colorado Springs, CO 80949-1284

That's all for now, but I look forward to sharing some memories of Kurtis with you later.

Much love,
Liz and Chauncey

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kurtis is free

Hello -

I just wanted to take a few moments tonight write in this blog.  It has been an important part of our journey.

Two nights ago around 7:30, Kurits passed away.  It was a pretty quick downhill spiral that landed him in the ICU.  After speaking to the doctor on the morning of August 20th, we learned that Kurtis' lungs were too damaged to fix, even if they could fix the other problems that his lungs were no longer able to function on his own.

We were fortunate to have an extra day to say goodbye and I am thankful that I got to tell him I love him a million more times.  I never really thought I'd be writing this post, but here I am.  It's difficult right now, but I know that he isn't in pain anymore and that helps to put me at peace.  I know that he is looking out for all of us as he promised he would.

Kurtis' memorial service will be on Sunday at two at our neighborhood park.  Details follow:

Kurtis' Life Celebration Information

The service for Kurtis Huss will be on Sunday, August 25th at 2pm in Registry Park (6820 Ranger Dr, Fort Collins, CO 80526).  The park is located in a neighborhood and the city of Fort Collins has asked that cars are not parked in residential streets as much as possible. Please dress casually and wear blue (Kurtis' favorite color), the ceremony will be outside so please bring chairs or blankets to sit on.  We also recommend that you bring water as it is supposed to be hot that afternoon.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Kurtis Huss Memorial Scholarship Fund that will begin annually awarding  students from Polaris Expeditionary Learning School and Holyoke High School with scholarship money to further their education.  Checks may be made out to the Kurtis Huss Memorial Scholarship Fund.  A reception of Kurtis' favorite snacks and drinks will be held following the celebration - if you would like to bring some to share please feel free.  
Thank you for the endless love that you showed both Kurtis and myself.  He was the love of my life and my very best friend and I feel a little lost without him right now.  But I want you to know that I'm okay.  I have all of you on my side and he's taking care of me :)

I'm hoping that you will all post memories of Kurtis below and I intend to post some of mine in the future :)

All our love,
Liz and Chauncey

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday "funday"

Greetings and Salutations!

Well.  Here we are.  Several days after Thursday, but lots to share and update you on.  It's been a crazy few days (aren't they all now?!??!).  Time is ticking away and summer officially ends at 5 AM or so when I get up to go to work since I still am not ready (!!) with all of my copies and such for school tomorrow.

Kurtis is doing better than a few days ago.  No new tumors to report, thankfully.

On Friday, they placed an Aspira lung drain so that he can take the fluid out of his lungs as needed.  It's very painful right now because they have to kind of dig around to get it placed which is not comfortable in any sense of the imagination.  Yesterday was the worst day for that I think, and today has been much better since they've been giving him some pain medication through the IV.

We were hoping that he would be able to go home Saturday or Sunday, but that hasn't been the case.  Things have stabilized for the most part except for the random bleeding that is happening and going into his lung.  Today we drained it for the first time and got 400cc of fluid - and that is after they got 3500cc of fluid a few days ago (that is about 3.5 IV bags just to give you some reference points).  So, the trick now is just getting that blood stop and the chemo rolling again...something that we are hopeful will happen tomorrow or Tuesday.

Today was mellow.  We watched the Americans lose the Solheim Cup and then later some Cuthroat kitchent.  Chipotle for dinner and Kurtis was able to move and sit in a chair (YEA!).

For now, Kurtis is still in the hospital.  It's not terrible though since the nurses are here and everything is taken care of :]

School starts tomorrow and I know that it is hard for Kurtis to be missing it.  However, once they get this stuff a little bit under control, I know that he's excited to get back to the classroom.

I spent Saturday in Parker at the Solheim Cup with my parents which was really fun.  I'm happy that Kurtis got to spend some time with his mom :] and also that the wonderful Amelia was able to take care of broken dog.  Broken dog is doing well.   He had his bandage removed today and will spend the week at the vet for "day boarding"


I think that's all for now.  More soon...I won't say tomorrow since I lied last time!

Liz, Kurtis, and Chauncey Dudley

Thursday, August 15, 2013

a long 24 and other notes

Greetings and Salutations -

Well, I had to go back and read my last post because I wasn't really sure where I left off.  It's been that kind of few days.  And I didn't really read it, I just skimmed it, so my apologies if I repeat something.

The last few days have been beyond nuts and I'm hopeful that we'll see smooth sailing on the horizon ahead.  I'm pretty tired, so I'm attempting to keep this rundown brief, but it may not turn out that way.

So, earlier in the week, Kurtis was scheduled for a blood transfusion on Wednesday which he did have, but he also got blood on Tuesday.  He was feeling really terrible and we ended up going into the cancer center for treatment.  They sent us to the hospital for two units of blood that afternoon with one the following morning (three units in total for you math whiz types).  This helped Kurtis feel better, but not endlessly so.  His blood number was at nine (remember that twelve-fourteen is normal for males of his size) and we headed home where I cleaned up our house in preparation for school starting and in the evening, Kurtis' mom came.

Now the fun really starts.

While finishing up baking some banana bread Madeline's for our staff breakfast Chauncey bounded in from the backyard and proceeded to bleed all over the house.  With pressure on his paw, I couldn't slow the bleeding at all so we fixed him a paper-towel-and-hair-tie bandage and I took him to the CSU urgent care animal hospital.  I was expecting him to get bandaged up like he has in the past when he's cut his paws, but after waiting some time I found out that he needed surgery.  So, emergency surgery for the dog (they had to call a surgeon in) after it took them forty-five minutes to stop his bleeding.

At midnight we headed home and by 12:45 or so I had successfully gotten him to pee outside, shoved six pills down his throat and carried him upstairs all while trying not to wake Kurtis up.  It was an adventure.  And of course, work started today and Kurtis and his mom were headed for chemo so ... Chauncey got to come to work.  Thankfully I work in the most amazing place in the world.

Today while I was at work, Kurtis and his mom headed to a doctor's appointment and ended up being checked into the hospital.  He needed a GI test to figure out where the bleeding was coming from as well as some more blood to try to push him to 'normal' and the lung doc came in to see him. Basic rundown:
-The blood went well, helping his color and making him feel some better
-The GI test found some bleeding nodules in his stomach and, unfortunately, the GI doctor thinks that they are tumors as well.  He put some clamps in to help stop the bleeding and pathology will get back with results tomorrow
-Tomorrow, Kurtis will have another lung drain or he'll have a drain placed so he can drain it himself.  I think right now he's leaning toward the personal drain

So, there you have it.  Our crazy 24 hours.  I'm hoping that we'll get out of the woods soon and that Kurtis can start feeling better very soon.  I'll update tomorrow as I'm sure many of you would like to know what is going on.

All our love,
Liz, Kurtis, and Chauncey-my-foot-is-hurt dog

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer's closing

Good Evening and Hello -

Tonight is a cool evening in the fort - the kind of evening that reminds us that fall is creeping around the corner.  Backpacks of children will soon be filled with brand new boxes of crayons and their parents will be thrilled to send them off to teachers who are actually quite pleased to be back in the classroom.  Days will keep getting shorter and football season will start up soon.  With that said, I'm reminded that the world and life keeps on going and Kurtis and I will continue to take things one day at a time.

As you might have seen on my Facebook post a few days ago, we are back home.  The hospital stint (just over 24 hours) is the shortest that we've ever had throughout this entire experience, so we are both incredibly thankful for that.  The doctors think that the radiation caused some swelling in his brain which was causing his crippling nausea.  That would explain why none of the drugs that they gave him were working at all.  Once they checked him into the hospital, he got several doses of the steroid that he was taking at the beginning of the summer.  It seems to be working quite well and I know that Kurtis is happy to be feeling at least a little "normally" again.

Yesterday, Kurtis was feeling good enough that I felt comfortable leaving him home to head down to the Rockies game.  It's been months since I've been able to go and breathing in the peanut, hot dog, and beer filled smell while hanging out with one of my colleagues and my grandparents was just what I needed.  I'm sure many of you know this, but baseball is basically part of my anatomy and has been since I was a wee one (thanks dad).  I wouldn't have it any other way.  And to anyone who says that the baseball season is too long at 162 games -- IT IS NOT.  For people like me, we need the constant beat of summer - cracks of the bat and the adrenaline rush of a fabulous double play.

Today Kurtis got his blood tested and his is in need of another transfusion.  His appointment is for Wednesday morning.  We joke that we've spent pretty much every holiday you can think of in the hospital - and Wednesday will be a new one ... "last day of summer" -ha. Thursday and Friday are back to school for teachers and then the kiddos return and I'm excited for that.   I miss them in the summer - even when summer is "normal" I miss them so it will be a great thing to get back into the swing of things.

We're hoping that Kurtis starts to feel more and more normal as we get farther and farther away from his radiation treatments.  They really did a number on a different way than chemo does.  His mom is coming up to hang with him for chemo this week and most likely through Saturday while I head down to Parker to watch the Solheim Cup with my parents.  I'm thrilled to get the chance to see golfers that are almost as good as me (HAHAHA).

Chauncey wants everyone to know that he still hasn't come remotely close to catching a rabbit.  He also says that he is protecting us because "haven't you seen the bunny in Monty Python?!"  That explains his addiction pretty good.  He and the next-door dog, Tilly, have been working hard at being "fence friends" and so far it's going well.  Armed with cheap dog treats we call "McDonalds" we've been working with the two of them so that they can be out at the same time and not wake up the entire city of Fort Collins.  Chauncey's grade is currently a "developing" on the Polaris grading scale (not passing...) but he's close to a "developing/accomplished" (passing).

Thank you for your continued thoughts and love.  We really appreciate everything that is sent our way.

Lots of love,
Liz, Kurtis, and Chauncey

Friday, August 9, 2013

3003, a hospital odyssey


Tonight I'm writing from room 3003 at PVH where Kurtis, Chauncey, and I will be spending the night. Don't panic!

Kurtis had his last radiation treatment this morning and threw up on the way.  After his treatment he was looking really pale and generally "not good" so they had him lay down at the radiation oncologist's office.  After taking his blood pressure (super low) they decided to transport him via ambulance to the ER at PVH.

Originally, Kurtis was scheduled to have a blood transfusion today, so they started that while we were in the ER.  We watched "Trouble With the Curve" and hung out until they decided to keep Kurtis overnight.  Once that decision was made, we were moved up to the oncology hallway and I headed home to get Chauncey.

Kurtis has had two bags of blood so far and LOTS of fluid.  His color is almost all the way back to "normal" and he was even able to eat real food for dinner. His blood numbers are not quite where they should be and his blood pressure is still low, but the good thing is that we're here so they can monitor all of that stuff. Hopefully the blood and fluid will help to get the nausea under control.  We've been having a lovely evening - Rox are playing well tonight and the three of us are together, so that is what matters :)

I don't have a lot of news other than that - not really a whole lot to report.

We appreciate the continued love and support!

Liz, Kurtis, and hospital dog Chauncey

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday Update


Well.  It has certainly been a long time since I've updated here, I was going to update last night, but my computer wasn't charged and ... I went to bed instead.  But now I'm all connected to power and ready to go!

Well, it certainly has been a week.  Lots of stuff going on for us - in the middle of trying to get ready for school and figure out what to do with our lingering days of summer :/.  It really feels like we just finished school - amazing how fast a couple months go when you're fighting cancer.

Kurtis has now completed eight treatments of radiation and will have two more - tomorrow and Friday. They have been "easy" as far as the treatment time goes...we just drive over to the center and they take him for five minutes and then we go home.  However, they've been magnifying the chemo side effects so right now, Kurtis is facing a constant battle with pretty extreme fatigue and nausea.  I think we are both thankful that the radiation is almost done!

Last week, Kurtis' family came to visit.  It was good to see his mom and sister as well as the nieces who did the best they could being "understanding" of Kurtis being sick.  Aubrey even picked out a very cute frog and gave it to Kurtis with strict instructions that it is to CUDDLE WITH.  We spent most of the rest of the weekend watching baseball and movies.  The Rockies are not really helping us feel any better right now, so we're hopeful that they'll turn it around soon.

I interviewed for the head coaching (women's lacrosse) position at Colorado State early last week and found out at the end of the week that I got the job which I am very excited about.  I wasn't really ever expecting to change my coaching job, but when this opportunity came up I didn't feel like I could say no! It was an extremely hard thing to decide to leave my current coaching job - we have a ton of great kids and wonderful families.  The last couple of weeks while I was trying to decide what to do I had a lot of anxiety, so actually having the decision finalized has lifted a big weight.  I know that my Eagles will continue to do great things and I'm quite excited to be coaching the defending national champs!  Amazing how opportunities present themselves when you least expect it.

I also got to go spend Monday night with my family in Denver to celebrate my little sister's birthday (early).  It was great to get to see my family and surprise her.  I'm thankful that Kurtis is feeling well enough that I was able to go, but I know that he was sad he couldn't join.

We were able to meet with the school district and set up Kurtis' "leave" time while he's going through treatment.  Thankfully that went well and it looks like he'll start back two days/week for the first little while.  I know he is ready to get back in the classroom too :)

Today I spent time dragging our furniture around upstairs.  Since Kurtis is so nauseous all the time, I have been sleeping on one of the other mattresses on the floor.  Now our other bed frame is in the room and I am much less in the way and up off the floor which will be nice.  Chauncey was quite confused and not good at "helping"

I think that's all for now.  I'm sure I missed a lot, but I'll write more tomorrow :)

All our love!
Liz, Kurtis, and Chauncey