Goodbye Mommy

My mother, June Elizabeth Fennell, died this evening at 7:03 p.m.  on the TV in the background Amazing Grace was playing (coverage of the funeral of a police officer from Edmonton on the news).  She went peacefully, holding my hand.

Her body just couldn’t recover from the two surgeries and complications.  She was alert this morning and was able to make her own decision about what she wanted.

After over a  month in the hospital, and almost three weeks of it in ICU, she was tired.  Rest well mom.

Thank you to the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and all the other staff who attended mom.

Per mom’s wishes there will be no funeral or service.   Bear Creek Funeral Home will be taking care of her.

Donations to any charity you wish would be appropriate.


June Elizabeth (Racher) Fennell

July 31, 1938 – June 17, 2015


Ups and downs with Mom

For those who follow my blog for make-up/face painting reasons – sorry for all the posts about my mom, but this is what is the most important thing in my life at the moment.  Writing about this helps me process what I am dealing with day-to-day.

This all started on May 15th when mom fell – as of this coming Monday she will have been in the hospital for a month.

Since my last post a week ago the following stuff has happened, in no particular order as time has ceased to register with me (I don’t know what day of the week it is, or how much time has passed without actually looking at a calendar):

– Mom pulled out her ventilator ON HER OWN early this week (I can’t even tell you how many days ago it was…)  They were talking about putting in a trach tube which I think caused her to take action.  She pulled it out and she is still breathing, completely on her own.  They put a “bi-pap” (?) mask on her the night she did that, and for a few hours the next day but she fought against it (and she flipped the bird at the respiratory therapist…) so… she is now simply on oxygen through the nose.  They removed the ventilator from her room completely.  They also installed a feeding tube down her nose – they give her stuff through it – Tylenol, other drugs and supplements, etc.

– Mom is now in a private room in ICU and probably will be there for a bit more time.  She’s now been there for two solid weeks since her stomach surgery.

– She wants me there everyday.  I was reading to her but a few days ago she started saying no if I asked if she wanted me to continue.  I’ve been going to work for an hour to clear emails, etc. then heading over.  It is really uncomfortable (the chairs are horrid.)  I don’t think I’m going to be able to continue staying there so long every day.  I have other things that need doing and will run out of vacation days.

– This week they did a CT scan to check for a reason her white blood cell count is so high.  They found an abscess inside against the outer wall of her abdomen.  Long story short (conflicting medical opinions, new intense antibiotics, etc.) they drained it with a needle today without notice they were going to.  I really hope that is the end of the “procedures” she has to have.

– Today, as well, they are doing an ultrasound of her heart.

– A few days ago, after she removed the ventilator, the speech therapist came to assess her for chewing and swallowing.  The first day she came to tell us she would be back the next day to do the test.  Then she came the next day and mom would not cooperate.  The third day she came back and mom cooperated.  So a pureed diet was ordered.  Had to wait for dinner as mom had a CT scan scheduled.  Mom ate the yoghurt.  The pureed food is vile, simply vile.  Today I took in mashed banana in yoghurt and mom ate it with actual enthusiasm.

– She doesn’t want to cooperate with the nurses about moving her around or getting her up to sit in a chair (using a lift/sling) and doesn’t want to cooperate with Physio either.  But they just do it anyway.  She squeals and yells.  I am blaming some of the behaviours (well, MOST of it, I hope) on the drugs – even though they have cut way back on the size of the doses, etc. she still gets “loopy” on pain meds.

– I called to talk to mom’s nurse an hour or so ago for an update and she told me that mom’s meds have been changed – hopefully we’ll find something that won’t make her loopy.

– She’s got a full size TV now so I can put the news on and her regular shows – it distracts her a bit, and at least I can watch it while sitting there.  I need to take in something productive to work on – I’ve got an embroidery project that I’ve had sitting in my basket, unopened, for about 40 years (yes, years) so maybe I’ll start working on that.

– Last night, actually, it was this morning at 12:11 a.m. the phone ringing woke me up – NOT a good thing right now.  I was sound asleep so it took me longer to wake-up than ringing – so I got up to check who it was because, well… it was ICU.  Panic mode… I called back, and mom’s night nurse answered – immediately said “June’s okay”… but she wanted to know if there were things mom did at home to help her get to sleep.  Mom doesn’t have ANY problem sleeping at home.  They could not get her to settle – they’d given her all the possible drugs they could, all of them had tried to ask her what the problem was (with different answers for each of them), she was yelling “help, help, help” banging and rattling anything she could reach.  So… I headed over there (as I was sort of asked to) to see if I could calm her down.  Had to enter through ER and security let me in.  They had set up a cot for me in mom’s room.  Mom seemed happy to see me and I got on the cot and tried to fall back to sleep.  Mom stayed quiet for about a couple of hours (till around 2:45 a.m.)  I tried to sleep but was wired from the adrenaline and there are so many noises!!  The bed makes noises (it is an adjusting air mattress), the monitors make noises, the HVAC system for the entire hospital is just outside the window of her room, the leg compressors inflate and deflate, there are sounds from the hall… I dozed off for about an hour, the mom started again – help, help, help.  Ask her why, she has to go to the toilet, tell her she can’t, just go you have tubes in.  Wait a couple of minutes – help, help, help, what now? My stomach hurts. Why?  I have to go, then just go.  And on, and on and on it went.  She kept it up, non-stop.

Net result, I may have managed to get a total of two hours sleep.  Her day nurse got her out of bed into a chair, against mom’s very vocal objections.  I fed her.  Then went to the cafeteria to get my self something (I hadn’t had time to pack a lunch) and she continued the whole repetitious process all morning.  At around 11 a.m. I told mom I was going to go home to sleep.  She obviously wasn’t interested in my company.  She wailed.  But I’d been there almost eleven hours and she hadn’t changed her tune.  Except to add in to her repertoire “my neck is broken.”

I managed a three-hour nap and still feel crappy and tired.

– I think it is still Friday right now.  June 12th is Friday?

For Family:  If you are planning to visit mom (and it would be nice if you did) send me a message so I can add you to the permitted visitor list.  See previous posts for hours, etc.  And please don’t phone me – I don’t want to talk as I get too emotional, upset and that just adds more stress and causes massive headaches.  Which I do not need and will not willingly subject myself to on top of everything else.




Roller coaster ride – update on my mom

We have not been having fun.

Overnight on May 27 mom’s vitals went wonky and her belly started to swell.  In the morning of May 28, the day we were going to be bringing her home, when her aide arrived shortly after 7 a.m. mom was on an IV and the nurses told her mom was going to be taken for a scan of her stomach.  She called me and I rushed over.

Mom was in pain – we thought it might be horrible constipation but she had been going.   Her belly swelled up steadily all day – she was in extreme pain and looked like she was 18 month’s pregnant with quintuplets.

They FINALLY came to take her for x-rays just before noon.  Mom was in worse and worse pain as time went by.

Around 2 p.m. a surgeon arrived to say it looked like a perforated bowel and they were going to be doing emergency surgery, but they had to get blood products into her first for clotting as she was back on her blood thinners at that point.  By now mom was totally delirious with pain yelling “help help help,” calling my name (NOT fun and very upsetting,) and screaming in pain. The nurses spent the next two hours getting things pumping into her.

Around 4 p.m. they took her to surgery.  I went home.  Around 6:30 I called the ward and they said she wasn’t out yet, and they thought she would be going to ICU afterwards.  Told me to call back around. 8 p.m.

The surgeon called me around 7:30 p.m. to say it wasn’t the bowel, but a ruptured ulcer on her stomach.  He had repaired it and she was in ICU.  He said the surgery went well.  I asked if that was better than a perforated bowel and he said “hell yes.”

On Friday, May 29 the phone ringing woke me up around 6:30 a.m.  It was ICU saying they thought I might want to get there as soon as possible.  Mom had deteriorated overnight and was on full life support.  I called one sister told her to let the others know, threw on some clothes and got over there.

Luckily mom had stabilized somewhat by then and was no longer requiring the ventilator to breathe completely for her.  That was a week ago.

She’s been steadily improving BUT, they haven’t removed the ventilator (it is on “assistance mode”) she has a lot of tubes and bags, and still has pain.  They removed the stitches from the hip surgery on Sunday – she is seeping out of the holes still though as she has been so pumped fully of liquids she was like a fully over inflated balloon – hard to the touch, no creases.  They’ve been  giving her diuretics to get the fluids off of her through the week.  The last three days she has been fully awake, finally, and communicating as best one can with a ventilator and stomach tube shoved in their face.  The bloating has been decreasing and her arms look about normal, but the legs are still pretty puffy.

Today, however, her belly is again, swelling up – and it is pretty big.  Her nurse convinced the ICU doctor to order x-rays to check that out.

So… I don’t know at this point what the x-rays show.  Shift change is going on right now so I will call in later to see what the update is.

I am dealing with things as they happen and hope to get her home sooner rather than later.  But she has to  recover from the surgeries and other issues, AND able to do a standing transfer with one person assisting before we can manage at home.

FOR FAMILY: ICU is immediate family visitors only, and only two at a time.  They are closed to visitors between 7-9 a.m., 1-3 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. I am the main contact – they won’t give out information to others.  If any family members are planning to visit her there you need to let me know so I can add you to the allowed in list.  And to reiterate what I said in my previous posts:  I am not home much between two jobs/visiting mom/etc. and do not want to talk on the phone when I am – send me an email or a Facebook message and I will answer.


We’re bustin’ mom outta dat joint

I decided this morning that mom was coming home.  She wasn’t cooperating with rehab at the hospital, wouldn’t eat, they were short-staffed to the point of one nurse on an entire ward, and our aide was taking complete care of all of mom’s needs anyway… that we can do at home.

Mom’s hip is fine – she needs to work it to get back to where she was.  The surgeon says it is all good as far as the surgery and repair goes.

She has been refusing to eat the hospital food (which is tasteless BTW).

The Physio said her strength in both legs is over 90%, so no reason that she can’t stand.  He also told me there is no medical reason that she needs to stay in the hospital and that he would put in an order for the Home Care P/T to come to our house for sessions.

So I asked our aide (who is fully trained and certified in various things as a rehab aide) if she was on board if I TOLD the hospital we were bringing mom home.  She was.

I called our case manager at home care to make sure that it would be acceptable and they would be able to assist with the possible need for additional equipment.  She was and is arranging for an O/T to come and assess our equipment needs if there are any over and above what we currently have. I called our family doctor to update him on mom – as he doesn’t have hospital privileges he isn’t in the loop.  Once she leaves the hospital she is back under his care.  He said as long as it was not against medical advice he was fine with it.

Then I booked the handi-bus to pick mom up tomorrow morning.

Then I drafted a memo to the hospital/surgeon/doctor advising them I was taking mom home tomorrow morning and outlining my care plan for her, and that I’ve lined up all our support systems.  I handed it in at the desk on the ward when I got there this afternoon.

One of mom’s nurses came in around 7 p.m. when her shift was ending to tell me the surgeon would be up in the morning to sign the release form so the discharge would be official and not against medical advice.

So tomorrow we  will get mom home.  She really perked up when told she was coming home.  It might be a little rough for a couple of days, but it will be less stressful for everyone having her here.

Family members:  If you want to phone and talk to mom please wait until AFTER 1 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, May 28.  We need to get her home and settled first.


Update on Mom

I spent today with mom at the hospital.  She was more “normal” today – dozing off a lot but speaking.

One of the nurses managed to get her to stand up off the edge of the bed holding onto a walker.  She didn’t stand up totally straight but did balance her weight on her good leg. Also sat more upright most of the day too.

Getting her to eat is still a struggle but she did eat something at each meal.  I took her some watermelon that she did eat.  The meals they are giving her are HUGE and she is not a big eater at the best of times.  Breakfast this morning, for example:  Hard boiled egg, pancakes, big bowl of oatmeal, fruit cup, yoghurt, coffee, cranberry juice… mom’s usual breakfast is yoghurt and banana, with a cup of coffee.  And while the food isn’t disgusting like the crap they tried to feed her the last time she was in after her stroke, it is pretty much completely tasteless.  She’ll eat a few mouthfuls then doesn’t want any more.

The surgeon stopped by to say everything was great with the hip.  Just need to get her back on her feet now.

I’ll be back at work tomorrow and will stop in to see mom on my way home each day.  Gerry is there with her in the daytime for her shift.


My Mom (June)

My mom had a fall last Friday – we were getting her out of the car in the garage after her water therapy session.  She slid down the car and hit the cement floor of the garage, landing on her bad side.

We spent 13 hours in ER… she was admitted for a broken hip AND clavicle.  Both on her left side which is the side the stroke affected so she wasn’t “using them.”  Although due to therapy she has much more strength in her left leg now.

They did surgery on her hip on Sunday afternoon – had to wait for her INR to be right as she is on blood thinners.  It was a clean break (only visible on the CT Scan) so they put in a rod and pins.  The surgeon said the surgery went as well as that sort of operation can.  The incisions are immaculate!  Three tiny slits, with a total of thirteen staples, no redness or gaps… just neat and tidy!

Now we are dealing with her pain and trying to convince her to bloody well use her good leg and stand up!  Typically they want hip surgery patients on their feet within two days, but mom, as she doesn’t walk anymore without assistance, needs different rehab.

Our new (started in April) full-time aide, Gerry, is fully trained and experienced in rehab which I am SO grateful for right now.  She was away for a week visiting her new grand-baby and was back at work Thursday – so she spent it at the hospital taking over mom’s care and maintenance from the nurses and working with the hospital physio to get mom moving.

Mom doesn’t want to eat – says it all tastes horrible.  So we’ve resorted to spoon-feeding.  I’ve tried taking in other things and she will eat some, but not all.

I’ve been at the hospital all-day everyday until Thursday.  You have to be there when you have someone who isn’t fully aware (they had her on opiates which make her loopy – finally got that changed) so you can hear what the doctors and therapists have to say directly.

For the first few days I had to tell everyone who came to check her that she COULD NOT move her left side due to a stroke.   I think that is all noted now.  And Gerry is there to deal with it from now on during the day.

Mom is aware, in pain which is understandable, and being well looked after.  I had hoped we could get her home within a week but that doesn’t look likely.  She needs to stand to transfer and she hasn’t stood up on her own power yet.  They are using a mechanical lift to pick her up as she will NOT cooperate and put weight on her GOOD leg, let alone the broken one which is functional and stable and can bear weight.

As I was at the hospital everyday I missed work this week, and all the yard work and other things I had planned for the long weekend didn’t get done.  I’ve got bookings for make-up/face painting, have to get back to work at the day job, and visiting mom – and housework, yard work and getting paperwork done.  Days are long and I just want to chill, make myself something to eat and sleep when I finally get home.

This part is for family: I know a lot of you read my blog.  If you are trying to call me I will not answer the phone after 9 p.m. (ever) and I tend not to check for phone messages when I get in as the flashing light is on the phone in the office which is out of sight – right now it may be the next day before I listen to them.  I do not have a long distance plan.  I am not in the house a lot and when I finally get a chance to chill and watch mindless television I have no interest in talking on the phone – I need to relax!  Shari and Shona have the latest updates and information (including mom’s room number, etc. which I won’t publish here.)  If you want to send an email or FB message (ShannonFennell.MakeUp)  I will respond to those (again, Shari and Shona can provide my email if you don’t have it.)

PLEASE DO NOT SEND FLOWERS  – mom has severe allergies and the nurses have instructions to not let them anywhere near her.

Now that Gerry will be working with mom I really REALLY hope that we can get her home within another week – but she may not be up to coming with me on the big jobs for quite some time.



Time rolls merrily along

Another month has whipped by in a blink.  I can’t believe how fast time goes by… every year it speeds up. If this keeps up I’ll soon be missing entire years by sleeping in on weekends.

Last weekend we were face painting out at the Annual Swan Festival at Saskatoon Island Provincial Park.  Marilyn Grubb of Chipabirdee Images took some sweet shots as usual

MG SF 2015

MG2 SF 2015

We’re booked for lots of face painting this season.  These events are open to the public for the most part (there are admission fees for some): The MS Walk at the end of the month at Muskoseepi Park,  Municipal Government Day on June 10th at Muskoseepi Park, Canada Day at Muskoseepi Park, County Fair at Evergreen Park in July, Grizfest in Tumbler Ridge on the August long weekend, the Debolt Fair, the Hythe Fair, the Wembley Demolition Derby and more.

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Shannon Fennell

Shannon Fennell

International Award Winnning Make-Up Artist, Face & Body Painter

I am a professional make-up artist with credits in film, television, theatre and editorial.  My face painting book YOUR FACE OR MINE was published in 2007 by Snazaroo USA Inc. is widely available worldwide and I offer a multitude of make-up related services and retail instructional products for face painters.

Some of my awards include 2005 International Face Painter of the Year, 2006 Winner of Fantasy Worldwide Face Painting Contest in Putte, Belgium, Second Place at the 2007 US Body Painting Festival, as well as over 50 other awards and prizes. 

I love creative projects and can do everything from wedding make-up to custom SFX appliances, large scale international sporting events to individual appointments at Halloween, birthday parties to trade shows.  No job too big or too small.


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