April 8, 2013 Beloved Mouseketeer and Iconic Teen Star Annette Funicello Dies at Age 70
BURBANK, Ca., April 8, 2013 - Actress Annette Funicello, long-time Disney and Beach Party star, passed away on Monday April 8 at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, CA, at the age of 70. She died peacefully from complications due to Multiple Sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years. Beloved by television viewers in the 50s for her stint on Disney's original The Mickey Mouse Club, and by film buffs for her numerous roles in a series of popular teen-oriented movies in the 60s, Funicello became a pop culture icon. READ MORE at http://annetteconnection.com/2013-News.php
April 1, 2013 Not an April fool!
It’s been a while since we've sent an update, but it's not really a case of "No news is good news", it’s just that the news seems to change faster than we can track it! Everyday has been such a roller coaster that it’s been hard to write it down without starting to feel like a bunch of people who can’t keep their story straight! Luckily mom has proven to have as many lives as a cat (we are trying not to count how many have been used up)!
My mom, dad, Jeff and myself arrived back in Durham the first week in January for a routine check up and Bronc. We could tell as we traveled that she seemed weaker than ever and our timing being back at Duke could not have been better. Not long after arriving at mom’s appointment and pre-bronc she was admitted back into the hospital. Where between two intakes she spent nearly 5 weeks. I'll spare you all the details from the roller coaster ride (including an accidentally nicked and deflated lung, being back on oxygen etc) but the last of her problems was that she contracted the worst case of CMV infection Duke had ever seen (by 100,00 copies)... “Not long ago there was not even medicine to treat that bad of a CMV infection. fortunately, now there is.”... said Dr. Palmer who is still amazed that mom managed to pull through that one.
After getting out of the hospital to return to our local hotel, Duke set some serious benchmarks for mom, goals she needed to hit before she could go home... gain 15 pounds, test negative for CMV and get off of oxygen (to name a few). She worked very hard (as is her style), and had great week long visits by various members of TEAM KAREN - good friend Kathleen, sister in law Akama and super inspiration grandson Bennett (with Tommy). Durning this time Dad and I snuck off to Tucson for a little break, some fun and best of all seeing Grandma Bergen (mom's mother) twice among mom's two brothers Rick, Joe and family. With each visitor/helper she had help with nutrition, exercise and the all important "staying on a regular routine".
It has all helped in the greater picture of her recovery. Today’s check up proved that. She is exactly where Dr. Palmer set her goals and we were told we could go home! Yes, back to MN within the week!!!! The last person we spoke with before leaving the clinic today was a transplant recipient who is 8 years out but said he has been back in the hospital FIFTY TWO TIMES and has never been home for more then a couple months. We are constantly reminded that every day is fragile and a blessing. As things stand now, mom has been given the clean bill of health to to go home and unless the wheels completely fall off, they shouldn't need to see her for 6 months! Whooo HOOOO! Congrats mom!
Jen and Vee family
March 22, 2013 Bobby Vee on PBS
Thanks to a fan, we just discovered a segment now airing on PBS stations. If you missed seeing it, take a few minutes to view it now by clicking on this link:
January 14, 2013 Jerry Naylor will be giving a live inteview on British local radio station BBC Tees
Bobby's old friend, former Crickets lead singer, Jerry Naylor will be giving a live inteview on British local radio station BBC Tees, on Sunday 20th January, to presenter, Colin Bunyan on his Vintage Vinyl show; Jerry will be on a live telephone link from his home on Oregon, he will be on at approx. 3.30 pm UK time (7.30am in Oregon) .
I have arranged for this interview to take place and it will be a 'world exclusive' to introduce Jerry's new CD which he is hoping to issue later this month or in February.
The show can be picked up on the internet bbc.co.uk/tees look for links to Colin Bunyan or Vintage Vinyl, there is also a listen again link which carries the show for 7 days
December 2, 2012 Bobby Vee Art Exhibition Opens
Here are a few family photos from a GREAT NIGHT at the gallery grand opening. Click Here
2012 Bobby Vee Art Exhibition To Include Limited Edition Prints
November 30th: 5:00-8:00 PM / December 1st: 10:00AM-5:00 PM / December 2nd: 12:00-4:00 PM.
At The Satellite Gallery 15 East Minnesota Streer, St. Joseph, MN
Nov 19, 2012 Follow-up
Saturday we are made our way home from Durham after my mother’s 5-week post transplant follow-up appointments. As many of you know, this was a scheduled trip for routine check-ups, a Bronchoscopy (Bronch) and her Nissan (stomach wrap) surgery.
On Monday mom strolled into Duke… walker free and burning tread on her sneakers after hiking it up from the parking lot. She is clearly stronger then when she left 5 weeks ago. She jumped right back in to the swing of things at 8:30am starting with blood work, x-rays and then straight into a 1pm Bronch. It was a long hard day ending at almost 7pm when we finally walked out. Overall the doctors seem happy with her progress. Her breathing tests were up 4 and 7%, blood oxygen saturation sitting 99 and 100% (pre transplant she was lucky to sit in the low 90s on supplemental O2).
For the first time since the transplant, Mom had a very difficult bronch. Her lung started to bleed pretty heavily early into the procedure so, for her safety, they decided to abandon the process and concentrate on stopping the bleeding. Because of this they were not able to get a single good biopsy (they were hoping to get 6). The main purpose of these biopsies is to check for any early signs of rejection. It was decided that because of the bleeding (probably a result of a blood thinner medication that she is on) and her general fragile condition, the procedure would be postponed until her next follow-up appointment in January. The doctors decreased her blood thinner medication and ordered her to gain 10 pounds before her return. Luckily, the concern around rejection is low, as her other tests look good. In the end, Mom was relieved to not have to enter the holidays recovering from yet another surgery and really was not looking forward to another stay in the hospital. On the bright side… What better time to have to gain weight than this time of year. A nice problem, really!
One of the highlights of returning to Duke was catching up with our fellow transplant friends. We were excited to learn that some have gone home. Concerned to hear that some are still struggling, and sad to hear that some have passed away. As we enter this holiday season, we can’t help but reflect on this entire journey. We have SOOOO much to be grateful for!
On that note… My Mother would like to express her gratitude here. Her heart is filled with the love and support she has received from my dad, who has not missed a beat. She is also SO appreciative of all of the family and friends who have filled her home with food and taken time with her medically. She would like to extend a VERY special thanks to Kim for tackling the medical tackle box. As always, she reserves her most sincere and heartfelt thank you for the donor and family. Your truly unselfish gift of breath and life gives us all such cause for celebration this year! We pray that God continues to hold you close as the holidays approach. On a lighter note… She is thankful for the love of her grandchildren, which continues to brighten her days. And lastly, she is truly grateful for the generosity of her son and daughters in law, who have helped to hold down the fort at home when the rest of us have needed to be spread out around the country.
As you can see… This holiday mom has an abundance of gratitude! She asked me to share the following message as she gives thanks for you all:
May today there be peace within.May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.May you be content with yourself just the way you are.Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.It is there for each and every one of us.
[ST. Teresa of Liseau, revised]
Prayers go out to you all for a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving.
Blessings,Karen, Bob, Jenny, Tommy, and all the Vellines
Sep 27, 2012 a little bit more...
Hello to you all.
An update on mom’s return to Minnesota, she’s looking at another week or two. Our hope is one more week.
Yesterday she had her three month Bronc procedure since transplant and we should get those results Friday or Monday. She has a few more medical things to wrap up before coming home. Her general health is very good and on Wednesday she graduated from her rehab program at the Center For Living, Duke. Though all of the physicians on the team believe that generally she is ready to go, they do feel that she is a bit more fragile then they would like to see her return. So taking all precautions, they are currently working as a partnering team with the University of Minnesota’s transplant department bringing them up to speed on my moms records so she can go home with close continued care yet while being back in Minnesota in her own house. Once this process is locked in, she will be able to return.
In the meantime she is busy learning all her meds and wrapping up appointments. At this point we are just waiting for these two facilities to align and praying nothing new comes up from her latest Biopsy.
Thank you all for your continued support and prayers.
Jenny and all of the Vellines.
Sep 1, 2012 Saved by the flower delivery girl and grandma and sisters!
I am sorry for the delay in posting an update here! I meant to do it several days ago but was once again delayed by the unexpected!
Most of you know that Robby, Jeff and myself (Tommy) have been taking turns here in Durham so that Jenny could get some much needed time away. We have all learned first hand how demanding this job is and the 3 big brothers would like to tip our hats to Jenny for the amazing job she has done!
I would also like to mention here that as I write this, most of the Bergen side of our family is on Kalla Lake outside of Avon, MN celebrating my Grandmother's 97th birthday. On behalf of my Mom and Dad, I would like to wish my grandmother the very happiest of Birthdays. We all love you VERY much and wish we could be there to celebrate with you. I would also like to thank Grandma, Joanne, Patty and Mary for very possibly saving my Mom's life this week! More on that later...
I arrived here in Durham a week ago Friday to relieve Jeff who had been here for a little over a week. This worked out well as Jeff and I had a Nelson show just a few hours from Here in Morganton, NC on Saturday night. The show was a blast and Dad made the trip with us which was not only a treat for Jeff and I, but also for the 1,000 or so people at the show who literally freaked out when Matt Nelson announced he was there! Very cool for all! On a side note... We were also joined by our cousin Kim and her boyfriend Rob for the show. Kim is fighting a battle with breast cancer right now and we ask you all to send some love, or a prayer, or a positive thought her way! Kim, we all love you and are pulling for you!
Jeff flew out last Monday and left me in charge. The day to day routine out here is pretty crazy. The first thing I did was program 7 alarms in on my iphone to remind me when each medication, IV or nebulizer treatment was to begin. Mom seemed to be doing well but was still weak from her last round with the cdiff infection. We made it thru Monday just fine but I did notice that Mom seemed to be getting weaker as the day wore on. She finished the day with a 3 hour IV drip. She woke the next morning with an extremely sore left thigh and slightly swollen left knee. She also seemed to be losing her voice and was feeling generally weaker than she had been for a few days. She did go to the Center For Living to do her exercise routine but had to adjust for her sore leg and knee. She woke up Wednesday feeling even worse. Pretty much the same symptoms as the day before except by now her voice was completely gone and her leg extremely painful. She was also getting light headed each time she stood up. Mom, being the trooper that she is, decided to try the center for living. She figured she would get what exercise that she could. She lasted about 2 hours before the folks at the CFL decided she was to weak and sent her home. We briefly discussed going to see the doctor but Mom had a full diagnostic the next morning and we felt we could wait for that appointment. Once we got her back to the apartment, we got her comfortable on the couch to rest. I took her blood pressure, temp and other stats and all looked good so Dad and I set out for a quick trip to the grocery store. We made the 10 minute drive to the store, grabbed what we needed and were in the checkout line when my cell phone rang. I answered and on the other end of the line was a frantic woman... I heard something about flowers and a black out and an ambulance... Dad and I immediately left the store and returned to the apartment where we found mom, conscious but very out of it, with a flower delivery woman and the paramedics. It was quickly explained to me that the flower delivery woman knocked on the door to deliver some flowers from my Grandmother and my Aunts, Joanne, Patty and Mary. My Mom got up too quick to answer the door and just as she opened it she blacked out and hit the floor. Thankfully the very heads up flower delivery gal came to her aid and called 911. My mother was adamant that she did NOT want to go back to the hospital. The paramedics thought that she should go but agreed that she would probably be fine until her appointment the next morning. I was not sure what to do... All of this kind of decision making is a bit beyond my pay grade...
While all of this was going on I managed to quickly speak with Jeff, who was able to get Jenny on the phone. Jenny, all the way from Tucson, was able to get Mom's case worker on the phone and she made the call that Mom should go straight to the hospital in the ambulance... So, that is what we did. I must say that the hardest thing I had to do all week was tell Mom that she was going back to the hospital. Thankfully she didn't shoot the messenger, but after a few tears and a little frustration, realized that she needed to go. Her blood pressure was now getting alarmingly low and the swelling in her leg and knee was increasing rapidly. At this point we had no idea what was wrong but whatever it was, it was getting worse quickly.
Fast forward about three hours... Dad and I are in a very sterile isolation room in the ER with Mom and a team of Doctors. It is at this point that I am trying to figure out when, exactly, it happened that all doctors started to look 23 years old... Duke University Hospital seems to me to be the revenge of Doogie Howser, but man do these folks know what they are doing! After a few hours of testing and poking and X rays and cat scans it is determined that there had been a chain reaction going on with my Mom's medications that led to Anemia and a hematoma on her Knee. Basically, an anti fungal drug she is taking called Voriconazole was reacting negatively with her main anti rejection drug, Prograf. The 21 year old doctor that explained this to me actually seemed a bit shocked that I didn't know that Voriconazole naturally raises Prograf levels and conversely when prescribed to a patient who is taking Prograf, said Prograf prescription should be adjusted to compensate... Duh!!! Doctor Smarty pants also made it VERY clear that Moms condition would have deteriorated through the night and may have been fatal... (Thanks Grandma, Joanne, Patty and Mary for the flowers that caused the fall that got the ball rolling... You guys very possibly saved your Daughter/sister's life)...
Mom was admitted into the Hospital where she has received 4 bags of blood since Wednesday night. This along with an adjustment to her medications has her on the right track and quickly regaining her strength. It is looking like she will be discharged on Monday or Tuesday. I fly out tomorrow morning and Robby arrives tomorrow afternoon. It would seem that the Gods have deemed him the Velline family hospital discharge guy as that job fell to him last time as well!
My mother asked that I thank each and every one of you for your love and prayers. She is humbled by you all and feels truly blessed to have been touched by you. She has felt each and every one of your prayers work for her and she is in awe of that power. She also wants you all to know that though this has been a very long and hard road for her, she continues to dwell on the positive. She see's each day as a new lesson in patience and acceptance. She truly understands that she is exactly where she is supposed to be at this time. Her motto continues to be... "It is, what it is"... She also sees an amazing gift in the one on one time she has spent with each of her kids... (I'm pretty sure she likes it best when I'm here)...
She sends a huge hug and an ocean of gratitude to each and every one of you!
Aug 1, 2012 Home Again
Just a quick update — mom is home! Thank you all for your amazing messages of hope and strength. “This too shall pass” and that’s what were working on!
Once again, we’re adjusting to yet another new routine of medications, home shots and oxygen. We believe that Mom will need the 02 for the next 2-4 weeks. Needless to say, it was not easy to see all that 02 come back to the house today.
We brought mom home this afternoon and all three went our separate directions for a long nap! At this point the tent treatments are done and the blood thinner is in action so she needs to heal and get back to work at rehab (CFL). Because of the clots and daily blood thinner injections her Nissen (stomach wrap) surgery will be pushed back until her 3-month check which is great.
From here mom just needs to rebuild strength, she is very weak again. She had 4 sessions left at rehab before graduating and was very close to her goal. Once she gets back to that goal and if there are no “new” bumps in the road, she should be able to head home. It is looking like this will be around August 26th... So that is our new goal!
The transplant recipients and their caregivers become a pretty close bunch after days on end of healing and building strength together. Being back in the hospital for 8 days we saw familiar faces and friends from CFL. WE pray that Tess and Jackie will have speedy recoveries. On a more sobering note... We were also deeply saddened to hear of the losses of 3 of our fellow transplant patients this past week. We are especially saddened by the loss of our friend Pat. She had her transplant 5 days after mom and, as Jeff had mentioned in his last post, we were all praying for her. I had gotten to know Pat and just happened to pull in to valet parking behind her when she got her “call”. I helped admit her and left her with a super huge hug. She was so excited and ready... Her spirit was amazing! All of us whose lives she touched will miss her.
Once again we are reminded that life, like this process, is very fragile. It is with these friends in mind that we realize... Despite the bumps in the road... We are extremely fortunate to be exactly where we are right now!
All the Vellines
July 1, 2012 Almost One Month
Mom is cruising along and having a good weekend! We are thrilled because her most recent weekly blood work set off more needed tests at the end of last week to check on her dangerously low sodium levels. Also at that time they discovered an over active thyroid, which we are now treating. If the sodium levels dropped any lower from last Wednesday to Friday, they would have hospitalized her for the weekend. Luckily, this didn’t happen but they will continue to watch this. So far so good and to celebrate her feeling stronger we went out for her FIRST MEAL, prepared by a real chef, at her favorite restaurant in Durham –a French place called Vin Rouge.
Monday will be one month since transplant and she seems to be sailing a good course. We do have an extra batch of tests scheduled for next week to keep an eye on her sodium levels and an ultra sound to check on a pocket of fluid resting on the outside of her new lung. We’ve been able to take her off her morning IV drip that now helps the 24-hour day not feel like a 36-hour day! We ended the week meeting with her surgeon, Dr Hartwig, for the first time since leaving the hospital and he thought overall mom was a little fragile but doing great! A week ago mom was chosen to meet with a special team from the transplant program at John Hopkins here studying Dukes program, they too were very impressed with moms over all health — so soon post transplant.
At this point it’s looking more and more like mom will need the stomach wrap surgery now scheduled for July 25th. This surgery will keep her in the hospital 3-4 days and make for the 3rd major surgery in two months. Dr Hartwig will perform this procedure with his assistant robot through 5 incisions. Mom’s poor little stomach is starting to look like a Connect The Dots game.
Happy 4th of July to everyone!
Jenny, Dad and the Vellines
June 12, 2012 ONE WEEK!
It was a day of milestones and MIRACLES once again for Mom! I am typing this note 7 days to the hour that Mom came out of surgery and all of us are still just stunned.
She walked a mile + one lap today. BUT more amazing then that, she did it with NO OXYGEN and NO IVs! Just her and her cart cruising down the hall. She spoke of her new reality as a complete sense of shock! She has had oxygen in her nose 24-7 for 5½ years and to be free of that is simply a miracle. Most of her grandchildren have seen her no other way. Tonight from the waiting room doorway little Saima Rose counted each lap as she passed by … and stared in silent awe at her grandma without an oxygen tube in her nose.
Mom has started to take her medicine in pill form and her strength has earned her water and food. I’m told jello has never tasted so good and she asked the staff if they agreed… And of course, they love it too!
The road is still long. The goals realized by my Mom’s strength make us all feel blessed for our DNA. We see the Duke staff in the hall and know that in the last 7 days they have performed many transplants and saved so many lives. They say “The process of matching donor organs comes in waves” and by the look of it the waves have been crashing in, this has been a busy week at Duke! We continue to feel blessed and these surgeons are our ROCK STARS in our eyes right now!
Mom’s surgeon Dr. Hartwig (who will be her primary doctor for a year) dropped in tonight for a surprise visit. He asked Mom if he “could do anything for her.” She answered, “I think you have done everything for me already.” Indeed he has, along with the entire team.
Mom and I agreed one of the most satisfying feelings today, besides being off oxygen, is seeing the progress of her fellow patients in the hallway. The ones we’ve watched cruise laps and thought, is that for real? Can we do that? To the fellow patients still in bed watching us walk on by, smiling, proud of mom and busting with hope to be in her place soon. From all of us here on the 3rd floor at Duke to everyone at the CFL (Center for Living – Duke rehab), you all are amazing! An amazing transplant program. It really feels like a big family. With the outstanding medical staff and wonderful educational classes, everyone starts to look out for each other – we are all in awe.
Jenny, Dad, Jeff and all the Vellines.
June 11, 2012 CNN Opinion By Bob Green
Bobby Vee's bravest song, Bob Greene says as the 60's pop star faces down Alzheimer's he has shared with friends and fans his resolve to celebrate life and create new memories with his family. READ MORE
May 5, 2012 Photo Pages Are Growing
Lots of new photos have been added to the website's Photo Pages with more to come. Please take the time to check them out and return often to see what's new.
May 3, 2012 And The Beat Goes ON with Bennett Velline
Bennett Velline plays drums for Adam Hammer’s band during the CD release concert on Wednesday, March 28, at the Pioneer Place on Fifth Theatre in St. Cloud. READ MORE
May 1, 2012 Louisville Courier-Journal Bobby Vee has Alzheimer's disease
He's releasing a new album of favorites... READ MORE
April 30, 2012 MPRNEWS Bobby Vee's Alzheimer's
Minnesota singer and legend Bobby Vee announced on his website today that he has Alzheimer's...
April 29, 2012 Trip, family help Vees face illness
ST. JOSEPH — After retiring in 2011, Bobby Vee has concentrated on finding the joy in every day, minute by minute. Some days are better than others, however. READ MORE