Monday, August 30, 2010

One more stepping stone

Today Richard went to see a neurologist in Albany. Actually we drove over there and filled out paper work in late morning and returned for the actual appointment at 2:00. I was thinking of the appointment that had been originally scheduled for the 24th and got the time wrong. Yes, I am getting old and forgetful.

Anyway, the Dr. went over the findings of the MRI, did some basic poking and proding and then told us that Richard would need a sophisticated EMG. They can do simple EMGs locally, but he needs a more complicated version for which we will have to go to Eugene. They will verify insurance, make the appointment and then give us a call. Then after the EMG we will need to return for another appointment with the neurologist in Albany. Maybe after that we can make an actual appointment with the neuro-surgeon? We will see, based on results, if something else needs to be done first. One thing I am certain of, it pays to have good insurance.

What we do know as of today is that Richard's arthritis is really bad. In addition to the disc problem, the openings in the spine through which the main nerves pass are closing and impinging on the nerves. This is very painful and causing a lot of numbness, as well.

I will keep you posted.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wo said God does not hear us?

I finished my last post, went outside to turn off the water to the yard, came back in and put water on for tea. The phone rang. It was the clinic saying they had an opening in Albany on Monday for another neurologist. I am shedding tears of releif as I write. Thank you Lord. Thank you. You knew the need and were answering it even before I could ask.


Did you ever get soooo exasperated over anything that you could almost scream? I know at least some of you have. I also know that because you've been there that you can empathise with me.

For almost 10 years , Richard has suffered with pain (extreme pain) in his neck and shoulders. He has gone through neurological exams, x-ray exams, and many other exams. All of which indicated that the problem is nerves impinged upon by 2 ruptured discs. But because of other physical problems of a serious nature, all that Drs. could offer was to put him on drugs. These drugs have caused their own set of problems.

Now that Richard is no longer on oxygen, has lost a substantial amount of weight, and his diabetes is stabilized, his primary physician (PP) has given the OK to see a neuro-surgeon (NS) to see about correcting the problem. Alas, the NS would not even make an appointment before Richard had had an MRI and the PP sent over chart notes for him to study. So this week Richard had an MRI. The results took only one day and indicated as we already knew, that the nerves are compromised. Now the NS says that the chart notes are not complete and he needs to see a neurologist for current status notes. Well, the order was sent over, but there is no opening to see any neurologist for another month. Ouch. They apologized, said they would call if an earlier appointment becomes available. It is exasperating. I could scream. Hasn't Richard been in pain long enough?

I know that even after Richard sees the neurologist, it will probably take awhile to get into see the NS. Then even longer to get a surgery slot. That is if the NS actually agrees to do surgery. In the interim, Richard will have the iron infusions he needs, keep working on improving his overall health and hope he doesn't get an ulcer with all the waiting and uncertainties.

Yes, we will get through this. We always have before. Our God is an awesome God. Everything happens in His timeline, not ours. It all goes to show just how human we still are. We need Him in so many ways. I have always been a bit shy of asking for patience. I guess I might be given circumstances that require it. Actually, I have been given them. Patience based on trust is a good thing. I have no choice but to trust that all this delay is for the best. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. Grrrr.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Medical month

Richard went into see his primary physician last week. He started injectable insulin about 6 weeks ago and needed a follow-up to make sure everything is going well. It is. So we asked about finally being evaluated by a neuro-surgeon for correcting two ruptured cervical (neck) discs.
It has been almost 10 years since he ruptured those discs.

At the time, Richard injured himself, he also was diagnosed with a ruptured diverticula that had formed an abdominal abscess (peritonitis). He ended up having about 30 inches of his colon removed. There have since been several other surgeries, two of them related to the same infection. In addition, he was put on oxygen, had to start taking increasing doses of oral medication for diabetes which led to a lot of weight gain. So until now they have avoided doing anything about the cervical discs, other than to prescribe heavy duty pain meds. These have taken there own toll and we would very much like to eliminate, or at least be able to cut back on them.

Now that his blood glucose has stabilized, he has lost a substantial weight, and he no longer needs oxygen, we are jumping on the potential opportunity for this surgery. Richard saw his hematologist today (he also has a chronic problem with low iron). Seems the leg cramps he has been having are related to that situation. So now that his iron level is below 50, he is scheduled for two infusions, Sept. 3 and Sept. 10. He also has an appointment tomorrow for an open MRI of his neck. After that, he will be seeing the neuro-surgeon.

I anticipate cervical disc surgery some time in October. But I will let you know. This has been a long time coming. Please pray that all comes together and that he will have the surgery he needs, it is successful, and that he recovers completely and quickly.

Monday, August 23, 2010


For the third time in a row, I have gotten up between 4:30 and 5:00. I got enough sleep and am ready to get on with my day. Yes, I went to bed around 9:00. I was very tired. But then I have always been a morning person. Now that I'm retired I can take an afternoon nap if need be.

When I went back to school for the first time in the late 60s, the only time I could study and retain what I read was early morning. The kids were still in bed and the house was quiet. Later on, I had to be at work by 7:00, so I got up to get everything ready for the family before I left. In the mid-80's when I returned to school, I would study well into the night. I worked 5 part time jobs and was always tired. Sometimes I would just have to lay my books aside and go to bed. Then about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning my mind would be clear and I could get so much more out of what I was reading. As late as 2006. I had to be at work by 8:00, an hour's drive down the road. Sometimes I would leave even earlier than 7:00 in order to take part in a Toastmaster's meeting before work.

The last couple years I have slept in till around 6:30 or 7:00. Sometimes even later. I had been really worn out. Do you suppose I have actually "caught up" and am back on my normal early schedule, or is it a habit, once established, is very difficult to break?

No matter, as long as I get enough sleep. What's more, I really enjoy the still, quiet time in which I drink my first cup of coffee and read my bible without distraction. Come to think of it, rising early may not be such a bad habit after all.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Up early again

It wasn't because I couldn't sleep that I got up at 5:00 this morning. No, I slept well. I just have some "things" to do before church. I put a roast on to cook, straightened up a few areas, and I need to mop the kitchen floor. We are having company for dinner and I have been canning, making fig butter, drying apples, etc. All these forms of preserving do a number on a floor.

I was blessed to get a whole box of figs yesterday. They were over ripe and were being tossed. Some of them were beyond salvation, but most were salvageable. I washed and stemmed them. Then they went into the food processor, coming out looking all the world like mounds of guacamole. I added a bit of honey and into the oven they went to slowly bake down into fig butter. It isn't quite ready, but sure does smell good. The apples came from friends. I had shared fome fish with them and in return they gave me 2 boxes of wind fall apples.

We don't have much of a personal garden this year. Between the strange weather and our physical limitations, all we managed to get in are a few straggly tomatoes and a couple squash plants. None of these have produced more than enough for a single meal. However, the Lord does provide. When He provides, it is usually in abundance. This year has been no exception. You see, we have been adopted by the local gleaners. As elderly and somewhat infirm, we are not required to take part in the gleaning process.

There was a time, many years ago, that we were very active in this group, to the benefit of both others and ourselves, we worked hard to gather from orchards and fields that which was left after the regular harvest. But now there is no way we could do that. So as adoptees, all we need do is pick up what we need. If we can't manage that, the gleaners will even bring it to us. Praise God for his provision and for others following biblical principles. Because of that, our freezer and cupboards are full. We can use the money that would have been spent on food to pay for medication and other special items needed to live on.

We still are having to stretch our budget, but suppose we always will. Still, we can be thankful for what we have, the people who walk in and out of our lives, and a beautiful, growing family. We are so dependant on God, and that is just the way He planned.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Couldn't sleep

I lay in bed, half awake for what seemed a long time this morning before actually getting up at around 4:40. Nothing in particular was on my mind, I just couldn't sleep. A nap will be in order this afternoon, for sure. There are many "things" on my plate as of lately, all are rather routine, nothing that should ordinarily cause me to lose sleep.

There is the feeling of fall in the air. Last week was HOT. We spent a lot of time watering, even put out soaker hoses as much to conserve the precious fluid and have it do the most good, as to help preserve the content of our wallets. Still some plants are not looking very good.

I have noticed too, that there is a tinge of fall cool dampness in the early morning air as I take my 6:30 a.m. walk. Sunrise is starting to be delayed every day by a few minutes. Soon my walk will be 7:00 and even later as sunrise is further delayed. I am not one to walk in the dark or even in half light. I don't consider it safe.

When Richard was in to see his Dr. a few days ago, I stepped on the scales for the first time in several weeks. I am pleased with result. Since starting to walk for exercise again, I have dropped 12 lbs. Nothing else accounts for this loss. I haven't changed my diet or anything else in that time frame. I am back to what I was a year ago. But I still have a ways to go before getting back to the weight I was before tearing up my knees in 2003. Little by little, I will get there though. Praise God for the ability to walk. It gets easier week by week. I am up to a full mile six days a week. I don't anticipate doing more than that on a consistent basis. I do need to be realistic. But I may push it now and then. In the mean time, I am satisfied with the ability to do the mile.

We may try to pick a few blackberries this morning. I know they are ripe and there is a spot down close to the river that has good access and Richard can take a stool and pick. We don't need many, just enough for maybe a couple cobblers and to freeze for winter. Blackberries on cereal in mid-winter is such a treat.

We put up 6 quarts of prepared apple pie filling yesterday. It uses tapioca instead of flour for thickening, since Richard can no longer eat regular flour. The apples were wind falls from a friend's tree. They had used all they wanted. Our apples aren't doing too well this year. They also have a lot of pears, I can have when they are ready. My pear tree is completely void of fruit, strange. It has always had at least a fair crop. Oh well.

OK. coffee is calling me and Richard is up. So I will get off of here. Have a good day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reminders of another age

I had a series of e-mails from my cousin Mike this morning, each with an attachment. The letters he sent were written in 1937 and 1940. One addressed to an uncle was written by grandfather a few months before his death and announced my birth. The other two were written by a young aunt dying of TB. It describes her daily routine at a hospital in Norton, Kansas.

How special that these letters still exist, that someone valued them enough to save them all this time. Do people actually save letters or e-mails anymore? Do we actually value what is written by others enough to do so? or are we too wrapped up in our own lives and the future to hang onto something that describes day to day events of what we would term normal life?

Some day our grandchildren might find our routines interesting. Maybe we should think about giving them that opportunity. No, I'm not advocating for saving every scrap of written info and cluttering up the place. It is precicely the fact that the letters I mentioned are so rare that make them so valuable. We must find a compromise between saving everything and thowing it all out. That is the tricky part. But just give it a thought before discarding the baby with the bath water, so to speak.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

And round and round it goes

When your kids are home and you are busy every minute of the day just trying to keep cloths on their backs, food on the table, and tears wiped away from encounters with things like sidewalks and other kids, you don't have time to even think about what it would be like if they were not there. Then they leave, all but one of of mine left practically at the same time. The straggler was only home because it provided free food and shelter while she completed her degree. As soon as that happened she also was gone, leaving us with an "empty nest". It took a long time to adjust to this reality. You see our oldest was born only 10 1/2 months into our marriage so we had never really been alone before. The whole cycle is now repeating itself with our kids.

Dianna's kids have all been gone for awhile. Two live within a few hours driving distance and the others are very far away. Shelley's have been gone for awhile too. One lives only a couple hours away and the other clear across country. Amy is facing the imminent departure of one of her 5 kids and Rick's oldest is on his own. I came to the realization long ago and our kids are confronting the fact that it doesn't matter if your children are across town or on the other side of the world. They have their own lives, their own circle of friends and you play a very limited role in their lives. Hard as it is, you raised them to be independent and they learned their lessons well. Just as we are proud of each of our kids, I know our kids are proud of our grand kids. They wouldn't want them to be any other way. But you can't have them dependent and still be independent.

God instructed us to "leave our father and our mother and cleave to our spouse". It is His plan and just like so many other things that we don't fully understand, this hurts. It hurts so deeply. We pour our lives into our kids. We nourish and care for them, sacrificing ourselves for their benefit. When they are on their own, we have to start learning to live all over again, not an easy task. We still love our kids and would do almost anything for them. Kind of like learning to swim with an anchor tied to your ankles. But no parent I know would even consider cutting the rope and completely severing the connection, no matter how hard the effort it takes to keep afloat. No, we thank God for the little time we are allowed to have with them and our precious grandchildren. Yes, allowed. For it is entirely their call. We also know that the cycle will eventually come fully around again. Our children will need to learn to let go. And so it goes, one generation followed by the next generation and then the next.

In some cultures several generations live under the same roof. In these cultures, grandparents help raise their grandchildren and the children care for their parents in their home as they become elderly. The transitions are less traumatic. But we do not live in this type of culture, so we suffer both physically and emotionally as we age and pulled apart over and over again. May God give us strength and courage to get out of bed, prepair our daily bread and look for ways to give support to those who are in need. By doing this, we fill our empty nests with hope, love, and a true sense of accomplishment. Our kids may noy really need us as they once did, but we all
have something we can contribute to others who do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Happening

We had two sets of company over the weekend. First, a friend of our son needed a place to sleep on Friday. He had come back to the west coast from Illinois to attend his brothers wedding and had driven down to get some "things" he left in storage here. It was good to catch up. We hope to see him again soon. Then on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning our son and his bride were with us. They drove down to Grants Pass to spend a couple days with her mom and will stop by here to pick up some stored items on their way back to Washington tomorrow.

While here, Rick helped his dad prune some hedges and took care of some minor plumbing issues in the house. Richard can no longer climb ladders or crawl under sinks. But Rick has to be back to work on Thursday, so will be in a rush tomorrow. Amy and he may or may not have time for lunch. He will call when he gets to Eugene so I'll know whether or not to fix something. We probably won't see him again until mid-September. Oh well, that is how it works. Everyone has a busy life of their own. We have to accept that little time is available for loved ones, no matter how much you would like to change that, especially when you live in separate states.

I am busy sorting and cleaning. It is a real joy to have my house back and to be finally digging out of the piles of "stuff" created when two households are crammed into one. I am confident my daughter feels the same way about her new space.

To date I have gone through several boxes and sorted out the contents into Goodwill, trash, put to use, distribute to others, or keep in storage for further evaluation. The guest bedroom and sewing room are essentially clear. The exercise room has been through the first round of sorting and the rec room has been cleaned except for washing all the glassware in the soda fountain area and dusting the books. There are still several small piles of stuff that need to be moved, mostly belonging to our daughter. Since she works and her husband is always on the road, it may take awhile for it all to clear. But it is slowly happening, PTL.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Our garden grows

I love this photo that someone took yesterday. Richard holding our newest great-granddaughter Charlotte (Charley). It is so very sweet and tender. A new life held and enjoyed 36 years to the day after losing Richard's father.
Both Richard's brothers called yesterday evening. These three men, all in their 70s, still miss their dad so much. Family is so important to them.
Charley is a wonderful reminder that the love of family is carried down through the generations.
Actually, we were blessed to have 2 of our children, 4 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren together yesterday. They came from NY, Washington and Oregon. Some of the cousins had not seen each other for 12 years. It was a very happy occasion. Charley and everyone else was surrounded by love and an intense sense of belonging, a sense of security and peace.
Our family members are like blossoms in a beautiful garden. As it grows, we are struck by the variety and fragrance it holds. Some blooms are tall, others short. Some dark, others light. Some heavy, still others slight. Each has their own talents too. Some are musical, artistic, or good at crafts. Some are great cooks, or fix-it pros. All are interesting and special. If my count is right, our immediate family (starting with Richard and I at the head) now comes to well over 30. It is so amazing even to think about. Then there is the periferal family, all the other families that start with our brothers and sisters. How very blessed we truly are to live and walk in this earthly garden. How much more wonderful it will be to someday walk in God's heavenly garden where all the blooms of past generations are fresh and vibrant once again. In the mean time, we enjoy those around us and remember those who's bloom has faded. Thank you Lord for days that bring family together, days that remind us of your love.