Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Drug dealers at the door...

Yep, you guessed it. My thanks-for-giving virus pushed me over the edge.  I am on IV's once again but no lengthy check-in at the Denver Bed and Breakfast. Yippee!  Instead I get to spend three lovely weeks of home confinement treatment doing 4 antibiotics round the clock.  It seems I'm either dripping fluids into my body, setting out fluids to warm so as to not shock my body, or eliminating fluids from my body.  My poor body.

My sinuses are full, my lungs are full, and my stomach is unsettled.  My lung function was down to 25% with lots of crackles and wheezes for added excitement.  Yesterday I had to bounce my prednisone up to 32 mg because I couldn't stop the twitchy coughing.  Each cough finished with a high-pitched squeak, which not only sounded but felt a bit disconcerting.  That part has improved today thank goodness.

But there are silver linings to this black cloud.  I'm grateful I caught a cold BEFORE a round of IV's and not after just finishing one.  The only thing worse than having to do three weeks of IV's is to have done it all for nothing.  I'm thankful I will be feeling better in time for Christmas and an important wedding coming up afterwards. I'm grateful my deductible is met.  I'm hopeful I will be able to keep up a good lung function into the first week of February when I will be seen again at Duke.

So when the doorbell rings and my dealer law-abiding delivery man drops off drugs, I will count my blessings...drop by drop.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tis better to give than receive...

Twas the day after Thanksgiving when I landed on the receiving end of a cold kindly given to me by my son or one of the myriads who have been sick lately.  As I type, I can feel a pulsing heartbeat behind my cheekbones there is so much pressure in my sinuses.  For a person who is already filled to the brim with mucus, to get a cold is adding insult to injury.  As soon as I felt the first inkling of invasion, I went on the attack with copious amounts of water, essential oils, Emergen-c, and positive thinking but it refused to remain at bay. Luckily I have managed to out-maneuver cold germs for the past several years with this strategy, but this one must be a survivor because it has outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted me.

I already had a scheduled appointment for Monday at clinic so that turned out to be good timing.  I have been noticing its been harder to exercise the past couple of weeks so I wanted to check my lung function.  Now they can see me tomorrow in all my germy glory.

Some exciting news to share happened November 21st, the day before Thanksgiving.  My daughter, Christina, decided to join the Navy!  She scored high on her preliminary tests and so the Navy was anxious to get her.  The recruiter helped her jump through a couple hurdles that sped up the process and she ships off to basic training on the 12th of December.  Yes, in a little less than three weeks she will fly to Illinois and begin her 4 year enlistment with the Navy.  I am so proud of her because I know she is fearful about some things but it hasn't stopped her from making the commitment and moving forward.  Every time I think about her, I start singing In The Navy in my head.  I am a product of the 80's so I can't make it stop!

We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner the night before with the Larson family.  Since Mary Anne had to work on Thanksgiving, we decided to celebrate early.  But Josh stayed at home sick and Christina took longer at the Navy office than she planned so our feasting numbers were down.  Then on Thanksgiving afternoon with no big meal to eat, Rheid, Christina, and I decided to see Rise of the Guardians.  What a darling movie.  Never been a big fan of Jack Frost but now he's the  man!

Baby Teeth, Jack Frost, Easter Bunny and Sandman.

Another memorable day this month honored our Uncle Edwin who passed away.  His funeral was on Monday the 5th in Golden, Colorado.  It was a beautiful service made special by the memories shared from each grandchild. When we moved to Colorado, Rheid's aunt and uncle were the only people we knew in the whole state--and I didn't know them that well.  We have grown to love them and I will miss being able to joke with him.

Grandson pallbearers at the graveside.

Earlier we had an unseasonably warm Halloween which made it fun for our two favorite trick-or-treaters.

Cutest witch and fireman ever!
We took Maggie to see Josh who was volunteering at the
Otterbox house at Treatsylvania.  
What I deal with every Fall--Tucker plays in the
leaves and then drags them in the house.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What a picture is worth...

"To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, temples are houses of the Lord, the most sacred places on earth. Temple services bind families together forever, teach the purpose of life and explain God’s plan of salvation. Temple attendance strengthens Latter-day Saints’ commitment to living Christian principles, emphasizes personal spiritual growth and increases devotion to family."

Today they released the artist rendering of the new temple to be built in Fort Collins.  Isn't it beautiful??!!  Words just can't express how blessed I feel to have a temple come here.  It was announced in April of 2011 and once started, hopefully this spring, will take two years to complete.  I can hardly wait.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Knock on a pumpkin...

Wow, I am half-way through October and knock on a pumpkin, I'm still staying relatively healthy.  Since October tends to be my bewitching month, I hate to get too excited yet but I'm trying to remain cautiously optimistic.  Last year at this point I was staring down the front end of a three week hospital stay--no fun.

So far this month can be summed up in mostly two words: exercise and apples.  I am still dedicated to keeping these wind bags of mine as healthy as possible so I go workout 5 days a week.  I wish I could say I enjoy it, but I can't.  It's too hard and frustrating to apply the word "enjoy" with any bit of credibility.  Tolerate would be a better description.  Thankfully a variety of podcasts help keep my mind off of what feels like my eminent demise.  What does feel good, however, is that I keep at it even though it's hard--it gives me a sense of accomplishment.  I just wish the sense of exhaustion didn't follow so close on its heels.  It's hard to stay motivated to accomplish anything else the rest of the day, sigh.

Our little apple tree produced a bumper crop of the juiciest, yummy apples.  Combined with some apples from a friend, I've managed to do 7 batches of dehydrated apples and put up 20 pints and 10 quarts of applesauce.  Not only that but I made a dee-licious apple struesel and a tasty applecrisp dessert as well.  The very pores of our house exude the smell of baked apples.  That being said, I am sooo done with apples for awhile--as much as I love them, I have apple overload.  

Yesterday we got to celebrate the 2nd birthday of my youngest nephew.  Max was as thrilled with the balloons and wrapping paper as he was with his presents.  What a cutie pie!
Max and Maggie with his
Special Agent Oso cake.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Not much labor going on...

I had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.  Nothing big, but got to hang out with the family.  Christina came down from Colorado Springs so we were all together.

Monday morning Christina and I headed over to Charming Charlie's to do some retail therapy.  She is a baaaad influence on her mother; I ended up buying a fun new purse with a buckle and bling to boot.  Feeling very hip!  She got a fun hat along with a few other things she couldn't live without.

Later, we met up with the boys for lunch at Applebee's.  I ordered a 7 oz sirloin steak (right here may I just add I should be able to count this as a medical meal since the doctors have pummeled me with the need to boost my iron and protein intake--look at me being a good and compliant patient) with garlic mashed potatoes on the side.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Once we rolled out of Applebees, we were off to our nearest bowling alley, Chipper Lanes.  Now I don't know about the rest of you, but I always count it as a good omen if I can actually find a ball that doesn't suction your fingers into the holes, dislocating said digits in the process of throwing it.  Is there a law stating bowling balls weighing less than sixty pounds shall have miniature finger holes--I ask you.  Note to bowling ball driller:  Change it up a bit. Some of us would really appreciate a lighter ball with larger holes.  Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  Drill, baby, drill.  We teamed up--Josh and me against Dad and Christina.  May I say that our team rocked the first game.  But we evidently used up all our bowling mojo and were soundly beaten in game two.

Next, we met up with two friends, Ben & Jerry, at the grocery store and invited them to join us watching Hunger Games.  I'm pretty sure the irony of our movie choice was lost on them, however.  We each selected a different flavor (ones we would never consider buying a gallon of) and headed for home.  There is something about eating right from the carton which makes ice cream taste even more delicious. And eating it was a labor of love!

Are we having fun yet??  This picture makes me laugh hysterically.
What a pair to pick from--my boys.
The other team poses for a victory shot.
Riding in Christina's new car coming back with a new silver
 purse for me and a new hat for her. Doesn't she look cute!
Got our Ben and Jerry's in hand--let the Hunger Games begin.
Made a Fresh Peach pie this weekend--it was dee lish us!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Of Lance Armstrong, tea parties, and visitors...

Here is a list of highlights (or low lights depending on how I feel at the moment) from this past month.

1.  My lower pft's and bleeding episodes earned me a seat on the IV/steroids train for the past 17 days.  I'm running three drugs by infusion for the pseudomonas and taking one oral drug to suppress the MRSA.  I've also been running a large bag of extra fluid (adds an additional 3 hours a day tied to a pole) to protect my kidneys.  Well hydrated kidneys are happy kidneys and I want mine to be ecstatic!  I'm glad I finagled my way into doing them at home this time.  I think it was the right decision and only 5 more days till I'm finished up.  I'm breathing much better and feel less congested.  Watching the Olympics helped pass the time while I dripped and I miss being able to cheer on Team USA.

2. I attended a nutrition class taught by the lady who came to give her lecture in Fort Collins. Exciting, I know, right?!!   I have been wanting to try green smoothies for awhile but never really knew what to put in them and why.  Well, I got so inspired to boost my energy levels, fuel my body with nutrients, and cleanse my system that I went out and purchased a boatload of spinach, frozen fruit, sprouted flaxseed, and plant-based protein powder to make my daily quart of green goodness.  A few hours after ingesting said greeness, I began to feel somewhat nauseous.  Oh, not to worry says the book I also decided to buy, it is just your body de-toxifying. So wanting to work the program, I even made one the next day--heaven only knows how many toxins my cells probably have stored that I need to flush, I thought.  Holy moley!  Two and a half weeks and an abdominal ultrasound later, the nausea finally abated.  Talk about being miserable and wondering if it was viral, gallstones, or a host of other ailments I didn't want to consider. Starting IV's didn't help any either. Needless to say, just thinking of downing another green smoothie makes my skin crawl and sends me seeking comfort in my stash of chocolate-covered cinnamon bears.

Popping the question at Leatherby's
3.  My nephew, Steven B., surprised us all by popping the question to his girlfriend, Tiffanie.  He is the first of the grandchildren on my side of the family to get married.  Fun and exciting news.  They are planning a December 28th wedding in the Salt Lake City temple.  Got to start praying now that this December is better than my last two have been because I will be there no matter what!  Another nephew, Kevin W., entered the missionary training center three weeks ago and will be leaving Monday to begin serving his mission in Missouri temporarily.  He is waiting for his visa to process so he can fly to Bangalor India where he was called to serve.  Love these young men of mine!

I'm trying to Live Strong
4.  My bff, Lance Armstrong, and I managed to walk the Senior Center track for a stellar 25 laps on Friday.  Seventeen laps equals a mile so you do the math--story problems make me break out in hives.  My Nike fitness app on my ipod nano keeps track of my times and distances and whenever I manage a personal best either in time or distance, my ol' pal Lance congratulates me on a terrific workout.  What a friend to take the time out of his busy life to let me know that he knows how awesome I am.  I used up all the beads on my high-tech lap counter so I might need to add an extension in case I ever feel the need to hear Lance's performance-enhanced voice compliment me on an IV and steroid-enhanced job well done.
A lady suggested these looked like prayer beads--
thinking a prayer each lap might not be a bad idea.

5.  Last night we had an unexpected visit from my son's former mission president, Elder Erich Kopischke.  After his mission duties were completed, President Kopischke was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Seventy.  Josh absolutely loved serving under his inspired leadership in Germany.  Josh never dreamed  President K would ever be in his hometown let alone sitting on his living room couch.  It was so fun to get to meet someone who has influenced Josh's life so much.  He challenged Josh to keep up his German language skills and jokingly added he also wanted to receive a wedding announcement in the next six months.  He prayed with us and blessed our family.  Wonderful.   During Stake Conference today, he mentioned meeting with Elder Schloss and his family.  Josh's heart almost stopped when it sounded like Elder Kopischke might bring him up to say a few words in front of the large congregation.
Visiting with Elder Kopischke

6.  Tonight we were invited over to Maggie's house for a tea party.  She had helped her mom bake chocolate cupcakes and wanted to share them with us.  We got to hear a little bit about her first two days of kindergarten.  She is a beautiful little girl.
First day of Kindergarten

Friday, August 3, 2012

What's up now...

I guess it's time to catch things up.  We were able to return back to Colorado a few weeks ago thanks to the fires getting under control.  The weather has tempered somewhat and because of some much prayed for rain, things are not so tinder dry.

It's been an adjustment coming back and trying to get into the swing of things.  I finally got myself a place to work out--the Senior Center.  The people there have been so welcoming and supportive of me being there.  The facility has an indoor track with good air movement so I'm not melting and running into the cracks like I was walking around the neighborhood in 90+ degree weather.

I've also noticed how much harder it is to exercise with the altitude.  Instead of getting by with one liter of O2 like I did in North Carolina, I have to use 3 liters and bump up to 4 if I start coughing too much.  To have such a drastic change does tend to build the anxiety when I get breathless.  It's something I'm trying to work through.  Unfortunately, twice I've started bleeding during my walks and that hasn't helped.

I was seen by my old CF team in Denver on Monday.  I wanted to impress them with my improved breathing but it was not to be.  I am back down to 27%.  I will be starting IV's next week to work on the infection that is taking hold.  It remains to be seen whether I will be doing the IV's  from home or starting them at the hospital like my doctor would prefer.  I think I can do more moving and exercising if I stay home since I don't feel too yucky.  They were impressed with my bulging muscles, however, and had heard how well I had done in rehab.

One of my good friends, Danyell, got listed last week for her double lung transplant.  I've been a facebook stalker waiting for her to get the call.  Another friend, who got her transplant just before I left Duke, passed away this week after being in the ICU for over 5 weeks fighting for her life. She was strong going in so it was surprising things went so wrong.

We celebrated Josh's 26th birthday on Tuesday with dinner at Famous Daves BBQ.  He was a good sport to wear his balloon birthday hat for the whole meal which thrilled his little cousins.  He got his first ever ice cream cake thanks to the fact our oven blew an element which tends to make cake baking difficult.  Thank you DQ.

Josh is ready for a pork attack.

The balloon guy was fabulous.

Put his birthday candles around the outside and took off my
oxygen so we all wouldn't go poof!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

And here we have Idaho...

Well, I've been hanging out here in Burley, Idaho, for the past two weeks.  After unpacking our stuff in Colorado (and causing more trauma by leaving our poor dog yet again), we got out of the smoke and headed to Utah.  It was perfect timing since my nephew was returning from serving an LDS mission to Paraguay that weekend.  So we got to see all my family and also were able to see some of Rheid's family including our niece and her husband who are headed to Vietnam on a work adventure.  We were truly blessed as our truck's radiator sprung a leak and blew fluid all over our SUV two blocks from Rheid's parents house.  To make it all the way across the country and break down right at our destination was a miracle--a tender mercy.

But not so lucky for us was the fire that broke out in Utah County the day we left Fort Collins.  Here we were leaving a wildfire just to head into more smoke.  Ugh.  By the time we left Utah, two more fires erupted and we were glad to get outta there.  Plus another fire in Colorado at the Springs left us wondering when the fires would ever stop.  We are so grateful that hardworking firefighters were helped with some much needed rain back home and that things are looking so much better there now.  Another tender mercy.

We celebrated the 4th by watching the Rupert parade in the morning and the fireworks in Burley that evening.  It was a good show, much better than the ones I grew up with here. We used to be excited with one explosion about every 30 seconds or so.  And even then, half of the fireworks were just the loud explosion type that went off without warning and scared you to death.

Rheid has had a chance to go fishing with my dad while my mom and I have been doing some genealogy.  One day I even got to meet up with my old college roommate who was visiting from Canada. It's been years since we've seen each other and we both happened to be in Idaho visiting family at the same time. Yet another tender mercy.

Just trying to de-stress and work down the anxiety by trying not to think about transplant for awhile.  I'm still walking every day around the neighborhood and doing some additional exercises to stay strong.  I miss my transplant friends in North Carolina and pray for them every day.  Heard that Mary Lou (blogged about going to see the Bennett Place with her and her husband a few blogs back) got her new lung and is doing well.  What a blessing for her.  Two friends, David and Pat, who got their lungs earlier and were struggling are now improving slowly but surely.  More tender mercies. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

The worst good news...

Well, it's official, the Duke Lung Transplant Program is sending me home.  The team decided that I am now too well for transplant.  I actually found out several days ago but have been trying to process what this means to me.  I've never been so full of conflicting emotions in my life.  When they said it was time for me to relocate, every fiber of my being was putting on the brakes.  I didn't want to go.  But now that I'm here and I've put in all the work with rehab, classes, and oh the tests, I just want to get it over with.

But therein lies the problem. I have done everything needful and was at the "listing stage" so things needed to go one way or the other.  The doctors felt like doing a transplant at this time may be doing me a disservice by possibly shortening my life.  If I can get more life out of these old lungs, then the transplant will extend my life longer since there are no guarantees with transplant that everything will go well.  So they have cancelled all my upcoming appointments, taken away my transplant coordinator, and scheduled me for a recheck in December.  I'm to contact them if problems arise before that time.

Knowing how hard this has all been makes it difficult in some ways to think about coming back to face it all again.  Even though now I would know what to expect, I now know too much.  It's hard to explain how I feel.  I will just have to take the secure thought, "you've done it once, you can do it again even if its hard."  Oh, but I don't want to.

So back home I go--but wait!  Even that can't be simple.  Fort Collins is currently experiencing the worst wildfire in Colorado state history.  My lovely town is awash in smoke.  I definitely don't want to go home and have those conditions undo everything I've done to get better.  With all the smoke in the air, I won't know if the altitude or the smoke is to blame for an increased need of O2.  So the plan now is to drive home, drop stuff off, and head to Idaho to spend some time with my parents in cleaner air.

And then there is the whole "I already said goodbye" thing to face.  Parties, fundraisers, and well wishers all giving me a grand send off.  I feel more than a little sheepish showing back up with nothing changed.  Oh can you see how my mind is in such a scramble of emotions??!!

Well I could go on and on and I probably will in posts not yet written.  But for now I need to remember to "trust in the Lord and lean not upon my own understanding."  That is the hardest part of this--I just want to know how things will turn out and when and why did it start out this way.  That is the worst part of my good news.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Just a day at the beach...

Saturday for our anniversary/Father's Day we decided to take a day trip to the coast to see the ocean.  Wilmington is a little over 2 hours from here and sports the nearest beach.  I also have a cousin, who before this move, was the only person I knew in North Carolina and she just happens to live in Wilmington too.  It was a treat to visit and get reacquainted and to meet her youngest son for the first time.  Unfortunately her husband was out of the country with a group of college students from UNC-Wilmington.

Brian, Becky, and I headed down to Wrightsville Beach.
Proof that Rheid was there too!
We walked the beautiful sandy beach for about an hour and of course had to get our feet wet in the waves. It is just so peaceful to hear the rhythm of the tide as it comes in and out.  A few large kites were flying overhead their colors bright against the blue sky. The sand felt like sugar it was so fine. Just a perfect sunny afternoon to stroll the beach.

Talking and walking at the edge of the surf.
We also did a driving tour of Wilmington to get an overview of the city:  the historic downtown area, the USS North Carolina, the river front, and the ocean front.  It is a beautiful city that needs further exploring.  What a nice, relaxing day--just what we needed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

An amazing gift...

After a long afternoon of working out, I returned to the apartment and found a package for me in the mail.  As I couldn't remember ordering anything lately, I wondered what on earth it could be.  Then I looked at the return address and saw the name of a lovely lady from my church (ward) back home.  Still wondering what it could possibly be, I opened the box to find the cutest, most amazing gift ever--a handmade quilt with blocks decorated by the primary children in my ward.

Me with a picture of the kids they sent along with the quilt.
As I pulled it out, tears sprang to my eyes and I was overcome with a feeling of love, not just for these little children but for their leaders, my friends, who took the time to put the project together so beautifully.  I wish the picture did the quilting justice but it is absolutely fabulous (Marilyn, I think you rock).  Each block is something about Colorado such as: mountains, sunshine, flowers, the Colorado flag, rivers, camping, fishing, something that could be a watermelon and even an Igwanidon (sic), Colorado's state dinosaur--how cute is that??!!

It is on my bed and I am feeling the love--just had to share it.  :)

Square made by the cutest of the bunch, my Maggie!

A longer shot to see the quilt better.

(Editorial note: Plus this gift came on my 27th wedding anniversary--Happy Anniversary Rheid.  I love you!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Into the woods...

I've been trying to walk on the weekends to keep up my momentum.  So Sunday after a wonderful early dinner shared at a church member's house, Rheid and I decided a trip to the forest was in order.  The Duke Forest is only about two miles from our apartment.  We have driven around its edges but have never gone into its depths.

Sign at the beginning of the trailhead

The Duke Forest comprises over 7,000 acres of land in three counties and has been managed for research and teaching purposes since 1931 and according to Duke this forest is unrivaled at any other university.  All you have to do is walk a few hundred feet in and you feel like you're in a primitive area.  I took a picture of Rheid farther in and you can tell how much light has been filtered out by the trees.  They are thick.

Rheid is ready to photograph any critters we may happen upon.

After being on a smooth, oval track for walking at the CFL, this forest stroll felt like I was on a four-wheeling adventure.  We tried to be a little stealth to hopefully see some wildlife but with all the twigs and leaves making noise as wild as it got was acrobatic squirrels jumping from tree to tree; even though I wouldn't be surprised to see a Yeddie around the next bend.  We probably walked about 1/2 mile in before I decided it was time to probably head for the car.

We stopped to photograph this amazing fungi growing on a fallen log.

When I got to the Escape, I noticed something on my shin--a tick! Crimey. How did that get there?  So it was straight home for the tweezers for that little vermin.  It took about 3-4 minutes and one hand cramp before Rheid was able to outlast the vice grip that tick had on my leg.  Can you say creepy??  I had the heebie-geebies for the rest of the evening.

The forest was absolutely beautiful but I can't say as much for the hitchhiker I brought home with me.  Next time I'll leave the wildlife there in its own habitat--like the good rule follower that I am.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day weekend happenings...

This weekend we didn't want to sit around stressing waiting for test results (which still haven't come yet) so we did some exploring.  We thought it might be a good time to search for the temple so we would know how long it took to get there.  So off to Raleigh we headed.  After all, it is the Raleigh Temple, right?  Not so fast.  All the way to Raleigh I am trying to get Glenda (GPS) to find the temple.  I put in every name imaginable but no directions would pop up.  By the time I decided that Glenda must be anti-Mormon, we found a chapel with people there cleaning.  Come to find out we had passed it already and in reality the temple is located in Apex.  Yep, that was back a ways so we abandoned that idea for the moment and went looking for the Capitol.  We found some places that looked interesting but ended up at the North Carolina Museum of History.  We only had time to go through one large exhibit--so we can go back again. :)

Rheid getting friendly with a display in The Story of North Carolina. This exhibit
teaches you about the earliest inhabitants down to modern times.

On our way back home, we successfully located the temple.  It is pretty but very small and one where you must make an appointment.

The grounds crew were working there getting things
ready for opening after an update/cleaning break. The
project foreman took our picture.
Monday, after ridding Rheid of his first and hopefully last tick (in between his fingers), we headed on an hour and a half drive northwest to Surry County.  My Jackson roots can be traced back to Surry and Stokes counties.  I never dreamed I would be able to visit the area one day. We didn't have a ton of time since I had IV's to run but with the heat, it was just about all I could do anyway.  Our exploring began in Mount Airy, the hometown of Andy Griffith and inspiration for Mayberry.  You can see the Snappy Lunch, Bluebird Diner, Floyd's Barber Shop and for a mere 35 dollars you can catch a ride/tour in Sheriff Andy's squad car.  There appeared to be some fun shops but we were on a cemetery mission!

I was out in the sun all afternoon and my legs are still as white
as they were for this picture. 

After eating a Barney Burger at Barney's Cafe we headed off to a couple of cemeteries to see who we could find.  We found a bunch of ancestors but only a couple of the ones I was looking specifically for.  I took tons of pictures to document dates, sweat off about 5 pounds, and hung an IV drip from a holly tree branch.  If anyone rolled over in their graves because I was doing drugs in their cemetery, I missed it.  :)  We need to return again to find more graves since we only hit two places in Surry.  I will be better prepared next time with a pen, clipboard, and hopefully cooler weather.  I will be back!

Waiting for my Barney burger and Brown Sugar Pie.

I was surprised that we were all alone in the cemeteries--one was even the largest in town.  Come on people, it was Memorial Day.  I had grand visions of meeting long lost relatives at grave sites, hugging and maybe even a few tears would be shed, and them inviting me to their home where I would find a treasure trove of  obscure genealogical information.  Dream on Sherri.  There were very few decorations either which was kinda sad.  We had a fun time anway.  I miss Mayberry.

One of the monuments we found.  Notice the lack of
decorations anywhere around it--a beautiful resting place.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

First the good news...

I graduated from Pulmonary Rehab on Friday!  It is a huge accomplishment to get 23 sessions completed and I was able to do it in record time because I stayed so healthy.  On Tuesday I go to the graduate orientation and see how my rehab changes now that I am a bit more on my own.  I move from the pre-Orange progress sheet to the graduated-but-not-transplanted-yet-Blue sheet on my way to the post-Yellow sheet.

Sporting my diploma with Jo and Danyell (cyster) who graduated with
me on Friday the 25th.  Two other grads are not pictured.  Behind
you can see the pool used for cardiac and arthritis patients.  We are
standing in the check-in area which is also where we stop to pant rest.

Duke Center For Living gym on a late Friday afternoon.  In the
foreground you can see part of the track we walk around on.  The
machines directly in front are the bikes.  The green area is where we
do the floor class and back by the far windows are the weight machines.
It's not too busy cuz most of us are finished for the day.

It's been a tough week, not gonna lie.  Between losing a friend, having the esophageal manometry repeated and still waiting for those results, taking 3 days, 3 attempts, and 2 prep kits to get my virtual colonoscopy accomplished (long story but I will spare you dear bloggie readers the gruesome but ultimately successful details), and starting a course of home IV's (with a new agency and nurse--you know how I love some of those home health workers), I feel anxious and drained.  Hoping this memorial day weekend/break will get me back on even footing again.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Missing Pam...

I found out this morning that a friend and fellow cyster, Pam (39), passed away yesterday.  I knew it was coming but it still hurts my heart.

Pam B. was one of the reasons I decided to come to Duke.  I followed her pre and post transplant adventures over the past two years.  Her transplant came while Rheid and I were hanging out in DC.  I would check Pam's blog every morning before heading out to sight-see, hoping to see an update on how things were going.  She didn't have an easy start to her transplant journey--there were a lot of bumps in the road.  But she was a great example of patience and exercising faith in God's plan for her.  From her I learned you can have setbacks and still come out on top if you don't give up.

Unfortunately her latest setback landed her in the UAB hospital where she had been since January.  Talk about tough.  She had wanted to be transferred to Duke but her insurance wouldn't cover the heavy cost of transporting her when the care she was receiving at UAB was adequate.  She did like being closer to her home in Mississippi though, which I can totally understand.

I talked to her by phone just before we left Fort Collins to come here to North Carolina.  We were hoping to be able to meet face to face someday when our paths crossed at Duke.  But we never got the chance and I had a feeling that opportunity might have passed us by.  I asked her questions I had about relocation and other aspects of transplant.  She wanted me to know that despite her recent extended illness, she would do it all again.  It still scares me sometimes to realize how fragile life after transplant can be.  But I am glad she is free to walk and breathe and laugh again.  Pam, you made a difference in my life and I wish you the best as you begin the next phase of your journey.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

101 thoughts...

Wowza--it's my 101st blog post!  This blog started out as a way to chronicle our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Washington DC.  I had finally stabilized my health enough to feel comfortable taking a trip and I wanted to share the experience with my family.  And now here I am almost 2 years later on a different trip of a lifetime. I've decided to share a couple of pictures which highlight this North Carolina experience so far.

Finishing the first week of rehab.  Our apartment is directly
behind me.  That is our patio seen in the background.  You
 will be happy to note we have since washed the car.
Spent the night at the Great Wolf Lodge (cute girl who took our
picture chopped off the bear's head, oh well)   This place was awesome--
35 acres of indoor/outdoor waterslides and fun activities.
Hall of Flags at Rheid's Toastmaster District Conference held
in Concord two weekends ago.  Concord is a suburb of
Charlotte. We got to see the Charlotte Motor Speedway--this
is big time NASCAR country--but have no photo evidence.

Sweet "V" family invited us over for Southern Barbecue with
a stop at Maple View Farm--a local ice cream shop. Bought some
delicious chocolate milk to take home.  Oliver w/balloon sword, Steve,
Delia, Milo, Rebekah w/Eloise and me. We are blessed to have such
a wonderful church family here in Durham/Chapel Hill.
Saturday morning we went to the Bennett Place.
It's a Civil War historical site.  They were having a
re-enactment this weekend.  This was a Southern flag
lecture where we learned how the stars and bars came about.
Musket shooting at the encampment.  It looks like we are way out in the
country but no, we are in town.  Crazy amount of trees here but beautiful.
We learn some Bennett Place history from the "locals" and find
out how they stand wearing all that wool in the hot sun.
Saturday morning we helped Jimmy and Mary Lou, from pulmonary
rehab, move into their new apartment.  They treated us to lunch
and then came on our Bennett Place tour.
Here's to more Carolina adventures.

**For those of you who missed my first foray into blogdom, here is a repost of what started it all.
May 26, 2010:  Welcome blogging world...I've finally done it. I've made the leap to cyberspace to start my personal blog! After two+ hours of dinking around with the program, I turned to my computer-smart husband for help. Of course, he had things figured out in milliseconds. The design is still a work in progress but I'm having fun trying to come up with "the look." SAS are my initials and my last name means castle in German...hence the blog title. Since this all took much longer than anticipated, I will have to save all my profound thoughts for another day :)  Here's to seeing the tender mercies!
(Still haven't changed the design--maybe in another 100 posts I'll get around to it.  Profound posts may take even longer than that.)