Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New doctor appointment

We had to go see our family physician today so Ron could get a referral to a neurologist. His tremors have gotten to the point where they're near constant and totally interfere with his life. He has trouble playing the bass and that is really bothering him. Other than the tremors, he's doing well. Dr. Alvarado said he looks better than she's seen him look in months. That's saying something because she thought he was dying in July.

We have to wait until October 23 before the neurologist can see him. That's a long time and I know they're busy. But, that totally sucks because the tremors won't go away on their own. He can't check his blood sugar very well because he shakes so badly that he can't get the lancet to draw blood and then once he's bleeding he doesn't get the strip to suck up the blood. Dr. Alvarado gave him a new tester and strips to try. He can test on his arm or his leg and maybe that will be easier for him. We'll just have to see...

We also want the doctor to give him something for his memory. We'd like for him to retain what he does have left. He also got another prescription for his pain medication patches but in a higher dosage. He has no pain control at all right now and that's bad. I'm not sure she got everything covered in the visit but he always has so much that it's tough to get it all taken care of.

On the plus side, he's lost some of the weight he had gained when he was in kidney failure so the kidney doctor should be happy when we see her on Friday. Dr. Alvarado gave me a great compliment - she said I looked fantastic and to keep up the good work. I weighed on her scales and I've lost 43 pounds since January. Not bad... Too bad I had gained some in the last couple of years and then I wouldn't be literally starting all over.

That's life - I just have to make sure that I continue to lose and with the mindset that I currently have, I don't see that as a problem. I'm really focused on not gaining any weight and I fuss over a few ounces.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I’m upbeat today…


I wore one of Amy’s dresses to church on Sunday. It’s not a style of dress that I would buy for myself but it looked OK. (It’s too big for her now and she has another like it but in a different color; she said I could have them both and I suppose they’ll be fine for church or something.) I had several people tell me how nice I looked. That felt good. One lady asked me what diet I was on because she wanted to try it, too. Ron said after church that he hadn’t recognized me at first. LOL – I haven’t worn a dress in five years. Of course, I’d also re-dyed my hair because it had faded so much and too much gray was showing.

Two ladies at work today told me how much smaller I’m looking. Yeah! That was nice. I have on another of Amy’s shirts today. It’s too big for her but that’s OK. She says I need to start replacing some of her clothes since I plan on staying this size. Nope – I do not plan on staying this size. I told her my goal was to get smaller than her current size. I need to lose about 34 more pounds to not be considered overweight. I am guessing that as of this morning that I've lost about 44 pounds (give or take a couple). Currently, I outweigh her by 24 pounds so unless she loses more weight I will get smaller than her. That would be a switch!

I don’t think she’s going to let that happen though. She said yesterday that she better get started on using the Ab Lounger again since it seems to be working for me. She sees me losing a few ounces a day and each of those ounces adds up to a pound or two here and there. Eventually it will narrow the gap between us even farther.

Amy came home from work this evening and took off the pants she was wearing and gave them to me. Too big for her = they fit me just fine. There's another pair in a different color waiting for me in her closet. Man, I love shopping in her closet for a change. One of the ladies in my group told Amy today how nice I've been looking. She said it was because I'd been stealing her clothes. That's not entirely true. I just started helping myself to her things this past week. Jeans mostly and a few tops. I definitely have more upstairs than she does so not many of her tops will ever fit me. Now, two dresses and two pair of slacks. That's fair for all the clothes and shoes she took from me growing up.

Right???

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Irritated beyond belief

I know Ron doesn't mean to sound like he does and he doesn't mean to question me like he does, but it irritates the dickens out of me when I answer a question and he waits a little while and then asks it a different way. Or, he'll have someone else check on it. Or, he'll try to go around behind me to find out for himself.

Sometimes he forgets. I'll give him that. He forgets a lot (like today - scheduled carpet cleaners but can't remember who, when, or how much - more on that later) and I'm really trying to be patient and not let the repeated questions bother me. His hands have about quit working and he's having some identity issues. His hands are part of what makes him who he is - a musician. It's got to be terrible to watch your body slowly die off and quit working when you're still young enough to know that it's doing it.

Tonight it was CSI. He's been waiting for the season premiere since May. I read him an article a couple of weeks ago about Laurence Fishburne taking over for William Petersen and Warrick's character dying. I told him the premiere was going to be October 9. He wanted to know why and I didn't know.

This past week CBS has had a lot of premieres so he assumed that CSI would be tonight. I told him that it was not and that we'd had this discussion more than once (seriously - several times). While I was watching the 2-hour premiere of Survivor he asked me if I'd record it. I said it was recording and why. He said he wanted me to fast forward so he could watch the beginning of CSI.

So I asked him if he was having trouble believing that the premiere wasn't on tonight. He said it wasn't that he didn't believe me. I asked him again - do you think I'm not telling you the truth??? He finally said that he didn't believe I was correct and he didn't want to miss the beginning of the show. I just put the remote down and left the room (missing the end of Survivor, by the way) because I was so ticked. He started to say something else and I cut him off by saying he's done this to me before and I didn't need it.

For sure I've not been the most patient person in the world these past few days. I've had a lot on my mind and on my plate (work, home, church stuff) but I've done my best to keep my cool. I came out to the PC so I could blog (here I am). After about 20 minutes he came out and said he was sorry.

I said that was fine, I appreciated the apology, but he does this to me all the time. Just because he forgets something doesn't mean that I've forgotten or that it didn't happen (conversations, appointments, where people are, etc). I told him that if I didn't know something, or I was unsure of something, I would find out - but I HAD ALREADY FOUND IT OUT FOR HIM. He had just forgotten so assumed that I couldn't possibly be telling him the truth.

I am sure it has to be frustrating to him, too. I don't know the answer or how to fix it. I'm still struggling with how to get the correct medication in him at the correct time and the correct day.

Now - on to the carpets...

We have our little dog at our groomer's house and she is house breaking her. Ron is unable to take her out and I am unable to cope with cleaning up dog pee off the carpet. She has got to be crate trained at night and for when we are not home. We could not do it and Samantha said she would. It's not cheap but it's a better alternative than getting rid of her. Ron misses her.

Today I asked him to call carpet cleaners and get estimates. He called two (I think). One was over $300 and I think that was partly because he said we had 1500 sq ft to clean. In my dreams... I don't have that much period, let alone that much carpeted. So I told him to call a different one and tell them two bedrooms and a living room. That estimate is $130 or so. Much better. So - when are they coming? He doesn't know. Who did you call? He doesn't know.

I look at caller ID most days to see who called while I"m at work. I see a number and ask what they wanted. He doesn't know. So, do I call them tomorrow and ask what they wanted? Who knows...

I think I'm tired. I need a break. I know - I've said that. I really need for Ron to get better so I don't have to worry so much all the time. A guy at church prayed for us last night and said that he believed that we'd gone through more than anyone could possibly even imagine and I believe that is right. I honestly don't know what the lesson is that we're supposed to learn from all of this but I'm sure that God has one - for someone. It may not even be for us but He's using us for someone else's benefit. That's OK. I'd just like to know when it's going to be over and did we pass.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Girls weekend out

My best friend, Debbie, called me today. She said she'd been thinking about me and it was on her mind to just give me a call. It was nice to hear her voice. We haven't gotten together for quite a while and haven't seen each other since my 50th birthday party two years ago.

Several years ago when our kids were still relatively small we met at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO and camped out. Debbie and her two kids; me and my three kids. We pitched our own tents (of course, we got help from some of the other campers because Amy went and told them her mom had no idea what she was doing and they didn't want to sleep outside so a couple of men took pity on us). It's been long enough ago that I don't remember a whole lot of details but Debbie's call today triggered some of them. She had been thinking about how a hamburger and cup of coffee we'd made the next morning after our first night and how much fun we'd had then.

Debbie lives in southern MO and since I live in central Kansas, Branson was an ideal place for us to meet up. Now that the kids are grown and we're grandparents, and have other responsibilities, it's harder for us to get away. The last trip Debbie and I took together was probably about eight years ago. Shaun needed his vehicle that we'd been keeping at our house so Debbie and I drove it to Virginia, spent the weekend, and then flew back. It was a nice time and we took our time getting to Norfolk.

Debbie suggested we get together this year for a much-needed break. I was only too happy to agree. I need a break. Badly. I know, it seems like I just had one but my life is very stressful with all the responsibilities that I have. Ron is a constant worry and I don't go anywhere anymore without making sure that I have plenty of people on hand to either be with him or check on him. He rarely eats when I'm not home so someone has to make sure that he gets some food.

I suggested the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, MO as a place to meet. It would only cost us the gas for the trip and 1/2 of a hotel room. The chapel is free and the grounds are beautiful. I've been several times but Debbie has never been. She thought that sounded like a grand plan.

Now we just need to find a weekend that we're both available and the weather isn't supposed to be bad. I'm thinking about 10/25 or so.

Maybe...

Total frustration

I don't know how else I can make pill taking for Ron any easier. I got a new pill dispenser that has the days clearly marked. You can't get to the evening pills without spilling the morning pills so I thought it would be something that he could manage.

He still routinely takes the wrong day's pills and tonight he tried to take Thursday morning's pills instead of Tuesday evening's pills. I am just to the point of being about ready to scream. What will work? Why can't he figure it out? I don't know. Is it his kidneys? His heart? His brain? How many more trips to the doctor and to the hospital is he going to have to suffer through?

I've tried to find an automatic pill dispenser that I can afford and that I think he can work. Most of the ones I've seen look like they'll have the same problem that I'm facing now - the print is too little. I've thought of bagging each dose of medicine up in a baggie and labeling it REALLY BIG what day of the week and if it's morning or evening dose. I don't know if that will work either but I may resort to that if I have to.

All I know for sure is that this can't go on as it's currently going.

Antsy

Are you ever just antsy and you don’t know why? Yesterday and today have been some of those days for me. I know I’m a bit tired and I am very tired of taking sleeping medication to get to sleep, and then pain medication half-way through the night to get back to sleep. I wake up feeling drugged but not rested. I broke down and bought a new mattress a couple of months ago thinking that would help. It did not. I even tried the first one for about three weeks and swapped it out for a second one. It doesn’t seem to be any better. I thought as I lost weight I’d not have as much trouble sleeping but I guess that is not to be. I wonder if it will get better as my weight continues to go down.

Yesterday I didn't want to be at work and there was no special reason or anything I could put my finger on. I think I just want to sleep. If I had lots of PTO left I’d go home and go to bed. As if that would solve anything… It won’t but maybe I’ll feel more rested when I get up.

I only had one cup of coffee yesterday morning and again this morning to see if that helps. I had on a new top yesterday and it drove me nuts. It has an elastic band in the middle of it, not quite at the waist and not quite empire, and it was annoying the dickens out of me. I’d cut it out but then the blouse would look awkward. It ties in the front and is supposed to look like it’s a blouse and a jacket. I ran my fan to help distract me from feeling like I was choking to death in the stupid thing (I know I wasn't suffocating, but my mind was not happy). When I got home I ripped that thing off so fast my head was spinning. I told Ron that I didn't know if I'd ever wear it again. He said it looked really nice but I don't think I can handle looking nice if I'm uncomfortable.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is it still Saturday?

Ron's had some issues today with his memory. We got up and around this morning and he wanted to go to Lowe's. We have been depending on others to mow our yard (and not having much luck, I might add) so he decided we were going to get a riding mower. It's not a great financial burden but one that I had to think about for a while. Instead of having our Lowe's card nearly paid off, I would be adding the price of a mower to it. But it also has it's advantages in that we can be responsible for it ourselves. Ron says he can drive it but I think not. His reflexes are too slow and if it were to get stuck or tip, he'd have no way to protect himself. It will probably be me.

When we got home from Lowe's he fell asleep in his chair. When he woke up Amy and Isaiah had gone to a friend's house and since they were gone he asked me where they were. I told him. He went back to sleep. In the meantime, his older daughter called because she was going to bring her riding mower over and do the yard but said it was cutting crooked and she'd just use our push mower. I told her that we had a rider coming tomorrow and if she would just come over then to show me how to do it, that would be great. Ron said that was a good idea (he was on the extension) because he didn't want her pushing the mower in the heat this afternoon.

He goes back to sleep and slept for 2-3 hours. When he woke up he asked me why Stacey was coming over tomorrow and didn't she have to work on Monday? I said that tomorrow was Sunday, not Monday. He says, "Oh." I told him that we had just gone to Lowe's and he had talked to Stacey. I had also talked to Danny, the man from church who has been mowing our yard, to find out what size his mower was. Ron knew I talked to Danny.

Ron went back to sleep for a while and I watched TV. When he woke up he asked me if Isaiah was downstairs playing. No, he's with Amy. "Oh."

He went back to sleep. I watched TV. Danny brought over dinner tonight for us. The church had a dinner tonight and we were supposed to go. Since Ron was not feeling quite the thing today, and I was kind of busy (and forgot until it was too late), we didn't go. While Danny was here, Ron asked him what size his mower was.

Obviously there's something going on that we're not aware of. Well, one of us isn't aware of it anyway... The other one is well aware.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I was their age once...

And I remember exactly how I felt in a lot of situations but I hope I handled some of them better. In looking back, I can tell that I was probably not as nice in some situations as I should have been. I remember one person in particular and all I can say is - I'm really sorry, Imelda.

I was the whiz-kid, the golden child. I didn't understand why people who were the age I am now didn't "get it" as quickly as I got it. Why couldn't they find what they needed on the screen, or in the manual, or on the keyboard? It was right there - in plain sight - in black and white. What was the problem??? Why were they so slooooowwww???

The problem is that as we get older, our reflexes and responses to things naturally slow down. They were still working on the "old" way in their brains and trying to get wrapped around the new stuff was more difficult. I see this a lot with Ron in things. Even with the age difference between us, I can really see major differences in how we learn things. I really pray that I never made any of them feel inadequate or less than intelligent. I really pray that if I did that they forgave me for my stupidity.

Because I've gotten a taste of it in the past and I know how uncomfortable it made me. I hated to ask some people for help on some things because I felt very intimidated by the response. I could tell by the look on the face that I was dumb, I should not have been asking the question, and I should have been able to figure it out on my own. Sometimes I might have been on the right track and very close - but not quite there. Sometimes I was there but didn't trust my own judgment - and other times I was so far away that it would take a month of Sundays for me to get it.

I take consolation in the knowledge that they will someday be my age, too - and will have to deal with the new whiz-kids of the time. LOL - I can hardly wait. Oh... I'll be much older then so I doubt I'll care.

For sure, for sure!

Vascular Dementia...

How would I know if Ron is affected with the early stages of this or if his memory problems are just another side effect of his already jumbled medical problems? When he had the MRI in July it did show some vascular changes but they were attributed to the chronic kidney diseas and the acute kidney failure he was in. I have no idea if those things were corrected with the medication changes or not.

According to this website: Vascular Dementia, "The risk factors associated with vascular dementia, therefore, are those associated with cardiovascular disease. These include: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, a family history of heart problems, disease in arteries elsewhere in the body, and heart rhythm abnormalities. Lifestyle factors like being overweight or smoking can contribute to the risk, as well." Ron has all of the things in bold - plus his other health problems. This could mean that his problems are the onset of something more sinister.

I don't know about it but I do know that he's convinced that he has something going on in his brain, and I'm not so sure that I don't agree with him. He's taking less pain medication than he has in the past so I can't blame that. He's on a lot less of every kind of medication so it's hard to blame prescriptions.

At this point, I'm not willing to admit or suspect anything that is long-term and permanent. I'm more worried about Tardive Dyskinesia caused by six years of metoclopramide use. He fits part of the TD diagnosis, but not all. He has intention tremors of his hands but he also has difficulty getting started and slow reactions so not sure where exactly he falls in all of this.

At this point in our lives, a miracle would sure be nice. A couple of miracles... I hate to be greedy but we could use a whole handful of miracles. LOL! I know He's listening so I'll just wait and see what He decides to continue to bless us with.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gadgets added and music notes...

I added a couple of gadgets to the page. I really like the daily Bible verse so I added that. I was also sent a video today that really touched me, so I added a gadget to display that video without leaving my blog page. If you want to see it in a larger screen, it can be found on YouTube here:
Who am I.

It is wonderful. I have several YouTube videos that I particularly like but I don't know how to get them in the blog. One of my favorites is Dolly Parton performing Hello God, which can be found here: Hello God. There are several video postings but I prefer this one. Of course, I could listen to just about anything by Dolly Parton.

Another favorite is A Living Prayer by Alison Kraus. She has a very soft voice and has many wonderful songs. It was a long time before I really developed a liking for Alison Kraus. She's magnificent on the fiddle but I didn't think her singing was all that great. I've changed my mind over the past few years and I think it's partly because her voice has also matured.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Medical updates

Ron's foot is finally - albeit slowly - on the mend. His appointment schedule is not as heavy now. A Procrit injection weekly, infectious disease doctor monthly, and orthopedic surgeon every other week is a big improvement over Procrit injection, infectious disease doctor, and orthopedic surgeon ever week. That's quite a savings on co-pays, too!

I just wish the wound vac was closer to coming off. That co-pay is killing me. The minimum monthly payment on is is $100 per month and as the amount we're responsible for goes up, the payment amount will go up. They will only give you 18 months to pay it off and right now I think our balance is around $2,000 and they have not processed claims for the entire period. I can only do what I can do though so if it takes longer than 18 months, then that's what will happen.

Oh well, such is life. Can't change what you can't change so just grin and bear it - and move on. That sounds like a good piece of advice to follow and I do my best to follow it every day.

So, obviously I can't tell time...

Ron's first appointment today was for 1:50. I had thought it was for 2:15 so I told him I was leaving work at 1:00. Once I realized it was earlier I called and let him know I'd leave work at 12:45 instead. There was no way I could drive home from work, get him and the scooter loaded, and then get to our destination, unload the scooter, park, and get into the office in 50 minutes -but leaving 15 minutes than earlier planned would do the trick.

I had two meetings scheduled this morning - one from 9:30 until 11:00 and then the second one from 11:00 until 12:00. The first meeting went late and didn't end until after 11:30 and for some reason I got the times all backwards in my head and decided that I needed to leave immediately to head home.

I walked in the door at 12:10 and asked Ron why he wasn't ready. He said I was early. I said I left work exactly when I'd told him I would. So as I'm rushing him out the door and getting things ready to take to the doctor I kept thinking about why he thought I was early and it wasn't making the connection. The neurons weren't firing. Thought processes were knocking but no one was home.

We're about half-way to the doctor's office and he said something about I interrupted a show he was watching. I said it should have been over by the time I got there and then it hit me... I was an hour early. Ugh! Can't show up to the office that early because they're out for lunch until 1:00 and at the rate I was going we'd be there about 12:45. It's not an easy process to unload and then have to reload the scooter so I suggested we go to lunch at the hospital across the parking lot from the doctor's office. That worked out well for us.

Only problem with my lack of time-telling abilities is I now have to re-work my time sheet and lose an extra hour of pay for the week. That's an expensive lunch...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Promises, Promises, Promises

I hate it when someone tells me they're going to do something - and then they don't. I hate it when someone volunteers to take care of a need, and then I count on it, and then that person doesn't.

How do you get people to follow through on what they promise? I wasn't raised that way and I didn't think I raised my kids to be that way, either. Out of four boys, we managed to get two who make promises they don't keep and one of those has learned that it's easiest to have no input at all - no phone calls, no visits, zip/nada/nothing. I believe the other one means it when he says he'll be over - but then something better comes along and we get shoved to the back burner.

I don't usually say anything to him but this weekend I was very frustrated and I left a message on his voice mail that basically said I was sick of being on the bottom of the list and being sold out if something better came along. It's not right and I am tired of wondering if he's going to show up or not. It will be easier if I just quit expecting.

Our yard needs to be mowed. It's needed to be mowed for over a week. It was supposed to happen last Saturday, but it didn't. Then it was going to happen Sunday but we never heard from him. I finally got him on IM and asked about it and got the message that he'd hurt his eye. That's fine and I am sorry his eye got hurt - but there was no telephone around anywhere??? If he had done what he said he'd do FIRST and then go "play" it wouldn't have been an issue.

This past week, it rained. And rained. And rained some more. He was going to come over this "Sunday for sure" and, silly me, I assumed that meant he was going to mow. Nope. No phone call, no show. Same crap; different day.

I guess he figures that if he doesn't call me (or return phone calls, or send an IM message) then he's off the hook. Well, he's off the hook because I'm not going to ask him again to do squat for me. If I can't do it myself, I'll hire it done. It's not like we abuse him with stuff to do around here. I think he may have - and this is a generous amount - mowed our yard five times this summer. I'm not even sure it was that much but I'll give five. I've had him help a bit in the garage. I've had him do a few other things, but not much.

Amy doesn't mow and I don't mow. Ron sure can't mow. I had been paying someone else to mow but he quit showing up (and he owes us $40 for a weed eater, too) and then a man from our church started showing up to mow - which we greatly appreciated. But we can't count on him as he has his own life and responsibilities to take care of. If there were any teenagers in the neighborhood who did mowing then I'd hire them. But there aren't any so that leaves me back at square one: Ask my son and hope that he'll follow through or pray that some kind person just shows up and mows it.

I guess I need to learn how to operate these pieces of equipment and get out there myself. I don't want to be the man. I hate being the man! I have the inside of the house to be responsible for and I resent having to take care of the outside, too. I can never start the darn mower and then after about two-three passes across the yard my back hurts so badly that I can barely stand it. I can't get the bag off or back on. Since tomorrow is trash day it would have been very nice to have the lawn clippings ready for pick-up, but that's not going to happen. So they'll either have to sit on the yard or I'll have to rake them into a bag which will sit and ferment for a week. Gross.

I do have a battery-powered weed eater and I'm going to try and trim tomorrow or Wednesday evening. We'll see how that goes...

I guess they all think that since Amy lives with us that she can just take care of the yard. That would be grand except she's got school, homework, Isaiah, and the grass makes her itch.

I'm really tired of the excuses and the partial truths. I know my son reads this blog. I am not trying to offend him with what I'm saying but I do want him to realize that his actions are not right.

I want him to realize that he's a great guy and he knows better than to act like this. I want him to realize that his actions today will have a direct impact on his future tomorrow. All of his actions. I want him to realize that he's got to get over that girl and move on. She's not worth the crap that he's putting himself through. I want him to realize that people love him and want only what's best for him.

But he's got to want it, too and want to move on. That includes not shutting people out, not making excuses for things, and not shirking his responsibilities - no matter what they are.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

To glorify whom?

I have strong Southern Baptist roots and, although I have gone to a Pentecostal Holiness church for the past several years, I still feel myself reacting to things in the sanctuary with a "Baptist" frame of mind. You would think I'd be used to people saying "Amen" during the service by now (I've even thrown in a few of my own, too), and I am for the most part. What I'm not used to, and will probably never get used to, is people saying more than just the standard "Amen" during a sermon.

I have a hard time staying focused when I'm subconsciously waiting for someone to shout something out. It's distracting. It's sometimes irritating and sometimes annoying. There is one lady in particular who is very vocal. She's very nice and very sincere but I really wish she was a bit quieter.

When someone is constantly saying things like "Come on!" "Preach it, Brother!" or "That's right!" during the sermon it is very distracting. Who does that glorify? God? Not in my mind. I think it's glorifying the speaker instead. I don't think God needs for us to constantly reinforce what the preacher is saying. He obviously is preaching what he believes God has led him to preach, so why do we need to add a commentary to it? I know that it's sometimes hard for the speaker to know if people are understanding the true meaning of the sermon or if it's going right past them so some "Amen" comments are very good. But, even if people weren't getting it, if he's following the will of God, that is all that should matter. Some people need to have fewer distractions during the service to get everything God wants them to receive from the service.

I know I do...

Amen to that!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Where were you when terror struck?

While the world went about their daily routines, Muslim extremists were planning how and when to deliver their next blow to the United States. On September 11, 2001 they succeeded in delivering what they hoped would be a crushing blow. Instead, they delivered a blow that sparked dedication, patriotism, and regard for our fellow man. Instead of crushing our resistance, they bolstered our resolve. Instead of killing our patriotism, they encouraged us to fly our flags in the face of adversity.

In the days leading up to September 11, 2001 I was enjoying a leisurely cruise aboard the USS Boxer as a Tiger Cruise participant. Amy was stationed aboard the Boxer and had been on a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf. As part of the coming home proceedings, the detachment of ships, which included the Boxer, participated in hosting Tiger Cruise guests. Amy’s ship was the largest in the battle group and there were approximately 400 guests scattered across the ships that made up her battle group. As a participant, I flew to Los Angeles on September 2 and then on to Hawaii on September 3. I’d never been to Hawaii so I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the sites that we were able to squeeze in before we had to report to the Boxer. We boarded her ship on the evening of September 5. The battle group pulled out of Pearl Harbor bright and early on September 6 for its eight-day trip back to San Diego.

The first few days of the voyage were filled with fun events meant to show non-military personnel what life aboard a naval ship entailed. We slept in the berthing units, stood in lines for chow, participated in various role-playing games, and showed up for “man overboard” exercises. We learned some details about the ship, we learned some new things about the Navy, we received awards for passing our sea-readiness tests, and we developed a deeper admiration for the men and women, our sons and our daughters, who comprised the crews of these massive ships.

What a lot of people don’t realize, me included, is that life aboard a Navy ship is not about a 9-5 work day. It’s about a 12-hour work day (on a good day), standing duty (6 hours on, 6 hours off), no days off, and no sleeping in. It’s loud and sometimes sleep is hard to come by (try sleeping in a noisy factory), especially for those who work the night shift. The food is only seasoned with the most basic of seasonings - salt and pepper. The chow lines are long and can wind down the galley way, up and down stairwells, and finally end. You can stand in the chow line for 30-40 minutes. Try doing that three times a day, day in and day out. I got a break though because Amy was part of the Flying Squad, a special group formed to be the first responders to casualties at sea, and she had front of the line privileges. If she wasn’t eating, I couldn’t stand in that line without her, but she could stand there long enough for me to go through the chow line. Sometimes just for the fun of it, I stood in the regular line so I could visit with others.

The morning of September 11 dawned crisp and clear; we were three days out of San Diego and had enjoyed a very uneventful trip. The weather had been good and we’d not traveled through any storms along the way. Since I was a “guest” I got to sleep in a bit later than Amy.

Having the privacy that a dark curtain provides, and the noise that the compartment fan created, it made sleeping a bit later easier. I awoke to hear the announcement over the loudspeaker that the World Trade Center had been attacked and news was sketchy. I hurriedly went through my morning routine and raced up to Amy’s office, where everyone was staring, transfixed at the computer monitors on the shared workstations. I was no exception. I stood behind Amy completely absorbed with what we were seeing on the screen. The enormity of the actions taken by a cowardly few was nearly beyond comprehension.

As the news filtered to and throughout the ship, it became obvious that the bandwidth being requested was far exceeding the ship’s capabilities, and they still had a job to do and a mission to perform. The access to the Internet was disabled except for business necessity. Amy’s chief allowed me to use the ship-to-shore phone to call Ron and let him know that I was OK. The joyous atmosphere that had been in the air was quickly replaced by one of grim acceptance and resolution to go back out for another deployment if it was deemed necessary.

The festivities were quickly curtailed and although the crew tried to keep the mood up, it was a somber ship that headed into port. When a battle group returns home from a six-month deployment, there are a lot of activities planned for when the ships pull into port. Not this time.

Because of the severity of the attack, everyone coming to the pier to welcome the ships home had to pass through stringent security measures. No backpacks, no diaper bags, no large purses, or anything that could be used to cause others bodily harm was to be allowed on the base. Parents of small children were even discouraged from bringing strollers on the base. No media, no fanfare, and no big welcome home party for this battle group.

Instead, we were given an armed escort, as heavily manned boats skittered about the water, protecting the crew and the ships of the battle group. We had sharpshooters and anti-aircraft marksmen on the deck, flown out to the ship the night before, vigilantly watching to make sure nothing happened to jeopardize the safety of us all. The Coronado Bay Bridge was shut down to further protect the battle group from any harm that may have been attempted from motorists on the bridge.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the scene along the ocean banks as the ship pulled into the harbor. People were lined up and down the banks waving American flags as our sailors “manned the rails” and the voice of Lee Greenwood rang out, singing “...I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I’ll gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt, I love this land, God bless the USA...” I was never so proud of our American military personnel as I was right then.

I don’t think there was a dry eye among the spectators on the deck. I know mine weren’t...

Does this make me hate all Muslims? No, it does not. Does it make me blame all Muslims for the terror and savagery of that day? Again, no it does not. History is full of religious tyrants and extremists who believed that their way was the only way, and if you did not conform you died. Because it was so, and is so, doesn’t make it right. The Christian Crusades were no more “right” than the Islamic bombings and atrocities directed at those of other faiths, or even at sects within their own religion.

Do I believe they worship a different God than the God of my beliefs? No, but I do believe they see Him in a different light and have beliefs that I don’t agree with. It’s OK to not believe the same as everyone else. There are many religions that do not share the same belief system that I have, and that’s OK. It’s a freedom that God gave to us all - the right to decide for ourselves what we believe. God could have created us all to be of one mind and one belief, but He did not. I am sure that He sometimes wonders just what He was thinking when He gave us free will, but until He decides He’s had enough we will continue down the paths that we’ve created for ourselves.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Isaiah and Bluetooth

I have a Bluetooth system in my car so when I want to call someone I just have to push a button located beneath my rearview mirror. The computer doesn’t always recognize what I’m saying so it is sometimes very frustrating. I can say “Ron” and it thinks I’ve said “Kris” instead – which is no where near Ron.

Saturday afternoon I was driving home with Isaiah in the car and I wanted to call Amy. I pushed the Bluetooth button and Isaiah immediately said, “Who would you like to call? Kris? Calling Kris. Is that correct?” He had the same tone as the computer and actually very nearly got what the computer says correct. It was absolutely hysterical.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Retirement party

Thursday was Ron's official retirement party. He worked for Boeing/Spirit for 30 years and got a pretty good send-off from his co-workers. Even though he's been off work since the beginning of February, he hadn't really had the good-bye that he deserved.

I provided some pictures of Ron growing up, pictures of our wedding, him with the kids and with his grandkids, him with his dad and with his mom, and some of him with his first band. One of his co-workers put them all in a slide show with some little tidbits of funny things and then also added some photos of Ron doing various things at work and of his 25th work anniversary. It was very nice and he gave me a copy of it on a flash drive.

Someone also took pictures of the retirement party and added those to the flash drive. The group gave him a really nice mantle clock with his name and service dates engraved in it. The clock part is like a globe, with one side the clock and one side the picture of Ron's 25th anniversary at work. It is really nice and he appreciated it very much.

They had a nice lunch for him and a cake. All in all, it was a very nice send-off for him and he really appreciated it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My poor Isaiah

Isaiah wants a dad. He doesn't really remember Juan but he knows that other kids have a dad (his mommy has one, too) and that he doesn't. Sometimes when he gets into trouble he cries, "Daddy. I want Daddy." We think that he's using that for two reasons - 1. he really does want "daddy" or 2. he's trying to deflect why he's getting into trouble away from himself. It could actually be a combination of them both.

We've started telling him that we don't know where Juan is (which is the truth), we don't have any way to contact him (again, the truth), and we don't have a telephone number for him (also the truth). We tell him that Juan lives in Texas but we don't know where exactly (truth). His own mother isn't sure where he lives and she doesn't have a phone number for him either. He got married sometime in the spring to a woman with seven children so I'm sure he's busy playing daddy for them. (They tried to call Juan's mom "grandma" and she told them she's not their grandma - she has one grandchild and his name is Isaiah. We thought that was very funny.)

Isaiah also loves to pretend that we (him, Amy, Ron, and I) are the Backyardigans. Isaiah is Pablo, Amy is Uniqua, Ron is Tyrone, and I'm Tasha. Juan is Austin but Austin isn't in too many of the Backyardigan shows so that's appropriate (him not being around much).

The other day Isaiah was in trouble. Lots of trouble. Over and over again kind of trouble. He just couldn't seem to settle down and do what he was told. I put him in time-out and he started to cry for Juan again. I picked him up and again explained that we could not get his dad and that his dad had no way to know that Isaiah was upset.

He was quiet for a few seconds and then he said, "I want Austin." The child is no dummy... He knew that I said to not ask for Juan again and he side-stepped that by asking for Austin instead. Smart boy.

We're praying for a Godly man to come into Amy's life and be the dad that Isaiah needs - the one that Juan should have been and isn't. We pray that he'll love Isaiah like he's his own and never for a minute let him think anything differently. That's the kind of man God gave my children and that's the kind of man I pray that God will do for my grandson. Of course, I want him to love my Amy just as much as Ron loves me.

Foot update

Ron went back to the orthopedic surgeon today and he was very, very pleased with the healing. The deep tunnel is totally gone and the healing from the surgery is going great. He doesn’t have to go back for 2 weeks, which is awesome.

We’re very happy with that news. He will see the infectious disease doctor on the 10th and I'm hoping that he says he no longer needs to see Ron. I think that at the very most he'll only want to see Ron once a month now. Ron's still getting Procrit injections each week so I'm still hauling the scooter. The ramp helps but it's still very taxing on the body to load and unload it several times a day. It is time consuming to tie it all down in such a way that it doesn't bounce off. Now that we've had some rain I also have to be concerned about getting it covered to protect the electronics of it.

I'll be very glad when this stint is over and life gets back to normal. What ever that is...

Back to work

Wow! That six week reprieve from work went by so fast that it seemed like I was only off for a few days. Of course, it didn't help that Ron was in the hospital for several days during it. I had planned on taking some time just for me to go get a facial, have my hair done, or do something - anything - that didn't involve anyone but me. But, I didn't make it.

I had mixed emotions about returning to work. I love my job and I work with a great bunch of people but I also would like to not have to work. I know that's not a feasible reality unless I win the lottery or something. Wait... I'd actually have to play the lottery first so that's not an option. {sigh} Maybe some other way but I doubt it.

God gave me the ability and the talent to work so it's my responsibility to use the gifts that He's given me. It was nice for some of the folks I work with to notice that I've lost a lot of weight. I'd lost most of this before my LOA but with seeing me every day, they didn't realize I had. I guess that not seeing me for so long made them realize I was smaller.

I'm down 35+ pounds and have another 35 or so to go. I'd like to lose 50 more but that is really stretching it and something that is not feasible.

I've been neglecting the blog lately. Not because I don't want to blog, but because I go to sit down and something else crops up. Then I forget about it and think I'll get to it later. Later has a habit of not showing up for a while. I had some really interesting and witty stuff to write that I've managed to forget. I'm thinking that my busy life may have something to do with that. Oh well... it will come back or it won't.