Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011; hello 2012

It's been real... It's been fun (some)... But, it's not been real fun!

2012 has GOT to be better!

Looking back... the good times:

The birth of Anna tops the list
Moving closer to Amy/Rex/Isaiah (and now, Anna)
Keith and his new girlfriend, Lindsay
Ron getting more mobile since he had his knee replaced
We didn't end 2011 with Ron in the hospital

The not-so-good times:

Ron didn't recover as well (or as quickly) from the knee replacement
Ron had a pretty rough year (which meant that I did as well)
Work was very difficult this past year
Losing our house, our car, our credit
Moving to 900 square feet - and only 1 bathroom
We ended 2010 with Ron in the hospital

In looking back at my posts for 2011, I don't see too much that I'm proud of. I posted a lot of misery and discontent. I'm sure that things must have been better. Right? LOL! I think that I did a pretty good job keeping it all together, especially considering the fact that the first six months was really rough at work, Ron was in the hospital more than once (that's not new for this year but did add to the stress), we lost our house and had to move to a much (much) smaller place. Those were all things that could have really made me rethink my sanity. The issue with my former manager really got to me and I got to the point where I continually doubted myself and my work. Once you're in that position, it's hard to rebound and get back on track. I think I have done that. We have a new manager and I think that has helped tremendously. I still second-guess myself more than I probably should, but I've never oozed confidence in the first place.

My goal for 2012 is to maintain a more positive outlook on life (gotta improve on 2011 no matter how I look at it). I plan on getting back into a healthier lifestyle and shedding some extra baggage. I am starting a new side business (I know - some of you are wondering how I'll have the time.; this will be part of what I do to help have a healthier lifestyle). I am going to focus on the "good" things more.

I'm looking forward to going to WA to see Shaun and Jenny's kiddos (my WA grandchildren) for my vacation this spring. That will put a lift to my 2012, for sure! I sure miss seeing them and interacting with them. (Sometimes I feel guilty getting to spend so much time with Isaiah/Anna when Alexander/Kaitlyn/Zachary miss out on the same opportunities, but it can't be helped.)

Many blessings to you all! I read a great quote in an email my mom sent me. I don't remember the whole story but one thing that stuck out was the phrase, "I pray you enough." In the email, it stood for "enough good times" to sustain the other person. For me, I like the good times, but it's also short for I pray you enough health, wealth, happiness, and blessings."

God bless...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Irony, really

I have a Samsung Galaxy 10.1” tablet that was Keith’s. He owed me some money and offered his tablet up in trade. I accepted and I have loved the freedom it gave me, especially at the hospital when Ron was in surgery, recovery, or just plain sleeping. Much easier to carry around than my laptop and I was able to install the Nook app to read my books. Great concept. Because I had something that was so light and easy, I have read several books since Keith gave it to me. I also use(d) it to access Facebook and my email. Love it. I even bought myself a pink case for it.

Ron thought it was pretty cool and wanted to know if I would install his Nook library on it so he could read the Bible. The only problem with doing that is User 1 (me) and User 2 (Ron) have separate accounts. He has things that he likes to read on his account and I have things that I like to read on my account. In order for us to use the same device, we’d be logging in and out. That’s fine for me but Ron can barely remember how to turn on a device, let alone find the login screen each time. In order to make it work, I would basically just log out, log him in and give him the tablet. It would be a pain in the rear to have to do it all the time.

So, I was being selfish (because I didn’t want to have to do that all the time) and bought Ron an eReader for Christmas. It was $100 – Velocity Cruz – and worth about what it costs. I figure if people expect Samsung or Apple performance, they should expect to pay for something that performs along those lines. I didn’t want to spend in excess of $200 to get something else and thought the Cruz would work. It had decent reviews. Most of the people who had never used a tablet before thought it was pretty slick. The negative reviews came from people who were used to Galaxy or iPad performance. I figured it was worth a shot. Boy, was I wrong. I had to reset it to factory defaults twice and download a new version of the firmware before I could get it to even access the Internet. Luckily, I had read this little tidbit on a review so knew that I would probably have to update the firmware. No problem there – and then I could get it to work pretty easily.

Strike #1 – it won’t let me download the Nook application. No matter what Web site I come at it, the app just won’t download. Says it “will be downloaded” but it never happens. Strike #2 – the touch sensitivity won’t recognize Ron’s touch. He doesn’t have a lot of dexterity in his hands and he’s very “choppy” when he tries to access the buttons so about 75% of the time nothing happens. Strike #3 – since it is 7” (and not 10.1” like the Galaxy), he can’t hit the buttons in the virtual QWERTY keypad so typing in his user ID and password at any given time is not going to happen.

Summary… the Cruz is going back to the store this weekend.

The irony? A couple of years ago (after his health had “apparently” stabilized), I was going to go back to school. I bought myself a pink Dell laptop with the 10-key keypad, and extended battery, and lighted keys for when I was working in the dark. Last year, the laptop Isaiah had been using bit the dust (it was an older one that Shaun bought me in 2003). Ron was using a laptop that had originally belonged to Amy (it was also fairly old – just not as old as the first one). We passed that one down to Isaiah and I ordered Ron a new laptop… 17” with a 10-key keypad but no lighted keys and no extended battery. He was obsessed with my lighted keyboard so one day I just said I’d switch with him. No big deal. Except it took me HOURS to get all of my files off the pink laptop and onto the black laptop. Each laptop still has the original setup information in it (thinks the pink one is still mine; black one is still his) and I couldn’t figure it out. Literally within 30 minutes of me finishing the switch, Ron was saying the speakers in the black laptop were better and since I was deaf in one ear I didn’t need better speakers. :::::::::::::::::::::::::::screech:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Did he just imply what I think he is implying??? He wants the BLACK laptop NOW??? Sorry buster – it’s not happening. You bitched and moaned about the pink laptop for days (basically from the time I got it a year earlier) and how you really needed the lighted keys and now that you have it, you want the better speakers?????? I was seriously ticked off. I didn’t switch it back and he’s learned to live with the speakers it came with. It helps that I bought him a new speaker for it. (LOL!)

I decided to return the Cruz and give him the Galaxy. I don’t have to be selfish and keep my Nook library on there. I can read from my phone if I’m away from my laptop, or read from my laptop. I can get myself another tablet sometime in the future when there is more money to spare. Maybe by then I’ll be able to spring for something that actually acts like a Galaxy or an iPad. Might even be another Galaxy or an iPad (my secret desire – lol!)

Now he has two PINK items. LOL!

Happy New Year's to you all!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It has been a very blessed day! Our holiday weekend started Friday as my company gave us Friday and Monday off for the holiday, plus I also took my last 8 hours of vacation time so I'll be off Tuesday, too. We met Amy and the kids and Keith/Lindsay in Wichita for lunch then I let Keith keep my van (his car needs a new alternator) and Amy brought us home. Keith came to town (hehehe! our little town) yesterday and is spending the weekend with us.

We had a lazy morning while I fixed the pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie (nothing from scratch - truly a lazy morning) and then I took the food and the rest of the presents over to Amy/Rex's house. We left here to go over there about noon. I regifted Keith and Lindsay a table-top water fountain that is in the shape of a heart; I'd received it at our Dirty Santa exchange at work and knew it would be perfect for them. She loved it. I also gave her a tote bag from Thirty-One Gifts (I'm going to become an independent consultant for them soon) and a ribbon necklace. Keith also got $20 and a $15 gift card (regifted - I won it in a door prize drawing). He was happy. I pretty much stayed in my $20 per person limit and was able to get them more than one item. Not bad...

I got Amy one of the ribbon necklaces (they were $4 each at the craft show I went to last month; I actually got one for all of the girls) and 1/2 half of a set of Wolfgang Puck Salt/Pepper mill (it was a set of 2 for $24.95; we kept one for ourselves) and a set of storage containers (they're really cool). Rex got K-State shot glasses, coffee cup, playing cards, and key chain. They were both happy. Amy loves the storage dishes. I had ordered enough that each family would get a set (they were on an infomercial and actually something that looked like it would work) but only half of the order showed up. So, we got some, Amy got a set, and Jenny got a set. Keith and Stacey didn't get theirs.

I got the box for Shaun/Jenny and kids sent off last week and she picked it up from UPS on Friday. The kids loved the presents that were in there. I took pictures of the items before I wrapped them.

The big thing I did for Katy was to take a Thirty-One tote and make it into a baby bed/carrier for her. I had her name embroidered on it and she can use it for many things as she gets older. I got the doll and accessories, then some diapers from Anna (that she'd already outgrown), and had a blanket made for her with her name embroidered on it. I think it turned out adorably.

 Before I wrapped it up, I also put a "baby" in the baby doll's arms and the pacifier in her mouth. It was stinkin cute. I liked it so much that I made smaller versions for the daughters of a friend. LOL - they ended up costing a bit more than I planned, but it was all worth it because the girls loved them. I bought three dolls off eBay (one was new and two were used). Oh welll... you only go round once in life and it was important to me to do this for them so they'd have a keepsake. Plus, I did it in stages so it didn't seem like I was spending that much money until I sat down and added it up. LOL ! I was surprised.

These are the rest of Katy's presents. She's got a white cat "ears" and paws" set, socks, jammies, her blanket, a 2nd tote (smaller than the first but I got it on-sale), and some of the doll accessories (I actually gave the bowl/spoon to one of the other girls).

 Close-up of her "paws" and "ears" that I got from Jenny over at Knees and Paws:

Alexander's (some of his went directly to WA):

His ears and paws are wrapped up in the paper behind the Hot Wheels cars. He's got a camo tote (like Katy's small one) He has a really nice easel/wipe off board already at his house.

Zachary's presents. I had him a "taggie" blanket made. The camera I found used and it's just perfect for Zachary. Jenny got the two older ones "kiddie" cameras so I decided that Zachary needed one, too. The jammies I got Black Friday; the race track at Wal-greens on sale.

He had quite a bit delivered to his house directly, too - including a couple of big ride-on toys. Grandma found some really good deals on Kitsap Military Online page and was able to score some great gifts (gently used) and had them delivered directly to Jenny.

A couple of Anna's things. Her basket is full of clothes and has her blanket that I had made for her. The little "bee" in back is a V-tech toy that I got from the Kitsap page and Jenny shipped it to me. The little white thing is a soft lamb - the head at one end and the feet at the other, with the middle being like a "taggie" blanket.

I didn't get any pictures of Isaiah's things before he unwrapped them, but here are a couple of pictures from him opening things.

Did I mention that he loves K-State - so he LOVED his hat! He about didn't want to take it off. I got him some miniature skate boards, a Cars race track, the hat, some jammies, a Mario shirt, a fake Transformer (Wal-greens), and a little remote control car. And... his "big" gift was a Spy Net wrist watch. He can take pictures, video, and it really tells time. He thought it was super cool.

It was great watching them open their presents. Well, Amy opened Anna's but it was all good. I got her a K-State tutu and wrapped it for Rex to open instead. LOL! It looks better on Anna.

I took some pictures of Isaiah and Anna and some of Keith holding Anna.

Jenny's mom and dad sent us a lovely tea set (cups and coasters). They're too pretty to even use! The box they came in is a gift all by itself.

They also sent us a Visa gift card (for $150!!!). Jenny sent us a gift card as well from her and Shaun for another $150 - so, all I need to do is come up with about another $400 or so to purchase our tickets to go see them after Shaun's ship returns from deployment (I've seen Shaun's homecoming each time; Ron has never been and this will be the last deployment for the next several years and I really want Ron to go). We got a pound of Sees candy and Ron got a pound of sugar-free peanut brittle from Sees. Jenny also sent me some scrapbook supplies. Very great gifts!

Rex and Amy gave Ron some nice Dead Sea Salts hand lotion. His hands are really dry and it will work great for him. They had originally bought my mom some K-cups for her Keurig but she got so much from other people already, and she's on a liquid restriction, they gave them to me. Cool... Amy also bought some of the moisturizing cream that I use, so that was nice. Only thing is I have a nearly full container so it'll be sealed up for a while. It's good stuff though.

Keith is pretty broke right now but he gave us $50 last week for something else and said that was our Christmas. Sweet...

Ron wanted me to get an OnStar FMV mirror. It would be something that I'd use and might come in handy, especially considering my commute. It's about $250. I wasn't willing to spend $250 on myself when we're pretty much looking at increased medical expenses starting 1/1/12 and I just spent $324 in car repairs last week. I decided that I wanted to get him a little eReader with a touch screen and found one yesterday at Radio Shack for $100. Ron's birthday is 1/8 so I decided that I'd get the eReader and a leather case - and call it Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday. I knew that he'd be sad that he didn't have anything for me but it was important to me for him to have that.

All in all, it was a great holiday.

I hope your holiday was at least as, if not more, happy and blessed as mine!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's been almost a week...

And I have been busy AND in avoidance mode. I'm just not in the mood to deal with much of anything. But... I do have good news -

Two little words with such BIG meaning! Not CANCER! Cirrhosis – yes; Portal hypertension – yes; Enlarged spleen - yes; Cancer – NO!

We can handle it. Ron will be seeing another specialist on February 6. I figure since the appointment is so far out and the doctor didn’t see a need to squeeze him in sooner, then this condition is not any more life-threatening than what he’s currently facing. What a BIG sigh of relief!

It has been an emotional roller coaster. I’m not sure if people think I’m nutty or not – and frankly, I really don’t give a rat’s ass what people think – but my way of dealing with what may be coming down the pike is to look at everything from every angle I can possibly think of. I analyze and then analyze again. And, just for good measure, I rethink it a few more times. I have to run the “numbers” in every way possible so I don’t overlook anything that I could have done or done differently. It helps me keep my sanity (wait… I know – I have to have sanity before I can keep it, but I can pretend that I have sanity, right? Hehe!).

Ron's dealing with some depression right now and it's making things difficult for me. He is really starting to "feel" all of the things wrong with him. He's had a pretty good outlook (for the most part) over the past several years but being sick wears on you. Add being "chronically" sick with no real hope for improvement to that and it's no wonder he's having some depression. Problem with HIS depression is that I'm gaining weight because I'm a stress eater. He won't eat and all I can think about is food. {sigh} Such a double-edged sword.

Ron has been concerned that he's not done enough the past four years. I told him that he has been busy concentrating on staying alive. I told him that God didn't call us to be perfect - that job was already taken by Someone else. Our job is to do the best that we can and we have done our best - as much as our human bodies and failings will allow - then we have done what was expected of us.


Moving on…

I’m as ready for Christmas as I figure I’m going to be. I had big plans for cards this year. Didn’t happen. I did manage to send a card to my WA grandkids and managed to get the cards I sold made, but that is all. I have all most of the pieces cut for the Santa panorama card but I’ve not had time to put them together. I think I’ll be able to get one done each night and get it in the mail the next day. I have gift cards I should have bought and have not yet. I have children recipients that I don’t want to disappoint. I need to get busy. It's not going to happen.

I think I can be ready for Christmas if it happened about a week later.


As for me, I'm just not in the mood this year. I think I'm tired. There has been one thing after another for the past four years and it's enough to try the patience of a saint - and I'm far from being a saint. I need to pull my big girl britches up a notch or two and keep on moving forward. Things WILL get better. I just need to keep on keepin' on. I need to keep the faith that all things work together. God never said it would be easy - just that He would never abandon me. Even in my darkest hours, I have to hold on to that truth.

Found out that Ron's chair can't be fixed. That sucks big time. We don't really have the money to replace the chair. So, he's having some difficulty getting out of the regular recliners. I ended up bringing the Jazzy back into the living room so he could sit in it some. So, we're back to square one on trying to find a lift chair for Ron.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And now, we wait...

Ron had the abdominal/pelvic CT scan this morning. Results should be sent to the doctor within 2-3 business days but no later than 12/20.

Neither of us are worried. Ron's a bit stressed, but that's understandable. We're just not focusing on the negatives. Either way, we feel like we've been given a gift. Good news means we can breathe a {BIG} sigh of relief, not-so-good news means that we can effectively plan for the future. How many people really get to plan how they want their remaining days to be covered? I'm not being morbid or negative. It is what it is and we can't change that, but we will be able to make rational decisions based on "it" instead of wondering.

Naturally, Ron is more stressed than I am and anxious to find out what is going on in his body. I just want to make sure that we (I) do all that can be done to get the best outcome possible. 

The doctor's office will call me as soon as they have the test results.

Monday, December 12, 2011

On edge this week...

Ron is not feeling too great today. Not bad - just not good. He's feeling sad for what he's done to "me" and the changes that are about to take place. More on that later...

We had a nice weekend with our friends. It didn't start out too great but it ended nicely.

Ron had a couple of appointments in the morning and the original plan was to hit the road after his second one (noon, in Wichita). Ron fell (again) the day before and his new knee was very painful so we needed him to have an x-ray before we could decide if it was OK for him to travel or not. So, while he was seeing Dr. A anyway, we asked if they would take some x-rays of his knee to make sure that everything still looked good. The appointment took even longer than I had anticipated so we ended up having to cancel the second appointment because we couldn't get to Wichita before noon.

I finally got things packed and the car loaded by about 12:30 (a bit behind my original goal but not too bad). I needed to get my oil changed but couldn't find anyplace to get it done. Down the road we go and still needed to get some lunch. Finally, after a stop at Sonic we're ready to hit the road. Time now... 1:30 but that's OK - no biggie. I knew we'd get there a bit after dark but still a comfortable drive.

Fast forward two hours and Ron is teasing me about when was I going to have a bathroom stop. All of a sudden, I had this totally sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had packed our toiletry bag and left the whole thing on the stove. Sick, sick, sick. If it was just my medicine, I could go a couple of days without it but I knew that Ron could not go two days without his, especially since he takes so many different things. So, we turned around and headed home. I called Amy and even though she had to wait until Isaiah's bus dropped him off, she said she could pick up the bag and drive to meet us. She ended up saving us about an hour, so that did help. If I had been forced to go all the way home, I would have just stayed there and started out Saturday morning instead.

We ended up arriving at our destination at 10:00 PM instead of the planned 5:30 or 6:00 PM. All we did was fall into bed. Ron drove about three hours, so that did help (he drove back from where we turned around and back again toward our destination).  Our friends were late getting there, too so it was a comedy of errors all around.

Saturday, we spent some time walking around the outlet mall. I bought a new wallet (mine was shot) and got Anna a cute little Santa hat and bib. We finally met up with our friends in time to grab lunch before we headed to see The Miracle of Christmas (free tickets, compliments of our friends' friend). We were going to drive around and look at the "festival of lights" but instead of being a "per car" charge (like we'd been told), it was a "per person" charge and was $10 EACH!. We decided that $40 to drive through 2.5 miles of lights just wasn't a good idea. Too much money. It might have been different if the money was going to charity, but it was not. Even then, I'm not sure that we would have wanted to pay $20 per couple to see light displays when we had been planning on paying $7.50 per couple (we were told it was $15 per car). Oh well... no problem.

We headed back home yesterday afternoon and got here about 5:30 PM. It was a nice, relaxing weekend after all and one that we needed.

Our lives are fixing to take a change and one that we're not sure about.

In Dr. A's office, he brought up the results from the hospital tests - the CT of his chest and the echocardiogram. He said the echo looked pretty good and there were no surprises. The CT showed a portion of his liver and Dr. A was concerned about it. He wasn't Ron's doctor last year when he was hospitalized with the increased aluminum (December 2010 hospitalization) and it's not something that I thought about when Ron changed primary care physicians. I don't know how much the liver disease has increased, but Dr. A is concerned.

He told Ron that his chest CT showed cirrhosis in his liver and he wants him to have further testing. He's scheduled Wednesday for an abdominal and pelvic CT with IV and barium. Ron doesn't drink and has never had more than the occasional (very few and far between) beer, so he asked Dr. A what could cause the cirrhosis. Dr. A said there were several things, including medications and liver cancer. I looked online to see what else I could find (I didn't want any surprises) and discovered quite a bit that I'm not too thrilled about.

Ron has several symptoms of cirrhosis that I would not have connected if Dr. A hadn't brought it to my attention. Bruising, fatigue, and loss of appetite are things that he's been dealing with for the past few months and although they could mean nothing, they can also mean the cirrhosis has progressed beyond "mild" and is now more severe. Dr. A says the test results will be back by the 20th and he'll know more then.

Until then, I think we're going to be on pins and needles. We've talked a little about it and Ron says that he doesn't think he wants to take any treatment. It might extend his life but he's not sure he can handle being so sick from the drugs used in the treatment.

For me, I'm just going to do what I can to make life a comfortable for him as possible.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ron's home

He was discharged this afternoon. Official diagnosis is heart failure. He's feeling pretty good - not great, but pretty good. Got started on some new medications - another blood pressure pill, lasix, and a potassium pill. We'll have to discuss these with the kidney doctor because we don't want the combination of those to adversely affect his kidneys.

Tomorrow we're back to our regular routine. Thanks for all the prayers, thoughts, comments, and well wishes. I appreciate it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Energizer bunny or Timex watch?

Energizer bunny keeps on going and going and going... A Timex watch takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

I feel a special kinship with each of these icons.

I'm right there with them. One step forward and two steps back.

Ron is back in the hospital. Could be a blood clot in his lung, could be some mild heart attack issues, could be some mild strokes going on, could be just plain ol' congestive heart failure. Could be a combination of any of the above. Any of them could cause the Parkinson's symptoms to be worse or the Parkinson's could be causing one of his other issues to be worse.

Any way you look at it, it's not a good thing. He just can't catch a break and because he can't, it seems that I can't either.

At what point is it just too much? At what point do I say my body cannot do this any more? At what point do I say that my mind can't keep up with the demands that life continues to throw at me? At what point do I say that we have no choice but to seriously consider assisted living?

I don't know the answer. I'm not sure I want to know the answer. I always land on my feet, but at what cost?

My kids seem to think that I'll be able to afford care for Ron and my other expenses if we choose assisted living but they don't really see the big picture. Even if I don't lose money through taking time off without pay, I don't believe I clear enough to pay the expenses but I'll do my best. I have started over before, from scratch and with nothing, and I suppose I can do so again.

Whatever the cost, I'll do what I have to do.