Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Choose . . .

This past year has brought a lot of new challenges to my life. I don't, as a usual thing, do well with change. But I'm learning that a lot of coping has to do with attitude. Sadly, mine too often stinks! Just to prove that miracles still happen, I'm finding myself doing a bit of changing.

I choose:

To deal with life on a daily basis instead of trying to look far down the road. (Anyway, when I look too far ahead, it scares me!)

To find as much to laugh about as possible - even if others think my laughter borders on inappropriate.

To love Don and our families and to affirm that love as often as possible, both verbally and with my actions.

To not sweat the small stuff. After all, poop is just a bodily function, and I can deal with it (without gagging, hopefully!).

To remember that I can control my mood by controlling my attitude.

To quit kicking myself for being inconsiderate or selfish for saying "no" when the circumstance warrants it. I cannot be all things to all people.

To live my life with a "God focus" that will determine my actions and reactions.

I'm sure I choose many more things and will continue to add to the list as the years flash by. But, as we're approaching January 1, 2011 (that doesn't even sound possible), I want to be better, braver, and sweeter. Think one or two out of three would cut it??? ;-)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

As the Curtain Closes . . .

Since holidays are not generally the easiest of times for me, I'm a bit relieved to see this year's holiday season coming to and end. However, I will be the first to admit that it was a good time. Crowds are often my undoing, but it's so much easier when you know you're loved and (at least somewhat) understood.

I'm convinced that Don and I must surely have two of the finest families anywhere in the world. They've proven their care and concern time and time again this past year. Most often, needs were met before I even had the chance to voice them.

During Christmas at my sis's house, I watched the interchange between siblings, cousins, parents and children. I think we honestly LIKE each other. Isn't that a blessing? How many families do you know that can barely stand to be in the same room together? That's just not the way it is - on my side or Don's.

Christmas Day, we had our own children and grandchildren here. What a delightful crew they are. Our son and daughter could hardly be more different, but they're both so uniquely talented and gifted. Don and I are proud of who they've become. And our son's choice for a wife could not have suited him better. Surely God had a hand in that decision!

Our older grandson is now 21, and he is everything a parent or grandparent could want their child to be. He's a bright, loving young man. Knowing the physical problems he dealt with early in his life, we're thankful that he shows no evidence of ever having had a sick day in his life. His future, I'm sure, holds bright fulfilling things.

The girls, now 12, are turning into delightful young ladies. So different. Each carving her own niche in our heart. One bold. One experimental and creative. One compassionate. All wonderful. And all loving their parents and extended family.

Our baby (I doubt that he really appreciates my calling him that at the ripe old age of 10) is one of the most sensitive, caring children I've ever met. I would say that he is unusually close to his Pa, and that warms a Granny's heart. He's showing a gifting for music, and that thrills us.

So, as the holiday season comes to an end, I'm thankful to have survived - and that with finesse. Friends and family do make the days, both good and bad, easier.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Laugh a Little, Love a Lot

As a disclaimer to those of you who read my blog - none of you are my "superlative relative." She is still wallowing in her misery after the WORST illness she thinks she's ever had!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the thankfulness continues. This time of year is, by my own admission, very difficult for me. During my several years of deep depression, the holidays were almost unbearable. I'm better now, but still not completely past the apprehension I feel in crowds (even family), and the discomfort of stepping outside my comfort zone. Don's illness has taught me to be less uptight. Oddly enough, part of the time at least, he's been more apprehensive and tightly wound than I. That's a change. He knows and understands my problems with crowds and holidays, so he tries to be especially low-keyed during this time. That makes me love him more.

He also makes me laugh on a daily basis. He can be so sweetly silly - espcially when he doesn't mean to be.

On Sunday night, I let him out of the van, and I stayed behind to put the ramp back up and lock everything up. When I got in, he was just getting his coat off. He glanced at me as I took his coat and said, "Hi! How ya doin'?" I thought it was kind of an odd remark for him to make, and then I saw the color come creeping up his neck and face. He hadn't looked at me closely and thought I was one of our friends from church (don't know if the friend would be flattered about that). Thus the goofy remark. He was genuinely embarrassed. As a side note: his eyes have not been good since he had shingles in his left eye and lost the ability to focus it for a while. Whatever. Every time I thought about it during church, I got the giggles. (One of the things I used to scold my children for!) Then, when we got in bed that night, I would still giggle when I'd think about his red face when he realized it was his own wife he was talking to.

I'm thankful for the ability to laugh at life - even at my own expense. It's even more fun when it's at someone else's expense!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Living in Superlatives

I have a relative who never experiences anything in a normal, everyday range. Everything (it seems) that happens to her or that she's describing is always in superlatives. The best or the worst. Never just okay. The saddest or the happiest. Never so so. I've been around this person a bit more than normal the last few months, and I've found that it wearies me. Conversations always seem to make me grind my teeth and put me on edge. I don't doubt the sincerity or honesty of the person, but I doubt the necessity of the superlative.

Personally, I like a day without any excessive highs or lows. Middle-of-the-road is fine with me. I don't have the strength to handle superlatives on a daily basis. It's exhausting. I'm content not to be the happiest, most beautiful or most talented person around. ALMOST will do. I don't have to work so hard. Lazy? Not really. Realistic? Absolutely!

For those of you who are wondering what in the world "superlative" is - may I present:

   /səˈpɜrlətɪv, sʊ-/ Show Spelled[suh-pur-luh-tiv, soo-] Show IPA
of the highest kind, quality, or order; surpassing all else or others; supreme; extreme: superlative wisdom.
Grammar . of, pertaining to, or noting the highest degree of the comparison of adjectives and adverbs, as smallest, best, and most carefully, the superlative forms of small, good, and carefully. Compare comparative ( def. 4 ) , positive ( def. 20 ) .
being more than is proper or normal; exaggerated in language or style.
a superlative person or thing.
the utmost degree; acme.
Grammar .
the superlative degree.
a form in the superlative.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm How Old?

I will be celebrating my 63rd birthday in a couple days, and I simply can't believe I'm THAT old! I honestly didn't think I'd be here this long. I thought the Lord would come by now, or that I'd simply die of old age at about age 60 or so! Didn't happen, so here I am.

I think I'm finally learning some things now that I'm old and mellow. (I write that with a barely suppressed giggle.) Notice I didn't say that I've learned them, but I am, at least, in the process.

1. I'm learning that my opinion really isn't the only opinion that matters.
2. Family and friends are invaluable, and I need to cherish them and cultivate our relationships more.
3. My faith in a living, loving God can sustain me through all kinds of trauma.
4. Age really doesn't matter in a friendship.
5. I should have taken better care of myself when I was younger - eaten better, exercised more and faithfully, kept my weight in check.
6. I don't have to say "yes" to everyone that asks me to do them a favor. The world actually doesn't stop spinning and throw me off when I say, "No."
7. Time with my honey is priceless, and we don't have to be doing anything special to make it that way.
8. Laughter (a merry heart) really is the best medicine.
9. Don't sweat the small stuff. In the big picture, some things just don't matter.
10. Express your affection in countless ways - words, gifts, hugs and loving deeds.

I know there are a lot more things that I'm either learning or should learn, but these are just a few. Maybe getting older isn't so bad. Perhaps I really will get wiser. Who knows!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Merry Heart Doeth Good

Don is almost completely back to where he was before his heart attack on August 7th. He may never recover the little bit he slipped back, but where he is is good. In fact, we haven't seen any drastic slipping for the last three or four months. Hurray!

Lots of people have commented that they think much of Don's success in handling all he's been through is his positive attitude. I would agree. Of course, a strong faith in an awesome God is the first step, but it really takes more than that to go through trials with a smile.

Proverbs says, "A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine." We agree. We laugh. We laugh a lot! At ourselves. At each other. At other people. At a good joke - and sometimes at jokes that aren't even that good! I've learned to take life a bit less seriously. I'm still slightly(?) dogmatic and certainly opinionated. But I no longer insist that you agree with me - or at least pretend to do so. The little things are what make the big things more special. So, I try to pay more attention to those little things. Smiles. Thank you's. Children. And compliments. I value affirmation. In fact, I thrive on it. So, I'm trying to be more affirming to others. Hoping, I guess, that they'll return the favor.

I treasure time with friends and family. I work at keeping a thankful attitude toward God. But most of all - I laugh. Lots of time. Lots of places. In lots of circumstances. Try it, my friend. It will definitely make you feel better.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Enjoying the Simple Things

I must say, life, in many ways, has become much simpler since Don's illness. A day trip is an absolute delight. Grandchildren, children, family and friends bring untold joy. A beautiful sunset dazzles and delights. And our love for each other, many times, can't even be expressed.

I spoke in our church for a few minutes one Sunday morning a few weeks ago before a friend sang my anthem, Praise Him in This Storm. I was amazed, even baffled, at the number of precious ladies who came up to me later and confessed that they had never loved their husband the way I seemed to love Don. May I confess to you that I haven't always loved him like I do now? Maybe it takes going through hardships together - being there for each other. Maybe it comes when you know someone really needs you, needs you even to survive. It comes when you covenant together to work through the hard times. Never giving up. Expressing your love for each other in every area of life - not just in bed. Who knows? Maybe we would have grown to love each other wholeheartedly without our mistakes and blunders and sorrows and stumblings. Doesn't matter. Our devotion to each other is almost tangible at this point in our lives.

Why do I love him?
He makes me feel safe. Even now, when he can no longer physically protect me.
He makes me feel secure. I know he's been faithful through thick and thin.
He makes me feel beautiful. Even older women like to think they're attractive.
I see the love when he looks at me with those ever-beautiful brown eyes.
I hear the love when he thanks me for the little things I must do for him on a daily basis.
I feel the love when he's sitting in his powerchair and gently reaches over to take my hand.
And I could probably go on and on.

We work together. We play together. We laugh together. We cry together. We enjoy life. We value what we have. Yep, I think it's safe to say we're in it for the long haul. Sometimes, the simple things in life bring the most joy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is It Thanksgiving Yet?

We've had a lot of things going on in our household this past month and a half - many of them disturbing, disrupting and disillusioning. But things are better!
1. Don survived! That means God loves me and spared me an unspeakable grief.
2. Don is improving. That means his independence is returning and our lives are taking on a semblance of "normal" again.
3. The doctors are amazed at how well Don is doing. That means his life is a testimony to them all of the grace and awesomeness of our God.
4. Lots of friends and family prayed - and they're seeing the result of that fervent prayer.
5. Don's return from death has been an infallible witness to our own children and grandchildren. We believe in God because He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever faithful!
6. I'm thankful. For life. For family. For friends. For prayer. For answers to prayer. And to be right here, right now!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm Not Stubborn, I'm Just . . .

My husband is amazing. I know firsthand.

The other day, the home healthcare nurse was here and was questioning Don about the things he could and could not do without help. He said, "I can walk for short distances with my rollator (the walker with wheels and a seat)." I looked at him with dropped jaw. I was CERTAIN he was no more able to walk with his rollator than I was to fly. Last night, just before going to bed, I said, "Babe, you embarrassed me by telling the nurse that you could walk with your rollator." He looked at me with that impudent little pout he gets sometimes and said, "Well, I can." I stood my ground, knowing I was right.

He said, "Where's my rollator?" I told him it was right beside him. He began to reach for it, and I ran to get a kitchen chair, knowing he would need it to help himself up from the middle of the floor after he fell. "How far are you going to walk?" "Oh, from here to there (indicating a spot about five or six feet away." He would not be dissuaded.

He grabbed the handlegrips with both hands and pulled himself to his feet. There, right in front of my astonished and tear-filled eyes, that man began to take one faltering step after another. You might not call it "walking", at least not gracefully. But he got from "here" to "there", just the same!

I was bubbling with pride and blubbering with emotion. When he plopped back down in his wheelchair, I said, "Honey, how in the world did you do that?" "Just stubborn, I guess!" Well, call it what you will. I call it amazing!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sometimes I Feel Scared

I'm an adult, and you would think that I had gotten past most of my irrational fears by now. But fear of the unknown is not an irrational fear - at least as far as I'm concerned.

Today marks a month since Don's horrible heart attack and all that resulted. The days have been getting better, and I've been praising him and thanking God for his progress. But we've hit a bump in the road.

In the early morning hours, Don began complaining of a "tightness" in his chest. That's the way he describes the feeling of having a heart attack, so I was instantly alert. He tried to get some comfort, but ended up getting up in his powerchair, hoping the tightness would go away. It didn't. We've been dealing with it all day - not bad enough to call 911, but not comfortable enough to rest.

I'm scared. I've faced the unknown before, many times. ALS brings many uncharted and stormy seas. Heart attacks force you to walk down unlit paths. But, sometimes, remembering is the greatest fear of all. Remembering how it feels to see someone you love suffering, and you can do nothing to help. Remembering how it feels to have questions with no answers. Remembering the overwhelming darkness of being alone. Just remembering.

I'm praying this awful chest tightness goes away soon. I've spent the day in dread and prayer - I don't know which I've done more. I'm remembering the days when a hug from mom or dad could make it all better. Think I'll just run to my Father's arms, expecting that same feeling of relief.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

God is great. God is good.

Beautiful day outside, and a beautiful day inside. This seems to have been Don’s best day yet. He went outside a couple times; he loves feeling the sun and the breeze. We took the dog for a short walk over by the school. Tom came over and mowed our yard, so I edged and used my new leaf blower (thanks, little brother) to clean the driveway and walks. Everything looks so nice, clean and neat. We had a supper of liver and onions (AGAIN!), mashed potatoes, carrots and steamed fresh asparagus. Yum. I feel so good knowing I’m helping Don to eat more healthy. Looking for this upswing to continue.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Day in the Mud

We took the four younger grands on a class picnic with us to a farm up above White Hall, IL. I don't consider any of my children or grandchildren to be excessive risk takers, but they are definitely up for a good time. One of the girls wasn't interested in muddin', but the other three were. Here are some pics to prove it.

The third girl spent most of her day babysitting - and loved it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

No Need to Impress

Don and I have attended two weddings lately - very different and uniquely personal weddings. It seems that the young couples weren't concerned about impressing others with complicated details or astounding numbers of attendants. In both, the bridesmaids were dressed in beautifully simple, elegant dresses. The brides were exquisite in their picture-perfect white gowns. The young men were dashingly handsome in their simple black (white) tuxedos. Each ceremony had some sort of detail that made it belong personally to that couple. A simple message and advice spoken by the minister to that couple, and that couple alone. A minor blunder that made the audience chuckle and know this couple was in it for the long-haul.

I'll admit it. I was impressed by the simplicity. No need to impress someone. Just marrying the man/woman of your dreams and making the whole day very distinctly yours.

How much of life is spent doing things because it's what's expected? How many minutes are wasted wondering if a specific thing pleases those around us? I believe it's important to care what others think. As I was reminded today, impressions are important. I further believe that moderation is of value, and we should never blatantly do things with no thought of offense. But when we spend too much time living our lives to please others, living up to others' expectations, we're not fulfilling God's purpose for us to be ourselves - uniquely.

Wish I was as purposely myself as some of my young friends are.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

As the Eagle Soars

Don and I took Mom with us up to Beasley's in Grafton today for a fish dinner. The drive was, as usual, beautiful. I mentioned to them, though that I was seeing no eagles (I'm usually the one who spots them). We were commenting on how high the water had been and enjoying the sights. After driving around a bit, we headed home.

We hadn't gone far down (up?) the River Road when I started noticing the eagles. They were flying so high that, at times, your eyes had to adjust before seeing them. The clouds were hanging low, and it seemed as if the great birds were flying in and out of the clouds. I would spot one, then another, and then another. Finally seeing five or six before they faded from sight. Don's eyes aren't as good as mine, so it would take him longer to catch them in his vision, but he loved watching them soar in the sky. He commented how they seemed to be catching the high wind drafts today instead of those closer to the earth. What a thought!

There have been times when, though I might feel like I'm flying above things, it's just BARELY above. I'm avoiding the treetops, but I'm not really soaring on the high wind currents. Other times, even though circumstances around me may not have changed much if any, I've managed to catch one of those high drafts. I'm flying so high you can barely see me from where you're standing. Your eyes may have to adjust. Then, as you look more closely, you may find one or two more -- maybe my friends or family -- soaring up there with me.

I'm convinced you never lift another person without being "lifted" yourself. Isn't that encouraging? Being a caregiver can be draining: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But every now and again an eagle comes by and coaxes me to follow into the high drafts. Higher and higher to where I'm flying effortless. What a blessing my family and friends are to me. I'm sure they don't know how they lift me up. At times, I don't realize it myself. Until I'm looking down. Unable to hear the traffic and the confusion of where I've been. Just looking up to the Source of my strength. I want to spend more days soaring with the eagles!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

, , , Just a Note

Life continues pretty much the same in the Stewart household. I've had a few days recently when I struggled emotionally (that old depression thing has long talons), but Don and I have both learned to deal with these days, knowing they will pass. All in all, life is good. Don continues to hold his own, with a minor bump in the road now and then. We both thoroughly enjoyed the few days that we celebrated the 4th of July with family and friends. We have wonderful kids (Julie's included as one of our girls,) grandkids, siblings, in-laws, and even outlaws! Several of them went out of their way to make Don comfortable during the recent holidays, making it as easy as possible for him to navigate their homes and yards. That matters!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Don't Embrace Change

Let me repeat that. Not only do I not embrace change, I rarely even like it! Makes no difference. Change happens. This is life, not a fairy tale.

The last few days have brought more changes in our life. Don is becoming less and less able to use his rollator in the house. He's having a very hard time accepting the fact that he may be much less mobile in the near future, and I'm not doing much better in the acceptance department. Sometimes I wish I could just go on to Heaven and be finished with all this "junk" down here! That's not the way things happen, though, is it? Unfortunately, we have to deal with what comes our way. I'm encouraged to know that God knew what was coming to our home and to our lives before we did, and He is there to help us through it.

Don't guess I would want things to stay the same forever anyway. I miss our own babies and our baby grands, but it's been wonderful to sit on the sidelines and watch the beautiful people they've become and are becoming. Everything we go through will improve us, if we let it. I'm hoping that I can be teachable. I would love to leave this life a much better person than I've been most of my years.

If changing means becoming better, I think I need to have a whole new perspective. As Patti LaBell (or, as my granddaughter called her, Pat My Belly) sang, I've gotta a New Attitude!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another Day, Another Challenge

We are officially OUT of the prescription drug infusion portion of the clinical research study we became a part of 2 1/2 months ago. They are still going to track Don, but he won't be taking the drug.

The last few weeks have been a nightmare, due to Don's severe allergic reaction to any and all adhesives we tried. He developed a rash that blistered and spread, and the itching was driving him to distraction. He had the Hickman catheter removed yesterday, and, except for a bit of a reaction to a bandage they had put on before I caught it, he's done exceptionally well. He's such a trooper.

We're seeing a bit of digression in other areas of his body now, but we're dealing with it. I'm, personally, glad that we're not having to deal with the twice-daily infusions anymore, because life is complicated enough without that added distraction.

So, life marches on. We've leaped over one hurdle and are preparing ourselves for the next. So far, so good!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dumb and Dumber

Just how dumb do some people think I am? I probably wouldn't want to ask that question to some of you personally, because you know me well enough to give a fairly honest answer (that I probably don't want to hear). But at least you know me!

Last week, we took our van in to Dobb's to have work done on it in order to get the "Check Engine" light to go out. After waiting six hours, they told us they had succeeded in getting the light out, but their instruments were showing the van still had a compression leak somewhere. They didn't think it would pass emissions testing. Well, they were wrong on the first count, it passed emissions with no problem. We still made an appointment to have them spend another day trying to find the problem, because the van has emitted a raw gas smell ever since we got it. Since that's the vehicle we use to transport Don's powerchair, when I took the van in Tuesday evening, he had to stay home while Dondra met me at Dobb's and brought me back home. The young man at the counter when I dropped my keys off (the same young man that had told us to bring it back in to have it checked further) asked me my name. I told him it would be under "Donald Stewart." He checked the computer and asked if it might be under another name. I told him that was highly unlikely. He asked for the license plate number (Woe is me. I've never committed ANY license place number to memory!) I had no idea what it was, so I told him to go outside and check for himself - space #16. When he came back in and went to the computer he said, "Oh! Here it is! It was under 'Don', not 'Donald'." I should have seen the signs of trouble ahead right there, but I didn't. They were going to call us today when they had everything done, but assured us it would take all day.

At 9:30 this morning, "Mike" called and said they had checked our car and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. I asked him why,then, the raw gas smell is always so strong after the van has been closed up in the garage overnight. First he said he didn't know. Then he proceeded to tell me that I COULDN'T be smelling raw gas because there were no vacuum leaks. Supposedly, the car had been compression tested and everything was okay. He said, "Well, ma'am, how big is your garage?" I said, "Well, let's put it this way. It's large enough that the car is in there right now and there isn't a HINT of raw gas odor!" He continued assuring me that I couldn't be smelling raw gas, so I asked him to hold while I handed the phone to Don. I said (loudly enough that Mike could hear), "Honey, would you please talk to this young man? He's telling me that I couldn't possibly be smelling gas. I'm just wondering how dumb he thinks I am!"

Okay, I know. That wasn't very Christ-like, but give me a break! Where do repairmen get off thinking every woman they encounter is as dumb as a fence post? I've been around car repairmen all my life, and I think I know what gas smells like!

Anyway, we brought the car home. The "Check Engine" light is off, which is good. Tonight will tell whether the garage reeks of raw gas in the morning. Either way, it CAN'T be the odor of raw gas, because Mikey says so!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Normal's Good

Our life for the last couple of years has been one continual roller coaster ride. Up one day and down the next. But, I'm thrilled to say that, for the last six to eight weeks, life has seemed to move on with uncharacteristic boredom. Don has digressed very little, if any at all. Some might attribute that to the drugs that I infuse twice daily. We think that could be a factor, but we're positive that the prayers of friends and family nation-wide certainly can't be hurting! He's been using his riding mower to cut our grass as well as my mom's. He isn't sleeping as much during the day. He's been enjoying spending time outdoors when his friends or family come to visit. I continue to be too busy some days, but it's very rewarding at the end of the day to look back and realize how well he's done.

On top of all the above, Don celebrated his 70th birthday this week. I know it sounds like a cliche', but it seems such a short time ago that we were young together. Time passed much too quickly. We're not living these golden(?) years like we might have imagined, but just living them without having to worry quite so much about day-to-day living is quite acceptable. I'm content to forego the excitement for a while. Yep. Normal's good!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sometimes I Need a Reminder

I had a routine doctor's appointment this morning. I was anxious to go. I've been what I feel is excessively tired lately, and my left foot has been hurting to the point that I'm unable to wear heels. I know. I know. That's a "pride" issue, but I do like to dress up occasionally. I had blood work done last week and was hoping the doctor had an easy solution for me. I honestly told him that I had felt unusually weary in recent weeks and wondered if, maybe, my B12 levels were low again or my gluclose count was high. He had my blood results sent in to him, and everything looked fine - better than at some other times, in fact. I felt a bit uneasy, and he began to talk to me. (I should mention that our general practitioner is a born-again believer, and I have great confidence in his relationship with God.) Apparently, the reason I'm tired is that I have so much "extra" on me at the moment. Did I need to be reminded that stress can wear me down? I guess so. He asked me how I slept, and I commented that I NEVER slept a full night and rarely got more than a couple consecutive hours of sleep. I have sleep aids (sleeping pills), but I really don't like to take them. At this point, I was tearing up. I told him that it somehow seemed "unChristian" to rely on sleep aids to help me get a night's rest, and I was embarrassed that I wasn't strong enough to deal with the added stress without it showing on me physically. By this time, he's crying, too! My wonderful doctor reminded me how that I couldn't be my best for Don if my body was too exhausted to function. Also reminded me that I should stop worrying about what people might think and try to do what is best for myself and Don at this point in my life. What a revelation! I know all those things, but I needed them brought to my remembrance.

He took the time to have my ankle x-rayed. No broken bones, but I have apparently strained or sprained it within the last few weeks. I don't even remember doing it.

So, nothing has changed, but I feel a little more capable of dealing with life on a day to day basis than I did first thing this morning. That's a good feeling.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Is There Ever Enough Time?

I'm bone weary again. Yes, I'm fully aware that I sometimes (often?) take on more than I should, but it is also true that there are just a lot of things that HAVE to be done. We had the four grandkids yesterday evening. Dondra brought her two little dogs and came over as well. We played games, watched a movie, and had a great time. I had put a roast in the slow cooker before going to bed, because I planned to do beef and noodles for dinner/supper today. When we all got up (the girls slept until almost 9:30), we went to Denney's for breakfast. After we got home, I hurriedly peeled and chunked potatoes and put them in water, so I wouldn't have that to do later in the day. In the afternoon, I took two of the children with me to the mall to look for an Easter outfit (can you say "too fat and sassy for my own good?"), and Don kept two of them here with him. It was a good shopping day. I found a dress, which my two wonderful grandchildren told me looked great on me! I got to thinking on the way home that, since Jeff and Julie were working like towheads trying to refinish their floor - a job that has gone on much longer than they had originally planned - I should invite the whole family over for supper. Neither Dondra nor Jordan could come, but Jeff and Julie were glad for the break. So, I prepared a yummy supper, if I do say so myself. Julie helped clear, but they really needed to get back home and get back to work, so I declined her offer to help with dishes. After the dishes were done, I got a call from a friend reminding me that we needed to run over the song she plans to do at the service tomorrow. She was coming to the house in an hour. I grabbed the opportunity to sit down and rest. Like a flash from the blue, it dawned on me that I needed to get food prepared for the Easter dinner tomorrow at Carolyn's. Oops!! Fortunately, I had taken the hamburger out of the freezer yesterday, so it was partially thawed for the stuffed peppers. I had to make a mad dash to the store for sour cream for my baked cheesecake before I could finish it and stick it in the oven. So, two or two and a half hours later, I'm finally able to sit down again. Only problem - now it's bedtime. Believe me, I'm ready to crawl between the sheets. Surely next week won't be so busy. I dare not look at the calendar. I'm not sure I could take what I see!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Old Friend

Would the young woman who responded to my blog please contact me at my e-mail address, I would love to hear from you. (Yes, I'm talking to YOU, Jeanie!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not All Angels Have Wings!

Had a scary and unusual experience a couple days ago. Don continues to love to go with me almost every time I leave the house. There are probably two reasons for that. One is, quite frankly, that he loves me and likes to be with me. Secondly, I’m sure he knows that the time he has to run around town at will may be ending someday in the future, and he wants to take advantage of every chance he has to get out.

We had gone to Shop‘n Save to buy groceries for the month. I ended up with two carts full – quite a load. The lady behind me in line was over-the-top friendly, and I liked her instantly. She bagged her groceries right next to us and insisted on helping with the carts when we left the store. Don went out ahead of us, I was next in line pushing a cart, and Sam (the lady I had just met) was behind me, pushing my cart and pulling her own. Don, for a reason I was to learn later, headed for the curb instead of heading for the handicapped access. I began to scream for him to stop, but watched in horror as his wheels rolled off the edge of the curb and his chair tipped sideways before throwing him to the pavement. He lay still for a few short seconds, and I ran to him. He immediately began trying to move. His powerchair weighs 350 pounds. One of the young boys who works at the store tried to lift it, but didn’t seem to be able to do so. I suppose I had a rush of adrenaline, because I grabbed his powerchair and set it upright before trying to assist him in getting over to it. He used to be able to crawl when he couldn’t walk. He’s no longer able to do that. He drug himself to the chair. As he pulled with his upper body, I took each leg and bent it at the knee in order to move it under his body. He was able to get back in his chair, and I began checking him over. He ended up with a couple abrasions on his wrist and a bruised elbow. When I think of what COULD have happened, I shudder! He was surely keeping his guardian angels busy that day!

Sam helped me get Don to the car and then helped me unload both my carts and stow the groceries away in the van. I chatted with her enough to know that her husband is handicapped, too, but I didn’t get her name any more than “Sam”, and have no idea where she lives. To me that day, she was an angel sent to help us out.

Don told me later that he was intently watching a car that was going through the lot and didn’t look closely enough to realize that he was going off a drop-off. The curb, facing and pavement were all painted yellow, and it looked flat to him. He realized, too late, what he had done.

Life certainly brings some unexpected turns. I’ve found time every day since that event to thank God for protecting Don from serious injury and for sending me an “angel” in tight jeans!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Tomorrow!

Amazing the difference 24 hours can make. I can feel myself getting stronger and more rested (both emotionally and physically) each day. What a wonderful thing to be refreshed and restored!

It was an unseasonably warm day. Don and I took the dog and went to the park. I walked, and Don took his chair. The dog walked with me. A good day.

Then we drove out over the levee. I pulled over and let Don slide into the driver's seat. He drove up and down the road that runs by the canal a couple times. He said it felt so good to drive, although he has to lift his left leg with his hand in order to move it to the brake. He smiled the whole time he was driving. A good day.

We went to church tonight and Bro. Jerry Edmonds prayed a powerful prayer for Don's physical restoration. I love it when Don gets blessed so profoundly by the Holy Spirit. It blesses me to see him basking in the presence of a holy God. A good day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chin Up!

I've struggled emotionally the last few days. Does that make me bad? Someday I hope I learn to say "no" when I'm already doing about as much as I can do. Will that day ever come? Tomorrow will be better. I'm aware of where I am, now I need to move to a better place.

Waiting anxiously for tomorrow!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Don't Like Change!

Those of you who know me very well know I'm definitely a person of routine. I don't always do well with change. Unfortunately, my life has been full of changes the last couple of years, and it hasn't ended yet!

We're still believing and trusting for a miracle of healing for Don, but, in the meantime, we're dealing with reality. He's slipped a bit again the last couple of weeks. We're getting close to the time (probably within weeks) of his not being able to use his rollator to get around in the house anymore. It simply wears him out. Also, he has given me permission to order a couple pair of pants for him with elastic in the waist. He thinks that might be easier for him when he goes to the bathroom. He's been having a harder and harder time getting his pants pulled up after using the toilet. He also has asked me to get him a urinal, so he doesn't have to completely take his pants down every time. Maybe that's plain talk for a blog, but our life has become a "plain talk" life! It makes me sad to see him slipping, and I don't want him to see my sadness. Sometimes, not showing that I'm sad is even harder than being sad in the first place!

What can I say? Life goes on. I continue to do what I can to make life simpler and easier for him, even if it means that more and more of my own day is being gobbled up by his. I still say that's what love is all about.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Getting on a Schedule

We're almost a week into Don's treatments, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how well things have been going. He's learned the process well, so he reminds me if I'm about to forget a step. That's very helpful. My biggest problem has been time management. I have to get it in my head exactly how much time it takes to give a treatment - start to finish. My "getting up" time has to allow for the treatment, and then give me time to shower and prepare for my day (Sunday was a real kicker).

On top of what Don's going through with the ALS, he had to have a tooth extracted on Tuesday. I was afraid that might be a big deal, in light of the treatment he's getting. Not to be. He did beautifully. The first night, he complained of some discomfort, but it's all been a breeze since then.

Have I mentioned on here within the last 24 hours that I love my husband? He's such a super guy. Honestly, I think we make a good team - one of the best!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Day After

Don had his Hickman Catheter inserted yesterday. The procedure itself wasn't long (about 1/2 hour), and time in the recovery room was only about an hour. They couldn't order the medication vials until the surgery was completed, so as soon as Don got into the recovery room, our attending nurse called the pharmacist. We expected the meds to arrive in an hour to 1 1/2 hours. Then, I was to inject Don with the meds, they were going to watch him for 3 hours, and we would come home. It was going to be a long, long day. Both Dondra and Jeff came to the hospital to spend the day with us, and we absolutely loved spending the exclusive time with them. As it turned out, we sat and waited about 3 to 3 1/2 hours for the meds to arrive. Jeff and Dondra left to come home about 4:15, and the meds arrived about 4:30. I injected Don. Everything went well. The nurse made us stay until almost 6 p.m., then decided we could come on home.

The evening was uncomfortable for Don. He could feel where the tube was inserted in his jugular vein, and every time he tried to turn his head it would pull. I tried to make him as comfortable as possible for the night. This morning, when he got up, he was a new man. It's not bothering him much at all today. I'm so thankful, because I hate to see him suffer. He isn't a big complainer, so I know, when he does complain, that he has taken things about as long as he can. It's been a good day. We picked up Mom and ran around a bit, and he has done well.

I did my first injection of the meds totally on my own this morning, and things went quite smoothly. Hurray! . . . and they all lived happily ever after!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm a Bit Nervous

Tomorrow, Don goes to have his Hickman Cath inserted in his chest for the clinical research trial for ALS that we've decided to be a part of. He doesn't seem very concerned at all. I have taken training in administering the twice daily medication. After they insert the cath tomorrow, I will be injecting him with his first round of medication. I'm nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! I'm assuming the doctor, assistants, etc. will still be in there watching me as I do it. What if I make a mistake - a STUPID mistake. I'm certain they would call it to my attention. I just hope they do it in a kind and understanding manner. I think, once I've done the procedure by myself a couple times, I'll be much more comfortable with the whole idea. Until then, I'll sure be glad when tomorrow is over and I have one session under my belt.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

I'm feeling especially blessed today. Don has slipped a bit more this past month, and that makes me sad. However, he handles it with such grace and courage. I hardly see how I can complain when he's so "up" most of the time. I was reading some old posts in my journal and saw that he had just started having to use a cane less than a year ago. He now uses a rollator fulltime in the house and his powerchair outside the house. Dry those tears! We're not feeling sorry for ourselves. We're so blessed that he still has upper body strength and is able to do the things he does. A sister-in-law told me the other day that she prays for me daily, and she feels "so sorry" for me. Stop that! I do need the prayer support, but I'm not really looking for sympathy. A little encouragement now and then would be nice!

So, life goes on. Some days our smiles are painted on. The facade looks nice, but the foundation is cracking. Not today. I have the joy of the Lord in my heart.

Speaking of which, a young girl at church has been going through some fairly severe psychological trauma. She's a brilliant and beautiful young woman. One night, during a sweet service at church, she very discreetly slipped up beside me and prayed for the Lord to place a joy in our home that people just wouldn't understand. I believe that's happening. I returned that prayer in her direction, and she says she's been experiencing little bursts of joy in her life as well.

God is good, and his blessings are everywhere. Sometimes we just have to move some of our "stuff" to find them!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another Mishap

Maizie (our dog) was out of food, so we ran to PetsMart in Edwardsville yesterday to pick up some for her. She did fine at first, but, by the time I had walked her to the back of the store, she was shaking like a leaf. Don said he could hold her on his lap and still do his powerchair. Our older grandson works there in the fish area, so I was heading over that way to see if he was working. Naturally, Don was right at my heels. I made it to the far aisle first and didn't see our grandson, so I turned around and started up to the checkout. Don swung his chair around, but, in the process, hooked the back of the chair on two glass aquariums, pulling both to the floor. The smaller one stayed intact, but the big one busted. Fortunately, they were new and didn't have water or fish in them. I was laughing so hard, and Don was mortified.

We're making a list of places that we can't go back to for a while because Don has caused major chaos or destruction!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Take Up Thy Table???

It happened again. We went to Quizno's for lunch. Since both the tables and chairs in that place are a bit fragile, we thought it best for Don to stay in his powerchair while we ate. As he was trying to get closer to the table, he somehow hit the "forward" button and went ramming into the table, shoving it across the floor! I was standing in line, waiting to pay, and I absolutely lost it. It tickles me to death when the chair seems to have a mind of its own. Kind of like Herbie - possessed!

It's Funny What's Now Funny

Blogging is becoming more difficult for me. I don't have cute kids in the house constantly giving me writing material, and our lives certainly aren't terribly exciting. Thus, severe creative block!

So, I was trying to think what was the last thing that really cracked me up. Something that caused me to laugh heartily. I'll have to admit - it's Don. He has a very dry wit. In fact, I sometimes question whether he's actually trying to be funny or if the funny just happens. Either way, life with him is genuinely amusing sometimes.

Take a couple nights ago, for instance. Before we officially retire for the evening, we generally watch the news. He lies with his head at the opposite end of the bed, and I prop myself up at the head. It's been increasingly difficult for him to even get on the bed, so he's been trying to work out a "method" to make it easier. This night, it didn't work. He was stuck. He didn't want to roll (which I've helped him with before), he wanted to move up higher. His legs don't work to help him, so he was trying to wiggle himself up onto the pillow. After watching (and, I'll admit it, giggling at him) for a few minutes, I asked if he needed help. He told me what he was trying to accomplish, and I set out to help. I pulled and tugged and laughed till I peed my pants and never could get him moved onto the pillow. Finally, I had a brilliant idea. Let's move the pillow DOWN! It worked and he was happy.

If this illness has taught me anything, it's that you can find humor anyplace you look for it. I don't mean laughing inappropriately or rudely - but laughing WITH someone over things that just happen. I'm glad to learn that my honey can be funny. REALLY funny. It keeps a smile in my heart, but, as my niece would say, it also keeps my eyes sparkly!