Sunday, January 15, 2017

So Long for a Few Days

This is a so long for a few days. Tomorrow, we are leaving hours before dawn for the 8+ hour drive to Palm Springs to enjoy our Christmas present from William. Today, we are finishing packing and gathering all that we need. It is amazing how much stuff it needed the older we get!

The weather seems to be smiling on us as no rain is forecasted until Thursday and the highs are now predicted to be in the high 60s. It has been so cold here that to have that warmth seems impossible. We will enjoy every moment!

We will be home late Thursday so look for me on Friday.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

One Packed Day

I fell into bed at 10:00 last night thinking that it had been one heck of a day. Running a bit late, I got to mom's in time to chat a bit then make her hearing aid appointment on time. Her hearing has declined and the hearing aids needed to be adjusted. We went to Mimi's for lunch then back to mom's before heading over the pass for home. I had a brief amount of time to change, redo my makeup for the party, put some polish on my fingernails and remember to take my inhaler and oxygen with me.

The Irish Fiddlers had a gig beginning at 5PM. Michael, my stage manager, hauled the string bass into the little car and set it up at the venue for me. Love that guy. We played an hour before the singer announced, "If you are a fan of the sounds of the lower, larger instruments, please be advised that this is the last song with the string bass as she has to go to another party." Funny. We hauled the bass home then drove over the pass to the surprise 60th birthday party of a friend of ours.

We were worried about being late but arrived about 20 minutes before the birthday boy. He was so surprised and said he could never trust his wife again! She really got him! So many of his old grade and high school friends were there. I finally got to meet many couples who enjoyed the car extravaganza Hot August Nights in Reno with Michael all these years. Both of us have a bit of a sore throat this morning from talking and laughing so much!

It was at a fancy Athletic Club. A really nice live band played mostly South American and African rhythms while everyone enjoyed the open bar and the huge array of food. We had planned to leave if we noticed people coughing or sneezing but...no one. It was great!

A dear woman we met over thirty years ago who married and later divorced a friend of Michael's was there. It was fantastic to see and chat with her. Photos of our children were passed around and so many memories flooded my soul. She actually thanked me for being so supportive of her and kind to her through all those years. Wow. She called us, "The Movie Star couple," More Wow. We exchanged phone numbers and will get together for dinner. Soon.

What a day it had been. The drive home was shared telling each other about conversations we had with other people.

Today, I am going to cut the from lawn, try to weed a bit then begin to pack for the trip on Monday. I keep reminding myself it is only for four days, not a month like our big road trips. I will try really hard not to over pack.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Found

William birthday packet did not arrive on time via UPS. Due to a huge storm, it was supposed to be delivered Wednesday then again yesterday but, no. Before heading over the pass for a doctor appointment for mom, I need to swing by the UPS store to find out what is going on.

British Don's new grandson is going to receive a package in the mail filled with cute little outfits and I gifted a nice piece of tiramisu and two cannolis to Richard at rehab.

By the time I was sitting in the lobby of the hospital waiting for rehab class to begin, I felt that all my chores were done. Then, my phone began messaging.

It was Anna. Michael's sister (who we are meeting in Palm Springs next week) and his other sister both had babies within three months of each other when they were teenagers. Both gave them up for adoption. The other sister's baby was adopted by a family friend's friends and they have been reunited for decades.

But, Anna has grieved the loss of her son since he was born 46-years ago. She worried about him. She prayed every night that he was having a good life, a loving family and that he was happy. She wrote to all the agencies to allow him her information if he requested it. She did what she could to find him.

What she didn't know was that his mom had been encouraging him to find his biological parents. This week, his search found his father, as the name was the same. Anna had married, which made her harder to find. Fortunately, the father knew how to contact Anna, gave his son this information and they have been in contact. The first phone call will happen this Sunday. Anna is over the moon. Her wishes have come true: he had fantastic parents, he was happy, he was healthy. He also is married with children.

I am so very happy for her and this came at the perfect time of her life. Her other children are all settled and happy, Doug is retired and she is so ready to add this chapter to her life. I can't wait to hear the details when we are together next week. She must be glowing with inner peace.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Birthdays

No rain for one day! It was warmish and dry and lovely yesterday. My toes are now a Palm Springs peach and ready for the road trip beginning Monday. The house will be cleaned today while I am out buying baby presents at Nordstrom for British Don's new grandson before heading to the rehab class. A fun day!

Today is my little brother's 60th birthday! How did that happened? He is just a kid!

In other birthday news, I am really worried about my almost 93-year old friend Sherman. We spoke on the phone yesterday, I asked if he could come to the rehab class if I promised a piece of his favorite tiramisu for his birthday. He became flustered and almost overwhelmed with just the thought of leaving his house. Not a good sign though I did get a few good laughs out of him. His birthday is Saturday and I will phone him a couple times a week from now on.

I was telling Richard at rehab all about trying to get Sherman to come to class with my threat of tiramisu. He shared that he had never heard of it. While leaving class last Tuesday, he walked slowly by me while I was lifting weights and said in his slow, Texan drawl: "If a piece of that tiramisu falls off the truck while you are there, I wouldn't mind trying a piece." Done. After Nordstrom, I am going to buy a nice piece for him and two cannolis, one for both he and his son.

A smaller storm is due today and it is cold! We so need the rain since we have been in a long-term drought but not all at one time! In the last week, we have gotten 5 inches of rain but just south of us in the mountains, they got 20 inches. Lots of roads closed, rock slides and trees down.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

All in the Driving Rain

It was one of those days where I dressed in my fancy workout clothes and didn't change all day. Running errands in the morning before the rehab class, I flew over the pass in a driving rain storm to meet with Michael, who was having our rear brakes replaced for the road trip next week. He forgot to sign William's birthday card and I just couldn't sign it for him. It is our son. He needed to sign it.

After a quick hello-sign this-goodbye, I drove to the UPS store so his birthday presents and card are on their way. All in the rain. Michael mentioned I needed breath mints sooooo, I stopped to buy mints.  In the driving rain. Off to rehab class where I worked out pretty hard.

At home, I cooked the afternoon away. I made a breakfast frittata for the both of us and the best Atkins Sweet and Sour Pork. It was amazing. The sauce didn't have the sugarery sweetness of the real deal but it somehow was even better with a very clean taste.

The Irish Fiddling group has a gig Friday night so we had a rehearsal last night. It was sweet. We had just four of us (the others had colds) and two had returned from fantastic trips. Leslie spent New Year's in Hawaii and Dave had a life changing trip to Sri Lanka. To quote the Blues Brothers, we got the band together again.

To get to the rehearsal, we had to run the bass through the rains. Thankfully, I still had my workout clothing on with my running shoes. The workout clothes made it through the entire day in fine form. Kept me warm and dry.

Today is my day off. The only thing on my schedule is to prepare the house for the housekeepers tomorrow and to have my toes nails done later this morning. Oh, and an orchestra rehearsal tonight during an expected rainstorm.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Project for IPF Patients

The rains continue. Roads are still blocked but some now have one lane free. It took almost double the time to drive over the pass yesterday morning, even though we left before the normal commute time. It was wild. Lots of trees down but no mud slides spotted. There is a pretty good storm due today but I'm not going over the pass until rehab class later this morning. I'll bet there are just a few people attending today as driving is now difficult with standing pools of water on the major artery to the hospital.

We keep checking the weather forecast for Palm Springs next week and no rain is in the mix. Thankfully!

My ILD Support Group is featuring a speaker from MonARC Bionetworks to talk about a new project for people with IPF. Per the email: "MonARC is a Patient Powered Research Network, enabling patients and caregivers play an active role in IPF research through sharing information, through dialogue with researchers, physicians, and each other, and much more." 
Interesting. If you want more information, here is their website: https://www.monarcbio.com

Monday, January 9, 2017

Survived the Storm

The Coastal highway going north is closed for another hour due to many trees down on the road. The pass was closed for hours yesterday due to another large tree down. A major connector from the southern coast into the Silicon Valley is closed due to a huge redwood tree blocking the lanes. We are still dry and warm as the power only went out briefly, though we are surrounded by power outages. We lost no trees or fences, though there are several trees down in our neighborhood. We had no flooding.

It was one heck of a storm.

It is going to rain a bit today but nothing like yesterday. I am going to hit Trader Joe's early then spend the day with mom. There is nothing on our list of things to do.

Michael and I are beginning to choose our clothing, gather my medications and the other things we need to get away to Palm Springs in a week. We are way too excited! Something to look forward to.

Rather busy week ahead with two rehearsals, a gig, a surprise party, an appointment for mom, appointments for toenails and eyebrows for me and getting William's birthday card and gift in the mail. One day at a time!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Storming

I slept through the storm last night. Michael told me that he was awakened in the very early morning when it sounded like the roof was being lifted off the house. The winds and the rains were blowing! Hard! Me? Snoring.

We have been up and moving since 5AM, the band of rain came through and another major one is due in an hour. We are both going to take showers, we are charging phones and computers and settling in for the day. There are flood warnings until 2PM.

But, so far, so good. All the trees on the property are still standing. We have food in the house and gas in the cars, if needed. With all this going on around us, we spent yesterday making restaurant reservations for our Palm Springs vacation Christmas present from William. The place is filled with snowbirds and we couldn't get into one of our favorite places for lunch, just an early dinner. Anna and Doug are going to meet us there for a day and a night at the same hotel. Looking ahead at the area's weather forecast, it appears it will be dry with temperatures in the mid-70s. Just about perfect.

While the storms are raging around us, my mind is picturing us sitting around a pool, walking around Palm Springs and we are even planning a trip to Joshua National Park, just miles north of Palm Springs. No doctor appointments, nothing on a schedule. A perfect get away.

Friday, January 6, 2017

No UTIs!

No traffic as I made my way up the coast and into the city for my early morning appointment at the university urology clinic. Once again, they took me early and I was out at my scheduled appointment time. I usually love that but yesterday, I was trying to kill some time before the rehab class.

The appointment went well, the UTIs are under control with Replens (over-the-counter) every three days and she added a fiber helper so I may end some of the current discomfort on occasion. She also told me that I will find that tight clothing will make my bladder unhappy and it will make me feel urgency. Such a smart doctor. We planned to meet in a year. If I do develop a UTI, we will have to consider hormone cream...I really don't want to add that to my poor prednisone laden body. I will eventually need her approval that all is under control for the lung transplant process down the road.

I made my way through the city and down to the Avenue. From the parked car, I made a phone call to the drug company, after reading an email for me to contact them, and learned that one of my eye drops is no longer covered by the insurance. Great. Then, I phoned the university hospital regarding the $2,700+ bill that is outstanding. Debbie told me that it was still under review and that the bill was marked as such so it is not past due. Well, this morning, I got an email that the bill is past due. Another phone call this morning...

The wonderful Dutch bakery called to me. It was only 9:30 but I was hungry for lunch. They have a fresh turkey salad over lettuce with beets, hard-boiled egg, cucumbers and a nice dressing on the side. I sat at the window and watched people walk by. It was so lovely to sit quietly and just drink in the world around me.

From there, I drove to rehab, sat in the lobby, chatted with a ton of people and phoned Sherman. I think he has given up. Tuesday, I am going to phone him and offer a piece of his favorite tiramisu if he comes on Thursday. His 93rd birthday is the following Saturday. If I can get him back to rehab, I think he will feel better and return to the class on a regular basis. We chatted and I got him to laugh out loud a few times.

By the time class came around, I was really tired. At home, I yawned my way through the afternoon and dinner and fell into bed by 7:30. Done.

Today, mom has her shot in her eye then we will have a nice lunch. A huge storm is due Saturday morning through the weekend so we are staying home to watch the waterworks!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

One Heck of a Cup

Oh, it's going to be a rough one. Yesterday, Michael and I went on a road trip to University Avenue in Palo Alto and I tried my first Blue Bottle Latte. OMG! I couldn't drink it all. First, it took forever as the place in an old movie theatre was packed at 2PM then, after a sip, I was hooked. A few minutes later, the caffeine kicked in...OMG!

Okay, no problem, I had an orchestra rehearsal so I could use the caffeine. After the rehearsal and lying in bed waiting to sleep at 10, 11, midnight, it occurred to me that maybe I should have had the decaf! As I watched the clock, I saw my phone ready with an alarm to wake us up at 5AM. To say I didn't sleep would be a true statement.

Within minutes, I must go into the cold and into the city for an 8AM appointment with the urology clinic. I have not had a UTI in many months but I have a few questions for the doctor. Since I have to go to the rehab class around noon, I am going to have a few hours to just hang around the other side of the pass.

I expect to take a nap somewhere today. Hopefully, it will happen after I get home after rehab. I am already dragging.

Maybe I need a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Booked

We chose our hotel and reservations have been made for a vacation in Palm Springs in a couple of weeks. Thanks to William's Christmas present to us, we are staying in a boutique hotel right in Palm Springs where, this time of year, it is usually nice and warm. Swimming will be involved as well as a lunch at our most favorite restaurant ever. We are counting the days.

This trip is also possible because of my portable oxygen system. I am so grateful that I own an Eclipse POS, which offers continuous air. It can be used in the car, the hotel room at night and the batteries allow for movement during the day, if needed.

Now, I have to be sure to stay well by staying away from ill people and washing my hands a lot.

It was so rainy yesterday that there were few people in the rehab class. My numbers were still good and I felt energized afterward. Perfect! Just what I needed to face the pile of paperwork to file and prepare for the tax accountant. After over two hours, I finished feeling that I finally got a major job done.

The only other problem hanging on my shoulder is with the bill from my university hospital. They are dealing with Medicare trying to figure out my Medicare Set Aside Worker's Comp agreement but I haven't heard from them. I will make the phone call this afternoon to get an update.

Today, Michael and I are hanging together as I have a hair appointment at 10AM and he has his shave and a haircut at noon. I need to make appointments to get my toe nails done and my eyebrows waxed for our trip! Oh, the joys of maintenance!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Birthdays

Mom and I took Michael to lunch at the Chicago-style restaurant we tried last Friday. He said he felt like he was back in the Windy City. The food was very authentic. We had lunch after driving mom to a mall where she returned a gift to JC Penney, bought some socks and chatted the entire time. She was so surprised that Michael came with me for the day as she adores him. He kept making her laugh, and that's a good thing!

Today, it is back to the rehab class but I need to buy birthday cards first thing this morning. My brother, Sherman, Else (with her new lung transplants from rehab class) and our son all have birthdays in that order. I thought I would tease 93-year old Sherman by sending three cards, a few days apart. The final one will be sweet and nice while the other's, not so much! 

My brother is going to get the "coloring book" he sent to me for my birthday. "Cats with Hats." We have agreed that he has to color a page, sign and date it before giving it to the next birthday person. His wife! This thing is going to spend a lot of time in the mail but will be fun to see through the years. 

We just received an invitation to attend a four-hour meeting of representatives from all the Boards at my university hospital. They want a discussion, our opinions and lunch is included! We're in! I am looking forward to this.

I am also awaiting a phone call from our son today regarding his Christmas present to us. He offered a choice of four very swanky hotels in the Palm Springs area, we chose two (the least expensive) and he will be making the reservations at one of them today. Hopefully, the rains will pause and we can enjoy the magic of the Coachella Valley in mid-January. What a very kind, thoughtful, expensive (!) gift!

So, into rehab I go. Exercise!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Into the New Year

No more Christmas. It was packed away into many boxes in the attic awaiting next year. It was rather sad and the house now looks normal, not festive. We worked most of the day, had a fantastic dinner of roasted chicken, a salad and Michael had a baked potato, a rare event.

I thought today would be a normal Monday. I didn't know it was a holiday until I turned on TV and noticed the Rose Parade was on at 8AM. The problem is that I am to meet with mom for the day so, Michael is going along with me and the three of us will hang out for the day. She loves having him around as it changes our routine for the better. He makes her laugh.

The only thing I still need to do in the new year is to organize my paperwork, enter data for taxes and create new files for 2017. Everything else is done. Every bill is paid and I feel like I am starting the year with a fresh start. I love that feeling.

I have been using my oxygen around the house more often, especially while working on dismantling Christmas. It even helped while preparing dinner. The inhaler seems to be key so I try to remember to use it more often. The coughing has really subsided.

Another fun day ahead. Guess the holiday fun continues!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Jumping into the New Year

Happy New Year! 2016 flew by. Months ticked away so very quickly and suddenly, it was done. I vow to appreciate everyday this year, even it if begins to slip quickly through my fingers.

2017 should be an interesting year. I often wonder if next year at this time, will I have gone through a lung transplant? Probably not unless I get a bad bout of pneumonia that kicks me into the process.

For the first day of the new year, we will be returning Christmas to its boxes and into the attic. Checks for bills will be written and readied for the mail. Checkbook balanced. Life begins anew.

Last night, we walked across the cul-de-sac to Lisa and Mike's and enjoyed their company. There were three couples and it was amazing to learn that Lisa had maintained a friendship with each of the women since grade school or high school. Really nice people. We stayed only for a couple of hours before they served a fantastic smelling dinner. We wanted to be home. I stumbled into bed around 10PM and Michael followed around 11PM. In the middle of the night, we both woke up, kissed each other for the new year and fell back to sleep!

I so hope your New Year began well and will end well. We will get through another year together. We will learn a lot about our illness and ourselves. We will eat well and exercise.

Here we go.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Memories

I dropped in at the cafe to visit our former neighbor, who I had not seen in over twenty years. She looked at me then broke into a huge smile. We hugged then sat, chatted and got caught up on our children and her grandchildren and even her great-grandchild. So many memories of our time together when Michael and I were newly married. She lives about 90-minutes north of us and I have promised that we would drive up for a visit in 2017. It would be marvelous to see her children.

My numbers in rehab were pretty good, a little coughing, but nothing awful. Sherman did not show up but I phoned him to break the news of Caveman's sudden death. He was as shocked and I had been. Unbelievable. I did encourage him to come to class next week as I heard he was struggling with a bit of depression due to his breathing issues. Being around the bunch of us should lift his spirits.

Since I am so careful with my diet, we rarely go out to dinner. We like to have a nice lunch out once in a while as it usually offers smaller portions and I can digest it all not having to go right to bed afterwards. Last night, Randy T. met us at the fish taco place and we had a lovely, delicious and interesting two-hour dinner. We felt like such adults and were amazing at all the Christmas lights as we drove home. We had not been out and about in the evenings before Christmas!

Mom and I will be hanging out today. No doctors. Nothing on the calendar so that means some shopping and lunch! Just being together.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lots of Shakin'

Lots of earthquakes surrounding us! So far, we have not felt one. We live on the West side of the San Andreas fault, the part that is supposed to break off from the mainland one day and be carried north by the currents in, oh, several million years. We are on bedrock and high enough that a tsunami should not be a problem. I hope.

Christmas will go back into its containers in the attic this weekend. It was a good one and I will be sad to see it go. Yesterday, I wrote and sent photos of the day to the woman at my rehab class and her friend in Norway. The friend had written specifics of how they celebrate Christmas in Norway and was thrilled that I was interested in her opinion. After seeing the photos, she emailed that our day looked just like their celebration - decorations and food! I did it! An authentic experience.

We have been invited out to dinner tonight. A friend of Michael's (a legion in the Rock-n-Roll art world) wants to celebrate the coming of the new year with us. He is always interesting, the conversation is always challenging and it has been a long time since I have seen him.

But, later this morning, I hope to meet Sherman at the rehab class. If he is not there, I will phone him about the passing of Caveman. Still bothers me.

My breathing is not great and I hope I am not getting pneumonia. I was very short of breath last evening but I have been mindful of taking my inhaler more often. If the coughing becomes worse, I will contact Dr. K. or go to the ER.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Surprise Passing

It was so great to see everyone and to have a good workout at the rehab class yesterday. My numbers were surprisingly fantastic - 96-97 saturation rates. I usually fight for 92-93. It felt great, I was never short of breath and I had wonderful conversations that I just didn't want to leave.

As I was waiting to checkout, Sara (RN) sat next to me and said, "I have some bad news. We just got word that Don died." Don. Don. I couldn't place his name with his face. Then it hit me. OMG! Sherman had nicknamed him Caveman! He had only retired and been with us less than a year. I had been asked to work with him but found him rather strange then he stepped over a line and I backed way off. But before that, I had tried to have him go to my university hospital because he didn't have a proper diagnosis and he was just seeing a local doctor. He said he loved his doctor and didn't care about a proper diagnosis. Well, he died of pneumonia. I believe he was around 65-years old.

Sherman is also struggling but told me that he would try to get to the rehab class on Thursday. He is also dealing with a bit of depression because of his current difficulty with breathing right now. I don't want to tell him about Caveman over the phone but will wait until I see him in person.

Michael and I are slowly taking the house back from the holiday. He dumped all the poinsettias yesterday as they were on their last leg. The housekeepers are due tomorrow so we are trying to gather as much of the holiday stuff in one room so the rest of the house can be cleaned. It needs it!

This morning, we are going over the pass to food shop then home to visit Safeway. Michael will haul it all into the house for me. I exchanged a present from Barnes and Noble for a new Atkins Cookbook yesterday. We will be trying new recipes from it all week.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Post Holiday

We were in full recovery mode yesterday and even had a two-hour nap in the afternoon. We ate lightly and slowly picked up the house. It felt like we were hibernating.

I did phone Sherman yesterday only to discover he had been in the hospital. His breathing had really become difficult and the doctor told him that if it got worse, he was to go to the larger hospital to be intubated. YIKES. He said he considered that life support and wanted nothing to do with it. I am fearful that he is really failing. He won't be at the rehab class today but was going to try to make it on Thursday.

My own breathing has not been great and I have been coughing. I realized last evening that I had not been using my inhaler at all during Christmas or yesterday. Dumb! It really helps to keep everything open and moving and I believe it helps prevent pneumonia. I used it last evening and felt so much better. My chest wasn't so tight.

The goal today is to buy vitamins at Costco before the class, make a food shopping list for tomorrow and pay some bills. Back to life.

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 Christmas

What a day! It all came off really well. Everyone was happy and relaxed and chatting. Mom was able to spend time with her other daughter and her only granddaughter. The food was a total success. Our Norwegian Christmas celebration will go down in history as one of the best ever. My favorite? The liver open-faced sandwich with sweet pickles at lunch and the ribs at dinner. We sent leftovers home with Shelley and Russ but we still have enough for dinner tonight.

I am done. I needed oxygen all day and my sister and her husband did all the dishes after dinner, and there were a lot of dishes. I had been on my feet all day and really felt every muscle. They all took off around 9:00 so I rode in the back seat to drop mom off at her home.

It was a wonderful day, though we missed William. Here are some photos!



My sister and her daughter





Stuffed Pork Loin (apricots, prunes, apples), Baby Bak Ribs, Roasted  Carrots
Braised Red Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes




Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Here we go! Ready or not! A very Merry Christmas to you! Thank you for sharing a rather rough health year with me. 2017 should be interesting as I either join a drug study or continue to slide into lung transplants.

But for today, I will have my dearest husband by my side all day. He watches me and notices when I need a bit of help and is always positive and kind. We are blessed to still have my mom with us, to share this time of our lives together. My sister and her family is full of new changes in the coming year. Her daughter is getting married in April and my sister has already incorporated the husband-to-be's family into their lives. It is all good.

William will be greatly missed today. We will talk but I am counting the days until we see him in February.

The food is ready except for a few things, Michael will go over the pass to pick up my mom and we will have a fun Norwegian Christmas. Photos will be posted soon!

Yesterday, all the neighbors came by to share homemade goodies. Some stayed for a cocktail with Michael, others just chatted a bit. It was so much fun and we are so blessed to be surrounded by such positive, good people.

And finally, I was drifting off to sleep in bed last night when the doorbell rang around 8:30PM. Suddenly, I heard violins and Christmas carols with singers! The wonderful woman we played with at the goat farm had arrived with Leslie and about eight other musicians and were serenading us. I climbed out of bed, threw on a robe, had my oxygen on and almost cried. What a gift. It was so unexpected and simply a marvelous surprise. They were then heading to Tim's house north of us to surprise him. What good people.