Living Well with a Bad Diagnosis - Lung Disease

Monday, August 31, 2015

Recipes for the Week

After four hours working in the yards, I had just removed my oxygen and shoes in the garage, threw my wet hat onto the dryer, slowly made my way to the chair and just flopped when I saw Michael, who had just arrived and was walking along the side of the house. He always arrives just when I finish. I don't know how he does it. He took one look at me and said, "You need a shower and, by the way, I didn't eat lunch. I dropped it." Great. Low blood sugar. Driving home. Not a good combination.

After about twenty-minutes of recovering in my chair, I kicked in: baked a tray of peppered bacon for Michael breakfast (along with yogurt or cottage cheese), boiled noodles for Butter Noodles (his favorite food on earth), browned a pound of hamburger and in another twenty-minutes, we were eating tortillas stuffed with seasoned hamburger with cheese, tomatoes and avocado. He loved the noodles, too. Such a good, simple, filling, quick dinner.

Then I took a shower. It felt marvelous. Nine hours later, I swear I never moved last night. It is mom all day today. Nothing on our schedule except the other rehab this morning, a run by the butcher and Trader Joe's later in the afternoon. A nice day.

Here are my recipes for the week. Food for those of us on prednisone. We just don't process food properly. Protein and non-starchy veggies.

Breakfast/Lunch:
Shallots and Pancetta Deviled Eggs - HERE
Shrimp Salad - HERE
Sun-dried Tomato Dip- I use low-fat or non-fat everything - HERE
Whopper in a Bowl - HERE

Dinner:
Five-Spice Pork and Asian Slaw - HERE
Almond-&-Lemon Crusted Fish with Spinach - HERE
Chicken Texas Style - I use twp breasts for a total of 1-lb and low-fat cheese - HERE

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Preparing for the Flu Season

It was so nice and very quiet yesterday. It fogged so heavily that it was too wet to go into the yards. But today, the pots need watering, the laundry needs ironing, the bills need paying and I really need a shower!

Michael went to the birthday party for the 5-year old son of someone from his work, told me that my Barbacoa was a smash hit and he had a great time. I stayed home and discovered "House of Cards." Oh my goodness. Six hours later, I forced myself to turn it off to go to bed. It really is one of the best written series I have ever watched. If I do all my chores today, it will be my treat to watch another chapter.

Very busy week ahead: our anniversary, Michael's birthday, the first orchestra rehearsal of the season, major doctor appointments and tests, coffee with dear friend Lois and finally lunch with my friend Matt from the school where I got sick. So much to do that I am going to focus on the day and prepare for the following day. If I look ahead too far, I feel overwhelmed.

I am feeling good, breathing well though it is very humid here. It is worrisome going into the fall season as it brings colds and flues with it. There are reminders everywhere to wash my hands a lot, use gel in the car after being in stores and staying away from groups of people. Those are my only defenses along with eating well and exercising.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Oops, Change of Plans

It's wet outside! What a treat and so unexpected! It may be too wet to cut the grass! Lots of !!! there. Going to have to change some plans for today.

But yesterday, mom and I saw her eye doctor for the monthly shot in her eye followed by a fun run through a fantastic toy store. The store has been in the same family for 62-years and the clerks are fantastic with lots of suggestions and advice. And, they gift wrap for free! We had such fun picking out a special birthday gift for the 5-year old whose birthday party is this afternoon. Michael asked me to find a good face painting kit for all the kids. Done. Klutz makes a fantastic one. Then, we found a battery operated slot cars for 4-7 year-olds. Perfect. He is going to love it.

Later, I also made a huge pot of Barbacoa for Michael to take to the party, too. Just before he leaves this afternoon, I will heat it up, chop the red onion and cilantro for the toppings and send it off.

Back to the gardens. I don't think I will be able to do anything today. Maybe tomorrow. So, it's to the bank and to Safeway for a few things then home. The check book needs to be balance, end-of-month bills need to be paid and I have a stack of things to be files. And the laundry! Lots of laundry! A rather quiet day.

It's not such a quiet day for people on the other side of the pass. Around 10PM last night, a truck hit a power pole near some freeway construction just south of the airport and closed the freeway. Power lines down over all lanes. Live power lines. It is still closed. It is going to be a mess for anyone trying to get to or from the airport or the city. Gratefully, we are not going anywhere near that part of the freeway all weekend!

Friday, August 28, 2015

More Eye Doctors

Eye doctors for mom yesterday. Eye doctors for mom today. A subtle difference is that we are going toy shopping after the appointment today. One of the people at Michael's work has invited us to his son's 5th birthday party tomorrow. They are really great people but I have decided not to attend the party. Too many children. Back to school has happened so all the new germs have met each other. It is just not prudent. I am really sad as I love to watch young children think and play. And their energy! Oh my!

Another new drug arrived in the mail yesterday! I am having problems with my ear again (fluid behind the eardrum). Dr. K. prescribed some Flonase. Scary side effects! Not sure how I am going to like this. My poor ear does need some help to recover and she wanted more than just the over the counter Zyrtec.

I found the phone number of an excellent gardener, not just a mow and blow guy. I plan to phone him on the weekend for an estimate of what it will cost per month. Our winters are so mild that nothing grows and I can go a couple weeks without having to do anything but somehow, the messy springs and falls will make up for that downtime. It feels so decadent to even think of having someone do my work, but I fear it is time.

Dr. K. also wrote orders for an echo to see if I have pulmonary hypertension. That test, a fasting blood test and pulmonary function tests will be next Wednesday. A doctor day! It is also the first rehearsal for the orchestra. A very long day!

My two projects are taking up my time and thoughts. Both seem stalled at the moment.

Off I go to mom's for the day. Fun.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Scammers

A lovely quiet day. Another day off. I cooked in the morning after picking up the house. Cauliflower casserole for my breakfasts and little cups of turkey breakfast sausage with an egg and green onions baked to perfection for Michael's breakfast. After lunch, I wandered out into the world for a walk along the ocean cliffs. It was tough. I didn't walk as far as I usual.

I think the week having our son home wore me out a bit.

After getting home, I tried to relax and watched a movie, I drifted off to sleep but just for a few minutes. The phone rang.

I've not blogged about this but does anyone else get several phone calls a day from scammers? Every day. Weekends. Early. Late. We finally put caller ID on the line and we NEVER answer the phone unless we know who it is. Wouldn't you think they would stop? It's the same people! Lots and lots of calls from people trying to sell solar equipment, heating duct cleaning, home repairs and just calling leaving no messages. I have learned to Google the phone number to find out which scammer decided to phone.

The big one is from a man with a thick East Indian accent claiming to be from the IRS and that I am being turned into the magistrate for tax evasion and fraud. He phones about every two weeks and gets more and more threatening. When he got to the one that said that an arrest warrant has been issued, I thought I wouldn't hear from him again. But nooooo, he phoned with an even more threatening message. Even I was a bit scared and I know it is a scam! If I was a person who was new to this country or elderly, I might be fooled by him. By the way, I learned that when you phone him back, you are instructed to get a money order and send it to....you get the idea. Scammer.

Where is our government? Yes, we have been on the Do Not Call list for years. There is a loophole: Anyone can call you from your area.

Shut them down. Please.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Life Returns to Normal

It's really quiet around here. Back to our routines. Back to eating properly. I think that during he visit,  it was the first time that William saw me as a person, not only a mom. It was difficult to say goodbye and to let him go back into the world.

I had not seen my mom since last Thursday so we got caught up on each other's lives. My cupboards were bare so we went by the butcher's and Trader Joe's before I ran through Safeway on the way home. I made simple food for dinner and will spend this morning cooking breakfast for the week and a special lunch for me. I like having food prepared and ready without having to think about what to eat. Later this morning, the fog should lift and the ocean trail is calling to me. A day off.

While I waited for mom outside the restaurant after lunch, I bumped into a women I had not seen in five years. Linda was the sister-in-law of one of my oldest friends, Cynthia. As she still works at the school where I got sick, her life is very busy so Cynthia and I have not seen much of each other.  We met when William was in kindergarten and her son Alexi was in third grade. He was a brilliant kid. His dad is a rocket scientist. Really.

Alexi was a kid who loved the very first Apple computers and would have his letters published in their magazine when he would discover a preciously unknown function. He ended up at the school where I got sick, a very fancy college then his first job at the Mothership. He has been there for years and is high up in the food chain. He met and fell in love with a woman at the fancy college. After many years, she became pregnant but miscarried. They were devastated. That was the last I had heard. Well yesterday, Linda shared a photo of their 4-month old little boy. Cynthia is a grandmother! I am so thrilled for her. I also learned that Alexi and his wife had three other miscarriages. That is rough. My heart broke for his wife when Linda quoted her that she was never able to met those four souls. But, it was wonderful to hear about their lives and that all was well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Goodbye to William

Our final meal together was last night. We went out to the local very popular seafood restaurant at the harbor. It was simply a beautiful day followed by a warm, beautiful evening.

William and I had taken a walk downtown earlier in the day. The new park in the center of town is behind schedule but is looking so much better than the one it is replacing. We ended up at a restaurant for lunch, he had some tacos and I had a grilled seafood salad with lots of vegetables. We talked the rest of the afternoon away.

Michael arrived home right on time, we hopped in the car and were given a window seat looking out at the harbor and lagoon. Michael has the chowder, William had the lobster roll and they split a dozen raw oysters. I had three Monterey Sardines on a bed of green beans and pickled peppers. They served three! I needed William's help to finish them!

We drove home and talked. It was our final time together. It has been a fantastic, fun, interesting, calm week. The nicest time I have spent with my son in many years. We had nothing but time. No stress of holidays or other people.

This morning, I will be driving him to the airport, he is going to LA two days ahead of the tour to spend time in the Korean area of the city. A food driven side trip. He will meet up with the group at the fancy place in LA. Very Hollywood. Very famous. He has stayed there before and likes its privacy. I feel like I am sending him off into the world again. Until Christmas.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Final Homemade Dinner

What a scary morning. There is a big crash happening to the stock market. The world markets are a mess. It was a bubble. It went up too far too fast. I know my mom is suffering in front of the TV right now. This will affect her income, as she lives on her stock dividends.

But yesterday, the sun was shining and my boys brought home some 21-day dry aged rib eye steaks for the grill. That along with a fresh tomato and mozzarella with basil salad and grilled trumpet mushrooms made for a fantastic meal together. Did I mention dessert? I made a fruit and cheese pizza - cookie dough crust, cream cheese with a bit of sugar and grand manier, fresh fruit with an apricot jam glaze. We watched the Giant's game and went to bed early.

Today is the last day with William. Michael is going into work while we stay home. William is going to do his laundry and get ready to take off tomorrow morning for work in LA. He is stage managing for the first time ever with the group he was with when they won the Grammy this year.

But tonight, we are going to a local place for fish. Monterey sardines for me. I will try to snag a photo of my guys together though neigher likes their photo taken.

It has been an amazing week with our son. No holidays involved. Nowhere we had to be. Nothing we had to do. Lots of conversations. Lots of smiles. It will be hard to let him go once again.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Trying to Get Home

The yards were done and I cut up all the left over branches from our big cleanup last weekend, which filled a recycle bin. After a bit of watering, I hit the showers then waited for the boys to come back over the pass.

There was a problem. The normal route was totally jammed. The route from the north was worse. The longer, lovely trip through the redwoods then down to the ocean was tourist-free. They decided to go that way. While waiting for them, I heard the fire engines go by. Checking a site, I found there was an accident exactly where they would be. Texting, they were stuck in the backup due to the accident and didn't move for over 30-minutes. Then, I began to worried about Michael's blood sugar and we were due to the party at Jill and Wayne's. Nothing to do but wait.

They finally arrived home over two hours late. After they had a quick bite to eat and a change of clothing, we joined the party to welcome Evan home from his adventures in Japan. The committee who selected him to visit our sister city was also present at the party. He had a ball, learned a lot more Japanese, stayed with a family with a younger daughter who fell in love with him and cried when he left after ten days. The next family was as equally kind to him. He had a taped interview with the mayor to present to the city, brought back lots of interesting things and a nice bottle of sake for his parents.

At one point, I glanced over to the kitchen area where William, Evan, his brother Ian and his girlfriend were all gathered together and having a ball. They have known William all their lives but as they are now adults, they are very close. Made my heart sing watching their interactions. William and Evan were telling stories about some of the unique food and stores in Japan, which made the others laugh.

We are currently watching the Formula 1 race from Spa this morning, my favorite track high in the mountains of Belgium. Michael and William will once again head over the pass to paint something, go to the butcher's to buy some meat and there will be grilling tonight!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bad Influence!

My son is a very bad influence on me.

I am usually up, dressed and out of the house very early every day. He, on the other hand, sleeps in. Since Michael has to be up and out for work, I like getting up and spending the morning with him but since William has been here, I don't hurry through the house and get dressed after he is out the door. I laze around. That is the bad influence. I will begin to face making the bed, doing the hip stretching exercises and getting dress around 10:00. In my normal life, I am never home at 10:00 let along just getting dressed! Kinda liked it.

Bad influence!!

Around noon, William and I began our day together yesterday. It was foggy and cool as we began our drive down the coast. Tourists were still in bloom. Highway 1 was very busy all the way to Santa Cruz where we found sunshine. We parked in the downtown area and found a fantastic little restaurant where we ate and talked for well over an hour. It was the nicest alone time I have had with my son in years. We hit Safeway on the way home, bought food for dinner and he cooked! I sat and watched! We had dry marinated shrimp cooked in the shell and roasted Mexican corn.

It was such a treat to watch him work effortlessly in my kitchen.

I fell into bed early while he and Michael chatted.

This morning, the two of them are running car errands, dropping by to see people and Michael is going to do just a bit of work. I am going to be doing a quick mow and blow in the yards, watering the pots and making a huge pot of beans. Wayne and Jill are throwing a potluck to welcome their son Evan back from his long trip to Japan. It was sponsored by the local newspaper, he had to answered written questions and pass an oral interview to be chosen to represent the city. He is preparing his speech to the city on several issues as he had interviews with a mayor and other dignitaries while in Japan.

Thus, the beans for the potluck. A pot of sauteed sliced apples, smoked sausage and beans with a brown sugar base. Totally delicious. Totally against my diet so I will just be smelling them all morning.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Hanging with our Son

It has been so nice to just hang out with our son. We took our time to get moving yesterday but we did visit mom around 11:00. We all went to lunch and talked and talked and talked. After driving back to her house, we sat and talked some more. It was good to see the two of them together, I tried to stay quiet and smiled as they chatted away.

It was also lovely to have a chauffeur. The stress of driving over the pass, sitting in the first day of school traffic and trying to get home were nonexistent. We hung out at home after mom's visit, heated up the barbacoa for dinner then William took off to the city to spend the evening with friends. Michael and I went to bed. We are old. HA!

Today, Williams wants to go for a drive down the coast. We'll stop somewhere for lunch, swing by the grocery store on the way home then meet Michael after work for a nice dinner that William is going to cook. Prawns and a side of Mexican corn. As it is Friday night, my bet is that he and William will sip some bourbon in the garden after dinner. And pudding. Homemade chocolate pudding. I made a huge bowl of it yesterday. It is a taste from William's childhood.

I am also appreciating not being in my normal schedule of activities. It feels a bit naughty playing hooky from life.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tough Appointments

We were up and out the door by 7AM, heading deep into the Silicon Valley. We had given ourselves two hours as the traffic can be horrendous. It was nothing. Traffic heading north was very thick but not in our direction. It was a total surprise. We found free parking and walked six blocks for a cup of Philz's coffee, my first ever. Oh my. It is a small "pour over" coffee chain in the Bay Area but no place is near us. Lovely. A cold Mojito shaken coffee with no sugar. Double oh my! We were seeing an attorney for family stuff, it was great to have William present and it went well. We loved the attorney and he was worth the long drive south!

From there, we screamed north for over an hour of freeway driving into the city for my appointment with Dr. K. It was great to also have William meet her and the three of us together seeing her. She was tough. I was trying to tell her all about the four falls, the flu shot and the hip issue as she always begins each meeting asking for health updates. I was talking fast as I know we only have a limited time with her. Well, that made Michael make a comment about prednisone making me hyper. Dr. K. remarked that I needed to deal with getting older and needing to slow down. That I was not making good decisions and she felt that I might need help about crossing the line into being manic. Too busy.

"What made you think you should be on a ladder with an oxygen backpack on?"

My reply, "I have been doing it for 10 years."

She was making it much more than what it was. I push myself to work out and to stay physical for two reasons: to wear myself out so I can sleep and to stay fit to keep the lung transplants away.

Michael and I talked afterwards and he also felt that she took it too far and what she was inferring was not true. We had talked several months ago about hiring a gardener so I think I am going to follow through on that. It is time that I not climb ladders anymore nor should he climb onto the upper rungs at his age.

We met British Don afterward the appointment and had a fantastic early dinner. Michael and I split a hamburger, William and Don talked about current tech stuff that we don't understand and it was fun. Afterwards, I phoned my brother and sister, watched the Giants game and fell into bed.

Today, William and I will be taking mom to lunch. Should be fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Running

A quick blog today. William is in the shower, we are in different stages of readiness and it is just after 6AM. We have to hit the road within the hour to the appointment with the attorney as our first stop today. After that meeting, we have to eat something before seeing Dr. K. in the city then we are meeting British Don for a late lunch/early dinner.

I think I will need a nap tomorrow.

William is here for a week before going back to work in LA. He looks fantastic. Great haircut. I am a happy mom.

I must go. The clock is ticking.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Waiting for William

Mom's birthday was lovely. Michael met us for lunch. The food was fantastic but the conversation was even better. Having Michael with us really made it a treat. I can't believe she is 87-years old. She looked beautiful and happy and young.

It was very warm and I had a hard time breathing. I could feel my entire chest open up the closer I drove home towards the ocean and the incoming fog. Yes, fog. Glorious, cool, fog. It spread through the region last night so the temps should be a lot lower today. Living in a hot, humid climate must be so difficult for those of us with an ILD.

My work is done. The Hummingbird Cake, with its pineapple and mashed bananas in the batter, is delicious. Yes, we both took a small taste last night. The Sun-Dried Tomato Deviled Eggs are ready for future breakfasts and I made the barbacoa. After four house, the cubes of beef shredded beautifully and will be delicious inside tacos tonight. All this for William, who will be flying in around 6:30PM.

The final bit of preparation is to clean the stove top (it was too hot when I went to bed last night from the barbacoa) and a quick vacuum of the family room rug.

I am heading to the rehab class to see Dick and Sherman this morning after running some errands. Then, our son comes home.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Shaking

An earthquake just hit. A fat juicy one. No mention yet on the size.

It's mom's birthday today. Michael is joining us for her special lunch in our fancy clothing and I am sure she is getting phone calls from Lee and Chip. We are giving her gift cards to Home Depot, McDonald's, Starbucks and Target.

Just in. It was a 4.2 earthquake where we were with the kids in Berkeley last week. Michael felt it but I was moving around. The fault near us is the San Andreas so if that one makes a big move, we are going to be in trouble. This one was over across the Bay on another group of faults.

After lunch today, I will be gearing up for William's visit tomorrow. The coffee cake will be made this afternoon as will deviled eggs for breakfast. The house and yards are in good shape so they don't need a lot of attention. The house always feels right when he is home. It is amazing to realize that he went away to college in 1999 and has never lived with us since.

Waiting for earthquake damage reports.

The fog has arrived so the heat of the weekend is just a memory here on the coast and the rest of the area will feel it tomorrow. We went to Wayne and Jill's at 6PM last night to celebrate her birthday. Her parents and sister's family were there and they are always so interesting. When we tried to get home at 8PM, the road was a crawl. Packed with tourists heading to the pass. It took awhile to drive just over a mile. The sun was beginning to set and it was just beautiful.

It's Monday. A new week. Lots to look forward to.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lots of Sweat

It was hot. It was smokey. The wild fires in Northern California and the Gold Country blew into the Bay Area causing havoc. It was hard to breathe, even with oxygen and a mask! We worked in the yards in the morning before the worst of the heat but we were both drenched in sweat. Michael dug out some ornamental grasses and finally finished the job of trimming the top of the Japanese Maple, which I had been doing when I fell off the ladder. Then, we moved to the back yard. He dug out two small plants that were done, completely trimmed the Angel's Trumpet tree by a third then attacked the vine from the neighbor's yard that had woven its way through our tree. That was a big job. I still have to cut up some branches for next week's pick up as we just ran out of room in the two garden recycle bins.

We were finished by lunch, I threw the laundry in the washing machine then promptly feel asleep for an hour. We overextended ourselves! We were both in bed by 8PM.

Today, Michael is heading over the hill and I am going out into town early enough before the tourist arrive. I need to buy something to make for dinner and I am going to get my eyebrows waxed. Noble goals!

It is expected to be hotter than yesterday.

The rest of the day will be a quiet one for me. Just a little ironing. I will be waiting for Michael to come home.

When I was in Safeway yesterday morning, I ran into Matt, who I worked with at the school where I got sick. We had not seen each other in two years. So much to say! So much gossip from work! We penciled in a lunch together on our calendars in early September to bring me up to speed!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Just a Saturday

Goal today? Watching Michael climb the ladder and take care of a few things for me. I am through with ladders after flying off one a couple of weeks ago. After a bank run and a quick visit through Safeway, we are gearing up for William's arrival on Tuesday. A box of See's Candy is already on his pillow.

I am feeling really well. The UTI cleared right up along with my brain. I guess I am at the age when we women have one, it can make us act a bit strangely. Years ago, I read that when a woman is suspected of having dementia or Alzheimer's, the first test run is for a UTI. Interesting.

My energy level has returned and I am sleeping well.

All in all, when I walk into my 6-month appointment with Dr. K. on Wednesday, I will be feeling fit and healthy.

Enjoy your Saturday as the final days of summer begin. Schools begins next week. It will be Christmas before we know it!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Looking Forward

It is remarkable that I have no more hip pain. I'm going to begin to push it a bit more but insuring that I stretch it out every morning. It will be challenged this weekend.

The coastside is going to sizzle this Saturday. Even Michael is staying home as he would not be able to get home. Traffic is going to be a mess. Since falling off the ladder, I have noticed a few high errant branches that need to be removed so Michael is going to trim them this weekend. I am really going to push my hip while working in the gardens and I think we may even wander across the street to our rather private little beach. A sit in the sand. Our toes in the ocean.

Yesterday, I had my last PT appointment with Mac, talked and perspired my way through the rehab class, picked up dinner at our little organic market and made my hair appointment on time. Cut and colored. When Michael got home, we went back for his haircut. Feels great this morning. It was a busy day with no downtime.

It is very early here. Mom has a 9AM appointment with her endocrinologist but we need to have some blood tests before the appointment, plus we will be fighting rush hour traffic to her university campus so I need to be out the door by 6:50. Yawn. I've been up since 5AM. Coffee. Lots of coffee.

I am so looking forward to next week. Mom's birthday is Monday (I need to buy her card and gift cards tomorrow morning after going to the bank before all the tourists arrive) and William will arrive Tuesday evening for a week. I have been intentionally trying to lose about three pounds before his arrival as we always go out to eat more than usual and I have more tempting goodies in the house. Done. Gone. I think I may even lose another pound this weekend while working in the gardens in the heat.

Next week should be fun. I also have a meeting with Dr. K. We haven't seen each other in six months and I will be hauling Michael and William with me. The staff at the clinic, especially a wonderful woman named Crystal, always asks about Michael. They have never met William. It should be fun.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Field Trip with the Kids

I swear, Barbara has the best group of kids. They ranged from first grade to 6th grade. They looked out for each other. They were totally engaged in whatever activities presented to them.

Mom didn't go with me on their last field trip to the working ranch and the kids missed her. When we arrived at Barbara's yesterday, three of the sweetest girls where waiting at the door to greet her. How very sweet is that?

We made the long drive north to Berkeley then up high into the hills. What a setting. The unobstructed views of the East Bay, San Francisco, both famous bridges, Mt. Tamalpais then well past Pt. Richmond were breathtaking. The entire Bay Area at our feet.

Inside the science museum, the kids showed us how to play with several of the exhibits in the entry area before going into some of the rooms. Lots to play with. Lots to try. Mom was having a ball. The outside area exhibit was devoted to earthquakes and water flow, also in a stunning setting.

We wandered downstairs where the summer campus were in full gear. Classrooms were filled with smiling, happy, working, thinking, experimenting children. Some of the most fun exhibits were there. Simple games. I was beaten soundly on a couple of them. Totally fun. In the end, an old phone booth (without a telephone) was adored by all the kids. Almost all of them at one time.

The ride home took us further up to the very top of the mountain and through a state park down the back side to a freeway, except it wasn't the direction we wanted to go. But, we stayed on and made our way home by an unexpected route, which turned out to be better than how we had arrived.

Mom commented that it was the funnest field trip ever. I agree.

The kids go back to school in two weeks so this was our last field trip with them for the summer. We look forward to being with them next year!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Get Thee to Rehab

My rehab boy Dick was back yesterday. It was so good to look at him yet he was a long way from being well. He still felt horrible and was struggling with no stamina but he was there to slowly work out. He said he decided that he would die sitting on his couch if he didn't get moving.

I know that when we are not breathing well, we don't want to push ourselves. I bumped into this article below while searching for portable oxygen systems yesterday. It explains the importance of pulmonary rehab and for those of us with a lung disease to fight to be fit. I thought it was interesting. Get moving. Go to a rehab program. Taking a walk is not enough.

Dear Dr. Bauer, Why is it that I feel so short of breath when my oximeter is reading in the low 90s? It’s confusing.
Dana A., Ormond Beach, FL
Many of my patients with advanced lung disease have asked me why they are still so short of breath even when their oxygen level's in an acceptable range of 90% or better. There are complex reasons for this. It is true that low oxygen levels (below 88%) can be a strong signal to the brain to make us sense air hunger and dyspnea (the medical term for short of breath). Many additional factors also result in the sensation of dyspnea.
We lung doctors often check pulmonary function tests. W e typically measure the Vital Capacity (how much air from the beginning to the end of a breath) and the FEV1 (how much air you can forcefully exhale in one second). Even when your oxygen level is good, when these numbers are low, the body senses dyspnea. The respiratory muscles need to work in overdrive and the brain just gets that feeling of “I’m not getting enough air”. This is why inhalers can be so effective in improving breathing symptoms. They often immediately improve the Vital Capacity and FEV1.
Patients with lung disease are often just not physically fit. This situation comes hand in hand with medical illness as well as advancing age. Walking up the stairs or vacuuming is likely to cause shortness of breath in anyone who has not been used to exercise or is overweight. Exercising and pulmonary rehabilitation are the key here.
Low blood counts (anemia), heart disease (congestive heart failure or irregular heart rhythms) and advanced kidney disease are common conditions that may cause shortness of breath even when lungs are working well. Your doctor tries to make sure all these situations are optimally treated.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Looking to Retire

All went like clockwork: work out, dentist, bank, cleaning, lunch and Costco for mom's sunglasses. I even had time to take care of some issues on her new tablet. The day just flowed really well. Today, we have an appointment at Social Security to talk about retirement. Michael is probably going to retire the first of 2016 at 63-years old. We are meeting to understand my situation and if there is an increase once I hit 66-years old. Michael wants to see how much he will be paid in 2016 compared to 2017 or 2018.

Afterwards, we will have lunch together. A rare weekday treat.

I got a bill in the mail from my Pulmonary Rehab class yesterday. Ten years and I have never seen a bill as we pay ahead for the classes. For example, I will write a check for $150.00. They will enter into my records that the next ten classes are paid. Once they run out, they tell me they need another check. It was rather a shock to get a bill for $90.00. Just didn't make sense. Soooooo, I phoned the billing department of the huge mothership and they said, "Yup. I see it all but they entered it wrong into the computer. You have to get it straightened out with them. Don't let this go to collections."

Great. Thanks.

So, after our lunch today, I am going to my rehab class in progress to take care of this bill with the staff. I won't work out. It will be too late to do my entire routine. The good news is that my rehab boy Dick is coming back today after being out sick for months. It will be good to see him, if only briefly.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Jiggity Jig

Home again, home again. Michael came home! Back where he belongs. It was a long weekend.

We talked and talked and talked. Finally got up to speed then we went to bed! Moans were heard when he climbed into bed and felt the ironed sheets. He had a ball, managed his low blood sugar really well, enjoyed the group of people but confessed the food was rather naughty. He tried to eat the better food but the fried shrimp and other goodies kept calling to him. All in all, he did just fine.

This week is going to be crazy. Everyday. Today, mom has a dentist appointment here on the coast. I am leaving early to work out at the other rehab then picking her up to drive her to the coast, we have a coupon at Mimi's for lunch and her sunglasses should be ready for pick up. I also want to phone Nancy. I have not spoken with her since she and her family returned from Hawaii. They had scattered Jay ashes in the warm waters there, per his request.

I also am beginning to put together a food list for William's visit next week. We will be going out but I also know he just wants homemade food. I always have something for him to pick from while he is here. I think I found a recipe for a very cool coffee cake to sit on the counter at the ready. He always finds a box of chocolates on his pillow when he is visiting.

Later this week, mom and I are excited to spend some time with Barbara and her day care kids. They are a joy to be around. We are going to a science museum on a university campus high in the hills with gorgeous views of the city and bay and bridges. I haven't been there since a long ago field trip for William's school and mom has never seen it. The best part of the day will be just hanging out and being with Barbara and the kids.

My life is never boring, thank goodness.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Recipes for the Week

Everything on yesterday's list? Done. I fell into bed at 7:30 but woke up several times during the night. It just felt not normal. I love and am used to the almost snoring guy next to me for over 41 years. He was gone. While I await his return today, I am going into town to buy some Peet's coffee grounds then I think I am going on a long walk downtown. Something different.

Food is in the house for the week. Laundry is done. I love to start Mondays with everything in place. I have an absolutely wild week ahead and William is flying in for a week the following week. Lots to prepare. I am so looking forward to spending an entire week with him.

Simple foods this week. Below are the recipes and I often add a vegetable for us and some rice or noodles for Michael. These recipes are for those of us on prednisone. We just don't process sugars properly. Sugars in milk and yogurt and grains and carbs. My diet is 3-4 ounces of protein and non-starchy veggies.

Breakfast/Lunch:
Shrimp Deviled Eggs - HERE
Sun-Dried Tomato Dip - I use low or non-fat cream cheese, mayo and sour cream.  HERE
Arugula, Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese Pizza - I use La Tortilla low carb tortillas. HERE

Dinner:
Bacon Wrapped Boursin Stuffed Burgers- I used the left over Boursin on the pizza above. HERE
Sassy Bacon Hugged Chicken - HERE
Mini Steak Tacos - La Tortilla low carb tortillas. HERE
Shrimp Marinara - I serve it over fake pasta. HERE

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Goal: Getting Through Today

Just weird. I awoke several times last night. It was too quiet. Too still. It is a rare event that Michael and I are separated and this weekend, that is the case. Yesterday was fine as I was busy with mom and last evening my friend Christien and I spoke on the phone for well over an hour. That helped. Today is the challenge.

When we bought our first house in 1975, Mark lived around the corner. Barely out of high school, he was one of the smartest people I have ever known. He had a tough family life so he spent a lot of time with us. Friday nights, we would haul him out to dinner and he was always at our house when we would get home from work. I think he felt safe and loved with us. Well after William was born, he began to get jobs and then got busy with life. We always worried that he would waste his brains on the dark side of life. After the suicide of a mutual friend, he suddenly disappeared.

For decades, I tried to find him. About two years ago, he popped up on my Facebook messages. He clearly had been through a lot but was living an honest life. He found a woman whom he adored and who simply loved him. He owned his business and was making a good living in a small town about five hours north of us. He was having problems with his eyes. Retinitous Pigmentosa. I encouraged him to go to my university hospital but he was not happy to learn from them that he was going blind. There was nothing they could do about it. He had lots of anger.

Then he disappeared again. I tried to connect through Facebook and his email. Nothing.

This week, I got an email from him. He was now blind but he was upbeat and positive. He was still in business but had taken on a partner to do what he could do no longer. At my university hospital, he found one of the top eye doctors in the country who still encourages him with lots of evidence of trials: computer chips in the eyes, implants in the brains. He wrote that he was blind but did not expect to die blind. He had an entire computer set up and his environment had been adjusted for his blindness. Acceptance.

He had his act together.

His emails are fun to read as he is an excellent writer. I was so touched when I got the email below after I told him Michael was leaving me for the weekend. It is nice to reconnect with this dear friend.

"I remember the first time Mike went away for a night. You were still on Filbert St. I believe he was delivering a car to a family member in SOCAL. You were putting on a brave face but I could tell it bothered you more than a bit. Apparently that made an impression on me because I remember it 35 years later. You relationship made an impression on me, I fully expected to hear that you two were still together and would have been floored to hear different. It was very obvious to me that it was the right relationship for both of you, you weren't just in love but very deeply in like as well. That's the way I feel about Mary. I love her very deeply but it has been the like that has held us together, especially with my vision. I was ready to leave her because I loved her and didn't want her to lose her dreams but the thought of losing the best friend I've ever had prevented me from doing so."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Gone

Michael is leaving me. He is packing. I am helping!

He is so excited to join others for the drive up to Reno for Hot August Nights, which features fancy cars, especially those from the 50s and 60s. Friends who are already there had texted all day yesterday. Photo of cars! Photos from the famous car auction! Photos of them having cocktails! Oh yes, he just can't wait to get up there.

I don't expect to hear from him while he is there.

There was rare dry lightening storm last night and I slept right through it. No rain. Just the fireworks. Michael watched it for a bit and said it was impressive. We just don't have many thunderstorms in this part of the country.

I slept through it because I was exhausted. Non-stop doctors all day did me in.

Today, I will be kissing Michael goodbye as we both drive off on our different routes. I am running over the pass to collect mom to bring her back for our toenail appointment followed by our traditional lunch of fish tacos. We will also stop by the butcher's Trader Joes and Safeway. Then, I will come home to an empty house. That is when it will hit me that he is really not coming home tonight. Or tomorrow night. It is times like this that I am grateful we have an alarm system as it will allow me to sleep while he is gone.

Off he goes!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

More Doctors

Add one more last minute doctor appointment to doctor week! Today, after seeing Mac for PT on my hip and the pulmonary rehab class, I will be seeing my eye doctor to check the pressure in my eyes. Prednisone caused. I realized that one of my two drops has been making my eyes dry and red and uncomfortable so we will be having a conversation about changing that prescription. His office phoned and switched my appointment from next week to today.

This is my final day with Michael as he takes off for Hot August Nights in Reno tomorrow morning. I am nervous about his blood sugar issues. He will be going into the heat and I fear that he will be so busy with friends and cars, he will forget to eat his nut snacks. While mom and I were sitting outside having lunch at Five Guys and Fries yesterday, our friend Wayne and his son Ian pulled up right next to us! What a surprise! I asked him to keep an eye on Michael as they will be together all weekend.

It will be a long weekend ahead for me. Too quiet. I told Michael last night that I would be pressing my nose to the front door windows looking for him to arrive back home Sunday afternoon. He will have a lot of stories to tell.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gummies

Because of my two falls, I did not workout at the pulmonary rehab classes last week. What a difference a week makes! I was able to do the entire routine but what was really wonderful were all the conversations. My jaw got a good workout, too! I spoke and joked and showed off my lovely purple bruises with everyone. It is nice to be comforted by a group of people. It took an extra 30-minutes to get through the workout.

Louise, the head of the rehab program, has been diagnosed with lung cancer (never a smoker), which has moved to a second home in her liver. She has begun chemo via a pill. When I saw her yesterday, she was sporting a huge red rash on the lower half of her face. She was also complaining that the chemo was making her very constipated.

Here is where I ride in on a white horse.

My mom was having an issue. She did some research and began taking a specific probiotic. She called it live changing. Several weeks ago, Michael was having a problem with constant evacuation of his bowels. Days of it. We watched his diet, got it stopped but then it happened again. We tried mom's probiotic. Magic. No problems since.

So, I thought I would try it, too! Unbelievable. Oddly enough, I mentioned it passing to William when we saw him in person a few weeks ago. He said, 'Changed my life."

Yesterday, I told Louise that I would bring in five days for her to try it, which should be long enough to see if it worked for her. The product? Schiff's Digestive Advantage Probiotic Gummies. The label boosts: 10X better survivability vs. yogurt.

Just passing this along as it has worked for my entire family.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Medical Week Continues

Day 1 of medical week went off without a hitch. The bone scan was easy and fast and I even had a good chat with the technician. We learned five scans ago that we knew a few of the same people in life. My scan numbers looked good but I did lose an inch in height and 15-pounds since my last scan two years ago! I guess good and bad news! I grabbed mom then drove to Costco for her to find and buy prescription sunglasses. After lunch, we hit Office Depot to buy new ink for my printer. Ouch! Expensive!

Day 2 begins today with a visit with Mac for PT on my hip. This week will be the last visit. I guess Medicare only allows so many treatments per year so I want to save some time in case the pain returns. After my appointment with him, I get to visit with Sherman before our rehab class. It should be interesting to see how my weaker arm responds to the free weights, the arm bike and the wall pulley.

Tomorrow will be the roughest medical appointment of the week. Mom has an appointment with her pacemaker cardiologist about 45-minutes away from her home. But, we will be facing rush hour. I will have to leave home at 7AM to make it on time. Coffee. Lots of coffee.

With all the fires in California, we are so lucky that none are near us nor are we smelling any smoke. I feel awful for people with breathing issues who live in those areas. They must be staying indoors with air conditioning blasting.

Michael is just plain handsome. Through the years, I have teased him not to hurt his face. No bumps or cuts or bruises. "Not the face!" I would say as he walked through the door with a scratch or a small pimple. Well, last weekend, he hit his forehead on a dashboard. A gouge. A small gouge but still...

He said the first thing he thought after it happened was, "Not the face!"

It has a nice juicy scab forming and I am making statements like, "Your poor face!" He smiles. He's still handsome but now he will add a dash of ruggedness with a small scar.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Grateful

We both felt remarkably recovered yesterday and went to work. I hit the grocery store, the garden and the ironing. We sat outside in the garden at the end of the day, had a nice chat and prepared for the week ahead. It will be a medical week for me.

Since a couple of years before I was on prednisone, I have had a bone scan every two years. Today will be number six or seven. I have lost count. Since each machine is different, it is suggested that every scan be taken on the same machine. Thus, I am going to the local hospital for the 9AM scan.

It is easy. I just need to wear nothing with metal, lay down on a bed, put my knees up on a block and chat for about 15-minutes. Painless. Simple. I have a feeling this test will reveal that I have lost some bone density during the last two years. That is scary. If there is too much bone loss, there will be no lung transplants. It is one of the required pre-transplant tests.

After the test, mom and I are ordering some prescription sunglasses for her, having a pair of Michael's glasses repaired, I need to go to AAA to get the tags for his car, my printer ran out of ink so I need to buy all three ink cartridges, then we will be dropping off a car at the mechanic's again after dinner tonight. A full, long day.

I remember back when I began the pulmonary rehab class when I only could do two activities of daily living. Shower/make dinner. Rehab class/ food shop, Two. That was it. Michael used to have to food shop with me. It was too much to push the cart. I was that sick. After months then years of pulmonary rehab, where I built up my muscles and stamina, I added a third activity then a fourth then a fifth then I quit keeping track. I could mostly do what I needed to do with adjustments.

In 2005, there was no way I could do everything that I plan to do today. From a morning shower to running around with mom to making dinner to driving this evening. It would have been way too much and put me down for several days.

As the day ends, I will be grateful for being able to live an active life and will never take it for granted.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

An Entire Day In

Following our Friday night out, I did not leave the house yesterday. There was a visit to the swing in the garden for some reading but that was it. After Michael left, I slept until noon, made some tuna for lunch, did the laundry, made dinner and we were both in bed by 7:30PM.

We climbed out of bed this morning at 7AM feeling fully recovered.

The day ahead should be interesting. The yards need cutting and watering, ironing needs to be done and I am meeting Michael over the pass to leave a car at the mechanics. It is going to be a full day.

I am feeling great. Nothing hurts. I can't kneel on my knee and the muscles above my elbow are still tender but that is the worst of it.

My week ahead features medical people four out of five days. On the fifth day, I lose Michael. He begins his annual trek to Hot August Nights in Reno. I am always invited to join him but I just can't live in the high altitude for three days. He drives up with friends, meets other friends there then always runs into people while he is there. It is good for him. It is all about cars.

I will miss him terribly. We are seldom apart for a few days. I need to plan something to do, special food to eat and to sleep a lot.

But for this Sunday, we will be stuck in tourist traffic as we try to get home this afternoon but at least we will be together!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

An Entire Day Out

I talked all day yesterday. Breakfast was with my dear friend and there was never a pause in the conversation. It was marvelous to reconnect, be brought up to speed and just to see each other. She always looks so fantastic! Directly from breakfast, I got to mom's by noon and we went to...lunch! And we talked non-stop. Her big news was that the poker games are back on. I just love the mental image of my 86-year old mom playing poker with the guys. She can hold her own.

I tried to get home but there was yet another accident on the pass, third one in just a few days. Finally made it! Then, at 6:25 Michael flew through the door exhausted from a rough day but we had to be out the door in 15 minutes. After his shower, we were on the road. With our car packed with five people, we drove into the city to the #1 restaurant with hard-fought reservations in hand.

The Maitre d' remembered us and welcomed us back. The table was perfect. I talked all night.

The food. Ah, the food. I began with the Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Onions and Peaches, Soft Shelled Crab with Roasted Tomatoes, Pancetta and Basil and the cheese plate. Michael had the Seared Ahi Tuna with Avocado, Nori, Enoki Mushrooms and Lemon Soy Dressing; Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Pork Belly, Carrot-Ginger Glaze, Fava Beans, Peas, Peppers and Pickled Ramps; a coconut dessert of an ice cream cake.

Some highlights from some of the other food served to our table:
Risotto with Rock Shrimp, Dungeness Crab, Shimeji Mushrooms, Asparagus and Peas.
Herb-Crusted Lamb with Spring Vegetable Tian and Polenta.
Juniper Crusted Bison with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Cipolini Onions and Wild Nettle Spatzle.
Roasted Quail stuffed with Mushroom Ragout, Leeks, Quinoa and Foie Gras with Fingerling Potatoes and Porcini Cream.

We waddled out of the restaurant then drove a short distance to the oldest bar in the city in the North Beach area. The manager remembered us and we had fun conversations with him. Again, we were the oldest people in the place. I took the last lap and drove everyone home. We climbed into bed at 1:30AM, proud that we were able to keep up with the people with us who were all around our son's age. I think I will head back to bed after breakfast!