Living Well with a Bad Diagnosis - Lung Disease

Sunday, July 31, 2016


It has been a very quiet couple of days. I checked out the Relay for Life cancer fundraiser at the high school yesterday morning. I'm always a sucker for raffle tickets. Julie, an Irish fiddler, is running in the relay with a team of survivors and they will keep someone moving on the track through the night. Hardy souls! I ran into the wife of the owner of our favorite restaurant with its crab sandwiches right on the ocean north of us. They are a sponsor of this event as she has been struggling with cancer since 2002. We had a marvelous conversation and we both smiled at each other when we realized that we both had that driving determination to fight our illnesses.

I got home, found the couch and slept a bit. I am not feeling 100% as I think I am fighting another infection. I feel so much better this morning.

Michael and I are watching the F1 race from Germany at the moment before we dress and head over the pass to food shop. We are out of food! Later today, we hope to dig out a few plants then relax the rest of the day.

A nice end to a very quiet weekend.

Friday, July 29, 2016


The jerky guy in rehab class who loves to tell everyone that he is a "s*** disturber" and has chosen me to be especially nasty to, was quiet yesterday. I had not seen him in two weeks and was surprised that he was actually sitting three chairs down from me for the check-in. Usually, he shoves 91-year old Sherman aside to get the first chair. A real sweetheart.

After the warm-ups, I hit the treadmill then the wall pulleys before heading to the bike. He was sitting in a chair in front of the bike. I noticed then that his left arm was in a mesh bandage and the right hand and arm had gauze taped to it. "What happened?" asked the RN. His reply said it all. "I was being a real jerk. I threw a kid into a pool, lost my balance and fell." He continued to remark that the kid was "really pissed at me." The RN took him to her office to wrap his arm properly and make sure that it was not infected.

So, do you think he learned any lessons from this? Do you think he will be kinder to others? Doubt it. This man has no introspection.

I had my TB test read, it was negative but I thought I had another UTI brewing. The doctor offered to see my later in the morning. Fine. I wouldn't go to rehab and just hang out at Peet's before the appointment as the housekeepers were at the house. It was packed. There was an area on the long padded single couch that wraps around the table area, so I asked a nice mom with two kids if it would bother her if I just sat there. No problem. While enjoying hearing their conversation, I realized they were tourists from over the pass who were going to the tide pools. After a bit, I asked if they were here to see the whales? What whales? So, I directed her where to find them and also mentioned the fantastic walk near the new tunnel that is known for bird watching and also spotting a whale or two. She had never seen the tunnel. One of the kids warmed up to me and I remarked, "They can always tell a former teacher!" She asked where I taught, I told her about running the large music program and guess what? Her kids were at my school where I got sick! What are the odds? We started talking about teachers and some of the cool features of going to school in an old mansion. The kindergarten classroom is actually in the basement and it used to be the indoor saltwater swimming pool. In fact, they just tiled over the pool, the ceramic tiles are still in place and sometimes, on very special occasions, they will give a tour of the actual pool under the floor! Also, one of the music lesson little rooms was the huge safe. It has a grand piano in it and lots of files. The kids were fascinated.

My phone rang. Someone missed their appointment and they wanted to know if I could get there right away. I said my goodbyes, met with the doctor, had white blood cells in my urine but no infection yet. She was going to send it out to be cultured. I headed to rehab class but I didn't have any pain or urgency so I don't think I have an infection. Feeling good this morning.

After I got home from rehab, I phoned Michael's mom in Tennessee to see how she was doing. We really haven't had a good chat since she moved. We talked for two hours. So much laughing and just sharing.

I am off to spend the day with my mom. We have no plans and sometimes those day are just plain fun! Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

No Sleep

When a body is used to being worked and exercised everyday and since there was nothing but brain work yesterday, this body could not sleep. I glanced at the clock at 12:30AM and kept looking at it until I threw in the towel at 3AM to head out to the couch. I drifted off for two hours then popped up wide awake.

During the night, I suddenly panicked because I couldn't remember where I had filed Dr. K.'s letter to the trust administrators. Then, I didn't want to forget to put out the oxygen tanks to be refilled today. So, when I finally did wake up, I found the letter and filed it properly before I rolled my huge liquid oxygen tank to the side of the house for its refill while I am at rehab.

Added to this, I need to be out of here very early to have my TB test checked, back to the bank to return our birth certificates, fuel up the car then head over the pass for that rehab class. I have fallen in love with three of the new women in the class. Two are older and one is younger. They are funny and smart and understand that rehab will improve their quality of life. Two former classmates have reached out to me this past week to tell me they are not coming back. One is moving to Sweden, where she has lots of family and the other said she will tell me the whole story another time but she will not be returning to class. Sherman and I have been there the longest, by far. He joined in 2004. I joined in 2005. We both believe it saved our lives.

Thankfully, dinner is ready and waiting in the refrigerator so when I am really dragging this afternoon, I can nap a bit. But, then I will worry that if I nap I may not sleep well tonight! Dilemma!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Men don't have the opportunity to be pampered or to take care of their skin often. Yesterday, Michael had a shave with a straight edge razor before his hair cut. The shave also included hot towels and product to soften and moisturize his skin. When she pulled the barber chair up to the sitting position after the whole production, I was shocked to see that he looked at least 10-years younger! Totally relaxed. No wrinkles. Just soft, shaved skin that looked like it was so very happy. What a treat for a man.

Last evening was the final Irish Fiddling rehearsal for two weeks. Leslie is heading to Irish Fiddling camp in Ireland on Thursday. She will come home inspired with new music and ideas on production.

I keep glancing down to my right forearm to see if I have any reaction to the TB test. On Thursday morning, the doctor will take a look to make it official. I have no reaction so far!

Michael and I are going to be together all day today. I need to do some paperwork and swing by the bank but other than that, we have no plans. It is so hot everywhere except the coast today that we are not going to stray far from home.

Hot weather. The whole country is HOT right now. We with breathing issues have a hard time with heat and don't even think about humidity! I feel so blessed that I live in a cool moist climate but I do worry about others who suffer through the summer heat waves. Please take care, don't exert yourself, stay hydrated, be kind to yourself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pre-Tests for Transplants

The big news is that the UTI seems to be gone for good. I had the test yesterday afternoon at the local doctor's office. Just to be absolutely sure, I will have another test in a month. While I was there, they also gave me a skin test for TB, which will be check on Thursday morning. So far, so good. Next up, a PAP smear. Yuck. Not my most favorite thing in the world. These tests are part of the pre-tests for lung transplants. The first list is:

  • Dental clearance from your dentist to proceed with transplantation
  • PAP smear
  • DEXA bone density scan
  • Skin test for Tuberculosis 
  • Colonoscopy (results within the past 5 years)
  • Documentation of thee vaccinations: Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Tetanus (within the past 5 years), Pneumonia vaccine, Flu vaccine

For this initial round of testing, I have completed them except the PAP smear. The doctor's office is contacting the transplant clinic to ask if I need a full physical exam or a pre-surgery exam. Since this is the beginning of the transplant process, I will be having an intensive exam of all the organs in my body as the process continues. A pre-surgery exam should be good enough for now. Really.

Today should be interesting. I have to dig up birth certificates for both William and me for the trust administers. I have to find his baby book because I know there is one there then I have to get into the safe deposit box for mine. Then, to the rehab class! This evening, there will be an Irish Fiddling rehearsal. A full day.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Shift

We had such a great day together yesterday. After running errands for Michael, we bought groceries then headed home just after noon. The tourists were out in groves. We decided to drive home from the North so we could see the whales while we were driving by. Traffic was nuts and stopped at one point, whales were dancing about, music was on the radio and we just took it all in.

I made a special breakfast for Michael and we had leftover fish tacos for dinner. It was a simple day. At one point, I glanced over at him and he had fallen asleep in his chair. He looked so sweet, young and relaxed and my heart beat a bit faster while I watched him breathe.

It's funny how life plods along then suddenly everything changes. There is a shift somehow. Life changes. It feels like we are right on the edge of one of those shifts. We are waiting to hear from the trust administrators, we are looking forward to seeing William, the Irish Fiddling group seems to be going places, many rehab people have left and new people have joined the class. All potential shifts. I also pray they are positive shifts but sometimes they are not. One would think that as one gets older, life slows down and life lessons are fewer. We have found the opposite to be true.

It should be interesting to see if my instincts are on target.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Simple Sunday

It was a good day off yesterday. I was able to work in the gardens really well. My body was loose, I was never short of breath and I got everything done. After doing some light laundry, I took a nap, read a bit, made fish tacos for dinner and just hung out. It was a lovely day!

Dr. K.'s letter did get into the mail so the trust administrations should get it within a couple days.

Today, it is foggy here but steamy hot over the pass and that is exactly where we are heading. After watching the F1 race from Hungary, we are heading over to run errands, food shop then trying get home will be a challenge!

A simple, nice day together before another busy week ahead.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Tourists and Whales

Another Irish Fiddling gig? Done! Two nights in a row! I need today off to recover. I did a really stupid thing yesterday morning. The cord for my iPhone was under the leg of my chair so I tried lifting the chair and grabbing the cord with one hand. I got the cord freed but not without pulling muscles from my ribs through my arm into my neck. It is a bit more sore this morning. I don't think I am going to be able to do a lot of lifting in the garden today.

In the mail yesterday, Dr. K.'s letter to the trust administrators arrived and it was a stunning letter. They wanted a statement from her regarding my condition and prognosis. "The concern is at this stage of lung function, our patient has no pulmonary reserve and may rapidly deteriorate." She then wrote about my recent move into the Lung Transplant Program and my beginning of the non-invasive testing. She also provided a brief background about the disease. It is so very well written. This morning I am running into town to copy it and will send it off to the administrators.

It is hot over the pass but beautiful here on the coast today. The whales are still playing right along the highway so we are expecting lots of tourists. We are staying home.

Friday, July 22, 2016


Sherman's c-pap machine is broken and he is not sleeping well. There is a problem right now with the Medicare contract with the providers so there is at least a two week gap of when another can be shipped to him. His sleep apnea was one of the worst cases the sleep clinic had seen. He is ninety-one years old. He could die of a heart attack or stroke due to not having this c-pap machine. Stupid.

He was not at the rehab class. He is sleeping on and off during the day and on and off during the night. He is exhausted. We won't be seeing him at the class until he is back to sleeping again.

The Irish Fiddling played for almost three hours last night. The group was not tight at the beginning but got better as we continued to play. It was fun to watch people walk by, smile, take photos, listen for a few songs then continue on. Years ago, William went to school with the kids of the founders of the local orchestra I still play with here on the coastside. Two of those parents joined us last night for the final eight sets of songs. One played violin and the other a mandolin. It added yet another layer of music. So much fun. We were really rocking!

I barely remember falling into bed and slept the night through for the first time in so long. Usually, I would take today off to recover after so much exertion but no time today. Mom has her Prolia shot this morning and the Irish Fiddlers are playing inside the organic market for two hours beginning at 5:00 this evening.

Saturday is going to be very quiet!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Whales in Bloom

Funny how your tastes change with time and better foods. We ran through Macy's and found two tops for my new skinny jeans before our lunch at the Chinese restaurant we had not been to in years. We ordered what we used to order: Hunan beef, a small container of Chinese Chicken Salad and the lunch special of General Chicken, which included noodles and fried rice. The beef was great. Period. We brought more than half of it home, threw away the noodles and rice and split the rest for dinner. It will be a long time before we need to go back.

We were also rather surprised how little we eat now compared to before I lost all my weight six years ago.

On our way home, we stopped at the coast to watch the whales feeding. We stood and watched two different pods spouting and breaching. Huge whales. Remarkable.

Early this morning, I am having X-rays of my teeth taken, including the roots, to get clearance from my dentist for lung transplants. Who knew that even my teeth need to pass inspection? Later, I hope to see Sherman at the rehab class, work off the Chinese food then rush home to prepare for the Irish Fiddling gig this evening.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lunch, Please

Packet to trust administrators? Sent. Request for letter from Dr. K for trust and a letter from my dentist for the lung transplant clinic? Done. Back to rehab class? Fun, except that Sherman was not there. It was great talking with everyone, returning to a room filled with friends. I am loose this morning and feeling good.

As I checked into rehab yesterday, my blood pressure was 86/56. That is a new low for me. They would not let me workout until I was able to get it higher. After downing a full bottle of water, it got up to 110/62. Normal for me. I had noticed yesterday that I had lost some weight again. Not good. So, Michael and I have a plan for today: Chinese food.

When I was new diagnosed and very ill, we used to take a beautiful drive to our favorite little Chinese food place near Stanford and try to forget about all the stress and drama for an evening. A night to talk about other things. Because of my diet, we have not been there in many years. Today, we are going to Stanford to find a blouse or shirt to go with my new turquoise skinny jeans to wear for our Irish Fiddling gig on Friday night. Afterward, we are going to our old haunt for lunch. I can't eat more quantities of food but a lunch of Chinese food has more calories than my average lunch. Chinese Chicken Salad! Hunan Beef! General Chicken! That will do the trick!

Michael and I took the 1966 Mustang convertible for a little drive to see the whales. They were amazing as they were breaching right along the highway. Huge whales. Dozens of whales. Michael noticed that the brakes were feeling funny. We had just driven a bit north of us, he turned around to head back home and the brake pedal began getting closer to the floor board. Not good. Something was wrong. He had driven home after having the front end aligned last week and this was the first ride since then. After we carefully drove it back to the house, he found fluid on the front tire. Something happened during the alignment and the line got crimped. It was leaking brake fluid. That was a bit scary and thankfully, we were very close to home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Was Done

I am able to drag my feet a bit this morning. Yesterday was as nuts as anticipated and I was exhausted by bedtime. My heart was beating a bit faster when my eyes fell upon my new portable oxygen system at Kathy's house in the morning. Freedom. Trips. Adventures. I strapped it into the passenger seat then rolled it up to mom's for the rest of the day. After I got home in the late afternoon, I set it up and got it working. It is just perfect as it offers a continuous flow setting, a must for me. I just don't have the inhale strength to kick in the pulse setting when I am sleeping and an alarm will go off throughout the night.

Mom did buy a new computer and I set it all up for her. I still need to tweak it but she will be happy with it until next week. It was mentally exhausting for me, we ran to get a quick lunch around 1PM then I had to get home. Dinner tonight is a recipe that I had to cook for two hours yesterday afternoon then finish off tonight. It was a lot of work. Then, I had to read the email from the attorney, rewrite my letter being sent to the administrators today and reconstruct my financial document.

After a quick dinner Michael pulled together, we both went to the Irish Fiddling rehearsal last night. I stood and played from 6:00 - 8:00 and was totally done, mentally and physically. We rolled the bass home, I changed and crawled into bed within minutes of getting home.

Today, the packet of requested information for the trust administrators will be copied and sent via FedEx before my rehab class. This will be my first day back in a week and I am looking forward to seeing everyone. A week ago, Else had her interview to move forward with her lung transplants after a downturn and I am eager to hear how it went. I hear the guy who was causing problems was really quiet while I was gone. I hope he stays that way. Sherman will be waiting when I get there. He will have lots to tell me.

My thoughts are on tomorrow. We are spending the day playing hooky. Don't know if we will take a drive somewhere or stay home to work in the garden. I need Michael's help digging up and replanting a bush. Whatever we do, it will be nice.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Not a Moment to Rest

Here we go. A wild ride is ahead for the entire week.

I just sent the email to my attorney. After making any suggested changes, I will make copies and send a packet to the trust administrators tomorrow. No time today.

Watching the clock, I have to be over the pass in an hour to pick up my new portable oxygen system. I am so excited. It will give us such freedom and we will never have to rent another one again!

Mom will be waiting for me so we can spend the morning buying and transferring data to her new laptop. Excitement!

After spending a short time at home, we are both going to the Irish Fiddling rehearsal, where I will have to focus and think, until my bedtime.

It will be a non-stop, crazy day.

Tomorrow is going to be even more exciting. I hope to make it to Saturday!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Catching my Breath

Yesterday, It took a lot longer than expected to pull all the data together for the attorneys. I had to transfer my financial data into categories. Anytime one is working with numbers, there can be a problem. I finally got it into a proper format, drafted my email to my attorney and another to the trust administrator.

Tomorrow, I will need to make lots of copies, work with the attorney and pick up my portable operating system. I also heard back from my email to Dr. K. asking for a letter to the administrators regarding my "condition and prognosis." I had explained to her why I needed it and she replied that she needed to know exactly what she should address. How detailed? I will ask my attorney and get back to her on Monday as well.

Adding to a crazy Monday, mom is buying a new computer and wants me to go with her. They will transfer all her contacts, photos and emails as it is a mystery to me. I am an Apple user, she is not.

It is going to be one long day.

Oh, and there is a rehearsal with the Irish Fiddlers in preparation for the two gigs Thursday and Friday nights.

It is going to be one long week.

Today is going to be quiet. After a quick run to pick up a couple of items I forgot, I will review all my work from yesterday, tweak things, take a nap and have a nice day before the madness of the week begins.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Portable Oxygen System

The attorney is back in my life for a short stay. He helped me gain approval to buy an Eclipse portable oxygen system from a newly formed and tightly held out-of-state family trust. After I tried to rent one in February before we drove to Seattle, I vowed to buy one. It was impossible. Apria, my oxygen supplier, offered one for rental ($350.00 for two weeks) but they didn't recommend it for sleeping. Duh. So, I would have to still give them two weeks notice to have a concentrator waiting for me at our destination on the road. That was difficult. We were going to take the 800 mile trip in two days but, because of a possible snowstorm in mountains, we would not be able to decide the route until a couple days before we left, so we could not give Apria two weeks notice for the concentrator at a hotel for the night on the road. We ended up driving the entire way in one day. It was tough. We were exhausted and I did get sick. It was just too much.

Life happens and sometimes one doesn't get a two week notice for a funeral, as an example. This will give us so much more freedom. We can take overnight trips on a whim. Feel like a museum run to LA? Hop in the car.

This all fell into place when I was talking about buying one with Kathy at the rehab class. She had a new Eclipse she bought in March but hated it. Too big. She does not have a restrictive lung disease so she doesn't need the continuous flow, which is so important to me. This is the exact system I needed. Through her husband's connections, she bought extra batteries and they got a really good deal.

Early Monday morning, I am meeting her at her house on the other side of the pass, we will make the exchange of a check for the Eclipse and a paid invoice so I can be reimbursed by the trust.

This weekend, I need to gather financial data, request a letter from Dr. K. to the trust administrators describing my condition and prognosis, three years of income taxes and proof of Michael's Social Security income.

People don't remember that most restrictive lung diseases happen when the person is in their early 50s, the highest earning years. Suddenly, no income. No income to increase Social Security income for later in life. No income to invest in retirement funds. I might be able to get a bit of money each month because of this. It is not a lot but it would help so much since Michael retired.

I will draft a letter to the trust administrators and a list of documents I plan to include and run it by my attorney on Monday morning. Sometimes, I tend to give too much information and he reminds me to give only what they require. He is a good lawyer!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hanging Out

We had way too much fun yesterday. Up and out of the house early, we worked our way through traffic and were right on time at the dealership to drop off our new/old car. We took off to Nordstrom, which was having one of their big sales. Michael really needed some casual shoes and got amazing deals. I even bought a pair of skinny turquoise jeans on a super sale.

After buying dirt to re-pot my tomato plants, we began to think about lunch. Where shall we go? Well, I must admit it was my idea. Since it was only 11:30, we could get into the very famous Refuge, known for their lean, perfectly cooked pastrami. They have been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives for a good reason. Delicious. We split their Ruben sandwich served with pickled onions on the side but could not finished it. They are that rich. They are so fantastic. I must mention here that we had an egg for dinner. And a sugar free popsicle.

Somehow, I am going to try to get into my new skinny jeans today!

The biggest treat of the day was that we had to shuttle the 1966 Mustang convertible that Michael and William had built from the frame up, to a wheel place for an alignment. Since I had never driven Michael's car and it had a weird shifting issue, I had to drive the Mustang!!!! It was the first time I had ever driven it!!! What a blast. I felt years drifting away remembering driving our Mustang when we were first married.

The move began two days ago. William's cousin William (Anna's son) and his wonderful Maddy are moving to Tacoma, where our William went to college but now lives in Seattle. The Williams have never met each other. Our William is 6'5" tall and the other William is about 5'7" if he stands really straight. I would love a photo of the two of them side by side. I have encouraged them both to get in touch with each other. They would like each other, though our William is over a decade older. He could show them around, take them to concerts, give them restaurants suggestions and just welcome them to the Seattle area. They should arrive to their new life today. They have an apartment waiting for them, William already has a job and Maddy is in the final interview for a teaching position. They are to be married next summer on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, closer to all the relatives. They are such a great couple and I have grown so fond of Maddy. I wish them a world of happiness as they carve out a life together beginning today.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


I was a hit with Winnie and Oliver yesterday. While at Safeway, I spotted hunks of lemon bread and pound cake with a chocolate swirl. Perfect. Winnie loves lemon while there is nothing better on earth than chocolate to Oliver. My soul was refilled after their visit. Such great children. While I was getting an ice cube to cool Winnie's peppermint tea, Oliver said, "I spotted a lot of Popsicles in your freezer." A bit later, he chose an orange one and sat alone on the swing enjoying every bite.

Winnie went to the Olympic Gymnastic tryouts and was so inspired. She is tiny but is already part of the Junior Olympic's program. Fearless. Fierce. She showed me a few of her moves on the lawn. They are going to mountains to visit Natalie's mom and her house bumps up against a National Forest. Lots of birds. Winnie told me they are going to bring her birthday binoculars to do some bird watching. Oliver wears his cowboy boots everywhere, even to the very fancy restaurant to celebrate his grandfather's birthday. I saw the photo!

After they left, I made the deviled eggs for breakfast, took a nap and we had a quiet evening. This morning, we have to take the new/old car into the dealership for an oil change and a check-up. We will be together all morning, have a bit of lunch then pick it up this afternoon. Rather nice to spend the day together on the other side of the pass.

Today is the final day of the antibiotics. Tomorrow, I will drop by my local doctor's office to request a test in a week to make sure it is gone. I hope so but something tells me it is not.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


The back yard looked so good after almost three hours of cleaning it up! And it still needs more trimming but I ran out of room in the two huge garden recycling bins. After Michael removed the rosemary, I trimmed back everything in that area and he was totally shocked when he saw it. While working, it occurred to me to plant lobelia along the rock wall for bright color that will last far into late Fall. The area above the back fence also needed trimming from the intrusion of vines from the neighbors.

He and I spent about an hour in the afternoon just sitting in the sunshine (yes, there was some sunshine!) and looking at everything. Next, a plant along the fence is getting too big for the space so he is going to move it to the secret garden where there is a newly cleaned out spot just waiting for it.

There was a meeting then a rehearsal with the Irish Fiddling group last evening. I was so inspired watching the Ukulele Orchestra from Britain that we talked about adding bits of "flair" to our performances. Keep the audience laughing. Check them out on YouTube. All went well and we have two concerts next week.

Today, there will be a grocery run then Natalie is going to swing by with the kids. Yeah! Afterward, I will need a nap as the rehearsal ran late and I didn't sleep well last night. I am feeling better, the infection seems to be on the run but only a urine test a week from Friday will prove it or not.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


The doctor was running a bit late so mom and I were able to get caught up. We talked about everything from politics to movies. Then, the shot in her eye. She was such a trooper as she never complained about the pain but her eye teared up for a couple hours afterward. She has macular degeneration and these years of shots have really slowed down the disease. Rather miraculous.

Since I am on antibiotics until the weekend, I can't go to the rehab class today. Michael ripped out the overgrown rosemary in the back garden yesterday so I am going out to clean up that area and will water the pots today. Nothing too taxing.

I am breathing really well. Even with antibiotics, I need to keep moving as it makes such a difference in how I function. After my work in the gardens, I may just grab a book, sit on the swing in the side yard and relax before the rehearsal with the Irish Fiddlers this evening during the All Star Game.

Food for the week! Food shopping tomorrow! Here are the recipes I will be using that fit into my diet of 3-4 oz. of protein and non-starchy vegetables. My prednisone ladened pancreas does not process food, i.e., sugar, properly. I eat 1,200 calories/day to lose weight and 1,400 calories/day to maintain my weight.

Boursin Deviled Eggs - HERE
Bacon and Egg Breakfast Chili - HERE

Hamburger with Brie - Michael cooking!
Day Before Chicken - I use 2 boneless breasts for 4 servings - HERE
Fish Tacos - HERE
Five Spiced Pork with Asian Slaw - HERE

Monday, July 11, 2016

Generation Changing Us

Those 30-somethings. They are changing things like how they purchase anything, they love adventure travel not staying in fancy hotels, want good food but not fancy restaurants, they are totally tied to social media to announce moments of their lives and they are even changing how they get married.

Last month, my friend Christien's daughter married her wonderful Matt in a ceremony in the Grand Tetons witnessed only by the photographer. No parents. No nobody. They wanted to focus on what was important: getting married. They didn't want the day to be all about the after party. They stayed a few days afterward as their honeymoon before they returned home. Later, they will be flying to their new home in Dublin, Ireland.

But first, they are throwing a party in August to celebrate their marriage. I so wish we could attend but it will be too hot and too muggy in the South. Not healthy for me. The party? It will be in a park and feature food trucks. No fancy cake. No china and silverware. Just a lot of fun followed by a late night bar run in the big city for anyone with enough energy after the party. The invitations? Engraved on white card stock? Hardly! It was a post card that was charming and perfect but also offered a web site for more information. There were no lists of where they were registered. No requests for money. There was just a plea to join them for their special day.

I laughed when I read it all. So different from my day of everything having to be so very proper. But really, how smart. Apparently, her grandmother is having a really difficult time dealing with the lack of protocol. She is especially troubled by the invitation and their lack of interest of china patterns.

Life is going to be so different when my generation is gone. We still shop mostly in stores and sometimes want a fancy restaurant! The 30-something generation is brave enough to not just accept what has been. Who would ever have though you could buy a bed in a box to be delivered to your house?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Simple Sunday

I had such a nice, different Saturday and, because the weather was so wet and foggy, no weekend traffic problems driving the pass home. A double bonus.

Instead of working in the gardens, Mom and I talked and talked and talked while we enjoyed a Persian restaurant we have been wanting to try near her house. It was marvelous, the cute guy at the next table helped us order and we had a really nice two hours! I brought the leftovers home and moments after walking through the door, Michael was enjoying them. His pre-dinner dinner.

It was a talking day as I also had nice chats with both my brother and sister. A triple bonus!

We are shocked to see blue sky about us this morning. We are excited to watch the F1 race from England later this morning. We are planning a lunch out somewhere. We are planning to water the garden pots later this afternoon. All in all, a quiet simple Sunday together. The best.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

An Unwelcome Surprise!

I am rather exhausted this morning but will be outside my Saturday comfort zone all day. I woke up with symptoms of another UTI yesterday morning. It came on hard and fast. It had only been a month since the last one. Worrisome. I dropped by my local doctor's office, was able to see the doctor within the hour, told her that I would be seeing Dr. M. a few hours later and would be asking for a referral to a urologist.

After getting my prescription for a week of antibiotics, I was home just an hour before driving into the city for my appointment with Dr. M.

Mom and I had to cancel our plans.

On my way north along the coast, there was an area called Surfer's Beach right along the highway. Traffic was slow and cars were parked and scattered along the road. People were out with binoculars, there was a large number of huge pelicans in the water but suddenly, a whale would breach. Right along the road! Remarkable!

Dr. M. first went through his thoughts about my thyroid disease and ordered blood tests then we talked about my latest infection. After reviewing my local doctor's notes and my test results from both infections, he believed that the first infection had not been totally eradicated. Instead of sending me to a urologist, he asked me to return to my local doctor a week after this run of antibiotics for a test to see if the bacteria or blood was still present. If clear, he wants another test a month later. If either test reveals the presence of something still brewing, he will refer me to an excellent urologist.

I must remind you that Dr. M. was the person who saved my life by referring me to the Chest Faculty Clinic in 2004. He listened to my symptoms and said, "You have a restrictive lung disease." Up until that point, I had been misdiagnosed with exercise induced asthma. I was rapidly growing sicker and sicker and, had he not stepped in, I would not be here now. He is also the person who gave me the referral to the Weight Management Group six years ago.

I trust him. I listen to him.

Michael and I still went to the sweet party last evening for Jim and Kathy's youngest grandchild's graduation from high school. It was a catered, outdoor affair in their newly installed gardens at the business. Very impressive! Pond included! We stayed a bit too long, I was not feeling well when we made our way home. I will try to take it easy today.

Ah, today. Saturdays are usually reserved for the gardens but I had worked in the front ones on Wednesday and the back is still fine. Plus, it is wet with fog this morning. Since I had to miss mom yesterday, we are meeting after her hair appointment this morning to have lunch together and get caught up on our week apart. Lots to share!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Drama in Rehab Class

Great saturation numbers during the workout at rehab class yesterday. I usually desaturate on the bike but held at 96% on 2 liters. Nice. As an extra bonus, caveman was not there. There had been some drama with Sherman and checking into the class. Some of the new people, including the really obnoxious guy who yelled at us for standing and waiting to get into class, do not have the social acuity to understand the process. For fifteen years, Sherman had arrived early so that he could be first to be checked in then work out and leave. He is 91-years old. It is important to him. Dick and I would usually follow him as we would arrive a bit later but still before anyone else. Else, who is waiting to be listed for transplants, was always next followed by whoever arrived after her. No problem.

Caveman didn't get it. The former dance teacher didn't get it. The guy who only got a lung transplant after he gave up smoking a pack of cigarettes and twenty-two joints a day also didn't get it. He was the one who yelled at us, slammed lockers complaining the that he had to search for an empty one, was loud and rude and obnoxious. I guess I am the epitome of what he despised so he focused his comments towards me. I tried to be polite and kind but then I gave up. I just don't comment on anything he says. No matter the subject, he always injects a hugely negative statement about his own experiences. I have never heard him ask about anyone's health or had any interest in anyone but himself. Nasty. Negative.

Sherman complained to the staff that these people didn't get it. First come, first served. He was not happy. Again, he's 91-years old. It was not a big deal to me but it was to him.

Last Tuesday, I was kind of surprised when Sherman was in the first chair (caveman was in the second one) and I was fourth. They checked Sherman in first then came down the line to me. Interesting.

Yesterday, the lineup was Sherman, dance teacher, nasty guy, me, my friend Richard, Else. Before we could sit, the RN asked the nasty guy to get his binder. (It was in different area than ours, for some reason.) She then pointed at me to sit in his chair. I sat. She told Richard to sit next to me. He sat. The nasty guy gave them his binder, turned around and realized there was no seat for him. He threw a fit. "I lost my seat! I have to go to the back of the line? That is not fair!" While he was throwing the fit, Sherman was checked in and they were finishing my check in. After the nasty guy finally got checked in, he was still yelling about it while warming up then proceeded to open and slam all 12 lockers. A baby throwing a fit. As he once proudly told me, "I'm a shit disturber." He was outsmarted and he didn't like it.

We will see what happens the next time he is in the class. I hope everything just calms down. I hope people just allow Sherman to get checked in first. I don't care when I get checked it. Such drama!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Exercise = Breathing Better

I swear my breathing is better if I make sure to exercise everyday. Try the experiment for yourself. Build up the intensity of the exercise just a bit each day. After working hard in the gardens yesterday, I slept so well plus there is the bonus that I am breathing effortlessly this morning. It will be interesting to see my saturation numbers while working out in the rehab class later today. My bet is that they are better than there were on Tuesday.

Our friends Jim and Kathy are throwing a party graduation party for their youngest granddaughter early Friday evening. They own a huge company and the party will be in the gardens and around the fire pit in the "yard." Outside. In the fog. I shall be wearing a heavy winter coat, scarf around my neck and stay upwind from the fire pit! I love their parties as I tend to bump into people I haven't seen in years. Lots of fun.

Before all the fun, I will have my once a year appointment with Dr. M., my endocrinologist. I love his office people and he was the doctor who wrote the referral for my lung disease way back in 2004. He was one of my parents at the school where I got sick.

Several years before he was my doctor, I had struggled with exhaustion, loss of hair, broken fingernails and so many symptoms but it was the loss of my period that finally caused the doctors to pay attention to my complaints. One idiot told me I was suffering from depression. Finally, a nurse practitioner who knew me personally, decided to delve deeper. She found I actually had Hashimoto's Disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. After six months of regulating medications, I was finally feeling normal. After she left a clinic, Dr. M. took over my case and actually tweaked the medications and has been tweaking me ever since!

Before my appointment tomorrow, I will spend the morning with mom. We will not have seen each other for an entire week. We will have to talk quickly!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Back Into the Gardens

I woke up with a cough and it continued all day, even through the rehab class. Sherman was in fine form and caveman seems to have gotten the hint to back off. Before the class, I bought my items at Costco and chatted with a lovely 90-year old gentleman while waiting for it to open. Very smart, young looking, active gentleman. I had more wrinkles than he did!

My numbers were not great in rehab, maybe because I didn't move much last weekend. Today, I am going into the gardens to do some major trimming. Hopefully, I will feel better and looser when I am finished.

Else had been working out in the rehab class for over a year while waiting to be approved for the next steps for lung transplants. She recently had a downturn, needed more oxygen, had pulmonary hypertension and was just re-evaluated. They want her to have the invasive test into heart once again before they make a decision on whether she was a qualified candidate. Not only did she have an interstitial lung disease, but she also had a connective tissue disease. Such a sweet woman dealing with so much. It was sad to see her really struggling in rehab as her downturn was so evident. I hope it was enough to begin the transplant process. She was miserable.

After the rehab class, I stopped at Trader Joe's for some groceries and arrived home to fine Michael still in his car. So often we arrive home within minutes of each other. Did it again yesterday. He hauled all my bags into the house.

I made some delicious deviled eggs for Michael's breakfast. Trader Joe's had a pastrami-style smoked salmon that was full of flavor so I added half of a slice rolled to the top of each filled egg. Oh my.

The Irish Fiddlers have two performances coming up so the rehearsal last night was focused. Leslie and Tim had just returned from a week away at Fiddle Camp where they learned so much including some new songs.

It felt like a quick, busy, full day. But today, I am ready to stay home and physically work in the yards. And a shower later.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dive Back Into Life

I wish I had some exciting news to report or that we went fabulous places yesterday or we had brilliant ideas. None of the above, unfortunately! We had a really quiet day, which preceded a really quiet weekend. Michael was so much better but I still wanted him to take it easy. Even this morning, I am begging him to cool his jets today so the cold will continue to recede. He looks better. He feels better. It is going to take a couple more days for it to totally leave his body.

There were no local county fireworks last night and it was foggy most of the day. Some fool two streets over began setting off what sounded like M80s beginning around 9PM. Yes, I was in bed. We have been in a drought. Everything was still very dry and this idiot was shooting off illegal fireworks in a housing complex? Stupid.

My dance card is full! I need to do a quick Costco run for some vitamins before rehab class then off to Trader Joe's for the week's groceries after the class. I need to make some deviled eggs for our breakfast for the next few days before the Irish Fiddling rehearsal this evening.

A busy day.

Back into life after a long weekend of recovery for Michael and a very quiet, relaxing time for me.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July! We are staying home, enjoying each other and promising to watch the fireworks from the Boston Pops Concert tonight. It is so foggy here, there will be no fireworks tonight! We have been invited to a private party hosted by the restaurant right on the ocean north of us. It will give us a chance to see whales, who are a constant stream like a super highway just off the coast. We'll decide if we want to go out into the tourists later this afternoon. The memories of the best crab sandwich in the world may be the tipping point of whether we go or not.

Enjoy sunshine, family, county and fireworks today!

Sunday, July 3, 2016


We have turned a corner! Michael is so much better this morning. Maybe, I can sleep in my own bed tonight! The goal today includes washing and ironing the sheets and taking a long shower. Looking out the windows this morning, the ground is wet from fog mist. No sun. Yesterday, we turned on the furnace for a little bit to take the chill off. July. Crazy.

I didn't do a thing yesterday except be with Michael. After a quick run to Safeway then a little later to pick up some lunch, we stayed home all day.

The gardens are still calling to me,"Hello! Get out here!" If the fog lifts and the grass dries a bit, I will attempt to go out and play with them.

We are loving this lazy three day weekend. It feels so luxurious.

I so hope you are enjoying it, too!

Saturday, July 2, 2016


Michael is a bit worse this morning. After whining at him to slow down all week, he woke up this morning will his head fully clogged, sneezing, a headache and not feeling well. Duh. Time to take a break and take it easy, big guy. Maybe I need to hide his car keys!

Though I am still sleeping on the couch, I slept great last night for the first time. I am finally feeling rested.

Mom and I spent yesterday together. Our newly trimmed toe nails are painted pretty colors and we did some financial business for her with her new wealth manager in town. We had lunch at a real train depot over the pass then got her home and settled.

I am home for the weekend. Except for a quick Safeway run, I have no plans to leave the homestead. The gardens are on the agenda for today. As we stood chatting with Ron yesterday, we realized that we were the only ones home this weekend. All the other six homes are empty! Families out having a fun holiday! I feel such a responsibility to keep and eye on everything!

The housewarming gift of Omaha Steaks arrived right on time yesterday. Mary was on the phone with me when the UPS driver delivered them. They are planning to BBQ them tomorrow. In a few weeks, I plan to send some special Peet's Coffee that she loves but too expensive for her and I keep trying to think of things she would enjoy but not buy for herself. A little surprise to arrive every few weeks. She told me yesterday that she can't believe how happy she was living with her daughter in a totally new area of the country. She was having a ball.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Supplemental Oxygen Test Results

The big medical test was yesterday: Did I need supplemental oxygen 24/7? After an early lunch and just hanging around waiting for it to settle, I was ready for the test. It began with blood pressure, temperature, saturation, height and weight information written on a form. We then moved to the room with the dreaded bike. I sat and was interviewed by a physician to make sure I was strong enough for the test. I had her laughing! I told her that Dr. K. and I had argued about whether I needed oxygen 24/7. But, since Dr. K. had won every argument for the last eleven years, I was due for a win. I was ready. I even had my yoga top on! The doctor really laughed when I started humming the "Rocky" song, "Gonna Fly Now!"

The wonderful tech put me on the bike, strapped a saturation meter on my forehead, put another on a finger as backup and kicked the bike on. Let the test begin! I had to keep it between 60-70 rpm while she registered my saturation rates. First 2 minutes - 10 watts of resistance. No problem. Next 2 minutes - 20 watts of resistance. Oh, hello there! Next 2 minutes - 40 watts of resistance. Okay, we're here to play. Not really horrible but harder and harder as the minutes ticked away. I was feeling done but.... 60 watts of resistance! I tried but could not finish it.

The results? My saturation rates never fell below 92 percent. I don't need supplemental oxygen 24/7!

The doctor couldn't believe it! She laughed and congratulated me! The tech walked me back down the hallway and was going into the pulmonary lab when the head of the lab spotted me. She asked how it went and I didn't need to say a word as my arms were raised in the Rocky poise and the theme song was lightly filling the room! I had beaten Dr. K. on a bet. For once. Finally.

Now, dear reader, you are not going to believe what happened next.

The campus of the university hospital is massive, with at least a dozen buildings including the hospital and clinic buildings. Lots of people are out on the wide sidewalks walking between all these buildings. After I made my way down the huge, slow elevator from the hospital, I crossed the street and headed to the valet parking area to pay then wait for my car. Within steps, there was Dr. K. walking beside me. I couldn't believe it. "Hi, there!" I said. She looked over at me and said, "Well, hello!" I notice when I bump into her outside the exam room, she never asks how I am feeling. Smart. "I just took the oxygen test," pausing for effect, "and I passed! 92%."

I swear that she smiled. Smiled! Dr. K.! "Great!"

Quickly changing the subject, I asked if she was taking off for her summer vacation. She said she just found out they were going to Cape Cod and was really looking forward to it.

At this point, I headed one way, she the other. I was still in shock that I had run into her. And still in shock that I had passed the test.

Maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket!