Living Well with a Bad Diagnosis - Lung Disease

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cooking, Baking, Playing

I am feeling a bit better. Still tired so it may take a few more days to recover from the past two+ weeks of madness. It is going to be so crazy today that I am making dinner early this morning. Since it is Wednesday, it is yoga hell! After class, I have a hair appointment then I need to rush home.

The receptionist at Michael's work is having her 25th birthday tomorrow so I offered to bake two of my favorite single layer chocolate cakes covered with ganache then pralines. It was be refrigerated after the ganache is applied. While it is in the refrigerator, I am going to meet Natalie and the kids at their gymnastic class near the harbor at 4:00. It will give us a chance to get caught up on their vacation and for me to play with the kids.

After the rehab class yesterday, I decided to cut and blow the gardens. I think that is why I slept so well last night! At rehab, Sherman greeted me and I noticed that his hand was swollen. Really swollen. I had the nurse look at it and they told him to go to the doctor immediately. He drove to the local emergency room and, after an x-ray, they really couldn't figure out how he injured his hand. One finger is now in a splint and they don't want him to move it much. Also, he is taking a run of antibiotics. My poor 88-year old friend!

Speaking of rehab, it was my first day back after being out since the cancer surgery. Lots of appointments for mom, doctor appointments, visitors and exhaustion kept me away. It was fun to get back into the routine, people hugged me and said they missed me, and I sweated! Really sweated which is rather rare for me now. So many new people were now in the class and my sweet parking attendant was no longer there. I was not even able to say goodbye to him. Changes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grateful for the Disease - Ten Years Later

It has become more and more clear to me that this illness has been a true gift. When I think back at what I looked like, thought of myself, was so independent from Michael, proud of being a fantastic mother, driven, very black or white on issues, off-putting and many other things, I am not the same person today as I was the day I got my diagnosis.

I am in the best physical shape of my life. I am eating well and exercising six days a week. I feel strong, have muscles and so aware of my breathing.

I have always been confident and felt that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Well, I can't cure a fatal disease no matter how hard try! It has made me humble and much more understanding of other people and their issues in life.

Suddenly, I must depend on Michael for my life. Financially, I only have him. That was hard for me. I have never been a dependent person. I needed him to help me get on my feet and begin the journey after the lung biopsy. He is always there besides me now. He watches me breathe at night. He makes sure I am not overextending myself.

Lately, I realized that I was a fine mother but really, I had a very easy, nice, funny, smart kid. He did the heavy lifting.

Goal driven. All of my life I have worked towards goals. My goals are so different now. Maintaining my health is number one. Everyday. Making sure my family is happy and that we have good relationships is another major goal. Everything is less important.

So confident, I was often intimidating to people. So confident, I only believed in right or wrong. Accept or dismiss. Today, I love when I make a human connection with the checker at the market or teller at the bank or a person while we are standing in line. I am so much more opened. Much more aware that life doesn't happen in a straight line.

It took a disease to make me stop. It MADE me stop. It made me reconsider everything in my life.

I am a much happier person today. I am a much healthier person in every way.

I am grateful for the disease.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Telomeres Update

Do you remember when I reported back from an ILD Support Group meeting about telomeres? To help your memory, dear reader, see below:

In the August 2013 Prevention Magazine, there is an article "Life-Lengthening Drugs in the Works." To quote the article:
David Sinclair, PhD, a Harvard-based Australian researcher, may have found the secret to slowing down the aging process, and new drugs that ward off age-related illnesses could be on the market within 5 years. Newly developed synthetic molecules activate SIRT1, an anti-aging enzyme that "acts as a traffic cop, directing other proteins to keep a cell healthy," says Dr. Sinclair. Targeted molecules are being developed to treat illnesses from Alzheimer's disease to type 2 diabetes.

What they apparently have found is a way to prop up the proteins on the ends of the telomeres. That would be huge.

In other news, we said goodbyes to our son yesterday after meeting him for lunch in the city. Traffic was crazy while trying to drive him back to his hotel so he ended up walking the final mile. They were flying out early this morning for the next concert in the Midwest. It was a real treat to spend so much time with him while he was on tour. Unusually rare treat.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Busy Quiet Day

During my quiet day yesterday, I did four loads of laundry, picked up the house, balanced the checkbook, paid some bills, went to the bank, put gas in the car then took an hour nap. It was foggy here all day so I didn't even step a foot into our garden. I was having some issues with our house alarm so the technician arrived right on time and fixed everything.

Michael drove the '66 Mustang home after getting some work done on it so after dinner, we had to drive back over the pass to pick up his other car. Our friend Jim dropped off some salmon for dinner that was caught just six hours earlier. Enough for two nights of dinners! So wonderful!

William is going to work his way into the city later this morning, do some shopping, have his favorite burrito then meet us for an early dinner/late lunch. It has been so nice to be with him during this part of the tour.

I am looking forward to my gloriously quiet week ahead. It may even be a bit boring! That would be wonderful. I need some down time. I need to work out everyday. I need to get back to my sleeping schedule. I need to eat my own food!

Saturday, July 27, 2013


It didn't all unfold as planned but was even better in the end. I met with Dr. M, my endocrinologist, who checked all my tests, ordered some new ones, organized my meds and told me about his kids. He monitors my cholesterol, thyroid and bone density but he was also a parent at the school where I got sick and I adored his children. After the blood tests, I drove to mom's home and waited for her to return from driving a friend to a doctor's appointment then suddenly it was bumping into 1PM and I was starved. We grabbed a quick bit then got the car washed before it was time to pick Michael up from work.

The day just flew by.

Our adventure began.

Friday rush hour traffic usually begins around 3:00 but somehow we were just ahead of the major traffic. We wove our way north and managed to work our way on three different freeways to the restaurant in the hills of Berkeley. While driving, we got several phone calls and text messages that the Bay Bridge was closed in both directions. It was going to be a total mess but we were able to avoid it all by using the San Mateo Bridge, which had been our plan all along. We arrived on time.

We enjoyed a light dinner with the artist who produced most of the rock posters in the 60s to the present. He is always interesting! We were deep in the Berkeley hills, he led us through the hills on tiny streets to the venue, waved goodbye then we got lost. Really lost. The area didn't have phone service so we had no help. We did meet several lovely people while asking for directions. Finally, we noticed a lot of cars heading towards where we needed to began to look familiar, I got service on my phone and suddenly we arrived on time.

The VIP badges allowed us to wander where ever we wanted to go. We checked in with the security in the area surrounding William's sound board but Michael really wanted coffee. So, we worked our way backstage. The entire backstage area was opened to the elements. No coverings. Lots of sofas. Beautifully lit. William spotted us, got some coffee for his dad and began to introduce us to everyone. I ran down to the green room to use the bathroom and walked in on the most beautiful woman. We had a good laugh and a chat and later that evening, I watched while she was on stage. Fantastic voice. Beautiful and talented!

The lead singer came by to say hello and looked the best we have ever seen him. Michael was really the only person who could say this but he had the right tone, "You are so handsome!" and everyone laughed. Perfect. Broke the ice.

William was telling us about the opening act from New Orleans who was a man, his DJ and three women who rapped and shook their butts. It was all about butts. It was oddly fascinating, entertaining and even the security guards, who have seen everything, were enjoying the show.

After the stage change, the group took the stage. William went to work. It was being filmed and recorded but the weather was playing nasty tricks on some equipment. William was happy with most of it from his end but the issues were on stage. We never noticed. The place went nuts, it was the best show we have seen in many years and since they are also having a concert tonight, they did not have to tear down the equipment. Then, the magic happened. William, for the first time ever, invited us backstage for a beer. We hung out during the after party. I ran into the beautiful woman again and she said such kind things about our son.

Finally, William walked me to an area and we waited while Michael drove the car down. I couldn't walk back up a huge hill. No way.

After a long drive home on empty freeways, we were in bed at 1AM. I am exhausted. I will be doing a bit of wash, meeting with our alarm company people to fix some equipment sometime this afternoon and that is it. During his day off tomorrow, we are meeting William for lunch at the place we are taking mom for her birthday. A dry run.

Next week? I am working out everyday, having my hair cut and seeing mom. Period. I need some down time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Unfolding Days

It is so interesting how days unfold. I took a shower then waited to hear from William yesterday. I knew the tour buses were driving up from a concert in LA and he would be staying at hotel for four days near the concert venue in Berkeley. I just didn't know the time line. Around 11:00 I texted him. He said they were waiting to get their hotel rooms and he needed a shower before spending the day with me. Okay. I waited. Finally at noon, I texted him to say that it would take an hour to get there, he had just gotten into a room so I began my journey.

I felt like an adult. Traffic is always difficult. I hate the Bay Bridge.

But yesterday, the traffic was not horrible, I found a new way onto the bridge that avoided a lot of traffic, I worked my way to his hotel and we met in the parking lot. Easy. Lots to talk about. He looked fantastic. He has been riding his bike on average of 20 miles a day. There is a running coach on tour with them as the lead singer is preparing for a 100 mile trail run. Having never been a runner, he is going to have the coach show him the proper form as to not hurt himself. Having not eaten breakfast yet, he was hungry. Whenever he is in town, he tries to have an In-N-Out Burger as he cannot eat them very often. We drove to one near Michael's work, he gobbled down a Double Double then we met Michael at his work. It was my first time meeting everyone as well. It was a very impressive operation, I as able to meet so many of the people Michael has been telling me about and it made my heart sing as I would glance over at Michael and William standing together. I love that. William towers over Michael but you can tell how they relate to each other, lean into each other, that they adore each other.

William and I left Michael to his work and spent the next three hours with my mom. She was so shocked and surprised when she opened the door and there stood William! She gave him a tour of the entire facility (something we had not done) then she wanted him to drive her new Mini-Cooper. So, off we went to Starbucks for a Chai for her and a latte for him. Back home, we talked and suddenly it was time to go back to Michael's work.

We threw him in the car, William drove us to our favorite French restaurant where they had a beet salad, bone marrow and fries with aioli as appetizers. Michael had his favorite duck confit, I my lamb daube and William had muscles. Free desserts were presented from the owner and two hours later, we were back on the Bay Bridge headed to the Berkeley hotel. What a day!

After telling William about our early dinner plans today, he really wants to taxi there to be with us but doesn't know if the sound checks will be finished in time. So, we may see him for dinner or may not.

It is going to be another late night.

This morning, I have an appointment in the city with my endocrinologist and must leave within the hour. I won't return until the concert is over late tonight. So, I must pack our concert clothes - the venue is outside - blankets to sit on and heavy coats. After the doctor appointment, I will be meeting mom for lunch then Michael at 3:00 to begin our adventure.

It will be interesting to see how this day unfolds.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paramount Theatre Summer Field Trip

We had a fantastic time. Mom and I drove to Barbara's then packed up the five day care kids, her visiting friend from Missouri and her wonderful John who drove us to the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. The tour was exceptional. We had the entire place to ourselves, except for the very important man who put the theater back together after the 1989 earthquake. He knows every nook and cranny of the multi-level theatre.

The waterfall of glass over the entrance in
the lobby
We began in the magnificent front lobby. As we stood, the guide flipped on the lights. It was breathtaking. The waves of glass were lit and we learned that several have been broken through the years and that they have artists remake the pieces.

This is other end of the lobby and where the green goes over the entire ceiling to the waterfall.

The land. Columns represent trees
 The Egyptian motifs (famous in the 30s because of the opening of King Tut's tomb) line the side walls.

View from the stairs 

Details. Lots of details. Here is the ceiling
in the room between the restrooms.
We were given an extensive tour of every nook and cranny. We saw all the bathrooms with their original tiles, the furniture featuring wood from old growth trees which are impossible to replace, old projectors, the Green Room, the generators, we were given a concert from the old organ, we climbed on the stage, we climbed under the stage and walked through the tiny hallways like a maze and we even jumped over a small creek that runs through the basement. The children and the adults were enchanted. 

Lying on the floor in the auditorium, this
is the ceiling. Note woman. The area
is back lit and changes colors.
The stage and curtain. Sorry the ceiling is not
well photographed. It was magnificent.
This was on the wall in the smoking room
for women.

And it was. It was the best.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dinner and Concert Plans

Not fully recovered from last weekend's birthday celebrations, I am overwhelmed looking forward to this weekend. William
arrives to town on Thursday but I don't know what he wants from us yet. Maybe just dinner in the city or over in Berkeley or Oakland. A late night, for sure.

Friday at 4PM, Michael and I are meeting extremely famous people for dinner near William's concert venue at a place that is owned by a Grateful Dead member. (His concert in Berkeley begins at 7:30.) One person is the famous artist known for his Fillmore's posters from the 1960s to the present. He has become a family friend. He introduced us to one of the survivors of the plane crash that killed members of Lynyrd Skynyrd band in 1977 and we will be meeting his REALLY famous wife for the first time. After dinner, they have invited us to their home, which is close by. Should be interesting! Sadly, I don't think William can join us because of sound checks and pre-concert stuff.

As a treat, we always invite someone to go with us to one of his concerts. This time, we have invited Dan and his wife whom we have gotten to know in the last year. They will be shocked when they realize who they are also meeting!

By Saturday, I will need to do nothing except sleep and rest because Sunday is William's day off. I have a feeling we will be spending the day with him. Thank goodness next week is a quiet week!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Speech to be Published

In May 2012, I presented the story of my diagnosis, symptoms and the emotional impact of living with the fatal diagnosis of an interstitial lung disease to the American Thoracic Society's international conference in San Francisco. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from ATS announcing that my story had been selected to be included in a booklet to be distributed to different groups. Here is a portion of that e-mail:

The idea behind this booklet is to take some of the stirring, moving, inspiring stories delivered by patient speakers at our present and past ATS international conferences and package some of this material in an easy-to-read booklet and make it available for distribution to PIOs, patient support groups, PAR members and their extended networks, ATS members, legislators, attendees at ATS meetings, at chapter meetings, and perhaps the general public as the ATS continues to do more and more outreach. 

The ATS is trying to create new alliances with patients and patient advocacy groups and we think this will be one additional resource that we can use to make inroads to those people who oftentimes don’t know even know what “thoracic” means or how much work the ATS and its PAR partners have done and continues to do on behalf of lung and airway disease patients. 

The booklet will have a foreword, a preface, at least one patient story on each major lung disease, photos of the patient, and quick facts on each of these diseases as a sidebar to each story. 

Your story was chosen as one we’d like to include. I have attached your speech that we have on file. You may send an updated or edited version to us as well. If you are ok with the current version, we will edit the current file and send you an edited-for-print draft of the story shortly. 

I am thrilled to be included in this booklet. I guess I will be representing Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis. I just sent a slightly revised speech to them this morning.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Looking Forward

Those two little old 80-year old ladies wore me out! I am exhausted! After they left yesterday, I pulled the house together, did four loads of wash, ironed five of Michael's work shirts, cleaned out the refrigerator, wrote out some bills, made the food shopping list for the week and just kept moving until I finally dropped. After a nap, we sat out in the garden, reviewed the weekend and I climbed into bed early.

My mom is meeting with my dentist for a cleaning here in town at 10 this morning. Lots of driving today. We are going to have our favorite fish tacos for lunch before going back over the hill to food shop. Busy day.

We are joining our friend Barbara and her day care kids for a tour of an historic art deco theatre in Oakland. Michael and I have seen several concerts in the gorgeous venue and I am looking forward to learning about its history. Mom is especially looking forward to hanging out with the kids.

William is coming to town for two concerts and two days off later this week. It will be nice to spend some time with him. While he is here, I have an appointment with my endocrinologist to check my thyroid, cholesterol and bones. A fun visit as he was a parent at the school where I got sick. I like hearing updates about his children's life.

I hope to get through this week and next weekend without getting sick. So far, so good.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Birthday Weekend Photos

They just left for the twin's house until Tuesday. Mary and her sister Patty had a blast celebrating Mary's 80th birthday. They are exhausted and full and happy. Michael served vodka and orange juice cocktails with breakfast so they are ready for the day!

My mom joined us for a lovely lunch at the historic Sheraton Palace Hotel which survived the 1906 earthquake and has the feeling of elegant times of long ago. It was been a great visit but I am exhausted. I will be doing nothing today! Tomorrow, I need to go with mom to the dentist then we must food shop. A big day.

Here are a few photos from Michael's mom's 80th birthday weekend:
Let the festivities begin

The Liver Pate was a success!

Dancing in my front entrance!
Fruit and Cheese Pizza

Drinks at the Ritz

Birthday dinner before dancing!

She needs no partners
Yes, she was on stage singing and dancing

And Aunt Patty joined in

At the Sheraton Palace with my mom
Michael with his mother
There they are - waaaay back there

So beautiful

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dancing Lady

Mary's birthday was fantastic. I will post photos tomorrow. We had fish tacos for lunch before a tour of the Ritz (we even got into the spa!) and cocktails in the Conservatory. Before we went in for drinks, I ran into the son of old friends, Joel. He was the doorman at the Ritz. We hugged, I introduced him to Mary and Patty, told him about her 80th birthday, said our goodbyes and got settled in. The view of the ocean was lovely and finally it was time to go. Joel had prepaid for our drinks! What a great guy. I am going to write a thank you note to him as he was already off work when we left. Oh, and the Ritz also brought a plate with Happy Birthday written in chocolate with a box of Ritz chocolates on the side. Mary was so touched.

We got home in time to change and drive north to the place right on the ocean. The owner greeted us and presented a platter of crab, pesto and garlic crab, shrimp and oysters. Oh my! The he brought each of us a huge plate of potatoes, broccoli, fried calamari, spicy shrimp and a crab cake. We brought a lot home!

Then, suddenly, Mary heard music. The band arrived. That 80-year old woman danced from 8:00 until we hauled her out of there at 10:00! She never sat down, met everyone and actually was on the stage singing and dancing along with the singer! People went nuts!

How can we ever top last night? There is no way. She had a ball!

Today, we leave for mom's at 10:30 in our finest to one of the most magnificent rooms in San Francisco for lunch at 1:00. I am exhausted. My voice is hoarse from talking so much. I am really going to need a nap on Sunday morning when we hand them off to the twin. But, it is a birthday celebration that she will never forget.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Company in the House

Just a quick note: Mary and Patty are here. It went splendidly at the airport. I presented each of them with a lai and place a horrible crown on Mary's head. Everyone said Happy Birthday to her as we headed towards the luggage. When the people from her flight saw the crown and lais, they sang Happy Birthday to her. It was magical.

We had a dinner of fried and raw oysters, fresh halibut, crab sandwiches and artichoke soup followed by my Fruit and Cheese Pizza. They loved it all!

We had a breakfast of smoked salmon, red onions, capers, hard boiled eggs and bagels with cream cheese. Mary also had herring. What a treat.

Lunch is going to be fish tacos then we are headed to the Ritz for early cocktails! The dinner and dancing will be tonight. She is going to be so surprised. I expect to be there until the band goes home!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Fun Begins

It wasn’t the phone call I was expecting. It came as I was in the car running to Safeway because I forgot something earlier. I was in a hurry so I almost didn’t answer it.

It was the doctor who did my colonoscopy with the news that the biopsy of the polyp came back as “premalignant.” It was not cancer yet but it had the potential, with time, to become a nice case of colon cancer. Yikes!

So now what? She said not to worry about it and that she wants to see me again in five years. Simple. But, it still creeped me out.

Fruit and Cheese Pizza
In other news, I am ready for Michael’s mom and her sister who arrive this afternoon. The Fruit and Cheese Pizza (her birthday cake) is finished, the chicken liver appetizer is ready and I will also serve Truffle Cheese with Quince and a fine Brie. We are taking them to dinner to our favorite dive down the coast for artichoke soup, freshly baked sour dough French bread and oysters. (With my diet, I have a fresh artichoke and the grilled calamari appetizer.) Oh, and cocktails, of course. Since I am a non-drinker, I will be driving home along the ocean.

While the housekeepers are doing their magic, I will be cutting the grass then jumping into the shower before heading to the airport. I am so excited to greet them both with leis and a crown for Mary. Hopefully, I will be able to rally a group of people to sing Happy Birthday with me! We’ll see.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One More Day

Today is the final day to prepare for Mary and her sister Patty's visit in celebration of Mary's 80th birthday. I had a rather quiet day yesterday, even took a nap and was able to read a bit in the garden. Today, I will be making my Fruit and Cheese Pizza as Mary's birthday cake. She is not a cake or pie person but loves fruit as dessert. So, this pizza has a sugar cookie crust covered with sweetened cream cheese then sliced bananas, kiwi and strawberries are placed in a decorative pattern on top. Delicious. Almost like a fruit cookie!

I forgot a couple of things at the grocery store and I was unable to find fresh sunflowers for the living room and a small bouquet for the table in the family room. After the yoga hell class this morning, I am going back to stores to buy everything left on the list.

Many years ago, I stumbled upon a drug. I discovered that if I took this drug at the very first signs of a cold, it stopped it in its tracks. One package would last a few years. When I noticed I was running out over a year ago, I tried to buy more at CVS and the pharmacist told me they that no longer had this drug. Rats! I have been very careful and used it as little as possible but now I am down to one pill. I went back to CVS yesterday to ask the pharmacist if there was a similar drug available. I explained that I had an interstitial lung disease and that this specific drug would stop a cold but if I didn't use it, I would get a bad cold and it would turn into bronchitis. She said that it was a great drug but CVS no longer carried it and whispered to me that Rite-Aid still sells it. WOW! Why didn't the other pharmacist share that information with me? To Rite-Aid! The lovely pharmacist there offered to order it for me and I could pick it up today! I am thrilled.

The CVS pharmacist warned me that it may cause heart palpitations and to be very careful. I have never experience that but sometimes I had a rather restless night when taking the drug.

So, what is this drug? Aprodine made by Major. It is a decongestant and an antihistamine. Triprolidine and pseudoephedrine hydrochlorides. It is kept behind the counter but does not need a prescription. Ask your doctor before taking it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Two Days Before

The count down continues: two days before Michael's mother's visit. Today's list includes food shopping, painting two spots on the wall which the contractor's tape lifted, checking in with my friend in North Carolina and finally cleaning the front door.

The contractors were able to install all the new heating ducts in one day instead of two. They are finished. I had to remove all the coats from the front closet so the contractors could have access to the crawl space. Today, I am going to return everything back into the closet. It has been in the living room the past week. Clutter drives me nuts and having a huge pile of stuff just sitting out makes me twitch!

There is a thick, very wet fog throughout the Bay Area today but the good news is that it is going to be perfect weather for their visit later this week. There will be sunshine but not too hot. Thank goodness!

It was shocking to have a headache yesterday. I NEVER get headaches and since it was in the sinus area, I worried that a cold was to follow. I took one of my special antihistamines and I feel great this morning. Hopefully, it knocked it down.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Three Days Before

Count down! Three day before the arrival of Michael's mom Mary and her sister Patty to celebrate Mary's 80th birthday. Sunday, Michael met with the owner of the restaurant right on the ocean where we are going to actually celebrate her birthday not only because she can have her favorite steak and lobster but they have great dance bands. She is a dancer. I have seen people move aside and an entire dance floor watch and applaud while she dances. She never needs a partner. It is pure joy to watch. We will stay until she says she is done or the band goes home, which ever comes first. The owner told Michael that they would take care of her, which means plates and plates of food will arrive unannounced to the table. I am sure it will be everything from fresh crab to oysters to calamari and more. We warned Mary and Patty that they would probably gain ten pounds during their 3-day visit!

I did stop all of my preparations for a well needed 90-minute nap yesterday. I was dragging. In the morning, I did five loads of laundry, ironed our sheets and Michael's shirts, and cleaned the huge patio umbrella. Michael got home in time to enjoy the sunshine on the patio before dinner.

It was a very fulfilling weekend. I am now ready for their visit on Thursday - well almost. There is still a small list of things to do leading right up to the last minute (like cleaning the front door).

Today, I am going to the other rehab, then mom and I are going to buy new pajamas and the wonderful handmade chocolates for their pillows. The flowers from the garden will be cut on Wednesday for their bedside tables. The glorious housekeepers will do their magic on Thursday morning and the house will be perfect when our guests arrive.

Also today, the contractors will return to install the new heating ducts under the house. Hopefully, they will finish tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

I am tired but grateful that I am not exhausted. Again, the goal is to not become ill because of their visit.  The last time Mary visited, I was very sick afterwards. This time, I tried to do a little everyday and not overextend myself. I am feeling confident that it will be a successful visit.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Busy Days in Preparation

What a day! I got everything done on my list in preparation of Mary's visit on Thursday. The windows were washed inside and outside, the gardens were cut and watered, the mulch arrived and Michael finished spreading it in the garden, the refrigerator was cleaned, all the cobwebs are gone both inside and out, did some paperwork that needed attention, and I even made a great dinner! Superwoman!

I was so busy all day long that I had a problem sleeping. It didn't help that just when I drifted off, someone exploded a M80. It shook the house. It was a long night.

Today, I am going to wash and iron our sheets, do the rest of the laundry, iron Michael's work shirts, clean the huge outside umbrella and clean under the kitchen sink. And a nap. And, if the sun comes out today, have a chance to get some color on my legs.

Monday and Tuesday, the contractors will be here all day. I hope. Mom and I are going to be together after I go to the other rehab then we are going to the chocolate shop to buy a box of candy to place on Mary and her sister's beds then to Macy's. I realized that I need a nice pair of pajamas. It will be the last time I see mom until we are all together on Saturday.

I am so excited that I think I am running on adrenalin. Hopefully, I won't be worn out and get sick! The goal is to have company and not get sick afterwards. I sure won't have to do anything to the house or gardens for awhile after they leave!

And I must add a PS to Timmy Lincecum for pitching his first no hitter last night! Go Timmy!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Colonoscopy? Done

The colonoscopy was really just fine. Easy, in fact. The SUPREP was not too awful and the people at the clinic where the procedure was performed were well experienced, nice and professional. The doctor was able to say a hello before she put me to sleep. I was feeling well enough to drive home four hours afterwards. I did sleep very well last night and feel fine this morning. The results? There was a 3mm. polyp, which was removed, and I should have the results of the biopsy on Tuesday. The doctor said not to worry as it appeared to be just a growth.

Since the cleanout would remove any morning medications, the doctor included 40 mgs of prednisone in my IV during the procedure. The supplemental oxygen was at 3 liters during it even though I use 2 liters during exercise. A bit extra! Guess she was worried.

Why a colonoscopy? It has been ten years since my last one and the liver doctor encouraged me to get one as soon as possible. He said that a problem with my colon may reflect the issues I am experiencing  with my liver. He just wanted to remove it from the possible causes of the problems. Along with my primary doctor, I had a report sent to him.

The march towards Mary's visit begins in earnest today. The gardens will get a cutting and watering, the outside of the windows will be washed, the refrigerator will be cleaned and a few other projects on my list will be done by the end of the day. Tomorrow's focus will be laundry including towels and sheets, which means ironing will be involved.

The contractors needed more time, of course, so they won't be finished until Tuesday. I hope. Getting a bit to close for comfort.

Susan and Ron left for their trip and offered their garden to us! While Mary and her sister are here, I will have them pick strawberries and raspberries and any vegetables they wish. Susan also told me to pick fresh gladiolus for their visit. So sweet.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I am Clean!

It really isn't horrible. The bowel clean out for today's colonoscopy called SUPREP Bowel Prep Kit was easy. There were two bottles and a large cup in the box. At 3:00 yesterday, I poured one bottle of sweet liquid into the cup then added water to the rim. Within an hour, one must have another two full cups of plain water. That's it. No gallons of salted water!

It took about two hours for it to begin its work. I went about eight times and slept through the night. This morning, I had Michael wake me before 6 to do the whole process again. I am sipping the last cup of water while I type.

Around 9AM, I will drive to mom's then we will go together to the colonoscopy. It will take about two hours if they are on schedule then I can eat real food for the first time since Wednesday.

I feel 10 pounds lighter!

It is going to be a long day. Ten years ago, I remember feeling tired and hungry but couldn't eat much after the procedure. I have a feeling it will be the same today. Michael is going to meet me at mom's if I don't think I can drive home, after a few hours.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cleaning Out

I so wanted everything to be perfect but...I don't think the contractors will be finished with their project until the day before Mary's arrival for her birthday celebration. And, the pile of old ducts is on the front lawn. My lawn that I have been fertilizing and watering and encouraging to grow to look green and perfect for the visit. My guess is that it will be dead when they remove all the stuff.

Most of the inside of the windows were cleaned yesterday, jello was made for today, all the towels in the guest bathroom were washed and I clean Michael's medicine cabinet while the workers walked through the house.

Today. Clean out day. My colonoscopy is tomorrow so today is a liquids only day and the clean out begins at 3:00. What fun! With that in mind, one of the workers under the house spotted a very minor drip from our bathroom toilet. The wax ring needed to be replaced. Since the goal today is to send a couple of smaller guys down into the tiny crawl space to sweep the entire floor before they install the new ducts, Michael wanted to take care of it before this morning. So, last night at 6:45, we headed over the pass to Orchard Supply to buy all the stuff to fix the toilet AND we got a new toilet seat! By 8:30 it was fixed. I have a brilliant husband.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guest Rooms - Done

The guest rooms are done and ready for Mary and her sister next week. While cleaning the mirrors and windows in the guest rooms yesterday, I was in a full sweat. While I was at it, I also washed all the cabinets in the kitchen, cleaned the filters above the stove and the front doors.

We have a cabinet full of fine china and crystal in the family room that has not been washed in a year or so. It took almost two hours to wash all the pieces and put everything back. After the yoga hell class today, I will be washing the inside windows in the family and living rooms using my supplemental oxygen and cleaning the inside of the refrigerator and kitchen drawers.

The contractor didn't show yesterday. Maybe today?

I am still amazed that I have the energy to get everything done and that I am not exhausted at night. I am so grateful.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Full of Energy

Something is happening. My breathing is suddenly better and I have more energy. Maybe it is all the singing I have been doing in the car. Maybe it is the yoga. Both good, deep breathing. After running a lot of errands with mom yesterday, I got home, pulled a few things together then attacked some projects in anticipation of Mary's 80th birthday visit.

At 4:30, I found myself cleaning the inside rails of the two front guest room windows with a toothbrush! From there, I fluffed the bed in the front bedroom, ran the quilt in the dryer to get rid of any dust, spiffed up the inside of the closet and made the room pretty perfect! The back bedroom just needs the bed fluffed and it, too, is ready. Next up today: all the towels in the guest bathroom need to be washed and all the walls need to be checked for cobwebs.

Around 5:00, the phone rang. It was a contractor who announced we were on the top of his list and he was ready to begin the project of replacing all of the heating ventilation under our house. We noticed that when the heater is on, very little warm air arrives in the livingroom and the rooms closer to the heater become too warm. The ducts are old and so much of the insulation has dropped away. Smaller and more efficient ones will be installed. Guess when? Why, today. I told them we are expecting company a week from Thursday and he promised it would all be finished by Monday at the latest. Oh my! Just a little drama!

Mom has a post-op appointment with the pacemaker doctors early this afternoon. She is looking and feeling great. And, she is so thrilled that as of today, she can drive again. She felt like her wings had been clipped!

We had to drive on a road along the bay yesterday and saw the plane crash and all the media trucks from around the world. It was a very surreal sight. It is still remarkable that there were two deaths because by the look of it, no one should have survived.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Our neighbors Susan and Ron invited us to a traditional Chinese Dumpling luncheon yesterday. With my 1,400 calorie a day diet, we have become accustomed to eating very small meals. We arrived with a bottle of wine and four hydrangeas blossoms from our garden tied together with a ribbon to the smells of deliciousness! Is that even a word? It smelled of garlic and ginger and sesame oil. Yum.

My eyes grew bigger when Susan served a huge dinner plate filled with her homemade pork dumplings. I think there were close to two dozen dumplings on the plate! The entire plate was filled! As you know, I am not allowed to eat anything except non-starchy vegetables and protein but as a guest, I try to eat a bit of everything offered. Well, now I was in trouble. I was looking at a plate, a whole plate, of dumplings.

We gathered in the dining room where she had also prepared some eggplant in long strips with delicious flavors and topped with a very generous sprinkling of finely chopped raw garlic. I think we will stink of garlic all day today! She also served long beans cut into little pieces tossed lightly with other flavors including sesame oil. Both vegetables were served at room temperature. Both delightful.

I noticed that Susan finished her plate first and that, yes, we were expected to finish ours. They were really the best dumplings I have ever eaten and both of us finished our plates! Dessert was white mushrooms cooked in slightly sugared water with a cooked nut. These mushrooms are supposed to be good for lungs!

We sat in their living room and had a nice chat. Susan shared that when she was a young child growing up in a very northern province in China, she saw a photo of Mt. Rushmore in a book. She was fascinated. On Friday, they are leaving on a trip to visit Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and into Montana. She said it is something she wanted to see even before Paris and London. Mt. Rushmore.

It was also interesting to hear that she lived so far north that it was too cold for rice to be grown. She was raised on potatoes and noodles. No rice. It was not until her father, who was a physician, was ordered by the government to Shanghai that she first tasted rice. She began to teach English to Chinese high school students when she was 18-years old. She is currently a teacher, studied and got her state certificate and Master's degree and is currently teaching Social Studies, Math, Mandarin and English in the San Francisco school district. A brilliant woman. A lovely luncheon. A sweet couple.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Filled the Garden Recycle

 It took another three hours to trim out the gardens, now they look clean and I swear they are sparkling! Three large bushels of trimmings and waste were hauled out of the little side garden in the back, the Burmese Trumpet Vine was trimmed back, the two bushes in the front were shaped and the Japanese Maple between the front windows was topped.

My body feels it this morning.

After a shower, I drove over the pass to meet Michael then we bought a bottle of wine for the party today and the scotch and gin for Mary and her sister Patty's visit in less than two weeks. Since it was foggy, the traffic on the pass was not too awful. We lazed the rest of the day away, watched the Giant's win (finally!) and I fell into bed early.

It was a shock to see that a plane crashed yesterday. Michael was close enough to the airport that he actually heard it. I felt relief when it was announced that there were survivors and so happy at the numbers. Lives were changed in just moments but it could have been so much worse. We were hearing stories on the local news about one particular stewardess who apparently was tiny yet she dragged and carried several men out of the plane on her own. A son, who was waiting for his father on the plane, told the story and also remarked that his dad was searching for her. She was remarkable. I am sure we will all be hearing many more stories in the weeks to come.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Gathering Stamina

Qualifying for starting positions of the German Grand Prix is today and the race is scheduled for tomorrow. The silly season has begun. That is when all the teams commit to drivers for next year. Sounds easy but it is not. The gossip is similar to a group of old ladies talking smack. Lots of rumors.

Since I did most of the yard work on Thursday afternoon, I am going to do some major trimming this morning before showering. Michael is having a friend do some transmission work on the Mustang that he and William have been building so he is driving it in this morning. Early this afternoon, he needs me to meet him over the pass for a ride home.

Mom and I enjoyed having our toe nails painted and we stopped at home for her to see our garden yesterday. The hydrangeas are the most beautiful I have ever seen. They are huge and one has large flowers of a variety of colors! The other four plants along the fence at the entrance to the hidden garden are different varieties with smaller blossoms.

We are calling next week "doctor week" as mom and I have four doctor appointments. Mom has the shot in her eye on Monday and a post-op for her pacemaker on Tuesday. I see my eye doctor and am having a colonoscopy on Friday with the cleanout happening on Thursday. That will be fun!

I do feel that I have gathered more stamina and just in time. With the list of things to do before Mary's birthday visit, I am going to need every bit I can get!