Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Been Crazy Busy Around Here

Black Forest Fire Evacuations Hit Close to Home

In my last post, on June 12, I wrote about the Black Forest Fire here in the Colorado Springs area.  We could see the smoke from the fire about ten miles from our home.  We were never in danger, but many that we know were impacted by this devastating fire.  14, 280 acres were burned, 509 homes were destroyed, and 28 were damaged.  The fire also caused the death of two people who were unable to escape from their home.  For days, there was an ominous, heavy feeling in the air that surrounded us.  The air felt heavy and dark.  Not a lot of smoke seemed to drift into the part of the city where we live.  It seemed to be pushed to the north of us with the winds that came with the dry, hot air.

On the evening of June 12, my husband's daughter and her family evacuated their home and headed to our home with their cars loaded with those items they felt most important to take with them when their address fell under the category of "voluntary evacuation" status.  Just prior to their evacuation, our next door neighbors' son and his family evacuated to our neighbors' home.  Our neighbors' son lived deeper into the forest than our daughter.  By morning, we learned that his home had been destroyed.  

On Wednesday evening, June 12, I think we all felt that the evacuations in the fire area was a precautionary measure.  There was a sense of the conflicting emotions of denial and doom that seem to hang about us in the air.  It is hard not feel some anxiety and helplessness when surrounded by those who have been evacuated from home.  As we sat in the living room talking, I suddenly laughed when I glanced at my step-daughter's shirt.  "Interesting choice for fire evacuation wear," I said as I looked at her shirt.  

Laughing, she said, "And guess what song was playing as we drove off?  It was a song I used while I was training to run called Light 'em Up."  We did get a laugh out of that, and it helped to laugh.

When the official fire updates came on the news, we all gathered together in our small guest room to watch the updates on the small television in that room.

Grandson Caleb points to the map for Grandpa Jim to show where the fire is located.

We all piled on the bed so we could be close to each other while we listened to the news.  We have a large room with a large t.v. in the basement, but we chose the small bedroom where we could all be together to listen to the news.  During this time, I was struck with how grateful I was that we had moved to a location closer to our children so we could be there for them.

On Thursday morning, Thia and her family went back to their home hoping that "voluntary evacuation" orders would be lifted.  That afternoon, we all were shocked to hear that their home was now on "mandatory evacuation" orders.  They were soon back at our home.  Finally, on Friday afternoon, they were allowed to go home.  Thankfully, their home was not impacted by the fire in any way.

Unfortunately, this was not the case for neighbors' son.  Their home that sat on five acres was totally destroyed.  The Denver Post published a photo and a wonderful article about our neighbors' son on Saturday.  (Click on the last part of the previous sentence to see the photo and read the article.)  As you can imagine, the fire suddenly became very personal to us as we watched this wonderful family display great grace and courage in the face of devastating loss.  

The Colorado Springs Fire Department produced a fascinating video documenting how they approach protecting a home that is threatened by fire.  Click on: How firefighters are protecting homes in the Black Forest Fires  to gain a new respect for the professional nature of these heroes.  

Father's Day

On Father's Day, the family gathered again at our home to celebrate one of the greatest fathers ever: my husband.  Truly, he is a wonderful father to his own three daughters and to my five children.  Throughout his career as an educator, he was a father figure to thousands of others over the years.  

This year, all three of Jim's daughters and all ten of his grandchildren came to our home to celebrate the day with us.  We also were happy to include our new next door neighbors the Boone family in our celebration.  Since Steve and his wife were out looking for a home to rent or buy, only Gary and Janie and their two granddaughters were able to join us.  
Our Neighbors
Gary and Janie
It was so great to have a houseful of people.  I always love that.  

Load up your plates

Living in a patio home means that we no longer have a large private backyard when we entertain the family.  That didn't stop us from setting up a table in our new back yard.  It might be small, but that makes it all the more cosy!
Grandpa Jim with his beautiful grandchildren

Grandpa Jim with family and friends.

Daddy and Daughter
Trista, Thia, Trinette, and Jim
Father's Day was not sunny always throughout the  day.  The sky kept threatening rain.  In the afternoon, we all rejoiced because it finally rained.  We needed that rain for the drought and for those fighting the fire.  When it rained, we all moved inside.  We are happy with how well our new home accommodates a large group.
The grandchildren sit & talk & check their phones

Grandpa opens his gifts

Son-in-law Nathan fixes our noisy fan

By the end of the day, Grandpa Jim and I were both exhausted but happy as we watched the last of our visitors drive away.  As he often says as family and grandchildren depart, Jim again said, "I love to see the headlights, but the taillights are even better."  We smile knowing that nothing is better than being surrounded by family.  We miss them when they are gone.  The house seems suddenly so quiet and empty, but at our age, we also know that we need our space, our solitude, and quiet.  It is good when this quiet is broken with a smattering of times of gathering together. It was truly wonderful to have Thia's family with us during the evacuation.  It was the icing on the the cake to follow that time with a Father's Day celebration.

Health Update

Today, Thursday, June 20, Jim and traveled to Denver to consult with a GI specialist  at the University of Colorado Hospital.  I had been referred to this doctor at this facility because of a suspected sphincter of Oddi dysfunction due to chronic pain and elevated lipase levels.  After a very thorough analysis of my medical records, and after speaking with me at length about my episodes of pain, the specialist determined that he would rather not put me through an ERCP to check for this particular dysfunction at this time because the risks at my age of developing serious complications such as severe pancreatitis, diabetes, organ failure, and/or death were too high.  AMEN to that!  I am very much in agreement to his recommendations.  My lipase levels need to be higher before we go down that road.  Less risky explorations need to be done before we go to the more extreme testing.

So, tomorrow, I will be having a EUS and a EUS-FNA instead. There are some risks, 1% for pancreatitis, and 5% for a flare-up of abdominal pain, but I can take those risks.  The procedure is done by endoscopy, this will be my tenth endoscopy, but this time, the endoscopy will be a bit more detailed and intricate.  I am not looking forward to going through this, but at least I know what to expect and have certainly been through many endoscopies before.  

I hopefully be bringing you all a good report filled with good answers next week.  Send your prayers my way. I am sending my thanks to all of you in advance for your support during this time.