Friday, July 24, 2015

More July News

Yes, July certainly has had its moments.
Some have been so awesome.
Others, not so much.

The awesome part has been time with family and friends.

While my children and grandchildren were here visiting, we were able to also spend some time with my cousin Diana.  She is the daughter of my father's sister.  When we were children, her family and my family were always together for family get togethers that included holiday celebrations, picnics, camping, and just playing together on a summer afternoon.  Her sister Donna is my age, just ten days younger, so Diana is the younger sister we always tried to stay away from.  We were just too cool to play with the younger siblings.

Now, my younger cousin Diana is also known as Dian Curtis Regan.  She is a children's books author.  She and her husband had dinner with all of us on the Fourth of July, but she wanted Keicha to come over and see her home. I also wanted to inspire my granddaughters (and myself) by seeing her office.  

In the collage above, I have included a photo of Dian at her desk.  Top right photo is of my granddaughters and daughter with Dian, a photo of Dian's sister Donna and me with Dian, the girls looking at the books Dian has authored, Dian in front of the books she has published, and finally, a photo of Regan writing on Dian's window.  

My grandchildren grew up reading their famous cousin's books, so it was a thrill for them to see the place where she "works her magic."  Dian's latest book is Space Boy.  I love this photo of my granddaughter Gillian reading Dian's book, Princess Nevermore.  It was taken a few years back.  

Doctor Appointments and Health Problems

I've spent much time over the past few months up in Denver at National Jewish Health involved in health test and consults.  I've had the good fortune of going up to this renowned hospital for the past nineteen years.  I started going up there after a chemical exposure I experienced on the job.  They have always taken such good care of me.  

I so appreciate my GI doctor.  Lately, she has put me through some tests that haven't been pleasant, but she is doing all she can to solve my GI issues.  Sometimes, I have to remind myself of this message as I am walking into the hospital for yet another test.  "We never say never."

I have recently been diagnosed with hypercontractile esophagus or jackhammer esophagus.  Not fun!  The days of having symptoms have been more numerous than I'd like to have experienced.  Attacks are very painful and can sure ruin a day.  My doctor has treated the condition by giving me a BOTOX injection in the esophagus about a month ago. (No, I couldn't talk her into giving me any BOTOX injections in my wrinkles on my face!)  The next day, the injection or the endoscopy caused me to experience the worst attack of esophageal spasms I've had yet.  The spasms lasted several days.  You'd think I'd lose weight since I hate to eat and experience pain so often when I do.  

I've had more than one barium test to see how my system is working in the last month or six weeks.  I was scheduled to have a pillcam test yesterday, but then I was hit with a new challenge.


I could barely believe what I was hearing on Tuesday when I went to my allergy doctor to see if he could diagnosis a strange rash.  

I had driven to Denver on Monday for a doctor's appointment.  After the appointment, I was able to spend time with a girlfriend whom has recently moved back to Colorado from California.  We had such a wonderful time catching up.  Marilyn is one of those friends that you can not see for years and then when you do see those types of friends again, you pick up where you left off.  I'm so glad she is back in Colorado again.  I look forward to more times together.

As I drove to Denver, spent time with Marilyn, and drove home again, I marveled at how good I felt.  It was just so nice to feel good and have energy.  I did have a nagging pain right over the area where my pacemaker was inserted, and my left shoulder hurt, and it was a bit painful in my back on my left side, but I didn't think much about it.  "The driving is aggravating my shoulder," I thought.

That night, I notice that I had a strange looking rash that I had not seen earlier in the day right on top of the pacemaker site.  "Weird," I thought.

The next morning, the rash was more pronounced.  I could not decide what on earth it was, so I called the allergy doctor since he is familiar with my rash personality.  (Pun intended!  I am always getting weird rashes.)

His PA looked it over and said she really thought it was shingles.  I nearly fell out of the chair!  She said she wanted me to follow-up with my primary care and the cardiologist because of where the rash was located.  Quite honestly, I wasn't sure I believed her diagnosis.  I didn't think I had enough pain for my problem to be shingles.  I decided not to take the valtrex she prescribed until I knew for sure that I was dealing with shingles.  I honestly didn't feel bad.  I was in denial that I had shingles.

The next day, I felt worse and was able to see my primary care.  He said he'd never seen shingles on a pacemaker site.  He doubted it was shingles.  Then, he looked at the rash and said, "You have shingles.  Why didn't you start the valtrex?  We need to get you on this anti-viral right away."  The nurse in the pacemaker clinic was equally surprised.

Leave it to me.  I seem to get those things others don't get.  I did get the shingles vaccine.  I got it in December of 2011.  I had a terrible reaction to it.  My arm was swollen like you would not believe.  I have read that the vaccine is only effective in 50% of the population over 60.  

I did not have chickenpox until I was an adult.  I broke out with them when I was in my late 30's on the same day as four of my five children broke out.  Three of the five were not even in school yet.  That was a bad day!  

Honestly, I can't complain about this case of shingles.  So far, I have not been that sick.  I've been taking the valtrex and tylenol.  I have had some moments of pain, but nothing has been too severe.  I only have a few little spots, and so far, they have not given me too much pain or itching or burning.  The greatest pain is generalized in my left shoulder blade, and in the area of the pacemaker.   

Jim and I have tickets to see Lady Antebellum on Sunday in Denver.  I have been looking forward to this for so long.  I hope I keep getting better.  I don't want to miss this concert.  I'll keep you posted.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Retired English Teacher: July Moments

Retired English Teacher: July Moments

I've linked this post to my daughter's blog.  She wrote on the same subject.  She is a great writer.  Visit her blog for more photos of our recent time together.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July Moments

July moments need to be captured before the month flies away.
We are past the midway point already.

July has had more drizzle than sizzle this year.
Despite the rain,
nothing could put a damper on the joy
 of being surrounded by some of my children and grandchildren
for the Fourth of July weekend.
I think back on the fall and the winter that we all have gone through.
Now, it is finally summer.
With school out of session, the children are able to take road trips to Grandma's house.

Jonathan, Samantha, and Atticus got the prize for coming the longest distance.  They drove across country from Scranton, PA, to Colorado Springs, CO.  Keicha, with her precious cargo of my granddaughters Regan, Ryan's daughter,  and Gillian, Keicha's daughter,  made the trek across Wyoming from Ogden, UT to Colorado.

I was anxious to see Jonathan as I had not seen him since I left him last October after caring for him after his accident when he suffered trauma to his right brachial plexus. (Click to read about this.)
When I left him in October, he had no feeling in his right upper extremity and had no use of the arm or hand.  He had surgery in February on this injury, and then had a long period of not being able to use the arm while he recovered from surgery.  Now, he is back doing physical therapy with a therapist several times a week, and he reports that he does stretches and strength building exercises two hours every day.  He is slowly regaining use of the arm and the hand.  I must admit that I was overwhelmed with emotion when I first saw him and saw the progress he has made.  I know he has much therapy ahead, but he has made so much progress, and he works very hard at getting back whatever use he can.  His journey has been an arduous one, but it is one he has taken with courage and determination. I am grateful for all the support he has had on the journey.  His wife and his son have no doubt been his closest and staunchest cheerleaders as they are by his side each day.

On the Fourth of July, before our family barbecue, we showered Jonathan, Samantha, and Atticus with a few gifts for the new home they just purchased in Scranton, PA, where Jonathan and Samantha live while they are teaching at Marywood University.  My granddaughter Gillian painted this amazing elephant for Jon and Sam's new home.  Didn't she do an amazing job?

The day was such an fun day.  I took few photos, which was probably just fine with my grandkids.  They always hate it when Grandma gets out her camera and becomes the paparazzi.  Less is more where they are concerned in the photo department.
Atticus & Regan
Hannah & Gillian
Lunch on Grandma & Grandpa's Deck
My niece Michelle was able to join us for the day.  It is always great to have her around.  She adds an extra measure of fun and humor.  She and Keicha go way back when it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July together
Celebrating the 4th of July
Cousins & best friends
Then and now

Keicha, Michelle, and Samantha
After dinner, the kids all decided to go looking for bears.  Of course, a change in activities signaled to my teenage granddaughters that they had to change their clothes from what they'd worn for dinner.

No bears were spotted as the adventurers explored the area around my house.  Keicha took lots of wonderful photos of their times climbing rocks, hiking, and exploring the area around the nearby old Woodman Sanatorium, a treatment center run by the Modern Woodmen during the first half of the last century for those suffering from tuberculosis.  After the exploration trip, they all came home with all sorts of stories about all they had seen and discovered.  I think they all had a memorable time.  (Hopefully, Keicha will do a blog post telling more about these adventures that I can share with you.)

Atticus came home tired and ready to spend time with his buddy Boston.  Boston was very happy about that.

The time together as a family was way too short, but we tried to make the most of time we had.  One day the girls and I went to the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center to the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit that is currently on display.

It is always a treat to see the work of Chihuly.  This piece is on permanent display at the Fine Arts Center.  No photos were allowed to be taken of the O'Keeffe exhibit.

We had a great day of viewing some wonderful art.  This was followed by eating lunch at one of my favorite Mexican food restaurants.  This isn't the best shot of Keicha. You all know she is quite lovely, but I like the effect I got by taking a panorama photo while sitting out on the patio at Jose Muldoons.  The photo is going on the blog.  (Sorry Keicha.)  Of course, while we ate,  I had to tell Grandma Sally's Jose Muldoons story.  Have you heard it?

One day, about 20 years ago or so, Grandma Sally took her sister to Jose Muldoons for lunch to celebrate her sister's wedding anniversary.  We decided to order margaritas with lunch since it was a special occasion.  We had a great lunch and a good time together.
Grandma Sally wrote a check to pay the bill.
Those were the days before debit cards.
The waiter took the check and the bill.
Soon, he came back and said,
"I'm sorry, but I won't be able to accept this check."
"What?"  said I.
"You said you took checks."
He said, "We do take checks, but we can't take this check."
He then politely handed me the check.
I'd signed the check: Sally Muldoon!
That is why you should never drink a margarita for lunch.
I did once, and when I went to leave, I thought I owned the place.
(Thankfully, I had enough cash to pay the bill that day.)  

After lunch, Jonathan, Samantha, and Atticus met us for ice cream.  I couldn't get any of them to cooperate for a family photo, so this is what you get.  The image of all of us together enjoying ice cream on summer afternoon is one I will remember whenever I visit Josh & John's Ice Cream.  I have so many similar memories of other times we gathered here for ice cream from years gone by.  Do you have favorite places that hold special memories of times with family?

 We ended our day by doing a downtown walking tour of Colorado Springs.  This led us on another art tour as we viewed some graffiti in one of the alleyways.  Jon is giving us an interpretation of what the graffiti writers were saying in this photo below.  

That's my quirky and interesting family.  We go from the art museum to urban art painted on the sides of building and find interest in it all.  

I always wish all of my children and grandchildren could be together whenever we gather together, but in today's world, that is unrealistic.  

Moments in July spent with loved ones are treasures. 

 Moments are no small thing. 

Life is, after all, made up of a collection of  small moments.  

Gather those moments and hold them close to your heart.