Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Time for an Update

I realize that I've been derelict in my blogging for the past several months. Since returning from Houston in January, I've worked almost every day which makes it hard to keep up with housekeeping, cooking, and blogging. So this morning I've decided that it's time for just a general update.

In January, Grandad had his second cardiac ablation. It takes about 90 days for the heart to heal completely after an ablation. At this point, he's nearing 60 days post op. He's been back to Houston for his 30-day check up. Everything looked good at that point, but we're still in a "wait and see" situation to find out whether an additional ablation will be necessary. The doctor says that we won't know how well it worked for a few weeks yet.

I can tell you that Grandad is not feeling much better. He continues to struggle with shortness of breath, dizziness, and extreme fatigue. He has good days and bad days. Sometimes he feels almost normal, but any slightly strenuous activity and he starts feeling bad again. Needless to say, he spends lots of time sitting in the recliner watching television and movies.

Two Sundays ago Grandad woke up with an unusual swelling in the right side of his neck. We've known for more than a year that Grandad has a benign growth on the right side of his thyroid, so we immediately thought that the swelling was related to that. He sees an endocrinologist who is monitoring that growth and he was due to see her again this spring for an annual follow up.

On Monday, the swelling was down considerably, but on Tuesday it was back so Grandad went to see his primary care physician. He sent him for a sonogram and didn't see anything new. Erring on the side of caution, he got Grandad in to see the endocrinologist within two days. She reviewed the sonogram and reported that there was no significant change in the thyroid but, again being cautious, she ordered a CT scan which took place at 4 p.m. on Friday. We went out to dinner with family, not expecting to hear anything until after the weekend.

We were eating dinner at 7:30 Friday evening when the phone rang. The caller id showed the endocrinologist's phone number. I thought to myself that, since the doctor was calling on Friday evening, it probably wasn't going to be good news. She reported that the CT scan showed a large tumor in the neck. Since Grandad had a thyroid biopsy a little more than a year ago, we know that this growth has occurred completely since then. She believes it is a fatty tumor, but more testing is needed. She referred Grandad to an ENT. We're still waiting to see when the appointment is scheduled. Hopefully, sometime this week.

Of course, I immediately started researching. From what I can tell, if it is indeed a fatty tumor, it is most likely benign. The concern is that since it is so large, it is likely pressing on other body parts in the neck. I'm wondering if this might not be the source of Grandad's shortness of breath. We shall see. I must admit, it's taken me a few days to convince myself not to panic. Once again, it is necessary to take a deep breath, say a prayer, and keep living every day.

On a happier note, our daughter Katy is nearing the end of her pregnancy. She's had a little bit more difficulty with this pregnancy in that she has been extremely uncomfortable carrying since very early in this pregnancy. She wears a support belt to help relieve the stress on her back and pressure in her pelvis. The doctor told her two weeks ago that she must slow down and take it easier. She should not be lifting heavy things (like Our Little Princess) and should avoid being on her feet for extended periods of time. But, everything seems to be going well. She's due to deliver around April 19. She's having another girl. This will be Travis' third daughter. Welcome to estrogen-city, Travis.

We've had a lot of fun playing the name-game with them. With around six weeks to go, they still have not settled on a name. Everyone has gotten into the name-game, even my mother-in-law. With a wink and a giggle, she suggested that "Esmerelda" would be a perfect companion-name to Ezra. I've thrown "Edna" into the mix (four letters, starts with E, ends with A and NO, I'M NOT SERIOUS). Some of the names I've heard them mention include Jane, June, Moira, Frances, and Parker. And those are just the ones that I remember. I don't know if there is a leading contender or not. Katy is mindful of the fact that certain names, when combined with their last name "White" sound like slang for cocaine. I try to keep my opinions and ideas mostly to myself. I don't want to alienate anyone by saying yes or no to any name. I will love this child no matter what they name her. Our Little Princess has dubbed her yet-to-be-born baby sister "Bubbles." I think that's what I'll call her on this blog.

Nick and his beautiful wife, Marie, are doing very well. Nick seems to be settling into his job as an outside salesman. He's been working for two years now to build what is virtually a new territory and is just now really beginning to see the fruits of his labor. I knew he had the personality type needed to succeed in sales, but I knew it would take some hard work and patience for it to pay off. I'm so proud of his growth and success. They don't have kids yet, but they have two beautiful dogs that they treat like children.

Ralphie, the Rottweiler, had to have knee surgery a few months ago. He's had a hard time recovering full mobility, but the vet says it should come with more time. Ralphie is such a stoic and serious dog. He's calm and relaxed most of the time. You can just tell that Ralphie is an "old soul." On the other hand, Baily is always going to be a puppy. She's more excitable and playful. Together the two of them remind me of a pair of geese Uncle Johnny and Aunt Mary Ann used to have at the farm. They go everywhere together, practically in tandem. It's hilarious.

Since the surgery, anytime Ralphie moves the wrong way, he yelps in pain. When this happens around Our Little Princess, she goes over, pats him on the head, tilts her head to one side and says "Are you alright?" It's the sweetest thing you've ever seen.

And, speaking of Our Little Princess, she's two years old. That's going to be a whole separate post coming very soon.

As for Grams, I'm doing okay. I work hard at maintaining a positive attitude and holding things together at home through all the struggles with Grandad's health. I thoroughly enjoy my monthly book club, The Book Snobs. I have always enjoyed reading and spending an evening once a month discussing a book with this diverse group is luxurious. The group has grown to eleven women. We have lively discussions and enjoy dinner and cocktails.

I still play bunco with my neighbors once a month. The group has gotten decidedly younger over the years as people have departed and new members have been recruited. This is an evening of pure fun and exuberance that I truly love. Most of the time, it's a great way to relieve stress. My good friend and next-door-neighbor, Mary Lou, and I are the official "Bunco Bitches." That means, when someone has to been tough and mean about anything related to bunco, we're usually the ones who do it. Although, my friend Brenda is willing to step up too when needed.

I also get together on a somewhat regular basis with a group of former co-workers. Every couple of months, we have dinner and drinks. We rehash the old days, keep up with each other's lives, support each other through whatever life brings, commiserate, encourage, and laugh. This is the one group that will tell you the truth when they think you need to hear it. I love them all ... okay, some more than others.

I'm pleased that I've been able to maintain my weight loss through all the stress of the past few years. I've not been successful in losing the last 25 pounds that I want to get off, but I'm hopeful that life won't always consist of moving from one medical issue to the next. We eat a high-protein, low-carb diet most of the time and keep portions under control by using salad plates for our meals. I'm hoping to get back to walking and bicycling now that Spring is here. I know that exercise is the key to long-term success and I've got to find a way to make time for it.

I continue to substitute teach three to four days a week. I do most of my work at the Middle School, but I do occasionally work at all the other schools. I really enjoy the work and the short-term responsibility. I like that someone else does the planning and has the ultimate responsibility. In Texas, the students are taking TAKS tests this week. That results in not much need for substitute teachers. I'm not scheduled to work again until Friday, so I'm enjoying the time off.

I'm also working to put together a reunion for the 1970's youth group from Morgan Avenue Baptist Church in Corpus Christi. These were the kids I grew up with and spent time with as a teenager. The church is now disbanded and we've scattered all over the world. I would rather see them again than attend another high school reunion. Hopefully, we'll get it together sometime this summer.

As you can see, life is full. We've got our ups and our downs, just like most people. As we continue on this difficult journey through Grandad's health issues, all my friends have been so supportive and, of course, I rely heavily of the support of my kids and sisters. No matter what happens medically, we'll get through it with the help of God, family, and friends. And, we'll soon have another little princess to love. Generally speaking, life is good.

1 comment:

  1. So great to read what's been going on in your life. Some of it great, some not so good, all of it on your mind and heart at all times, I'm sure. It looks to me that you're doing a fantastic job keeping it together, keeping it positive, and keeping up with great stress relievers for you (time with friends). I love the "Bubbles" name for your Princess No. 2. What a joyous time. I'll keep your family, your hubby, and YOU in my thoughts and prayers. Truly, I loved hearing of all that's been going on. Thank you for posting the detailed update!