Sunday, November 9, 2008

We're Home

Pulled into our yard at 5:15 this afternoon in the dark(can't believe it is dark at that time of the day). Home has never looked so good. We had a very uneventful trip across middle Tennessee and enjoyed the residue of the fall colors. Traffic really picked up as the afternoon went on and we got closer to Nashville. After a nice Bar-b-q dinner and picking up the mail, we were home. Bulli couldn't believe we had made it and instantly disappeared into the back woods for a while to check things out.
Got alot of unpacking to do but that will come-took only essentials out of the coach tonight.
Many thanks for all the thoughts, prayers, cards, calls, etc, etc, etc during the past 2 months. All of you have been our lifelines and appreciate each and every one of you.
Hopefully we won't have any news to report on here until it gets closer to the time when we will head back down to TX for the new implant-around March 1. Then we will pick up the blog again.
Happy holidays to everyone-stay close to your family and love them every minute you are with them.
Joe and Sharon

Nashville, here we come!!!!!

Yup-we're in Tennessee. When we crossed that bridge over the Mississippi River at 2:20 yesterday afternoon I let out a "whooppeeeeee"!!!!!!! We would be home soon.
We are in Jackson, TN-about 125 miles west of Nashville. This is where our daughter-in-law (DIL) if from and where her mother still lives. DIL's Dad passed away just about the time we were headed to TX in late Aug and we felt so bad we weren't even able to attend the funeral. DIL's mother is in an assisted living facility now and we will visit with her before we leave town today.
Last night we had the joy and having dinner with some geocaching friends. It felt so good to be out with friends again after such a long period of isolation from our local friends.
We parked in the front yard of DIL's mother's house and plugged into the outside outlet so we were set for the night-best accomodations on this trip. We just don't require much while we are in this coach.
Next note should be from home-Sharon

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Home Again - Well, Not Quite Yet!!

OK, so we're not quite home yet, BUT we are back in Tennessee! We just pulled into Jackson, TN and plan to drop by and visit with Carol's mom for a little while. It will be too late to make it to Nashville and still be able to get Sharon's infusion done on time, we'll probably just stop at the Circle W overnight parking area tonight and make it home early tomorrow.

We had no web access last evening and I didn't get a chance to bring you up to speed on our progress home. We left Lewisville, TX around 11AM and made it to Benton, Arkansas just after dark. Spent the night there at a travel park we've stopped at before and left there around 7:00AM this morning. Had a good trip with not that many bumps and ruffles along the way. I had fixed Sharon's bed up and she has spent most of the day either reading or dozing laying on it. She tried sitting up for a while but the leg was just too uncomfortable, so, back to the bed!

I don't think we stopped but three times today. Once for fuel, once for a Wally World run, and once for a Bulli/Sharon reposition break.

More later!

Cheers!

Joe

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On The Road Again! Well, Almost!



Look carefully and you'll see the infusion bag hanging from the ceiling of the coach! Sometimes, infusions don't look like they do in the hospital! Bulli is seriously tramautized by the whole process, You can tell by how concerned he is!!! LOL

We finally got packed up this afternoon and Elvis has left the building! LOL The logistics effort to move two people and a dog from a hotel suite back into a motorhome would have made the D-Day planners proud. Careful staging of the various types of goods so that the right item would get into its proper place was skillfully scheduled and had do be implemented with precision. The landing craft (actually a purloined shopping cart, large, one each) was staged and launched after careful inventory was taken and proper bills of laden were filed. The beachhead was breached and the goods poured forth at the approriate time. This continued with wave after wave of the craft shuttles. Finally, just as the galley signaled it was time for chow, Mama Cache arrived just in time to accompany the troop carrier to the mess! The mess stewards more than adequately pleased the palates and then the helmets and body armor came back out for another assault! Mama Cache pitched in and insured the hardy schedule was adhered to along with assisting in the disassembly of some major items. When she left with the major personnel carrier (wheel chair) all the logistics requirements had been fulfilled and things quited down significantly because the beachhead had been totally secured. Finally, the last details were down to the comptroller and the mission was complete and was in the books! Ooooh Raaahh! Another successful redeployment! Proud of such a plan with such precise details included, the planning section and chief landing craft operator came back to the beachhead to survey the results of those efforts! WOW! What a mess! Say, did we get bombed when I was with the comptroller? Where the heck did all this stuff come from? Was that Buckingham Palace we loaded into here? Who put THAT THERE? Oh, I did? Good grief, that's a mess! Do you think we can squeeze out enough space to sleep? Looks like we've got some work to do tonight!!! LOL!!!

While I was settling up with the Extended Stay, Sharon called Dr Baum just to check out before we left town. She wanted us to come by and see her before we left. She was not happy with one of the results of the last blood test. One of the levels had reflected out of the desireable range and she wanted to adjust some of the meds to take care of it. We all speculated that the stomach problems that Sharon had over the weekend was probably the cause, since that blood test was drawn Monday before the medicine had kicked in. In any case, Dr Baum wanted us to go by a nearby lab and get another batch of blood drawn for a retest. She reluctantly gave the release for us to head back home. She wants Sharon to come back when we're down to see Dr Emerson in January. Both of these doctors don't seem to want Sharon to get out of their reach for fear of history repeating itself while we're away. It's almost like a protective mother seeing the first child leaving for college! Guess we'll hear what the results are before we get home, or just after.

It was so late when we finally got all that done, that we made the choice to head west a little to Lake Lewisville Park for the night. If we had gone east, we likely would not have found a place for two or three hours, well after dark and much too late to start the infusions. We stopped at Cracker Barrel and picked up a chicken and dumplin dinner for each of us and enjoyed a nice sit-downn dinner once we got to the park. We stayed here when we came through in April and again when we got here in September. It's a neat park with all the usual lakeside amenities and, at the over 60 old fart rate of $8 per night, is one of the best dollar values we've found anywhere. It's tucked into the edge of the DFW Metroplex so it gets a lot of use, but you can almost always find a place to squeeze into. Pretty place, too! Bulli remembered the place when we drove up to the front gate and was all atwitter at getting out to go "huntin". After I connected the electricity, I took him around our "usual pattern" for here and he was so glad to be out in the grass and not have to stay on the sidewalks and get to run on the grass for a bit. He was confused by the football practice going on in some of the athletic fields we walked by. He was totally blown away by the little kids playing Tee-ball! Don't know what was running through that little canine cranium, but he just could not get enough of watching that! It was so funny!

I made the comment as we were driving over here tonight that even Geovanii felt like it was running smoother, riding better and generally felt better than it has since we've been down here. Then I realized that all that was really the result of all of the stuff that had been "stuffed" into it. The suspension was settled down, and the engine actually had a little load on it, which smoothed both out a lot. Even Geovanii is glad to be back on the road again!!

Cheers!

Joe

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday - Post Doctor Visit

It's past midnight here in Plano when I've finally begun shutting down for the day. We had our post-op visit with Dr Emerson late this afternoon and recieved clearance to foray back to Nashville tomorrow. Dr E is still shaking his head over what this ride has been. He thinks March is a good time to shoot for as the time to do the final revision on the hip. He examined the incision closely and is amazed at the difference in now and a month ago when we were ready to make the trip home the day before the whole thing blew up. Sharon has held her breathe all day that it would look good and that he would say all systems were a go.

We spend the biggest part of the day doing those final prep things needed prior to departure. The one thing that remains is loading of the van with the stuff from here. I have the coach ready to go but didn't want to jinx things by having the van loaded today. Sooooo, we will try to get it done tomorrow and will leave whenever it is done. Probably won't get very far from Plano tomorrow but, that's OK too. Having this kind of tight schedule makes it easy to flex without throwing things off too far. [:D]

We have had two or three days of good progress since we got the right stuff to calm her stomach. I can't believe that little detail was overlooked when we left the hospital. The bottom line answer was as simple as OTC Prilosec! In fact, it's half the strength of what I take all the time. With that in her system she has begun eating a little (well, a lot, actually) better and says she feels a lot better. I truly believe part of the problem was that she was hungry, as well as the drug effects. It was, indeed, all tied together with the drug-effect on the stomach. After the doctor visit today, I even took her out to Fuddruckers for one of her all-time favorite hamburgers and fries! Somewhat surprisingly, she managed to eat well over half of it! That's a HUGE step toward recovery! She's even been sleeping better as a result of the calmer stomach. All in all, these seemingly small things have added up to a tremendous quality of life change for her. She's almost back to normal, but, somewhat fortunately, her "gotta-be-busy" hasn't returned yet. She can actually sit still for an hour or two with little to nothing in her hands. That, I think is mostly a result of her strength levels. She's still somewhat fragile yet and and tires quite easily. It will be sometime before her stength has come back to normal levels. Through it all, she's still my hero for being able to survive all the "stuff" that she has and still maintain a mostly postive outlook. Not to say there haven't been some of "those monents", but they've been rare and short!
She can hardly wait for Thanksgiving when the kids will be up. We know it's going to wear her out, but it will certainly be in a very postive way!

We will make a mid-recovery trip back to Plano in January. When I asked Dr Emerson it he wanted us to do that today, his eyes lit up like he had a new toy. I could tell he didn't want to ask us to drive back, but he said it would give him a chance to make some mid term corrections if necessary since he would be able to do a better evaluation in person than he could tell from another surgeons evaluation done in Nashville. He then smiled and said that it just hit him that we don't mind the traveling at all because it was part of our way of life! I told him that no we don't mind at all, because it would give us a mid winter excuse to make an RV run to someplace that would probably be warmer than where we were! On the road again! We can't wait to get on the road again! ...................!"

Thanks to all who have held us close for these couple of months. We couldn't have made it without your support. You're precious to us!

Cheers!

Joe
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Last Monday???

In some of the towns around rural north Texas, they hold sales in a flea market or farmers market called "First Monday" sales. There, you can buy just about anything that your heart may desire, as long as it's legal. Come get your "fleas" just like you would at any of the flea markets worldwide. Come get your veggies from farmers or vendors. Come get your livestock, your donkeys, your pigs, your goats, your minature horses! Just about anything you might need! Well, that's a "First Monday!" We're experiencing a "Last Monday" today! That's were you sort through your things you have accumulated and decide what to begin packing in Geovanii, in what order, and when to pack it, because you KNOW you will need it in both places for the next three days! Then you see what's left over and try to determine if those items are worth storing here until we come back, OR is it cheaper to just throw them out and replace it when we come back, if we decide we need it then! As an example is a small bookshelf we bought - came from, where else, WallyWorld. Cost all of $18 and has been invaluable sitting by the door catching the "droolings" of our return each day. We definitely won't have room for it in the coach, it's bulky, if I break it down to "in the box" form, more than likely the small parts will get lost before we get back. It's definitely not worth paying for storage and it's too large to have the Extended Stay store. Toss a coin - heads, trash, tails, break it down and take you chances! That's just one item. Not a lot of things like that, but just enough that you hate to leave them, and too much to take or pay storage! What's a girl to do? What's a girl to do? LOL Too cheap to keep, too valuable to toss!! That's what today is SUPPOSED to help decide!

We had a pretty good weekend! We went for a ride yesterday to make a run to the Post Office and to get a bite to eat. That seemed to get Sharon remotivated for a bit. Speaking of eating out - I had wanted a pizza from Joe's Pizza and Subs across the way. Sharon agreed that it sounded pretty good, too. In choosing which one to get, we decided to try the "Scicilian Deep Dish" model with all the "fixin's" It took about 30 minutes to prep and get through the oven. I went back in to get it and it almost broke my arm getting it off the counter! That thing must have been almost a full 2 inches thick and square, was loaded with all the good stuff, and filled a box that was 16 inches square! We won't run out of pizza for several days. That thing weighed at least 10 pounds! BUT it was GOOD!

Sharon is getting more back on her feet everyday. She still isn't sleeping in large doses yet, but we believe this is from the infusion drugs that will continue into December. Because of them, her stomach is reacting with some burning and discomfort from there. I can imagine how strong that stuff is. I splashed two drops of one of them on my arm while I was setting up the infusion three nights ago and I still have two little spots of chemical burn on it. They still itch! That strength surely must have some serious implications on the insides!

She can't wait to get back to Nashville and she's a little nervous about anything that might cause a reinfection of the leg, as well! We will likely NOT be going to where the big crowds are!

I really should get up and get moving. The nurse is due here any time to change her pic line dressing and I'm sitting here just like I got out of bed typing away on the computer! Probably should get dressed! Wait, just for that mental image you DON'T need in your mind, I DO have some clothes on! There, "Click", that should help the camera of your mind!! LOL!

Cheers!

Joe
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Time, She Sure is A'flyin!

You can see from the last blog that it has been a day or two since we've posted to the blog. Sharon came home Wednesday and thing's just haven't been the same around the house! [:D] She has had a rough couple of days after getting home because of the effect the drugs had on her stomach. A small, overlooked item caused her a tremendous amount of discomfort with a massive case of stomach burning/discomfort/pain after her infusions Thursday night. We finally got in touch with Dr Baum and she realized that there was a drug that they were giving in the morning pills that had kept the stomach under control with the infusions going on. After we got the "right stuff", the infusions went smoothly and she slept well last evening. Actually, I believe she slept better than did I. I didn't close up shop until about 1:30 last night and was up again at 4 with some Bulli-related issues! I did manage to go back to sleep and stayed that way through about 8AM. Sharon was already up by then and was quitely watching TV waiting for me to wake up. She's slowly getting back into the swing of things - if you count being bored silly because she's to remain on her "short-leash!"

As I look around the apartment, we have a LOT of packing to do to get ready to go back home. Actually, as much as I hate to admit it, it has come to feel like home! We have made arrangements to leave some of the things here in storage until we come back, probably in March. Meanwhile, we still have packing to do!

In preparation for the trip home, when I walked Bulli earlier this morning, I had started the generator in Geovanii to charge the house batteries. Since we had only driven very short distances, they had not had a chance to fully charge and Bulli and I have used the "house" end of the coach quite a bit. We've left things like the refrigerator on, and while it is powered by propane, it is electrically controlled by the batteries. Anyway, several items like that have been left "hot" in the coach so we could "be at home" while we were using it. That had taken a toll on the battery charge and it was time to give them a good charge. Since there is no plug available to use with the internal charger, the generator is necessary. Anyway, to the point of this meander - when I just took Bulli down to take care of some of his business, as soon as he was finished, he went over and stood by the coach door, waiting to get in. I guess he had heard us talking about getting ready to go and remembered that the generator was running (that is a step we many times take before we depart somewhere) and didn't want to get left. I putzed around checking battery fluid levels and a few things alike that and he just sat in the copilot seat waiting for this "leaving thing" to take place! He hesitated more than just a little when I told him it was time to go back in the "house" to see his mom! Well, OK, if I must! was his attitude! I do believe the dog is ready, too! He wants his own rabbits and squirrels to manage and to help with any CATS that may be ready to come on "his" property! Come to think of it, he hasn't had a proper "cat treeing" since we've been down here! No wonder he's ready to go back!! (Sorry, June!)

We're mentally getting ready for this move. As lovely as it sounds to be going to Nashville to our real home, it is somewhat daunting as well. All of our medical help that is familiar with the case will be left behind and we'll be more on our own than here. With the massive support group of medicos here, it feels like we're leaving for a far away unsettled land! Hum! Hadn't thought of that, had you?

It will be good to get back though, inspite of it being a great unspoiled wilderness as I just described! Our friends and "toys" will in themselves be a tremendous comfort and the surroundings will help Sharon's morale greatly! Now, if I can just keep her on the "short leash" like she's supposed to be! The temptations of projects and cleaning and full-time "doing something!" are going to be hard to resist for her! LOOK OUT! HERE COMES "GOTTA-BE-BUSY GIRL!"

It's gonna' be a lot of fun!

Cheers!

Joe
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No longer the day before Sharon goes home!

It's 1:30PM and sheeee's HHHooooommmmeeee! I went up to the hospital early this morning to be there for rounds, and Dr Emerson indeed did verify this was the magic day! We hung around all morning with a few details getting done, Sharon got her last hospital-assisted shower, I loaded a month's accumulation so' Stuff in the van and we were shown the door! One of the last things that had to be done was Sharon was taken down to xray for a couple of "portraits" to give Dr Emerson one last look at how things are progressing.

We rediscovered that you can not leave the hospital by yourself! You have to be accompanied to the door! I suppose that's where the term "show you the door" comes from! They probably don't want you hiding in the closet to get another night in on them! Yeah! Right! We were escorted to the door and then I took over and drove her out to Geovanii! I had gotten in early enough to be able to park in the "front lot" so I could be closer than from "out back" where I normally had to park. I had already brought everything out so we just loaded her, Boneless Chuck, and the wheelchair and we were out of there! I had planned taking her by "some place" and getting her a special welcome home lunch, but she ordered lunch at some point, so we split a lunch of hospital wrap! Bulli was waiting and just couldn't believe his mom was actually getting in the van and going with us! He really sniffed up her brace really well to make sure it was part of her!

We got back to the apartment and she crashed for a while. First the chair and then the bed for a bit of a snoozie! I cooked a bit of dinner and she finally woke up and we ate. Shortly after that the medical courier brought the infusion supplies for the week. I check them over and saw what we had new to add to the mix and found a few interesting things! We have another drug to add to the infusion schedule to insure the eradication of the staph bug and that will continue until sometime in November. The fungus bug drug is continuing until Dec 11. We will be glad that we can see the end of the picline that is stuck in her arm. Presently, the replacement is scheduled for early March '09! WhoooHoooo! There's a lot of water to pass over before that happens! That date is good only if all the rates continue to reach their optimum levels and stay there. And if the planets are properly aligned and the wooly worm coats are not to heavy! OK, maybe those last two are not included but it sure has seemed like it lately!

Celine, our home health care nurse came by for the initial visit and helped me understand the new drugs application. It mixes a little differently than the other one. We're going to slowly move them back up the clock away from the midnight application they were doing in the "big house!" I just told Sharon that this is going to add a whole new image to camping on the way home. Picture this: A roaring campfire, long sticks with marshmellows, a bit of chocolate, honey grahams, and you sitting there with your infusion going on as you sit there! Ummm! S'mores and infusion at the same time!! She didn't see the humor in that for some reason! I guess the last few days did something to her sense of humor! [:D] OK, so that's pushing the envelope a little!

Both of our attitudes seem to have improved when we left the parking lot today! She even claimed to feel human again after feeling like a bed fixture for so long! At least, as a minimum, we can get her out in Geovanii for a change of scenery every so often. Might even pass her a easy drive-up cache or two so she can sign'em!

We have nothing but kudos for the hospital staff that worked the 8th floor! They are professionals who know their work backwards and forwards and at the same time, do it with compassion and loving care. I suppose it was because we were up there for so long, but some of them had almost become family! We appreciate what they did for Sharon and will indeed miss that personal touch! Thank you, 8th floor family!

At the top of this note, I mentioned that it was 1:30 PM. This has been written in fits and starts around all else that has been happening here at the funny farm! It is now 8:32 and I'm finally going to say,

Cheers!

Joe

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Is this REALLY the day before Sharon goes "Home"?

Tomorrow is the alleged day of freedom from the hospital! We'll believe it when I get her to the apartment, but everything is headed in that direction. Last night, I brought home a lot of "stuff" that we knew she wouldn't need today. That really reduced our going home baggage by a tremendous amount. I plan to be there in the morning for rounds so I will have a chance to talk to Dr Emerson. There are a couple of things that we still need clarified before we strike out on our own. Dr Baum came by today and basically said her official goodbye before we come back to complete the final transaction. We probably will have a visit with Dr E before we leave but he feels quite confident in where she is right now. He's very happy with the present condition and we certainly want to keep it that way.

Bulli is probably going to be the happiest of the three of us that "Mom" is coming home! He will have his mommy here and she will spend a LOT of time in a sleeping/resting mode. He can get along quite well with those rules. Besides, he's going to miss his fairly regular dish of Blu e Bell vanilla! He's gotten quite hooked on that stuff and gives me dirty looks when I come back to head home without having brought him some.

Sharon has been moving with great speed towards independent mobility in the last couple of days. When she realized that she needed to be able to get into Geovanii to be able to get out of there and get home (either or both of them) she put walking and stair climbing at the top of the list of things that had to happen NOW! The PT folks have been amazed at her progress over the last couple of days! I do believe she's headed in the right direction now and is among the living once again! Caching may be a ways off, but I'd not bet against it happening before too long!

As far as we know at the moment, Dr E wants us here for one week post-dismissal. That may leave us short on some of our plans, but sometimes life is that way!

Cheers

Joe

Oops! Titan's Won!

Actually, they did win! In fact, it was quite a discouraging day for Peyton and the boys from Indy! One screen shot of Peyton's face at the completion of the game told the whole story! He looked "whupped!" Geaux Titans!



What I actually meant, though, was that the Titan's won out over my writing an entry on the blog last night! I came back "home" to the Extended Stay to watch the game while Sharon watched Dancing with the Stars! We found out pretty early in our stay here that watching the ball game at the hospital did not work out well for either of us. We were both pretty ragged out for the next day when we did that before, so we decided that I would pursue my interests and she would pursue hers so she could get to sleep earlier than the ball game would allow. All that is immaterial - this was to say that because I got caught up in the game, I forgot to write a blog of the day's events!



Monday turned out to be a rather busy day, interspersed with an afternoon nap (Sharon, not me!). Dr Emerson came in rather early before a full day of surgery and gave her a great forecast that included the statement, "That incision looks the best it has EVER looked!" That was the statement that set Sharon's day in motion. It spurred her into a frenzy of, I'm human again, so let's get moving! And move we did. The lady from the brace company came by with the "bootie" extension and installed it. She went over with me all the adjustments and what to do's if scenario since we were going to be so far away from their shop. I guess they figure that the insurance would not pay for a house call from Plano to Nashville! Sharon was initially a little leery of the whole thing, but soon came around to tolerate, if not like it. She had to learn that it does require an additional amount of clearance around the corners and the "bumper" in front of the toes is there for a reason, even if it does seem to stick out a bit far! (why am thinking about a radio call between a NASCAR driver and the pits that says something adding 2 pounds of air pressure in the left and cranking in about two rounds of wedge in the rear?) She called for PT to come by twice and give her lessons on climbing stairs (so she can get in the coach) and was generally "up and at'em" pretty much all day! Look out, folks, it looks like she's BAAACCCCKKKK! That's a good thing!

I went by on the way in in the morning and picked up some additional sleeping pants for her. She does seem to like wearing clothes again, too! I bought all that were on clearance (aren't I good?!) and that should give her enough to wear over the brace as long as necessary. Actually, I tried on pair myself and found that I, too, can be stylish with them on!

It looks like Wednesday is the big day of escape! We're both ready for that and that alone should help the process of recovery just because of the improved morale! We look forward to it!

Cheers!

Joe

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Day Of Progress

Today, we spent most of the day together at the hospital, just relaxing and "healing." For most, that may be a little like sitting around watching a piece of grass grow, but for us it was just another day at the races! In fact, we did just that - we watched the race from Atlanta! Sharon was not feeling really chipper today so we took a ride out to the coach again and she and Bulli spent some quality time visiting again. She managed to bring him an ice cream cup and he considered that just about the best thing he had tasted lately. He really didn't need that to feel welcomed by his Mom, but he surely didn't turn it down, either!

Mid-afternoon, Mama Cache (Sharon) came by and visited for a while. She was the one who found the wheelchair for us and arranged for its loan for the time we're down here. It has been a real lifesaver and has kept us from having to get one here that would have to tranport with us back to Nashville, when that time comes. She is planning a little caching event before we leave as a departure farewell for us. We look forward to seeing a lot of the local cachers that we've met during our trips down here.

Sharon has been a little "down" for the last couple of days. She is much more than ready to escape from the institutional life that she's lived for the majority of the time we've been down here. It looks like that may happen about Wednesday. Dr Emerson indicated yesterday that he thought that would be about right! That will be two days before her stitches come out. She's somewhat concerned about the removal of the stitches. She feels like they will open her up to more germs to invade and cause another "bad period!" We both don't even want to think about that possibility!

Sharon's big accomplishment today was a pair of VERY large men's sleeping pants she was able to get on. With her being hooked up to a traction device since the last operation, there was absolutely no way to get pants of any kind on past those devices. With the implementation of the brace, that possibility could now be pursued. The brace is fairly large, so I found some XXL men's sleeping pants made from a stretch jersy material that were both large enough and stretchy enough to make it over both the leg fixture and the hip fixture and be worn in some way that could almost be called "normal". That normal feeling and the ability they gave her to "get out and about" gave her a whole new outlook this afternoon. Her comment as we drove back to the room was that it made her feel like a real person again and not just like an invalid. Not bad - I found the pants on a clearance sale, and she felt like a person again. I suppose that makes them a fabulous buy! I have a charge from her to go tomorrow and grab a couple more pairs! We gave the Physical Therapy staff the challenge to transition her back to crutches starting tomorrow and to get her on the practice stairs so she can get back in Geovanii again! Both of these are critical steps for making it out of the hospital and the final transition back to Nashville!

Cheers!

Joe

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

What A Difference A Day Makes

Really had a "down" day yesterday so today was much better. Joe went to the visitation yesterday afternoon for his good friend, Don, so that was a sad time for us. Then Joe didn't get to stay here with me much so that was sad for me. Fortunately, I had a great nurse and tech last night so I finished off the day with some joy. Their names are Hope and Charity so I only needed Faith to finish off the trio. They had a good ear for me last night before bed and that really helped me. I have them again tonight.
Got fitted for my brace yesterday afternoon and I am beginning to look like one of the storm troopers from Star Wars. It is supposed to stablilize my hip while I don't have any joint. Monday they will add a foot part to it. This will allow my whole leg to stay mobilized when I am up.
Joe took me in the wheelchair this morning out to the coach in the parking lot and I could see Bulli. We were so glad to see each other. Guess he can't quite figure out where I have been all this time. He has been such a trooper thru all these weeks. It was so nice to be out in the sun.
Got a nap this afternoon while Joe was out looking some type of pants for me to wear with this new contraption. Presently when I get up I "moon" those behind me so he's trying to fix some pants to go up over my brace. He has spent this evening working on the left seam down the leg and I'm going to try them on when I finish this.
Had several calls this afternoon which were very welcome. When I talked to Abby she asked if all the fungus was gone now. James says if we are still out here at Thanksgiving that they are coming out here to see us. I surely hope we will be back home by then.
The plan right now is to leave the hospital on Wed and go to the hotel. Then we will stay there 1-2 weeks to make sure everything is OK before heading home. Staples will come out of the incison on Fri so that will be a crucial day.
Guess that is all for tonight. It's almost time for the nurse to come in and start my infusion.
Until next time-
Sharon

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's the "Wait and See" Game

My sister left yesterday and I really miss her. It was so nice to have someone else here to talk with and just to have around. Joe felt the same.
Well, the latest word is that I might leave the hospital on Tues. or Wed. We'll go to the hotel for a while and make sure all is well. Both of my main Dr's say the incision looks great but it's still a week before the staples come out. That will be a crucial day when they come out. At this point last month everything looked good, too.
I'm just lying around in the bed or sitting up in the chair. That's all I am allowed to do except for quick trips to the bathroom. I still have to have help to get up but hopefully that will end soon as I'm being fitted for a hip brace this afternoon.
Just can't believe this is the 24th of Oct. We left home on Aug. 31 and had no idea we would still be here at almost the end of this month. We have missed out on so many geocaching events and hunts. Maybe sometime in the future geocaching will be back in our activities.
Thanks to everyone who has sent along notes and kept us in your thoughts and prayers.
Joe is going to the visitation of his friend tonight (he had to go out and buy a shirt and tie as he didn't bring anything for such an occasion). The funeral is tomorrow afternoon in Ft. Worth.
Thanks all for this time-Sharon

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Morning - Regroup Day

Looking at the blog as it came up when I turned the computer on, I can't believe I missed a post yesterday! June and I did some shopping for Sharon and "stuff we needed" yesterday morning and went over to the hospital right after lunch. Sharon sat up in the recliner TWICE yesterday, and is learning to move herself around a little. She cannot unhook and get up by herself (that's a good thing!) but with a little bit of help from someone, can move her leg around and get around a little. That may not seem like much, but it's quantum leap from where we were a couple of days ago! I left the two of them late afternoon and came back to the apartment and cooked a homecooked meal to take back over for us. Did something dangerous and tried a brand new dish for the occasion. June had made us Chicken Kiev for us some years ago at her home and I asked her how she had done it. She told me what she remembered and I decided to try it! Well, not having chicken, I had to improvise a bit! Did have some thin-cut pork chops (that really tastes like chicken, doesn't it?) and used that instead! Actually, it worked fairly well, at least for a first-time attempt. Just a simple little dinner of Pork Kiev and Brussel Sprouts in a butter/garlic sauce! They said it was good, but, I will admit, it took a lot longer than I anticipated!

I took June to the airport this morning and launched her back to Maine! We both really hated to see her leave because her visit was so good for both of us! Sharon was just in awe that June took time to come down and so much enjoyed spending some quality time with her. For me, she managed to inject a smattering of civility back into my Class B bachelor living quarters! Not to mention company and conversation with someone other than Bulli when we're not at the hospital. Thank you, June, for giving us much more than you'll ever know!

I came back by the hospital after we went to the airport. Sharon was ready to get up, and shortly after I got there with a Breakfast Taco for her, PT came in and got her up to sit in the chair for a while. Dr Emerson came by on rounds and checked her over quite well. He said everything looked pretty good, but he did express a bit of concern over the incision. It appears a little "pink" yet and he plans to keep her in place over the weekend. He mentioned "through Tuesday" but wasn't clear if it was to leave on Tuesday, or actually leave on Wednesday. Then, we'll, of course, be back at the Extended Stay for a period of time! Huh! That sounds strange - a period of time! One second or two or three eons are each a "period of time!" [:D]

I came back over to the apartment to do a little laundry. Actually, I managed to doze a little, too! We got up this morning around 3AM to get June to the plane on time! Laundry is finishing while I'm finishing this. Actually, it's time to go back upstairs and get it out of the dryer and then head back to the hospital.

Cheers!

Joe

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday Last Blog Today

I finally wandered back to the hospital around 6PM and called June to see if she wanted to go get a bite of dinner. Picked her up and fed her Texas Barbeque Itch and eventually made it back to the hospital. I have to say eventually because we stopped by Baskin Robins for a bit! Of course, it was a strictly for medicimal purposes! We had to stop to take some back to Sharon as a treat for her day! (Snicker, snicker!)

Sharon has had a rather difficult day. When I called to ask June if she was ready for dinner, Sharon answered the phone. It did not take a genius to tell that she was in a serious drowsy! I knew she had been on some kind of heavy duty drug. June said she had been quite uncomfortable after they had her sitting up in the afternoon. The nurse had given her a half dose of something (didn't get the name) and it had basically "laid her out!" By the time we had gotten back, she was back in bed and was looking forward to seeing Dancing With The Stars! It seemed to have worn off pretty quickly, too!

She still had a lot of pain in the upper incision so they gave her some more "stuff" just before we left. That should have her relaxed in short order.

Maybe tomorrow will be a little better!

Cheers!

Joe

On the road with Joe on a mandated day off

It seems strange for me to be playing with a computer at Best Buy and find out that Sharon didn't sleep much last night. I was run off today to "relax" and do something different and am now roaming around town doing a few things. Had to take Bulli to a park first to get him some rare "frisbee" time. He seemed to enjoy that for about 6 throws and let me know it was too hot and was time to go. I wandered to Best Buy and found a tiny computer to try out (if you can imagine me being interested in that!) and what else should I do? Check our blog, of course! I'll probably wander back to the hospital after a while, but had to "enjoy" my forced freedom for a while!

Cheers

Joe

What else do you do in the "wee, wee" hours of the morning and can't sleep?

1:15 AM-tell me it isn't so. Joe and June left my room around 7 last evening and I got settled in for a nice slumber. BUT, the first clock glance only gave me 9:30-thought for sure it was around 5 AM. Then after dealing with antibiotics and eating some grahams, the clock only said 11:30. Well,decided to pull out the computer and check out e-mail. Now the clock hands have sped all the way to 1:30. At this rate we'll get to TN in the year 2011.
It's actually nice to have a quiet time right now. Healing is taking place right now, even as we are speaking.
It's so very nice to have June with us right now. We haven't done anything exciting yet (and might not even) but we love having someone else to talk to. We couldn't believe that she was going to take time out of her busy schedule to come down from Maine.

That was a weird feeling get out of bed yesterday with no hip joint. I'm in a knee imm0bolizer so can't go far-just to bedside commode and the recliner. Now, both of those venues gives you a new look-out on life.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday - Not Just Another Day!

Sharon has done pretty well today. When June and I got there this morning, she was sitting up in her recliner! They had disconnected her from her "ropes" and had her transfer to the chair. This is a big step in the rest of the process. While her getting up is NOT a quick procedure, it will be tolerable if she is not in a hurry to have to "go" or something like that! Don't know exactly how long all the hook ups will be there, but Dr Emerson wants the leg stabilized until the incision is well under way to being healed. After that, the stabilizing connections will be removed and the traction tension will be left until we return for the prosthesis replacement.

Dr Baum came in late, just before we left the hospital with a good news, good news story! They have postively identified both the fungal "beastie" and the strain of, as she said, "almost staph!" The fungus is identified as aspergillus terreus and is quite treatable and the almost staph is also quite susceptable to the drugs they are using. She is going to "reset the clock" on the drugs to the date of the last operation. That will have the projected last date of those infusions as 11 December. This date is, of course, dependent on how the blood tests show the beasties responding. If necessary, that can be extended until the signs are positive that they are contained. This "resetting of the clock" will likely mean that the replacement will be moved forward into Feb or March. This decision will be made by both Drs Emerson and Baum working to seek the optimal schedule for it.

I received a rather large shock this afternoon. I had a call late this afternoon telling me that my best friend had passed away. My buddy, Don Thompson, died around 4:30 PM yesterday after a bout of cancer that had begun only about 12 to 15 months ago. Don and I became very close friends during my later USAF days as we were running around the world together selling training for the F-16s to foreign goverments. Don was working for General Dynamics at the time and I was representing the USAF on these sales. As such, we had to work very closely together to provide the proper training for our customers. Working this close led to a lifelong friendship that was more like brothers than it was as "just friends!" Don had just come into the training world when I began working the F-16 sales, and he always gave me credit for giving him the basics of that part of our world. I, of course, totally denied any responsibility for that and came to admire Don's grasp of what we were doing. I soon began calling Don for advice on getting certain things done. Later, as I came to work with GD, then Lockheed, he was one who mentored me into that part of the world! All in all, I came to love and admire Don and Luzon as a definite part of our family! After I talked to Luzon this afternoon, I walked down to a private area in the hospital and just looked out the window and thought about some of the situations that Don and I found ourselves in around the world. I laughed a little and cried a little over what these memories mean to me. I looked off into the distance and saw a rainbow colored hot air balloon drifting over to the horizon. It made me picture Don, with his sense of humor and indominable spirit, drifting out there just looking over all of us.

Don, my brother, you will always be alive in my heart and memory.

Cheers!

Joe

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Evening again

Another Sunday has come and gone and I'm sitting here beside Sharon's bed looking out the 8th floor window at the lights beginning to twinkle in the rising dark of the evening. This view is beautiful as we can see the very edge of the north part of the DFW metroplex. The lights far on the edge of the horizon are twinkling stars, and with a little more dark, it would be difficult to tell where the earth's lights end and the stars begin. All would blend into a full canopy for us here.

Sharon is laying in bed talking to her mom, June is on her computer at the foot of the bed doing some actual work on her computer, and I'm here staring into the night while deciding where to start on this day's events, while on TV there is an interview with a Matador about the life and death experience of "dancing with the bulls!"

As June and I came over this morning, Sharon was having her breakfast. She was rather enjoying what she had and that is a good thing. Her appitite seems to be returning fairly quickly. That will help her recover much quicker. Dr Emerson was pleased as he came on rounds this AM. He said that they had indeed cultured a staph as they suspected and, fortunately, it is one of the easier strains to control. The extra drugs they placed her on should do the job on it. He prescribed a dressing change for a little later in the morning, and that had been done before we arrived. That "upsetting" of status quo on her positioning has left her with some amount of pain for the rest of the day. As I'm typing, the nurse is in giving her traction, incision, and general condition a going over to insure all is well.

There was a small incident overnight with her. Her blood pressure had dropped off much lower than they liked, so they gave her two units of blood. That was finishing about the time we came in. Strangely, they had to do the same thing post-op in '91 after the similar operation. In neither case had there been a significant blood loss during the procedure but additional units were necessary. That seems to have livened her up a bit!

We had the pleasure of having an OBW(?) event here today! Carl and Nadine (the Happy Hobos) called this morning and asked if it was OK if they came by. Of Course! Was the answer and they came over for a nice visit. It was good to see old friends and their visit was welcomed by us all. They worked in a nice caching run into their day over so it was a good day for them as well! Thank you, Carl and Nadine!

This is about a good summary of the day! Things are getting busy here so I'll drop off and get out of the way!!

Cheers!

Joe

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday - Part Deux

June and I went back to the hospital after we gave Sharon a brief respite and a chance to catch a nap! We did indeed find her in NAP mode but she woke up when we came in. Our impression of the earlier afternoon time was not mistaken. She actually is more lucid and coherent now than she has been before. Who knows, maybe her three ops back to back have given her a tolerance for the "juice!" Only a few times later in the afternoon did she show signs of being less than all there. That was only confusing words and names a couple of times. For example, June at one point became Judy when she was introduced to the nurse! We all got a kick out of that! Even Sharon laughed at it. See, everything is back to normal! [:D]

We carried Boneless Chuck up to stay with her while she is in traction. For those of you who don't know Boneless, he is a little limp, floppy, spineless stuffed guy that she was given in '91 when the prosthesis was removed then. Boneless has become a fixture in the family, living with James in the truck for years and when we got the truck back three years ago, Boneless came with the deal. He made the trip west with us early this summer and came here with us strictly because he is a "vehicle fixture" at this stage. I just could not let the opportunity go by to make a presentation out of him again in all of his limb floppyness! I made a traction harness for him this time and hung him from the "monkey cage" over her bed that the real traction devices are hung from. So, now Boneless is able to help her relate to her "jointless" condition in the proper fashion once again! Pictures will follow, but not tonight!

I am very pleased with what we see at the hospital. Kidding and humor aside, it is a miraculous tribute to all your prayers and concern that you have expressed to have her doing so well. Thank you for your faithfullness!

Cheers

Joe

Mid Saturday Progress Update

I almost hesitate to publish any comments of Sharon's progress at this time, approximately 24 hours post surgery! I can't believe that she is as chipper and alert as she is at this stage. I almost feel like I have been cheated of all the fun of having her "goofy" for a day post op! LOL! She was having breakfast as I went over this morning around 8:30 or so. Granted it was NOT ham, eggs, and grits, but she was having her beef soup and her jello and was eating with great aplomb! She said it even tasted pretty good! I then went to the DFW airport to pick up June and when we got back to the hospital, she was having LUNCH! Two meals at normal times - that has been totally unheard of in her op history! She was looking like she actually felt good and was talking in a totally "undrugged" way! Amazing for this stage!

June and I stayed over for an hour and a half or so and Sharon began to get tired and needed to rest a little, so we left so she could doze a little. In fact, that's where we still are and plan to go back over in a little while. Thought we'd give a little update in this interim part of the day!

More later!

Cheers!

Joe

Friday, October 17, 2008

Post Op - Operation Number Three

At 8:30 PM Dr Emerson came out and gave me the word that everything went well. They removed the entire femural prosthesis in three parts and stuffed it with an impregnated cement spacer. The operation was a long one because of both what they had to do and their desire to make sure it was "right" before it was closed up. He commented that the cavity was really ugly and required a tremendous amount of cleaning to get it to an acceptable state. That is in quite a contrast with the general condition last time when it actually looked rather well. The staph apparently came on in a rapid fashion to cause that much "ugly" so quickly! He feels confident that there is enough femur left to get a good construct when it is time to do so.

She will be rather "out of it" for the next three or four days. I'll stay tonight as long as possible to make sure she's as comfortable as possible. I pick June up at DFW mid-day tomorrow, so probably won't see Sharon before we get back from the airport.

We surely didn't want this to go this far, but now it should be a matter of healing and then the good install from here.

Cheers

Joe

Operation in progress - 6:55 PM

Sharon went into surgery around 4 this PM. I just got a call from the OR from the nurse and she said that they were still working. The anticipates another hour and a half until they are finished. Said everything was going as anticipated. More to follow

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Not Waiting Anymore!

The waiting is over for the decision of what to do. Dr Emerson came by just before I got back tonight with the Big Decision. I suppose we've known all along what that decision was going to be, but the reality of it seems harsh. Sharon called me to see where I was when he came in and I was about 10 minutes away. He went to visit with another patient while I was getting here and came back in just after I got in.

The decision is that the stem part of the implant is to come out along with a good dusting and cleaning of the area while they're there. This is what we have been dreading, both for the possible outcomes and just plain for the experience of going through the whole thing again! Sharon is taking it rather well, and I, well, it doesn't matter! We had even talked this afternoon that this was a real possiblity because of the continuation of and the amount of drainage that was being collected. She will go into surgery around 3 PM Central time tomorrow (Friday) and the operation will take an estimated 2 hours. That means that I'll see the doctor somewhere around 6 when he's done. I'll post a note when I find how it has gone.

Dr E's forecast of a successful replacement when the infection has settled down and everything is calm again is somewhat better than it has been in the past. He shared some techniques tonight that he hasn't mentioned before that give us much more hope than we've had before along these lines. Obviously, if you recall my post of Monday night, we didn't feel too promising then about those prospects. He does indicate the need for a "traction device" that will help keep the leg stabilized in the interim. He does NOT want to use a "through-limb" pin because of the possibility of further contamination, but will provide "something" that we can use traveling and when we get back home. He wants at least two more weeks here post-op. We'll play that by ear as it comes.

On the bright side, Sharon's sister June is coming down for a visit. She will be a welcome addition to our merry little band and, if nothing else, having her smiling face here to talk with is going to be such a blessing. She will be another caregiver and that will also be so much help.

If I may plagarize a little, That's the way it was!

Cheers!

Joe

Just after I closed out the above, Dr Baum, the infectious disease doctor came in and gave us a further update. She had the nurses pull a culture from the drainage tube last evening and it grew a staph culture. That weighed heavily on Dr Emerson's decision to go in for the removal. Dr Baum has prescribed an antibacterial drip as well as the antifungal she is already on. It is pretty obvious this staph is relatively new. Over the last couple of days, the incision has begun to look NOT happy! In fact, while Dr Baum was looking at the incision tonight, she found two new spots that were beginning to "erupt" with a drainage. This is what happened when we were in Ft Worth in '91 and began that whole removal process.

Just when you think you're at the bottom, you look down and danged if someone hasn't dug a ditch in the bottom! Looks like this is going to be a long ride!

Just Sitting and Waiting

We're doing alot of sitting and a whole lot of waiting with no idea what is on the other end of this whole thing. Joe got the laundry done this morning and was over to visit before noon. I had already had breakfast and taken a shower so I felt really good-nothing like a good shower, hair-washing and clean clothes. He took me out for a stroll in the wheelchair. We went all around this floor and then down to the lobby area and a quick little visit outside where the weather had made a HUGE change since the last time I was out there-it was cold!!!!!! Then we each spent some time reading and I got a little snooze.
I guess the biggest news is that I slept ALL NIGHT!!!!!!!! This is such news because it is the first time since we have been down here. I didn't need any pain medicine last night before bed so I got a low dose Ambien around 10:30 and that was it. I was so shocked when one of my Dr's was standing at my bed at 7 AM-I hadn't been up to the bathroom and no one came in for vitals all night. What a difference a full night's sleep makes. Today I found out that Joe had a secret pact with the night nurse before he left last night and told her to be sure that I took a sleeping pill.
I've here so long that I've basically been thru the whole menu on the meal plan. Joe gave me a treat for lunch today and brought in Lenny's-he had a sub and I had mine as a salad. I have to make myself order from the menu now and things just don't taste good. I've been eating alot of yogurt which usually tastes good to me.

We had our daily Prestonwood deacon visit last evening with Ron Leach and it was good to visit with himn again.

The magazine lady came by today so I snagged the new People magazine. I've been a little short on reading material not realizing I was going to be here this long. Also, I had a magazine in the mail Wanda sent yesterday so I'm good for a couple of days.
Well, my Dr. said this morning that we were just waiting and watching-I'm only to get up to bathroom and chair so I'm doing what he says. Not sure when he and infection Dr. will decide what to do next. Fluid is still coming out of the incision on a regular basis. They changed out the collection cannister this afternoon and there were 300cc of liquid in it(that was total for the whole week I've been here)-I'm not sure what the conversion is to liters but my water bottle sitting here by me has .5 liters. I was a math teacher but never got into metrics.
Joe has left for a short time so I'll take a snooze. He'll be back later and we'll watch Survivior together.

That's all for now-Sharon

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Plan or Old Plan with new timing?

I've been sitting here for a while, trying to congeal all this into a concise package. That should be easy, but this is a case where I tried to think and nothing happened! [:D] The news that Sharon reported this AM is, indeed, very favorable and exciting, with it's promise of no additional operation. This is true as far as it goes but that's not the whole story. The remainder of the story is that IF the Vac doesn't complete it's job, OR if further cultures show an additional amount of aspergellus growth, AND that is contributing to a continued production of fluid in the cavity, THEN, another "clean-out" will likely be in order. This could be a "simple" debridement or a completely fresh start with everything removed. It appeared earlier in the week that this was the ONLY option, but a new Vac installation technique has given additional hope that the easier course will work. OK, are you now as swimmy headed as I am with all the options? How long is she going to be in the hospital? Are they going to operate? Can they save the remaining portion of the old prosthesis? When are we headed back to Nashville? How long are we going to be in the Extended Stay after she's released? Sorry, I didn't intend to make this sound like a teaser for "As The Worm, er, I mean, World Turns". All these answers contain the same IF's, DEPENDS', and THENs! (No, I did NOT mean either of us is wearing Depends!)

All that aside, Sharon is in good spirits! We spent a large bit of the early afternoon going through our latest shipment of mail! It's amazing how well you can get by on a daily basis without having your daily mail fix! First mail in about two weeks and all was well with the world! Thanks, Wanda!

It has turned a little bit cool this afternoon! A double cold front managed to punch it's way through, and while it is certainly no Blue Norther like I've experenced in this area of Texas in years past, the low 50's that it is out right now feels chilly! Bulli is enjoying his stay in the coach a little better with it cool!

Cheers!

Joe

A New Plan?

It's 10:00 AM and I'm up and dressed and watching TPIR (The Price Is Right)and feeling better than in several days. The fluid build-up under the incision has made the leg quite uncomfortable when I get up. They put on a different vacuum seal this morning and I can see fluid coming out of it already. My Dr. hopes this will do the trick and then my body will heal around the hip joint.
I have another view of Plano, TX out my window-this is my 3rd room I've had since we've been here. It was nice to get back on the ortho ward where it was so much quieter during the night. That didn't help me sleep any better but I rested alot.
Fortunatley they have cable TV to help you thru the long, sleepless nights. I've even taken up to watching poker tournaments from Vegas. From the absolute attrocious experience I had playing at GeoWoodstock in Sacramento in May, figured I needed some help from the pros if I was going to try it again next year. I'm glad our stakes aren't as steep as in Vegas. We get a nice geocoin for playing.
Still don't have an exact departure date but hope it is within a week.
Our son told us yesterday that if we were still here at Thanksgiving that they were coming out to see us. Oh, I hope the visit will be in TN.
We continue have deacon visits from Prestonwood and they are such a blessing.

Sharon

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A continuation - Insights!

Things have gone rather smoothly today. Sharon moved to the "old" 8th floor where the hip operations are recovered. (that doesn't sound right, but you get the idea!) That is rather like going back home, nurse and staff wise, because that is where she knows practically everyone up there by now! It was like old home week as different ones stopped by and gave their greetings!

Thanks for all the contacts today! By phone, by email, by Pony Express, they are all welcome! Thank you for all the support!

Ken Carter shared something with us tonight and I feel like I should share it with all of you! OK, here goes!

You will enjoy the new insights that Rick Warren has, with his wife now having cancer and him having 'wealth' from the book sales. This is an absolutely incredible short interview with Rick Warren,'Purpose Driven Life ' author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity . We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body but not the end of me.I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.

If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,'which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.

It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.

Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?

Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more in interested in what I am than what I do.

That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

The only thing that I can add to this is that I have NOT written a successful book! [:D] BUT, I'm finding this true as well!

Cheers!

Joe

Monday, October 13, 2008

When the going gets tough, sometimes there are hard decisions to make!

Just got back in from the hospital, after spending all afternoon there with Sharon. Had two doctor visits, one routine and the other requested. Dr Baum came by late, and Dr Barrington, Dr Emerson's associate, came by after surgery as we requested. When he came by this morning on rounds, the hip was "pumped up" and was very uncomfortable. When he examined it, he found that the Wound Vac had been doing it's job, but so had the body! The body, responding as it was supposed to, formed a seal at the top of the wound. It was supposed to do that at the bottom, down by the bone. When he punctured that top seal, it drained all the fluid that had been trapped that the Vac was supposed to be removing. Now, I realize that is more information than most of you want to visualize, but you needed to know that because it is leading to the "tough" part. It appears that our options are getting fewer and may not lead down the rosy path that we thought we were on. One thing that is blatantly obvious is that things cannot continue the way they have been planned (yes, they HAVE been changing daily!) Dr Baum, the infectious specialist, has said the whole time that we really SHOULD remove the last remaining part of the prosthesis to eliminate that as a harbour for the fungus growth. Dr Emerson has wanted to try to get around that because it is such a strong construct and nothing will ever be as strong and supportive as it is. If the decision is made that it must go, then we are on the Plan B track, instead of the Plan A track we all have hoped for. We will know more sometime tomorrow after the team of doctors have a chance to consult and recommend another course of action.

Looks like, right now, that there may be another extended stay in the hospital. When I've said I would like to live in Texas again, this is NOT what I had in mind!

More to follow..........................

Cheers!

Joe

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sleep is a good thing

Yup-I slept last night. Had my last nurse/tech "interference" at 11:15 PM and made arrangments for them NOT to come back in until blood-drawing time at 6 AM. It worked with a little help from a low-dose Ambium. I woke up twice for very short times when I heard alot of commotion across the hall. Seems like a patient came in late and then had to go to surgery. Fortunately, I went right back to sleep both times.
Just about any day can look better if you've had a good night sleep and I did have a good day today. It was a little lonely because Joe's stomach was still a little upset and he was afraid he still had some stomach bug so he only stayed here about 30 minutes this morning and then crashed out at the hotel the rest of the day. I think he deserved a well-earned day off. I am well taken care of here but it is nice to have him some during the day even though often we are only watching TV or listening to music.
Temp has been down all day so hope that is good news. Both Dr's that came in today said blood work and counts were good. They were still waiting on a report on the urine. I haven't seen any more drainage in the tube on the vacuum apparatus so I hope that is good, too. It will be interesting to see how the incision does when they take that thing off.
I attended church virutally via the internet today. Prestonwood Baptist broadcasts their Sunday service so I had it set up right here in the bed and I felt just like I was there. I even dozed towards the end of the sermon but I've been known to do that when I was in the actual facility. Also had a visit from one of their deacons this afternoon and it was nice to have a visitor. The pastor quoted Christopher Wren in his sermon: "In the worst of times we do the best of things." This is pretty bad times for us so wonder how we can do out best with it? We may never know.
Appetite picked up a little today so my stomach feels pretty good. The day nurse suggested ordering an Instant Breakfast if I didn't see much that I wanted to eat and I tried one today-it wasn't bad.
Enjoy your holiday tomorrow. We'll be right here.
Sharon

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Just lying around on an Oct. Sat in Plano, TX

Had another sleepless night last night but it didn't really seem too bad during the day. I may have to resort to a sleeping pill if I can't sleep tonight. Got the dressing changed out on the vacuum machine this morning and the incision really leaked alot. However, it hasn't the rest of day so we don't know what is going on. It seems to rest a couple of days and then raise it's little ugly head with no warning. We are so thankful that we weren't on our way home when this last episode came up.
We'll see my infectious Dr on Mon-she doesn't like this low-grade fever that I have been running (it was 100.4 this evening, highest I have had yet). My hip Dr. is in Boston for the weekend celebrating his 60th birthday and we'll see him Tues. Then I guess the 2 will get their heads together for a new game plan.
Now that I am in the hospital, Joe has been able to get some much-needed sleep. I think he has slept until 10 AM the past 2 days and he truely needed that and deserved it. I hated so much to call him at 1 AM on Thurs morning and then again at 3:30 AM but I really needed his help. He has been the true hero thru all of this. I was listening to a nice country music channel on the TV here in the room today and Roy Clark sang a song with these lyrics:
"If I had to do it over again I'd do it with you....
I wouldn't want to miss a thing that we've been thru"

THINK ABOUT THAT

And then a song by Kenny Rogers really spoke to me-I don't remember ever having heard it before:
Harder Cards-"you pass people every day with harder cards than you in life to play."

We aren't happy about our situation right now but we are playing our cards the best we know. Thanks too all those who have called and encouraged us.

More tomorrow-Sharon

Friday, October 10, 2008

TGIF - Say Homer, Pass me MY banjo!

Well, it may not be THAT bad yet! Status quo today as Sharon has rested some today. She's still fighting the whole "tummy" thing yet, but made the comment tonight that she felt like she had turned the corner on that, too! She has run a bit of low grade fever and Dr Baum is not really happy with the fever and the fact that the test results have shown a slight downturn. She hopes, as do we, that this is a result of the stomach upset and is not coming from the hip! We don't even want to consider the ramifications of it NOT being the stomach problem! We still hope that her hospital escape day this time remains to be Tuesday!

I finally had to take some time off today and get the propane tank on Geovanii filled. I don't believe it's been filled since we were in Reedsport, OR before we went to the Skinnie-Winnie rally in late June. It hasn't been used much except for a few meals on the stovetop, but it has run the refrig since then. The only exception to the frig's gas use is those rare times when the coach has been plugged in and it has used electricity. That's a full three and a half months of refrigerator use without it's being turned off!

The longer this goes here, the more we're looking forward to getting back to Nashville. I hesitate to say when that is going to be, because it seems like everytime I mention a time on here, the pendulum swings the other way and we're in for a set-back! I think that pendulum has swung back and forth more in this last month than the one of Big Ben!

Cheers!

Joe

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Banjo Update -

Just returned from the hospital! Dr Emerson came by after a full day of surgery to see how Sharon was doing. He explained how this Wound Vac works and the "Why" of using it. Since there has been a fluid generation in the hip joint, the obvious use of it is to remove the fluid from it. The other, less understood, use is to basically seal the joint area, not terribly unlike what you do when you seal food with your "SealAMeal" vacuum thingy! That allows the tissure in the joint to grow and heal without a void, or hollow space, around the joint. It appears that Celine, our home care nurse, and I removed most of the fluid this AM before we went to the hospital. There was very little fluid that came out after they installed the Wound Vac.

He is projecting that he wants her in the hospital until at least Tuesday. He feels like that will get the void sealed up and pretty well locked in place. We sure hope so! The one bright spot in this whole step is that we were not on the way home when this happened. That would have required a post-haste U-Turn and return to Plano. At this point, at least, Dr. E feels like we are still on track for a January '09 return to install the prosthesis as part of the final repair.

Sharon seemed to have gotten a bit of rest while I was out doing the chores this afternoon. She said she had lain there for 7 hours before she got up. That, incidentally, is some kind of record for a daytime stop for her! She needed that after a sleepless night last evening. Bulli and I may tie that here shortly!

Cheers!

Joe

Banjo's in da woods! New plans!

Apparently, last night when Sharon wrote the blog about our leaving, she closed saying that she was hearing strains of Rocky Top playing in the distance. I think what she heard was just the banjos playing in the deep woods at midnight! Shortly after she wrote that, she called me and was terribly sick. What I thought that I had a touch of food poisoning from bad food turned out to be a bit of stomach flu. She came down with it about 24 hours after I did. While dealing with that, her incision decided to erupt again and leaked all over everything in sight! Now, I'm fully up and involved in gaining a "cure" for two or three problems Sharon is having. We finally called the after hours number at Dr Emerson's office and, after talking to the doctor for a while, we decided to wait until office hours to pursue help. I used just about all that was available to change dressings and clean up with. Celine, our visiting nurse, came in around 8:30 and helped tremendously. Had a call from Dr Emerson's office that said to take her to the hospital for admission. They had a room waiting for her and would install a Wound Suction device to help the drainage and get it stopped. We went over about 10:00 and she was taken in immediately. I ran into Dr Baum, the infectious disease specialist, while she was on rounds and she went by to check on how Sharon was doing. I had to leave to come back to the Extended Stay to get all the "stuff" washed before it was too late and am now waiting for the washer and dryer to run it's course to head back over to the hospital to see how far they have come with her treatment. Things were happening slowly before I left. At present, we have no idea how long she will be in the hospital nor when we will be able to travel again. Hopefully, it won't be too long!

Cheers!

Joe

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

All Systems Are Go

Saw the hip Dr this afternoon and he said he didn't see any reason why we couldn't go on home. Even after the drainage crisis over the weekend, he thought the incision looked great today. He was quite pleased that my blood work from last week was so good(will call the infection Dr tomorrow to find out about this week's). He still wants to try another implant so we'll be back down about mid Jan. for that procedure. That will give us about 3 months at home to be "calm and still". He doesn't want me to do anything strenuous-just rest and relax. I have lots of sit-down projects at home that should keep me to that regimen.
Joe had a little set-back today. He woke up feeling sickly this morning and just felt all washed-out all day. He finally decided late this afternoon that it was probably the leftover spaghetti sauce he ate last night that we had in the 'frig. Because he hasn't felt well all day, we won't leave here until Fri. We will do laundry and get things packed up tomorrow. We are headed east to Shreveport, LA and will spend Fri night at Barksdale AFB where they have a family campground. Then Sat we'll probably get to Jackson, MS and then on home on Sun. I'll start getting my home nurse on Monday so we need to be home by then. Monday is the day I get blood drawn and they change the dressing on my intravenous line.
Joe's in bed already (which usually isn't the case) and I'm the night owl tonight. We both got little naps this afternoon when we got back from the Dr so I'm really not sleepy.
That's it from Plano tonight. We hear faint strains of "Rocky Top" so can't wait to get home.
Sharon

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Day of Continuity - The Pendulum Swings!

Last evening after Sharon wrote the Blog page, we remembered that some of the local cachers gather for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, Pancho and Lefty's, in nearby Rowlett, TX. We had spent a bit of time in that area while caching before, so we knew where the place was. We received a standing invitation to have dinner with them when we first got here, and things had been a little too hectic to make it. Needing a night out, and with Sharon feeling up to it, we loaded up and met them for a dinner on the patio at Pancho and Lefty's. This was no bright and shiny chain eatery! It was a local establishment that had just plain good food! We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and most of all, visiting while there. That was a real "spirit booster!" Thanks, guys, for the invite!

At this point, she has had no drainage from the incision for about 30 hours and it looks much calmer than it has for several days. Great news and just another step towards Nashville! If all goes well with the doctor visit, we'll depart Plano sometime Thursday.

If we get the "Go" tomorrow, I'll begin loading as soon as we get back to the Extended Stay. That will leave minimal items to prep and load Thursday before we leave. We have made arrangements with the manager here to leave a few items in storage here so we won't have to bring them back or buy new when we come back. That will help us tremendously.

We're keeping our proverbial fingers crossed for a "go!"

Cheers!

Joe

Monday, October 6, 2008

A New Day-A New Week

Sharon, going through a "change!" She's both the patient AND the table!
It's Monday noon and things are really looking up. Had a little drainage yesterday afternoon but none all night. Then there has just been a very little so far today so we hope the crisis is over. Would really hate for anything to stand in the way of us heading home on Thurs.
This day began very early as Bulli wanted out at 4 AM. He almost never asks to go out during the night so we knew this was a necessity. By the time Joe got back with him, Joe was awake so he stayed up. I didn't get up until around 6:30.
2 nurses came today to change the dressing on my infusion line and to do the weekly blood draw. When we saw the infectious Dr. last Thurs she said that last week's blood report was good. We were glad for that news.
We did some laundry this morning and now we have both had a nap. Wish I had had the camera available when Joe was napping-it was a rare time to see him reclining and relaxing.
It has rained alot here today-only about the 2nd time we have been here. That's about how much it has rained back home according to our neighbor who called us yesterday. She called to tell us that the newspaper was being thrown in our yard again which prompted a call to the office this morning. We have no idea why they started it up again.
Sunday was a nice, quiet Lord's day. As we have the other Sundays here, we "attended" church via the internet with Prestonwood Baptist Church. It's not like actually being there but it is an excellent substitute. If any of you want to check it out at 11AM on any Sunday, go to PrestonwoodBaptistChurch.com and click on their Power Point Ministries.
Had the room cleaned today and the maintenance man fixed the broken door lock so guess things are well at #232 for the time being.
Had calls from several friends as well as my Mom over the weekend. Call us anytime-we love phone calls.
That's all for today-Sharon

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Is this Sandusky OH or are we on a roller coaster ride in Plano?

The saga continues! More drainage all day today! We've had Sharon down in the prone position most of the day! I had to run out and buy a bunch of absorbent sterile pads today to take care of the quantity! Have gotten rather creative in ways to deal with the process. I'm concerned about what is happening but, based on Dr Hillyard's comments on Wednesday, we'll deal with it until Monday when a better idea may come into play when the offices are open. He mentioned a bandage called a VacuSeal drain or something like that if it hadn't stopped by Monday. Hmmm! If I only had my kitchen vac and seal from home! Bet that would take care of it! [:D] May meet some resistance from my patient, though! I think I scare her a little sometimes, anyway!

All that aside, it has been a rather busy day. Laundry day, grocery day, the normal dog day and just a few simple things in addition. The biggest complication for the day was the room door coming into the suite. When I was coming back from the laundry room, the door handle quit working. It's one of the mag card doors and all of a sudden, it wouldn't open the door. The outside handle is just disconnected from the mechanism! Great! Finally had to get the desk clerk to use the master mechanical key to let me in when I needed to be gone for a length of time. Naturally, the maintenance guy is not available until Monday although there were several attempts to call him this afternoon! Heck, I probably wouldn't answer my phone, either!

I'm going to miss this WalMart! It's more like one of the new Publix stores that are opening around Nashville than anything else around there. The whole store is an upscale version and is, while a WalMart, like shopping in a more classy place.

I usually am game for about any kind of roller coaster, but this one is the most terrifying one I've ever ridden!

Cheers!

Joe

Friday, October 3, 2008

Looking up!

Josephine, Sharon and Celine after the Great Extraction!
The nurses have just left after removing Sharon's staples! (not her marbles!) The incision looks great and it appears that the crisis of yesterday has passed! That's probably the best news of late! The bleeding or drainage was either a small pocket that had to relieve itself (a MEDICAL term!) or the tight staple had torn a slight bit and caused a bit of bleeding! That's a big Thank You!

With this crisis relieved, and the apparent hazard out of the way, Dr Emerson will likely give the go ahead to make a run fpr the border! (Well, at least to Nashville! That's beyond the border of the Great Republic of Texas!) We're not sure of our routing yet. We want to miss the stretch of I-40 east of Little Rock. It's rough and will be a very uncomfortable ride for her.

As we sit here, it feels like someone put a quarter in the vibrating bed! The hotel laundry room is directly below our living room and when they wash a big load of towels or something heavy, the whole room vibrates like a, well, a large vibrator when the washer goes into spin cycle! It's even better than a cell phone in your pocket! [:D]

Our major efforts now will be in preping to depart! This will give plenty of time to get Geovanii ready for the road and that sort of thing without a big rush!

Cheers!

Joe

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This is PROGRESS?

This morning began with a big bang! We knew what we thought the day would be like, but sometimes, you just THINK you know what is going to happen. My wake up call was from Sharon asking me to see where the blood was coming from on her sheet! Oops, sometime I can wake up pretty darn quick. Today was one of those times! When I checked her incision, I found that there was a small leak at one of the staples. It looked like it could be pinching a little and was tighter than the rest. Sharon called the home health care agency and they sent her nurse by to check it out. When she arrived, she wasn't sure if it was the staple or not. We bandgaged it and, by that time, it was time to go see Dr Baum. She looked at it and wasn't too sure about it either. Sharon had also called Dr Emerson's office and, even though he was in surgery all day, one of his partners was available to check it out. His opinion was that it was a part of the healing process and some of the pressure inside the joint was "tunnelling" to the surface. He did not feel it was anything to worry about at this point. If it is still happening by Monday, we'll need to call and have it looked at again.

The staples come out tomorrow, though, so that should eliminate that as a source. The staples look like they are really ready to come out. The nurses are coming tomorrow morning to take care of that. I volunteered to take care of that task, but was overruled by the patient and just about everybody else! I don't understand the problem - I did it one time before! I HAVE experience!! Just how am I going to maintain my proficiency? [:D]

At the moment, it still looks like we'll be home by next weekend, but we'll play that by ear and see what happens with the latest development.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Cheers!

Joe

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday! Driving MS Sharon, DeJaVu!

Bulli goes "grocery" shopping! Pups have to eat, too!
Yesterday was so NON-eventful that it would have put you to sleep, even before it did me while trying to write it, so I was kind to all and left it unsaid! You can thank me now or later, your choice!


With that in mind, we changed up the pace a little today and did some NORMAL things. Sharon was in dire need of a change of scenery again. To scratch that itch, and to satisfy a taste that had been building on my palate, I plugged in "Catfish" into Jill, the GPS and found a little cafe called, The Reel Thing Catfish Cafe in the nearby town of Allen. It was worth the drive! Darn good catfish! (I think this one is worthy of an entry on my food blog. < http://nashvillejoesculinaryobservations.blogspot.com/ if you're interested. Nothing special about that blog, but it helps me remember some of the places I like and remember some of those I want to forget!)


It was around a 20 mile drive up to Allen and that got some new pictures in her windshield. She'll likely be good to go now for a few more days before total boredom sets in for her.


Things are slowly falling into place to get us back to Nashville. Tomorrow, she has the first of the "exit" visits with the doctors. The appointment tomorrow is with Dr Baum, the infectious disease specialist. It is Dr Baum that has the responsibility to eliminate the fungal growth and it is she that will set up the Nashville connection for the drug application once we arrive there. We hope and pray that the indicators she reads from the blood tests will allow her to give us the "Go" for our trip home. Next Wednesday, a week from today, she has an appointment with Dr Emerson. It is he that will have to give the final word on our return. They both could easily say that they want another week to monitor things. We'll see what we will see!


While we were out to have our main meal of the day, we made another stop or two. One of them was for Sharon to have one of her "Fruit Cups!" Refer back a few blog pages if you don't recall her definition of "fruit cup!" The other stop was for Bulli to get some groceries. He seems to know when we get to one of those places (PetsMart) and knows that he is welcome to go to do his own shopping there! I put one of his "blankies" in the bottom of the cart and he proudly rides through the store with his little visual radar in full scan! He was funny today when we momentarily paused by the "Cat Display Case!" The glare of the light kept him from seeing them initially and, since he was only about 2 feet away from the cages, three or four cats came over and stared at him! He turned and saw that many cats looking at him from their slightly elevated higher than him position and for a moment, I thought he was going into full song! His little lips were pursed ready to let out a full blat of bark at them. I told him not to bark, and suprisingly enough, he held it! He did find it somewhat disturbing that there were cats in HIS store! He grumped under his breath as we drove away! One of the clerks saw what was happening and got no small amount of amusement from it, although she was obviously a concerned "cat person!"


A side note: I bought diesel fuel today for UNDER $4! First time since we left on our trip last April!


Cheers!


Joe

Monday, September 29, 2008

Drivin' Ms Sharon

Yes, I got out of this place today. Thanks to the wheelchair I was able to have a short ride out to the coach and go for a ride this afternoon. We had to pick up medicine and got some tacos for lunch while we were out. I never even got out of the van but it was nice to be out of the hotel. It was pretty warm outside so we used the AC and it was pretty comfortable. A front is coming thru tonight and supposed to be cooler for the rest of the week. My body chemistry has been so out of "whack" since my surgeries that I am usually freezing up here in the room. It was nice to be out in the sun today.
The home nurse came this morning to draw blood and change the dressing on my intraveneous line. Tonight Joe did my infusion by himself-he is quite the nurse. Hopefully we are getting some more supplies tomorrow as our first shipment is mainly depleted. These infusions will continue until Oct 31 and then I will only have to take a pill twice a day. My infectious Dr. says I'll be taking these the rest of my life.
Had to get my early this morning to meet the nurse but tomorrow we can sleep as late as we want to. I couldn't seem to get comfortable for the whole night last night so I slept half of the night in the recliner. Hopefully tonight will be better.
That's all for today and tonight.
Sharon