Summer Update

It is just past noon on a Tuesday morning.  I love mornings at home when the agenda page on my iPhone calendar is clear.  Jim is at work, so I don't even get sidetracked by his company.  No appointments take center stage when planning the day; however, the long to-do list in my head does nag at me:

  1. Water the plants
  2. Fertilize the flowers and bushes.
  3. Find out what bugs are eating your flowers and deal with them.
  4. Take a morning walk.
  5. Do some household laundry.
  6. Schedule appointments for next month.
  7. Write those notes to friends that need to be written.
  8. Organize your stacks of stuff in the upstairs office.
  9. Organize that even bigger stack of stuff in the downstairs guest room/quasi office.
  10. Go grocery shopping.
  11. Fix a healthy meal for lunch and dinner.
  12. Check in with your blogging friends and see how they are doing.
  13. Try to get a blog written and published.
  14. Take a shower.
  15. Fold laundry.
So far, I have accomplished getting numbers 1 - 4 finished.  Somehow, I skipped down to number 13 and sat down to write a quick blog while I cool off from my outside work and my walk by sitting in front of the open window in my study.  The breeze feels refreshing.  

The familiar sound of a plane from the nearby United States Air Force Academy  pulling a glider across the sky connects me to the place in which I live.  I think of those young air cadets training to get their wings. I envy the freedom and excitement the young cadets must feel when that glider is pulled into the skies, released from the aircraft that has taken the glider to to the required altitude, and the glider itself  then soars and swoops and then glides back down to earth.



Such an experience is not gained by these cadets without hard work, solid academic performance, and sacrifice.  These cadets have a schedule, and they stick to it.  They won't succeed if they do not use discipline and organization.

The gliding through the air does appeal to me.  At this point in life, I find the schedule that leads to accomplishing much in life doesn't hold much appeal.  

I also know myself well enough to know that I don't function well without schedules.  I fight against them.  Always have.  As I grow older, I probably need a proper schedule more than I ever have, but I hate them all the more.  

I want to glide, and slide, and be free of those time restraints in life that continue to bind me.  Life just seems too short to do laundry, clean house, shop for groceries, and fix meals.  I want to read, write, walk, play in the yard, dig in the dirt, eat lunch with friends, enjoy time with my husband, and visit my children and grandchildren.  

I also want to stop all these medical appointments because of medical issues.  Summer is for fun.  It is not for medical procedures.

Many days I am very well.  Other days I am not.  Last week, I had an earlier than expected colonoscopy.  The results from biopsies are not in.  This week, on Friday, I will have an endoscopic ultra sound of my pancreas at the University of Colorado Hospital.  I had the same procedure three years ago,  at least I know what to expect with the procedure.  I just don't know what to expect on the outcome.  I may require additional risky procedures that same day.  There is talk of a stint for a malformed duct.  Most of my pain and discomfort comes from the pancreatic area, but thankfully I haven't had any bouts of pancreatitis that required hospitalization since 2013.    

As if all of this were not enough, for the last few weeks I have been bothered by floaters that block my vision.  The latest, a very large one that has been assailing my vision for three days in a major way, has made reading and writing nearly impossible.  My stubborn nature went into overdrive so I could write this overdue post.  Defying that seemingly pencil eraser size floater, I sat at my computer and wrote this.  Don't worry, I've been to the eye doctor yesterday and I have not tears or detachments.  I'm just dealing with the aging process in the eye that seems to have gotten worse since cataract surgery in March and April.

So, dear blogging friends, I haven't forgotten you.  I'm just not spending much time using a computer or other technological devices due to my eyes.  I also have been out enjoying life with my dear hubby and my precious family and wonderful friends as much as I can this summer.  I have been working with my writing group every other week.  I meet with church friends for prayer or breakfast.  When Jim isn't working, we have lunch, dinner, or breakfast with couple friends or with my cousin Donna. Other days, when Jim is home,  long walks in the morning invigorate while more leisurely walks in the evening bring peace and joy.  


Some of those things on my to-do list can wait until the weather forces me inside.  In the meantime, the deck or front patio are ready and waiting for friends to drop by and visit.  Books are being enjoyed in the cool of the shade.  I'm winning a few wars with the wildlife by planting and protecting my impossible garden.  I'm also staying strong in spite of health problems that continue to hit.  Keep me in your prayers on Friday.  I hope to be back to summer activities soon.


Summer Update

It is just past noon on a Tuesday morning.  I love mornings at home when the agenda page on my iPhone calendar is clear.  Jim is at work, so I don't even get sidetracked by his company.  No appointments take center stage when planning the day; however, the long to-do list in my head does nag at me:

  1. Water the plants
  2. Fertilize the flowers and bushes.
  3. Find out what bugs are eating your flowers and deal with them.
  4. Take a morning walk.
  5. Do some household laundry.
  6. Schedule appointments for next month.
  7. Write those notes to friends that need to be written.
  8. Organize your stacks of stuff in the upstairs office.
  9. Organize that even bigger stack of stuff in the downstairs guest room/quasi office.
  10. Go grocery shopping.
  11. Fix a healthy meal for lunch and dinner.
  12. Check in with your blogging friends and see how they are doing.
  13. Try to get a blog written and published.
  14. Take a shower.
  15. Fold laundry.
So far, I have accomplished getting numbers 1 - 4 finished.  Somehow, I skipped down to number 13 and sat down to write a quick blog while I cool off from my outside work and my walk by sitting in front of the open window in my study.  The breeze feels refreshing.  

The familiar sound of a plane from the nearby United States Air Force Academy  pulling a glider across the sky connects me to the place in which I live.  I think of those young air cadets training to get their wings. I envy the freedom and excitement the young cadets must feel when that glider is pulled into the skies, released from the aircraft that has taken the glider to to the required altitude, and the glider itself  then soars and swoops and then glides back down to earth.



Such an experience is not gained by these cadets without hard work, solid academic performance, and sacrifice.  These cadets have a schedule, and they stick to it.  They won't succeed if they do not use discipline and organization.

The gliding through the air does appeal to me.  At this point in life, I find the schedule that leads to accomplishing much in life doesn't hold much appeal.  

I also know myself well enough to know that I don't function well without schedules.  I fight against them.  Always have.  As I grow older, I probably need a proper schedule more than I ever have, but I hate them all the more.  

I want to glide, and slide, and be free of those time restraints in life that continue to bind me.  Life just seems too short to do laundry, clean house, shop for groceries, and fix meals.  I want to read, write, walk, play in the yard, dig in the dirt, eat lunch with friends, enjoy time with my husband, and visit my children and grandchildren.  

I also want to stop all these medical appointments because of medical issues.  Summer is for fun.  It is not for medical procedures.

Many days I am very well.  Other days I am not.  Last week, I had an earlier than expected colonoscopy.  The results from biopsies are not in.  This week, on Friday, I will have an endoscopic ultra sound of my pancreas at the University of Colorado Hospital.  I had the same procedure three years ago,  at least I know what to expect with the procedure.  I just don't know what to expect on the outcome.  I may require additional risky procedures that same day.  There is talk of a stint for a malformed duct.  Most of my pain and discomfort comes from the pancreatic area, but thankfully I haven't had any bouts of pancreatitis that required hospitalization since 2013.    

As if all of this were not enough, for the last few weeks I have been bothered by floaters that block my vision.  The latest, a very large one that has been assailing my vision for three days in a major way, has made reading and writing nearly impossible.  My stubborn nature went into overdrive so I could write this overdue post.  Defying that seemingly pencil eraser size floater, I sat at my computer and wrote this.  Don't worry, I've been to the eye doctor yesterday and I have not tears or detachments.  I'm just dealing with the aging process in the eye that seems to have gotten worse since cataract surgery in March and April.

So, dear blogging friends, I haven't forgotten you.  I'm just not spending much time using a computer or other technological devices due to my eyes.  I also have been out enjoying life with my dear hubby and my precious family and wonderful friends as much as I can this summer.  I have been working with my writing group every other week.  I meet with church friends for prayer or breakfast.  When Jim isn't working, we have lunch, dinner, or breakfast with couple friends or with my cousin Donna. Other days, when Jim is home,  long walks in the morning invigorate while more leisurely walks in the evening bring peace and joy.  


Some of those things on my to-do list can wait until the weather forces me inside.  In the meantime, the deck or front patio are ready and waiting for friends to drop by and visit.  Books are being enjoyed in the cool of the shade.  I'm winning a few wars with the wildlife by planting and protecting my impossible garden.  I'm also staying strong in spite of health problems that continue to hit.  Keep me in your prayers on Friday.  I hope to be back to summer activities soon.


Heart Procedure Update

University of Colorado Hospital
Good news is always good news.  I am so grateful to have good news to report.  
Morning came early the day of surgery.  I'm just not an early morning person, but I had an appointment to make, so around 5:00 a.m. I rolled out of bed at the Springhill Suites across the street from the hospital and got myself ready for my big day.  

The air felt crisp and cool as I gazed a the beautiful front range of the Rocky Mountains as we walked to the car.  Reflective thoughts soothed me as I gazed at towering outlines of mountains against a sky just beginning to lighten in the dawn of day.  The verses I meditated on before bed entered my heart:  I will lift my eyes until the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from The Lord, which made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)  That Psalm, my Psalm, always calms my heart and reminds me I am in God's hands.  The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.  

Once we entered the hospital, there were moments of anxiety when I wanted to say,  "I've changed my mind.  I'm not doing this."  Did you ever feel that way before a medical procedure?  Thankfully, I was surrounded by a wonderful team of doctors and anesthesiologists.  This kept my fears at bay even when I entered the surgical room.  Talk about an intimidating place!  It was huge and full of all kinds of equipment and machines and people.  I barely could see the skinny little bed where I would lie as the procedure was performed.

Once I'd entered the surgical room, and just prior to the surgery, several ice cold, large disc shaped patches were attached to my back and front.  I had been warned that I was going into a very cold room where very cold patches would be placed on me.  I asked if we could take pictures and just use this experience as my ice bucket challenge.  These discs or magnets are actually defibrillators and magnets that allow for 3-D pictures of my heart.

This catheterization, was not, as the saying goes,  my first rodeo.  I'd had a heart catheterization a year ago.  This most recent one was much more intense to me, but I was told the other procedure was actually more tricky because of the side of the heart that is catherized for an artery study.  The procedure that I had on Friday was an electrical study.

The surgery itself ended up lasting four hours.  I think my dear husband was beside himself with worry.  I was out cold for it all since I was given propofol. Or, if I were awake, I have absolutely no memory of anything, thank heavens.  The doctor had to perform a heart ablation.   This ablation should have destroyed those places in my heart that were causing arrhythmias.  During the study, I did go into atrial fibrillation (aFib) with my heart beating 200 beats a minute.  The doctors were unable to slow down the rapid beat with medication while I was in surgery, so they had to shock my heart back into rhythm using those discs that been attached to my body prior to surgery.  I'd say it is handy to have a defibrillator attached to your body!

Because the procedure was done by a catheter being fed up to my heart via an entrance in the groin, I had to lie flat on my back another four hours after surgery.  I was constantly monitored so I wouldn't cross my legs or try to bend them, or attempt to get up.  I had exceptional care during the entire time I was in the hospital.  There are only three patients for every nurse on the cardiac recovery unit.    I felt very safe and cared for.

I spent the night after surgery in the hospital.  This is always done after an ablation.  Reportedly, I had no palpitations at all, and my heart rate was good the entire time.  I did have some bouts with low blood pressure during the morning hours on the day after surgery.  My readings were as low as 88/48.  I have problems with low blood pressure at times, so this was not a new thing.  Once I was up and moving around, my blood pressure improved.

The doctor put me on a diabetic diet while I was in the hospital.  Smart move on his part, and actually, the food I had while I was there was exceptional.  For lunch just before I left to go home, I had crab cakes, delicious crab cakes, arranged on a bed of romaine lettuce, and served with fresh asparagus spears grilled to perfection, and fresh steamed spinach.  I was even allowed one half of a slice of carrot cake.  It was all very good tasting and quite satisfying.


I'm so very grateful to have this procedure behind me.  For years, my doctor has discussed the possibility of doing such a procedure, but she never felt the time had come when I needed it.  I was referred to Dr. X. by way of my wonderful G.I. doctor at National Jewish.  (She referred me to a NJH cardiologist.  He went through my records.  During a consultation with the NJH cardiologist, he said I needed to go the University of Colorado Hospital to their electrophysiology doctors and even made sure I saw Dr. X.)  There were actually two doctors of cardiac electrophysiology who attended me during my surgery, and neither one expected to find what they did once they were able to do the electrical study of my heart.  The problems just were not showing up on the holter monitors that I have worn so often.  

I look forward to again being able to walk at longer distances, hike up some hills, and just live life without episodes of tachycardia (rapid heart beat) stopping me in my tracks.  I hope to no longer be bothered by constant palpitations.  I hope to have fewer dizzy spells.  I think my quality of life just got better, much better.  I am so grateful.

Thank you to all of you that sent me good wishes.  Soon, I will be back to being able to exercise and walk.  The next battle is with the weight I've put on.  Along with that battle, I'll be battling pre-diabetes.  Onward and upward…

**I am not a medical doctor, and I have limited understanding of all that took place during my surgery.  It has been explained to me.  One doctor even drew a picture for me.  My knowledge and understanding of the procedure remains quite limited.  I've only conveyed to you what I understand.  I'm sure there were wonderful technical things done of which I have no knowledge.  Thankfully, I can leave all that knowledge to my doctors while I remain the one who benefited from their education, skill, and expertise.  

It's Been Crazy Busy Around Here

Black Forest Fire Evacuations Hit Close to Home


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father's Day

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

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

Load up your plates

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

Grandpa Jim with family and friends.

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

Grandpa opens his gifts

Son-in-law Nathan fixes our noisy fan

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

Health Update

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

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

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