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2011

I have:
Finished my degree
Gotten a daytime work shift
Gotten more daytime help with Mom
Started re-learning to play the guitar
Been offered a chance to fill in for a trainer (a position I would love)
Taken my half-dead PC to the shop to try and save my PrintMusic files
Learned I am not immortal, invincible, or invulnerable
Decided to tackle life despite that revelation
Admitted I still need to shed a few lbs
Determined to enjoy my time with Mom
Made plans to start a reno project
Plus a lot of boring stuff
Decided I am our own best advocate, whether dealing with work, home, doctors, or family.
Profundity abounds.
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How I ended 2010

With a B+ in Algebra
(Hopefully) with an A.S. in Business Management
With great concern for Mom... she has non-smoker's COPD. Scary.
Without wrapped presents (see first item, term was over on 12/19, not much time for shopping and wrapping)
Without snow (so far)
With a cold (courtesy of hubby, who did not go to his sister's because HE was sick)
Without a turkey dinner
With hope for the new year!

Jesus is Lord!
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Another bi-annual update

Things change.

Why do we think they will not? It isn't as if God, in His Word to us, has not warned us of the fragility of life. But we think we know better.

We do not.

Work continues, school is a constant strain - not the work itself, because I enjoy it, but rather the complete incompetency of the staff AT the school - Mother's health varies from week to week and sometimes day to day, my husband walks a tightrope of medical bills and doubts about his ability to continue working... and I am sooooo tired at times.

I was so joyful last month, thinking that school was nearly over. Of course, the degree audit was 'in error' and they neglected to tell me about it until two days before my LAST CLASSES WERE OVER. No time to register for the next term. I am in limbo.

Why, you might ask, were the school staff and my so-called advisors so careless? I wish I knew. The upshot is: I still must take 3 classes, the term lengths and requirements have suddenly changed, and the classes I need to graduate ARE NOT AVAILABLE. Apparently some of them they have not been available the whole time I was enrolled... now just how does THAT work? I must have misplaced my magic wand... I can't wave it about and make classes appear from out of nowhere.

So, here I am, 4 weeks into my forced exile from school, waiting impatiently for them to figure out what I am supposed to do next. They don't have a clue, and I am beginning to think they don't care. I have no confidence in their abilities. I have lost all faith in their intentions. I just want my degree, and then I will run away as fast as I can and never look back. They OWE me, blast them! I have done everything required of me and they are playing games with me and my MONEY. Not happy, nope, nope, not happy at all.


Still, there are pluses to this life. Mother is better, hubby's health is currently stable, I am carrying a 3.9 GPA, I am able to work, my job seems as secure as any job in this world can be. I have people who care. I have a great God who cares. I am in reasonably good health. I can still function as a member of society. I miss things, but they are just Things, you know? We are still able to pay our bills, which is amazing now-a-days.

I have discovered a new series of books by my favorite author, Laurie R. King. That is good, and maybe I will have time to read them soon. I love to read. First I have to buy them, which takes money, which is in short supply, but I can give up a one meal a week and buy a book. That is a reasonable tradeoff.

My old doggie is blind and failing, which is a heartbreak. He is my baby boy still. My young dog looks at me with such sympathy when I fall into sadness about it. Young dog - three years old. He is full of life and silliness. This, too, is good. Chihuahuas are far too much like family members for our own good. They become part of us always. Perhaps that is why they were put on this earth. I have a hard time envisioning a pack of wild Chihuahuas taking down an antelope. I'm just sayin'...

Church tomorrow. I must deal with my own fears in the presence of the One who takes away all fear. Sadly, I will probably allow my fears to resurface next week. But, thankfully, my Lord does not expect me to be perfect in myself. Good thing, too, because I am sooo far away from perfection.

It is after midnight, it is hot and sweltering despite air conditioning and two fans running simultaneously, and I am uncomfortable and tired. Hence the stream-of-consciousness babbling you see here, which is happening rather than comfortable sleep.

Babbling is over. I will try go to bed shortly, sweat or no sweat. Nighty-night!
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July is a wonderful month

Good thinks happen in July.

I started my training for data processing in July. Dallas is hot and dirty in July. My future started there.

I got married in July, then 10th, to be exact. We will be celebrating 28 years next month, quite a milestone.

AND NOW....

I will GRADUATE in July! Let the fireworks begin!

All I have to do now is decide what I am going to do with myself and my degree.

God is good.

Mom is doing fairly well. We will visit with the nurse-practitioner on Friday about her being so tired all the time. We think it may be the 100+ heat.

We are going away for our anniversary... we have people coming in to check on Mom several times a day, and our aide, Juanita (she is a SAINT) will make sure Mom is just fine. We will only be gone 3 days, but I will worry about Mom and the doggies. Rambo, our youngest dog, suddenly got sick last Friday, and I took him to the vet at noon. He had acute pancreatitis. It could have been fatal in 24 hours. His fever was 103.7. Poor sick doggie. I am almost broke from caring for sick doggies. My old dog, Spike, has glaucoma and arthritis. He is blind and hobbles about on wobbly legs that barely hold him up. But he is still feisty, barks at anything that moves, loves his toy ball, and really, really loves his mama. And mama loves him, too.

Rambo is much better now, he's almost finished with his medicine, but he's not back to 100% feisty dog yet. He's such a cutie and his eyes are so expressive... it is easy to tell how he feels by his eyes. People are that way, too, if you look.

I love my little doggies.

I love my well-broken-in marriage and my well-broken-in hubby.

I love my dear, fragile mother.

But above all, I love my Jesus who died for me and gave me access to all the wonderful things in my life. Thank you, thank you!
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A year passed...

For someone who was formerly a prolific writer, I find myself neglecting this journal again. I am only a few courses away from graduating with my A.S. in Business Management (how many courses, you ask? Who knows! I have a phone conference with my academic adviser tomorrow morning.) Mother has recovered amazingly well, but she is now living with the diagnosis that many senior adults dread to hear: Alzheimer's Disease.

Last summer, after I noted her health issues in my journal, we began trying to get her to a senior adult specialist. When we were finally able to attain new patient status, the doctor began concentrating on her health, but he was watching her mental state closely as well. She went from being the all-powerful master of the kitchen to a confused, underweight, and shaky figure who was unable to remember to turn off the stove. We blamed her heart attack, but there was more to it than that. The diagnosis, given to us in October of 2009, was like a splash of icy water in our faces. Alzheimer's means that you lose your precious loved one long before they actually pass away. I cried many nights over the thought. My mother is my best friend.

Today I can write that Mother is doing much better. Aricept (a miracle drug!), vitamins, and an adjusted dose of blood pressure medicine has allowed her to regain, or at least maintain, a great deal of herself. That sounds strange, but that is how I see it. I have my mother back, not 100% as she was before, but she is here, with us, present in her own mind and capable of interacting and being generally a happy, content person. I am so grateful to my loving Heavenly Father for this. With her health stable for the first time in a year, we were able to find a hearing aid that worked for her. She attended church last Sunday for the first time since Christmas 2008. She got a standing ovation from our precious church people when I escorted her in the door! She was tired when we got home, but she stated she heard almost every word the preacher said, and that "he did a pretty good job!" God is so good!

I know that college is set up to become harder and harder the farther along you go, but this last 5 months have been a meat grinder. I hope to find out for sure just how many classes I have left. I fear that my student adviser neglected to check the degree list in my file when I requested this year's classes, and I have taken classes that I don't need. At almost a grand a pop, I don't need any extra bucks added to what I already owe! Perhaps the fact that I am on the President's list (grade point 3.80 or above) will aid me in graduating as early as possible.

Stress has taken its toll on me physically. About 5 weeks ago I caught the 'stomach bug' the same time as my diabetic husband. He ended up in the hospital. I called the paramedics to come and get him when I could not get him out of bed. I was sick and weak myself, but at least I could get to the bathroom under my own power. He spent 4 days in the hospital, and thanks to IVs and constant care recovered quickly. I still have all the symptoms of the bug, except for the nausea, and I have lost 8 lbs in the process. This is not a good diet plan, let me tell you! My doctor thinks once I reduce my stress level my body will heal itself.

Hopefully I will keep up with my journal from now on. I post thoughts and feelings on here that are a snapshot of where I am at the moment. It is good to remember those moments. If you forget where you came from, how can you be truly thankful for where you are right now?

My song quote for the day:

Thanks, thanks, I give you thanks,
For all you've done...
I am so blessed,
My soul is at rest,
Oh, Lord, I give you thanks!

--Carol Cymbala
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Far too long and far too many miles

I cannot believe it has been so long since I last wrote in my journal. My life has been in an upheaval since October of last year. I had surgery, was off work 5 weeks, and when I returned to work I was laid off. (read: fired.) There were no grounds for my dismissal, yet they were determined to block me from drawing unemployment. I do wonder why a company that 'fired' and employee would give a severance package to that employee... obviously their version of 'fired' is vastly different from anyone else's.

So, within a week I found a new job, which is a new challenge, but nowhere near the same pay. It's been tough... the hours were weird, but I am persevering. Just last week I started new schedule working 4 10-hour days, which is even weirder. All this just to bring home just a little over half of what I was making before. Sheesh.

Mom had a rough winter; widely varying blood pressure, swollen feet, bladder infection, dehydration and trouble eating have plagued her. The doctors do their tests, but not as quickly as we would like. We are trying to find foods she can, and will, eat. She is not happy. I am so very concerned, but I know at she is 84 there may not be much I can do to make things better. It is frustrating.

I am going back to school online to finish my AA degree in Business Management. I must be crazy. My life has gone from typical to outlandish and has settled somewhere around unusual. I hope I can live with unusual for a while.

One of my Chihuahuas has decided I am an ogre. He runs and gets in his bed when I enter the room. I swear I have not flogged him, scolded him, or took away his toys. I get up early every morning and feed him and take him outside. I do not know where his fear comes from. Sigh. At least my old, nearly blind Chi still writhes with happiness when I come home at night!

Due to the weirdness of my workweek, I have to make special effort to spend time with hubby. Our schedules, which have never exactly matched, are now almost polar opposites. He is a patient man. He has to deal with Mom alone several days a week now. Bless his heart.

God is still good, all the time. I am waiting for His direction daily. I do hope that the job I am doing now is not His final plan for me. LOL
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Family Hearts under attack

I thought Mother's heart attack was an isolated incident, due mostly to her age and undulating blood pressure.

Boy, was I wrong. It seems to be a family affair.

Saturday, August 9th, a little over a month ago, I was weed-wacking away at my .28 acre yard (yes, it is tiny) and my heart lost its rhythm. It went completely off beat. This has happened before, I told myself. It will go away on its own, I theorized. I continued to attack the audacious grass in my back yard (the kind that grows profusely where you don't want it, but refuses to flourish where the rest of the world could see it... say, for instance, my FRONT yard) but it wasn't long until I could barely breathe. Note that I did not say there was any chest pain, just a rapid, out-of-sync fluttering in my chest. I had to quit my war on the grass and go lie down.

An hour later, I was no better. My poor husband was becoming alarmed, and after another half hour or so, I was, too. No spontaneous conversion to normal rhythm occurred. He shipped me off to the emergency room nearby. I was walking so slowing by that time I could not keep up with hubby. I sat in the chair at the triage desk. The nurse began asking questions, and tried to get a pulse reading with her nifty end-of-the-finger pulse-ox machine. After a few seconds, she stopped asking questions and called for a wheelchair. Apparently my pulse was so off-beat it was not registering. The machine thought I was dead, I suppose. I wasn't dead, of course, but I was beginning to get annoyed with the whole situation.

I was stabbed, squeezed, poked, prodded, glued-to and then relieved of several patches of skin as they took multiple tests to find out what was going on. The female ER doctor came in, a personable lady who had been right on top of Mother's condition when she was admitted in May. She read the red-lined ECG tape with a serious expression, then said two words I had never had applied to my heart before: Atrial Fibrillation. I was rewarded with a day in the hospital and some mighty impressive medical bills.

You see, I was 'diagnosed' with PAC/PVC due to a Mitral Valve Prolapse in 1994. I had an episode very similar to the one mentioned above, and just happened to be working at a hospital when I was having it. A quick trip to the ER, and an ultrasound the next day showed a mis-firing Mitral valve, and they looked no further. I was instructed to take Tenormin for about 6 months and then start tapering off until I reached a maintenance dose. I did that, along with avoiding decongestants and caffeine, and after 6 months, tapered off to no meds at all. No recurrence, so no more Tenormin.

A subsequent ultrasound in 1999 showed no trace of a prolapse. Good thing, because i was taking out Heart Attack insurance from AFLAC. They might have frowned on covering me if I had a nasty prolapse.

The insurance is long gone (as was the job I had during that coverage) but it would have come in handy this year.

I am quite recovered, aside from inheriting a 'rest of my life' prescription for Rhythmol and having about 75% of my normal energy level.

To top it all off, the next week, on Wednesday, my 11 year old dog Spike took sick and I rushed him to the vet on my lunch hour.

Yes, he had a heart attack, too.

See? It runs in the family.

Hubby needs to get back on that treadmill, stat.

Good thing he's not blood kin, eh?

God is good, all the time. Life, however, fluctuates from day to day. I'm sure glad God is in charge.
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Mother-an update

I have been more terrified the last 7 days than ever before in my life.  Last time this week I was in the emergency room with Mother, waiting on doctors to come an bestow their wisdom on us.  Chest pains.  Nausea.  Out of control blood pressure.  Horrid things, signs of a disaster in the making.  When the dust settled, a diagnosis: heart attack.  A mild one, the doctor said, but to quote him, "There is no such thing as a 'good' heart attack."

She spent 5 days in the hospital, and did very well with her recovery.  At 83, you don't know what to expect.  She has been home since Monday, doing well.  More fragile, more easily tired, and unable to cook or clean.  Doug and I are re-learning our earlier coping-with-housework skills.

And still, I work 9-10 hours a day, five days a week.   When I get home and put the supper dishes away, I have about 2 hours before bedtime to clean house, read emails, write journals, and be with Mother.  Sometimes, all I accomplish is the latter.  It is the greatest accomplishment of the list, I believe.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me more time with her.
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Moving Day

Tomorrow is moving day at work.  They are moving us back to our original locations.  Four plus years ago I started with the company in almost the exact location we will occupy tomorrow.  A lot of things have happened since then, raises, new jobs, new responsibilities, an awareness of how much I can... and can't... do.  I am making more money, but tomorrow I will return to a tiny desk with no walls in a sea of other people with tiny desks and no walls... is this progress?

I hope I can hear myself think after tomorrow.  Chaos does not favorably impact my performance.
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April Musings

Storms, flooding, hail, damaging winds, recovery, upheaval, hope.  All this, and it is only the 12th of April.

Major storms caused the first four.  Mother has regained her appetite and her blood levels, and has gained ten pounds in two weeks.  That takes care of the fifth item in my list.  The powers that be at work have decided their decision to change the way everything was done 3 months ago was not a success.  So... they are doing it again.  Hence item six.

And, item seven... relating to the first six, in their respective order:

I hope we've seen the last of the flooding.
I hope Mother continues to improve and thrive.
I hope the powers that be at work know what the heck they're doing... because I sure don't.

I hope this is a glorious Summer!