Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here on my soap box again...

I was recently sent a link to follow, read and offer my opinion on it. To say I was horrified by what I read is an understatement. I'm not really a political person except to say, my beliefs and thoughts are my own and a freedom I have to do just that. I do not presume to think they're perfect or right. Rather I believe that we are all given a choice and the ability to make choices based on our faith and our ability to feel. What choices we make are dependant on our life experiences and our responsibility to make well informed decisions. Our experiences and environments are not enough information on which to base seriously life altering decisions.

With that being said, please, follow this link: This is Your Nation on White Privilege

Once you have read that, I offer my opinion below:

I find the article to be "trashy" at best. It is a statement that is highly biased and incredibly emotional. This article to me was written solely for the purpose of inciting a tremendous emotional reaction from sympathizers to some "cause". I think that in our nation our people, black, white, purple, pink or polka dotted, was founded on truth, Christian values, and faith in all mankind. God made us ALL. He made a glorious quilt of color and custom. It is not my place to judge His decisions. In no place in our faith - ANY faith to my knowledge except those of extremists - does it say we are free to be judgmental. We are taught in the Christian faith, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." It isn't my place to judge the person who wrote this as he and she are entitled to their opinions. However, I was asked to reply as to my thoughts on this piece and I will share this.

I think in the last 100 years we have worked hard to alleviate the divisions between the races and cultures, even within our own country. We abolished slavery in the late 1800's. It was the decision of the war and of our national leaders that all men should be treated equally. This decision was made by loss of life and through a restorative government to produce a more stable, compatible and cohesive nation. I understand there are sects within our nation that have worked to realize a steady division. I also recognize that these same groups that others have tried to alienate have worked equally as hard to further that same division. They create their own subcultures into which no "white man" is allowed. They create their own spaces within society into which they do not WANT whites to interfere, intermingle, and intersperse. It's shameful to continue blasting the Caucasian race as segregationists when it is their own races that work at building walls that the government of "white people" worked hard to eradicate and make smooth transitions between the society of old and the "new" worlds. It's positively disgusting to read articles such as these that serve to do nothing more than build up those emotional walls.

If someone chooses to call themselves an "effing redneck" why should that bother me? It doesn't, because I have a choice to be bothered by it or not. Should I be offended? Should it bother me more than to hear men of the black race call each other "nigger"? They are mightily offended to hear anyone outside their "race" call them that, yet they freely call out to one another with a name they claim is bigoted, racial, offensive, highly segregation, wrong?

Our entire country has embraced the wonderful teachings and dreams of the great Martin Luther King. We have all recognized our own abilities and freedoms to have a dream and further to pursue it. Black, white, yellow, red, mixed, no one is told they can't pursue that dream. It is, however, up to us to find our own way. Sure, some people have more money than others and the pursuit of that dream is easier; the road to the pot of gold noticeably easier. However, the same steps must be undertaken by all. By virtue of brains, some people are allowed shortcuts; classes they don't have to take, steps they can skip. Should I be jealous because I had to work harder? Should I be ungrateful for my education because someone else received scholarships based on academic excellence or athleticism who could have well afforded to pay their way to college but didn't have to? Should I hate them simply because they had more privilege than I?

Should I hate that more blacks and Hispanics are given public benefits than white?

Should I hate that in my own neighborhood, there are illegal citizens and blacks being given public benefits and yet have never worked a legal day in their lives?

Should I hate that despite having worked 30 years friends of mine have been denied assistance because they were honest and gave an accurate account of the household income when seeking a temporary need for food assistance, only to find out that the bread winner made $398 GROSS income and didn't qualify, but if they were to consider NET income, the family of 4 was more than $500 BELOW the poverty level and well qualified for assistance.

Should I hate that there is a black couple in my neighborhood who receive disability for "questionable" illnesses (illnesses they freely admit are simply on paper and not real) but their neighbor, who has been disabled for more than 10 years STILL cannot get approved despite his inability to walk without assistance, cannot use his left hand (not his writing hand) but still has a college degree he's got hung on the wall so the "Government" thinks he should still be able to do something, anything, JUST by virtue of his having worked hard to achieve his degree, his dreams?

I see all these things in my world. I watch the iniquities. I see the injustice every day. It does affect me, my thoughts, my feelings. It does NOT however, make me blame an entire race. It does not serve to cause me to be judgmental. It simply isn't my place to judge.

It IS my responsibility to be a well informed citizen. It is my responsibility to vote into office those individuals whom I think will be the best persons to create a more evenly balanced society. It is my responsibility to help create a world in these United States that has both left wingers and right wingers. It is my responsibility to believe in the government we voted and created based on the vision of our forefathers. It is my responsibility as a citizen to be active in my community so as to have my voice heard by those in power by voting, writing letters, participating in my local government in what ever capacity is right for me. It is not only my responsibility but my RIGHT to do so.

That brings me to my last point. It is the RIGHT of the individuals who have written this emotional note about "White Privilege" to say what they say. They have that right because of thousands of brave individuals of every race, creed and color, from the year 1607 to current day who have sacrificed their lives, their families, their fortunes, their blood, sweat and tears for us to be FREE to say the things we feel in our hearts. So to the writers of this horrible piece of writing I say, I respect your right to your opinion. I respect your right to assembly. I respect your right to even publish your opinion.

I hope you respect my right to disagree vehemently. I hope you can respect my right to call your writing trashy and the very emotional garbage on which the unrest in our nation is fueled. I despise what you wrote, not because I think there is a spec of truth in it but because yet again, someone who feels as though something is "owed to them" based on the 19th century history of our country. It's done, it's over and it's been beaten to death. Let's let the mistakes of our forefathers be buried and let's proceed living in the world intended by our true Father. God never promised us the world was easy and simple. He never put us on this magnificent Earth and told it was a rose garden that never needed to be tended, weeded and fertilized to produce the beautiful roses. You have failed to see the broader vision.

It is our RESPONSIBILITY to tend this garden, the beautiful quilt called MANKIND. We are all different sizes, colors, creeds, cultures, nationalities. We all have minds and freedom of our thoughts. God gave us that right when he gave us the ability. It is our responsibility to God to tend this beautiful garden. We are to care for it lovingly. We are to respect the gifts HE gave us by feeding it, taking care of the planted, the transplanted, the volunteers, the old, the new, the revived. We water it, we fertilize it. When we give it bad fertilizer, it gets tainted. Let's not taint our garden. Let's take it upon ourselves to cultivate His garden, His gifts just as He gave them to us. Let's not accept these "weeds" into our gardens to choke out the beauty and glory of it all.

In Galatians 5: 22, 23 we are apprised of the Fruits of the Spirit. These are the actions which we should all strive to emulate and share: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. People of all religions. People of all nationalities. People of all cultures. They are the very spirit of all PEOPLE. They are the spirit of a more perfect society. They are the very core of our being and they should be the very core of all of our lives. IF we were to ALL live according to these, why would writings such as the This is Your Nation on White Privilege even be published. They would be completely unnecessary. I do NOT presume to say all people should base their beliefs on the Christian bible. I do however believe that all people should base their very lives on those basic principles. What could possibly go wrong if we should all choose to live exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self control? If we are to be guided by emotions, let it be, at the very least, positive emotion.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wow... I'm really here...

Oh my word. I know, I'm slack... been away for a long time and no excuses - just a couple explanations!

Let's see... where did I leave off? Egads... June. Okay - here goes

June found me suffering from a horrible case of heat stroke. The heat stroke brought on some really fun (NOT!) health issues that pretty much had me in bed for the summer. While I did get up and manage to move about some (from my house to Lisa's, occasionally to Michelle's and on a couple of occasions to Daddy's) for the most part, I was home bound. We (Dalton and I) had a case of strep, two rounds of bronchitis for me and two acute cases of sinusitis. We missed both hikes with the Cub Scouts that took place during the summer. I did however have a wonderful time staying close to home and going over his new Cub Scout requirements. While he didn't know it, he completed almost all his requirements for his Wolf Badge before we even started the new season!

In June, Taylor and Reaves entered a competition to eat a HUMONGOUS pizza. The 30" pizza challenge, if you complete it, gives you free pizza for a year. You get a pizza a week if you can eat this tremendous pizza in one hour between two people. Taylor was prepared, having spent the last two months at school eating like crazy in preparation. Justin was supposed to do this with him but hadn't had a chance to prepare and didn't think it would be good for him to do it. Reaves, who adores pizza, thought he'd be able to handle it and gave it a go. Unfortunately, the pizza got the better of him! I've never seen so much cheese in my life. Taylor got through his half, but Reaves' lactose intolerance got the best of him in about 20 minutes. He thought if he could get through the crusts and them slam the cheese down all at once, he might be able to do it. Unfortunately, his strategy backfired on him and he had a tough time. He gave out about 30 minutes into the challenge. The look on his face kind of says it all!

June also saw Dalton going to a beach for the first time in his life. Lorie took Dalton along with Nash and Mason to Yorktown Beach. He'd never seen a surf (even thought it's the bay, it still had a small surf and sand) nor been in salt water. He had a great time swimming and playing in the sand. Lorie was sweet enough to get photos for me!

We got to see my brother in law along with my niece and nephew this summer (whom I hadn't seen in two years). They all grew up so quickly. They are beautiful, wonderful, witty, charming kids and Mike is a great guy. It was terrific to have lunch with them in Richmond while they visited with Daddy. Most of these photos were taken by Dalton with the exception of the one of him and the cousins with Papa, and the one of him (which was taken by his cousin Ryan). He's pretty good, isn't he!

I've missed them so much and I was so happy to see them all!

That was in July. Also in July I got a massive pain in my head that resulted in my left arm going numb immediately. At first we thought it was a mini stroke. I didn't have any other symptoms though and a cat scan ruled out stroke. Unfortunately, I was left with diminished strength in my left hand and was referred to a Neurologist. I couldn't see him for another month.

In mid August, Lisa and Paul celebrated their birthdays. I'm so fortunate to be a part of such an extraordinary family. They are wonderful people. So loving, so compassionate and so giving. They are giving of themselves, their time, their good nature. Each day we have with them in our lives is a great and wonderful day and I'm blessed to know them. They adore Dalton too and he feels as though they are family. I love Lisa's daddy too. Bob is so much like my dad. We grew up with such similar backgrounds and while we (Lisa and I) are very very different people, we are soul sisters. We do everything together and talk every day. I adore her and she feels the same way I do. How fortunate to have someone in your life like that! Are I blessed!?!

Unfortunately, the day of Paul's birthday party, there was a small emergency - HA! Small... his middle son David, who is a terrific guy but reckless none the less, accidentally shot himself through the forearm. As I was the only non-drinker in the bunch and it was, after all, a birthday party, I was elected (actually I volunteered) to take Paul to the hospital. The story is this...

David lives out in the boonies. His home, while in a nice development, is not at all close to the next door neighbor. They also live near a rail road track. The trains have a tendency to stop in that area. Because of the "rail riders" - folks who don't have tickets to ride and who may be riding for less than honorable reasons - David carries a loaded pistol in his SUV. Each time he gets home he removes the magazine, cocks the gun, points it at the ground and shoots it to remove anything that may have jammed in the gun. He follows this routine for several reasons. One, he wants to be sure and surprise anyone who may have been hiding in his home to let them know to get the heck out of Dodge. Two, he wants to be certain no one has tampered with his firearm while it was in his vehicle. Three, this ensures that when he does put the magazine back in the gun, it will operate properly. Four, when he takes it in and cleans it (which he does every night) he knows he won't be shooting himself inadvertently. This is the same routine he followed the night of Paul's party. He and Sarah had left early to take Molly (his 4 year old daughter) home and get to bed. Unfortunately, the gun misfired, there WAS a bullet in the ready and while he DID shoot at the ground, it did NOT fire out of the gun. When he leaned over to exit the vehicle, the gun, in his right hand, discharged and he shot himself through the bicep. Yep, clean through. Holy crap it was gruesome... So yes, as I was stone sober, and Paul needed to get to the hospital to be with his son, I drove him. We got there (in another town as our hospital doesn't have a trauma unit) about 35 minutes after he had done this and he was just coming out of xray. We were with him through the worst of his cleaning and stitching and shots to avoid lock jaw etc and then endured the police interrogation of not only him but his girlfriend as well. The police were certain Sarah had shot David. (So not normal... she would never have done that - not no way, not no how... If you knew Sarah, you'd know that.) We left the hospital at 6:00 and got home about 6:45. I was in the ready to start my day. What a great day it was for a church service! I needed those lessons. It was a great day to give thanks. David, which the wound was horrible and would take about 6 weeks to properly heal, did NOT do any permanent damage to his muscles and the bullet missed his bone and ligaments. He would have a 100% recovery with little else but a scar on both sides of his arm. What a story that would be for the future! That was such a blessing!

Wow, August was shaping up to be a fun month so far! I ended up sick with a horrible sinus infection and had to reschedule my neurologists appointment.

In the mean time, I have more definitive information from the rheumatologist. I have the following: UCTD (Undetermined Connective Tissue Disease), Fibromyalgia, CMV (Cytomegalovirus), Hypothyroidism, Vitamin D deficiency, low potassium and a few minor things. I'm on so many meds it makes me crazy but it could be worse. The worst part of all of them is the self injections of methotrexate. I really hate giving myself the injections. It makes me so queasy to do it myself. At least it saves a bundle of money to do it here rather than paying $30 everytime I have to go to the office and have a nurse do it.

August also saw Taylor leaving for his sophomore year at Longwood University. While he didn't get his financial aid this fall, we were able to secure a private loan (egads the interest rate was horrible) in order to get him back in school. I'm afraid he's going to have to do the same thing in order to secure his Spring place as well. God only knows what his loan bills will be like when he graduates. Holy smokes...

We did have a good time taking him back. It was such fun to see him living on the same hall I did while at Longwood. He's in the same room my sister was in when she lived in the basement in South Cunningham. What fun it was reliving those fond memories on our return this fall! We also had a chance to visit the cemetery where I was able to chat a bit with my grandmother and uncle. I like to make sure their stones are clean and their area tidy as well as my great grandparents. I'm so grateful for the heritage I have, the legacy they left me and the opportunities their experiences opened up for me. The house pictures is the house my great grandparents lived in. I've fallen in love with the little story book house and would one day LOVE to own it. Farmville is lovely and quiet and just right to retire. (Not really but I like to make up my own stories in my head... :) )

So, nearing the end of August we're getting ready for school. Dalton, I swear, grew before my eyes this summer. He has learned how to swim (not well, but he can definitely hold his own and I"m SO proud!), he is wearing a 7 pants (I have to buy him slims because he's so tall and lanky) and he's reading well. He is not looking forward to going back to school (what little boy really does?) but he is looking forward to seeing his friends again. He's really missed his playmates and my having been down most of the summer was really difficult on him. Had it not been for Nash, Mason and Molly, he would have been bored out of his little mind. God bless our neighborhood friends!

So, September arrived and we took our annual visit to Waller Mill Park. I always take Dalton to the park and take pictures of him beside the bridge pilons and walking across the bridge to show his change in height each year. I love getting those photos. He really grew so much this year! While he still wearing many of the shirts from last year, he really isn't in any of the pants. His legs look like little colt legs. All knee and tiny thin legs. And he's quick as a flash!

This year, I took Nash with us to the park. He (Dalton) didn't want to be alone but he also wanted to take his fishing pole. We had a great time together. Nash tried to fish too, but he's not as familiar with a bait cast reel like Dalton, nor had he ever fished with artificial bait. Dalton is quite accomplished with his rod and reel and did very well. He got a few bites, but the fish weren't really doing too much. It wasn't really the right weather (hot as all get out and no weather changes in the forecast). Lorie and Mason joined us while we were fishing (Nash's mom and a good friend of mine) and we had a lot of fun together!

Dalton started school the next day. I got my obligatory shots that morning. He was so excited he just could hardly stand still! Bless his heart, he can't decide whether to be happy or frustrated or everything in between. He's lucky that he's got the "cool" teacher, Mr. Cahill. We had a nice time visiting him on Back to School day the previous Thursday afternoon. He has two very good friends in his class this year, Nash and Todd. He's known Todd since he was a baby so this is going to be fun.

In September, we celebrated Ive's (Lisa's Mom) life on the anniversary of her homecoming. She was an exceptional person and quite inspiring to me. She spent her life so much like my mom did. Every where she went she shared a smile that touched everyone around her. She was happy, a lovely person, in love with her life, her husband, her family. She exemplified everything my mother did, and everything I strive to be. While she was riddled with medical issues, he goal was to live. As Peter Pan said, "To Live, that is a mighty big adventure!" She had a will to survive that was simply incredible. She inspired me to keep striving for better health and to continuing to be the best I can be despite my physical limitations; to push myself to achieve more than I think I can; to do something each day that would help me grow as a person and to remember that it's not my body, it's His and to revere it as He would. The only difference between Ive and my mom was their heritage. My mom was Scotch/Irish and French. Ive was full blooded Italian (born in Italy!).

The party we had was an Italian party. Only authentic, hand made Italian recipes allowed. One of our friends and neighbors actually made his own pasta! It was a fabulous family affair and delightful to look out into the yard and see children playing, and everyone gathering in love and friendship. We were in age from 4 to nearly 100. Laura, a dear friend who was quite pregnant, had her sweet little Pepper (Cayenna Jo) on the anniversary of Ive's homecoming and we know that Ive came to us that day in spirit. Laura had a relatively easy delivery and little Pepper, as Paul has dubber her, is the sweetest little joy! She weighed only 4 lbs 7 oz and today, a month later, has grown 2 inches (to a whopping 19 1/2") and now weighs a hefty 6 pounds. My goodness! My three were much larger than that upon their grand entrances into the world. Holding her is like holding a baby doll. She's so precious!

Here area few photos from the party and a few photos of sweet Pepper!

My sister came to visit in September. Hallelujah! It's been two years since I've seen her and Boy Howdy have I missed that girl! I was so excited to see her and Daddy was sweet enough to bring her down. The A/C in my house decided to go on the fritz that very day, but seriously, though it was hot, it was not my concern. I just wanted to be with her. I wish we had had more time to talk, play and just be in each other's company. It was awesome to see her and get the time I did with her. Sometimes you really don't know how much you've missed someone until you see each other again. It was like that for me with my dear sister. Dalton was equally thrilled to see his "Auntie Chockie". He had just been talking about missing her and wishing he could fly to Atlanta to see her, so her trip was well timed. Here are a couple photos; one of me and my boys, one of Martha and her nephews.

October has begun without much fanfare. The temps are wonderful, my a/c is still broken, but fortunately, the heat is fine and I"ll wait until taxes come back to worry about the a/c being fixed. In the mean time, we're saving some money. Window fans are fine!

I got a call Wednesday a week ago from Lisa. She was frantic as she cried into the phone, "I think Paul's having a heart attack. I just called 911. I just wanted you to know what's going on." Naturally, I went into overdrive. I got Reaves to work, arranged for Tony to grab up Dalton and watch him and I swept up Lisa to take her to Riverside. (Again, we were routed to Newport News because of no trauma unit at our local Sentara...)

I called Kevin to collect Dalton from Tony (he was busy working on a guys kitchen trying to help him out). Lisa and I arrived at Riverside to be greeted by Paul's sisters, Sue and Lisa, two of his sons, John and Kenny and his brother, Gary. I was told that for all intents and purposes, I was family and the boys were instructed that I was Aunt Lissa, Lisa's sister. (Not my idea, Lisa and Paul's!) When we got to the waiting area for MRI's, we learned that Paul was in horrible shape. He had coded twice and the second time was "gone" for two minutes. The cardiologist on staff was VERY good and we're so very grateful for him. He told us that he immediately went in to do a catherization and take a better look at what was going on. He saw that of the three stents Paul had put in last November (yes, only 10 months ago) the upper stent was semi blocked, the center one was 100% blocked and had slipped out of place, and the lower one was fine. The slippage was attributed to Paul's having returned to work far too soon after his surgery last year and the blockage was, in part, attributed to not following a proper diet and smoking. Everyone was admonished severely by the doctor when he came in to talk to us and everyone (but me) was outside, on cell phones, smoking. He was not a happy doctor. He said that he cleaned out both stents, inserted a fourth between the original second and the last, and the next 24 hours were critical. He, at that time, was not at all certain Paul would make it through the night. What a horrible bit of news to get! Everyone was stricken with fear, disbelief and horror. Lisa cried and cried that she couldn't do it without Paul. She then corrected herself to say, with her eyes looking upward, "Oh Lord, I can do it, I just really don't want to! He's my everything! Please bring him back to me!" I was reserving my tears for my private time. Time when I didn't need to be strong for the Lisa's, Sue, the boys and all the other family members. We stayed at the hospital until about 11 and we went home. We had all seen him (as allowed by the doctor). I was going to wait until he was stronger, but to my shock, he asked for me. Lisa said, he told the nurse, he wanted to see his sister, Lissa. Now how I rated all that is beyond me, but it was good to see him and set my own mind at ease over the start of his journey to recovery. He expressed his fears to me, I told him to let God take over his health, and start listening to his wife. He would be better in no time. God is so good. SO SO GOOD!

Lisa and I went back the next morning nice and early. We returned home about 3:30. Paul had had far too many visitors and wasn't getting any rest. Without rest, a patient can't recover. The nurse ran everyone off and coming home to rest ourselves was on the top of the necessary list. I had scouts that night anyway, as we were preparing for our Fall Campout and I needed to be home too.

He got so much wonderful rest that night, they moved him OUT of CICU the next morning and into his own room. Oh my goodness! It was astonishing! Not only did he make it through the first 24 hours with flying colors, he was making remarkable progress for a man who died twice just 36 hours before hand. Prayers are so so powerful and I know how grateful everyone is for the prayers this man and his family received. Not to mention the prayers for the doctors and nurses that He would guide their hands and keep Paul on the right path.

I went camping with the Cub Scouts (where upon I promptly lost my cane on arrival at camp - UGH!) at Cheatham Annex here in Williamsburg. We were right on the river and being in such a beautiful place kept me close in prayer. We had a great time with the kids. As I was sans cane, I was slow moving but I was having a good time. Pain not withstanding, not only did I move from station to station, I even was able to participate in the parent/child events! Dalton and I were facing each other in the Obstacle Course. I didn't do all the different things (such as crawling on under the ropes, the crab walk or the sack race) but I had a blast doing the other things, even enabling a bit of a jog! Dalton was a great sport and I love him so dearly for coddling me a bit. He's such a doll. We really did have a great time this past weekend. My girlfriend Susan and her family are great camping companions and I cherish her friendship. We put up the tent together, we co-lead the scouts (den 6) and enjoy other activities together. I really value her and her kids. What a great person. I'm blessed to know her. She and Lisa (Packer) cooked the meat together and pulled it Thursday night, which Susan finished Friday morning. It was an awesome meal. I loved it and was fortunate to be able to bring some home to share with my family. Can we say yummy!!

Saturday night we had dinner and campfire. We had had a casualty that afternoon. One of the Webelo I's dads had fallen and torn his shoulder ligament. We originally thought he had broken his collar bone. Luckily it wasn't that severe. As they live in our neighborhood, Ira (another leader) and I took the kids home since it's against Scout regulations to sleep in a tent without your parents. Fortunately John was in good spirits and the kids were glad to see him and know he was okay. When we returned, the campfire was in full force, I'd missed our skits, but it was good to be back and ready for bed. The kids ended up playing flashlight tag until about 9:30. They all had a blast and were ready for lights out at 10. I can tell you that the moment Dalton's eyes shut he was out like a light. Bless him, he was truly worn out despite his attempts to assure me otherwise!

Sunday morning saw us rising early, with a 7:30 breakfast call. While I had the boys at breakfast, with the camp policing afterward, Susan and Kevin (her Kevin) were striking our camp. How kind of them to take down my tent and pack up everything in Susan's vehicle! I was shocked when I returned after the closing prayer to find everything ready to leave! We were home before 11:30. I literally nearly fell into the couch. We showered and bathed and I took Dalton back to Susan. He accompanied them to Wesley's soccer game and had a blast! Susan said he was so wrapped up with the game he didn't want to play on the side lines with Walker. He promptly proclaimed to me that he wanted to play soccer "Really Bad Mom!". I couldn't be more delighted having wanted him to play soccer for years. Susan let me know the rec league, that will begin again in the Spring, is relatively inexpensive and a great way to begin. Dalton will be signing up for that as well as for winter Basketball. I'm looking forward to all of it! He'll have a great chance to see how well he can adjust to playing a sport and keep up with school work. So, that night we ate dinner at Susan's (I'm telling ya'll she's awesome!). We came home and literally fell into bed. I slept SO good that night and Reaves got another ride home so I didn't have to get up. Wow.. it was quite a weekend!

Here are some fun photos from the camping trip.

So that was that! We had a blast together all weekend.

This week has been rather uneventful until my appointment yesterday with the Neurologist (finally...). While I fully expected I'd had a full recovery (I've been exercising my hand and arm so I would have regained my strength by now), I learned quite the opposite.

Dr. Soueidan did some tests that were different that anything I have done (of course... that's why he makes the big bucks! hee hee). I learned that not only do I have no strength in my left hand vs. my right, I have diminished strength in my whole left side. I've also lost 31 pounds. I've not been trying really. I've been a wee tad more active and I've been taking notice of the fact that I haven't had an appetite. I've been careful about the kinds of food I've eaten (vs chocolate since that really is my nemesis). I never anticipated 31 pounds until I stepped on Lisa's scale and saw the number. I did notice my clothes were fitting better and the jeans I had on at camp I've not worn in two years. But it was shocking to me to learn that there might be a different reason I've lost that weight. The doctor had me go immediately to the hospital for blood work and I've got an MRI of my brain scheduled as well as a doplar of my carotid arteries. I've been very forgetful lately too and he says that he's very concerned about what he's hearing and seeing. He's worried that because of my age and because of my autoimmune disorders, and all the symptoms I've exhibited, I've got vasculitis. I'm not happy. His words were, "I need to get you in the right away and make sure you're not on the verge of a heart attack that will leave you with irreversible damage."

Oh gee thanks... not happy.... Not not not happy. If you're so inclined, there are a few requests. Please keep my friend Paul in your prayers. While he's home (he actually was released Saturday - HOLY COW!), he still has a ways to go before he can stop being cautious. He has to stop smoking which as any smoker or former smokers knows, is not an easy task. Despite the fact he was told, "If you light up another cigarette, you will die. I'm not sure I can bring you back next time. The damage to your heart is yet undetermined but it is extensive. You absolutely cannot smoke again." He's been a smoker more than 30 years. It's a hard thing to stop all of the sudden.

He's got to change his complete eating habits too. Paul loves food. He's a good old country boy who loves country food. Biscuits and gravy, mac and cheese, burgers, ribs, fried fish and on and on. Everything with cholesterol in it is on his menu of favorite foods. And there have to be significant changes made. While Lisa has been attempting to enact these changes in his diet since he had his original stents put in, he's not been a great listener (um.. hello... he's a man!). It's going to be tough but living is worth it. He knows he's been given an extraordinary chance to keep going. He's got to do it right this time!

Lisa was so scared that she'd lost her sweetheart. While they do have their moments, they have many more loving ones than rough. (It didn't used to be that way! It was just the opposite for a while.) They celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary on Wednesday and thanked God for the chance to do it.

Please, keep them in your prayers, if you would, for Paul's continually improving good health, Lisa and Paul's ability to stop smoking and their ability to change those things that are necessary to change for survival.

Secondly, if you could keep my daddy in your thoughts I'd greatly appreciate it. They diagnosed him with the earliest of stages of Parkinson's. While he shuffles when he walks and very rarely but he does shake in his left hand, we are hoping the medication he's on will keep this disease at bay. I know he's 82 and things like this are normal to start happening, but I can't be with him 24/7 and it concerns me that he's alone up there. I'm terrified he'd going to slip on the steps or fall in the shower. He's tried to get his alarm system to send him the information on the "Help I've fallen and I can't get up" devices and they've yet to comply. I'm just nervous about not being close enough. He's an amazing man and I can't bear the idea of something happening for which I'm not there to care for him.

If you have time left over in your prayers, if you wouldn't mind including me and my doctors in your thoughts I'd greatly appreciate it. I know I've asked a lot, and for that I apologize. I have so much to life for. I have so much to do in my life. To be told that I potentially have a disease that has gone untreated since July (for which there is a 100% mortality rate if left untreated) is unsettling to say the least. My next available appointment to see my neurologist is not until November 24th despite my "immediate" MRI and dopplar, bothers me and I will be bothering their office phone lines beginning the 22nd of this month. I'm just not capable of waiting that long without hearing the results of my tests.

Taylor is due home from Longwood today for Fall Break. I'm really looking forward to seeing him. It's been a month and each time I see him after not seeing him for a while I feel like he changes tremendously. I miss my boy (my boy who is tall, and thick, and so not a boy but most definitely a young man now...).

I'll be glad to get hugs from my boy. I love getting hugs from all my boys. They make everything so much better. I thank the Lord for my boys, for the joy and love they give me and share with me daily.

So I leave you here. Peace, joy and blessings to all of you!