Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lost and Found

I love Shelties.  I've loved five of them especially.  I know someone who has loved hundreds of Shelties.  Her name is Lisa and she is a superhero.  She works day in and day out to place beautiful dogs in safe homes with loving families.

And that's exactly what she did with Theo.  He's such a cute little fella.  Two days ago fourteen week old Theo got away from his doggy daycare.  I hope you're sitting because the turn of events that took place are nothing short of a whirlwind kind of miracle.  Theo's mom called Lisa.  She did this because Lisa has told all of us to do this.  When Lisa delivers your new Sheltie/family member to your house, these are some of her parting words, "if your dog gets away or lost, call me.  I can dispatch help to you in minutes."  She means this.  Dogs have been lost before.  And thankfully they have been found, too.

The day that Theo went missing, help came from everywhere.   Lisa drove two hours to help.  Others in the area and out of the area rallied.    You see these people are part of the community that Lisa built.  Other people wanted to help, too.  Little girls passed out flyers.  Neighbors helped look.  Other Sheltie families drove around.  And walked around.  Police Departments helped.  Postings on social media kept everyone connected.  We were all on pins and needles.

We were doing all of this because one of our family was missing and needed to come home.  This was all happening because Lisa has helped us become a community or a family and that's what family does for each other.   We support one another in times of need and we celebrate in times of joy.

With Theo there is joy.  He was found.  His mom is over the moon.  And tonight I hope that our superhero can retire her cape and have eight hours of sound sleep and sweet dreams.

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 7...

So this all actually started on May 6.  I started to feel poorly.  You know the body aches, tired and a migraine headache.  I actually went home a little early that day from work.  I took a nap, felt a little better and thought I was over it.  Until the middle of the night.  I was sick.  Really sick.  But then I thought this illness was out of my system and I would rebound quickly.  I went to work the next day.  Mostly because there was a meeting that I had been looking forward to and didn't want to miss.  I made it through the day, but barely.  I became couch bound from the minute I came through the door of our house.

This was the last night of confirmation, May 7.  I napped and tried to will myself to be better, but it wasn't working.  The headache was intensifying and I couldn't do it.  So Scott drove Gracie and her friend to church.   While he was gone things got worse.  Nausea, vomiting, my head felt as though it may explode.  Scott offered to take me to Urgent Care and I said no.  Time came for him to pick up the girls.  Almost right away after he left I started to feel even worse.  I made it to the bathroom and was sick once again.  And I was so weak.  My head was pounding and I felt as though something had ruptured in my brain.  I could barely get up off the floor in the bathroom, but I did and made my way back to the couch.  I literally fell onto the couch.  I could feel myself fading into a major fog or tiredness.  And then Bailey, my dog, started nudging me with his nose.  And then he started pawing me on my chest.  At that moment this was incredibly annoying to me.  I tried to get him to stop, but he wouldn't.  He did calm down a bit, but continued to lay his head on my chest.  I know now that he was trying to keep me awake.  And he did an excellent job.  I love that boy.  By the way, the girl dogs were on the floor at my side the whole time, too.

Scott and Gracie got home and I told Scott I was now seeing circles of color and flashing lights in my peripheral vision.  I need you to call for help.  He dialed nurse direct and she wanted to send an ambulance.  Scott said he could get me to the ER faster than she could send an ambulance.  Away we went.  As we approached the ER I told Scott I didn't think that I could walk.  In to the ER Gracie went and a wheelchair was brought for me.  And this is where I started to fade.  What I will tell you now is not from my memory, but from Scott and Gracie.  I couldn't answer simple evaluative questions that the doctor and nursing staff were asking.  My blood pressure spiked to 255/110.  My veins were not cooperating and the nurses couldn't get an IV into either of my arms.  And then I started to seize.  I experienced a grand mal seizure that lasted well over a minute.  Gracie and Scott saw the start of it and a nurse seeing how upset Gracie was took them to the waiting room.  The staff ended up putting a hypodermic needle of Adavan into my thigh to help stop the seizure.

At this point the doctor told Scott that I may have a brain bleed and that they were doing a CT scan on my head.  That test came back negative.  But I needed to have more testing done and so arrangements were made to take me to the hospital.  I remember none of this.  I guess I actually got to have two ambulances because they needed an extra person in the back with me.  I am told that we left the ER with lights and sirens blazing. All the way through town.  Gracie also told me later, because I asked, that a couple of the paramedics were pretty cute.  She said one especially.  And I guess that paramedic asked me if I knew where I was (at the ER) and I told him a building.  He said, well she's not wrong!

The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital room with Scott looking over me.  You scared us he said.  We thought we might lose you.  I could see it in his face.  Something that happens between people when they have known each other for 23 years.  This was big.  He held my hand and I slipped in and out of sleep.  I know I asked for lots of clarification and had Gracie and Scott repeat things over and over trying to understand what happened.  They were and still are patient with me and helped me understand.

In the morning I saw my doctor, two neurologists and internist and had all sorts of tests.  By this time I had two IV lines in my arms and all sorts of monitoring devices attached to me.  My mom and Amy showed up and that was a great comfort.  My dad called our Pastor.   He told my dad that he was terribly sick and would send someone else.  A lovely woman named Melva came to pray with us.  I felt very blessed.

I had an MRI with contrast dye and without.  I had another CT scan and an EEG.  My headache was still there and getting worse again.  I really couldn't take much for pain because of the test I was having, but in the end I did receive relief and relaxed.   One more little story is that I bit my tongue when I was having my seizure.  Oh man did that hurt.  Thankfully the cafeteria has awesome ice cream and shakes.

So in the end I was in the hospital for two days.  I had every test possible.  I do not have diabetes, epilepsy, a tumor, an aneurism, no strokes, no heart or kidney issues.  I have been checked out top to bottom.  Literally.  And it's a mystery.

The good news is that I am on seizure and high blood pressure medication.  This should prevent another episode.  The bad news is that I can't drive for three months.  They suggest I don't take baths or swim.  Things I never would have thought of.  I can't really be as independent as I'm used to.  But this doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would.

I have to thank so many.  I had such lovely nurses at St. Mary's.  Massa and Carol.  Lovely and kind.  The doctors were funny and helped me understand that I need to be patient and let my brain "reboot" itself.  My sister for giving me the best head massage ever.  My mom for coming to stay with me a couple of days.  My dad for his reassuring phone calls.  My principal, Sally and friends at work. Everyone made such an impact on me.  And my heart almost can't hold all the love I have for Scott and Gracie and all of the care they have given me.

I have received cards, texts, emails, flowers and prayers that I definitely feel.  I have to say that I am usually the caregiver, not the one being cared for.  This is a new perspective for me.  And this is what I have learned.  Nothing matters.  Stress over life, work, the future.  Whatever burdens you, it just isn't that important.  Today, the here and now is what counts.  Faith, family and friends, that's what matters.  With that kind of support all the rest of life can be dealt with.  It's really that simple.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Memory Chain

I read something very sad this past weekend.  A favorite place of mine burned down.  A place filled with memories for me.  Younkers Department Store in downtown Des Moines, IA.  Younkers had a Tea Room where lunches and fashion shows were the norm.  I enjoyed many times there.  My dainty chicken salad, lemonade and delicious ice cream.  I went to the store often with my Grandma Selma and my mom.  Amy, too.  There were other visits to Younkers with my Grandpa Phil.  We would have lunch and shop for a special outfit or dress for a holiday.

I remember one special trip with my Grandpa where we rode the bus to Younkers, had lunch and shopped.  My special purchase was wrapped in tissue, a pretty box and finished off with a lovely ribbon.  We had to walk a few blocks home and I was tired.  My Grandpa picked me up and carried me most of the way.  Me and my special gift.

After reading the article about the fire in the building that used to house Younkers and now was being renovated (ironically by a firm from Madison) I started to link a chain of memories together.  I remembered a boy named Michael who used to live next door to my grandparents.  He was about my age.  We played when I visited Des Moines.  He had a swing set and we would invent outside games. It was nice to have a friend my age to spend time with when I visited.  After getting to know him a bit, I found out that he had cancer.  I didn't understand completely.  He was well enough to play and the fact that he was sick soon left my mind.  Until one visit.  I remember arriving later in the evening.  I knew I wouldn't be able to play with Michael until the next day.  When I asked to go over and see him my grandma said it would be best if I didn't.  Michael was quite sick and couldn't have visitors.  I was so sad that I couldn't play with my Des Moines friend.  I know I asked several more times to see him and always got the same answer.  At the end of my visit, I remember standing in the driveway between my grandparent's house and Michael's house.  I knew what window was his bedroom window.  I wished so badly to see him.  And I'm not sure how long it took, but the blind was pulled back.  Just a little.  And a hand gave me a quick wave.  And that was the last time I saw Michael.  He had died by my next visit.

It was a lovely neighborhood that my grandparents lived in.  Sweet bungalow homes.  Some two story houses.  Lots of brick and bay windows.  And the screen porches on the backs of the houses.  We would have lunches and dinners in the the three season porch off the back of my grandparent's house.  My grandpa had his desk/office on the porch.  He kept me very busy being his secretary.  I took copious notes, ran errands and made sure he had a snack.  He complimented me on what a great job I did.  He told me I was his best secretary.  At least since my mom had been his secretary.

It was amazing how my memories came flooding back to me so vividly and quickly with the reading of this one article about Younkers in downtown Des Moines.  A place that may no longer physically be standing, but is still and will forever be a place of happy memories for me.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sitting OnThe Fence

Saturday was a beautiful day.  I slept in and consumed copious amounts of coffee.  In a leisurely way.  I met two friends for lunch and shopping.  It was an enjoyable day all around.  And then I returned home.  Things went from bad to worse.

I parked in the garage and lowered the garage door.  I knew I was in for the night and bolted the back door.  I then fed the dogs and let them out the patio door.  While they were outside getting things done, I decided to go out the front door and get our mail.  Upon returning to the house I reached out for the door handle and it broke off the door and into my hand.  Whaaat?!  Are you kidding me?  I tried to fix the door knob enough to get back in the house, but that wasn't happening.

Deep breath.  I should mention that Scott and Gracie were gone for the weekend.  I walked between the houses on my way to the garage thinking that this was no problem.  I'll just open the garage door and go through the back.  But wait.  I bolted the door.  Remember?  In for the night...

Ok.  Only one option.  The patio door.  Sounds easy, right?  Nope.  We have a fence.  It's only four feet tall.  And yes, it has a gate.  But the gate has been frozen in all winter.  So there is only one way in.  Up and over.  That's right.

So I need to back up a minute.  I tore my meniscus in my left knee a couple of weeks ago and my knee keeps popping out.  I used my right leg to swing myself over the fence.  But to no avail.  I still had to push off with my left leg.  And when I did, the old knee popped out.  Problem is that in order for me to put my knee back in place I have to not be straddling a fence.  I also don't have enough momentum to swing myself over the fence.  This was very awkward to say the least.  At times even painful.

Now if this all isn't funny enough, my dogs are still out in the yard.  And there they are.  Lined up according to size.  Big, middle and little. Sitting at attention not missing a second of this show.  They are not barking.  Just watching.  I swear I could hear their thoughts.  I'm pretty sure they were saying,  what in the heck are you doing?

So in the meantime, there I am, dangling from the top of the fence.  I know that I just need to throw my weight over to my right leg.  I can't land on the disjointed or left side.   With all my might I send myself flying over.  Not a moment too soon either.  The position I was in on top of that fence was something I wish never to repeat.

I yelled, AND I'M IN!  The dogs ran away from me like I was a lunatic.  Anyway, in the patio door was the plan.  Well, we have a lot of snow and ice.  The little ramp of snow covered in ice made it almost impossible to get up on the deck.  I grabbed a post on the deck and slid myself up.  I slid the patio door open and was never so happy to be inside my home.

I talked with Scott who reminded me of the key to the back door that is hidden.  Super.  The door knob couldn't be salvaged.  Today, Scott installed a new, better door knob.  And we reviewed once again where the key is.  And I'll tell you what.  There are tons of places I would rather be than sitting on the fence.  And I mean that literally.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Dryer Has Balls

Knowing how many people read my blog, that was kind of hard for me to write.  But it's been said, or written.  And I'm not taking it back.  It's actually an amazing thing.  My dryer's balls.  I'll explain more about them later.

I got the courage to write the above paragraph because of a conversation that my mom, dad and I had earlier today.  My folks sent me a book called My Dog:  The Paradox:  A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend, by Matthew Inman.  Inman talks about the odd to us behaviors that our dogs have.  And this brought to mind a story I told my mom and dad.  It was a play date or momma therapy as we called it.  Our kids were newborn to one year old.  I decided to host.  I bought coffee, organic tea, juice and made bran muffins.  Health was abounding.  I cleaned and cleaned.  It wasn't that my house was dirty, but I had been to momma therapy at a few other houses.  One of these houses was organic as heck and lickably clean.  Like no kidding.  I know that you could have eaten off her floor.  Even the bathroom floor.  I was in simplifiers heaven when I walked through her door.  It smelled like lemons and her decor consisted of white walls, hardwood floors and leather furniture.  I thought for a moment that maybe I should live here.

Back to the play date I was hosting.  I had washed, dusted and vacuumed to the extreme.  And the door bell started to ring.  In came the new mommies and their offspring.  Everyone got situated.  We had had our treats and settled into a circle on the floor like we often did.  Our babies didn't like "tummy time" very much.  But we had discovered something amazing.  If we sat in a circle on the floor and put our babies facing each other on their tummies they loved it!  They giggled and cooed.  Life was good.  One of the mommas commented on the cleanliness of my home and I blushed with gratitude.  She said, with two dogs, I don't know how you do it!  I could not have been prouder.  And if on cue, in they walked.  Chester and Winston.  The babies squealed and the mommas fawned over them.

And then it happened.  One of my dogs, who shall remain nameless, did the butt drag across the floor.  In my mind I was saying oh no, oh no, oh no.  Please don't let this leave a mark.  You know, a poop stain mark.  Well all of the wishing in the world wasn't going to change the brown mark about thirty inches long that was streaking across my carpet full of babies and mommas.  And what happened next I can only attribute to temporary insanity.  I said, oh that hardly ever happens.  It's because he needs his anal glands expressed.  I better move that up in priority on my to do list!  Almost all of the mommas laughed.  The one that didn't was Mrs. Superclean.   I decided that I no longer needed to live with her.  Luckily I have a very strong self esteem.

Anyway, back to my dryer's balls.  I am constantly looking for simpler ways to do things.  I want to simplify and be friendly to the environment.  And there they were.  These felted wool balls that are for your dryer.  They bounce around your wet clothes and help separate them while drying.  It helps the air circulation be more efficient and actually cuts time off drying.  I did experiment with this and sure enough, they work.  And because I love to have fun, and because I love to be funny, I had to tell you that my dryer has balls.  Please don't ask me what color these balls are.  I am sharing my fun gradually and I'm just not ready to be THAT funny!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Spaghetti For Breakfast

Scott was away at a two week class on the east coast.  We were happy that he had this awesome opportunity to learn from the best at the FBI Academy.  We anxiously awaited his calls at  night to hear about his adventures.  And we missed him.

We missed him being with us, but decided to do things a little differently.  We decided to do some of the things that we don't normally do when Scott's around.  We watched shows that we liked.  We had a spa night without interruption.  And we ate spaghetti.  A lot.  Scott isn't much for red sauces.  He actually gets a stomach ache.  So, it would stand to reason I don't make much with red sauce.  This is a challenge for me, but I've gotten pretty good at avoiding and adapting.

Back to the spaghetti.  We made a huge batch.  You know.  The kind you make when you're starving and think that you'll eat more than you actually do.  This was fine for us.  We ate it for supper.  And a another supper.  I warmed it up for lunch again and again.  With all this noodle nibbling I thought the leftovers would disappear sooner.  They seemed endless.  And yet we didn't tire of this favorite meal.

One morning Gracie and I were getting ready for school.  I said what would you like for breakfast?  She looked thoughtful.  How about spaghetti?  Really?  Ok.  I don't see why not.  And we ate the final  helping of spaghetti.  I have to admit I was apprehensive.  Who eats spaghetti for breakfast?  Cold pizza, yes.  But this was different.  As we sat and ate I thought, who says we can't have this meal at this time of the day?  It's warm, it's nutritious and gave us the energy that we needed to start our day.

I thought this would be our little secret.  That was until I got to work.  I worked at Gracie's school.  I was barely through the front door and greeted by a member of the staff with, spaghetti for breakfast?  And then another and another.  Really?  Spaghetti?  And I found myself defending my actions.  We ate well, warm and have energy.  Lots of joking ensued and I have to admit it was all worth it.  Unusual news travels.  Especially when it comes from a giddy first grader.

I've pretty much stuck to actual breakfast foods in the morning since then.  But on occasion I will venture from the norm.  I think I'm better for it.  I'm not wasting food and my hunger is satisfied.  Like this morning.  I went to the grocery store.  As I was putting the groceries away I saw a small container of chili in the refrigerator.  It pains me to throw food away.  And I was hungry.  So guess what I had for breakfast?  Here's to spontaneity.  And here's hoping that we always leave ourselves open to looking at things differently.