Charles, my Pride and Joy, in FL at Sunrise

Charles, my Pride and Joy, in FL at Sunrise

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'm falling down on the job!

So, I updated the PHA message board and FaceBook ( but didn't get here. I guess I am still catching up. Work was long but decent this week. It sure is nice to have more help nurse-wise. Especially since we started taking the TriCare contract. I was at a training this past week and my supervisor sat next to me (which is fine because we get along). One of the spreadsheets she pulled up showed the percentages of which insurances comprised our practice and TriCare was 49%. That means we have doubled our clientele since June of 2009! I think we could use a parttime assistant soon.

For those of you who know or are following Drini, here is the latest (taken from what I put on PHA)

09-25-09 Update
I spoke to her a little while ago and she is out of the Dallas hospital. She went to inpatient rehab in a hospital near her home. She sounds better today. What a long road this has been! She has alot of work to do to get her strength back. I hope it goes quickly so she can get home. She says hi to everyone.

09-27-09 evening
She is getting ready for her first "real" day in rehab tomorrow. She said they had her up at 0600 Saturday for OT, breakfast and PT. We will see what happens when they have the full plan of care formulated and enacted. I was kinda surprise to hear she had therapy on a weekend. Alot of rehab centers give people weekends off. I have a feeling she will be very tired tomorrow evening.
Her son, Jeremy, visited this weekend from D.C. She was really happy to see him. He even threw her an early birthday party. It made her really happy.
Jeremy told me she is getting her incentive spirometer higher than a few days ago. That has been a real challenge and will be for awhile. But, he said she had enough air to blow out her pretend candles (no fire allowed by the oxygen). She was also able to do a few transfers alone for the first time since surgery. Whooo Hoooo...progress. She is getting closer to home and it can't be soon enough!

So, that's all for tonight.

take care,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Drini Chronicles

I spoke to Drini a little while ago. She is out of ICU. She sounded very tired. Her breathing is better and kidneys are working better. Yay!!! Boy, is this hard work for her. She does not plan to charge/use her phone for awhile. Her sister/brother-in-law are visiting now. I plan to call her later....will let yáll know when I know more.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Home and wishing I was in TX

Sunday Morning Drini aka Edna Update

I got back home (mine in MO) last night after visiting Drini in TX. She was doing great when I left at 1245 on Saturday. She called me last night on her son's phone to let me know she has had a little setback. I was able to speak to the doctor handling her care on the ICU unit last night. Her kidney's were not putting out urine. The doctor's are running tests and believe she may be dehydrated. They have hung IV fluids and are trying to strike that balance between enough fluid for the kidney's but not too much for the heart.

I spoke to Nancy, her sister, a little while ago. She is now putting out a little urine. Nancy said she will be visiting this afternoon. She will have Drini use her phone to talk to me if she is able. The ICU has one family member appointed to talk to the nurse. That person then disseminates the info to everyone else. That way the nurse has more time for the actual patient care. Man, do I understand that. It is difficult to get the work done when you have to go thru the whole spiel multiple times! But I would also like to call myself :(

Friday, September 18, 2009

Drini Update

OK, I am going to update the last few days chronilogically from what I posted on the PHA message boards.

Thursday noon waiting game...

The lung surgeon came in this morning and told her he felt the risks outweighed the benefit. Dr Torres, her PH doctor, came in later and seemed surprised. He said he had not been able to consult with the lung doctor yet. The plan is for them to get their heads together and finalize plans. So, we are on hold......

Thursday, 09-17-09, Post Doctor-Conference Update

This afternoon, one of the lung associates came in and said "well, I hear you're having surgery tomorrow". Drini and I looked at each other and said "Oh". She was taken aback to say the least. All of those pre-op emotions all over again. Thinking about the body scrub they do the night before and morning of....remembering each moment what is going to happen. Etc, etc. After the respiratory therapist left (she gets breathing treatments every 4 hours 24/7), she was able to get a good nap. She woke up much more ok with it. Now we are just hanging out....waiting. Fortunantely, she has very good caregivers here. Her nurse today, Nicole, is a bundle of sunshine. She is able to listen to concerns as well as share the little good things that happen. That really helps.I'll update more tomorrow. She is scheduled for 0700 tomorrow. She thanks everyone for their prayers.

Friday at 0720

In fact, everything was on time today. Up at 0545 for bath and surgical scrub...etc. Went down at 0645 and she went to pre-op holding by 0655. She was much more at peace this morning. Her priest visited again last night. She is such a vibrant and soothing person. She gave her communion (again). Gosh, almost a repeat of yesterday except she never got downstairs and fasted until 1400. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers!I will update later.

Friday at 0940

She is recovering in the ICU (per protocol). I was able to go in early along with her priest. She is already getting her color back. She looks great! They were able to remove the blebs and fix the lung. Whooo Hooooo. Thanks for the prayers everyone. I will keep updating while I am here. Unfortunantely I was unable to get more time off and have to leave tomorrow afternoon. Thanks all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Well, here we sit......

In the hospital in Dallas with Drini aka Edna. She got out of the hospital last Thursday after a collapsed lung. She had a small chest tube first but that didn't work. They put in a larger chest tube . It did not completely re-inflate but they decided to give it more of a chance to heal and not do surgery. She had a doctor appt on Tuesday, Sept. 15th and it had re-collapsed by then. Crap!! So here she is again.

I decided to fly in to help her and arrived on Sat. the 12th. She went from using 2LPM of O2 when she came home to needing 4LPM by her doctor appt. She still de-sated to the 70's or low 80's when she walked short distances WITH oxygen.

OK, fast forward to today. Dr. Torres, Drini's Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) Doc, was here about an hour ago.

Erttttt....actually he just popped his head back in to ask if she ate today. He was speaking on a cellphone and told the person on the other end that she ate. I figure it was the lung surgeon. Yes, you saw that word right....surgeon. Darn it!!! It isn't a definite but a likely scenario. As he headed back out, he said that ïf you have the surgery, it will probably be tomorrow so don't eat anything".

OK, back up a bit. We came for here yesterday at 0900 for her CXR. She had an appt with the PH Clinic at 1000. She saw one of the fellows and he informed us that her lung had collapsed about 30% again. He was very good at explaining things and showed us her CXR's from pre-pneumothorax to the one that morning. That was nice of him. She had developed a bleb on her right lung. It apparently burst and the lung collapsed. Thank goodness it wasn't a sudden, complete collapse!

Anyway, they arranged for her to be a direct admit. Her favorite NP came in to tell her the plan. Before she left, she asked if there was anything else. I explained what a difficult time she had getting stuck last time and asked for a PICC. Soooo, while waiting to be admitted she had one put in. That was at 1330 and she didn't get up stairs until about 1830. The hospital was full to the brim and spilling over. The PICC nurse was so nice. Instead of having us go to the ER (it was full; it would have been the waiting room), she had us wait in the procedure room where the PICC was put in. When the room was ready, she pushed took us up.

The floor was still damp when we got there and she hadn't actually been put in the computer when we arrived at the room. Of course, then the parade began. Nurse came in to do a quick assessment, 3 docs (I think 2 were interns).....etc, etc.

I left about 2100 to go back to Drini's house. What a long day.

So, here we are. Waiting for the lung surgeons to come by to assess and plan. Her in bed on 100% O2 non-rebereather mask (it has helped alot) and me on the computer. That's the story.

Please keep praying!!!

Take care,

Monday, September 7, 2009



Been awhile! Lots has been happening...son graduating high school, then moving out on his own, new nurse at work, medical students at work (yes, I got my hands on them for their PH education), my docs family having a grandchild-in-law stolen by the state........geesh. I don't know why I stopped writing. You would think all of this would provide lots of fodder for the mind and fingers.

I am going to skip ahead of all of that for now - sorry. What is foremost on my mind is that my close phriend Drini/Edna has been in the hospital since last week. She had a chest Xray done because she hadn't been feeling well. While she was waiting to get the results, She called to report she was feeling even worse. It sounds like the nurse discovered the results while she was talking to her. She at first told her to go to the nearest ER. So, off she went. Shortly after, she got another call telling her to go to UT Southwestern Hospital (her PH Center). Another CXR showed her right lung was 50% collapsed. Dr. Torres, her PH doc, came down himself to put a chest tube in. It sounds like it was a small catheter. Well, that didn't work. They had clamped it off to take her downstairs for another CXR. The lung had collapsed again by the time she got down there. Soooo, she got a bigger tube. Now Drini, bigger is not always better! Since then they do portable CXR's. Today's CXR showed it was about the same. Well Crap! The doctor talked to her about her options....the most likely being surgery. I feel soooooo bad that I cannot be there for her right now. I can't get out of work. Gotta have a job or no bills get paid. Bummer!

This is where we are both at - 550 miles apart. One in the hospital and one wanting to be. Does that sound weird or what. My fingers are just typing. I'm not censoring much. We should know the plan tomorrow. I hope it isn't surgery. She has been thru so much. She needs a break. Please pray for her also. Thanks.

Take care,

Sunday, July 19, 2009


It hasn't been quite 2 months! But I am still feeling writers' block. I'm going to stew a little more and then will be back with ya.

Thinking of all of you,

Monday, May 25, 2009

My baby is a Man!

Hey sorry it has been so long. The pic above was my last look at Charles as a non-Grad walking into his ceremony. He has had many struggles in his short life and worked so hard for this. He did not know most of this Class because he obtained his diploma in a non-traditional method. I am Sooooooo proud of him.
The ceremony was held in a college gymnasium. It had some air conditioning but nowhere near enough. It was hot as you know what! I was feeling sick before the ceremony even started. My mom and Charles' girlfriend sat on either side and fanned me. If not for them, I would not have made it. Not exactly what you want your mother having to do at her grandsons' graduation. I had been waiting for this moment all of his life....they would have to take me out on a stretcher to miss this! Unfortunantely someone did leave by ambulance. The thing that confused us was that there was an open air football field right next to the gym. AND it was a nice cool night. Didn't many graduations used to be held in football fields? Anyway, we made it.
I am Soooooo proud of him! And more updates will follow...I promise not to be MIA for this long again.
Take care,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Catching up...

Wow, 3 weeks….so what has been going on? On the 10th, I went to Jefferson City to the Rheumatologist. This was a follow-up on my Vitamin D deficiency. She discovered this last year. At that time, I had a lot of pain throughout many areas of my body. Life was becoming un-fun again. That has changed. Yes, I still have pain everyday…and still take pain medicine every day but at least it isn’t as often.

It is amazing what a “simple” vitamin deficiency can do to the body. It reminds me of when the pilgrims made the cross oceanic journey to the New World. Many developed rickets for lack of fresh fruit. Who would have known back then??? Anyway, it had devastating effects. There is still so much we do not know about the human body. I have been reading about what a VitD problem can do to the heart. I wonder….what came first? Is it possible that this lead to my heart problems and pulmonary hypertension? I guess this question will never be answered.

So, on to the 14th…PH Support Group meeting in St Louis. It was a very good meeting. Topic was Nutrition and Exercise…and what did a rep bring to eat? Fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, coleslaw, green beans and biscuits. OMG, salt city! I had been wanting fried chicken for ages. I didn’t go overboard …I enjoyed every morsel I put in my mouth. Dessert was an extra dose of lasix with a generous side of potassium. :) I guess all I did the Sunday after was recup.

The next week, in addition to working fulltime, was final prep for Charles’ Bday. Gosh, 21! I have an official adult. Where did all that time go? It has seemed both long and short all at the same time….certainly not dull. We have both had a challenging road. Anyway, that is a long story. One for another day. For his birthday, we went up to Jefferson City. He had a test to do there but we also took the opportunity to celebrate. We had very good dinner at El Jimador. The next day, he had his test in the morning. It was at a building just down the road and in sight of the state capital. He had never been inside the capital building. So, after the test, off we went. It was just up the hill…in days past we would have just walked up. He and I used to take long hikes. I almost went to take off when I remembered it would take me forever to get up that hill. I still forget sometimes, albeit briefly, that I have limitations.

I did not really have much time to plan the trip to Jeff City and had NO idea what awaited us at the Capital. I’ll get to that part soon. First, we admired some of the outside of the building. I love the old architecture of Missouri.
I had been waiting to see his expression when we entered the building. We made our way to the center of the building. It is open all the way up to the 4th floor. There are intricate paintings on the walls. It is just fabulous to look at. There appeared to be several school field trips there. It was a busy place. We then walked thru some of the exhibits chronicling MO history. Hmmm, I didn’t know there were tarantulas here.

Next, we went upstairs. We stepped off the elevator and holy cow. I had no idea that the House was in Session. People everywhere waiting to enter to speak. My first passion as a teen was law. I asked Charles if he would like to see it in session and he said yes. We went up to the 4th floor to the public gallery. Oh my….I wanted to be down there on the floor!

On the way out, I convinced him to take a pic. I love the way Charles photographs. I think he is finally getting used to photo-happy mom.
Next, we went to The Daily Grind. It is a small coffee café in downtown. They have really good coffee and gourmet hamburgers. We chilled out for a bit and chatted. I like these kind of days.

The rest of the week, I came home after work and just collapsed. I was tired….and here we are. I have so much to catch up on around here. This is my start!

Take care,

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Weather

Well….there was no snowboarding last weekend. The snow was so light and fluffy. The next day the sun shone bright and melted it right off. By the time I was ready to snowboard there wasn’t enough snow left. Sigh.

The weather is becoming spring-like crazy. It was in the 30’s for a high on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The winds changed on Wednesday and sent the gulf air to visit. It was about 60. The sun continued to shine for us the next 2 days…70’s and then 80 on Friday. Almost a record! I heard the wind howling this morning before I crept out of bed. Sounds like the Northern Queen is trying to visit again. She is pushing clouds ahead of her. I thought we would have rain but it hasn’t. It was supposed to be in the 50’s here but her visit was delayed and we have 70. The weather gods say the Queen will visit again next Tuesday…we shall see. Soon it will be time for the Ocean and the Northern Queen to battle over the Middle Skies. I hope they make more peace this year.

Today has been spent looking out the window and chatting with phriends. I finally heeded the call to Face Book. Wow, so many phriends and friends are there. I guess I was late to that party. I haven’t explored it all yet but it seems fun.

I have puttered around and done a few chores but more beckon me. I better go get them done.

Yáll take care,

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Got Snow!

I awoke today to the sounds of Charles coming in. He was on his way to work. He happily told me it was snowing. I love snow. Mostly we get a mixture of ice and snow in this part of Missouri. I knew it should be snowing this morning….I got up to go see. Yipeee, soft white fluffy stuff. No ice! There are small and big flakes. When I took the pic, the sky was still a overcast. So, I knew more was coming. We have about 4 or 5 inches right now. I would like more. We shall see what happens.

I was going to go to the gym to walk today. Instead I decided my exercise would be clearing snow. I used to be able to do the whole driveway at once. Today, I would do a few repeat. I had done the walkway and top of my driveway when the Century 21 guy came by doing the road. He was very nice and offered to help me out. This is not part of my rental contract. Three swipes and done! Thanks anonymous snow plow dude...I was about "done" anyway.

There is a small slope behind my place. When we first moved here in winter of 2000, I bought Charles a snowboard for Christmas. He liked it at first but I guess the novelty wore off. I used it more than he did. We had lots of snow that year. I still have the snowboard. It is looking promising for “snowboard” weather. I think this will be my challenge for tomorrow. I don’t do inclines well at all….at least not on the way up :)

I know some people have been wondering why I went on a posting spree and then stopped suddenly. Well, I have had a challenging time at work and have been very fatigued. It isn’t the physical stuff. It is the office politics. I just don’t get it!

So, what have I been doing? I have been working on myself. Meditating….Growing.

Trying to learn why this new challenge is occurring. Trying to learn not to be angry.

Understanding that others may embrace their negative feelings….and I have the right to not be caught in that loop.

Learning that some people will present as friends……and aren’t.

Knowing that what is important is not how others treat you but how you treat others….how you think…..and what you do.

Ok, that is all of philosophical ali today. Take care.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Believe

Good news…I think the sinus infection has cleared. That just leaves the pain from the diaphragm EMG to deal with. On Friday, I had doc listen to my chest and she heard a rub. A pleural friction rub is a scraping sound that is heard over inflamed pleura (lining of the lung/chest cavity). Ouch. So, we decided I needed anti-inflammatory medication. This is a med that causes me to have increased edema pretty quickly. So…I get to take more Lasix (a diuretic). My body sure does respond negatively to so many things nowadays. Oh well…life goes on.

Are you wondering about the title of this post yet??? This morning I received an email from a phriend that shared what I will post below. It is so timely for things that are occurring in my life right now. It will be posted on my wall at work tomorrow. I hope it will remind me to keep a positive attitude. I hope you enjoy reading it also.

A birth certificate shows that we were born;
a death certificate shows that we died;
and pictures show that we lived!

Have a seat . Relax. And read this slowly..

I believe - That just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.

I believe - That we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I believe - That no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I believe - That true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.

I believe - That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I believe - That it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I believe - That you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I believe - That you can keep going long after you think you can't.

I believe - That we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I believe - That either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I believe - That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I believe - That money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I believe - That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.

I believe - That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I believe - That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I believe - That it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I believe - That no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I believe - That our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I believe - Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I believe - That your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.

I believe - That even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you - you will find the strength to help.

I believe - That credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I believe - That the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

I believe - That you should send this to all of the people that you believe in. I just did. The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

Take care, ali

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What is an EMG?

I was reminded in an email that I use abbreviations that many people may not know. So I decided to share this with everybody.....also needed to give a report on how it went.

An EMG is an electromyogram. I also had a NCS (Nerve conduction study). The reason I had them is that I desat, have low oxygen level, more than the doctor believes can be accounted for by my PH (Pulmonary Hypertension). So, she really wanted me to have a diaphragm EMG and NCS. The EMG tests the muscular function for weakness or inappropriate movement. The nerve conduction study tested the phrenic nerves communication with the diaphragm.

They did the NCS first by placing a device that delivers the ëlectrical impulse to the phrenic nerves on both sides of the neck. That doc could have had an alternate career as a taser carrying policeman! He is good at his job. The EMG came next. It is done with long acupuncture like needles. They were inserted between ribs into 2 spots in the diaphragm on each side of the chest. I did not expect it to hurt as much as it did - the right side much more than the left. Everything was normal and I am glad it is over!!

So, no more answers than when I started needing the oxygen. Oh well. I'll live with the hose in my nose. OK, time for more pain pills and bed. Good Night.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cowboy Cookies

OK, folks. This is what I also accomplished this weekend. The recipe was my Grandmother's. My brother Ross made them for Christmas this year. I had forgotten how sinfully good they are. My mother gave him the recipe. So, I got the recipe from him. Thanks Mom! (how do they look?)

I rarely fix or eat anything like these cookies anymore. They are full of sugar. They also have oats, pecans and chocolate chips. They are Wonderful!!

There are plenty for dig in. I won't tell:)


I have really been lacking motivation recently. By the end of the work week, I just do not want to do much. I just finished my 2nd back to back course of antibiotic for my sinus infection. I have had this most of the time since Christmas. Ugh! It sure does a number on the energy level.

This weekend I have accomplished a few things. I am still sorting thru stuff to get rid of and pitched some stuff. Other stuff is in a sell and a giveaway pill. Everything takes longer to accomplish since I developed PH. So, I am trying to prepare for the time when Charles is no longer at home. I am in no hurry for him to go. I like having him here. Well, he is still kinda here… maybe a third of the time. More than many parents get with their 20 year olds. So, I am grateful.

Tomorrow I go back to St Louis for another EMG. This one is on the diaphragm. Hmmm, sounds like fun, eh?! I would have preferred to have it done on a Friday in case I am wiped out by it. However, they said it is done by one physician on Mondays. OK, I think I have a few questions before they go zapping me again. I’ll fill you in on how it goes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This writing is prompted by the TV movie that just premiered on Lifetime called Prayers for Bobby. It is about the struggles of a homosexual teen. I am not writing this about sexuality. This is about who we are and the journey of life. I was born to a very loving mother. She has always accepted me at face value. She may not have liked things I did at different points in my life but I always felt loved. I can not imagine how it must feel to have your own mother face you and disclaim you as her child. What that must do to the soul is wrenching to think about. This movie makes one face that….from both sides. This may be a winding post. I have many trains of thought. Please read this with the understanding that I am judging nobody.

The movie chronicles Bobbys' teenage home life. The “godly” son was embraced without judgment. Bobby, the gay son, was not. He was constantly criticized for who he was. His mother sent him to a psychiatrist to be “cured”. She put Post It notes of different bible verses denouncing homosexuality on his bathroom mirror. He was eventually told by his own mother that if he “chose” to be gay that he was not her son. She claimed to be a religious woman.

As a young woman, I was part of a Christian church that believed that homosexuality was a sin before god. I came to question that belief. It wasn’t an overnight change. It was slow. As I read more and explored spirituality. As I learned that the bible was written and interpreted by man. Different versions…different languages…more interpretations. Writings, particularly those by women, were excluded from most mainstream texts. Does God think less of woman? I don’t think so. Some of Christs closest companions and confidants were women. How is one version of the bible to be supreme over others. Questions…….

Then, what of all the other religions. I see many similarities among various different religions. Love being the center piece of most. If we only opened our eyes to these similarities, I think we would love more and hate less.

How does a person who claims to be religious judge others? Isn’t one of the main components of most religions to “love others as you love yourself”. In this show the mother certainly did not do that…until her son died. Her church and parts of the community were guilty of this two faced love also. How sad.

When I began to realize that this was what was happening in my church, I was confused. The deepest part of me knew that there was more to true spirituality. Don’t get me wrong. I had many wonderful friends in the church. My pastor and his wife were very supportive of the people. Without them, I am not sure I would have survived the loss of my husband when Charles was an infant. This deepened my confusion…..

Why is it that we hate instead of loving unconditionally? We don’t have to agree with everything….but one shouldn’t hate. Isn’t that a key religious principle?

This is not necessarily meant to be a dialogue but feel free to comment if you like. This is just me thinking out loud….in my own journal. Trying to understand the journey. I continue to search for truths. To evolve spiritually. To not be stagnant. To live. To enjoy each day I have. Oddly, this has been the blessing of PH in my life. It confronted me with my own mortality in a way I had not experienced before. My life of 20 or so years ago now seems like a whole other person. I would not trade that time though because it helped make me who I am now…and I like this person.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Whew.....what a week!

Back to work I went last Monday and man did we work! I ate lunch at my desk, working, every day but one. I left late each day. Thursday was the latest..1830 something. I had to get all the pharmacy calls, etc done because I was off on Friday. Doc was there until about the same time also.

The memories of how long it takes to recup from bed rest had faded since the last time. I arrived home from my TX trip late on January 3rd. I went to work the next day but was sent home early. Since then I had been on bed rest most of the time until the 12th. Needless to say, the bed was my friend by default each day after work last week. One day, I think it was Wednesday, I even fell asleep shortly after getting home. I had put on my lounge clothes, laid down in bed with 3 pillows propping me up and a pillow to prop my feet on. I then opened my laptop. The next thing I knew, my cell phone was ringing at 1930. I was still “in position” with my laptop on my lap. Oh my!! I was so groggy and not up to talking. I just crawled under the covers and slept until my alarm sounded the next morning.

I was lucky that my legs had regained some strength by Friday because I had a treadmill stress test to do. It went as well as I could expect. I had my usual SOB (shortness of breath) and chest pain but I finished the test. I will see what the report says when I get to the office tomorrow. Nobody called about it over the weekend so I suppose that is good. It was done because of that tachycardia (fast heart rate) I had on my TX vacation. I sure hope my SVT isn’t recurring…..

Gina, our secretary came in last Monday but really shouldn’t have. She had an MRI done on Sunday, January 11th. Unfortunately her left knee is messed up. Doc and I finally got her to leave by early afternoon. I made an appointment with an ortho doc for the next day…that took some looking around and begging! She was out the rest of the week. She really should be out at least another week but is insisting on coming back. We will see……

On a better note, yesterday was a very good day. We had our St Louis PH Support Group Meeting. The speaker was Dr. Joseph Ojile, Founder and Director of the Clayton Sleep Institute. He is a very good speaker. It was very educational and interactive. We had 2 new people with PH there. One found out in November 2007 that she had elevated pressures on echo. She is still in what I call the “deer in the headlights” phase. She also found out that an echo she had last year said the same thing and she wasn’t even told! Her current primary care doctor doesn’t seem to think it needs to be investigated further. I tell myself that I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone but ya know what?? Maybe if those docs got it, things would change! I know, I shouldn’t think like that….I’m working on it. I had one of those docs in the beginning. Yes, he was fired….but my care was delayed also. Anyway, we exchanged emails. I hope she continues to participate in the meetings. I had waited for this speaker since I found out he agreed and it was worth the wait.

OH, Charles (my 20 year old son) went with me and he listened for most of it. We made a whole day out of it. He drove there and back. After the meeting, we went to the St Louis Science Center (SLSC) to see an OmniMax movie. It is one of those 3 story high screens with surround sound and a 3D screen. We saw Dinosaurs Alive! It was awesome. We wanted to see the new one, Grand Canyon, but it was only on the 2nd day and was sold out. Next time…. I have always been fascinated by dinosaurs. The movie was well made. Go see it if you get a chance. At the SLSC, they have a handicapped entrance on the 3rd floor where you don‘t have to deal with stairs. The main entrance is on the 2nd floor and there are too many stairs for me to manage without getting extremely SOB. I have finally mentally adjusted to the fact that for the foreseeable future, I will go to the 3rd floor. Before going in, I chatted for about 5 minutes with a nice lady who was using a cane. She was not normally disabled but had injured her ankle. Charles and I pick the same seats each time. There a 5 that are right over the projection equipment. They are the only ones with nobody right in front of you. There is a small ledge with a short railing. Just low enough that you can prop your feet on it. Oh Yeah! Comfy. The lady and her friend came in after we did. We were already seated. I called over to her and said “ Wouldn’t you like to prop you foot up?” Enough said…she was over in a flash. Well, as much of one as you can with a cane. We all had a good time.

After that, we went to Sams Club to restock my freezer and pantry. They were doing tastings. Charles liked the salmon patties so I got some of them. I make mine when I have the urge but he isn’t big into cooking these days. So, in order for him to eat healthier, I bought them. He is paying for his “keep” now so make it a healthy one, right? We were famished after shopping so we stopped at Panera on the way home. I wanted to stop at IHOP for pancakes but we opted for a healthier choice. I love the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich at Panera. I change it up a bit though. No tomatoes (darn it, I don’t tolerate them anymore), extra cilantro hummus and on a cibatta roll inside of tomato basil. Quite yummy. Then we headed home. Charles was quite talkative all day. We shared many things and I really got to know the man that my boy is. It was a wonderful day!

Today…..not doing a thing except calling people, updating yáll and watching football. I like this weekend. OK, this pretty much brings us up to date. Off I go to watch more football.
Yáll take care, ali

Monday, January 12, 2009

Survey Says....

Its a winner.....Raisin Oatmeal Bread! I made this yesterday. Yes, one of the loaves is huge. I could only find one of my regular loaf I used an 8x8 one also. They got finished about 2130 hours so I just covered it up on the counter overnight. This morning I uncovered it and just marveled at the beauty. I then cut a piece off the small loaf to have for breakfast with a piece of jalepano jack cheese. It was yummy!
I'm wiped from work today so that's all I've got tonight.
take care, ali

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I love salads!

Today I fixed a fabulous salad. Actually I had it yesterday also. I decided to share it with you today. Here is what I put in it….
Romaine lettuce
Gala apple
Roasted Piquillo pepper (like regular red ones but better)
Unsweetened Dried Cranberries
Approximately equal parts of
Coarse Horseradish Mustard
Lime Juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Wisk together and drizzle on!
Boy was it good….probably do it again tomorrow. Modified I’m sure. Most of my recipes evolve. Yesterday, the salad had a small amount of shredded cheese on it and no apple.
You know what, I am feeling better today. I wouldn’t qualify it as good yet but definitely better. I think the sunshine yesterday helped. It was about 60. I sat outside on my patio swing and just soaked up the sun. Today is cold, blustery and overcast outside. I think today is a good day to cook. Soooo, what should I make? Bread sounds good. I make a killer french bread but am not in the mood for that. Ohhhh, I know, raisin bread. Now doesn’t that sound like it will be yummy for breakfast tomorrow?? Melt a piece of jalepano jack cheese over it. Yum!
I want to cook something else also but I don’t know what yet. When I feel OK, I like to cook and freeze stuff for workdays. I never know when I get home from work if I will be up to cooking. The year before last I bought myself a real treat ~ a deep freezer. I had taken a trip to TX to visit family and decided to buy a large amount of Ahi Tuna. I love fresh tuna but it costs about 2-3 times as much in my area of MO as it does in Houston, TX. So, I bought 6 months worth…a good chunk. Literally! My sister and I took it back to her house and I cut it into serving sizes. We then froze it and I used dry ice to get it back home. I bought the freezer when I got home. Merry Christmas to meeeeee! I should have gotten a deep freezer long ago. I love it. Now, my trips to Sams Club save me even more. The closest Sams to me is in St Louis ~ 100 miles away. I am currently on a smoothie kick also. I have large bags of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries in the freezer. Many work mornings, I will make one. Hey, here is another “recipe” for you. Take about 5 large frozen strawberries and throw them in a blender. Pour in 6 ounces of pineapple juice and blend until almost smooth (I like small chunks). Spoon in 8 ounces of good quality plain yogurt. Add some stevia if you want it sweeter. Blend and enjoy!
Off to bake I go. Take care, ali

Thursday, January 8, 2009

¿Qué pasa?

I am slowly starting to feel better. It is still very hard for me to …what is the word I am hunting for….comprehend how my body reacts to stresses and illnesses. Even supposedly good stressors. I was really sick on vacation. I suppose I should be grateful I am getting better and did manage to be able to drive myself home. I’ll work on that attitude.
I still think something happened during my violent coughing episode because the heart rate remains higher than my normal pre-cough. Chest pains are also more frequent. So, the plan. I did call my doc yesterday as scheduled to update her. She feels the best course is to kick the sinus/respiratory infection and then see how the heart rate is. I agree. She suggested I be off until at least Friday and maybe Monday for good measure. She is off on Friday. I figured I could probably work Friday if I was not seeing patients. Just sitting at the desk doing pharmacy calls, procedure pre-auths, referrals, etc. The work in a family practice is just immense. I called Jan, our clinic supervisor. She is at the Rolla location of the multi-physician/multi-location practice. She is new but I really like her. She seems to be detail/task oriented and efficient. She appears to truly care about our wellbeing. She said I could rest up and return on Monday. I am anxious to return because I love what I do. I can respect the return date though. I know it is best. There goes a good chunk of my regular leave time. I hope nothing major happens anytime soon. At our hospital, we get a specific number of regular leave hours per pay period (PDO) based on rank and years of service. We also get a lesser amount of “sustained sick leave” (SSL) each pay period. This can be used if out of work on FMLA. This pot remains untouched unless you are out for 3 consecutive days or more and can be carried over to the next year. That pot has gone relatively untouched the last year. Yay! It isn’t enough to get me thru a year like 2004-2005 though. So, say a prayer for me.
Oh, rrrrrrttttt (artificial break sound) - my estimated PAP on echo done yesterday was STABLE. Yipeeeeee ~~~~ High five! Still elevated pressures but not worse. Did I say Yipeeeee? Alrighty folks, time to do something different.
Take care, ali

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Don't we look happy?! Edna, Marcia and I meet at retaurant called PeiWei in Dallas. Marcia had the Chicken Pad Thai. I had the Beef Pad Thai. Edna had Mongollian Chicken. It was all good and way to much to eat at one sitting. I had part of the rest of mine for lunch on the way home the next day. Equally good. I like cold thai noodle dishes. Yes mom, as you already know I still eat funny alot. Oh, and thank you for the Christmas basket. The sauces are great. And the maple die for! This is where I sing ahhhHHHHhhh ~~~

Meeting of PHriends

Ali and Marcia wearing bracelets made by Diane. Edna gave me mine. PHriends are priceless! (click the pic for a full size look)

The rest of....the rest of the story

Back to Dallas….On the way up, I contemplated and changed my mind many times about going straight to the ER or to Edna’s house. I decided to stop short of the turn off to her place to use the bathroom. The purpose was actually to test my heart rate. Just going to the bathroom and back to the Vue sent me to 130 (my normal is about 70 when up and about). Well crap. OK, off to the ER I go. Boy was it not easy to get to…even with mapped directions. There was construction galore and re-routing of traffic. I stopped and asked a security guard how to get to the ER. He asked “are you meeting someone?” I told him no it was for me. His eyeballs got real big, he asked are you sure you are ok and proceeded to click the button on his shirt collar box thingy to call for an escort. I told him I was a nurse, this wasn’t my first go round and knew I was OK to drive myself. That seemed to relax him…a little. His directions were actually good…should have followed them instead of the other security guards that showed up about that time….but they both seemed to like the 2nd way also. I decided to call Edna. She helped me get where I needed to go.
So, parking….why is it that ER’s have such small parking lots?? Just cause you hope it isn’t busy or don’t always need the space doesn’t make it so. And this isn’t a place to skimp on space. It also isn’t a place to put all of the parking on a hill - with the ER at the top. By the time I got into the ER, I was very visibly huffing and puffing. Don’t know what I looked like but one lady kept her eye on me like a momma hawk. I hate when ER’s don’t have a live person to greet you. This one put the triage nurse behind plate glass. There was a help button but the nurse should not have to be the first point of contact…he was already busy. I tried to fill out the little why are you here slip but didn’t see what to do with it. The nice gentleman sitting next to the window pointed out the drop-box….ding, right in front of me. I then plopped in the chair right beside him with as polite an excuse me as I could. He said he didn’t mind. There were plenty of other chairs. I just couldn’t walk to them. The chest pain was constant at this point. The nurse came out in probably 5 minutes or so and asked why I was there…pointing out that I left that off the little sheet. I told him chest pain/sob and I am a cardiac patient. He took me back very shortly (at 1545) and began the work-up. After med list, history, etc., he did an EKG. He promptly excused himself to “go show it to the doctor” . After he came back, he said there were no rooms to put me in and had me sit in a chair in the hallway directly across from his room where he could see me. I could see several empty cots along the walls. I wouldn't have cared where I was as long as I could have been horizontal. Well, except maybe the floor. This chair is where Edna found me. I was sooo glad to see her. I needed the moral support. It took another , ohhhh, hour to get a room with a stretcher I could lie down on. Nothing else was done until then….IV access, labs, CXR….nothing. It was getting to be close to 2000 hours and no doc had been in so I called to speak to the nurse (again). I asked what “the doctors ETA might be”. He said he would check and left. This was a nurse post-shift change. No physical assessment done yet or pain questions asked. Guess I didn’t look as bad as I felt. The doctor came in shortly thereafter. He walked in very abruptly, no introduction, clicked the TV off and proceeded to ask questions. I asked the nurse afterwards what his name was....Dr. Kemenick. I began to elaborate on one of the first questions. He held up his hand, palm out toward me and stated “that is not what I asked you”. He made it very clear several more times that he wanted yes or no answer…that’s all. He asked specific dates of when last tests where done and I could only think of “approximately 9 months ago” or those type responses. Geesh, I have had so many tests done since 2004. How can I possibly remember specific dates. He would respond by saying “So, that is March of 2008 then”. I finally just started saying “I have my medical record in the car if you need to know specific dates. Would you like my friend to get it?”. He declined. When he finished his didactic inquisition, he as abruptly got up, stated he was going to admit me and left. I looked at my friend Edna. I think we both looked stunned. I think one thing that took me back the most was when he asked "so did your PH go away". Hmmmm, I think he needs some basic education on pulmonary hypertension. A friend back home told me maybe he should go back and take the course on bedside manner again. I told her he needed to take one to begin with because obviously it was a foreign language to him. My anger started to rise within me at this point. Just as the BP monitor went on. I tried to relax but it said 165/100 when it finished. Much higher than my usual 90/50 at rest when not ill. I decide that doc and I needed to have a give and take conversation before I would agree to be admitted and called for the nurse. The doc came back in and I asked him if I would be able to have an echo and see the pulmonary hypertension specialist. He stated the echo would not be done until 01-02-09 (mind you, it was currently 12-31-08) and you probably won’t see a specialist until at least tomorrow. He said they wanted to “keep an eye on me (on telemetry)”. I told him that I knew my diagnosis and body very well and that “just being keep an eye on for 2 days with nothing else pertinent being done was a waste of everybody’s time and money”. He did not appear to appreciate that I had an educated opinion. I told him I knew when to seek ER care and obviously this had been almost a waste of my time. I told him I would be leaving and would seek care closer to Edna’s house (45 minutes away) if need be. He insisted I sign out AMA. I signed but also put notes on that sheet about why I was leaving. The nurse gave me copies of my testing and the notes that were ready to take.
OK, more to the story. When I was reviewing the results (after leaving...should have looked before leaving...but then we should be able to trust in a doctor's care, right?), I noticed that my potassium was 5.1 (very slightly above normal) and the CBC specimen was hemolyzed. The doctor told me the labs were “normal”. He did not redraw the CBC like he should have. This is important to know on someone taking diuretics and having chest pain. He also told me the EKG was normal but the auto printout said abnormal. No wonder the nurse went running. The doctor knew I was a nurse before he finished his interrogation and should have explained it to me. When I saw my primary physician this past Monday, she explained why to me. We decided we should just vacation together next time :)

I was very glad to get to Edna’s house. I thought for sure I would miss the New Years Eve party at her sister’s house. I was feeling pretty puny but really wanted to go. So off we went. She has portable O2 that we took. I ended up needing it on and off. Should have been all on but I had not had to use O2 in front of people I don’t know at a party before. Can’t we be so vain sometimes?! I kept taking it off and realizing I shouldn’t. I sat most of the time....not something I am used to. I made it thru the whole party and did have a good time. She has such a delightful family. I felt privileged to be invited. I made it thru to the midnight Hooray. Boy, did I sleep in the next day…
We had a nice visit until it was time for me to head home last Saturday. Saturday was a long day. Fortunately the weather was beautiful. No wind, rain ~ clear skies, just beautiful. I still had to use nitro and low flow O2 much of the time to keep my sat up to feel good enough to drive the 590 miles. Yes, I made it all the way. It was work though. I only brought in the necessities that night. All of my stuff is out of the Vue now but not all put away. I did nothing much except computer reading and blog updating on Sunday (as you can well tell).
I tried to work Monday. Hmmmff, not the best idea. We were very busy. The doc saw me late morning (by request) and promptly ordered me home until at least Wednesday. She was floored by my ER visit. She thinks my sinus infection is a nasty resistant thing going around right now. She changed me to a new antibiotic and ordered strict rest along with a few other things. I updated her today and she said to keep doing what I am doing and check back with her tomorrow, by phone, not in person (unless necessary to see her as a client). Not a problem, I still feel pretty crappy. I have an echo tomorrow so we will see what it says. So, rest, drink hot tea, snort saline spray, computer stuff, and repeat. I think I’m done here for the time.
Yáll take care, ali

Monday, January 5, 2009

The rest of the story.....

So, where did I leave off at yesterday...was at my sister's house. On the 29th she went back to work. She goes in really early so is off by about noon. Hmmm, this is where I should have posted that Seabrook pic. Oh well. I was starting to feel better so we ventured out of the house on a drive. First we had sushi. I decided to have mine "cooked"( in lime juice) so as not to stress my comprimised immune system. I'll have to make up for that when I am completely well and do totally sashimi. Don't you just want to dance when you here that word? Sashimi...shasimi.... It was yummy anyway.

Then we went for the drive to Seabrook and Kemah. I knew my phriend Jen was right down the road. But she was also sick now and we couldn't chance sharing germs. Darn it!!! The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and visiting.

The next day, I was still not feeling well enough to travel and stayed with my brother. I knew my sister wanted me to stay with her but she had to work and my brother didn't. She also has 2 cats and I am allergic to the cute little furballs. I do miss my kitties. I did stop by the bakery she works at before heading to Ross' house. That was nice.

Poor Ann, my sister-in-law, had a hectic day. It started by needing to take her sick Grandbaby to the doc. Her daughter Tanya, does not have transporatation so she helps her. That took until the early afternoon. She called a few times to keep me updated and apologize. I told her that was OK because I was amusing myself at Kohls :) Shop, rest, shop, rest. You know the drill. I have such a hard time finding stuff that fits but this was a successful trip. I found 3 nice sweaters and a few lovely intimates. You'll see the pink cashmere sweater in an upcoming pic. I did have to rest alot during this trip. Was a good thing I had extra time!

Back at Ann and Ross house, we spent the evening relaxing. Ann served us her very delicious Swedish Meatballs and a wonderful salad of greens, avocado, mandarin oranges, slivered almonds and a few other things I do not recall right now. Oh, and garlic bread. Yummmmm.

This is "the rest of the story" from my other sick post. Everything was hunky dorey until 1930 hours when I had a violent coughing episode. Immediately afterwards, I had a sudden onset of shortness of breath and dizziness. I went to lay down and was having palpitations. Whip out the pulse oximeter and OMG, it said 150! Slip it on another finger.... oh crap, says the same thing. Feel my carotid pulse. Hmmmfffp, it's accurate. OK, so, what to do. Ahha, Valsalva (push down real hard like trying to have/stop a bowel movement all at the same time). It worked...down to 100...for a while. I called Ann about now and asked her if she could hook up my O2. I hadn't plugged her (the machine) in since getting back to their house. Ann used to be a private caregiver. With this "freak out/stay in control" look she did it in no time flat. Thanks Sis!! Check pulse...Back up to 150's. Valsalva again...4 or 5 times. Also was using the nitro pretty liberally. I was at the point of going to the ER when she finally settled down. Thank goodness. I was able to rejoin them in the livingroom and we had a nice visit. The next morning was my leave date. We had planned to have a Mexican food breakfast before I left but I just wasn't up to it. I knew I needed to see a doctor. They were heading out of town as well. I decided to make it up to Dallas where my friend Edna lives. It took using the O2 and nitro to get there but I did. I had already googled directions to UT Southwestern at Dallas. There is a PH Center there and I figured I would have topnotch care. OK, I need a break so I am going to have to leave you hanging here...sorry. It gets even longer...I'll fill you in later.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

PHriends sharing

OK, so I said this was going to be chronolgical. Well, I digress....unless we are going by the date I took the pic. Edna had this bracelet made for me by Diane. Thanks to both of you. I love it!!!


This is Mike, my brother-in-law with one of their "children". Don't they look happy?


Here is my sister and her awesome Red, White and Blue Cheescake. It is filled with blueberries and topped with strawberries. Yes, homemade! If any Houstonians want some really good cheesecake I can hook ya up:) It was served after an equally fabulous dinner. It sure is nice to have such good cooks in the family.

Time for a sad pic

This is a picture from Seabrook, TX post Hurricane. It is hard to tell what it is unless you know the area. What you DON'T see is all of the fish houses and resturants that used to be on this point. If you look towards the back, you now see the water of the gulf. On the right front is Pappadeaux's Resturant, the only one partially standing. My sister used to go eat there alot with my birthdad's parents. Before the chainlink fence was the one remaining fishhouse. It is a concrete building that is still being repaired. They are operating out of trailers for now. I got fabulous ahi tuna from them on my last visit. I wanted to this time but was not up to it. This was the first day I had ventured on an outing after arriving in TX. I came down with nasal congestion on Christmas Eve morning. By the morning after Christmas, I was pretty miserable. Coughing and blowing out yellow, having trouble breathing, blah, blah, blah. I made a trip to the local ER and confirmed what I already knew. A touch of pneumonia in the left lower lung and my 3rd sinus infection of the winter. I had gotten a Zpak from my MO doc to take with me but I wanted to be sure I was doing the right thing because I got sick faster than usual. Things have gotten better but this story does not stop here. I will finish it after posting picks back at my sisters' house. Let's keep this chronological:)

Still catching up...

This isn't the best pic...don't know what my camera was thinking. But there is a great story behind it. My mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law were at my sister and brother-in-laws house for dinner. (I stayed several days at this point). The night before, after the folks had gone home. Somehow, we kids decided to look-up ""Old folk party games" as a joke. I know....bad....very bad. This pic is after Mom read some of what we downloaded. Priceless, huh? (it was funny wasn't it Mom?) That look on Ann's face was "I didn't have anything to do with this".
Here was a list we gave them:
* * * * * * * * * *
10. Musical Recliners
9. Spin the Bottle of Mylanta
8. Hide and Go Pee
7. Simon Says Something Incoherent
6. Doc, Doc Goose
5. Red Rover, Red Rover, the Nurse Says Bend Over
4. Kick the Bucket
3. 20 Questions Shouted into your Good Ear
2. Pin the Toupee on the Bald Guy
1. Sag, You're It
If only I weren't laughing for a different reason also. They are more active than me! Love ya folks!!!
Keep reading...there's much more:)

Thanks babe!

He got what he wanted from his sweetie. Doesn't he look happy?!

Hmmm, next pic

Ann and Ross sorting thru the unopened presents AFTER the opening on Christmas Eve and wave number one on Christmas Day. Wheh!

Back to Christmas Eve

I should have posted this pic before. Captain is in the forefront opening his present. It is an outdoor firepit that was destroyed when the Hurricane overran the motel he runs in Galveston. He was so happy.

While you are looking...look behind him. See all those presents stacked up by the tree. Yes, the left side is more than halfway up the wall. Talk about LOTS of present opening. Good times!!!

Christmas Day

  • Here are the second bunch to come over on Christmas Day. Aren't they cute! Click for a closer look. The first set arrived at 1000 before heading off to another party. I hadn't been up long then and didn't get pics of them. It was such fun to watch little people open presents. OK, keep reading, I'm catching up.....

Christmas Eve

My brother Ross opening his basket from me. Ann, my sister (in-law) behind him. Click on the pic for a better image.

I'm Home...

I arrived back home from my TX trip last night. I didn't want to leave my family and friends but it is good to be home. This was my first Christmas away from my son. It was very good to see him again! I know he is a young man but he will always be my boy.

So much has happened in the last 2 weeks....where to begin?? OK, my last post with any substance was on December 20th. I picked Edna up as scheduled on the 21st in St Louis. It was about 5 degrees when she stepped off the plane. That is real temp not wind chill. With that it was something like 10-15 below. Brrrrrrr. The drive back to my place was a 110 mile drive from the airport in north St Louis. When we arrived in Rolla, we drove the "long" way so that I could show her the town. This took maybe half an hour, including slowing down to look at the architecture. There are some nice Old World influences here. The next day was Monday and unfortunantely I had to work. That night we had "Christmas" dinner with Charles. I fixed his favorite, Cornish Hens. I fixed a Bernaise sauce also. It went really well with the hens. We had broccoli, brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes to go with it. Nice meal!

The next day we headed out for Fort Worth, TX. It was a very hard drive. Lots of wind, some rain and fog for the last part. We ended up stopping about 100 miles short of Edna's house. I was so tired. We had leftovers from the last night's dinner. I don't think I was awake much longer after that. We had breakfast at Edna's house the next morning. Eggs, pancakes and fresh fruit. Oh, and of course, coffee. I left around noon to head down to the Houston area. If I ever decide to leave the Fort Worth-Dallas area at noon, on a weekday, on Christmas Eve again ~~ somebody just slap me! It took an extra hour to get to Pasadena where my brother lives.

I settled in there a bit and then my mom and dad came over. We exchanged our presents on the Eve. My brother has a large family - 4 children and 12 or 13 grandchildren. Can't remember exactly how many :) So we figured there would be plenty of present giving tomorrow to keep us entertained. It was so good to see them again. I have been blessed this year to see them all more than usual.

OK, time for a pic....