Thursday, July 22, 2010

A miracle day!

39 years ago today I experienced the first miracle in my life.....the birth of the most beautiful daughter any mother ever had! While her birth was very trying they ensuing 38 years have been nothing short of wonderful.

Tracy was beautiful at birth. Mothers and fathers and family came to see their new babies and always said "Wow! Look at that one!", and pointed to Tracy.

Over the years she has brought nothing but smiles and delight into our lives. She was an easy child to raise. She brought smiles and sunshine wherever she went..and I do believe it must have just been in her nature because she still brings smiles and sunshine into the lives she touches today.

When she was a teenager I had a fit of insanity and allowed my sister Lois to take her on a trip to Mexico City. The stories they regaled me with on their successful and safe return still make me shudder today. I think honestly if I had to do that trip over again I'd keep her home, but I'm sure she's glad I didn't! And I know Lois feels closer to Tracy than she would have if I hadn't allowed the trip.

While Tracy was in High School I used to love Parent/Teacher conferences because the teachers were nearly as in love with my child as I was. They used to ask me hopefully if I had any more kids that would be coming to their school. Now that makes a Parent proud!

Even today, when I talk to people who know Tracy they have nothing to say but accolades. When her name is mentioned the words "sweet", "Nice", 'wonderful", "great", "awesome", and "I just love her!" always enter the conversation.

I told a friend at work who was starting his Master's program at the University where Tracy works that I have a daughter who works in the department he was attending. He asked her name, then made it a point to ask his advisor if she knew Tracy (she did), and if he could meet her to introduce himself. He called me the next day to let me know he had met Tracy, and that when he asked about her he found that she was "VERY well liked" at the University. It told him that I figured she would be well liked - she's a nice person with a good work ethic. He then straightened me telling me that she isn't just "liked", but loved. In fact, he said, "it was like a love-fest whenever I mentioned her name". He then looked at my face very closely and asked me if Tracy was adopted. I just smiled, told him "no", and said "aren't genetics interesting?"

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TRACY! You are as beautiful inside as you are outside. You have brought more joy into my life than I knew any person could have. You have always made me proud to be your mother and I love you without bounds.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Parking, anyone?

It's rodeo time in Utah. Unfortunately I live next door to the rodeo arena, so from now through Saturday I will hear cheers, watch skydivers, endless traffic, and approximately 12,000 people a night trying to find a parking spot. That's the most entertaining part of this time of year....folks will actually walk several miles to sit in the hot sun, watch cows and horses ridden by city cowboys, and drink overpriced beer, pop, and ice cones. And typically on the "big" day, July 24th, they are sold out....meaning there are at least 20,000 people who live in this area that are totally crazy! I had suspected that all along, but this puts the exclamation point on the end of the sentence.

I used to sit on the front porch to watch the folks coming and going, coming and going, coming and going. But now that I'm officially "older" (please note: not old, just older) and wiser, I rush home so I can find parking for myself less than a mile from the house. I sometime have to explain to the "parking dudes" that it's ok for me to park here, I LIVE here!

Then I hear the loudspeaker, watch the drunks (their longevity for watching the rodeo varies widely....almost a show in itself), and most entertaining of 12,000 people scramble to 6,000 cars and try to leave in under 2 hours. VERY entertaining!!!

Actually, if it weren't so doggone hot around her right now I would probably cough up some money and wander on over. After all, I don't have to wait in their long lines for the bathroom, drink their $5 or $6 bottled water, or for that matter eat a $6 hamburger of hot dog. I can wander home for ALL of the above, confident that I will be back in very short order.

I also get to see friends that I haven't seen or talked to in some time. After all, I have GOOD parking very close to the main event!

All-in-all it's a fun pain in the neck and it always surprises me how quickly it rolls around each year. It just seems like it was Christmas, and here we are more than half way to the next one, as proven by the fact that only one week after this entertaining spectacle is over it will be August. I think, if I were smart, that the end of the rodeo would officially mark my "start Christmas shopping" season.

I guess we'll see how smart I am................

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Older and wiser

I turned 58 yesterday, and my wonderful family all called or stopped to see me. Our son Forrest invited us to a dinner out on the town, and that sounded lovely. It is just plain TOO HOT to cook. So I waited anxiously for the appointed time, got my husband, Dick, out of bed and began to get him ready to go. He felt dizzy, and begged I went to dinner without him. Although we had a wonderful time it wasn't nearly as good as it would have been if I hadn't allowed one corner of my brain to worry about Dick the whole time we were gone.

Overall though, I had a very nice day. My brother David gave me a wonderful hand-written letter about our growing up years and how much he cares for me, along with a nice chunk of cash to "spend on myself". That was very special.

Our son Forrest and his family not only me us for dinner, but gave me beautifully framed photos of themselves taken by a friend.

Our daughter Tracy called, and promised she would be down in a week or so, she just couldn't make it that day. She is always good for her word, so I get to have ANOTHER birthday when she arrives! (But that doesn't mean I'm another year older..!)

My sister Lois and brother-in-law Beaux each called me independently, which was very nice. There's something special about talking to each one personally.

My brother Ken called, my sister-in-law Tina called, and my good friend Marie called. Actually Marie was the very first to wish me a Happy Birthday.

Today our friend Bobby stopped by to wish me a happy birthday too. The birthday wishes just seem to keep coming.

I want each and every one of them to know that I felt wrapped in their love and humbled by their caring for me.

Since it was my birthday I gave myself an early present. I have been thinking for some time about adding a little color to my life....literally. For years I have kept all the walls in the house painted white...not just white but "ultra pure white", figuring that I would add color with the items I put in the room and hung on the walls. I have a lot of wood in the house and that has always been satisfactory for me. But a while back my daughter and her husband painted their living room wall and one wall in their kitchen very bright colors, one red, one a deep forest green, and I fell in love with the feel the colors added to their home. So, never one to move very quickly when change like this comes along, I have been debating with myself about painting one of my walls a different color. I have exposed brick in the kitchen, so I figured I needed something complimentary, which left me in the red hughes. I finally chose a color, bought a gallon of primer and paint, and put them on the back porch for the last 5 or 6 months....still debating internally. I've been all-white so long that it felt like a huge leap to go with color. Silly, huh?

Anyway, I finally broke down the other day while I had some time off of work and primed the wall with the gray primer the paint lady sold me. Good Lord, gray is an ugly color on a wall! It was supposed to dry for 24 hours, but it was so ghastly that I couldn't wait. I waited several hours, ran my hand over the whole wall to make sure it was dry, then stayed up late to paint the red. I went to bed quite contented that I would wake up and find an exciting change in the room when I first entered in the morning. Boy! Did I get a surprise. I'm not sure if it was due to the gray primer, but when the whole wall was painted the color I had chosen it turned out to look purple. Not just any old purple, either. It looked "plum" purple. I could hardly believe it. My experiment was not going as planned! So today, after drinking my morning coffee, I couldn't stand it another minute. I ran to the store and bought myself a "real red" paint, and came home hoping it would help. I now have a very red (well, actually kind of a burgundy red) wall and I like it much better. Dick was asleep when I painted over the purple, so I guess we'll see if he can live with the red or not. If he hates it I'll try something else, but for now I'm kinda liking it! And it was relatively quick and easy to do.....less than an hour today to cover the purple. If that's all it takes I may change color weekly, or every time I buy new shoes. Who knows where this could lead? I might end up dying my hair a different color, or get new colored contacts to see with. This may have started a whole new phase of my life.......'if you don't like it - paint it!".

It's probably a good thing birthdays only come once a year....I seem to have lost my mind with this one!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

dialysis and other stuff

For those who don't know me or my husband I'll give you a short introduction to a couple of things. My husband has kidney failure and has been on dialysis since 2003. From the beginning our goal has been to find a way to dialyze him at home. Our lifestyle has always been more gypsy than settled, so one of our primary concerns when his kidneys failed and we finally had to start dialysis was that we could still enjoy as much freedom as possible. There are two kinds of dialysis, peritoneal and hemo, hemo being the one most folks picture when they think of dialysis, where the blood is filtered. Peritoneal is where the dialysate fluid is pumped into the peritoneal sac (via a port implanted just below the belly-button), and the dialysis is performed on a 24 hour fill-er-up, then go to bed. The machine replaces the fluid over-night the required number of times for your prescription and then you wear the fluid in your abdomen most of the day - with one change mid-day. It's the most flexible form of dialysis, so that's what we opted to do.

Unfortunately you don't always get what you husband had some complications that put him into the hospital and while there we learned that he had some blockages in his legs that meant we could not do peritoneal dialysis. So they inserted a port in his chest (with a line into his heart- called a "perma-cath") and while in the hospital they began his hemodialysis.

With hemodialysis they typically make a "fistula", where they surgically graft the artery and vein together. That, once it has healed and "matured", allows enough blood flow to accommodate the large exchange of blood required for hemodialysis. There are 5 to 6 liters of blood in the human body. During a normal treatment we usually filter more than 60 liters, so that means we cycle all the blood in his body through the filter about 10 times. It's really quite amazing when you think about it!

Hemodialysis is usually done in a dialysis center 3 times a week for about 4 hours a treatment. You can travel, but only if you can make your appointments every-other-day during the week, or if you intend to go somewhere that has another dialysis center where you can get an appointment and take 4 hours (plus travel time) out of your day. Not really what we had in mind! I work every day, and when we get away we didn't want to plan our trips around the availability of a dialysis center and the appointments that were available for him.

One day while he was at the dialysis center our dialysis nurse came out looking for a patient who might be willing to try a new form of home-hemodialysis. She remembered that our goal had been to do the dialysis at home and approached my husband. She gave him some information to bring home and discuss, and told us it was another option if we were interested.

Were we!! We read all the brochures, talked and talked and talked about it, then told her to sign us up! It required that someone be there with him, and because his fistula is on his right arm (and he has stroke damage in his left arm) I had to be a willing participant and put in the needles, start the treatment, and monitor him. I was more than we began a two week training to do the dialysis. We have now been doing this at home for 4 years....I know because every year on the anniversary of our beginning the treatment a dialysis nurse comes to our home to watch the treatment and "re-certify" me to continue dialysis at home. This is the 4th year!

I have to say, it's been both a blessing and a challenge. To begin with I was a wreck, and he was fairly nervous too. Add to that that it seemed that everything that could go wrong DID go wrong (Murphy's law), but we had support through the company available 24 hours a day, and our dialysis nurse gave us her number we made it through all the trials and tribulations.......and we survived them all! Now when something occasionally doesn't go as planned it doesn't even fluster us - we've gained a lot of confidence and know that we can get through almost anything.

It still startles our neighbors, friends and occasional visitors when they come into the house and find him in his easy chair with lines coming out of his arms and blood obviously flowing through the lines, but we are more than happy to tell them what we are doing and what a blessing it truly is! We dialyze 6 days a week, and the day we take off is more for us than for medical reasons. Everybody needs a true day off now and again. We have the flexibility to dialyze any time of day we want, usually on my work days we dialyze in the late-afternoon or early evening. On my days off we dialyze in the morning, unless we don't want's truly our choice what our schedule is!

And the biggest bonus is that we can take our supplies and our machine and go on a trip if we so choose. We make the dialysis fit our day, and don't have to fit our day around the dialysis. Besides, it's so much more comfortable for him to sit in his own home, watching his own television, with his "protector" dog on his lap while he dialyses. I hook him up, then fix dinner, we eat, talk, I can run around and clean if I want (although I need to stay in the house to monitor him in case something unexpected happens. Mostly we are just more comfortable at home than sitting in a sterile center with strangers "performing" dialysis on him.

It's been a grand adventure and one we hope to continue for many years to come. And the very best part of it is that along with all the other advantages the biggest advantage is that by doing the filtering on a daily basis his health is much better...he no longer builds up toxins for 2 days, then has too much fluid and toxin pulled off at one time making him feel like he's been through the ringer. Every day dialysis keeps the toxins and fluid down, much more like kidneys would. Being at home makes him much happier, and since we like each other and enjoy each other's company, he has maintained a remarkable sense of humor about the whole thing!

If any of you happened upon this blog by doing a search for "dialysis" because you or a family member has a pending need I hope this has been of help to you. Talk to your doctor and ask about the home dialysis options. There is so much now available out there that your life, although it will change, doesn't have to change as dramatically as you might think.