My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, January 22, 2016

Surviving January

That week went by fast. So has this month. So has life, here lately. You'd think it would be slow and boring-ish, being Winter and the fact that I'm home about 99% of the time but it's a speeding freight train. 

We had a little snow earlier this week and we're supposed to get ice, then snow between today and tomorrow. It feels a little like the Blizzard of 93, before Winter storms had names. It rained and rained and the Weathermen said, "oh it's coming...." and they were right, the rain turned to snow and it snowed a lot. More than I've ever seen, I think.  And we were young and (not so smart) and thought ... "wouldn't it be fun to get together a group of our friends to come hang out with us while we're snowed in?" For the record, it was fun but it was also a lot of work to keep everybody fed and happy. 

I have had a love/hate relationship with wintry precipitation. I love a random snow day, love the beauty of the world covered in white... but I hated making the decision about whether or not it was safe to drive in to work. I have had a few really scary white knuckle drives and I've also had a few times when I was the only loser not to show up to work when the pavement was really, really ok.

My back pain started - well, exacerbated, I should say, my attorney found episodes of back pain in my medical records going back years and years but it got relentless and chronic starting after a spell of wintry weather. I hadn't done anything strenuous and I hadn't slipped or anything but it started after bad weather so the initial thought was maybe a pulled muscle. Little did we know that five years later... but... after that I couldn't risk it because I'm more likely to fall and a fall could cause a lot of damage. 

Previous storm... bottom of driveway... doesn't do justice to the steepness
Now I've got a kid who has to get to work regardless of the weather. I'm terribly proud of the fact that he has that work ethic that he can't be "the one who doesn't make it to work" but I'm so anxious about him being able to get home safely. The other day Pop parked the car at the top of the hill because our hill is pretty steep and if you slipped too much you could end up in the lake. The county sheriff lives past us on our private road so they'll clear a path for him to get in and out if possible so if we can navigate our driveway, that's about half the battle. It turned out that Austin got a ride home with a co-worker who lives nearby who dropped him at the top of the driveway. I felt relieved that Pop didn't have to go out in iffy weather but then I realized Austin rode home with a bag boy who probably hasn't been driving more than a few years. There is a motel across the street from his work and I suggested it as a possible alternative to someone making a dangerous journey. We'll see. I'm just hoping and praying that the streets stay safe until he gets home today and if the roads are bad tomorrow that they're bad enough that NOBODY would venture out. It's not like he's performing brain surgery....  he's a Protein Display Artist (meat stocker)... but I love his determination to not miss work. (He didn't get that from me!)

Cosette's First Snow... wearing vintage Rich's that was Pawpaw's
Mom came home from the hospital on Sunday. She's doing quite well considering she was sliced from stem to stern. She, of course, can't lift anything but she's getting around pretty well. Better than me, actually. I don't think we have any additional information on the pathology from the surgery yet but we definitely feel like the cloud has been lifted. 

For me, once they were home and could care for Oscar my life got way easier. Essentially I was taking care of an animal that usually has two people caring for him in addition to caring for my cats, one of whom is quite territorial and high maintenance. Oscar must be right beside you ALL the time and didn't like my cat coming around. That was stressful and I felt bad for my Little Kitty. He's been extra needy this week to make up for it. 

I had a few additional chores such as getting Austin to work and keeping the water out of the basement. I've been doing the litter box which, can be hard for me but is not as painful as climbing the stairs to take Austin to work or carrying the heavy water tank from the carpet shampooer to dump. The day of mom's surgery it rained and I had to make a bunch of trips to dump the water out of the carpet shampooer and that continued for most of the time she was gone. Usually she deals with the water, or Pop does, or I do in between when they do but I had never had complete responsibility for keeping things dry. That set me up for a few days of being uncomfortable in itself. 

Pop usually cooks so while they were gone we did things like order pizza, eat leftover pizza, and such. I keep a stock of frozen/ shelf stable stuff down here that I can fix for myself as needed. Tasha kept the floors swept and vacuumed which was a huge help. She also had kitchen duty, keeping the dishwasher cycle going and made sure I had clean dishes down here (which is huge for me, not having to climb the stairs to get dishes). Austin worked his tail off making sure everything was "Mawmaw ready" before she came home from the hospital. He even cleaned out the fireplace and laid wood in for them to have a fire as soon as they got home. He's a good egg, that one. 

In summary, we are glad that everyone is back home and life is slowly returning to normal. 

Now we just have to hope that the weather is beautiful without being an inconvenience, that Austin gets home safely and back to work safely and that we don't lose power. Our heat and hot water and cooking is propane, I think. Not sure about the heat but hot water and cooking is propane for sure. And we have a fireplace but it only heats the main floor. I'm used to it been cool in my Whine Cellar. I was gifted (picked out for myself) a big, huge, oversized hooded robe that is so big it doubles across me and goes down to my toes. I call it my "sleeping robe". Oscar slept INSIDE it while my parents were gone. Little Kitty likes sleeping inside of it as well. On the really cold nights I sleep in a hoodie, the sleeping robe and cover up with another blanket. I'm sort of like Randy from A Christmas Story but it's super cozy.

So I guess that's life here at Patton Lake in January. Can't wait for the big renovation to start so we can keep the basement dry but in the meantime I'm ok. Everyone present and accounted for... limping along as best we can!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Update on Mom

Yesterday was my mom's surgery to remove PAT (the pancreatic tumor) from our lives. She came through it well. They had to remove 80% of her pancreas, even though the tumor was only the size of a marble. That thing had sloshed around in there so much that it created all kind of damage so she'll have to learn to live on a low carb diet but... all things considered... that's ok. They also removed her spleen and about 1% of her stomach. The surgeon didn't see anything else that looked suspect but of course, pathology has to be done and all that but it was, for the most part, a good outcome. She had some trouble with her blood pressure after the surgery and of course, there's always a risk of infection with major surgery so please continue to keep her in prayer.

Also if you would, keep Pop in prayer. He's been with her throughout the process and is operating on little sleep. Whenever he does head home, it will be a drowsy drive for him. Mom will be in the hospital until probably Sunday or Monday.

As for me and the little doggie - life is good. I splurged on Sunday and bought myself a new recliner. Since Oscar must have human contact at all times or HE WILL DIE (or so he thinks) he has to sit wherever I sit. Squeezing him beside me in my narrow little recliner causes a lot of pain on my hip/gut pain region. So I went out an bought a recliner wide enough for him to lay beside me comfortably. Since I spend about 99% of my life in My Nest, it was time for a new one anyways. It is working perfectly!

Our old girl, Lady, crossed over the rainbow bridge on Saturday. We knew that her quality of life had sharply declined. She had lost quite a bit of weight and couldn't hear or see and had trouble walking. She was incontinent and... like I said, quality of life. The Vet agreed that she was suffering and felt like it was the humane thing to do to go ahead and let her go. We miss her, of course, but it has made my dog-sitting duties infinitely easier. Honestly, other than the occasional possessiveness over his food bowl and the occasional need to go outside to go potty, he's no more trouble than the cats. I feel like God neatly worked things out perfectly for this time of our lives.

Yesterday was a tense day for me, with the worry about how mom would fare in surgery, worrying about what they might find... and all the other things that go through your mind. It's been a new experience for me, to have someone so close to me be so seriously and potentially terminally ill. For two months we've lived under that dark cloud. Not that we didn't have happy moments - we're fairly optimistic people by nature... not that we were obsessed with it... it was just the elephant in the room. Even as I bought Christmas gifts I thought, "will she be able to use this for long?" and wondered what next Christmas would be like. I was unprepared for the emotional relief that would come after we got word that she had made it through surgery and the prognosis was good. It was then that I broke down.  For the rest of the day I had that weariness - tired eyes - headachey feeling that comes after a good cry. Today I feel like I was hit by a truck - everything hurts! I realize now how tense I was.

So that's what's happening. Now we can look forward to the birth of my new nephew in the next month or so... my parents 50th anniversary in March... Cosette's 1st birthday party... Ollie's first birthday... and two weddings! It's a great time to be alive! I am so grateful for your prayers and well wishes. I am so blessed to have such a great support network! Hope you are all doing well and I'll update again when there's anything new to report. Love and hugs, y'all!

Friday, January 8, 2016

All The Things / Brain Dump

Mom's surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday. So there's that. It has taken so long to get to this point and now I'm like, "so soon???". But it's time.

Ollie and Pop
They were down spending the night with Cody and Marquee and Ollie last night in advance of her appointment with the surgeon in Atlanta this morning. How squishy is this sweet boy? Love him so much and wish I could have been with him too! I think he favors Pop quite a bit from this angle.

I wish I was down South squishing our sweet Ollie but I was busy dog sitting. I am not great at dog sitting. I'm used to cats doing their own business without involving me. Oscar is prone to punitive poops when his circumstances change. I've cleaned up three of those in the past 24 hours. Lady is prone to peeing anywhere anytime because she's old and pretty much incontinent. I have halfway cleaned up those accidents but haven't given them a proper scrubbing because I just can't bend that way right now. I took the dogs out before bedtime last night and couldn't coax anyone outside before I had to leave this morning. I returned from my errands to new pee/poop spots around the Whine Cellar. Thank you Helen and Bryan for my Yankee Candle for Christmas!

I then tried to walk both dogs, intending to do one at a time but Lady somehow pushed her way past me and headed straight toward the lake. We aren't really sure how much she sees anymore. I was worried she was going to fall in the lake so I stood at the top of the hill and screamed her name to no avail. I tried inching closer and started to slide down the muddy hill. I braced myself and didn't hit the ground but it was still jarring so I resorted to screaming like a shrew from the top of the hill and eventually she came to me.

I took Austin to work this morning and since I was already at the grocery store I picked up a few things. I haven't been eating well lately, not eating much and not eating hardly anything of much nutritional value. I know from experience that eating junk makes me feel like junk so I bought a few of my healthier eating standards: makings for tabbouleh, makings for my three bean salad/panzanella, makings for a beet and goat cheese salad and a bowl of cut fruit. I was happy to discover that the cost for an already cut tomato to go in the tabbouleh was cheaper than buying my own tomato to cut. I was also happy to discover that I could buy the pre-cut red onion for my 3bean salad as well. Unfortunately the precut onion REALLY stinks! It's so strong that I am still smelling it from inside my fridge. At any rate... hoping this helps me feel stronger in the next few days as I am going to need it for my extended dog-sitting stint next week.

Cosette from yesterday
I only made it through half of the grocery store but I at least made it halfway, right? Then I came home and carried in all the groceries in one trip (my big LL Bean tote bag is perfect for this!) because I figured I would either have the strain from carrying things that were too heavy or the strain from making too many trips up and down the stairs. I chose option A and regret it. It might not be as bad if I hadn't followed that up with the trip to retrieve the geriatric dog before she went for a polar plunge but... it was not a great idea either way. Every muscle is in spasm and I'm awfully sick to my stomach which happens sometimes when I'm in pain. I'm on self-imposed quarantine from Cosy today just in case it's not pain nausea and is something more sinister or contagious.

Despite all of this I'm really not feeling overwhelmed or anything. Sometimes I get kind of claustrophobic/anxious when I'm outside my comfort zone (which is a physical and emotional place for me) and I'm very chill right now.

I'm going to just introvert a bit over the next few days and prepare myself for stepping up to the plate to do even a fraction of the things my mom usually does effortlessly. I would say she has big shoes to fill but I tease her too much about having bigger feet than me so I won't put it that way, this time. I know that I can trust you to keep Mawmaw in your thoughts and prayers over the next week or two... and Pop too as it will be tiring for him - much more than it will be for me and mom will at least have good drugs to help her through. I don't know the times or anything specific about her treatment yet so I will update that when I get completely caught up on things. In the meantime... I'm gonna watch some Youtube and some Netflix and try to be a good better dog-sitter. Love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The First Week (almost) of 2016

And then another week went by.

What can I tell you? It's been a rough week pain wise and I just haven't had much to share. Yesterday was the first time I had climbed stairs in quite awhile. I had put myself on restriction from picking up Cosette to try to get my pain under control. I would hold her in my lap (which actually put a lot of stress on my shoulders because she is so curious and wiggly so... six of one, half a dozen of the other) but I tried to not stand up while holding her. I tossed that out of the window yesterday and had a great time with her but I can feel it today!

Sara, Cosy and Tasha 
I can now tell you what my nieces big Christmas gift was... they went on a cruise with their parents! They got home Monday and went back to school yesterday and there were some tired Gant girls hanging out with me yesterday afternoon! Pop fixed dinner for all of us so we had lots of time to catch up. Cosette is crazy about her big cousins! She leans her head toward them - her way of hugging - and kept giving them big old open mouth kisses and saying, "ooooohhhhh" like you would when you see something sweet. Cosy is so loving and nurturing.

Austin and Tasha got engaged on Christmas Day. There isn't a date set but it was a way of them sealing their commitment to each other and Cosette. Austin has been so consistent with his devotion to his little family and is such an integral part of our extended family. His day off yesterday was spent cleaning out the gutters (which we hope will help with the water that gets into the basement). There are times I feel like he doesn't get the credit he deserves and yesterday I apologized for not giving him a more stable nuclear family to grow up in. He said I gave him so much in the way of "bonus family" that it doesn't matter. I agree. Family is what you make of it and God has a beautiful way of filling in the blanks for us.

Then, much to my surprise, Ryan and Sara got engaged on New Year's Eve! I don't know if they have a date set for them either but I am so excited for them! It feels like Sara is already a part of the family. She is a beautiful, caring person and she has been so good to Ryan. They have been together for 4 years, I think? I'm just so happy to have my kids all have someone in their life who gives brings them happiness. It's always been my goal for my kids that they be happy and loved and I feel like they all are.

The update on my mom is that there is no update. She meets with the surgeon on Friday and hopefully we'll finally get a time frame for everything. Can you imagine living in limbo for two months, knowing you have a tumor that has to come out and not being able to speed up the process of getting it out? We have all sort of put things on hold waiting to see what our January and February are going to look like. And it's just time to get answers. I trust so strongly in God's timing in life because He has proved himself time and time again but we are ready to see Mom past this.

I've also had things on hold due to not feeling like doing anything. My sister-in-law's baby shower is this month and as much as I would LOVE a little trip to New York I can't imagine having two or three days in a row that I would be up to traveling, especially with unpredictable weather delays. I even flirted with the idea of seeing Les Miserables while Alfie Boe is still playing Jean Valjean but it turns out that he's not in the show the weekend of the shower. That had virtually nothing to do with my decision, honestly but it is fun to plan and dream from time to time.

I'm sort of on reserve for dog duty - and when I think of dog "duty" I always hear it in my head like "doody" because it inevitably plays a factor. Oscar has gotten really good at sleeping with me and is quite content. Little Kitty gets angry but... what can you do? Once we finish the waterproofing of the basement I plan to splurge on a bigger recliner where maybe two animals can sleep with me, if their temperaments allow. It's gotten easier to add dog watching to my normal cat lady routine and it gives me a way to contribute to mom's recovery. It doesn't come naturally for me but if Oscar loves you, he REALLY loves you so that's rewarding in itself.

Meanwhile, I've been entertaining myself during this current confinement with binge watching Call The Midwife. I love it so much and am on the last season on Netflix and dread finishing it! I've also been learning Italian with an app called "Duolingo". It's free and easy to use and I am currently 2% proficient in Italian. Basically I can ask for a drink of water but it's a good way to keep my mind in gear. I'm also binge reading a blog written by one of the people whose vlogs I watch. Vlogs are video blogs. I have about a dozen that I watch daily on YouTube. They usually are about ten to fifteen minutes long. I could see myself vlogging if it didn't mean having to put on makeup every day - which I don't. And of course I'm sewing for a couple hours a day and working on and honestly never ever feel the slightest bit of boredom.

But I bet you're beginning to feel some boredom so I'll end here! I'll update if there's anything to share. Hope you're off to a great New Year! Love and hugs!