I've been wanting to get back to writing my blog for awhile now. It's such a good reminder of where you went, what you did, and more importantly, how you felt. So many things get lost in the day to day minutiae. I don't think I can possibly update two years of absence, so I'll just start again with the here and now.
L and I are getting older, just like all of you, I imagine. We are slowing down, sprouting new aches and pains, and new malfunctions. It is easy to get lost in the discouragement of everything that entails. I have had RA for years now, but also developed a sort of side-condition: Sjogren's Disease. It's another auto-immune condition that, up until recently, just meant having a dry mouth. Annoying but not debilitating. Last year, I'd been experiencing increasing dry eyes - hard to wear contact lenses as long as before, etc. On Christmas Eve, they seemed to be particularly irritated, but I (foolishly) popped in the lenses, and went to dinner at my Mom's. I could feel that my eyes were a little uncomfortable, but nothing too bad. When I got home, however, and tried to take the lenses out - holy crap! The pain was awful, and my eyes were horribly inflamed, like the worst pink-eye ever. I did everything I could to soothe them and just went to bed. When I woke up on Christmas Day, I knew - I KNEW - that I would need to get help. So LaMar and I spent Christmas morning at the local ER. Antibiotic drops, and lots of waiting, and then more waiting. Concerned DO who looked at my eyes, and then a referral for the next day to a rare ophthalmologist who was actually working the day after Christmas. Long story short, it was the Sjogren's that was to blame for extremely dry, very angry eyes. A condition that lasted for the better part of 2018. I was unable to go outside without discomfort for about 6 months. L and I had a couple of road trips planned - one to Utah in March, and another to Denver in April - and I mostly just had to shut my eyes and apply constant eye drops for the whole of each trip. Any makeup was next to impossible and contact lenses were out of the question until about August, when I was able to gingerly wear only the daily wear kind on a limited basis. It's been a delicate situation, and from what I understand, I'm extremely lucky to have eyesight in that eye - the infection was that bad. I still have a little scar tissue on the cornea to remind me, and my sight will not be as good as before. Growing old is not for the faint-hearted. So now, in addition to my extensive regimen of RA RXs, In have now added Xiidra eye drops (they sting like a mother!) and Plaquenel. *sigh*
In my last lab work, it was also indicated that my glucose levels were high, so I've also started another new way of eating. I eat dinner, and then don't eat again until about 11:00 the next day. Apparently, the body will deplete it's excess glucose with the period of "fasting" so in about 3 months (hopefully) I will see those levels lower. I do NOT need diabetes on top of everything else! We purchased a Vitamix blender, and I'm very excited about that. I made my first smoothie in it the other day from a green apple (unpeeled!), a cup of chopped carrots, some lemon juice, and some raw kefir. And a frozen banana. Since we have no ice maker (long since broken...) I have to rely on frozen fruit for the icy part. But friends, it was DELICIOUS! And even better, I wasn't hungry again until dinner time! Usually I'm hungry in an hour after a normal smoothie (the really delicious, sugary kind), but this one was really good AND filling. Yesterday I made one from frozen leftovers from that one, some fresh guavas from a friend's garden, and a cucumber. Not quite as delicious as the first, but I think it's because I don't like guava that much. But seriously, it was quite filling, and I'm kind of stoked about that. I'm supposed to avoid all grains as much as possible to avoid the glucose problem, and so this solves a major breakfast problem of how to fill my (not so) little belly up. I love this Vitamix. I don't know why it took so long to buy one. Oh, I know - it was the price. But there came a moment when health concerns trump price, I guess. And so we took the plunge. Plus, my friend Lana told me about a delicious pineapple whip she makes in hers. I can't wait...
My dear aunt Margie passed away this last June. It all happened so quickly, it's still hard to believe. She was steadily declining and getting more frail (we had moved her to a memory care unit late in 2017) but she was still walking on her own (although not steadily). She had a fall one evening and broke a couple of ribs. For some reason, (we'll never know exactly what happened) she was unable to summon anyone with her LifeAlert device and so she was on the floor for a while before being discovered. She spent the evening in the local ER, and was transferred late to the UCI trauma center after it was discovered she had internal bleeding. There then followed the back and forth exchange of how much to do for her. After conferring with my brothers, we decided that we would just address pain and comfort and let nature take it's course. And she recovered. Such a survivor. She was back home, albeit with sore ribs, after a few days. But then she began to complain of back pain. After a couple of days of that, they tested her for a UTI which proved positive. We were required to get all of her prescriptions from a designated delivery pharmacy and they took a couple of days to get the antibiotic to her - and I'll admit, I kind of lost track, and I blame myself for that. She seemed to be responding, however, once on the medication, but I went in one day and she was pretty out of it. Just kept saying "Help... help..." over and over. I got someone to come in and help her to bed, but that seemed to be the beginning of the end. It was a day or so after that when she sort of slipped into a sort of coma. She would come out of it here and there, but was mostly unresponsive. I called family to come say their goodbyes and it was hard. Scott even came from Texas - he's just the sweetest. Katie came with her kids, and while Katie visited with her, the kids were making the rounds with the old folks, who don't get to see kids very often. They were very entertained, and it was lovely to see how much they enjoy seeing little ones. It seemed like everyone was having their moment with Margie. Except me. By the time it was my turn, I think she was tired. Or else someone else was in the room. Katie finally had a word with her, and told her how important it was for me to have my own moment with her. I went in, and she took my hand, and feebly, but very clearly, said "You're so good to me." It was all I needed. She was such a wonderful force in my life - for all my life up to that point - and I guess I just needed to hear that she loved me too. Even though I knew it. Hard to explain... Anyway, after the commotion of family came and went, she slipped further and further away, and all of the caregivers who loved her so much were inconsolable. She was a real favorite there. With everyone. I finally went home late on June 23rd with the nurse promising me that she would call if anything changed. I went to bed, and woke up suddenly at about 3am with the words of a popular song going through my mind over and over and over. It was sooooo annoying. The chorus I keep hearing was "...already gone, already gone, bye bye I'm already gone...." It's a Brett Dennen song that I love, but the lyrics were just going around and around in my head. Just then the phone buzzed and it was the nurse apologizing because she'd tried to call me an hour before to tell me that Margie was about to pass, but I didn't answer. I KNOW that was Margie's private message to me - communicated with her usual witty sense of humor. She must have been so happy to be released, and to see everyone she loves the most - what joy! But she took a moment to come back and give me a private message with a gesture I will treasure always. With brave wings she flies. We gave her a lovely graveside service, and at the end we all sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." She must have loved it! I could (and still do) feel the approval and love from beyond. She was a very great lady.
So now it's just my mom left from her generation. I know it's very weird for her. She is brave on most fronts, but I know it's a hard existence nonetheless. Her great personal pride, instilled by her father, keeps her from asking for too much, but it would be easier if she would. She would be easier to help if she would just let her guard down. But - that's my mom. Walls built high. And so we just do the best we can. She has a wonderful group of friends, and most of us live close by. I'm going to have dinner with her tonight, and one brother has lunch with her every week. His wife totes her to the grocery store and other errands. The other brother and his wife deal with all of her financial needs (her finances are complicated and extensive, although she is able to live very comfortably).
My father's death made Margie's a bit easier - I felt more prepared for the various stages, and for the tasks that come after. I guess this is also what growing older means: people in your life start dying. Right now I have a friend dying from a heart sarcoma. She is brave, but frightened. We just found out that Diana, LaMar's brother Rick's wife, has stage 4 melanoma. It's spread all over the place, and she's having a very hard time. Diana is a force - amazing mother, amazing woman. And she was the first of the Norman clan to make me feel especially welcome. I have always loved Diana, although we couldn't be more different. But this is breaking my heart to see the suffering their family is going through. She is having surgery this morning, and we have prayed for her doctors best skills to be employed. I feel that L is feeling a lot of fear that something will also happen to me. He's been very quiet, and more caring even than usual. We cannot control what our destiny is - only do our best to ensure the best outcome possible. Hence the Vitamix, and new way of eating. Trying to curtail my sweet tooth, and do more good things for my body. A little late, maybe - but better late than never I say.
Well I could go on and on about events of the last two years. All kinds of happenings with Katie and her family, but they just keep moving forward, and being strong. Such a sweet family - I love those little kids with all my heart. Ione is a little Boss Baby, but so much fun. Dresden has moved on from being a terror to being the sweetest boy you could possibly imagine. I never go there without him pulling a little gift he's made for me out of his pocket. Hayden is like Katie at that age - all fun, and exhuberance for everything life has to offer. Mia is sweet, and thoughtful, and serene. An old soul. They just bought and moved into their first home, and all of the adventures that brings to life - both good and bad.
Rex, Ronna, and those sweet kids are doing well in Colorado. They bought and moved into a beautiful HUGE house in the last year. Rex is doing well, Ronna does well holding everything together at home, and the kids are delightful. Lexi is 12 going on 16. Last we talked she loved the series Stranger Things. Matthew is a typical 10 year old boy - all fun and silliness and candy. Skylee is the dreamer/mermaid. She dreams of escaping Colorado cold and moving to the beach. Travis is sweet and tough - just like Rex was at that age. His dark brown eyes sparkle. We were there to visit in April for Lexi's birthday. We saw them again a couple of months later when they were here for their yearly visit to Disneyland. Can't wait to see them again.
Scott lives with his fiancee Megan in Austin. I know... we wish things were different, but he is healing from a bad marriage, and we all seriously love Megan. Their wedding is planned for October 2019 in Austin.
Andrew is doing well in Provo. He runs the shipping department for L's little online business, Clean Screen Magic. It gives him something to do, it gives him something of his own to take pride in, and he is thriving. It's wonderful to see him doing so well.
Tim and Autumn finished up a year-long national tour of her play, "Something Rotten." We saw it twice - once with my sister in law Jill, and once with our friends David and Lana. It was wonderful, and so much fun to be able to have a little peek into the world of theatre. They toured with their little one, Lincoln (now 3 1/2) and lived to tell the tale. They are now back in NYC, Tim is back in private practice as a family therapist, and Lincoln is taking karate. L and I are flying to Atlanta on December 8th to see Autumn in the Christmas play "Elf." Looking forward to that one - it's one of my favorite Christmas movies.
Sort of up to date now. I'm going to make the effort to write her more often - if only for my own memories.