…one breath…

A lovely, lovely video created by Livonne…in memory of her dad. 

We can all take away the message of love we hold dear in our hearts…in spite of the heartache that often accompanies it.

You can read the post which accompanies this at… http://livonne.com.au/2015/07/15/with-just-one-breath/

…leaves me…speechless.

………hugmamma.

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living her best life: #53…feeling run over

…by a Mac Truck! 

Hi [hugmamma]…

Don’t know if you’ve gotten any of my text responses…thought I’d just send a quick update.

They say I’m doing well and I’m right where I should be. Even so, I still feel like crap. One doc described it as being hit by a Mac Truck, and then the truck backs over you and finally dumps its load on you.

That about sums it up.

There are moments in between when I feel somewhat normal, but those moments  don’t last very long.

Today is Day 8. I won’t go back and describe the past few days because I’m concentrating on moving forward and I’d rather not relive the past…not yet anyway.

I’m at the point where my body is trying to replace platelets so I can be weaned off the antibiotics, and anti-viral and anti-fungal meds. I think that’s right. I just know my body has to start fighting back on its own now.

That’s all for now…going back to rest.

I love you.

Pat

…and we all love you and brad…and continue to pray for you both.

………hugmamma.

Homeless and Luckless, Piano Man Wows Internet and Gets New Start

…never too late…to live your best life…

………hugmamma.

The Feels

The city of Sarasota, Fla., has a project called “Sarasota Keys,” which installs lovely old upright pianos in public places where anyone can play. One day last week, a homeless man sat down at one of these sidewalk pianos at a public art exhibit and started playing the Styx’s “Come Sail Away.” Passersby took notice, pulling out smartphones to capture the moment and dollar bills to thank the musician.

Donald Gould, 51, a scrawny man of “cave man” appearance with scraggly hair and unkempt beard, kept his eyes on the keys and his music filled Main Street in downtown Sarasota, Fla.

Gould, or “Boone” as he is known around town, said he only wanted to earn a few bucks. A week later, video of his impromptu performance has been viewed more than 7.5 million times on YouTube and more than 5 million times on Facebook, with the videographer, Aroar Natasha,

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living her best life: #52…in it together

Today I text Pat…

Will post something today. Always thinking of you both, hoping you’re fine. God bless you for your strength and no nonsense ways. How are the boys? How’s Brad? How’s living been with others? I love you…

And  she text back…

I think the boys are fine…haven’t been up to texting them either. Doing okay…not great…passed out this morning in the shower so had to be admitted for observation. Prior to that I was doing pretty good. Just exhausted and constantly foggy. Thank God I have Brad with me.

Living with others has been great…it really does help both the patient and caregiver.

…God bless the mayo clinic…all the folks at gift of life transplant house

…and especially pat and brad.

………hugmamma.img_4416.jpg

living her best life: #51…a little tough

The easy banter has subsided. A more somber tone replaces Pat’s heretofore lightheartedness. Can’t say I blame her. In fact, how she’s remained so cool, calm and collected until now is something I can’t fathom. I’m sure most of us would give in to a little belly-aching now and then. Not Pat. The woman doesn’t know belly-aching. The day they left us on their way to Minnesota, Brad told me that, except for a few brief moments of frustration, Pat never complains. Doesn’t surprise me.

Ask any of the so-called “outlaws.” Our spouses, all siblings, are almost saint-like. We “outlaws” keep our better-halves anchored to earth with our very human failings. We like to think of ourselves as…merry-makers. We’re always…always…making merry.

On 7/17, Pat texted…Hi [hugmamma]…I think I’m doing pretty good…considering. Just tired most of the time, taking things now day by day, moment by moment. Feel pretty groggy for the better part of the day, trying to eat and drink more but it’s hard. Trying to also manage my meds…which is the toughest part. Doc says I’m doing good but they still talk about the low point being 12 days out as my counts continue to drop. So I don’t know if feeling good at one point in the day is a turning point or just a good moment to be embraced while it lasts. All I know is I can’t wait to go home. Love to you and [my brother].

On 7/18, yesterday, Pat texted. 

Hi [hugmamma]…thought I’d send a quick update…haven’t felt much like posting or journaling lately. Today is Day +5. I take a blood test every morning and meet with a nurse and doctor to go over any problems, side effects etc. I also go in morning and night to get anti-nausea meds through my central line.

Luckily Dr. Gertz has this month’s rotation so I see him often. According to him I’m doing as well as can be expected. Although now we have to watch even closer for any signs of infection. I’m basically at the half way point to the bottom…another 5-6 days and I should be at the turning point when my stem cells will start taking over and I’ll start feeling better. I don’t do much but rest when I can.

Brad has been great…he does everything from making my meals, to keeping track of my meds, water and food intake plus washing clothes and especially encouraging me by counting down the days and reminding me that i’m doing well.

This is not easy but it’s bearable knowing that everyone is praying for me back home. I hope you can post an update but if not, maybe you can just forward this text to the rest of the family.

I love you…Pat.

…and i love you…we all do.

………hugmamma.

THIS is the real ME! ... I pinky swear...

THIS is the real ME! … I pinky swear…

 

living her best life: #49…hanging in there

It’s been some time since I’ve shared Pat’s journey toward better health.  Chock it up to my daughter’s recent engagement…yyyeeeaaayyy!!!…and the current flurry of emails, phone calls and text messages as we try to plan her 2016 summer wedding. We both agree…it would be so much easier if we were both in the same place, instead of 2,000 miles apart.

Meanwhile, my thoughts are never far from my dear sister-in-law and her devoted husband. Wish I were with them to offer quiet support, uproarious laughter, and lots of hugs. Since I can’t be there…posting Pat’s journey is the next best thing I can offer.

Pat’s communication has been sporadic given her full time job taking care of business at The Mayo Clinic. 

On 6/30, Pat texted…I’ll still be sending you stuff that I don’t post myself. There’s so much stuff that I just need to write down so I don’t forget…blogging is hard work. [hugmamma here: Tell me about it! Blogging’s not for the faint of heart. I can’t even keep up these days.] It took forever to write one journal entry and that’s not even getting into the heavy stuff. I’ll send the link again. The website is Caring Bridge. There is a link called “tributes” which can be misleading. It’s donations for Caring Bridge itself and not specifically for me and Brad. It allows people like us to create a free website. Just want to make sure everyone is aware of that. 

We are acclimating…trying to get into some sort of routine. Brad is working, just finished a couple of loads of laundry and making the beds. I like it here…it’s very clean but still homey. [hugmamma here: They are staying at Gift Of Life Transplant House…a home that helps and heals. Mayo Clinic cancer patients live there during their course of treatment. Reservations are on a…first come, first serve basis. Bedrooms and bathrooms are private at a rate of $30/day. The public spaces are shared…including the refrigerator. It’s like summer camp…]

People are very nice and helpful…some have been here for quite a while.

How are things going with you and the family? Has Gary [hugmamma here: Gary’s my future SIL…son-in-law. In fact that’s what we call him. He started calling me MIL…mother-in-law…first…almost as soon as we returned from caring for our daughter during her recovery from the second surgery to repair her bowel wall. Then the running joke expanded to calling my husband FIL…father-in-law. Of course my sweet daughter needed a name, so I called her PIL. So here we are one soon-to-be happy foursome…FIL…MIL…PIL…and, of course, SIL…the guy who started it all.] gotten [my brother] to sit down and talk story yet? What have you been doing and more importantly…what have you been eating? [hugmamma here: Pat knows me too well. And no, I’ve not stuck to my diet. And no, I’ve not been exercising either. So…blah!]

We are trying to see a bit of Rochester [Minnesota] while I’m up to it and able…so we go out every day. Tomorrow we’re going to tour the Plummer House. Dr. Plummer was the first surgeon the Drs. Mayo brought in. Grand old homes where a lot of the first Mayo doctors still live today. It’s called Pill Hill. [hugmamma here: Big chuckle. My daughter’s got a hill named after her…]

Very interesting history surrounding the Mayo Clinic. Well, we’re off to Trader Joe’s…2:30 and we’re just getting out of the house.

Pat provided the Caring Bridge link… http://www.caringbridge.org

On 7/2, Pat texted…Hi [hugmamma] …how are things going? We’re doing good over here…vacation is officially over…got 4 teeth pulled today…told my girlfriend it hurt like hell, but I got a prescription for ice cream! Waiting now to meet with the transplant coordinator. Will have the weekend off…Monday morning I’ll have a central line put in…basically surgery to put in a catheter then a class in the afternoon to educate us on how to care for it. Tuesday will be the start of collecting stem cells. That will go thru Fiday if I need that many days. That’s all that’s on the schedule for now. [Are your daughter and her boyfriend still with you?]

Just found out I don’t get off that easy…nuprogen shots start tomorrow…one shot every day throughout the collection period…the sooner we get started…the sooner we can go home! [hugmamma here: Amen to that, girlfriend!!!]

[hugmamma here: Among other things, I told Pat “Love you. Hope you’re ok. Love Brad too…and the boys…and the dog. Is he still alive?]

Yes the dog and the rabbit are both still alive…the boys are doing fine. Not sure how clean the house is though. We are okay. Love you too…pass it on to your family.

[hugmamma here: So then I told Pat about SIL asking us, FIL and MIL, for PIL’s hand in marriage.]

Congratulations! I can imagine him trying to get a word in before you guys move on to the next thing…does he still have to formally propose to [your daughter]? [hugmamma here: Then we went back and forth about wedding dresses and all that good stuff, which I’ll fill you in on later.]

On 7/7, Pat texted…Weather is warm here too, but I’m usually cold cause we’re always indoors. Our room is on the basement level so it’s a lot cooler…cold. Things are going well here. Did the stem cell collection this morning…collected enough in one day where it normally takes 2-4 days…so we might have a few free days again. Next step is to meet with Dr. Hertz and schedule chemo and transplant.

…lots of hugs and prayers, pat and brad…

…you’re always on my mind.

………hugmamma.Butterfly-Header

living her best life #42: an outpouring of love

When I offered to chronicle her life as a cancer patient, I did so wanting to give Pat an outlet to vent, to get her feelings onto “paper” and out of her head. Blogging these last 5 years has been cathartic for me; I thought it might be the same for my sister-in-law. Writing her story was also a way for me to do something more tangible than just praying.

Don’t get me wrong. Prayer is powerful. I just wanted to do something more, and writing was right up my alley.

Pat’s reason for doing this journal was two-fold. She wanted to provide readers with insight into how individuals with cancer live from day to day. Her desire was to help other cancer patients and their caregivers. She wanted them to know…they were not alone.

Equally important to Pat, was to have her journey with cancer chronicled so that she could remember the good moments and the not-so-good ones. She wanted to look back and thumb her nose at the Big C, once she’d beaten it into remission.

It goes without saying that the loving support of family, friends, even strangers, is hugely important to Pat. She’d be the first to say…her strength to endure has come from her community of caregivers. I couldn’t agree more.

In response to an email sent to update those closest to her about her first day at The Mayo Clinic, Pat received the following outpouring of well wishes.

Steph…I’m glad everything is working out…hope you win plenty at the casino!…safe trip home…sending you prayers and warm hugs!
Lei…You’re numbers may be unremarkable, but you my friend are remarkable!…you know I’d be taking you to the Mall of America…nothing beats chemotherapy like retail therapy!…tell Brad to keep you happy, “happy wife…”…love you tons and big nalo hugs!
Richard…Your positive outlook and sense of humor in the face of adversity are such an inspiration…our prayers and positive thoughts are with you and the boys…love you all!!
Bozo…Pat and Brad, just wanted to add the newest member to our family, Lauren, sends her love too…let us know if u need anything…love u.
Mary L….Pat and Brad, you and the boys are always in our thoughts and prayers…we love you!

And then there was the buzz of caring concern and love via text messages to one another…

Wow thank you! I emailed her too and was waiting for a response. Great news! … Thank you Jen for the update. Aunty Pat sounds upbeat…have good feelings. … Thanks Jen. I’m happy to hear the consultation was good! I was praying so hard for her today. Even though this i a type of aggressive cancer – I’m begging God to heal our sister and Aunty. He tells us to pray interceding for others. Join me in prayer and intercede in Pats behalf for God to perform a miracle in her body!! Love you all!! … Thank you Jen. To all – let’s keep one another updated with whatever info we hear. I know we are all concerned for Pat, and hope for the best for her and her family. Love to all. Lil. … Thank you Jen and to all the family for the continued prayers. Miracles happen through the power of prayer! Love you all. Louise. … Thanks, Jen. Also texted aunt Pat to see how she’s doing. So many responses to her email. Everyone is pulling for her. Love, Kathi.

It takes a village sending an abundance of healing sentiments to ensure that Pat’s in a good place. 

…and she’s deserving of all the love being showered upon her.

………hugmamma.

rethinking the…good ole’ days

As with anything, there are probably advantages to joining sororities and fraternities. Unfortunately the disadvantages seem to be making front page news these days.

Such elite groups never held much allure for me since they imply a certain social standing, and/or pedigree.

I’m more of a mutt. And I’m fine with that.

It never occurred to me to “rush” a sorority. I was too preoccupied with making ends meet while in college…working 20+ hours a week at the university bookstore…while maintaining grades that would continue to qualify me for my scholarships.

Too bad I never really learned of the good rendered by these campus organizations, for now I have almost nothing to compare with all the horrible stuff being reported.

Could it be that what’s been outed by social media has been closeted as a deep, dark secret all along?

Or perhaps those not inclined towards such behavior remained silent for fear of being ousted? Or worse, thrashed to within an inch of their lives…if not physically, then verbally and mentally?

Sad.

Sad for those involved.

Sad for those not involved.

Sad for those institutions of higher education.

Sad for society.

Sad for America. 

Even more sad for those who raised these young ‘uns to denigrate others…as well as themselves.

Seems to me the folks who are clamoring to return to the days of “me and mine,” continue to hold fast to the values and prejudices of those bygone times. And worse, they still permeate the moral fiber of their kin…

for generations to come.

………hugmamma.

nurturing thursdays: life in a…fortune cookie?

Never know what you’ll find when you break open a fortune cookie. 

Since I’m not usually a fan of this Chinese take-out dessert, I’m not likely to rush over to the bag to crack one open and see what it says about my past…present…or future.

Unlike me, however, my husband and daughter like the taste of fortune cookies and are always curious about their predictions.

When my daughter came across the following in a cookie she opened for me, well…it did seem appropriate for what I was going through at the time.

Avoid agreeing with people merely to keep peace.

In fact, that tiny slip of paper is still in the clutches of my pet tyrannosaurus rex…a little, rubber one which came as a prize in some food product…sitting at the top of my laptop.

Trying to rid my life of unwanted and unnecessary stress these last several years has meant adopting the message in these words. There’s no retracting the time lost worrying over other people’s agendas. Instead, I’ve made a concerted effort to find peace in my own life, ensuring that I can live as happily as is feasible.

I don’t insist others agree with me…just because.

…i do wish them peace, however.

………hugmamma.

my pet T-REX...

my pet T-REX…

(Find more inspiration at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/nurturing-thursday-fly/

tickle, tickle, tickle…

Discovered my “funny bone” while visiting friend Jo Bryant’s blog, Chronicles of  Illusions…
https://jobryantnz.wordpress.com/category/funny-stuff/

Hope she tickles your fancy as well.

#1…The 80-year-old married lady

The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married for the fourth time.

The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband’s occupation. “He’s a funeral director,” she answered. “Interesting,” the newsman thought. He then asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living.

She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years.

After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she had first married a banker when she was in her 20′s, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40′s, and a preacher when in her 60′s, and now – in her 80′s – a funeral director The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.

(Wait for it…)

She smiled and explained: “I married

One for the money,

Two for the show,

Three to get ready,

And four to go!”

 
#2…The woman and her dead duck 

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s chest.

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said, “I’m sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has   passed away.” The distressed woman wailed, “Are you sure?”   “Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead,” replied the vet.

“How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something.”

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room. A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.”

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.. The duck’s owner, still in shock, took the bill. “$150!” she cried, “$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!”

The vet shrugged, “I’m sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it’s now $150.”

…made you laugh, right?

………hugmamma.

michelle’s weekly pet share: update to grandkitty’s tale

Forgot to mention grampy’s contribution to the tale of our woebegone grandkitty.

"I'm all ears."

“I’m all ears.”

The kennel in which grandkitty had his smelly accident was exiled to the balcony. And thank goodness there was one.

Imagine spending the night in a studio…albeit an over-sized one…with no windows to open, and a sliding glass door that remained closed for the sake of security, not to mention the cold.

Ppphhheeewww!!!

I would probably have slept at the furthest point away from the crate. Maybe standing up in the shower after I’d scrubbed it thoroughly…top to bottom. Me and grandkitty hiding out…with the bathroom door shut tight.

Fine for me anyway, seeing as how I “go potty”…while everyone else dozes.

Grandkitty’s crate would have been history if I had my way.

Not one to shrink from a challenge, grampy decided he’d save it…somehow.

“Good luck”  I thought. Removing every piece of stuck poop would be some trick.

Lo and behold after moving to our daughter’s apartment, and after the movers had unloaded all her furnishings and left…grampy set about cleaning the cat crate.

Removing the pieces ever so carefully so as not to drop any poop, grampy took some kind of brush and scraped off all kinds of “unmentionables.” (I would have barfed for sure.) And then he took the pieces down to the basement laundry and ran them through one of the commercial washing machines.

Voila!!! Good as new. 

I don’t think grandkitty’s been back in it yet, since he’s not been on a plane since that unfortunate, never-to-be-forgotten event.

…i’m sure you wanted to know what happened to the poor crate…

…right?

………hugmamma.

"Chewing my toes is more exciting."

“Chewing my toes is more exciting.”

"And you'll never get me on a plane again!"

“And you’ll never get me on a plane again!”