Monday, December 15, 2014

savoring...

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Christmas has been barging right through our front door in steady fashion!  Christmas goodies, beautiful cards, packages, and presents.  


The best gift?  Is the one we received after my mom's MRI last week.  Her back is NOT fractured.  All of the muscles around her spine are tight and sore, compensating for the weakness around her spine- but the vertebroplasties are holding her spine intact.  So pain meds, and physical therapy and massage are the plan for now.  We're so thankful! 

So we got busy!

Colton and I have savored finding and re-telling the story of each Christmas ornament and decoration, we carefully unpack.  My mother-in-law started gifting me with snowbabies, long before Rick and I were married.  I have a beautiful collection, thanks to Carole, and we feel her spirit with us when we look at the display we've crafted with them.


We unpack a few things,  and then suddenly its time to go.  A hockey game awaits, and Christmas plans are on hold till we return.  And so our days go…


But then we return, and the mailbox is filled...


I have a lump in my throat as I open this package from Mimi in Germany!  She knit that "Tiffany" blue hat for me (my favorite color,) and sent chocolate and the Faith, Love, and Hope heart I put right on my tree!  Precious friend- how you delighted me! 



This beautiful card and necklace came from my friend Shelley.  It says "Hope is an anchor for my soul."  Could there be anything more perfectly said?  I am so touched how these messages go out and come right back in, thanks to all of you.  Thank you, Shelley!


But we're flying out the door again.  Boxes of lights, and ornaments, and decorations are scattered amongst the hockey gear, drying on the staircase.  Its a royal mess!  But I can only smile as the joy of Christmas unfolds before my eyes.

Colton is over the moon.  We are awaiting the arrival of 15 people!  Its been years since we've had such a gathering of people, and we're all so excited.

Then, another package, arrives.

When I held a drawing for a Barnes and Noble gift card, my friend Ricka won.  Who would have thought she'd share that gift right back with me?  I was very touched to discover a new Jesus Calling in a package that came over the weekend.


I wish I could show you the goodies that came with this beautiful, handmade, card!  But they're devoured- gone-just like that!  Thank you Nichole!  I'm so sorry I missed your visit! 



A few other things have come that I hope to come back and share, too.  Each one, touches me, and honors me in such big way.  I want to share all about it...



But, you see, something within has shifted a bit.

I find myself hyper-aware this Christmas.  Watching each tiny moment unfold.  Not wanting to miss a single one.  

So each time I think I am about to find the camera and take some photos of all the lovely blessings you've sent to us, and post about them… I stop.  I find myself using the time, instead, to savor the verse on the card.  To talk to the boys about a memory I have of the people in the card.  To share a story.  To snuggle in with the dog.  

To live my moments and feel them.  

Its almost like Christmas in reverse.  Because on the day of Jesus' Birth?  I'd love to just focus on Him.      And family.  Having all the preparation done.  No last minute scrambling.  

So we're practicing the savoring, and preparing- for the arrival of our Savior, the best gift of all.

















Wednesday, December 10, 2014

where we meet is in the silence...


“We're fascinated by the words--but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” 
― Ram Dass

He smiled when he walked into the room, and shook my hand, warmly.  He asks how I am and I say, "Pretty good," with a little shrug in my shoulders because I know we'll be digging into this more as the doctor's appointment goes on.  Then I ask Dr. Panwalkar, "And how are YOU?"  And he hesitates a bit, and says, Oh, I'm alright."  I nod. Quietly.   I often wonder what appointment he has just come from, and who he might be going to next.  Is he losing a patient?  Did he just newly diagnose someone?  Both?  

I like that he is real, and lets me into that space of the "hard," without being able to, nor perhaps, wanting to, share in any detail.  But there is no front of "everything is great", when sometimes, its just not.

So, we're quiet a few moments, as he goes to sit down, and I begin rehearsing the questions I have for him, as I begin answering the ones he has for me.


And yet, because he is so willing to be in the moment with me, it isn't long and my stories cause his hearty laugh to permeate the air.  

He checks me over thoroughly and notices the tightness under my right arm.  He also mentions how he can see the difference in size between my larger right arm versus my normal- sized left arm.


I remember to ask about my tumor markers, and he says they have risen again, just a bit.  Then he shows me the history of them, and I can clearly see they slowly seem to go up, and then come down and then climb yet again.  He shrugs, saying so many things can affect the numbers, its the pattern we'll continue to watch.


Based on my lack of any unusual symptoms, other than a dry cough, he feels confident in continuing on with 2 more months of Arimidex, and Herceptin infusions every 3 weeks.

He sits back in his chair a bit, and says, he is anxiously waiting for some new vaccine trials to come to Sanford.  And that there is a new Melanoma drug, that shows good promise, and he hopes there may be something similar to that for Breast Cancer in the works.

He concludes with a story of hope.  A patient of his, very similar to me with Brain Mets, who is doing remarkably well.  

What I really hear him saying, is hang on to hope, as my brain scan looms in January.

I think of the Ram Dass quote,

“We're fascinated by the words--but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” 

Dr. P stands to usher us out of the office.  We're quiet as we walk, in unison, to the infusion center.  I'm feeling my step lighten, my shoulders rise, my back straighten with each step.  I'm lighter somehow, through the silence behind the words.  He wishes me a good holiday season and heads off into the infusion center maze.  





*****************************************

So many have inquired about both my mom and I.

My mom has not fared so well.

While in the hospital over Thanksgiving,  being transferred from her bed to a cart to a procedure table, her back was banged in the process and she felt a shooting pain.

Steadily, the pain has increased.

Dr. Teigen's staff was extremely accommodating.  

Mom will have an MRI of her back tomorrow at 715 am and see Dr. Teigen for the results at 8 am.

Vertibroplasty #4 may be in the works.  



And this is where I am for all that ask … somewhere between the hockey rink, the hospital and hope, always hope, that~

~All shall be well~ 
















Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When words come to life...

It's true what I said.  When the drawing was held for the online fundraiser, I prayed whoever received the beautiful quilt, would cherish it, as much as it deserved.  I wanted all of the pillows and baskets to be treasured.  But I didn't recognize the initials of the person who won the quilt.  So I asked Peggy.  She said she'd tell me, soon.  I just had to wait a bit.

You see where this is going, right?

It seems that the winner of the quilt, requested the quilt be given to someone else.  Still, when a big box arrived, I couldn't fathom what it contained. I was rushing through the house, back and forth, to the hospital, focused on making sure my mom wasn't alone for long.  I'd have to wait till later to open it. 

Later, my mom's sister came and gave me a reprieve and sat with my mom.  I scurried to get Nolan to his hockey game, then Nolan and I returned home.  There sat that box.  

Nolan helped me carefully cut through the tape on the box.  Oh. My.

Nolan just grinned, knowing, the tears that were falling, were sheer surprise and joy.  

It was me- the person who was the recipient of the quilt from the winner- was me!  

It's more beautiful, soft, and comforting, more than I can express.  

Growing up, I had a bedspread, made out of the same kind of fabrics so artfully worked into this quilt.  I'm filled with comfort every time I lay eyes on it.

I told Peggy I felt like Christmas came early!  

This morning, I got to read about the experience of Julie Garmon, who won one of the baskets- you can read her beautifully written words here: Life-changing love.





I was also gifted this book, that came with coffee and conversation with my friend, Roxane.  I'm excited to have something to look forward to reading, when things settle a bit.  I am smitten with the title right away- "The Grace of Yes."




A part of this one is a secret.  But, the part I'm sharing?  Is the part I get to fill in.  I think its a wonderful keepsake type of gift and I am craving to get started on it.  Thank you, Krystal! 


When my mother moved from observation to inpatient, this was the view out the window from the family room.  She got a really old room, with an old telephone with a cord.  It felt so familiar to me, I wonder if it was once the pediatric floor when I had my appendix out?  Even though it was a double, they moved out the other bed, and mom got the room all  to herself.  We were quite cozy in it.


As mom slept, I'd walk the halls, that are somewhat muted and dark at times, but loved when the sun shone brightly through the big old windows, casting light through the dark when it was needed the most.

I thought of these words from "Love Does."

“Grace works that way. It's a kind word from a gentle person with an impossible prayer. It's a force sometimes transmitted best hand to hand in a dark place.”   Bob Goff






Tuesday, Mom was discharged from the hospital.  Her doctors cautioned that with her spontaneous bacterial infection in the ascites throughout her stomach, that she could become infected at any time in the future again, and it could become difficult to treat.  

I appreciated his candor, he was optimistic, but also realistic.  

It was heartwarming to see the big send off she was given.  Lots of hugs, and lots of people expressing how much they would miss her "humor" and ability to laugh at things.  

Mom received lots of medicines, iv's, doctor's orders, stomach examinations and procedures.


But I think it was the compassion underneath it all that boosted her the most.

In turn, she was a magnet, with groups of aids and nurses stopping by in a steady stream of jokes, laughs, and conversations.

We all just want to feel like we matter.  As much as mom received good care, she gave good care right back.














Friday, November 28, 2014

When Joy chooses...


So much at once happens, it feels like I need to be quick in all that I do.  Wednesday night was spent in the ER with my mom who was in the most pain I've ever experienced her have.   It was not in her back, but shooting through her stomach.  Her blood pressure would drop, and her Oxygen levels would go low as well. With several increasing doses of morphine the edge was taken off, and she began to relax.  It was 3 am when they found a hospital room for her and allowed sleep at home for Rick and I.

So we spent Thanksgiving Day in the hospital with mom.  She dozed and asked goofy questions, which kept us giggling.  She called Rick, "Lee," my brother's name.  She would wonder where she was at, and then her eyes would grow wide when we told her the hospital.  Then she'd laugh, as though she had known all along.  Oh the side effects of pain meds.

But her pain quieted.  And so did she, able to sleep mostly.


So the boys were determined to go home and cook Thanksgiving, while I stayed with mom.

You see, it seems, in preparation for all of this, Joy walked through my door.


It had been just hours before the call from mom, on Wednesday.  My sweet friend Carrie, came for a visit bringing with a hand made art piece she created using the words of our Gitzen Girl- Sara Frankl.   

We had a delightful chat about life, and knowing what matters, and what counts.
Carrie is filled with an insightful wisdom, at a young age, and I truly just listen, as she pours out so much of what its taken me years to learn.                                      

This is her precious art work so carefully chosen and made for me.





But its Thanksgiving Day, and I am still at the hospital with mom, and I help her eat.  She takes a bite, and falls asleep with the fork still curled in her fingers and her mouth open to receive the food.  

I guide her hands and make small talk to awaken her, to help her get the food in.  She has had a scope of her esophagus and she has no bleeding, but its inflamed and sore.

Yet still, she needs nutrition, and something in her stomach to help with her meds.

So we maneuver to keep sustaining her.

In the meantime, the boys are determined to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

Through several phone calls, we manage to get directions across, and the food gets cooked.


This one, managed the pumpkin pie, completely on his own.  He is so sad about his Grandma, but, also determined to step up, and contribute in a way that makes my momma's heart soar.

And his pie?  Was fantastic! 






The last call I received from Rick was that Colton wanted me home to eat with them.  How could I resist?  With mom resting comfortably, Rick came and picked me up.


In all honesty, the table wasn't  beautifully decorated, or fancy by any means.  We've all been stripped bare.  But for one of the first times, the Thanks, was really foremost in our Thanksgiving.  

The pride these boys displayed in making this meal 
happen.  We said Grace and ate heaping spoonfuls of deliciousness.  Afterwards I asked what the best part of the meal was.


Without skipping a beat, Colton says, "my pie, but even before that, faith, family and love, is the most important part."

I believe, he is saying it, because he fully feels it.  

I can't help but look at my table where my framed artwork of Joy resides…

"Joy: the unwavering trust that God knows what He’s doing and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it… not despite what’s happening in my life but because of it. When everything earthly feels heavy He gives me an internal lightness that can’t be touched." Sara Frankl

I remember the day Sara wrote her post about Joy.  I wrote in my comments that I felt as though is you choose joy, it will choose you right back.

It does, friends. Without a doubt, it will choose you right back.








Thursday, November 20, 2014

focus



Its the Monday before infusion, and I am hustling through as many tasks as I can complete.  I manage to strip the sheets off the bed and dig out the winter comforter.  While stacks and piles of odds and ends abound everywhere, if the bed is made, somehow all is right in my world.

Its weird to me, that I can accept how the dust accumulates, and the clutter surrounds, but if I can tackle one thing and make a little order out of it, I barely notice the rest.

So I wake up Tuesday, ready to keep hustling on my way to infusion.

But somehow, everything is off kilter this day and oh boy- its going to be one of those days!  First I check the calendar and realize it's not this infusion day that I see Dr. Panwalkar, but the next one.

Soon, Rick announces he forgot to tell me he needs to leave early for a meeting.  I guess I'll be driving today?  Hadn't planned on that.  And Nolan needs a ride to school from the rink, but its after the time I'll need to leave… my mind starts racing.

As I scurry about, Colton announces he needs help with his STEM homework.  We muddle our way through tackling the invention of the ballpoint pen- and chronicling the invention all the way through the ages.  Half an hour marches by… and Nolan needs… but then the dog barks...

I see a glimpse of yellow outside, and gasp as I hear the bus coming. I literally shove the little man out the door.  I need to leave, NOW!

But what was that thing I needed to do?  It floods over me as I recall- I haven't put the numbing cream on my port!!  It needs an hour to fully work.  I'm officially running late.  And today?  I've scheduled my blood work to be done through my port.

I grab the keys to the van, and thinking I'll just bypass the newly restored astro start key fob- thing-a-ma-bob,  I merely insert the key to unlock the door and open it… then bam!

I set off the blaring security alarm!  Oh boy… how do I shut this off?  I get in and start clicking buttons, and low and behold, it goes off.  Until I try to start the car.

As time ticks, I hurriedly try to figure out the right combination to shut off the alarm again.

But each time I get it silenced, the very next move I make, turns the blaring right on again.

I am getting so frustrated… my mind whirls with everything that has gone wrong.  Why did Rick schedule a meeting on a chemo day?  Why didn't I know about Nolan's meeting he needed to get to?  How on earth did Colton not do his homework? Why can I not make order out of this day?

It was so easy to blame everything on everybody.  I angrily worked my way through finding the keys for the truck.  It was almost 9 and I had a 15-20 minute drive.

As I turned down the side street, hoping to fly along the back roads with less traffic, I once again realize I never helped Nolan.  I'm near tears now,  feeling like I've let him down.  And yet- he hasn't called me.

So I just start to breathe… in and out, sending a quick prayer up, to help me so I can ignore everything else and focus on driving this big truck…

And as I do…

I slow long enough to listen to those last words… "help me ignore everything else so I can focus…"





Because, who is really in charge?

Not my dear Superman.  Not the kids and their crazy schedules.  Not me…

HE is in control.  HE has this. Oh boy…  how do I get so caught up in what was never under my control anyway?

So I keep breathing in clarity, and breathing out nonsense… and slowly, calm descends.

I apologize for being late, to my infusion nurse, Livia, and she merely smiles.  "Oh, it gave me some time to just sit and chat a bit."  Don't worry, it happens to us all.

Suddenly with a deep peacefulness, I sit earnestly as gratitude tumbles out onto my journal.

Names, blessings, observations of kindness, feelings of joy, physical gifts, today- the gift of yet, one more day.

Livia comes in to ask how I get the results of my tumor markers?

I tell her I haven't for awhile.  And I haven't bothered to ask for them.  Last I heard they were rising.

Later, at home, my phone buzzes with a message from Sanford's MyChart system.

I'm astonished- Livia must have conveyed to Dr. Panwalkar that I didn't know the status of my tumor marker so he ordered the results to be sent to me.

The last I had seen- they were at 41.1 (normal is 31 or less).

Yesterday?  They were at  34.3.

What?  How?  I will still have to wait for more of an explanation… but I'll just savor the idea it went down.

I smile as I think to count one last gift for the day… a lower tumor maker.  Clearly this day, someone else was in control, all along.
















Monday, November 17, 2014

Thank you gifts- were you a winner?



The winners of the thank you gifts were drawn and announced this weekend!

You can read about them here.

Or keep reading...

The Winners of our Fundraiser
"Thank you gifts"
are


Basket 1- Julie Garmon

Basket 2- Diane Schotl

Cottage Pillows- Kathryn Feigal

Western Cabin Pillows- M. Fahey for his mom Nancy

Quilt- J. Porter


Please e-mail  (Peggy Sue) with your address so we can get
your gifts sent to you!


hippiegirl44@gmail.com

Thank you everyone
for donating and making this
a huge success!

We are thrilled, humbled and feel 
so blessed!!!






Our weekend of hockey turned into one of the most memorable experiences these young 14 year-old- boys will ever experience.  

For all the reasons, as parents, we hope will never happen.


But it all started off filled with possibility.  Craguns Resort hosted all the teams.  While its an older resort, on Gull Lake, in Brainerd, MN, it has a charm and warmth to it that make it very relaxing.


This was the view out our patio screen door.  It was too cold for me to want to open the screen for a clear view. 


Each room was equipped with a real wood- burning fireplace.





And below is the Blue Ox, the trophy on the line for the winner of the tournament.





We were slated to play some of the toughest Bantam AA teams in the state of Minnesota, and see how our team measured up compared to those.

Our first game we were matched against a long-time rival- Bloomington Jefferson.  Early predictions had them as the team that would go on to the championship.  

We were all nervous about how our team would fare against them.

We had faith in our boys and the level of competitiveness they contain.  

The Moorhead Junior Spuds team did not disappoint!

After a slower first period they got the scoring going through teamwork and were first on the board with a goal by Nolan.  Our team continued on for two more goals, before Jefferson finally answered back with one.

But when Jefferson decided to pull their goalie nearing the end of the third- we scored one more time and ended the game 4-1.

We beat Bloomington Jefferson- one of the teams predicted to go to the championship.

We quickly saw that the next team we would play, was a team we felt we stood a chance against, early the next morning.

The boys were off to an amazing start in the tourney.


We went back to our hotel for the tournament pasta feed and banquet.

As Rick and I headed down the hall to go to the feed, we ran into a heavy discussion going on in the hallway.  We were quietly pulled into the conversation.

A young 14 year old player, had collapsed on the ice.  The early reports were saying that despite extensive attempts to revive the young man, he had indeed died.


We went numb with shock and disbelief.  

The rest of the night, bits and pieces of information kept coming in.  It wasn't long, before the kids all new.  Soon, the story was being picked up by the news and local media.  Word continued to spread.

There were so many big questions our boys were asking.  And as parents, we had some really hard answers to give them.  

We were devastated, sad, and subdued.  "At a loss for words," seemed to be the first response by everyone.  

The tournament was cancelled, out of respect for the young player, later reported to be Patrick Schoonover, who played for Eastview.  




The following is part of some of the most recent news...





"... cause of death to Eastview Bantam AA Defenseman, Patrick Schoonover, was a defective heart. In an email to the team Saturday, Patrick's parents confirmed via the Brainerd Medical Examiner that Patrick's heart failed while playing. The fourteen year old young man collapsed on Friday in a game between his team and Wayzata in the Battle for the Blue Ox, in Brainerd, Minnesota. 

In a statement posted Sunday on the Eastview Hockey website, the Schoonover's reiterated that Patrick's death was due to a heart defect and not related to what happened during the game Friday, "...Patrick's death was due to a heart defect. More information will be forthcoming, but they wanted to clarify that this was not a hockey related injury."
Patrick is survived by his parents, Michael and Gayle, and three siblings, Abby, 18; Anna, 17, and Matthew, 11. His family lives in Eagan. "


Nolan has been subdued and sad.  At some level he understands the tragic nature of what happened, while still not completely understanding the sheer magnitude of it all.

I was impressed, with how well our hockey community came together.  We may be opponents on the ice, but off the ice we come together as friends and family.  There was nothing but compassion and sorrow and support, heaped with prayers, by so many.  

So each day, we talk a little more.  Assure and reassure our son's uncertainty.  And hug him with arms that reach all the way around in sheer gratitude that we were one of the families that got to bring their young hockey player, home, with them.  

Because one family, didn't.  

And we will be forever changed as we take the ice each time from here forward, remembering to #playforpatrick.  


Its infusion Tuesday tomorrow, Dr. P,  and tumor marker testing.  

Back soon with updates.  

















Friday, November 14, 2014

Our BIG surprise!





Holy- canoli! 


What a great surprise the boys brought home to me Wednesday after school.  So generous! I could hardly wait to hear their interview this morning on BIG 98.7 radio, with Jesse and Amanda, and Pike.

We actually listen to them every morning.  

Mrs. Laudenbach, (Front row, yellow coat) is Colton's Language Arts teacher, and she also had Nolan when he was in 6th grade.  She is the one who nominated our family for the The Christmas Wish and wrote about us to the station.  

So early this morning, while Rick was shooting hockey photos and Nolan had hockey practice, Colton came to my room to listen to the story.

 Hearing the boys voices ring out loud and clear was a moment I never thought I'd have with either of those boys.  That alone was pure gift.

To hear them speak from their heart, so candidly, was a beautiful thing.  

Shortly after the story aired, I received fb messages from both Amanda, and then Jesse.  How neat is that?  Amanda's mom is in the midst of fighting ovarian cancer, and knows all too well what a heavy burden this is for us all.  

If you'd like to hear the story- a podcast is available on BIG 98.7's website HERE.

We're truly blessed and will be seeking out all the ways we can be good stewards of these generous gifts to us.  


Thank you Mrs. Laudenbach!  Thank you BIG 98.7! 

We have a big weekend of hockey with both boys and I am attending as much as possible.  

Go Junior Spuds! 



Happy Birthday, Superman!  As usual you will be our driver, our arena- finder, our care-taker and the last thing you will focus on is you.  We love you!  

















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