Monday, November 27, 2006


As I read Alissa's post in "Life's Little Adventures" about her Christmas memories, it started me thinking about my own.

When I think of our family holiday celebrations over the years, I have certain memories. I remember traditions from my childhood that I tried to carry over when I had a family of my own, and then we added some of Terry's, and then we created some of our own.
I grew up in a very close family who did up all the big holidays in a big way. We got new Easter outfits every year, complete with hats, purses, and new dressy shoes. And we got to wear our Easter outfits to school on the last day of the year. Each person's birthday was a very big day. We were the honoree of the day, doing no chores and getting to pick the day's menu and the kind of cake we wanted. At Halloween, my mom made our costumes, and we were out for several hours carrying big brown grocery bags around the neighborhood collecting candy. We always came home with FULL bags, and nobody thought anything about elementary school kids going all around the neighborhood unattended. We were safe. Christmas was perhaps the biggest holiday of the year, and we would put up the tree a week or so before Christmas and leave it up until Epiphany. Until the big day, we would sit in the room with just the tree lights on and either sing Christmas carols or just gaze at all the brightly wrapped presents. We had better not be caught touching them, either! We would exchange family gifts on Christmas Eve, and then open gifts from Santa on Christmas morning, all the way up until we were married.

Marriage changed some of the traditions as Terry and I blended our ideas. None of the holidays were as important in Terry's family as they were in mine, but some of our traditions coincided. Like most newly married couples, we had to figure out how to celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas in three homes instead of just one. We eventually found a routine we liked, and we started establishing our own traditions, especially once our family started to grow.
I think our Easter and Halloween traditions mirrored the ones I remembered from my childhood, except that the kids didn't want to be dressed up for Easter like I had, and on Halloween, I took the kids out trick-or-treating as the world became less safe. Being an elementary school teacher, I was big on decorating, as you may read in Alissa's post. But when it came to Christmas, I was outdone by Terry, who for several years rivaled Clark Griswold for decorating enthusiasm. Because his family was not very close, he was determined that our family would be, and he went all-out at Christmastime. He went along with me when I insisted we would always have a real tree for our main tree, but over the years, we have added many small artificial trees, one decorated with ornaments the kids made and ornaments students gave to me. He has a huge collection of Santas, and I have angels and snowmen. However, it was interesting to read that Alissa's clearest recollections are of the Christmas bell and the nativity scene, both of which we bought at K-Mart for our first Christmas together. We selected that nativity scene because it reminded me of the one we had when I was growing up. The music box was a bonus addition. Eventually, our collection of Christmas decorations grew to about 30-35 large plastic storage cartons and became rather unmanageable. In recent years, we have only gotten out 6 or 8 boxes of decorations. Some of the more elaborate things have remained packed away, and we planned to go through it all and see what the kids wanted before giving it away last summer. Somehow we never got around to it. Next summer we'll try again. It's time to downsize, and maybe they can have a piece of their childhood to add to their decorations, but not the nativity scene, not yet. It is still an important part of our decorations, as are the tree ornaments, some of which came from my childhood. I hope Alissa can find a nativity scene that works for her. I hope Doug and Chip start creating their own traditions, too. But I still expect as many of them as can get here to help put up our tree. Chip needs to put on the lights. Doug and Kellie and I ( and hopefully, Shira and Aiva) can put on the ornaments, and Kellie and Terry can put on the icicles. She is the only person he will allow to help him with that. And when Alissa comes home, she can arrange the nativity set,even if it is Christmas day! Holidays would be no fun without the kids, would they?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Television Lament

When I was growing up, and up until a few years ago, actually, television watching in our house was mostly done in the evenings. There were always better things to do during the day, and mostly only soap operas were on anyway. Like most any American woman, I did my turn with soap operas, but, like many people, I eventually got bored with the more and more over-the-top story lines and went back to reading books. Then I went back to work, and television still was an evening pastime. There were only 3 or 4 networks, but there was always something on one of the stations that seemed worth watching, and family evenings often revolved around particular favorites. Along came cable and satellite television, and all of a sudden, there were 50 or more stations to watch, and there were different things on all day. You would think, with all this selection, television would get better and better. Oddly enough, with the increase in channels, the quality of programming has declined to a very sad state indeed. I used to have favorite shows on every night of the week, but now we actually follow television on 3 nights for about 3 hours each. This isn't to say the television set isn't on, because it is--all day, usually. Terry watches it (often through his eyelids), but I read or do something else. There are too many reality programs and shows that are all alike with different people in them and TOO many reruns. As far as I'm concerned, there isn't enough family programming or comedy that isn't a rerun of something that was on several years ago. Some of what passes for comedy these days leaves me cold, although my kids seem to like it. I guess I am just an old fuddy-duddy, because I see nothing funny in "The Office," or "South Park." I find myself yearning for shows like "Cosby" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" or "Andy Griffith." I know I am dating myself here. Unfortunately, networks don't program for people like me anymore. Apparently my money doesn't spend like the younger generation's. Oh, well, there are a lot more uplifting things to do than watching television, and I am doing them--like writing this blog :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I recently have been reading a blog called "Susie's Space," and I was really impressed with her "Sunday Blessings" post. I am going to borrow a little from it for my list of things to be thankful for this year. There are a whole lot of things for me to be grateful for, but these are the most important.

I am thankful first and foremost to God for providing all the blessings in my life, most of which I have done absolutely nothing to deserve. However, He has been good to me...

I am thankful for these other things:
  • My husband, who loves me more than anything else on earth and shows it.
  • My children, who have all grown up to be productive members of society and have found loving partners with whom to share their lives and enrich mine.
  • Being a grandma-those grandchildren are a joy to me!
  • The rest of my family, who is, by all accounts, closer than many.
  • My dad and his continued good health and independence. He is an example for all of us to follow, and I hope to grow old as gracefully as he has.
  • My network of friends, who offer companionship and support, especially Rose and Helen.
  • My good health and ability to do most of what I want.
  • My rheumatologist, who has given me back that ability.
  • Being able to be retired and still have enough money to live a comfortable life.
  • Terry deciding to have his hip replaced and the surgery being a success. I feel sure it will improve the quality of his life once he is recovered.
  • The chance to pursue my hobbies, such as reading, crocheting, and painting.

I know if I sat and thought some more, I could come up with some more things to be thankful for, but this is a pretty good start. The list is general, and pretty all-encompassing. Life is good. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Old Habits Are Hard to Break...

...but not impossible, I guess. I have been a nail biter since I was 2 years old, and now I only bite the thumbnails. Everyone is surprised to see actual fingernails on the ends of my fingers. So it is possible to change a habit. Now it is time to change another one--at least for a while. I have been married almost 37 years, and ALL that time I have slept on the left side of the bed. However, due to his hip surgery, Terry now needs to sleep on the left side of the bed because it is better for him to get up from that side. So I have been sleeping on the right side for the last week. Add that to the fact that I am going to bed on his schedule so I can help him into bed, and my sleep habits have had to change-big time! I am accustomed to going to bed at about 12:30 with a good book to read for an hour or so, but now I am staying up until 2:00 or so and trying to keep awake in my chair with no reading when I get to bed. I have been lying awake smushed to the right side of the bed in the dark for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Then I end up taking an unaccustomed nap, which makes me groggy. I complain, but in reality this is a small sacrifice that I am glad to make for the time being to make life easier for Terry and to make his recovery go smoothly. I'm just glad that it's temporary!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cabin Fever

Seems that what seemed like such a refuge on Monday had become a prison by Thursday. Understandably, Terry has become tired of being confined somewhere or another for over 2 weeks. He is even wishing for the life he had before the surgery. I'm sure that won't last once his mobility and independence return, but that is slow in coming. On the one hand, he doesn't want to rush things, but on the other hand, he would like to get back out into the world. The same person who used to say he was content just to sit in his chair and watch television has discovered that this and sleeping aren't enough.

He IS making progress, and the swelling in his leg is less as is the drainage from the incision. Still no word from the doctor, so we assume that no news is good news and the anemia is at bay. I just wish he would eat a little more and do his exercises without being prodded into them. Every day he's a little better...I am grateful that he is doing so well, in spite of himself. On the plus side, he has lost quite a bit of weight that he needed to lose. Life is good!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

So far, so good..

Well, we've been home 2 days, and things are progressing nicely. We have had home visits from nurses, a physical therapist, and an occupational therapist. Aside from a little drainage from the incision and a lingering swelling and stiffness in the leg, things seem to be going well. We haven't heard any bad news from the doctor as far as the hemoglobin test results, so we are hoping the anemia is under control. The staples will stay in a little longer to give the incision plenty of time to knit together. The physical therapist will begin her program on Friday, and Terry will not need occupational therapy.

We have been settling into our normal home routine, except that we don't go anywhere at the moment. It feels pretty good to have the time at home to catch up with housework and laundry that have gone neglected. I am glad to cook meals that are appetizing to the patient, who still doesn't have a big appetite and sees this as the perfect opportunity to establish new eating habits. As a benefit, I, too am eating less. However, it seems that doesn't matter. Last week, when I went to the doctor, it showed that I had gained 7 pounds in the last few months. Just a few weeks away from Curves seems to have made a difference. When I was able to work out regularly, I didn't lose weight, but I wasn't gaining at that fast a rate, either. Guess I will have to give up candy corn for another year! Easy to do now that Halloween is over. I'm good now until Peeps season comes before Easter! Meanwhile, I'm hoping to get back to Curves soon. I do my exercises at home in the meantime, but they aren't as effective and not as much fun, either, if you can call exercise fun. Maybe next week. One day at a time, I guess, but life is still good--and getting better!

Monday, November 13, 2006

We're Home...

...Three days too late as far as Terry is concerned, and 4 days too soon as far as the nursing home people are concerned. However, the trip home and into the house went very smoothly, proving that the physical therapist who told him yesterday that he would be fine at home knew what she was talking about. Chip was here to help him if he needed it, but he did fine on his own. Chip was helpful with rearranging furniture and getting needed supplies, too. We're glad he was available to help out.

I arrived at the "rehab facility" this morning before 9, only to find Terry fuming at the nurse, and the PT leaving the room in a huff. Seems his blood pressure was a little high, and the nurse's aide that took it panicked. The nurse said all was okay, but he was afraid that they were trying to keep him there another day. The PT wanted him to go and do some work, and he was ready to go home. I'm sure he left everyone there cheering as he hobbled out the door! :) Seriously, though, the nursing home staff was very nice and during his entire stay bent over backward to accommodate us and give us privacy most of the time. They were mostly conscientious about his care, probably too much so to suit him. Although this wasn't the best choice of a facility for a "younger man" trying to rehab, they did provide the services he needed. The atmosphere was just depressing, though, through no fault of the staff.

Now we are home, and he has spent the day acclimating himself and trying to get comfortable in his new chair. I think he will be able to do more and more now each day. There is something to be said for being in your own comfortable environment when you are trying to recover. I spent the day catching up on laundry and finding the kitchen table under all the stuff I threw on it each time I came home in the last 12 days. Tomorrow I can spend some time sweeping and dusting and doing other household chores that I have let slip. We should also have a visit from the home health agency for a dressing change and some bloodwork, as well as PT. Slowly, slowly, life should return to normal. I know it will take awhile, but I have all the faith in the world that all will be well. After all, life is good! :)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Things are looking up...

When I left Terry in the "rehab' facility tonight, it was the first night I left without feeling guilty for abandoning him there. He seemed more upbeat and for the first time, interested in something besides how he is feeling and how he is going to cope and how long it will take him to recover. He actually watched and commented on the news on television and was also interested in the news from Doug and Alissa. One more day, and then he can come home. I think we will both be ready by Monday. He had light therapy today and will have more tomorrow. The nurse thinks the incision is slow to knit, but they are giving him antibiotics to stave off any possible infection, and he has no fever. Life is good.

He also mentioned today that he hoped everyone understood and tolerated the fact that he didn't want visitors while he was in the "rehab" facility. He said he didn't want to make anyone mad at him, but he just didn't want to expose anyone to the depressing place. Most people would welcome company, but he rarely does when he is laid up. I'm not sure why this is, but it has always been the case. At least this time, we didn't keep any secrets from anyone. I have tried to keep everyone informed through every step of this "adventure."

We will be coming home on Monday and will begin the next phase of the recovery. I feel it will progress faster when we are in our own environment. At least I hope so. Let's all keep our fingers crossed :)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A reminder

When I started this blog, I said the title was sometimes an affirmation and sometimes a reminder. Today it is a reminder. This has been a very stressful eight days, but I do see a brighter future. Terry's hip surgery was a success, and the doctor was pleased with his results. However, he did say the damage in the hip was extremely extensive, and that made more trauma to the surgery site because he had to alter the direction in which he went at the joint. He didn't anticipate any problem with rehab and released him from the hospital after 5 days, sending him for a week of rehab. And here's where the story gets interesting. In a effort to get him to a rehab close to home, the hospital social worker arranged for him to go to Elizabethtown to a facility there. After spending most of five days and nights in the hospital with Terry, I left him in an ambulance and headed to the facility so that I could show the ambulance where to take him. The ambulance followed Mapquest instead of me, so I got there ahead of them and was able to go in and scope out the "rehab" facility. I found that while they do offer rehab, they are mainly a nursing home, and they mainly have dementia patients. There were only 4 private rooms, and they were all occupied. The rest of the rooms had 3 patients each, and he was to be in a middle bed between and incontinent dementia patient and a man with Alzheimer's. It was a very depressing situation. The halls were filled with pitiful people in wheelchairs, and people were always moaning. There was little room for me to sit and stay by him. I had to punch a code to get out the door. I cried all the way home that night.

Things picked up a litttle on Tuesday, and we were assured the rehab would be fast tracked so he could get home by Friday. On Wednesday, a private room miraculously became available. And then-- we found out that Terry had had a recurrence of the anemia that had started in the hospital. Now he had to take an ambulance to the hospital for a transfusion. The process took almost 9 hours, and then we waited over an hour for transport back to the rehab. We got back at almost 1 A.M. Today we found out that the transfusion only brought the count up one point. His rehab had been sidetracked by this, and now they wanted him to stay another week! We protested so much that they offered a compromise--he should stay until Monday so they could make arrangements for home health care and for medical equipment, but would release him if he insisted. He reluctantly, and on his own, decided to stay. I am glad he did because I think he needs a little more practice before coming home and getting back to life. I want to have everything ready and in place for a successful transition. I will be his sole caregiver when he gets home, and I don't feel too confident yet, even if he does.

Meanwhile, he has no company but me because he doesn't want his family to come to the depressing nursing home. When he is not in physical therapy, he sleeps much of the time to keep from dwelling on his situation. I guess it's a trade-off. Would he be better off at home and happy, but unable to get up and do things? Or is he better off following medical advice of a doctor he doesn't know all that well? And why does he keep getting anemia? I guess we just have to remember to keep our eyes on the prize, as they say. It's bound to get better. Meanwhile, a reminder to myself--life is good, right?