Not long after the kids left, I scheduled an appointment to give blood at a blood drive as our blood stores were very low in the Metro area. Arriving for my appointment, I'm shown to a small cubicle and start the required procedures.  First read this, answer questions, prick finger, get blood pressure...blood pressure...there's the rub. Six times they tried to take my blood pressure first on my left arm, then right arm, larger cuff, do away with machine pump take it manually, they could not get reading.  I know I'm alive because the damn thing hurt like a bear.  Finally they get a reading and I'm cleared to go have the blood draw.  

I get out to the motor home where the inside has been converted to lounging couches and they get me situated and all hooked up to get started, once again a bloody cuff goes on my arm and it hurts like hell. In goes the needle and I spray blood all over my shirt. Second time I have given blood and that has happened.  They clean my shirt and arm with Peroxide as Peroxide will remove blood along with washing...sure 'nuf it did, not a stain anywhere. I gave blood in record time less that 10 minutes.  For my troubles I got orange Gatorade  some nutter-butters, a new T-shirt, 2 free admission tickets to the Oklahoma City Zoo, a picture and magnet of the Channel 4 helicopter, got to see that baby land, and an entry to a drawing for a new car.  No...I didn't win the car, but someone was given the gift of life.

I had a Doctor’s appointment scheduled to have my hip and shoulder looked at. Back in April the big boy (Fitz, the dog) and I got our legs tangled up and I went flying towards our coffee table head first.  I did a quick quarterback stiff arm and a twist to keep from landing on my knees and to keep me from hitting my head.  It was not a pretty site.  I kept putting up with the pain, trying to rest the shoulder and the forearm but everything was so inflamed it it felt like hot nails were being driven into my forearm and shoulder. I simply could not straighten my arm or carry any weight on it.  It just wasn't getting any better. 

The way an HMO works is you spend $25.00 at your regular Doctor to look at it, determine that it is hurt and then recommend that you see the Orthopedic Surgeon at $35.00 a pop. An appointment is made and off you go to see his Physician’s Assistant.  Phil has been with Dr. Schnabel for 25 years and assisted with both of my knee replacement surgeries.  He ordered up x-rays for my hip and shoulder.  “Hmm” says he “how far can you raise your arm” To the front about shoulder high, to the side not even to a 7 o’clock position.  “The bursa is all inflamed, as well as the sheath covering the muscle in the lower arm that's attached to the bicep…it’s all connected”…“well I knew that!” So...he said he was going to give me a little joy juice and see if that helped, along with 6 weeks of physical therapy.   Dave was in the room watching this procedure and didn't say a word or utter a sound.

I sat in a chair and Phil poked around until he found the HOT SPOT and quickly in went the injection of Cortisone. I felt a little sting and the pressure of the medicine being injected into the joint.  The other shoulder has some arthritis and it was ejected as well.  Phil had me lie on my side and once again poked on the inflamed hip, found the other HOT SPOT and injected that.  That one I really felt and had to do some labor breathing to get through the shot.  Afterwards on our way home Dave told me the needle was at least 9” long…Oh good Lord, I’m glad I didn't see it.

About 2 days later I had full range of motion and was feeling great.  The shots even benefited my thumb joints which have arthritis in them.  I was to the point of having to hold my coffee cup with both of the palms of my hands (like Willem Defoe in The English Patient) and not using my thumbs because I couldn't grip or hold on to anything. Then I started physical therapy…my left shoulder is hurting again at this point so I will have to talk to the Therapist at my next appointment and see what they recommend.  I’m thinking some ice packs may be the ticket along with some Glucose-mine and Arthrotec.

I know the cortisone shots have played terrible havoc with my Blood Glucose readings. Trying to find the magic combination of exercise and food is not always easy in the first place but I have never had readings of this magnitude…261, was the highest it’s ever been.  This afternoon I had my first normal 2 hour reading after lunch, it was 134! I was soooo happy! Anything under 183, 2 hours after you take your first bite of food is good but 134 was fantastic! About mid-September I go back to Phil and hopefully this will all be healed, otherwise more shots or an MRI and surgery.  We will see...

I called one of my co-workers the other day to check on some information for our office, to which she said she had my walker that I loaned to her for her total knee replacement, that she needed to get back to me.  I told her no hurry to which she replied that she was going in for surgery this coming Monday. When she told me what it was for I was shocked.  Breast Cancer!  “Barb” I cried, “No, No, No it’s all good” she said cheerfully, the Doctor had shown it to her on her X-Rays and it was the size of the round opening of a ball-point pen.  They caught it on an annual Mammogram.  Technology has advance so much that Doctors are now able to detect cancers before they get to stage 1.  Barb will not have to have Chemo but radiation instead and will be back to work in no time.  Please wish her well.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Don’t wait until then to get yours done. I’m getting mine scheduled week after next.  Don’t take the chance and let it slide, you are too important to all those who love you.

457 days until I retire…


Part Deux...

The “Kids” were supposed to come up on Friday the week of July 14th, however as things worked out they promised an early start the next day, that means leave at noon on the 20th.  They pulled in around 7 that evening.  Yes it takes 7 hours to make a 5 ½ trip.  I had dinner ready for them and I know they were happy they didn't have to buy anything. 
Dave and Andy having playtime
Later that evening J and Heather prepared a brisket to roast in the oven.  They put on a dry rub consisting of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, Chipotle
Slicing and shredding the brisket 
spice, course ground pepper, and put it in the oven for 8 hours at 250 degrees, the last hour they turned it up to 400 to get that nice crisp crust on it.  J then let it rest for an hour then sliced part of it up the rest he shredded.  We still have meat left.  It was delicious.  

Working on Mac & Cheese and Salsa

Sunday we fixed up three pans of family sized Stouffers Mac and Cheese and put it into one big pan then put buttered panko crumbs spiced with Smokey Spanish Paprika on it to brown in the oven, Heather also made a knock out drop dead container of homemade salsa. It was so good, then Christie, Heather, J and the boys went off to meet up with friends and their families in the City, a lot of these kids had not seen each other since college so I know it was a real treat for them to get together once more. In their previous lives they were summer camp counselors for the Episcopal Church. Camp was at St. Crispin’s Camp and Conference Center just outside of Seminole, OK.  Christie was a counselor in training and would spend a week there with her big sis.  Heather would spend all of June and most of July there as a camp counselor. She did it for 3 years and made lifelong friendships. 

 Noah coloring in his new color book
Andy playing Peek-a-Boo with his new toy
Monday was spent relaxing and playing with the boys.  It also was mine and Dave’s 41 wedding anniversary. My how time flies when you’re having fun! That evening we all went to the Olive Garden and had dinner.  Our waiter brought out a special treat for Dave and I, a plate covered in chocolate and raspberry syrup with chocolate mints in the middle surrounding two candles. He had overheard J
 A happy 41 years together
mentioning our anniversary.  Earlier in the day Heather, J and the boys went to Moore and had lunch with some friends they had not seen since they got married in 2008. When you’re in town you try to make the most of it and get as many visits in as possible.
Noah taking on the Spider
Andy, along for the ride
Tuesday we took the family to the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.  Noah was all big eyed when he saw the dinosaurs.
Wow...That is one big dinosaur!
 We spent 2 hours looking at the exhibits.  Andy was in the stroller and was just along for the ride, so to speak. I highly recommend this museum. 
Looks like a painting but is a Diorama
They have interactive exhibits for kids of all ages and it’s wonderful.  At the moment they have a Macro Photography exhibit of bugs, mainly spiders, amazing photography. 
Up Close and Personal the Spider is no bigger than the end of your little finger

Exhibition Hall
Andy was out for the count after the Museum visit

Noah figuring out how to show his....
Mean Spider Face

Later that evening, Dave and I babysat the boys while the “youngsters” which included J’s Nephew Dillon, went up to the city to a benefit concert for the tornado victims.  Some of the bands playing were the Flaming Lips and Kings of Leon.  I know they had a great time.
Noah and David having a little one-on-one time watering the garden

I found some old books of the girls when they were little and I would read to Noah each evening before bed.  He fell in love with a book called Tiger Pig, a silly little story of a pig who has strips and teeth of a tiger who travels the world trying to find out what kind of animal he is.  Noah loved it.  Each evening I would ask “What do you want me to read tonight Noah” and he would shout “Tiger Pig”

Our biggest worry for the week was our big dogs. I shouldn't have worried though, they were wonderful to both the boys, no matter how they hugged, tugged and pushed on them.  Fitz loved on them by giving big licks on the face and arms each morning, but for the most part ignored them. He is such a gentle giant.
Fitz and Lizzy resting after being chased by the boys
Lizzy being the herding mother type was ever present but managed to stay out of the way of little hands. Bear, the little terror he is, would snarl but would not snap; he just wanted to let them know he was boss.  Sam, their dog, would mark his territory outside by peeing in the dog’s water dish, so that was a daily clean out. The whole crew got along great and we didn't have one fight. That is good for 3 males and a female dog.

Noah had fun feeding these little guys!
Wednesday we did the Oklahoma City Zoo. Dave and I have not been to the zoo since the kids were in elementary and mid-high school. Oh, my gosh, it was amazing. 
Got my OU hat I'm ready for the Zoo
The children’s area has a babbling brook running through it that the kids can take off their shoes and run through the water. 
Andy is not sure about the bird on his stroller

What is it about water that attracts boys?
The elephant pen looked like something out of Jurassic Park. They have a pool with stingrays that you can pet. 
Jurassic Style Elephant Pen
The barbs had been trimmed, so no worries there.  Noah loved the seals and all their antics. If you go on Wednesdays you can get in for a $1. 
Hot dogs, popcorn and sodas are all a $1 each.  We all had a great time, however I got overheated and had to hitch a
Petting the Stingrays 
 ride up to an air-conditioned restaurant to cool off and regain my stamina.  It was terribly hot and we all were drinking water like crazy, but that didn't help me as I had suffered heat exhaustion years ago and it still affects me if I get overheated.  Dillon met us at the zoo. He and Noah had a great time. Heather’s friend Stephanie and her two children, Catherine and Christian also joined us.
Front row: Catherine, Christian and Noah
Back Row: Christie, Dillon, J, Stephanie and Heather

Noah, Christian and Catherine on a bronze baby elephant, reminds me of the movie Daktari with John Wayne
While I was being taken up to the restaurant, the kind zoo employee was telling me the OKC
  ZOO is the third largest family friendly zoo and they are getting ready to make some huge changes which may
Cooling off and having a treat at the Zoo
include more shade which is sorely needed. When you enter the zoo you will be able to see the heads of the Giraffes and then walk to their pen. 

Thursday, J and Dave worked on his computer; the girls and I went and had pedicures.  It was a treat day for us.  Later that evening Dillon and his girlfriend and J went to the midnight showing of Wolverine with Hugh Jackman.  Meanwhile, the girls, Dave and I went through old photographs. It was a hoot to look at how much we had changed.

Noah and Andy's first train ride...
Friday all of us went to the Jasmine Moraine Children’s Museum in Seminole, OK. 
 I highly recommend this museum. It’s where children play to learn and adults learn to play again. 

J cranking up the Model T
Colin and Noah going for a spin

We met up with Amber and Matt Howard and their little boy Colin.  Heather and Amber were roommates in college. 
Becoming a grease monkey
We all had a blast. Noah got to ride his first train and loved it.  Afterwards he went up on a maze of platforms and wires, daddy had to go up and rescue him. I don’t know 
Fearless Kid...
who was more scared Noah or J. 
Noah working the Valves
They have an area that is water play with big contraptions that allow you to make huge bubbles.  
Operating on a Knee

Auntie Christie lying on a bed of nails...
Afterwards we went over to St. Crispin’s Camp and Conference Center to see how much it had changed since 2002.  A LOT!!!!!  They have a lot planned for the center.  Great changes are in store for the place.  It will be exciting for sure.  One of the areas holds a huge ropes course; it’s all about team-building which is important for today’s youth. 
St. Crispin's Rope Course
One of the biggest changes is the cost.  When the girls went it was $145, now it’s $300 for a week.  The facility is beautiful and I know will keep improving.  Afterwards we went to Santa Fe Steak House in Shawnee where Dillon works, however due to a mix-up with the hostess we were not seated in his section, but we still got to visit for a bit.  Dinner was very good. 
Christie and Noah playing the crack game.
Don't step on a crack or you'll break your mothers back

Saturday morning, the "boys" trundled off to Lowe's Home Improvement store for a child's craft project. Let's just say that Daddy builds a mean car.
Noah reading the instructions for dad

Finished project...Look! It's Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story
 That afternoon we went and swam at the OU Pool.  Noah loved it.  I even got in the water and did some exercises. 
No visit to Norman would be complete without a visit to the Greek House
Best Greek food ever!
 I could hardly stay awake afterwards and went to bed early and woke up around 1 a.m., the crew, except for the boys, was still up.  So I stayed up until 3 then hit the hay and slept until 9 the next morning.

J and Heather wanted to be on the road early around       10:30 a.m., hmmmm where have I heard that before, they pulled out around 6:30 p.m.
Learning at an early age the fine art of becoming a Jedi Master

Jedi Master in Training
I found Christie’s pair of Fisher-Price roller skates from when she was three. 
They still work after 27 years!
Noah loved them and we sent them with him. After spending the day packing and doing last minute clean-up on our computers, J’s an IT Tech, we picked a spot for dinner had a wonderful time at Chuy’s Mexican restaurant.  We had a great waiter named Cam which we gave him high marks on the survey. The big plus for us was he served the kids first before the adults got their meal. If you take in a framed picture of your dog you get a free appetizer.  I will have to do that next time we go. 

Grammy giving a piano lesson to the boys

A budding virtuoso

We all came back to the house so the kids could pick up Sam and get him loaded into the car. After hugs, kisses, one last run through the house and a silent prayer we waved good-bye and they were on their way.  They actually made good time, and pulled into their driveway at midnight, 5 ½ hours on the nose.

It has been quiet…too quiet around here.  I miss those little guys; they make the world a brighter place. Noah singing silly songs and being goofy, Andy walking all over the place, trying to emulate his big brother. Such happy, happy boys, and I love them and their parents dearly. God I miss them already…
Oops, one thing found after they left, three days later…One of Noah’s cars, guess he will get it on his next visit.

462 days until we are out on the road and can go see them when we want.  I can hardly wait!

Happy trails…