Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Joe sent us this story, and I thought it might add to some Ozark Folklore to post it here:

"The following was received from a MADDEN researcher near Mt. St. Helens, WA after she returned from the Jefferson City, MO researching, on foot, some of her clan buried in the Boone County, MO cemeteries:

'Oh, yes--CHIGGERS. I made sure not to mention my humiliating infestation after returning home to good ole' Washington State (where you can't find a chigger within thousands of miles) and put it all to rest. But a couple of weeks later, Barbara & Richard (my Missourian relatives) sent me a rather large package. Inside was a 3-pound stuffed CHIGGER, complete with fangs! I had just rebuilt some of my blood supply from these red suckers, but at this sight the blood immediately drained out of my face. I made out like I didn't know why my crazy Ozark cousins would send such a thing, but my family eventually gleaned the truth out of me. They named it "Chiggy." Unfortunately, it met a fiery end. . . .
I never can remember the NAME of those red bugs--must be a safety valve in the brain.'"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's been a cold January in Missouri, but this morning it started off with 67 degrees and sunshine. Before the day is over we will have experienced all four seasons. We've had sunshine, sun, rain, hail, snow, wind and dropping temperatures. We are under a tornado watch right now too. Thank goodness spring is just around the corner. It is dropping to 13 degrees tonight.

Last weekend Lydia, Joe's grandaughter, had to be at Tantara, a resort at Lake of the Ozarks, for a state high school band competition. Joe and Beth accompanied her, and they had to be there early on Friday morning so I convinced them it was a good idea for them to stay overnight at the lake house. It was very cold so I had one of the neighbors turn the heat up on Thursday morning so the house would be warm when they got there late that evening. The neighbor didn't notice that there was no water. The pipes were frozen. I'm sure Lydia was mortified because she couldn't shower and wash her hair, but Joe said she and Beth had both been Girl Scouts and coped very well. I share a well with a different neighbor and they got things thawed out. Joe and the girls were only staying the one night. I made them promise to come back again under better conditions.

Rose's left eye started blinking funny Friday, got worse on Saturday and worse on Sunday. Sunday there was also some paralysis on the right side of her face. She got on the computer and diagnosed herself as having Bell's Palsy. She decided she should call her primary care physician who instructed her to go immediately to the emergency room at Barnes Hospital. Shirley took her and dropped her off, and we thought she would be back after all the rigamarole one goes through but she called much later and said they were admitting her. They had done a CAT scan and were going to do an MRI on Monday morning. On Monday they did a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) which she said wasn't painful, but she was forced to lay flat for quite some time. Chris, Shelly, Ellie, and I went to see her Monday afternoon. The dietitian came in while we were there to see what her dinner choice was. She asked Rose what she wanted to drink and Rose replied "a glass of red wine". That wasn't a choice, needless to say. We left the jospital and were barely out of the parking garage when she called to say she could come home. The spinal tap was clear, and she does indeed have Bell's Palsy. It is a herpes strain, one of many that people have, that may lay dormant or flare up occasionally. The neurologist is treating it with steroids, and Rose has to go back for a follow up visit soon. She still has the paralysis and blinking today but just started her steroids yesterday.

Jana and Ellie came over from Lenexa Saturday for Jana's company party. She and John went to the party Saturday nigh,t and we kept Ellie. Chris brought Aden, Shelly's 2 year old cousin, and they had dinner with us. The two little ones played together very well. Sometimes they talked to each other in tongues that only the two of them could understand. They both liked puzzles and shared and didn't fight over play things.

Monday morning was chaotic around here. John and Jana both had to go to work. Shirley was preparing for a new class that afternoon. Of all days, Ellie got up early. She loves to be read to and I read until my voice was almost hoarse. Shelly took the day off and came to our rescue. Chris assured me that she did not just take the day off for that reason. She and Ellie immediately made friends and the three of us met Chris met at the Cheesecake Factory for lunch before we went to see Rose.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I had to quit updating before I finished this afternoon. Mark Goldman came by to see if we needed him to do any chores around here and just to visit wisit three old ladies. Goldman teaches at Ritenour Middle School. This week several of the classes are studying the holocaust and the horrors of it. The students do a reenactment of the inhumane treatment and exercises to demonstration the reality of six million Jews murdered during a very short period. This really touches Goldman deeply because of stories he's heard from some of his relatives who survived and stories about those who didn't survive. I have a Nazi flag that Brick brought back from Germany in about 1945. Mark drapes this flag over his desk during the period when he and several others teach this subject. Mark will make a presentation to the Ritenour School Board in February about this work.

While I was in the hospital our friend, Vivian, came to see me. Chris was there, and she remembered him as the one who used to live in Rose's basement. Vivian is a nurse. She came into my room and went right to work. My bed was straightened. I had fresh water. She brought me reading material. She fell right back into her professional role. Goldman says he's met her several times and, since she's a regular reader of the blog, she says she feels like she knows him and Maddog.

Donald called yesterday morning just to check to see how I'm doing. He said it might snow there (Birmingham, AL) last night. It would have been only the second snow they've had since they moved there. I don't know if they did get snow, but I'm sure it wasn't as cold there as it was - and is now - here. Rose, Shirley, Shirley's sister Loretta, and I try to take a winter vacation every year. Donald and Vita are letting us use their guesthouse this year. Though Donald warned us that it won't be prime weather at the end of February, we mostly rest, walk, watch TV, and play cards. We're ready to pack.
I'm back to posting after a long siege. The results of the siege were not what I had hoped for, but the neurologists are going to discuss my case over a pow wow some time in the next couple weeks to decide what the next step might be. The neurologist who was born in the same place I was (Burge Hospital in Springfield, MO)is in charge of this phase of my condition. He was in the operating room when they were putting me under the anethesia. He was also confused and thought he remembered I was from Mansfield instead of Marshfield. At least I had a good excuse for my confusion. He is from West Plains and was born in Springfield at the same hospital where Joe volunteers now but that was several years later. He's 45 and very handsome.

The staff kept me in bed from Tuesday until Saturday. They wouldn't even let me get up to go to the bathroom. They shaved my head on both sides so that I look like I have a Mohawk if it were spiked on top. I couldn't wash my hair until this Thursday when they took out the stitches. Rose and I cheated a bit and held plastic bags over the wounds before Thursday, but it felt really good to wash it thoroughly. The neurosurgeon had put the stitches in on Sunday when they removed the electrodes. Again they put me under the anasthetic and I was not 'with it' when I woke up. Goldman was there and the nurse asked me if I knew who it was. I didn't. Rose and Shirley had to be in Chicago when I got out so Goldman picked me up. Shelly brought us a delicious dinner and Margaret spent the night. People are good.

I went back to the neursurgeon on Thursday, and the nurse removed the stitches. That hurt. The doctor then explained that the test results were not what they had expected. They thought the seizures were coming from the right side of my brain, but the electrodes showed they were coming from both sides. And if they do something to both sides, it might do more harm than good. I go to my general practioner this Tuesday. I see the skin doctor on the first of February. I go back in the hospital sometime around the 5th of February. That's just an overnight stay for my IVIG. That's with a neurologist. I also have another skin cancer on my face, but I'm waiting until I have time to have that removed. I told Pete this morning that these doctors are going to start making appointments with me instead of my making appointments with them. Pete thought the doctors have turned me into a guinea pig. [And I'm repreating myself in case you haven't noticd.]

When I look in the mirror now, I'm reminded of one of Bob's favorite stories: he and I went to see Aunt Lois and she said to me "You used to be such a pretty little thing. Paused, looked me over and went on, "Well, your hair's still pretty." If the two of them could see me now, I don't know what Aunt Lois would say. She wouldn't add "Your hair's still pretty." Joe drove up one day and sat by my bedside for a long time. He called and read the blog daily, too. Of course Margaret and Rose hovered as did Chris and Goldman. Pete and Donald called and read the blog probably daily and I know Rose kept it updated. There were lots of readers on the blog. Chris jogged in the park across from the hospital and came a lot.
Sue, Shirley, and I were laughing this morning about an incident that happened when we kept Jalen and Brayden last winter. Jalen was playing school, he the teacher and Brayden his student. Jalen had made a study packet with lots of info on it--numbers, letters, various geometric shapes, and identified colors. When one of us asked him how Brayden was doing, Jalen replied, "Well, he's doing fine, but he's having trouble with azure and magenta." This from our young and talented artist. [We didn't tell him we also have trouble with those colors.]

Monday, January 14, 2008

We are all back home this evening. Sue was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. Mark Goldman, Chris and Shelly, and Margaret made her homecoming a welcome and comfortable one. Shelly was here with Sue when we arrived, having brought food, magazines, and hats and scarves. Sue has stitches up the sides of her head, about 15-20 each side, which are clearly visible because her head is shaved in the front quarters. The stitches come out Thursday. She has mainly slept today.

So far the test results from this most recent monitoring were inconclusive. The hope and thought were that all the problematic brain waves were isolated to the left temporal lobe. The very first seizure came from the right. All the others originated on the left. Dr. Hogan is looking over all the data and will call Sue in for a further consult in a couple of weeks. More later when we know more.

Shirley and I drove home from Chicago in my 16 year old Acura today. It ran like a top. At age 16, I guess it will soon start driving itself. At Chris's suggestion (and his purchase during his and Shelly's overnight at Best Buy on Thanksgiving night), I had got Shirley a GPS device for Christmas. Pete and Janet had one when we were in Spokane, and it surely was a handy thing to have in an unfamiliar setting. Shirley and I decided to use it for our drive even though we have made that drive literally hundreds of time. Because of the bright and low winter sun, we missed our exit from highway 55 onto hiway 40 and found ourselves in downtown St. Louis. That little GPS saved the day. Pete and Janet call theirs "Monique." We haven't yet come up with a name. "Boss," perhaps?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

This is the latest news about Sue. Today she went back into surgery to remove the sensors that were in her head. She will spend the night in ICU and possibly go home tomorrow. This morning she had some small seizure, and it must have yielded the information her physicians were seeking. I think her marvelous neurologist, Dr. Hogan, is a gem. As was the case last monitoring stay, he was in the room in seconds after the seizure onset. He is so calm and capable and reassuring (not to mention drop-dead handsome), and he must be at the hospital all the time. Today is, after all, Saturday.

Suzanne Hollensbe was with Sue when she went into surgery. Mark Goldman was going later in the afternoon, and of course Chris will be there as he has been every day this week.

I am in Chicago and will return Monday evening. This has been one busy and intense week. Poor Sue has been tethered to her bed, not even allowed to get up and sit in a chair. She has even had someone in the room with her 24 hours a day to make sure NOTHING went wrong with the wires into her head.

The next step is an appointment with Hogan after he has a chance to review all the data. At that time he will tell Sue the next step.

On another front, Dr. Lopate, Sue's neurologist who manages her IVIG treatments, came in. He thinks her wrists and arms are stronger. That is very good news. He had stretched out the IVIG infusions to one every three months but now wants to go back to every other month.

Sue has her computer at the hospital now. I know she will put her own two cents here when she feels up to it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A quick update from the hospital where Sue had her surgery this morning. Everything went just as planned. Sue is in recovery now and will be moved to the intensive care unit for a day or two shortly. She and I arrived here at 5:45 am. Sure enough, people started shuffling us from place to place, room to room, while doing absolutely nothing. We're onto this bunch. They have this strategy of keeping patients on the move to mask the long, long delays between check-in and SOMETHING. Sue went into actual surgery at 8:30 am and was out around 10:50.

More later.

Sandi, we surely enjoy your informative and interesting posts! The three of us are writing a poem for you with date, eight, and mate in it. [And god only knows what else.]

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Happy New Year! 2008!

I'm sure there are lots of slogans for being optimistic this year since lots of things rhyme with "eight". I think it will be "Great!", I think I'll lose "Weight", Maybe I'll get a "Date!", (sigh)...well you get the idea. So Happy 2008 - you fill in the blank.

Christmas Time 2007. Remembering the past and making new memories!

It is finally quieting down up here in Oregon and Washington. We have had weather that won't quit! We have had wind storms on Oct1st, Nov 2nd, Dec 3rd, and Jan 4th! I hope February won't disappoint us with another one on the 5th. I unplugged my computer all weekend as I stayed home with a cold virus and listened to the wind howl and watched the lights flicker. I was lucky to get through the weekend without losing power.
We had such a nice Christmas with just ten of us getting together at the Langstons in Olympia. Anna and Dan and Mom drove over on Sunday before the holiday and stayed until Wednesday. Glenn and I drove up on Christmas Eve fro Portland and Tammy joined us on Christmas Day after driving in from Yakima. The Langstons welcomed us with open arms, wonderful food, presents, decorations and lots of cheer!

Mom on Christmas Day.
We had a myster jigsaw puzzle that we put together. It was based on three Alfred Hitchcock movies and you have to put the 1,000 piece, black and white puzzle together without a picture to reference and then solve the mystery when it was completed. (Yes, I said 1000 pieces?) The women worked on it for about 8 or so hours on Christmas Day while the guys watched the Bourne Trilogy movies, then the guys joined us. Then, the day after Christmas Mom and Anna and Dan and Cyndi and I worked on it until we all had to head home. Cyndi and Dave worked on it the rest of that day and Cyndi finally sent me a picutre of the completed puzzle at nearly 11 o'clock that night. We still had to read the answer to find out whodunit. We were on a mission to get that thing done!!

The Langston bros sportin' their new hoodies!

The Spokane crowd left around 10 or 11 o'clock on Wed. morning and headed north of Seattle to Doug and Cecile's home. Mom and Anna had made a quilt for Cecile for Christmas and they were delivering it. Anna quilted the top together and Mom hand quilted it all together. I think she worked non-stop from Thanksgiving until Christmas to get it done. It is beautiful. I will ask Dave to forward some pictures of it since I didn't get any. They stayed for lunch at Doug's and while we were at Cyndi's working on the puzzle we heard the weather report. They were closing the pass through the Cascades due to an avalanche warning. The three people and two dogs had to take an alternative route putting them home to Mom's house around midnight.
Mom said it was eerie because they were the only car on the road for quite some time and then they hit dense fog. Scary. She said they followed a semi through the fog and made it fine.

Anna and Dan celebrated their first wedding anniversary on Jan 1! They have just purchased a new home and are still in the process of moving in. When we were home for Thanksgiving, we all ran over to have a peek from the outside since they were still waiting to get the keys. It is a very nice ranch style home with a huge backyard and a full basement. Moving from Anna's tiny (was it even 1000 square feet, Anna?) home to this one is so very nice!

Moving has been a challenge since Anna had to leave for a week or so to attend school in Florida. Dan had to fly back to Virginia on business. The weather is freezing and wet and oh, by-the-way - Merry Christmas! I wish we were closer to help them get settled and initiate their house!!

Jake and I headed to Portland for a few days. We were hurrying home to meet Monica. Shirley's (Peggy, that is) youngest is a merchant marine and was getting off her latest rotation in Portland on Thursday after Christmas. We picked her up, opened more Christmas presents and headed to the beach for the weekend. Cyndi joined us on Saturday. The storm of Dec 3rd caused so much damage. The beach we usually enjoy is gone!! The storm eroded it back almost 100 yards and so the ocean comes right up to within about 10 feet of the first row of houses. No more beach front for these folks. They have a 30 foot drop off where the dunes used to be. They have been shoring it up with bolders and trying to keep the ocean back. The wind was howling once again Saturday night and when we got out to the beach on Sunday it had encroached even farther.
This is how the beach used to be, (as Kyle demonstrated the art of kite-flying-while-not-watching-where-you-are-going technique in 2003...) :

Now, if you can tell, we are standing right in front of those same homes. When the tide is in, it comes all the way up to the wall they are building. There is nothing to hold it back. Amazing!
Here are three of us beach combers, Cyndi, me and Monica....(Jake was the cameraman.)

While we were at the beach I got a lovely phone call from Auntie M. It was so nice to hear from her and Uncle Norman. I hated to hang up. I loved the videos of Jaylen and his Guitar Hero II and Alex playing basketball! I know Cyndi also wanted a Guitar Hero for Christmas, but Santa must have had a limited supply. We loved watching the-up-and coming rock star! Hey, Jaylen! Can you learn to play a song I recognize?!
I can't believe how tall Alex is getting. So, when did that happen?! Life moves much too quickly. Good job on the court. Have you been following the Portland Trailblazers? They are doing great this year. For a change they are fun to watch. Can I get your guys' autographs?
Well, Aunt Rose's idea of videos made me realize I could try to share some. I found this one of Dad and Mom from last Christmas. They had just arrived with their RV and Glenn, Tyson and I took some sandwiches and soup out to greet them. The quality isn't that great, but Mom and Dad were in great spirits and so we were having fun together. Glenn is the videographer. It's fun to see my dad again - just being himself! I hope you enjoy our candid moment together. I hope it works....
Aunt Sue, you are in our prayers for Tuesday and I wish we were there to hold your hand. Keep us posted on how you are doing.
Love you,

Some photos: Margaret and Norman on Christmas Day, 2007. Brayden riding his two-wheeler, July, 07. Rose in December, 07.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

It's been a rather quiet week here. Rose and I took Jalen and Brayden over in Illinois to meet Scott on New Years Day and return his boys. They were surely glad to see their Dad, and we have been sorely missing them. We nearly ran out of gas coming back because gas was $3.09 a gallon in Illinois so we wanted to wait and buy it in Missouri. We thought we were going to have to back up hills like Joe said they did in Model T's to conserve what little gas we had before we crossed the bridge into Missouri. We made it but the car took a full tank.

Pete and Janet were going to leave Idaho for Arizona on the 28th, but a blizzard struck Idaho Falls. They were snowed in and couldn't get out until New Years Eve morning. They took their time, stopped two nights along the way. Pete called me, I think it was Wednesday; they were still 120 miles from Quartzite.

These pictures that we've been posting on the blog have been mostly taken with the camera that Scott and the boys gave me for Christmas. Rose is the expert at it and takes the majority of pictures. The only problem with that is that there are none of her. I'll try to remedy that by having Shirley be the photographer. I looked at the ones of me and Brayden and Jalen and at first wondered who that old lady was. Then, "Oh no, it's me!."

Rose treated Jalen, Brayden, and me to a very nice restaurant on New Year's Eve. Brayden accidently spilled his water soon after we sat down, which embarassed him badly. He ordered shrimp and pasta which he thought was going to be fresh shrimp with a serving of spaghetti. It turned out to be boiled shrimp in noodles in white sauce. He took two bites, then leaned over to Aunt Rose and whispered "If I eat one more bite I'm going to puke." He did like the salad and ate two of those, some of Jalen's meal, and lots of the hot bread. He proclaimed on the way home that he much prefers McDonalds.

Tuesday is the beginning of my ordeal. I have to be at the hospital at 6 A.M., so Rose and I have decided we may just have to stay up all night. Chris offered to take me to Barnes Jewish Hospital, but it would be a long, long trip for him with hiway 40 shut down as it is. I'll be in the operating room for 3 to 4 hours. I'll shower the night before and was worrying about how my hair was going to look after sleeping until I remembered they will shave part of my head. I'll be in ICU for 2 or 3 days after the surgery because of risk of infection. I know Rose will hover over me and make sure I'm well taken care of. Also Margaret and Norm will be around and Joe (and maybe David, too) plan on coming up one day. Chris says he's going to jog in Forest Park which is across the sreeet from the hospital, so he can visit me quite often. I know I'll have other visitors and calls, and I'll have my cell phone and my computer after the first few days. I may be in there 10 days to 2 weeks for this monitoring ordeal. Hopefully I should be seizure free and able to drive again if all goes as expected. If this next monitoring pinpoints the problem area, a follow-up procedure to remove the offending cells and a short hospital stay will be all that is necessary. Again, keep me in your prayers. They've helped so far.
Mark and Karen gave Jalen a Guitar-Hero for his birthday/Christmas gift. It was the hit of the season. We had as many as seven children here playing the thing on one occasion last week. Jalen, of course, a very musical kid, loved it and quickly learned it well. Here is a performance clip:

We're trying something new here. In December Sue and I went to one of Alex's (Sabrina and Dave's older son) middle-school basketball games. It was an exciting event, a lot of spectators, a lot of noise, and we captured some of it on video. Alex is No. 25., the most handsome of the bunch. Here is a clip:

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hi everyone - Aunt Rose added us to the list of contributors and I typed up a great segment last night but for some reason I got kicked out and lost the post. I'll try again...

John and I are moved in to our new house in KC and absolutely love it here! We have everything unpacked and just have odds and ends and decorations left. I gave John a punch list of things to do (tasks I can't do by myself) so hopefully he will have it done by this time next year! He didn't get much done yesterday since he was "sick" from our New Year's festivities with some old college friends. Today was Ellie's first day at her new school and she was a little shy at first and when I went to pick her up at 5:30pm she was crying. Her teacher said she saw another girl leave and thought it was her time to go too! Hopefully tomorrow will be better for Miss Ellie.

John is working from home this week then will return to STL M-TH and will be home on Fridays. I started working from home permanently today and spent most of the time on the phone with our help desk to get my wireless connection hooked up. It finally started working then shortly lost connection. Try again tomorrow.

Happy New Year everyone!
Brother Joe sent some photos and information about the one-room school house that some of us attended as kids. There was another school, Anderson, also one-room, that we also attended. Here are Joe's comments and the photos:

"Rose. the pictures I have been wanting to send and was encouraged by Sue to do this tonight did not include any written descriptions. The spelling I am not sure about as an old pre-storm sign spelled it Schockley.

The two of the schoolhouse were taken after the January 2007 ice storm. The badly damaged section was taken looking west with the Turnbo road being on the right hand (north) and making a 90 degree turn south and going up Shockey Hill. It is not very clear but is the hill mentioned where Ford Model T's would sometimes back up the hill, due to the fuel tank being low in fuel and no fuel pumps. (gravity flow)

The lesser shown damaged side is the north side of the school looking south.

The guy sitting on the rock is your good looking brother Joe and was taken during the summer at Shockey Ford, on Turnbo about a 1/2 mile or so west and a little north of the old schoolhouse.

The Shockey school is where our brother Bernie attended when he was in first grade. Our aunt Mary Felin taught school at Schockey but I think that was be before Bernie was born?

Any questions, let me know. It may be about as clear as mud!

Bro Joe"