Sunday, January 28, 2007

I'm Still Here!

Sorry for the long silence again. So what has been happening? Last time I posted I had that pesky itching rash. It eventually cleared up, although it kept trying to come back, but the prescription cream worked really well. It has been several weeks now since it tried to reappear.

Since I last posted, several important dates passed. One was the first anniversary of this blog. When I started it, I posted every day and it was quite therapeutic. What's happening now? Not sure, but that is the subject of my next post which I have been formulating in my mind. December 23rd was Cheryl and my 39th wedding anniversary. For the first time in many years, we actually went out to a real restaurant that evening. Previous recent years have included, cereal at home, KFC take out, hamburger, nothing, and Luby's cafeteria. We really know how to celebrate! Actually, Cheryl is usually so frazzled trying to get ready for Christmas that she is too tired to go anywhere. This year, although we didn't even start shopping until that week (totally unheard of as the shopping usually starts in January and lasts all year), the afternoon of the 23rd we were totally ready and all gifts were wrapped. That has never happened before. It wasn't until that morning we were even sure if we were having our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with the family here as both girls' plans were up in the air. As it turned out, we even were having extra guests -- Cheri's in-laws. So I went to the store, bought a huge turkey and fixings for 13 people. Christmas Eve and Christmas day was a wonderful time of family and celebrating the birth of our Lord. Of course New Year's was the usual -- I watched on TV the ball in Times Square drop and Cheryl went to bed early. She even slept through all the fireworks in the neighborhood.

In December, our work put on our HIV conference in Austin. We had speakers from around the world and about 900 participants, I think. I was in charge of the AIDS memorial display of quilt panels. I ordered 22 of the 12'x12' panels and had them displayed in a giant circle in an empty ballroom. Each 12'x12' section has six 3'x6' individual panels made by loved ones of those who have died as a result of AIDS. Each one is totally unique and often very touching. We had panels from celebrities, men, women, boys, girls and infants. Very sobering. In the center of the room I had an oval table with two large round red bowls with floating candles and a large white pillar candle in the middle on a tall candle holder. A red ribbon was on the white pillar candle. In the center of the room were two couches and two easy chairs. It really was quite moving and a very nice memorial.

I was really late putting up the Christmas lights this year. They were only up for two weeks and I didn't have them all out either. I am the Clark Griswold of the neighborhood with all my lights and they normally go up on Thanksgiving weekend. This year was a little more "normal." They still looked nice.

So, what has been happening health wise? Glad you asked. My blood tests in the beginning of this month looked very good; my platelets even came back over 100 again, to 105. So I had another pass on chemo. However, since my lymph nodes are swelling again, including in my neck, my hematologist/oncologist ordered another CT Scan -- sigh. I'll be glowing in the dark before long. I won't know the results of that until I see him again on February 8th. Right after I saw him, I had an attack of what I assume was shingles without the actual skin outbreak -- yes that can happen. It was on my left arm and I couldn't wear my watch and even clothes hurt it. It was from my wrist to nearly my elbow on the underside. It would wake me up in the night hurting so badly. It also felt like electric shocks going through it quite often. Shingles are inflammation of the nerves. I was teaching a week long class that week here in Austin. Then, as that was clearing up I started catching a cold. At the same time we had a really bad ice storm that shut everything down for three days. I didn't go to the doctor because I was sure it was just a cold. I stayed home from work but still didn't go to the doctor as Cheryl was urging. Of course, by the time the weekend came, I was a lot worse. So, Monday morning I finally went to the doctor as Cheryl kept saying. Should have listened to her -- I hate it when she's right, ha! I had pneumonia in my right lung and bronchitis in my left. The doc prescribed a brand new broad spectrum antibiotic that is only once a day for seven days. By the second day on the meds, my fever went away and I have been feeling better, thank you Lord. I really was feeling pretty rotten for awhile. My cough is getting better every day. I went to church today and I will be going to work tomorrow. I haven't been in the office for three weeks now. Funny thing is, I have no desire to go in, either, and I do like my job. Oh well.

And that brings me to another decision that I haven't posted here yet. I am planning on retiring this coming September. I will be 62 in August and eligible for social security reduced rate. I had planned on working until 66 and collecting full social security at that time. However, since this pesky disease raised it's ugly head, I decided to retire now while I can enjoy it. I like teaching and training, but when I come home from being gone a week, I am just way too wiped out. Standing all that time also hurts my back, too. (Oh yea, I had another bone density scan and the osteoporosis is quite a bit worse too -- "severe danger" of spinal fracture and "increased danger" of hip fracture. So besides the Fosamax, I am also on calcium supplements. That brings me up to 14 pills a day, and I'm not even on chemo! -- whine, whine, whine, whine)

So, what will I be doing in retirement? If possible, I would like to work part time for a local HIV/AIDS project and do counseling and testing a couple of days a week -- what I am training folks to do now. Also, Cindy's young lady that watches my grandson Jonathan and feeds their dogs when Cindy is traveling will be going away to college. So, I will take over those duties. Also, when she and Corbin get their RV and boat storage business off the ground, I may take care of that for them initially until it starts to make enough money that Cindy can quit her job. I also want to do some fishing. I have taken the grandsons a couple of times this year, but I really would like to be able to do it more often. Cheryl is also looking forward to me being a full time househusband and taking care of the house. We share those duties now, so it won't be much of a transition. I don't think I will be getting bored at all. We worked out the finances and are pretty sure we can do it. Just to be sure, starting in February we are planning to live only on what we think I will be getting in September. We think it will "only" be a $12,000 dollar a year drop. Now when Cheryl retires in a couple of years, that is when the miracles will have to happen. We shall see.

Cindy had her surgery, and although the recovery was a little slow for her, she is fine now. Cheri is still dealing with some things. She did have another ultasound a couple of weeks ago and although the possible tumor didn't shrink, it didn't grow either. She is still having a great deal of difficulty sleeping as a result of some medications to the point she even went to a sleep clinic last week to spend the night. Although she was hooked up to all kinds of wires, she said she slept five hours, the best night's sleep she had in a long time. She asked if she could come back the next night -- ha!

Well off to bed as I need to look awake tomorrow at work.

No comments: