Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home from Hospital and Happy Holidays


The last time I wrote, Joshua and I were at the hospital in Houston. He was about to have to go under general anesthesia for extensive MRI scans of his brain and spinal cord. His testing was all about doctors hoping to see if some kind of seizures might be to blame for Joshua's disorder (ROHHAD).

Well, I am happy to report that Joshua did just fine with the anesthesia. He did not remember a thing about the MRI (some of his past MRI scans had made him very uncomfortable about having to endure another one). In fact, Joshua did just fine during all of his testing.

Holter Monitor

Josh had to do the heart holter monitor test by wearing it on his ride back home, then overnight. He was supposed to keep it on 24 hours (which would be around 12:30pm) but he thought he just had to wear it until he woke up in the morning. So, he took it off early. As soon as I realized what he'd done, I quickly put it back on (I hope I put all the wires on the right spots) and had him wear it a few more hours. Then I wrote a note to put in with the monitor and mailed it back in the postage paid envelope they gave us.

We don't know any results of any of the tests yet. As soon as I hear something, I will pass it along.

Joshua and I sang Christmas songs with the radio all the way home (3 hour drive) from the hospital. We made it to the house just before 7PM Tuesday night, December 23rd. We were so glad to be home but SO exhausted. We had to wake up that same morning about 4:30AM so Joshua could take his medication hours before his MRIs.

Candlelight Service

Joshua wanted to go to the candlelight service at our church on Christmas Eve. He was so tired, I didn't know if he would be able to keep his eyes open during church, but we went. And he had a wonderful time. I was glad we were able to do something like this - which is more focused on the true meaning of the Christmas season.

Christmas day was nice. The weather was warm (around 70 or so). My parents were here with us. We had some gifts that family and friends sent or brought to us and our church even brought us some food and a gift card to HEB so we could have plenty of good food for Christmas. They also brought some nice gifts for Joshua.

E-Mail Santa

Joshua had asked Santa (by email from the hospital in Houston) for an XBOX 360 system, but unfortunately, Santa does not have enough of those expensive game systems to give to all the good boys and girls. Instead, Santa brought Joshua a nice game for his Wii system. It was a flying game about World War II. Joshua and his daddy had a great time together learning to play that game. Joshua got some clothes, board games and puzzles, too. We all played a new version of Clue around the dining room table, then had a hand in putting together at least two or three puzzles. For dinner, the guys had decided they wanted a nice brisket. We all had plenty of goodies to eat, too. We had such a nice time together that I think we all genuinely were sad to see it end.

New Year's Eve, we were invited to a party at the home of one of my husband's co-workers. I didn't know the couple or their friends, but was glad to be there, anyway. We played games and visited, then at midnight went outside into the cold where we drank sparkling grape juice, the kids set off poppers, sprayed silly string and waved around sparklers. Everyone had a good time. Then we headed for home.

As I got in our van to leave the party, my back started aching - very badly. All that night and the next day it hurt. But it felt a little better by Friday. Then, I went to push the little elderly lady I take care of up in her bed and must have pushed a bit too hard and really put my back out. I have been struggling with it ever since. If it is not better soon, I'm sure I'll be having to go to a doctor to get it checked out. :(

Monday, December 22, 2008

Josh at Hermann Hospital, Houston

It is the Monday before Christmas and Josh and I are in Houston at the hospital.

We drove to Houston from San Antonio Sunday evening. It took just a bit over 3 hours to arrive at the motel. Sunday had turned cold and the wind was blowing hard all the way from San Antonio to Houston. Luckily, the motel room was still warm and had a nice, working heater (and a hot shower - even though the water pressure was pretty low).

We got up before 6AM and packed up everything, loaded the van, went to eat the free continental breakfast at the Howard Johnson (where Medicaid Transportation puts us up here), checked out and headed for the hospital.

We arrived, got parked, unloaded and made the treck to the admission area - arriving there just a minute or two before our deadline of 7:30AM. We had a few minutes to have to wait for someone to be free to do our paperwork. Here is Joshua in the admission waiting area (where his afternoon nurse sent us a text message this morning wishing us good luck - Thanks Jenny!!)

Then, we went upstairs to the pulmonary lab where Joshua had PFT's (pulmonary function tests) which is alot of blowing into a little device hooked up to computers to test his lungs and how well they are working. He did great!

Afterwards, we were walked up to the 3rd floor to the epilepsy unit, where Joshua is now hooked up to electrodes and being videotaped. The doctors are looking to see if he is having any kind of seizures which may be causing his disorder. Joshua is watching Cars (the movie) and waiting for lunch right now. We are both very hungry and can't wait for some food to be served.

We will stay here for this EEG the rest of today and tonight. Joshua is supposed to also get hooked up for a short heart holter monitor session while we are in here today. And we are supposed to be meeting the surgeon who would do Joshua's diaphragmatic pacemaker surgery (if they don't find any seizures). He has told our nurse he will be by later today. His name is Dr. Cox.
Then, tomorrow, after Josh is freed from his electrodes, etc., we will go down to MRI. Joshua is scheduled for general anesthesia, so he will not be allowed any food or drink after midnight. If all goes as planned, we will be released awhile after the MRI's are finished and doctors are satisfied there are no problems with the anesthesia. We hope to be home sometime late Tuesday night, so we can be there with the family for Christmas.

Amanda's Graduation

My baby sister, Amanda just reached a major milestone in her life. We are very proud of her for earning her bachelor's degree in business finance from the University of Texas San Antonio with honors!

Our Aunt Ann and Uncle Albert flew in from Chicago to be here for the graduation ceremonies. And our parents drove in from Odessa.

The first ceremony was for the honors college - held on Friday. Amanda could invite up to 25 people to this event. But those of us in attendance were our parents, aunt, uncle, Steffany, Joshua and her boyfriend, Nick. James had to work.

The second ceremony on Saturday was the official commencement ceremony. Amanda could only invite 8 people to this event, and tickets were an absolute neccessity. James came to this one and Steffany stayed home to decorate the house in preparation for the reception party we were holding for Amanda.

Steffany did a great job decorating. She is quite the artist in our family.

We had lots of food and a great big cake. We didn't have a very large turnout - since it was the weekend before Christmas and nearly everyone we knew was either working, traveling or making last minute preparations for Christmas. But of course, that meant more food we had to eat :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cookies

Josh wants to give his teachers and nurses something special for Christmas.

We are on such a tight budget, though, that we are struggling just to get the kids something for Christmas without going into debt more. So, we decided to make some homemade cookies to pass out. Josh was very excited about it and we headed for Walmart this afternoon.

We bought cake mix and cookie mix and got to work right after dinner tonight. We made devil's food chocolate cookies... some with sugar coating, some with little peanut butter chips on top. And we made peanut butter with dark chocolate chips inside.

The house smells so yummy.. I just had to try one of the cookies :)

Josh decorated bags to put the cookies in.

I think they will be very happily surprised with this special gift from Josh (and me).

OK... while I had the camera out, I decided to take some pictures of our decorations around the living room and dining room....

Monday, December 15, 2008

House Transformation - Dining Room

First... here are some of the pictures I promised from my last post describing our large master bedroom with a pop-up ceiling and great walk-in closet...

We now have a formal dining room.
We actually had it all along, but we weren't using it as a dining room.
Our big computer desk was in this area along with filing cabinets and stacks of junk.
Our table (which seats six when you have the leaf in) was in our kitchen. We moved it out and dressed it up.
Now it looks like this:

Here's where our office is now... in the master bedroom:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Getting Ready to Sell Our House

We love many things about our home...

Location, location, location!

Our home is about a mile off of I-35

between San Antonio - home of the Alamo

& famous River Walk

and New Braunfels - where you find
America's number 1 waterpark -

as well as 2 rivers, the Comal in Landa Park

and the Guadalupe.

Within 2 (two) miles from our home, you can shop at
Walmart, HEB, Lowe's Home Improvement and several strip malls

and even a giant flea market called Bussey's
(known for it's massive Armadillo out front).

Hungry? You can choose from
dozens of fast food places and
restaurants just around the corner.

Our house is nice and roomy two-story
(about 2000 square feet), with four bedrooms - all upstairs,
the master bedroom is huge, has a pop-up ceiling over the bed,
a big walk-in closet and bathroom with a garden tub.

It is fairly new (5 years old) with upgraded insulation,
central heat and air, a 2 car garage that leads into
the kitchen through a pantry/laundry room.
The back yard is a nice size with a privacy fence.
We have even added a deck and planted trees
and rose bushes.
We also added a water softener system.

But now that Joshua has his ventilators, medical equipment, nurses, etc., we'd like to have a 1-story instead of a 2-story. And we need to find something not quite as expensive so we can pay off the rest of our debt.

We want to stay in the same area. Steffany has just one more year of school until graduation. We have a great system of nurses and doctors here and just love the school district. Plus James has a good job at FedEx Freight - which is just a short drive away.

So, we are looking for things we can do ourselves to fix up our house (even more) to get it ready to go on the market (probably in January).

We have already replaced our broken and dirty blinds with big 2-inch faux wood blinds - beautiful!

And we have replaced most of our brass light fixtures with very clean and beautiful brushed nickel fixtures.

We are looking into maybe adding crown molding and chair rails, etc. And I have been pouring over pictures of other homes in our area to see how our house compares.

I've also been looking for ideas to spruce up the place even more. One thing I'd kind of like to do is add a nice, waterproof tv in the wall over our bathtub in the master bathroom. I know that would be an instant selling point for James if we found a house in our price range that had one.

So, do you have any ideas you'd like to share? What features would you like to see in a home?
Coming soon... I'll take some more pictures of our progress to share... so check back.

Discovery Documentary - Life or Death : Battling to Breathe