Saturday, January 31, 2009

House Hunting and Some Prayer Requests

We have a big day ahead of us today. We are officially going house hunting with our realtor this morning. He has been sending us information on several homes that look like they might be in our price range and fit our needs. And we have driven by some and looked around the outside, but have not taken a step inside a single one yet.

There are two homes in particular that Joshua and Steffany like - mainly due to their location. They are both walking distance to Josh's school and Steffany's best friend's house. James and I like the pictures we've seen of them. They both have vaulted ceilings and fireplaces with lots of tile (okay, I'd rather have hardwood floors or at least floors that look like hardwood but I guess you can't have everything). We need to see how big the rooms are and if our stuff will fit. And we want to know if there is any major stuff we'd have to tackle with the homes.

We will also tour a few other homes in the area that we may decide we like even better, though I'm sure the kids will still rally for the ones I mentioned above simply due to their location.

Then, Joshua has a birthday party at a bowling alley on an Airforce base to attend this afternoon. He is REALLY looking forward to that. He will get a rare chance to do something fun with a friend away from school. We went to Walmart last night to pick out the gift and it is all ready and sitting on our kitchen counter right now.

But we may also be called upon today to help out more at the Weavers' home. That is the elderly couple I take care of. Their only daughter, Dee had to be at the hospital all afternoon and evening, even into the wee hours of the morning with her husband, Clarence. He had a heart catheterization last night that allowed doctors to find he is between 80 and 95 percent blocked in several places. He will require open heart surgery this morning - a triple bypass.

The kids, Josh's nurse and I went over yesterday evening and took the Weavers their dinner and hung out with them a while. Then, I got called back to help Mrs. Weaver with her bedtime needs - which has never happened before - but we made it through it all okay. I even had to get Dee to talk me through doling out all the day's worth of pills Mrs. Weaver would need for last night and today. Boy, that woman takes more pills than I've ever seen anybody take before in my life!!!!!

So, today, please say a little prayer for Clarence and Dee and the Weavers. They could really use it.

I'm taking muscle relaxers and a steroid to try and get my back to quit aching and allow the space to open up between a couple of vertebraes near my tailbone. And I've been wearing a back brace to help Mrs. Weaver move around in bed so she can use her bedpan. If all that doesn't help my back, I will have to have an MRI myself in a week or so. I'm not looking forward to that.

Oh, and speaking of MRI's. Josh's school nurse - if you recall - was hurt when JOsh's bus got run into right after he got off a little while back. Well, she has been having pain all through her arm and down her leg - lots of places. And she's had an MRI and will have another one early Monday morning. But so far, they have found that she has damage nearly to her spine and she should have surgery to correct that as soon as possible. But she wants to try and put it off until Spring Break so she won't miss days at work! I worry because if that damage somehow moves a bit closer to her spinal cord, she could be paralyzed!!!! So, pray for Nurse Maria, too, okay. I am definitely worried about her!

And as always, pray for my father-in-law, Tom. Doctors fear his cancer has spread to his brain, so he may be in his final days. This is very sad for us all but we SO don't won't him to suffer. He is such a wonderful man and we know he knows the Lord - thank God!

Oh, and I'm also praying for my parents for traveling mercies as they drive up to see my Grandma Day this weekend. She is in a nursing home and is doing pretty well considering. I sure wish I could get away to go see her, too. I really miss her.

Okay, I'd better get ready to go now. I'll take some pictures of our house hunting and probably the bowling adventure too today and share them with everyone later on!!!

Have a great day and God bless you all for keeping up with us :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why so much to endure?

The scripture on my website today really speaks to me... here it is again because it changes every day:

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 January 30, 2009

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

There are many people in my life that I often wonder, "God, why do you allow this pain, suffering or hardship on them?"

Obviously, I wonder that for my son, Joshua and his rare disorder that brings on him numerous doctor visits, nurses watching him almost 24 hours a day, needle sticks all the time, testing of all kinds and missing out on so much that a normal, healthy child is able to do and probably takes for granted. But Joshua - I'm sure with a great big bunch of God's help - is able to perservere and even prosper at times.

James has suffered through the loss of a wife (Christina), mother of his first child, Steffany. Then, he is at the hospital when his only son goes into respiratory arrest and endures this rare disorder and all that it brings with it. And most recently, he is worrying about losing his father to cancer.

The latest report on my father-in-law, Tom is that the doctors think the cancer may have spread to his brain. He has been at the hospice house for the last few days and in more pain than ever. In fact, today, doctors have given him a medication to put him out for the day. But, Tom has had many fairly good days since the day this fall when doctors estimated he only had about three months to live. He surpassed their expectations, reaching another birthday the end of 2008 and lasting almost another month. But now with this amount of pain, and the news that the cancer is not going away but growing, we are beginning to ask God to spare him even if it means taking him home to Heaven. We know God has it all in control.

And I take care of a woman who at age 18 was diagnosed with a type of arthritis that meant she could have no more children and would gradually over the years rob her ability to walk, stand, sit up on her own or really use her hands to do much of anything. More than ten years ago, she had to get a trach because the cartilage in her neck deteriorated until her windpipe was being crushed. Now, at the age of 72, she is in such poor health that she many times wonders why God is keeping her alive.

But God has his reasons for all of this. I know it. And one day, He will shed the light on the rest of us so we can know His reasons and give Him the glory for it.

I know right now, each of these people coping with the difficulties they face inspire me and help me not to take everything for granted.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Aching Back

I finally gave in and went to see my doctor today about my aching back. It hurt the most as we were leaving a New Year's party and then the weekend following that. It seemed like it was getting a bit better, but I could still feel tightness and pain running down my right leg.

So, the doctor examined me and sent me down the hall for xrays of my back. He found that most of my vertebraes look fine... but one near my tailbone doesn't have enough space for the disc like it should. That probably means I have a herniated or bulging disc that is affecting a nerve that shoots pain down my leg. He prescribed a muscle relaxant and a steroid for me to take for the next week to see if it resolves the pain. If not, I go back and we schedule an MRI.

So, I need to be resting my back as much as possible which is hard for me because I have so many projects I want to be doing around the house to get it ready for sale.

Pray for me, though, because I am still working with my little elderly couple. I have to do some pushing and pulling to get her in place in her bed and in her Barton Lift chair. I have been wearing a back brace to work, though, so hopefully I'll be okay.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cardiologist Report, New Medications & Thanksgiving Photos

Joshua's appointment with the cardiologist in San Antonio was today. We discussed whether or not it would be a good idea to proceed with a heart pacemaker. She did not yet see a report from Joshua's holter monitor, but said she would definitely make sure to get the report and look it over. She said if it showed nothing - which is very possible even if he is having an occasional pause between heart beats - we would need to find some way of monitoring his heart more of the time, where we can record these pauses. So, we will talk with our medical supply companies to see if there is some machine available to help with that. If or when we discover pauses, we will address the heart pacemakers. Meanwhile, we will visit our many other doctors and plan to see the cardiologist again next year.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) Joshua sees his Endocrinologist (actually his physician assistant) to check on his growth and development and to see if any changes need to be made to his medications.

Josh started taking his antibiotic and inhaler today. Not long after his first dose, he sacked out on the couch (on the ventilator of course - and with his nurse watching him closely). He slept for about 4 hours. I'm sure, if he is fighting sinusitis, he really needed the sleep. After he woke up, his temperature was back down to 97.9. It has been running 99-100.6 the last couple of days or so.

While Joshua slept, I worked out on our front porch - staining the concrete. It is a terra cotta pink color. Remember, I taped a pattern to look like some pavers we had out front (a brick pattern). So, it is all mauve and blue on our front porch right now. The stain has to set for 24 hours before anyone steps on it or anything, so I have tape and signs up to remind people to use a different door to get in and out of the house. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

A family member today posted some pictures taken from Thanksgiving when we went to visit in Odessa. They were taken at my in-laws' home. Remember, my father-in-law, Tom has cancer and doctors didn't think he would likely last through the end of 2008. Well, as you can see in the bottom picture, he DID last. The picture was taken of him on Thanksgiving. He felt strong enough that day (with all the family around) to go with the guys and kids out to do a little target shooting! Praise God, Tom is still with us and doing okay. We still haven't heard much in the way of updates on his condition from doctors - but we are happy he seems to be doing so much better than doctors predicted back in September.

James and Vanessa Wooten

Joshua (on far right) with cousins Jonathan and Micheal

Papa Tom

Some Test Results, Doctor Appts & House Fix-Ups

We have begun hearing some results from the tests Joshua underwent in Houston just before Christmas. So far we know from the MRI that all of Joshua's sinuses show inflammation. His doctors want to rule out Cystic Fibrosis which is sometimes seen in that type of sinusitis (inflammation). They don't think CF is likely, though, because Joshua doesn't have the other characteristics, but they do want to rule it out completely. To do that, Joshua will need to have a "sweat chloride test" which takes about 30-45 minutes and all Joshua has to do is sit there while they colect sweat from his arm. That test will be done here locally. We'll talk to Joshua's pulmonologist here to get him scheduled for that test.

They also want Joshua to take an antibiotic to treat the sinusitis. He will take Zithromax for a couple of weeks for that.

The doctors are still pouring over the MRI results so we may learn more about their findings soon.

Joshua's pulmonary function tests showed evidence of airway obstruction so the doctors want to start him on a corticosteroid - Flovent - an inhaler. He will take 2 puffs a day.

That is all we know so far, but we do expect to hear results from the heart holter monitor when we see Joshua's cardiologist today.

Joshua will see his endocrinologist tomorrow (Wednesday).

He has been waking up with unusually high temperatures yesterday and today (100.6 and 100.1 respectively). He said his stomach hurt yesterday but only complained about it as he was stepping onto the bus and during the early morning at school. I took some antacid to school for him to take. And his school nurse thought he might be stressing over an incident that happened Friday at school.

Apparently Joshua misunderstood what problems he was supposed to complete during a math quiz. His teacher wanted him to come in during lunch recess to finish the problems he didn't do during class. But Joshua did not want to miss recess (he doesn't get much of a chance to play with other kids his age except for during recess at school). They told him they'd let him go to recess Friday, but he would have to stay in Monday to do those problems - and Joshua was not very happy about it.

I didn't know any of that had happened until after Joshua got to school Monday, when his nurse was trying to figure out why Joshua might be having tummy troubles.

By Monday afternoon, Joshua seemed happier and his tummy was happier too. I told Joshua that I was not mad at him - especially because all the problems he did do during class on Friday, he got correct. That is a great feat for Joshua. I just told him we needed to figure some way for him to do good work but not to miss his only chance to play, too. Josh acted like he was very worried he was in trouble with me over the incident. But he was very relieved when I told him I wasn't mad at him.

Despite his elevated temperature this morning, he did not complain of any pain this time. The only trouble we had today was his bus's hydraulic lift (to get his ventilator cart on the bus) quit working and the wind was blowing and very cold. His bus driver, bus aide and I were feverishly trying to get it to lift up and stow it away, but were not having much luck. Finally, a neighbor (waiting to drive down the street) got out of his car and came and helped us. Thank you God for our kind hearted neighbor!!!

(check back soon for pictures to go with all or at least most of these projects below)

Meanwhile, we are still working on getting our house ready for the market. Here are some of the projects we've been working on:

Changed our cheap broken plastic mini-blinds for nice 2-inch faux wood blinds

Changed out our brass light fixtures to brushed nickel ones

moved our desk and other office furniture up into our sitting area of our bedroom

and moved our dining table from the kitchen to the formal dining area - even bought a nice table cloth, table runner, place mats and napkins

added pretty nickel finished knobs to the kitchen cabinets

gave away a porch swing frame and a trampoline

power washed the concrete driveway and porch and the wood deck

taped a nice pattern on the front porch where I will apply a rose colored stain

changed a flat mirror in our master bathroom out and finally replaced it with a nice big medicine cabinet - that sits up flush to the wall - James did such a nice job on that!!!

changed out our brass colored door knobs for nickel finished ones

bought touch up paint and new faucets for our bathrooms

and we met with a realtor - Steve White - who happens to be a dear friend of ours from church. He went over all our options with us and gave us paperwork to fill out about all the features in our home.

oh, I also sent Steff and a friend to pick up moving boxes from three different homes. They came back with two van loads of boxes, wrapping paper and three rolls of packing tape! So we will be very busy for at least another couple of weeks getting everything finished up and packed up so we can sell this place. I'm so ready to get into a nice one-story home that we can start to fix up for us!

Discovery Documentary - Life or Death : Battling to Breathe