A change has come

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I haven’t blogged about this yet, but I love my new job (part time) as department secretary at Huntsville Hospital Pediatric Therapy – I feel like I’m making a difference for the children we see, and I feel like I’m giving back a little of what so many have helped us with during Riley’s journey to hearing.

The clinic sees patients for speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and now audiology. It’s exciting that families no longer have to drive to Birmingham or Nashville to have their child’s hearing tested or their cochlear implants mapped or their hearing aids adjusted. All that is available in Huntsville now.

It took a lot of hard work from the therapists, the audiologist, the volunteers, the hospital’s foundation, and many donors to help get the audiology program started. And it’s so worth it.

I’m learning so much about how these services really benefit these kids. I know first-hand how great auditory-verbal therapy is. Now I’m learning the benefits of OT. And about how you do PT with a 3-month-old. These therapy disciplines are fascinating.

Another cool thing? I wear scrubs to work. No futzing with dress pants and shoes. Or trying to find a shirt that fits. Or that isn’t too wrinkled. Just toss on the scrubs and go. I’m working on my color combos: Today it was turquoise and red; other days it’s been hot pink and navy.

I’m still writing, too. In fact, I’m working on a story right now for a national publication and another for a regional parenting magazine. And, of course, I’m still writing for VisitSouth.com’s Huntsville site. Stop by and leave me a comment there, too. The more links and visits and shares and tweets and posts I get the better.

In case you’re wondering, I took a buyout from the newspaper in January and was set to be a full-time writer when this opportunity at the hospital came along. Sometimes things have a way of working out, when the time is right. The good Lord knows what He is doing.

I’m loving my new schedule, and I’ve almost grown accustomed to getting up early. I’m still working on getting to bed early, as you can see. It’s nearly 11 p.m. and I’m banging away on this keyboard!

So that’s my update for now. Things are going well, and we’re enjoying life!

Home sweet home

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Daddy is home. Finally. After more than two months in the hospital, he can finally sleep in his own bed, relax in his own recliner and shower in his own bathroom. Hallelujah!

He has only a PICC line left, and Momma has learned how to give him his antibiotics through it. I’m not sure how long he’ll have to take those meds, but I imagine it will be for a while.

Daddy has lost so much weight – he’s so thin you can see the tubes the surgeon used to do the aortic bypass. One snakes down each side of his chest from the axillary arteries to the femoral arteries. He’s gone down a size or two in clothing – that belly you see in the picture is no longer there – and he’s now wearing track suits. It’s kind of funny to see my khakis-and-golf-shirt Daddy in a track suit.

His physical therapy is going well; he says he’s sore, but I tell him it’s a good kind of sore because it means his muscles are working. He’s getting around with the help of a walker, but hopefully he’ll get stronger soon.

The biggest problem I see is his mental state: Sometimes I get the feeling that he doesn’t want to try so hard. That he wants someone to feel sorry for him or do everything for him. But he won’t get better if he doesn’t fight hard to get healthy again. And it won’t happen if he doesn’t do it for himself.

Don’t get me wrong. This whole situation totally sucks for him. To go from playing golf one Monday to almost dying on Saturday. Then spending two months in a hospital with drains and tubes and stents and monitors attached to him. I get that.

But it’s up to him to do the work to get well. We can encourage him nicely and gently. But if that doesn’t work, we’ll give him some tough love. We’re not going to sit back and watch him waste away. He can just get mad at me, but he’s going to do the work when I’m around.

We’re going to their house this weekend to hang out. I’ve talked to him every day, and so far he sounds great. I hope being at home is just what he needs to speed his recovery.

I appreciate everyone who has said a prayer or sent good wishes or kept a good thought for him. And I’d like to ask for you to continue. It’s going to be a long haul, but we’re ready for the trip.

Christmas lights bring calm on long drive

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My dad has been in a Florence hospital since Dec. 3, so I’ve been driving the hour and a half to visit him and help out my mom. Seeing my dad hooked to IVs and tubes and drains is not how I pictured the holidays.

However, the long, late-night drives home are brightened by the Christmas lights I see between Florence and Huntsville. I mark my journey by the Nativity scenes, the wooden Santas, the three crosses, the glowing reindeer, the flag display and the lighted wreaths.

When I need a break from the hospital, I can drive a couple of blocks to Florence’s Wilson Park, which is transformed into a wintry scene with tons of lights.

A favorite sight in Huntsville is on Sebring Street just off Oakwood Avenue (last photo on the left) – Santa’s sleigh is pulled by reindeer as Tigger keeps watch. Frosty and his family greet viewers from inside their snowglobe, candy canes line the driveway and snowflakes “fall” from the sky. The delightful scene thrilled by daughter. And it’s nice on my drive home after work.

These photos on the left are of our house. We did the best we could with the short time we had … and I probably love this display more than the years when we had the eaves outlined just so and the two lighted trees standing sentry at the front door.

Somehow this year’s display, though Charlie Brown in its disarray, means more to me than ever.

Check out Huntsville resident Mike Duncan’s incredible display set to music in the video to the left.
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=8326384&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

Christmas Light Show 2 from Mike Duncan on Vimeo.

Thanksgiving will be extra extra special

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Daddy is home! He was discharged from the hospital yesterday, and Riley and I were there to meet him and Momma when they pulled into the driveway. He’s doing well, but it’s going to take some time to get back in the groove.

And NO CIGARETTES! He’s been without the smokes for 19 days now, so that’s a good start. He started physical therapy today, which will be twice a week and last for four weeks, and a nurse will be by to check on him twice a week. And, of course, Momma is a very capable woman who can take care of anyone.

Not only is Dad home and healing, Michael and Robin are set to have baby No. 2 any day now. Griffin’s actual due date is Sunday, but we’re all hoping he’ll be ready to make his grand entrance before then. Robin had a tough time with Lincoln, who’ll be 3 in December, so we all pray this time will be easier and faster. Unfortunately, they live seven hours away, so we won’t be able to make it for his birth. But I can’t wait to get the phone call!

So we have plenty to be grateful for this Thanksgiving! And, believe me, we are very thankful!

Get well soon, Daddy!

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My dad has been in the hospital since Halloween when he had an abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture, or AAA. Scary stuff … he’s very lucky that he called Momma and listened to her when she told him to call 911. The blood was leaking into his abdominal cavity and was life-threatening. He went through four hours of surgery to put a stent in his aorta and was in the critical care unit for six days. He was moved to a regular room Thursday and had a setback Saturday when they had to reinsert the NG tube to try to get rid of fluid in his belly.

Today he took a stroll through the hospital hall and has had some physical therapy. We hope his moving will get his body moving and start healing faster. The surgery part is fine; it’s just getting the fluid out that’s now the focus.

He’s in good spirits, although, cranky at the nurses constantly poking and prodding him. “I can’t get no damn sleep!” he says. He’s had lots of visitors both in the critical care unit and the regular room, and we are so grateful for all the prayers and good thoughts from family and friends and people who don’t even know us.

So in honor of Daddy, here’s a playlist of some of his favorites and some that make me think of him. I love you, Daddy!