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.

Refocusing in the new year

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Like the photo above, 2009 was a little out of focus for me. My job underwent several changes, my dad faced serious health issues, and things were just tough. 2010 promises to be interesting and exciting, and I have some focused goals. This is one of my first:

I’m refocusing my blog, basically combining my old blog with this one so I can write about, in one place, all the things I am passionate about: sports, cochlear implants, writing, my family, music and books.

I’m thinking of setting up a schedule where I post about sports/fitness on Mondays, CIs/hearing loss/family on Wednesdays, and writing/music/books/movies on Fridays. But I’ll be flexible. If something comes up and doesn’t quite fit my schedule, I’ll still post about it.

This current mish-mash of topics and sporadic posting is annoying. I’d like to get more readers and become more interactive and give as much as I get out of this blog.

So look for a more defined blog, and if I get off track, feel free to call me on it.

And Roll Tide Roll!

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.

Losing a pet is hard for an 8-year-old

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December has been a tough month: Daddy is back in the hospital with a serious infection, and he is scheduled for major surgeries Wednesday. My grandmother fell for the third time since summer and is now in a nursing home.

And last week, we had to let Carlo, our 11-year-old lab mix, go to a better place. Ryan and Riley had taken him to an emergency vet a week earlier because he was eating very little. They came back with a diagnosis of fungal pneumonia and prescriptions for pain and antibiotics.

The meds did nothing, so our regular vet came to the house to check on him. Carlo was laboring to breathe, could hardly walk and completely stopped eating and drinking. Our vet listened to him breathe and checked him out and said it was either fungal pneumonia or lung cancer. We had already discussed a plan and once we had confirmation that we could do nothing more, we made the decision. And it was hard. Riley gave Carlo a hug, and we sent her to our neighbor’s. Ryan and I stayed with him until the end, crying and talking to him.

Carlo was the sweetest, goofiest dog. When it came to eating, he was like a vacuum. He loved to run around in the backyard, and he loved our first dog and his mentor, Eboni, whom we lost several years ago when Riley was very little. And he loved us.

I miss him snuffling against the back door when he wanted in. I miss his barks when we pulled into the driveway. I miss him looking at me with those big eyes when he wanted to go outside.

That night, Riley asked when the angels were coming to get Carlo and if we were going to put his body under his tree. She asked if he was going to play with Eb and Bonnie (Nanny’s late dog). She asked if he was going swimming. We said yes to all. We tried to explain about his spirit, but that was fruitless. We didn’t have the words to get it right. She drew a card for Carlo and Eb and took it to school and all her classmates signed it. Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard?

The photos below show a 20-month-old Riley checking out Eboni (red collar) and Carlo; Ryan helping Riley get to know Carlo a little better; Carlo hanging out on the patio; and Carlo “opening” his Christmas present last year. In the drawings, Riley encourages Carlo to go see Eboni in heaven and marks Carlo’s final resting spot – under his favorite tree in our backyard.





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!

Halloween was a crazy day …

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It started like this with a little pumpkin carving at home:


And ended like this in the waiting room of the critical care unit at the hospital:

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’s been up and walking, and Friday they took him off the oxygen and took out the NG tube. He had a couple of popsicles and has been feeling better. Today, the doctors were trying to get his fever down, so that’s a bit of a setback. We’re still hopeful he’ll be coming home soon. And we appreciate all the prayers and good thoughts you can spare.

Thanks!

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!