Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I See You!

My goodness! As I look back I see that it has been 8 months since I shared anything with you...and LOTS has been going on (more blog entries later, I suppose). In February we signed a contract to get our pool area redone. In March I had hand surgery. In May we bought a new RV. In June we took the two oldest grands to Colorado. Here we are in August...and I am sitting beside my dad's hospital bed in ICU. This time the problem started about 2 weeks ago with pneumonia. I had been with Daddy earlier in the day and he seemed okay. In the evening I got a phone call that his nurse had been called because they could not get him awake or keep him awake. The nurse called an ambulance and round one began at Texas Regional Hospital Sunnyvale. He went in the hospital on Thursday, made rapid improvement and was released on Monday. I took him back to the Lodge and all seemed fine. Three days later, Thursday again, I got a phone call that an ambulance had been called because Daddy was vomiting blood. LOTS of blood and blood clots. We raced to Texas Presbyterian in Rockwall and arrived at the ER before he arrived in the ambulance. As soon as he was transfered from the gurney to the table they called us back. I have to say that time shifted into slow motion when I entered that room. My dad lay on the table virtually naked. There was a sheet covering his private parts but above the waist was completely exposed...and covered in blood. Blood stained his mouth, his lips, his chin, his neck and his chest. Apparently he had been stripped because there was so much blood. He lay motionless and barely responsive. I admit, I thought that I would lose him that day. But I didn't. He got better. he was moved out of ICU. There was talk of sending him home...or to a physical rehab facility. We were literally a few hours away from that transfer when Daddy started vomiting blood again. Now, they had done an EGD scope after the first incident and found nothing. Now here we are again. Doctors (3 of them) rushed to his bedside and had him moved back into ICU. I rushed back to the hospital and sat by his bedside as late as I dared. Finally I went home and attempted to sleep. That didn't really happen so I got up at 4:45am and was back at the hospital at 6:00am. The main doctor, Dr. Patel, came by to talk to me about 9:30am. A different gastroenterologist haD scheduled Daddy for another EGD today. So, we sit and wait. Well, I wait. He sleeps. He wakes for short periods of time and talks and then falls right back asleep. He is tired and weak. I am worried. As I sit here I have had the opportunity to play back a lifetime with my dad in my mind. I see him running behind my bicycle teaching me how to ride it. I see him sitting in the garage with us while we fed the baby raccoons he brought home after their mom abandoned them in the field behind his workplace. I see him when he hobbled home covered in dirt with his pants and shirt torn from riding bikes with my brother and deciding "watch me" was a good idea. I see him walking down the aisle with me at my wedding. His tux came without a tie so he ran to M.E. Moses and bought a bow tie which I swear was for a child! I still see how excited he was when he learned he was going to be a Papaw. I see him telling me, with a smirk on his face, "I thought so!" when we told him about baby number 2. I see him on crutches when he fell and broke his ankle. I see him as he goes through the emotional rollercoaster of saying goodbye to his wife of 56 years when Alzheimers finally claimed her body...her mind was taken a full two years before that. I see him struggling with his emotions as he buried his 56 year old son. I see him deteriorating (seemingly over night) to the point where he can't walk...and sometimes can't even stand. And now, I see him with his health compromised more than I thought possible. I see him wrapping up his affairs because, at 87, he knows there isn't a lot of time left. I see him preparing to let go and helping me prepare to let him go. I see a lifetime of precious memories through the eyes of Daddy's little girl. I see my heart, with a hole in it, once he has left us. I see YOU, Daddy...a man I am proud to have loved and experienced life with. Thank you...for so very many things.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's a God Thing!

He may have the whole world in His hands, but He, for sure, has His hands all over me!
October 24, 2014, dawned like almost every other day. I had things to do...errands to run. Among my errands was a trip to the Baylor Breast Imaging Center Rockwall.
Backtracking a bit...my OB-GYN for the last 35 years retired. When I developed yet another breast cyst that needed to be drained, I called a friend of mine to seek a referral. She quickly told me that the doctor she worked for did needle aspirations in his office. This was exactly what I was looking for and he could get me in quickly. Since this cyst was causing me some pain, we booked the appointment and I went in. I REALLY liked this doctor. He was easy going and easy to talk to. An added plus was that he knew my previous doctor. After draining the cyst he asked me when I had gotten my last mammogram. I told him that I had gotten a bit off track since I had been required to go in for a 6 month re-eval of one breast due to the fibrous nature of the tissue. I told him it was probably getting close to time for the next full mammo and assured him that I would check it out, schedule a mammogram if it was time and have the result forwarded to him.
Back to October 24th.....It was a fluke that I remembered this day (a couple of weeks after the aforementioned appointment) so while it was on my mind I made what I thought would be a quick stop at the Imaging Center. When I asked about my last imaging, I was told that it had been 17 months! Yikes! I asked to schedule an appointment as soon as possible...and this is where I know God had His hands all over this. There had been an equipment failure and the center had to cancel all of their appointments the previous day and all of their morning appointments this day in order to have the equipment repaired. It was now in tip-top working order and there would be no patients until the afternoon. The receptionist asked, "Want to do it while you are here?" Heck, yeah! I was in and out in 30 minutes and on my way to getting things done! In all honesty, I actually forgot about having the mammogram. Never gave it another thought...until the following week when I got an early morning phone call from my doctor's office telling me that I needed to go into another of the
Baylor Imaging offices for a follow up "spot magnification." Assured that it was probably nothing, there was still an area that needed to be looked at more closely. I have had to go back before for spot magnifications/compressions because, again, the breast tissue is so dense and fibrous. Again, this was nothing that I even gave a second thought to. I scheduled the follow-up for the North Dallas office on November 3rd and went in for the appointment. Still not concerned, I went by myself. There had been false alarms before, so I never even considered asking my husband to go with me. My first niggle of concern came when the technician taking the spot magnification x-rays asked me to wait while she showed the pictures to the radiologist. This was different than it been before. Then the radiologist came in and said that the doctor wanted to talk to me. Now I was beginning to feel some concern. When the doctor came in he explained the situation to me. I saw the x-rays and could identify their area of concern, but I was still taken aback when he explained that I would need a biopsy of the area of concern. Biopsy? You mean, like, to check for cancer? Yeah. Given the choice between a hospital operating room procedure under general anesthesia and coming back to their offices for the biopsy to be done under local...well, yeah, I chose the lesser of two evils and booked an appointment for one week later at their facility...Monday, Nov. 7th. However, due to "the wrong box being checked on the medical orders" I had to wait another day and went in on Tuesday, Nov. 8th, instead.
It's called a stereotactic core needle biopsy. It isn't fun. It isn't horrific...but it isn't fun. It took about an hour and 15 minutes and the computer guided needle took between 5 and 7 samples. I chose to believe that, like every other time, this would be another false alarm. A side note here...the technician who worked with me, Shalonda, was absolutely the best! Throughout the procedure she rubbed my back, inquired as to how I was holding up, kept me updated as to our progress ("We're about 75% through...") and was focused on making this the least painful and unsettling process possible. After the procedure Ronnie and I enjoyed a delicious meal at the Cheesecake Factory and went on our way. I had some pain, but it was manageable. I was told that the results would take 3 to 7 days. This was Tuesday. On Wednesday I got a call from Karen at the center just checking to see that I was doing okay. I assured her that I was. She startled me when she said that my lab results might be in before the end of the day and, if so, she would call me. If not, I should expect a call on Friday. Again...no concern on my part.
On Friday, November 11, 2014, I was out running errands and Christmas shopping when I got the phone call that took my breath away. It was Karen. My report was back. It was "inconclusive." What? What does that mean? It means that I was diagnosed with "atypical columnar hyperplasia with microcalcifications unable to eliminate DCIS (cancer in situ)." In other words, they could not determine with any degree of certainty whether this was breast cancer or not. However, at best, it was pre-cancerous tissue and I would need to see a breast surgeon for removal of the tissue. Whaaaatt????? This came totally out of left field. Soooo unexpected! Anyway, Karen said she would make me an appointment with a surgeon and call me back. My doctor refers to Dr. Michael Grant and so the appointment was made for Monday, November 24th. Now the waiting game began and this situation was all too real...and a bit scary!
The most difficult thing about this whole episode was having to tell my kids what was going on. I didn't want to cause them any concern or worry and yet I did not want them to hear about this from some other source. So I made the two most difficult phone calls of my life and tried to assure my kids that there was no reason to worry when, in fact, I was struggling with my own feelings and emotions. That done, there was nothing to do but wait and see if Dr. Grant could help me make sense of this whole thing. Waiting. Not my strength. I did, however, come to the realization that "it is what it is and no amount of worry will change anything so just let it go. I am a child of God. He's got this." And that is when I relaxed enough to see that His hand had been on this from the moment I remembered I needed to check on a mammogram date and "just happened" to be able to get an appointment right away. Maybe even before that. Maybe that's why I got the painful cyst that needed medical attention in the first place. Either way, I know that He is in control and knew the outcome of this even before my great, great, great great grandparents were even conceived. Yeah. And with God in control, what do I have to be concerned about? I will just wait, as calmly and patiently as possible, for my appointment with Dr. Grant.
So, I would love to say that I let go of my concerns and passed the time worry-free...but that would be a lie. I will admit that at random times I would be reminded of the issue and would be melancholy as I contemplated the potential outcome. At the same time, I know that I know that I know that God has His hand on my life. I will admit that it put a damper on what should have been a BIG birthday celebration for me as I turned 60. It turned out to be a very low key, barely even noticeable event spent wondering what would transpire for me before the next birthdate rolls around. I admit that I feel cheated. Again...it is what it is.
On Monday, Nov. 17, Dr. Bristow called to make sure I was fully informed on the lab report and recommendations. He said that Dr. Grant will "probably" recommend a 3D Excision Biopsy in which they do a 3D image of the breast to locate the specific area and deaden the tissue to implant needles. Once needles are in place I will be taken to an OR under general anesthesia and the needles will guide Dr. Grant to the area to excise. After that.....?
On Friday, November 21st, I told my dad what was going on. As much as I tried to downplay the situation, I could tell it still upset him. He was still concerned. I assured him that I would keep him in the loop as to what was going on. Even though I did everything I could to downplay the situation, when I left his last words to me were, "Sis, I hope everything with that test turns out okay." Out of the blue. I could tell it was on his mind. What I wouldn't give to make it seem insignificant to him. Hell, I want it to be insignificant to me. It isn't the issue of cancer. It's the not knowing that is beating me up. I have a need to know. Either way is okay. I just NEED to know. I'm sure that God has a lesson for me here. I'm just a slow/resistant learner. What I think I need may or may not be what God thinks I need. Crap!
I met with Dr. Grant and was at once put at ease. First, we showed up 30 minutes early for my appointment. While in the waiting room I noted that Christian music was playing on the speakers. Specifically, it was Steven Curtis Chapman singing "Be Still and Know." By the time I was called back...which was only a few minutes...I was in tears. That was a song I chose for my brother's funeral. Another sign that God was watching. My meeting with Dr. Grant was short and to the point. I would need surgery but it was okay to wait until after our 3 week Florida vacation. Oh, and by the way, there was a second area of concern that showed up on the pre-biopsy films. What?? Yeah. A second area of concern. Oh,yay. We scheduled another diagnostic mammogram for Dec, 23rd and a surgical biopsy for Dec. 29th and we were out the door. Yay! Finally, a doctor that respects the patient's time!
We took our vacation as planned, but it was cut a week short when Ronnie's dad unexpectedly passed away. We left Miami on Friday, 12/12 for a drive straight back to Rockwall...stopping only for sleep. What I hoped would be a little down time before the chaos of my medical issues turned into an even more chaotic time complete with grief. The busyness of trying to pull together all of the details for the viewing and funeral (and my BIL, Keith, had done the actual planning) along with trying to spend time with my dad and participate in his health care plan, cleaning the RV, getting all of the laundry done, planning and shopping for Christmas Eve, finishing stocking shopping...I'm sure you get it. Time flies when you're having fun...and flies even faster when you are on a time deadline.
I went in for yet another mammogram on Dec. 23rd. They wanted to see if they could locate the second area of concern. They could not. The technician told me that they (the medical staff) think that MAYBE it was part of the needle biopsy and is gone. Emphasis on maybe. While I guess I should find it comforting that they could not locate a second area...I do not. I want to know FOR SURE if it is all gone and if it was or was not cancer. I don't want to be left to fret over whether or not my body has turned on me and some rogue cells are in there mutating and trying to kill me. I hate the uncertainty of it all. That will be a topic of discussion for my doctor when next we meet, for certain!
Being the anal OCD human that I am, I filled the day prior to my surgery with a ton of activity. I completed all of my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday chores so that I could rest post-op. That means I changed and washed the bed linens, I cleaned all three bathrooms, I did all of our laundry except the clothes we had on, I mopped the kitchen floor and I vacuumed the carpet. In addition, I fixed a crockpot soup for lunch, took down my Christmas decorations, unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher, finished all 4 rustic serving trays that I was in the process of making, completed 2 days of my Bible study, delivered my dad's clean laundry, took my dad's new lift chair to his apartment and put it in place and took down his Christmas decorations. Kept my mind and body busy so as not to dwell and obsess on the pending activities.
Surgery day came a lot earlier in the morning that I would have liked. Didn't sleep well. Kept waking up and checking the clock. When 5:30 finally arrived I was sleeping soundly. Figures. 😒 Anyway...we left home at 6:15 for an 8:00 appt. at Baylor. Got there at 7:00! Absolutely no traffic on the way in...I guess because it is the week between Christmas and New Years. Got there early and they got me registered right away. Why, oh, why do they ban makeup and jewelry? On a day you're not looking forward to you have to go out in public sans any kind of "enhancement!" Seriously, I NEED my makeup. I tend to take on a ghostly appearance without a little facial decoration. And I need my earrings, too. Don't have to have the other stuff, but I really would like to have my earrings! Oh, well, just another hoop to jump through (all the while looking like an mutant albino with crazy hair!).
Let the games begin! The wire placement procedure was relatively easy. Courtney, who performed my diagnostic mammo on 12/23, also performed the xray portion of this mammo. I just love her! So professional, personable and knows her stuff! A call of kudos is in order. The deadening agent used by Dr. Bowie was like an injection of pure fire for about 30 seconds, but after that it was a fairly easy process and finished rather quickly. We literally walked out the back door and across the street to Baylor Surgicare. I know my complaint, considering all things, may seem odd...but it was like a refrigerator in there! I was literally shivering! After checking in, registering and going through the paperwork with not one, but two, staffers, I was escorted to the back to don my "Oh So Fashionable" hospital gown and non-slip socks. From there I was escorted to Recovery Room A to wait for nearly 2 hours for my scheduled surgery. Yes, I said Recovery Room. You start out waiting in a private recovery room where you wait in a recliner. I played on my ipad, read and talked with the hubs until my appointed time. I met with the anesthesiologist and my surgeon before, once again, being escorted to OR 5 for my procedure. I climbed up on the heated table and was covered by 2 heated blankets. My anesthesiologist said, "See you in an hour," and I remember feeling the start of the "buzz" before becoming aware that my nurse was asking what I wanted to drink with my graham crackers. What??? My procedure was over and I was sitting in another recliner. I ate and drank to prove I could and talked to the hubs when he came in. He helped me dress and I hopped into a wheelchair to be wheeled to the car. We stopped at TGI Friday's for some REAL food and then continued home where I changed clothes and spent the remainder of the day resting on the sofa. Dr. Grant called about 6p to check on me and give me further instructions and I added a TON of Pinterest projects to my list of things to do! Lol! No pain associated with the surgery but I did take a pain pill at Dr. Grant's suggestion that it would help me sleep. It didn't. I went to bed at midnight and woke up at 2am...not from any pain or discomfort...just couldn't sleep. I'm sure from the stress.
Tuesday found me swollen and sore. Really sore. I got dressed and we went to the grocery store anyway, but the soreness and the fatigue took their toll on me. An ice pack and the sofa were my new best friends. I'm staying away from the pain pills unless I just have to take them. I feel like they will come in handy with my back pain. A shower on the horizon, I lay down for a nap.
Wednesday, New Year's Eve, was a huge disappointment! I really wanted my biopsy results, but when I called Dr. Grant's office they were closed for the holiday. So another 24 hours of anxiety awaited me. The disappointment was enhanced by the fact that I was so stinkin' sore that I couldn't even stand to have my arm down by my side because it touched the side of my breast and put pressure on the incision area. I HURT! So, when I was up...which wasn't much...I walked around with my arm held at a funky angle making me look like I was auditioning for the part of a zombie on
The Walking Dead!
Thursday was New Year's Day. I had wanted to be secure in the knowledge that I was starting a new year fully knowing what was going on with my body. Yeah. That didn't happen. I made a note that the next morning I was going to call Dr, Grant's office as soon as they opened. I wasn't sure if the results were in, but if they were...I wanted to know!
On Friday, January 2, before I could make my call, I got the phone call that changed everything. Dr. Grant's nurse, Nancy, called with the pathology report. Her first words..."It's not that bad..." which is code for "it's not good." Actually, it was the best of the worst news, the diagnosis is DCIS...ductal carcinoma in situ. Pathology revealed a small focus of non-invasive breast cancer cells. Dr. Grant took a 4 mm area and the margins were clear. Good news there! It was contained! I have an appointment with Dr. Grant on Monday. He will most likely refer me to a radiology oncologist so that I can make an informed decision on whether or not to pursue radiation therapy. Although I have known, in my heart, all along that this was cancer...it was still a blow. All day I struggled in my mind with the fact that I HAVE HAD BREAST CANCER. I AM A CANCER SURVIVOR. I sat in that chair prior to surgery with breast cancer. I entered recovery as a survivor. I have to say...the head games are overwhelming. I was out running errands, alone, and it gave me ample opportunity to examine my feelings and thoughts. I am confused...I am relieved...I am hurt...I am grateful. I know that from the moment that I began this journey, hell, before I even knew there was a journey, that God has been with me. Earlier I made reference to the fact that "God has had His hands all over me." I soooo believe that. I believe that if I was dusted for prints you would find divine fingerprints all over me. That being said...as I was finished with my errands and began my journey home a song came on the radio. It was Stephen Curtis Chapman singing "Fingerprints of God." Wow! Just...wow!!! A line in the song, "Oh, and God's not through, no. In fact, He's just getting started." No doubt about it...God spoke to me. Through that song. At a time when I most needed to hear His voice. He spoke and I heard Him. I have no doubts about that. It wasn't a still, small voice or s burning bush, but it was God speaking to me nonetheless. I feel humbled...honored...privileged. If I had to have breast cancer in order to have that experience, then Thank you, God, for allowing me to have breast cancer. My God chose me in which to work and He spoke His reassurances over me. What a blessing and comfort that is!!!!!
All along I have felt that God is allowing me to make this journey for a purpose. For everything there is a purpose...and I believe that the purpose here is to allow me to be a compassionate listener to others who may be struggling with uncertainty, health issues, cancer...whatever. I have a testimony to God's faithfulness and I have a testimony about trusting God...letting go...knowing that He has plans for me that will cause me to grow and prosper. A testimony to my attitude of "It is what it is and it's in God's very capable hands." I have already had an opportunity to give my testimony of God's faithfulness to a friend who has been faithful to call and check on me and to pray for me. This friend is one of my husband's former co-workers. When he called this week to find out the biopsy results I assured him that I am okay with it. I have faith thwt God has my back on this. He asked, "How do you do that? How do you just let it go and trust that it will all work out?" I was able to share with Him what I believe
God has given me to say. It turns out this friend has recently been diagnosed with a very serious health issue...one that has taken the lives of two of his family members. By the end of our conversation he was agreeing with me that trust is all we have...that all the fretting, worrying and crying doesn't change a thing except the quality of life for you and those you love. Might as well let God handle things.
I have my post-operative appointment with Dr. Grant on Monday, January 5, 2015.
I will know more about my next steps and my treatment plan after that appointment. Till then, "It is what it is" and what "it is" is a God thing. What a relief!
On Monday, January 5, 2015, I kept my appointment with Dr. Grant. Loaded with questions, I reminded my doctor that while he may see this type of situation daily...or at least weekly...it is my first time experience dealing with cancer. I am filled with uncertainty. While I am clinging to Bible verses Jeremiah 29:11, Isaiah 46:10 and Proverbs 3:4-5, I don't consider being naive a calling. My God calls me to calm...not to stupidity, naivity, or meekness (although they do inherit the earth...). I want to be a proactive participant in my healthcare plan. Not just buzzwords anymore, they have significant meaning. Remember, "God's not through, no. In fact, He's just getting started!"

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Trip of Uncertainty

Friday, Nov. 28
We left home around 8:45am for a full day of driving. For the most part everything went smoothly. We stopped somewhere in Louisiana for a quick lunch and gas (in the RV...not from the lunch) and continued on our way. In the early afternoon while driving through Baton Rouge my phone rang. It was Colonial Lodge. That's where my dad and my FIL live. Couldn't be good. I answered and, sure enough, it was the nurse there. Daddy has been coughing for over a week and it has just gotten worse. No amount of Robitussin, breathing treatments or anything else is working. He coughs so badly that he can't get his breath so he blacks out for a few seconds. Once he relaxes, he catches his breath and rejoins the conscious world. It's scary to witness but he is okay. He deals with that. It's part of his COPD. Today, however, he went to the nurse and asked her to call an ambulance for him. He told her, "something is wrong. I just don't feel right." So here I am...headed to Florida...first day of our vacay...and my dad is is an ambulance on his way to the hospital. I'm sure it's pneumonia...again. He gets it every winter. After making a few phone calls to family members, we continued on our way. Nothing else we could do.
We continued to drive until it was way dark and we crossed into Mississippi. We located an RV park, pulled in, hooked up, ate dinner and called it an early night.
Saturday, Nov. 29
We got up early, had breakfast, unhooked and were on the road by 8:15am. Good timing! Today was a driving day...all day. Beau was really nervous so when we stopped for gas I went in and bought him some Benadryl and vienna sausage. He had no idea he was getting anything besides a treat, but it sure settled him down! Gotta keep some of those in the RV...just in case!
Talked to my dad today. My BIL, Keith, went by Daddy's place and picked up some of his stuff and took it to him in the hospital...along with the Medical Power of attorney authorizing them to talk to me. Thank God for sweet BILs who love your dad and who willingly go out of their way to help out! Love you Keith Morgan!
We ended the night with a giggle! Apparently ALL of the RV parks close at 5p. No exceptions. So when, at 6:30p, we tried to find a place to stay...no luck. So, we pulled into a Pilot station to fill up the tank and then pulled over by the big boys (18 wheelers) and set up camp for the night. I've never spent the night sleeping in a gas station parking lot before! Needless to say, we did not sit out in the lawn chairs with a beverage enjoying the scenery! Lol!
Sunday, Nov. 30
Our final day of driving to reach Key West. Thank you, Jesus! We arrived about 1p and were completely set up and decorated by 1:45p. We sat outside for a few minutes, enjoyed a beer, and then got dressed for lunch/dinner. We drove into Key West and found a parking spot near Duvall Street. Our dinner was at a sweet little outdoor restaurant called Caroline's. The people watching was awesome! Drunks crashing their bikes, all sorts of weirdos and regular people...like us. Lol! And the food was great! Afterward we returned to the RV for showers and bed. Who knew driving could be so exhausting?
Monday, Dec. 1
Oh, what a day! We got up and enjoyed sitting outside our RV for a while, walked over to the KOA store and got some needed info and then around 11:30a we headed into Marathon for lunch. We wanted to go the Hideaway Cafe (recommended by friends) but it is only open for dinner and requires reservations...and dressing up. Uhhhh, no thanks! We had lunch at a place called The Island Fish Company. Outdoor dining at it's best. Beautiful views...incredible atmosphere...and good food! We enjoyed a delicious key lime colada along with a shared piece of key lime pie. Yum! After leaving we did a bit of shopping and then headed in search of the tiki bar recommended by our friends. Didn't find it! 😟 Will keep up the search, don't worry! We returned to the RV in time for me to throw up from INTENSE stomach cramps. Yep. After that I was fine. So...all's good. We went over to the on-site Pub and had a couple of beverages before returning to the RV for a little TV, FB and a little iPad. 😃
I do need to say that at one point we were coming out of a building when an iguana jumped from the landscaping onto the cement next to me. Little cretin! I jumped and screamed! He scared the crap outta me! Malicious little punk! Other than that it was a relatively uneventful...but thoroughly enjoyable...day!
Tuesday, Dec. 2
Today was an incredibly good day! We got up and enjoyed sitting outdoors and reading/working puzzles/etc. for most of the morning. The weather was awesome. Sundress and flip-flops! While Ronnie took Beau for a walk, I called my cousin, Cathy, and we talked AT LENGTH about the events taking place in our lives. I promised that after the first of the year (and after things have been clarified by my biopsy) I will make the trip to Mt. Vernon for a "girl day."
After lunch we took the bus into Key West for our own pub crawl/shopping/dining experience. We walked down to mile marker "0" and waved at Cuba. While shopping (and buying souvenir shirts) I "accidentally" bought 3 souvenir snow globes. The reason, I was looking at something and had to back up to see it better. In the process I backed into the display case and knocked down and broke 3 small snow globes. Thank goodness they weren't bigger...and that more didn't break! The owner was gracious enough to only charge me his cost on the broken items! ::insert sarcasm:: Seriously, I know he had to pay something for them so it was only right for me to pay for what I broke. Accidents happen and life goes on. We visited a little outdoor bar that we went to about 5 years ago, called Flying Monkeys. Still as cool as ever! We also went to Fat Tuesdays and finally to a great burger joint called, Burger-fi. Biggest, fattest, best beer-battered onion rings EVER!! In the midst of our shopping/eating/drinking we booked a sunset cruise for tomorrow night! Can't wait!
We made our way back to the bus stop and then caught our ride "home." Showers, TV and relaxing ended an fabulous day.
Wednesday, Dec. 3
A GREAT DAY!!! We spent the morning relaxing outside the RV, listening to music, talking to our neighbors,reading, working sudoku puzzles and just basically taking it easy. All we had scheduled for today was a sunset cruise, "Commotion on the Ocean," so with the perfect weather we were able to sit out and relax.
When the time came we drove to the pier and boarded our 2 hour sunset cruise with a live band (that was really pretty good), unlimited hors de vors and unlimited beverages (margaritas, champagne, draft beer, wine, wine spritzers, soda and water. We had THE BEST time! We were privileged to see an incredibly beautiful sunset and meet some new friends from Maryland (Tony and Colleen). Afterwards, we drove back to Sugarloaf and had dinner at Mango Mama's before heading back to the RV for showers and bed. This day earned a whopping "10" on the Good Dsy Scale!
Thursday, Dec. 4
Another incredible day in Paradise! We scheduled a Dolphin and Snorkeling Excursion for noon so we piddled for a bit after getting up. About 10:30a we headed into Key West and found parking fairly quickly and easily (something that I believe is unheard of). We ventured over to check in and await our excursion. Let me just say that we have been sooooo pleased with the Fury excursions. They are run competently and smoothly. This one was no exception. Our Captain, Ang, was a delightful, personable young lady who was VERY knowledgeable and shared a wealth of information with us about the dolphin community and habits. Her partner, Nicole, was very knowledgeable about the area where we went snorkeling in the sponge beds. Together they made an awesome team and made the whole experience very pleasant! It was the best snorkeling experience that I have had in terms of equipment for sure. I never had to adjust my mask and it never fogged or filled with water. The water was very chilly...but we rented wet suits and that made it bearable. After our snorkeling experience we walked over to Duvall St. and had lunch, exchanged a t-shirt, bought some Key West beads for my stocking (for a "to be constructed" souvenir travel necklace) and had drinks at The Flying Monkeys (our favorite Key West bar). After all that, we headed "home" for showers and to unwind before bedtime. I sat outside for a bit and enjoyed my fire bowl and called and checked on my hospitalized dad. Great day any way you look at it!
Friday, Dec. 5
Our last full day in the Key West area. This was a day of relaxation...hanging at the pool, doing a little laundry, reading, napping and just taking it easy. That is, after all, what a vacation is supposed to be all about!
The day began EARLY as I woke at 5:30a and couldn't go back to sleep. Rather than just lying there staring into the dark, I got up, got dressed, took Beau for a potty walk and returned to the RV to play on my iPad and watch HGTV. Sitting in the living room we watched the rain begin to fall and work itself into a downpour...for all of about 3 minutes! Lol! After Ronnie had breakfast and got dressed we drove into Marathon for a bit of shopping. Gotta try out the local businesses! We went to a Beall's Outlet store and made a haul on stocking stuffers for Ronnie and Kristin. We also bought a couple of swimsuits for me (mine were stretch out and semi-indecent) along with some stuff for around the house. Awesome!! ::insert sing-song voice here:: Afterwards we went to Dollar Tree and bought some stuff we needed for the RV. Then....home for laundry and pool time. Hanging at the pool we met a new friend...Iggy. He strolled across the deck and only watched us as we watched him. We washed all the towels and underwear and then returned to the RV to pack up as much as possible. We ordered a delicious pizza and key lime pie from Mangrove Mama's and prepped for bed and moving to Miami tomorrow. 😊
Saturday, Dec. 6
Today we left Key West in the rearview mirror 😢 and drove to our new home for a week...Miami. A short drive (comparatively speaking) to a much bigger RV park. Once we arrived, we stopped and Ronnie checked us in. When we disconnected the car to go to our campsite, the car battery was dead. Crap! For whatever reason that sometimes happens when the auxiliary brake is in place. Anyway, the guy who led us to the campsite took me back and jump started the car. Once it ran s few minutes and Ronnie put our charger on it...we were good to go. And we did. But more on that in a few. At the campsite we got the RV set up, opened the awning, put up the awning lights, put out the table cloth and fire pot and got the outside set up so we can sit out in the evening...if there is a day with the humidity isn't 9000%. Seriously, by the time we got all set up we both had to have a shower. My clothes were drenched in sweat! After showering, we rested for a bit and then started getting ready for the evening's activity...a Florida Panthers hockey Game! We had really good seats, it was a cool arena and the Panthers won! Trifecta!! On the way home a trip to Walmart replenished our supplies and then home for a late dinner and bed!
Sunday, Dec. 7
Pearl Harbor Day. "A day which will live in infamy," according to President Harry Truman. Hope that isn't a reflection/forecast for today!
We decided to use today as a relaxing/planning day. It started off with a 1.5 mile walk with Beau. This is really a nice RV park! After the walk we found the doggy playground and let Beau play for about 10 minutes. Then...back to the RV where we made tentative plans for the next week based on the things we would like to do here in Miami. Then, while Ronnie dozed on the sofa, I went outside and started my
Psalm 46:10 painting. I bought painting supplies last night...but I still need a silver paint pen. I also designed a tattoo that I hope to get one day. It's based on 1 Cor. 13:13 and is a combination cross and anchor with a heart at the intersection of the cross (Faith, Hope and Love). Lunch was leftovers and I followed that with the 2nd coat of white paint on the canvass.
After Beau and I got up from a nap, Ronnie and I went outside and put up our canopy. We sat outside for quite a while enjoying our music, the firepot and the cool breeze blowing through. I talked with Kristin via text and with my dad's nurse via phone call. Apparently Daddy's bronchitis has morphed into pneumonia and he has been spitting up blood clots. As soon as he realizes he has told me something that may make me worry he says, "But I'm feeling better now." I had to have reassurance from his nurse that yes, indeed, he is getting better...compliments of 3 IV antibiotics.
I worked more on my painting until it was too dark to see it, then I went inside and called it a night. A good day. A REALLY good day.
Monday, Dec. 8
We drove into Miami Beach today and took a Duck tour. A good tour...a little too much historical info, however. A bit is good, but this was overload. Still, a good tour. Afterwards we went souvenir shopping and hit the motherlode of stores. Great! After that we walked down to Ocean Blvd. and had a couple of drinks at Finnegan's Way. I had a delicious Irish Coffee followed by a Bud Light Draft. Ronnie stuck with beer. Either way, it was good. We came back to the RV about 7:00p and settled in for the night. Tomorrow is a big day!
Tuesday, Dec. 9
Today we got an early start. We planned on visiting Everglades Holiday Park today (home of Gator Boys Alligator Rescue). A "cold front" was coming in and temps were already beginning to lower. We took a swamp boat (airboat) tour through the swamp and found 3 gators that we took a zillion pics of. Afterwards we attending the alligator show being conducted by Chris (one of the stars of the show "Gator Boys"). Took another zillion pics. Afterwards we visited the "rescued animals" portion of the park and petted a skunk and saw ball pythons. The skunk was as cute as she could be. The snakes...not so much. Ashley, another of the show stars, was working in that area and we visited with her and took pics of her with another of their employees who had been injured on the job...Zoe the dog. A few dozen more pics of peacocks and stuff and we left. Lunch was at a nearby Cracker Barrel and then back to the RV. I walked to the Club House and signed us up for the pot luck on Friday night, visited the camp store and got a good lead on a place to eat dinner, Scully's Tavern (featured on Diners, drive-ins and Dives), and located the laundromat. Back at the RV we sat outside in the screened-in canopy with the fire pot and talked until the pot burned out and we went inside for the night. Tomorrow is a new day!
Wednesday, Dec. 10
Today began early for me. I awoke before 7a but lay in bed trying to go back to sleep until 7:20. Once up, I began assembling the items that I wanted to take to the laundry. Once Ronnie was up I added the bed linens and took my loads over. While the laundry was washing I cleaned at the RV...swept, cleaned bathroom, cleaned the sink and mirrors. When I went back over to switch the laundry from washers to dryers, I went into the store there and bought a sundress. Too stinkin' cute! Back at the RV we read some, played on the ipads some, ate lunch and killed a bit of time. This evening is South Beach time and we want to go before dark but stay through it getting dark. Want to see SB by day and by night!
South Beach was incredible. Beautiful!! We ate at the Corona Cafe where, unknown to us, the drinks were BOGO. Had we known, we would not have ordered the 60 oz. fishbowl coronarita! Yeah. After a delicious dinner and an overload of beverage we went for a bit of shopping before heading back to the RV. Once back at our place we went to the hot tub for about 45 minutes. Back for showers and bed!
Thursday, Dec. 11
We got up today and just enjoyed the morning of sunshine while things warmed up. After lunch we headed to the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe in Ft. Lauderdale. Neither of us did any good so we called it quits before long and headed to Scully's Tavern for an early dinner. This place has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It was good, but nothing special. After that a trip to the grocery store for supplies for tomorrow's Pot Luck get-together and then back home. Met some nice people at the resort, Randy and Mary Ann from Tennessee. Stood outside and talked to Randy for a looooonnnnggg time. Nice people.
On a different, and heart-breaking note, my BIL, Keith, called today to tell Ronnie that his dad is not doing well and hospice has said that they would be surprised if he survived through the weekend. Because of that, we decided to leave Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning and we will drive straight home. No stopping in Destin to see our friend Katie Winn. 😟 Praying that Harry survives long enough for us to see him again.
Friday, Dec. 12
Well, God stepped in and took away Harry's pain and he is now alive in Heaven with his beloved Winnie...while we who remain behind are already feeling the loss. We got the phone call at 12:25 this morning saying that Harry had passed. So this morning we broke down our campsite and headed for home. No winding, leisurely journey with stops along the way. Instead, a straight path with heavy hearts. A day of driving and remembering...
We made it west of Tallahassee today. We pulled into the RV park just after dark and set up for the night. We texted back and forth with Ryan to make arrangements for him to get home from New Orleans in time for the funeral. Since we will driving through New Orleans on the way home, we are going to meet him for lunch/dinner and leave Ronnie's car with him. All Monday flights were full and he was looking into renting a car to drive home. This worked out perfectly.
After dinner and a shower, we called it an early night and headed off to dreamland, but not before being lambasted by a full-scale, all out, commercial quality fireworks detonation. Don't have a clue what they were celebrating, but they gave new meaning to the phrase, "Go big or go home!"

Saturday: Dec. 13
I started our drive today and took us the remainder of the way through Florida, through Alabama and into Mississippi. Ronnie took over and drove us into New Orleans for a late lunch/early dinner with Ryan and Richard. We needed to leave Ronnie's car with them so they could drive back Sunday and be home for the visitation/funeral. All Monday flights were booked! 😦
After enjoying our meal in the food court of the mall (Lol) Ronnie and I headed out and made it to Lafayette, Louisiana where we bedded down for the night. The final leg of the journey tomorrow.
Sunday: Dec. 14
This is the day we would have been leaving Miami for a leisurely drive back home. Instead, tragedy intervened and we are only 4 or 5 hours from home now. Headed back to say goodbye to Ronnie's dad. We will have to hit the ground running once we get home. I've been asked to make the photo montage video and I need to go pay my dad's rent, stop in to visit with him, buy a scripture picture (in lieu of flowers) and find something to wear to the visitation and the funeral. I also need to take down Harry's Christmas decorations. Wow! I'm feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it all!
We drove home and arrived about 4p. We immediately unpacked the RV and once inside the house I began the arduous task of working on the video for Harry's funeral while simultaneously doing our laundry. The last time I checked the clock it was 5:25...a.m. Yep, up all night. The video, to make a long story short, never worked. I was so disappointed...felt like I had let everyone down...including Harry.
Whatever may have transpired on our trip, it was still a good trip. Circumstances are beyond our mere mortal control. Florida was awesome and we will go back sooner rather than later. Hopefully next time our trip won't be marred with "what ifs" and "if onlys."