Saturday, January 21, 2017

Taking a Turn for the Good

My last blog post was almost 5 months ago. During that time I’ve thought about writing but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s always my intent when writing for a wide audience (not just close friends and family) to put a positive spin on the piece. Whenever I sat in front of my computer and started to write, I found it impossible to be positive and truthful at the same time.

As many of you know, Don’s health struggles have been quite challenging for us both, with associated depression, to say nothing of not being able to live the RV traveling lifestyle that gave us such joy in the past. In spite of my optimism in August when I last published, Don has suffered with recurring if not constant, severe belly pain that remains undiagnosed. He has also been hospitalized for congestive heart failure and fluid retention, both of which put stress on his kidneys.

Fortunately, his kidney function remains below the level of requiring dialysis, and we are continually grateful for that positive turn in his health picture. He is now on a weekly regimen of lab tests to monitor his health. And we have re-furnished the shed to change it from a home dialysis lab into a home theater with a new electric loveseat recliner that we love! Gigi likes it too.

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So, it’s with a cautiously positive outlook that I can now report that he took an almost dramatic turn toward better health almost 2 weeks ago. After several more doctor visits and a few more trips to ERs and hospitals in both Benson and Tucson during the past few months, Don can finally say he’s having less pain (to a tolerable level, still using powerful pain meds) and enjoying more good days than bad ones! We are optimistic about being able to start traveling again after a few more doctor appointments.

Don’s total weight loss since May 2015 now stands at 110 lbs, some of it due to removal of excess fluid with proper kidney function (and diuretics), some due to loss of appetite, and some due to loss of muscle while so fatigued that he was almost bedridden. My weight loss during the same period has been 31 lbs. Don commented that mine was harder to lose, but he doesn’t recommend his diet. I still have to lose more to reach a healthy BMI, but I’m doing it slowly and sometimes I regain then re-lose before achieving an actual loss. Don’s working with rehab techs to rebuild muscle and regain flexibility. Our rescue dog Gigi keeps us both walking around the neighborhood several times a day, and she loves constant attention.

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In the meantime, it was wonderful to spend time in October and November with our good friends and newest neighbors in Cochise Terrace RV Resort, Gloria & Frank King.

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They bought a beautiful lot just a short walk away, with a shady patio area and nice shed.

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It was such a treat to spend time with them and to share my 70th birthday on an outing to the Tucson Celtic Festival. And we got to know Gloria’s brother and sister-in-law Gary & Jan Pool during their visit, first at the Kings’ site…

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…then at our place. (Notice whose lap Gigi prefers?)

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Besides the many calls, emails and text messages asking about Don, several family and friends have been concerned about my health. I recently was diagnosed with bursitis in both hips and received a cortisone shot in each, which helped immensely. I’m also seeing a neurosurgeon about my back pain and have received one steroid injection in the L4-L5 left region. Both these procedures have made walking much easier for me, with less numbness in my feet and almost no pain in my hips and back. The ability to walk without pain and minimal numbness has been a big factor in my somewhat successful weight loss efforts.

During the past year we have remained optimistic about being able to travel again. Our expectations were pitched a little high, and consequently we’ve had to cancel several plans, in some cases losing deposits or full payments. Don finally resigned his position as President of the Escapees RV Club Chapter 21, our local Arizona chapter, and left it in the hands of the very capable Stu Dutcher, VP, with whom he served for the past few years.

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Don also gave heartfelt thanks to Ann Meilicke and Betty Dawson, who served as Treasurer and Secretary, respectively, during his presidency.

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We enjoyed sharing Thanksgiving 2016 with our good friends Jan & Bill Mains, who came from Casa Grande for a few days, after a little verbal ‘arm twisting’ on my part.

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Don’s smoked turkey was delicious and we had lots of yummy side dishes to go with it, as well as weather warm enough to dine outside.

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More good friends have visited during the past several months, including Sandy & Ed Kruty, Brenda & Dave Neil, Judy & Luke Rinehimer, Nancy & Geoff Justiss, Marty & Peggy McCauley, Dennis & Carol Hill, and Jane & Russ Darrow. Plus, we have appreciated our Cochise Terrace neighbors who have been ready and willing to help whenever needed. Below are a few pictures – sorry I didn’t take pics of all our visitors.

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Unfortunately we had to bid farewell to our good friend Ken Watson when he passed away in late October. It was bittersweet to share our grief with his widow Maryanne, but we hope to again share good times with her during our future RV travels. And we will never forget the man who built our custom desk, helped with our shed remodel, and played a beautiful guitar with encouragement for me to sing some of our favorite songs. Memories of our many fun times together in locations across the U.S. with Ken & Maryanne are rich and everlasting.

Ken’s death reminds us that we need to make the most of every day that we have. To paraphrase a famous quote, “Yesterday is gone, Today’s almost over, and Tomorrow is not promised.”

Given that, Don and I both want to let our family and friends know how much you all mean to us, and we send our love. We hope to visit more of you soon, as we are starting to make travel plans for the next 2 years.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you for the update. You and Don have been in our thoughts and prayers. Sorry we missed seeing you in December, but looking forward to seeing you back on the road soon. Hugs from Mesa!

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    1. Sorry it didn't work out to see you on your way west. Hope our paths cross soon.

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  2. Thank you Sharon for the bravery and courage you display in writing this report but more in the love and care you give to Uncle Don. His improved condition is a direct cause of your love and dedication. I am confident saying that our family as a whole is improved with you being a part of our ohana.
    All my love to you both!!
    Johnno

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Johnno. I love being part of the ohana! Love you.

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  3. Just dually catching up on your blog. So sorry to hear about Don's continuing troubles, hope someday soon, his stomach troubles will be a thing of the past. Sounds like the docs are helping you too, with your back and hips. Hope you both have continuing good health and can look forward to many more happy years of traveling this great country of ours. Ron is celebrating his 70th birthday this year by hiking the whole of the Appalachian Trail, he'LL be gone 6 months...almost like a deployment...

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    1. Thanks for comments, Sharon. I'm amazed at Ron's ambition, but I know he's up to the challenge!

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  4. Thanks for the update Sharon. Both you and Don remain in our prayers.

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  5. I am so glad we got to see you and Don back in October. We share your frustrations (aka "depression") about our shared health issues and not being with our RV "family" traveling in January. Our brief update -- my wrist surgery is healing fine but Luke still has his mobility issues with lower back, hip, leg, and ankle pains. Like you, Sharon, he got a cortisone shot in one hip joint a couple of weeks ago and it seems to be helping. Next Wednesday, however, he is having SURGERY to remove large "bladder stones" and to improve his enlarged prostrate functioning. We are HOPEFUL that we can get back on the road in February and March and then we can share (((HUGS))) and celebrate our RV LIFESTYLE and GOOD HEALTH! Keep the blog updates coming when you are ready to write again. TAKE CARE!

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    1. This was my post: Judy and Luke Rinehimer

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    2. Got your message on Facebook. Thanks.

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  6. So good to hear from you. I think of you two often! Glad to hear that you both are making progress.

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    1. Thanks Ann. Hope we can cross paths with you and Mick soon.

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  7. I'm so happy to read your blog. We're looking forward to seeing you next month. Do you want to spend the summer with us?

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    1. We look forward to our time together next month. Summer plans will probably include family visits in California, but we can probably work out a way to get together with you two, depending on where you want to go.

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  8. We are 'stuck' in California because Bev requires shoulder surgery and 8 weeks of subsequent PT. Otherwise we would have arranged a visit with you guys this winter. We will be passing through Benson sometime in mid to late April. If you guys are still there we'd love to stop by for a visit.

    -- jc&bev

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  9. Thanks for the update. We hope the latest more positive trends continue. Hope to see when were are in Tucson. Live strong!!!

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  10. Happy, happy to read your blog ! Have been following you since your RV trip some years
    back with the Hills to Alaska. Trusting your both on your way to good health and fun travels. 😊

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  11. Sharon I am glad to hear how things are going. Our parallel lives continue. Tony's heart failure provided needed incentive to rent a place in Huntington Beach to be near his doctors. We will be selling the 5th wheel and medium duty truck soon, and we are hoping to buy another smaller RV soon. Hitch-itch is growing daily.

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