Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Parkinson's Update

Michael's swallow therapy was cancelled this morning.

We calculated that gave us just enough time to run into Wal-mart for some "last minute" Thanksgiving supplies, and to make it into Anchorage in time for his neurologist appointment.

We arrived with 10 min to spare at the office in the South Tower at Providence.....only to discover they have TWO OFFICES and our appointment was at the other office....which is closer to us than this one. If we could make it in 20 min, they would see us today. We certainly did not want the hour long drive to be for nothing - and we did NOT want to wait more months for Michael to be seen. He has some symptoms that have changed and we wanted some answers.

We booked for the parking garage and then back down Debarr to Alaska Regional Hospital. We parked with 3 min to spare and made it to the office with 1 min to spare. I commented, "Look at that Michael, you CAN still run!," which relaxed everyone and  put all in a cheery mood - even though we were technically late and had thrown off the groove. 

We checked in and spent the next hour and 45 minutes with our new neurologist. God has blessed us. He was trained at Mayo Clinic, has headed up research and studies and seems to really know his stuff. We feel we can trust him. He LIVES in Anchorage and will be here should any emergencies arrive in the future. This matters as most neurologists here fly in and see patients every few weeks. He is also the only board certified Motion Disorder Specialist in the area.  I'll skip all the nitty gritty - but he explained his views on treatment and what we need to do at this point in Michael's treatment. Some of the more alarming symptoms Michael has been experiencing can be caused by one of the drugs he is on, a dopamine agonist. He will be weaning to a lower dosage and we're hopeful those symptoms will disappear. He feels it's time for Michael to begin Levodopa - using the lesser dosage of the dopamine agonist to stretch out the effectiveness of Levodopa, rather than depending on it for control of the PD.  The former plan had been to avoid Levodopa until Michael was 60, but due to progression and symptoms, Dr. G feels the time to make the change is now.   We spent quite a bit of time listening to the studies and such that led to his conclusion, as it is different from the one at UC Davis. We will return to the clinic in 4 weeks..... Michael is also going to be part of a study - basically they'll watch the progression of specific symptoms in hopes observing his response to treatment will help them with future treatments for others.

Dr. G  seems rather determined to jolt us out of our stages of denial. He felt it necessary for us to read up on where we are and what is to come....I'm still not sure that's the best course....but he gave us a reading list nonetheless.

All kidding aside - it's a lot to process. To hear, "As the disease began in your 50's you are likely to experience the full range of symptoms due to your increased lifespan and the effect of the disease," is hard to take in.....then to hear "By age 65..." well SHOOT - that isn't so far away at all! ::wink::

We followed our appointments with a quick visit to Milt and Cobie's! Cobie had a gift for me. Are you ready???? You won't BELIEVE it. I'm just a tad bit excited....
She's a beaut
We've already purchased material for a tablecloth. Eventually I'll have to make something with more than straight seams - but not yet. LOL

Next up was a flying trip into Fred Myers for a roaster - the one I ordered online isn't big enough for our turkey.  We also got gas and then headed into the snow storm and back to the Valley.

Stacia had Veggie Pot Pie on the table, the boys had wood in the wood box and they tell me they put in a full day of school. We are truly blessed.

Bullwinkle Visited this Morning


Lights last night and a BULL MOOSE this morning.  CoRielle see them first most often....their kitchen looks out on the back yard/woods where the Moose like to romp.

Finally, "the Bull Moose," we've heard of visited our yard.  He is more skittish, so I couldn't get as close.  There is always concern I'm too close....these are taken from our deck with a Nikon 55-300 mm lens. I'm not in danger. I would have liked to get closer, but I knew he'd run and it was COLD out there in my robe and slippers.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Spectacular Lights

These WERE the best so far. Michael said it was supposed to be a good night and I was SOOO tired that I wanted to ignore them. Josiah texted from Eagle River and said they were out. Michael got the kids up....their first time to be up with the lights.....and it was worth it!

We had whites, greens, yellows,  and even a bit of reds. The reds moved fast....across the Lazy Mountains and over the face of Mat Peak.....we tried to get some, but,  as fast as they move, and as slow as Michael has to take them.....you lose distinction and it's just a red glow.....

These are unedited - Michael will do that later. I did lighten the ones with the house.....

The blobs at the bottom are some of us

I think that's Nolan - you can see some of the yellows in this one

Our house - amazing stars last night 

I am thankful for incredible beauty in the midst of winter - that'll preach.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Snowy, Relaxing Sunday

It snowed during the night - or early morning - and it is beautiful. The snow has covered all the tracks from sledding - ready for another day of sledding on fresh snow.

Catching the tire swing in seasons - think this counts for winter 

Our poor topped trees LOL 

We are working through a series on Christian community at church. I am loving it. Visiting with various ones at church leaves us feeling we may "belong" very soon. LOL 

We didn't have a family dinner to prep for today, as we had everyone out yesterday. It was nice not to rush home....we enjoyed visiting at church, ate dinner at Fred Myers Food Court, and then did some shopping. I have GOT to remember to shop early for holidays around here. ::snort::  Winter chores greeted  us at home.

Clearing snow from the driveway

Brining in more wood - so thankful for a stocked woodshed

Clearing the deck and stairs

I booked a ticket to go to OR, talked with Mom, and was melancholy. I am aware this is our first season without Mom G....and Mom T is not doing well.  Of course, melancholy leads to baking - I threw things together and came up with something like scones.

Planning our Thanksgiving meal is fun. I asked all for their favorite dishes. It seems much easier to put effort into things people identify as "favorites" - rather than simply fill the kitchen with traditional dishes.

 I keep laughing that Jamin's favorite is "Pigs in a Blanket." WHAT? When did I make those? Evidently, I made them decades ago rather regularly for special events.  He will bring the Pigs in a Blanket, and Josiah will make sure  he doesn't eat them all on the 30 min drive out.

Josiah mentioned cheesy MASHED potatoes. I know I always make garlic/cream cheese potatoes for holidays - but I don't remember cheddar on top. Of course, we've cut out cheddar with Michael's meds and my health......but I suspect he's thinking the garlic potatoes with cheddar on top. I hope.

For Bre Sparkling Cider is essential - and she will bring stuffing.

Michael needs a Chocolate Mousse pie and fresh rolls.

Larissa will bring some of her family favorites - recipes from her grandmas. Jared didn't mention anything.

Arielle was downstairs trying to rest.

Izaak is bringing sweet potatoes.

Cory is providing a ham as his family always had both turkey and ham. 

Izaak and Cory like cranberries - so I will make some for the first time ever and not have to eat them all alone.

The younger three said all their favorites were already taken.

And....there will be a plethora of desserts......no one said GREEN BEANS or CORN or SALAD or JELLO.....

It was a lovely Sunday.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Michael's Birthday Celebration

We are blessed! There is a lot of wind in the Matsu Valley. We "lucked" into the one area that is NOT windy....winter seems to "blow away" in town....but we have a nice covering of snow.  We hear the winds can gust to 80 mph on the OTHER side of the mountain! God watched out for us. The sun shining on the snow is beautiful. 

Cory and Bennett came up to visit

Josiah and Jamin came out to celebrate Michael's birthday (so did JaRissa and the ones here).
Stacia made their matching hats
 Stacia had been wanting to sled all week - but the boys weren't of the same mind. Cy and Jamin joined her.....and then the boys came along too. 
Josiah, Stacia, Jamin, Alex

Josiah, Stacia and Jamin 
 Then there was a snowball fight
Stacia, Cy, Jamin, Alex

Michael opened gifts

Jared and Larissa
 Bennett made a debut
Bella meets Bennett

Cory, Bella (BreZaak's), Bennett and Arielle 

After gifts, Arielle went downstairs and we had dinner.....and cake....
L - Jared, Larissa, Nolan, Alex, Stacia, Michael, Bre, Bella, Jamin, Josiah, Bennett & Cory

A funny thing happened last night.....the Four of us just weren't carrying the tune right - according to Michael. When we went to sing tonight Cory said they wondered what we were doing last night....."Are they practicing?" We certainly needed it....we do much better with Bre in the mix...listen in....

This is Michael's first birthday without Mom G. That was hard. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Michael Has a Birthday

This is Michael's birthday week - and what a week it has been!  Today, however, is the legal, honest-to-God, REAL BIRTH day! Last year Michael and I were traveling the Caribbean Sea. We both spent some time thinking back. This is Michael's first birthday without Mom G. 

In the past year our family has grown, Arielle got married, we have a new home in a state we've dreamed of, we've said goodbye to Mom G, battled cancer with Mom T (who is battling it again)....It's wild that Michael has two new grands since his last birthday!  Here he and Gideon enjoy some recliner time. 
Gramps and Gideon Enjoying each other and Gemma's camera antics
This afternoon this newly minted family came home! 
CoRielle and Bennett

What a joy! Another baby to love. 
I took a photo of the kids and Cory and Bennett - but it's not on my phone! 

We headed out when CoRielle arrived home. We thought they'd appreciate a couple of hours of quiet time as they settled in.  On the way to town, we stopped for mail. Lots of cards and even a package from John and Mary in the box! We visited Lowe's and Fred Myers and then came home for dinner.  The kids will be coming over tomorrow to celebrate Michael's birthday but I made a little brownie/cookie/cake for tonight. 

What could cause such hilarity? Our attempt at singing Happy, Happy Birthday to You....Jesus loves you....we'll do better with Bre in the mix tomorrow for his REAL cake. 
Fuzzy - but too good not to keep
 Michael didn't want me to buy 3 boxes of candles.....

We topped the night off watching, "The Emperor's New Groove" on vhs in our bedroom so we didn't blast Bennett out the window.....and playing Dominion. I, decided catching the blog up would yield better results personally than being trounced in another strategy game. ::snort::

Happy Birthday, Michael! You are my adventure, my best story, my best friend and confidant. Thanks for loving us so well.